Friday, April 30, 2010

3 Good Things (Objectivist Round Up edition)

Links to the last three Objectivist Blog Carnivals:

15 Apr 2010 at Sacred Ego;
22 Apr 2010 at Erosophoria;
29 Apr 2010 at Reepicheep’s Coracle.

Enjoy.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Bale Out

(Photograph found here.)

In what could be caused by my attraction to the fashionable time at Ascot, before Eliza Doolittle’s enthusiasm for the race reduced her to her previously unfortunate state of behavior, I have always had an interest in attending the Kentucky Derby.  As the season of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Horse Racing fast approaches (Derby Saturday, May 1st,  Preakness, May 18th , and the Belmont Stakes, June 5th),  there has been some inevitable media interest in the horse racing industry.

On Tuesday, The New York Times published a story about the sad, bankrupt state of the industry in the bluegrass state.  Reporting that farms, thoroughbred buying, 100,000 jobs, and over $4 billion tourist dollars are all threatened in the region due to the economic downturn, the Times identifies the losing gamble of “betting the farm” on the future of horse racing.

Dynamics similar to those that brought down subprime mortgages have been at work in the horse business: no-money-down lending and a breeding market based on the assumption of ever-rising prices.

In stating, “Gambling is the core of the thoroughbred industry,” it acknowledged that in order for the industry to make money, it must take risks. 

Has the thoroughbred industry acted illegally, or at least unethically, to promote this downturn?  It seems unlikely given that all of their livelihoods depend on its success.  It does appear that they were unable to predict the future and therefore assess their risks perfectly, but, of course, that would be impossible. It does make me wonder if the people who have invested in enormous stud fees only to find that the progeny products are not worth as much as the fees paid should look to the government to discover if they, in tandem with their mares, were intentionally screwed. And now that all those jobs and regional income are in decline, should the federal government jump in to restore them?

No. It’s safe to assume that these people had some knowledge of the risks inherent in their chosen professions.

So I’m confused as to why, in the financial sector, the same behavior, bad risks taken by those with the inability to accurately predict the future, have been subject to (and I do mean subject to) federal bail outs, and recently, congressional interrogations about the very morality of the business of making big money based on taking big risks. Can we not assume at least the same level of horse-sense and lack of clairvoyance in financial buyers and sellers as in the horse racing industry?

We could, but assuming otherwise and publicly appealing to complexity and emotion provides a perfect pretense for government intervention.

I hate to be a nag, but there are no guarantees in life. We must be aware of the implications of increasing government control over the economy: In attempting to remove all risks from every transaction under the false pretense of “consumer protection,”  this gratuitously growing government is strapping on the feed bag and putting us all, along with our personal responsibility, out to pasture.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Für Elise

Today is the 200th anniversary of Beethoven’s lovely little composition formally known as Bagatelle in A minor.  Even if you don’t read music, you can still make out the opening notes of this famous piece. Its very name, Für Elise, practically conjures the sound of the music.


If you, like me, have but don’t play a piano, you may want to try your hand(s) at plunking out the beginning of the composition with the help of this little video(I'm guessing that Rock Band enthusiasts would have an easy go of it.) And, because recently, I can’t seem to go a day without making some sort of political commentary, try to read this with the sound ‘on’ to test your toleration of repetitive sounds.  Let me know how far you get before you turn the sound ‘off’.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Internationally Fierce for the Scientifically Inclined

I have recently become captivated by the very symbol of America: the bald eagles of Hornby Islands.
First, some of my friends, whose identities I have sworn to protect, are/were completely obsessed with the Molly the Owl webcam. Don’t get me wrong: the owlets are cute in a hairless cat sort of way, the infrared camera is cool, and gifts of dead rodents are always fun.  But this is a pair of bald eagles, people!  Bald Eagles and their two eggs in a nest at the top of a Douglas fir tree on the windy edge of an island in Canada—not in a box in someone’s yard.

