Cheeseburger Gothic

Tom Clancy writes no more

Posted October 3, 2013 into Books by John Birmingham

The King of the technothrillers is dead. Clancy passed away overnight at the age of 66. No information yet about why, although the cigars and bacon at every breakfast might have contributed.

I enjoyed his early Jack Ryan novels, before they became a little preachy and political. He really did hit upon a new engine for driving thrillers that seemed to accelerate the reader through the text. I think he did it best in Red Storm Rising which was, if I recall, a non-Ryan book.

I learned a bit about long form story telling from Tom, both what to do and what to avoid, and I'll share a drink with Admiral Kohlhammer in his honor later.

23 Responses to ‘Tom Clancy writes no more’

Sarahjane mutters...

Posted October 3, 2013

That is sad news..... I like his books mostly as well.

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BigWillieStyle puts forth...

Posted October 3, 2013

Yes, he had a way of putting words in an order that made for an enjoyable read. I liked a lot of the books in his "Net Force" series.

I'd like to think he was wearing a pair of mirrored sunglasses and one of those enormous caps with "USS Indianapolis" written on the front when he passed.

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bstar ducks in to say...

Posted October 3, 2013

His books were part of the reason that I have a big interest in the military. The Hunt For Red October and Red Storm Rising are my favourite books...I've worn so many copies of both books out it...I made sure Mr Clancy lived in a comfortable lifestyle.

Rest in Peace Mr Clancy.

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HAVOCK21 would have you know...

Posted October 3, 2013

yeah, the last REDSTORM RISING has fkn fallen apart. He sort of lost me with the net force series, but the advent of Jack Ryan Jr and the shoot off series was quite good. The a fkn bummer, for him and for me!

BigWillieStyle is gonna tell you...

Posted October 3, 2013

Probably more of a bummer for him.

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John Baker swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 3, 2013

My favorite Clancy novel is "The Cardinal of the Kremlin," no politics, lots of drama, better writing flow than his first books. Second favorite was actually non-Jack Ryan based, "Red Storm Rising." His books past mid-'90s got a bit more ludicrous and more ideological, but his early stuff was great fun.

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Surtac would have you know...

Posted October 3, 2013

I first started reading him when 'Hunt for Red October' was released as a movie. He really did invent the modern techno-thriller and opened up the market to people like Larry Bond and Patrick Robinson. As a space-opera tragic (because spaceships), I'm also very partial to submarine stories as well, so Red October really did grab me by the throat and shake me awake.

I read pretty much everything up until the one about Ryan's son and the two nephews. Not sure why I lost interest then but I did.

Still, props to Clancy for all of the good reads over the years.

I had heard a few years back that he was not well then, but didn't know the cause.

I might have to re-read Red October soon in his memory.

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Boscolamb is gonna tell you...

Posted October 3, 2013

Sad news. Every time a famous author dies, we have a run on their books by library patrons. I'm not certain what they're all thinking: like we will dispose of their works now that they're dead?

He was pretty popular, and prolific at one time. I personally read most of his earlier works, but moved on to better writing like Mr. Birminghams.

I'd also like to thank those of you (especially John) who recommended John Ringo's, Under A Graveyard Sky. Best zombie book I've read in some time (I really enjoyed the first half which detailed the fall of civilization).

Guru Bob would have you know...

Posted October 5, 2013

I enjoyed Graveyard Sky as well, wasn't it going to be a book club session. No matter it has set me off on a John Ringo reading jag now, the first two books in his Posleen series are free on I-tunes and lots of fun...

The Graveyard Sky is funny too because he tries to write an Aussie lead character - doesn't quite get it right all the time (I have never heard the word dunny used so wrongly) but he makes a pretty good effort...

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Wolfcat is gonna tell you...

Posted October 3, 2013

I just re read Red Storm Rising earlier this year, despite the politics not standing up, the story telling does. An amazing techno thriller.

RIP TOM.

Guru Bob asserts...

Posted October 5, 2013

Red Storm actually was part of another very niche genre of World War Three (NATO -USSR ) conflict books in the 80s. But he definitely took it to a new level....

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SZF mumbles...

Posted October 3, 2013

He lost me after "The Sum of All Fears". It was OK itself, but subsequent books where Jack Ryan becomes President was a bridge too far for me. The less said of lending his name to glorifed fan fiction like "Op Centre", the better.

Flicking through "Cardinal of the Kremlin" in recent years it always struck me how he might have portrayed the Afghan mujahadeen differently if he'd written it in 2008 instead of 1988. A bit like the film dedication in Rambo 3.

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Blarkon mutters...

Posted October 3, 2013

NYT Obit

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/03/books/tom-clancy-best-selling-novelist-of-military-thrillers-dies-at-66.html?smid=tw-nytimes

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yankeedog mumbles...

Posted October 3, 2013

Like a lot of people have commented, I too liked his early stuff. He really lost me with 'Red Rabbit'. 'Red Storm Rising' was one of my faves, but he had a lot of help from wargame author Larry Bond (himself a fair technothriller writer at one time) with that book.

Clancy was one of a rare few authors who didn't have to go through 'the writing process' that so many authors talk about. Here's an insurance salesman from Baltimore, finds a story, does the research, writes a book, and sells it without a lot of trouble. One in a million. And a star was born.

Thank you, Mr. Clancy, for a lot of good hours of reading and re-reading!

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Moko asserts...

Posted October 3, 2013

I'll take the time to appreciate The Division just that little bit more.

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damian mutters...

Posted October 3, 2013

He lost me with Debt of Honor actually... I remember when 911, someone on a forum commented "If you're gonna copy a Tom Clancy novel, why pick one of the worst".

But (always with a soft-spot for submarine stories too) I loved Hunt for Red October. Read it before I saw the movie, loved both. And liked Clear and Present Danger probably more than I should given the slightly laughable IT references, though that could be because Peter Weir of course, and I never did read that book.

This is sad, anyway. Glass in his honour and all that.

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Puma puts forth...

Posted October 4, 2013

Loved Without Remorse. Shame the movies made from his books are such garbage.

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Legless has opinions thus...

Posted October 4, 2013

I liked some of his books but his politics, his rabid love for Ronald Reagan, made it difficult to like the man.

I loved his early books - in particular, Red Storm Rising - but he lost me after Red Rabbit. And as for Op Center and Net Force - unredeemable garbage.

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Nick Brett mumbles...

Posted October 4, 2013

For a while he wrote very good thrillers, then he lost it a bit with a dive to the right wing and then he out-sourced his writing to other authors. But when he was good, he was very good.

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MickH mutters...

Posted October 5, 2013

I was shocked.

It was so sudden and unexpected.

Unlike the rest of you I liked all the Jack Ryan novels but my favourite will always be Without Remorse. That was set in the Jack Ryan Universe but Jack was a kid at the time and his father was more involved. It was the prequal to Rainbow Six actually

HAVOCK21 is gonna tell you...

Posted October 7, 2013

Interesting there Mick, I'm with you, I found almost EVERYTHING pretty fkn good. Its only the OP centre NET series that lost me, but that was a vast off shoot, the rest..yeah...come get some fkn awesome!. IM VERY FKN GOD LIKE OPINION!

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NBlob asserts...

Posted October 7, 2013

Nil context warning.

Ebullism

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I am LOVIN' Genghis Khan

Posted September 20, 2013 into Books by John Birmingham

I picked up the audio book of Jack Weatherford's Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World because it was on special. Five bucks. I thought it might be a nice change from all of the genre I've been reading and it was. And it wasn't. I'll explain in a moment.

Most all of what I know about the great Khan I learned from Conan. The quote about driving your enemies before you, tipping over their yurts and diggin' on the the lamentations 'off der vimmin'.

And something about John Wayne playing him in one of the worst movies of the 1960s, which I really must get around to watching one day. Perhaps in a double header with The Green Berets.

"You're what's it's all about, little Hamchuck."

I say it wasn't entirely a departure from genre because a chapter or two into Weatherford's book I could already see just how many fantasy writers had raided the Khan cupboard for their babarian research. Possibly more than have borrowed from Tolkien over the years.

George R.R. Martin's Dothraki are one example who spring to mind, but pretty much every barb-civ story I've ever read seems to be based on them to some extent. Listening to the narration has been, at times, like settling into an epic fantasy, and I have to keep reminding myself that this is non fiction. Blood feuds, wife stealing, spirit worship, doomed loves, implacable hatreds, the fall of cities, insensate violence, impenetrable tribal and feudal cultures, they're all there.

