Thursday, June 29, 2006

A grateful salute to the Patriot Guard Riders

My thanks to the Patriot Guard Riders who are showing up to help keep any protestors away from the mourners at the memorial service for PFC Thomas Tucker Saturday. I appreciate it.

Book Note: Designs on the Heart by Karal Ann Marling

American Profile, a newspaper supplement, carried an interview with the author of a new book on the beloved American artist Grandma Moses in its June 25-July 1 issue. You can read it online at Grandmother to the Nation. The interview was conducted by Jack Kelly.

The book is published by Harvard University Press.

To go to Barnes & Noble, click the bookcover below.

Designs on the Heart: The Homemade Art of Grandma Moses
Designs on the Heart: The Homemade Art of Grandma Moses

When I was growing up, we had four Grandma Moses plates displayed on the wall in the family room, depicting the four seasons. I could see them from where I sat when we ate. Nice stuff.

Bookselling News: Tattered Cover pulls off big move

From the American Booksellers Association's Bookselling This Week, Tattered Cover at Full Speed in New Location:

At 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 24, Denver's Tattered Cover closed its Cherry Creek store and by Monday at 9:00 a.m., the new Tattered Cover at the historic Lowenstein Theater was fully stocked and open for business. More than 100,000 titles had been moved by staff and 300 volunteers to the transformed multilevel theater that still boasts balconies and an orchestra pit. "We're all tired but thrilled," said Tattered Cover's Cathy Langer...


Langer told BTW about the feat of moving a 30,000-square-foot store into 24,000 square feet over the course of not quite a day and a half. "Linda Millemann [Tattered Cover's general manager] had fine-tuned everything to military precision," she said. "She figured out how many seconds it took to pack a box, how many boxes we needed, how many volunteers. It was just brilliant. [Project manager] Regina Bullock also was a mastermind of the move." Of course, having 300 volunteers helped. "We're so grateful to the community for their support and for physically helping us," she said. Langer also noted the support of the bookselling and publishing industry.

The long vacant historic Lowenstein Theater, at East Colfax and Elizabeth Street, first opened in 1953. The bookstore has maintained its architectural and historic integrity, said Langer. "The space has a rather large footprint and a very high ceiling. We kept a lot of the theater's architectural elements partly because they're so cool and partly because the National Parks Service is overseeing it as a historic project."

The orchestra pit is one of the elements that the Parks Service required to stay. Bookshelves surround it, while the pit itself is used for Tattered Cover's theater section. Balconies, overlooking the main floor, serve as a place to read and to bring coffee from the bookstore's cafe. The lower level, formerly the cabaret, is now the children's, bargain, and travel sections...

Friday, June 23, 2006

Grandpa's Scrapbook

The Common Room has a series going where they share old newspaper clippings -- editorial cartoons mostly. See here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, for all the posts I found for June.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Ladies and gentlemen, crank your engines...

OK, so not all the vehicles in Great Race 2006 are old enough to require crank starting, but surely some of these require skill, patience, and perhaps muscle to start??? Certainly, there are some wonderful old cars in this year's race, which has just over a hundred entries.

The race starts June 24 in Philadelphia and ends July 8 in San Rafael, California.

hat tip: Focus on the Family (watch for their 1941 Cadillac convertible...)

Red Cross. Red Crescent. the Red Crystal

BBC NEWS: Israel allowed to join Red Cross reports that the Israeli Magen David Adom society has just been voted into the Red Cross movement over the objection of some Arab states. It will operate under a new symbol, the red crystal (picture with article). The resolution, voted on at a Red Cross and Red Crescent conference in Geneva, also allowed the Palestinian Red Crescent into the alliance.

The American Friends of Magen David Adom Society website is here.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has more information on the "red crystal" emblem.

Book note: Victory in Tripoli, by Joshua E. London

Via Olasky at WorldViews, here's a May 9, 2006, Jamie Glazov interview of Joshua E. London, about his book Victory in Tripoli.

Victory in Tripoli: How America's War with the Barbary Pirates Established the U.S. Navy and Shaped a Nation
Victory in Tripoli: How America's War with the Barbary Pirates Established the U.S. Navy and Shaped a Nation

Previous "Barbary Pirates" posts: New Book: The Pirate Coast, by Richard Zacks (April 25, 2005) and The Thomas Jefferson Papers - America and the Barbary Pirates (March 13, 2005).

Jonathan Witt's new book available for pre-order

In Wittingshire: Good Art versus Bad Art, Amanda Witt writes:

...This raises an important question: for the philosophical materialist--that is, for the person who believes that all reality boils down to atoms in the void--what justification beyond personal preference is there for holding up Shakespeare over schlock? Are our standards of what constitutes great art based merely on taste or fashion, or do we have permanent, transcendent reasons for recognizing genius?

