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

Hawki

Elite Member
Legacy
Apr 5, 2020
7,363
820
118
Country
Australia
Gender
Male
1787: The Lost Chapters of Australia's Beginnings (3/5)

This isn't really a "lost chapters" book, more a "hey, here's a bunch of stuff done by people other than Captain Cook, though I'm still going to focus on Cook a lot."

Alright, that's not fair, but as a book that's more or less selling itself on exploration of the Australasian region, it didn't cover much I wasn't already aware of, such as the Dutch and William Dampier. On the other hand, the book is kind of setting itself against the idea of 'hard dates,' (in this case, 1770 and 1778), and in that case, it succeeds. Really, the most interesting thing about it was Spanish exploration of the region, and the various tribal dynamics that were at play, not to mention the presence of Arabic and Moor sailors also coming into the region. Basically, it casts the Australasian region in the context of an ever-expanding frontier, and details meetings of different peoples that are sometimes friendly, and sometimes not.

Anyway, decent read, but the title arguably oversells what's in the book proper.
 

Hawki

Elite Member
Legacy
Apr 5, 2020
7,363
820
118
Country
Australia
Gender
Male
Read some stuff:

Paladins of Shannara: Allanon’s Quest (3/5)

Paladins of Shannara: The Black Irix (3/5)

Paladins of Shannara: The Weapon Master’s Choice (3/5)

Avatar: The Last Airbender – Suki, Alone (3/5)

The Last of Us: American Dreams (3/5)

Aliens: Aftermath (3/5)

Warcraft: Bonds of Brotherhood (4/5)
 

Hawki

Elite Member
Legacy
Apr 5, 2020
7,363
820
118
Country
Australia
Gender
Male
The Law of the Land (2/5)

This is a book I picked up for free years ago, and only just got round to it. To be frank, I wasn't missing out on much.

Basically describes the issue of indigenous land rights in Australia...as of the 1980s. Right there, that makes the book dated, since it pre-dates the Mabo Decision. And while that isn't necessarily an issue in of itself, the writing style is really dry. The subject matter is important, but the presentation of it doesn't do it justice.
 

Drathnoxis

Artificial Person
Legacy
Apr 3, 2020
3,553
401
88
Country
Canada
Gender
Male
Reread The Lord of the Rings. It's good, but not as fun to read as The Hobbit (despite the latter's Deus ex Machinas). It takes itself a bit too seriously for my tastes with all the battles, and dying races that will never again equal their ancestors, and character that talk like "verily, oft are the dire needs of our times." I always enjoy the Fellowship of the Ring far more than the other two books because it seems more focused on adventure than on battle after battle, and it's just not as good when we aren't following the hobbits. It always strains my disbelief that Bilbo possessed the Ring for like a hundred years and wore it often, but Frodo is irrevocably scarred for carrying it for less than a year and putting it on, like, twice.

When I started my re-read I told myself I was going to read the appendices, but now that it comes to it... I just can't. It's so boring, my eyes glaze over before I've even finished the first page. Why would anybody end a book with a history lesson? A full third of the Return of the King is appendices, 175 pages. Including a 30 page index of every mention of anything in the entire series. Who could possibly ever need to be able to look up every page that Gandalf was mentioned on and that he was called Grey Fool on page 106 of book 3? Tolkien was insane.
 

Hawki

Elite Member
Legacy
Apr 5, 2020
7,363
820
118
Country
Australia
Gender
Male
It always strains my disbelief that Bilbo possessed the Ring for like a hundred years and wore it often, but Frodo is irrevocably scarred for carrying it for less than a year and putting it on, like, twice.
I don't think that's really a plothole. When Frodo has the ring, Sauron's much, MUCH more powerful than he was in the decades leading up prior to it. Like, the ring's 'poison,' so to speak, but the amount of 'poison' is going to depend on Sauron's strength.

