The_Hibernator decides enough is enough

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Talk75 Books Challenge for 2012

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The_Hibernator decides enough is enough

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Edited: Nov 15, 2012, 5:08pm

Welcome to November (almost)! Since I'm rather cold right now, I thought I'd have an intro picture of some cold winter ducks (stolen from the internet...)

This month, I am working from the following hopeful list:

Paradise Lost (Norton Critical Edition), by John Milton (IN PROGRESS)
A Book of Horrors, ed. Stephen Jones (IN PROGRESS)
The Diary of a Madman and Other Stories, by Nikolai Gogol (IN PROGRESS)
Culture and Imperialism, by Edward W. Said
The Garden of the Evening Mists, by Tan Twan Eng
The House of Wisdom, by Jim Al-Khalili
Pale Fire, by Vladimir Nabokov
Our Lady of Alice Bhatti, by Mohammed Hanif
The Hour Between Dog and Wolf, by John Coates
Crossed, by Ally Condie
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, by J. K. Rowling (IN PROGRESS)
The Rape of Nanking, by Iris Chang (IN PROGRESS)
Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Hamlet, by William Shakespeare (IN PROGRESS)
Hamlet: Poem Unlimited, by Howard Bloom
Goblin Secrets, by William Alexander
The Arcade Catastrophe, by Brandon Mull
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs (IN PROGRESS)

Some of these books will be included in the New Novels November theme ( ).

PS Ooops! Forgot to rename this thread! ;) Noone's perfect :p

Edited: Oct 29, 2012, 7:23pm

Books in October
Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, by Mildred D. Taylor (Banned Books Week!)
Surprised by Joy, by C. S. Lewis
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, by J. K. Rowling
Devil's Pass, by Sigmund Brouwer (LT ER)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, by J. K. Rowling (Yeah, I'm behind on my reviews)
Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
Narcopolis, by Jeet Thayil (Booker shortlist)
Blood and Other Cravings, ed Ellen Datlow (Halloween theme)
The Poisoner's Handbook, by Deborah Blum (Halloween theme)
The Horse and His Boy, by C. S. Lewis
The Social Conquest of Earth, by Edward O. Wilson (Oops. That was supposed to be a group read in Nov)
Assassin's Code, Jonathan Maberry (Halloween theme)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by J. K. Rowling
Flesh & Bone, by Jonathan Maberry

Oct 28, 2012, 2:58pm

*Waves* and *Hugs* =)

Oct 28, 2012, 3:04pm

Hi Rachel, beautiful new thread :) and very interesting reading for November. Looking forward to our shared read.

Oct 28, 2012, 3:06pm

Hi Rachel, I love your thread topper picture, it really captures the feeling of a frosty November morning.

Oct 28, 2012, 3:14pm

Hi, just to say your picture of ducks is lovely.

Oct 28, 2012, 6:05pm

Nice ominous picture to kick off your new thread, Rachel. Looks like you have a fine month of reading lined up! :)

Oct 28, 2012, 6:27pm

Oh, lovely--a new thread!!

Oct 29, 2012, 7:48am

Dear lord, Rachel, the only books I recognize are the Harry Potters and the Shakespeare. LOL.

Oct 29, 2012, 9:55am

Stephen: Huh! I feel so special! I got a hug from Stephen. *bear hugs him back*

Bianca: Thanks! I'm looking forward to it too. It's fun discussing books with you...nice that we often read the same books!

Judy, Rhian, and Valerie: Thanks. It IS a lovely picture, isn't it? :)

Hi Roni!

Morphy: That's probably because several of the books are rather new. :)

Oct 29, 2012, 10:02am

Nice new thread, Rachel, and I love that thread topper!

Edited: Oct 30, 2012, 8:57am

2012 Book 149: The Poisoner's Handbook

written by Deborah Blum, narrated by Coleen Marlo

Reason for Reading: October Halloween theme

My Review
This fascinating book outlines the development of forensic science in the 1920's. It begins by describing the poor state of forensics the late nineteen-teens, and pointing out WHY it was so necessary to develop a proper procedure for determining cause of death. I've always taken such things for granted and never even thought about the effort it would take to develop the science--not only scientifically, but also as a social movement. Although the Prohibition theme resonates throughout the book, each chapter focuses on a different poison--including the background/development of the poison, the effects it has on the victim, and the measures taken by forensic scientists to discover cause of death. This book was fascinating on so many different levels. It's interesting as a Prohibition-era history, but it would also be interesting to lovers of popular science. Highly recommended for a little light reading.

Oct 29, 2012, 10:12am

Oh my... this sounds like a book right up my alley, Rachel. Thanks for the recommendation and for the review. Off to the obese wish list it goes.

Oct 29, 2012, 10:26am

haha "obese wish list." That's a very meaningful term. :)

Oct 29, 2012, 10:43am

Rachel congratulations on your new thread - I keep expecting The Lady of Shallot to be punted out of the mist in your opening shot.

Oct 30, 2012, 8:53am

Mamie: Woops! Didn't see you up there at first. Thanks for visiting the thread!

Paul: hehe :)

Oct 30, 2012, 9:15am

2012 Book 150: Assassin's Code

written by Jonathan Maberry, narrated by Ray Porter

Reason for Reading: 4th book in the Joe Ledger series. Figured the brainless action would be entertaining for a long car ride. Also, it fits in nicely with the Halloween theme. :)

My Review
In this fourth installment of Joe Ledger's story, Ledger kicks the @$$ of evil Iranians, a Romanian? weirdo cult, and a group of religious doomsday vampires...all while trying to figure out where the mysterious group of psychotic women fit in to this mess. This book is brainless military sci-fi/horror action at its best. I only gave the book three stars because I started to get bored of all the bad @$$ military action. And it waxed a little too political for me at times. This is also a book that you shouldn't think too deeply about--for instance, why the heck did he bring his DOG for a mission in Iran (when clearly the dog wasn't being used for the mission)? Certainly, the dog HAPPENED to come in handy at times, but it seems poor planning to bring a dog and then leave him pointlessly in the hotel during the mission, so that if things didn't go as smoothly as planned, Ledger would have to go back and get his dog before getting out of harm's way. I also felt some of the "intrigue" plot was rather overcooked. Really? Intrigue in the Catholic Church? Gasp! Never seen THAT in a book before! So, like I said, this book is great if you're interested in some mindless action...just don't think too much. :)

If you liked the rest of the Joe Ledger books, then this is more of the same. If you liked the first and felt "meh" about the rest, then this book is similar to the rest of the sequels. If you haven't read any of the others, pick up Patient Zero (it's good!) and then keep in mind that the rest of the books are less intelligent, but just as much pulpy action.

Oct 30, 2012, 9:32am

Love the frosty ducks! You've already read the Nov-Dec-Jan group read?!

Edited: Oct 30, 2012, 9:44am

Haha! YES! I did! My nonfiction category for November was getting filled up with Team of Rivals and a few other books that I wanted to complete by November. I was going to push The Social Conquest of Earth back to December, but I had an unexpected opening in October and decided to finish it up then. On the other hand, I've been having trouble with the Aug-Sep-Oct group read because I had to give it back to the library for a short while! haha. I'll get it back in the next couple of days.

Oct 30, 2012, 12:20pm

Hmmmm, I usually like bad ass military fiction if it has an ancient history setting (I love me some Spartan ass-kickery) but such business in modern/sci-fi settings never does do a whole lot for me.

Oct 30, 2012, 4:40pm

HI Rachel, I think the Joe Ledger series is definately not for me. When I started to read the review I must have overlooked the "Joe Ledger" and wondered at the Vampires - as in his other YA series it is Zombies, so I was a little bit confused. So, I read your review again very, very slowly.

Oct 30, 2012, 5:07pm

Hi Bianca! Patient Zero, the first book in the Joe Ledger series, isn't too bad. There is a lot of military bad-@$$ery going on, but I found the biomedical part rather interesting. It was pretty impressive science for someone who doesn't have a formal education in science. The rest of the series requires no intelligence whatsoever and lays on the "US of effing A brings DOWN the evil Muslims! Hooyah!!!!" a little too thick. And if that sentence doesn't make sense to you, then you DEFINITELY won't like the series. There's an awful lot of Hooyah-ing going on. ;)

Incidentally, I just finished the third book in his YA series (Flesh & Bone). It was good, though nowhere as strong as the first couple of books in the series. Joe Ledger Maberry's series for adults is a character in Flesh & Bone. Luckily his language is toned down quite a bit for the young readers' eyes. In the Joe Ledger series practically every other word out of his mouth is foul. :)

The fourth book in that series, Fire & Ash is supposed to be the final one. It comes out in August of next year.

Edited: Oct 30, 2012, 11:53pm

Hi! Just catching up.

Re: your comments on last thread about Anna Karenina:

Problem is, I don't find adultery romantic, and I don't find suicide romantic. Furthermore, I was sickened by Anna's attitude towards her children. But, like I said, I read it when I was rather young, and perhaps I missed the point?

Well, I tried reading it as an adult, just a year or two ago, and I had exactly the same reaction. I couldn't have said it better. (I detested her.)

Edited: Nov 1, 2012, 10:07am

2012 Book 151: Flesh & Bone, by Jonathan Maberry

Reason for Reading: Third book in the Benny Imura series, and it fit the Halloween theme

Benny, Nix, Chong, and Lilah are on a quest through the zombie-infested Rot & Ruin to find a rebuilt civilization that they can only hope is out there. In the Mojave dessert (doesn't that just scream "Area 51" at you?) they clash with a religious death-cult whose goal is to send all living humans into the darkness before they, themselves, are allowed to enjoy the eternity of dark peace. However, our team of teens also discovers more evidence that somewhere out there civilization is trying to re-exert itself. This book isn't as strong as the first two in the series, but it was still enjoyable. Maberry tries to squeeze in so much action into his books that I go into action overload and start to get bored. I think the first book this series was strongest because Maberry spent a good amount of space developing the characters and setting. But the characters, setting, and plot don't make a whole lot of progress in this book...That space is reserved for extra action scenes. The theme that I appreciated from the earlier books was upheld in this one (zombies were people too, and sometimes the real monsters are human), and there is a newer theme of coping with loss. This theme could have helped the characters develop, but their development was pretty shallow. That said, I'm not trying to tear the book was a fun read and had lots of action. :) It's good fluff and I'm eager for what I believe is the fourth and final book.

ETA: I notice from other reviews that I might be the only person who feels that the characters didn't develop. Maybe it's just me!

Nov 1, 2012, 10:54pm

Hi Rachel, I didn'd read your review of Flesh & Bone as I have yet to read book nbr. 2. I really enjoyed the first book and have high hopes for the rest of the trilogy

Nov 2, 2012, 7:27am

Hi Judy! I really enjoyed Rot & Ruin too. It's not a trilogy anymore. I think it's supposed to be a quartet. The fourth one hasn't been published yet. I think this third one was a little less strong than the first two, but it was still good enough that I'm eager for the fourth to come out!

Nov 2, 2012, 9:59am

Nice new thread here, Rachel. Your opening picture gave me the shivers. Such a beautiful tranquil shot of some frosty ducks. I hope you like The Garden of Evening Mists as much as I did.

Nov 2, 2012, 10:34am


I'm going to try Maberry again...sometime...eventually. Probably. I really didn't like Dead of Night, but maybe it was just the characters I didn't like. I just can't get over the female character screaming "BOOYA!" after killing a zombie. *Smacks forehead*

Nov 2, 2012, 11:02am

Thanks Donna! I'm about half way through now and am enjoying it quite a bit!

Stephen, I'd recommend reading the series starting with Rot & Ruin though you might want to wait a year when the final book is published. I imagine the Joe Ledger series is more of the same as Dead of Night, though I think the first book Patient Zero is worth reading. The rest are just silly. I don't know why I've gotten this far on the series!

Nov 2, 2012, 7:33pm

I'm the same way with series, it can be terrible but once I'm a couple books into it I have a hard time not continuing on...

Nov 3, 2012, 10:48am

2012 Book 152: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

written by J. K. Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale

Reason for Reading: I'm rereading these books in audio to get an impression of what the series is like as a complete set. This is my first rereading of the entire series.

My Review
Harry hopes his second year at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry will be calmer than last year's. However, even before the school-year begins, Harry meets a house elf who is determined to keep Harry from even STARTING his school year. Harry perseveres, however, and delves into trouble yet again when the Chamber of Secrets is opened and some stealthy beast begins to petrify his classmates. Will Harry and his friends be able to stop the beast before it manages to kill someone? Harry also gets his first taste of xenophobia in the wizarding world, when he learns a new naughty epithet (the m-word). And I bet you'd never guess which bratty little villain uses the word? I'll give a hint. He's blonde.

This second installment of the Harry Potter series is just as delightful as the first. It, like its predecessor, is aimed at the younger end of the YA spectrum, which suits me just fine. The narration by Jim Dale is quite enjoyable--in fact, I liked this narration better than his narration of the Sorcerer's Stone. He's got different voices for each of the characters, and his voice definitely engaged me.

The entire Harry Potter is a popular book on the "banned and challenged" lists released by the ALA. Personally, I didn't see anything objectionable in this book. Accusations of "satan worship" and "encourages interest in the occult" are silly. There isn't any language or objectionable morals that I can see--other than the fact that Harry, Ron, and Hermione steal, lie, and generally disobey rules. Of course, they do these things with the best intentions, and often because they feel the adults don't listen to them. Also, they don't hurt anyone with their antics (though they certainly endanger themselves). But let's be honest with each other. Would YA books be interesting to ANYBODY if the protagonists were perfect little angels who allowed the adults to take care of all the important stuff? Of course not.

Nov 3, 2012, 11:42am

DIRE WARNING: This post has nothing to do with books. I haven't caught up with the thread yet.

Well, Rachel, you're back in Ohio and I'm back in Minnesota. Life goes on, and I'm sorry I missed half your visit.

Yesterday your nephew, Johnny, wanted me to take him to a movie. Ralph Racket, or something like that. So I told him I would if he'd help move that pile of books from the living room to the new book case downstairs. He went to it with great enthusiasm. (Your mother also got excited about moving them and helped.) After we got home from the movie, he wanted me to give him some more work to do (with me), but I wanted to read so I retired to the basement so he could sit next to me and watch the Disney Channel. This morning he wanted me to go do some work in the yard so he could help. "Help" still tends to mean that when I'm shoveling snow down the driveway he gets a shovel and shovels it back up the driveway. Last year I had him get up on the roof and clean the rain gutters because I'm getting uncomfortable climbing the ladder and working up there. His mother had a fit about me having him do that, but he did a good job and wants to do it again. This year it's already done while he was at school.

A couple of days ago, he was sitting in the living room arguing about something with your mother. He yelled "I'm serious!!!" I answered back, "Sirius Black?" He stood up with great indignity and said "I'm TAN, not BLACK." I guess that's a new consciousness after last year's oft-repeated statement that "I'm Black; you're White." I keep telling him, "I'm Bob; you're Johnny." I think he picked up his race consciousness visiting his other grandmother the summer before he started kindergarten.

Well, he's still pestering me about finding him some work we can do together. You're back in Ohio and I'm back in Minnesota and life goes on. . .

Nov 3, 2012, 12:16pm

I would say he's more of a caramel. ;)

Edited: Nov 3, 2012, 12:25pm

That is a most beautiful photo you found for your opener.

Nov 3, 2012, 5:32pm

Hey, Roundhead Rachel. You asked me about books about the English civil wars. The best one I am familiar with is Austin Woolrych Britain in Revolution. It begins with the accession of Charles the Headless (aka Chucky Cheese) in 1625 and doesn't just blame the religious issues for the confusion in the British Isles at the time. It covers Chuck's reign with religious and social issues pretty well. I was glad to read some explanation of Roundheads, Levellers, and all those other goofy groups, which I could never understand. It's a good history book, and I think you might bore yourself to death.

P.S. there's also a little coverage of Mr. Milton.

Nov 4, 2012, 11:03am

Dad, that's just the sort of thing I'm looking for. For instance, Milton apparently makes comments about hair and the shape of hair or something of that sort in Paradise Lost and that's in reference to roundheads. See? The things I'll miss if I don't have an understanding of what he's writing about? I'll finish up Book 1 today (FINALLY!)