Jonathan and his co-author, Benjamin Wiker, tackle this question in their new book, A Meaningful World.

That would be Jonathan Witt, her husband.

More on the book from the publisher here.

To go to Barnes & Noble, click the book cover.

Meaningful World: How the Arts and Sciences Reveal the Genius of Nature
Meaningful World: How the Arts and Sciences Reveal the Genius of Nature

Improving health care on two different fronts

In A passage to India for surgery, Rick Martinez reports on a new way for American companies to provide less expensive, but very good, health care for their employees. Visits to the Taj Mahal included upon request. No, really. India is marketing health services to Americans who want to cut costs, and Europeans and Canadians who want access to better care. More power to them, I say.

hat tip: Carolina Journal (via Betsy's Page.)

Meanwhile, in the United States, Jane Erikson of the Arizona Daily Star reports that the Institute for Healthcare Improvement's "100,000 Lives Campaign" appears to be reducing hospital errors and preventable deaths.

Cuban props

Elephants in Academia: Go-go Che at the V and A relates a visit to the "Che Guevara: Revolutionary and Icon" exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, plus some thoughts on the exhibit and its subject.

Brothers Judd: If Only There Were A Futures Market For Nations excerpts a Miami Herald article by Guy Hedgecoe about members of the families of Cuba's ruling class who have moved to Spain but preserve family ties.

Word of the day: eleemosynary

Since as often as not I show up in online stats as coming from Monroe, Louisiana, (showing where CenteryTel is, not where I am, I guess), I thought I'd take a little time to get to know the place in which I supposedly live. In my spare time, I've been strolling through various online sites, getting a feel for the place.

Mostly I've been on Chamber of Commerce and tourism sites, but on the theory that you can tell a lot about a place based on how heavy-handed city officials are -- or hope to be, at any rate -- I went to the municipal code site. (Like I can decipher most city codes? Who am I trying to kid?) Long story short: trying to read through the bureaucratese made me cross-eyed and I soon gave it up as a waste of time, but not before I learned a new word (bolding mine), in a section titled "Charitable Raffles, Bingo, and Keno":

For the purposes of this chapter, the following definitions shall apply:

(1) Charitable organization shall mean a nonprofit veterans, eleemosynary, benevolent, educational, religious, fraternal or civic and service association or corporation domiciled in this state. Any such organization or corporation shall have qualified with the United States Internal Revenue Service for an exemption from federal income tax under Section 501(c)(3), (4), (8), or (19) of the Internal Revenue Code.

I didn't see a definition of this amazing word there, so I pulled out my Penguin English Dictionary, 2nd Edition, which I imported to this country with the help of an Internet seller based in the UK (and a good investment it has been):

...adj of, supported by, or giving charity. [medieval Latin eleemosynarius, from late Latin eleemosyna alms, from Greek....

...The Greek word requires letters I don't know how to do with my set-up, I'm afraid. The closest I can approximate it with what I've got is eleemoysine. At the end of the definition, it says: see ALMS. By golly, "alms," it turns out, has the same late Latin root. Alms, however, is easier to say, for my money, which might be why it caught on better. Just a guess.

I grab my Oxford American Dictionary, Heald Colleges Edition, mass market paperback edition, which would be my favorite everyday dictionary, I think, if it weren't printed in a typeface that globs in boldface, sometimes making it impossible to tell what the letters are (a serious defect in any book, but especially in a dictionary, I think). It also shoves text into the gutter (the inner margin, going to the spine), which also makes it hard to read. (You might as well know, text shoved into the gutter is one of my pet peeves, since it makes a book hard to read and almost guarantees the spine will be broken even with normal use...) Anyway, it has the word, too, defining it:

adj. of or dependent on charity, charitable.

So, I still don't feel I'm ready to use it in casual conversation, much less in writing, but at least now I have a clue.

Have any of you ever seen "eleemosynary" in any context besides bureaucrat-speak? I suspect it might be good to know for playing Scrabble, but otherwise I'm not sure how useful it might be...

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The King Canute of the book world...

In The Common Room: Excerpt From a Book, Pipsqueak shares one of the best descriptions of a bookstore ever :).

I have been in bookstores like that. For that matter, at times our bookstore has threatened to become something of the sort. (Ahem.)

The 2996 project looking for bloggers to honor a life on Sept. 11, 2006

Over at A Rose By Any Other Name, I saw a button in the sidebar I hadn't noticed before, and so wound up at 2996, which is a project to have 2,996 volunteer bloggers each honor the life of a person killed in the 9/11 attacks with a tribute on their blog.

This is a very young project, but according to the latest post, The Global Community, there are almost 400 bloggers signed up already, with participants from around the world.

The hope is to have every person who was killed assigned to a blogger in time for each victim to be remembered on September 11 of this year.

I'm not planning to sign up, but I thought some of you might like to.

