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« Daily Tech News 23 June 2024 | Main | Nationalism, Patriotism, Pride in Culture: These are The Hallmarks Of Successful Countries »
June 23, 2024

Sunday Morning Book Thread - 06-23-2024 ["Perfessor" Squirrel]


240623-Library.jpg
(HT: Colossus of Maroussi)

Welcome to the prestigious, internationally acclaimed, stately, and illustrious Sunday Morning Book Thread! The place where all readers are welcome, regardless of whatever guilty pleasure we feel like reading. Here is where we can discuss, argue, bicker, quibble, consider, debate, confabulate, converse, and jaw about our latest fancy in reading material. As always, pants are required, unless you are wearing these pants (now with extra JUNE!)...

So relax, find yourself a warm kitty (or warm puppy--I won't judge) to curl up in your lap, and dive into a new book. What are YOU reading this fine morning?


PIC NOTE

Moron Colossus of Maroussi sent me today's pic, which is of the library found in Metten Abbey, a Benedictine establishment in southeastern Bavaria near the Czech and Austrian borders. It's one of the oldest abbeys in Bavaria and served as a both a repository of knowledge and as a school for several centuries. The abbey did go through a period of secularization, but it has since been re-established as an abbey and as a school. The library itself was established in the 1260s. It currently houses around 150,000 works and is open for tours. This ceiling fresco is just gorgeous, though it's from the church and not the library.

THE ARROGANCE AND FOLLY OF MAN

If you've been paying attention to what I've been reading over the last few weeks, you will see several Michael Crichton books: Micro, Prey, The Terminal Man, and most recently, Next.

All of these books have one central theme in common: mankind is prone to extreme arrogance and folly when it comes to attempting to exploit the rules of the natural world. Of course, anyone who has read Jurassic Park--or, more likely, seen the movie--knows how this plays out. An idiot scientist with way more brains than common sense attempts to find a loophole in God's creation and then exploit it for fun and profit. The results are predictable: the scientist's creation escapes beyond his control and wreaks havoc, sometimes on a large scale (e.g., Greg Bear's Psychlone or Blood Music). Numerous innocents pay the price for the scientist's foolish attempt an controlling forces way beyond his control and understanding.

Mankind has been telling and retelling stories about the folly of man for thousands of years (see Genesis Chapter 3 for an example). In more recent years, Mary Shelly's Frankenstein serves as the ultimate warning against playing God. He does not like competition. Those who deem themselves to be like unto gods will usually find themselves humbled, paying a terrible price. The Greeks referred to this trait as "hubris" or "overweening pride."

We see the arrogance and folly of man played out in the real world on a daily basis. Ace, J.J. Sefton, and the other COBs bring us countless stories of the Elite attempting to play god among us mortals by declaring this and that to be essential for the continuation of the human race, without regard for any of the potential consequences.

My favorite example from Crichton's Next involves a biotech startup company arguing in court that they have the absolute right to a man's cell lines because he willingly gave them permission to harvest *some* of his cells. When the company's stash of cell lines was sabotaged by a rival, they decided that they had the right to harvest any and all cells they wanted from the original source in whatever manner and time they pleased. The man took exception to this and disappeared. However, the company then argued that they were entitled to the next best thing: cells harvested from the man's daughter and grandson, as they *might* contain cells with the same genetic markers they had already patented. It was such a ludicrous argument that not even a California judge bought into it. Although this scenario is fictional, Crichton tends to write stories "ripped from the headlines" (he includes a bibliography of additional reading at the end of his books) so it's not inconveivable at all that a biotech firm might try this for real, if it hasn't already happened.

We see shades of this in real life when people argue that women have an absolute right to their bodies when it comes to abortion, but none of us have any right at all to refuse an experimental, potentially lethal shot that *might* protect us from a more-dangerous-than-usual strain of the flu. It's for the public good, you see. Just insane.

(Pixy Misa's Daily Tech News for today perfectly illustrates the arrogance and folly of the Elite with respect to power generation and AI.)

++++++++++


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...AND LET'S NOT FORGET THE ARROGANCE AND FOLLY OF WOMEN

I missed WeirdDave's excellent Thursday night ONT, but I caught up with it Friday morning and the following link caught my eye. (NOTE: I was seriously trying to avoid the "T-man" this week, but this was too good NOT to comment on...)

