Substack cometh, and lo it is good. (Pricing)

Gene Expression Book Club – it’s off to the races!

So I’ve started reading the two books we selected:

Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom: China, the West, and the Epic Story of the Taiping Civil War

Not Born Yesterday: The Science of Who We Trust and What We Believe

Chapter 1 for both of them is very short, so I assume most of you will not flake out on this. I may go ahead, but as you know I will be posting every Friday night. If you have a blog, post your own  impressions and I will link that up. If you have a comment, put in a comment. If you are an “oral” expositor, I suppose I could link to a podcast.

The page for the book club will be updated over the next five months.

Hugo Mecier follows me on Twitter, so I’m going to try and see if he’s willing to do a livestream early in 2021 about Not Born Yesterday. I don’t know Stephen Platt, but am hoping to do the same thing with him if he’s open to it.

Remember, you only need to read one book. But really both are doable. I’m going to be reading some other things since one chapter a week is so leisurely.

As for why I’m doing the book club and just totally pessimistic about Western civilization:

There are barbarians all around us. Just look. These people are no different than censorious religious radicals in the past. Except for religious radicals at least had some notional broader vision of the world and the good. These people only care about their own individual feels. Power uber alles.


11 thoughts on “Gene Expression Book Club – it’s off to the races!

  1. So far, so breezy has been the reading. I finished both assignments within four brief sessions. So within a mere hour or so altogether. I think most frequenters of this blog can easily do the same.

  2. “If you have a comment, put in a comment.”

    Will there be different posts linked from the bookclub page or do we do that here? I’m a slow reader, but not so slow I cannot manage a couple chapters a week. May drop “Born Yesterday” if it doesn’t pick up. Didn’t find the writing or argument strong. Problem could be me, likely was. “Autumn” was a real pleasure.

  3. I am put off by historians and others who want to change the names of events for political reasons. Platt wants to do this with the Taiping Rebellion in order to dissuade readers from bias against the rebels. Everywhere else he is clear that he intends to be evenhanded and will show us that it is more apt to call it a civil war ( It is , however , an attempt to show the war from all sides …) so I’m just going to ignore that little passage about the name change.

    When I read Mercier’s example of Alex Jones and the pizzeria, I wondered if he would have to change much in his book if he had instead picked something like Husseins’s WMDs as an example.

  4. Hello, Razib. To be honest, burying Western civilization is a bit premature. For example, there are rays of hope in Europe. I’m not so optimistic about the United States, but if we look at the Democratic Party, we see that the only thing that unites the different wings of that party is their attitude toward Trump. The division between moderate and left-wing fanatics has not gone anywhere. If Biden wins, the party will have to decide which course to take. And here there can be a party split. This is a chance for Republicans, provided they reject Trumpism and change their position on climate, medicine and isolationism.

  5. please post stuff for open threads in the open threads.

    thinking of doing a zoom or yahoo livestream late tonight. but not sure ppl will be up. 10 PM/1 AM PDT/EDT. too late? would post on patron page but perhaps i should just post here. idk

  6. Very clever. The nocturnal hours you propose are a good strategy to diplomatically step away from those pesky superannuated lower-48ers.

  7. 10 pm west coast maybe a bit late for me (i work early) but if I can stay up I would be down. Or something like that. If you do livestream, please post on your blog.

    BTW the books are both interesting, i’m liking the project.

  8. Didn’t comment on the initial post as unsure I’ll manage to stick with it, but I’ve lasted a week and enjoyed them so far. I do agree that “Autumn” has better writing. Looking forward to discussion post.

  9. “These people are no different than censorious religious radicals in the past. Except for religious radicals at least had some notional broader vision of the world and the good.”
    I don’t know whether you were looking for the irony, but this happens to be a private Catholic (religious) university.

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