From what I can tell, the parent eagles switch off egg-sitting duties every half hour or so. If one seems to leave the eggs unattended, you can be sure the other is right there, somewhere behind the camera.  Despite the fact that they look absolutely FIERCE, in the best possible way, it is so adorable to watch them gently maneuver the eggs with their beaks and rock their bodies until they find just the right position to rest on them. 

The tag.


I think this is the mother.  She’s always trying to tidy the nest while sitting on the eggs.


And this is the father, based on the incontrovertible evidence that it looks more like Sam the Eagle from the Muppets.  

Only this morning I was reminded by this post of how much I love the way eagles look. That feeling may have started with the awesome animation of the great golden eagle, Marahute, from terrific kids’ adventure movie set in Australia, The Rescuers Down Under.  If you liked Marahute, you may enjoy watching these real eagles for a bit.  There is also a kids’ page on the Hornby Eagles website with fun pictures, information, and puzzles.
What the nest webcam lacks in action it more than makes up for in the ability to make close-up observations regarding the movements, sounds, and habits of bald eagles in their nest.

The eggs should be hatching soon. 

Such an occasion deserves a little musical fanfare, don't you think?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Do You Miss Freddie, Too?

When I heard that Freddie Mercury died, I cried. I remember it because I felt it was an odd reaction for me to have: I didn't know him, I don't think I even owned any Queen albums at the time, I simply enjoyed hearing and watching him sing. He seemed particularly benevolent for a glam rock god, but more importantly, he seemed to thrive while singing and performing. He made me happy.

I enjoy this Mika song for the same reason. He does a terrific job in capturing not only the sounds, but the joy of Freddie Mercury, even if he is poking fun at sounding like him.  I have no idea what the tie is to Grace Kelly other the little girl lip-syncing (sort of creepy), but I can still enjoy the music video.

In case you were wondering, I do know that the song is from 2007, but I've been busy, okay?

Enjoy.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Nine Bins of Expire

What happens to the stuff in your house after it has outlived its usefulness?  As reported in today’s Telegraph, the folks of one area of the United Kingdom must divide their expired items into a nine bin recycling system. 

The new bin system by Newcastle-under-Lyme Council, north Staffordshire, includes a silver slop bucket for food waste, which is then emptied into a larger, green outdoor bin.

There is a pink bag for plastic bottles, a blue box for glass, foil, tins and aerosols, a green bag for cardboard and blue bags for paper and magazines.

Clothing and textiles go in a white bag, garden waste in a wheelie bin with a brown lid and non-recyclable waste in a separate grey wheelie bin.
In addition to the incredible space this system requires, some of the townsfolk are complaining about managing the system.
Samantha Dudley, 34, added: “I’m used to organising things with two children but even I find juggling nine different recycling bags and bins difficult. I dread to think how elderly people get on.”

So why this onerous increase in recycling? 
Councils have been coming under increasing demands to reduce levels of domestic waste, with growing taxes on landfill space and the possibility of fines if they do not meet European Union targets from 2013.

But without a secondary market for recycled materials, sorting one’s trash is simply adding the value of your time and efforts to the trash. Even when the economy is strong, the market for recyclables, except metals, is pathetically weak. When the economy is weak, that already dismal market weakens as well. So if there is no real market for these materials, where exactly does the value-added trash go? The Telegraph article doesn’t address that, but based on my 15 year old inquiries, I would guess it gets landfilled somewhere, rendering this practice merely a costly exercise in forced behavior modification.  
Bin police are used across Britain to ensure recycling regulations are met, with the threat of £100 spot fines for those who overfill bins, leave extra rubbish bags out or put bins out on the wrong day.
So why are the complaints seemingly limited to management and space issues when their very individual rights are threatened, “Non-payment of the fines can result in the culprit being taken to court, where they could be given a £1,000 fine,” for non-compliance? Why are they not fighting this on principle?

Sure, the title of this post started with the absurdity of a nine bin mandated recycling program, but I couldn’t help but make a deeper connection between it and the inspiration for the title of Geraldine Brooks’ book, Nine Parts of Desire. In her book, Brooks quotes Ali ibn Abu Taleb, the historic leader of the Shiite movement, who justified covering women from head to toe thusly, ”Almighty God created sexual desire in ten parts; then he gave nine parts to women and one to men.”
 
