Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Brown Paper Package Tied Up With String...

This is how I deliver the movie Twilight to my friends.

It makes me feel dirty.

Tell Me. Or not.

Dear Gentle Readers;

I would consider it a great kindness if you would point out any spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, or other egregious violations of the English language one should not make beyond the age of twelve (the age at which I left Catholic school and with it the study of grammar, usage, and mechanics as well).

For example: "reevaluate" is not a word, but "revaluate" most assuredly is. In fact, it is the very word I meant to include in my last post rather than its bastardized and rationalized evil step-sister. At least that's how I envisioned the incorrect word in my mind this morning.

Of course, you are never required to do such things, and can judge my inability to write correctly, and indeed my very request to help me correct my writing as a weakness of character. If the shoe were on the other foot, you can be sure I would - and do.


Most Sincerely,

Sunday, June 28, 2009

3 Good Things (localvore edition)

1. Found a source for local grass-fed beef.
2. Looking forward to attending all the local farmer’s markets.
3. Thinking of joining a CSA for local produce.


What? Have I gone GREEN? Bite your tongue.

While part of the draw to eat local is supposedly for environmental reasons, I can assure that does not figure into my reasoning.

After having read Price’s Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, and Pollan’s In Defense of Food, and having Taubes’ Good Calories, Bad Calories on deck for months, I’m just beginning to revaluate some things that I had previously dismissed as hippy-induced collective wackiness. While these things may very well reek of such wackiness, there may also be some nutritional benefit for my family. I’m willing to live with the rest if I get real value out of the experiences. And besides – I look good in tie-dye.

It’s when I get my hand-cranked wheat mill that you know I’ve gone over to the dark side (the motorized one is okay, though).

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Fashion on the Farm

Although I've resigned myself to being the gentleman farmer's wife, I haven't abandoned my fashion sense. Here are my new chicken slogging boots. Yup. They're leopard print.

The boot scraper is how you can tell we're real farmers, by the way.

Even though they're designed to look like a Big Cat, the Ladies love them!



video

And speaking of the Ladies, they have quite the fashionable outer wear as well.

One of these things is not like the other...

Two colors of Rhode Island Reds fronted by a Barred Plymouth Rock.

A Golden Laced Wyandotte and a another Barred Rock.

And some of them are quite photogenic.



Where is the Farmer, you may ask?

He's in the dell, of course.


After so many days of rain, we're just excited to get outside and do what needs to be done!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Poetry Friday: Imogen

by Sir Henry Newbolt (1862-1938)

LADIES, where were your bright eyes glancing,
Where were they glancing yesternight?
Saw ye Imogen dancing, dancing,
Imogen dancing all in white?
Laughed she not with a pure delight,
Laughed she not with a joy serene,
Stepped she not with a grace entrancing,
Slenderly girt in silken sheen?

All through the night from dusk to daytime
Under her feet the hours were swift,
Under her feet the hours of playtime
Rose and fell with a rhythmic lift:
Music set her adrift, adrift,
Music eddying towards the day
Swept her along as brooks in Maytime
Carry the freshly falling may.

Ladies, life is a changing measure,
Youth is a lilt that endeth soon;
Pluck ye never so fast at pleasure
Twilight follows the longest noon.
Nay, but here is a lasting boon,
Life for hearts that are old and chill,
Youth undying for hearts that treasure
Imogen dancing, dancing still.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Schoolhouse Rock Wednesday: Conjunction Junction

Well you knew it was coming!

I adore the Andrews-Sisters-like sound and the tune of the repeated question which is just so darn catchy! Now if you can remember the answer to the question or even part of the song you're all set (grammatically speaking). Sure there's a lot to sing for one voice, but I think it would be well worth it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Have You Gotten Your Letter Yet?

Today is my youngest daughter's 11th birthday.

I'm certain that this simple letter will be her most favorite present - ever.



Wouldn't it have been yours?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Going Green Tip #5: Immerse Your Children in Politics

This is the description of a new picture book (26 pages) entitled Going Green from the editorial staff at Amazon.

This imaginative book offers a unique approach to our world "going green," through the wide eyes of a little girl. Combined with beautiful illustrations, the story unfolds with each surprising change that is noticed by the girl. First, it happens to her good friend, Cynthia beginning with a leaf...then a branch. She observes many more people changing in very special ways. She watches as Congress "goes green" and even the President and First Family are in various states of metamorphoses. Although some people are slower to change, will the entire planet eventually "go green"? And, what will happen to the little girl?
Can you think of anything better than extolling the virtues of congressmen going green? Screw lush imaginative fanciful morality tales people, feed your pre-schoolers some good old-fashioned political stumping. But not really on a stump. I'm certain that would violate some sort of environmental tenet.