Also there, and a surprise to me, in spite of the book's subtitle, was an unexpected lesson in the foundations of modernity. Example? Genghis Khan grew up as something of outcast, the son of a woman stolen from her husband, widowed when her second husband was poisoned, and turned out by his tribe because they didn't want to care for all the extra mouths. It soured Genghis on the traditions of clan and family loyalty which were the defining and organizing principles of steppe society. When he started to knock over other tribes and grow his own power base, one of the many things he changed was to promote men on the basis of merit, rather than kinship. It had a range of effects, one of which was to bind all the people's he conquered to his rule because they learned if they served the Khan well, it mattered not whence they had come. He would promote them.

In combination with changes he made to regularise his army - eg, organizing them into decimal units of ten, then one hundred, then a thousand and so on - it made the Mongols much less a Horde than a sort of savage mobile modern state.

I'm enjoying the audiobook so much that I plan on buying myself a hard copy. It is shelf worthy. I might even get an ebook for research while I'm away at the beach the next two weeks. I'm also going to try a little experiment with my new Amazon links. Rather than just buying it as normal, I'll put an associate link below and go in thru that, thereby giving myself a small discount because I'm sort of buying it from the Burger, rather than Amazon direct.

Prof Boylan suggests below that it should be the next bookclub title. I am totally open to that suggestion.

19 Responses to ‘I am LOVIN' Genghis Khan’

w from brisbane mutters...

Posted September 20, 2013

Re: Genghis Khan and the modern world.
It is noteworthy that the Chinese justify their view that Tibet is part of China by saying Genghis Khan made it so in about 1210 AD.
Of course, GK was actually constructing a Mongol empire, but let's not get pedantic.

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan asserts...

Posted September 20, 2013

This sounds much better than Battlefield: Earth. Why not make this your next book for group discussion?

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted September 20, 2013

Actually, that's a pretty good idea.

Jayanthi's Atomic Cat mutters...

Posted September 20, 2013
Seconded.

Surtac mumbles...

Posted September 20, 2013

Thirded.

Check out Conn Iggulden's Conqueror series too, starting with Wolf of the Plains, for a very good fictional version of the tale.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan asserts...

Posted September 20, 2013

I withdraw the suggestion. I am not comfortable with anyone here agreeing with me. It doesn't feel right.

Jayanthi's Atomic Cat is gonna tell you...

Posted September 20, 2013
OK, I withdraw my secondment . keep the suggestion. Can we do the book now?

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Barnesm is gonna tell you...

Posted September 20, 2013

Its a remarkable story, the 2007 Russian made film Mongol ( titled in the US and UK release as Mongol: The Rise to Power of Genghis Khan gave a good account of the rise of Temüjin. Meant to be a trilogy I would be interested in seeing the rest of the tale done by this team.

I first learned that Genghis Khan's name wasTemüjin in the underated 1994 film The Shadow.

Professor: This is the silver coffin of Temujin.

Nightwatchman: Who's Temujin?

Professor: The man who very nearly conquered the globe eight centuries ago.

Nightwatchman: How come l never heard of him?

Professor: Temujin was the birth name......of Genghis Khan.

Bet fraking Genghis Khan never wrote any Mission Statement.

Peter Bradley is gonna tell you...

Posted September 20, 2013

Didn't need to write it he just demonstrated the mission!

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Dave W has opinions thus...

Posted September 20, 2013

Click...and...kindle version purchased. Thank you JB.

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Alton puts forth...

Posted September 20, 2013
Have you ever checked out Dan Carlin Hardcore History? He just finished a podcast series on the Mongols.

Barnesm puts forth...

Posted September 20, 2013

My son The_Weapon_against_society is a big Hard Core History fan, alternates between listing to that podcast falling asleep and Mike Duncan's The History of Rome all 179 epsiodes.

Surtac mutters...

Posted September 20, 2013

The Dan Carlin version is good too, as is his earlier series on the fall of the Roman republic.

And I agree with Commander Barnes re the 2007 Russian film. It's a very fine treatment ... and there's that wonderful late scene where the heavy cavalry is unleashed.

Bangar puts forth...

Posted September 20, 2013

Well worth checking out the Hardcore History podcasts also enjoyed Conn Iggulden books.

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Aaron swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 20, 2013

Yep lets do this one, I have been hankering for something like this for next book but could not think of anything. And it's genghis friggin khan. I am sure even lunchtimes were epic for him

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AuntyLou reckons...

Posted September 20, 2013

Kindle version locked & loaded...ta JB. This not having to think to buy stuff is great! Just hope hubby agrees (he will - being a true history buff). What ever number agreement for bookclub from me.

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tqft swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 20, 2013
2 weeks off? I take it new book is with publishers orwas the sonic boom I heard your deadline going by?

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damian swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 21, 2013

The Kindle Edition is $2.76, so I guess there are no excuses. Sounds good.

Also, would almost certainly have skipped the ElRon... just because.

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So, I read Ender's Game

Posted September 18, 2013 into Books by John Birmingham

And although I enjoyed it, I gotta say I'm bit surprised that anyone could be surprised to discover that Orson Scott Card is a socially conservative homophobe.

Seriously? Buggers as an implacable, destructive alien species?

And the lessons of the future? Child soldiers are awesome.

Anyways, I wouldn't want to get all down on it. I did enjoy the story even though there were plenty of times I had to work real hard at suspending my disbelief, especially in the later chapters as the premise begins to seem a lot sillier and the narrative structure falls apart.

I wouldn't set it as a bookclub title but wouldn't have too many issues to recommending it to anyone who can disconnect their feelings about the author from the text. I'm also quite keen to see how the film adaptation works, since there's more a few challenges to surmount in getting this story onto the screen.

Another thing I learned while reading Ender's Game, I should just give up on literature. I'd been trying to read Wolf Hall for about a month and a half before I gave up and downloaded Game. I recognised it as a truly fine piece of writing, a work of genius indeed, sustained across a vast canvas and... meh.

I just couldn't give a shit about it.

Hilary Mantel is a hundred times the writer that Orson Scott Card is, and yet I was able to finish and enjoy Card's book in a fraction of the time I struggled through Wolf Hall.

Life is too short to struggle with hard books.

67 Responses to ‘So, I read Ender's Game’

ShaneAlpha mumbles...

Posted September 18, 2013

I've read the whole series. The ones set later in the universe are a bit meh, but I did enjoy "Enders Shadow" the Bean centric alternate viewpoint of Enders Game.

I enjoyed the first one more when I was a teenager. Re-reading it as an adult, it's short comings are much more apparent.

Murphy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 19, 2013

What Shane said.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Chaz mutters...

Posted September 18, 2013

'Life is too short to struggle with hard books.'

yes although it is to my great shame that I never finished "Ulysses", and the tome stares reproachfully at me from its place on one of my bookshelves, as I choose easier novels around it to read.

theangrywarden reckons...

Posted September 21, 2013

I finished it, only so that I could smugly comment in threads like this. How did I do it? I made it my toilet reading - every day, I read one page while sat on the bog.

When I finally finished it, I gleefully went straight onto goodreads.com and gave that fucker a one star review.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan asserts...

Posted September 21, 2013

I loved Enders Game and have read it at least 20 times over the years, and it just gets funnier each time I read it. You can't say that about many books.

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Barnesm has opinions thus...

Posted September 18, 2013

Yeah, it wasn't wasn't until sometime after I made the connection to 'bugger's' and the Author's worldview.

But the trailer is indeed totes Awesome.

I think i gave up reading the series after getting to 'Shadow of the Hegemon' around 2000.

But there is no intrinsic reason why a witer such as Hilary Mantel couldn't craft a novel that tells a story as thrilling as Ender's Game, where as an author such as Orsen Scott Card isn't capable of craftinga story like 'Infinite Jest.'

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted September 18, 2013

That's true. The Mantel book vexed me. I could feel its quality rubbing against my poor, unprotected brain like rough hewn sackcloth. Reading it was a difficult, intellectual granular experience that I'm sure improved me with every difficult line.

I will never finish it.

NBlob reckons...

Posted September 19, 2013

Infinite jest? I spent >2 months of bus reading time on that thing.

0.0 nuclear submarines under attack by nanobots. 0.0 space battles. 0.0 alien eating Space Marine's face. = Fail. At least I finished it. Every grinding turgid word of it. Not so much sackcloth meninges, as coarse coral sand in the jocks.