Everyone else (ok, this can include you, too dad):

I've decided to host a theme read on my blog in February. I will be reading books about social justice (or injustice). I would be happy for people to participate by reading books with a social justice (injustice) theme and providing links to their reviews. If you don't have a blog, you can always provide links to your LibraryThing reviews, or guest-post on my blog. :) There are lots of books with social justice themes--both fiction and non-fiction. Feel free to be creative! I'm also happy to get posts that are NOT book reviews, but which discuss social justice issues.

Here's my sign-up post (if you sign-up by Feb 7th, you get entered for a $10 gift certificate from Amazon for every review / blog post you provide).

Nov 4, 2012, 12:43pm

Just my kind of thing--you're your father's daughter. But isn't Feb 7 gone already?

Edited: Nov 4, 2012, 12:57pm

I would love to join! I too, have a copy of Dead Man Walking. It would also give me a chance to dive into Catholic Social Thought: The Documentary Heritage.

Edited: Nov 4, 2012, 1:33pm

The score or so of muckraking books of the pre-World War I books that I read two years ago came immediately to mind. I was thinking more along the lines of Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man or his unfinished novel. Three Days before the Shooting which are more recent. I was really looking for something in good fiction that is recent. But in a United States where revenge is so consistently conflated with justice, one of Helen Prejean's books like Dead Man Walking would be good too. Thanks for the suggestion. Any ideas for something just out? Anyone?

Edited: Nov 4, 2012, 1:50pm

Great to have you join, Jonathan! :)

Dad, The New Jim Crow was published in 2012, and it's been getting pretty good reviews. Other than that, I haven't had the time to compile a list yet.

ETA: I lie. Apparently it was published in 2010.

Nov 4, 2012, 1:54pm

Are you pushing Ohio State University?

Nov 4, 2012, 2:07pm

:p I thought for a moment you were asking me about the football season.

The New Jim Crow seems to be a reasonably well-accepted book. I had no idea the writer was from OSU.

Another newish book I just found is Street Crazy: America's Mental Health Tragedy, or you could try Mountains Beyond Mountains which is related to social justice. :)

Nov 4, 2012, 2:22pm

And then there's fiction by and about Native Americans. Some of the authors and titles that come to mind are James Welch (older now, I know), Perma Red by Debra Magpie Earling, The Surrounded by D'Arcy McNickle--also older, Montana 1948 by Larry Watson, Louise Erdrich.

I'll probably join in with Sherman Alexie's collection of stories The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven.

Edited: Nov 4, 2012, 3:17pm

Street Crazy would be interesting since I wrote a little blurb in the Tulsa World about deinstitutionalizationism about 40 years ago. I do have a copy of Dead Man Walking that I have never read, so that's a definite candidate for me. I also have Untouchable which is recent. It does not have a social justice theme, but there are some social justice issues in it. I don't know how well they're handled yet since I haven't read it. That Native American Fiction also sounds promising since I haven't read any of that in several years. (I don't have any of those on hand waiting to be read, though.)

ETA: In the early 70's, deinstitutionalization was a big fad. I was decidedly in favor, but I though they were going about it too fast, and some of the people being released from institutions still really needed that type of environment.

Edited: Nov 4, 2012, 3:23pm

Thanks for those suggestions Janet. I haven't read anything by Sherman Alexie yet but I've been wanting to read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian for a while now. Does that book deal with social justice issues?

Maybe after the recent death of Russell Means you should read his autobiography? Don't you still have that one sitting around somewhere? Or did you get rid of it? I think it was called Where White Men Fear to Tread. And then we can watch Last of the Mochicans and determine whether he's a good actor or not?

Nov 4, 2012, 3:43pm

I think it's still around with a book marker in the middle. Now that I've dug up Sr. Helen's book, I think I'll read it. It's nice and short.

Nov 4, 2012, 7:17pm

Here is a quotee from Dead Man Walking, Chapter 2. It is about entering death row at Angola Prison, LA.

"I walk past the guard's station and wait outside the gate of the fenced-in yard surrounding the death-row building. A woman guard in nearby watch tower opens the gate electronically from a control switch. I hear a loud click. I walk through and the gate clangs shut behind me. There are flowers along the sidewalk that leads to the building, and a small pond with ducks swimming."

Is that what your picture at the top of this thread represents? Sounds beautiful. I want to live on death row in Angola!

Nov 4, 2012, 7:49pm

hmph. somehow I doubt the flowers and duckies are for the prisoners though. :p

Nov 4, 2012, 8:00pm

I doubt few things pacify an Angolan death row inmate like flowers and duckies. If you were planning a murderous prison riot wouldn't they quell your discontent as well?

Nov 4, 2012, 8:23pm

Yes, I'm sure they would. I'd peer out my one-inch-by-one-inch window and think happy thoughts as the duckies swam peacefully around. :p

Nov 4, 2012, 8:45pm

I doubt few things pacify an Angolan death row inmate like flowers and duckies. If you were planning a murderous prison riot wouldn't they quell your discontent as well?

Not like the realization that they couldn't give me the Red Hat.

Nov 5, 2012, 2:17am

Perhaps the flowers and duckies are to pacify the conscience pangs of the people carrying out the barbaric process. "I know this is wrong, and murdering someone unnecessarily in the name of retributive justice is a charade, but ... ooh! duckies! Aww they're waddling, so cute!! ... What was I thinking about?"

Nov 5, 2012, 10:33am

>51 patito-de-hule: I see that I exaggerated the smallness of the windows. They were 1 foot by 1 foot. That means prisoners could use BOTH eyes at once while looking at the duckies.

>52 JDHomrighausen: Thanks. I almost spewed Diet Mountain Dew all over my computer.

OK! I finished Book I of Paradise Lost and comprehended very little of it (yet again)! HOWEVER, I decided to go through it again line-by-line to see if I could gather what Milton was saying. I've started updating the Paradise Lost thread with my very simplistic comprehension notes, and will continue to do so. :)

Nov 5, 2012, 11:18am

>51 patito-de-hule: The windows you're talking about now were in the "Red Hat," Angola's infamous torture chamere (aka "the hole" in most prisons).

>52 JDHomrighausen: Jonathan, you're not being sarcastic, are you? Actually, I started reading Dead Man Walking because you mentioned it and I've had the book lying around a long time. Also because Rachel suggested a Social Justice theme.

I'm not quite halfway through it, but I'm a little disappointed. Sr. Helen Prejean writes well and has a powerful argument in terms of bringing out the humanity of a person on death row. I am touched by her argument because I believe in her premise that life is sacred and it is always wrong to kill a human deliberately. And, as she points out--as I have often pointed out myself--there is no killing more deliberate than an execution. But her objective arguments and data are very dated. Her discussion of the barbarity of the electric chair is a moot point since it is only an alternative in a few states, and by the time she wrote, most (all knowledgeable) people were already agreed that it was a barbaric form of torture. She might as well have been arguing that Michel Foucault's description of an execution at the beginning of Discipline and Punish was barbaric. Her statistical data was also taken at a point in time which is now pretty irrelevant. She gave point statistics and no trends (so far in the first half the book). Some of her data were even, though factual, bucking the trends of the time. Now data would have to take in the change in ethnic demographics since that time. Not to mention the fact that since 1990 the middle class has shrunk significantly.

So, good but dated.

Nov 5, 2012, 4:36pm

Hmmm. That's interesting dad. Perhaps I should focus my time on reading a more recent book for February, do you think?

Edited: Nov 5, 2012, 4:40pm

Ah! I was looking for some viable alternatives about social justice and stumbled upon this gem Red Earth, White Lies: Native Americans and the Myth of Scientific Fact

Quoted from book description: "Deloria challenges scientific theories of evolution, radiocarbon dating techniques, and the Bering Strait migration hoax. . Cautions against smug convictions of Big Bang Theory, cosmology, geology and neo-Darwinist evolution. "

Things that make you go "huh?!"

Nov 5, 2012, 5:24pm

Ummm, yeah. Reading the reviews and descriptions (elsewhere--not in LT) my guess is that you and I would both find the book interesting with much to argue about. Who knows? We might even manage to come to blows!!! I suspect you would find it more interesting than I. But I don't read these descriptions as having anything to do with social justice. I would suspect I might find the book God is Red more interesting. Of course, we both know that God has no skin (would you say He's not skinny?). His better known book is Custer died for your sins, which could be a social justice discussion item.

BTW, God is not Red!!!

Nov 5, 2012, 5:40pm

As to #55, I do think that Dead Man Walking is rather dated in its content. It is a good, well written book and some people might find it interesting. But need a book be current to be relevant? The Jungle was written in 1906, and its content is also quite dated. Yet during the last month or so some 400+ people were sickened by injectiions of grass mold disguised as pain medication by NECC. After The Jungle, the FDA was established in response, but look at its Compliance Policy Guide as issued in 1992, updated in 2002, and again in 2005. This is a social justice issue since the perps were able repeatedly to avoid stiff penalties for serious violations during the last decade. Corporate greed vs. the good citizens of our country yada yada yada.

Nov 5, 2012, 5:42pm

So I'm reading the introduction to The Arden Shakespeare Hamlet, ed. Harold Jenkins. When I first read Hamlet as a teen, I never questioned the reason why people considered the relationship between Gertrude and Claudius to be incestuous. But now I wonder.

This subject also came up in Wolf Hall...there was much discussion about Henry VIII's relationship with Catherine being incestuous because Catherine MIGHT have consummated her marriage to Henry's brother Prince Arthur. I don't recall which bible passages were quoted in those discussions, but I remember thinking it odd that such a marriage would be considered incestuous.

At what point did it become incestuous in Christian culture for a man to marry his brother's widow? If I recall correctly the Hebrew Bible says that thou shalt not have relations with the wife of your father, but thou must marry the widow of thy brother. Well. Maybe it was phrased differently...but I'm pretty sure that was the general idea. I don't recall anything in the New Testament saying that a man shouldn't marry his brother's widow, so where did this idea of incestuousness come from?

I also wonder (maybe there are some Shakespeare scholars who read my thread)...if Shakespeare had strong feelings about the incestuous nature of marrying your brother's widow, does that imply that he questioned the legitimacy of his king, James I, who was grandson to Henry VIII's "incestuous" marriage to Catherine?

Nov 5, 2012, 6:28pm

59> Complex subject. First off, reference Leviticus 25:5

"If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband's brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband's brother unto her.

The duty of a surviving brother to carry on his brother's family was very important--but the issue would be his late brother's child and not his own. Thus the story of Onan in Genesis 36. Onan went to Tamar, the late Er's wife. But he withdrew early and "cast his seed upon the ground." For that, Yahweh decreed capital punishment, so Onan died as well. But the brother did not strictly marry his sister-in-law. He just got her pregnant, and it was known as a Levirate marriage. Many readers considered Onan's crime as masturbation (aka Onanism) and considered masturbation a serious sin for centuries.

As to marriage to a mother-in-law, sister-in-law, etc., these people were considered part of a household, especially if they lived in the same manor. Marriages to such always had overtones of incest, but such overtones were easily overridden among the aristocracy. But then as now, there were strict conservatives, many who held places in the hierarchy who pronounced dire consequences for everyone who did not follow the conservatives' conscience. Especially if the conservative was opposed to the marriage for politiical or economic (his own economy) reasons. Monks and priests who vowed celibacy (whether they kept their vows or now) tended to look down their Pecksniffian noses at people who did not remain celibate.

Nov 5, 2012, 6:54pm

Change of subject here, but one of the books in my read-list that is along the social justice line is A Theology of Liberation by Gustavo Gutierrez.

Nov 5, 2012, 6:57pm

Hmmm, interesting. Thanks for that.

Pecksniffian noses ARE rather large, aren't they? I can't believe that's actually a word in the dictionary. I'm going to have to find an opportunity to use it.

I wasn't a huge fan of Martin Chuzzlewit the main characters had a lot of bad qualities to redeem. :p

Edited: Nov 5, 2012, 8:04pm

>61 patito-de-hule: Interesting cover. I think I still have Ironies of Imprisonment sitting around. Was that any good? I was considering reading Nickel and Dimed instead of Dead Man Walking since the former is a more recent book (though on a very different subject).

Nov 5, 2012, 7:23pm

I was considering Nickel and Dimed too, but I don't have it. I need some more bookshelves before I buy any more.

Nov 5, 2012, 7:23pm

Lots of interesting discussion going on here Rachel. Very "cerebral". ;)

Edited: Nov 5, 2012, 7:53pm

I would be down for Gutierrez. But remember, people, this is in February....we have time....

Sorry about the Mountain Dew. It was too good a joke to pass up. It's also kinda serious. Anytime I meet someone who is pro-death penalty, I pointedly ask if they would be willing to have the executioner's job. Some of them seem to shy away from the question and call it irrelevant. LOL. It's the same logic as asking a pro-war politician if they'd let their child be drafted to fight in that war.

Nov 5, 2012, 8:17pm

I sometimes ask if they've ever seen an execution. That left an impression on Albert Camus (see reflections on the guillotine), and it made an impression on me. In 7/10 sec. a living, breathing, scared-as-hell person drops about 8 feet, stops abruptly just above the ground, swings and kicks a little and is converted to a sack of garbage. Doesn't take long, but it's not pleasant.

Nov 5, 2012, 8:22pm

Garbage? That's not garbage, it makes for perfectly good fertilizer.

Nov 5, 2012, 8:25pm

>66 JDHomrighausen: I know it's in February. Dad just likes starting these things early. ;)

>67 patito-de-hule: Lovely image. Thanks for that.

>68 Ape: not after the embalming process

Nov 5, 2012, 8:29pm

Oh no no no, you never spoil fertilizer with chemicals like that, what a terrible thought.

Nov 5, 2012, 8:41pm

I should also point out, Jonathan, many times the man who gives the injection or throws the switch is opposed to the death penalty. In literature, remember Javert in Les Miserables: "It's a pity the law doesn't allow me to be merciful."

>69 The_Hibernator: Lovely image. Thanks for that. Yeah, I deleted my last clause about the tropical sun.

Edited: Nov 5, 2012, 11:27pm

That's where my clincher comes in. (This is currently a debate topic as tomorrow's ballot here in CA includes a proposition banning the death penalty.) Proponents of the death penalty argue that it's a deterrent. Well, why not hire government-paid rapists to rape sex offenders? Or train attack dogs to maul people who engage in cockfighting? It's the same logic, yet I don't hear anyone arguing for those deterrents that are proportional to the crime. Perhaps that's because they're unethical before they are deterrents. LOL.

One guy today told me that we should use the death penalty more, and set strict limits on the number of appeals death row inmates can have. After all, it's practical, right? Yet I can't seem to remember Jesus anywhere in the Gospels saying, "Wait a sec, guys. All these love thy neighbor stuff? That 'first shall be last' bit? Yeah . . . if it's not practical, you actually don't have to bother with it."

The really fun debates are with Christians who are pro-death penalty. That is one I can't get. With Catholics it's easy, because you just have to tell them what the Church teaches and that usually lends some credibility, but with non-Catholic Christians it can be a more challenging discussion.

Nov 6, 2012, 12:37am

The "easy" discussions are those with people who agree with our basic premises to begin with. I find conservative Christians generally the most difficult because even though they pay "lip service" to the fundamentals of Christianity as I would state them, the concepts mean something different to them. This goes for Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, and other Christians. But there are agnostics and atheists with whom I discuss the issue.

This being the case, the basic premises I work with must have to do, generally, with the difference between liberals and conservative. George Lakoff in Moral Politics suggests a paradigm that Liberals think maternalistically while Conservatives think paternalistically. I'm not sure I agree, at least not completely. But it's an interesting starting point when trying to sort out just what our basic premises.

A little more down to the nitty gritty is to suggest a starting premise that it is wrong to kill. That is Sr. Helen Prejean's premise in Dead Man Walking. Most people will agree to this principle, but many make exceptions. I make a stronger statement that it is always wrong to deliberately kill a person. My minor premise is that there is no killing more deliberate than an execution. The syllogism is undeniable. If you grant the premises, then you must grant that execution is wrong. Proponents of capital punishment do make exceptions to the major premise, but usually they are uncomfortable with that.

