Whatcha reading?

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eumaas
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Re: Whatcha reading?

Post by eumaas » 27 Sep 2017, 12:15pm

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Really fascinating, great book on the Cultural Revolution as experienced by rural workers and peasants. The author himself was a farmer in Jimo County. The book's main focus is on educational reform and development in Jimo County, though the author uses education to talk about other issues of the period. Much of it derives from interviews with farmers. I've studied the Cultural Revolution before, but learned a lot more from this book than any other I have read. The self-organization of the peasants is really quite inspiring, but the table illustrating how they built up schools in the Cultural Revolution period (1966-76) and their precipitous decline is depressing. They went from 94 high schools in 1978 to just 30 in 1979 (with the ascent of Deng Xiaoping), finally down to 9 in 1987. The impetus for the book was partly from the author visiting his village in the 90s and discovering that many of the children were illiterate, something on the level of the pre-GPCR period. The author also talks about contemporary peasant rebellion in China, and how it is informed by the experience of being empowered in the GPCR. A lot of the old Maoist slogans are still in current use in rural China--peasant rebellion tends to be expressed as a return to the practices of the Mao period, especially the GPCR. The way the peasants used Mao's words to undermine party boss authority is really interesting, as is the institution of health insurance on a collective level, the development of rural industry, and the strong desire for education. The contrast in how irrigation was constructed in the GPCR versus the Great Leap Forward is illuminating--the latter was a top-down directive and involved directing labor away from agriculture without heeding the seasonal harvest and sowing cycles, which ended up exacerbating the effects of the really awful droughts and floods of those years. Under the GPCR, however, the peasants themselves directed the construction of reservoirs and irrigation, which proved highly effective at counteracting the effects of drought and flooding during those years. Peasants worked around the agricultural cycle, so they didn't experience a labor drain during sowing and harvesting times. There's a lot in here about how traditional Chinese political culture persisted through the 1949 revolution--lots of peasant sayings about submitting in order to survive, and then the entitlement of both the educated elite and the party bosses mirroring the way landlords and civil servants treated peasants for millennia in China. That servile culture got broken during the GPCR, and peasants began to rebel and question authority. The author also draws out distinctions in the Red Guards. We in the West tend to think of the Red Guards as a monolithic thing, but really there were several factions, and a real form/content division. Conservative party bosses formed official Red Guards to try to retain control--formally following the GPCR directives, but not empowering peasants. However, after Mao's 16 Points, the peasants formed their own Red Guards and overthrew party bosses, replacing a number of top-down organizations with bottom-up ones. The author views attacks on the four olds as a way party bosses used official Red Guards to deflect criticism of the party, which became increasingly untenable as the GPCR rhetoric grew more radical. Sorry for the ramble. I started the book yesterday and I have almost finished it.

Here's an interview with the author:
https://mronline.org/2008/12/10/intervi ... e-village/
"The only thing that really occurs to me that I can say on this is to point out how fascinating it is that the Hassan-i-Sabbah archetype keeps turning up over and over again ... He disappears up into the mountains and is never seen again. Believe me, he'll never be seen again. He'll live forever because of that."

Kory
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Re: Whatcha reading?

Post by Kory » 27 Sep 2017, 12:29pm

eumass wrote: The contrast in how irrigation was constructed in the GPCR versus the Great Leap Forward is illuminating--the latter was a top-down directive and involved directing labor away from agriculture without heeding the seasonal harvest and sowing cycles, which ended up exacerbating the effects of the really awful droughts and floods of those years. Under the GPCR, however, the peasants themselves directed the construction of reservoirs and irrigation, which proved highly effective at counteracting the effects of drought and flooding during those years. Peasants worked around the agricultural cycle, so they didn't experience a labor drain during sowing and harvesting times.
It's not surprising in the least that the workers knew better than their "superiors" how to do their own job. Food for western thought.
Inder:
Absolutely. Here's another collection of words:

Table salt (spoon hinge)
Octopus (Ukraine)
St. Petersburg (arms)
Ginger beer (cauliflower)
Pat Sajak (PSak)
Lamp post (self evident)
Florida Timeshare (ditto)
Heraclitus (EMI)
Developers (Developers Developers)
Boogie With Your Children

eumaas
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Re: Whatcha reading?