On patriotism

Neptunus Lex : On patriotism notes, "...we are not born loving our land and laws, our kith and kin, it is taught to us. Or else it is not..." He finds that often, these days, it is not. A thoughtful essay. (Via Real Clear Politics.)

Over at Expat Yank, Robert has a post called Great Thinkers Gathered, which compiles statements about patriotism from around the world.

Speaking of contemporary art...

... did you know that the Royal Academy this year accidentally gave an award to a base that somehow got separated from the artwork it was meant to display -- but stands by its award on the grounds that the slate slab and a bit of wooden prop found with it were "thought to have merit"? Lionel Shriver has the story. (He also thought the sculpture that went with the base was well rendered, and "exudes a sense of joy and hilarity." The laughing head, though, got no award, alas...)

Parental note: Mr. Shriver lampoons the Royal Academy by doing a high-falutin' review of a brick placed on his desk. Staying true to such things, he finds things to say that are, uhm, odd, let's say, moving this article from what some parents I know would consider a G to a PG.

Update: The Common Room has more, much more, on this, using other sources.

Addition: Somewhat-related previous post. (I am, by the way, still waiting for someone to tell me if that plaque Billy Rose wrote about is still there "on the house next to the corner, Fifth Avenue and 86th Street" in New York. And if it is, if people remember the story behind it?)

Quote of the day

(Via Catholic Educator's Resource Center's This Week's Quote feature):

"The greatest part of mankind have no other reason for their opinion than that they are in fashion." - Samuel Johnson..

Kind of a "let him who is without sin cast the first stone" sort of quote, isn't it? Ouch. Been there, done that, not real proud of it... :/

On the other hand, Iran has worker unrest...

...and Jason Lee Steorts suggests that supporting the bus drivers and other frustrated workers "may be our best hope of neutralizing the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program." ("The Iranian Street," National Review Digital, June 19, 2006)

A tip of the hat to Bookworm, who likes Steorts' idea, but has her doubts.

More background on Iran

I read Guests of the Ayatollah by Mark Bowden several weeks ago, and recommend it for anyone trying to understand the Middle East. It's a meaty book - I think most people would need a week or more to get through it. (I think it took me six days, but that was with allotting most of my spare time to it, and letting the dishes pile up in the sink.) But considering that it compiles much of what is now known about the Iran hostage situation of 1979-1981, I think it was time well spent.

Let me put that another way. When the hostages came home, I breathed a sigh of relief and thought that if I never heard another word about the whole mess it would be too soon. But guess what? I now think that what I thought I knew, based entirely upon news reports of the time and on conjecture by other people who were also basing their thoughts upon news reports of the time, I think I was badly mistaken about a number of things. (Imagine that. Neither the national/international news guys or I knew what was going on, especially what was going on in secret. What a shock ;).

Guests of the Ayatollah: The First Battle in America's War with Militant Islam
Guests of the Ayatollah: The First Battle in America's War with Militant Islam

Mind you, I'm not declaring myself any kind of expert now, but I think the book gave me a good reality check, if that's the phrase I want.

My to-read stack has also undergone some changes as the result of reading it. It now includes some of the books Mr. Bowden listed as source material. So far I've only read Guest of the Revolution by Kathryn Koob, one of the hostages, which also made me sit up and reassess what I used to think. Miss Koob's book is published by Thomas Nelson, and focuses on how her faith sustained her and grew during her captivity, but it also has rather a lot of good history and general observation in it.

The Bowden book I wouldn't hand to youngsters or refined maidens. The author is admirably restrained in his depiction of horrible circumstances, but he does, necessarily, deal with horrible circumstances (beatings, mock executions, aircraft crashes, etc.), plus he lets people speak in their own voices, which can get interesting -- some of the captives made a point of being offensive to their captors, for example. There's nothing gratuitously bad, but there is bad stuff I wouldn't dump on an innocent kid. (College kids are perhaps another matter. Books like this might help inoculate them against the utopianism to which they and many of their professors are prone. Maybe? A gal can hope, can't she?)

Miss Koob's book I'd give a solid PG.

Related post from May 3.

Iranian worldview background

In Ahmadinejad's Demons, Matthias Kuntzel explains some of the history behind a certain martyrdom movement in Iran. (Not advised for children or around mealtime.)

The article originally appeared in The New Republic (April 24, 2006), and appears at the above link (Catholic Education Resource Center) by permission.

Update: I was trying to think where else I'd seen Mr. Kuntzel's name, and now I remember. He's written for and been cited at Transatlantic Intelligencer.

Religion's role in Canadian life discussed

In The porous line between Church and State, Rev. Raymond de Souza outlines the history of religion's influence in public life in Canada throughout history, compared to today. About the current situation, the article notes: "...It would be a step forward to simply recognize that religious believers are as much citizens as are secularists."

I'd like to second that.

