Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Like the title says, anything and everything else goes here. As long as it follows the forum rules.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by thacon » Fri Nov 19, 2010 6:17 am

I'd be up for anything, really. I've read most of his stuff, but not since high school. Mother Night is one of my all-time favorites though.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Antipasta » Fri Nov 19, 2010 7:02 am

I've been literally marching my way through this as an audio book (read by the author, who sounds exactly like you probably imagine - nerdy, snotty, nasal, still a hint of that northern border accent) that I listen to on the morning dog walk.

I liked it; he's a funny guy, and perceptive and self-aware, but I found it impossible to take any of his "deeper" observations seriously. We did not become a nation of one-dimensional personalities in response to The Real World; those Billy Joel songs are not the deepest things ever written; our notion of a proper relationship wasn't tainted by John Cusack movies any more than the folks who came before us had their romantic lives ruined by Gone with the Wind, or Jane Eyre, or Romeo and Juliet, or the story of Helen of Troy.

And he knows it, and admits it (e.g. the deeper meaning of Glass Houses was that it was the record he heard over and over at age 8, and Billy Joel himself tells him what the one song was actually about), and then announces that that just somehow proves his point, and goes further off the deep end. Same thing with The Real World; the deeper meaning is that the season started just as he got cable in a new city where he didn't know anybody, so he watched it all the time. The best Star Wars movie was the first movie he ever saw in a theater.

But maybe that's the point, that you can take any flimsy foundation and build a big funny entertaining house of cards, if you end the essay before something comes along to blow it down. And it makes good listening.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Omri » Fri Nov 19, 2010 7:02 am

Yeah, I read Mother Night for a fiction class in college. I enjoyed it.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by lotsofphil » Fri Nov 19, 2010 7:57 am

Antipasta, you are right on. I may need to borrow your dog to figure some things out :)

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by JennyUnderpants » Fri Nov 19, 2010 10:04 am

I was just going to roll with chatbot to have someone else pick :P
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by preniqueezer » Sat Nov 20, 2010 9:53 am

Darn it, I somehow missed this thread until just now. Guess the due date for the first book is today, so I may be skipping that one. I'll try to join in on the next one, though.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Serra725 » Sat Nov 20, 2010 10:10 am

One small bit that I thought would be fun to discuss is near the beginning of the book, where Chuck is trying to create a Sim with his personality, and he goes off on a tangent about how little people are aware of how they act:
I've never met anyone I'd classify as self-aware: It's been my experience that most extroverted people think they're introverts, and many introverted people make a similarly wrong-headed juxtaposition about being extroverts. Maybe that's why extroverts won't shut up (because they always fear they're not talking enough) while introverts just sit on the couch and do nothing (because they assume everybody is waiting for them to be quiet). People just have no clue about their genuine nature. I have countless friends who describe themselves as "cynical," and they're all wrong. True cynics would never classify themselves as such, because it would mean that they know their view of the world is unjustly negative; despite their best efforts at being grumpy, a self-described cynic is secretly optimistic about normal human nature. Individuals who are truly cynical will always insist they're pragmatic. The same goes for anyone who claims to be "creative." If you define your personality to be creative, it only means you understand what is perceived to be creative by the world at large, so you're really just following a rote creative template. That's the opposite of creativity. Everybody is wrong about everything, just about all the time.
Like a lot of his points, this one is something I don't completely agree with, but that probably contains some truth. I've experienced gradually change from being truly, stare-at-the-floor-and-wish-to-disappear shy to (fairly) normal, so I have some perspective on that spectrum. However, I'm not sure exactly where I lie now, as seen from the outside, and of course that sort of thing is a bit situational, too.

I don't really have a lot of chances to hear people's thoughts on their own personality, to compare it to how they seem from the outside, but the whole topic has been fun to think about and to discuss with my family. Have you noticed any interesting contradictions among the people you know?

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Eigenbasis » Sat Nov 20, 2010 11:53 am

I don't really know what he's talking about, to be honest. Who goes around bragging that they're introverted, or extroverted, or cynical or creative or pragmatic? It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

I can generally predict who is going to talk a lot in my group of friends and who will only talk if spoken to. People are fairly consistent, but they aren't really hypocritical to the degree that he is saying they are.
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by JennyUnderpants » Sun Nov 21, 2010 1:31 pm

[14:28]private to chatbot: roll 1d23
[14:28]chatbot (private): Rolling 1D23 gives 3.