The "success" of both systems rely on a population which has accepted an unearned guilt for living.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Double Shot of Happiness!

Could be my age, could be her love of red, my Franglish skills, or it could be her dog stalking - whatever the reasons, J'adore this new-to-me blog I found Wednesday: Paris Breakfasts.  The blog is so FULL of fabulous pictures of sights around the streets of Paris! It has really increased my long-dormant desire to go there. 

In searching for a Cafe Terrace at Night image to go with this post, I came across another fabulous blog: The Errant Aesthete.  Check out the awesome Georgia O'Keefe Glamorous Gotham page, and this simply wonderful post on Julia Child.  

Il est tout si merveilleux!

Il me rend hereuse.
(I'm sure there is a French idiom for that, but Je ne le sais pas.)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Unquestioned Gilt in Unearned Guilt

(Forty Lines for Forty Years)

Fealty fallout from the vacuous vocation,
More than forty years after Carson’s call.
The goddess, Gaia, demands supplication,
From those who dare to stand up tall.

Your hubris offends me, I am the Land.
I provide the foundation upon which you live.
I’m wounded by the marks left by your hand,
Your undying obeisance is what you must give.

We stop the chemicals that thin the shells,
We allow the mosquitoes that carry disease.
As pride in ability to conquer swells,
We’re driven to amends down on our knees.

Man is but a speck upon the Earth.
A fragile species: A dot in time.
How much do you think your life is worth?
Nature’s wisdom against unnatural crime.

But to whom shall our homage be paid,
For living by means to which we have arisen?
Long ago to Mother Earth we prayed,
Long before we understood that which is given.

The Earth has not wisdom, nor feelings, nor thought,
But materials and systems we must understand.
The Earth is but earth, ours to be wrought.
Not returned to brutality – not to be unmanned.

Knowing so, what hold does Gaia keep still?
What explains why these wretched ideas persist?
Some shape man’s world by sheer force of will,
While others claim we’re wrong to even exist.

Their god from the machine is gold in the stream:
Our ability to create value from rocks and trees.
Their tact, give back, for achieving man’s dream,
Supported by goring government policies.

I reject their tithe on behalf of the slime,
I reject their entreaties to walk small.
I reject their claim on my effort and time,
I reject their man-hating premises, all.

Let this be remembered: as far as we get,
We should never look back and sigh,
Ours was the Earth—we were never the threat.
Man must exploit its resources, or die.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Eggs-Ample

What do you think of our new product design logo?









Dozen it look sharp?

Okay. That's un oeuf.

'E' for Elusive

Helloe.

Mye name is Lynne.

Withe an 'e.' 

Write it downe.

How difficult is it to use an 'e' at the end of my name in order to spell it correctly?

Maybe my sensitivity to this mistake is because I grew up next to the town of Lynn, Massachusetts which is not a very nice place except near the ocean and then, only when the wind blows just right so it doesn’t smell like raw sewage. But the hair across my ass (admittedly vulgar, yet colorful New England expression meaning the state of being irascible, irritable, annoyed – notably not found here) often comes from those who have seen my name in writing—my writing—in which it is invariably spelled correctly, yet, somehow manage to respell it incorrectly.  What’s up with that?   

Because the terminal 'e' in my name is silent but does not have the power of Silent 'E', it doesn’t seem to carry any weight at all. And although, in my experience, my name can sound like a grunt, a bark, and many other random single syllable sounds, I maintain that it has a pretty written structure:

Lynne.

See?

In order to defend that tag of my identity, I have been known to sign my emails, LynnE, but even that ugly modification doesn’t seem to be enough.

What’s it going to take to get people to spell my name with an 'e' at the end?

That’s all for today. Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

3 Good Things (Dog Art edition)

Dogs in Art, in the Louvre, at the Met, a social history – there is an historical aspect to the presentation of dogs in art. I must learn more about it.

Doggie Doodle Dandy – I can’t really explain my attraction to this, but I’ve got one.

