Notelets for 2005.11.30

I’m intrigued that Lynn points to some articles from Wired since I myself am a subscriber to the magazine:

Anyway, Wired had some great articles including “Why $5 gas is good for America”

and

Stan Berenstain, Children’s Book Author, Dies at 82 – New York Times. I learned about the Berenstain Bears by hanging out kids the last eight years.

Kansas Prof. Apologizes for E-Mail:

    Mirecki’s e-mail was sent Nov. 19 to members of
    the Society of Open-Minded Atheists and Agnostics, a student
    organization for which he serves as faculty adviser.

    “The fundies (fundamentalists) want it all taught in a science class,
    but this will be a nice slap in their big fat face by teaching it as a
    religious studies class under the category mythology.”

    Mirecki addressed the message to “my fellow damned” and signed off
    with: “Doing my part to (tick) off the religious right, Evil Dr. P.”

The inventor of stuffing

Ruth M. Siems, Inventor of Stuffing, Dies at 74 – New York Times:

    Ruth M. Siems, a retired home economist whose
    best-known innovation will make its appearance, welcome or otherwise,
    in millions of homes tomorrow, died on Nov. 13 at her home in Newburgh,
    Ind. Ms. Siems, an inventor of Stove Top stuffing, was 74.

I had never thought of stuffing as having been invented by a single
person, let alone someone who was still alive until this month.

Notelets for 2005.11.23

Late yesterday afternoon, my left ankle started to hurt after I got up
from sitting at my desk for an hour. I thought it strange since I
walked a lot yesterday with no problem. Had I sprained my ankle without
even being aware of it? At any rate, I am trying to put into practice
the treatment suggested at Ankle Sprain – treatment and exercise and hope for the best.

Underground, but not unconnected — BART offers wireless service to riders. I myself wasn’t able to connect via the SprintPCS service on Tuesday. Hmmm.

On Sunday, I enjoyed reading:

Salon.com – Daou Report:

THE STRAW MEN OF IRAQ: Ten Pro-War Fallacies
Friday’s hastily staged congressional vote on withdrawal from Iraq may have been designed
to embarrass John Murtha, but the raucous session offered valuable
insight into the various rationales for war and the tactics used to
attack Democrats who oppose Bush’s Iraq policy. A parade of House
Republicans went after the Dems and laid out a surprisingly weak case
for the invasion and continued occupation of Iraq. Here, in my view,
are ten of the leading pro-war fallacies…

Gopnik on Lewis in The New Yorker

As we gear up for Narnia-mania, I was not surprised to see in The New Yorker,
PRISONER OF NARNIA by ADAM GOPNIK (How C. S. Lewis escaped.). Here are some choice quotes:

It seemed like an odd kind of conversion to other people then, and it
still does. It is perfectly possible, after all, to have a rich
romantic and imaginative view of existence—to believe that the world is
not exhausted by our physical descriptions of it, that the stories we
make up about the world are an important part of the life of that
world—without becoming an Anglican. In fact, it seems much easier to
believe in the power of the Romantic numinous if you do not take a
controversial incident in Jewish religious history as the pivot point
of all existence, and a still more controversial one in British royal
history as the pivot point of your daily practice. Converted to faith
as the means of joy, however, Lewis never stops to ask very hard why
this faith rather than some other. His favorite argument for the truth
of Christianity is that either Jesus had to be crazy to say the things
he did or what he said must be true, and since he doesn’t sound like
someone who is crazy, he must be right. (He liked this argument so much
that he repeats it in allegorical form in the Narnia books; either Lucy
is lying about Narnia, or mad, or she must have seen what she claimed
to see.) Lewis insists that the Anglican creed isn’t one spiritual path
among others but the single cosmic truth that extends from the farthest
reach of the universe to the house next door. He is never troubled by
the funny coincidence that this one staggering cosmic truth also
happens to be the established religion of his own tribe, supported by
every institution of the state, and reinforced by the university he
works in, the “God-fearing and God-sustaining University of Oxford,” as
Gladstone called it. But perhaps his leap from myth to Christian faith
wasn’t a leap at all, more of a standing hop in place. Many of the
elements that make Christianity numinous for Lewis are the pagan
mythological elements that it long ago absorbed from its pre-Christian
sources. His Christianity is local, English and Irish and Northern.
Even Roman Catholicism remained alien to him, a fact that Tolkien much
resented.

[….]

Yet a central point of the Gospel story is that Jesus is not the lion
of the faith but the lamb of God, while his other symbolic animal is,
specifically, the lowly and bedraggled donkey. The moral force of the
Christian story is that the lions are all on the other side. If we had,
say, a donkey, a seemingly uninspiring animal from an obscure corner of
Narnia, raised as an uncouth and low-caste beast of burden, rallying
the mice and rats and weasels and vultures and all the other unclean
animals, and then being killed by the lions in as humiliating a manner
as possible—a donkey who reëmerges, to the shock even of his disciples
and devotees, as the king of all creation—now, that
would be a Christian allegory. A powerful lion, starting life at the
top of the food chain, adored by all his subjects and filled with
temporal power, killed by a despised evil witch for his power and then
reborn to rule, is a Mithraic, not a Christian, myth.

[….]

It is tempting to say that Lewis, in the dramatic retellings of this
story, becomes hostage to another kind of cult, the American cult of
salvation through love and sex and the warmth of parenting. (She had
two kids for him to help take care of.) Yet this is exactly what seems
to have happened. Lewis, to the dismay of his friends, went from being
a private prig and common-room hearty to being a mensch—a C. of E.
mensch, but a mensch. When Joy died, of bone cancer, a few years later,
he was abject with sadness, and it produced “A Grief Portrayed,” one of
the finest books written about mourning. Lewis, without abandoning his
God, begins to treat him as something other than a dispenser of vacuous
bromides. “Can a mortal ask questions which God finds unanswerable?
Quite easily, I should think,” he wrote, and his faith becomes less
joblike and more Job-like: questioning, unsure—a dangerous quest rather
than a querulous dogma. Lewis ended up in a state of uncertain personal
faith that seems to the unbeliever comfortingly like doubt.

The programming mania

I woke up this morning, tired but excited to be energetic enough to
program what I had plotted in my mind late the previous night. The
downside of this programming obsession is that so many other important
things fade into the background, seeming so unimportant. It’s also
tough to stop!

Notelets for 2005.11.01

Why Race Isn’t as ‘Black’ and ‘White’ as We Think – New York Times:

    The test results underscore what anthropologists
    have said for eons: racial distinctions as applied in this country are
    social categories and not scientific concepts. In addition, those
    categories draw hard, sharp distinctions among groups of people who are
    more alike than they are different. The ultimate point is that none of
    us really know who we are, ancestrally speaking. All we ever really
    know is what our parents and grandparents have told us.

Interesting that the Berkeley Public Library chose The House on Mango Street for “Berkeley Reads Together”.