That was so yesterday


"It's war, baby." also reminds me of the saying, "That's showbiz, kid." The inconsistency of "showbiz," where one day something has that special "it" factor, and the next day, everyone has already forgotten about it and moved on, is present on page 79: Avi and Randy "were frequently mentioned as among Silicon Valley's rising stars...A year after that, the entire enterprise had crashed and burned." I thought the next line was really funny. "This was an epic tale not worth telling." The author likes to use oxymoronic terms (or concepts) next to each other. (i.e. "sophisticated urbanite" tha

first thoughts


Here are my initial reactions to the new novel. I thought the prologue was really ironic because Shaftoe keeps making up these haikus but he's in China. He says it's to add some Oriental spice to his poetry and to impress the folks back home. Way to generalize all Asians, buddy. (I guess I'm a little sensitive about that.) He's really sarcastic, and I was particularly amused when I read, "Now these Chinese are sophisticated urbanites" (1). It's really strange to read about Shanghai as this chaotic, backwards area because today, it's home to a chaotic (some things never change), artsy community.

Can I ask a stupid question?


I have a stupid question to ask. The book often refers to the "Nipponese", "Nips" etc. and I realized I had never heard that term before. I'm guessing this is another word for Japanese? If so, why does the book use this term? Does anybody know the derivation right off the top of their head? I'll look it up if nobody has any ideas...

Facial hair and shaving fetishes


I loved the hyperbole in the scene on page 76 (and more) where Randy describes Charlene's paper on beards. She goes to such great lengths to research this paper! She watches porn designed for shaving fetishists ("watching a video of a straight razor being drawn along wet, soapy flesh"), she scours Gilette statistics, and even comes up with statistics about different races and their beard growth. (I found that statement somwhat false. Is she counting all ethnicities? I feel she made a generalized statement... Anyway, I digress.) I thought the survey she took was very hilarious--that essentially all women preferred clean shaven men-- and I definitely agreed.

paper sources


I know many of you are working on Infinite Jest (or Underworld). This thesis talks about both of them and the American media. Check it out in the link below.

"It's war, baby."


So this is kind of a small thing, but I thought it was pretty interesting. On page 48, Glory and Shaftoe are interrupted by wailing sirens. Glory asks what it is, and Shaftoe "sees searchlights. And it ain't no Hollywood premiere. 'It's war, baby,' he says." I thought the juxtaposition here was really funny. Here Shaftoe is, saying that this isn't some Hollywood thing, and then some terribly cliche Hollywood line comes flying out of his mouth. Maybe he wants it to be Hollywood, because then it wouldn't be real? I'm not sure, but it's amusing nonetheless.

baseball and race revisited

This is a fascinating update on black baseball players. It is 60 years since Jackie Robinson and yet, for all sorts of reasons, only 9% of MLB players are black. Any sharedness of baseball that DeLillo may have been suggesting (Cotter and Waterson or Nick and Sims) is vastly diminished in today's version of the game. Not only are there few black players, there are only 2 black managers, few front office types, and a dwindling fan base. Two teams, the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves, have 0 black players. There are more players from the Dominican (81) than African Americans (68) and the MLB invests 5 or 6 times more money in player/youth development programs in Latin America than in the urban U.S.

Mario as CT's son

On page 901 the text reas, "The wedding photo was available for inspection, of course, and confirmed Mrs. Tavis as huge-headed and wildly short." Mario too is described as having a huge head and being the shortest member of a tall family. Also we read the part about "the first birth of the second Incandenza son." Maybe, when Mario's birth is described as a "surrprise birth" it also refers to the fact that Mario is CT's biological son. Remember too that CT avoids Mario at all costs.



As others have already mentioned, this book is pretty funny. It's also (at the moment) accessible, even with the math thrown in there (which I rarely understand).

I like how this author takes big ideas, issues, or groups and focuses it into a person, a conversation, or just into one paragraph.

Like others, the description of humanity as a bunch of badasses was amusing, so I won't go on abot that.

I loved how he summed up academics (I'm currently writing a research paper on the problems within academic writing) by having the "tech guy" interact with Charlene and her friends. It sounded JUST like CORE class! Instead of explaining the "silliness" of academics, the author just shows it. A lot of authors have actually gone about explaining their view or point, but this is a more entertaining (in my view) way of doing it.

Our Old Favorites


So many of our favorite themes are showing up again in this book! The first major one that I noticed was paranoia, our good buddy from pretty much every novel we've read this semester. Of course, since the novel is about codes and encryption and war, paranoia is huge. I really liked Stephenson's recognition of the paranoia, though; on page 53, he writes, "The question is: how much paranoia is really appropriate?" I guess I liked the implication here that sometimes paranoia goes over the top (see Gravity's Rainbow), and that there's a fine line to be drawn between too much and not enough paranoia.

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