The article relates some of what was said at The Cooperation of Church and State Conference organized by the Ottawa-based Centre for Cultural Renewal.

Portrait sells for $135 million

Ronald Lauder has paid a record price for a painting, exchanging $135 million (£73 million) for a 1907 portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer by Gustav Klimt. According to this article in The Telegraph, Mr. Lauder, the son of the late Estee Lauder of cosmetics fame, saw the painting when he was a teenager and fell in love with it, never thinking it might come on the market. He opened his own museum in Manhattan in 2001 called the Neue Galerie and dedicated to early 20th century art, the director of which (the article explains) is excited with the new acquisition. The Telegraph article includes a picture of the painting.

(And, no, I have no idea why the price was so high for something that looks like nothing so much as a woman taking advantage of one of those carnival offerings where you stick your head through a hole in a stage set and get your picture taken for a lark. Mania for 'modern art' eludes me. But if Mr. Lauder is happy, I'm happy.)

Monday, June 19, 2006

Fighting eminent domain abuse

The South Carolina legislature has passed a proposed amendment to the state constitution to protect homeowners and business owners against eminent domain abuse. The amendment will appear on the November 2006 ballot. Among other things, the amendment would tighten the definition of "blight" so that the designation no longer means whatever city officials or developers say it means, but can be used only for properties that pose a threat to public health and safety.

The Louisiana legislature is also sending a constitutional amendment to the voters in November.

Here's one of the many reasons it matters: kids living in towns with homes targeted for 'redevelopment'. Guess what the kids talk about at school when their city is gunning for their home or the home of a friend, just so some unscrupulous private developer can build somebody else a house or put up a hotel, or something like that? (I think it's fair to call any developer who uses eminent domain to get what he wants "unscrupulous," don't you? I also think it's important to differentiate between folks like that and developers, contractors, and government officials who conduct themselves in an above-board manner.)

Or, how would you like to flee war-torn Cambodia and go to the United States, "a nation where citizens have the ability to keep what they've worked hard to own", only to be kicked out by your local government in your new homeland after spending almost twenty years building up a business and a customer base, apparently for no other reason than somebody else wants the property?

For success stories from around the country, where citizens have saved private property from the government's wrecking ball, see this list at Castle Coalition.

How many users would you guess are registered at eBay?

I missed this news last week, but it was brought to my attention by someone I know who sells on eBay/ebay/Ebay/EBay (however in the Sam Hill it's supposed to be written). EBay now has 200 million registered users. Of course, not all of them are active, but the active figures are impressive enough -- 75.4 million "active" users in the March quarter.

For a longish interview of Ebay chief executive Meg Whitman by the Financial Times, addressing such things as "how is ecommerce changing", see here.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Archaeologists plan week-long investigation at Kam Wah Chung in John Day, Oregon

According to this press release reprinted in the Baker City Herald, archaeologists will be working around the Kam Wah Chung building in John Day from Monday, June 19, through Saturday, June 24.

Saturday has been designated a Public Archaeology Day, with activities from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., including tours led every hour by project director Dr. Julie Schablitsky.

Previous related post: China Doctor of John Day

Talking about humans

This strikes me as a pro-life column you can give to your liberal friends... (Insisting on life, Nat Hentoff, Jewish World Review, June 12, 2006/ 16 Sivan, 5766)

Essentially the same column - with slightly different editing in a few places - appeared as The devaluing of human life on the June 12 op-ed page of The Washington Times.

hat tip: The Common Room

New Orleans update

Emily Chamlee-Wright and Daniel Rothschild write in the Opinion Journal:

NEW ORLEANS--With a history in the Black Panthers and Green Party, Malik Rahim does not fit the stereotype of a property-rights activist. But that is what he's become in the upside-down political world of post-Katrina New Orleans, where government response to the storm is creating some strange bedfellows.

Nine months after the hurricane New Orleans remains in tatters, its population is down to about 200,000 from almost a half-million. Large parts of the city, from posh Lakeview to working-class Mid-City, still have few habitable buildings. Many businesses have not reopened or are gone for good. Almost a quarter of voters in May's mayoral runoff election voted absentee.

To add insult to injury, the rights of property owners who had their homes and businesses damaged by Katrina's wrath now face a more powerful and potent threat. Local government officials, armed with the public health code, eminent domain powers and a bevy of dubious legal techniques, aim to demolish buildings--and, some fear, strip titles from owners--in what are being euphemistically called "forced buyouts."

Mr. Rahim is the founder of Common Ground, a homegrown group borne of the aftermath of Katrina. It has established emergency supply distribution centers across southeastern Louisiana, including in the virtually abandoned Lower Ninth Ward, where signs reading "Somebody Lives Here" and "Eminent Domain for Who?" surround the bright blue house that serves as a de facto community center...

