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FReeper Book Club: Atlas Shrugged, The Chain
A Publius Essay | 24 January 2009 | Publius

Posted on 01/24/2009 12:15:04 PM PST by Publius

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1 posted on 01/24/2009 12:15:06 PM PST by Publius
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To: Publius

This is really great that you’re doing this. I missed the initial post. Are you doing this weekly? I haven’t read the book in years, but was planning to pick it up again since it seems very timely right now.


2 posted on 01/24/2009 12:29:33 PM PST by aynrandfreak (Being a Democrat means never having to say you're sorry)
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To: ADemocratNoMore; alexander_busek; AmericanGirlRising; Andonius_99; arbee4bush; austingirl; ...
FReeper Book Club

Atlas Shrugged

Part I: Non-Contradiction

Chapter II: The Chain

Ping! The thread has been posted.

Earlier threads:
Our First Freeper Book Club: Atlas Shrugged
FReeper Book Club: Atlas Shrugged, The Theme

Our vote on posting frequency has gone as follows:

  1. Once a week: 10 votes
  2. Twice a week: 6 votes
  3. Posting a new thread when the last one has run out of steam: 7 votes

Voting is still open.

3 posted on 01/24/2009 12:30:01 PM PST by Publius (The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples money.)
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To: aynrandfreak

Post #3 has all the info you need. I’ve added you to the ping list.


4 posted on 01/24/2009 12:37:02 PM PST by Publius (The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples money.)
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To: Publius
" Lillian’s remark about the bracelet being a chain, the symbol of the family’s bondage to Hank, is rather egregious. Is this just another case of familiarity breeding contempt, or is there something more pernicious at work here?"

I had not before considered that aspect of the bracelet.

I am thinking now that I likely rushed my way through the book last year. I'll make it a point to reread and attempt to stay with the threads.

Thanks!

5 posted on 01/24/2009 12:38:38 PM PST by Radix (There are 2 kinds of people in this world. Those with loaded guns & those who dig. You dig.)
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To: Publius
Might want to check your ping list.

I didn't get a notice and had to search for the thread by your name.

You get a glimpse of Reardon’s mom, brother and wife but have no clue about his father.

You just don't get grit, determination and that inner sense of accomplishment from no where. It didn't come from dear old Mom.

You are left wondering if Hank came through the ranks of “the school of hard knocks”, he was working in a mine at age 14... or if his family had previously been in the ranks of the moneyed elite.

Brother Phil and Mom certainly act as if they were reared in the laps of unearned luxury.

6 posted on 01/24/2009 12:41:55 PM PST by TASMANIANRED (TAZ:Untamed, Unpredictable, Uninhibited.)
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To: Radix

My goal in this book club is to get people to look beneath the surface to all the things going on at the different levels of the book. For all the problems with Rand’s prose style, this is a wonderful, thickly textured book.


7 posted on 01/24/2009 12:44:13 PM PST by Publius (The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples money.)
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To: ml/nj

self ping


8 posted on 01/24/2009 12:46:02 PM PST by ml/nj
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To: Publius
If you are looking for a show of hands.. once a week works here.

Thanks for organizing!


9 posted on 01/24/2009 12:46:53 PM PST by I see my hands (_8(|)
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To: TASMANIANRED

I have your name on the ping list, and I copied and pasted everyone into the little “To:” box. I wonder if there are limitations as to how many people you can ping at one time.


10 posted on 01/24/2009 12:49:51 PM PST by Publius (The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples money.)
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To: Publius

ping me


11 posted on 01/24/2009 12:52:47 PM PST by GOPPachyderm
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To: Publius

Please add me to the ping list.


12 posted on 01/24/2009 12:56:39 PM PST by GodBlessRonaldReagan (Refugee from the World of Doomed Olsens)
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To: Publius

Bravo! An introduction to John Galt is a timely project in these trying times.


13 posted on 01/24/2009 1:00:38 PM PST by OldNavyVet (Character counts)
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To: Publius

Please add me to the ping list. Thanx.


14 posted on 01/24/2009 1:00:42 PM PST by LucyT
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To: Publius

Probably nothing more than a glitch, I’m assuming every one is having the same issue with slowness in the system.