For those of you who do not find this type of story attractive, I'd like to direct you to this beautiful children's book, The Wishing of Biddy Malone.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Food of a Younger Land:

I was so excited to have just received a notice of this new book by Mark Kurlansky being released by Amazon on July 1, 2009: The Food of a Younger Land: The WPA's Portrait of Food in Pre-World War II America that I needed to share it!

As someone who truly appreciated the previous efforts of Mark Kurlansky's Salt: A World History, and Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World, and who just finished The Forgotten Man, and who is currently reading Weston A. Price's Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, I was ready to be in line for this one. But with a reported cover price of $69.99, the book was relegated to my library queue.

Then after a moment of digging around, I discovered this which has the same title, exact same description, but a different subtitle and a whole lot smaller price tag.


Hmmm.

Well, I suppose I could be angry that I might have tried to pay $70 for a $19 book that Amazon basically repackaged and readvertised, or I can be happy that the $70 price tag and lack of cover art made me look harder for more information and I found a book that I can get at my local library (16th in the queue, but there are plenty of copies) and most likely really enjoy and learn from.

Overall, I'm glad they sent me the notice (even one fraught with fraudulent information as it was).

---ten minutes later---

Nevermind about the "fraud" part - it was for the "playaway" version, which, clearly, I am not tech-savvy enough to have caught the first time around, but at least understand that it is not a physical book.

I'm very glad about the notice, excited to read the book, and happy that I can still buy my books through Amazon!

I haven't done THAT in a long time

Last night I had occasion to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. I have to admit that I was pleased with both the fact that I remembered all the words and the unexpected occurrence.
I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
It was fascinating to me that I remembered the words of the pledge, written by a socialist minister in 1892, changed in 1923 to reflect the name of our country and in 1954 to illustrate that America is not a communist country. (You can find a brief history of the Pledge here.) And I was more than a little bit frightened that I could recall the words and body language from my days as a school child when I had no appreciation of what it meant - when it was mere indoctrination.

I suppose I should be happy that I was never taught the Bellamy salute!

Having that muscle memory could prove quite horrifying.

So why, when I was taught the Pledge as a bit of nationalist indoctrination and as it now reflects the establishment of our country as a theocracy, would I be pleased with the occasion?

As an adult, I recognize the flag to be a symbol of what makes America great. It represents the tremendous efforts and outstanding achievement of our Founding Fathers in creating this nation based not on bloodlines, money, religion, or might, but on individual rights. I left out the hex ("Under God" added to ward off the evil of communism) and recited the rest with gusto.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

To Buy or Not to Buy

Michelle Slatalla's humorous quest for the proper balance in the struggle between providing support for and encouraging independence in her teenage children really struck a chord with me. The fact that it took the form of a prom dress was just icing on the cake.

Most parents want to give their kids the best foundation possible and this requires a lot of thought about what is in their best long-term interest. Short-term desires must often be left unmet in order for the child to develop properly. In the conflict between buying the expensive one-use prom dress and making the teenager pay for it as she had once done for herself, Slatalla reaches the conclusion that it would be easier to give the child her kidney, which she was prepared to part with when signing up for motherhood.

Taking action she senses would delay the child's self-reliance is a tougher issue.

I think I speak for parents everywhere when I say this is exactly the sort of question that we’d like to see researchers address directly, by conducting some kind of definitive nationwide prom-dress study.

It is tough. You feel the same disappointment that your child feels when she is unable to get the things she wants even though she has worked for them. But what about your dreams?
“Sorry, sweetie,” I said calmly. “I don’t believe in spending this much money on something you’re only going to wear once, especially when I’ve never ridden in a gondola.”

This line made me laugh out loud for its obvious attempt at placing unearned guilt onto the child.

How about getting her the dress in the hope of a return on your investment of social support as suggested by the professor running the Longitudinal Study of Generations?
“This is a dilemma,” Professor Silverstein agreed. “But we did find some evidence, when we turned the clock ahead 30 years, that children who had received more resources provided, in turn, more social support later to older parents.”
I think not.

