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May 17, 2020

Sunday Morning Book Thread 05-17-2020

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Yale Medical Historical Library Reading Room

Good morning to all you 'rons, 'ettes, lurkers, and lurkettes, wine moms, frat bros, crétins sans pantalon (who are technically breaking the rules), the locked-down, and the quarantined yearning to breathe free. Welcome once again to the stately, prestigious, internationally acclaimed and high-class Sunday Morning Book Thread, a weekly compendium of reviews, observations, snark, witty repartee, hilarious bon mots, and a continuing conversation on books, reading, spending way too much money on books, writing books, and publishing books by escaped oafs and oafettes who follow words with their fingers and whose lips move as they read. Unlike other AoSHQ comment threads, the Sunday Morning Book Thread is so hoity-toity, pants are required. Even if it's these pants, which bring to mind the Great Covid Pants Shortage of '20, when we were reduced to making them out of discarded tablecloths.

Pic Note:

From the library's 'About' page:

The Historical Library contains a large and unique collection of rare medical books, medical journals to 1920, pamphlets, prints, and photographs, as well as current works on the history of medicine.

The library was founded in 1941 by the donations of the extensive collections of Harvey Cushing, John F. Fulton, and Arnold C. Klebs. Special strengths are the works of Hippocrates, Galen, Vesalius, Boyle, Harvey, and S. Weir Mitchell, and works on anesthesia, and smallpox inoculation and vaccination. The Library owns over 300 medical incunabula.

What the heck is an 'incunabula'? I have no idea. Hmmm... If only the book thread had a regular feature that looked into rare and/or unusual words.

It Pays To Increase Your Word Power®

An incunable, or sometimes incunabulum (plural incunables or incunabula, respectively), is a book, pamphlet, or broadside printed in Europe before the 16th century. Incunabula are not manuscripts, which are documents written by hand. As of 2014, there are about 30,000 distinct known incunable editions extant, but the probable number of surviving copies in Germany alone is estimated at around 125,000. Through statistical analysis, it is estimated that the number of lost editions is at least 20,000.

Here's an example:

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(click for larger view)

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Kids These Days

We're all familiar with Lord of the Flies, right? Bunch of teenaged boys get marooned on a desert island with no adult supervision and end up descending into savagery and madness. But this Guardian story tells a similiar story with a different outcome: Bunch of teenaged boys get marooned on a deserted island with no adult supervision and when rescuers came 15 months later, they found that

“the boys had set up a small commune with food garden, hollowed-out tree trunks to store rainwater, a gymnasium with curious weights, a badminton court, chicken pens and a permanent fire, all from handiwork, an old knife blade and much determination.” While the boys in Lord of the Flies come to blows over the fire, those in this real-life version tended their flame so it never went out, for more than a year.

The kids agreed to work in teams of two, drawing up a strict roster for garden, kitchen and guard duty. Sometimes they quarreled, but whenever that happened they solved it by imposing a time-out. Their days began and ended with song and prayer.

The article, written by popular historian Rutger Bregman, is an excerpt from his soon-to-be-released book, Humankind: A Hopeful History, where he explains how humans are actually good and kind and not at all selfish. But I think that last bit is important. The boys were all pupils at a strict Catholic boarding school, so "song and prayer" probably means "hymn(s) and prayer." And I think this is key. Bregman wants us to believe that the cooperation among the marooned boys just sort of happened naturally all by itself, and that this is the norm but, in reality, it's the end product of thousands of years of moral teaching. The boys' strict Catholic school most likely stressed moral imperatives such as "thou shalt not steal", "thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's coconuts" and "thou shalt not slay thy neighor in a night ambush and then devour his body in a bloody ritualistic meal." These aren't inherent, but must be taught, and must continue to be taught to each generation in order for civilization to continue. Bregman, whose thinking evidently hasn't progressed much past the college-dorm-room-late-night-bullshit-session stage, seems to just take all of this for granted.

