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Originally Posted By: Goldenking

Of late, I have been reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It's a simple little story, but I'm enjoying that simplicity and easy writing style, for now. Philosophy and theory is interesting, but it's nice to have a breath of fresh air every now and then.

I read that a while back ( I think its even posted on the wall here somewhere). To me it felt more like a philosophy for a dime sort of book (you know, like who moved my cheese or the monk who sold his ferrari), still enjoyed it though it didn't leave much of an impact.
Just that we are on the same page here, it's the one starting with a kid meeting king solomon, right?
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Based on the fact that this topic has over 1.5 million views, everyone's answer should be "What have you been reading recently?"

The topic is dead! Long live the topic!   —Alorael, who will throw in The Ringmaster's Daughter, a relatively normal and therefore still quite unusual novel by Jostein Gaarder. Unlike Sophie's Wor

It was in one of the introductions for a book. Part of the problem was he had a few children and was trying to save for their future educations.   The figure I've seen is that a basic paper back

Originally Posted By: bumbumpanks
Now i'm reading Book 5 of The Dark Tower series by Stephen King - hey..some of his books are actually pretty good, though I feel like the series hit it's peak in book 4.

Originally Posted By: ĐªŔŦĦ ËRNIË
i also got sucked into the dark tower with the first book. after reading a few i felt compelled to finish just to find out how it ends but was vastly disappointed.... My main issue is that he spends way too much time on nonsensical plot elements and infantile poems. The secondary issue is that things happen and the characters do stuff for reasons which sound completely insane and illogical.


I think I agree. I was really gripped through the first three books, as the story seemed to build and build. But it turned out King could only build it up, not really finish it. He didn't seem to know how to make a long plot build to a climax and resolve. He just kept spinning out little stories. Nice enough ones, but little.

King's prefaces make clear that the series was really important to him. He wrote himself into it, put in favorite characters from his other books, and all. I find it hard not to read his longest story as an allegory for King's own life as an artist: an uncannily talented executer spends his life looking for a great unifying theme, whose weakness weakens everything good. He finds it, but only in a sense, because all he really finds is the quest for it.

Eh, it's a string of good stories, though some are maybe a bit too wacky, and you can discuss some interesting things, by discussing the sequence's flaws. That's not a bad accomplishment. Up to maybe book 4, though, it looked as though it might be a great epic. That didn't come off.
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I rather liked it, but can't deny its first three books were the best. I also think that the new one will help the transition between the first few and the latter half be a little less abrupt. The seventh book was a disappointment to me, except for the very end, which may be the best part of the series.

 

Overall? Better the 11/22/63, but not nearly as good as The Stand.

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You guys are scaring me, I too feel like i've invested so many man hours in The Dark Tower that I should just finish it, now i'm not so sure.

 

Also on the fantasy front, Gene Wolf wrote another whole series (8 books maybe) called The Book of The Long Sun which Is tangentially related to the New Sun series I think...I got most of the way through the first novel, it seemed good but slow. It's on my future to read list to go deeper into the series.

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I just read Richard K. Morgan's Thirteen (also published as Black Man, and possibly properly Th1rt3en, more or less in one travel-filled day. It's decent near-future sci-fi, gets genetic engineering more reasonably than many takes, and is up to his usual interesting action-novel standards, but it's really just a rehash of Takeshi Kovacs.

 

—Alorael, who most appreciated the bitterness of chromosomal engineering experiments at the better lives of those whose special adaptations and abilities are on artificial chromosomes that can more easily be inactivated.

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I've never been much of a book reader, but today while I was waiting for my bank to open I thought I may as well drop into a bookstore out of curiosity. I did find a copy of The Iliad and The Odyssey for quite cheap so I think I might pick one of these up sometime this week.

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The VPN is down, so since I can't get much work done anyway, <a href="http://www.spiderwebforums.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/269776/Re_What_have_you_been_reading_#Post269776" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">it's time to continue with the WoT Recap</a>!

 

I haven't been paying attention for exploitable quotes, so have <a href="http://rosemuse.deviantart.com/gallery/585002" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">some fanart</a> instead. Check out the 'stages of' ones, or just <a href="http://rosemuse.deviantart.com/art/WoT-Scene-164893080?q=gallery%3Arosemuse%2F585002&qo=5" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Mat putting his foot in his mouth</a>.

 

Fun fact: it will be a year since I started these recaps in two days. I'm gonna start making them shorter, 'cause I've been putting off recaps, to the point where I'm reading faster than recapping.

