Friday, December 31, 2010

The 10 most significant gadgets of 2010 -

The 10 most significant gadgets of 2010 -

"10. Kindle 3
With a brighter, higher-contrast screen and a svelte, understated design, Amazon has finally nailed the Kindle. For now, this is the e-reader to beat."

High School Science Battles To Be Cool

High School Science Battles To Be Cool

Science Fairs Struggle to Survive in Budget Crunch -

Science Fairs Struggle to Survive in Budget Crunch -

"Science programs are more important than ever because the country needs students who are interested in science to compete in the global economy, said Paula Golden, the director of the Broadcom Foundation, which finances a prominent national science competition for middle school students.

“Without a body of young people who are innovators and scientists and engineers, we cannot sustain any kind of growth economically,” Ms. Golden said. “It is a national crisis.”"

New Year's Eve 2010: Celebrations Around The World (PHOTOS)

New Year's Eve 2010: Celebrations Around The World (PHOTOS)

Happy New Year

Prevent a Hangover - Wired How-To Wiki

Prevent a Hangover - Wired How-To Wiki:

"Most doctors will tell you there is no way to cure a hangover, save waiting for your body to metabolize and get rid of the alcohol. While that may be true, there are number of things you can do to speed things up."

But here's a guaranteed cure: don't drink.

Duck liver pâté - Recipes, Food & Drink - The Independent

Duck liver pâté - Recipes, Food & Drink - The Independent

Wish I had some.

New Year's Eve

I don't know how I survived the New Year's eves of my youth without:
  • getting a drunken-driving ticket
  • wrecking my car
  • injuring or killing myself
  • injuring or killing someone else

More than once, I'd wake up on New Year's day and go outside and be unable to find my car. It'd eventually find it parked in some strange nearby location, and none-too-well. I wouldn't remember driving home. If I did run over someone, it never traced back to me. I assume it would have, so I assume I didn't.

Perhaps the worst time I do remember was driving home in LA from a party, being aware I was loaded so trying to drive very carefully, and at one point stopping the car because I saw a tree ahead. I got out to discover that I had been driving along the grass separation part of the divided highway! Somehow I'd missed the little trees there, though I suspect I ran through some gardens, and who the hell knows how long I was driving there, but I got off and onto the (fortunately abandoned) highway and returned home. I helped my odds, I suppose, by driving at late hours when traffic was thin, even for New Year's eve. 4 and 5 in the morning.

Indeed, in all my drinking-and-driving days (and everybody in my crowd did it in that era) I only had two solo car accidents, fender-benders (mine) without injury.

Like I say, I've been one lucky reprobate.

So now, an old far who can't even stay up until midnight most of the time, I recollect the New Year's eves of my youth and shake my head. Kids.

2010 is one for the e-books |

2010 is one for the e-books |

"This was the year everything changed in publishing.

Electronic books and the devices used to read them exploded in popularity."

Warner Bros Wins 2010 Film Market Share; Year’s Box Office Grosses Not A Record; Overall Movie Attendance Down Sharply; Should Studios Slash Number Of 3D Pics? –

Warner Bros Wins 2010 Film Market Share; Year’s Box Office Grosses Not A Record; Overall Movie Attendance Down Sharply; Should Studios Slash Number Of 3D Pics? –

So more are watching movies at home, I presume. I am.

And that’s no jive | Jivin’ Johnny Etheredge celebrates 40 years as a rock jock

And that’s no jive | Jivin’ Johnny Etheredge celebrates 40 years as a rock jock:

"Jivin’ Johnny Etheredge celebrates 40 years as a rock jock"

Nice to see John get some press!

Steve Kelley | Washington football is reborn with this historic bowl victory | Seattle Times Newspaper

Steve Kelley | Washington football is reborn with this historic bowl victory | Seattle Times Newspaper:

"SAN DIEGO — Jake Locker kept the ball on the option, accelerated into the open field and delivered a humbling hit on cornerback Prince Amukamara before jogging into the end zone at the end of his 25-yard touchdown run.

Two minutes into the second half, Washington was up by two scores on Nebraska, and it felt like old times."

UConn's win streak ends at 90 in loss to Stanford - Yahoo! News

UConn's win streak ends at 90 in loss to Stanford - Yahoo! News

Recently attended: Hair, rock musical

Mixed reactions to seeing HAIR last night. No criticism of the production, which was a first rate NY touring show from top to bottom. Very slick.

Yet Act One left me cold. A bit of nostalgia but it all seemed so dated and irrelevant. If alone, I would have left at intermission.

And missed a fantastic Act Two! Here the story engaged me. Here I was riveted in my seat. Why the different reactions?

I figured this out: act one is topical and act two is universal. All the issues in act one aren't issues any more. Act One used to shock. Used to feel liberating. Now it's, well, a little boring.

But Act Two focuses on war. Nudity and pot and hair length are snoozing issues today but war still matters.

In fact, watching the show, I decided that the quickest way to end the wars in the Middle East is to reinstate the draft. Reinstate the draft! For men AND women! How does this end the wars? By making them relevant again. Making them matter to most people. Today you can be against the war but pass it off as no concern, no personal concern, because it doesn't affect your life directly in an easily understood way.  When a draft notice comes in the mail, that's clear understanding. Reinstate the draft, the kids will return to the streets, the cops will overact and beat them up, and you'll have a mess that results in ending the war.

A curious play from today's perspective but act two is still powerful.

My new epitaph

He made scrapple for breakfast.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

E-Books Outsell Paper Books On Barnes & Noble's Online Store

E-Books Outsell Paper Books On Barnes & Noble's Online Store

Top Scientific Breakthroughs of 2010 | Wired Science |

Top Scientific Breakthroughs of 2010 | Wired Science |


Uploading my 8th book there, which I think will just about do it. Let them do what they will. Actually it appears to be a very busy place, almost 50 have downloaded something or other so far, coffee money.

My 8 books at Smashwords.

Winter projects

I seem to have two winter projects now, which have come forward from the chaos of brooding about this and that.
  • Compose music for the art song music video now that I've selected the lyrics.
  • Experiment with turning a splay into a new kind of vertical minimalist novel written especially to be read on electronic devices. Not sure if this will work out but I am fascinated by the idea and will give it my best shot.

Not too ambitious, not obsessive, perfect for a mellow winter (if the weather permits).

Sketch and I to the copy center!

Finally rewrote and delivered the syllabus. Now the smaller chore of my syllabus for advanced students, and I also have a short splay to evaluate for an auditing student, both needing to get done today or tomorrow before game time on the weekend. I plan to make black-eyed peas for the Rose Bowl game and root for TCU. I grew up hating the Big Ten, traditional visiting opponents in the Rose Bowl in my hometown of Pasadena.