Post by eumaas » 27 Sep 2017, 12:32pm

Kory wrote:
27 Sep 2017, 12:29pm
eumass wrote: The contrast in how irrigation was constructed in the GPCR versus the Great Leap Forward is illuminating--the latter was a top-down directive and involved directing labor away from agriculture without heeding the seasonal harvest and sowing cycles, which ended up exacerbating the effects of the really awful droughts and floods of those years. Under the GPCR, however, the peasants themselves directed the construction of reservoirs and irrigation, which proved highly effective at counteracting the effects of drought and flooding during those years. Peasants worked around the agricultural cycle, so they didn't experience a labor drain during sowing and harvesting times.
It's not surprising in the least that the workers knew better than their "superiors" how to do their own job. Food for western thought.
Yeah, this is a recurring thing. I mean, who hasn't worked under a boss who didn't understand the job?
"The only thing that really occurs to me that I can say on this is to point out how fascinating it is that the Hassan-i-Sabbah archetype keeps turning up over and over again ... He disappears up into the mountains and is never seen again. Believe me, he'll never be seen again. He'll live forever because of that."

Dr. Medulla
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Re: Whatcha reading?

Post by Dr. Medulla » 28 Sep 2017, 7:09pm

Ground thru, for the second time, that book on hollow earth theory and was just as bored this time around. It's descriptive in a snarky way, but allergic to addressing why this idea has had such appeal, especially over multiple centuries. There's still a good book to be written about this, aspiring scholars.

New bathtub book, starting tomorrow:
Image
Heard about this several months ago but haven't found a pirated ebook copy, and I'm rarely willing to pay full price for a hardcover edition, so I'm being a parasite and going the library route. Anyway, I'm no liberal but it's an ideology that fascinates me because it's so ridiculed with contradiction and, in practice, compromise. It's a long ol' bastard, so I'll be with this one well into October.
Walrus birth doesn't make good breakfast conversation!

Silent Majority
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Re: Whatcha reading?

Post by Silent Majority » 07 Oct 2017, 6:25pm

25) The Benn Diaries 1940 - 1970 - Tony Benn. Audiobook as read by the diarist. Sternly abridged, more of a three hour radio show than a book, so I could probably count this among the Goon Shows, Yes Ministers and Hancock Half Hours that keep me company on my walk home, but it came from a book section in audible, so I I'm counting it as a short book. Benn is one of the few MPs of the last century to have mostly not done terrible things and was an interesting and intelligent man. Very engrossing stuff about his time around his earliest cabinet positions, a little bit of his fighting the Nazis in the war, and at the start, being at school. I especially enjoyed the account of the center of Wilson's gov't, him facing down fascists like Enoch Powell, and the old money Tories whose sons are now in charge of the country.
'But also: hey dude, you can just go looking for more glasses. They're all free now. '

www.pexlives.libsyn.com/

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Re: Whatcha reading?

Post by Silent Majority » 10 Oct 2017, 10:34am

26) The Life of Thomas More - Peter Ackroyd. It took me about a year to finish this, picking it up and putting it down again. No judgement on the book, I just got pissed off with how little I was picking it up and looking at the cover. I love Ackroyd writing about London and Londoners. His prose is honest-to-God beautiful. He is very, very forgiving of More's burning protestants and trying to keep the Bible out of the vernacular, which I, as a good Catholic boy, 100% support. But, no, that's a weird turn. I particularly enjoyed a chapter on Henry VIII in his pomp and the snatches of early modern dialogue and how close turns of phrase are to how we speak today. Echoing down the ages.
'But also: hey dude, you can just go looking for more glasses. They're all free now. '

www.pexlives.libsyn.com/

Dr. Medulla
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Re: Whatcha reading?

Post by Dr. Medulla » 10 Oct 2017, 10:44am

Mentioned in another thread that I zipped thru the 33 1/3 book on Psychocandy. Nothing really to recommend. The first half makes a decent stab at tying the group to historical circumstances, but then starts meandering, saying … something but for no clear reason.

Began this as a bedtime book:
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I gather it's more narrative than analytical, but that's fine as I have a limited background in understanding the context. From the intro, however, Butterworth clearly sees a positive connection between the active discontent of our times with the anarchists and socialists of the turn of the century.
Walrus birth doesn't make good breakfast conversation!

Silent Majority
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Re: Whatcha reading?

Post by Silent Majority » 12 Oct 2017, 11:36am

27) Image
Letterman:The Last Giant of Late Night by Jason Zinoman. Audiobook. Dave comes a cross as a bit of a dick with an unremarkable story.
'But also: hey dude, you can just go looking for more glasses. They're all free now. '

www.pexlives.libsyn.com/

Marky Dread
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Re: Whatcha reading?

Post by Marky Dread » 12 Oct 2017, 12:36pm

Dr. Medulla wrote:
28 Sep 2017, 7:09pm
Ground thru, for the second time, that book on hollow earth theory and was just as bored this time around. It's descriptive in a snarky way, but allergic to addressing why this idea has had such appeal, especially over multiple centuries. There's still a good book to be written about this, aspiring scholars.

