What are you reading?
  • Common Sense by Thomas Paine

    It's always astonishing to read certain works of literature, whether they be fiction, non-fiction, or academic essays that hold such a great understanding of humanity and our condition that they remain true even today. I had reread 1984 a year ago and was appalled at how apt and nearly prophetic it was. Strip Oceana from the book and place the USA as the home of our protagonist and you have an almost real life story on your hands. With Common Sense you have an understanding of governance and the social constructs put in place by oligarchs, plutocrats, democrats, monarchs, etc. Like the aforementioned 1984, this book seemed like a warning.

    I'm also reminded of my reading of "The Prince" and how it seems leaders around the world took Machiavelli's letter and turned it into their blueprint for how to maintain dominion in our world. 
  • If you haven't read Brave New World I have a feeling you'd like it lapham.

    I finished off Mere Christianity and found the last chapters to be typical contradictory nonsensical Christian drivel but it was still interesting to read his take on the religion.

    I also read a book/textbook about toxicology. Not because I want to poison anyone, not yet anyway, but so I could rebut my insane chemtrails and fluoride are poison/mind-control agents coworker with hard cold science. It was quite an interesting read, bit of chemistry, bit of biology and biochemistry, and lots of detailed explanations of how various poisons and toxins in what dosages can get inside and put an end to the organism known as you.
  • You cannot rebut chemtrail people with reason. Infowars is inhabited by people who believe what they want to believe. You can present good evidence, and they will quote crazy people from the internet. There are lots of pictures of condensation trails back to the dawn of high flying aircraft. If they are spraying bad stuff, why make it visible? If thousands of planes are doing this every day, how could they keep it secret? None of this will matter to your crazy friend.
  • He's not a friend, just a loon at work who believes every conspiracy theory ever theorized. He reads stuff by David Icke, drops some bomb, and says we should "do our research". So I did my research. Besides, if reason doesn't work, there's always strychnine.
  • Atlantis: The Antediluvian World

    Apparently this is where the myth of Atlantis really got started, and my goodness is it convoluted. I always thought of Atlantis as being a super country, technologically and politically advanced far beyond anyone else on this planet. This book takes the idea of Atlantis and makes it into something quite different. The city is advanced, but only slightly, and it is regarded as the bellwether for many of the advancements throughout the world. Ultimately, it's really just portrayed as another great city (like Rome) that rose after the great flood, and the author uses cultures, customs, and religions from all over the world in order to prove its existence. The author often asks how different nations separated by oceans could possibly have similar customs and lifestyles prior to the great voyages that have happened throughout history. His reasoning: Atlantis essentially had all culture and advancement, and simply spread it throughout the world. It really is quite convoluted; a book no one would write today without being completely ignorant of science and history. 
  • Cannon by Wallace Wood

    I just finished this comic today, and was it something from another world. This 1970s comic strip sent overseas to our men in arms was sexually exploitative and propagandistic. The lead is a man named John Cannon who is a special agent combating the Russian and Chinese Governments. He starts out as a soulless vessel due to severe levels of brain washing, and becomes his own man by the end of the story. The illustrations in this book are intentionally titillating, outside of the action scenes mind you. There's almost no morality to this book whatsoever, with the exception of Agent Hurley Simms; he's the one good man among a pack of dogs. It's really interesting going through this book and seeing what the world was like then. 

    By the way, there's an amazing illustration in this book of a biker wearing a Swastika on his helmet and the  Hammer and Sickle of Communism on his shirt. He gets thrown of his bike and Cannon takes it to chase after a sales agent. 
  • I am currently reading the book Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I saw it at my dad's friend's house during Father's Day and it seemed like an interesting read. I asked to borrow it and I've had it for two weeks so far, and I just finished Part One.
  • X Stands for Unknown by Isaac Asimov

    This will be a first for me as I tend to only read Asimov's fiction. I've read some of his essays online, but never a collection such as this. I really enjoyed this book, and I'm realizing more and more that Asimov is not only my favorite writer but very influential as to who I am as a person and who I strive to be as I grow. He's a brilliant yet humble man, who's mind reaches far beyond his expertise. His understanding of the certain sciences, literature, history, and language may be somewhat rudimentary when compared to scholars in those fields, but they far exceed the understanding of laymen. This book is all about knowledge and the search for knowledge. Asimov begins each chapter with a tale of his personal life, which gives him dimension and makes him feel all too human. He seems approachable which is important once he begins his examination of a particular topic because it actually makes it more accessible. 'If this humble, jovial old fellow can amass this much knowledge, than certainly I can as well' is the thought that will run through the mind of the reader as they progress through this book. 

