Friday, December 30, 2005

It Pays to Check Your Sources

Via Making Light: The Lion, The Witch and The World Trade talks. Apparently Narnia resents the intrusion of EU and US influence into its business practices.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Everybody's a Critic

These days the comic strip "Zits" is required reading; they seem to have a pipeline into my house, if not my brain (or the brain of my 15-year-old daughter). And since I cannot read the works of Charles Dickens without wanting to wield my blue-pencil-of-the-mind, today's strip made me laugh.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Faith Music

So, it being Christmas Break, Emphatic Girl is watching TV and an ad comes on for a CD of kid-targetted pop called Worship Jamz--light pop songs for religious Christians. EG is flummoxed by this. I (for whom most of the kid-targetted pop she likes is yucky) suggest that this is no worse than anything else that's out there. "But they're, like, rock and rolling and singing about Jesus!" she says despairingly. "Don't they have any respect?"

I'm not sure whether she feels the CD doesn't honor Christianity or doesn't honor pop music, but in either case, the kid is clearly not their audience.

Saturday, December 24, 2005


'Tis the season to be cooking.

This year's Christmas feast: crown roast of pork, stuffed with sausage, apples, apricots, cranberries and onion; mashed potatos and green beans, salad, pumpkin pudding, Bishop's cake and butterscotch ice cream. Also shortbread, just cause I feel like it. I do a lot of cooking at this time of year just because I feel like it. I have abandoned svelte for the time being, obviously.

I feel unusually organized (virtually all presents acquired and wrapped) and disorganized at the same time. It's Christmas Eve, how could it all be so done? The best part will be the girls catapulting themselves onto our bed at far-too-early-o'clock tomorrow morning. Second best part will be everyone sitting around at the table tomorrow afternoon. Family coming from afar (well, an hour's drive north). It'll be swell.

May you all celebrate the dark of the winter and the return of the light, the birth of Christ or the miracles of the lights or whatever celebration brings you joy, in peace and warmth.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Intelligence Will Out

The U.S. District court, in a thoughtful opinion, has ruled that teaching "intelligent design" would violate the Constitutional separation of church and state.>

At the risk of mixing church and state, I say: Thank God.

Friday, December 16, 2005


John Spencer died today. He was a fine, understated actor, and a guy with a genuinely beautiful smile that broke across his face like dawn. I first noticed him in L.A. Law and as the p.i. in Presumed Innocent. He was fifty eight, which is too damned young.


Today is Jane Austen's birthday, and Beethoven's and my brother Clem's. Beethoven and Austen are older than Clem. So am I. He's 50 today. I suppose I really should stop calling him my kid brother.


My father is blind. Macular degeneration, one of Fate's nastier jokes (as he has been an artist and designer his entire life)--the "wet" variety. MD knocks out central vision, leaving the afflicted person with some peripheral vision; over the years Dad, for whom vision and perception were professional preoccupations, has made all sorts of observations about his condition, and even wrote a book which he has self-published as Vision Junkie: Confessions of a Macular Degenerate. (You will note that blindness has not affected Dad's delicate sense of humor.) He has learned to navigate the world using that peripheral vision--if he wants to see the face of one of his granddaughters he sort of cheats the kid to the side and moves his head and rolls his eyes until he gets some sort of fix on her, sideways.

So I get a call today. Two pieces of good news: the first, and fairly astonishing, is that he has been growing new cells in the "dead" areas of the macula. They're not even sure what this means, but it's exciting. The second is that for the first time in several years Dad was able to read the first three lines of a visual acuity test (a more elaborate version of the stacked-letter test we know from the optometrist). He's pretty sure he did that with his peripheral vision, which he has been exercising in his own way. So as usual he has all the doctors hopping up and down. He's pretty damned pleased himself.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

I Guess You Had to Be There, Kid

YG just came bolting into the room. "I'm watching the 1933 King Kong." Tones of outrage: "It's terrible! Kong looks like this stupid doll, and the girl just keeps screaming like a moron! I mean, c'mon."

No calming words about the level of technology available to filmmakers in 1933, or about the styles of acting found in "action adventure" movies of the period made any impact. "It's!"

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Again, Heinlein

I just re-read Glory Road, Heinlein's only true fantasy, and in the reading I realized that it was the first of his books that I read. I was fourteen, and Jack Anderson (a friend who lived next door, not the columnist) suggested it. Jack's taste ran to Matt Helm and The Enforcer and Modesty Blaise--Heinlein was a benign, almost feminist selection, comparatively. I liked the humor and the energy of Glory Road, the fencing and the invention. I didn't see the misogyny (which was sort of a feature of a lot of SF and adventure fiction at the time); the sexual politics didn't horrify me, though I dimly recall that I thought them rather old hat. The politics-politics either went over my head or seemed utterly dismissable at the time (I don't think I connected the war that Oscar fought in with Vietnam--I think I connected it to Korea, despite the evidence of the text) and the odd spanking fetish did too. Whatever I took from the book when I was fourteen, it was enough so that I went out and found his other books and read them all, over a two or three year period.

As I remember the chronology, Glory Road came out right after Stranger in a Strange Land, a book as freewheeling in its way as Glory Road. Then came Farnum's Freehold, which is a deeply problematic book--not so much because of the sexual politics which made Heinlein's later few books so troublesome, but because it sets up a situation in which the protagonist can do every unpleasant thing it occurs to him to do because the situation "requires" it. It's a fish-shoot: put the fish in the barrel and take your best shot, you can't miss. But then, after the weird nastiness of Farnum comes my favorite Heinlein novel, The Moon's a Harsh Mistress. So everyone is entitled to an off day, or an off book. But I'm sure glad I started out with Glory Road, for all its flaws, and not with Farnum's Freehold.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Baby Got Wrist

Alas, poor Younger Girl! She has just started taking ice skating lessons, which she loves. It's been fascinating to watch her; not only is she picking stuff up fast (on her own she's been attempting arabesques) but she's showing an unusual focus: normally she is the most sociable of creatures, taking more interest in chatting people up than in the fine points of what she's learning. But with skating she doesn't fall into giggling with her classmates; she's out there, alone-in-her-head, working on her form.

So of course, during the post-lesson free-skate period today she took a tumble and came down hard on one wrist. I think it's a sprain, not a break, but there was much weeping, and she's now ensconced in the sunroom with her blanket for company, a reading book, her arm in a sling, and an icepack on her wrist. Sarcasm Girl, who was at the rink with us, was frustrated by her inability to be helpful (YG emphatically did not want to be touched or cuddled, and was not tactful about repelling all such offers). Once we got home YG mellowed and SG was permitted to act silly to cheer her up. SG is now doing YG's chore (taking out the recycling) as well as her own.

update: The arm is broken; not badly, but broken. She was a trouper during the exam and the X-ray, and tomorrw they put a cast on. It's going to just kick the holiday craziness up another notch.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

A New Face

Via the New York Times: the world's first partial face transplant. I could wish that there were not any questions about the recipient's stability, if only to make the story a tidier one. But as far as the surgery and the accomplishment This is one of those science-fiction-in-real-life moments when science looks pretty damned amazing.