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May 29, 2016

Sunday Morning Book Thread 05-29-2016: Memorial Fathers Day [OregonMuse]


spot the dad.jpg
Can You Spot The Dad In This Photograph?


Yes, I know the real fathers day is next month. But I've heard that Memorial Day is now self-identifying as Fathers Day, so hey, who am I to say otherwise? Also, today's book thread pic was sent to me just this week and so I had to use it.

Good morning to all of you morons and moronettes and bartenders everywhere and all the ships at sea. Welcome to AoSHQ's stately, prestigious, internationally acclaimed and high-class Sunday Morning Book Thread, where men are men, all the 'ettes are lovely, space isn't safe, and snowflakes will melt. Oh, and gender is binary, so don't get cute. None of these weird hybrids. What are we, potted plants? The Sunday Morning Book Thread is the only AoSHQ thread that is so hoity-toity, pants are required.


Is The Patriarchy Smashed Yet?

Last week, there was some discussion in the comments about Washington Times columnist Diana West's book, American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character, and the controversy that erupted when it was first published.
Her massively researched book

...lights up the massive, Moscow-directed penetration of America's most hallowed halls of power, revealing not just the familiar struggle between Communism and the Free World, but the hidden war between those wishing to conceal the truth and those trying to expose the increasingly official web of lies...It was this moral surrender to deception and self-deception, West argues, that sent us down the long road to moral relativism, "political correctness," and other cultural ills that have left us unable to ask the hard questions: Does our silence on the crimes of Communism explain our silence on the totalitarianism of Islam? Is Uncle Sam once again betraying America?

I had noticed a few years back that the way the left in our country was treating Islam and the Islamists was eerily similar to the way they treated communism and communists back in the days of the Cold War. It's like I'm watching a reboot of the same movie (the last movie ended with Reagan, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the dissolution of the USSR. So who's our Reagan now? Trump?)

The Islamists' sneaking of operatives into the American government is the book Ms. West originally set out to write, but the communism question came up as a side issue, and then became the main issue for her.

But that's not her first book. Rather, that honor belongs to The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization, wherein Ms. West asks "Is there a single adult left anywhere?" She sees

...a US filled with middle-age guys playing air guitar and thinks "No wonder we can't stop Islamic terrorism."...But, the grown-ups are all gone. The disease that killed them was incubated in the sixties to a rock-and-roll score, took hold in the seventies with the help of multiculturalism and left us with a nation of eternal adolescents who can't decide between "good" and "bad", a generation who can't say "no". From the inability to nix a sixteen year-old's request for Marilyn Manson concert tickets to offering adolescents parentally-funded motel rooms on prom night to rationalizing murderous acts of Islamic suicide bombers with platitudes of cultural equivalence, West sees us on a slippery slope that's lead to a time when America has forgotten its place in the world.

And to this I would add the inability of college administrators to tell disruptive students to shut up and get back to class, otherwise face expulsion. I remember seeing a video of a Mizzou student throwing a tantrum in response to a college ombudsman who came out to talk, and she was yelling and railing at him, and the guy just stood there and took it. I'm watching this play out, absolutely dumbfounded at his reluctance to say anything in response, and then it suddenly occurred to me that there really is not much difference between the yeller and yellee: I'd guess that both like and dislike pretty much the same things, he is no doubt on board with all of the agenda of social-justice-wankerism, so he really didn't have any reason to tell her to shut up and go back to class. In fact, you could make the argument that given their similarities in worldview, he probably should've been out there with her, yelling and screaming and carrying on. In order to fight social-justice-wankerism, you need a different platform upon which to stand, and he didn't have one.

And, as has been pointed out, the trigglypuffs on campus will continue to throw their tantrums until the adults who write the checks decide they're not going to write any more checks.

And another book which covers much of the same ground is Men on Strike: Why Men Are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood, and the American Dream - and Why It Matters by Helen Smith (I think she's the Instapundit's spouse), who argues that

...men arenít dropping out because they are stuck in arrested development. They are instead acting rationally in response to the lack of incentives society offers them to be responsible fathers, husbands and providers. In addition, men are going on strike, either consciously or unconsciously, because they do not want to be injured by the myriad of laws, attitudes and hostility against them for the crime of happening to be male in the twenty-first century.

