thirty pages in, this reads like the biggest bunch of bullshit personal narrative i've ever come across, combined with amusing naïveté regarding globa...morethirty pages in, this reads like the biggest bunch of bullshit personal narrative i've ever come across, combined with amusing naïveté regarding global realpolitik. i wouldn't be surprised at all if this guy's actually some fattie jerking off to a diagram of a molotov cocktail in his parents' basement.(less)
pretty amusing, though uneven: the first part is wonderful, really; the second something of a farrago marked by somewhat shockingly uninformed externa...morepretty amusing, though uneven: the first part is wonderful, really; the second something of a farrago marked by somewhat shockingly uninformed external references). definitely went from having no desire whatsoever to hike to being willing to hike, sometime, maybe, so long as it's not very hot, as in under 22C probably, and i can just eat adderall instead of packing food, and we shoot anything and anyone we see, and there's neither large nor particularly slimy bugs. during the first sixty pages or so i was all like, "maybe i should take vacation and go hike the appalachian trail...i could do it. it starts in georgia, and so did i!" because that's the kind of person i am. then i remembered i've been engaged three or four times yet never married, and figured i should sit on this one for a minute.(less)
first off, is it just me, or shouldn't it be Capital, not Capitol? anyway...
plutarch? seneca? cato? it's a classics party and everyone's invited! not...morefirst off, is it just me, or shouldn't it be Capital, not Capitol? anyway...
plutarch? seneca? cato? it's a classics party and everyone's invited! not as good as the first book, Catching Fire really highlights Mrs. Collins's inability to build a convincing world. why were the victors allowed all that unsupervised free time between the Quell's announcement and the Reaping (remember that they were directly escorted from the Reaping in The Hunger Games)? what's with this ridiculous division of Districts into things like Textiles, Lumber and Agriculture on one hand (goods requiring minimal processing) and Electronics and Nukes on the other? Did District 13 also just happen to have all the advanced metallurgy and engineering necessary for a nuclear enterprise, not to mention the entire industrial infrastructure involved? Where's the Sulfuric Acid District? In what Composite Explosives District were the slow/fast shaped charges critical (pun intended) to an implosion weapon stirred? Where do the Capitol's mysterious hovercraft get their sheet metal? How will the 250mph trains, fences, and force fields be powered without electricity from the defunct Twelfth District's coal? Why is a society capable of manufacturing solar-powered deathray pistols still using VHS? Why doesn't the Electronics district conquer the Capitol by itself? Who makes all these cosmetics?
Why are there elaborate force fields to keep tributes from hurling themselves from buildings or cliffs, yet no one bats an eye at giving presumably suicidal people weapons and poisons? Where are the infinity of cameras required to get decent footage of these Games, which by the way seem pretty wholly unwatchable as a sporting event save for the moments of melee? If I wanted to watch people drink water from trees for hours on end...well, I don't know what I'd do, the desire having never occurred to me. What baroque rules exist regarding these silver parachutes and their dei ex machina? Surely after 75 years the theory and practice of Hunger Gaming have been debated ad nauseam; surely the Moneyball and The Science of Hitting of the Games have been written (if not for general District consumption, certainly by the TV announcers; the ideas would filter down eventually)? Why don't the Tributes ever use fire as a weapon (especially in book 1, when Katniss is up in that tree, but also at other points)?
Between 5% and 10% of the population is diabetic. Why hasn't anyone been tapping trees for insulin?
Also, let's face it, there's no way this kind of event goes on without some rape (some of it probably homosexual), or at least sex coerced for the lifetime of uneven alliances (same deal). Not a chance.