Barnesm puts forth...

Posted September 19, 2013

inspite of its lack of Zombies, I enjoyed the experience of reading it. By all the stuff I pick up from listening to people who study English it seems to be well crafted.

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pi ducks in to say...

Posted September 18, 2013

The power of enders game isn't its literary merit, it's its accessibility. People that have no interest in this genre like this book. The same can't be said about the late Mr Banks, or Philip K Dick, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C Clarke, or a host of other vastly superior writers. But there aren't too many people that have ever sat down with EG that haven't enjoyed the book, and finished it, and them never having read or finished anything in this genre before, or are likely ever to again.

It's definitely more targeted to a younger reader, but hell... it's about kids.

Bat-shit crazy red-neck man behind the words aside, that ability separates this book from so many others.

John Birmingham mutters...

Posted September 18, 2013

Yeah, I should have mentioned that it is very obviously a YA novel, too. No swearing, no sex, and although there is violence, sometimes quite brutal and intimate, it's not a gore fest.

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Stephen mumbles...

Posted September 18, 2013

Yes, there are some books that are really good, but I find myself reading them so slowly that I can end up getting tired of them. After one of them, I usually try and indulge in a popcorn book or two - something that I'll read in day or two, that's enjoyable but lets my brain relax for a bit.

I read Ender's game so long ago I probably have nostalgia tinted memories of it, but as I remember it was good, however he did a Dune (or Matrix) and made sequels that fans often try to forget. The first Bean one was OK, (better than the other sequels), but having enjoyed the secret history of Ender's game I drifted away from the series - I wan't interested enough in the universe to go back for more.

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JBtoo swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 18, 2013

I found Wolf Hall hard to get in to for about the first third; I found it frustratingly disjointed and I agree you shouldn't have to work so hard to get your head around a book. I was glad I persisted though, as I enjoyed it by the end. I found the sequel much easier going and I'm looking forward to the final installment. I really like well-researched and soundly based historical fiction, which helps.

I like SF/fantasy too, even the YA kind, but nothing I've heard about Enders Game makes me want to read it. I'll see if the library has it, maybe I'll challenge myself.

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted September 18, 2013

I have this theory that Cromwell is flashing back over his life in these books, just as he's about to die. That would account for the disjointed narrative.

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HAVOCK21 mumbles...

Posted September 18, 2013

So..that was kind of srsly FKN AWESOME to the power of HAVOCK. Not so about the book, ain't read it..but anytime you yopu NUKE THE FKRS FROM ORBIT!...its gunna be epic. Not a bad cast in the flick either I see!

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Veronica Foale is gonna tell you...

Posted September 18, 2013

THANK YOU for saying you couldn't read Wolf Hall. I felt a bit fraudy actually when I tried so hard to like it, but I couldn't fall into the story. The writing is brilliant, but I couldn't lose myself in it. I read for pleasure and I just couldn't with Wolf Hall.

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zeniph reckons...

Posted September 18, 2013

I guess its just becasue I'm oztralian but it wasnt until about the 2nd book that I realised that the name 'buggers' could also be refering to bug like creatures - I thought Card was just being a potty mouth about the disgusting aliens.

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damian mutters...

Posted September 18, 2013

Oops, Kindle edition of Wolf Hall on its way to my Note as I type, just on that recommendation. I think my fingers slipped because Banks' Transition and Rajaniemi The Fractal Prince are following it.

Never saw any reason to bother with Card and I guess I still don't.

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted September 18, 2013

Damn it. I really gotta fix those Amazon links.

NBlob mutters...

Posted September 19, 2013

If you are going to chastise your Web Bunny, you could stream it & er people would payperview. If your Web Bunny is Dan, then the market would likely be smaller but you could jack the price right up.

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Laer Carroll reckons...

Posted September 19, 2013

Where does anybody get the stupid idea that a well-written book is a good book? Well-written in the sense that the style is expressive and evocative and the scenes vivid? The words witty, perhaps?

That is style, and upon my love's survival and happiness, I toil at that in my books. But it is the substance that captures our hearts and minds. The people, places, and events of Wolf Hall are BORING, BORING, BORING. For most of us reading about them is an exercise in masochism. Fine for the masochist, but not for the rest of us.

But then that is the sickness that our educational system teaches us: that a GOOD BOOK is one that is difficult and painful to read and Uplifting in some way. Thousands and millions of kids have been taught that reading is a duty and not a pleasure. And so we remain nations of illiterates or nearly so.

Laer Carroll

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted September 19, 2013

Testify.

w from brisbane ducks in to say...

Posted September 19, 2013

I don't think I entirely agree with you Laer.
I'm an Australian, but aren't classics of the US school system books like 'The Red Badge of Courage', 'Catcher in the Rye' and 'To Kill a Mockingbird'?
I reckon they are great reads.
I reread 'The Red Badge of Courage' about every 5 years and it still blows me away.

Though I see that the US school curriculum is to change because "Proponents of the new standards, including the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, say U.S. students have suffered from a diet of easy reading">
Students are to get more non-fiction. I don't know enough to comment, but very interesting article about the issues here:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/changes-to-american-school-literature-spark-war-over-words-8375195.html

I haven't read 'Wolf Hall', but I note the New York Times review said "Its 500-plus pages turn quickly, winged and falconlike". I reckon a lot of people, albeit a minority, really enjoy the book. Maybe it is a good book, but not for everyone.

Dave W puts forth...

Posted September 19, 2013

+ 1 @ Laer Carroll

My conspiracy theory on this one is that the authors of Serious Literature are actually the English Lit professors who set texts for Uni and High School courses, and are after a guaranteed income stream. Why else would they subject their students to agonisingly difficult text when the true obligation of a good teacher should surely be to get their students to enjoy the subject and learn from that enjoyment?

Lulu mumbles...

Posted September 19, 2013

"The people, places, and events of Wolf Hall are BORING, BORING, BORING"

I donb't think they are - or they shouldn't be. And I say that as someone who gave up on Wolf Hall after the first maybe 100 or so pages. My 'serious' reading is almost entirely non-fiction, and I find history fascinating. Modern stream-of-consciousness narrations using historical characters & events? Apparently somewhat less fascinating.

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Barnesm reckons...

Posted September 19, 2013

No two people read the same book, each brings their own experiences, expertise, knowledge and skill as a reader. The same reason why some will like Enders game, and some will not, some will struggle with Wolf Hall and hate it, some will struggle with Wolf Hall and love it. The discussion as to whether it is well crafted story is a distinction that is too often confused.

There are books you can find challenging and enjoyable, just as there are easy to read books that are un-engaging (and dull) . But to require students study books that aren't a little challenging is to do them a disservice, just as it would be to only provide books that are easy to read.

I have yet to see any evidence that if those students who complain that they found the prescribed novels in high school were ‘dull’ or ‘literary’ had been given less challenging books they would have turned into readers.

Jayanthi's Atomic Cat mumbles...

Posted September 20, 2013
I will testify to the first part of Barnesm's comment. I found EG both enthralling and traumatic to read- on a psychological level Card pretty much captured my childhood and reading EG actually left me upset for a couple of weeks. I did somebackground reading on how Card came to write the novel and his end product from my perspective hit a target he wasn't even aiming . . so I found it a powerful book. I wish i hadn't now, with his politics and all, but thems the breaks.

w from brisbane mumbles...

Posted September 20, 2013

I reckon it is autobiographical.

Jayanthi's Atomic Cat swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 20, 2013
From memory i think his brother had just enlisted in the Marines and was talking about combat tactics, and Card started thinking about what combat would be like in zero g and how you would train for it. I think the idea was put aside for many years and then the other elements came in later e.g child soldiers e tc. If its autobio he doesn't admit to it!

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pi reckons...

Posted September 19, 2013

There's a special place in hell for the people who put 'The Stone Angel' into the high-school curriculum of Canada.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Stone_Angel

Why the FUCK would someone a book about "a 90-year-old woman struggling to come to grips with a life of intransigence and loss." into the hands of a teenager except that they had some twisted desire to kill any desire to read in a child. I can think of 10,000 books more suited to a high-school curriculum than this one.

Barnesm mumbles...