A male population consisting of adolescent and subservient pajama boys is seen by progressives as a social good. In order to get this, they have to start early. So says Christina Hoff Sommers in her book The War Against Boys: How Misguided Policies are Harming Our Young Men, which documents how

...the problem of male underachievement is persistent and worsening. Among the new topics Sommers tackles: how the war against boys is harming our economic future, and how boy-averse trends such as the decline of recess and zero-tolerance disciplinary policies have turned our schools into hostile environments for boys. As our schools become more feelings-centered, risk-averse, competition-free, and sedentary, they move further and further from the characteristic needs of boys. She offers realistic, achievable solutions to these problems that include boy-friendly pedagogy, character and vocational education, and the choice of single-sex classrooms.

Paging Alan Turing...

There's a site Bot Or Not that asks the question, was this poem written by a human or a computer? After you get warmed up with a few samples, You can take the Digital Writers' Festival Quiz, a best-of-10 test.

we seelove solve losselse we seelove sow woe
selves we woowe loselosses we leveewe owe
we sellloose vowsso we loveless well
so lowso levelwolves evolve

So who wrote this, man or machine? To see the answer, drag your mouse over the line below this one.
This is the poem "Vowels" by Canadian poet Christian Bök. Human.

Some think this is just great:

As CNet reported in 2014 that "the line between human and AI poets is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish, as demonstrated by the site's leaderboards, which display the most human-like human poets and the most computer-like computer poets, as well as the most human-like computer poets and vice versa."

I don't think this is particularly noteworthy. And the reason is because the type of poetry they're writing AI software to emulate is modern poetry, i.e. crap. It's easy to do crap. It's not that difficult to whip up a little javascript into, for example, postmodern jargon ans corporate jargon generators, and have the crap output look reasonably like human-generated crap. Or, if you want real crap, there's always adolescent poetry:

I am
by The Aggregate Kid

i am spoiled
brat. my mommy told me that
you could be help clean it up
it;s our earth i mean whats
sup with all
the dirt and thilth i love
you to know
who you were gone you left you
shone on me,but now youíve left this
land. and now you
have to say. the bell rings,
everyone goes outside. they
huddle close together like
bees in a
corner and cry.

Don't you just want to just smack that kid's whiny, bratty face? Go out and get a job, slacker. You want to cry, I'll give you something to cry about. Whap, whap, whap.

So all this tells us is that our machines are now good enough to replicate degraded and degenerate forms of human communication: postmodern jargon, modern experimental poetry, and corporate bullshit, the intent of which is not to communicate but to obfuscate

What I would like to see is AI that can create crank out an honest-to-goodness Elizabethan sonnet, with iambic pentameter, complex rhyme schemes, etc. Or a Norse saga. I'm not saying it's impossible, I just really haven't seen it done yet, not enough to fool the experts.

So I'll just leave you with the real deal:

Sonnet XVIII "To His Love" by William "Bill" Shakespeare

SHALL I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date;

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course, untrimm'd.

But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wanderest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st:ó

So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.


Memorial Day Weekend Sale

Need something new to read for the long weekend? Looking for a new series to start or want to discover a new author? Moronette author Sabrina Chase e-mailed me on Saturday

Of possible interest to budget-minded reading Morons, some of the degenerate author types I hang out with are doing a Start of Summer Reading sale for the Memorial Day weekend. The site that has the details is http://azounding.com/ (where we post promo-type news all the time). I have two books in this sale, Jinxers and The Scent of Metal. Some of the books are even free!

To go directly to the sale, just click on this link. In addition to Sabrina's books, you'll find books by Sarah Hoyt, Peter Grant, Amanda Green, and others. Always check the price before clicking the purchase button. Some of these books are already on sale and others will go on sale over the next 24 hours.


Celebrate Diversity, Earn Big $

So Penguin Publishing is holding a writing contest.

So

...in partnership with We Need Diverse Books™, Penguin Young Readers celebrates this momentous publication by launching a debut children’s fiction contest to find talented, ethnically diverse authors writing for readers ages 8-14.

Submit your manuscript for a book about diversity for ages 8-14 and you could receive a publishing contract from Penguin Random House LLC!

The contract they're going to award is nothing to sneeze at:

PRIZE: The confirmed winner will receive a book publishing contract for the publication of a novel for ages 8-14 by Penguin Random House LLC, with an advance of $35,000, plus royalties as follows: (i) on hardcover, 10% up to 50,000 copies and 12.5% thereafter; (ii) on paperback, 6% up to 50,000 copies and 7% thereafter; (iii) on audio, 8% of net; (iv) ebook, 25% of net; (v) world rights/all subrights at a 50/50 split; and (vi) an option on their next children’s or YA novel.