And it's most likely an extension and revision of his earlier book Utopia for Realists: How We Can Build the Ideal World. Because a 32-year-old college graduate (he was born in 1988 ) can solve all of the problems of civilization. And how will this happen? Here's a hint. Bregman advocates for the all of the usual entrees on the progressive menu, i.e. "Universal Basic Income", "Open Borders", "15-Hour Workweek."

Yeah, we all know that Venezuela did such a bang-up job with this. East Germany, too. Let me quote this one-star review:

Let me be generous here: Rutger Bregman was only about a year old when the Berlin Wall came down. He hasn't seen the reality of the horrors his concepts have created in the past. My wife was born in Berlin. One morning she woke up to find a wall had been built just down the street. She never saw her best friend again, because that little girl was on the other side of the wall. You can't enforce these concepts without eventually building walls to keep people in. Then, in 1989 I was doing an overnight (an airline pilot) in Bogota, Columbia, and got a phone call from my wife. The only thing I could understand amidst all of her sobbing was, "Turn on CNN." It was the night the wall came down, and the Germans were escaping their "utopia". Rutger may [have been old enough to] have learned to walk by that night. Please, don't be fooled by this kind of lofty rhetoric. Others have, and it required blood to escape.

This book was published when he was Bregman was 28 years old. So I'd guess that he would say that the reason this happened is because they just didn't do it right.

Who Dis:

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Last week's 'who dis' was author William Faulkner.

Moron Recommendations

This is cool breeze's review of The Policeman and the Brothel by Theodore Dalrymple. I've always enjoyed reading his essays and magazine articles, but this one is a bit different:

Theodore Dalrymple is best known as a marvelous essayist, but here he tries his hand at a true crime history. The setting is the Channel Isle of Jersey in 1846.

The book starts out well, with Dalrymple bringing the time and place vividly to life. There are some real gems early in the book. In particularly, there is an entire chapter full of deceitful, snake-oil peddling journalists being assaulted and horsewhipped in public. Sometimes twice in one day!

Unfortunately, the crime stories have been largely exhausted by the halfway mark and the book loses focus and wanders off into various musings. You can easily skip from Chapter 14 on as only tangentially related material. I nevertheless rated the book as 4 stars on the strength of it having a chapter full of horsewhipped journalists. The old ways really are the best!

Yes, what we could use a lot more of in these times is more horsewhipping of journalists. But I would settle for tar and feathering.

The Kindle version is $4.50.


62 Available on Amazon, written by a friend and neighbor of mine, Tom Pado, the book, "Damn the Torpedoes, Full Steam Ahead"

He invented and patented some under-the-sea contraptions that are used to search for oil sources. His life story is interesting.

Posted by: AgathaPagatha at May 10, 2020 09:32 AM (xDMjB)

The book is Damn the Pressure, Full Speed Ahead, and the author is Tom Pado

He started his life out in the shadows of the steel mills in Gary Indiana. Instead of home or school being his safe places to learn and grow, Tom Pado found his own ways of learning. His friends and neighbors never really knew what to expect. Homemade rockets that blew up, brewing up a concoction on his mother's stove that he later learned was Mustard Gas, his pet zoo in and out of the house and an affable demeanor and broad smile that didn't seem to match his mischievousness. All the adventures led him into a life of excitement and success as he pioneered the offshore ROV (Remote Operated Vehicle) industry for deep sea oil drilling. His ideas powered the industry that powers the world. In Damn the Pressure, Full Speed Ahead, Pado shares the story of how he made his way across the globe and built a multi-million dollar company that has truly altered the world.

Pado sounds like a remarkable man. This is the kind of book our boys need to read. They need to hear about adventurous men who do great things. Only $6.99 on Kindle.


