Staying at home is the norm... What are you reading?

Trunkage

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The Rise and Fall of Australia: How a Great Nation Lost Its Way (3/5)

This is by the same author of 'When America Stopped Being Great,' which is another work I've reviewed (I think?) in this thread. TL, DR, that's easily the stronger of the two works, in part because what happens in America is far more important than what happens in Australia, in part because Bryant's thesis runs through that work, where his thesis here runs through some of it, then he turns his mind to other matters. Furthermore, although it was published relatively recently, RFA already feels dated, in that the issues it looks at have largely evaporated, whereas new issues that the book touches on have become bigger. Anyway, I'm going to sum up some of his main ideas:

The titular rise and fall refers to (at least as far as "the fall,") refers to the period of politics that came after John Howard lost his prime ministership to Kevin Rudd. What happened then was basically politics spiralling into mendacity. Canberra became known as "the coup capital of the world" as both the ALP and LNP kept switching leaders, both while in government and outside it. In Labour, we had Rudd, then Gillard, then Rudd again. For the LNP, we had Abbott, then Turnbull, then Morrison. And all the while, a lack of any real policy from either party, but rather a "race to the bottom." He attributes this to two key factors. First, because Aus has had uninterrupted economic growth for over two decades at this point, it's an example of "good times create weak men." Little reason to change anything, so why bother with bold visions when you can snipe at your opponents? Second, because so many MPs are "career politicians," they're out of touch with the regular people. He also looks at the pros and cons of the above-mentioned PMs.

I certainly can't disagree with a lot of this, as I watched the years in question with dismay, as politics devolved into a farce. Whether he's correct in the causes for this is something I can't answer. That said, I mentioned that this came off as outdated, because at least with Morrison, a new political feeling seems to have settled over Canberra. It's less the LNP and ALP being brats, and more that the LNP is governing, the ALP is facing an ideological split, and the states are dealing with Covid. As for his assessment of the PMs in question, I'm of course biased, but I broadly agree with his assessment of Abbott (good opposition leader, useless as prime minister), Turnbull (I've always respected Turnbull, but then, part of the reasons I do is why so many people on the right dislike him), and Morrison (competent, but uninspiring). In contrast, disagree with his assessment of Rudd (weasely, backstabber), and Gillard (not really up to being PM), but again, bias. Me, being on the left, so of course I'm going to be more favourabe to Rudd and Gillard, and respect Turnbull).

Another thing that arguably makes the work outdated is its take on the Australia-China relationship. There's no specific "take" per se, but it's outdated in the sense that since the book was written, Australia-China relations have plummeted.

There's certainly other theses that the author brings up, but the problem with them is that they're mainly incidental to the core theses as to what caused the downfall of Australian politics, and I won't waste your time with them here. Overall, the book's okay, but as far as its core thesis goes, it isn't really new information.
I think the biggest mistake is thinking times were good under Howard. He made a lot of mistakes and his take on Tampa and climate change has crippled Australian politics ever since. He won by giving out HEAPS of money. He was bribing people to follow him and this can be especially seen during the utterly wasteful debates between him and Rudd. So many billions of dollars wasted that would have been good to have in the coffers during the GFC
 

Hawki

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I think the biggest mistake is thinking times were good under Howard. He made a lot of mistakes and his take on Tampa and climate change has crippled Australian politics ever since. He won by giving out HEAPS of money. He was bribing people to follow him and this can be especially seen during the utterly wasteful debates between him and Rudd. So many billions of dollars wasted that would have been good to have in the coffers during the GFC
Climate change, I agree with you. The LNP has been absolutely criminal on it, and ScoMo's no better.

The Tampa, maybe. It's true that under Howard, Australia's become more insular when it comes to dealing with refugees. However, a highlight the book raises is that it's a mistake to think there was some universal enlightened swing to bringing refugees in after Vietnam. When it came to Vietnamese "boat people," the book claims that the right embraced it because it was a poke in the eye to the communists, while the left embraced it because non-Anglo individuals are more likely to vote left.

As for the GFC, again, maybe, but Australia was barely dented via the GFC. Paradoxically, going by the book's thesis, if we had, politics wouldn't have become such a shitshow during the 2010s.
 

Hawki

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Bloodborne: The Death of Sleep (3/5)

This isn't really a fair assessment of the comic, for as far as I can tell, you really need to be familiar with Bloodborne to understand what's going on. Or at least, I assume that's the case, because I'm not familiar with Bloodborne, and I had no idea what was going on apart from vague references to a plague, and a Healing Church, and the Hunter dreaming, or not dreaming, as he guards a Paleblood, or...yeah, sorry, no idea what's happening bar inference. Maybe that's par for the course with Soulsborne stuff, but it left me in the cold.