I choose you, slaphappy snark! We can keep discussing Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs of course. :D
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Eigenbasis » Sun Nov 21, 2010 1:45 pm

I want in on this hot clubbing action.
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Verdigris97 » Sun Nov 21, 2010 4:16 pm

Eigenbasis wrote:I don't really know what he's talking about, to be honest. Who goes around bragging that they're introverted, or extroverted, or cynical or creative or pragmatic? It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

I can generally predict who is going to talk a lot in my group of friends and who will only talk if spoken to. People are fairly consistent, but they aren't really hypocritical to the degree that he is saying they are.
I think he was trying to make a point about self-awareness, and introversion/extroversion is one of the scales on which our self-perception can be skewed from others' perceptions of us. I didn't imagine these people claiming outwardly to be the opposite of what they are, but just that their inner pictures of themselves caused them to overcompensate.

This discussion reminded me of those myers-briggs tests they made us take in high school. I was an INTP, the first letter of which means introvert. I knew I was an introvert, but one or two of the other three scales were a little surprising to me. (N is intuitive, vs. S sensing, T is Thinking, vs. F feeling, and P is Perceiving, vs. J judging.)

I've wondered whether it's a good thing to tell teenagers their types, based on a written test, right when they are trying to define their personalities. Is it healthy reinforcement for tendencies they already had, or is it a limiting factor that prevents them from even considering certain life choices (schools, careers, etc.)?

In any event, my test results shifted a bit (from P towards J, I think, and from a solid I towards a little bit less I) over the past twenty years, so according to this one fairly quantitative measure of these traits, you can, apparently, change. I wasn't aware that I was changing, though...

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Raccoon » Sun Nov 21, 2010 6:43 pm

Verdigris97 wrote:This discussion reminded me of those myers-briggs tests they made us take in high school. I was an INTP, the first letter of which means introvert. I knew I was an introvert, but one or two of the other three scales were a little surprising to me. (N is intuitive, vs. S sensing, T is Thinking, vs. F feeling, and P is Perceiving, vs. J judging.)
I usually test as an ESTP, although my results have occasionally fluctuated. The "E" is a little weird -- I'm not very much of an extrovert in one-on-one settings, but I suppose I am in one (me)-on-many settings. Good thing that I'm a prof!
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Omri » Sun Nov 21, 2010 9:02 pm

Raccoon wrote:I usually test as an ESTP, although my results have occasionally fluctuated. The "E" is a little weird -- I'm not very much of an extrovert in one-on-one settings, but I suppose I am in one (me)-on-many settings. Good thing that I'm a prof!
I'm the same way (except reversed) with my I (I'm pretty much directly in the middle of INTJ and INFJ). I can be quite extroverted in one-on-one environments, but as the number of people in a social situation rises, I become more and more introverted.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Verdigris97 » Sun Nov 21, 2010 9:19 pm

Omri wrote:
Raccoon wrote:I usually test as an ESTP, although my results have occasionally fluctuated. The "E" is a little weird -- I'm not very much of an extrovert in one-on-one settings, but I suppose I am in one (me)-on-many settings. Good thing that I'm a prof!
I'm the same way (except reversed) with my I (I'm pretty much directly in the middle of INTJ and INFJ). I can be quite extroverted in one-on-one environments, but as the number of people in a social situation rises, I become more and more introverted.
I'm pretty good with public speaking, good one-on-one, but terrible at social occasions or working the room at a conference. I literally have to talk myself into walking up to people and saying "Hi," and it seems even harder if I know I need to (e.g., to introduce myself to a colleague I only know through email, or to talk to a parent of one of my kids' friends).

Yep, still "I."

On the broader topic of the book, I have to say that I enjoyed it pretty much throughout (there were some slow parts, mostly dealing with basketball or that music industry conference he attended), but it always seemed to come up a bit short of transcendent genius. It read like a really good blog that I would follow, (not surprisingly), but there wasn't quite enough coherence, both between and within the chapters.

It didn't occur to me until after I had been finished for several days that this book was his literary version of a mix tape to someone (us? a girl?). The page-numbers-as-song-times clued me in. And after that thought occurred to me, I wondered how important the sequence of the essays was to him.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by slaphappy snark » Mon Nov 22, 2010 9:36 am

JennyUnderpants wrote:I choose you, slaphappy snark! We can keep discussing Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs of course. :D
Eek! Do we have any kind of guidelines? Based on /clan, I thought we were reading fiction, but then we didn't (not complaining, despite what I said about the book...)--is it now "anything not too heavy that could be interesting to talk about"?