 

(Book Seven)

 

Book Seven opens with the dust still settling after Dumai's Wells. We see that Rand hasn't really taken his captivity well. Most of it is from Perrin's POV. We switch over to Egwene, who's solidifying her position as Amyrlin, getting oaths of fealty, sometimes though blackmail. Good stuff so far. Then we switch Ebou Dari.

 

For the few of you who don't know, this book has one of the male main characters being pursued by a cougar, who also happens to be a queen. Alright, nothing wrong with that being in a book. And then the queen starts trapping him in the palace, and later pulls a knife on him.

 

Let me make one thing clear. I am not against rape being depicted in literature, as long as the topic is given the weight it deserves (and yes, rape; lack of consent -> rape). And this bit? Played for laughs. And it's not like Jordan can't deal with the topic of rape. Faile almost gets raped in Book Ten, and it's dealt with... adequately (I won't say well). Morgase gets raped by Valda in this book (off-screen), as well as Rahvin earlier, and there's a good chance her relationship with Elayne's father wasn't that great either. But apparently things are different when the victim is male.

 

What makes me more upset is how some of the other characters view this as justified comeuppance. Mat's all about casual sex, but (correct me if I'm wrong) he never pursued anyone who didn't express interest, and he certainly never forced himself on anyone.

 

But what really boggles my mind is Mat's thoughts on things. It seems that Jordan was trying to depict Mat as just being baffled by Tylin; he just wasn't used to women pursuing men, that's all. I respond to that with one word: Melindhra. Mat seemed pretty fine with assertive women then.

 

(And while we're on the subject of Melindhra, I'm going to answer a common rebuttal: no, Mat wasn't going to "do more" to defend himself, not when he will do anything before letting another woman be harmed by his hands.)

 

Anyway, yeah. I consider this to be the nadir of the series, for this part alone. How on earth did this get past the editor... oh, right. The editor was the author's wife.

 

I don't want to know.

 

There's not too much to talk about with the Ebou Dari subplot. The Kin is discovered, and they end up finding the MacGuffin they were looking for. Oh, and Mat saves their ungrateful asses again, but that's sort of a thing for him.

 

Oh, almost forgot! Moggy ends up killing two of Nynaeve's bodyguards. And Nyn tries to hide this from Mat. I understand that Nynaeve is supposed to be a flawed character, like every other character in the series, but hiding soldiers' deaths from their commanding officer is a whole new level of horribleness. I could maybe see this from other characters, but from someone who used to be in a position of civic authority?

 

Let's switch back to Rand, hopefully we don't get anyone annoying in this subplo- oh, hello, Cadsuane!

 

Actually, Cads doesn't bother me as much as she used to. I was never sure if Jordan meant for her domineering arrogance to be a good thing, or if she was just another flawed character. But Book Twelve made it clear it was the latter. Again, I don't mind flawed, 'annoying' characters, so long as there's some redemptive arc involved.

 

After Rand gets his moping done, the rest of his subplot reads like a to-do list. He parleys with the Sea Folk, then he checks out the Cairhienin and Tairen rebels. During which he get his ass handed to him by Padan Fain (who apparently can summon Mashadar wherever now). Once he recovers, he blitzes Illian, and kills Sammael.

 

I had a recent discussion with a friend, and he said that the series went downhill once teleportation was discovered. He said that Jordan started packing all his action into the last few chapters of each book, and I can see his point -- perhaps not for every book in the series, but at least for this one.

 

I consider this book, along with Books Five and Ten, to be the three bad ones (and the prequel, of course). But while Books Five and Ten are bad because of their pace, Book Seven is mostly bad because of <a href="http://www.spiderwebforums.com/forum/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=235407#Post235407" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">those flies in the Shiraz that I was talking about</a>.

 

Don't lose hope though, things do look up with Book Eight (which, ironically, is a book all about losing hope).

 

VITAL STATISTICS:

Achievements for Team Light: The Bowl of Winds is retrieved, the rebel claimants are dispersed, Sammael is toast.

 

Forsaken count: Two rezzed, one dead, total of two dead, two erased.

 

Seals count: Total of four destroyed, three intact.

 

 

Okay, not that much shorter at all.

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I got through a few books of the Long Sun. They were interesting, but a tad confusing. Slow moving, then things wrap up suddenly and it's not so easy to be sure what exactly happened. Not like C.J. Cherryh, where it's clear what happened but it's not clear why it couldn't have happened three hundred pages earlier. It's really not clear what happened. Though maybe I just read too fast.

 

Wolfe is famous for his sudden bizarre plot twists right at the end of a book or a series. I hate that, and prefer to just pretend it didn't happen. For me it seems to undermine the entire story, like turning the last page to discover it was all just Frodo's dream. Not quite that bad, but still.