Grooming Kit and CaPoodle – no doubt this is a sample of the best art in its unique medium.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Achilles tendon and menses be damned!

I love Barbie, and I’m not afraid to say it. 

I reject the idea that playing with Barbie negatively impacts a child’s self-esteem. Even the Ph.D. author of that post admits to the hours of creative fun she had with Barbie.

In exploring how homely dolls might improve one’s self-esteem, the Onion reported “Mattel also announced that it would begin production next year on Timorous Tim, a fey, cowardly action figure designed to boost the confidence of shy young boys.” The ridiculousness of that effort is a source of humor, so why are the imagined beauty standards of a doll so often seen as harmful?

Millions of little girls (and boys, I would guess) have played with Barbie and very few have been scarred, or have chosen to be permanently re-configured as a result.  Clearly, the overwhelming majority of children who play with Barbie go on to lead normal, productive lives. In fact, Barbie may be an inspiration toward those future careers.


More than simply not harmful, however, Barbie is an excellent role model for girls in these respects: she is overtly feminine, wants to be somebody, and most importantly, despite the presence of the lackluster Ken doll throughout the years, is nobody's subordinate. She represents someone who loves her life, unapologetically – you know, to the full extent that an 11.5” fashion doll can.

Why, just look at me.  I loved my Barbie dolls and harbor no harmful, remnant Barbie doll side effects.  (For the record: having a recurrent mad urge to tour the country in a giant, pink RV with all the comforts of home is not a bad thing.)

Radiating a joyous sense of life on her own terms, rather than providing a stilted walking metaphor for the amenorrhea which would undoubtedly result from having her lack of internal organ space in real life, Barbie remains an excellent toy. 


Some interesting Barbie-related links:


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday School

For some reason that is not perfectly clear to me, my daughter likes to ask how Jesus is supposed to be the son of God and God at the same time. The Holy Spirit seems to have fallen out of favor these days. Anyway, I do my best to explain it all as it was explained to me. Mostly she asks so she can follow-up by singing her own rendition of this song.

 

Stephen thought she'd prefer this video to my explanation.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Weekends

Friday, April 16, 2010

3 Good Things (Irresistible Morning Sensations edition)

The insistent sounds of the birds’ springtime mating calls.
The consistent feel of his sleeping breath as it rises and it falls.
The persistent smell of the beckoning coffee as it permeates the halls.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Statism vs. Capitalism

For the first time in the history of civilization, one government recognized that all people, regardless of the conditions of their birth or wealth were equal under the law, that each has unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It was from these principles that our Founding Fathers’ framework guaranteed that neither race nor sex could exclude a man from his natural rights. The United States of America was and remains the best experiment in government—one founded on the recognition of individual rights.

Such individual freedom to act, free from coercion, was the springboard for tremendous advances in every sector of the economy and the major driver of prosperity in this nation. It ingrained a can-do attitude and rooted self-sufficiency as a major component in the culture of our country. As a result of being able to direct the way we live as individuals, we, as a whole, have prospered.

Because men were able to make their own way based on voluntary exchanges with others in their own best interests and to their best abilities, many people were able to become extremely wealthy. The entire nation, including the poorest of the poor, became wealthier as these medical, technical, and scientific advances became part of the fabric of our lives. Being poor in this country rarely means having nothing to eat. Being poor now seems to mean having fewer or lower-quality benefits than the guy next door. This disparity is a natural consequence of having the freedom to choose. It is a manifestation of the fact that men differ in ability, inclination, and effort.

Injustice arises not in the disparity itself, but in employing the force of government as a “fix” of that disparity.

statism (n):  The practice or doctrine of giving a centralized government control over economic planning and policy.

Statists admire the political power of elected officials and appointed bureaucrats to level personal gains. That some people have so much while others have so little seems to be so large an injustice that the circumstances for the disparity need not be considered: that a disparity in wealth exists is reason enough for a large swath of Americans to claim not only foul against the companies and people that make money, but further, a duty upon them to share their earnings.