Here are the eligibility requirements:

ELIGIBILITY: The Contest is open to people of color (or those who self-identify as other than white) who are residents of the fifty (50) United States, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories and possessions, 18 years of age or older at time of entry and who have not had any works of fiction published in any medium prior to entering the Contest.

Emphasis mine. So Rachael Dolezal and Elizabeth Warren are both eligible, assuming they haven't been published before. Maybe some of you morons are, too. My question is, if you're a white guy, but you self identify as, say, a Yakut tribal elder, what hoops will Penguin make you jump through to prove your assumed diverse ethnic identity?

One more thing:

The submission must be in English, between 25,000-75,000 words and must not have been previously published in any medium.

Wait, so the organizers of a writing contest celebrating diversity have put in an "English only" requirement? Really? Now that's not very diverse of them, is it? I think there should be a protest about this. I mean, if I identify as a Klingon warrior, shouldn't I should be able to submit my manuscript in Klingon? To disallow this would be racist and un-diverse.

They should be forced to live by the same rules they prescribe for everybody else.

Thanks to Anna Puma for the tip.


Books By Morons

Moronette Lisa Mathisen has released the 3rd volume in her 'Glimpse' series is of short stories. Glimpse of Summer:

Forty quintessential scenes from summer will delight you in this hilarious third volume of the Glimpse series. Itís all here: vacations, sunburn, mosquitoes, trashy beach reads and blockbuster films...You will find yourself empathizing with characters whose exaggerated traits we all recognize in ourselves.

Promotional trailer for Glimpse 3 featuring a dancing crab.

The Kindle version should be released shortly.


Moron Recommendations

Moron bensdad00 recommends the author Richard Powell, whose book Don Quixote USA was mentioned a few weeks ago. In addition to that one, he paticlarly likes Pioneer, Go Home!, which Amazon describes as

...a warm and witty tale of little man versus “Big Gummint.” Powell relates the adventures of the Kwimpers—a motley clan of New Jersey Pineys who break down on the side of a southern highway project and decide to claim squatter’s rights. Call them “hicks” or “bumpkins” if you like, but these Kwimpers are considerably more resourceful than most folks give them credit for—and ten times as stubborn! When the government orders them to vacate, Pop Kwimper gets his dander up and the die is cast. Hilarity ensues as the family defends its homestead against an onslaught of conniving bureaucrats, Mother Nature, and the mob.

bensdad00's capsule summary is "family completely dependent on government welfare is cut off cold turkey, and learns it doesn't need the dole".

This one is now on my book pile.


What I'm Reading

I picked up The Anderson Tapes by Lawrence Sanders on sale this week. Don't know if the $2.51 Kindle price still holds. This novel is noteworthy for a number of reasons:

1. It's Sanders' debut novel
2. It won an Edgar Award
3. Dude wrote it when he was 50(!) years old.
4. The novel's story is told entirely through surveillance recordings, eyewitness reports, and other “official” documents.

It's about a heist:

John Anderson is preparing for the biggest heist of his criminal career. The mark is a Manhattan luxury apartment building with the tony address of 535 East Seventy-Third Street. Enlisting a crew of scouts, con artists, and a getaway driver, Anderson orchestrates what he believes to be a foolproof plan. To pull off the big score, he needs one last thing: the permission of the local mafia, who expect a piece of the action.

I think this novel was made into a movie sometime in the 70s, wasn't it?


___________

Moronette 'votermom' is putting together a list of moron authors over on the Goodreads site which is intended to be acessible to non-members. Here is the list she has compiled so far. Let her know if there's an author she's missing.

http://www.bookhorde.org/p/aoshq-authors.html

___________

Don't forget the AoSHQ reading group on Goodreads. It's meant to support horde writers and to talk about the great books that come up on the book thread. It's called AoSHQ Moron Horde and the link to it is here: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/175335-aoshq-moron-horde.

___________

So that's all for this week. As always, book thread tips, suggestions, bribes, rumors, threats, and insults may be sent to OregonMuse, Proprietor, AoSHQ Book Thread, at the book thread e-mail address: aoshqbookthread, followed by the 'at' sign, and then 'G' mail, and then dot cee oh emm.

What have you all been reading this week? Hopefully something good, because, as you all know, life is too short to be reading lousy books.

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