 

I dunno; maybe I should re-read some Wolfe. But his books haven't aged well in my memory. All I really recall of the New Sun series was the sword Terminus Est, with its liquid mercury core. That's nice, but a little thin for a whole tetralogy.

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Originally Posted By: Dintiradan
The VPN is down, so since I can't get much work done anyway, it's time to continue with the WoT Recap!

I haven't been paying attention for exploitable quotes, so have some fanart instead. Check out the 'stages of' ones, or just Mat putting his foot in his mouth.

Fun fact: it will be a year since I started these recaps in two days. I'm gonna start making them shorter, 'cause I've been putting off recaps, to the point where I'm reading faster than recapping.

Click to reveal.. (Book Seven)

Book Seven opens with the dust still settling after Dumai's Wells. We see that Rand hasn't really taken his captivity well. Most of it is from Perrin's POV. We switch over to Egwene, who's solidifying her position as Amyrlin, getting oaths of fealty, sometimes though blackmail. Good stuff so far. Then we switch Ebou Dari.

For the few of you who don't know, this book has one of the male main characters being pursued by a cougar, who also happens to be a queen. Alright, nothing wrong with that being in a book. And then the queen starts trapping him in the palace, and later pulls a knife on him.

Let me make one thing clear. I am not against rape being depicted in literature, as long as the topic is given the weight it deserves (and yes, rape; lack of consent -> rape). And this bit? Played for laughs. And it's not like Jordan can't deal with the topic of rape. Faile almost gets raped in Book Ten, and it's dealt with... adequately (I won't say well). Morgase gets raped by Valda in this book (off-screen), as well as Rahvin earlier, and there's a good chance her relationship with Elayne's father wasn't that great either. But apparently things are different when the victim is male.

What makes me more upset is how some of the other characters view this as justified comeuppance. Mat's all about casual sex, but (correct me if I'm wrong) he never pursued anyone who didn't express interest, and he certainly never forced himself on anyone.

But what really boggles my mind is Mat's thoughts on things. It seems that Jordan was trying to depict Mat as just being baffled by Tylin; he just wasn't used to women pursuing men, that's all. I respond to that with one word: Melindhra. Mat seemed pretty fine with assertive women then.

(And while we're on the subject of Melindhra, I'm going to answer a common rebuttal: no, Mat wasn't going to "do more" to defend himself, not when he will do anything before letting another woman be harmed by his hands.)

Anyway, yeah. I consider this to be the nadir of the series, for this part alone. How on earth did this get past the editor... oh, right. The editor was the author's wife.

I don't want to know.

There's not too much to talk about with the Ebou Dari subplot. The Kin is discovered, and they end up finding the MacGuffin they were looking for. Oh, and Mat saves their ungrateful asses again, but that's sort of a thing for him.

Oh, almost forgot! Moggy ends up killing two of Nynaeve's bodyguards. And Nyn tries to hide this from Mat. I understand that Nynaeve is supposed to be a flawed character, like every other character in the series, but hiding soldiers' deaths from their commanding officer is a whole new level of horribleness. I could maybe see this from other characters, but from someone who used to be in a position of civic authority?

Let's switch back to Rand, hopefully we don't get anyone annoying in this subplo- oh, hello, Cadsuane!

Actually, Cads doesn't bother me as much as she used to. I was never sure if Jordan meant for her domineering arrogance to be a good thing, or if she was just another flawed character. But Book Twelve made it clear it was the latter. Again, I don't mind flawed, 'annoying' characters, so long as there's some redemptive arc involved.

After Rand gets his moping done, the rest of his subplot reads like a to-do list. He parleys with the Sea Folk, then he checks out the Cairhienin and Tairen rebels. During which he get his ass handed to him by Padan Fain (who apparently can summon Mashadar wherever now). Once he recovers, he blitzes Illian, and kills Sammael.

I had a recent discussion with a friend, and he said that the series went downhill once teleportation was discovered. He said that Jordan started packing all his action into the last few chapters of each book, and I can see his point -- perhaps not for every book in the series, but at least for this one.

I consider this book, along with Books Five and Ten, to be the three bad ones (and the prequel, of course). But while Books Five and Ten are bad because of their pace, Book Seven is mostly bad because of those flies in the Shiraz that I was talking about.

Don't lose hope though, things do look up with Book Eight (which, ironically, is a book all about losing hope).

VITAL STATISTICS:
Achievements for Team Light: The Bowl of Winds is retrieved, the rebel claimants are dispersed, Sammael is toast.

