31.8.04

Notable Quotes

“Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish, and he will sit in the boat and drink beer all day.”
(for other variations, go here, here and here)

Even I might watch if they make these changes!

Petty proposes 'Survivor'-style playoff: "[Kyle] Petty believes a format in which one driver is eliminated from title contention each week would attract the most attention."

30.8.04

1,000 words

Ain't nature amazing?

It's bad all over

Teachers still in agony over Shakespeare tests (login required)"Pupils were marked for their writing skills in the 30-minute paper but were not expected to show any knowledge of the play. A second 45-minute section of the Shakespeare paper, worth 18 per cent of the marks, assessed their understanding of two scenes from the play, which were printed on the paper and which schools were told about a year in advance."
So much for the much vaunted British education system. I'm not sure which is worse: dumbing down the selections to meet the requirements of local and state pressure groups ("The New York State Education Department omitted mentioning Jews in an Isaac Bashevis Singer story about prewar Poland, or blacks in Annie Dillard’s memoir of growing up in a racially mixed town. California rejected a reading book because The Little Engine That Could was male." (from The Language Police by Diane Ravitch), or dumbing down the test. (via Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind)

Mad Dogs and Englishmen

Page 3 - Model Propaganda: The Sun, The Girls, The Truth The Bush and Kerry campaigns should be taking notes. It's one way to sway the undecideds. (via Maud)

29.8.04

A trip down memory lane

Yesterday I blogged about my visit to the Dutchess County fair. One of the fun things to do at a county fair is to forget your age and cholesterol level and just enjoy (forgetting the sunscreen is not, however, an option).

Since it was so hot and since it's a carny, why not have a Sno Cone? I'll tell you why not: sometimes they don't come in a paper cone. This is sacrilege akin to the Great Cotton Candy Loss (more on that in a second). No one gets a sno cone for the great taste. It's the eating of the ice with the bug juice syrup dripping down to a slushy mess in the bottom. Having a plastic cone with a rim and a straw just is not the sno cone experience.

Cotton candy, for those of you who haven't been to a fair or sporting event recently, no longer comes on a paper cone. It's in a plastic bag. Why is this disturbing? Part of the fun of cotton candy is the mess: it melts on your face, in your hair and on your hands. People around you are in danger of sticky sugar residue on their clothes. A bag of cotton candy you can save, eat neatly and not worry about others? Un-American!

Friday I spoke with my father, who as a child summered in Long Beach (NY). Friends of his family ran a concession shop and he worked there. When I was a child, we'd go spend part of the summer with my grandparents and a visit to the concession stand was a must. Daddy would slip behind the counter and make me a cotton candy cone. It was magical.

Now that magic is gone from the carny. I did find properly coned sno cones and cotton candy at the circus. Probably by the time you read this, that'll have changed, too.

28.8.04

An almost perfect day

Today I took the bus from NYC to Kingston, where a friend picked me up. We then headed for the Dutchess County fair. One of the hottest, sunniest days this summer, I slathered on Neutrogena UltraSheer Dry-Touch Sunblock, SPF 30 (before I left home I applied Shiseido's SPF 55 foundation) and off we went.

First stop: the beer garden for a quick bite and a glance at the map; we were entertained by Pal the Wonder Dog. I then made the mistake of seeing the same women at the Guess My Weight/Age booth that I'd fooled last year; this year she was right on the money. Now, of course, being the obsessive person I am, I'm worried that I really do look my age! And, sadly, it led to an impulsive eating binge (fried dough with powdered sugar). We ate that as we wended our way towards the 4H tent. We had been looking forward to the DC K-9 corps demonstration, but the cattle parade was running a little long.

If you've never seen a cattle parade, basically a bunch of kids walk around leading a cow. It's broken down by age (of child, not of cow) and judged on how well they handle the animal. To ensure fairness, the children swap cows once they're in the ring and have to walk a little with the new cow. All the participants got a ribbon, but there were Blue, Red and Yellow ribbons given to the three best; they were also invited to Sunday's finals.

Then it was time to look through the livestock pens. We'd just missed the sheep shearing, and the sheep were certainly shorn! Some of the sheep, apparently the Tunis breed, were wrapped in what could only be called sheep burquas. How appropriate.