Hoping that your parental largesse will be rewarded in the future is a fool's bet. Invoking your postponed dreams teaches the child nothing but bitterness. Making your child momentarily happy at the expense of principles is never a good thing. But most importantly, is buying the prom dress really a breach of your principles?

I'm sure that my daughter doesn't think so and will probably make quite a case for it next year.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Schoolhouse Rock Wednesday: Verb

That's what's happenin'!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Boneless Chicken Ranch

If you, like me, happen to remember that Farside cartoon from over 25 years ago, then you can envision what my chick-chickens looked liked today when they got into their run. They followed me from the coop and very enthusiastically installed themselves in the run in seconds. But within a minute of my closing the gate all of them were lying in odd positions throughout the run. I thought their over-enthusiasm about their release from the coop had killed them!

Then I remembered.

Last night, although it was rainy, it was kind of warm. I suggested that we turn off the red light for the evening. When Stephen went into the coop this morning, the ladies weren't settled comfortably on their perches as normal, but huddled in a corner. I'm guessing from their sudden bouts of narcolepsy this afternoon that they didn't sleep at all last night. They're addicted to the red light! We'll have to get one that isn't infrared for the summer - or wean them from their dependency.

Any suggestions?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Clear to Retrieve

Today my youngest and I started archery lessons. Okay, so I am approximately three times older than the second oldest person in the program and all the other homeschool mothers I know are hanging out on the sidelines happily chatting to one another - but I'm learning something new. It's fun and requires strength, concentration, and some coordination. And I get to shoot arrows!

It's FITA style Olympic archery and we shoot at targets that looks like this:

And while I look much more like this,

than this,

today, I'm training "on line".


Tomorrow, who knows?


Friday, June 12, 2009

Poetry Friday: The Logic of the Gun

By Samuel Walter Foss (1858-1911)

He wrote in letters plain to see,
That all could understand;
ALL PERSONS CARRYING FIREARMS
FORBIDDEN ON THIS LAND.
And through his hundred-acre woods,
To stay through calm and breeze,
He nailed his minatory sign
Upon two hundred trees.
So all who wandered through those wilds
Could read and understand:
ALL PERSONS CARRYING FIREARMS
FORBIDDEN ON THIS LAND.

Ben Bean, the Nimrod of the town,
Went shooting through the land;
His vocal musket banged in tones
That all could understand.
And then the owner of the woods
Who placed the warnings signs,
Went after Ben and talked to him
Of penalties and fines.
"Do you now see these signs?" he said he,
"A child can understand,
"All persons carrying firearms
Forbidden on this land?"

"But how’ll you get me off?" asked Ben,
And spoke without a wince,
"A person carrying firearms
Ain’t easy to convince."
"Go off!" the farmer cried; "Begone!"
"Come drive me off," Ben said,
And raised his musket toward the man,
And aimed it at his head.
"Why, I have right upon my side,"
The farmer said, "Now run!"
"You may have right, I don’t deny’t,
But I have got the gun."

And there are empires, just like Ben,
Who hunt the world around,
Whose purpose ‘tis to use the world
For their own hunting ground.
And there’s no potentate or power,
No premier or prince,
Who’s well-equipped with firearms,
That’s easy to convince.
And when their victims prate of rights
They say to every one,
"You may have right, I don’t deny’t,
But I have got the gun."

From Songs of the Average Man, 1907

I have seen that gun-control advocates use this titular phrase in their arsenal, but I think the poem exposes an interesting view into both the very purpose of government, the protection of individual rights, and an indictment against the abuses of its force.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Battle for the Constitution

Intrinsic Abilities

“Justice O'Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases…I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.”

When I first read of Judge Sotomayor’s statements quoted above, I laughed at their apparent taken-out-of-context usage. Clearly there must be some explanation between the two statements or some unreported circumstances which explained the naked racism of this respected jurist. I found and read the original text of the speech to have a better understanding of the Supreme Court nominee. Here’s what she said:

Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague Judge Cedarbaum, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging. Justice O'Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. I am not so sure Justice O'Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes that line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.
Well, there is a statement or two between the references, and the speech was given at a symposium on Latinos in the judiciary. However, neither of these two factors mitigate the absurdity of her statement.

What does living the life of a Latina woman have to do with an improved ability to interpret the constitutionality of the law?

Using this logic, I, as a sixty-four and one-half inch tall person of Franco-American descent would hopefully make a better dentist than those of you who have not had the benefit of the richness of my genetic and ethnic experiences – especially you Brits. Since others before me have stated that there is no such thing as universally good teeth, I can certainly fix your teeth, not by adhering to any principles of dentistry, but in accordance with my innate talents.