Still, credit where credit is due, the artwork is fantastic. Absolutely twisted imagery. So good job there.

Doctor Who: The Missy Chronicles (4/5)

Similar to Legends of Ashildir and Twelve Angels Weeping, this is a colletion of DW short stories, all of them focusing on Missy. And, like those other collections, the anthology as a whole is pretty good. Not as good as the other anthologies, but still, good.

Transformers: Rise of the Autobots (3/5)

Don't have too much to say about this. I've never really been into Transformers (the exception being Beast Wars), and while it's certainly possible to go in-depth into the series's backstory, and do it well (see Alex Irvine), this is...okay. Basically, deals with the Autobots under Orion Pax (later Optimus Prime) dealing with Megatron's Decepticon insurgency. In the course of the comic, we go from the Autobots serving a tyranical government, to allying with the Decepticons, to being betrayed by the Decepticons, to throwing out the Decepticons, and then gearing up for (more) war.

It's...fine, I guess? Artwork's very good, but I suppose how invested you can get is whether you're willing to buy into the gravitas of the series or not, forgetting that these are still robots based on toys. Like I said, it's fine.
 

gorfias

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"Irresistible Revolution: Marxism's Goal of Conquest & the Unmasking of the American Military" by Matthew Lohmeier. $10 for Kindle on Amazon.

A Light Colonel in the US Space Force, he was fired for finding Marxism encroaching on the US Military. I'm about 1/2 done with the book and so far, it's been kind of a light review of Marxism vs the founding ideals of the US. Finally, it moves into things like Critical Race Theory being imposed upon our military. He describes the hate it sows in the military between racial tribes, it is leading to people wanting to seperate from the service entirely. Being in the military is supposed to be about unity. Actually feel like an important but very light read.

Interesting timing as a new US Army ad comes out:

 
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Hawki

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Marvel: Civil War (3/5)

Don't have much to say about this. Reading this, it's apparent that this is for fans of the Marvel Universe only, and if you aren't familiar with it, you needn't apply. Because not only is this comic about a bunch of weirdos that I've never seen or heard of before (all of whom like wearing spandex), but the stakes are entirely confined to the setting. Should superheroes be registered or not? Dunno. Don't particuarly care. It's an odd case where you'd want someone like Daredevil registered in the same way as Tony Stark (one clearly has greater reach and influence than the other), but nup, this is enough to get a bunch of guys and girls in spandex fighting another bunch of guys in girls in spandex, ending where one leader says "nah, we're in the wrong," gives up, and ends the story.

Um, yay?

Cripes, even Captain America: Civil War had some depth/alagory to it.

To be fair, this isn't inherently a knock against the comic, but it's for hardcore fans, least as far as I can tell. As for me? Meh.
 

Dreiko

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So this manga I'm reading has a mini arc about the CEO of Activision blackmailing the daughter of a Japanese game dev company into marriage in exchange for not firing all of their employees after they buy em out. The amount of prophetic wisdom in that plot is just hilariously on point. And this was drawn back in like 2012 as well when there wasn't as much going on about activision folks being scumbags.


(incidentally the series is called Denpa Kyoushi and is a mix of great teacher onizuka and genshiken, there's this super genius otaku who is forced into being a teacher by his little sister cause he was just watching anime all day for a year after winning the nobel prize and being bored with science, and he uses his otaku genius to solve the problems of kids in his elite school full of weirdos, such as the aforementioned game company owner's daughter)
 

Hawki

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Transformers: For All Mankind (3/5)

Not much to say here. It's a sequel series to some other comic that seems to be a mix of G1 and Bayformers. As in, it's got the aesthetic of the former, but some of the premises of the latter (Transformers have been revealed, human military is capturing Autobots and Decepticons alike). Either way, I was indifferent to it. There's nothing to distinguish the 'bots from each other bar their appearances, and the human characters don't fare much better. It tries to inject some gravitas into its plot, but it falls flat. There's certainly ways you can do that with Transformers, but this isn't one of them.

Meh.
 

Hawki

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Doctor Who: The Day She Saved the Doctor (3/5)

This is another DW anthology series, but unlike the past ones I've reviewed, nowhere near as good. Paradoxically, this is an anthology that focuses on the Doctor himself, or rather, his companions.

Basically, four stories, each focusing on a companion and the Doctor - Sarah Jane and Four, Rose and Nine, Clara and Eleven, and Bill and Twelve. Each of these stories is told from the POV of the companion and...well, really, that's it. The anthology posits itself as a kind of 'girl power'-esque anthology, but the events in the stories are really no different from a standard episode, only they're not as interesting. If I had to rate the stories by companion, it would probably go Bill>Rose>Sarah Jane>Clara, but none of them really stand out. Maybe Bill's, but that's about it.