The announcer at the cattle parade kept plugging what she claimed were the best milkshakes, all made with fresh milk. I have to admit, my vanilla was very yummy. I'm not a huge fan of milk (or milkshakes or ice cream) but I'd definitely go back for seconds. If you ever get a chance to have a real one, freshly made with fresh ingredients do not pass it up. Your taste buds will thank you.

More wandering, including a walk through the old machinery exhibit (including a corn sheller and a blacksmith, some fruit lemonade, and then it was time for the cattle costume contest. Apparently previous days had held a horse, rabbit and pig costume contests; today, it was the cows turn. The announcer wanted people not from the area as judges and so, much to my chagrin, I was nominated. My co-judges were also from NYC, but they'd never been to the fair before. Four entries walked in a circle: a little girl in nurse's scrubs with a bandaged cow, an older girl wearing a boa and a brightly colored Mardi Gras painted cow, a minor parade of four people announcing a race between Butterscotch and Wilma (in homage to the Olympics), and a girl dressed as Paul Bunyon with trusty Babe the Blue ox. According to the organizers, the nurse and the Mardi Gras were in classes of one, so they automatically got the blue ribbon. Our choice was between the racers and Babe. No contest: Babe won. Had we been given the choice of all four, however, it would have been the nurse, then Babe, then the Olympics.

Next stop: the crafts pavilion. This is where things like Rawcliffe Fantasy figurines compete with the amazing 22' ladder and the computerized personality reader for your attention. This is right next to the carny side of the DC Fair, and we wandered through the rides and games to the bumper cars.

There's something very wonderful about bumper cars: all your bad driving instincts take over, you can get your aggressions out, and you see everyone smiling. There were two parents with little kids and we all took care to almost, but not quite, bump them. Several times one father said thanks - the kid clearly loved the almost danger.

Then it was on to the grandstand for a few moments with Ms. Cuchi-cuchi herself, Charo. The only thing that could top that was a family of jugglers. Ok, a Daddy juggler/unicyclist and an 8-year-old juggler/unicyclist (aka "Daddy's retirement plan"). Finally, we saw Hilby, the skinny German juggle boy.

Time for the traditional "leaving the fair candy apple" and back home.

Here's a summer's end assignment: Take the time to visit your local county fair, fireman's field days or state fair. Revel in the smells and sounds. Get gypped out of a toy at the carny. Eat fried dough and takeaway sundaes and curly fried. Enjoy. Repeat next year.

27.8.04

Links Galore

26.8.04

So much for my education

What Shall We Then Read?: "God has no use for the 'classics.'"

Which classics? The Scarlet Letter, Silas Marner, Emma, Charles Dickens, Shakespeare, The Canterbury Tales, Troilus and Creseyde, Little Women, Little Men, Anne of Green Gables and more.

Another reason obesity is on the rise.

The best things since sliced bread: "Harried Americans searching for ways to shave precious seconds from their dining routines have seized on a slew of new foods designed to keep them on the go -- no utensils needed." (thanks to Alice for the link)

Essential Tracks

Terry Teachout's co-blogger, OGIC, on About Last Night was on vacation recently and was able to listen to CBC's Radio One, which is exploring five essential tracks from each decade in the 20th century. Here's the list from the 80's:

1. 'Billie Jean' [Michael Jackson]
2. 'With or Without You' [U2]
3. 'Message' [Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five]
4. 'Fight the Power' [Public Enemy]
5. In a tie, 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' [Joy Division] and 'When Doves Cry' [Prince]

The runners-up were Eddy Grant's 'Electric Avenue' and 'Hungry Like the Wolf' by Duran Duran."


While I'm not sure that I agree with the above, I'm hard put to come up with alternatives (at least, right now, off the top of my head - give me a little while and I'm sure I could). "Video Killed the Radio Star" by the Buggles, perhaps, because it was prescient.

Read what OGIC says and create your own essential list.

25.8.04

I find this encouraging

Since this blog started, MSIE (all variations) have averaged between 60-75% of the browsers used. Firefox/Mozilla and Safari seem to split the difference, with Netscape coming in a distant fourth.

Today MSIE is only 40%! For those of you still using this flawed product, seriously consider switching.

24.8.04

And now, representing the US in the short story dash...

