Saturday, June 5, 2010

Kids And Books

 This really got to me. Tears welled up. Really.

As much as we love libraries, there is something in possessing a book that's significantly different from borrowing it, especially for a child. You can write your name in it and keep it always. It transforms you into the kind of person who owns books, a member of the club, as well as part of a family that has them around the house. You're no longer just a visitor to the realm of the written word: You've got a passport.
More on the study here.


What would Julia say? Well, whatever she would say, at least I could understand it. I am glad the French know how to have fun, but I would like to know what he does next.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Comment O' Teh Day

On Huffpo's story about the Arizona elementary school principal who ordered that mural artists lighten the "controversial" faces of black and Hispanic students in response to racist taunting.
If we'd have known that electing a "different" looking President with a "funny" name was all it took to be able to easily identify the racists among us, we'd have done it earlier!

Nickel And Dimed

Never read Barbara Erenreich's book, so don't know if it touched on this:
In his research, [Edward Gresser, senior fellow and director of trade policy at the Progressive Policy Institute] found that the tariff rate on a cashmere sweater is 4 percent; the rate for one made of much cheaper acrylic is 32 percent. A silk brassiere has a tariff rate of less than 3 percent, but the rate on a polyester one is slightly less than 17 percent. The tariff rate on a snakeskin handbag is just over 5 percent but climbs to 16 percent for one made of canvas. Similar variations occur when it comes to household goods. Drinking glasses that cost more than $5 each have a tariff of 3 percent, while those that cost less than 30 cents each have a rate of 28.5 percent. A silk pillowcase has a rate of 4.5 percent; this goes up to nearly 15 percent for one made of polyester.
Overall, clothes and shoes contributed nearly $10 billion in tariff revenue in 2009, while higher-cost items including audiovisual equipment, computers and even cars added less than $2 billion. Gresser contends that the $10 billion is disproportionately borne by people who can’t afford to buy luxury goods. What’s more, when customers pay sales tax on these products, that amount is also higher than it would otherwise be thanks to the tariff that drives up the retail price.

Speaking Of Iceland

The voters of Reyjavik have just elected the nation's top comic to be their mayor, over four other candidates.
Taplin thinks it's significant.
I think South Carolina is significant.
Which of us is right?

Friviality Friday

The hound dog and the orangutan.

Even Dave Barry Couldn't Make Up South Carolina

It just is.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Who'da Thunk It?

In the hot Washington afternoon, in one of those endlessly bustling government offices, there sits a man named Michael J. Astrue, the fifty-four-year-old head of the Social Security Administration. Competent, organized, bald, and busy, he is not a politician, exactly, but one of those people who has to live in a highly political world, trying to make what the politicians come up with actually work...
...Across the city, in the only slightly less hot Washington evening, in an apartment overlooking Georgetown, sits Astrue’s opposite, a man named A.M. Juster: formalist poet, comic versifier, and classical translator. Eight years ago, Juster won the Richard Wilbur Award for his collection The Secret Language of Women (2002), besides publishing book-length translations of Petrarch (the 2002 Longing for Laura) and Horace (the 2008 Satires). 
Full story at First Things, a bit of a wonderment itself, being "published by The Institute on Religion and Public Life, an interreligious, nonpartisan research and education institute whose purpose is to advance a religiously informed public philosophy for the ordering of society."
Scary, huh?
I'm so glad I ran across Julia Sweeney's "Letting Go of God" on TV today. Recommended for hilarity alone. "Depok Chapra is full of shit." Reminds me of me.

'Attention Seeking Whores'

is another term for survival impulse.
Here's a charming little video from 80ish Peter Oakley about his YouTube experience.
Would it be quite so charming without the British accent? Probably not, but I don't find Tony Hayward the least bit charming.

This all comes from Sullivan this morning, who includes a number of thought provoking links entitled "How Have You Deployed Your Cognitive Surplus?"

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Israeli History

It was Britain's turning away of a ship full of Holocaust survivors trying to reach Israel and the worldwide sympathy that followed which many view as a turning point in the push for a Jewish state.
The Israeli attack on the activist flotilla may similarly be seen some day as a turning point for the Palestinian cause.

Headline O' Teh Day


Quote O' Teh Day

I don't have huge faith in the possibility of psychotherapy to change people as I used to. In fact, I now think poetry has more capacity to change people than psychotherapy. If you read a poem and it gets to you, it can shift your perspective in quite a big way, and writing a poem, even more so.
Sean Haldane, poet and psychotherapist

This Gives Me Hope

University of Oregon a' capella group On The Rocks.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Death In The Gulf, Day Forty-Something

Josh Marshall's reader, MM, a former investigative journalist, asks a few pertinent questions. Will there be ansers?