Friday, December 28, 2007

Michael Kidd, rest in peace

When I saw the movie Seven Brides for Seven Brothers for the first time, I'd hate to think how much of the time I spent with my jaw hanging down, struck with disbelief that those dancers were actually doing what they were doing - and making it look easy into the bargain. It was a wonderful mix of amazing talent, superb training, guts, humor, wit and inventive choreography. To this day I'm in awe that the producers of that movie could get that much well-nurtured talent together and unleash it like that.

OK, OK, sometimes since then, even without the surprise of seeing it for the first time, when I've watched the most amazing parts, my jaw still drops. I don't know any other musical like it. I can't believe they dared to do what they did, plus the dancers are generally laughing as they do it. And they are acting. And staying in character. Without missing a beat. Remarkable. (And don't you wish more of today's talent would be channeled into something meant just for fun?)

Now comes word that the choreographer of that movie (as well as a number of other Broadway and Hollywood shows) has died.

Email newsletter about children's books

In addition to her blog, kidlit fan Jen Robinson has a free weekly email newsletter called Growing Bookworms.

Inkheart fans sought

Krista at Musings of a Lady is looking for fellow fans of Cornelia Funke's Inkheart fantasy series, specifically to discuss the trailer for Inkheart: The Movie.

I haven't read any of the Inkheart books yet, so am out of this loop. How about you?

Pro-life honors offered, nominees sought

From Ruben at

On her blog, Jill Stanek is seeking nominations for the "Pro-lifer of the Year". Among some possible candidates are Eric Scheidler, President Bush, and Phill Kline. As for me, I'll nominate my friends Troy Newman and David Bereit, among others...

But for a couple of weeks now, I've been meaning to proclaim Jill as "Pro-life Blogger of the Year." (If you have paid any attention to the situation in Aurora, Colorado, then you have probably read at least one of her posts on that situation.)

There are so many good posts on her blog that I won't bother to point out any particular one - just visit her site at

Who are your nominations for "Pro-life blogger of the year?"

Please go to Ruben's post to make your nominations, if you have any. Thanks.

Zig / Zag (or the state of churches)

Do you ever get mental whiplash as you surf the internet? I've just gone from this post to this commentary (via this post), and I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry, especially since just a few minutes ago I was here (via here).

I think it all makes sense if you think about it, though...

"Flat Stanley" tips sought

At As Cozy as Spring: Flat Stanley, the blogger is planning to participate in a "Flat Stanley" project, and is asking for input from those of you who have experience. I wrote about my secondhand experience here (customers brought a Flat Samantha to our bookstore for a photo shoot). In that post, I also linked to a delightful ongoing series from a Flat Alexis hostess in Texas, but I find that those links have gone bad. Rats. It was the best Flat Stanley presentation I'd found.

Pop on over to As Cozy as Spring if you have good ideas to share. (Or warnings. If you'll read my previous post you'll see that the parents of our local Flat Samantha hosts found that the project got a wee bit out of hand...)

In Miami-Dade County...

...the right to meet in private homes for prayer and Bible study has been recognized.

The ethics of blogging

A question on whether it's unethical to blog anonymously prompts The Jewish Ethicist to focus on the ethics of blogging.

A hundred recipes

Via Lady Jane, the Food Network has posted what it calls its Top 100 Recipes of 2007.

Far be it for me to pass on a Top 100 list that starts with macaroni and cheese, and includes so many other homey-looking recipes? (OK, where's my shopping list...?)

For Jan Karon fans...

...this post at A Circle of Quiet takes a quick look at two of her books, plus has a link to a discussion of Jan Karon's fiction by Lauren Winner.

"The Ballad of the Goodly Fere"

If you're tired of wimpy portrayals of Christ, you might want to read this.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

P G Wodehouse continues to conquer the world

India has enjoyed something of a Wodehouse craze. Now Russia?

Too fun.

hat tip: Frank Wilson

Blogger makes good

Congratulations to Dawn Meehan. Her blogging, about life as a mother of six, has led to significant advertising income, and a two-book deal. NPR has the story (Blogs Scoured for Book Deals, Morning Edition, December 27, 2007).

Refusing to fill a prescription (for death)

So, a couple Sundays back I was listening to a preacher talk about when his wife was carrying their first child. The doctor said she was likely to have a miscarriage, and if she didn't miscarry, the baby was going to be born blind, and so, he said, she should get an abortion. The preacher said he told his wife to tell her doctor to stick it in his ear. She must have done something of the sort, because she went on to give birth to a baby who has now grown into a lovely young lady of 18. The girl, by the way, wasn't born with any health problems, much less the blindness that was predicted.