Not quite Olympic literary gold " Last week we mentioned that literature used to be an Olympic event until 1948... See the full list of winners here -- though you figure if they were trying to really be Olympic they would have at least awarded medals, not just cash."

I can see future events: the Complete OED lift, synchronized reading, and the ever-popular team penmanship competition.

Something we tend to forget

Bugmenot.com returns: "Personally, I don't care if I'm sharing a server with neo-nazis. I might not agree with what they have to say, but the whole thing about freedom of speech is that people are free to speak.'"

If the First Amendment is to mean anything, we have to remember that everyone has the right to their opinion and the expression thereof. Howver, as one of my philosophy teachers used to say, your right to punch me ends where my nose begins.

23.8.04

Why don't I feel sorry for him?

Paul Hamm unhappy about S. Korean protest. Gymnastics. Ice skating. Let's just get rid of all the objectively scored Olympic sports.

22.8.04

I wonder what the onlookers did...

Thieves Grab ´The Scream´ From Museum: "Armed, masked thieves burst into a lightly guarded Oslo museum Sunday and snatched the Edvard Munch masterpiece 'The Scream' and a second Munch painting from the walls as stunned visitors watched in shock."

This is the second time I remember that painting being stolen. You'd think that by now "lightly guarded" would have changed.

Notable Quotes

Seasonal musings
"Of course it does. Everywhere has seasons. You just have to know where to look for them."

Delightful images formed in her mind and she smiled. She saw the seasons hiding: spring behind a tree, winter in the attic, summer in the shrubbery...

She found it interesting that there were publishing seasons. Spring, summer, fall, winter. She would sit on one of the benches that lined the platform and make whimsical guesses at what each "season" produced. Would autumn be ushered in with leaves of books drifting down to carpet the ground? Would winter produce snowballed books lying forgotten in high drifts, or bestsellers that readers could throw at each other and watch the splatter and disintegrate? Would spring come in with tiny new books sprouting from bookshelves like rows of beans?
The Train Now Departing, Martha Grimes

Something to ponder as September approaches

2 Benedict professors fired over grade policyBut he went along with it grudgingly until he was confronted with an academic dilemma: giving a passing grade to a student he believed had not learned the course material. Since my courses are all Pass/Fail, this is a problem for me. It's easy when the student has done none of the work, that's a simple "FAIL"; when they're there, in class and handing in stuff that clearly shows that they don't care and haven't paid attention and/or learned anything, I'd like to have the option of failing. The second best option, for me, is to grade them A-F so that they know that the Pass is really a D-, or a B+. Even that's been taken away since parents apparently get confused that the child is getting two grades (content and process) for the same piece.

Yes, 90% of being successful is just showing up. But that remaining 10% should be weighted more because in that 10% you weed the wheat from the chaff. "Just" showing up isn't good enough. Not for students, not for teachers, not for anyone. (via The Little Professor)

20.8.04

Why can't I write like this?

Better Angels of our Nature: Over the Bridge (via Bitch PhD.)

As if the problems with security aren't enough

How eight pixels cost Microsoft millions: "Microsoft's lack of multicultural savvy cost the Redmond behemoth millions of dollars, according to a company executive."

Don't they mean a no-drive list?

I can think of a number of reasons why Senatory Kennedy should not be allowed to fly.

Links Galore

  • Who needs Cliff's Notes? Just use this "in depth book review" site. For example, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. (via Bookslut)
  • Homer, where art thou? DOH!
  • At least when he’s bent over the frets, it leaves his ponytail vulnerable. Yank it hard enough and he’ll topple off the stool howling in pain. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Prepare to scream. (from Lileks)
  • I knew about Klingon and Pig Latin. But Solresol? Tepa? Check out Langmaker.com (via ResearchBuzz)
  • This is just in bad taste. Doing the Lynndie (via Colby Cosh)

19.8.04

Get your cuddle on!

"A new kind of party is bringing together lost souls, writes Sarah Baxter in The Sunday Times of London. "At a cuddle party, you are invited to stroke a stranger clad only in your pyjamas. There are strict rules: no alcohol, no nudity and emphatically, no 'dry humping'. Partygoers must ask permission to touch each other and have the right to refuse. The parties last three hours and guests are welcome to exchange phone numbers and hook up with each other afterwards. The phenomenon is spreading from New York to California, has popped up in Canada and is set to invade Britain, according to its inventor, Reid Mihalko" (from the Toronto Globe and Mail)

18.8.04

Is this the Bill O'Reilly we know and love?