Quotation of the day

Maybe this world is another planet's hell.
– Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Daily Kos: The Wounded Knee Massacre: 120th Anniversary

Daily Kos: The Wounded Knee Massacre: 120th Anniversary

Best Plays Of 2010: Vote For The Most Amazing Play Of The Year (VIDEOS)

Best Plays Of 2010: Vote For The Most Amazing Play Of The Year (VIDEOS)

The 10 Worst Drinking Trends

The 10 Worst Drinking Trends

Biggest Tech Fails This Decade: 12 Epic Product Flops

Biggest Tech Fails This Decade: 12 Epic Product Flops

Daily Kos: Why Germans Think We're Insane.

Daily Kos: Why Germans Think We're Insane.:

"The U.S. has 59 million people medically uninsured; 132 million without dental insurance; 60 million without paid sick leave; 40 million on food stamps. Everybody in the European Union has cradle-to-grave access to universal medical and a dental plan by law. The law also requires paid sick leave; paid annual leave; paid maternity leave. When you realize all of that, it becomes easy to understand why many Europeans think America has gone insane."

Last minute

I still haven't gotten to my syllabus and it's getting clear that I'm going to put everything off to the very last minute, trying to squeeze every bit of "vacation" I can from this break So be it. I am having a good time reading, preparing ebooks, cooking, mellowing out. I'll be ready next week even if I do put everything off.

WGA Script Awards Disconnect With Oscars –

WGA Script Awards Disconnect With Oscars –

"Here they go again. Every year the disconnect between the Writers Guild of America and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences seem to grow wider in the movie script categories. This year looks no different."

180 from the public

My ebooks are selling already at Smashwords, modestly, which is more than I expected. But the stats are typical: the sales of six books are in reverse order of my preference for them. The less I regard it, the more it sells. Been this way all my life, my personal tastes in books about 180 degrees off the popular preferences.

Smashwords Founder Thinks 2011 Is Year For Indie Authors - eBookNewser

Smashwords Founder Thinks 2011 Is Year For Indie Authors - eBookNewser

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cinema as history: Movies to treasure forever - Features, Films - The Independent

Cinema as history: Movies to treasure forever - Features, Films - The Independent

The evolving screenplay

One of my recent pet theories is that the contemporary spec screenplay can evolve into a literary document for the general reader, specializing in ebook delivery, a vertical read. I've tried to get my students excited about this, a new form of storytelling designed specifically for ebook delivery, based on the spec screenplay.

With my new infatuation with Kindle and Smashwords, I may try this experiment myself. That is, take an old screenplay, already written, and modify it into an ebook novel designed specifically to be read on electronic devices. The same condensed minimalist approach as a spec script, a vertical read. This could be a very interesting experiment.

A busy day of diversions

Well, nothing got done that I should have gotten done -- but I did get four, count 'em, ebooks up at Smashwords and (amazingly enough) I've already sold a couple and many more samples have been downloaded. Of course, this is far from a money-goal exercise. One would have to devote a lot of time to marketing for that to make sense, and I'm far, far past interest in marketing. I was going to make the books FREE but decided to let the "buyer" set the price instead. Largely out of curiosity.

Again, I really like the Smashwords interface. It's the best ebook site I've seen.

Go to Smashwords.

Having too much fun

I should be working on my new syllabus. Instead I am formating books for Smashbooks. It's such a cool site. This appears to me to be where the future in reading will be, in ebooks and their user-friendly management. I'm sold on it at any rate -- and I'm an old fart!

Scrapple and oatmeal

Man, what a good breakfast!


I'm formating some of my books for Smashwords, an ebook distributor in all formats, and I am very impressed with the website and procedure and options. First rate. Deemer at Smashwords.

Monday, December 27, 2010

1000 words

Life imitates art

It occurs to me that the letter below, in life, echoes the resolution of my film The Farewell Wake, the teacher/protagonist learning how much he has influenced students' lives. Interesting.

The rewards of teaching

Dear Mr Deemer,
This is going to be kind of long but a few years ago I was given three months to live and started thinking about people who changed my life in a positive way.  You were one of seven people that changed the way I thought and lived my life.  I hope you will take time to read one last paper from me.
I had you as an English Professor winter term of 1969 at U of O.  I had recently returned from Viet Nam and returned to the U of O which was not a real friendly place for a Nam vet.  I left Eugene after Spring term.  I am sure you remember the things going on in Eugene at that time.  The Eugene city police decided I needed to transfer to OSU since two friends and I showed up at all of the war protests as counter demonstrators.  During that time I wrote a paper called "Seven Days in the Nam" about my experiences during a week that we had terrible losses and I was wounded.  I wrote that paper with a big chip on my shoulder expecting you to give me an F since it was about the war.  You surprised me by giving me an A or a B and ask me if I had read some author that you thought my writing resembled.  You gave me a B in the class.  When I transferred to OSU my grades were not quite up to par and I needed 1 point to add to my GPA to get in.  I called to ask you if you would consider changing my grade to an A.  Your wife answered and said you were very ill and that she would ask you about the grade.  She did not sound very hopeful.  She called me back later and said you  would raise my grade.
I was able to to transfer and spent two years taking agriculture courses and then moving to Burns to farm...  
You taught me that people could have differing views about things and still be respectful and even be friends.  You also were there when I needed a boost in transferring to OSU.  It may not have seemed like much to you but it changed my thinking and my behavior toward other people.  Had it not been for you I may have committed murder and would probably have committed suicide.

This came out of the blue today. No memory of it, of course, but that hardly matters. I had my ass saved more than once by a flexible teacher; it's called passing on the karma.

Easing back into the grind

Well, not quite. But it is time to get my new syllabus together, a chore for today or soon, and to otherwise get prepared for school starting next week.

I made a great fine: a Kindle edition of Newton's Principia Mathematica! Free. Not sure how much of it I will understand but it's great to have such a monumental work available to look at.

Presently I'm reading a captivating history of the Haymarket massacre.

Quotation of the day

The Bible is not my book, and Christianity is not my religion. I could never give assent to the long, complicated statements of Christian dogma.
– Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) Kindle Sales Are Said to Exceed Estimates - BusinessWeek Kindle Sales Are Said to Exceed Estimates - BusinessWeek:

" Inc. is likely to sell more than 8 million Kindle electronic-book readers this year, at least 60 percent more than analysts have predicted, according to two people who are aware of the company’s sales projections."

Amazon says Kindle holding its own against tablets - Yahoo! News

Amazon says Kindle holding its own against tablets - Yahoo! News

Its size is better for comfortable reading than the iPad.

Learning from Finland - The Boston Globe

Learning from Finland - The Boston Globe:

"IF AMERICANS harbored any doubts about their eroded global edge, the recent release of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development’s fourth international comparison of educational performance should rattle the nation from its “We’re No. 1’’ complacency. The latest Program for International Student Assessment study revealed that, although the United States made some modest gains, it is lagging behind many other developed nations in the ability of its 15-year-olds. The country isn’t flunking: like France, England, and Sweden, learning here has stagnated at below-average levels. That “gentleman’s C’’ should be a call to change course.