Of course, if she had been born blind they would have loved her anyway. (BTW: Parents who don't run from their disabled children do tend to find them a blessing. Read this account of a young woman with Down Syndrome for yet another example of that. As her mother notes in the article, Hope taught her to slow down and smell the roses - not a bad thing, that. In the full disclosure department, I've met Hope and I like her.)

At any rate, I've been thinking. For one thing, I'm wondering if there's a person left in America who doesn't know someone who is alive today only because someone stood up to a doctor who prescribed giving up? Honestly? (Wouldn't it be better if we could trust doctors to admit when matters have gone past where they feel they can do anything useful, instead of making the mighty - not to mention arrogant - leap to declaring who should be allowed to live?)

For another thing, wouldn't it be better if more people learned to tell death-dealing doctors when and where to get off? Perhaps it's wild fantasy on my part, but I can't help wishing that more women, when advised to go get an abortion, would reply something along the lines of "You patronizing beast. Stop treating me like a child. I may not know exactly how to work my way out of this mess yet, but I refuse to be treated like an incompetent, cowardly, disloyal ninny, and beyond that, nobody treats my baby like garbage." Of course no one talks like that, but you get the idea.

Something similar goes for those of us who love anyone with disabilities. When my somewhat-crippled husband was critically ill a couple of years ago, I'm afraid I got a bit of experience with a couple of doctors who thought he ought to be reminded that assisted suicide is legal in Oregon. This was not a good move on their part. (My husband is doing fine these days, by the way, unless you count that he's down again with the flu or something like it. Ugh. We're having a month to forget, in the common winter ailment department.)

For the record, most of the people who were consulted during my husband's near-death experience were solidly on our side, and fought like crazy to save his life. Thank goodness. But the ones who weren't sure his life was worth living provided an extra layer of nightmares to the ordeal. To be fair, no one pushed the point after bringing it up, but then again, we didn't give them an inch.

Sigh. Do you remember the days when it was greedy heirs who had to get past a doctor to hasten Grandpa's demise, and not loving relatives who had to work around a doctor to save someone's life?

Should we have to put up with this?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Ah, December

Or, perhaps I should say, ah-choo December. Or, oh-my-tummy December... Or, dibs-on-the-closest-bathroom December... Or...

We're fighting bugs around here, like we do most Decembers. I'm only moderately sick, which means I can take care of normal chores and duties. On the other hand, I'm dragging, and my mind feels as sharp as mud.

I yield to the folks in my sidebar, until I perk up a bit.

Closed circuit for my friends in Ontario...

OK, so it's written for Ontario, Canada - but I can't see why the folks of Ontario, Oregon USA couldn't sing a version of Ontari-ari-ari-o when they feel like it. :) Follow the link from Dewey's Treehouse for the video.

For those of you who are wondering, it's my understanding that Ontario, Oregon, was named after Ontario, Canada, after the four founders of the town drew lots to see who would get the honor of naming the place. The winner's name was James W. Virtue, and I understand he was French-Canadian by birth.

P.S. Congratulations to Dewey's Treehouse for winning the Cyberbuddy category in the Homeschool Blog Awards.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Saturday Review of Books... up at Semicolon.

Churches help fugitives surrender safely

Via Mark Earley, have you heard of the Fugitive Safe Surrender Program? Churches and media cooperate to give fugitives for non-violent and misdemeanor crimes a safe place and time to turn themselves in.

One-man Stonehenge

Have you heard about Wally Wallington of Michigan, who has figured out how to erect a replica of Stonehenge single-handedly, using lumber and pebbles and other low-tech stuff? He uses similar techniques to move barns, etc. Six-minute video here.

Very cool. Hats off to Mr. Wallington.

Now, kids, I'm counting on you to get permission from your parents before you try, say, to transplant the garage. There's a very good chance they a) don't want the garage moved, and b) don't want you hurting yourself. You should note on the video where Mr. Wallington talks about the times he got hurt while perfecting his methods. OK? You with me on this?

