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2 days ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'Raising St... · 0 replies · +3 points

"Naq zbguref jvgu gur onorf nfyrrc
Tb ebpxva' gb gur tragyr orng
Naq gur eulguz bs gur envyf vf nyy gurl qernz"


1 week ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'Raising St... · 0 replies · +7 points

Lord Vetinari is getting impatient. No doubt he has his reasons (and I can't remember what they were), but even with an army of workers there's only so fast you can safely build a railroad. There was a lot of slipshod construction when the American rail system was expanding westward as the different companies raced to be The First, and the results weren't pretty.

Harry King. He's such a Railroad Baron, hugely and sincerely generous-- on his own terms: Those guys practically invented modern philanthropy, but not until they'd made their millions by whatever grasping means necessary. They'd be generous, but they'd resist bitterly the notion that they could be required to share. (Not much has changed, probably.)

"We have to get out of here, out of everything that is here, into the light."

Yeah, a great metaphor. And yet... does she mean here here, here with the murderers who'd stick a knife in the world rather than see it change? Or does she mean dwarf culture in general? Can you be a dwarf without being a miner? Can you be a mining dwarf without the toxic insularity of the traditional mine? It's not always simple.

A day for you to walk with the rest of humanity,
Breathe fresh air beneath the big blue sky,
Bring your pride; leave your vanity.
One life beckons as another one dies.

Armstrong's army, won't you march with me,
Into the morning after?
Armstrong's army won't you march with me,
Into the bright new day?

- Jez Lowe

Tommy Armstrong was a "Pitman Poet" whose songs celebrated, or documented, or shaped (depending on who you listen to) the coal-mining culture of northeast England.. The world changes. What can you keep and what can you leave behind? How much can you leave behind and still be what you were? It's not always simple.

1 week ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'Raising St... · 1 reply · +8 points

"You drives your engine onto t'turning table... you turn the whole thing around and it's now facing t'other way!"

More than you knew you wanted to know about early-model railway turntables.

"the Royal Bank'll definitely give you a loan, if indeed you ever need one."
I'll just bet they will.

This is a song to celebrate banks,
Because they are full of money and you go into them and all
you hear is clinks and clanks,
Or maybe a sound like the wind in the trees on the hills,
Which is the rustling of the thousand dollar bills.
Most bankers dwell in marble halls,
Which they get to dwell in because they encourage deposits
and discourage withdrawals,
And particularly because they all observe one rule which woe
betides the banker who fails to heed it,
Which is you must never lend any money to anybody unless
they don't need it.
I know you, you cautious conservative banks!
If people are worried about their rent it is your duty to deny
them the loan of one nickel, yes, even one copper engraving
of the martyred son of the late Nancy Hanks;
Yes, if they request fifty dollars to pay for a baby you must
look at them like Tarzan looking at an uppity ape in the
And tell them what do they think a bank is, anyhow, they had
better go get the money from their wife's aunt or ungle.
But suppose people come in and they have a million and they
want another million to pile on top of it,
Why, you brim with the milk of human kindness and you
urge them to accept every drop of it,
And you lend them the million so then they have two million
and this gives them the idea that they would be better off
with four,
So they already have two million as security so you have no
hesitation in lending them two more,
And all the vice-presidents nod their heads in rhythm,
And the only question asked is do the borrowers want the
money sent or do they want to take it withm.
Because I think they deserve our appreciation and thanks,
the jackasses who go around saying that health and happi-
ness are everything and money isn't essential,
Because as soon as they have to borrow some unimportant
money to maintain their health and happiness they starve
to death so they can't go around any more sneering at good
old money, which is nothing short of providential.

- Ogden Nash

1 week ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'Raising St... · 0 replies · +11 points

Enceinte definitely means pregnant. It's what the French Quirmians would say naturally, and what the English Ankh-Morporkian upper class would say if they didn't want to be so crass as to say "pregnant" right out loud like that.

1 week ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'Raising St... · 0 replies · +6 points

I think what bothers me about Iron Girder being female -- beside the minimal presence of other female characters-- is what irks me about the general tradition of ships and trains and cars being regarded as female. The men who operate those machines are the actors; the machines are acted upon, and that's why they're coded female.

RS seems to be fitting right into that model: there are women around, being supportive and also hopefully also getting on with their own lives, but all the persons directly involved in "working on the railroad" are men.

(are airplanes female also? I'm not sure.)

But, as has been pointed out before, this is the Disc where belief affects reality. So, Iron Girder is not merely metaphorically female, but actually female? And, apparently, jealous and temperamental. Although I certainly don't begrudge her defending herself against this nameless terrorist.

