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What are you reading?

Jimmy Higgins

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Finished Tiamat's Wrath, and boy was Tiamat wrathful! Really a great title as it isn't quite obvious who the metaphor is for, the literal Tiamat like thing or the empire which has a Tiamat like presence compared to all else. So now I have a better idea where the final book is heading, though not entirely clear. Book 8 also does help explain Holden's opening thoughts on the angry protomolecule thing in Season Five.

I did have one question, spoiler.

Timothy. So was that supposed to be a surprise? Because when she was hiking out to meet Timothy, I knew at that point it had to be Amos, the author laid it out very clearly. In fact, I was then disappointed in myself that I hadn't figured it out when she first met Timothy because I then recalled that was his original name. But then when finally meets Timothy, the author doesn't try to hide anything. He talks, looks, acts like Amos. So when "It's a fake!!!" moment happens, I'm thinking, umm... yeah. A surprise for Teresa, but not me.



Feels like Season 6 will be Books 6 and 8 smooshed together (I don't think they have time to cover the events of Book 7), with dashes of Book 9 to close things up.
 

rousseau

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History of the Balkans from Mohammed the Conqueror to Stalin. It's a bit of a data dump with long, sprawling paragraphs that are difficult to read, but there didn't seem to be many other books on the region in Weldon. Still an interesting title.

Feminist Philosophies A - Z by Nancy McHugh. I bought this today (had been looking for something similar for a while). I'd always wanted to have all the strands of feminism pulled together in a single title, and this one is an encyclopedia of sorts, which works. I'm definitely sympathetic to feminism (or at least the plight of women), but while reading it I found myself deconstructing many of the ideas in it. But from the perspective of anthropology it's a great read.

Confucian Analects, The Great Learning, The Doctrine of the Mean translated by James Legge. Also bought this today. It's a 19th century translation of the works of Confucius by a missionary who learned a bit of Chinese and travelled there. Mostly I'm starting to collect a nice set of Eastern philosophy and I thought the Analects would make a nice addition. But I am interested in the Analects themselves (also from the perspective of Anthropology). I don't have much of a sense of the book as a historical artifact, but might dig into that a bit soon.
 

rousseau

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I had three days off this week and decided to dive into my copy of Bertrand Russell's History of Western Philosophy. Mainly I wanted to trace the sociology I've been reading back through it's roots, ending at the Renaissance. I also bought a text on Ancient Greek philosophy and have been browsing through that a bit. Both titles not so much for their ideas, but to get a better sense of our history of ideas.

I ended up noticing that both Eastern and Western philosophy seemed to go through a similar progression away from dualism and toward materialism, which makes sense if we're trying to figure things out.

I also bought a trophy copy of Maps of Time by David Christian yesterday. I already own it on my e-reader but thought it'd be a nice addition to my physical collection, and that I'd enjoy being able to browse through it. It was a huge influence back in 2016.
 

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The biography of Rhodes was exhaustive, and called him out on his villainy.

Have moved on now to Pup Fiction, a light mystery, and after that I'm going to read some Philo Vance novels.

Rob
 

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I've just started in on Graeber and Wengrow's The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity. The title is lightly satirical; they are more critiquing than explicating the "dawn of everything", poking well-deserved holes in the artificial horizons European historians have tried to invoke between history and prehistory. So far it reminds me thematically of Europe and the People Without History, but their style and academic foundation are far superior to that of Eric Wolf's (rip!), and we also a lot more about the "Neolithic" world now than when the older work was published. It's a real door-stopper, so I'm looking forward to many more nights enjoying the volume. It's a pity we've lost Dave Graeber last year, before everyone had a chance to embarass themselves trying to critique this book to his face. As scholar, he was always fun to watch. I only met him in person once, but I will miss him. And his mentor Marshall Sahlins, one right after another. Too many lately.
 

rousseau

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Yesterday I offloaded a few library books and picked up How to Think Like an Anthropologist, another recommendation from Politesse. I brought back my Bringhurst philosophy, Wisdom Sits in Places, and Ibn Battuta in Black Africa. All three were solid books, but I wasn't feeling them at the moment.

I'm finding myself leaning back toward the heavily academic lately, dry and precise writing that says a lot in a small amount of space. How to Think Like an Anthropologist isn't quite that, but does look like it will offer a lot of unfamiliar perspective and novelty which I'm enjoying.
 

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I can't figure out how I got to be 64 but had never run across Ion Idriess.