Semi-related: This makes me think of Archimedes and the quote "Give me a place to stand on, and I will move the Earth." It's so easy to forget the power of levers... And gravity... And other basic stuff...

hat tip: My husband

Monday, December 10, 2007

The science behind global warmism

I was following a link from this post at Joust the Facts, and was reading The Science of Gore's Nobel by Holman W. Jenkins Jr. of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board (, December 5, 2007), when my husband (off on an errand) called to say that that it's brittle outside, and that's it's expected to sink to single digits or lower tonight. This in one of the banana belts of this part of the world...

So, now that I'm through chuckling (it was great timing, and a nice contrast), I think I'd better share with you what Mr. Jenkins points out as the science behind Gore's crusade (it's not what Mr. Gore would like you to think):

The media will be tempted to blur the fact that his medal, which Mr. Gore will collect on Monday in Oslo, isn't for "science." In fact, a Nobel has never been awarded for the science of global warming. Even Svante Arrhenius, who first described the "greenhouse" effect, won his for something else in 1903. Yet now one has been awarded for promoting belief in manmade global warming as a crisis.

How this honor has befallen the former Veep could perhaps be explained by another Nobel, awarded in 2002 to Daniel Kahneman for work he and the late Amos Tversky did on "availability bias," roughly the human propensity to judge the validity of a proposition by how easily it comes to mind.

Their insight has been fruitful and multiplied: "Availability cascade" has been coined for the way a proposition can become irresistible simply by the media repeating it; "informational cascade" for the tendency to replace our beliefs with the crowd's beliefs; and "reputational cascade" for the rational incentive to do so.

Mr. Gore clearly understands the game he's playing, judging by his resort to such nondispositive arguments as: "The people who dispute the international consensus on global warming are in the same category now with the people who think the moon landing was staged in a movie lot in Arizona."


Public opinion cascades are powerful but also fragile--liable to be overturned in an instant when new information comes along. The current age of global warming politics will certainly end with a whimper once a few consecutive years of cooling are recorded. Why should we expect such cooling? Because the forces that caused warming and cooling in the past, before the advent of industrial civilization, are still at work.

No, this wouldn't prove or disprove a human role in warming, only that climate is variable and subject to complicated influences. But it would also eliminate the large incentive for politicians to traffic in doom-laden predictions--because such predictions would no longer command media assent and would cease to function as levers to redistribute resources.

Read the whole thing

I think we all need to sometimes step back and ask if what we're championing is based on nothing more than a cascade that took on a life of its own, apart from the facts. I know I've had a few jolts in my life when I realized to my horror or dismay that I'd been working off of faulty info or misguided opinion. (I've been obliged to disown some of what I spouted when I was feminist, for instance... Ahem...)

Monday, December 03, 2007

Great underrated or underread books

Anthony Esolen is in the middle of writing The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization, a project that has him looking at some books he hasn't read in a while. This got him thinking about compiling a list of the "Top Twenty Books Nobody Reads." He tosses out a list to get things started, but he's open to nominations.

The storm situation...

... in this part of Oregon isn't as dire as the news media and various government sorts are apparently portraying it.

I hear that there is flooding in other parts of the state (with probably worse to come, if the rain predictions come true, or the Chinook winds melt much more snow), and we've heard travelers tell tales of road closures, and of watching vehicles get blown off the road north of here, and of driving through road conditions they never wish to see again for the rest of their lives. And a business associate had to cancel a phone appointment with my husband today, because the associate needed to go help deal with some storm damage where he lives, over near Portland. So, yes, here in Oregon we are having storm troubles, and I guess we're in for more trouble for a few more days at least.

But we just got a call from a frightened relative from another state who was watching the evening news and thought the report essentially said that all of Oregon was under water and about to slide into the ocean, or something to that effect. We reassured her, and I would like to reassure other friends and family, that right here we've had, off and on over the past couple/three days, some nasty, often-strong, sometimes-swirling wind that a time or two felt like it was going to rip the roof off, but didn't (not yet, anyway), and we've had snow and we've had melting and more wind, but basically it's been noisy and not pleasant, but not damaging - except when it's been lovely weather, which it has also been, off and on, in waves. (Welcome to winter in Oregon.)

The winds were shoving the exhaust fumes from our oil furnace back into the house, so we turned it off and are getting by with electric space heaters and extra clothing for the time being, but so far that's the worst problem we've had. So, kindly do not fret about us. We were raised on pioneer stories. We're following in the footsteps of folks who used bad weather as an excuse to hole up in their cabin with friends, break out the fiddle, and party. And so far, honestly, we haven't had anything worse than usual winter weather, in this little valley at any rate.

I'm sure there are folks in Oregon who need help right now, but we're not among them.