Timing for me is acting like dial up instead of bb.


15 posted on 01/24/2009 1:01:36 PM PST by TASMANIANRED (TAZ:Untamed, Unpredictable, Uninhibited.)
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To: Publius

Please Ping me.

Thanks


16 posted on 01/24/2009 1:07:42 PM PST by Bombshell
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To: TASMANIANRED

I’m going to run a test this afternoon to see if the copy-and-paste brings everyone over. Because the post displays “...” after a certain number of characters, I don’t know if there is a way to make sure everyone is pinged when one hits the “Post” button.


17 posted on 01/24/2009 1:09:13 PM PST by Publius (The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples money.)
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To: Publius
This is a worthwhile project. Thank you for your work here.

Can you please add me to your ping list for this?

AV

18 posted on 01/24/2009 1:20:03 PM PST by Atomic Vomit (Vim Toot!)
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To: Publius
Good post, friend. Boy does this bring back memories.

When I first read about Hank Rearden it motivated me to read a book first published by B.C.Forbes in 1917, “Men Who Are Making America Great”

Here are the first ten names in the Table of Contents:

J.Ogdon Armour
George F. Baker
A.C.Bedford
Alexander Graham Bell
Andrew Carnegie
H.P. Davison
Robert Dollar
W.L.Douglas
James B. Duke
T. Coleman DuPont

How many of us today can even recognize these great men and what they accomplished? I read the book and I can't even remember without looking. And not a politician among them. Do our schools teach anything about them ? Ha!
Today we look to the Barney Franks and B.Obamas to save us...we have become a pitiful people !

To me that is the great enduring value of this great book...to remind us that true heroes can still exist.....but only strong men and women can make it so.

19 posted on 01/24/2009 1:20:14 PM PST by mick
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To: TASMANIANRED
Hope this registers, given the proxy server problem today.

Phillip and Hank's mother seem resentful possibly because they live in a society that is conflicted about success and wealth. They may have to do a lot of fund-raising and support for the *oppressed* in order to justify their existence among the elite of their society. They get to live well, but they have to make it clear that they didn't engage in selfish money-grubbing to get to their position. Phil and Mom are living in the lap of unearned luxury, are insecure because of this, conflicted, as said above and this makes them unbearably passive aggressive. Poor Hank. If only he could pretend to be sensitive to the lower classes, the family could be absolved of their angst.

Lillian is too arch and coy to be borne. She likely could be mollified if Hank spent time at benefits and was a patron of the arts and benefactor of the poor, but Hank is driven, something their society abhors. Evidently, it is all right to *have* wealth, it just isn't seemly to work hard to earn it and one must ostentatiously give back. Both the generationally wealthy and the newly successful struggle with *accomplishment guilt*.

Hank's father does seem absent or perhaps he died from overwork in the mines or a mill. I disagree that grit, et al doesn't arise without DNA, a mentor or example. IMO, these are inborn, but not necessarily inherited, traits. There are plenty of children of the motivated and successful who could not be less interested in emulating their parents or grandparents and others who arise out of mediocrity to attain great heights.

Rand is given to overblown character portrayal, almost charictature. People only sometimes speak normally. Much of the dialog is declamation and that includes the internal dialogues. I do appreciate her physical descriptions of surroundings and the bit players. It is very noir, an apt physical setting for the decline and decay of the society she is illustrating.

20 posted on 01/24/2009 1:27:23 PM PST by reformedliberal
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To: Joya

Ping to Chapter 2.


21 posted on 01/24/2009 1:56:57 PM PST by Publius (The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples money.)
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To: OldNavyVet

I just rec’d my “who is John Galt? tee shirt in the mail yesterday, can’t wait to see what conversations may develop when I wear it out.


22 posted on 01/24/2009 2:01:07 PM PST by Rusty0604
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To: mick

There was no mention of George Westinghouse, so I assume he was dead by then.


23 posted on 01/24/2009 2:16:48 PM PST by Publius (The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples money.)
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To: mick
To me that is the great enduring value of this great book...to remind us that true heroes can still exist.....but only strong men and women can make it so.