Forsaken count: Two rezzed, total of one dead, two erased.

Seals count: Total of four destroyed, three intact.

Okay, not that much shorter at all.
Click to reveal..
I forget; does the wall fall on Mat at the end of this book, or is that in the next book?
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That's the one. Thus, he doesn't appear for the entire eighth book. I find it rather frustrating when a major character is absent like that. Although Wheel of Time has nothing on Song of Ice and Fire in that regard.

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Originally Posted By: Aʀᴀɴ
The C Programming Language by Kernighan and Ritchie
What a coincidence, I recently bought The C++ Programming Language by Bjarne Strousrtup, though I'm not so much reading as perusing it.

I'm also reading the textbook for my class, Starting Out With Programming Logic & Design by Tony Gaddis. Since I've already had a class in programming logic, I'm not really learning anything new.
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Click to reveal..
Yeah, Ebou Dar is captured at the end of Book Seven. The arrival of the main Seanchan force is one of my favourite scenes from the series, actually. It has a real cinematic quality; makes me want to hum something like
.

Other relevant plot details from the book: this is where Rand and Ishy cross the streams, and the beginning of the 'channelling sickness'. Stop to think about it for a moment: by the second part of the series, Rand has like half a dozen people in his head (Lews, Ishy, and four through the Warder bond). Also, while it isn't stated explicitly, this is when Rand figures out the connection between the taint and Shadar Logoth.

I'm focusing more and more on just providing an editorial, rather than recapping everything, because even in the 'slow' books, way too much happens. If you do want an exhaustive commentary (like, posts as long as mine but covering a single chapter), check out Leigh Butler's re-read.


EDIT: On the topic of programming languages, does anybody know any quick and simple tutorials for R? I'd rather not wade through another horrid GNU manual.
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Originally Posted By: Actaeon
I find it rather frustrating when a major character is absent like that. Although Wheel of Time has nothing on Song of Ice and Fire in that regard.

yeah nothing like killing off the major character and replacing him with a new major character to further kill off over and over.

i got turned off the song of ice and fire when all the characters i liked started getting killed
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I was referring mainly to GRRM's decision to split the fourth book in half by location and put the best characters in the second half, then taking eternity to publish it. A Feast for Crows rivals Crossroads of Twilight for disappointing entries into otherwise decent series.

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Originally Posted By: Actaeon
I was referring mainly to GRRM's decision to split the fourth book in half by location and put the best characters in the second half, then taking eternity to publish it. A Feast for Crows rivals Crossroads of Twilight for disappointing entries into otherwise decent series.
Not only that, but A Dance with Dragons does this with the characters that do appear in that book. Davos inexplicably disappears halfway throughout the book, for instance.
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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: ĐªŔŦĦ ËRNIË</div><div class="ubbcode-body">when i read the final scene with jon snow i actually screamed. he was practically the final original character left.

I'm not convinced he's completely dead. Remember that Jon is a warg, and the prologue to that book was all about how skin changers can flee into another body when they die. Of the characters who had chapters in the first book, quite a few of them are still alive. Eddard and Jon are dead, and Catelyn is semi-dead, but Sansa, Arya, Bran, Tyrion, and Daenerys are all still alive.If you add characters who were present in the first book, but did not get chapters until later in the series, the ratio of alive/dead is even higher. Theon, Sam, Cersei, and Barristan are all alive. Jaime is currently being lead to his death, but I would not count him out just yet either.

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Also, GRRM seems to have a thing for seemingly killing off characters at the end of one book, only to have them show up in the next. Think Arya and Theon.

 

 

Also, there's a good chance that Jon is the third head of the dragon, so yeah.

 

EDIT: Also, I use 'also' a lot apparently.

 

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Originally Posted By: Tyranicus

I'm not convinced he's completely dead. Remember that Jon is a warg, and the prologue to that book was all about how skin changers can flee into another body when they die.

 

i forgot about the warg part but even so i wasn't totally convinced that he was dead. his death was in the middle of a plot buildup and while there was a body it wasn't a definitive death.

the fact that he was a warg though, pretty nails it that he will be back

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  • 3 weeks later...

I've started It's Even Worse Than it Looks by Mann and Ornestein.

 

It argues that US congressional politics have basically changed into the politics of a Parliamentary democracy with numerous well-delineated, highly partisan factions in acrimonious conflict with one another (even when "one another" are members of the same overarching party). Of course, while this isn't a bad thing, the problem is that the US constitutional system is emphatically not equipped to handle it, what with it's focus on bipartisanship, limited government, and separation of powers, rather than the wide latitude to do as they please that winning coalitions in parliamentary democracies enjoy. The result, of course, are things like the whole debt ceiling fiasco, where a faction within one of the parties was able to successfully force the party as a whole to follow along with its goals, effectively stopping compromise and bringing government to a standstill.