Take heart. Finland, one of the world’s top educational performers according to the last PISA study and a recent McKinsey report, was once in a similar slump and can offer lessons for the United States and others seeking a cure for poor public schools."

If it can be done, then let's do it! ? Our dismal educational systems need fixing sooner rather than later.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Doubting Sarah - War Room -

Doubting Sarah - War Room -

"A chorus of criticism and doubt about Sarah Palin is emerging from an unlikely and telling source: Republicans"

Hollywood and the War Machine |

Hollywood and the War Machine |

After a Wasted Year, Climate Change Must Once Again Be Our Priority |

After a Wasted Year, Climate Change Must Once Again Be Our Priority |

Shakespeare's Globe may be rebuilt - News, Theatre & Dance - The Independent

Shakespeare's Globe may be rebuilt - News, Theatre & Dance - The Independent

Holiday relaxation

I feel very good today. Indeed this may be the best, meaning most mellow and relaxed, holiday season I've experienced in ages. Not sure why unless it's just general mellow growth that comes with being an old fart -- at least it does if you pay attention. There's something especially relaxing about having your best years behind you -- and being proud of them.

So I'm, what else?, rendering video before burning a DVD of the Shaw docu. A good Sunday chore.


I decided to make a DVD of my Tom Shaw documentary, primarily for my archives. Doing that now.

High school memory

I downloaded H. G. Wells' An Outline of History to read, which came with a high school memory.

There were five of us who were tight at Pasadena High School in the mid-1950s. We were nerds, geeks, future scientists of America. We broke into two subgroups: 3 of us liked and played sports, 2 didn't. We were at the top of our class and most academic occasions, particularly in math and science, were a competition among the five of us. We all applied to the same four universities but acceptances made no sense, or none that we could figure out. All of us got accepted by Cal at Berkeley. Thereafter only one accepted us, and each went to this university. M and I were accepted by Cal Tech across town. D and E by Stanford, the only two to go straight through and graduate without interruption. J by MIT.

In high school only M had significant interests beyond math and the sciences. He was always reading something by Upton Sinclair. And for a while, he was reading and carrying around Wells' outline of history, which is the memory that rushed over me as I was downloading the book to my Kindle.

M was something of a tragic figure. His family was the only wealthy Republican one in our group. But his tragic complexity didn't come to light until the summer between our freshman and sophomore years at Cal Tech.

We weren't that close, although we lived around the corner from one another and often played chess. But I played more sandlot sports than chess and M wasn't into that. In the summer in question, M had something like a nervous breakdown. His mother asked me to talk to him one day. He lived in an apartment over their garage and I found him incoherent and a little scary. He also was showing me, to my shock, some gay porno magazines. A few days later he committed suicide.

In retrospect, I think there were two stressful pressures that M couldn't deal with. First, he was gay at a time when you definitely kept in the closet. I assume he was. But perhaps more important, he more than the rest of us got a lot of pressure to succeed from his family, especially his aggressive demanding mother.

Cal Tech was a shock. We went from the top of our high school class to the middle of the incoming freshman class of 100. Different students adjusted in different ways. At Cal Tech I adjusted by becoming a jock: I lettered in football, basketball and track. I was co-captain and quarterback of the football team, as non-competitive as it was (our best game we lost only 52-12; our worst, 85-0 against Whittier in the mud). M apparently had a more difficult time adjusting, especially with his mom on his ass.

At any rate, he committed suicide. Shortly after this I transfered to Berkeley, mainly to get away from home, and one term later I joined the Army, finding myself in the Army Security Agency at a recruiter's whim and soon training to be a Russian Linguist in the Cold War.

I associate the Wells history with my memory of M. It will be an interesting read.

New Sunday ritual

One of the bargains on Kindle is the Sunday New York Times for 99 cents. This will be a regular download and give me a lot of Sunday morning reading. Not presently, however, though I just downloaded it. I'm up and awake for some reason, down in my chilly basement office so I don't wake our house guest.

Last day of "vacation" before I must seriously start thinking of the new term, which requires a bit of preparation. Then in the spring I am adding a new book, the anthology to which I contributed, which is full of short useful pieces from all the screenwriting gurus in the land and a few dozen teachers like myself as well.

Sketch got three toys for Christmas. One he destroyed in about 30 seconds. The second took maybe two hours. Now he's working on the third. A rat terrier, I suppose he thinks they are rats. They squeak with more gusto than a rat would. At least I think so.

Next interesting bowl game is Thursday when Washington plays Nebraska. And the Connecticut women play Stanford the same night, which should be a great game. I may even root for Stanford.

I have no use for professional basketball and won't until they raise the basket a few feet.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Jimmy Rushing

Took a dinner guest home, an hour round trip, and the jazz station was playing Jimmy Rushing. What a giant (in more ways than one).

Rendering video

Here's a time-consuming holiday project: taking the five parts of the Tom Shaw documentary and making ONE video file from them (earlier, when I put this online, I hadn't learned how to do this yet). I'll keep the parts up, too, as a convenience for those who prefer to watch it in pieces.

The highlight of our holiday meal, in my book, was H's scalloped potatoes. We had roast beef and salmon.

Recent reading: The Phoenix Lights

The Phoenix Lights: A Skeptic's Discovery That We Are Not Alone
Lynne D. Kitei
Go to Amazon

"On March 13, 1997 something extra-ordinary happened in the skies over Phoenix and across Arizona. On that clear evening a parade of low flying, mile wide V-shaped formations of orbs and craft glided silently overhead, attracting the attention of at least 10,000 people."

Dr. Kitei was one of them, and her curiosity led her to investigate the truth of the event. Her journey, detailed in this book, does one thing very well and another not so well. The strength of her book is the investigation itself, concluding that the event is an "UP," unexplained phenomenon. No explanation, including the official one of government flares, satisfactorily explains the facts of the event and the testimony of thousands of witnesses. Indeed "visitation of ETs" ends up being as good an explanation as anything else. Surely something strange and wondrous happened for all to see. But what? 

When Dr. Kitei starts speculating about what, beyond a general statement of "visitation," is when she loses me. Whereas her investigation reflects her scientific training and is measured, reasoned and careful, in the latter part of her book the doctor turns into a cheerleader for New Age optimism, deciding that these visitations are to save us all (from ourselves, of course), and that the universe is just one big happy family. Apparently she hasn't seen the TV series "V" that offers a different perspective on galactic visitation, and there's no particular reason why one version is more believable than the other. Indeed, if we live in a zero-sum universe, all the cheer and good tidings from the good doctor must be matched with a comparable part of negativity. 