The Swift Boat Blues: "The lesson here is that blind partisanship is not an attribute. No person or candidate is all good or all bad. In America today, with both sides peddling lies and defamation and spin, it is alarmingly difficult just to get simple facts on which to base a responsible vote."

Read the whole thing. (via Watchblog)

My apartment isn't this bad... yet

Further Reflections on Bookbuying: Bookcases (Prompted by the Sudden Collapse of Same)"In case you're wondering, 5,000 books = 30 bookcases in the house + 7 bookcases in the office."

Notes from Mt. Bookpile

Yesterday I read The Intelligencer by Leslie Silbert. Earlier this summer, I read The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason. Last year, along with many of my fellow readers, I read The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. The three books have in common the theme of ancient secrets that could bring down religion/prove that someone didn't deserve the power they had/illuminate truths better hidden.

I've been thinking about the popularity of this genre, which is similar to Eco's The Name of the Rose but has the added twist of being more historical fiction than just plain fiction. The New Republic Online calls it Pop Esoterica! but I think that's too simplistic.

Years ago, I forget exactly when, someone said that as we (Americans) have gotten further from traditional religion and beliefs more and more people have started to believe in UFOs. Why? Because there's an atavistic need to believe in the "great other", someone or some thing or some power greater and outside human comprehension. Books like The Celestine Prophecy and the whole Erich von Daniken phenomenon become popular simply because they play to that need and have a veneer of "truth".

The fewer certainties we have, and religion did provide us with those ("Thou shalt/thou shalt not" leading to either a life with God or outside His presence), the more we search for them. Fundamental religions, esoteric beliefs (including Kabbala) and the search for life not of our world - this is the result of current cultural shifts. Where will this lead? Who knows. But those that believe that the aforementioned books are some form of truth are simply searching for some Greater Truth. Good luck to them.

Calling all conspiracy theorists!

Halliburton endures rocky day after Army report: "Halliburton's stock was shelled early Tuesday by reports that the Army had decided to withhold a large chunk of the payments under a massive contract to support troops in Iraq.

But by day's end, the military switched gears and said that a decision was on hold for at least a few days"
Even if this is a legitimate reversal on the part of the Army, to avoid even the appearance of being pressured by the Commander-in-Chief (or his deputies) they should stick to their decision. Ceasar's wife, etc.

17.8.04

This is wrong on so many levels

Death by Popcorn: "A family night at the movies became every parent's worst nightmare when a toddler choked to death on popcorn after repeated efforts by his frantic folks to save him, Nassau police said yesterday... It was supposed to be a celebratory day for the Queens Village family after the boy's dad, Eddie Riley Sr., 36, got a security job after being unemployed for months."
It's a terrible tragedy, but with a little parental thought and responsibility it could have been avoided.

1. Do not take a three-year-old to a movie. If you want to have a "family night", choose something more appropriate, like dinner at a restaurant. A child that age cannot sit still for the length of the movie, so why subject your fellow moviegoers to the noise and disruption? You also can't adequately supervise children when you're engrossed in a spectacle.

2. If you must take a toddler to a movie, don't make it an R-rated one. Save that for when you have a babysitter. It's rated R for a reason and even though technically you're doing the right thing (the children under 17 are with a parent or guardian) it's just wrong.

3. If there's no way you're going to follow 1 or 2, at least make it something other than Alien v. Predator.

I hope he wins the suit

Flight ID Fight Revived. "Backed by a phalanx of civil liberties groups, civil liberties iconoclast John Gilmore on Monday relaunched his legal campaign against the federal government's requirement that airlines ask passengers for photo identification in order to board a plane... 'I'm not willing to show my passport to travel in my own country," Gilmore said in an interview. "I am not willing to have my rights taken away by bureaucrats who issue secret laws in the dead of night.'"
Showing my driver's license or passport makes about as much sense as those questions they used to ask about who packed your luggage and whether it'd been in your sight ever since you closed it. Any hijacker worth their salt knows to get a photo id and how to answer those questions.