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by JennyUnderpants » Mon Nov 22, 2010 9:50 am

My only restriction is no chick lit. If any of you bastards make me read Eat Pray Love or friggin' Sophie Kinsella, I'm cutting you <3
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by big_mara » Mon Nov 22, 2010 10:14 am

slaphappy snark wrote:
JennyUnderpants wrote:I choose you, slaphappy snark! We can keep discussing Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs of course. :D
Eek! Do we have any kind of guidelines? Based on /clan, I thought we were reading fiction, but then we didn't (not complaining, despite what I said about the book...)--is it now "anything not too heavy that could be interesting to talk about"?
Given the time of the year, I would suggest this: http://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Shoes-H ... 434&sr=8-5

It is truly touching :wink:

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by thacon » Mon Nov 22, 2010 10:30 am

I saw this book for sale at the Phoenix airport. I think this should be our next read.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by JennyUnderpants » Mon Nov 22, 2010 10:31 am

big_mara wrote: Given the time of the year, I would suggest this: http://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Shoes-H ... 434&sr=8-5

It is truly touching :wink:
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Kelemvor » Mon Nov 22, 2010 11:56 am

Serra725 wrote: I don't really have a lot of chances to hear people's thoughts on their own personality, to compare it to how they seem from the outside, but the whole topic has been fun to think about and to discuss with my family. Have you noticed any interesting contradictions among the people you know?
I've actually thought about this a lot, and what he said resonated pretty well with me. When I was younger I thought of myself as shy (before I was old enough to know what "introvert" meant), but I was great at public speaking. As I got older, I started thinking of myself as more of an extrovert, but slowly got worse at public speaking. I suppose some of that is just being out of practice.

I've also always thought of myself as a political conservative and cynic, but I lean left on most issues: pro-gun control, pro-choice, pro-net neutrality, etc., and when push comes to shove I'm a big softie.

For instance, speaking of Christmas, this is my all-time favoritest Christmas story ever.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by big_mara » Mon Nov 22, 2010 1:52 pm

Raccoon wrote:
Verdigris97 wrote:This discussion reminded me of those myers-briggs tests they made us take in high school. I was an INTP, the first letter of which means introvert. I knew I was an introvert, but one or two of the other three scales were a little surprising to me. (N is intuitive, vs. S sensing, T is Thinking, vs. F feeling, and P is Perceiving, vs. J judging.)
I usually test as an ESTP, although my results have occasionally fluctuated. The "E" is a little weird -- I'm not very much of an extrovert in one-on-one settings, but I suppose I am in one (me)-on-many settings. Good thing that I'm a prof!
That's actually quite interesting as I feel pretty much the same way. Unless I'm with close friends, one-on-one conversations and small group communication is not really my thing. Yet, when catapulted in front of a group I usually find myself surprisingly adept at leading discussions.
Verdigris97 wrote: It didn't occur to me until after I had been finished for several days that this book was his literary version of a mix tape to someone (us? a girl?). The page-numbers-as-song-times clued me in. And after that thought occurred to me, I wondered how important the sequence of the essays was to him.
I actually really liked that formatting. It seems especially fitting since the first essay is on mr. mix tape, a la High Fidelity. In most cases, I found the "interludes" to be much more entertaining, and less taxing, than the actual essays themselves.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Eigenbasis » Mon Nov 22, 2010 3:11 pm

Kelemvor wrote:
Serra725 wrote: I don't really have a lot of chances to hear people's thoughts on their own personality, to compare it to how they seem from the outside, but the whole topic has been fun to think about and to discuss with my family. Have you noticed any interesting contradictions among the people you know?
I've actually thought about this a lot, and what he said resonated pretty well with me. When I was younger I thought of myself as shy (before I was old enough to know what "introvert" meant), but I was great at public speaking. As I got older, I started thinking of myself as more of an extrovert, but slowly got worse at public speaking. I suppose some of that is just being out of practice.

I've also always thought of myself as a political conservative and cynic, but I lean left on most issues: pro-gun control, pro-choice, pro-net neutrality, etc., and when push comes to shove I'm a big softie.

For instance, speaking of Christmas, this is my all-time favoritest Christmas story ever.
Touching. It reminds me of The Wrestler (the movie).
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by JennyUnderpants » Mon Nov 22, 2010 4:22 pm

The sequence of essays occurred to me as well when he referred to George Lucas making children's movies from a previous essay, which in turn made me wonder what Eggy's experience was like skipping around :)

I know I'm extroverted, but I don't like to think of it in terms of, "Oh my hell, I am so gregarious and engaging." It's more like I don't spend a lot of (enough?) time reflecting or observing. I get restless doing solitary activities with the notable exceptions of piano/ukulele/stat days. I would just much rather interact with someone else or a lot of someone elses. Of course, sometimes that comes back to shoot me in the foot.

