Friday, October 31, 2014

Trick or Treat!

candy_corn.jpgVirginia Postrel interviews Samira Kawash, the author of
Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure.
Would you believe the earliest trick-or-treaters didn’t even expect to get candy? Back in the 1930s, when kids first started chanting “trick or treat” at the doorbell, the treat could be just about anything: nuts, coins, a small toy, a cookie or popcorn ball. Sometimes candy too, maybe a few jelly beans or a licorice stick. But it wasn‘t until well into the 1950s that Americans started buying treats instead of making them, and the easiest treat to buy was candy.
Via Instapundit, my principal news aggregator these days.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Why Academic Writing Stinks

In any other publication that would have been the title. But Steven Pinker's writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education so he calls it Why Academics Stink at Writing. Yes, you. I'm talking to you.
The preceding discussion introduced the problem of academese, summarized the principal theories, and suggested a new analysis based on a theory of Turner and Thomas. The rest of this article is organized as follows. The first section consists of a review of the major shortcomings of academic prose. ...

Are you having fun? I didn’t think so.
Thus he introduces metadiscourse. Next up is professional narcissism, followed by apologizing, shudder quotes, and hedging. And then, just when his subjects ought to dying of embarrassment, he eases up and talks about metaconcepts and nominalizations. Just to prove he’s one of the guys, I guess.

I've never read anything boring by Steven Pinker, although one of his books I thought was 300 pages too long. His latest is The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century.

I’m sure I’ll read it too, as soon as it’s out in paperpack.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Tabby Feet

tabby_feet_10_2014_thumb.jpg

Friday, October 24, 2014

Grab your bug-out bag...

Derb’s optimistic.
I get that a lot. Yep, I’m the designated pessimist. It behooves us all, though, to keep in mind what Oliver Cromwell told the Scots: “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.”

In obedience to the Lord Protector’s injunction, I’m going to take a break from doom and gloom to ponder the possibility that we may not be doomed. Yes, this is the optimistic column.
Don't miss it, folks — we’re sure it’s just a passing phase.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Pull Yourself Together

Theodore Dalrymple wonders about the overdiagnosis of depression.
If it is always absurd to tell people to pull themselves together, is it sensible always to tell them the opposite, namely not to pull themselves together, that they should collapse in a heap? Or is it that the behavior known as pulling-yourself-together either doesn’t exist or is simply irrelevant to human life?

An appeal to pull oneself together is an appeal to fortitude, a virtue that was once regarded as cardinal, though it seems since to have become the subject of a gestalt switch and relegated to being, if not a vice exactly, at least a form of treason to the self. Far from pulling yourself together, then, you should let yourself fall apart. That, at least, is the natural thing to do, the default setting of the human character in difficulty.
Fortitude. What a quaint idea. I hope I can gin some up when I’m facing dementia.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Recalled to Life

That's a blazing strange message. Much of that wouldn’t do for you, Jerry! I say, Jerry! You’d be in a blazing bad way, if recalling to life was to come into fashion, Jerry!

— Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
Yeah, the woof is back, and resolved to plow on. Bad timing, as usual; we're in the middle of an election, an epidemic, a war, a mess of family and personal problems, but there's no good time to start blogging again, so this is it.

The next post will have real content.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Second Campout

gordon_and_tabitha_family_campout_2014_thumb.jpgStarting to get the hang of this camping life — key thing is to stay relaxed; there’s always someone to carry you around, and sooner or later you’ll meet everyone. Make a little fuss and mama will show up. No one goes hungry at a family campout.

Grandpa works with the young and the hip at Ronler Acres. He’s about sick of young and hip; old and cranky is more his style. Still, they pay him to do it, and sleeping on a cot in the spare room beats a trailer at the KOA. Heck, he slept in his car in San Diego.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Fire Season Fire Links

Here in Southwest Oregon it's primarily SWOFIRE, the ODF Southwest Oregon District fire blog. This just in:
Firefighters are heavily engaged this evening with numerous new starts from an afternoon lightning storm and holdover fires from yesterday's storm. Ten new starts have been confirmed on the Siskiyou Mountains Ranger District with three more detected on the High Cascades Ranger District...
Other links I have added to the sidebar for the duration.
I hope it's a brief duration.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

First Campout

lizzy_and_tabitha_at_the_beach_thumb.jpgLast weekend we went to a family campout at Umpqua Lighthouse State Park. Lizzy and her baby drove down Saturday morning and stayed overnight, and she got to taste and smell the Pacific ocean for the first time. I think she slept through it.

In other news, Zeta Woof is staying with Red Dog in Portland as he begins a new contract with Intel in Hillsboro (Ronler Acres).

Traffic in Portland is worse than ever. It's easier to drive from Gold Hill to Portland than it is to drive from northeast Portland to Hillsboro. Why is it that "the city that works" totally doesn't?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Help Your Roommates Out*

Home from college and it's summertime, the living is easy.

At least it ought to be. But sometimes it seems we're buying twice the food, taking out twice the garbage, doing twice the laundry and washing twice the dishes.

It's not supposed to be this way. Consider basic algebra: Work × 2 ÷ (workers × 2) = work ÷ workers. It should come out the same. You did get an A in algebra, didn't you?

So here are a few ideas for how you can help your roommates out:
  1. Clean up the kitchen. Wash the dishes. Put things away. Wipe the counters. Stop when the job's finished.
  2. Tend the koi pond. Clean the filter every day or two. It's not complicated but we've written up a checklist so you won't miss any steps. Clean the skimmer too — it's simple and you can do it any time.
  3. Pull weeds. Put them on the burn pile. If you're not sure what's a weed, check with Mom. Basically, if it has thorns or burrs, it's a weed. (Roses are an exception.)
  4. Post something on the blog. Brag about your accomplishments, if you have any. Post a picture of the cat — anything. Grandma and Grandpa love reading the blog. Go ahead, make their day.
  5. Mow the lawn. Any time it's shaggy and even if it's not. Mom loves a new cut lawn. She has the same attitude toward haircuts on guys.
  6. Do your own laundry. Of course you do already, but start early enough in the day that the clothes are dry, folded, and put away before bed time. Don't leave your laundry overnight.
  7. Turn in by ten o'clock. We value our rest, especially if we have to work the next day. People prowling around the house in the middle of the night tend to disturb our sleep. Old people need their sleep.
  8. Clear out now and then. It was real quiet last winter. Kind of nice, actually. Don't you have some place to go?
*Inspired by an article in The Wall Street Journal.