Posted September 19, 2013

probably the same people who would put Patrick White's the Aunt's Story on a high school curriculium. Though I can understand how it happens often these decision are made by a committee of well intentioned folk, but they are forced by various groups - active parents, State based curriclum designs, various current issues - more Australian writers, authors from the that state, this terms 'themes' around loss, and not to mention the cost of ensuring in a public school there are the 30 copies of the novel needed for every student. Plus there will be various folk in authority who have their own 'hot' suggestion.

I have nothing but sympathy for most of the teachers having to teach the books choosen in school and even for those who struggle to balance the competing issues.

I am sure we would all love to see "he died with a falaffal in his hand' as the prescribed reading in every school in the world but it just may not be the best book for a term which is meant to center around the expistolory novel with references to the rise of modern city in the 20th century. doesn't mean it won't be one of the novels the library holds on its "read this novel" recommendation shelf. Bet there are a lot of students who still won't pick it up.

FormerlyKnownAsSimon mutters...

Posted September 19, 2013

I struggled with a lot with set texts in school (being a scifi/fantasy nerd that gobbled them up by the forest load). We got a subsitute teacher one term who handed out Day of the Triffids. I read it in two days and she came around to collect them again saying we had to read something else - school rules. I said that wasn't fair as i was sure i was going to ace any set work on this. I got to write an extra essay for my trouble. Later on in army cadets i had already learned the valuable lesson of "don't volunteer for anything" so was considered a wise old sage.

I would have to say that nearly all my set texts have been entirely forgettable. Maybe they helped my growing brain though. . . .

ShaneAlpha swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 19, 2013

Back in the day, Get owf mah lawrn you kids, Year 12 English assignment,teacher gives out list of about a dozen books of various genres, students have to choose one and do a major report on it. Only sci/fi book on the list " The Stainless Steel Rat". Class ends and yours truely is stopped at the door by the teacher and informed that the English department has had a discussion and I was banned from choosing scifi because, quote "I know too much".

Kicker was I had already selected "The Day of the Jackal" because I considered Stainless Steel Rat too easy. Still got an A+.

Darth Greybeard has opinions thus...

Posted September 20, 2013

Patrick White! I have started three books by that bloke and finished none of them. Before I knew anything about him (i.e. before the Internet and AltaVista*) he came across as deeply unpleasant - a "hater" if you will. And sure, that doesn't mean he couldn't produce Great Literature but, IMHO, he didn't. And I know zilch about Peter Carey, who may be a really nice guy who's kind to small animals and old ladies. But I really dislike his books too. Bliss? Eeurgh. Anything but.

* Yeah, laugh at AltaVista if you will but I was doing searches with Archie when the Internet was new.

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Murphy mumbles...

Posted September 19, 2013

Irony?

About the same time you posted this, I started watching Ferris Bueller's Day Off for an Adolescent Psychology class I am taking. I somehow managed to miss the film on my journey through the 1980s.

Thirty minutes in, I'm fairly certain I hate the fucking film. Which pains me, John. Because I know you love this film. Here is what I posted at FB, which you, by the way, got me addicted to, then left me there, to rot.

The Student Front: I'm typing this in full awareness that the instructor who assigned it will see it.

I'm watching Ferris Bueller's Day Off for the first time this evening. As a Child of the 1980s I somehow managed to collide with most of the Brat Pack type films whether I wanted to see them or not. Bueller was a case of successful evasion by virtue of apathy.

I'm told it is a great film, a classic. I'm about thirty minutes in and I'm pretty sure I hate it. Bueller's the kind of douchebag I'd have thrown out the window at NKC. Rooney simply seems to be a first class idiot. Why waste even one-tenth the time it takes to track Bueller down? Bueller's mom is a complete fucking moron in contrast to my own mother who would have been at the Parking Garage when they arrived with the Ferrari waiting for me.

The only admirable character, near as I can tell, is the tall hypochrondriac who serves as the forlorn voice of reason that is regularly ignored yet he is too insecure in his own knowledge base to tell Bueller what he desperately needs to hear.

Which is, I might add, "Bueller, fuck off."

I should like this film because I hated high school with a passion that exceeds Bueller's. I hated assholes like Rooney (in real life the actor turns out to be a child molester, go figure). I get that high school is pretty well pointless in every respect.

And yet, the film, on a personal level, ain't working for me.

As a student though, I suspect I'll have plenty to write about for the assigned paper, so it meets the assignment criteria.

That said, I'm taking it in small doses of thirty minutes at a time.

Ooooh, and the Grandmother died? Really? Does anyone have any idea how deadly a semester is to a grandmother who isn't the student? Why, they die by the millions, I'm sure.

End of FB post.

So, my point?

Bueller seems to work for people who saw it while they were in the trenches of the 1980s. I think Ender's Game works, much like Heinlein will for some, if you read it at the right age. I just happened to catch Ender as I started to work on sci-fi short stories in my early 30s. It resonates with me in a way that Bueller doesn't mainly because it picks up on all the petty bullshit that is life in the military while combining it with the mindnumbing annoyances which make up life on Planet High School.

In other words, I think you came to the novel too late. And it doesn't help that OSC frequently comes off like a raving lunatic.

My two cents.

An hour of Bueller left. God help me.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

Lulu asserts...

Posted September 19, 2013

"Bueller seems to work for people who saw it while they were in the trenches of the 1980s. "

Bingo. I've never seen Bueller either despite also being a teenager in the 1980s, but I know what you mean. I loved Better Off Dead (John Cusack) at the time, but when I watched it again years later, it gave me the shits.

FormerlyKnownAsSimon ducks in to say...

Posted September 19, 2013

oh no. Don't say that. Maybe i should also stay away from Better Off Dead and not to relive it. I also liked Bueller and Enders Game back in the day but have moved on since then. Too much back history now.

pi is gonna tell you...

Posted September 19, 2013

Ha... very funny. I watched better off dead two weeks ago for the first time in 20 years. Cusack was pretty funny, but I just thought the mother was hilarious. Y'know... aside from actually probably being the same age as him. And the younger brother who kept cutting out the coupons in full boxes of cereal... ya just don't get that sort of humour anymore.

And no-one died!

I really like Bueller, but it was because of the other players that made it so funny. The car-parking attendants "Relax... we're professionals." Charlie Sheen contemplating his fingers. The father regularly popping up all over town. The kids running the 'save ferris' campaign. The principals secretary pulling all of the pencils out of her hair. Those are what made that movie for me.

Oh... and fuck all of you. I've gotten PLENTY of work done today.

Barnesm asserts...

Posted September 19, 2013

From the folk at Cracked here is a fan theory for Ferris Bullers Day Off

Ferris Bueller's Day Off Was All in Cameron's Head

This beloved 1986 John Hughes teen comedy tells the story of three good friends playing hooky; the affable and impossibly popular Ferris Bueller, the chronically depressed Cameron and Ferris's girlfriend, the stone-cold Sloane. Together, they embark upon the most exciting non-sex-and-booze-and-pot filled day a bunch of attractive American teens could ever wish for.

The Theory:

Cameron creates Ferris in his mind. Ferris is the total opposite of Cameron: he's fun, spontaneous and has a loving family and foxy girlfriend. At the beginning of the film, the imaginary Ferris convinces a bed-ridden Cameron to "borrow" his dad's Ferrari 250 GT California and cruise all over Chicago. Given Cameron's crushing social incompetence, it's likely that Sloane is fictional too and represents a girl that he has a crush on.

This theory explains the more fantastic elements of the film. For example, the whole city of Chicago rallies around the "sick" Ferris. This represents Cameron's miserable home life and how he yearns for friends and family who give a shit. Or, perhaps Bueller is a guy Cameron knows but isn't friends with, and his fantasy is based on what he imagines life to be like for the "popular" kids at school--everything is easy and the world revolves around them.

Or maybe it's a secret metaphor for how Cameron wants to grow up to be Inspector Gadget.

"Gotta get home before my parents do!"

When Cameron accidentally trashes his father's Ferrari at the film's climax, he realizes that he needs to stick up to his father and take responsibility for his own life. At this point he "disposes" of Ferris and Sloane. Both of his fictional friends receive happy endings: Sloane is left pondering marrying Ferris, whereas Ferris safely returns home, where he can break the fourth wall for eternity.

Why does it make the film better?

It transforms Ferris Bueller into a Brat Pack version of Fight Club. Remember when Ferris keeps pestering Cameron to pick him up?

Holy shit. That kid is fucked up. He needs a friend. A friend who is everything he is not, a friend who can liberate him from all of his self-imposed limitations. Somewhere, there's probably a rejected script for a sequel where "Bueller" convinces Cameron to climb up a clock tower with a rifle.