Did something I rarely do and put down Texas Hold 'em about 10% in.
 

rousseau

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Two separate copies of the Tao Te Ching, one translated by Stephen Mitchell and the other Ellen Chen. I'd owned Mitchell's version for a few months and finally picked it up off my shelf recently. I was surprised how much I enjoyed it so did some research into the Tao Te Ching in general, which led me to Chen's translation.

She produced more of a scholarly work with a history of Lao Tzu and the text, a truer translation, and quite a bit of commentary on the passages themselves. Where Mitchell's is a straight translation that seems more sympathetic to the Zen side of things.

Both great books, but I'm enjoying Chen's history and analysis. Information that really can't be found online.
 

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To go from the sublime to the less so, I just finished the most recent Rhys Bowen Royal Spyness mystery -- the conceit is that of an impoverished distant relation of the British Royal Family essentially solves mysteries at the behest of the Queen of England in the 1930s.

Rob
 

spikepipsqueak

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They could at least have paid a little attention. England had a King for all of the 1930s.

ijust had a lovely surprise. In the Time Traveller's Almanac I came across an Ursula leGuin short story I hadn't read before.
 

Toni

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Picking up Mom Genes: Inside the Science of Our Ancient Maternal Instinct by Abigail Tucker. I started it back in May and then got side tracked with a lot of house projects and left this on the shelf...

I have a lot of stuff on my shelves I need to get to.
 

bilby

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They could at least have paid a little attention. England had a King for all of the 1930s
Having a queen as monarch precludes the existence of a king; But not the other way around.

Wikipedia said:
Mary of Teck (Victoria Mary Augusta Louise Olga Pauline Claudine Agnes; 26 May 1867 – 24 March 1953) was Queen of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Empress of India, from 6 May 1910 until 29 January 1936 as the wife of King-Emperor George V.

Wikipedia said:
Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon (4 August 1900 – 30 March 2002) was Queen of the United Kingdom and the Dominions from 11 December 1936 to 6 February 1952 as the wife of King George VI. She was the last Empress of India from her husband's accession as King-Emperor in 1936 until 15 August 1947, when the British Raj was dissolved. After her husband died, she was known as Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, to avoid confusion with her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II.

The only time in the 1930s when England did not have a queen was the brief reign of Edward VIII, between January and December of 1936.
 

rousseau

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African Religions: A Very Short Introduction

This is my first title in this series, I thought it'd be interesting seeing such a broad topic summed up concisely. I like it a lot, it's refreshing to read a title on Africa that's actually written by an African. Now I'm debating splurging on Nkrumah's Neo-Colonialism.
 

rousseau

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I'll have to go through the series list in this title and see if any others pique my interest. Way back when I considered the introduction on Marx, but still haven't gone there.

We might also have the Introduction to Racism kicking around from a former tenant. I can't recall if I got rid of it or not.
 

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They could at least have paid a little attention. England had a King for all of the 1930s.
As Bilby noted, it also had a queen for the majority of the decade. She wasn't the reigning monarch, but Queen Mary -- who was the queen in question -- is the one being referred to in my brief summary.

Rob
 

Rhea

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Miss Benson’s Beetle. Reading with my book club. It’s a fun read.
 

Patooka

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Leviathan Falls - final book in The Expanse series. Had to get the ebook version because I couldn't wait for paperback to arrive in Australia (both Dymocks and Amazon said they were OOS, man I wish Borders was still around)

It's...okay. There really isn't anything surprising in the last book One thing I noticed was how prominent the "whedonesque sarcasm" is shown in so many characters. If anyone has checked to see what the original ending of Mass Effect was supposed to be, the finale was pretty obvious. It does tie everything up into a bow however. To put it on the spectrum of endings, it's not as terrible as Raymond E Feist Magician series but not as good as Harry Turtledove's Southern Victory ending. It lies pretty much in the middle.
 

Jimmy Higgins

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Leviathan Falls - final book in The Expanse series. Had to get the ebook version because I couldn't wait for paperback to arrive in Australia (both Dymocks and Amazon said they were OOS, man I wish Borders was still around)

It's...okay. There really isn't anything surprising in the last book One thing I noticed was how prominent the "whedonesque sarcasm" is shown in so many characters. If anyone has checked to see what the original ending of Mass Effect was supposed to be, the finale was pretty obvious. It does tie everything up into a bow however. To put it on the spectrum of endings, it's not as terrible as Raymond E Feist Magician series but not as good as Harry Turtledove's Southern Victory ending. It lies pretty much in the middle.
Regarding the ultimate end of the book, I'm somewhere between it being an honest ending and it being a cheap ending or maybe an honest ending via cheap means? The resolution seemed "obvious" as in saw it coming (though more what not as much how), but I think they at least explained it decently. There are aspects I like, but other parts that felt forced or contrived.

