Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Monday, November 26, 2007
Discovery Institute Steals Harvard Work?
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Turkey: The Bird, The Country, The Misunderstanding
Shakespeare know of the bard ... uh, bird ... and mentioned it in a line from Twelfth Night: "O, peace! Contemplation makes a rare turkey-cock of him; how he jets under his advanced plumes!" No mention of cranberries or stuffing, however.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Writers? Scratch that - Entprepreneurs
Monday, November 19, 2007
NEA Study Says American Reading Is Doing Badly
- Less than one-third of 13-year-olds are daily readers, a 14 percent decline from 20 years earlier. Among 17-year-olds, the percentage of non-readers doubled over a 20-year period, from nine percent in 1984 to 19 percent in 2004.
- On average, Americans ages 15 to 24 spend almost two hours a day watching TV, and only seven minutes of their daily leisure time on reading.
- Reading scores for 12th-grade readers fell significantly from 1992 to 2005, with the sharpest declines among lower-level readers.
- 2005 reading scores for male 12th-graders are 13 points lower than for female 12th-graders, and that gender gap has widened since 1992.
- Reading scores for American adults of almost all education levels have deteriorated, notably among the best-educated groups. From 1992 to 2003, the percentage of adults with graduate school experience who were rated proficient in prose reading dropped by 10 points, a 20 percent rate of decline.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Open Source Attempt to End Internet Stupidity
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
FreeRice.com - Word Games and World Hunger
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Norman Mailer, Gentleman
But the issue of how much time should be devoted solely to reading or writing is part of what Mailer an interesting person. He eschewed the bookish existence, and thought that a writer should embrace the earthy, and not just the ethereal. Certainly he had an ego and could be publicly pugnacious, and his ability to deal with a stable family life would raise an eyebrow, but he refused to retreat into the safety of the study.
I never spoke with him, but did exchange letters about two years ago. I had a provisional interest on the part of Pages Magazine, back when it was in existence, in a piece I wanted to write on writing feuds, their nature, and why they came into being. Of course Mailer was on my list of potential interviewees, given his toussels with Vidal, Capote, and others. Not having his address, I nevertheless sent a letter to him in Provincetown, thinking that the post office could certainly find him, and it did.
Unlike Vidal, whom I also tried to contact, Mailer actually wrote back, apologizing that he was finishing a new novel (that did finally come out) and that he, unfortunately, had to turn down all interview requests. The degree of thoughtfulness in that gesture touched me. He could have simply tossed the letter, but didn't.
Perhaps it was ego that drove him, though I find that people fueled only by self-conceit often ignore the "little people." Maybe it was his having had to dig up sources and do the legwork necessary for his own journalistic endeavors. I still hope that tipping the balance was that I had included a SASE and used Joe Lewis commemorative stamps on both the envelope to him and the one to return to me. He did love a good fight.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Waterboarding, Torture, and Definitions
This may not be the height of deception, whether of voters or of the senators themselves, but it at least hits a plateau. Such a law will never surface with so many other things to do, and with probably enough resistance to make a veto override impossible. This is window dressing and playing with the meaning of such words as torture and assurance.
Anyone who has ever come close to drowning - and I speak from personal experience, here - can tell you that being forced to feel as though you are breathing your last is not mere intimidation nor strenuous questioning. It is a form of torture that dates back to the Spanish Inquisition. There may be times for scholarly debates over the meaning of words, or legal disagreements over how to construe a sentence. But this is not one of them. For a people to stand for something, it must actually stand for those principles, not twist definitions for expedience.
By accepting such a preposterous concept as needing a law for every single condition whose characteristics easily fit the broad premise, Feingold and Schumer are looking for an excuse of convenience. Perhaps they think Mukasey is the best candidate they might get. Pragmatism has an obvious place in life, but there are times you must put your support behind not what seems of practical advantage, but behind what you truly believe. To do any less is to abdicate responsibility, duty, and humanity.