The other argument I like to use is that Americans are culturally conditioned to conflate justice and revenge. There is so much violence in our society. And it is so often institutionalized violence. Yet people are uncomfortable with equating revenge with justice for good reason.

We cannot "prove" that capital punishment is wrong. We cannot even give a definition of "wrong" that everyone will agree with. We are unlikely to convince anyone whose mind is already made up on the subject. But for those who waver on the subject, we can make them uncomfortable with the pro-death choice.

Edited: Nov 6, 2012, 7:08am

>65 jolerie: Woops. I missed a "hi" to Valerie! :)

>71 patito-de-hule: - 73 Apparently you two are much more experienced at discussing the death penalty than I am. I don't often come across people whose opinions are different than mine on the topic, perhaps because I'm mostly around liberal scientists who are much more interested in moral issues like stem cell research and the existence of God. So I'm not participating only because I've never really thought about HOW to have such a discussion. :p

>72 JDHomrighausen: With Catholics it's easy, because you just have to tell them what the Church teaches and that usually lends some credibility

Do you really find that? My impression is that most (youngish) Catholics don't agree with the Church on some things and agree on other things. At the very least, most young Catholics I know are sexually active and feel the use of birth control is wise. I figured this comes with a general disregard for what the Church teaches...(or in a more positive light, it comes with independent thinking).

But, again, I guess you're running in a very different crowd than I do. You probably know a lot more Catholics who study theology at a Catholic university than I do. Such people are probably more open to an argument about Catholic doctrine. I think I've only been friends with one person who studied Catholic theology (not counting my dad). And I used to think it was hilarious the way he'd suddenly start quoting from the catechism in order to convince our atheist friend that God existed. :p Then he'd be like "Rachel! You're Catholic! Help me out here!" and I'd just shake my head because he'd lost that argument a long time ago. I'd never considered that quoting the catechism might be an effective argument where he came from. Interesting thought. :)

Edited: Nov 6, 2012, 4:23pm

For a good read on social injustice, try My First Coup d'Etat and Other True Stories from the Lost Decades of Africa by John Dramani Mahama. Among other things he tells of Ghana's elite during the decades of the sixties and seventies.

ETA-Just kidding about Social Injustice. Rachel, check out the Nook book.

"On Gebruary 24, 1966. I was seven years old. . .The words I heard people speeaking that day seemed to hold a certain air of mystery and urgency, expecially the phrase coup d'etat, which was bing repeated like a mantra. I had never heard it before. Yet I knew, without having to be told,, that it did not belong to any of the six languages I spoke: not Gonja, not Twi, not Hausa, Dagbani, or Ga; not even English. To my child's ear, the phrase sounded exciting, like a game that all the upper-form students would soon be playing; and from the moment I first heard it--coup d'etat--I wished I could learn to play this new game as well."

Mahama succeeded President John Atta Mills as president of Ghana in July, 2012.

Nov 7, 2012, 2:32am

> 73

You make a good point, Rachel's dad, about it being easiest to discuss things with people who accept your basic premises. I haven't read Prejean, but this book is making me want to. I recently read a book on translation issues in the Hebrew Bible and there was an entire chapter devoted to the verb "kill" in the context of "Thou shalt not kill." The basic argument was that different words for "kill" in Hebrew have different contexts. This "kill" referred more to premeditated individual murder, as opposed to bloodshed in the context of war. So it might be better rendered, "Thou shalt not murder."

I wouldn't go so far as to say it is always wrong to kill: we do have just war theory. But the number of contexts in which just war theory applies is pretty tiny compared to the number of actual military conflicts that happen in the world. And when we have alternatives to taking a life, such as life in prison without parole, then there is little excuse to do so.

> 74

Rachel, you're very right about that ... I am sexually active and my girlfriend uses the pill. But we plan on getting married, and we practically feel married already (been together 3.5 years), so there is some difference between that and one-night stands or friends with benefits (ugh). But I did think hard before taking that step. I really don't agree with the specific interpretation many Catholics have of what it means to be "pro-life": apparently picketing Planned Parenthood constitutes being pro-life. But Planned Parenthood does a lot of pro-life stuff: health care for women, cancer check-ups, prenatal vitamins, etc. Similarly, using birth control can be "pro-life" is one is not divorcing sex from procreation but recognizing that procreation is beautiful and sacred enough that it should wait until a better time in one's life - i.e. NOT when I'm a 22-year-old college student!

I rarely quote the catechism. It doesn't really convince anyone. Catholic thought is too complicated to understand by pulling out little paragraphs here and there on specific doctrines. I doubt my crowd is much different than yours - even for a Jesuit school, mine is very secular, and though student mass is usually packed our student body is only 50% Catholic, and of course not all of them practicing. Because we're in the Silicon Valley we get a lot of students coming for business and engineering programs who don't care much about the religious heritage of the school. The kind of Catholic students who go here seem to be pretty "liberal" (inasmuch as such labels have any meaning) or students who are seriously questioning Catholicism and considering leaving it.

Edited: Nov 7, 2012, 6:54am

2012 Book 153: The Horse and His Boy, by C. S. Lewis

Reason for Reading: Fifth Book (publication order) of the Chronicles of Narnia

Shasta grew up as practically a slave to his "father," until he meet a talking horse. Bree (the horse) has been kidnapped from Narnia, a foreign land that Shasta has never heard of. Bree is convinced that Shasta, too, has been taken from Narnia. They escape together, and have many adventures on the way to Narnia. This book takes place during the original reign of High King Peter and his brother and sisters. It was a delightful little book, and complements the Narnia series quite well. I DID have a good laugh at the rather xenophobic treatment of Archenland--most people from this land were portrayed as corrupt, degenerate, and evil. By the way they dressed and some of their habits, Lewis clearly meant for Archenland to be similar to the Orient. This snafu made me chuckle a little bit, since I took into consideration the age in which Lewis was writing...and that he was writing about a fantasy land. In the end, I enjoyed this book just as much as the other books in the series. It is fun, cute, and a delight to read.

Nov 7, 2012, 9:04am

#76 . . . or students who are seriously questioning Catholicism and considering leaving it.

Well, I think everyone should seriously question Catholicism. Isn't that what Catholic theologians do? I would say more, but I don't think this is the right place. But you must understand that Rachel and I will debate/argue a point and then both of us will abruptly switch sides and continue the disputation. To me, at least, the point is to experiment with how to formulate ideas. Pure sophistry.

#77. Go Narnia!!!

Nov 7, 2012, 9:13am

>77 The_Hibernator: You can always seem to laugh and take in stride the things that completely irritate me :-) I haven't read that one since I was very young, because the xenophobia gives me the creeps.

Nov 7, 2012, 10:12am

>79 norabelle414: I CAN get upset at books that are outwardly xenophobic or sexist, but that's generally only in the situation when the author has a similar background as I do and therefore SHOULD know better. To C. S. Lewis, he wasn't being xenophobic so much as showing how wonderful Christianity is. ;) And Pearl S. Buck was portraying the sentiments of her characters--I highly doubt she felt that way herself. She was just trying to be accurate in her characterizations. :)

I don't see the point in getting upset at those sorts of things. Seems like wasted energy to me. Especially since it would be virtually impossible to read the classics without running into sexism and xenophobia.

P.S. I didn't mention in my review that the Narnia books also tend to be a bit sexist. That, too, makes me laugh. :p

Edited: Nov 7, 2012, 10:38am

>76 JDHomrighausen: by Jonathan: I recently read a book on translation issues in the Hebrew Bible and there was an entire chapter devoted to the verb "kill" in the context of "Thou shalt not kill. "

A point that is important, but which must be dealt with carefully. לֹא תִּרְצָח means, by its very context, "don't commit murder." It is, after all, a God-given command with force of law, and "murder" is by definition unlawful killing. So arguing that it means "It shall be unlawful to commit an 'unlawful killing'" is a circular argument. When Hebrews used that particular word for "kill" in other contexts and other centuries, it meant (to borrow a cliche from Lewis Carroll) precisely what they meant it to mean.

I write this here, not as a point of Biblical exegesis, but as a cautionary warning about reading or writing anything in translation. A good author handpicks words to try to create a coincidence between what he is thinking and what his audience will understand. Consider this discussion in another forum of the meaning (connotation) of the opening words in Albert Camus' The Stranger. The post I'm referring to is in particular reference to the word maman.

Nov 7, 2012, 10:44am

>80 The_Hibernator: I don't blame C.S. Lewis or Pearl S. Buck for their depictions of xenophobia or sexism (especially not the latter because I believe she actually raised awareness), nor do I think any less of them because of it. I just find the books unpleasant to read.

Re: sexism. Ooof, yes. I don't read The Last Battle anymore, either, due to the fate of poor Susan.

Nov 7, 2012, 12:37pm

#77 I loved The Horse and His Boy as a child. And I have to admit that I still loved it when reading it to my son five or six years ago. There are elements of xenophobia but I'm a strong believer that you need to look at a book it in the context of when and where it was written

Nov 7, 2012, 1:07pm

>83 SandDune: Amen!

The following reflection on Dead Man Walking is mainly intended for QT 3.141592653589793... and perhaps Lil bratty teen or anyone else who has (might read) the book.

I wonder how many people have read that book as well as Albert Camus' Reflections on the Guillotine which is quoted extensively by Sister Helen. Also one might well read Camus' The Myth of Sisyphus, and essay on whether it is rational to commit suicide given the absurdity of life. Also relevant migth be Jean-Paul Sartre's Nausea. This last because Sartre and Camus were bitter friends, existentialists at the height of that movement in France, and because while Camus was opposed to violent revolution and capital punishment where Sartre defended both.

Given all that, my dear QT-pi, an interesting blog for February might be taken from Chapter 4 of DMW where the scene inside the death house in the minutes before Sonnier's extradition to the land beyond. It might be interesting to discuss, in the light of existentialism, "Who was truly a free person?" in that room. I think Sartre, and probably Camus, would come to the conclusion that Sonnier is the only one. Certainly the warden was not, and certainly Bourque and LeBlanc were not. The issue that interests me is that Sonnier apologized to LeBlanc for murdering his son, David, but not to Bourque for murdering his daughter Loretta? (More is said related to this, but that's the interesting passage.) Bourque was hurt and whispered "Why not me?"

I'll have to set that idea aside until February and maybe blog about it then.

Nov 8, 2012, 8:09am

Phew! I'm starting to catch up with my reviews!

2012 Book 154: The Social Conquest of Earth

Written by Edward O. Wilson, Narrated by Jonathan Hogan

Reason for Reading: Group read in our LibraryThing "Science, Religion, History" group.

In The Social Conquest of Earth, Wilson expounds upon the theories that were set forth in his classic work Sociobiology. His main thesis is that group selection, not kin selection, drove evolution and helped us to develop societies. He compares the way human society developed to the way ant "society" developed (ants are his specialty). He suggests reasons why religion and xenophobia would have originally developed as protective characteristics of groups. This book covers a large swath of material...from ants to human prehistory, to history, to today. I think he did a pretty good job organizing the book considering what a wide topic he was covering. His theories were clear and for the most part convincing. I think Wilson is an atheist, but he did a pretty good job of stating his opinions in an agnostic sort of way to avoid insulting the faithful. The only statement that rather jarred me was when he suggested that there surely exist better ways to find spiritual fulfillment than total submission to God. This statement jarred me because it seemed he was saying that this religious process developed for a reason, but that reason is now obsolete. However, in an earlier chapter, he pointed out that homosexuality developed for a reason, so homophobia is not helpful to society. I wholeheartedly agree with him that homophobia is hateful and ignorant. But it is not particularly scientific to say homosexuality developed for a reason, therefore it's good...religion developed for a reason, but it's obsolete now. What are his reasons for deciding one is good and the other is obsolete? His reasons are emotional rather than scientific. But I'm just being nitpicky here. I think the book was well-written, interesting, and approachable by a non-scientific audience. I had no issues with Hogan's narration--he read the book well, but it wasn't anything worth raving about.

Nov 8, 2012, 10:01am

I'm reading the Arden Shakespeare version of Hamlet, edited by Harold Jenkins. Harold Jenkins' Introduction had a LOT of information, and I highly recommend it to someone who's serious about reading this play. Jenkins started by discussing the date of original release. Apparently there is some controversy among scholars about when the play first came out. There's about 2-3 years wiggle room of uncertainty. Apparently, this is an important question since there is a play that was released around the same time called Antonio's Revenge. Either Hamlet or Antonio's Revenge was plagiarized. We're talking the plot, the circumstances, and some of the dialog--all copied. Jenkins comes to the conclusion from his three-paged discussion about dates that Hamlet was released first. Originally, it was generally accepted that Antonio's Revenge was released first and that it was used as "source material" for Hamlet. I wasn't entirely convinced by Jenkins' argument, and am not certain whether most scholars today agree with him or accept the original conclusions that Hamlet was the later play (though I suspect the former). After so much time has passed, and considering that plagiarism wasn't as big a deal in the 16th century as it is now, I hesitate to give Shakespeare all the credit simply because he's Shakespeare. However, Jenkins did provide one argument that I found convincing. Shakespeare was basing his play on a well-known Danish tale. He shouldn't have had any use for an unrelated secondary source like Antonio's Revenge. On the other hand, Marston would have been searching for ideas for a sequel to his earlier play, Antonio and Mellida, and would have had more need for source material.

Jenkins then spends a good deal of space discussing the publication of Hamlet and the differences between existing manuscripts. I skipped that section, but it certainly contained a good deal of information that a serious scholar would find interesting.

The sources of Shakespeare's Hamlet are then discussed. Apparently, it is generally accepted that the major source of Shakespeare's Hamlet was a contemporary play dubbed by today's scholars as Ur-Hamlet. This play was never printed, so we can't compare it to Shakespeare's work, but Shakespeare would certainly have been familiar with the play since it was put out by his own company. The story that we now call Hamlet was first published in Saxo's Historiae Danicae, written at the end of the twelfth century and published in 1514. The story was then retold by the Frenchman Belleforest--translations (or the original French version) were probably what the author of Ur-Hamlet used when writing his play. It is clear that Belleforest was the source material, rather than Saxo's original work, because that Belleforest introduced some dramatic elements to the story which were present in Hamlet. For instance, the adultery of Amleth's mother was Belleforest's idea. Although it is clear that Belleforest is the source of Hamlet, it is unclear whether Shakespeare read Belleforest himself, or simply inherited the allusions from Ur-Hamlet.

There were, of course, elements in Hamlet that were not evident in Belleforest's work. For instance, the complexity of Hamlet's character was Shakespeare's doing. Also, the ghost of Hamlet's father is only hinted at in Bellefonte. During the revenge scene in his tale, Belleforest made passing reference to the shade of Amleth's father--that it may now rest in peace. The leap between a metaphorical shade and a full-fledged haunting was made somewhere between Belleforest and Shakespeare. Jenkins' introduction contains a lot more information about the little differences between Belleforest and Shakespeare with some speculation about Ur-Hamlet, but I'll leave all of that unsummarized so you have a reason to read the Introduction yourself.

Finally, the Introduction ends with a critical analysis of Hamlet. It has been so long since I've read Hamlet, that I feel I need to go back and read this critical analysis after re-reading the play. I'll post more detailed comments on it later. The only thing that really jumped out at me during this first perusal of Jenkins' critique is that he believes that Ophelia died a virgin. I'd always heard that Ophelia and Hamlet had had relations at some point before the action commenced. The difference between these two interpretations changes Ophelia's character immensely. I'll read very carefully this time and come to my own conclusions.

Nov 8, 2012, 9:14pm

I love the Narnia series. Some of the stories I like more than others, but overall, the entire series has a special place in my heart. I have high hopes that my little guy will one day acquire the necessary skills to sit long enough for me to read him the books out loud, or maybe, just maybe, he will pick it up and read it for himself! :)

Nov 8, 2012, 9:36pm

You've finished The Social Conquest of Earth ALREADY?!?