New bathtub book, starting tomorrow:
Image
Heard about this several months ago but haven't found a pirated ebook copy, and I'm rarely willing to pay full price for a hardcover edition, so I'm being a parasite and going the library route. Anyway, I'm no liberal but it's an ideology that fascinates me because it's so ridiculed with contradiction and, in practice, compromise. It's a long ol' bastard, so I'll be with this one well into October.
I love the hollow earth theory. There just has to be something in it.
Image
Image

Dr. Medulla
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Re: Whatcha reading?

Post by Dr. Medulla » 12 Oct 2017, 1:46pm

Marky Dread wrote:
12 Oct 2017, 12:36pm
I love the hollow earth theory. There just has to be something in it.
Mostly superior humans and food that makes you an eternal.
Walrus birth doesn't make good breakfast conversation!

Marky Dread
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Re: Whatcha reading?

Post by Marky Dread » 12 Oct 2017, 2:47pm

Dr. Medulla wrote:
12 Oct 2017, 1:46pm
Marky Dread wrote:
12 Oct 2017, 12:36pm
I love the hollow earth theory. There just has to be something in it.
Mostly superior humans and food that makes you an eternal.
I could live there. Probably end up as food. :disshame:
Image
Image

Silent Majority
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Re: Whatcha reading?

Post by Silent Majority » 12 Oct 2017, 3:14pm

Marky Dread wrote:
12 Oct 2017, 12:36pm
Dr. Medulla wrote:
28 Sep 2017, 7:09pm
Ground thru, for the second time, that book on hollow earth theory and was just as bored this time around. It's descriptive in a snarky way, but allergic to addressing why this idea has had such appeal, especially over multiple centuries. There's still a good book to be written about this, aspiring scholars.

New bathtub book, starting tomorrow:
Image
Heard about this several months ago but haven't found a pirated ebook copy, and I'm rarely willing to pay full price for a hardcover edition, so I'm being a parasite and going the library route. Anyway, I'm no liberal but it's an ideology that fascinates me because it's so ridiculed with contradiction and, in practice, compromise. It's a long ol' bastard, so I'll be with this one well into October.
I love the hollow earth theory. There just has to be something in it.
What a great pun.
'But also: hey dude, you can just go looking for more glasses. They're all free now. '

www.pexlives.libsyn.com/

Marky Dread
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Re: Whatcha reading?

Post by Marky Dread » 12 Oct 2017, 3:18pm

Silent Majority wrote:
12 Oct 2017, 3:14pm
Marky Dread wrote:
12 Oct 2017, 12:36pm
Dr. Medulla wrote:
28 Sep 2017, 7:09pm
Ground thru, for the second time, that book on hollow earth theory and was just as bored this time around. It's descriptive in a snarky way, but allergic to addressing why this idea has had such appeal, especially over multiple centuries. There's still a good book to be written about this, aspiring scholars.

New bathtub book, starting tomorrow:
Image
Heard about this several months ago but haven't found a pirated ebook copy, and I'm rarely willing to pay full price for a hardcover edition, so I'm being a parasite and going the library route. Anyway, I'm no liberal but it's an ideology that fascinates me because it's so ridiculed with contradiction and, in practice, compromise. It's a long ol' bastard, so I'll be with this one well into October.
I love the hollow earth theory. There just has to be something in it.
What a great pun.
Thank you I can retire for the night now. I feel my work here is done. :mrgreen:
Image
Image

Dr. Medulla
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Re: Whatcha reading?

Post by Dr. Medulla » 18 Oct 2017, 2:49pm

I gave up, bored, of Snyder after 300 pages (halfway). Lotsa narrative and biography, but it wasn't compelling to me. On a whim, I got out of the library a book I haven't read since I was an undergrad, about Wolter C. Calhoun and the nullification crisis.
Image

My current audiobook:
Image
Haven't read this in a couple decades, but the new movie inspired me to revisit. I'm not a fan of his long fiction normally, but I'm enjoying this quite a bit.

Current bedtime reading:
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The Parker books are always entertaining if formulaic. Parker and some others plan to rob an air force base in upstate New York. He's skeptical/grouchy but decides to do it anyway because that's what he always does.
Walrus birth doesn't make good breakfast conversation!

Kory
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Re: Whatcha reading?

Post by Kory » 18 Oct 2017, 5:06pm

Rereading this. A quick, fun read that inspires listening and stencil-making. The first one is my copy, the original, and below that is the new printing with an exponentially better cover. Wish I'd held out.

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Image
Inder:
Absolutely. Here's another collection of words:

Table salt (spoon hinge)
Octopus (Ukraine)
St. Petersburg (arms)
Ginger beer (cauliflower)
Pat Sajak (PSak)
Lamp post (self evident)
Florida Timeshare (ditto)
Heraclitus (EMI)
Developers (Developers Developers)
Boogie With Your Children

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