 

The argument makes perfect sense, really. It's quite easy to pick out around eightish ideologically distinct groups in the political spectrum that for various reasons are working together when frankly they probably shouldn't be (cf. the Religious Right and Ayn Rand-style free market devotees have quite little in common, despite both being ostensibly "republican"), simply because they require the aegis of a larger party to have influence on the process at all.

 

Fascinating and scary stuff, and especially relevant now of all times.

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Originally Posted By: HOUSE of S
That's interesting.

What would you pick out as the eightish ideogroups?


Hmm. It's easier to pick out Republican ones that Democrat ones, possibly because there's more cross-group exchange on the Left. Just off of the top of my head, the groups ideology and a representative politician.

Also note that I reached for the closest label available, which in some cases has became a pejorative as time has gone by. No offense really meant, it's similar to calling the PPACA "Obamacare" just so people know what you're talking about. If you have a better suggestion for a name, say so.

Republicans:

1. Paleoconservative/Libertarian: Focus on States' Rights and even more individual rights. These are the ones into constitution worship and originalism. Ron Paul would be an example. NB: The Tea Party broadly falls under a hybrid of this category and the next, but they shouldn't be put in the next one because they lack the crucial social liberalism.

2. "Rockefeller Republicans": Socially liberal, very very rich. Tend to focus on lower taxes and fiscal restraint/balanced budgets. Mitt Romney was this before he went hard right.

3. Religious Right: Social issues voters. Abortion, gay marriage, Ten Commandments, creationism/ID in schools, all that jazz. Rick Santorum would typify the group, although some in it wouldn't be keen on his Catholicism, although that particular strain seems to be dying out.

4. Neoconservatives: Flatteringly described as "liberals mugged by reality". Unflattering described as... see any left-of-center publication, 2000-2008. George Bush.

Democrats:

5. Progressives: Progressives. They progress. Focus mainly on some sort of reform, sometimes single issue, sometimes not. I'd say they're more highly academic than most other groups, and certainly more highly educated. Importantly, despite a common ideological framework, there's still inter-group disagreement on policy that other ideogroups lack. Obama would be their poster child, although some are disenchanted with him now.

6. "Limousine Liberals": Left-wing counterpart to the RR's. Wealthy, but very much on focused on accomplishing a wide range of liberal social and/or economic goals. They aren't as strongly progressive as the Progressives, since some have a vested interest in certain parts of the status quo. FDR would be the best example of this, but he's dead. Kerry, maybe?

7. The Unions: On the downswing now for various reasons. Organized labor. Focused mainly on economic issues for the middle and lower-middle classes. A politician slips my mind.

That's what I can think of off the top of my head, at least.
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I've been thinking of this for a while, actually, and have reached the tentative conclusion that the US Republican party, at least, may be a victim of the discursive dilemma. In some abstract sense they are facing something like three issues, which are logically related such that whoever says Yes to A and B must logically say Yes to C, and whoever does not say Yes to both A and B must logically say No to C.

 

The dilemma is that they've got roughly three equal camps: a group that says Yes, Yes, Yes, a group that says Yes, No, No, and a group that says No, Yes, No. So each group individually is consistent and logical, but the only consensus of the party as a whole is the logically untenable Yes, Yes, No. There simply does not exist a logical majority platform across all the factions; but there is a clear and substantial majority position on any individual issue.

 

So every member of the party has the feeling that the party is _their_ party. They perceive quite accurately that the whole party membership agrees overwhelmingly with them on the overwhelming majority of issues. They suppose that the rest of their party only needs a bit more education and argument to come around to a sensible and consistent stance on the remaining point of contention. After all, that one item on which the majority of their fellow party members stubbornly disagree with them is clearly logically inconsistent with the rest of the party's consensus. It can only be a matter of time, therefore, before those foolish and illogical holdouts recognize the error of their ways and get on board.

 

But every single faction sees it that way, even though the things they agree and disagree on are all different. The situation as a whole is a voting paradox. It seems as though the party's overall platform is inconsistent, but the truth is that there simply is no overall platform. By parliamentary standards, there is no party, but only a shifting set of ad hoc coalitions that change from issue to issue.

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The Republican platform is to oppose the Democrats. It doesn't matter if the issue has support from both sides (creating jobs) or was originally made by the Republicans (health care mandates). Once the Democrats are pushing for it the idea must be wrong if they want it.