Nov 9, 2012, 8:21am

88: That was my reaction too.

Nov 9, 2012, 9:46am

Do you remember, Rachel, that when we took that course in psychology at University of Minnesota and how much the professor (graduate assistant, actually) was into sociobiology and Edward O Wilson's theories?

Nov 9, 2012, 5:40pm

HI Rachel, trying to catch up on threads is seriously hard work and as always when I haven't been on for some time you have got the most interesting discussions going on :) and again some wonderful reviews.

I think I will join you with A Brief History of Slavery on your social injustice theme in February - that should fit your category as it deals with human rights.


*big smile* do you remember when I told you the little story about my dad rescuing the cat from the tree a few weeks back? Well, the first thing my parents told me once I came back on Sunday, is that my dad will not rescue any cat anymore. Why? Apparently this cat is gracing them now on a regular basis with dead and mutilated frogs and mice. LOL . I haven't seen any as yet, but my mum was utterly horrified and my dad disgusted.

I wish you a lovely reading weekend :)

Nov 9, 2012, 10:16pm

The Social COnquest of Earth looks a winner Rachel - good review.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend.

Nov 10, 2012, 7:16am

Valerie Yeah, all the Narnia books are good, but I do have my favorites. :) I'll probably read them all again next year in chronological order.

Roni and qebo My TBR queue collapsed in October and by the time I'd reassembled it, The Social Conquest of Earth had already been processed. :) It was good though! And this time I'll be able to participate in the discussion, because I'll have read the book! :)

Dad Yes and no. I remember that he was very interesting in evolutionary-behavioral psychology, though at the time I don't think I knew enough about Sociobiology to keep it distinct from classic behavioral theories like those of Skinner and Pavlov.

Hi Bianca! Welcome back! Sounds like you've picked a good selection for February. :) That makes me laugh about your father and that cat. :) You can always trust a cat that bears gifts, right? Othello gives me gifts all the time too. Luckily, she can't catch anything living in my apartment (except a stray bug now and then - but even those are rare). She has a toy that she's decided is her gift to me though. If I'm sitting on the couch, she'll drop it on my lap. Then she'll carry it to my bed if I'm sleeping. Then she'll drop it by the door if I've left the apartment. It's pretty funny. I wonder how she keeps track of it since it moves around so much. :)

Thanks Paul! I hope you have a good weekend too. I almost told you to have a good review. I hope you have one of those too. ;)

Nov 10, 2012, 8:56am

2012 Book 155: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Written by J. K. Rowling, Narrated by Jim Dale

Reason for Reading: I read this for a Harry Potter Readalong on my blog. On which I'm falling catastrophically behind. But at least I'll get some of them read before the end of the readalong.

My Review
Harry Potter thinks he's in big trouble when he accidentally blows up his aunt, but luckily for him the powers-that-be are distracted by the shocking escape of Sirius Black from the wizard's prison Azkaban. Black is purported to be "You-Know-Who's biggest supporter." (Though I'm not certain what made everyone decide that Black was the most dedicated supporter, rather than the one who'd made the biggest bang? But let's not question the Rowling.) With the dementors out in force - ready to snatch Black up the moment he rears his unkempt head, Harry, Ron, and Hermione don't have much chance to misbehave. Will they catch Black before Black kills again? I loved this book more this time around than I did the first time. (Mainly because I have a fondness for the entire story now, whereas when I read it, I was just continuing a series that I'd started.) I DID notice, however, a few snafus that made me chuckle. Just little inconsistencies here and there. I didn't notice anything like that in the first two books. Usually I ignore little inconsistencies in YA lit, but these surprised me because I'd always thought Rowling had done an amazing job tying up all the loose ends. I suppose inconsistencies are almost impossible to avoid this TIME around though. I remember reading some comments a while back that said that Rowling's writing developed from a bit amateurish to more skilled as the series progressed. Now I see what they mean. I'll keep an eye out for loopholes in the future, now that I know she has them. I'm curious if she gets a lot better at avoiding them in the later books. Overall, though, excellent stuff. I'm enjoying Dale's narrations more and more now that I'm getting used to his style.

Nov 10, 2012, 9:12am

Cats again, huh? But they have such tiny little brains. I'd rather have an elephant to talk to.

Nov 10, 2012, 9:16am

Wow. That's really interesting. Of course, I can't understand Korean, so I can't tell with the elephant is really saying anything intelligible. Still! Interesting.

Othello talks to me all the time. Granted, not in English (or Korean), but she definitely responds to me when I talk to her.

Nov 10, 2012, 2:51pm

I'm more interested in ape brains, however I am immensely fascinated in elephants that like to paint. I was always skeptical about animal art until I read about a specific elephant that, when denied access to paint and brush, would take a stick and doodle in the dirt. I've seen instances where various animals unknowingly throw paint at walls or walk over canvases with paint-covered paws and are called artists by their owners, but when I heard about elephants that actively enjoy it on a conscious level I no longer question the concept of 'animal art,' at least among elephants.

Nov 10, 2012, 3:15pm

What does art look like to an elephant?

Nov 10, 2012, 3:41pm

Who can say? I wonder if they are attempting to draw something specific, or if they just like the pretty colors they see when they play with paint. Then again, I wonder the same about human artists, so...

Nov 10, 2012, 4:14pm

I read an interesting article in the New Scientist a while back that looked at the neural responses to modern art. Apparently, some specific neural areas light up when people are looking at modern art by experienced artists (as opposed to random splashes). Also, the scientists could move one dot or slash of a seemingly random painting and then ask people to decide which painting was better. People tended to choose the original work rather than the modified work. That suggests to me that modern artists really DO know what they're doing, even if I can't figure out what the heck they're doing. :p

Nov 10, 2012, 5:34pm

>98 The_Hibernator: I wonder what Chris Ofili's art looks like to an elephant?

Nov 10, 2012, 5:57pm

100: I often wonder what 'tended' means in these scientific surveys. If 60 percent liked the original and 40 liked the new, one could say people 'tended' to like the original even if it isn't that far off from the 50-50 split you would get if you simply flipped a coin. One also has to wonder who funded/conducted the experiment. Was it someone in the modern art business, perhaps?

I don't know, I am no art connoisseur, so my opinion is limited in its validity. It's not unlike a non-bibliophile screaming how awesome ~insert trendy book here~ and how boring Dickens is, despite having only read a dozen books in their lifetime.

Edited: Nov 10, 2012, 6:25pm

"tended" in this sense means that it was statistically significant. With a p-value of less than 0.05. That could mean that 55% of people chose the original piece of art or that 99% of people chose the original piece, but that they had surveyed enough people to have confidence that it was not random chance that more people chose the right piece of art. I didn't read the original study, so I don't know what percentage of people chose the right piece of art.

No, the research was not funded by artists. That's being a little too cynical for your own good. A neurological study (with brain scans, etc) like the one described in the article would take millions of dollars and years to complete. There's no single entity within the "modern art business" that would profit by funding a study as expensive as that. It's not like the cigarette industry. People aren't going to rush out and buy art just because of a scientific study. And even if they did, it would be individual artists and their agents and maybe a few different foundations that profited. There'd be no way that this mysterious "modern art" businessman of yours could guarantee that the money would come to him.

Actually, studying the neurology of art, music, and poetry/literature is a hot topic right now and it's not JUST about surveying people. That was just a small part of the study. Most of it entails brain scans, which is a bit more scientific than a survey.

In your cynicism, you're missing the interesting point. That we MIGHT be seeing something that we don't realize we're seeing. Some sort of programmed symmetry which reminds our unconscious brains of something. Sort of like the way babies recognize a face as soon as they're able to see properly. Even when things are still quite blurry to them, they respond socially to something with a "smiley face" appearance (the two eyes are most important).

I'm not a huge fan of seemingly random splashes of color/shapes, either, but I am willing to accept that there might be more to it than I previously thought.

Dad: first off, can elephants see in color? Second, what do things look like when you don't have binocular vision, but instead have eyes on either side of your head? I assume when things are in front of them, they would see what seems like our peripheral vision. Would the image from both eyes connect to make one image with a "blind spot" in the middle? Or do they have really awesome peripheral vision that would make what's directly in front of their noses actually visible to them?

Edited: Nov 10, 2012, 6:25pm

Art, Steven, should make a statement. Chris Ofili is a political being (very political) in regards to his art. But probably very few people would have every heard of him had Rudy Giuliani not bashed his work Elephant Dung Virgin Mary. Art bashing by people in high places does nothing but promote what they bash.

N Y Times, Oct 3, 1999. Happy 20th birthday, Rachel, a day early.

Edited: Nov 10, 2012, 6:29pm

PS Yes, I'm an engineer at heart and have to start out with the mechanics of viewing art rather than the psychological aspects of it. :p

Edited: Nov 10, 2012, 7:06pm

Rachel: I'm a firm believer in brain scan-related neurology, simply because it produces hard, observable results. I have no problem with that, and to be honest it makes perfect sense. If an artist splashes colors on a canvas until their own brain responds in a positive way, then it seems logical that other people would respond similarly to the same piece. In fact, in many ways I suspect modern art would be significantly more effective at stimulating our brains than more lavish forms, where we might tend to be more critical of ugly faces or poorly-drawn hands.

What I am cynical about, and nothing will ever convince me otherwise, is 'surveys' where people are served questionnaires and the results are used to make some profound statement about how the mind works. Such studies are cheap and easy to skew in one direction or another.

Mr. Bradford Sir: Perhaps art should make a statement, but there is something to be said for art that is pretty to look at. If we relate it to books, artists seem think themselves writers of literature, which I love, but where is the nonfiction? I think of all the portraits we have of historical figures are wonderful, and it’s a too bad that form of art is so unpopular right now.

We could say that cameras have made this form obsolete, but I hate to think that modern technology has led to the de-evolution of art.

Edited: Nov 10, 2012, 7:23pm

Stephen: The survey was part of the same study that was running the brain scans though. Any good scientist asks the same question in as many ways as he or she can afford / think of. Thus, his or her survey supplements the brain scans, which help to come to a conclusion. What I feel, and you'll never convince me otherwise, is that the study was made BETTER because it added the survey and supplemented somewhat indecipherable data from the brain scans with actual behavioral data. Neither study in itself would be strong. But together they are strong.

Edited: Nov 10, 2012, 7:34pm

On an unrelated note, someone on my blog answered the question I asked in message 59:

I also wonder (maybe there are some Shakespeare scholars who read my thread)...if Shakespeare had strong feelings about the incestuous nature of marrying your brother's widow, does that imply that he questioned the legitimacy of his king, James I, who was grandson to Henry VIII's "incestuous" marriage to Catherine?

Apparently, I have no idea what I'm talking about. :p James I was the son of Mary Queen of Scots, who is NOT "Bloody Mary," the daughter of Henry VIII. The Queen who is rudely referred to as "Bloody Mary" is Mary I of England.

So now I ask the question: Why can't they just come up with unique names for their kids? Royalty! Bah!

ETA: The person on my blog said that Shakespeare could have been seen as questioning the legitimacy of Queen Elizabeth I, however, since she was the product of an adulterous marriage (as seen in the eyes of those people who didn't approve of Henry VIII's divorce).

Nov 10, 2012, 7:41pm

Stephen: Indeed, cameras have made pre-Raphaelite art obsolete.

For forty hours from 5:00 AM Thursday to 9:00 PM last night I had a migraine. I sent Rachel a picture representing the scotoma: Lavender Rose. That is the exact color I was seeing. The shape was more of a croissant.

I was walking around joking that when the migraine was gone I was going to miss the pretty colors. Part of the joke was that the doctor's name was Dr. Croissant. Thus a migraine can be pretty and it can even be entertaining, but it is definitely not art.

Art can be educational, entertaining, historical or whatever. But those characteristics alone do not make it art.

Nov 10, 2012, 7:45pm

I wish my migraines were educational and entertaining.

Nov 10, 2012, 7:51pm

What you need (?) is the forty hour devotional!

I don't wish it on you. :)

Edited: Nov 10, 2012, 8:47pm

Both are zombie novels. Which would you choose to read?

ETA: I'm not even sure how that can happen?! They're from two different publishing companies. Certainly the cover artist can't sell the same work to both companies??

Nov 10, 2012, 8:54pm

Sorry, I just finished a zombie novel: Dead Man Walking by Helen Prejean. ;)

Edited: Nov 11, 2012, 7:11am

107: Oh yes, good scientists would do that, for sure. Not so for corporate-sponsored data gatherers.

112: Oh yes, I've seen this before. In fact, I believe there was a blog that tracked identical-covered books. Their is a website, I forget which, that hosts images that are free to the public to use in whatever way they like, so sometimes you see the same images crop up on different covers. I know this because I asked the same question a few years ago after I read Modern Magic, the guy in front of the screen is used in another, but they edited it so it was a computer screen with a scantily-clad woman on it.

ETA: Oh, they are called 'stock' or 'free domain' photos.

Edited: Nov 11, 2012, 7:11am

Here's another example.

Edited: Nov 11, 2012, 7:49am

>114 Ape: Well, that's true. But you need to reserve your dead-set cynicism for appropriate situations. A little bit of skepticism is always advisable, but if you'd not be very discerning if you don't pick and choose what to have faith in. :p And I realize, of course, that you didn't read the information and I did. But I'm telling you that this was a reasonably reliable source. Of course I have a little bit of skepticism, but I'm also willing to appreciate what the study might mean given the source.

>115 Ape: I would be more likely to choose the book on the left both times. Which says nothing about the author or the content on the inside. :p

ETA: What I'm trying to say up there is that if you disregard everything because of your cynical bias, then you miss the opportunity to think about what it might mean. Skepticism is healthy...complete disregard due to cynicism really means that you're losing in the end.

Nov 11, 2012, 8:37am

I'm cynical when it comes to skepticism.

Nov 11, 2012, 8:47am

>117 Ape: I'm cynical when it comes to you :p

2012 Book 156: The House of Wisdom, by Jim Al-Khalili

Reason for Reading: Science, Religion, and History group read on LibraryThing.

Many of us were taught that the origins of science were in Ancient Greece but that the Western World fell into the "Dark Ages" where science was lost and no progress was made. This traditional story concludes that the Western world rediscovered the Greek philosophies thus spurring on the Renaissance. A few months ago, I reviewed The Genesis of Science, by James Hannam, which was meant (partly) to dispel our notions of the Middle Ages as a time of darkness, a mire of progress. Hannam then describes how in the early years of the Renaissance, old scientific documents were rediscovered and translated. He only only briefly mentions the fact that those rediscoveries (and the ability to translate them) came from revitalized contact with the Arab world. The House of Wisdom fills that gap, by describing the ways in which the Arab world built upon the science of the Greeks, thus building the foundation for the scientific progress made during the Renaissance. I don't mean to say that Al-Khalili's book is only a gap-filler in the other book, but that the two books complement each other. The weaknesses in each are fortified by the strengths in the other.

The House of Wisdom is an engrossing description of Ancient Arab history of science. Al-Khalili discusses the development of math, optics, medicine, chemistry, and philosophy by sketching descriptions of major scientific figures and their accomplishments. While Hannam's book tended to have a lot of gossipy digressions about the scholars, Al-Khalili tended to focus on facts that were more to the point. This makes Al-Khalili's book more informative, but less entertaining, than Hannam's book. For relief, All-Khalili inserts little passages about his own experiences in Iraq, which were helpful for lightening the mood. One thing I didn't like about Al-Khalili's book is that he is still stuck on the old-fashioned belief that the Western Middle Ages were dark and progress-free. And neither book covered the development of science in China or India.

Overall, if you're interested in reading about Arabic science, I think this book is an excellent place to start.

Edited: Nov 11, 2012, 9:06am

Ah, well then, I think being cynical about me disproves the point you made in the previous post, as you aren't really losing much in the end. :P

Nov 11, 2012, 9:08am

118: Many of the people he presented were completely unfamiliar to me, but the personal anecdotes made them less abstract, conveyed the cultural importance: these are people you would’ve heard of if you’d lived here.