'The Lord Of The Rings: The War Of The Rohirrim' To Introduce Long-Lost Tribe Of Female Warriors Led By Helm Hammerhand’s Daughter

Apparently, Phillipa Boyens has decided to create an anime film based on the following line from Appendix A.II of The Return of the King: "To one of these councils Freca rode with his men, and he asked the hand of Helm's daughter for his son Wulf." Out of this, Boyens was inspired to document the heroic saga of this young woman's struggles among the male-dominated Rohirrim as they fought their ancient nemesis, the Dunlendings.

What sort of normal person flips through the Appendix of one of the greatest works of English literature and sees a single line of text about an unnamed woman who is possibly going to be set up with an arranged marriage and then decides to create a full-length feature film to tell that woman's story?

Although the young woman in question does have a role to play, it's mostly because Freca of the Dunlendings was seeking a political alliance with Helm Hammerhand, thus the offer of marriage between Helm's daughter and Freca's son, Wulf. Helm laughed in Freca's face, calling him a fat old man. Naturally, Freca didn't like that much. Helm and Freca later went out into a field to discuss matters at length, and Helm killed Freca. This caused Wulf to declare a blood feud with Helm and his kin, of course, and for many years the Dunlendings and Rohirrim raided each other in battle. Typical Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon tribal antics.

There's no reason to bring in Helm's daughter as a named character who then unites the Rohirrim under the banner of a lost tribe of female warriors who proceed to kick the Dunlendings out of Rohan. That never happened. So why even bother to tell that story?

There are plenty of ways to tell the story of the House of Eorl (Appendix A.II in Return of the King), but you'd want to focus in on the ACTUAL events that occurred as Tolkien described them, not make up entire stories on a single line of text that has no meaning in the overall storyline. In fact, much of Appendix A could be turned into an exceptional adaptation under the right showrunner/director. But that will never happen because woke Hollywood refuses to understand basic principles of storytelling and has NO interest in bringing the original source material to life.

Oh, and WHEN The War of the Rohirrim bombs at the box office (and it will), guess who will be blamed for its failure. Will it be the writers that created the story? The director that brought the story to life on screen? The studio executives that greenlit this project? No, as always, the blame will be cast down on you and I because we are misogynists and homophobes (expect a gay subplot) who don't appreciate quality storytelling.

SUMMER BASED BOOK SALE!

Good morning, Perfessor,

The Summer Based Book Sale is live!

Bypass the cultural gatekeeping, support non-woke authors, and get yourself some great books from both established and emerging talent for only $0.99 - many titles free - but only for one week! The sale runs through Tuesday June 25, 2024.

https://basedbooksale.substack.com/p/the-summer-based-book-sale

Thanks for support indie authors,

Hans

MORON RECOMMENDATIONS

Bitter Lemons by Lawrence Durrell is a short, easy read compared to some of Durrell's other works. It chronicles three years that Durrell spent on the Greek island of Corfu in the early 1950s. It is in parts travelogue, biography, and humor, and reveals a simpler and less complex time in Greece, when good friends and good food were understood as central to a happy life.

Colossus of Maroussi

Comment: Colossus of Maroussi reached out to me via email and wanted to know if Morons might be interested in more recommendations of classic works. He shared this one with me. I invited him to send me more recommendations that may be featured in the future, as I think there are a lot of Morons who have read the classics and could discuss them in depth...

+++++

The last Plantagenet king of England died on Bosworth Field in 1485. His body was stripped and carried through town by the usurper Henry and discarded. For 500 years, a caricature was presented to the world of this missing king, until a group dedicated to restoring his name decided to investigate. In The King's Grave by Philippa Langley and Michael Jones, the 2011 quest to find Richard is documented from the initial request to the final confirmation. By overlaying ancient and modern maps, a site dig in a parking lot was planned and authorized, and in nearly the first place that they looked, a skeleton with evidence of scoliosis was recovered by the team. Using DNA technology and family tree information, two living descendants were located and proved a perfect match. Richard III had been found and a royal burial in Leicester was planned. This story is not only an archeological quest, but a revisiting of the tale long believed of an evil king whose reign has been disparaged since shortly after his death. This is an intriguing book that retraces the war of the roses, challenges long held perceptions, and recounts an amazing discovery. Posted by: Thomas Paine at June 16, 2024 09:14 AM (3yy8E)

Comment: History is written by the victors. It makes a certain amount of sense that a king might be vilified by history if his successors were politically opposed to him. This is also a pretty cool story of how SCIENCE! (the real kind) can recreate the historical record and provide closure to a turbulent time in history. I remember seeing several news articles that came out while it was happening. I believe some of them were posted on AoSHQ, as a matter of fact.