The only reason I can see to require it is so that if there is a disaster they have an accurate flight list. There are stories about people lying about losing someone in the World Trade Center disaster, and one wants to prevent that sort of fraud. It's doubtful that showing an ID can provide a list, though. Particularly since the attendants rarely really look at the photo nor do they check it against anything other than the flight list. (via in lieu of radio)

The war finally ends

70,000 troops to quit Europe and Asia, says Bush: "President George W Bush yesterday announced the largest shift in US forces since 1945, saying up to 70,000 troops would be brought home from Europe and Asia in the coming decade."

People are all bent out of shape because of the troops in Iraq, demanding an exit policy and timetable. Yet no one demanded the same about the troops in Europe. As Henry Kissinger said, we're still occupying Germany 50 years later. Let's give Iraq a little more time, shall we?

And Vice President Cheney should just stop making these comments.

16.8.04

I just can't help it

I promised myself I wouldn't rant about the Olympics. But, well, I just can't help it.

First, let's stop pretending that these people are amateurs. Venus Williams? The NBA gang? Please. Amateurs are the Jamaican bobsled team.

Second, I'm glad the men's basketball team got spanked by Puerto Rico. Why? Because they epitomize what's wrong with the NBA. It's not a team sport any more, it's a group of individuals who just happen to wear the same uniform. (heresy alert) Michael Jordan was one of the worst things to happen to professional basketball. He may have been a very skilled player, but he was a one-man team. The other four just let him do whatever he wanted, and officials became blinded to his constant walking. Instead of learning how to play, everyone wanted to "be like Mike". And this (login required) is the result.

Third, while I understand the tricky political situation that leads to Taiwan being called Chinese Taipei, exactly why do Puerto Rico and Hong Kong have teams at the Olympics?

Fourth, can the commentators just please shut up?

Fifth, who cares if Phelps does or doesn't tie Mark Spitz' record? Spitz competed during a particularly harrowing moment in history and did an amazing job for someone who's life was potentially in danger. Phelps v. the Thorpedo? Yawn. At least there's a real competition there, unlike when America's Sweetheart (Mary Lou Retton) was supposed to have been the best of the best. Exactly how we've arrived at that conclusion is beyond me. The people that could have (would have) challenged her weren't there.

I feel better now.

Can't put one past the Princes of the Church

Pope May Have Been Making Farewells: "A cardinal who accompanied Pope John Paul II on his weekend visit to a French shrine said he saw a 'seriously weakened' pontiff who may have been making his farewells."

I'm sorry that the Pope has the health problems he has. But anyone that didn't notice the shape he's in prior to this pilgrimage is not exactly someone I want guiding my faith.

Time flies

It used to be that summer dragged on, a seemingly endless stretch of time. It didn't belong to anything; it was an interregnum between years. As I got older and moved into the working world, summer was a miserable time to be endured. Who wanted to wear suits and "grown up" clothes in all the heat and humidity that is summer in New York?

Fall would announce itself slowly. The first clue was the appearance of Concord grapes at the supermarket. Then, a few weeks later, pomegranates would take the place of plums or nectarines on the grocery shelves.

When I became a school librarian, the summer seemed shorter than I'd remembered but the clues that school, and fall, were here remained the same.

Until today. There, at my local supermarket, were pomegranates and Concord grapes. I couldn't resist, even though it shortens my summer just that little bit more.

Still cooking

Yet another is the culinary image: take Tobias Smollett, stew him in his own juice, reduce, mix in some finely chopped Poe, season with Patti Smith and serve with late Henry James.
This is from Tom Payne's article Circle of Cliches. He goes on to list many of the words we read in book reviews and book blurbs, many of which only appear in those places.

I read a book blurb last summer that stated that the book was "an Oscar-worthy wonder, starring a cast easy to care about and impossible to forget." Sadly, that line was the only unforgettable thing about the book.

15.8.04

File under "Don't assume"

Just because you work in a school or live in NYC or are Jewish or have an education or belong to a union doesn't mean you're automatically a liberal or a Democrat.These people aren't.

So bad it's good.