Incidentally, before having kids and losing both my parents in the span of 3 years, I was an ENFP. Afterwards I became an ESTJ. I wonder what that says :)
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by preniqueezer » Mon Nov 22, 2010 10:32 pm

I haven't read anything yet, but I can chime in with a note about the personality typing. Most people misunderstand introvert vs. extrovert. Especially in the Myers-Briggs sense it doesn't have much to do with talkative or not, but more about whether you feel being around people is something you need to recover from, or something that energizes and excites you. (Or, conversely, whether being alone is when you can replenish, or whether being alone is something that wears on you.) At least that's what I was told by a psychologist who worked in HR and did a lot of Myers-Briggs talks at her company.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Omri » Tue Nov 23, 2010 12:08 am

preniqueezer wrote:I haven't read anything yet, but I can chime in with a note about the personality typing. Most people misunderstand introvert vs. extrovert. Especially in the Myers-Briggs sense it doesn't have much to do with talkative or not, but more about whether you feel being around people is something you need to recover from, or something that energizes and excites you. (Or, conversely, whether being alone is when you can replenish, or whether being alone is something that wears on you.) At least that's what I was told by a psychologist who worked in HR and did a lot of Myers-Briggs talks at her company.
Yeah, I've definitely heard this as well. I'm still an introvert by this model though :P

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Raccoon » Tue Nov 23, 2010 12:23 am

Omri wrote:
preniqueezer wrote:I haven't read anything yet, but I can chime in with a note about the personality typing. Most people misunderstand introvert vs. extrovert. Especially in the Myers-Briggs sense it doesn't have much to do with talkative or not, but more about whether you feel being around people is something you need to recover from, or something that energizes and excites you. (Or, conversely, whether being alone is when you can replenish, or whether being alone is something that wears on you.) At least that's what I was told by a psychologist who worked in HR and did a lot of Myers-Briggs talks at her company.
Yeah, I've definitely heard this as well. I'm still an introvert by this model though :P
I'm still a split personality by this. Teaching classes gets me pumped up, and I usually feel like I have excess energy to burn afterward. But one-on-one situations, not so much.
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by slaphappy snark » Tue Nov 23, 2010 12:36 am

Omri wrote:Yeah, I've definitely heard this as well. I'm still an introvert by this model though :P
You were never much of a split or contradiction based on your earlier comment in the thread--I think that doing well in small groups and not so well in large ones is pretty classic introvert by either model.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by reverkiller » Tue Nov 23, 2010 2:27 pm

I'm a pretty heavy introvert (INFP is my MB), so far as I go to avoid situations where there are more than a couple people who I don't know in any given situation. I agree with the classic "where you get energy" idea, and I think it really applies to me. Just so you guys know, my favorite line from the whole book comes from the essay about soccer, when he's talking about the hearing he had to go to about his coaching techniques. I don't have the exact quote, but its something along the lines of "The mothers claimed I was discriminating against the kids who were bad at playing. Confident they were wrong, I got out the dictionary and read the definition of "discrimination" and inadvertently proved their point."

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by slaphappy snark » Mon Nov 29, 2010 7:02 pm

JennyUnderpants wrote:[14:28]private to chatbot: roll 1d23
[14:28]chatbot (private): Rolling 1D23 gives 3.

I choose you, slaphappy snark! We can keep discussing Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs of course. :D
I'd like to go with Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. I don't have a great perspective on popularity and stuff, so if too many people have read it before, I have a backup choice or two, but I think this would be a great one to discuss with you guys.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by JennyUnderpants » Mon Nov 29, 2010 7:17 pm

LOL, I think discussing this with someone in AFHk is what spawned the whole book club thing. That is only 2 people who've read it though, and I would love to discuss it!
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by slaphappy snark » Mon Nov 29, 2010 7:36 pm

Haha wow, I (obviously) had no idea! I was all over the place with ideas, and then a podcast I was listening to while traveling this morning pushed this one to the top.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by lotsofphil » Mon Nov 29, 2010 7:37 pm

I read it a year or 18 months ago. It's weird.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by NardoLoopa » Mon Nov 29, 2010 8:46 pm

Sounds good to me. I was going to say it'd be nice to read a Japanese Author, but considering he wrote "The Remains of the Day" I'm not sure what to think of his cultural grounding.

Also, for the record, read Chuck's book last week. Certainly better written than "American Nerd: The Story of My People", which I also read. Probably the best part of the latter is the sub-title -- hilarious.
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Serra725 » Tue Nov 30, 2010 2:30 pm

Ooh, that looks good! I've never heard of it before.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Ceirdwyn » Tue Nov 30, 2010 2:54 pm

Sounds interesting, never heard of it either.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Ringwraith » Thu Dec 02, 2010 3:36 pm

I'mma have to drop out, whatwith work and making sammiches taking most of my time :(
But I'll prolly read the books on the list when I've got less stuff to do :)

Have fun, you guys :)

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Antipasta » Fri Dec 03, 2010 2:18 pm

In case you need more, Chuck Klosterman had a zombie essay in the NY Times today:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/05/arts/ ... mbies.html

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by JennyUnderpants » Tue Dec 14, 2010 2:25 pm

Two weeks for you to finish this one, or recall it if you already read it! I'll be honest - I picked this book off a summer reading list somewhere a long time ago, read the first chapter, got bored, put it down, and forgot about it. Then I came across the title again, found out what it was about (I'm being intentionally vague because I've already spoiled a major plot of a novel once this month and I think I've met my quota), and decided the first chapter was much more interesting in that context. :D
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Verdigris97 » Tue Dec 14, 2010 3:07 pm

Got my copy from the library just in time for my business trip. I'm about 70 pages in, and I'm enjoying it so far.