Barnesm has opinions thus...

Posted September 19, 2013

Oh and my favourite fan theory at the cracked article

"Chewbacca and R2-D2 Are Secret Rebel Agents"

ShaneAlpha asserts...

Posted September 19, 2013

If anyone says one single bad word about Molly Ringwald, I will hunt you down. Just sayin.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted September 20, 2013

I hate Molly Ringwald. My wife and I were recently in San Francisco and Ms. Ringwald was performing in the bar at the top of the Drake, where we were staying. My wife wanted to go. I asked her "what concentric circle of Hell will we be seated in?" I wanted to know because I have an active bladder, and some spots in Hell are closer to bathroom facilities than others.

We didn't go. And I am so glad we did not, even though, by my wife's reconning, I owe her.

Jayanthi's Atomic Cat asserts...

Posted September 20, 2013
Well, it has been nice knowing you, PNB. Not gonna wish you good hunting, Shane...

w from brisbane puts forth...

Posted September 20, 2013

PNB must be in the Ally Sheedy faction.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan puts forth...

Posted September 20, 2013

I will work diigently to rebuild our relationship.

ShaneAlpha is gonna tell you...

Posted September 20, 2013

I will allow this as there has been a distinct decrease in Mollyness as the years have passed. My purest love is for the classical Molly.

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Surtac has opinions thus...

Posted September 19, 2013

I only bought a copy of Ender’s Game because, as a Hugo or Nebula winner, it met one of my mandatory collection criteria. I read it and wasn’t impressed, to be honest.

And then I made the mistake of reading the foreword or afterword or whatever it was (it was an anniversary edition of some sort) and discovered then what an example of ass-hattery he clearly is.

It made me reconsider the book in a completely different light, via his specific religious perspective, and I realised how repellent I now found it with its fundamental assumption about the value of children in society.

Not going into details – I find I’m still angry about it years later. I know you shouldn’t conflate the artist with the art they produce but there’s no way he’ll ever get any royalty money from me ever again.

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Blarkon asserts...

Posted September 19, 2013

In the age of social media, few seem to be willing to admit to enjoying something if the creator does not meet some political benchmark. Increasingly there seems to be a litmus test about the creation of culture that doesn't allow for the work to be considered in isolation, but only deemed worthy of consumption. This seems to be premised in part on the suggestion that if you enjoy the cultural output of someone, you are immediately assigned the creators political opinions.

In reality, people you agree with can create excrement and people you think are horrible can create things of beauty.

Barnesm reckons...

Posted September 19, 2013

I'll have you know I can create beautiful excrement.

NBlob reckons...

Posted September 19, 2013

My excrement only takes on beauty through the addition of kinetic energy.

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Blarkon ducks in to say...

Posted September 19, 2013

(To an extent I think that this also explains how some awards are going to works written by people who may not have created the best work in a specific category, but who vigorously evangelise the politics of majority of the people that vote for the award)

Murphy reckons...

Posted September 19, 2013

Truth, especially in American Science Fiction these days.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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yankeedog reckons...

Posted September 19, 2013

It's no 'Battlefield: Earth', that's for sure...

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted September 19, 2013

Hahahahahaha.

w from brisbane puts forth...

Posted September 19, 2013

I thought Battlefield: Earth was one of the more coherent and interesting SF films of recent years.

pi puts forth...

Posted September 19, 2013

I loved battlefield earth too. You get about three quarters through the book and think "what the hell else could happen?!?!". And it does.

But if I didn't like something because of the wackiness of the creator, I wouldn't like Ridley Scott. And I do.

w from brisbane is gonna tell you...

Posted September 19, 2013

I've actually yet to meet a person who has seen Battlefield Earth and didn't think it was particularly good.
Yeah, there is a bit that is quite risible, but that seems nothing to do with Scientology (whatever that is?), but seems more to do with traditional feel good Hollywood plotting.

Lulu would have you know...

Posted September 19, 2013

pi:

"You get about three quarters through the book and think "what the hell else could happen?!?!"."

I like the Coen brothers' films for similar reasons - because invariably when the credits roll, I'm left thinking, "Whaah? WTF just happened?" They bring the weird like almost nobody else.

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted September 19, 2013

You people are taking the piss, aren't you?

w from brisbane is gonna tell you...

Posted September 19, 2013

Taking the piss?
Personally. Nuh.
In fact, it was an anti-colonial story, where the representatives of the colonial masters didn't give a rats about the locals but, as the colonising officials were preoccupied by their own office political ambitions to get a better posting back at home, were unaware of the fact that the locals had the shits bigtime and were organising a bit of a coup.
It reminded me of some of the terrific stories by W. Somerset Maughan about British colonials in remote outposts. A really great writer who, I think, nobody reads anymore,

damian asserts...

Posted September 19, 2013

What's this Battlefield: Earth thing?

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted September 19, 2013

Oh God no.

Barnesm is gonna tell you...

Posted September 20, 2013

Well looks like we have the next Book Club book

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan reckons...

Posted September 20, 2013

I resent the defamatory accusation that I would ever abscond with any form of human waste. You people are disgusting.

As for Battlefield Earth, not only was it a truly amazing novel, chockablock with intelectual and spiritual inspiration, it made a fine film. When John Travolta sneered and said "stupid humans" it was the crowning achievement of his exceptional cinematic acting career.

I could go on and on on this this topic, but I must go: there is something on the telly about monkeys.

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Jayanthi's Atomic Cat asserts...

Posted September 20, 2013
So is that Battlefield: Earth for the next bookclub then?

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Grumpy Guy ducks in to say...

Posted September 24, 2013

Writing is storytelling.

You can write like effing Shakespeare, but if the story does not interest your readers, it's a waste of time.

OSC is a weird dude, with some unsavory ideas about Gay people, and he is nobody's Shakespeare, but he can entertain. Particularly in the YA niche he writes for.

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Respond to 'So, I read Ender's Game'

John Ringo introduces a new series with Under a Graveyard Sky

Posted September 8, 2013 into Books by John Birmingham

I'd been following Mister Ringo's progress on this book avidly, as much a fanboy as any... well, any fanboy. I loved his Posleen invasion series and can't wait to see what he does to shambling hordes of the undead.

He's been kind enough to write a little intro for us. So I'll let him take over.

John Ringo writes:

The Black Tide series, essentially complete with four books written at this point, draws upon a lecture and essay I occasionally give titled 'The Inevitable Zombie Apocalypse' combined with my utter distaste for most 'zombie apocalypse' stories as well as most post-apocalypse stories. The essence of this lecture is that given various factors related to microbiology, some researcher creating a 'zombie virus' in the near future is a given. There are too many reasons to do so (notably notoriety and the inevitable grants that result from it). The technology is already here. 28 Days Later has gone from 'unobtainium' to 'doable.' So how do you respond? What zombie plan actually makes sense? And what do you do if you've survived?

What you do if you've survived is save the damn world. Not drive around acting like a loon.

The Black Tide Series (first book: Under a Graveyard Sky, Sept. 2013, Baen) focuses on one family's response after getting early warning of the deliberate release of such a virus: The Smith Family, Steven, Stacey, Sophia (15) and Faith (13) activate their prepared 'biological apocalypse' plan by taking to sea in a sailboat.

I was extremely impressed by Mister Birmingham's 'Without Warning' (I do NOT impress easily when it comes to sci-fi action novels) and in straight bow to the author, Steve is a naturalized American citizen, born in Australia and a former Aussie Para. I doubt I can write an Australian character as well as Mr. Birmingham wrote Americans but I tried.

The first part of book details their experiences as part of a clandestine and illegal vaccine production group based in NYC. The climactic battle takes place during the Fall in New York where they attend 'The Last Concert' in New York's Washington Square Park and have to fight their way out when NYC suffers its final blackout.

The second part of the book is about beginning rescue operations at sea and the initial formation of Wolf Squadron, the group that begins the slow process of returning the world to civilization. This culminates in the clearance of the 'mega-ship' cruise liner Voyage Under Stars.