    Overall it's thoughtful, informative, and is setting me on the path of purchasing more of his non-fiction and essays. I might as well start building a book shelf solely for his catalog of works. 
  • So I'm reading grey and what. Come at me.
  • I read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein this morning. I hadn't read it since high school. It is very good. Creepy and visual and right out of the Romance period. Rips right along. The Creature is a fantastic character and one who, for all his described hideousness and learned cruelty, is eminently relatable. Strangely lacking in women considering Shelley's mother was a prominent feminist. Make sure you read the 1818 version if you read it. 
  • I'm reading a couple chapters from Neil Tyson's "Death by Black Hole" every night before I go to bed. Sleep often helps to retain information and I want to keep this information in my mind as long as possible. Also I've been incredibly busy at work during the day and haven't had any other opportunities to read. 
  • I read all sorts of stuff over the past couple of weeks. A lot of finance and accounting mainly, and some bullshit about aliens (The Terra Papers?), which I believe is one of the pieces of "evidence" the reptilian conspiracy nuts like to throw about. The book is whack. 60 pages or so of pure whack. I did some Googling about the topic to try and get some info on the author and ended up in backwaters of the internet few men dare tread, and those who do are spaced out vaudevillian misfits.
  • The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells. Found it relatively mediocre. It's entirely political but all the politics are wrapped up in a dry narration, and not presented to us through the characters or setting. And even that is questionable because the narrator is seemingly omnipresent to the point that he shouldn't be. There are basically no characters, the Time Traveler is the protagonist but we know almost nothing about him, and even less about anyone else. The story tries to present all of this as well as a future earth some 200,000+ years off all in the paltry amount of about 90 pages. Not terribly impressed with it. Either fully flush it out as a novel and give us some more characters and weave the politics into the story, or just write a political essay and be done with it.
  • StormWatch vol 2 by Warren Ellis

    I've been a fan of Warren Ellis since I first read his Authority. This is a man who not only understands comics, but particularly Superhero comics. He has a reverence for the genre and its history, and it shows throughout his multiple running series he did at WildStorm. StormWatch started his run, followed shorty thereafter by The Authority and then Planetary; very high minded comic book writing and commentary going on here. He's constantly using analogs to major comic book heroes to have his commentary on the medium, as well as comment on what these heroes actually represent. A lot of superhero fans tend to prefer their comics to be apolitical, and therefore fail to realize that comics are inherently political. From the minute Superman entered WWII to time in which Frederic Wertham attempted to have the Government regulate comic; comics are a political medium and Warren Ellis completely embraces that.

    In vol 2 we continue to follow StormWatch which is essentially the UN of Superheroes in this universe. Throughout this series we begin to follow the rise of Jenny Sparks, a Century Baby, that will eventually being "The Authority." This book is incredibly well plotted and reminds us that these Superheroes were designed to inspire a generation to be greater than what they could ever imagine. 
  • I am reading late at night, after putting little people to bed. I have gone full decerebrate and started breezing through Jack Reacher books. Basically, he is Omar, from The Wire, only for white people.
  • Hating on The Time Machine? The book that gave the English language the term "time machine" to begin with, inspired countless sci-fi writers that came along after, and produced the iconic Morlocks and Eloi -another concept borrowed countless times since. And it's a novella, it was never intended to be a fully fleshed out novel. You might as well whine about short stories being short.

    I read a whole bunch of stuff since last posting and can't remember it all off the top of my head. I have been reading a lot of stuff about Classical, Austrian, Keynesian, and Marxist economic theory which has led to some interesting internalized conversations.

    I also read "Of Mice And Men" because I never had before and I had an hour or so to kill. It's one of those watching a train wreck in slow motion type affairs as you can tell from the start things are going to go badly for these guys.

    I read some history too, in particular about Bismarck and pre-WW1 Germany. Otto was one heck of a strategist.

    I read a book about Unit 731 too to commemorate Japan's commemoration of WW2 which has been going on for the past few weeks. If you don't know what Unit 731 was, think Nazi concentration camps but possibly even worse, located in Manchuria in China. Japan never wants to talk about this, it's even more taboo than the "comfort women" issue, they much prefer the angle of portraying themselves as victims of atomic power.
  • Island of Dr Moreau is a better read than Time Machine, and Wells is a God with Verne and Shelley at the dawn of nerd culture. The movies of Moreau get to the island fast and kill him at the end, which is not the structure of the book. Wells accused Conrad of stealing the structure and tone of Island of Dr Moreau for Heart of Darkness. Their friendship ended over the dispute.
  • Read Out of the Silent Planet, by CS Lewis. Decent, not spectacular, lots of mysticism and Christian theology woven in,  lots of criticism of humanity. The main character's growth over the course of the story is handled well. The alien landscape is envisioned well. The antagonist is decidedly cruel. It's a quick alien world read that's fun enough but doesn't scream standout.
  • "The Republic"

    I read this back in my freshman year. This is a different version, one that I feel is decidedly worst in regards to its translation. I often find it interesting reading these philosophers and finding that for all their wisdom they are still products of their time. 
  • I agree about Moreau being a better read; I was more pointing out that Time Machine is a classic for a reason.