So this is two books in one, the first a stellar argument for the mystery of the Phoenix lights and their probable other-worldly origin, the second a Galactic Better Business Bureau version of boosterism at its worst. The book is worth reading for the first half.


I loved Christmas as a kid, and I can prove it. From 1948, when I was 9, my dad captured each Christmas with his 8mm movie camera. They fit the same pattern, a before and after story: the tree before my brother and I attacked the presents, traditional, the hub of many presents; then the kids opening presents and later mom and occasionally mom would shoot dad opening a present; and then later, outside usually, my brother and I with a favorite present, one year myself in a football uniform and a football, or with a bow and arrow, or with a new bike.

After I left home, I never again spent Christmas in the company of kids. Christmas began to be less significant to me. Even as a kid, it was never about Jesus' birthday in our house. I never recall hearing anything about that. I was about relatives and presents and special foods. As a young adult, Thanksgiving was my favorite holiday because for a decade it was about a gathering of friends, about a dozen of us, year after year for several days of eating and drinking and music making. After my divorce, I dropped out of the ritual and Thanksgiving lost its significance to me.

So sports events became more important, more wedded to ritual, than holidays. First and foremost, the Army-Navy game, on which I was raised as a Navy brat, followed closely by the Rose Bowl, our hometown game (and parade). I also religiously watched the Triple Crown races, the summer Olympics, March Madness. Often the World Series, though the Little League counterpart interested me as much as the big leagues.

Christmas today strikes me as a time when most folks seem to be especially nice -- at least if you engage them out of the mall. It's a time of hope. Sometimes the hope rings shallow to me, as with the Pope's annual message, always predictable, let's pray for world peace, this as the horror of war reigns someplace or other, always, and his words sound pathetic and sad and ignorant. The hope of Christmas is in the dynamic of families, families with children, as parents strive to give their kids meaning for the future. It's a noble task.

The hope of Christmas is the movie It's A Wonderful Life, that the theme of this classic might actually be true, at least now and again, at least somewhere, among some group of people. That this might not be too much to ask.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Daily Kos: The Best Christmas Movies?

Daily Kos: The Best Christmas Movies?

Quotation of the day

Truth, in the matters of religion, is simply the opinion that has survived.
– Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

Return to Facebook

A year or more ago I gave Facebook a shot and fled after a month or so under an avalanche of trivia. Well, I returned today and I hope to be more passive but use it as a connection to a few friends who appear to do most of their networking there. But if I get too many lists and fortune cookies or who knows what, I may flee once again. My Facebook page.

Dec. 24, 1968: Christmas Eve Greetings From Lunar Orbit | This Day In Tech |

Dec. 24, 1968: Christmas Eve Greetings From Lunar Orbit | This Day In Tech |

Next week

Next week I have to get serious about preparing for winter term, composing music for my art song video, cleaning my office, practicing banjo ... and surely a few other things.

The highlight of the break thus far is clearly my new energy for reading, thanks largely to the Kindle. I truly am reading up a storm, as if making up for lost time. I hope I can continue once school starts and I have so much "official" and "required" reading to do.

H off to pick up her grandson, who is spending Xmas with us as he spent Thanksgiving. He's 17 and a good kid, especially given his terrible childhood with an addict mother, H's daughter. Now he's in a program near Seattle and about to turn 18. Not sure what he does after that.

Did some Xmas shopping with H in the zoo out there this morning. We were only gone a couple hours, so I didn't mind it. Rather enjoyed the people watching and craziness of it all.

Recent reading: The Grapes of Wrath

The Grapes of Wrath
John Steinbeck
Go to Amazon.

Rereading the Steinbeck classic, I again am overwhelmed by the power of this story. It is ageless. At the same time, I wish the inter-Joad chapters, when Steinbeck generalizes the drama, were shorter and thereby more poetic. So this is far from a perfectly crafted novel in my view and yet the story is so powerful, my criticism, which I don't remember having decades ago when I first read it, does not reduce its effect.

Here are some excerpts:
There ain’t no sin and there ain’t no virtue. There’s just stuff people do. It’s all part of the same thing. And some of the things folks do is nice, and some ain’t nice, but that’s as far as any man got a right to say.’ ” He paused and looked up from the palm of his hand, where he had laid down the words.
 The tenant pondered. “Funny thing how it is. If a man owns a little property, that property is him, it’s part of him, and it’s like him. If he owns property only so he can walk on it and handle it and be sad when it isn’t doing well, and feel fine when the rain falls on it, that property is him, and some way he’s bigger because he owns it. Even if he isn’t successful he’s big with his property. That is so.” And the tenant pondered more. “But let a man get property he doesn’t see, or can’t take time to get his fingers in, or can’t be there to walk on it—why, then the property is the man. He can’t do what he wants, he can’t think what he wants. The property is the man, stronger than he is. And he is small, not big. Only his possessions are big—and he’s the servant of his property. That is so, too.”
 How can we live without our lives? How will we know it’s us without our past? No. Leave it. Burn it. They sat and looked at it and burned it into their memories. How’ll it be not to know what land’s outside the door? How if you wake up in the night and know—and know the willow tree’s not there? Can you live without the willow tree? Well, no, you can’t. The willow tree is you. The pain on that mattress there—that dreadful pain—that’s you.
 Ma’s face blackened with anger. She got slowly to her feet. She stooped to the utensil box and picked out the iron skillet. “Mister,” she said, “you got a tin button an’ a gun. Where I come from, you keep your voice down.” She advanced on him with the skillet. He loosened the gun in the holster. “Go ahead,” said Ma. “Scarin’ women. I’m thankful the men folks ain’t here. They’d tear ya to pieces. In my country you watch your tongue.” The man took two steps backward. “Well, you ain’t in your country now. You’re in California, an’ we don’t want you goddamn Okies settlin’ down.”
 Burn coffee for fuel in the ships. Burn corn to keep warm, it makes a hot fire. Dump potatoes in the rivers and place guards along the banks to keep the hungry people from fishing them out. Slaughter the pigs1 and bury them, and let the putrescence drip down into the earth. There is a crime here that goes beyond denunciation. There is a sorrow here that weeping cannot symbolize. There is a failure here that topples all our success. The fertile earth, the straight tree rows, the sturdy trunks, and the ripe fruit. And children dying of pellagra must die because a profit cannot be taken from an orange. And coroners must fill in the certificates—died of malnutrition—because the food must rot, must be forced to rot.
 Ma said fiercely, “You ain’t got the right to get discouraged. This here fambly’s goin’ under. You jus’ ain’t got the right.”
 “I’m learnin’ one thing good,” she said. “Learnin’ it all a time, ever’ day. If you’re in trouble or hurt or need—go to poor people. They’re the only ones that’ll help—the only ones.”
 “They was the time when we was on the lan’. They was a boundary to us then. Ol’ folks died off, an’ little fellas come, an’ we was always one thing—we was the fambly—kinda whole and clear. An’ now we ain’t clear no more. I can’t get straight. They ain’t nothin’ keeps us clear. Al—he’s a-hankerin’ an’ a-jibbitin’ to go off on his own. An’ Uncle John is jus’ a-draggin’ along. Pa’s lost his place. He ain’t the head no more. We’re crackin’ up, Tom. There ain’t no fambly now.
 Tom laughed uneasily, “Well, maybe like Casy says, a fella ain’t got a soul of his own, but on’y a piece of a big one—an’ then——” “Then what, Tom?” “Then it don’ matter. Then I’ll be all aroun’ in the dark. I’ll be ever’where—wherever you look. Wherever they’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever they’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there. If Casy knowed, why, I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad an’—I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry an’ they know supper’s ready. An’ when our folks eat the stuff they raise an’ live in the houses they build—why, I’ll be there. See? God, I’m talkin’ like Casy. Comes of thinkin’ about him so much. Seems like I can see him sometimes. ” “I don’ un’erstan’,” Ma said. “I don’ really know.” “Me neither,” said Tom. “It’s jus’ stuff I been thinkin’ about. Get thinkin’ a lot when you ain’t movin’ aroun’.
 And the rain pattered relentlessly down, and the streams broke their banks and spread out over the country. Huddled under sheds, lying in wet hay, the hunger and the fear bred anger. Then boys went out, not to beg, but to steal; and men went out weakly, to try to steal. The sheriffs swore in new deputies and ordered new rifles; and the comfortable people in tight houses felt pity at first, and then distaste,
 For a minute Rose of Sharon sat still in the whispering barn. Then she hoisted her tired body up and drew the comfort about her. She moved slowly to the corner and stood looking down at the wasted face, into the wide, frightened eyes. Then slowly she lay down beside him. He shook his head slowly from side to side. Rose of Sharon loosened one side of the blanket and bared her breast. “You got to,” she said. She squirmed closer and pulled his head close. “There!” she said. “There.” Her hand moved behind his head and supported it. Her fingers moved gently in his hair. She looked up and across the barn, and her lips came together and smiled mysteriously.