Societies without basic medical care or adequate food tend not to offer much of a life expectancy. Admittedly, Victors get fed better, but it's not as if they have access to dialysis machines or effective colorectal cancer screening. Call it a life expectancy of 50 on the generous side. There's been 75 Victors (73 from the first 73 years, 2 from the last); the youngest Victor ever was 14, and we can assume (and, I think, were told) that they were typically at the top of the age bracket. That's an expectation of 33 Victors still alive. Be super generous and call it, say, 47. That's 44 from the other 11 Districts. Assuming an equal probability of male and female Victors (pretty dubious -- we'd expect primarily male Victors -- but let's run with it), AND uniform distribution of Victors among the other 11 Districts (directly contradicted by the text, which favors 1, 2, and 4), you've got 22 males and 22 females for 11 Districts. The probability that not a single District has 4 male or 4 female Victors is a choose-without-replacement prob/stats problem left as an exercise for the review's reader, but not apparently considered by the book's author. That there was definitely not a uniform distribution of Victors renders the Quell's design only vanishingly satisfiable. I thought the Bible really jumped the shark when it brought in a virgin birth, and take similar issue with Catching Fire's math.
Finally, it's a bit hard to believe that Peeta could announce "she's pregnant" without some Cornelius Snow-funded doctor saying, "no she's not." It's not like District 12 has any CVSs at which one might pick up a First Response Early Result kit any damn way. You read the line and are like, "oh my! how clever and audacious!" but then you think about it for two seconds and remember he's a baker, not an obstetrician, and would in any sane world be called out on it.
Also, Gale's annoying, and Peeta is a godawful name. I liked ol' Beetee and even Mags, though, and Finnick is straight-up, and I'd take Johanna to Hunger Prom for sure.(less)
lots of fun! the last fifty pages dragged, though, and i'm not too excited about this love triangle that's been set up. i want more discussion of the...morelots of fun! the last fifty pages dragged, though, and i'm not too excited about this love triangle that's been set up. i want more discussion of the sociology of Panem and its history and such! we'll see how things go in the next two books.(less)
i love essayists, and this catholic apologist (and late-in-life convert) seems a reasonable choice given the new catholic girlfriend. we'll see how it...morei love essayists, and this catholic apologist (and late-in-life convert) seems a reasonable choice given the new catholic girlfriend. we'll see how it goes.(less)
Pretty good! People who talk about "long passages of technical detail" either read a different book, or have a morbid fear of the scientific argot wit...morePretty good! People who talk about "long passages of technical detail" either read a different book, or have a morbid fear of the scientific argot without which it is simply impossible to tell a detailed story about engineers and researchers. a quote from the text is relevant:
"She had suffered from the divide in the English education system, which holds that scientists do not study Milton, and those who love Milton have no comprehension of Newton's gravity, which brought Lucifer tumbling down from the heavens."
which is a fantastic line both in its implicit comment on the creation of belief systems and mythos, and humanity's attitude towards that which is inward vs that which is outward (a theme developed richly by Danielle, a strong black female scientist lead character, and lord knows there's too few of those), and also in its summation of and reference to C. P. Snow's lecture The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution:
"A good many times I have been present at gatherings of people who, by the standards of the traditional culture, are thought highly educated and who have with considerable gusto been expressing their incredulity at the illiteracy of scientists. Once or twice I have been provoked and have asked the company how many of them could describe the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The response was cold: it was also negative. Yet I was asking something which is the scientific equivalent of: Have you read a work of Shakespeare's?"
Submergence is not a Tom Clancy level of technical detail, nor a Michael Crichton level. It's not even an old-skool Thomas Pynchon level, certainly not in terms of esoterica. There's nothing here an educated person has any excuse for not knowing. Oceanic gyres and the global thermohaline cycle? If you don't know these terms, you really probably shouldn't be talking about climate change. Chemosynthesis, hydrothermal vents, and bioluminescience? If you don't know these concepts, please don't talk about evolution or biodiversity (that includes "saving the rainforest (*)"). Manganese nodules? Somebody's going to work out a system to mine deep-sea polymetallic nodules, and start printing money, and earnest kids will begin wandering 8th Avenue agitating to put an end to deep-sea mining of polymetallic nodules. Russian light metal concerns escorted by missile cruisers will enforce their own territorial claims, and you'd better believe the Chinese will be in on the party. Position on the International Seabed Authority will become a sudden major focus of foreign policy of hip, forward-looking, manganese-hungry nations. Failure to understand seabed hydroxide concentrations implies ignorance of a hotbed issue in maritime relations over the next two decades, and you will either crack open an introductory earth science textbook, or go around thinking five Jewish bankers control all the world's rustproof steel.