Four books are complete in the series, Under a Graveyard Sky, (Sept. 2013, Baen) To Sail a Darkling Sea, (tentatively March, 2014) Islands of Rage and Hope and Strands of Sorrow. The first two are already scheduled and the others will probably be following at quarterly or biannual release. Graveyard Sky is currently available from Baen's eBook page as an electronic Advanced Reader's Copy.

http://www.baenebooks.com/p-1930-under-a-graveyard-sky-earc.aspx

The same page includes sample chapters which carry on well into the New York portion and clarify various aspects of the science of the virus. (Which is not 'unobtainium.') The book is about people who competently, ruthlessly and proactively respond to an apocalypse then turn right around and start rebuilding.

They do not give in to despair. They do not care only for themselves. And they will not bow.

Nightwish' 'Last Ride of the Day' is the theme song of this series.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTN5E5fReSc

Riding the day every day into sunset

Finding the way back home.

Over time various snippets from all three books have been posted, mostly on Facebook.

15 Responses to ‘John Ringo introduces a new series with Under a Graveyard Sky’

Sudragon ducks in to say...

Posted September 8, 2013

I purchased the EARC when i saw it go up. Buy this. Read this.

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Hooper ducks in to say...

Posted September 8, 2013

I'm a fan of John Ringo's work. I've read most of them and I'll be getting this as soon as its released (not ARC, I've made that mistake once before). But, I do have some reservations. I've found Ringo's books can be a little hit and miss. When he works with somone else he can be great. Case in point the Empire of Man series he wrote with David Weber. But when he writes by himself he can go a little off the deep end.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to this!

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted September 9, 2013

I detest Mr. Ringo's work (to much action and adventure; not enough Proustian contemplation and reminiscence) and only read it so as to fit in with the crowd I run with. I also suspect that "Ringo" is not his real name, and that he is hiding something.

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Murphy mutters...

Posted September 9, 2013

Perhaps that he is educated?

;)

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted September 9, 2013

His series referencing obscure works by Lewis Carroll tipped me off to that.

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BigWillieStyle mutters...

Posted September 9, 2013

Meh. I prefer Paul George's books.

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sapphyre ducks in to say...

Posted September 9, 2013

JB, thanks for posting this. I *love* John Ringo's work and will add this to my must-read list. I'm sure a million others are on the hold list at the library, but if I get desperate I have a Kindle now :)

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BrianC swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 10, 2013

I was lucky enough to be a beta read for this series. Its been an interesting experience. I can honestly say that this is return(for me) to what makes Johns writing so excellent, a real tour de force of bomb, bro's and babes. Its good stuff people. I've already read it and ill be buying it.

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Rhino would have you know...

Posted September 11, 2013

Read the e-Arc. Dug it deeply. Frothing for the next one.

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DDR4168 asserts...

Posted May 31, 2014
I am an avid fan of John Ringo. Have read every other series to date, but I refuse to start this one until he finishes the others. Looking Glass, unfinished, Troy - unfinished, Legacy of the aldenata - unfinished. I will not read another series only to find it too unfiinished

walt reckons...

Posted July 16, 2015
I agree, unfortunately he's not listening. Good news is there are a lot of military sci/fi writers out there!

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted May 31, 2014
Some series should never finish. For example, David Brin's Uplift series. It should have ended with Startide Rising, rather than degenerate into the silliness that the sequels displayed.

And let's face it: the film series from The Matrix should have ended with the first film. The sequels ruined it.

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Dino not to be confused with asserts...

Posted May 31, 2014
Captain,
I had three 'Mental Health registred Nurses" arrive at my house yesterday. One of them later turned out to be a Doctor. You wonder about my Paranoia and Distrust?
Anyhoo they were concerned about my 'in ya face posts' at The Flash.
I mentioned that yes they were horrific but less horrific than the Australian casualties in Afghanistan. I asked them how many Australians(let alone other Nationalities) had perished in the conflict.
They didn't know.
But they did know I wrote some crazy shit on your blog.
I asked them about priorities.
They're just doing their job Captain, just doing their job.
I asked them for a source of complaint about my writings.
They didn't know who complained.
They didn't know who.
Anyhoo I said if the Health Department is more concerned with me than all the other shit in the World then 'How good is the World?'.
Honestly if you're more worried about me than the "Real Shit".
Losers you have got a problem...

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted May 31, 2014
You posted at The Flash?

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M.Whelan mutters...

Posted December 17, 2015
First book I've ever read on a tablet. I am getting a sore wrist from constantly swiping the pages...the action moves along at a brisk pace. I didn't know it was a series until I swiped and it said to be continued...Luckily the other books are already published and I can download them in the middle of the night if need be, but I think I'll just buy the other three right now as I am sure they will go fast. Really enjoying the military action and scenarios in a different format than usual. I will check back after each book.

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Respond to 'John Ringo introduces a new series with Under a Graveyard Sky'

Doing less of the things you do in bed

Posted September 6, 2013 into Books by John Birmingham

Like reading. Josephine Tovey has written of her struggle to keep up the good reading habits of her earlier days because the modern world provides so many distractions.

I left Nelson Mandela in a lime quarry on Robben Island, the same way I abandoned Clarissa Dalloway on her way to the florist, and Ishmael, only shortly after he set sail. That was how far I managed to get into Mandela’s The Long Walk to Freedom, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway and Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, before the books joined the mushrooming pile by my bedside, or the increasingly fraudulent display that is my bookshelf.

I was enjoying each one. But I couldn’t seem to finish them.

Nelson, Clarissa and Ishmael were all abandoned for twitter, facebook and netflix. Jo felt as though the internet had trained her out of long form reading, that the endless one minute pleasure spasms of reading one Buzzfeed listicle after another had made her as incapable of sinking into the challenge of literature as most 20/20 batsmen would be of playing for a draw over two days on a sticky wicket at Headingly.

As a guy who regularly whacks himself in the face with an iPad when dozing off in bed, I sort of understand. And yet I wonder if Josephine is doing it wrong. She's right about being trained into gorging ourselves on handfuls of M&M-like snippets of text and audio and social media updates and blogs and grumpy cat and link bait lists and whatever and ever amen. You do have to stay in the habit of reading stories longer than 300 words. That's what I'm contracted to write for Fairfax at Blunty. 300 words a blog. I frequently go longer than that, of course, because I'm a windbag. But all of our data, all of everybody's data, points inexorably towards the fact that, yes, Homo modernus has a very short attention span.

Why then would you take a difficult piece of literature into your soft warm bed at the end of a long and difficult day? You're almost certainly setting yourself up to fail. There are two issues here. One, being tired, stressed, overworked and generally too warn out to stay awake for more than a few minutes. Literature is not going to help with that. And secondly, literature.

None of the books Josephine cited struck me as being much fun to read. You might enjoy them the same way that you might enjoy the challenge of bench pressing your own body weight, but that's more of an existential satisfaction than a pleasurable one.

I still read in bed, but after suffering from the same distractions and a few I discovered all on my own, such as news aggregators like Flipboard and Zite, I now have a policy of reading either one short to medium length article from something middle to high brow like The New Yorker, or a couple of chapters from one of my unrivaled collection of books that improve with altitude.

The thinky stuff I read because I enjoy it, but not too much of it, and usually not late at night. To return to the weightlifting metaphor, it helps to give your brain a bit of a workout every now and then. But mostly at the end of the day I just want to relax and if I'm reading that means I'll be reading something like Steve Stirling's latest alternate history novel of the Change. (The Given Sacrifice, since you ask, and yes it is awesome). Thrillers, action adventure stories, fantasy, SF, all of the genres that don't get no respect at literary festivals, they all produce the sorts of books that are likely to find you cursing the author at four in the morning because you just have to keep turning the pages.

Nobody has to keep turning the pages of literary fiction unless you have a term paper due the next morning.

The other issue, of course, is simply a lack of time. The reason so many of us read in bed is that we don't have the time to do it during the day. There is that brief and shining moment in your 20s when, particularly if you are a layabout student, you do have endless days and months to lie around consuming book after book. But those days are over for me, and I suspect they are over for Josephine Tovey as well.

I've 'read' many more books this year than I have in recent years, however, simply by subscribing to Audible.com. Even though I work from home, I find these days that I'm a commuter more often than not, or a taxi driver perhaps, ferrying kids from one commitment to another. I spend a surprising amount of time behind the wheel, enough to let me stream hours of music, listen to hours of podcasts, and still get through one or two long audiobooks a month. I never listen to audiobooks in bed because that would be a bit perverse. I can't explain why. Just shut up you.