This ending, Rose of Sharon offering breast milk to a starving man, is one of the most powerful in American fiction. The film dropped it, naturally, but not the stage play. It's an incredibly powerful moment and a note of celebration for the human spirit. (It also helped get the book banned, of course, among those communities who fear truthful writing.)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sofia Coppola: Not just for girls - Interviews -

Sofia Coppola: Not just for girls - Interviews -


There are some dishes I've gotten pretty good at.

  • scrapple, of course
  • vegetarian lasagna with homemade pasta
  • fisherman's stew
  • meatloaf, which I made yesterday (half beef, half lamb, in this case)
  • paella, though I haven't made it in a while, saffron being so expensive

However, one dish I never mastered, and I failed again yesterday, is mac and cheese. You'd think it would be easy! Mine never is as good as I can buy in a deli, usually on sale. But I keep trying.

I'm in trouble

I found a solitaire game to play on my Kindle. Oh my.

Quotation of the day II

Religion is a monumental chapter in the history of human egotism.
– William James

Daily Kos: The Selfish Rich Are Killing Retired People

Daily Kos: The Selfish Rich Are Killing Retired People

Art song video

I found my lyrics!

We Wear the Mask

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while    
We wear the mask.

We smile, but oh great Christ, our cries
To Thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,    
We wear the mask!


Recent reading: Quantum

Quantum: Einstein, Bohr, and the Great Debate about the Nature of Reality.
Manjit Kumar.
Go to Amazon

Here is a brilliant portrayal of what may be the most dramatic debate of the 20th century, with repercussions that continue today. With the creation of quantum mechanics in the 1920s, two of the best physicists of the day, Einstein and Bohr, began a lifelong debate about the nature of reality as suggested by the new physics. Kumar captures this conflict in all its human drama with all its sidemen. Although occasionally too technical for most readers, the emphasis here is more on the human conflict than the details of physics, which makes for a captivating, compelling story. I know of no book that covers this ground better. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Here are some excerpts:
‘No more profound intellectual debate has ever been conducted’, claimed the scientist and novelist C.P. Snow. ‘It is a pity that the debate, because of its nature, can’t be common currency.’


For more than half a century it had been universally accepted that light was a wave phenomenon. In ‘On a Heuristic Point of View Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light’, Einstein put forward the idea that light was not made up of waves, but particle-like quanta.


In 1924, Einstein was still struggling to accept what he had unearthed: ‘I find the idea quite intolerable that an electron exposed to radiation should choose of its own free will, not only its moment to jump off, but also its direction. In that case, I would rather be a cobbler, or even an employee in a gaming-house, than a physicist.’


In the two years after their meetings in Berlin and Copenhagen, Einstein and Bohr continued their individual struggles with the quantum. Both were beginning to feel the strain. ‘I suppose it’s a good thing that I have so much to distract me,’ Einstein wrote to Ehrenfest in March 1922, ‘else the quantum problem would have got me into a lunatic asylum.’


They had to stop making compromises and cease trying to accommodate quantum concepts within the comfortable and familiar framework of classical physics. Physicists had to break free. The first to do so was Heisenberg when he pragmatically adopted the positivist credo that science should be based on observable facts, and attempted to construct a theory based solely on the observable quantities.


During one discussion Schrödinger called ‘the whole idea of quantum jumps a sheer fantasy’. ‘But it does not prove that there are no quantum jumps’, Bohr countered. All it proved, he continued, was that ‘we cannot imagine them’. Emotions soon ran high.


In December 1926, Einstein had expressed his growing disquiet at the rejection of causality and determinism in a letter to Born: ‘quantum mechanics is certainly imposing. But an inner voice tells me that it is not yet the real thing. The theory says a lot, but does not really bring us any closer to the secret of the “old one”. I, at any rate, am convinced that He is not playing at dice.’


Heisenberg had discovered that quantum mechanics forbids, at any given moment, the precise determination of both the position and the momentum of a particle. It is possible to measure exactly either where an electron is or how fast it is moving, but not both simultaneously. It was nature’s price for knowing one of the two exactly.


At first even the young quantum magician was uneasy with the Dane’s answers. ‘I remember discussions with Bohr which went through many hours till very late at night and ended almost in despair,’ Heisenberg wrote later, ‘and when at the end of the discussion I went alone for a walk in the neighbouring park I repeated to myself again and again the question: Can nature possibly be as absurd as it seemed to us in these atomic experiments?’86 Bohr’s answer was an unequivocal yes.


After several days, Heisenberg later recalled, ‘Bohr, Pauli and I – knew that we could now be sure of our ground, and Einstein understood that the new interpretation of quantum mechanics cannot be refuted so simply’.56 But Einstein refused to yield.