I have some guesses, but I really have no idea what's really going on.

ETA: just hit part two during my first flight back tonight, and I've been hooked since about p. 80. I never would have picked this book for myself, so thanks for the suggestion.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Ceirdwyn » Wed Dec 15, 2010 1:20 am

I have the book lying on my desktop now, waiting for me to finish Wheel of Time #12. I'll probably start reading it next week or so.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Kelemvor » Fri Dec 17, 2010 5:57 pm

Verdigris97 wrote:Got my copy from the library just in time for my business trip. I'm about 70 pages in, and I'm enjoying it so far.

I have some guesses, but I really have no idea what's really going on.

ETA: just hit part two during my first flight back tonight, and I've been hooked since about p. 80. I never would have picked this book for myself, so thanks for the suggestion.
So this. The first 70 pages or so reminded me a little bit of Stephenson's Baroque trilogy: interesting characters, described well, easy-to-read and a distinct linguistic style that was refreshing and fun, but. Nothing. Ever. Happened. At least there was some mystery as to what carers and donors were (I don't think I spoiling anything, pretty sure those are mentioned in the first 5 pages).

Anyway, if you're in the book club and you find the book boring, stick with it until page 100 or so and then decide.

By the by, apparently they made a movie of this book that stars Keira Knightly. I don't know about you, but I had a really hard time imagining that this book would make a good movie (even though I liked the book).

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Ceirdwyn » Sun Dec 19, 2010 6:59 am

Sadly I had buecher.de spoiling the main theme for me when ordering but with that in mind I found the first two chapters...disturbing somehow. I'll see how it continues...

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by slaphappy snark » Sun Dec 19, 2010 12:38 pm

I just finished rereading. When I first read it a few years ago, I don't think that I had the experience that V and Kel had, so I may also have had it spoiled.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Verdigris97 » Thu Dec 23, 2010 9:46 pm

So when is our deadline again? Next Tuesday? I have a few questions, but mostly I'm interested in seeing everyone's reaction to various things in the book...
...like that selfish b**** Ruth, for one.
*shakes fist*

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by JennyUnderpants » Wed Dec 29, 2010 7:52 am

I don't know, it's very hard for me to assign antagonist/protagonist roles for this book. I felt like Ruth was a victim of her circumstance through the whole thing, and I just couldn't fault her for wanting something of her own when she knew what was coming. And I mean, she got her comeuppance with the 2-donation death!

I was just left incredibly sad at the end. I liked how Ishiguro didn't even bother answering how harvesting clones would be ethically possible, and jumped straight into a setting where it was just assumed.
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Verdigris97 » Wed Dec 29, 2010 1:02 pm

JennyUnderpants wrote:I don't know, it's very hard for me to assign antagonist/protagonist roles for this book. I felt like Ruth was a victim of her circumstance through the whole thing, and I just couldn't fault her for wanting something of her own when she knew what was coming. And I mean, she got her comeuppance with the 2-donation death!

I was just left incredibly sad at the end. I liked how Ishiguro didn't even bother answering how harvesting clones would be ethically possible, and jumped straight into a setting where it was just assumed.
I felt sad, too, but mostly for Tommy. Maybe because I'm a guy, and sympathized with him more than the two main women, but it seemed to me that he really got a raw deal. Of course, because of the way they all had to be raised, they were all victims of their circumstances and their handlers, but Tommy was also a victim of his peers, too, and more so than the others...

I was being a bit facetious calling Ruth a "selfish b****," but I do think she was more selfish than the others. Maybe that's only because she was more aware, like you said, of what was going on around them. Or maybe they were all aware, but she was in less of a state of denial.

My two big questions: 1) was the boat a metaphor for Tommy, or for all of them, or something else altogether? It was an inanimate object that had been blown into a position from which it could not be rescued, much like each of the clones when they got to the donor stage. And I didn't think it was a coincidence that the boat appeared right when Kathy started visiting Tommy at his center.

2) was there something more than "cloning for medical purposes is wrong?" I felt like Ishiguro was getting at something a LOT deeper than medical ethics. There were so many parts of the book that resonated with the general process of growing to adulthood, and all the way to death, never feeling like you knew the whole story, and always feeling that there were forces more in control of your own life than you are. This might be a stretch, though...

Even though the book was a bit slow in parts, and the narrator was not as sympathetic as you would expect (and I assume that was intentional, but it was still a bit off-putting), I can't stop thinking about it. Again, thanks for the suggestion!