Edited: Nov 11, 2012, 12:47pm

> 118

Interesting review, Rachel. Have you read The Man Who Loved China? It's not about the history of science in China, but about an interesting man who began much of the Western fascination with it. I'd still like to get to The House of Wisdom but it would have to be December.

Nov 11, 2012, 12:55pm

Nice review of The House of Wisdom, Rachel. I'll add it to my wish list.

Nov 11, 2012, 2:25pm

I've had The House of Wisdom on my wishlist for a while. Jim Al-Khalili has presented quite a few science programs on the BBC which I've usually enjoyed.

Nov 12, 2012, 12:04am

>75 patito-de-hule: Regarding My First Coup d'Etat I'm not ready to review the whole book yet, but I think some comment is in order.

The author, John Mahama, became president of Ghana in July, 2012. This book is in the format of separate coming-of-age reminiscences, during the early post-colonial period. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was president of Gold Coast when it became independent. During his time, the country's name was changed to the present Ghana. In 1966, Dr. Nkrumah was unseated by a coup d'etat--the coup of the title and of the first chapter. Mahama refers to the 20 years following that coup as "The Lost Decades." He is referring, of course, to Ghana, but also to the rest of sub-Sahara Africa where similar conditions prevailed. So the book is not a collection of independent essays or memoirs, but rather chapters which are individually essays all centered around that theme of "The Lost Decades" of post-colonial turmoil.

I selected this book for my library after reading a review in the current issue of Foreign Affairs.

Edited: Nov 12, 2012, 9:14am

2012 Book 157: The Black Sheep's Redemption, by Lynette Eason

Reason for Reading: This is one of November's picks for the American Christian Fiction Writers Association online book club. Anyone is welcome to join. Discussions start on the 20th, and this book only takes a couple hours to read.

My Review
In this sweet little Christian romantic suspense from the Harlequin, Charles Fitzgerald has been accused of the murder of his nanny, and the only woman who is willing to replace the nanny is Demi Taylor, a young woman who recently suffered a head wound and can't remember who she is. Fitzgerald's family, who pretty much runs the town, is suspected of hiding evidence on the case. Will they be able to clear his name to everyone's satisfaction? And just who IS Demi, and why does she feel someone is stalking her?

This book is the penultimate book in a romantic suspense series about the Fitzgerald family (who apparently has a very suspenseful and romantically inclined few months during the murder investigation). Although I hadn't read any of the previous books in the series, this book had all of the information needed to understand what was going on. However, there are several loose ends in the book, leaving an opening for us to explore the romantic inclinations of Ryan Fitzgerald AND to discover *dum dum dum* the murderer. (At least I certainly HOPE we discover who the murderer is.) :) I really needed some fluffy reading at the moment that I picked this book up, and this certainly delivered. Light, quick, fun, romantic, and suspenseful. I'm glad I read it, and I'll probably pick up some of the others in the series (at the very least I'll pick up the last book so I can finish the story).

My four-star rating is on the well-you-knew-it-was-Harlequin scale. :)

Nov 12, 2012, 9:39am

>119 Ape: Stephen, I'd be at a loss without you. :)

>120 qebo: qebo, you know I hadn't thought about that. It's a good point.

>121 JDHomrighausen: Jonathan No, I haven't read The Man Who Loved China, but I've heard good things about it. Thanks for bringing it up, I might take a look at it. There's no rush on House of Wisdom. We're pretty casual in our group reads...there are certain members who are a bit behind. You know who you are. ;)

>122 kidzdoc: Hi Darryl! I hope you like it. :) Just be sure to get the right one, because there's others on the same topic with the same title! The title in the UK was much more creative.

>123 SandDune: Hope you like it when you do get around to it! :) I haven't seen/heard of him except as the author of this book. I guess that's because I don't really watch TV or listen to the radio very much. I don't even podcast! I'm missing out on a lot of good information that way, I know, but I just can't get myself to be interested in those things for any reasonable length of time.

>124 patito-de-hule: Ah. Thanks. The reason I asked is that I was thinking of reading it while I was in MN for Thanksgiving...I don't want to carry around too many books...this one's on the Nook so it's perfect. But I need a book that I can put down for a while and pick back up again without feeling like I've lost continuity.

Nov 13, 2012, 7:24am

Book 158: The Marshal's Promise, by Rhonda Gibson

Reason for reading: This is one of November's picks for the American Christian Fiction Writers Association online book club. Anyone is welcome to join. Discussions start on the 20th, and this book only takes a couple hours to read.

My Review
In this sweet little Christian historical romance put out by the Harlequin publishing company, Rebecca Ramsey has been forced by her evil stepmother to answer an advert for a mail-order bride. But upon arriving in New Mexico territories, she discovers that her husband-to-be has been killed. With nowhere to go, she decides to make her home in New Mexico. Luckily, the Marshal offers her a job as his housekeeper. But does the Marshal have an ulterior motive for his offer? Sparks fly as these two learn that communication works better than secrets. This was a very cute little book, and there were some really sweetly romantic moments in it. There were also some tartly romantic moments. ;) If you're looking for a light historical romance, this is a good choice; however, this book has quite a few anachronisms in it so it's not to be read by the seriously hard-core historical fiction readers. This book is meant to be fun and sweet, not cerebrally historic.

Disclaimer: Again, this book is rated on the well-you-knew-it-was-Harlequin scale.

Nov 13, 2012, 7:38am

I haven't read a Harlequin in decades! Though I do have a Harlequin Teen on Mount TBR something about a lady in a steel corset or something.

Nov 13, 2012, 9:43am

:) I haven't read any of their teen line. I wonder if they're having good success with that one?

Nov 13, 2012, 9:49am

Catching up; saying hi.

>103 The_Hibernator:, 107 Amen, sister. Statistical significance, ftw.

Edited: Nov 13, 2012, 11:11am

Hi Nora! *waves*

Hamlet Act 1 Scene 1:

Setting: Sentinels stand on the battlements of the castle

Characters: Barnardo, Marcellus, and Francisco of the King's guard; Horatio, an educated gentleman, skeptical of ghosts, friend of Hamlet

Twice recently, Barnardo and Marcellus have had their watch interrupted on the stroke of 1AM by an apparition in the form of the recently deceased King Hamlet. Fearing to speak to the ghost themselves, they had invited the skeptical scholar Horatio. Upon the tolling of the hour, the ghost appears, and Horatio calls out, charging it to speak. But the ghost stalks silently away. Our skeptical scholar (and therefore our audience) is now convinced that the ghost is not a fantasy. Aggrieved, Horatio suggests that the ghost is an ill omen.

The three men then begin gossiping about an upcoming war, for which the ghost might be a portent. Thus, the audience is educated: Many years before, the late King Hamlet had slain in battle Fortinbras, the King of Norway. King Hamlet had confiscated some treasures and lands in that battle, which were given to young Hamlet upon his father's death. The son of the late King Fortinbras, also named Fortinbras, has decided (after brooding for 30 years) to avenge his father's death and seize the lands back from young Hamlet. He's been gathering a band of misfits to wage war on Denmark. (This band of misfits apparently morphs into a well-organized army by the end of the play...nice to have footnotes to point out all the inconsistencies!)

Gossip-fest complete, the ghost reappears and Horatio calls out, commanding it to speak. The ghost is about to answer when the cock crows. The ghost starts, and fades away as on a dreadful summons. Horatio decides that perhaps the ghost didn't speak because it wants young Hamlet. The men resolve to tell Hamlet about the ghost.

My thoughts: Suspenseful first scene. I think it's fascinating the way Shakespeare has managed to introduce several very important points into the scene, without distracting from the ghost. We now know that Horatio is a skeptical scholar, that the ghost is likely the spirit of the dead king, and that Denmark is about to be attacked by the vengeful young King of Norway. All that information flowed so smoothly into the dialog that the audience wouldn't even realize they were being educated. I also like the suspense. What does the ghost want to say? We'll have to wait and see.

P.S. No, I don't think I'm going to make a post for every single scene. But the opening scene is important. :p

Nov 13, 2012, 11:14am

The Nose, by Nikolai Gogol
Major Kovalev, a Caucus-made collegiate assessor (in other words, a minor official who has been elevated by his connections rather than his intelligence), awakens on March 25th to discover that his nose is missing. To his dismay, he later sees his nose masquarading around town in the guise of a state councilor (equivalent rank of general). Kovalev absurdly tries to put his nose in its place.

Nikolai Gogol's "The Nose" is a satirical short story written around 1835. It is one of Gogol's well-known Petersburg tales. Gogol is the father of Russian modernism and strongly influenced writers like Dostoevsky. Most literary critics consider Gogol to be a social satirist and protector of the little man; though Richard Pevear, in his introduction to The Collected Tales of Nikolai Gogol claimed: "Whatever semblance of social criticism or satire there may be in the Petersburg Tales is secondary and incidental." (1) He feels that Gogol included elements of social satire in his stories, but the satire so quickly dissolves into the absurd that this fantastic element should be considered the primary point of Gogol's stories. While reading "The Nose" I was struck by the social satire, but I DO agree that, as quickly as it came, the satire faded and absurdity reigned.

My thoughts/summary (may contain middle-of-story spoilers)

Major Kovalev was a stupid, self-important, vain, name-dropping minor official, but as he desperately tried to regain his lost nose I couldn't help feeling sorry for him. Imagine the horror he felt when he awoke to find his nose missing. What would all his important friends think? Would he ever be able to flirt again? This blow was clearly below the belt. He rushed out into the world, impotently searching for his nose when lo! He saw the nose! It was so finely dressed that even Kovalev had trouble recognizing it. At first, he felt chagrin - he wasn't even sure how to address the clearly-high-ranking nose. But it was his nose, after all, and he mustered up the courage to politely suggest that the nose re-join his face. But the nose politely refused to understand Kovalev. Finally, he blurted out: "It seems you ought to know where you belong, and where do I find you?" The nose blithely answered: "Judging by your dress, there can't possibly have been close relations between us." (2)

I had to laugh at that quote. The nose, which had formerly been very intimate with Kovalev, but which is now an elevated rank, pretended that it couldn't possibly have ever known him. Remind you of anyone?

Kovalev then tried to put out a notification in the newspaper saying that his nose was masquerading as a high official, don't let it fool you...and don't let it leave town! But the newspaper office was much more interested in lost dogs and bicycles for sale than the heinous nose-theft. They didn't want the responsibility of such an advert, and so they simply denied that they could do anything about it and suggested another office Kovalev should try. (That reminds me of a time when I called up the customer service of {un-named corporation} and spent a couple hours transferring back and forth from office to office - often the the same office multiple times - to fix a problem that (as it turns out) was an easy fix on the internet.)

The police commissioner was also dramatically unhelpful. The indolent police commissioner had been about to take a nice long post-lunch nap when Kovalev came with his complaint. He should not be expected to start an investigation on a full stomach, the commissioner claimed. "Moreover, they don't tear noses off decent citizens' faces." (2) The police commissioner excused his laziness by blaming the victim for the crime, which, as far as I'm concerned, is crime in itself. A crime that still happens to this day. Whenever we hear "she was asking to be raped - the way she was dressed," the speaker is excusing his inability to do anything useful about a problem by blaming the victim.

I adored this story. I got a good laugh while nodding in emphatic agreement with Gogol's still-relevant criticisms of society. But there are so many other ways of interpreting this work. In his introduction to The Collected Tales of Nikolai Gogol, Richard Pevear says "Gogol was made uneasy by his works. They detached themselves from him and lived on their own, producing effects he had not forseen and that sometimes dismayed him." Although this statement was not in reference specifically to "The Nose," it is clear that Pevear (perhaps unconsciously) views the story as an allegory for Gogol's dismay at the unintentional social impact of his stories.

(1) Gogol, Nikolai. The Collected Tales of Nikolai Gogol, translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. 2001. ISBN-13: 9780307803368.
(2) Dialog is taken (sometimes paraphrased) from Gogol, Nikolai. The Diary of a Madman and Other Stories, translated by Andrew MacAndrew. Penguin Group. 1960. ISBN 0451524039.

Nov 13, 2012, 11:33am

130: Statistics? Statatistics? I like statistics. Why didn't you use that word, Rachel?

Nov 13, 2012, 12:11pm

I was a listening to a radio programme yesterday about Gogol's short story 'The overcoat' and here you are recommending 'The Nose'. It feels like someone is trying to tell me something.

Nov 13, 2012, 12:11pm

>133 Ape: From Rachel's message 103: ""tended" in this sense means that it was statistically significant. "

Nov 13, 2012, 12:46pm

Yeah but that was after she disagreed with me, so I wasn't listening. :P

Nov 13, 2012, 12:59pm

I liked The Nose; it's been a long time since I read it, however. I think about the same time as you were reading Voina i Mir, Rachel. Was that 8th grade?

LOA has a new title that sounds interesting. American Antislavery Writings is in the book stores. Here's what LOA says of it: Available in bookstores November 8, 2012

I just got back from the doctor's office about my recent 40 hours devotion. He asked me what Dr. Croissant had said and I told him I didn't remember much because I was 5 hours into a migraine. He kind of snarled about me referring to the scotoma as pretty, but he said Dr. Croissant was absolutely the right man to see about it. I sensed that since I had said the scotoma looked like a rose-colored croissant.

Rachel, I guess I'll see you this weekend in Tripoli?

Nov 13, 2012, 2:33pm

>133 Ape: & 136 I hadn't disagreed with you YET, I was just answering your question. I disagreed with you later in the message.

>134 SandDune: You should read them! I haven't read The Overcoat yet, but it's in the collection of stories that I'm currently working through. :)

>135 norabelle414: mmmm-hmmmm

>136 Ape: I don't know when YOU read them, but I read them when I was in the 9th grade. :)

That new LOA publication looks interesting. Perhaps it would be a good addition to my list for the Social Justice theme in February.

Tripoli? I'd love to go there. But, alas, I'll be in Iowa this weekend.

Nov 13, 2012, 2:59pm

I also thought The House of Wisdom was a good pairing with Hannam's God's Philosophers. Good review!

Edited: Nov 13, 2012, 3:08pm

I meant Tripoli, IA, of course. That's where Eric lives, a few miles north of Waterloo near Denver.

I ordered the LOA publicaion. You'll get to see it.

de·fen·es·tra·tion noun \dē-ˌfe-nə-ˈstrā-shən\: 1: a throwing of a person or thing out of a window.

I just got back from the store where I bought some milk. On the way, the announcer told the story of how the overture for The Thieving Magpie was composed. Gioachino Rossini was a notorious procrastinator and supposedly did not compose the overture until he did it in the theater on the day of the opening of the opera. The conductor gave orders that the pages were to be thrown through the window as they were completed. If there were no pages, the staff were to through the procrastinator himself out the window. As he told this story, visions were running through my mind of the Prague Defenestrations of 1419 and 1618. But the announcer picked up on that thought too and ended with a statement that Rossini managed to avoid his own defenestration.

Rossini, like your nephew Johnny, was born on February 29. But he had to wait longer than Johnny for his second birthday. Little Gioachino had birthdays in 1796 (at age 4) and in 1804 (at age 12). 1800 was not a leap year.

Nov 13, 2012, 3:51pm

>139 ronincats: Thanks Roni.

>140 patito-de-hule: oooo look at that. Look at those massive skyscrapers in Tripoli IA.

Nov 13, 2012, 6:50pm

I would pay some good money to stick you and Stephen in a room. Give you guys a random topic and see what you guys have to say about it. Better than some of the stuff they call entertainment on TV nowadays. :P

Nov 13, 2012, 7:10pm

>142 jolerie: LOL. Funny thing is, we live very close to each other but have never duked it out personally. He'll lose his chance soon, though, since I'm moving to MN for Christmas.

Edited: Nov 14, 2012, 8:42am

Since I am having trouble interpreting Paradise Lost, I am painstakingly going through and interpreting it. I can then use these notes while I read it for deeper meaning later. To see other posts about Paradise Lost, go to my master post.

Rachel's Notes on Lines 1 - 26 of Book I (Milton's invocation)

Psalm 125.4 - "Do good, O Lord, unto those that be good, and to them that are upright in their hearts."