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None of Dantius's options really clicked with me, but that could just as easily be a lack of self awareness on my part as an error in the categories.

 

Perhaps it is time for a new political thread. Something removed from the upcoming election, where we can continue to try to investigate our political allegiances.

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The cooperation between the religious right, corporations and libertarians are to me the most baffling thing about US politics.

 

Religion and corporations I broadly get; the religious right is being used by the rich as an easily steered and homogenous support base.

 

Also, I get that libertarians and capitalists can agree on the whole free-market thing, but even there it seems as though they should object to the tight control that corporations have over the market.

 

But how do libertarians and the religious right get along?

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— My impression is that libertarians in the U.S. seem to vote based on economic policy first and social policy second. I don't know if this is inherently the case, or just a self-perpetuating result of the strange republican bedfellows and all the rhetoric that accompies that coalition.

 

And FWIW: although I know plenty of minorities (of all sorts) who have liberal social views and conservative economic views, almost none of them identify as libertarian. Almost all the libertarians I know are straight white men.

 

— "Rockefeller Republicans" would cover the moderates and "RINOs" like Olympia Snowe, Scott Brown, and the like?

 

— How is Obama a progressive poster child? His politics are (and have always been) just like Clinton's, and extremely moderate. He is well-liked by progressives simply because progressives tend to be young, so have the choice between Reagan, the Bushes, and Clinton/Obama... and of the latter two, Obama is more articulate.

 

For the left side of things, Wikipedia offers the following split:

— General Liberals (largest group)

— "Progressives" (Dean, Kucinich)

— Democratic Libertarians (Feingold, Gravel)

— Blue Dogs

— Centrists (Clinton, Obama)

 

That doesn't correspond well to constituents, though. I think if you really want to break up democrat votes, you have to do so more crudely, and start talking about minorities, academia, unions, and liberal professionals.

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Originally Posted By: HOUSE of S
— "Rockefeller Republicans" would cover the moderates and "RINOs" like Olympia Snowe, Scott Brown, and the like?


Yes. Usually the reason that the label RINO is applied is because they don't toe the ridiculously convoluted party line, but that's largely because they're actually toeing a separate ideogroup line more-or-less exactly, and it's that that doesn't mesh with the GOP.

Originally Posted By: HOUSE of S
— How is Obama a progressive poster child? His politics are (and have always been) just like Clinton's, and extremely moderate. He is well-liked by progressives simply because progressives tend to be young, so have the choice between Reagan, the Bushes, and Clinton/Obama... and of the latter two, Obama is more articulate.


Obama is very moderate, and is reflexively bipartisan, even when it burns him, but I'd say that more than any recent president he has a set of coherent, forward-thinking beliefs (that Clinton lacked) that would characterize a progressive in spirit, if not necessarily in policy.

Plus, you know, all the progressive things he's done. Stances on gay marriage, healthcare reform, Dodd-Frank, DADT, etc.

Originally Posted By: HOUSE of S
For the left side of things, Wikipedia offers the following split:
— General Liberals (largest group)
— "Progressives" (Dean, Kucinich)
— Democratic Libertarians (Feingold, Gravel)
— Blue Dogs
— Centrists (Clinton, Obama)

That doesn't correspond well to constituents, though. I think if you really want to break up democrat votes, you have to do so more crudely, and start talking about minorities, academia, unions, and liberal professionals.


Yeah, and that's one reason why it's easier to identify right groups easier than left groups. For all the stereotypes about the Right being the party of rich white men, it really does only have two main constituencies: rural voters, who tend to fall under the first and third groups I identified, and the upper-middle to upper-class, who tend strongly towards the second and fourth. Democrats, on the other hand, not only have a wide range of component groups- unions, minorities, immigrants, etc., but the ideological issues they face can cut across groups and fragment them in ways that the Republicans don't have to deal with. So fittingly, even though the Republicans have inter-party issues to deal with, they are well-defined, structured, and quite quantifiable, whereas the Democrats' inter-party issues are so nebulous and on so many levels they're very, very difficult to address.
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Originally Posted By: HOUSE of S
You can just start a new thread and make a post directing further discussion on the topic to a link to that thread. That's much less risking than using the UBB merge function.


I have created a continuation thread here for further discussion on the subject, then.
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Originally Posted By: Dantius
Plus, you know, all the progressive things he's done. Stances on gay marriage, healthcare reform, Dodd-Frank, DADT, etc.


his healthcare reform plan is hardly "progressive"; it does a few good things but it also hands roughly half a trillion dollars to private insurance companies. republicans have been pushing for something like it for literally decades. they only started opposing it when a democrat started to support it
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Originally Posted By: Dantius
Originally Posted By: HOUSE of S
You can just start a new thread and make a post directing further discussion on the topic to a link to that thread. That's much less risking than using the UBB merge function.