Read the rest of Government Dines on Katrina Leftovers: Eminent domain becomes a potent threat.

For more information: Joe McKeever provides first-person reports out of the New Orleans area on an ongoing basis.

More from the Mommysphere

I'd like to add rosetta stone: Does it get any better than this? and rosetta stone: memo to the list from yesterday.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Lumiere Brothers and early motion pictures

Gail at Crossing the Rubicon2 is sharing some very short, very old films - as in from 1895, 1895 again, and 1907!

From the Mommysphere

I was telling a 50-something friend about this post at Wittingshire, and the next thing I knew his eyes lit up, and I was treated to gleefully-related tales about his late grandfather, who I guess had world-class arms for this, uhm, game. Not my thing, but hey. I guess it's harmless. On my friend's behalf, thanks for the memories, Amanda.

Elsewhere, Circle of Quiet has found there are upsides to not buying your kids too much stuff. Water ball, anyone?

Over at intent, Sparrow notes that the world seems to conspire against preteens and what is good for them. But she fights back. (She also links in that post to Jerram Barr’s Booklist for Children, as presented at Tulip Girl.)

I hope you don't need an excuse to sing -- but if you do, Headmistress has a raft of reasons why singing is good for you and your kids.

Of course, there's always the joy of teaching them to sign, too.

Coming soon: The Language of God by Francis S. Collins

Steven Swinford, writing for The Sunday Times (Britain), reports on a book written by "The scientist who led the team that cracked the human genome...": I’ve found God, says man who cracked the genome (June 11, 2006). The headline and lead are a bit misleading, in that they imply that "finding God" is something that just happened to Francis Collins. The 56-year-old scientist is elsewhere described in the article as having been an atheist until the age of 27.

Swinford notes that Collins joins Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein as scientists whose studies deepened their faith in God, and also lets Collins express his disappointment that so many people think science and religion have to be at war, and that shrill voices have "dominated the stage for the last 20 years."

The Times article says the book will be published in September, but Barnes & Noble has it available for pre-order with a July 11 release date. The publisher is Simon & Schuster. Clicking on the book cover will take you to Barnes & Noble, which has more information.

Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief
Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief

hat tip: The Alliance Alert (June 13, 2006)

In the article, Collins is said to have found his way to belief first by noting the strength that faith gave to some of his most critical patients, and secondly by visiting a Methodist minister, who gave him a copy of Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. The book changed his life. (I've heard that from other people, haven't you?)

Mere Christianity
Mere Christianity

P.S. While looking up Mere Christianity, I came across this book that is touted as the story behind how Mere Christianity came to be written, and how Lewis first became a household name. The author is Justin Phillips. The publisher is HarperCollins, with a publish date of January 2006. I see the title on the book cover at B&N and the title in the write-up don't match. My best guess is that the publisher had a working title and dummy cover with "C.S. Lewis Goes To War" but changed it after providing mock-ups to booksellers, because at HarperCollins the title is C.S. Lewis in a Time of War.

C. S. Lewis in a Time of War: The World War II Broadcasts That Riveted a Nation and Became the Classic Mere Christianity
C. S. Lewis in a Time of War: The World War II Broadcasts That Riveted a Nation and Became the Classic Mere Christianity

P.P.S. Too funny. I just checked Amazon, and they also have a book cover with one title and text that has another title -- but in the inverse of Barnes & Noble!

Well... too funny, but not really. I feel for the author of this book. It must feel like some kind of curse to have the working and final titles all mixed together for public consumption. At any rate, I'm notifying the publisher, and hope its quality control guys can sort it all out.

In the meantime, the subject sounds interesting. Has anyone seen the book itself? How is it?

Update: Oops. Egg on my face. The author, Justin Phillips, died in 2000, shortly after finishing the manuscript of this book. One of his daughters finished things up for him and brought the book to publication. So, I should say, I feel for his daughter, Laura Treneer...

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Book market watch: Books by D. E. Stevenson

Going through a stack of used books, getting them ready for sale, I came across one that looked like about a three dollar book, everything else being equal - used paperback, good condition, Ace Books, 1978 printing. It proclaims itself "A D.E. Stevenson Romance" at the top of the front cover, but the artwork is a family seated at dinner. (Oh good, not that sort of "romance," I say to myself. I can handle only so many of the dangerous-illicit-encounters-are-as-good-as-love-maybe-better books before I get exasperated. You know the ones I mean.)

Anyway, The Musgraves (the book I'm investigating) looks to be something a little bit different from the standard "romance," and Ace books in this line sometimes get collectible, so I go look it up on the Internet. The prices are not what I expected. As I look around, a copy listed for nine dollars and some cents sells. And most of the rest are $15, $20, $25 and up. Yikes. I do a bit of nosing about. The author wrote quite a few books, and a surprising number of the titles are $10, $15 and up books, even in standard mass market paperback editions. I'm finding hardbacks for $60. Fascinating. Another author that's hot but out of print? Maybe?