Similarly, accusations of a "Bond novel" are nonsense. Yes, the male protagonist is an intelligence agent. There's no use of this in the plot (there isn't really much plot); Submerged is anything but a "thriller". On first response, I'd classify it in the Imagist tradition, with strong elements of novel-of-ideas. At times, especially when a paragraph ends with a question posed directly to the reader, there's strong stylistic hints of (of all things) House of Leaves.
With that said, the author is a writer for the Economist, and the book does at times read like the Economist did Special Reports on the aphotic zone and East African jihad, and one writer did both Reports in their entirety, and that correspondent was drinking steadily and quoting the opening scene of Apocalypse Now:
and a hard-pressed Economist editor was like, fuck it, throw it between the writeup of Honduran elections and our latest screed regarding ZANU-PF.
You won't come out of this book liking Somalis, especially Somali jihadists, any more than you did going in. That said, Somali jihadists were already trading pretty low on my personal exchange. Other reviewers have called it "orientalist" and "imperialist", which I (as an unapologetic Western Traditionalist) am really not qualified to judge , but this is no Heart of Darkness. Also, the guy who called it "stunningly orientalist" is currently (as of 2014-07-06) reading something called The End Of Capitalism As We Knew It A Feminist Critique of Political Economy. Assuming this isn't just a joke, we capitalists will be sure to address the contents during our next earnings call; either way, I'd take that rather hysterical criticism with a grain of salt.
some great quotes, too. worth reading.
(*) yes, the rainforest is also an important oxygen producer, but is not a meaningful long-term carbon sink in the absolute (though deforestation does account for a one-time release which makes up a significant portion of current greenhouse gas emissions). you can plant trees anywhere for oxygen value, and indeed one does (for carbon emission credits). the unique appeal of the rainforest is its tremendous biodiversity, though frankly most of that biodiversity is fucking terrifying. nuking the rainforest from orbit might really be our best bet.
found on the side of 31st street walking back from penn station. ummm, definitely no Ghost Wars (still the book of record for those interested in such...morefound on the side of 31st street walking back from penn station. ummm, definitely no Ghost Wars (still the book of record for those interested in such things). not much detail regarding...anything, really, save perhaps the office politics and side affairs of john o' neill.(less)
read on the plane from NYC to Savannah. it was alright, though parts felt unsubstantiated (note to author: please don't quote scientific studies and T...moreread on the plane from NYC to Savannah. it was alright, though parts felt unsubstantiated (note to author: please don't quote scientific studies and Taoist philosophers on the same page, treating them as equally valid sources), and two- and three-page chapters are a bit much in peacetime, and you don't have to keep throwing "cunnilinguist" in quotation marks after you've introduced it the first time.(less)
Heard good things about this from numerous people within Google and beyond. I haven't looked at theorem proving software or proof assistants in over a...moreHeard good things about this from numerous people within Google and beyond. I haven't looked at theorem proving software or proof assistants in over a decade, probably, and only really played with HOL4 back then (despite one of the world's authorities on the subject, Mary Jean Harrold, being at Georgia Tech...alas).(less)
there are roughly 40,000 books which cover this material better, with less nonsense, fewer insipid metaphors, and no appeals to assumed judeo-christia...morethere are roughly 40,000 books which cover this material better, with less nonsense, fewer insipid metaphors, and no appeals to assumed judeo-christian sympathies.(less)