I have created a continuation thread here for further discussion on the subject, then.


Expectation: Political discussion moves to new thread.

Reality: Post spawns new political thread.

Conclusion: politics == doomguards.
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Originally Posted By: Dintiradan
Speaking of which, please tell me this is a joke.

Oh, they know Canada has universal healthcare. It's just that your prime minister isn't black.

Dikiyoba recommends keeping them out by raising your taxes as high and often as possible, and engaging in widespread and highly publicized rejoicing every time you do so. Or simply start calling French fries "socialism fries."
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Originally Posted By: Dikiyoba
Dikiyoba recommends keeping them out by ... calling French fries "socialism fries."

Wait'll they see poutine.

But even though Canada is pretty big, given the typical level of geographic knowledge in that particular American demographic slice, I think we might just try hiding for a while, and seeing if they give up.
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  • 4 weeks later...

It's <a href="http://www.spiderwebforums.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/271993/Re_What_have_you_been_reading_#Post271993" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">recap time</a>! Onwards with Book Eight!

 

Once again, I don't have a misquote ready, though I suppose I could do something with Sor and Cads conversation about Rand being "strong" and "hard" were I so inclined. I'm not, though, so have some <a href="http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m5gzkoxWXt1rwbwbfo1_500.jpg" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">random fanart</a> instead.

 

(Book Eight)

 

It seems a lot of people dislike Book Eight. I don't get why, Book Eight is actually my favourite of the 'middle stretch'. It's the Empire Strikes Back of the series. It's the first book since Book Two that gives us a good look at Seanchan culture (at least military culture). It's the first time the good guys suffer a major defeat. This is a very Rand-centric book, focusing on how he's changed after Dumai's Wells and his conquest of Illian. Heck, even the cover art is great, when most of Sweet's WoT covers are just passable.

 

(The bad covers probably have as much to do with Tor's art director as with Sweet himself. A lot of the covers just have nothing to do with the book. This one's very Ozymandias-esque, though, which is great.)

 

We start the prologue with all the Borderland rulers on their way south with their armies. And what's this? They're making this blood oath about something? Neat! I bet they're off to do something really cool!

 

Right?

 

The first subplot we encounter is the Elayne-Nynaeve-Avs subplot. It starts off well enough: they activate the Bowl of Winds to fix the weather, and then escape from attacking Seanchan forces (after deciding that someone else will have to rescue Mat). They also cause this weird magical fallout effect which disrupts channellers around Ebou Dar -- this becomes plot relevant later. I can't recall if it's explained what causes this; it's either from activating the Bowl of Winds, or from "pulling apart" a weave (which can be compared to setting off a kiloton bomb).

 

But once that's dealt with, we're left with basically the same plot that made Book Five drag: our heroes have just completed a quest, and now they're walking back to home base. Okay, it's slightly different: we have the Sea Folk being crabby this time, presumably because Nynaeve is too busying doing the horizontal tango with Lan.

 

And you know what makes it worse? This time, our heroes can teleport! Oh, there's this explanation why they can't teleport: there's a minuscule risk that they might kill a bystander by doing so. But this could have easily been handwaved away; Elayne teleporting to some abandoned part of the palace or something.

 

So, instead of that, we get another slow Elayne-Nynaeve subplot. Some stuff happens, which <span style="font-style: italic">is</span> somewhat interesting, but it could have been squished into a chapter or maybe two. There's a murder mystery that comes up at the end, but it's not enough. Don't worry, I'll get into that one later.

 

For what it's worth, this is the only subplot I was unhappy with in this book. All the other ones are pretty good, at the very least. The next one that comes up is the Perrin one. His and Berelain's forces get teleported west, and they're supposed to contact Masema, a character we were introduced to in Book Two and transformed into a religious figure by Book Five. The idea is that Rand is trying to get the Prophet and his rabble under his control (or deal with them if this isn't possible). There's a good storyline here, at least for this book. As a re-reader, though, it's a bit hard to stay invested, since how the Prophet and Dragonsworn end up is already known. Still, some pretty good chapters.

 

Oh yeah. And Faile gets captured by itinerant Shaido at the end of the book. This starts what's known as the SUBPLOT OF DOOM. But more on the destruction of Perrin's character in my next recap.