Well, let's see what AHE has been reading this week:

I was up late with "Eccentric Lives and Peculiar Notions" by John Michell. It's a series of droll little sketches of people obsessed by one idea: the flat earth, the hollow earth, lost tribes, the Illuminati, druids, etc.
Highly recommended! The author writes in an amused but sympathetic tone, as these obsessives are often highly intelligent and simply approached the data from a different perspective.
Posted by: All Hail Eris, She-Wolf of the 'Ettes 'Ettes at May 10, 2020 09:42 AM (Dc2NZ)

This reminds me so much of today. Only now the idée fixe ia, of course, #ORANGEMANBAD. Last week, I was cruising the fashion sites for Melania dress pr0n for the chess thread (and only on AoSHQ would a sentence like that make sense) and one of the places I found, I forget which one, perhaps E! Online or Vogue or some such, actually brought up the fact that they don't cover Melania Trump as extensively as they did Michelle Obama, and I give them partial credit for even acknowledging the disparity, but then they tried to explain why, and it was Because Trump, You Know - Trump and I Just Can't Even. They never really spelled it out. It was just assumed the reader would know that Trump was obviously Beyond the Pale.

Anyway, getting back to AHE's book, Eccentric Lives and Peculiar Notions, which blurb has a partial list of the obsessives:

Lady Blount believes that the world is flat...

So do lots of other people. In fact, I recall recently seeing a screenshot of a tweet put out by the International Flat Earth Society bragging that they had chapters in cities "all over the globe."

Cyrus Teed, that it is a hollow shell with us on the inside...

I hadn't heard this one. Points for originality. It's almost as good as the one where many famous people are actually lizard-men who have learned to disguise themselves good.

Edward Hine, that the British are the lost tribes of Israel...

Again, he's not the only one. There's actually a name for this, British Israelism, with a centuries-old history. In the United States, Herbert W. Armstrong's Worldwide Church of God used to be big proponents of this.

Baron de Guldenstubbe that statues wrote him letters.

This just sounds like basic schizophrenia.

Nesta Webster devoted her life to exposing international conspiracies...

Lyndon LaRouche nods sagely. Actually, he died in 2019, so make that "Zombie Lyndon LaRouche nods sagely."

Father O'Callaghan to opposing the charging of interest on loans.

So do Muslim theologians. They propose an alternative, a standard fee (I forget their name for it), which, mysteriously, matches the prime rate pretty closely.

Edward Williams was the last of the Welsh Druids.

There can be... only one!

Geoffrey Pyke invented unsinkable giant ships made of ice.

What do you mean, unsinkable? Just sail 'em down into equatorial waters and see how unsinkable they are.

Amanda Fielding from London invented trepanation - drilling a hole in your head!

No, she didn't. I've seen photos of skulls dug up by archeologists with holes smashed into them. Supposedly to let the evil spirits out. Now *that's* some trepanation!

Also - Ignatius Donnelly; a true bibliomaniac; a dreadfully persistent lover..

Don't know about this one, might make a good book thread topic. Maybe he killed some people.

But the Kindle edition is only $2.99, and it sounds like a lot of fun.


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Books By Morons

Moron author and occasional commenter Secret Squirrell has a just released a Shakespeare parody, Three Lieutenants of Joint Base Lear-MacBeth: Or, A Most Excellent Comedy Regarding the Antics and Buffoonery of Young Officers. This is a

...comedic play in three acts. Follow the adventures of three young US Army lieutenants as they encounter lackluster leaders, the Don of the E-4 Mafia, Jody, an angry battalion S-3, and brave the deserts of the US Army Yakistan Training Center!

I was able to get a sneak peak at this some time ago before it was published. There are actually two versions, one written in Shakespearean verse, the second in American English, complete with authentic military slang and profanity.

It revolves around goofy nonsense that can happen to you in the military. I thought it was pretty funny, but I'm afraid some of the humor went over my head because I don't have any military experience. For those of you who do, you will probably find this book to be a hoot.

Now I'm no expert, but it really does sound like Shakespeare's voice -- even in the "updated" version. That was the part that impressed me the most.


If you like, you can follow me on Twitter, where I make the occasional snarky comment.


So that's all for this week. As always, book thread tips, suggestions, bribes, insults, threats, ugly pants pics and moron library submissions 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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It's Book O'Clock!

digg this
posted by OregonMuse at 09:00 AM

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