When I started my re-read I told myself I was going to read the appendices, but now that it comes to it... I just can't. It's so boring, my eyes glaze over before I've even finished the first page. Why would anybody end a book with a history lesson? A full third of the Return of the King is appendices, 175 pages. Including a 30 page index of every mention of anything in the entire series.
TBH, I loved going through the appendicies. More juicy lore.

Who could possibly ever need to be able to look up every page that Gandalf was mentioned on and that he was called Grey Fool on page 106 of book 3?
Who's the greater fool? The Grey Fool, or the fool who looks up the Grey Fool, and follows?

Think about it...
 
  • Like
Reactions: Drathnoxis

Hawki

Elite Member
Legacy
Apr 5, 2020
7,363
820
118
Country
Australia
Gender
Male
The White Queen: One Nation and the Politics of Race (3/5)

This didn't tell me too much I didn't know about One Nation - it's reactionary, it's a grievance party, and its choice of target has gone from Aboriginals, to Asians, to Muslims. Maybe a few decades from now, it'll find a new group of scapegoats. On the other, it does go into the mindset of One Nation's voter base - I can't really call it right wing, because if you dissect the beliefs of its base, it's really a mix of left and right wing policies. Anyway, always been wary of One Nation, and more so now.
 

Drathnoxis

Artificial Person
Legacy
Apr 3, 2020
3,553
401
88
Country
Canada
Gender
Male
Oh, I just remembered something else I wanted to say about LOTR. I don't really understand why or where they keep sending away the women and children before a big battle. Before both Helm's Deep and Minas Tirith they send anybody who can't fight away so the soldiers can all duke it out with the orcs without having to worry about civilians being killed. But like, the place with all the soldiers and walls are the most secure places to be. I'd rather be crouching in the cellars of Minas Tirith than sitting in some village in the middle of nowhere waiting to be killed by a small stealth raid. If I was Sauron I would have sent a couple platoons and some Nazgul to go and kill all the unprotected civvies first before making my big attack on the stronghold.

Also, is it me or does LOTR feel a little bit racist with all the ancient pure noble bloodlines being dimished by inter marrying and stuff like that?
 
Last edited:

Hawki

Elite Member
Legacy
Apr 5, 2020
7,363
820
118
Country
Australia
Gender
Male
Oh, I just remembered something else I wanted to say about LOTR. I don't really understand why or where they keep sending away the women and children before a big battle. Before both Helm's Deep and Minas Tirith they send anybody who can't fight away so the soldiers can all duke it out with the orcs without having to worry about civilians being killed. But like, the place with all the soldiers and walls are the most secure places to be. I'd rather be crouching in the cellars of Minas Tirith than sitting in some village in the middle of nowhere waiting to be killed by a small stealth raid. If I was Sauron I would have sent a couple platoons and some Nazgul to go and kill all the unprotected civvies first before making my big attack on the stronghold.
I don't think that really follows.

In the books, Helm's Deep is simply a fortress that the Rohirrim retreat to after learning that Saruman's forces had crossed the Fords of Isen. IIRC, the people of Edoras were moved to Dunharrow. Those are two separate locations.

As for Minas Tirth, I don't recall an evacuation per se, but that does make more sense. If an army's closing on you for a siege, you'd be better served getting the non-combatants away - less drain on your supplies, and if the city falls, at least a lot of people are going to be safe. And yeah, okay, Sauron could send forces out to kill them, but it would be a waste of time and resources.

Also, is it me or does LOTR feel a little bit racist with all the ancient pure noble bloodlines being dimished by inter marrying and stuff like that?
I think it's fair to say that LOTR reflects Tolkein's prejudices, but "racist?" Eh...

The bloodlines thing is a bit weird though, at least thematically. On one hand, the people of Numenor are "better" than regular humans, in-universe, at least in as much that they live longer. On the other hand, Numenor is an Atlantis-type scenario, where their arrogance costs them their kingdom, and via Gondor, that Sauron can get the Haradrim and Easterlings on his side is at least in part due to how Gondor was the aggressor long ago. So it's not an uncritical look at Numenoreans. On the other, the diminishment of the bloodline thing is never questioned in of itself, at least conceptually.