    Latham, is there any way to not be a product of your time? All of the people we put up on pedestals are products of their time, and no matter how intelligent you are, there are limits to what you can know, and for what lies outside your expertise, you will revert to popular assumptions (and we all know hopefully how reliable those are). This is no different with Plato.

    A recent example is when Degrasse Tyson said essentially "fuck philosophy". For such a scientifically "smart" guy this was a really fucking ignorant thing to say. Or listen to him talk about politics or the economy, the man is completely vanilla and mainstream. Clearly he hasn't spent much time thinking about either. Which is not bad, I'm not saying he should know everything, but people need to be wary of intellectuals. Smart on A topic does not mean smart on EVERY topic. For the same reason, people should not dismiss people because of a view that they hold. Hitler said A, and Hitler is a dick, so everything Hitler said is shit. Wrong wrong wrong. Any man who can go from homeless wannabe artist to Fuhrer is not an idiot, and I dare say he probably said a lot more of worth than your PhD in English Literature-studying ass ever has or will. I see this kind of thing everywhere. I don't like Mr X because he said blah about blah so I won't listen to his opinion on any other topic either. Real productive way to create a society.

    For example, I'm not a fan of Marx, but I still read Kapital. And honestly, the man made some very valid criticisms of capitalist thinking and attacks on beliefs that still haven't been addressed, and need to be before we can go forward. But, in other areas, the man was speaking out of his anus. If I discounted everything he said because sometimes he spoke out of his anus, I'd not have benefited from his insight into other aspects of the economy.

    Anyway, ramble over.
  • I guess I should have phrased it differently. I just find it interesting that we as a society hold these thinkers as men who were decidedly ahead of their time, but almost every time I go and read the literature I simply find that they were the "best" of their time. 

    Also, I agree with you that it's important to be open and consume as many ideas as possible, whether or not you innately agree with them or not. Otherwise you could miss something you'd never taken the time to think about. I'd rather not be obtuse. 
  • Hellboy Library Edition Volume 5

    Hellboy is a weird series for me. It's good, it's damn good. Mike and those he works with are some of the best artists out there; minimalist and bombastic all the same time. It's a Gothic Darwin Cooke, and I absolutely love looking at it. Then there's the story content: mythology, fables, occultism, goth literature, and just about anything else I love wrapped into one giant package. With all of that said, one of the big problems I have with the series is that it's almost too decompressed. I don't always feel that I'm given enough time with characters to ever really care about them, and so my reading experience is almost purely aesthetic with minimal substance. That's not to say I never care, or that I'm never involved in the stories Mike is telling, but simply just not as much as with other long running stories. 

    Edit: I was not yet finished with the volume when I wrote this, but after reading "The Wild Hunt" I finally feel what Mike was building to and it's absolutely incredible. His stories to this point were mainly anthologies, different showcases of points in Hellboy's life. Now we're really delving into who the character is, his fears, and his legacy. It's funny how one story can change everything.
  • I finished To Rise Again at a Decent Hour last night. I was originally wary about picking it up. It was on every "best of 2014" list in the world it seemed, but I picked it up off the bookshelf, perused some summaries, and decided that the world probably had way more than enough stories revolving around a misanthropic, jaded, fairly well-off middle-aged white dude. But, alas, many of the other books I wanted were not in the store, so I came back to it as a fall back. I'm glad I did! While the story doesn't necessarily tread a ton of new ground, it is both laugh out loud funny at times, and hopelessly depressing at others, offering meditations on loneliness and mortality that goes beyond the standard fare I expect to see out of this well-worn and at times detestable genre of stories. Even the ending threw me a curveball I didn't expect. So props to this middle-aged white author for writing a story that 90/100 times is horribly unnecessary, not-clever, terribly-vain, and polluting the airwaves, so to speak. Decent Hour was more than a decent hour of reading.
  • This is gonna sound mega-lame, but I've been reading over scripts from the 1963-1989 era of Doctor Who. It's been fun!
    Noobied by 1Dr Flibble
  • The book of drugs. I prefer non fiction reading and fiction when viewing.
    anyway mike doughty is a very funny musician. The one thing about these kinds of books though is i wonder how much he remembers because he was after all on drugs for all the interesting parts.

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