+++++

I actually read a novel this week. A kids novel, or I suppose the current term is young adult novel, but, still, a novel. Snow Dog by Jim Kjelgaard. I read a lot of this author as a kid, and I just bought a stack of used books, to relive my childhood, and to gift to my nieces, one of whom is a voracious reader, and another who really likes dogs.

Snow Dog is very much in the genre of White Fang. It features a puppy who is born in the wild, but to semi-domestic parents. He grows up to be a master hunter, and awesome in just about every way. Eventually, he comes into contact with the civilized world, a fur trapper in this case, and struggles through re-domestication. Oh, and along the way he fights a blood feud with a particularly evil leader of a wolf pack.

Intellectually, I knew these books were violent. After all, every meal in the wild comes from our hero-dog killing another creature. And, naturally, there are literal dog-fights in books like this. But in this case, the violence was especially in-your-face. On literal page 1 we are introduced to an angry wolf, who enjoys killing people and dogs, and will seek them out specifically to kill them. Grizzly...

Posted by: Castle Guy at June 16, 2024 09:35 AM (Lhaco)

Comment: Nature is harsh, brutal, and doesn't care about your feelings. That doesn't mean it isn't wonderful and beautiful. We accept a certain amount of risk whenever we go outside to interact with nature, but we can also experience the joy and miracle of God's creation. Books like this can be very educational for children because they can vicariously experience the rawness of nature and feel what it is like to struggle in the wild, without having to go outside and do it for real.

More Moron-recommended reading material can be found HERE! (1000+ Moron-recommended books!)

+-----+-----+-----+-----+

WHAT I'VE BEEN READING THIS PAST WEEK:

After reviewing some of OregonMuse's old Book Threads, I thought I'd try something a bit different. Instead of just listing WHAT I'm reading, I'll include commentary as well. Unless otherwise specified, you can interpret this as an implied recommendation, though as always your mileage may vary.


psychlone.jpg

Psychlone by Greg Bear

Although Greg Bear is mostly known for relatively "hard" science fiction, this was a bit of a throwback to paranormal horror stories. It's an early book from 1979, where the country (maybe the world) is threatened by a mysterious, unexplainable phenomenon that is capable of wiping out entire communities. It may be powered by the angry dead.


sandman-slim.jpg

Sandman Slim: A Novel by Richard Kadrey

This is the first novel in a series of urban fantasy stories revolving around an escapee from Hell. James Stark was sent to Hell as a mortal by a circle of mages who envied Stark's natural magical talents. While in Hell, Stark was forged into a weapon through his experiences and training (he was a gladiator and hitman for the Princes of Hell). Now that he's free back on Earth, he has some unfinished business with those who sent him to Hell in the first place. Although he's more pissed off about what they did to his girlfriend. Stark is an antihero character. A professional asshole, but with some noble qualities. He himself says that there are some things that he will not abide while in his sight, such as a carjackers attempting to steal a vehicle from another person. (Stark is quite keen on stealing vehicles himself, just not while other people are in them.) He's also generally kind to those who either pose no threat or who may be a bit down on their own luck. But don't piss him off. He will wreck your day.


next.png

Next by Michael Crichton

This is the fourth Michael Crichton novel I've read recently. Unlike the others, there does not seem to be a plot so much as a series of inter-related vignettes about the state of genetic engineering and the issues that surround it. Most of the characters are pretty unlikeable in many ways, as they represent rather unsavory aspects of genetic engineering, such as the woman who gene-spliced human DNA into an African parrot, or the Fauci-like head of the NIH that portrays himself as an evangelical Christian but is all-in on human-embryo stem-cell research and eventual human cloning. He embraces his perceived role as a "saint" in the government, but covers up a number of ugly activities. At the end of the book, Crichton gives his honest opinion about various issues covered in the story, such as gene patents (he's against them), laws about public disclosure of genetic testing (he's for them).


bad-place.jpg

The Bad Place by Dean Koontz

Someone posted in the comments recently about books where the author's name on the cover is larger than the title of the book. Well, this is one of those books. It's an early Dean Koontz novel (1990). It has a lot of Koontz' signature weirdness to it, which I'm starting to recognize after reading quite a few of his novels recently (with several more to read...). The plot mainly follows Frank Pollard, who keeps waking up in strange places after a very strange night indeed. He doesn't know who he is or why this is happening to him.

PREVIOUS SUNDAY MORNING BOOK THREAD - 06-16-24 (NOTE: Do NOT comment on old threads!)

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Disclaimer: No Morons were harmed in the making of this Sunday Morning Book Thread. That tornado heading your way may be more vengeful than you know...

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