Just then, with a hint of smile, Einstein uttered the deadly words: weigh the box again. In a flash, Bohr realised that he and the Copenhagen interpretation were in deep trouble.


In his desperation to destroy the Copenhagen view of quantum reality, Einstein had forgotten to take into account his own theory of general relativity. He had ignored the effects of gravity on the measurement of time by the clock inside the light box.


It had taken the Nazis a matter of weeks to transform Göttingen, the cradle of quantum mechanics, from a great university to a second-rate institution. The Nazi minister of education asked David Hilbert, the most fêted mathematician in Göttingen, whether it was true ‘that your Institute suffered so much from the departure of the Jews and their friends?’ ‘Suffered? No, it didn’t suffer, Herr Minister’, replied Hilbert. ‘It just doesn’t exist any more.’


In the years following Solvay 1930, there was little direct contact between Bohr and Einstein. A valuable channel of communication ceased with Paul Ehrenfest’s suicide in September 1933. In a moving tribute, Einstein wrote of his friend’s inner struggle to understand quantum mechanics and ‘the increasing difficulty of adaptation to new thoughts which always confronts the man past fifty. I do not know how many readers of these lines will be capable of fully grasping that tragedy.’


Bohr believed that quantum mechanics was a complete fundamental theory of nature, and he built his philosophical worldview on top of it. It led him to declare: ‘There is no quantum world. There is only an abstract quantum mechanical description. It is wrong to think that the task of physics is to find out how nature is. Physics concerns what we can say about nature.’64 Einstein, on the other hand, chose the alternative approach.


Yet, in the end, he failed to refute Bohr’s Copenhagen interpretation. ‘About relativity he spoke with detachment, about quantum theory with passion’, recalled Abraham Pais, who had known Einstein in Princeton.4 ‘The quantum was his demon.’


A poll conducted in July 1999 during a conference on quantum physics held at Cambridge University revealed the answers of a new generation to the vexed question of interpretation.34 Of the 90 physicists polled, only four voted for the Copenhagen interpretation, but 30 favoured the modern version of Everett’s many worlds.

Quotation of the day

I don't know if God exists, but it would be better for His reputation if He didn't.
– Jules Renard (1864-1910)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Obama's Got (Found) Game

Obama's Got (Found) Game:

"But through dogged patience, and adaptable style and a refusal to panic, the president has piled up the longest list of new laws, treaties and administrative actions anyone has seen here in decades."

Advertisements for myself: Kerouac's Scroll

Kerouac's Scroll
Charles Deemer
Go to Amazon

Here's the pitch:
  Best friends for over half-a-century, Hooker and Bear
  decide to drive 3000 miles across the country, west
  coast to east, in order to see “the Kerouac Scroll” (the
  original manuscript of On the Road) on display at the
  Smithsonian in Washington D.C.
  Each brings a deep secret to the journey: Hooker
  has terminal cancer; and Bear has been accused of
  child abuse by his estranged daughter, 30 years after
  the alleged incident occurred.
  With the humor of "Grumpy Old Men" and the heart
  of "Tuesdays With Morrie", KEROUAC'S SCROLL tells the
  story of two old men in the twilight of their lives as
  they shape an extraordinary adventure on the road to
  bring meaning and integrity to the end of their life journeys.
  KEROUAC'S SCROLL is a literary, darkly comic novel of 58,000 words.
This novel has found a few fans, especially among writer-colleagues. Here are two:
 Your novel "Kerouac's Scroll" knocked me out. Ripping yarn, as the Brits would say, but more significant, a story that is as honest as the day is long. You understand life (and the story form to express it). [I do have, however, a quibble with the ending. Happy to discuss.] Your writing is elegant in its direct simplicity, not a false or unnecessary word, and I can't say how much I admire that.
 Have just finished Kerouac's Scroll..what an achievement!  Reading it reminded me instantly of the many conversations we had 15 years ago in and around Nobbyland.  It was a fine pleasure, indeed, to hear your voice throughout.  And pleased especially to find Orofino (my father's birthplace) has at last secured its deserved place in literature. Please accept my heartiest congratulations for having crafted a story so generous to the enduring human spirit.  It works on so many levels that sitting in my chair, the closed book happy in my lap, I feel like one of Angel's aliens might feel after having just played and won a particularly satisfying three-dimensional chess match.

(Actually those conversations were closer to 25 years ago!)

I never expected the novel to sell much, which is why I have no second thoughts about offering free electronic versions.

Here's a sample.
That morning began my indoctrination into the Church of God’s Country, the  Pacific Northwest, especially the logging country along the Clearwater River in northern Idaho where Hooker was raised. To the ears of an LA boy, his tales of all night poker games and one week runs from small town bar to small town bar along dirt roads through the hills above the Clearwater, of loose women and rough loggers, had the ring of a Hollywood western – and I listened spellbound, as fascinated as I’d been as a kid at a Saturday Hopalong Cassidy marathon. When I got discharged, and Hooker right behind me, I made my first trip to the Northwest and Hooker’s home town of Orofino expecting a jolt of reality, the reality that belied two years’ of listening to wild stories about this so-called God’s Country, Hooker’s birthplace.
On the surface, at least, Hooker’s country lived up to its praise. On each side of the narrow road that twisted and turned alongside the river from Lewiston to Orofino, hills rose to form dense forests stretching up and beyond the visible summit. I’d never seen so many trees in my life. Welcome to God’s country.
Hooker was staying with his mother while looking for a house in nearby Moscow, where the University of Idaho was, so he could bring up his wife and young sons, who were waiting in California where Hooker had been discharged. I was looking forward to partying with Hooker to forget my marital troubles at home, though separation from Helen was still several months away. I’d made the trip to Idaho alone. I was worried, however, that his mother might dampen our style. But I couldn’t turn down a visit when I was only a long day’s drive away, having moved to Oregon to start graduate school.
I found the address Hooker had provided on a wooded street in the hills above the river. I parked behind two cars in the driveway and went to the door. When it opened, a woman barely five foot tall was staring up at me, grinning. She had red hair and a mischievous glint in her eye. Hooker’s mother.
The first thing out of her mouth was, “So you’re the fucking bear.”
Her name was Flo. A feisty woman who used the vernacular of a hard-drinking logger, she didn’t dampen our party style. She inspired it. She kept up with us drink for drink and kept me in stitches with stories about cooking in a logging camp as a young woman and later dealing cards in one of Orofino’s whore houses. Flo rattled off ribald one-liners all night long. Some of them I remember to this day. “She was so fat if she had a broom stick up her ass, she could sweep both sides of the street."

Sarah Palin: Winner Of The 2010 Glenn Beck Misinformer Of The Year Award | Media Matters for America

Sarah Palin: Winner Of The 2010 Glenn Beck Misinformer Of The Year Award | Media Matters for America

Daily Kos: Is Obama smarter than us?