Not too spoiler-ish, but some people read between lines better than others:

100 pages left I'm wondering how are they going to resolve this. They are running out of time. And the honest part for the authors is they solve a couple problems but not another, and that was fine.

 

rousseau

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I had the urge so bought a few new books. Emile Durkheim: Selected Writings edited and introduced by Anthony Giddens, and The Sociobiological Imagination by Mary Maxwell. I've only picked up the Durkheim title so far, but like it a lot. I also bit the bullet and ordered a new copy of Giddens' The Constitution of Society, which hasn't arrived yet. I was supposed to get a well priced copy from a local, but they couldn't find it.

I also pulled Nkrumah's Neo-Colonialism (for the second time) and a newer book on Neo-Colonialism from the library. Not as interested in these, but picking at them here and there.
 

rousseau

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I also picked up The Constitution of Society by Anthony Giddens from Weldon a few weeks ago. I've flipped through it and am not as impressed as I thought I'd be, but it's a decent book. So far I'm enjoying my Weber titles a bit more.

I feel a bit dim-witted for saying this now. After going through my Dictionary of Sociology, and reading Durkheim I'm ready for it. I think it's one of those titles that really demands a close read.
 

connick

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My friend's little brother accidentally wound up on a mailing list and has since received multiple copies of The Sign by Robert Van Kampen. Since I'm a masochist atheist I grabbed one of the copies (sadly it is missing the "beautiful, full-color end-times chart") and subjected myself to reading it over the past couple of weeks.

On the one hand, it provides a lot more clarity than I've seen from other sources (mostly internet nuts) about what some end times believers think is happening or will happen soon. Spoiler alert! The Antichrist will be a resurrected Adolf Hitler! On the other hand, it is extremely repetitive, citing the same pieces of scripture over and over and over again. It could probably have been 100 pages shorter and still communicated the same wacky information.

It's amusing to me that the author claims to be a strict literalist in his interpretation and that they spent a supposed 9,000 hours researching and ironing out apparent inconsistencies, but one of the biggest apparent discrepancies - namely, the "mysterious gap" between the 69th and 70th "week of Daniel" - is simply hand-waved away. It's hard for me to reconcile biblical calculus that predicts events occurring with claimed accuracy down to the day, and sometimes hour, with key date(s) being estimated as "between now and someday".

As an outsider, one might think that as believers encounter more and more mental gymnastics to support belief in biblical prophecy that this would lift the veil a little and reveal the underpinnings to be hackneyed bronze age mythology. However, it never ceases to amaze me how strong the cognitive dissonance can be when it comes to mainstream (or, in this case, fringe) religious beliefs.

I rate it 1 out of 10 and would not recommend it to anyone. The TLDR version is Hitler is coming back so make sure you don't dress immodestly in the meantime.
 

rousseau

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I've been relegated from the library due to Omicron so bought a few new ones recently:

The Adventures of Ibn Battuta by Ross Dunn
A New Interpretation of Chinese Taoist Philosophy by You-Sheng Li
Spirituality: A Very Short Introduction
The Philosophy of Law: A Very Short Introduction
The Class Structure of the Advanced Societies
by Anthony Giddens

I bought the first few to provide some lighter fare in between reading my new Giddens' titles, which are great but tough. I'm pretty much through Giddens' Constitution of Society now but did skim through the last few chapters. So will likely revisit. The above on class structure also looks fantastic, I'm looking forward to diving into it.

What's been interesting to me about reading Giddens' is how some of the ideas he notes that we're moving away from are so obviously wrong. Which I think speaks to where our collective understanding of the world actually is right now.
 

Wiploc

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Nothing heavy. Going through the C.S.Forester, Horatio Hornblower adventures again. Otherwise Astronomy magazine when it arrives.

They are awesome! I reread them more often than the Master and Commander books, in part because there are fewer of them.
 

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Just finished the complete science fiction short stories of Fredric Brown, as well as a collection of his mysteries. With short stories, Brown was a master of the twist ending. For instance, one of his stories involves a reporter undercover in an insane asylum, claiming to be Napoleon Bonaparte.

Twist: the guy actually IS Napoleon Bonaparte. It all makes sense in context.

Rob
 

Tharmas

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I'm two chapters into Not in Our Genes: Biology, Ideology and Human Nature, by Richard Lewontin,, Leon Kamin, and Steven Rose. It's a classic, originally published in the 80s, but in a revised edition (2017). Actually, in the Preface they say not all that much has changed since they wrote it, so heavy revisions were unnecessary.