Jerry thought of his life as a single long paragraph, punctuated at times intuitively and at times according to the rules of grammar, showing evidence of continual editing and proofreading by friends and others, and set in a variety of typefaces.
(from When Good People Write Bad Sentences by Robert W. Harris)

If I weren't trying to get the hell out of Dodge

Does anybody know if any librarian affinity groups are going? Perhaps a radical reference gang? We could all don our best "librarian" outfits and form a Book Bloc! Dozens of librarians in cardigans and sensible shoes decrying the Patriot Act! It would be beautiful...
This would be a great thing to do during the RNC. Except for the cardigan thing, because August in New York City is really not cardigan weather. But buns will be a necessity (and what a great way to avoid the humid frizzies!). And reading (sun)glasses.
(via Notes from the Mystery Department)

14.8.04

From my e-mail inbox

bedfast matroidblandish commerce constantineconcubine cramp ebullientschedule ornately skullcapante mall telepathyares actinide strategistdifluoride kay grenadedefunct scallop dragonflythirst phd can'tmach atmospheric beneathmort upriver altermanerwin academy binchanson astray mannadrawl antietam martinicomponent delightful quellsarcasm lodowick jeffreybearberry bony autocorrelateshriek stealth napkindrowse thebes togetherbarge bluegrass alwayhitch reverend trefoilswordplay bile diplomatfleshy berate zoomboyfriend allen laocoonrousseau debenture pavannebagpipe mellow hookteratology antisemitic releasabletriangle ciliate mangelerudite gaucherie inauguralthey'd bemuse electrophoresissockeye suitcase effloresceindispose dervish preachybruit sport clamberalkali barrel intervalastound someplace conspireaugusta cheetah propensityriordan classic babelbremsstrahlung utter pierendogamy

I particularly like "ebullientschedule" and "pavannebagpipe".

Greek love (in lieu of blogging about the Olympics)

Revising the Grecian Formula: "This is your month. Hector your local cultural editors. Get their minds off Paris. Find those old accessible essays you stored in the Attic. Mine your big fat Greek dissertation."

One tuber fits all

SnarkSpot: "Am I wrong to have serious doubts about home-repair initiatives that start with the phrase 'I'm going to take a potato?'" No, you're not. But then, I know people that would do something like that and I've seen the results.

13.8.04

They have to find a better word than "gay"

I think that that California Supreme Court ruled correctly when it said that "San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom had no authority to grant marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples... that Newsom had overstepped his authority".

But this is taking things a bit too far. The United States Supreme Court needs to decide if the "full faith and credit" clause of the Constitution applies. I'm not comparing gay rights to civil rights, but when it comes to marriage....

Of course, being married isn't everything. Just ask New Jersey Governor McGreevey. Being gay alone shouldn't be a reason for him to resign. There has to be more, even for the GOP.

R.I.P.

Julia Child. I remember watching her show as when I was younger. Thanks to her and my aunt, I became interested in cooking. Highlight of my cooking life? Helping prepare a luncheon at the James Beard House and preparing dishes for Food TV, both for the launch of Five Brothers Premium Pasta Sauce (don't laugh - I got a couple of great recipes and some fabulous wine ideas thanks to Chef Roberto Donna).

And to think it all started with me in my family room, watching Julia Child on PBS.

What do I do this fall?

On the advice of my doctor, I got a flu shot last fall. Then I started to get sick. Today I read that Last Season's Flu Shot Effective Only Half The Time: "Even so, "the vaccine still provided some protection and substantial health benefits," said Dr. Carolyn Bridges, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.". Uh, no, not really.

Links Galore

11.8.04

Watch out: books are dangerous

GRRR! This is just gobsmackingly awful. I've heard that TPTB want to shut down all construction from 14th Street through 66th, river to river, for three weeks, and that the area around the Garden will be hell to navigate, but this is simply... words fail me. (via Librarian.net)

Say it isn't so!

C-SPAN's Brian Lamb closes the 'Book'

10.8.04

Notable quotes

There are one-storey intellects, two-storey intellects and three storey intellects with skylights. All fact-collectors who have no aim beyond their facts are one-storey men. Two-storey men compare, reason, generalize, using the labour of the fact-collectors as their own. Three storey men idealize, imagine, predict–their best illumination comes from the above through the skylight.

- Oliver Wendell Holmes

Yummy reading

Last Chance to Eat: The Fate of Taste in a Fast Food World by Gina Mallett (thanks to Jessa for the heads-up). This sounds as though it's going to be as good a read as Julian Barnes' The Pedant in the Kitchen (not available in the US for some obscure reason).