Governor Palin's State of the State Address 2009 (full video)

24 posted on 01/24/2009 2:19:59 PM PST by ScaniaBoy (Part of the Right Wing Research & Attack Machine)
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To: reformedliberal
Phillip and Hank's mother seem resentful possibly because they live in a society that is conflicted about success and wealth. They may have to do a lot of fund-raising and support for the *oppressed* in order to justify their existence among the elite of their society. They get to live well, but they have to make it clear that they didn't engage in selfish money-grubbing to get to their position.

Now that prompts a bit of thinking. Even today in British society, a gentleman is not a man who engages in trade -- that's so middle class, not upper class -- but a man who doesn't work for a living due to inherited wealth.

We haven't gotten that decadent yet, but in Rearden's family the British viewpoint seems dominant.

25 posted on 01/24/2009 2:22:11 PM PST by Publius (The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples money.)
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To: Publius

You are doing a great thing here, thank you! Please add me to your ping list.

I am the proud owner of a First Edition (1957 8th printing) hardback of “Atlas Shrugged”, excellent condition, no jacket. I paid a whole dollar for it at the SPCA second hand shop. What a find!


26 posted on 01/24/2009 2:39:58 PM PST by panaxanax (Those who beat their swords into plowshares will plow for those that don't.)
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To: Publius

Please add me to the ping list. I first read a borrowed copy in 1975. Since buying my own copy in 1980, I’ve re-read it 3 more times (although, I confess, I skimmed the 90-page John Galt monologue on two of those occasions...)

Thanks,

hh


27 posted on 01/24/2009 2:47:54 PM PST by hoosier hick (Note to RINOs: We need "a choice not an echo"... (Barry Goldwater))
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To: Publius

Yes, Please add me to your ping list.

Thank you for taking the time to share all of this with us. I have read the book but it was many years ago. I’m sure that I didn’t understand all the ramifications of the work. It is great to be able to read the viewpoints of other Freepers.


28 posted on 01/24/2009 2:53:14 PM PST by AlligatorEyes
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To: Publius

I’d prefer once a week.


29 posted on 01/24/2009 3:04:50 PM PST by SuperLuminal
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To: Publius

Once a week for me, too. I only have time for this on weekends.


30 posted on 01/24/2009 3:33:35 PM PST by Explorer89 (I believe in the politics of Personal Responsibility)
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To: Rusty0604
"I just rec’d my “who is John Galt? tee shirt in the mail yesterday,..."

Where do you get those?

I could use one if it has 3 pockets.

31 posted on 01/24/2009 3:56:32 PM PST by Radix (There are 2 kinds of people in this world. Those with loaded guns & those who dig. You dig.)
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To: Publius

please add me to your ping list.


32 posted on 01/24/2009 4:14:12 PM PST by wintertime (Good ideas win! Why? Because people are NOT stupid)
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To: Publius

I only listed the first ten in the Table of Contents....but I just checked the book and sure enough Westinghouse is not listed....so you are probably correct that he was dead by 1917 in as much as Forbes says in the Intro. “....leaders of the present day...” But Westinghouse surely deserves to be ranked in any group of “Men who built America”

Thank you for the excellent work you are doing!


33 posted on 01/24/2009 5:06:13 PM PST by mick
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To: ScaniaBoy

Thanks for the link....I’m on the Palin ping list but didn’t get this one.....F U B A R


34 posted on 01/24/2009 5:15:57 PM PST by mick
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To: Publius
When I was a lad, the skies over the Ohio Valley were filled with multi=colored plumes of smoke. We enjoyed spectacular sunsets. On one night of insomnia, I ascended the hill behind our house, and saw the red glow where the steel mill dumped slag into the river to cool.

"The air is as pure as the air above the Arctic. But you don't know how much longer you'll want to go on breathing it," Ayn Rand wrote in The Anti-Industrial Revolution, a collection of essays. The blue-collar industrial milieu had a vigor, a joy, a hopefulness. Immigrants were welcomed, and assimiliated through the medium of "Polock jokes." (My maternal grandparents were immigrants from Easter Europe.) That world is gone, and progress has been a mixed blessing.

