Saturday, April 22, 2006

Sin Boldly 

“Sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly, for he is victorious over sin, death, and the world.” - Martin Luther

This quote gives the title to one of the best books on writing I've ever read, Sin Boldly by David Williams.

The book, written for college students, has the idea of picking a thesis and proving it. The more outlandish the thesis, the more controversial, the more shocking - the better. If, of course, you can support it. This makes for a more interesting paper and betters the student's reasoning skills.

Worth reading, even if you aren't a college freshman.


Friday, April 21, 2006

Free radio 

Once again not books but speech.

Anyone who reads this blog knows I'm not a liberal. I'm not a conservative either, though - I'm a lower-case libertarian. And a fledgling gun nut.

I listen to NRAnews at work. Or at home, depending on where I am from 3-6 PM EST. I've had the priviledge of meeting the host, Cam Edwards, and I think he's a great man and admire what he's doing.

A line from "America's 1st Freedom" (published by the NRA) implies that NRAnews may go off the air once the McCain-Feingold law regulating who can speak about candidates near elections (the media and the candidates) is repealed or ruled unconstitutional. I really hope this doesn't portend the death of NRAnews.

I have my problems with the NRA. Most people do. But speech? Speech, no matter how funded, needs to be free. Period.

Go read. 

From Kevin Baker at the Smallest Minority.

This is why I want to home school, to not deal with this nonsense. Kevin Baker fisks a Slate.com article about a NYC / French liberal who ends up sending her son to a "red" school. The only reason my own RCOB didn't make me punch the computer was his scathing commentary. Read the whole thing.

My husband and I realized, though, that Narrowsburg did more than mold our boy into a patriot. He can, it turns out -- despite the warnings of other city parents -- read at a level twice that of his new peers.

Amazing how that "sit-down-in-your-seat brand of discipline" contributes to, you know, LEARNING.
Since we returned to the city, he has learned how to ride a bike, long for an Xbox, practiced a few new swear words and, somehow, learned the meaning of "sexy." He has pretty much stopped favoring red, white and blue.

The kid is what, six? And she considers learning "a few new swear words" and understanding the meaning of "sexy" to be positive. So too, no longer "favoring red, white, and blue."
But don't question her patriotism. She tears up at "American the Beautiful."
How soon childish national pride is shed, I sometimes think now, and not a little wistfully.

Ah, yes. National pride is childish. No country is better than any other, and we mustn't make judgments. (But America is always wrong)
Just don't question her patriotism.
Only once it was gone did I realize that, after our initial discomfort, my husband and I had begun to see our son's patriotism as a badge of innocence. His faith was a reminder to us that the reason we are devastated by the war in Iraq and the Bush presidency is that we too love America. We too want to believe in its potential for good and brotherhood.

Love America? You don't understand America. You denigrate America. You protest it, spit on it, defecate on it. It's a foreign fucking country to you.
You want it to be FRANCE, with its idyllic cheap medicine, generous welfare, short workweek, plentiful child care, and expansive socialism.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Freedom of Speech 

Ah, freedom of speech.

This isn't book-related but it is speech-related. Michelle Malkin, conservative blogger and author, blogged about students at UC Santa Cruz stopping access to military recruiters on campus. She posted a press release from Students Against War. This press release contained contact information for some of these students.

For posting this press release, she got hate mail insulting her gender and ethnicity. Here.

Concept and art from FrankJ.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


To echo woz:

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Working hard and sensing appreciation for it.
Having a loving husband to come home to.
Working hard and appreciating my own effort, not needing outside appreciation.

2. What is your greatest fear?
Not living up to what I think my potential is.

3. Which living person do you most admire and why?
Brannon. For achieving so much and stressing so little. For his ease and quick proficiency with T'ai Ch'i. For his confidence and ease. For being there.

4. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Infatuation and captivation, with people and things.

5. What is the trait you most deplore in others?
self-infatuation or arrogance, especially when it is undeserved

6. What has been your most embarrassing moment?
not telling, and f*** you for asking

7. What vehicles do you own?
a silver 2002 Jetta. It works. That's all I ask.

8. What is your greatest extravagance?
A fondness for jewelry, particularly diamonds, star sapphires, and opals. But I'm turning my extravegance to practicality (kind of). I bought a psaltry at the last ren faire. I want an electric bass. And I want a Sig 380 and an AR-15. I'll buy one of those before buying jewelry. Probably.

So far, I've restrained from buying expensive books, but that's always a risk. The most expensive book I own (only $150) was a gift. The most I've spent on a single book has been $80.

9. What is your most treasured possession?
A shotgun that belonged to my grandfather. And a book of essays by Emerson that belonged to my grandfather, that he wrote in. Heck, anything I own that belonged to my grandfather.

10. Where would you like to live?
Virginia, I think. Or Vermont. A free state. In a house with rooms for guests, a couple of cats, a couple of outside dogs, and a floorplan design according to the strategies of Jeff Cooper.

SF books 

I'm not a big SF reader, but I wanted to post this anyway.

The best 100 science fiction books ever written. Via Smallest Minority.

I'm just posting the ones I've read, with a star (*) next to the ones I recommend.

7. Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley *
24. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
31. The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester
34. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card *
38. Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey (started, couldn't finish)
49. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley *
51. 1984 by George Orwell *
52. The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyl And Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
53. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson *
60. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess *
61. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury *
68. Flatland by Edwin Abbot *
73. Puppet Masters by Robert Heinlein
84. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
85. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams *
98. The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

anthropodermic bibliopegy 

Vellum was a common material to bind books. It's animal skin, leather, treated to protect the paper contained within.

Apparently, it can be made from human skin. I'm both fascinated and repelled.

And people say reading's boring.

Update: Picture.

Reading in a vaccuum 

I find it curious that educationists regard "reading" and learning science and history as being mutually exclusive. "Reading" is not some abstract, isolated skill but a practical tool that can be applied to many fields. Couldn't you learn a lot of history and science by reading? Whatever happened to reading across the curriculum?

From Instructivist, responding to an NYT article.

It's things like this, the belief that reading can be separated from other fields of learning, or actually that fields like history and science and economics can be studied separately from reading, that make me afraid of public schools and seriously consider giving up a career to homeschool.

I'm a history nut, and almost all the history I know I read. On my own. Not in a classroom. I couldn't teach myself history if I didn't know how to read.

I couldn't teach myself Spanish if I didn't know how to read.

There are different kinds of reading once you learn the basics, different methods of absorbing and analyzing information depending on what you are reading. You read a memoir differently than you read a biography. You read an economics book differently than you read a history book. You may read slower or refer to things earlier in the text. You may need to take in information from a graph or table. Different kinds of reading.

I believe each kind of reading can be taught in context. I learned to read graphs in math, but I didn't really understand their value until economics. I learned to read regression models in psychology. I learned how to think about veracity and author's voice studying history and memoir.

You can't read in a vacuum, except when reading those inane passages on the SAT and GRE tests. Reading is a means to an end, that end being learning. You can learn history or science just fine when learning to read. And you'll be a lot less bored.

Musket from the war of 1812... 

...given up for destruction?

I'll take it!

Why do people just give away this things without finding out whether a museum (or history-obsessed girl like me) might want them?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

White Rose 

I took this picture from a German website here that I can't read. I copied the picture rather than steal their bandwidth by hotlinking to it.

This is Sophie Scholl. There's a movie coming out about her. Well, about her last five days. She was executed in 1943 by the SS in Nazi Germany for distributing leaflets that contained information about, among other things, concentration camps. Supposedly, she said to the judge during her trial: "Soon you will be standing where I am standing now." True enough - soon the Allies took Germany.

Much has been made of the Germans' willingness to go along with Hitler's plans. But there were people who weren't. Most were too scared to do anything. But Sophie wasn't.

“We shall make waves...” she said, and she smoked one last cigarette before walking to the guillotine.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


Okay, apparently this is a really annoying spam post that's been going around to everyone but me. Since it's the first time I've seen it, I am amused. And since it's my blog, I'm posting it.

On Wednesday at two minutes and three seconds after 1:00 in the morning, the time and date will be 01:02:03 04/05/06.

Hat tip to the annoyed Michelle Malkin.

Death by State 

So Zacarias Moussaoui is considered eligible for the death penalty. I'm an opponent of the death penalty (I don't want to give the state power of life-and-death over its citizens), but given that there *is* a death penalty in the state in which he was tried, it seems he, more than any other, would deserve it. He's admitted to being responsible for over 3,000 deaths.

My interest is a bit more than academic. I didn't lose anyone on September 11th, 2001, but that was pure luck. No relatives were in the Pentagon. My Battery Park, New York, relatives were smart enough to run instead of gawk. There was a kind police officer who gave my aunt his jacket to cover her infant from the choking ash. Remember the pictures of the ash-colored people? My family was among them. They walked to New Jersey, where I have relatives who took them in.

I didn't find this out for hours. I was watching the smoke rise from the Pentagon and crying because my cell phone wasn't working and I didn't know where any of my family was. Finally, I found a land-line and called my mom. She had my dad on the other line, switching from one phone to the other, and we established the safety of everyone except one uncle who we later learned was stuck in traffic leaving a building near the Pentagon - a 6 hour drive that normally took half an hour.

So this man conspired to kill my family. And while I would prefer a few hours alone with him and a sword in my hand, I won't compain if the state does the job for me.

I can be a vindictive bitch sometimes.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Fear wins over dissemination of free speech 

Borders is not carrying the latest issue of Free Inquiry. So I need to buy one.

Still, I give credit where credit is due: they admit the reason they won't stock the magazine is fear of Muslims, not sensitivity to Islam. That admission alone will keep me shopping there.

Borders spokeswoman Beth Bingham, explaining their decision not to carry Free Inquiry magazine because it contained the Danish Mohammed cartoons, said, “For us, the safety and security of our customers and employees is a top priority, and we believe that carrying this issue could challenge that priority.”


However, isn’t one of the main complaints by Muslim groups about the Danish cartoons that they promote a stereotyped image of Muslims as violent terrorists—especially the cartoon showing Mohammed with a bomb-shaped turban?


So why isn’t CAIR demanding an apology from Borders Books for this open admission that they fear violence from Muslims? Isn’t this a blatant example of “racist stereotyping” by CAIR’s usual yardstick?

So speaketh Little Green Footballs.

To see said cartoons, click "The Danish Mohammed Cartoons" to your right.

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