What seems oddest to me is that statists are often relatively wealthy and intelligent. This is perplexing because it means that they must deeply discount if not completely evade recognition of their own life-sustaining actions in order to make claims upon the wealthy on behalf of those less fortunate (deemed so, as if fortune, or luck alone has caused that disparity). In other words, in order to claim that anyone has a right to any else’s earnings, those statists are ignoring the very efforts which contributed to, maintained, or increased their own wealth.  But why would they discount their own efforts?

For what possible reason could someone, whose life-sustaining decisions have helped him achieve happiness, assume that others who are less successful do not have the very same capabilities? This implies that statists think that poor people are too stupid to make decisions for themselves – a dim view of mankind to say the least.  Or, is it really, as their less-condescending and more “champion of rights” stance suggests, that the rich get richer at the expense of the poor?  Have the poor been taken advantage of by the very existence of corporations and rich people, constituting an injustice for which they must be compensated? 

Violation of individual rights in the form of force and fraud is against the law and should be pursued to the highest court, if necessary, each and every time it arises.  Happily, the individual, the smallest minority, has rights, protected by the government, against the use of force and fraud. Here, everyone may be in complete agreement. So it can’t be that. 

The fundamental support for statism comes from those who, for whatever reason – which, if I had to guess, comes from a religious underpinning despite their tendency to be atheists – feel that we are all our brother’s keepers. If you feel that way, you have (but certainly do not need) my blessings to divide your earnings among those known and unknown to you. But why do you seek the force of government to compel me to comply with your feelings?

That the less wealthy are entitled to a forced redistribution of the earnings of others implies not only unearned guilt for the sin of success, but more so, a bitter and malevolent strike against those who are unapologetic producers and traders.  Furthermore, when feelings inform the force of government, not only are individual rights violated, but also the incredible achievement of the unprecedented premises of the limited role of government in the United States, the law of the land, is turned on its head.

That a person is poor is a regrettable situation. That a person is indebted to others because he is wealthy, is a morally depraved proposition. 

Where is the justice in that?

capitalism (n): An economic system in which the means of production and distribution are privately or corporately owned and development is proportionate to the accumulation and reinvestment of profits gained in a free market.

Capitalists admire the economic power that they are able to build by voluntarily trading with other men.   Capitalists seek, by voluntary means, to increase their own wealth, success, and happiness. 

Capitalists are not to be confused with the “pull peddlers” who use the force of government to insure the viability of their businesses.  Pull peddlers are the worst kind of people – they are statists in capitalists’ clothing.

I think where many smart and well-meaning people get confused is with the difference between political power and economic power. The first system uses force against the individual, the second relies upon the ability of the individual to choose for himself.

Which system values the individual more?

While I have had no trouble in concluding that those who hold the idea that our government grants, as opposed to protects, rights don’t understand the proper function of government, I have only recently grasped the rather startling nature of their dismissal of individual rights in general: a contempt and derision for the rights of man to use his mind in order to live his life.

At this point, you may be wondering how I can possibly say that capitalists respect people more, when many statists are only making claims on behalf of the sick and destitute.  Because the government operates on taxpayer funds, using government force in order to control goods and services, products of the minds of men, violates the very rights of everyone who has worked to produce, or trade, for those goods and services in an effort to gain happiness for themselves. Statists decry capitalism while simultaneously making claims on its achievements.  This is obviously an untenable position.

Instead of an additional trillion dollars of national debt for a mismanaged government boondoggle, I recommend that everyone who feels badly about some people’s lack of access to health care or health care insurance contributes directly to them or to their favorite health care charities now. Who knows? Since I can’t predict the future, I may one day need to rely upon your charitable contributions. If you find the idea that your charitable donations may one day support my health care discomforting, I’d ask you to consider why. Why are you so happy to volunteer my money to care for people I don’t know, but not as excited to contribute to my health care? Is it possibly because you think that I should be able to make those decisions for myself? In insisting that the government must control our health care decisions, you are granting that real people, like me, are unfit to make our own choices – that you know better how to run my life – a point which I am unwilling to concede.