The first book I read that was about cooking and a delicious read was Susan Branch's Vineyard Seasons. It's pretty to look at, while the Barnes book is funny and gives you a new appreciation for the art of cooking. I can't wait to read the Mallett!

9.8.04

My morbid sense of humor acts up

Officials Charge Utah Man with Murdering His Wife: "SALT LAKE CITY (Reuters) - Prosecutors on Monday charged a Utah man, who originally said his wife failed to return from a morning jog, with shooting her to death while she slept after a web of lies he had spun began to unravel."

Generally, I try to stay away from these sensational items. But, honestly, can anyone resist snickering at the idea of a man named Hacking accused of murdering his wife? The only way it would get better is if he dismembered her...

8.8.04

Blogcrushes

Crescat Sententia writes: "Are blogs real? How accurate a representation of a blogger is one's blog? Could I get to know someone just by reading his or her blog? How well? Well enough to fall in love? For that matter, how well could I get to know someone in the non-blog-world, the 'real world'? Is there any guarantee that the person I meet out there is showing me his or her true self?"
Milbarge goes on to talk about developing crushes on the blog (or is it blogger?). I don't think that I "crush" in the same way that this is talking about, but I do know that I've found some of the blogs I follow to have been created by people I'm pretty sure I'd like to get to know. Other blogs are, well, just sources for links and information. It may be odd, but that's what's always been the main attraction for me about anyone: their mind. Are they intelligent? witty? well read? able to converse about a multitude of topics? Blogs that appeal to me have all those qualities.

Chicha's guest blogger points out that "what really matters, from the blogstalking/crushing perspective, is how to tell when you're getting a) people's true selves, b) people's best selves, c) the selves people wish they have, or d) the selves you wouldn't want them to have, really."

I'll let you figure out which of the above matches this blog/blogger.

Hope this helps

I've heard that the previous look didn't work well with Safari.

7.8.04

Things you wish you hadn't said...

Fisher, 13 July 14.

OOPS.

Who has time to re-read?

Study cites most re-read books:According to a study by the American Library Association, “The Color Purple” ranks among the fiction most commonly re-read. Others include the Harry Potter books, the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” and Shakespeare’s plays...Also cited by the committee: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House on the Prairie,” Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” and A.A. Milne’s “Winnie the Pooh.”

If I can ever get through what's on Mount Bookpile, I'd love to re-read some of these. Until then, I guess I'll just have to keep discovering new books. (link via LISNews.com)

Excuse me?

Florida Court Dismisses Touchscreen Suit: "A state appeals court dismissed a lawsuit that sought a paper trail for Florida's new touchscreen voting machines, ruling Friday that voters are not guaranteed 'a perfect voting system.' "

After all the other problems Florida has had with voting, you'd think that they'd try to get it right this time. However, there is the whole problem with Diebold and it's antipathy to all things D/democratic.

And then there's this: "the New York Times 2000 presidential election decider, which allows you to pick a set of ballot-acceptance standards and find out whether, according to information compiled during the 'media recount', Bush or Gore would have won." ColbyCosh.com used an incredibly liberal view of what counted, and still came out with what the media (using the FOIA to subpoena the ballots) decided: Bush won Florida.

Exactly what is the UN good for?

UN rights probe takes Sudan to task: "A top UN human rights investigator released a scathing report yesterday that blames the Sudanese government for atrocities against its civilians in the Darfur region and says 'millions of civilians' could die."

This report came out yesterday, after a visit in June. I started reading about the Darfur genocide months ago. This is the same as what happened in Bosnia, Rwanda, Kosovo, Kurdistan - so someone please explain why we need the UN. To let us know months after the fact that there's another atrocity? To write papers decrying the nadir of humanity? To suggest that perhaps the government needs to stop? To sit around doing nothing while people are killed around them?

Someone needs to act. And NOW.

6.8.04

I wasn't aware this was a real problem

Proposed Dutch law would ban unsolicited toe-licking. I remember the uproar when Fergie was caught being "shrimped". Who knew anyone had to legislate against it?