I'm really enjoying it. Each of the authors is/was a heavyweight in his field. They go after a lot of sacred cows involving biological determinism, evolutionary psychology, and the like. They share a strongly political perspective on how much science works, claiming that many current widely accepted "scientific" paradigms have at their basis social and economic assumptions that are far from established fact. No, they don't go after particle physics or claim that mathematics is a reflection of the patriarchy. So far, it makes a lot of sense.

 

rousseau

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About a week ago I found myself having another go at Cohen's Parasites of Heaven, his fourth poetry book. It's one of his strangest, but I've always found myself drawn to it. It's hard to interpret, but I'm pretty sure he was trying to highlight the disingenuousness of his prior work with it (hence 'parasites'). After it his poetry made a huge shift for the better. Before (really before Flowers of Hitler) there was too much influence from Irving Layton.

I've also pulled a few other poetry titles from my shelves lately and have been studying them more deeply. Something to do in lieu of having anything to write about.
 

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Project Hail Mary - Andy Weir.

''An irresistible interstellar adventure as only Andy Weir could imagine it, Project Hail Mary is a tale of discovery, speculation, and survival to rival The Martian''

Half way through, the book is living up to its review.
 

Harry Bosch

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Project Hail Mary - Andy Weir.

''An irresistible interstellar adventure as only Andy Weir could imagine it, Project Hail Mary is a tale of discovery, speculation, and survival to rival The Martian''

Half way through, the book is living up to its review.
Funny. I'm reading the exact same book. Am half the way through it also! Love it so far. His writing is different. Unique. I don't think that it will make as good of a movie as The Martian. But it's a great book so far.
 
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Tharmas

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I am just starting The Last Days of the Dinosaurs,” by Riley Black. I’m finding it very well written and an easy read. Judging from the chapter titles, it’s as much or more about the rise of mammals than about the last day(s) of the dinosaurs, and I’m finding it really fascinating. Here are the chapter titles, just to give a glimpse of the topics it covers:

  • Before Impact
  • Impact
  • The First Hour
  • The First Day
  • The First Month
  • One Year After Impact
  • One Hundred Years After Impact
  • One Thousand Years After Impact
  • One Hundred Thousand Years After Impact
  • One Million Years After Impact
 

rousseau

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The Norton Anthology of Poetry. A compilation of all well known (English) poets dating back to the early middle age. About 2000 pages in total.

I mainly bought it for everything past the 17th century, but am determined to go through it from start to finish with ample amounts of speed reading. It'll let me check out a lot of the big names without a significant investment in individual books.

And I found it for 15 bucks at the local counter-culture bookshop.
 

rousseau

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I am just starting The Last Days of the Dinosaurs,” by Riley Black. I’m finding it very well written and an easy read. Judging from the chapter titles, it’s as much or more about the rise of mammals than about the last day(s) of the dinosaurs, and I’m finding it really fascinating. Here are the chapter titles, just to give a glimpse of the topics it covers:

  • Before Impact
  • Impact
  • The First Hour
  • The First Day
  • The First Month
  • One Year After Impact
  • One Hundred Years After Impact
  • One Thousand Years After Impact
  • One Hundred Thousand Years After Impact
  • One Million Years After Impact

Now on my to-read list, thanks.
 

Playball40

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Health at Every Size by Lindo Bacon. Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel and Starship Titanic by Terry Jones.
 

bilby

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I have an unplanned week off (with an unplanned wee cough), and am prohibited from leaving the house.

So I just finished the utterly awful, poorly written, and uninspiring 'The Great Nuclear War of 1975' by William Stroock, who was badly misinformed by whoever told him he could write a novel; The excellent and wonderfully written 'Project Hail Mary', referenced by others (above); And am now re-reading 'Resurrection Day' by Brendan DuBois, which I first read long enough ago to make a repeat worthwhile, and which is the book Stroock wishes he was competent to write. DuBois is to Stroock, as Neil Armstrong is to my little brother (who, aged three, glued a lego propeller from a 'Spirit of St Louis' model kit to the coffee table and genuinely believed it might fly). If I wasn't condemned by the Queensland Department of Health to waste seven days of my life, I would be mourning the wasted time spent on Stroock's turkey.

I expect to get through a lot of books (many, inevitably, junk) this week.

This thread will be a great help in avoiding some of the worst travesties of the novelist's art.