Strong feelings about the plight of the poor and sick are completely understandable and upsetting; it is a very bad situation to have to choose between paying for medical care and other vital needs. However, translating those feelings into a law designed to take from the rich to give to the poor is not only reprehensible, it is helping to increase the role of government in making decisions for all of us.  It is helping to further blur the lines between economic power, gained through voluntary exchanges of men, and political power, derived from subjugation of men to the state.  Above all, as government intervenes into more aspects of our lives, it strangles the very freedom that makes our prosperity possible in the first place.

We have each been given front row seats to the recent battle over health care reform.  Those of us not seduced by the alleged windfall of government largesse understand and appreciate what is truly being lost; we see the long-term impacts of this administration’s agenda in which the claims of society take precedence over the rights of the individual (i.e. socialism).  As a result of our collective decision to rely upon the government to forcibly equalize our earnings rather than secure equal protection of our individual rights, we get to watch the fiery, essentially American “can-do” spirit be incrementally and tragically replaced by the meek and effete consideration, “May I?”

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Happiness

I am more than happy to admit that my life is like ...


Today, we should all be happy.  Today is Tax Freedom Day in Massachusetts - a calculation of the day upon which the average citizen of Massachusestts, if he works at the same rate for the entire year, will have been able to meet his tax obligations to federal, state, and local governments for that year beginning January 1.  

  

If you're a Survivor and just Can't Hold Back, I have a little test for you. 
How many essentially 80s allusions can you find in this video? 



Grease (Bad Sandy - yes, I know it was the 70s),
Risky Business (making out in the train),
LoverBoy (red leather pants - c'mon - no one does those like Mike Reno),
Flashdance (dance moves and clothing),
Yellow Pumps - 'nuff said.
The nun doesn't count - she's timeless.

And in case you missed it last night, here's Sue Sylvester's Vogue from Glee!


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Carnivorous Look

Last night, Stephen made lovely, luscious lamb rib chops and perfectly sautéed scallops.  Problem was, there were only four of the precious meat pops and four of us for dinner.  Since my older daughter was still at dance by the time only a clean white bone was left on my plate, I stared longingly into her prepared, but untouched plate of yumminess. As my appetite increased and self-control decreased, my youngest daughter must have recognized the carnivorous look in my eyes because she exclaimed in a mock-mom voice, “Welcome home, Honey!  We’re having Surf & Bones for dinner.”

Monday, April 12, 2010

“Bite Me” is Not an Argument

I’m concerned that I have begun to supplant meaningful responses to negative value judgments with my go-to idiomatic expression of discontent.  At least, so far,  this response has been limited to what goes on in my head (and, occasionally, on my shirt), but I fear that the more often I apply this idiom, even within the confines of my own thoughts (or under my coat), the more difficult it will be to live without the instant soothing satisfaction it offers me.

It’s like running cool water over a burn.   

I may be addicted.

The worst part is that because the expression has a back off – I don’t like what you’re saying sense, it sometimes lends its speaker (i.e. me) the vague notion of bad idea managed, when in fact, nothing of the sort has occurred.

While I have always been rather prickly and opinionated, I am becoming less and less interested in personally defending my freedom to act and think and live as I choose through the constant repetition of the basic principle of individual rights. This is particularly true when overwhelming statism is flung at me using a doubly-loaded sling shot of altruism and emotionalism from the left or right political perspective. Within the current climate of extreme political polarization, my imagined use of the slightly vulgar expression has increased tremendously. 

So why does this nonsensical nastiness so appeal to me?

First, it strikes me as a form of self-defense. I am never going to talk an altruist out of his supposed love for all mankind (excluding me, of course), as he is never going to talk me out of my love for myself and my values. When the altruist is my friend, I am inclined to let our differences lie and deliver the expressive afterthought as a means to scrub away any goo he may have attempted to throw upon my character.  It allows me to continue in a friendly manner as I let go of my anger and frustration.

Secondly, unlike the pat “We’ll just agree to disagree” that, it is argued, most reasonable people could conclude, “Bite me” gives me an imagined edge.  It provides a space and time to regroup but speaks of an intention to continue the offense.