Links Galore

  • We're all sinners, so why not take Dante's Inferno Test. I'm in Level 2 (A place mute of all light, where the wind bellows as the sea does in a tempest. This is the realm where the lustful spend eternity. Here, sinners are blown around endlessly by the unforgiving winds of unquenchable desire as punishment for their transgressions. The infernal hurricane that never rests hurtles the spirits onward in its rapine, whirling them round, and smiting, it molests them. You have betrayed reason at the behest of your appetite for pleasure, and so here you are doomed to remain. Cleopatra and Helen of Troy are two that share in your fate.)
  • Want to know what happened without spending the money to see (or rent) the film? Check out Moviepooper.

Why doesn't this surprise me?

Microsoft Windows Mobile targeted > First Pocket PC Trojan For Sale : "Security firms on Thursday detected the first Trojan horse that targets PDAs and phones running Microsoft's Pocket PC operating system."

This comes just as MS releases Service Pack 2 for WinXP ( Windows Gets Huge Security Boost). So why is anyone still using MS products if they don't have to? If you absolutely must, protect yourself and your computer (thanks to Zippy for the safety links).

Once again: eat what you want, just in moderation!

Yet another newsscare:
Eating Lots of Carbs May Raise Cancer Risk
: "High-carb diets may increase more than just waistlines. New research suggests they might raise the risk of breast cancer." No wonder we're a nation of people with eating disorders. No sooner does one study come out saying that ____ is good than another comes out completely contradicting it.

Of course, the occasional splurge doesn't hurt. As W. Somerset Maugham says, "Excess on occasion is exhilarating. It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of habit."
(The Summing Up). Now, where did I put those Oreos?

5.8.04

Sound familiar? (SPOILER ALERT)

Several sources have been reporting this (including Bookslut,
All Readers, Library Planet and the Columbus Dispatch), but it appears that M. Night Shyalaman's The Village has an uncanny resemblance to Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix.

I guess even plot twists have to come from somewhere.

3.8.04

Is anyone else reading this series of columns?

Adam L. Penenberg is writing about blogging for Wired: "The truth about blogs and bloggers is that they are parasitic to the mainstream media they love to hate. Without newspapers, websites, TV and radio to provide them with material to rip apart, many (if not most) blogs would simply not exist. Their motto could easily be: They report, I decide. In essence, bloggers are alphanumeric versions of those pedantic pundits populating cable news and talk radio. You know whom I mean."

His take on the phenomenon is interesting. I don't think I fall into the "hating the mainstream media" category, nor do most of the blogs I follow on a regular basis. Still, it's a valid observation about an emerging "news" source (one not counted in the recent NEA Reading at Risk report as acceptable reading material).

Read the six articles and you decide.

2.8.04

First grammar, then memorization. What next?

In Defense of Memorization: If there’s one thing progressive educators don’t like it’s rote learning. As a result, we now have several generations of Americans who’ve never memorized much of anything. Even highly educated people in their thirties and forties are often unable to recite half a dozen lines of classic poetry or prose.
There are few things that I agree with in terms of constructavist learning. Alan November and the Sudbury Valley model may work well once students have a good grounding in the basics. But not before.

The goal of education shouldn't be to cram young minds full of useless stuff. Nor should it be to let students follow their bliss in learning. A balance needs to be found, where students are excited by learning but they also manage to learn fundamental skills. Rote memorization may be passe, but it certainly aids the ability to remember and recall, a skill everyone should master.

No thx. LOL.

Prof says teens' grammar shortcuts OK on blogs, e-mail

The problem that this professor sees is that teens aren't writing - so, in her mind, any writing is good. However (and I speak from experience), her comment, "Grammar is easier to teach in school than critical thinking or the love of writing, and if they can enter school with the latter two of the three, they are ahead of the game" is simply misguided.

Why? Because many English teachers are not teaching grammar. Because the time at which students should be learning this stuff is not when they go to college, but when they're in grammar school. Because there's a difference between blog/e-mail/SMS and real writing and students shouldn't be told that one equals the other. (link via Librarians Happen).

1.8.04

OOPS! He did it again.

Pantagraph to Moore: Headline use 'misleading' :

"...In a letter drafted Thursday and sent to Moore and the movie's Santa Monica, Calif.-based distributor, Lions Gate Entertainment, the newspaper admonished him for his 'unauthorized ... misleading' use of The Pantagraph in the film. He also was cited for copyright infringement."