Legal opinions can be dry AF, and this one certainly does need to go in depth into some fairly technical issues that may not be of interest to many whLegal opinions can be dry AF, and this one certainly does need to go in depth into some fairly technical issues that may not be of interest to many who aren't somehow "fans" of gerrymandering cases. However, in setting up the background, Justice Todd delves into the history of the founding of Pennsylvania and the resultant history of its Charters and Constitutions, which was a digression that I found both informative and entertaining, as well as surprising in that I was raised there and had never before known half of the story. And, on top of that, I happen to agree with the Opinion, not like my opinion of the Opinion has any bearing on the force of the Opinion, nor on your opinion, but that is my opinion, and I am entitled to that opinion, in my opinion....more
A good, brief overview of the mysterious sheepskin text "with all the rights and privileges appertaining thereto," and similar phrasings, otherwise obA good, brief overview of the mysterious sheepskin text "with all the rights and privileges appertaining thereto," and similar phrasings, otherwise obsolete and functionally meaningless for at least the last 200 years, but once extremely meaningful. In Europe. In theory. When anyone had the power and interest to enforce them. Which probably was practically never....more
This is rather more bittersweet a tale than I had come to expect from Alexander, even though I know full well that is is capable of and quite willingThis is rather more bittersweet a tale than I had come to expect from Alexander, even though I know full well that is is capable of and quite willing to engage the full range of human emotion even in "children's" books. Having met him as a child myself, I am only too aware that he does not condescend merely because of youth. And perhaps such an approach might be expected in a semi-autobiographical story written so late in life, over sixty years removed from whatever events inspired it, and perhaps having grown closer at that point to identification with The Gawgon rather than The Boy. And for all that, I feel closer to the man having read it than I was ever able to even while spending a fanboy afternoon in his Drexel Hill home. This is not his best work, at all, yet I can't help loving it all the same. That is perhaps too personal to be useful as a review, but them's the facts....more
Can't review what I haven't yet read, but this seems like the best place to mention this Q&A with the authors about the book, which people might fCan't review what I haven't yet read, but this seems like the best place to mention this Q&A with the authors about the book, which people might find useful until the book has reviews here. HTML tags don't seem to work in reviews any more, so here's the bare URL: http://www.scotusblog.com/2017/11/ask......more
This is exactly what I like in soft sci-fi: a novel situation, analogous to mundane moral quandaries, set in a bizarre yet entertainingly presented neThis is exactly what I like in soft sci-fi: a novel situation, analogous to mundane moral quandaries, set in a bizarre yet entertainingly presented new world yet seen through eyes to which I can relate. This could easily have felt dated, but is related in such a way that instead it simply feels set in a bygone era of rotary telephones, beat cops, and clunky technology....more
A tight, though jargon-laden, approach to the Sisyphean task of compiling a practical, Utilitarian manual or guide to ethical and moral decision makinA tight, though jargon-laden, approach to the Sisyphean task of compiling a practical, Utilitarian manual or guide to ethical and moral decision making. Presumes passing familiarity with Mill and Kant and their sequelae....more
This is my third foray into INJC, and the first that isn't based on HPL, and I think it's safe to say that I'm now a fan. Maybe not his biggest fan, aThis is my third foray into INJC, and the first that isn't based on HPL, and I think it's safe to say that I'm now a fan. Maybe not his biggest fan, and he may not be my favorite graphic novelist, but I'll probably track down much of the rest of his work, and certainly the remainder of the "weird fiction."...more
It is perhaps fairest and necessary to note that I read this without having seen any of the Amazon series, and while deeply under the influence of AreIt is perhaps fairest and necessary to note that I read this without having seen any of the Amazon series, and while deeply under the influence of Arendt, Reich, Solzhenitsyn's Gulag and The First Circle, and life in contemporary Trumpistan. This certainly colored my view.
For all that, I rather enjoyed it. Taking into account the age of this book, the complexity and depth of alternative history within alternative history is rather remarkable, and being a denizen of the Bay Area now myself it's fun to read about settings I sort of almost know but not quite. The ending, as is so often the case for me, seemed excessively anticlimactic, though this appears perhaps a deliberate attempt to leave room for a sequel that never quite happened: PKD noted in a 1976 interview, "And so there's no real ending on it. I like to regard it as an open ending. It will segue into a sequel sometime."
A friend and fellow GR reviewer was unable to finish it due to distaste for the (racist?) patois of the Japanese of the P.S.A. and warned me of that, so this perhaps stood out to me more than it might have otherwise. While such use of dialect is often problematic in literature—especially the pulp fiction of white male nerds and crazies—I think I see what PKD was trying to do here, and it may not be quite so racist as it might seem on first blush to the more "woke" eyes of the 21st-century liberal. It appears to me that this serves as a device for indicating how enmeshed with the occupying Japanese administration a given character is. Given how language drifts in natural circumstances (for example, the vowel shifting of the midwestern states today, or the deliberate divergence of American English from the King's English in the colonial/revolutionary era), this strikes me as plausible in general, if not in precisely the caricaturing fashion portrayed here. I note particularly that Childan, whose livelihood depends on catering to the Japanese, always uses this broken English, while the working-class Frink barely seems to use it at all and only out loud, and Juliana never, except perhaps when directly engaged with the I Ching which is itself elliptical on occasion. I myself have an unfortunate tendency to lapse into half-assed iambs if I spend too much time buried in Shakespeare, so I would imagine it fairly natural that (a) the Japanese occupiers wouldn't be overly interested in learning any more English than is necessary to effectively rule the English-speaking Pacific, and (b) the influence of their use of the language as a "high-place" ruling class combined with (c) the obsessive use of the poetic oracle would have a progressive impact on spoken language in proportion to the depth of immersion. So, while the trope remains awkward (though no more so than Nadsat, which is considerably more difficult to follow), it is not unreasonable, and is almost certainly used to make an expository point about the milieu and the characters while providing a means of disambiguating them.
And it totally sounds racist, so one star off anyway....more