Has anybody read D. E. Stevenson? Glancing through this book, I didn't happen on anything objectionable. On the contrary, it seemed good, clean fun. Anybody? This is not an author I know. Is she a good one to recommend?

Hmmm. While waiting for reader input, let's see what we can find on the Internet. Here's a Moffat Town write-up on her. I guess she was Scottish...

Oh, bingo! In 2003, the North American Branch Angela Thirkell Society (ATS) sent a survey to its members asking about their favorite authors, and she's one of the top selections, according to this 2004 speech by Jerri Chase of the Richmond, Virginia branch of the society: Comparing the lives and works of Dorothy L. Sayers, D.E. Stevenson and Georgette Heyer with Angela Thirkell.

That puts her in illustrious company indeed. And being listed in the same breath with Sayers, Heyer or Thirkell, any one, would be a sort of recommendation in itself.

Now, if I can just remember who it is who was bemoaning that they'd read everything ever written by Angela Thirkell and wanted another author to try...

At any rate, don't put her books out willy-nilly for 50 cents at a yard sale, unless you like kicking yourself later. ;)

Sometimes the lesson learned isn't the one being taught

In Bargaining with the devil (, June 13, 2006), writer Burt Prelutsky talks about a lesson he learned after reading The Grapes of Wrath at age 11, and writing a book report about it for school.

Grapes of Wrath
Grapes of Wrath

200 "Cool Girls" from Children's Literature

Thanks to Melissa Wiley, coiner of the word "kidlitosphere", I've just discovered that at Jen Robinson's Book Page there's been an ongoing project to list "cool girls from children's literature." Here's the list as it stands at the 200 mark.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Art related books for kids

Here in the Bonny Glen: Monday in the Park with George introduces us to a picture book called Seurat and La Grande Jatte: Connecting the Dots, by Robert Burleigh. This sounds very cool.

She has an Amazon link you can use. If that doesn't suit you, clicking on the book cover here will take you to Barnes & Noble.

Seurat and la Grande Jatte: Connecting the Dots
Seurat and la Grande Jatte: Connecting the Dots

At Barnes & Noble, following the "People who bought this book also bought" links brought up (among quite a few others):

Art Fraud Detective: Spot the Difference, Solve the Crime!
Art Fraud Detective: Spot the Difference, Solve the Crime!

Art Auction Mystery: Find the Fakes, Save the Sale!
Art Auction Mystery: Find the Fakes, Save the Sale!

Can You Find It?: Search and Discover More than 150 Details in 19 Works of Art
Can You Find It?: Search and Discover More than 150 Details in 19 Works of Art

Has anyone had these in their hands? What did you think of them?

Nice stuff

Debra at the "as i see it now" blog recommends the movie Little Manhattan.

Back in April, Debra wrote a wonderful post on what life is like in her town.

Addition: Betsy Newmark enthusiastically recommends the movie Akeelah and the Bee.

Crossing the street, all by yourself and otherwise

Our county boasts -- and boasts about having -- just one stoplight.

It's somewhat common to give directions to travelers by saying something like "It's about half a mile west of the stoplight." This is generally followed by a confused and/or wary pause on the part of the stranger, into which the local giving the directions can drop assurances that the visitor can't possibly get lost using those directions because there's only one stoplight in the county.

This is admittedly splitting hairs a bit, because some of the outlying smaller towns have blinking lights (red for some directions, yellow for others) that look very much like stoplights, but aren't. But, strictly speaking, it's true -- there's only one stoplight, doing that green, yellow, red routine. On top of that it's fun.

Sometimes as they walk away you hear the bemused tourist calling a friend on the phone to report that he's landed in a county -- not just a town, but a whole big county only somewhat smaller than Connecticut -- with only one stoplight. With some of these folks, you'd think they'd decided they'd found something akin to a lost Stone Age tribe or something, the way they react.

That's if they believe you. Some folks refuse to believe there's anywhere left in America where people are still thought capable of sorting themselves out at intersections, I guess. ;)

(Yes. Yes. I know. Some places have much more traffic than we do, and the requirements for traffic control are entirely different. I'm just saying some people can't believe the world can exist without traffic lights all over the place, no matter what the actual conditions. Trust me on this. I've seen folks drop their jaw when told we have only one stoplight. It had not occurred to them that such a thing is possible. Go figure.)

For as long as I can remember there have been plans by city fathers and state-level do-gooders to add more stoplights, and for as long as I can remember the population in general has protested that it is fun - distinctive - a selling point - a badge of honor - to be a county with just one stoplight. This spirited defense of the status quo is to a large extent tongue-in-cheek, you understand -- at least for most people. (Some people can be fanatics about anything, can't they? Even the dubious distinction of having just one traffic light, sorry to say. Sigh.)