 

Then there's Egwene's subplot. This book concludes a small arc that started with Book Six. Egwene has been installed as a rebel Pope, but she's a puppet, not to mention a fall guy if things go bad for the rebels. For the past two books she's been consolidating support. This book sees even more political manoeuvring, with her ultimately tricking the council into declaring martial law, and giving her a lot more executive power. Is it riveting and action packed? No, but it is a satisfying conclusion to this part of her character development, gaining the power that she deserves, but not the respect quite yet. The book ends with the rebels teleporting to Avalon and starting one of the three main sieges of the book (though the siege of Tear doesn't really count because it happens off-screen).

 

And finally, there's Rand. Despite all the other stuff that's going on, this felt like a very Rand-centric book. We see Rand take a small force against the attacking Seanchan. Since he's probably going to lose a lot of people anyway, he picks the most traitorous nobles and their forces from among the three countries he controls. Thus, most of this book has him isolated from his usual supporting cast, alone among 'allies' who wouldn't mind seeing him dead. Here we see Rand at his hubristic, and it's here where he's given his first major defeat, and it hits him hard.

 

Later, he's the target of a particularly devastating assassination attempt. He has to euthanize one of the earliest Asha'man after he goes insane, and this shortly after Rand himself mows down his own forces when he loses control. His subplot ends when he decides that he has become <a href="

rel="nofollow" target="_blank">too big, too noisy, and that it's time to step back into the shadows</a> (hugemassive spoilers in that clip). He and Min take off at the end of the book, and this the last time (for a while, at least) we see him directly leading the nations he so bloodily united.

 

I don't know what else to say, other than that the action is pretty well spread out through this book (unlike some of the others), and that surprisingly it's become one of my better liked books on the reread. Probably not as much of an impact as the first four books, but still a good read.

 

VITAL STATISTICS:

Achievements for Team Light: The Bowl of Winds is used, the rebel Aes Sedai besiege Tar Valon, a significant portion of the Seanchan expeditionary force is destroyed (at great cost).

 

Forsaken count: Total of two dead, two erased. (Huh, I don't think there was any interaction between the main baddies and the heroes in this one.)

 

Seals count: Total of four destroyed, three intact.

 

 

Join me next recap, when I get to increment the rituals counter again!

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Aww man, it's been so long since i did a re-read that some of the books are blurring together.

 

Also, ugh at the SUBPLOT OF DOOM. Probably my least favorite subplot of the book.

 

I really need to get a re-read in before the last book. When is it out?

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I just started the reread of book nine of the Wheel of Time. I guess I'm not the only one here preparing for the final book smile

 

And I agree with Future Wonderbolt on the faile-subplot being one of those I dislike the most. Just trudging my way through those chapters, hungering for the other plotlines.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Recently I read The Cloud Roads and The Serpent Sea, by Martha Wells. They're about this race of humanoid creatures who can magically morph into flying lizard monsters. The protagonist is one. That summary wouldn't have sounded promising to me, but Martha Wells is pretty good at delivering interesting stories that don't fit any familiar pattern, and so far I haven't been disappointed. The second book is weaker than the first in that it's a pretty baldly contrived maguffin hunt, but it's quite a good hunt.

 

Also, Dream of the Dragon Pool, which I really liked because it was seriously different. The author is supposedly some sort of Chinese scholar who has distilled a lot of Chinese folklore and legend into this novel. The main character is the poet Li Bo, who is a historical (and also somewhat legendary) figure, a major poet of the Tang dynasty (eighth century CE) many of whose poems have survived and are still widely admired. From Wikipedia I have learned that a crater on Mercury has been named for him.

 

I have no idea how true this novel is to any Chinese tradition, but it's sure pretty different from any story I know. Li Bo seems to be represented fairly accurately as a dedicated wine-drinker. His buddy Ah Wu is an expert crossbowman. I wouldn't exactly call the book historical fiction, though, since one major character is a ghost, though unlike the western ghosts I'm familiar with, the ghosts in this story are able to solidify themselves and pass for living people. There's a fair amount of putatively Daoist magic involved in it all.

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I read some Martha Wells years ago and remember liking it, but I recently read The Death of the Necromancer and found it to be decent urban swashbuckling and intrigue but nothing special. Maybe I read it too soon after [iThe Lies of Locke Lamora[/i], which is outstanding.

 

—Alorael, who has also picked up Mordant's Need. He either has a similarly rosy view of Stephen R. Donaldson in hindsight or this particular series is just not as good. But he's also more and more aware that the man seems fixated on making awful protagonists. Bad people, too, but mostly the kind of people you want to shake until they stop being self-centered, stupid, suicidally passive, or exceptionally deluded.

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