I am currently on an apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic theme; Sadly there's a vast amount of very poor work in this genre (including a large subset of Evangelical Christian pap; The one pitfall the hapless Stroock managed to avoid).
 

rousseau

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Yesterday I pulled my copy of Harold Driver's Indians of North America off my shelf. A dated, but very good overview of North American Indigenous culture.

I was mainly interested in reading passages on famine and malnutrition, and it made for a pretty fascinating (and sad) read. According to Driver, starvation was a constant source of anxiety for the Indigenous, at times protein sources could be a problem, and occasionally infants needed to be killed, or just flat out died due to famine.

It really makes you see the modern era in a different light.
 

rousseau

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He does list a few pages of sources and cites throughout, it seems to be a lot of anthropology ca 40 - 60, but some a little earlier. He seems sympathetic, and the cover digs in a little further:

'in combining this literature with the published research of anthropologists, he has been careful not to draw unsubstantiated inferences, but to offer only those historical interpretations which are supported by an overwhelming body of evidence'

How factual the book actually is, is hard to say, but it's an interesting read. And I should add that the protein comment looks related to European contact.
 

Politesse

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That's fine, it's just that when I'm accusing people of murdering their own children to save on food bills, I'm usually pretty careful about citing my sources. I've heard such stories in the context of forced marches or panicked refugee situations, where parents were in some cases obliged to sacrifice a doomed child to save the lives of the others still living, but those were extreme circumstances. It is not in human nature to address food insecurity by leaping to infanticide while other options are still on the table.
 

rousseau

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Yea that was the impression I got, only under extreme circumstances. I'd dig the references out but.. 5 week old. It's a good point, though, I'd be interested in checking out what he's citing.
 

Tharmas

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I am just starting The Last Days of the Dinosaurs,” by Riley Black. I’m finding it very well written and an easy read. Judging from the chapter titles, it’s as much or more about the rise of mammals than about the last day(s) of the dinosaurs, and I’m finding it really fascinating. Here are the chapter titles, just to give a glimpse of the topics it covers:

  • Before Impact
  • Impact
  • The First Hour
  • The First Day
  • The First Month
  • One Year After Impact
  • One Hundred Years After Impact
  • One Thousand Years After Impact
  • One Hundred Thousand Years After Impact
  • One Million Years After Impact

Now on my to-read list, thanks.
This turns out to be very unusual writing for a pop science work. First, it’s very well written, but it’s not what I was expecting. While it may not be for everyone, I rather like it.

Each chapter is a somewhat fictionalized narrative, although not fanciful. For instance, the first chapter describes the death (from natural causes) of a Triceratops, and all the creatures that come to feed on the remains, featuring a Tyrannosaurus rex, until there is nothing left or the carcass. There is plenty of descriptive detail, down to the parasites that infect the T. rex.

Then the book contains a lengthy Appendix which, chapter by chapter, details which elements of the narratives are factual, which are educated guesses, and which, if any, are invented.

The cover blurb says: “This is pop science that reads like a fantasy novel, but backed up by hard facts. Blake is pioneering a new genre: narrative prehistorical nonfiction.”

As I said, I like it.
 

Mediancat

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One of Stephanie Barron's Jane Austen mysteries, Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron. Jane Austen makes a surprisingly good detective.

Rob
 

rousseau

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That's fine, it's just that when I'm accusing people of murdering their own children to save on food bills, I'm usually pretty careful about citing my sources. I've heard such stories in the context of forced marches or panicked refugee situations, where parents were in some cases obliged to sacrifice a doomed child to save the lives of the others still living, but those were extreme circumstances. It is not in human nature to address food insecurity by leaping to infanticide while other options are still on the table.

I should also add that I was paraphrasing about ten different, somewhat unrelated pages after reading the book on three hours of sleep. Complete accuracy of my short summary not guaranteed.

It did mention that this sometimes happened when something like a parent death occurred, so I may have mistaken that for famine (which may have just been a cause of infant mortality).
 

rousseau

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The Raven Steals the Light by Bill Reid and Robert Bringhurst - AFAIK they made some of the Haida myths a little more readable
How Not to Die by Micheal Greger - I didn't think I needed it, but for ten dollars it's been a good read
Walden: A Fully Annotated Edition - I read this about six years ago from Gutenberg, but have been looking for a readable hard-copy. Finally, one appeared. I may drop everything and do a summer read through of this.
 

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Children of Time. I hope it's good. I just finished Project Hail Mary. Excellent read. Now I've been reading sample after sample and everything seems so low energy. ;)
So I didn't bother with a sample of Children of Time.
 
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