The intersection with the stoplight also comes complete with large buttons at about waist level that pedestrians can push to change the light, to hurry things a bit. If you sit at the Dairy Queen, which sits at this intersection, you can learn a lot about people, just by watching how they punch those buttons. (Or not punch the buttons. A certain variety of human being apparently takes great satisfaction in ignoring both walk/don't walk signals and the buttons provided to manipulate them. Perhaps it is coincidence, but many of these people don't look like the sort of person you'd like to have living next door or working at the same place as yourself.)

I realize that not everywhere is as 'unsophisticated' as here when it comes to aiding and trying to control pedestrians. Many years ago, when I was in Japan, one of my hostesses and I were walking around and came to a large, very busy, multi-laned intersection. When it was time for pedestrians to cross, music blared at the appropriate corners. My hostess explained that it was to make it easier for blind people to know where to go. That was fine as far as that went, but, as I recall, the music selection was "If a body meet a body, coming through the rye, and a body kiss a body, need a body cry?" Somehow it seemed a teeny bit incongruous. Delightful. But strange.

Around here, call us silly, but it's considered good manners to offer a person our arm if she looks like she needs help finding her way from one corner to the other. It's a bit old-fashioned and low tech, but we like it. Blaring music from street corners would just annoy people, I think. It's a quiet town, on the whole.

Then there's England, which apparently takes directing pedestrian/vehicle inter-mixing quite seriously. Katherine at K's Cafe has a primer on zebras, pelicans, puffins and toucans -- not the animals, but the various kinds of pedestrian crossings by the same name.

So, if I came to your town, what would I find?

Update: Thanks to Barb's comment, I have now been introduced to the term Jughandle. I've driven on them before, but had no idea they were called that.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Giuliani-recommended biographies

Rudolph Giuliani recommends biographies of leaders (OpinionJournal, June 10, 2006). Of the books mentioned in the article, these five are highlighted: "Churchill: A Study in Greatness" by Geoffrey Best (Hambledon & London, 2001); "Jefferson and His Time" by Dumas Malone (Little, Brown, 1948-81); "Herndon's Lincoln" by William Henry Herndon and Jesse W. Weik (Belford, Clarke, 1889); "Profiles in Courage" by John F. Kennedy (Harper, 1956); and "President Reagan" by Richard Reeves (Simon & Schuster, 2006).

Nice kitty. Down boy.

One thing that amazes me about many (most?) pet cats is that they don't seem to have any concept of their own size. That they are horribly outmassed by someone or something just doesn't seem to give them pause quite as often as it might. But chasing a bear? Twice? They grow some kinda cat back there in New Jersey.

(Side note: As I noted back in back in March, New Jersey has apparently developed a serious wildlife problem, including bears.)

"What to do when a storm approaches"

I'm tempted to try this, minus step one (since I'm a grown-up), in the back yard where the neighbors can't see me easily ;). Heaven knows we've been having the weather for it.

Technical difficulties...

Blogger has been doing some major overhauls and I have been blocked from posting much of this week. The good folks who provide me with email are apparently revamping something, and so, off and on over several days, I have been unable to send email. I have had difficulty getting into my Barnes & Noble account, so even when I could post, I couldn't link to a book. That's when I could get on and stay on the Internet. My computer is having software problems, which scared me so much this morning that I turned everything off until my husband could come take a look late this afternoon. All in all, its been an interesting few days on the technology front -- and it doesn't look like it's over. Expect me to be on and off for a while as far as blogging goes.

Boys' Life "Say Yes to Reading! Contest" winners

Boys' Life magazine had an essay contest for its readers, broken down into 8 years old and younger, 9 and 10 year olds, and 11 years old and older. Entries for the 2006 contest are being accepted through December 29. The winning essays for 2005 are here. Boys chose their own books to write about.

The youngest winners wrote about "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe" by C.S. Lewis, "The Babe and I" by David A. Adler, and "Earthquake in the Early Morning" by Mary Pope Osborne. Winners were Kevin Morris, 8, Overland Park, Kansas; Nicholas Reis, 7, Spokane Valley, Washington; and Chay Oswalt, 8, Ackerman, Mississippi.

The 9 and 10 year olds wrote about "Knights of the Round Table" by Gwen Gross, "Dragon Rider" by Cornelia Funke, and "Eragon" by Christopher Paolini. Winners were Seth Chaffin, 9, Lindenwold, New Jersey; Quinton Arrington, 10, Ridgeville, Indiana; and William Levay, 9, San Antonio, Texas.