I agree, I've heard enough about pink steam for one book, too.

3 weeks ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'Raising St... · 0 replies · +10 points

"You don't have to live in Ankh-Morpork to work in Ankh-Morpork."

And Moist von Lipwig invents Urban Sprawl and The Suburb. Thanks, I think.

The idea of a little place in the country, away from the big city but with acceptable communications to Ankh-Morpork, suddenly looked very inviting.

It's the Main Line, that's what it is!

"Our Emily tells me that the Quirmian for 'railway' means 'card game'"

Well, it can -- the French chemin-de-fer means both "railway" (literally, iron road) and "a card game related to baccarat."

3 weeks ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'Raising St... · 0 replies · +9 points

Hmmm. It's possible, I suppose, but my first reaction is, probably not. I admit that Susan does "air of authority" better than anyone, but I don't think she'd be interested in a career on the trains. After all, she doesn't need a train to get wherever she wants to go.

And she doesn't fit with "steam-engine time" very well.. She's from an older Disc.

We haven't seen anything of her since Thief of Time, and things have changed since then. Possibly, we haven't seen Susan because things have changed. The Disc may still be driven by narrativium, but the narrativium itself is made less of myth and magic, and more of technology and human nature (and dwarf nature, and troll nature, and goblin nature, of course). It's the difference between the wild magic of Soul Music and the quaderatics of Raising Steam.

It's as if, in the "adult" books at least, all the remaining wild magic has concentrated itself around the avatar of Mercury calling himself Moist von Lipwig (thank you, Larmo the Weird) and lets itself be used in purely human endeavors. Perfectly useful endeavors-- I'm all in favor of functional systems for communications and banking and travel.

In the Discworld as we know now it, it's the Century of the Anchovy. Magic and archetype are the subjects of children's books, while the grownups are busy. But I'm not sure that an iron road needs a Susan, or would know what to do with a Susan.

3 weeks ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'Raising St... · 0 replies · +9 points

Really, aren't there times when we'd all like to say to a certain class of journalist -- A lot of what you write is flamin' gristle, total stinking made-up gristle, meant to frighten people who don't know owt.

3 weeks ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'Raising St... · 0 replies · +10 points

"When I saw you first, Mister Lipwig, I reckoned you were all mouth and no trousers."

An expression which means the same thing as its inverse, "All mouth and trousers." Either way-- trousers with no, um, contents, or no lower half at all -- it's all talk and no action.

Three deaths in one lifetime would definitely be overegging it.

From "overegging the pudding" -- to use too much or do too much, to the point of spoiling the final product. It is believed that the pudding in question is probably a Yorkshire pudding, where you have to have the correct proportions of eggs, milk, and flour, or the pudding won't rise.

It's Moist who uses the phrase, but it's clearly Dick Simnel who's the canny Yorkshireman around here. A simple lad, but not to be cozened by big-city journalists any more than by big-city bankers or big-city lawyers or big-city industrialists. A living illustration of the precept that "you can't cheat an honest man."

I is i' truth a coontry youth,
Nean used to Lunnon fashions;
Yet vartue guides, an' still presides
Ower all my steps an' passions.
Nea coortly leer, bud all sincere,
Nea bribe shall iver blinnd me ;
If thoo can like a Yorkshire tike,
A rogue thoo'll niver finnd me.

- Henry Carey, from "An Honest Yorkshireman," 1735

4 weeks ago @ Mark Reads - Mark Reads 'Raising St... · 4 replies · +9 points

The more I (re)read of this, the less I see the point of the dwarfs-and-grags subplot.

In the first place, these section don't seem to me to be as well-written as some of the others. RS is notoriously uneven, understandably considering the circumstances, and I don't know how these segments fit into its overall editorial history. But they definitely seem to be less nimble than one would hope.

(Also, what's with Bleddyn and "I talked to all the women around here"? Has dwarf culture evolved so quickly, even in a more-or-less traditional mining community, that dwarf families have adopted human-type gender roles? Men down the mines and women in the kitchen cooking up a nice rat supper, and everybody knows which is which? It doesn't seem so long ago that only a dwarf's most intimate companions knew his or her gender, and it didn't much matter what it was. Granted, that system had its own problems, but we seem to have dispensed with it pretty quickly, )

Secondly, we've already had a grag-terrorists story line in a few books now; I'm not sure we need to see it again. Espcially if, as I assume, the grags are going to start attacking the railroad.

The railroad is going to do a lot of good for a lot of people. But, if we go by Roundworld history, it's not an unalloyed good. There are costs, there are winners and losers, and I'm not sure I care for the only opposition being painted as violent authoritarian dictators.