But in the car, walking the dog, hanging out at endless, endless, endless school sporting functions, they are a godsend. And they don't even need to be thrillers. Right now, just to prove that I can, I'm making my way through Hillary Mantel's huge, thinky, dense and difficult Wolf Hall. It's brilliant, visionary, almost hallucinatory in its evocation of Thomas Cromwell's point of view and I read it, or rather listen to it, with a grinding envy for all the talent this woman has to spare.

But it's weightlifting. Really difficult weightlifting. I feel better for having done it. It's good for me. But I enjoy it in the same way that I enjoy a really hard workout. It's only fun when it stops hurting. And I would never, ever attempt it in bed.

36 Responses to ‘Doing less of the things you do in bed’

peteb swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 6, 2013

windbag more like word bag, which is a good thing for some, carry on ..

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Lulu has opinions thus...

Posted September 6, 2013

A wise person* once said there are only two things you should do in bed and one of them is sleeping. I tend to agree, mainly because my preferred reading position (for light or serious matter) is on the couch.

(Virginia Trioli, who might have been quoting someone else)

BigWillieStyle would have you know...

Posted September 6, 2013

Farting's the other one, yeah?

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BigWillieStyle mumbles...

Posted September 6, 2013

"As a guy who regularly whacks himself....when dozing off in bed"

Sorry, what?

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted September 6, 2013

I hestitate to admit that made me LOL, but it made me LOL.

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Darth Greybeard has opinions thus...

Posted September 6, 2013

So-called "experts" (see how I'm getting into the post-Saturday zeitgeist?) claim that reading in bed can cause sleeping problems. I say that I'll stop reading in bed when they prise the book/reader from my cold dead hands. Or my wife gets narky.

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w from brisbane reckons...

Posted September 6, 2013

JB, you cover it very well.
I can read, and often do, 4 books a week. But I have the advantage of insomnia, the reader's friend.

But, tips for reading

  • Read what you enjoy. Don't worry if you never read War and Peace.
  • Carry a book with you as part of your standard equipment. This is pretty easy with e-readers.
  • Audio books are great, particularly if you spend a lot of time travelling.

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mutters...

Posted September 6, 2013

Humans have exactly the attention span, patience and memory required for survival.

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NBlob mumbles...

Posted September 6, 2013

Nice one JB, some premium multi factorial thinky.

I have an earphone screwed into my left ear 7+ hours per day. I barely listen to music anymore, %95 Podcasts. The constant stream of thinky is um is.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->·<!--[endif]-->AWSM - A parade of experts, practitioners, artisans / craftsmen and academics, selected by their ability to communicate and an interesting story to tell, produced by professionals who edit & craft into coherent stories.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->·<!--[endif]-->FKD – 4 or 5 times a day I have to say “I’m sorry would you please say that again” as I pop the earphone out.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->·<!--[endif]-->AWSM for the hours of tedium now fixed with interesting and thought provoking.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->·<!--[endif]-->FKD – I recognise, but can’t get past my own selection bias. All Radiolab, SE2KB & Science Show, but no new episodes of Pig Guttin’ Weekly or Crystal & Rainbow Unicorns.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->·<!--[endif]-->AWSM – There is thousands of hours, possibly tens of thousands of hours.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->·<!--[endif]-->FKD – There is so much available, I’ve downloaded, but not really started SpartaCast.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->· <!--[endif]-->AWSM – It gets me away from commercial Classic Sh!ts & Memories Radio that is the default in my line of work. (I hate the digital compressor technology that is used to change “Buy some curtains” to “BUY SOME FKN CURTAINS!!!”) It could be worse, in a previous job I went from client to client who almost all listened to Messers Laws or Jones.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->·<!--[endif]-->FKD – My earphone sh!ts SWMBO, I can p!iss her off just by walking through a room. She says it excludes her when I chuckle or say "No Sh!t" without context.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->·<!--[endif]-->AWSM- It starts conversations worth having. My work partner & I were overheard discussing Ex Egyptian President Morsi & the Super Fun Cats in the Muslim Brotherhood. A passing pedestrian bailed us up & congratulated us for not discussing Footy or Fish we’d killed.

I cant imagine what will happen to my brain when I start into Audiobooks.

NBlob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 6, 2013

OK, so don't import bullet points from word

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted September 6, 2013

Ha. No. Don't do that.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan reckons...

Posted September 6, 2013

When I didn't know it was a mistake, I liked it. Very avant garde.

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Murphy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 6, 2013

I can't blame technology. I was a notoriously impatient and fickle reader before it all came along. These days, if I am going to invest hours in reading a book, I like to make sure I'm actually going to enjoy the journey.

If not, I'll drop it like a hot rock.

And for the love of God, so many books these days are poorly written, socially aware, mastrubatory pieces of politically bloviating bullshit. I absolutely hate being preached at, especially by a fucking moron who is working way outside their field.

So I don't feel particularly bad about my reduced consumption. Besides, I have enough reading I have to do for my teaching position to keep me busy.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Barnesm mumbles...

Posted September 6, 2013

A great thinky piece for the Cheeseburger, perhaps a tad long?

My only quibble is the comment "Homo modernus has a very short attention span". I disagree. This hypothesis is usually linked with ideas such as the google effect which was first given credence by Columbia University psychologist Betsy Sparrow's 'Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at Our Fingertips' abstract published in Science in 2011. This lead to a spate of articles around the Google Effect and how it was making us dumber, reducing our focus, shortening our attention spans.

Fortunately the forces of light and reason rallied and pointed out that this tendency to not recall facts which can be easily obtained is, as simply put by National Public radio’s Aval Noe in the excellent rebuttal 'Google is NOT making you stupider'

"the Google effect is merely the latest expression of a cognitive strategy that is almost as certainly as ancient as our species"

and while we bemoan the decline of thinky reading, as covered by the editor’s at McSweeny’s Internet Tendencies summarised in Some Good News from the World of Books.

“Book sales are up, way up, from twenty years ago. Young adult readership is far wider and deeper than ever before. Library membership and circulation is at all-time high

Admittedly the new on demand nature of book buy can through up some curious effects, like when the Snowden’s story emerged around the NSA spying and PRISM and sales of George Orwell's 1984 increased by 80%.

Also consider the range of think works no put up as blogs, in the realm of long form science writing I am spoilt for choice each night reading the works of Ed Yong, Carl Zimmer, and Maryn McKenna with her Superbug blog, and Orac a American surgical oncologist who is incapable of writing anything in a short form especially when it comes to handing the smack down on the nonsense that is Complementary Allied Medicine. To argue that people aren't reading thinky stuff you merely have to look at some of the discussions in the comments. I realise the comments that follow these pieces often support the claim by Gene Weingarten of The Washington Post

"I basically like "comments," though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots".

Not youtube comments of course I mean places like science blogs, wired, NPR, etc..

Also the internet has seem the rise of some long form writing projects which we might have feared had disappeared with the fall of magazines. One I am enjoying is Matter specializing in long-form articles about science, technology, medicine and the environment.

The fall of the thinky- nonsense, for me it is a golden age. I read these for an hour or two each night before bed after the_weapon goes to sleep.

Lulu ducks in to say...

Posted September 6, 2013

“Book sales are up, way up, from twenty years ago. Young adult readership is far wider and deeper than ever before. ”

Hmm, yeah, but - how much of that is 50 Shades & Twilight (& probably 50 Jamie Oliver cookbooks)? Much as I love Jamie, I don't think any of those three count as thinky.

w from brisbane ducks in to say...

Posted September 6, 2013

Lulu, I think it is the ease of access to ebooks that is driving increases in book sales. Particularly, the new experience of reading a book you like and then having immediate access to the author's whole back catalogue.

As author Steve Stirling commented on the Burger in June.

S.M. Stirling puts forth...
Posted June 29

Yup. My royalties used to be derisory. They've gotten to be six-figure serious, and it's being overwhelmingly driven by ebooks.

They alter buying patterns, especially in genre(*). People read one book, and then go out and buy the entire series. Sometimes everything the author has ever done.

(*) apart from the particular genre known as "literary".

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tqft swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 6, 2013
I am taking angels of vengeance with me on the plane tonight and leaving Internet cconnection in darwin.
Even though tumblr is a bored travelers good friend

John Birmingham mutters...

Posted September 6, 2013

You are my new favorite.

tqft swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 6, 2013
I won't be when you find out what I plan to do with it when I finish it. Hint I got $11 for the last 3 wheel of time books=2 beers

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w from brisbane reckons...

Posted September 6, 2013

On a related matter, what are people reading at the moment? Any recommendations?