Overall, just "meh."
 

Hawki

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Read some stuff:

-Skulduggery Pleasant: Apocalypse Kings (3/5)

-Snow Fight: A Warcraft Tale (3/5)

-Finding Narnia: The Story of C.S. Lewis and His Brother (4/5)

-The Phoenix of Persia (3/5)
 

Hawki

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi (4/5)

This is the graphic novel adaptation of the titular movie. Ergo, won't waste time summarizing plot, as you all know it.

Anyway, it's good. Doesn't really diverge from the movie, only it cuts out some material, and adds some material of itself (usually internal monologues from Luke, allowing more character depth). Overall, good stuff.
 

Hawki

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Read some stuff:

Pillars of Eternity: Blood Register (3/5)

Pillars of Eternity: Until He Started Screaming (3/5)

Pillars of Eternity: The Reaping (3/5)
 

Johnny Novgorod

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Finished Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Amply readable and very funny, but also kinda sad as Hunter digs deeper and deeper into this feeling of failure on behalf of an entire generation. That in 1971 he can write about not just the precise state of the American Dream but also of 60s counterculture as a whole tells you he was perceptive beyond his time, and a hell of a journalist to boot.
 

Hawki

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Overwatch: Deadlock Rebels (3/5)

The second Overwatch novel, this time focusing on Ashe and McCree, though not to the extent I'd hoped for. This isn't really a mark against the book, but it only goes so far as the official forming of the titular gang, rather than events beyond it (e.g. McCree being 'drafted' into Overwatch). But what we have is decent. Decent characters, decent worldbuilding, adequate plot. Overall, I'd rank Hero of Numbani higher, because Westerns, even Westerns set around the mid-21st century with accompanything technology, are something I'm used to, whereas HoN is a setting I'm less familiar with (Nigerian-inspired), with a character it mostly has to build up itself (Efi). But overall, decent read.
 

Casual Shinji

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Finished Invincible.

A very satisfying ending that was so satisfying I was actually kinda disappointed we didn't get to see how some of the side characters ended up. It has a vey nice wrap-up montage that had me clamoring for more with some of the other characters. I liked how it dropped some seeds for potential future adventures, not as a way of teasing the audience, but to tell us that these characters will continue to have adventures beyond the books and our ability to see them play out.

Overall this comicbook series was outstanding and a really fucking great time.
 

Drathnoxis

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Finished Oliver Twist and Fellowship of the Ring. Both were pretty good. I've started Les Miserables but I don't know if I'll go all the way through. There's a lot of French history and historical figures mentioned and most of it is going over my head.
 

Offworlder

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I've been thinking about my life differently as everything is returning to a kind of normalcy where I live so I've been trying to read more philosophy books. I've been reading Meditations by Marcus Aurelius and Thus Said Zarathustra by Neichze. I want to read more ancient philosophy and re-read Dante's Inferno. Improving my mindset is the only thing I really can do at the moment so it seems like a healthy thing to do.
 

Hawki

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Star Wars: Adventures in Wild Space - The Escape (3/5)

Fuck me, I'm running out of books to read while on lunch break. Or at least books I can read in around 60 minutes or less in a single sitting.

Fine, whatever. The first book in the Adventures in Wild Space, where children Lina and Milo Graf end up on some planet in the titular Wild Space region of the galaxy. Clone Wars have just ended, this new Empire sounds pretty swell, and they get to play while their parents go from planet to planet, selling data. Only one day, the Empire comes to them, and evil Imperial guy kidnaps the parents, and sets bombs by the children's ship so they can be taken care of. Um...yeah. I mean, I know the Empire is evil, but this is kind of approaching 'stupid evil.' Yeah, I know, kid's book and all that...

Anyway, kids escape, but parents are taken captive, cue end of book 1 as kids try to get parents back. Yay.

Really, not much to say. Star Wars book for kids. Got what I was expecting.
 

Hawki

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Read some stuff:

-World of Warcraft: Folk & Fairytales of Azeroth (3/5)

-Sonic the Hedgehog: Bad Guys (4/5)

-Alien vs. Predator: Armageddon (4/5)

-Avatar: The Next Shadow (4/5)
 

Hawki

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Read some stuff:

-Zahara's Rose (2/5)

-Chile: Enchantment of the World (3/5)

-Firefly: Bad Company (3/5)

The Dark Tower: The Journey Begins (3/5)

-The Life of Captain Marvel (3/5)

-Cars 3 (3/5)