Interpreting the Constitution is difficult enough, but it is particularly so if you don’t have the benefit of genetic and ethnic gifts according to the Supreme Court nominee.

Interpreting the Constitution

Thanks to a referral by C. August at Titanic Deck Chairs, I read an excellent essay by Tara Smith regarding some competing judicial theories entitled, “Why Originalism Won’t Die – Common Mistakes in Competing Theories of Judicial Interpretation.” In this piece in the Duke Journal of Constitutional Law & Public Policy, Smith discusses several theories used to interpret the Constitution. It’s a fascinating look at how the veneer of objectivity gives weight to the theory of Originalism (as used primarily by Justice Scalia) especially as compared to other theories. The essay shows that such a strict interpretation of the specific words used by the original lawmakers ignores the wider conceptual nature of the words’ meanings. It’s a terrific introduction into the pitfalls of some of the competing judicial theories of interpretation.

Smith explains:
Having claimed that the objective judge needs to be philosophical as well as conceptual, I should stress that the domain for exercise of philosophical judgment is limited. Judges are not simply philosophers, nor are they primarily philosophers. They are interpreters -- of laws that others have made. Judges are not to unilaterally generate philosophical questions and apply their answers through their rulings. Rather, when cases are brought before them, they are to read those cases according to the philosophical framework that our Constitution provides. Their role is not to "perfect" the Constitution.
Even if you begin to understand the various theories and the criticisms against their lack of objectivity, it won’t matter much if the prevailing wisdom continues to view the Constitution as stripped of all content regarding individual liberty.

The Empty Constitution

Finally, I highly recommend “Justice Holmes and the Empty Constitution” by Thomas A. Bowden, in the most recent issue of The Objective Standard, vol.4, No. 2. This historical look at the reasoning behind, and the devastating implications of this brief dissent of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. in the “Lochner v. New York” Supreme Court decision is a must read for anyone who wishes to understand not the power of the Supreme Court, but rather the failings of the false dichotomy of judicial activism and judicial restraint. From this dissenting opinion:

I think that the word liberty in the Fourteenth Amendment is perverted when it is held to prevent the natural outcome of a dominant opinion, unless it can be said that a rational and fair man necessarily would admit that the statute proposed would infringe fundamental principles as they have been understood by the traditions of our people and our law.
On its face, part of this statement does not seem particularly harmful; in fact, one should be able to point to fundamental principles in the law. However, as part of the Lochner dissent, Holmes’ reliance on dominant opinion has been used to justify the intellectual brow-beating of those who hold that the Constitution itself is full of principled content regarding the individual’s relationship to the state. This idea of an “empty constitution” has been the popular among jurists and the judicial confirmatory body of the Senate in the last 50 years or so. As such, this one dissenting opinion has been the tool by which the objective rule of law has been insidiously transmogrified by the bankruptcy of public opinion rather than interpreted and upheld by those United States officials sworn to do so.



I’m still trying to understand the history, power, and influence of the Supreme Court of the United States as it impacts all of our lives; but what I do understand is that the law of the land is currently besieged on all sides by the dominance of subjectivity.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Schoolhouse Rock Wednesday: Nouns

This is one of the original Schoolhouse Rock videos for me. I remember it well and every scene makes me smile. I was a little disappointed that the fabulous creators of Schoolhouse Rock seemed to suffer from what generally plagues the entire United States today - they had forgotten about the importance of ideas!

A noun is a person, place, thing, or IDEA.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Chickeeta and the Emoticons ~:>

Today, I welcome a guest blogger, my youngest daughter who felt like writing a story.



Once upon a time, Bob saw a chicken.
:-) ~:>

“AWWWWW!” he cried. “How cute!”

Bob’s mom and dad were very stern.
:-( :-(

“Chickens are filthy!” cried his mom. She had a hollow, stuck-up voice, and she talked like she was in an opera.

She hadn’t even looked at the chicken.

“They take mud baths!” said his dad. He talked in only one note: a low C.

“Uhh, so do I, dear. It‘s good for your skin. Soooo… these chickens take… healthy baths?”
:-( :-o :-) ~:>

“I guess…” said Bob in a sing-songy voice, hoping his mom was caving in.

“Oh, how… smart, they are. Oh, they are kind of cute… in a way… you know… I wouldn’t mind one… in fact… I’d even, maybe like one…”

The dad, though, was still unhappy.