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted September 6, 2013

I'm reading Stirling's latest, but that's a draft MS. It should be out very very soon, however.

I'm listening to Wolf Hall. Because it's good for me. Like getting fibre is good for me.

NBlob would have you know...

Posted September 6, 2013

And thus the term brain-fibre was born.

w from brisbane swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 6, 2013

This week I have read 'Magician's End', the last book of Raymond E. Feist 30 book Magician series. He knows how to mine a good thing. An enjoyable romp; heaps of magic, an abundance of elves, there were even dragons. All things loved (not) by the average Burger reader.

Also the biography of Edwina Mountbatten. An interesting slice of 20th century history. She was wildly and gluttonously promiscuous, a close friend to many including Nehru, and a war hero. Very interesting.

Current book, July. July by Tim O'Brien. O'Brien is possibly the great Vietnam War author (The Things They Carried, Going after Cacciato, etc) This is different. A book about the 30th reunion of Minnesota's Darton Hall College class of 69. The reunion and devolving into their back stories, marriages, hopes achieved and gone rotten etc ttc. Focussing mainly on the women. Moving and funny, it is everything I normally run a million miles from, but it is very readable and, of course, very well written.

Dick ducks in to say...

Posted September 6, 2013

Just finished 12-21 by Dustin Thomas. Cross between doomsday bug (think mad cow disease) and end of the world due to end of Mayan long cycle calendar, hence the title. OK, but don't know that I'd recommend it.

Peter in the bleaches reckons...

Posted September 6, 2013

Just had Stirling's latest arrive from Book Depository yesterday. I imagine it won't hit the shelves (where you can get it) for at least 6 months. But that is another story.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan reckons...

Posted September 7, 2013

Hit the shelves here last Tuesday.

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NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted September 6, 2013

W, check out the Brigadiers link salad above. Next Draft can usually suck 45 minutes to an hour out of my day If I let it. So much sweet sweet thinkaliscous. So little time.

w from brisbane swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 6, 2013

I've been looking at the Brigadier's links. "Next Draft" I haven't seen that before. Though I am trying to spend less time on the internet.

Barnesm has opinions thus...

Posted September 6, 2013

Next Draft is an excellent link.

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Anthony swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 6, 2013

I've started a book I found recently - Kate Marsden's 1892 piece of late-Vctorian God-bothering On Sledge and Horseback to Outcast Siberian Lepers.

I only bought it for the title - you just can't resist a title like that when you find it. I've actually found myself getting interested. She's one of those determined doughty memsahibs that the poms seemed to throw up from time t time.

Otherwise I'm reading 1635:Papal Stakes, one of Eric Flint's Ring of Fire series.

JB - please tell the good Mr Stirling to hurry up his publishers.

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Blake asserts...

Posted September 6, 2013

My SWMBO noticed the other day that my reading rate has gone ballistic lately.

I put it downt to two things:

1) Momentum. Forcing myself out of my comfort zone to read the bookclub books here means that i'm actively looking for stuff to read in the slack period between books. Usually I run straight back to my comfort zone but that's ok because at least i'm getting through the bookshelf of bookfest books i never started.

2) I broke my iphone. Without facebook/twitter and feedly pumping blogs and news to me in my downtime waiting for trains and in the evening I'm actually getting back into books.

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Rob ducks in to say...

Posted September 6, 2013

I read Ken Follets winter of the world last week, and book one the few days before that. But I did take most of the week off on holidays. But its taken me to give up the computer (and faffbook) to read long novels again. Analogue is good for the long inviting tea time of the soul.

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she_jedi has opinions thus...

Posted September 7, 2013

I've always been a voracious reader, and the rise of e-books has meant that instead of waking up some time in the night with my book gently laid over my nose I end up smacking myself in the forehead with my iPad. Not only does that shit hurt, it's a brutal way to drag yourself back to consciousness after reading yourself to sleep. JB you have my sympathies on this articular problem, although I was glad to realise I'm not the only one that does this.

I'm currently reading Charles Stross' Traders War series, the refined and republished version, after it got a mention on the Burger, and I'm mad about it. I've been trolling iBooks and Amazon in search of his back catalogue as he's one of my new favourites now.

The thing I like most about ebooks is the instant access to back catalogues you can get; in the ye olde days of bookstores you were lucky if the big chains stocked more than one or two of your favourite authors books, much less their series, and while the smaller specialised bookstores had a greater chance of having the titles you were after, frequently you had to get them ordered in. And good luck trying to find an author's older, out of print books. The relative ease and cost effectiveness of producing ebooks means that a lot of older books of established authors are now not only available, but available at the click of a button, filling two niches - the desire to read EVERYTHING an author has published, and the impulse of BUT I WANT IT NOW! I've forgotten how many books I've wanted to read but given up trying to find because it was just too hard to track them down, now I've got a lot of them on the fondle slab in order to save my precious analogue books from disintergrating with re-reading.

LIke many of us on the Burger I've found my book collection splitting into titles that are ebooks only, and esteemed titles that get read on the iPad but are also shelf worthy. I vaguely recall reading an article years ago discussing the threat that ebooks represented to traditional book markets. The author of the piece argued that the mass market paperback was the format that would suffer, but hardcovers were likely to have a renaissance for this very reason; people would have titles they want to keep in pristine condition on the shelf while they did their reading in ebook format.

John Birmingham mutters...

Posted September 7, 2013

I have forwarded your comment to Mr Stross. You may now squee.

she_jedi reckons...

Posted September 7, 2013

Squeeee!!

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Bezos buys a newspaper

Posted August 8, 2013 into Books by John Birmingham

If I was working for the Washington Post I'd probably be a helluva lot more relieved than concerned about Jeff Bezos buying my ass wholesale this week. Chances are the business desk will never write another decent story about Amazon's business practices, but other than that Bezos seems to be shaping up as very old fashioned hands-off proprietor in the tradition of American billionaires who buy a newspaper as a sort of charitable indulgence rather than a commercial investment.

He paid $250m for a masthead once valued at over a billion, and he probably overpaid. But he can afford it. Dude's personally worth over $25 billion. He could lose fifty or sixty million a year on the Post for the rest of his life and still die megawealthy. and that's without Amazon paying him another cent.

The thing about Bezos, he plays for the long run. He's playing for the long run in trying to monoplise the publishing industry, and probably in trying to roll over retail competitors like Costco and Walmart. He could afford to sit and wait for years, decades even, while the slow death of the old media kills of most of the legacy print competitors leaving a few globally recognised mastheads to survive as megasaurs in a radically changed ecology.

I can very easily imagine a future where a handful of brand titles like The New York Times and now the Post, become less about serving their local catchments and more about selling an increasingly rare - and thus valuable product - hard news, to a much wider market. (It's noticeable, for instance that the stories selected by the editors of the NYT for each day's live read on Audible seem very strongly slanted towards an international audience). I'd also add that there's no guarantee the Times will survive, given their parlous finances. But they're a lot better placed to do so than most papers.

4 Responses to ‘Bezos buys a newspaper’

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan reckons...

Posted August 8, 2013

It is charming and quite reassuring that the ultra rich of today are behaving like the benevolent robber barons of the past. I'm not being critical. I think it is wonderful that Bezos will be keeping the Post alive independent of any profit motive. It is even more reassuring to know that the accumulation of enormous wealth might foster the kind of man Karl Marx hoped would result from communism.

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Blarkon mumbles...

Posted August 8, 2013

Nah, just another Dot Commer slowly coming to the realization that their industry is the one that killed serious journalism and that pyjama journalism isn't going to fix the crap that happens to democracy next.

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HAVOCK21 mumbles...

Posted August 9, 2013

WAAAAAY of fkn TOPIC, I see that MURPH has popped up here!

"A 600-year-old statue residing in a museum in Florence, Italy, has one less finger on its left hand thanks to an American tourist who came in contact with the artwork and broke off a digit.

The tourist, whose name has not been reported, allegedly broke off the left pinky finger of the statue while attempting to measure it. The incident is thought to have been an accident, but officials in Italy questioned the American and are weighing what action to take.The fundamental rules for visiting a museum have been forgotten, that is: do not touch the works.

Reports have described the tourist as a 55-year-old man from Missouri in the US.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/travel/travel-news/american-tourist-breaks-finger-off-ancient-statue-in-florence-musuem-20130808-2rixt.html#ixzz2bPnryP9C

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