35 posted on 01/24/2009 5:30:05 PM PST by RJR_fan (Winners and lovers shape the future. Whiners and losers TRY TO PREDICT IT.)
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To: RJR_fan
We have gone from a nation that made money by "making things" to a nation that makes money by shuffling paper assets from one pile to another.

That can't be good.

36 posted on 01/24/2009 5:34:07 PM PST by Publius (The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples money.)
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To: Publius

Thanks. Will try to get to the library Monday and get a copy. Is it online anywhere?


37 posted on 01/24/2009 5:48:55 PM PST by Joya (Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior, have mercy on me, a sinner.)
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To: Joya

I don’t know, but I tend to doubt it.


38 posted on 01/24/2009 5:53:36 PM PST by Publius (The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples money.)
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To: reformedliberal
Phillip and Hank's mother seem resentful possibly because they live in a society that is conflicted about success and wealth

The people who have not earned it and know that they have not earned it are the ones who are conflicted about their wealth. It's that way in the book, too.

39 posted on 01/24/2009 6:03:25 PM PST by r-q-tek86 (The U.S. Constitution may be flawed, but it's a whole lot better than what we have now)
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To: Publius

Thanks again for setting this up.

I gave Atlas to my 91 year old, yellow dog democrat grandfather for Christmas. We’ve just started trading letters discussing the themes of the book. I will share anything good that comes up and will steal anything good off these threads to share with him.


40 posted on 01/24/2009 6:07:04 PM PST by r-q-tek86 (The U.S. Constitution may be flawed, but it's a whole lot better than what we have now)
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To: Publius

Ours think they deserve a position in politics.


41 posted on 01/24/2009 6:26:46 PM PST by TASMANIANRED (TAZ:Untamed, Unpredictable, Uninhibited.)
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To: Publius

I was raised in a profoundly FDR democrat family.

My GF was president of state AFL CIO for years.

I read this book the summer I graduated from HS..It made all the difference.


42 posted on 01/24/2009 6:31:39 PM PST by TASMANIANRED (TAZ:Untamed, Unpredictable, Uninhibited.)
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To: Publius
"We have gone from a nation that made money by "making things" to a nation that makes money by shuffling paper assets from one pile to another."

If one simply considers just how many folks are involved in the purchase of a home between two parties, it ought to be evident that there are a whole lot of folks making a bunch of dough for contributing essentially nothing to the process.

Our Economy is a freaking mess, and there are a boatload of folks who have been getting wealthy for no valid reason.

"Money for nothing and your chicks for free."

43 posted on 01/24/2009 6:33:29 PM PST by Radix (There are 2 kinds of people in this world. Those with loaded guns & those who dig. You dig.)
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To: Publius

please add me to your ping list.


44 posted on 01/24/2009 6:50:13 PM PST by defowler
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To: reformedliberal
>>Phil and Mom are living in the lap of unearned luxury, are insecure because of this, conflicted, as said above and this makes them unbearably passive aggressive.

I think you hit the nail on the head with this statement. Hank's mother says, “What would happen to Henry's vanity if he didn't have us to throw alms to? What would become of his strength if he didn't have weaker people to dominate? What would he do with himself if he didn't have us as dependents?” Of course, by now we know enough about Hank to see that this isn't the case at all. He's driven by the satisfaction of achievement, not an egotistic desire to dominate others. The lengthy description of how he has done nothing but work hard since boyhood to build and expand his business stands in stark contrast to the moochiness and entitlement displayed by his family. He doesn't need them, but they need him - and that makes them angry and resentful toward him. Instead of finding ways to contribute and make the relationship more equitable, they behave like “bewildered, unhappy children.”

I wonder if there isn't a parallel here to the class envy and and resentment we see in the world today. People who are not working hard to pay their own way and are instead relying on the hard work of others for their survival must feel insecure in this, and the insecurity must, on some level, lead to resentment. Those who have worked hard to get where they have are not evil villains who are just out to oppress their fellow man - but they are portrayed as such by the culture, confirming the idea that government is justified in taking away their profits and redistributing them to those who need the money more - but who should not be any more grateful for it than Hank's family is.