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Ceirdwyn » Wed Dec 29, 2010 1:54 pm

The book has left me more then a bit troubled actually.

What came to mind almost immediately for me was the parallel between raising clones for medical purposes and raising pigs/cows etc. for food production. Especially the talk between Kathy/Tommy and Madame/Ms Emily - and Ms Emilys fight for better circumstances in the bringing up of the "students". Both clones and food production animals are "born" to die for the benefit of others be it organ donations or meat to eat...

So while we would readily condemn the treatment of the clones in the book (at least I did) most of us think different about food production animals, because they are "less then human, so it doesn't matter".

As for the characters - normally when I read books that are told in the first person I eventually feel close to the narrator. This time it was different - things like the pencilcase thing between Ruth and Kathy left me confused because I was not able to relate why some of those things angered Kathy. In the end though I also see Ruth as a victim of her circumstances - someone who is not easy to have as a friend because of her outward behaviour, but someone who has a soft heart hidden in that hard/egoistic shell.

Also: why did none of the clones ever resist their fate?
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Turtle Juice » Wed Dec 29, 2010 2:22 pm

I only read books with the word "undead" and/or "zombie" in the title.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Kelemvor » Sat Jan 01, 2011 6:52 pm

You guys and your metaphors and your insightful comparisons to food production animals, making me *think*. Dangit!

I thought Ruth was selfish and unlikeable, and I kept wishing Kathy would shiv her (although I was fairly sure this would not happen). I am unsure whether to interpret her final act to mean that she was a good person inside all along and just had trouble showing it, or if she was a bad person all along trying to get a little redemption before her completion. Although, is there really a difference between someone who is a good person and has trouble overcoming her own character flaws to do nice things for others, and someone who is just a bad person?

I also found it interesting that there was no backstory to how harvesting clones became possible, just that it was. It reminded me of the movie Air Force One (what?), in that Glenn Close played the vice president, before Palin and back when Hilary was still a First Lady, but the movie never made a big deal out of it. Also, did anyone else stop to consider whether, if tomorrow the world had a bunch of clones whose organ donations made it possible to prevent/cure disease, whether we would find that abhorrent (yes, probably) and whether we, like the populace in the book, would be willing to lose our loved ones to those diseases to prevent the necessity of having clones (I don't think I would)?

I related best to Tommy, I think, and not just because he was a dude -- I feel like I've had similar experiences to him growing up.

Finally, while I was pondering the clones-as-microcosm-of-life and clones-as-metaphor-for-food-animals (which was amusing since I'm currently reading Omnivore's Dilemma right now) perspectives, it struck me that the clones had something really valuable: a definition and sense of purpose. They are continually told that they exist for one purpose and one purpose only (to the point of using "completion" as a euphemism for death), and they never fail to achieve that purpose. How many non-clones are able to die knowing definitively that you've done, exactly and completely, what you were set on earth to do? How many of us even have a semblance of an idea what our purpose is?

Also, for TJ, perhaps our next book should be Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. (Seriously, that book exists, and I hear it's surprisingly decent. Though this was coming from someone who liked Pride and Prejudice, which I did not.)

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by JennyUnderpants » Thu Jan 06, 2011 7:02 pm

[20:01]private to chatbot: roll 1d21

[20:01]chatbot (private): Rolling 1D21 gives 10.

thacon! Please to be picking a book when not being a genius. Thanks! The rest of you, by all means, keep discussing or not discussing.
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Serra725 » Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:22 pm

I was only a little bit chilled because growing clones for their organs seems pretty unlikely. I also wonder why none of the clones ever left and tried to "pass."

I was pretty intrigued by the dynamics among a small group of people who were with each other constantly for life. I'm pretty sure there is not that much subtext in interactions with people, even family, but maybe for them there would be. Or maybe part of why Kathy had to pay so much attention to that was that she was best friends with Ruth and had to catch the subtle clues and play along with her fake attitude of the day. I'll come right out and say that I detested Ruth, even before she became Tommy's girlfriend just so that Kathy wouldn't, and what she did at the end does not make up for the rest of it.

About the Morningside scandal that Miss Emily mentioned (is that what it was called?), what was the connection between it and Hailsham? Was it implied that the researcher was passing off his experiments as students there?