Milton is asking the Holy Spirit to guide him as he tells us about the disobedience of Adam and Eve. He invokes the Holy Spirit as the Heavenly Muse who inspired Moses on Sinai (lines 6-8) and then the spirit of God in the Temple on Mt. Zion (line 10). Milton believes that the Holy Spirit will help him soar above earlier poets, who invoked their muses from the oracle at Delphi (lines 11-16). He asks instruction from the Holy Spirit so that he may "justify the ways of God to men."

Rachel's Notes on Lines 27 - 36 (What made Adam and Eve revolt?)

First, we will describe what caused Adam and Eve to fall from God's favor by breaking the only law that God asked them to obey (i.e. not to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil). It was the Serpent who first seduced Adam and Eve to revolt. The Serpent's guile was stirred up by envy and revenge, so he deceived Eve.

Rachel's Notes on Lines 36 - 83 (Satan and his minions have fallen from Heaven)

Isaiah 14:12 - "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!"

It happened after Satan's pride had cast him and his rebel angels out of Heaven. Because Satan thought he was equal to his Lord God, he and his host of rebels had warred against Heaven in a vain attempt to place Satan above his peers. But God hurled Satan and his rebels from Heaven - headlong, like fiery meteors bound in unbreakable chains - to crash ruinously into Hell. {Much like the Titans thrown to the pits of Tartarus in Hesiod's Theogeny (664 - 735)} the celestial demons spent nine days and nights lying vanquished in the fiery gulfs of Hell. Satan's doom made him angrier, because he had not only lost the happiness of Heaven, but he now must endure eternal suffering instead. Pissed off, he looked around. Dismay and affliction, stubborn pride and steadfast hate were palpable in all he saw. Hell dismally stretched as far as his immortal eye could see.

Hell was like a gigantic furnace with raging fires - but instead of giving off light, the flames emitted darkness visible. This palpable darkness illuminated sights of woe, regions of sorrow, and doleful shades. Hell was a place where peace and rest would never dwell. Hope would never come here, but instead came endless torture. The torment fed the flames, urging the fire on for eternity. Such was the place that Eternal Justice had prepared for the rebellious. Here, they would eternally remain in darkness, as far away from God and the light of Heaven as 3X the distance from Earth to the far reaches of the universe. {In other words, Hell was located in Chaos...beyond the universe. Milton's Hell was not in the center of the Earth, like in Dante's Inferno.} How unlike Hell was from Heaven, from whence they fell!

Satan saw his companions-in-arms overwhelmed by the tempestuous fires. Weltering in the tempestuous flames by his side, Satan saw Beelzebub - who was his peer in leading the host of fallen angels. Satan broke the horrible silence by saying:

Rachel's Notes on Lines 84 - 126 (Satan tells Beelzebub that he's still pissed off and this war ain't over yet)

{Satan speaks with obscure syntax to show that his passion overpowers reason. I'm trying to ruthlessly clarify it for the sake of my notes, though.}:

"If you are he! But how you have fallen! How changed from him who was so shiny in Heaven! If you are he who joined with me in glorious we join in misery and ruin. Into what pit have we been thrown? How far have we fallen? God has proven himself much stronger than we. Who knew the strength of that mighty arm?! But despite what those powerful arms and His mighty rage can further inflict on us, I do not repent.

"My pride had been injured, so I fought God with my innumerable army of spirits who preferred me as their leader. We fought a battle on the planes of Heaven and shook His throne. So what if we lost that battle? All is not lost! We have not lost our vengeful natures, our immortal hate, or our courage to never yield! What else is there to live for, besides the will to succeed?

"He'll never get me to bow to him and deify his power! We had Him worried...He was afraid he would lose against my powerful army. Fate has given us immortal bodies, so our army will be just as strong as before. But now we know our Foe better! Now, we can wage a more successful war - an eternal war that is irreconcilable to our Foe...that Foe who now joyfully reigns as tyrant in Heaven."

Though he was in pain and wracked with deep despair, Satan boasted. Beelzebub answered:

Rachel's Notes Lines 127 - 156 (Beelzebub is concerned that they are now thralls of God)

"Oh powerful prince, you led the embattled angels to war; your deeds endangered Heaven's perpetual king, and made him defend his supremacy (whether that supremacy was upheld by strength or chance or fate...). I regret our army's defeat. We have lost our place in Heaven. The entire army has come as close to dying as our immortal bodies are capable. Our minds and spirits will return to us soon, but we will suffer for eternity in Hell. What if God (who I now believe is almighty, since He could not have overpowered our army otherwise) has left us our spirits and strength intact only so that we can better endure our sufferings? Or perhaps he will use us as his slaves? What good does it do us to have our strength if we are only to endure eternal punishment?"

Satan answered:

Rachel's Notes Lines 157 - 191 (Satan says that they're so good at being bad, and decides to recuperate)

"Well, Fallen Cherub, to be weak is miserable, whether we're active or not. But be sure of this: Our acts will never be for good. Our sole delight will always be to do ill! We will always resist His wishes! If he wishes to bring good out of our evil acts, then we shall pervert His wishes and use good acts for evil. We will pervert His plan!

"Do you see that God has called our vengeful pursuers back to the gates of Heaven? The storm of sulfurous hail that He shot at us has abated. And the raging lightening and thunder has perhaps spent its wrath and will cease to bellow through the vast and bottomless deep. Let us not miss our chance if God's fury has been satiated.

"Look at the dreary plains of Hell, illuminated by the darkness of Hellfire. Let's sail these fiery waves over there, and we can rest (if rest is possible). After we have gathered our strength, we'll discuss how we can offend our enemy, repair our losses, and overcome this dire calamity. We will either gain reinforcement from hope, or resolution from despair."

Edited: Nov 13, 2012, 9:20pm

Rachel, I think you've made some interesting points and omitted some important ones. I copied your post into a Word Document so I can spend some time making a halfway intelligent (the most I'm capable of is halfway intelligent) later. What strikes me immediately is that Milton is following the classical pattern of "epic poem" that he has learned from Homer and Virgil. Compare the beginning of the Æneid

Arma virum cano, Troiae qui primus ab oris ...

("I sing of arms and of the man who first, from the shores of Troy, ...") where Virgil makes a short statement of his theme, followed by how he invokes the Muse

Musa, mihi causas memora,...

("Bring to my mind, O Muse, the reasons..."). This is comparable to Milton's invocation of the Muse whom he identifies as the Holy Spirit here and subsequently as Urania, the Muse of Astronomy (or cosmology). In doing so, he is broadening his theme to the whole universe and its creation.

One of the devises used by Virgil is the epic simile, or an extended metaphor of hyperbole. This will be in my next post in the Paradise Lost thread. The typical epic simile begins in line 61:

A Dungeon horrible, on all sides round
As one great Furnace flam'd, yet from those flames
No light, but rather darkness visible...

What I'm suggesting here is that what is at least important as what he says is how he says it.

ETA: I'm glad to see you beginning to put some thoughts online. They will spur me on to thinking about it all and I think together we can essay a real understanding of this monstrous work of art.

Edited: Nov 13, 2012, 9:49pm

Dad, of COURSE how he says it is important. It's a poem. Isn't HOW you say it half of the poem? Problem is, I've tried reading this poem twice now and my mind completely turns off while I'm reading. It becomes unintelligible after a couple of lines....especially when Satan's speaking. So I'm going through it line-by-line making notes on the basic idea of what's being said. Then I'll go back and think more deeply about what the poem means. But in the mean time, I'm happy to read any comments you want to make about the poetry/syntax itself...I'm just not sure I'll have anything intelligent to respond. You can't imagine how many hours it took me to "translate" that much of the poem. Comprehending this poem at even a very basic level is very difficult for me. :(

Nov 13, 2012, 10:13pm

I wasn't criticizing what you said. It's much the way I began in the Paradise Lost thread. I think I do realize how hard it is for you to comprehend the poem because it is incomprehensible. I've also been reading it a little longer than you.

Some of what I'm trying to say is that Milton is consciously imitating Virgil, and remember that I've read the Æneid in Latin some 55 years ago, and memorized several lengthy passages of it. Unfortunately, I never read more than brief passages of the Iliad and none of the Odyssey in Greek. There are remarkable similarities between them and PL.

Of course, there are some contrasts too. Iliad and Odyssey in Greek and Æneid were written in a style (dactylic hexameter with Cesura pauses) which don't become English at all. PL, like Shakespeares plays, was written in iambic pentameter which does become English. By contrast, note the meter and beautiful staggered rhyme scheme (maintained all the way through) in the Divine Comedy:

`Per me si va ne la città dolente,
per me si va ne l'etterno dolore,
per me si va tra la perduta gente.

Giustizia mosse il mio alto fattore;
fecemi la divina podestate,
la somma sapïenza e 'l primo amore.

Dinanzi a me non fuor cose create
se non etterne, e io etterno duro.
Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate'

Dante was, of course, being dragged through hell and high water by Virgil himself. He borrowed many elements of Virgils epic poetry. But the did not slavishly imitate Virgil's style. Perhaps slavishly imitate is too strong in Milton's case, but I hope we'll see about that. The fact of the matter is that I enjoy hearing Dante's poetry being read in Italian, even though I don't speak it and miss much of the meaning.

Perhaps is Milton is so abstruse that neither of us really understand it in a couple of readings, then it's just too abstruse for us. I would like to understand better, though.

One final contrast with Milton would be Mohammed (pbuh). As a one time Arabic interpreter, I do understand the Qur'an--even now with some effort. But one time I was playing a recorded recital of one of the poetic parts when your mother walked into the room. "What is that?" she asked. "It's beautiful." That's what poetry should do, but that's a gift that (IMO) Milton didn't have.

Nov 14, 2012, 1:50am

All this makes me want to take the class on Milton my uni offers. Then I'll have a Certified Expert to make sense of it rather than books.

Rachel, your review of The Nose reminds me of Gogol's Dead Souls, another tremendously funny satire.

Nov 14, 2012, 2:10am

Hi Rachel,
very much enjoyed your reviews, especially the one on The Nose.

Very interesting notes on Paradise lost as well, unfortunately I had not time yet to start reading :( However, I find it very interesting to follow your thoughts and discussions.

Nov 14, 2012, 6:18am

Valerie: Yeah, Rachel and I live probably about 30-40 mintues away. Unfortunately she's moving away and I'm without a vehicle until my mom's husban's car is rapaired. :(

Nov 14, 2012, 6:33am

>147 patito-de-hule: :) I love how you're backpedaling to make it sound like Milton's language is very difficult for you too. I'm sure he IS difficult (after all, he was purposely being so during Satan's speeches), but you certainly understand it better than I do. You're MUCH MUCH more experienced at reading foreign languages than I am (you have a gift for them and I do not), and have even spent a good deal of time reading in Middle English. To you, you're simply reading something in Early Modern English. I feel like I'm reading a foreign language. :p

I'm bringing home C. S. Lewis' A Preface to Paradise Lost on Thanksgiving. He spent quite a long time discussing Milton's poetry style. You might find it interesting. (I'll read it again when I've finished with my Interpretive Read-through of Paradise you have plenty of time to read it.) If I remember properly, Lewis said that unlike earlier poets, Milton was not meant to be performed. He made it sound like this was purposeful, but it's possible Milton just didn't have "the gift" as you say.

>148 JDHomrighausen: I have a course on Milton from The Great Courses, which is a bit better than a book (I suppose it's more like several books, because it has a reading list). But learning from a real-life expert would be nice.

>149 drachenbraut23: There's no rush to read Paradise Lost, Bianca! The good news is that I'm working from three different editions right now and the Norton Critical Edition is DEFINITELY the smoothest read. (I think that's what you have?) The editor modernized some of the spelling and punctuation (within the limits of Milton's syntax). He says that there's no point in keeping the original punctuation because Milton didn't really care about punctuation. That was the job of copyists and printers back in those days. I know the idea of changing punctuation in a poem makes people cringe, but it DOES make the poem much more readable. :)

Nov 14, 2012, 6:34am

Stephen - now you're just giving excuses. I have a car. We can meet up. :p

Nov 14, 2012, 7:16am

Jonathan - I forgot to answer you about Dead Souls. I read it (and a few of Gogol's stories) when I was in the 9th grade. At that time, I could appreciate the humor, but not in the same way I can now. So I've been thinking of re-reading it. Only problem is that I'm not a huge fan of unfinished novels. First of all, I really like a completed story. Second, I figure that if I were writing a book, I wouldn't want the general public to read it until I was done. Even if I died. However, I COULD read the first book of Dead Souls which is complete, and not bother with the second book. I think it's disrespectful to read something that the author wanted destroyed.

Nov 14, 2012, 8:48am

I'm probably going to start reading The Rape of Nanking within the next couple of days - in case anyone else is interested in joining me! (I think there were a couple of people.)

Also, I couldn't really dredge up many people who wanted to join me in reading Chinua Achebe's new memoir about the Biafra war There Was A Country, so I'm not going to organize a formal group read, but I have queued the book in for the beginning of January (subject to wiggle room) if anybody wants to join me while I'm reading that (in a non-formal group read).

Edited: Nov 14, 2012, 9:06am

2012 Book 159: The Garden of the Evening Mists, by Tan Twan Eng

Reason for Reading: Short-listed for the 2012 Booker Prize

Having suffered through a Japanese slave-camp during WWII, Yun Ling Teoh, a young Chinese-descent lawyer in Malaysia, carries around a lot of anger against the Japanese. However, she'd made a promise to her deceased sister that she would build a Japanese garden, so she reluctantly visits Aritomo - the only Japanese gardener in Malaysia. Aritomo refuses to design a garden for Yun Ling, but he offers to take her on as his apprentice so that she may design one herself. Yun Ling learns to let go of her anger as her friendship with Aritomo grows. But Aritomo has his own secrets.

How can I express what an amazing book this was? Sure, it had a couple of slowish spots (it WAS, after all, a book about gardening) but the story is magical. The historical and cultural backdrop is intriguing (I learned a lot while reading, but didn't feel like I was being "taught"). Because the book takes place in two different times (current day and shortly after WWII), the story unfolds gracefully - allowing the reader to learn the story of Aritomo and Yun Ling at just the right rate...but yet somehow the time also blends together giving an impression of continuity that is particular to Eastern philosophy. On top of that, the more I learned about the story, the more fascinated I was by the two characters. This book is definitely worth your time.

Interpretive note with possible spoilers
One thing that struck me while I was reading this book is that I noticed an inconsistency in what the narrator (Yun Ling) was saying. At first, I wasn't sure whether the author had made a mistake or if he had purposely introduced inconsistencies to show that Yun Ling had either an unreliable memory or was hiding something. I finally came to the later conclusion (though the unreliable memory was possible too). I think it's fascinating that such inconsistencies added to the overall effect rather than subtracting from it. I applaud Tan Twan Eng for his careful writing of this book. :)

Nov 14, 2012, 10:13am

YAY! I found an author to guest-host on my Social Justice Theme Read in February. Jeanette Winkle will be giving away a copy of her new book (out on Feb 1st) Congo Dawn.

In case you forgot, here's my intro blog post so you can sign up!

Nov 14, 2012, 11:42am

>151 The_Hibernator: Oh! unsay that. Didst read the Argument? Quoth the poet:

"This first Book proposes, first in brief, the whole Subject, Mans disobedience, and the loss thereupon of Paradise wherein he was plac't: Then touches the prime cause of his fall, the Serpent, or rather Satan in the Serpent; who revolting from God, and drawing to his side many Legions of Angels, was by the command of God driven out of Heaven with all his Crew into the great Deep. Which action past over, the Poem hasts into the midst of things, presenting Satan with his Angels now fallen into Hell, describ'd here, not in the Center (for Heaven and Earth may be suppos'd as yet not made, certainly not yet accurst) but in a place of utter darkness, fitliest call'd Chaos: Here Satan with his Angels lying on the burning Lake, thunder-struck and astonisht, after a certain space recovers, as from confusion, calls up him who next in Order and Dignity lay by him; they confer of thir miserable fall. Satan awakens all his Legions, who lay till then in the same manner confounded; They rise, thir Numbers, array of Battel, thir chief Leaders nam'd, according to the Idols known afterwards in Canaan and the Countries adjoyning. To these Satan directs his Speech, comforts them with hope yet of regaining Heaven, but tells them lastly of a new World and new kind of Creature to be created, according to an ancient Prophesie or report in Heaven; for that Angels were long before this visible Creation, was the opinion of many ancient Fathers. To find out the truth of this Prophesie, and what to determin thereon he refers to a full Councel. What his Associates thence attempt. Pandemonium the Palace of Satan rises, suddenly built out of the Deep: The infernal Peers there sit in Councel."