You can say that there's something similar with the dichotomy between elves and Men. On the one hand, elves are "better" than humans in pretty much everything. On the other, the "Gift of Men" is indeed presented as a gift (even if Numenoreans saw it as the Doom of Men), and humans end up becoming the top dogs of Middle-earth in the end, so LOTR is hardly an uncritical look at 'power levels,' so to speak.
 

Drathnoxis

Artificial Person
Legacy
Apr 3, 2020
3,553
401
88
Country
Canada
Gender
Male
I don't think that really follows.

In the books, Helm's Deep is simply a fortress that the Rohirrim retreat to after learning that Saruman's forces had crossed the Fords of Isen. IIRC, the people of Edoras were moved to Dunharrow. Those are two separate locations.

As for Minas Tirth, I don't recall an evacuation per se, but that does make more sense. If an army's closing on you for a siege, you'd be better served getting the non-combatants away - less drain on your supplies, and if the city falls, at least a lot of people are going to be safe. And yeah, okay, Sauron could send forces out to kill them, but it would be a waste of time and resources.
The less drain on supplies does make sense during a siege, but there wasn't really a seige in LotR, they busted down the front door after a day or two. And I don't think it would be a waste of time to kill all the women and children. Sauron is immortal, he could kill all the women and children, wait for all the enemy soldiers to get old and die thinking how stupid it was to leave their civvies unprotected, then win by default.



I think it's fair to say that LOTR reflects Tolkein's prejudices, but "racist?" Eh...

The bloodlines thing is a bit weird though, at least thematically. On one hand, the people of Numenor are "better" than regular humans, in-universe, at least in as much that they live longer. On the other hand, Numenor is an Atlantis-type scenario, where their arrogance costs them their kingdom, and via Gondor, that Sauron can get the Haradrim and Easterlings on his side is at least in part due to how Gondor was the aggressor long ago. So it's not an uncritical look at Numenoreans. On the other, the diminishment of the bloodline thing is never questioned in of itself, at least conceptually.

You can say that there's something similar with the dichotomy between elves and Men. On the one hand, elves are "better" than humans in pretty much everything. On the other, the "Gift of Men" is indeed presented as a gift (even if Numenoreans saw it as the Doom of Men), and humans end up becoming the top dogs of Middle-earth in the end, so LOTR is hardly an uncritical look at 'power levels,' so to speak.
The humans only become top dogs because the elves get bored and leave to their other, better land that only they can go to.
 

Hawki

Elite Member
Legacy
Apr 5, 2020
7,363
820
118
Country
Australia
Gender
Male
The humans only become top dogs because the elves get bored and leave to their other, better land that only they can go to.
And when humans die, they get to go beyond Arda, while elves remain tied to the world.
 

Hawki

Elite Member
Legacy
Apr 5, 2020
7,363
820
118
Country
Australia
Gender
Male
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Annual 2021 (3/5)

It's...fine? Rarity and co. sort out friendship problem with diamond dog spinoffs, forshadowing at events, yadda yadda yadda.

Really not much to say.
 

JUMBO PALACE

Elite Member
Legacy
Jun 22, 2020
3,552
7
43
Country
USA
Dune! The trailers looked good and I figured I should finally get around to giving the book a shot. Loved it. I'm almost done with Children of Dune and plan to finish out the Frank Herbert books.
 

09philj

Elite Member
Legacy
Apr 3, 2020
1,838
529
118
Sleepless Domain, a webcomic about magical girls. It is cool and gay and nice but also sad.
 

Hawki

Elite Member
Legacy
Apr 5, 2020
7,363
820
118
Country
Australia
Gender
Male
The Silk Roads: A New History of the World (4/5)

This book is good, but it's kind of weird. Not weird in terms of content, but weird in that what it does isn't what it sets out to do, at least according to its introduction. Basically, it starts with the idea of "history is too Eurocentric," but ends up spending an inordinate amount of time in Europe anyway. Going through the book, I get why that's the case, but the sense of dissonance remains.