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by slaphappy snark » Thu Jan 06, 2011 10:05 pm

I had a different experience from most of you, it seems, in that I fell easily into relating to Kathy, despite (or because of?) her distance and passivity. I felt a lot of sympathy for Tommy, but primarily from Kathy's perspective. I have been trying to figure what the difference might have been for me, and all that has led to is feeling weird, because Kathy definitely tended to let life happen to her until she gradually was able to take what she wanted--and even then, only at the urging of others.
Serra725 wrote:About the Morningside scandal that Miss Emily mentioned (is that what it was called?), what was the connection between it and Hailsham? Was it implied that the researcher was passing off his experiments as students there?
I think that the reminder that clones could have characteristics beyond that of usual humans and turned people off of clones in general. Related to that, I found the Hailsham emphasis on the children's art somewhat fascinating. As Kel brought up (and was alluded to during the discussion with Miss Emily), we are selfish, and it is unlikely that society would be willing to give up such perfect cures for disease, assuming they somehow came into existence. Proof that the clones have souls (or creative independent thought) could just as easily lead to a tendency to shove them out of sight, similar to the reaction to the scandal, rather than encouraging humane treatment or halting harvests completely. Back to Ceir's disturbing parallel, if we gave cows the means and opportunity, and they created wonderful things, what would the societal response be?

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Kelemvor » Sat Jan 08, 2011 7:49 pm

This is probably one reason why there's not (to my knowledge) a whole lot of research into whether cows and pigs feel pain or grief (another is that there's no money in it :P). We don't want to know if the answer is yes.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by stupac2 » Sat Jan 08, 2011 8:42 pm

Or because we don't need to. Given the similar of central nervous systems it's pretty certain that other mammals do indeed feel pain. I'd be shocked if all vertebrates didn't feel pain in some form. And we know that other primates and some animals like elephants show what appears to be grief, so it's similarly likely that that phenomenon is widespread among the animal kingdom.

In short, cows and pigs might be able to feel pain, but god damn are they tasty.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by top1214 » Mon Jan 10, 2011 3:48 pm

stupac2 wrote:Or because we don't need to. Given the similar of central nervous systems it's pretty certain that other mammals do indeed feel pain. I'd be shocked if all vertebrates didn't feel pain in some form. And we know that other primates and some animals like elephants show what appears to be grief, so it's similarly likely that that phenomenon is widespread among the animal kingdom.

In short, cows and pigs might be able to feel pain, but god damn are they tasty.
That's the reasons why (us) researchers have separate guidleines based on the class of animals. If you work with vertebrates (things with spines basically [think fish "and higher organisms"]), you have a whole lot more things to deal with than if you work with, say fruit flies in Paris.

BTW, flies can't physically feel any pain if you rip their wings off. Take that sadists!

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by JennyUnderpants » Tue Jan 18, 2011 8:58 am

thacon (at whom you should throw bricks) is ceding his choice in favor of someone who actually read at least one of the first two books so...

[09:55]private to chatbot: roll 1d21

[09:55]chatbot (private): Rolling 1D21 gives 13. -tic-

Kel! Pick a book :D And then thank thacon!
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by JennyUnderpants » Tue Jan 25, 2011 8:46 pm

FINE. I GIVE UP, OK? EIGENBASIS, PICK A BOOK SO WE CAN GET THIS GODDAMN SHOW ON THE ROAD. :evil: :evil: :evil:
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Eigenbasis » Wed Jan 26, 2011 12:08 am

I'm going to go with A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative, by Roger Van Oech.

As the title implies, it is a "self help" book on how to be more creative. It's been on my to-read list for a while and I figured this book club would be a great way to present it. If you've ever played Magic: The Gathering, you probably know who Mark Rosewater is (lead designer for many sets), and he has said this was the most influential book of his career. I'm taking a class this semester on physical computing, and the class really emphasizes creativity. I need all the help I can get!
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by big_mara » Wed Jan 26, 2011 10:56 am

I just read the first few pages (that are available on amazon) and I've got to say that this thing appears worthwhile for the illustrations alone.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by thacon » Wed Jan 26, 2011 1:31 pm

Bummer, there doesn't seem to be an ebook version and the New York public library system has a whopping 1 copy of the book with 6 people already waiting. This may be some good B&N floor reading.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Eigenbasis » Wed Jan 26, 2011 2:24 pm

It would be good for B&N floor reading because it's pretty short and it has pictures. Bring a notebook along to do the exercises!

My copy was the only one in my university's library system. It was checked out once in 2010 and 42 times total, since 1985.
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by transplanted_entwife » Wed Jan 26, 2011 6:44 pm

This one sounds extremely interesting to me- I'm going to see if my library has an ebook version available to check out for my Nook. =)
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by preniqueezer » Wed Jan 26, 2011 10:17 pm

I've ordered a copy from Amazon. One penny (plus $3.99 shipping) is a pretty affordable price. I don't really struggle with "being creative" per se, but I like thinking about different ways to channel my creative energies, or different ways to get moving when I'm not feeling it right at the moment. Hopefully this will hit some of either or both of those points.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by preniqueezer » Tue Feb 08, 2011 7:01 pm

Got my copy of the book last night, read the first few chapters of it today at lunch. So far no real surprises. Some humorous anecdotes, some "think outside the box" moments, and a few reminders of things that I more or less knew, but sometimes forget, in the same way that I can go months without sitting down and having a really nice stretch, despite the fact that every time I do stretch I say "wow, stretching is fantastic, I should do this every day."

