At our August meeting, we read and discussed chapter 1 – “Arrival on Himmel Street” up to chapter 2 “Saumensch” of “The Book Thief”. The page references in this blog are to the 10th anniversary Black Swan edition of 2016.
For next time, we will read up to the end of Part One – The Gravedigger’s Handbook. Next time will be Wednesday October 4th.
Some of the ideas and themes we discussed in our August meeting were:
the final solution, an expression which now has only one, stark, meaning for all Jews and Europeans everywhere.
“the nothingness of life moving on with a shuffle” (p.28) is perhaps a reference to Hamlet’s famous “To be or not to be” speech in which he says
Okuda-san’s comment: “I bought The Book Thief, which consists of 536 pages.I read about 50 pages so far and find the book is relatively easy to read,and more importantly, very enjoyable, so much fun to read.” Japanese translation is a little expensive , from 3,000 yen up. http://amzn.to/2ut9QlI
Rapeseed oil (also called Canola) was mentioned. Where does the name come from? Wikipedia tells us: “The name derives from the Latin for turnip, rāpa or rāpum, and is first recorded in English at the end of the 14th century”.
Here are the key concepts from the book:
central planning: control and regulation of the masses by a limited number of people using government to enforce their decisions and alter the behavior of other individuals.
Competition: multiple producers or service providers trying to attract more customers by lowering their price, improving their product or service, or otherwise setting themselves apart.
Economy: a network of individuals who produce, distribute, and use goods and services.
Division of labour: a production process involving many different people, each of whom specializes in and works on a different task, thereby collaborating to do something greater than any one of them could do alone.
Spontaneous order: when social harmony and market efficiency are achieved through the independent decisions of countless individuals, each guided by their own desires and self-interest.
We finished reading and discussing chapter 3. There was much discussion about political decisions regarding financial matters, and the government’s ability to create money out of thin air and to limitlessly increase debt or deficit spending.
As I did not have copies of chpater 4 with me, I provided copies of a non-fiction book for children about the division of labour. It is based on a famous essay by Leonard Read called “I, Pencil”. The original essay is available online at the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) here: http://bit.ly/2k1Yvo3
Our March session will be held on March 8th. We will read the story about the MIraculous Pencil, then continue with chapter 4 (I will bring copies).
In our September meeting, we discussed what we had been reading recently. What have I been reading recently? I’ll tell you later.
We also welcomed a guest today. I hope she enjoyed the session and that we will see her again.
By the way, the next session will be October 19th. We have not quite finished the Alice Munro story, but we should finish it next time.
Next time, I will bring some non-fiction for us to read and discuss. Feel free to bring something that you enjoy reading. I will bring something short that we can read and finish discussing in one or two sessions.
Today, I mentioned Youtube videos of Barack Obama when his teleprompter breaks down. There are many such videos out there, but here are just two that I found:
And can you tell which woman is the real Hillary Clinton? Observers have noticed at least two women used as “body doubles” for Hillary Clinton recently.
Our next meeting will be on Wednesday Sep 28th at the usual time and place. We will continue reading and discussing “Dear Life” story “The Eye”, from the paragraph beginning “‘You and Sadie talk together a lot,’ my mother said.”