I cannot, however, ignore the similarity of my use of the pseudo-decisive idiom to a form of self-deception. This, admittedly, does not reflect well on my argument. It is here where I need to weigh its instant gratification against its instant disqualification even when the battle takes place entirely within my own mind.   

If I have chosen to rely on the truth of my statements, then statements of truth I must continue to make.  I really have no interest in flinging crap back and forth, because regardless of the spirited volley, it’s still crap and must be judged and disqualified as such. I must stay on task. Other than providing me with a temporary shield against bad ideas and a reminder of my particular approach to those who would seek to destroy me, “Bite me” does nothing to further my real objective. 

What I really need is a good dose of moral endurance.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Books Arts Bash 2010 Winners!


From Homeschooled Twins blog, I'm pleased to share the information of the winners of the Book Arts Bash! My daughter and I were among the lucky people who got to read the fabulous entries in one of the age categories. It was a thrill reading each of them and congratulations to the winners!


Kindergarten and First Grade:Winner:

A Big Problem by Brianna T.
Runners up:
Adventures of Big D and BMC by Emma W.
Zoo With A Strange Zookeeper by Vivian L.

Second and Third Grade:
Winner:The Adventures of Blue Flame the Heroic Giant Squid-Fighting Hero by Sage M.
Runners Up:
Ruby, A Twisting Tale by Emilie M.
Mittens the Cat by Melea von T.

Fourth and Fifth Grade:
Winner:
1 by Nicci M.
Runners up:One Girl Revolution by Sadie Z.
Blaze by Alexandra S.

Sixth Grade:
Winner:The Princess by Lena G.
Runners up:
Becoming Callie by Lena G.
Trixie by Lydia A.

Seventh Grade:
Winner:
Happy Ending is a Place by Mandy H.
Runners up:
Violet Fire by Bryn B.
Kite by Hannah S.

Eighth Grade:
Winner:Hollin by Garrett R.
Runners up:
Common Animals by Thomas B.
Little Angel by Adayla S.

Ninth Grade:
Winner:
Why I Missed the Second Set by Rose C.
Runners up:
Untitled by Larissa S.
Tales of the Humbats: The Seventh Piece by Raven M.

Tenth Grade:
Winner:Children of the Stars by Holden M.
Runners up:Shattering Darkness by Vienna H.
The Scouser Cap by Emily V.

Eleventh Grade:
Winner:
Cadence by Scout G.
Runners up:
Vengeance: 25 cents by Kathleen M.
Don't Look Down by Tanya S

Twelfth Grade:
Winner:
If Pearls Could Sing by Pamela C.
Runners up:
Broken Things by Emily D.
Falling Night by Anna W.

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Liberty or Bread in Ivanhoe

“. . . Far better was our homely diet, eaten in peace and liberty, than the luxurious dainties, the love of which hath delivered us as bondsmen to the foreign conqueror!”
 “I should,” replied Athelstane, “hold very humble diet a luxury at present; and it astonishes me, noble Cedric, that you can bear so truly in mind the memory of past deeds, when it appeareth you forget the very hour of dinner.”

Ivanhoe, Sir Walter Scott, Chapter 21

Friday, April 9, 2010

3 Good Things (Up edition)

               
1.  We finally saw the Pixar award-winner last month.  If you can take the first five minutes, you might enjoy the rest of the movie. I laughed out loud at the characterization of the dogs and I couldn’t help but love the unfailing optimism (except when hungry) of the young protagonist.  What remains is the overwhelming feeling that even now, more than a week later, I want to cry when I think of the old man putting his hand over his wife’s handprint on the mailbox in an effort to be near her.