Daily Kos: Is Obama smarter than us?

He's sure looking better than he did a month ago.

Andre Dubus on Kindle

Amazon announced today that the work of the late Andre Dubus, surely one of our best American short story writers, is now available on Kindle. I was an early champion of his in the national press, giving Adultery and other choices (what a title!) a rave review in The New Leader.

I am still waiting for Evan Connell and Graham Greene to come to Kindle.

Recent viewing: Cradle Will Rock

Now and again an actor or director with clout does a pet project, the kind of project LaLaLand would never embrace without such star backing. For Tim Robbins it was to bring to the screen the story behind an unusual and controversial "labor musical" created in the WPA's Federal Theatre Project. The Brechtian play is The Cradle Will Rock by Marc Blitzstein. The film is Cradle Will Rock, a story that puts the play's troubled creation in social and political context, a story filled with the human dramas of those involved, rich and poor alike. The end result is just short of a masterpiece. Only some miscasting (John Cusack as Rockefeller) compromises the production. But nothing compromises the great spirit of this film. It's inspiring -- and sad -- at the same time. (Sad because, well, here we go again.)

DVD at Amazon

About the original musical:

Cradle Will Rock Website


On a lesser scale, this reminds of me of the controversy here in the late 1970s around my labor play 1934: Blood and Roses, which also became controversial, even at a national level after NPR did a story on the local controversy. The State Fair didn't initially approve of a performance on Labor Day, of all times, because their judging committee found the play to be "pro-union". Duh. However, they eventually caved and the play got done. I should say that I was commissioned to write the script, which was my contribution. After that the Portland Labor Players II, directed by Melinda Pittman, took the project, toured it, and made it what it became.

Quotation of the day

God is a comic playing to an audience that's afraid to laugh. 
– Voltaire (1694-1778)

Martin Scorsese Speaks Out In Support Of Imprisoned Iranian Filmmakers –

Martin Scorsese Speaks Out In Support Of Imprisoned Iranian Filmmakers –

Recent reading: Seabiscuit

Seabiscuit: An American Legend
Laura Hillenbrand
Go to Amazon

There is so much drama in this story that it would be hard to screw it up. Hillenbrand sometimes overwrites to my tastes but she tells an inherently dramatic story in a compelling way, only occasionally letting her writing get ridiculous, as when she describes a trainer disappearing into a photo so that only his glasses are visible, an image contradicted by an accompany photograph that shows no such thing. I prefer the movie based on this book, where the action drives the story.
The world broke over Santa Anita. Howard ran from his box with his fist in the air. Smith went with him. Yummy banged around the winner’s circle, jumping up and down. Agnes stood in the throng, sobbing. All around them, men and women hurled their hats in the air, poured onto the track, drummed on the rails, and slapped one another on the back. Hundreds of spectators were weeping with joy.25 “Listen to this crowd roar!” shouted Hernandez.26 “Seventy-eight thousand fans going absolutely crazy, including this announcer!” Virtually every journalist reported that he had never heard shouting so loud and sustained.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Wayland Baptist dominated women's basketball in the 50s | Lubbock Online | Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

Wayland Baptist dominated women's basketball in the 50s | Lubbock Online | Lubbock Avalanche-Journal:

"In light of Connecticut breaking UCLA's 88-game winning streak with a 93-62 victory against No. 22 Florida State on Tuesday, the New York Times ran a feature story headlined 'Before UConn, before UCLA, there was Wayland Baptist.'

The story reflects on the Flying Queens' 131-game winning streak from 1953-58."

Very few announcers got it right and talked about the DIVISION I record that was broken. Not the "basketball" record.

OSCAR: Critics Keep Friending ‘The Social Network’ While Picture Rivals Keep Fretting –

OSCAR: Critics Keep Friending ‘The Social Network’ While Picture Rivals Keep Fretting –

No. 89: UConn tops UCLA, beats Florida St 93-62 - Yahoo! News

No. 89: UConn tops UCLA, beats Florida St 93-62 - Yahoo! News

8-Year-Olds Publish Scientific Bee Study | Wired Science |

8-Year-Olds Publish Scientific Bee Study | Wired Science |

Love it.

Recent reading: Bloody Treason

Bloody Treason: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy.
Noel H. Twyman.
Go to Amazon.

For the casual reader, this book probably is overkill. Twyman presents interviews, documents, resources in a torrent of what he calls evidence, though much of it would not stand up in a court of law. All the same, there is enough here to make the case.

I am especially convinced by a number of facts of the case. Here are some of them.
I also asked him if he saw the explosion of blood and brains out of the head.  He replied that he did.  I asked him if he noticed which direction the eruption went.  He pointed back over his left shoulder.  He said, “It went this way.”  I said, you mean it went to the left and rear?  He said yes.  Bartholomew then asked him, “Are you sure that you didn’t see the blood and brains going up and to the front?”  Schwartz said, “No; it was to the left and rear.”  We went over this several times with him to be certain that he was clear on this point.  He was very clear.
In other words, JFK was shot from the front. Doctors who were the first to see him afterwards confirm this.
 All of the doctors at Parkland Hospital stated that there was an exit wound in the back of Kennedy’s head (indicating a shot from the front).
Perhaps even more disturbing than the act itself is the subsequent cover-up.
 The point here is that the photographs of the brain in the National Archives show no damage to the cerebellum. The above testimonies, sworn under oath by experienced medical doctors who observed the head wound, clearly and unambiguously describe extruded and damaged cerebellar tissue. If their testimonies are correct, and there is no reason to believe they are not, then the photographs of the brain in the National Archives are not of Kennedy’s brain. They must therefore be the brain of someone other than Kennedy.
 The most compelling evidence of all are the nine people who predicted the assassination, in particular how Eugene B. Dinkin and Joseph Milteer described in advance the basic concept and composition of the plot. By examining the backgrounds of these nine people and John Martino, we see a skeletal outline of the complete plot.
From the day that John Kennedy was murdered, it has been widely accepted that the performance of the Secret Service was unbelievably lax, before and after the shooting. The most basic rules of presidential protection were violated. No effort was made to guard against rifle fire from tall buildings. No effort was made to see that windows were closed in tall buildings along the parade route, even at Dealey Plaza where the president would be most vulnerable. Moreover, no effort was made to secure the area behind the picket fence and wall on the grassy knoll. No effort was made to check that area or station a Secret Service agent or a Dallas policeman there.
I could go on and on. By now there is a large collection of books on the conspiracy side of the event's explanation, and a number who embrace the lone assassin (Oswald) thesis. The House Committee investigating the assassination some time back concluded there was a 75% chance of conspiracy. Personally, I put it at 100%. I am convinced.