:-( :-) :-) ~:>

“It would get in the way of my cooking! Getting feathers in my mushrooms and eggs, which I loooooooooooove.”

“Dad! Chickens lay eggs!”

“They do?” his dad asked suddenly in a high C.
:-o :-) :-) ~:>

“Yeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaahhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

“LET’S GET THAT CHICKEN!” cried the family. So they bought it.
:-D :-D :-D <:~

They lived in harmony, happily ever after.
:-) :-) ~:> :-)

FIN
I can assure you, my voice is not hollow and stuck up.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Five Movies in Five Minutes (2)

Here are some more movies we’ve seen recently. Unfortunately, none are strikingly good or bad, so my reviews will be neither recommendations nor warnings. Again, the titles are links to trailers.

In the theater:


Star Trek

Fun, action adventure, probably not for Trekkers (you know that’s what they prefer to be called). I went looking forward to seeing Chris Pine as Young Kirk: Ladies Man and found Zachary Quinto (new to me) much more interesting as young Spock. I like nerdy boys so this was really no surprise, but he was nerdy with a twist. Despite my affection for old Spock, my initial delight in seeing Leonard Nimoy quickly gave way to my distaste at his overuse to deliver much needed narrative.

As it is a big action movie, it should be seen on a big screen – for me this means at a theater and therefore I must discount the entertainment value by the added expense [6].


Night at the Museum: Battle at the Smithsonian

Another Amy Adams movie! She is just plain fun to watch as the sporty-taking, Katharine Hepburn-esque Amelia Earhart. Hank Azaria as the evil Kahmunrah made Stephen laugh like Muttley (which is not normal for him) and Christopher Guest makes a great Ivan the Terrible. There was some neato stuff with pictures coming to life (a la Harry Potter) and when the characters jumped into the Alfred Eisenstaedt VJ-Day photograph, it was quite fantastic. I did enjoy the animation of French's Lincoln as well, but no amount of movie magic could save the movie from my indifference to the characters' fate. In general, my kids agreed.

Even knowing and accepting that museum pieces come to life, this movie was much too contrived to be enjoyable [3]. If I had paid less, I might have given it a 5 for the performances and the wizardry alone.

At home:


The Reader

I read the book by Bernhard Schlink many years ago and I remembered that I was intrigued by its portrayal of an ex-Nazi female guard, Hanna Schmitz. Kate Winslet’s character, Hanna, who spends the first hour of the movie basically naked, is cold and exacting and elicits no empathy from the viewer as she has an awkward sexual relationship with a 15 year old boy which ends as quickly as it began. It is when the boy, eight years later as a law student, sees her again in a courtroom as she is being tried for her war crimes she committed over 20 years earlier that I began to empathize with her. Weird, I know. She is punished for her crimes, which is just, but she is also punished for something she did not do. She chose to go to jail for life for the killing of 300 prisoners rather than admit her hidden shame which would have lessened her criminal charges.

I found the power of her unearned guilt fascinating particularly when compared with her lack of remorse for the atrocities for which she was actually responsible. It was hard to watch, but well done. [6]


On a Clear Day

It’s a quirky English movie about a man, feeling useless after being forced out of his job, deciding to swim the English Channel when he’s got nothing else to do. I really liked the main character and the actor who played him, Peter Mullan, and Brenda Blethyn, as always, was great. It began to lean toward a decent buddy movie, but I found the younger buddy, Danny, played by Billy Boyd (Pippin Took of LOTR), to be more like an annoying Disney sidekick rather than a thoughtful addition to the plot. Finally, despite the heart-wrenching premise of the initial estrangement, I was not sold on the reconnection between the father and his grown son.

I give it points for showing older people fighting to be more than just alive. [5]


Run, Fatboy, Run

Another quirky English movie bordering on buddy status, this is about a loser who leaves his pregnant girlfriend at the altar only to regret it years later. Again, Hank Azaria as the girlfriend’s perfect new boyfriend is pretty damn funny, and the cousin and neighbor have moments of hilarity and earnestness, respectively. I just didn’t care much for the main character as a hero who arises not from a guy who has been trying hard and triumphs over his shortcomings, but from a guy who is not necessarily bad, but shiftless and wins because he’s just not as bad as the other guy. Neither romance with the beautiful Thandie Newton was believable.