2.  This week’s Objectivist blog carnival is posted at Titanic Deck Chairs.

3.  Things are looking that way as the needle on my scale goes down! Now don’t get too excited, ‘cause the pants are still a problem, but at least things are going in the right direction and with nary an issue in the craving and binge department. How? Reversing how I got here.  For the last twelve days I’ve had no refined or added sugars (that includes the one, season opener ice cream), no grains, lots of protein, including dairy (emergency cheese ™) and meat (pass the bacon, please), carbohydrates from veggies, homemade green juice, and nuts.  Nuts, I say.  I don’t care how packed full of fat they are, I won’t put nuts on my verboten list unless it is discovered that Thin Mints are the key to cellular efficiency. Only with that substitution could I possibly manage without their particularly crunchy goodness.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Tiny Bubbles

I have met my people, and they are tiny.

Okay. They’re really not tiny, but the medium in which they work, play, create, design, and live in their imaginations is.  They are the folks who are enthralled by miniature modern design.

The article in yesterday’s New York Times has plucked at a dormant interest of mine: modern design I can hold in the palm of my hand.  As someone who admires the minimalist approach of modern architecture and design, but who lives a richly cluttered life, I appreciate the wide open and naturally lit spaces offered by the petite modern house I can afford to own.

This appreciation led to my eventual purchase of a modern doll house for my daughters in 2002 – the Kaleidoscope House (tour here).  After eyeing it for a year at a local art museum gift shop, I decided that we they would really enjoy it.  I was right – they did and sometimes still do (most recently, it was featured in a school video of a Spanish soap opera as reenacted by Playmobil).  It is the only interactive art installation in our modern room addition.  And then there’s this:

Particularly sought after by serious collectors is the Kaleidoscope House, designed by the artist Laurie Simmons and Peter Wheelright (sic), an architect, in 2001. Back then, the colorful modernist dollhouse with its $250 price tag wasn’t exactly a blockbuster. Indeed, the company that made it, Bozart Toys, went out of business two years later. But today, even a used and tattered Kaleidoscope House can sell for as much as $2,000.
This makes me feel smart – even if I did recently chuck out the always broken wooden sculpture, affectionately referred to as the “little big dody” (that’s a long ‘o’ sound as in Dody Goodman, reserving the name “Big Dody” for the giant, rounded, raisin-looking thing outside of the MFA), that Mel Kendrick designed specifically for the dollhouse. We still have the magenta Ron Arad chair (albeit a little gnawed on by a once teething puppy), and green Karim Rashid couch (just not attractive enough to eat, I guess), but the rest of the House is in pretty good shape.

If modern design or miniatures float your boat, please pace yourself when viewing these crazy cool flickrstreams of modern miniatures!   

All this excitement over miniature modern design makes me wonder if there is a special, tiny place on the Nerd/Geek/Dork Venn Diagram (via Gus van Horn) for those of us who find these scenes compelling. In case you were wondering, I took the test and was categorized as a Modern, Cool Nerd. Even though I said I could dance!  Heh. I’ll take it.

As you can tell from the photographs, for these modern mini enthusiasts, it’s not just about design, but also about getting the best pictures of the design.  Laurie Simmons, who, with architect Peter Wheelwright, designed the Kaleidoscope House, is actually famous for her staging and photographing miniatures.  I think that I can learn a few things from these tiny scene recreations and am eager to try my hand at it.

Dollhouses: they’re not just for kids, anymore.

Wheelwright designs in a contemporary mode, so there was no question of getting what Simmons calls ''a heavy Victorian thing your grandmother made by hand,'' but, as the architect explains, ''it wasn't just the style that needed updating.'' Most dollhouses, Wheelwright says, are accessible from only one side. So he and Simmons addressed the problem by devising transparent sliding walls that are accessible from all sides. Wheelwright also took pains to make the house as architecturally ''real'' as possible, even down to its structure, which includes a molded one-piece floor, and which stood up to numerous stress tests. ''This isn't a 'toy' house,'' Wheelwright emphasizes.  (from a NYT 10/08/2000 article).

When I started writing this in the wee hours of this morning, Tiny Bubbles made perfect sense as a title. Perhaps it was watching Peter Schiff talking about the housing bubble followed immediately by looking at these tiny houses whose values not only increased, but also remain in that bubble! What I do know is that since the age of 5, when I did the hula in my first dance recital, that Don Ho song has haunted me. I finally have a place to lay it to rest. Hopefully.