So, um, I guess I'm off to stretch for a bit, and more reading later.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Eigenbasis » Tue Feb 08, 2011 11:25 pm

I'm about halfway through. So far the biggest take-away for me has been "anything goes at first, then worry about practicality later". Too often I will shoot down ideas immediately because they don't seem feasible at first sight. However, it's a better idea to brainstorm with an anything-goes mentality, and see where those crazy ideas can take you. They can be stepping stones to real solutions.
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by top1214 » Wed Feb 09, 2011 8:42 am

Eigenbasis wrote:I'm about halfway through. So far the biggest take-away for me has been "anything goes at first, then worry about practicality later". Too often I will shoot down ideas immediately because they don't seem feasible at first sight. However, it's a better idea to brainstorm with an anything-goes mentality, and see where those crazy ideas can take you. They can be stepping stones to real solutions.
I imagine that sort of open-mindedness once led to this conversation:

"What if, and I'm just spit-balling here, what if we blend mozzarella with another cheese? Probably another Italian cheese, b/c you know, mozzarella is already an Italian cheese. We can still put it on the pizza, but it won't be all stringy, but it will still taste 'good.'"

"Hey yeah, and if we combine that w/Tony's crunchy crust, we really have something unique!"

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by JennyUnderpants » Wed Feb 09, 2011 9:45 am

I got my copy last week, but there's another book ahead of it that I can't put down yet. I'd probably make better progress if I didn't limit myself to only reading on the Metro, where I inevitably fall asleep. Hehe.

Anyway, my kids were into the Imagination Movers for a while, and there's this song they sing on there that, bad grammar aside, goes, "There's no bad ideas when you're braaaaaaaainstorming!" and it would drive me nuts not only because of the grammar, but also because I just wanted to say, "Yes there are! There are bad ideas!" I'm kind of glad I never said it out loud though; I'd hate to suppress my kids' creativity :)
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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by Eigenbasis » Wed Feb 09, 2011 11:20 am

top1214 wrote:
Eigenbasis wrote:I'm about halfway through. So far the biggest take-away for me has been "anything goes at first, then worry about practicality later". Too often I will shoot down ideas immediately because they don't seem feasible at first sight. However, it's a better idea to brainstorm with an anything-goes mentality, and see where those crazy ideas can take you. They can be stepping stones to real solutions.
I imagine that sort of open-mindedness once led to this conversation:

"What if, and I'm just spit-balling here, what if we blend mozzarella with another cheese? Probably another Italian cheese, b/c you know, mozzarella is already an Italian cheese. We can still put it on the pizza, but it won't be all stringy, but it will still taste 'good.'"

"Hey yeah, and if we combine that w/Tony's crunchy crust, we really have something unique!"
Heh, you know how to push my buttons. However, those guys who came up with the St. Louis style pizza found a market niche and were successful, so I guess it worked out for them.
"Have you ever heard the expression, ‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, and then throw it in the face of the person who gave you the lemons until they give you the oranges you originally asked for?’"

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by top1214 » Sat Feb 12, 2011 3:53 pm

The worst thing I've heard recently is that someone opened up a St. Louis style pizza place in Denver, and it was thriving.

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Re: Less Seal Clubbing, More Book Clubbing!

Post by preniqueezer » Sun Feb 20, 2011 6:18 pm

Finally finished the book this week. I'm not sure I've got a lot more to add than what I already said. Some cute stories, a few handy tricks for getting around mental obstacles, but nothing too surprising. Maybe I've done enough brainstorming in my day that the process doesn't seem that alien to me.

I did sort of like the sets of quotes at the end of the book, with the big pictures and the little interpretations below. It reminded me of a set of tarot cards, where you get a picture for inspiration, and they all have a handful of meanings.

(Which itself reminds me of a project I wanted to do, where I'd deal out a handful of tarot cards, and then several different people would use those cards, in any order, to write a short story. Just to see which aspects people borrowed from, and how different the stories would be depending on the order the cards were used.)

If there's a negative, for me it was the artwork. I found myself really actively disliking a lot of the pictures. A lot of them struck me as feeling really dated (not surprising in such an old book) or being the obvious cliche for the situation (perhaps unfair, because those pictures have had decades to influence or become cliche, and they may have been more original at the time). That still seems like a weak reason not to like the pictures, but I was really surprised at how many times I found myself actually annoyed by one of the drawings. There's a certain uncanny valley creepiness to many of the faces, and a lot of weird and unpleasant things being done to the heads.

Had a very weird moment when I turned to a page in the middle (part of the Don't be Foolish section) and realized I had my hand on my face in *exactly* the same way as the laughing woman. I wasn't laughing, just tired, but the positioning was uncanny.

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