(from accessed 11/14/2012

There, in a nutshell, is the narrative of the first book, as written by one who should understand it perfectly. I hardly think you or I could improve on it. The points that we need to be interested in are hidden in the allegory, and sometimes locked in the brain of the poet. When he uses the word "unseen," we all know what the word denotes, even though this is, as you say, in "Early Modern English." But did it, as some commentators say, carry connotations of Milton's blindness? That is an oversimplification, but it is questions of connotations and ancillary meanings that make PL difficult.

Nov 14, 2012, 1:17pm

Right now, it's the actual Early Modern English that makes Paradise Lost difficult for me. The world of allegory is as far removed from me as from the center thrice to the utmost pole.

Pole of the universe, that is.

Nov 14, 2012, 1:44pm

Nice simile, and relevant in this case.

Nov 14, 2012, 3:21pm

Nice review of The Garden of Evening Mists, Rachel. I'm glad that you enjoyed it as much as the rest of us did.

Nov 14, 2012, 6:10pm

>159 patito-de-hule: I thought it was a particularly well-used simile since it also kind-of functioned as a metaphor - saying allegories could go to .... Chaos. Ah! The irony!

(would you consider that a metaphor, when I use a phrase that you ought to recognize is in reference to Milton's hell, like that? Or is it just a double-edged simile?)

Seriously though, I'm sure my reading will get smoother and smoother and then I'll be able to pick up on the allegory. I can't understand Milton's concept of evil without understanding his allegory at at least a basic level! I also want to see if Milton successfully justified the ways of God to me...or if he was only trying to justify the ways of God to men

>160 kidzdoc: yeah, it seems to be a popular book right now. I should give it to my dad for Christmas.

Nov 14, 2012, 8:52pm

152: I'm just not me if I'm not making an excuse for myself.

Nov 15, 2012, 3:18am

Hi Rachel,
thanks for reminding me of The Rape of Nanking and I definately will join you in reading it. Although, after reading all this horrible reviews I started to get a bit scared of the book.

I also signed up for the Social Injustice read in February on your blog.

Nov 15, 2012, 7:46am

>162 Ape: You're just jealous that I'm so much cooler than you and you don't want me to find out.

>163 drachenbraut23: Hi Bianca! I'm a little wary of The Rape of Nanking too. If it starts to upset me, I just won't finish it. No point in reading a book that's upsetting! (I admit that it's quite possible the book will be too much for me. Especially in audiobook format.)

Nov 15, 2012, 7:54am

Well yeah, I think all of us already know that. ;)

Nov 15, 2012, 10:22am

I've got my request in at the library for Rape of Nanking, too. I'm also regarding this one with a bit of trepidation, but Donna made it through, so I'm thinking we can, too.

I want to read at least enough to get a good feeling for it before tackling The Woman Who Could Not Forget.

Nov 15, 2012, 12:45pm

Stephen: :p

Janet: I hope Donna's proud that we're using her as our readability indicator. ;) I thought The Rape of Nanking would provide some interesting historical background for when I read Red Sorghum. Though I don't think Red Sorghum is specifically about the incidents in Nanking, it's related. I also just finished The Garden of the Evening Mists which discusses Japanese brutality in Malaysia. I'm afraid after reading these books I'll have to find a nice book with lovable Japanese people. :p

Edited: Nov 15, 2012, 12:49pm

2012 Book 160: Culture and Imperialism

Written by Edward W. Said, Narrated by Peter Ganim

Reason for Reading: Got it on sale from Audible

Culture and Imperialism describes how the language used in literature can powerfully impact our stereotypes of other cultures. Using examples in classical literature (ranging from Jane Austen, to Joseph Conrad, to Albert Camus), Said shows us how imperialism was reinforced by the written word. Then, (using examples including V.S. Naipaul and Salman Rushdie) he illuminates how today's societies - who are so focused on multi-culturalism - read the right books for the wrong reasons. I found this book intriguing. I listened to it on audiobook - Ganim's reading was smooth and engaging - but I'm now tempted to pick up a hard-copy of the book and use it as a reference in my perusal of literature. This book would be interesting to anyone interested in the culture of imperialism or in literary criticism of literature in the imperialist era.

Nov 16, 2012, 3:30am

I saw in the net that they also made a documentry about The Rape of Nanking - I am debatting whether I schould read the book first, or watch the documentry first. *scratch head*.

Thank you for the cat post Rachel, my parents were howling with laughter last night *grin*

Nov 16, 2012, 6:14am

>169 drachenbraut23: Well, I think one or the other will be enough for me right now. The violence bothers me a lot. We'll see how I feel after I've finished the book. I'm glad your parents liked the picture. :)

Well I'm leaving this morning with my second car-load of stuff on my move to MN. Just the essentials and my poor cats are left in my apartment now! I get TWO Thanksgiving dinners this week. One on Saturday (with a bunch of cousins in Iowa) and one on Thursday (with my more immediate family). :)

Edited: Nov 16, 2012, 7:28am

Look forward to having you up here so we can do more face-to-face book chats. The last one was so much fun!

ETA: Ooooooh, maybe we could get our own bookclub going!

Nov 16, 2012, 7:39am

Have a nice trip! The only thing better than Thanksgiving is two Thanksgivings, I say.

Edited: Nov 17, 2012, 9:11am

I missed the story of your move to MN. Hopefully, it's a GOOD THING. Have a safe trip!

I'm having trouble just reading the wikipedia entry for the Nanking Massacre. I'll pick up the book from the library today.

I have an obscure Pearl Buck novel called China Flight sitting on Planet TBR. It's apparently about two Americans fleeing the Japanese invasion of Shanghai. If RON is too overwhelming, I'll switch to Ms Buck, instead.

Small happy. I have a paper published in PNAS this week. Well, I'm the second author, actually. Technicians rarely get first author. :-)

Nov 17, 2012, 7:10am

I think I missed the story of your move to MN (?Minnesotta) somewhere along the way as well. I hope your move goes all smooth and I wish you a happy new home and a safe trip!

>173 streamsong: Congrats Janet. Doesn't matter if second or first, it's still your work :).

Nov 18, 2012, 12:01am

> 168

I need to read Said one of these days. I've learned about Orientialism in the context of early Western scholarship on Buddhism. There are some theories that are now laughably dumb, but sad to think they were accepted theories for quite some time.

Is Said readable?

Nov 18, 2012, 4:14pm

Rachel, that was a fantastic review of The Garden of Evening Mists. I'm pleased as punch that you liked it as much as I did. It's still my No. 1 book for the year.

Minnesota, huh? Pack your woolies! If I remember correctly, you went to college in Northern Michigan. Minnesota won't seem too bad after that kind of cold. I froze through two years in Marquette way back when I was in high school. To make matters worse, I moved there in January after living in Texas. Are you starting a new job?

Edited: Nov 22, 2012, 3:47am

Hi Rachel,
just stopping by to wish you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving! *big smile*

I hope your move went all smooth and that you and your cats are settling in well in your new home :)

Nov 22, 2012, 5:47am

I'll share some of Bianca's big smile in wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving Rachel.

Nov 22, 2012, 6:47am

Happy Thanksgiving, Rachel! I hope that your move to Minnesota went well.

Nov 22, 2012, 8:26am

Stopping in to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving, Rachel!

Nov 22, 2012, 8:31am

Poor Rachel is moving back up to Minnesota just as the cold hits again!

Nov 22, 2012, 11:44am

Happy Thanksgiving Rachel!

Nov 22, 2012, 4:33pm

Happy Thanksgiving, Rachel!!

Nov 22, 2012, 5:53pm

Yay! I made it online. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

171: Morphy, we SHOULD try to get a bookclub going. That would be fun. I have a friend who might like to join. I think we'd all share a good variety of book interests. :)

172: Stephen, THANKS! Both dinners were quite yummy and neither came in a cardboard box. :p

173: Janet, Congrats! That's fantastic that you got a publication. :) It's always exciting, isn't it? I didn't really make a big deal about my move to MN (only mentioned it in passing a couple of times), so it's not surprising people missed it.

I decided that plan A (find Research Scientist position) just wasn't working in today's economy, so I'm activating plan B (continue looking for a research job while working on a Master's degree in nursing). There's a shortage of nurses in the US, so I'm sure I'll be able to find a stable job with a degree in nursing...and it also opens up the clinical research field a little more for me as well. Notice I have NOT decided to go to Medical School. I have a couple of friends with PhDs in biomedical research who are in the same position as I am right now, and they're considering Medical School. I'd like to have a real-person's job before retirement age, thank-you-very-much. ;)

174: Thanks Bianca! I'm sure I'll settle in just fine. It's my cats that will be stressed. :p

175: Jonathan, I found Said readable (at least, he was listenable, since it was an audiobook). I'm not sure how readable Orientalism is though. I think if you're specifically interested in his theories on Asian studies, then his book will be interesting to you. I admit he was a bit long-winded at times, though.

176: Thanks Donna! I grew up in MN, so I'm used to the cold. Actually, even though the Twin Cities are farther south than the Upper Peninsula of Michigan it's a lot colder. The UP gets the lake effect, which keeps the temperatures more moderate but DUMPS snow. In MN the temperature is below zero for much of the winter, and it is just too cold to snow. I'll have to get used to winter again, after two years in Ohio!

As for my reason for moving, see my answer to Janet above. :)

177: Thanks Bianca! Actually, I haven't moved my cats yet. They're next. I didn't want to move them AND my stuff at the same time because I was afraid they'd get squashed by a flying box of books somewhere on the road. :p So I'm going back to get them.

178: Thanks Paul! Hope you're having a happy Thanksgiving vicariously!

179: Thanks Darryl! It's going pretty smoothly so far. Notice I waited until AFTER the election. ;)

180: Thanks Mamie! Happy Thanksgiving to you too!

181: Ah, Morphy, indeed. It shall be cold.

182: Thanks Rhian! Happy Thanksgiving to you, too!

183: Thanks Nora! Happy Thanksgiving to you, too!

PHEW! Now that I've caught up on my own thread, I'm going to have to do some serious thread-hopping now!

Nov 22, 2012, 5:57pm

Happy Thanksgiving, Rachel! Bianca and Janet both beat me to asking you the question about why you are moving to MN. Hopefully things work out for you there and much success to you!

Nov 22, 2012, 6:03pm

I'm glad you've been having a good Thanksgiving, Rachel. So when are you returning to Ohio, and how much longer should I be cowering under my desk? ;)

Nov 22, 2012, 6:19pm

Happy Thanksgiving, Rachel. Hope the move, especially with the cats, goes well.

Nov 23, 2012, 11:07am

Hi Rachel, glad to hear that your move to MN went smoothly and I hope your cats are going to be ok as well. I know from friends that cats are not good at being moved into new homes, and that they usually take quite a while to settle into a new home. I hope it's not going to be to stressful for you three.

Finally, I started on Wednesday to read The Rape of Nanking, I am only about 15% in on my kindle, but had to take already a break. However, I am determined to finish it. I was surprised to see that Germany was mentioned so many times and how Iris Chang believes that we have become a much better country by acknowledging our faults after the war. She is comparing us quite often to the Japanese in regards what we have done to improve and what they deny. I have to admit that felt quite odd to read at times. Did you have time to start reading already?

BTW Nathalie just finished Herztier/Land of Green Plums by Herta Müller. She wrote such a positive review that I got myself a copy today as well :).

Nov 23, 2012, 1:17pm

Hi Bianca! I've started The Rape of Nanking and am about halfway through right now. It's kind of hard-going, and I thought about stopping and listening to something else. We'll see how much farther I can get before taking a break, though.

I think Chang has a good point when she compares the Germans favorably - at least in that sense. It's better to admit the grievous fault and mourn the loss of life than it is to admit no fault and feel no sorrow for what was lost. But it is even sadder that the atrocities at Nanking were brushed under the rug in Western countries as well!

I feel really bad for my cats because they're going to follow a long car ride (which will be tortuous) with a new home AND new people. They're used to me being the only human around most of the time. But they'll survive. Myra's been through worse - she apparently spent an entire winter on the streets before she was rescued. I'm sure she can tough this out. :)

Nov 23, 2012, 1:35pm

184: Thread hopping back atcha... I was off LT yesterday afternoon and evening. Interesting to see your plan for a nursing degree; I'd caught a mention of the MN move but didn't know details.

How are you doing on On the Origin of Species? I've finished reading three more chapters, though I haven't yet gotten to the writing about them part, hope to finish by the end of the year.

Nov 23, 2012, 1:55pm

haha! I haven't made any progress at all on On the Origin of Species! :) I'll have to get back on that! I know I won't have time to finish it this year though. Thanks for reminding me.

Nov 23, 2012, 2:05pm

HI Rachel, for some reason I overlooked your plans in regards to doing a masters degree in nursing - actually, I think it's a great idea if you don't want to do medical. And as you say with your backround AND a nursing degree you probably will find even more opportunities in your own field of expertise. Is it the same in the US that if you do have a degree/or masters, or as in your case a phD that you are not required to do the whole time of the training?
At least from the academical point of view the nursing training should be "a leisure walk along the beach" *grin*. However, would you rather do adults or children? I don't know how it is in the US, but in Germany we are differently trained - I am a pediatric nurse and the only training I received in adults was during my 4 weeks practical training in a postnatal ward *shudder* which I absolutely hated.

To come back to The Rape of Nanking I agree with what you are saying about Iris Chang and her comparisons. I think why I found it so odd was BECAUSE she spoke very positive about the German attitude, which you don't find very often :) I am going to read some more tonight. What I also found very interesting was her description about how the Japanese soldiers were trained and how they schooled their children. I know this doesn't compare at all, but do you remember the story in World War Z about this teenager who was rambling on about how they were taught? When I read what Iris Chang wrote about the Japanese education, I had to think about that teen.

Nov 23, 2012, 3:16pm

Hi Bianca. I'm not 100% certain about the details of nursing training. I need to talk to an academic counselor, which I'll do as soon as I get settled in Minnesota.

As I understand it, RNs in the US generally get a bachelors degree in nursing, then work a few years, and then they can go back to school to get a Masters. When they get a Masters, they can choose a specialty like pediatrics or geriatrics.

The program I'm applying for is "entry level Masters," so it's a two year program in which I get the Masters degree even though I don't have a bachelors degree in nursing. So I guess you could say that I'm not required to do all the training. What I don't know is whether I get to choose a specialty through this program. If I do, I would enjoy pediatrics. But, like I said, I'm going to have to talk to an academic counselor once I've settled down here in MN.

do you remember the story in World War Z about this teenager who was rambling on about how they were taught? When I read what Iris Chang wrote about the Japanese education, I had to think about that teen.

Haha. I hadn't made the connection, but now that you bring it up I vaguely remember that. :)

Nov 23, 2012, 3:19pm

> 190, 191

A biochemist reading Darwin. I love it. He's your idol, is he not?

Best of luck with finding a job. I bet there would be some out here in high-tech Silicon Valley. Not sure you'd like the weather though.

Nov 23, 2012, 5:01pm

So when you move back to Minnesota will your dad no longer visit us? Who is going to make sure I behave myself...???

Nov 23, 2012, 5:02pm

We enjoyed having your for Thanksgiving, Rachel. I hope you're having a nice trip back to Ohio. Isn't that the area, along with upstate NY, known as the burnt-over territory? Why is that. You do know, don't you that your gt-gt-grandfather Sutton, who was a veteran of the Confederate Army, was actually born in Ohio? He moved to Texas pretty young and was 18 when he got caught up in that fiasco.