Basically, what the book does, if incidentally, is show how the centre of civilization/power has shifted over time, specifically in the context of Eurasia. It does this in context of the Silk Roads - not a literal road per se, but rather the flow of trade and ideas. So, we start in the likes of Messopotemia, and slowly shift west, to Persia, to Greece, to the Roman Empire, to eastern Europe, to western Europe, to the United States, and to the present day, where we conclude with the idea that "the Silk Roads are rising again" (paraphrased), with centres of power re-emerging via China and the modern Middle East (with a lot of emphasis placed on Iran).

So on one hand, the book isn't expressing any idea that I haven't come across before - that the centre of global power has shifted over time, that western Europe's dominance is just part of history, and that global power has mainly resided in the East rather than the West, so to speak. The book might as well be titled "the history of the last 5000 years." On the other, as I said, its expressed goal doesn't bear fruit in its writing, and while that isn't a problem (personally I think the idea of 'centrism' is a non-issue - your 'centre of history' is usually going to be where you are, hence why there's terms such as Afrocentric and Sinocentric), and furthermore, the book is simultaniously too modern, yet not modern enough. Because as part of its thesis, it goes as far as the 2000s, covering the invasions of Iran and Afghanistan, and tying this in with the rise and fall of empires (declining Europe and US, rising China and Arabic world). So on one hand, it gets close to the present, yet in another, feels antiquated. It's kind of eerie, reading material casually mentioning Ughyr terrorism (this was published in 2015), and now, six years later? Yeah.

So, yeah. Book's still good. Solid history. But not without its kinks.
 

Bob_McMillan

Elite Member
May 11, 2020
3,591
418
88
Country
Philippines
I really couldn't stand watching Vinland Saga, so I read the manga instead. I was surprised to find out that it was still ongoing.

I enjoyed it quite a lot, although I do find it funny that the anime fans love all the "alpha males" in the the first arc. I wonder if any of them will bother with the anime once it gets to actual main part of the story. And honestly while Thorfinn's dreams for Vinland are pure, I can't help feel sad knowing what the US became and currently is today.
 

Specter Von Baren

Annoying Green Gadfly
Legacy
May 4, 2020
3,170
794
118
I don't know, send help!
Country
USA
Gender
Cuttlefish
While I've already "read" the book in audio format, my physical copy of 'Seeing Like a State's came in a few days ago and I'm now going to read through it and highlight the parts I find particularly insightful.
I actually think a lot of people on this forum should read this book, regardless of their political affiliation, because I feel it puts in perspective how much in agreement with each other we actually are if you get down to brass tacks.
Let me quote from near the start of the book to give you an idea of what it's about.

The more I examined these efforts at sedentarization, the more I came to see them as a state's attempt to make a society legible, to arrange the population in ways that simplified the classic state of functions of taxation, conscription, and prevention of rebellion. Having begun to think in these terms, I began to see legibility as a central problem in statecraft. The premodern state was, in many crucial respects, partially blind; it knew precious little about its subjects, their wealth, their landholdings and yields, their location, their very identity. It lacked anything like a detailed "map" of its terrain and its people. It lacked for the most part, a measure, a metric, that would allow it to "translate" what it knew into a common standard necessary for a synoptic view. As a result, its interventions were often crude and self-defeating.
It is at this point that the detour began. How did the state gradually get a handle on its subjects and its environment? Suddenly, processes as disparate as the creation of permanent last names, the standardization of weights and measures, the establishment of cadastral surveys and population registers, the invention of freehold tenure, the standardization of language and legal discourse, the design of cities, and the organization of transportation seemed comprehensible as attmpts at legibility and simplification. In each case, the officials took exceptionally complex, illegible, and local social practices, such as land tenure customs or naming customs, and created a standard grid whereby it could be centrally recorded and monitored.