Look at how our culture vilifies the pharmaceutical industry, for example. People who would not be alive were it not for the years of research and development that went into their heart medicine will turn around and express outrage that the drug companies are making a profit and not just giving the drugs away for free. And when the companies DO give the drugs away for free, donate them to 3rd world countries, etc., no one celebrates them for it. It's akin to Philip's asking for the $10,000 donation in cash because it would look bad if they took the money from an evil capitalist like Hank. (But he still takes the money.)

I loved the symbolism of the chain - especially as it continues in the story. The chain represents for Hank his years of work, the obstacles he has had to overcome, as well as his hope for the future success of his business. He wants to give the chain to his “wife” - but he realizes that it is not Lillian with whom he wants to share his success - she could never understand the value of it to him and she sees the chain as nothing but a piece of junk.

Interesting question about the value of the individual and the collective accomplishments of society - well, without those individuals, the collective accomplishments wouldn't exist, would they? It's almost as if he's saying, if Thomas Edison hadn't invented the light bulb, someone else would have anyway, so Edison isn't so important. I wonder how Apple will fare without Steve Jobs...

45 posted on 01/24/2009 7:08:44 PM PST by Savagemom (Educational Maverick (at least while homeschooling is still legal))
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To: Publius
What is the source of Philip Rearden’s attitude of superiority, and to what does it connect in today’s world?

Philip Rearden - from the first time I meet him in Atlas Shrugged I approach his character with an almost visceral hate and desperately wish he comes to a bad end.

Philip is a metaphor for today's typical man who lives upon the welfare of others. Philip has a sense of entitlement that is palpable. He has always been taken care of, he has never had to work, and sees no reason why his life will change. Instead of being grateful to the "Atlas" of his world, and making changes to reduce the load, he adds on to Hank's burden with an arrogance that mirrors those now who neither toil nor spin.

There is a family in a nearby neighborhood with 15 kids (yes, 15). All of the school age children have mentors. The house rent, heat, electricity is paid for courtesy of the tax payers. The food comes courtesy of WIC, food stamps, food bank (to which the mother is given a free taxi ride to and from) and welfare payments. The kids qualify for free and reduced lunch and breakfast, free tutoring, free membership at the county pool. Most of the school age children have IEP's and qualify for additional assistance. How has this family thanked the community? Well the 2 oldest sons are now in jail for a violent crime. The 2 oldest girls have 4 children between them (who also live in the house) and the family was featured in the paper recently as a family in need, with the mother commenting as to how hard it was to raise a family. So, this family mirrors Philip Reardon in that they add nothing, but they take everything they need - without an ounce of gratitude.

Where does the source of superiority come from? I suspect it comes from the power of guilt they these people are able to place on those around them. It comes from the long, ingrained generational welfare that leads the poor in New Orleans to demand more money as they are pictured sitting in front of a large screen TV. It comes from the hands that grasp and the mouths that plead to every person with two pennies to rub together to bestow more and more and more.

When Atlas does shrug, the Philip Reardon's of the world will be the first to go, and Atlas will have an easier job of it after that now won't he?

46 posted on 01/24/2009 7:11:33 PM PST by SoftballMominVA
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To: Savagemom
"I wonder if there isn't a parallel here to the class envy and and resentment we see in the world today."

I would say there is. Hank Rearden's family seems to be a microcosm of the world in which Atlas Shrugged takes place (which bears an unfortunate resemblance to the world we live in today).

47 posted on 01/24/2009 7:39:22 PM PST by ZirconEncrustedTweezers (I figure the odds be fifty-fifty I just might have somethin' to say)
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To: Publius

I don’t remember voting, but if I did, it was for one chapter a week.

If I didn’t, please count it....
....
....
(wait for it)
....
NOW!!

Thank you.


48 posted on 01/24/2009 8:30:33 PM PST by ExGeeEye (COTUS 2A should be the USA's ONLY gun law.)
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To: Publius

I vote for once a week.

Keep up the good work!


49 posted on 01/24/2009 8:32:40 PM PST by Taxman (So that the beautiful pressure does not diminish!)
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To: Publius

once a week is fine with me. Any ideas on what the next book club book will be?


50 posted on 01/24/2009 8:32:55 PM PST by WVNight (We havn't played Cowboys and Muslims yet....)
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