Nov 23, 2012, 8:29pm

I'll be in your home state for a short while next month, as my trip from ATL to Madison includes a stopover at MSP for a little over an hour. Hopefully the weather will be decent there that day (I'm not betting the farm on this, though).

I was initially confused when you mentioned getting an MSN degree, as I had assumed that you had to have a BSN before you could apply for a master's degree in nursing and had thought that your bachelor's was not in nursing. Another possible option would be to get a Master's of Science in Medicine (MMSc), the degree that permits you to become a physician assistant. Those jobs are also in high demand, and pay well. You wouldn't need a nursing degree to apply for a physician assistant program, but the program at Emory does require a significant number of clinical hours as a requirement for admission. It's a very attractive alternative to becoming a physician, and had I known about it when I decided to go into medicine I might have gone that route.

Hmph. What's this rubbish about having a "real-person's job before retirement age"? I started medical school at the age of 32, and I had a "real job" seven years later (although I was paid a livable salary during my three years of residency). I borrowed a little over $100 K for the four years of med school, but I paid that off in full at least four or five years ago.

As I understand it, RNs in the US generally get a bachelors degree in nursing, then work a few years, and then they can go back to school to get a Masters. When they get a Masters, they can choose a specialty like pediatrics or geriatrics.

That's right, at least as far as I know. I think that newly minted BSNs must accrue a certain number of hours or years in clinical practice before they can apply for an MSN degree. And, as you've said, they concentrate in one medical specialty; the nurse practitioners that work in my group and in other departments at the hospital I work at are (I think) all PNPs, or pediatric nurse practitioners.

Several of the nurses I know well are working on their MSN degrees, including the sister of one of my partners, so if you have any unanswered questions feel free to let me know, and I can ask one or more of them.

Nov 24, 2012, 3:32pm

"Perhaps among us may be found generous spirits, who do not estimate honor and justice by dollars and cents.

"'I hardly think so,' said Miss Ophelia."

Uncle Tom's Cabin Ch. XXVIII

Edited: Nov 24, 2012, 5:23pm

Rachel, I've decided what book I'm going to review for your proposed February Social Justice thing. It is House Slave Next Door: A true life Child-Trafficking Story by Anthony Obi Ogbo. It seems timely given the recent rescue of 400 enslaved children by Interpol in Burkina Faso.

Nov 24, 2012, 10:48pm

>194 JDHomrighausen: Jonathan, I wouldn't say Darwin's my idol, no. :p Though there certainly ARE people who idolize him and his theories, aren't there? It's funny how many people think that evolutionary theory hasn't developed since Darwin, because, after all, he was perfect. ;)

>195 Ape: Stephen, I'm back in Ohio! :p You'll need to hide from me for probably another month. I don't know whether dad will still visit my thread when he can talk to me in person. :( You'll have to be exceptionally naughty so dad will have to continue putting you in your place.

>196 patito-de-hule: Dad, I didn't know that, no. But I suppose since my ancestors came to America so very long ago, some were bound to be born in Ohio. *sigh* But none of them were plantation owners, right? :D

>197 kidzdoc: Darryl Ah! Well I hope you have good weather for your layover in MN, too. I've actually had pretty good luck flying out of MSP, though a lot of people seem to hate MSP for some reason.

Thanks for the excellent suggestion to consider a Physician's Assistant program-- I hadn't thought of that! It's definitely worth looking into. These entry level Masters programs in nursing are very new. In fact, I'd be in the first matriculating class in the program I'm applying to. I HAD wondered about the credibility of such a new program, so it's nice to consider the MMSc as an alternative. I quickly glanced through a few MMSc programs, and it looks like the classier programs require clinical hours (though some programs will accept a class in medical terminology instead). Do you know what type of work counts as "clinical hours?" Are we talking EMT type work? Or perhaps volunteer work?

Thanks for your offer of information about the Masters in Nursing. I might take you up on that offer, though I'm a little too travel-weary to come up with questions now. :)

>198 patito-de-hule:,199 Dad, Miss Ophelia is very wise. ;)

Child trafficking is certainly a pertinent social justice topic! You've just reminded me that I need to prepare a good list of books. Bianca, I haven't forgotten that you asked for fiction suggestions! I'll get those to you soon! :)

Nov 25, 2012, 7:04am

A month!? Here I thought you were just dropping by to pick up your cats. How did they handle being alone for so long, by the way? Cats are usually independent enough to be left like that, I just wonder in what condition you found your curtains and whatnot. :P

Edited: Nov 25, 2012, 7:26am

Thanks, Rachel. I know nothing about MSP, as I've never been there, and I haven't heard anything about it, good or bad. I almost always have to take a connecting flight whenever I fly from ATL to MSN, but I usually go through Cincinnati, Detroit or (gak) O'Hare.

I'd never heard of any MSN programs that didn't require its applicants to have a BSN and several years of postgraduate clinical practice before you mentioned it. Not to be critical or negative, but I suspect that graduates of these new programs would be viewed skeptically compared to ones from traditional MSN programs, and would have a harder time getting research or clinical jobs, at least in the beginning years of these programs. There are two pediatric nurse practitioners who work in my group, and I think we would have been reluctant to hire or even interview someone who didn't have several years of experience as a pediatric nurse before or after she received her MSN degree.

I'd definitely recommend looking into PA schools. As you mentioned, the best programs require a significant amount of clinical experience prior to matriculation. Emory's program, which is one of the top five in the US, requires a minimum of 1000 hours at the time of application, and expects that its first year students will have 2000 hours upon entry. That translates into 50 weeks of 40 hour work weeks, so it isn't as onerous as it might seem. The program at Emory is a pretty rigorous one, and it's a tough one to get into, but its graduates are stellar and are well prepared to enter the workplace. Mercer University's PA program, which is also located in Atlanta, is much weaker, and its students and graduates are nowhere near as good IMO.

I know Emory's program fairly well, as I used to give one or two lectures to the first year PA students on campus until this year, and every year several of its students spend a month on our service in the school's Inpatient Pediatrics rotation.

Here are a couple of links from Emory's PA program that are related to your question about what constitutes clinical hours. First, a general link for prospective students:

(Lydia, one of the PAs who works in my group, is in the middle of the second photo.)

And, this link lists the clinical experiences of one class of Emory PA students:

I should mention that my best friend, who I'll see in Madison next month, obtained his PhD in Chemistry before he entered medical school. He's a pediatric neurologist at UW, and combines clinical practice with his research interests. If you want to become a clinical researcher, medical school may be your best option.

Nov 25, 2012, 10:48am

Stephen I wanted to separate my drives out to MN a bit to reduce the stress. Right now, I'm living in a practically empty apartment with my cats. I've got to figure out what to do with my furniture and mattress. I was hoping Goodwill accepts furniture AND picks it up, but I'm not so certain about that. *sigh* My cats get a little stressed out when I'm gone but they have each other to keep company and they're tough. :) Usually when I leave them for a week, they trash the bathroom and that's about it. But that's not really their fault...When I'm around I sweep the spilled litter off the floor every day, but when I'm not around it accumulates. Yick!

Darryl I agree that the best way to break into clinical research is to get an MD. I pondered that and then decided that I would be perfectly happy working as a nurse (or similar), as well. The point is to feel fulfilled with my career, not to pursue one path at all costs. :) One of my reasons for not wanting to go to medical school at my age is that I'm still holding out hope that I'll meet the right man, get married, and have kids. Although I admire people who are able to have kids while in medical school/residency, I think I'd have a more healthy relationship with my hypothetical children if I weren't working 80 hours a week. Frankly, my hypothetical children are more important to me than a career in research. :)

I suspect that graduates of these new programs would be viewed skeptically compared to ones from traditional MSN programs, and would have a harder time getting research or clinical jobs, at least in the beginning years of these programs.

I'm glad you said that, because that's exactly what I was afraid of, and it's good to know those things in advance. I'm not going to totally close the door on the idea, but I'll look into other alternatives before I make a big move.

Thanks for the links. I see that one of the matriculating class last year had a PhD in Neuroscience, so I wouldn't be alone with my PhD in Biomedical Engineering. :) I'll start looking in to what sort of clinical experience I'd enjoy...I think most of those experiences listed in the link you sent require certifications, but I don't imagine those would be too difficult to acquire. I'm not looking forward to taking that stupid GRE again. *scowls* Some places will waive a GRE score if you already have a Masters or a PhD though.

Lots to think about! Thanks for your help! :)

Nov 25, 2012, 9:07pm

> 200

I was actually quite surprised when I took physical anthropology and learned Darwin didn't know about genes and heredity! I was also excited by the fact that the guy who did, Mendel, was an Augustinian monk! I felt cheated by not being told that in high school!

Edited: Nov 25, 2012, 11:27pm

Mendel didn't either. He made observations on peas, but his work was ignored for many years and then "rediscovered". He made some important observations, but proposed no explanatory mechanism.

ETA: cf. Wikipedia Rediscovery of Mendel's work

Edited: Nov 26, 2012, 3:35am

Hi Rachel, thank you very much for your kind words pertaining the recovery of my sister! We had a lovely and quiet weekend which we all very much enjoyed. :)

I wish you good luck with whatever you deceide in regards to further training *smile* and really hope that your cats are going to cope well with the move. Do you have an apartment in MN as well? Or are you doing a flatshare?

BTW: I have been making good progress on The Rape of Nanking and also it is very disturbing, it is very interesting as well. A piece of history I didn't know anything about.

Nov 26, 2012, 8:55am

>204 JDHomrighausen:, 205 Yeah, there was no way for Darwin to be 100% right with his theories when he didn't have a good grasp of genetics. :) Though he did have some foggy understanding of heritable traits. His understanding wasn't as precise as Mendel's though. Mendel didn't know about DNA, but he certainly had a firm grasp on the ratios of heredity. In fact, his grasp was so firm that he magically chose to work with exactly the right genes (those that are purely dominant-recessive) and his ratios came out more perfectly than even Nature herself allows. ;) (In other words, he had such a good grasp of how the system worked, that he was able to tweak his data into perfection, which, in his day, wasn't as shockingly dishonest as it is today.)

I was also impressed as an undergraduate when I found out Mendel was a monk...but now I guess it's not that surprising is it? Weren't most of the Western philosophers in the Middle Ages and early Renaissance scholars of the Catholic Church? In fact, wasn't it illegal (for a while) to be a philosopher when you WEREN'T a scholar in the Catholic Church? After all, if you aren't properly trained by the Catholic Church, how could you possibly understand God's work? And you might circulate documents that confuse the general literate public. ;)

Nov 26, 2012, 9:17am

Woops! In the distractions of typing up that message while Othello wanted me to play with her shoelace, I forgot about Bianca!

You're welcome Bianca! I'm glad that your sister is doing well. And thanks for the good wishes for my further training. The more I think about it, the more excited I get. I love the thinking (and most of the doing) part of research, but the unavoidable animal studies are really upsetting to me. I know working with people can be stressful due to "compliance issues," but I think it will be much more rewarding to me. And, as far as healthcare goes, most people DO want to get better, even if they aren't very compliant. ;)

I got about half-way in to The Rape of Nanking and might be taking a break for a little while. I started listening to another book on my car-ride to Ohio (no WAY I was listening to The Rape of Nanking while on a 15-hour car ride!). The Rape of Nanking is certainly a well-written book, but the atrocities are difficult to listen to. I didn't know much about it, either, though I'd heard a few rumors about Japanese atrocities. In the US, we tend to focus on Pearl Harbor, the Holocaust, the atomic bomb, and the fact that we had Japanese concentration camps in the US during WWII. So, basically, I learned how awful the US was to the Japanese (camps + bomb) but nothing about WHY we feared the Japanese enough to put them in camps and drop the bomb. Not that I'm excusing putting the Japanese in concentration camps, but back-story IS useful for understanding.

Nov 26, 2012, 10:28am

Rachel, I don't blame you for wanting a break from The Rape of Nanking. It is a brutal read. I am amazed by the cruelty that continues to go on in the world. Sometimes I just want to curl up with a happy book. My current read The Good, Good Pig fills the bill!

It's good you have your cats for company. Do they travel well? I will never forget the three hours I spent in the car with my daughter and her howling, yowling cat when she moved to Kansas City many years ago. Not a fun trip.

Nov 26, 2012, 10:44am

Hi Donna! I'm looking for a nice book about likable Japanese people soon after this. Does anybody know of a good one?

I wouldn't say my cats travel well...they're both terrified of the car. Myra has already moved with me from the UP of Michigan to Ohio (which was also about 15 hours driving), and she sat the entire time frozen into a tiny little silent ball. I felt really bad for her and kept trying to comfort her, but she wasn't a bother like a yowling cat is. Othello has never driven for longer than a few minutes at a time, but she is also terrified. Plus, I can't let her free because she wants to hide under my brake pedal. If she aimed for my gas pedal, it wouldn't be as bad...:p So I'm going to have to lock her up and I hope that she won't be too miserable. :( But I don't think she'll be yowling. She'll just be trembling in terror. We'll make it though! It works out in the end, right?

Bianca, I forgot to answer your question about my living arrangements. Until I figure out what life holds, I'm going to live in my parent's storage closet. My address will include "cupboard under the stairs" for a while. ;) I don't want to sign a lease until I know what's going on in my life. For instance, I've been applying to a lot of jobs at the Mayo Clinic (I've worked there in the past), and that's about 1.5 hours drive from the Twin Cities, but the nursing program I was going to apply for is in the Twin Cities...and of course now I'm pondering applying to a PA program instead, which means I'll need to get some clinical experience, and who knows where THAT will happen? So it's best to sign a lease only after I know where I'll be. :) In the mean-time, I get the joy of living with my ENTIRE immediate family under one roof. My sister can play the part of Dudley. She's currently in the process of stashing her spare big-screen TV in what used to be my bedroom. ;)

Nov 26, 2012, 11:49am

Hi Rachel, LOL "cupboard under the stairs" what a good way to describe living at home again. For me it has been the same for the past 4 years :) When I moved back to Germany, I moved back in with my parents and as long as Alex is that young and needy (and I should continous to work in London) it will stay like that. It would be too stressful for him to stay with me for a few weeks in our own flat, then stay with my parents. So we deceided to leave it at that for now. I am sure your parents are absolutely happy to have you at home again. Especially your dad *grin*. So your sister is still living at home as well? And then you will see your lovely nephew as well much more often - and you can be the lovely auntie doing all the fun stuff with him *smile*

The PA sounds similiar to what the advanced nurse practioner do in the UK. My friend at work is a neonatal advanced nurse practioner, which means she is doing quite a lot of things the docs would usually do. She is also partial responsible for the training of new house officers. Very clinical and interesting position. I was considering doing that at one point, but deceided against it, because it would have ment to move cities and being a single mum things like that are not always that easy.

Nov 26, 2012, 2:17pm

:) Yeah, my sister and her son are living at my parent's place right now, too. Johnny is staying in my old room, which is why I get the storage room. :p Though actually now that the storage room is all cleaned out, it's much bigger than I thought it would be. A bit moldy and cobwebby, but it's not too bad. It should be fun living so near my family...I haven't lived near home for most of my nephew's life.

Nov 26, 2012, 3:02pm

210> "Hi Donna! I'm looking for a nice book about likable Japanese people soon after this. Does anybody know of a good one?"

You might consider The Changeling by Kenzaburo Oe. I have only yust started it, but it looks interestign.

Nov 26, 2012, 4:29pm

Hmmm, that's a good suggestion. I haven't heard of that one, though I've heard good things about Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids. I could also read another Haruki Murakami book, I guess. But I'm not sure how much surreality I can deal with in a few months' time. ;)

Ahhhh! I'm about to have a fit of social anxiety from giving my apartment address out to weirdos on the internet! Oh! The woes of subletting!

Hmmm. Social anxiety. That reminds me that I need to PM my favorite socially anxious person. You know who you are.

Nov 26, 2012, 4:53pm

>203 The_Hibernator: You're very welcome, Rachel. I'm glad I could be of help!