The older winners wrote about "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger, "Because of Winn-Dixie" by Kate DiCamillo, and "Band of Brothers" by Stephen Ambrose. Winners were Steve McCool, 17, Marianna, Florida; Michael Joki, 15, Montgomery, Alabama; and Tony Martinez, 13, Madison, Mississippi.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

The Babe & I
The Babe & I

Earthquake in the Early Morning (Magic Tree House Series #24)
Earthquake in the Early Morning (Magic Tree House Series #24)

Knights of the Round Table: (Bullseye Step into Classics Series)
Knights of the Round Table: (Bullseye Step into Classics Series)

Dragon Rider
Dragon Rider

Eragon (Inheritance Trilogy #1)
Eragon (Inheritance Trilogy #1)

Catcher in the Rye
Catcher in the Rye

Because of Winn-Dixie
Because of Winn-Dixie

Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle Nest
Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle Nest

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Northwest auto trivia

The first automobile to drive through Snoqualmie Pass in the Cascade Mountains of Washington is "an 1898 Fryer-Miller carrying Bert Harrison, Jr. and a passenger." The journey happens in June of which year? Answer here.

From the same website ( -- in the transcontinental auto race which started in New York City on June 1, 1909, and ended in Seattle on June 23, 1909, the winners were H.B. Scott and James Smith, the operators of the second car to arrive. Why wasn't the first car across the finish line declared the winner? Answer here.

The first automobile to cross the Lake Washington Floating Bridge (also called the Mercer Island Bridge), drives over in June of which year? Answer here.

Which year did the floating bridge, by now renamed the Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge, sink? Answer here.

Monday, June 05, 2006

"Science In Your State"

Ooh, this is fun. The USGS (U.S. Geological Survey) has a Science In Your State feature (which, by the way, doesn't confine itself to science links).

Here are the links to Oregon, California, Hawaii, Ohio, Indiana, Washington, Massachusetts, Georgia, and Texas to get you started.

OK, so it's Friday, getting late, and you forgot to tell your new boss you keep Shabbos...

David Sacks, who has written for various television shows like The Simpsons, Third Rock from the Sun, and Malcolm in the Middle, writes about Keeping Shabbos in Hollywood.

Reading around

Sherry has declared this Boys' Week at Semicolon, and she's kicking it off by listing Nine Series for Nine Year Old Boys. She's inviting discussion.

Over at OpinionJournal this weekend, author P.D. James listed five best crime novels. Who knew I had anything in common with P.D. James? She also finds "particular charm in books written before or during World War II" and goes on to prove her point by having only one recently written book on her list.

And Mark Mossa tells us about a new Sherlock Holmes novel.

Friday, June 02, 2006

An update on the Ceraks and VanRyns

An update to the story of the horrible mix-up that had the wrong young lady pronounced dead after a van crash: Whitney Cerak's family and boyfriend have been to visit, and she's talking and eating, and shooting baskets during physical therapy. One of the first things she did when family members arrived was to start listing people she wanted to see. There are tears all around, of course.

Laura VanRyn's family is graciously providing updates on Miss Cerak's condition on the blog they set up to chronicle their own daughter's progress.

Laura VanRyn was buried as Whitney Cerak. A memorial service for Miss VanRyn will be held Sunday.

Update: Miss Cerak's family has started its own blog.

An interview with Christopher Hitchens

Mindy Belz of World magazine interviewed commentator Christopher Hitchens about his life, his work, and his beliefs. Just so you know - World is a Christian publication, and Mr. Hitchens calls himself an "anti-theist." (And he doesn't play to the crowd.)

The article has a notice that as of June 21 it will only be available to paid subscribers.

hat tip: Et tu, Hitch? at Open Book (Amy Welborn's blog).

The priest at Rosslyn Chapel will leave his post in July

Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland, otherwise known as St Matthew's Collegiate Church, is a functioning Episcopalian church, with a 300-strong congregation, services, baptisms, weddings, et al.

Unfortunately, since the Da Vinci Code novel was published, naming it as the hiding place of the Holy Grail, it has also become a magnet for tourists, many of whom have no concept of what a working church is about, shall we say? Or what a priest might consider improper. Or bearable.

The Rev Michael Fass, age 61, has had enough.

Another point to ponder

In Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity?, Albert Mohler addresses the basic question, "Is the insanity defense itself morally justified?"

He also provides some history.

Asking for suggestions for good shows

PalmTree Pundit likes The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie. She's asking for suggestions on other shows along those lines, to watch on DVD.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Dalai Lama honors Tintin (or at least Tintin's legacy)

That would be Tintin, the cartoon character. (Times Online, June 1, 2006, Amrit Dhillon reporting.)

Seriously. The Truth of Light Award has been awarded to the Hergé Foundation, named after Tintin's creator, for making a significant contribution to the public's understanding of Tibet.

Tintin in Tibet was first published in 1959.

Tintin in Tibet (Adventures of Tintin Series #18)
Tintin in Tibet (Adventures of Tintin Series #18)

Updated June 2 with link to Barnes & Noble, and also slight editing.