Showing posts from February, 2009
I heard this report about power usage in modern homes the other day and it got me thinking. The story focused on digital photo frames, which have exploded in popularity of late. There is a seemingly innocuous device that in fact sucks power constantly. A fact in the story struck me--back in 1975 the average home had 1-2 plugged in devices. Now the average total is more than 25.

So I decided to do a count of what we have plugged in here at home -- 39 different devices.

That number really shocked me. It doesn't even include things that are plugged regularly but not constantly, such as chargers for cell phones (2), digital cameras (3), laptops (2), guitar amp (1), vacuum (2), at least a half dozen power tools, and probably a bunch of other crap that I can't think of. Good grief. Those are 39 things we use. And I am hardly a technological or gear oriented type.

Our electricity comes from mountaintop removal coal, which makes me definitely part of the problem. Fortunately …
This chart about says it all

This is in an article about evolution and its enemies, from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life(via Andrew Sullivan)

The Pew center presents some data on Sarah Palin's Real America that should make you very, very afraid:

"Recent public opinion polls indicate that challenges to Darwinian evolution have substantial support among the American people. According to an August 2006 survey by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, 63 percent of Americans believe that humans and other animals have either always existed in their present form or have evolved over time under the guidance of a supreme being. Only 26 percent say that life evolved solely through processes such as natural selection. A similar Pew Research Center poll, released in August 2005, found that 64 percent of Americans support teaching creationism alongside evolution in the classroom."

It is inte…
My bee class got in some hives this week since it was warm enough for the bees to fly.

The swarm that had made its hive in the empty box has moved up and into a Langstroth hive quite neatly.

The queen is at about 1 o'clock.

One of the swarm hives didn't survive the winter, here is the dead cluster. A good learning tool at least. (Even the dead cluster seems to freak out the student in the back).

Spring is in the air...

the daffodils (at least those protected from the wind on the side of the house) are already blooming...

my camillas are close...

...and love is in the air, in the form of ostrich burgers.

You know you're a valentine when you wife arrives with ostrich. Nothing bespeaks eternal marital love more than consuming grilled ostrich flesh.

Unless it is the boots made of the ostrich leg that I received as a birthday present

I just read -- and was astonished by --Novels in Three Lines by Félix Fénéon. Like so many great things, I happened on it randomly and then wondered how come I never knew about it before, so perfect a thing.

Fénéon lived one of those lives you would be hard pressed to make up:

"Félix Fénéon (1861–1944) was born in Turin (his father was a traveling salesman), raised in Burgundy, and came to Paris after placing first in a competitive exam for jobs in the War Office. He was employed as a clerk there for thirteen years, rising to chief clerk, and was considered a model employee. During this time he also edited the work of Rimbaud and Lautréamont, reviewed books and art (he helped to discover Georges Seurat), and was a regular at Mallarmé's Tuesday evening salon. Fénéon was active too in anarchist circles, and in 1894, after the bombing of a restaurant popular among politicians and financiers and the assassination by an Italian anarchist of the French president, he and twenty-nin…

A Real Stimulus plan, Mexico City style

"With midterm elections looming in July, Mayor Marcelo Ebrard has been rather creative in his attempts to make life more livable for the people of this sprawling metropolis, which finds itself clogged with traffic, overwhelmed by smog, prowled by criminals and reeling from the global financial crisis.

The mayor dumps sand at public pools to create artificial beaches. He bans cars from major roadways on Sundays and turns them into sprawling bike paths. The largest skating rink in the world, one that makes Rockefeller Center’s patch of ice look puny, went up in the Zócalo, Mexico City’s central square, for the second straight year over the Christmas holidays.

This weekend, for Valentine’s Day, the government is sponsoring a mass kiss-in, in an attempt to break the world record and raise awareness about domestic violence. “Bésame Mucho,” or “Kiss me a lot,” was recently adopted as the city’s motto by tourism officials, and Mr. Ebrard is expected to preside over the event, though his s…
This worthwhile Zakaria column definitely makes the case of the supreme competence of Canada* especially in comparison with the cascading failures and economic crisis in the U.S.

*Editor's Note: Canada is that country up north of here.
Today's is Darwin's 200th birthday, I thought this was relevant in some way.

Every other year I teach a class on Asian History, usually focused on Modern East Asia. This year I am giving much greater attention to Korea in the class and we are reading several books on Korean topics.

Something I had my student's read this week has been resonating in my mind: Yi Ik's late eighteenth century critique of Catholic missionaries arguments, which ended with this:

"But the Europeans embrace the miraculous and the mysterious. The more perplexing the evidence, the more easily the ignorant are seduced by it. This being the case, they have no right to complain that only evil spirits delude people. The teachings of their Lord of Heaven do at least as much damage to the hearts and minds of people....
There is no subject these Westerners have not exhaustively explored and nothing too profound for them to understand, so it is really a pity that they have become mixed up with s…

“This is for God that sav my sol.”

I managed to miss this NY Times article about the song "Poor Ellen Smith" but since I sing it all the time I am glad that a friend of mine sent it to me.

40 isn't old if you're a tree

I just turned 40, which I think means that I can no longer even officially pretend to be anything but old.

Though as both a historian and an old time musician I generally don't have a problem with that category of old. Maybe it will improve my fiddling.

And, it definitely took the edge off of the whole aging process to get this fine bajo sexto:

Turning 40 and sticking around here seemed wrong in so many ways, so we headed to New Orleans. There we did a bunch of the things that are best done in New Orleans--eat, drink, listen to music. Etc.

Here is a picture of Skye and Lark standing in front of the place Skye used to live in when she was Lark's age, on Bourbon Street.

Since we are discussing Plessy v. Ferguson in my survey class this week, those students might be interested to know that we stayed with friends in the French Quarter right around the corner from the church that was Homer Plessy's spiritual home. I would have taken a picture of it but can explain here why I d…

Watch out Bucky!

My old friend Van Mobley is running for State Superintendent of Schools in the Great State of Wisconsin--and he is in the lead in raising money.

Van's website accurately captures his essence. Wisconsin will never know what hit it.