But the question, even the more interesting question, is so what? Even though most Americans support the conspiracy thesis, this opinion hasn't resulted in better government, or happier lives, or much of anything but a growing cynicism about government, much of it justifiable.

Politics, wrote Norman Brown, is pissing in public but the image is too polite.

Oregon football: Chip Kelly is named Associated Press coach of the year |

Oregon football: Chip Kelly is named Associated Press coach of the year |

Sundance-Bound Iranian Filmmakers Feel Chill Of Jafar Panahi Imprisonment –

Sundance-Bound Iranian Filmmakers Feel Chill Of Jafar Panahi Imprisonment –

"EXCLUSIVE: The Christmas holiday has so far made it difficult to rally a collective outcry from directors Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and Francis Coppola, who spoke out for Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi when he was first arrested. But two Iranian filmmakers who are debuting politically-charged films at next month's Sundance Film Festival say that a groundswell of publicity and support from the international film community could play an important role for Panahi as he appeals yesterday's harsh 6-year prison sentence and 20-year ban from film making. Panahi and Muhammad Rasoulof both drew 6-year sentences from an oppressive regime that has cast a chill on Iranian filmmakers who want to tell honest stories."

Acidifying Oceans Could Upset Life’s Nitrogen Cycles | Wired Science |

Acidifying Oceans Could Upset Life’s Nitrogen Cycles | Wired Science |

Monday, December 20, 2010

Why celebrity memoirs rule publishing | Books | The Guardian

Why celebrity memoirs rule publishing | Books | The Guardian

London Critics Circle Announces Nominees –

London Critics Circle Announces Nominees –

Girl Chimpanzees May Use Sticks as Dolls | Wired Science |

Girl Chimpanzees May Use Sticks as Dolls | Wired Science |

FCC Net Neutrality Rules Slammed from All Sides | Epicenter |

FCC Net Neutrality Rules Slammed from All Sides | Epicenter |

"Many Republicans, including FCC commissioner Robert McDowell, blasted the new rules as an interventionist over-reach by an activist federal regulator intent on asserting control over the internet. Meanwhile, Democrats, including Sen. Al Franken from Minnesota, along with public interest and free speech groups, slammed the rules as woefully inadquate to protect the public from the predations of an industry keen on turning the internet into a cyber-version of cable TV, with tiers and premium packages affordable by the wealthy."

Echinacea For The Common Cold: Largest Study Yet Finds The Herbal Remedy Doesn't Help

Echinacea For The Common Cold: Largest Study Yet Finds The Herbal Remedy Doesn't Help

Ah, now maybe I can get H to stop giving it to me ha ha.

Wet mellow

A leisurely wet day of reading. A bit of brooding, not obsessively, about possible future projects. In truth, I rather feel like I'm on vacation for the first time in years. Decades. Just absorbed in reading.

My new book arrived

Well, not "my book" but an anthology in which I have a contribution. The book is Now Write! Screenwriting.


Dec. 20, 1996: Science Loses Its Most Visible Public Champion | This Day In Tech |

Dec. 20, 1996: Science Loses Its Most Visible Public Champion | This Day In Tech |

"Calling Carl Sagan a scientist is a little like calling the Beatles a rock band. Sagan was certainly a scientist (an astronomer, biologist and astrophysicist, to be precise). But he was also science’s most visible public advocate, a secular humanist, a fervent believer in extraterrestrial life, a teacher, an author, a television host and a political activist."

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Phyl Kerns, where are you?

You left me a message with no contact info. Usually I can track folks down on the net but I'm having no luck. Where is Phyl Kerns?

Solstice-eclipse overlap first in 456 years

Solstice-eclipse overlap first in 456 years:

"OTTAWA — This year's winter solstice — an event that will occur next Tuesday — will coincide with a full lunar eclipse in a union that hasn't been seen in 456 years."

Amelia Earhart's Bones May Have Been found On Island

Amelia Earhart's Bones May Have Been found On Island:

"NORMAN, Okla. — The three bone fragments turned up on a deserted South Pacific island that lay along the course Amelia Earhart was following when she vanished. Nearby were several tantalizing artifacts: some old makeup, some glass bottles and shells that had been cut open.

Now scientists at the University of Oklahoma hope to extract DNA from the tiny bone chips in tests that could prove Earhart died as a castaway after failing in her 1937 quest to become the first woman to fly around the world."

Timothy Karr: The Little Bill That Could

Timothy Karr: The Little Bill That Could:

"Little noticed but extremely important to progressives, on Saturday afternoon Congress also passed the Local Community Radio Act.

This legislation opens up radio spectrum to hundreds, if not thousands, of local independent radio stations (also known as LPFM).

Its passing will bring new choices and voices on the radio dial nationwide, but is especially relevant to a broadcast area reaching 160 million people who lived in areas where these stations had previously been barred from local airwaves."

UConn women win 88th straight, matching UCLA men - Yahoo! News

UConn women win 88th straight, matching UCLA men - Yahoo! News

Best Oldies show in the universe

And 40 years old at that, hosted by Jivin' Johnny Eteredge, my friend for 40 years, and available on the net at KRVM in Eugene, every Sunday morning at 11 a.m.  Go to page to listen live.

John also hosts a country classics show on Sat morn and a 60s rock show on Monday eves. See program guide.


I'm re-reading Grapes of Wrath and, while enjoying it, am also disappointed. What disappoints me is its poor storytelling efficiency, especially in the non-Joad chapters, which I find too often repetitive and over-written. I think you could take 20 or more pages out of this and lose nothing, in fact improve it. This is in great contrast to Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men with its storytelling efficiency. So this one is not the masterpiece that I remember, though I still embrace it as "a good book." But it could have been better.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Why we love bad writing - Stieg Larsson -

Why we love bad writing - Stieg Larsson -

"Stieg Larsson and Dan Brown novels are riddled with cliches, but for many readers, that's a feature not a bug"

Bite-sized crab cakes - Recipes, Food & Drink - The Independent

Bite-sized crab cakes - Recipes, Food & Drink - The Independent

Daily Kos: This Week My Town Stood Up To Teabaggers

Daily Kos: This Week My Town Stood Up To Teabaggers:

"Here's the crazy on full display The ring leader swears we're all going to be mandated to ride bicycles. The guy that follows says there weren't any bikes outfront (keep in mind, it's December and cold here, but he was still wrong) and seems to think that he's the only one who pays taxes. Then there was the one that took the cake...the lady that warned 'the young mothers' that the day when children would be forced to ride bikes in the cold was coming and that we were all going to be put in compounds. You can't make this shit up."

The Arc Of History - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

The Arc Of History - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan:

"My mind and heart are full of cascading thoughts and feelings today. For the most part, I think of the past, and the countless gay men and lesbians who have served their country with honor over the decades and centuries. Today is their day as much as it is that of the current gay servicemembers. They form a brigade through time that has finally marched into the open clearing of equal dignity."