I thought it was interesting that both this and the last movie (On a Clear Day) used a physical feat to demonstrate the character’s triumph, and the metaphor of “hitting a wall” to portray their challenges. [4] (Worth noting: while Stephen agrees with my assessment, he’d give it a 6 or 7).

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Schoolhouse Rock Wednesday: Mr. Morton



While I don't remember this from my own youth, I found it watching these episodes with my older children years ago. I thought this lesson about subjects and predicates was told in a lovely little story.

Don't be surprised if later on today you find yourself attempting to sound like Jack Sheldon singing the catchy little tune.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Common Law in Children's Literature

In moving the chick-chickens from their coop into their run this morning, I made a casual remark to my daughter about being the pied piper. Apparently, I have failed at my parental duty in that she had no idea what this meant. When I began to explain the story, I realized that I didn’t actually know it enough to explain it well. Should you ever find yourself in a similar situation (with or without chickens), I’m here to save you from a similar fate.



The Pied Piper of Hamelin is thought to have originated in thirteenth or fourteenth century Germany about a town overrun with rats. One day a man shows up in minstrel clothing (‘pied’ meaning two different colors) and says he can take care of the problem for an agreed upon fee. The townspeople agree and the Piper attracts all the rats out of town with his pipe playing. He leads them all to a river where they drown.


When he comes back to collect his fee, the townspeople try to renegotiate the deal.

"Beside,'' quoth the Mayor with a knowing wink,
"Our business was done at the river's brink;
"We saw with our eyes the vermin sink,
"And what's dead can't come to life, I think.
"So, friend, we're not the folks to shrink
"From the duty of giving you something to drink,
"And a matter of money to put in your poke;
"But as for the guilders, what we spoke
"Of them, as you very well know, was in joke.
"Beside, our losses have made us thrifty.
"A thousand guilders! Come, take fifty!''

The Piper vows revenge. He later attracts all the children out of town with his pipe playing. They are never to be seen again.

So, Willy, let me and you be wipers
Of scores out with all men -- especially pipers!
And, whether they pipe us free from rats or from mice,
If we've promised them aught, let us keep our promise!

You can peruse a beautifully illustrated version of the story as rewritten by Robert Browning with illustrations by Kate Greenaway online here from which the rhymes and illustration above have been taken.

I find it fascinating that a colorful term which has loosely come to refer to anyone who can gather and lead a group of people (or chickens in my case) comes from a dark cautionary tale regarding contractual obligations.

“Do all you have agreed to do” along with “Do not encroach on other persons or their property” make up the two fundamental laws which, according to Richard Maybury, “make civilization possible”. In his book, Whatever Happened to Justice? Maybury explores and explains the history of these two common laws. While there were some parts of his book with which I did not agree, overall I thought it was very informative and a quick, must-read for anyone who is interested in common law, the nature of government, and justice.


After I summarized the tale of the Pied Piper for my daughter I asked her what she thought it meant.


"Keep your promises!"


Seems crystal clear to me now.

Monday, June 1, 2009

TBR Stack

My friend Fiddler, who has smartly divided her interests into 3 or 4 blogs (instead of the one to catch-all and one to ignore as I do) had an interesting looking stack of books on her aptly named reading blog: A Habit of Reading a few weeks ago.

Her stack of books to be read made me collect my own stack of books that I am currently either between the covers or about to crack open any day now.

Some of these things are not like the others. I picked up Janet Evanovich at the library on Friday because I needed a book I could finish while getting my car inspected (the emergency Victorian novel idea is great, but since I borrowed it, I'm afraid to leave it in my dumpster on wheels car). I will definitely have to bring the last in the Twilight series to the beach this summer. You know, that is, if I actually go to the beach because I'm not much of a sun-worshipper.

And that lack of sun exposure and subsequent low level of vitamin D brings me to my next set of books by Weston A. Price, Gary Taubes, and Michael Pollan. I need to better understand the nutritional effects of different foods and how to eat better.

Take out the three book club books (The Art of Fiction, The Quiet Girl, and A Map of the World), the three Supreme Court books (Shaping Justice - to supplement the CD course, John Marshall, and The Dirty Dozen), and I'm left with OPAR, Sparrowhawk: Book Two, and GTD.

Maybe I should finish and institute the GTD system first and then the rest can fall off the TBR stack quickly and get filed into their appropriate spots.

Ooh, I feel a little like FDR with my GTD, OPAR and TBR. At least I did finally finished The Forgotten Man. I really enjoyed reading it and actually hope to retain some of it.

What's on your TBR list?