London Bookshops Addictive, Our Traveling Girls Learn

31 07 2009

“Busy Day in Londontown”
Posted by Favorite Daughter (penguindust)

en route

We started off this morning by going to the British Museum, and, for those of you planning travels in the future, we cannot recommend it highly enough. This is the museum that houses the Rosetta Stone, and about a million mummies, and artifacts from the world over, and – this is the best part – the museum has been totally free to the public since the 18th century.

A donation is recommended, but, trust us, after you see this museum you’ll want to cough up five pounds or so. Still cheaper than the Louvre.

Then we spent the early afternoon searching for an elusive book that Kiki wants to read on the way home, and we realized something, something both about London and about ourselves: London bookstores are more addictive than heroin. They are vacuums where time and space are suspended, places with spiral staircases and good papery smells. We spent a lot of time in them, just enjoying being there.

Then, in what may be the most exciting achievement of the day, we purchased tickets to something. I’ll avoid telling you what until the end of the post, just for suspense’s sake.

To cap off the day, we went on another of our free walking tours with the redshirts. My, but they are fabulous. We were treated to a springy, nervous talker named Ed, who loved cricket and kept us apprised of the Ashes score via the text messages he kept receiving from a friend.

Delightful things he told us:

Nell Gwynn was a famous actress, but she was more famous as the mistress of Charles II. Charles has many mistresses, in fact, he used to cut through Green Park next to Buckingham Palace to see them, scooping up armfuls of flowers as he went.

Legend has it that the queen, who was no fool, ordered gardeners to pull up every last flower in the park out of spite.
There are still no flowers there.

Anyway, most of Charles’ mistresses were French Catholics, and the protestant public wasn’t very happy about this. One day they saw a coach coming down the road, obviously headed in the direction of a liaison, and surrounded it, shaking it and throwing things. Read the rest of this entry »

Red Sox Nation Trade Gets Made Under Wire

31 07 2009

July 31, 2009
Red Sox Acquire Victor Martinez
By Jack Curry
Redsox – Bats Blog

Update | 3:29 p.m. As David Ortiz and the Red Sox deal with the disclosure that he was on the 2003 list of players who used performance enhancers, one way to divert the attention from Ortiz is by making a splashy trade.

The Red Sox acquired Victor Martinez, a catcher and first baseman, from the Indians on Friday, according to an official in Major League Baseball. Relief pitcher Justin Masterson and two minor leaguers will go the Indians.

Earlier this month, the Red Sox would not trade the promising pitcher Clay Buchholz for Martinez. Martinez, a switch-hitter, has a reasonable $7 million contract option for 2010.

Crackers for Communion Crackers — AGAIN??

31 07 2009

How did I miss this earlier in the month? Jeez, it’s the Jeezits all over again! People who become so emotionally vested in the story of a symbolic object as to elevate it beyond all sense of proportion, beyond rule of law, beyond humanity, beyond all reason?

Did Prime Minister Pocket the Wafer? He Says No

“It’s not a symbol of the body and blood of Christ, but is in fact the body and blood of Christ,” said Neil MacCarthy, director of communications for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto. . .

“We believe we are holding Jesus in our hands, so to put Jesus in your pocket or to put Jesus on the ground [is serious]. If it falls on the ground it has to be consumed.

“We never throw Jesus out,” Mr. MacCarthy said.

Although as mad as the PM is about the publicity and criticism, what’s Harper really got to complain about, compared to what happened to poor Florida public university student Webster Cook? After all, Harper wasn’t thrown out of his own religion’s services after inquisitors and spies made a scene, much less impeached by his own Senate and threatened with expulsion from his home institution!

And then he even gets to meet the Pope after his offense, despite the fact that he’s not even Catholic? There’s no justice . . .

Hey, wonder if that table for four in the White House rose garden serves wine and crackers instead of just beer? We could have the president, the pope, the prime minister and — Webster Cook, or should we give the fourth seat to Joe Biden again, and leave Cook odd-man-out the way the 9-1-1 caller got left out of yesterday’s get-together, hmmm.

Obama's Beer Garden NYT

Somebody should pray on it and let us know . . .

Schoolfolk Suffer From Reform Fatigue

30 07 2009

By Mary Kennedy
July 28, 2009

There used to be a saying that if you were not part of the solution, you were part of the problem. The implication was that we all, collectively, were creating the problem, and that the solution required all of us to change together.

But in education, solutions are a big part of our problem. School people are swamped by a deluge of solutions. They suffer from reform fatigue.

. . .There have always been zealous education reformers, of course. But the number and variety of helpful ideas is now so great that the solutions themselves have become Read the rest of this entry »

Jolly Old LONDON (and Cheeky Young Beefeaters)

30 07 2009

en route

“Jolly Old London – Beefeaters and all!”
Posted by kiki under England, London

After a wonderful last night in Paris, complete with send off party at the Eiffel Tower, which I saw glitter, we left for our last port of call on this epic voyage: London. We were quite tired when we arrived so we stayed in for about a half hour and then we decided that Magnums and exploring were in order. So we set off toward St James Church and then quickly realised that London is actually a lot smaller than Paris and distances on maps are not deceptively small. So we found ourselves at Buckingham Palace and marveled at its beauty and Beefeaters.

But the Beefeaters at Buckingham Palace proper are nothing. They are behind the fence and you can’t see them very well. So as we wandered aimlessly down the road away from the Palace we saw more, vigilantly guarding a cordoned off area and generally looking pretty cool.

(They were babies – couldn’t have been more than 23, and trying very hard to look older. – M.)

We quickly fell in love with one who we have aptly named Smirks. As his name suggests, he does not have the traditional Beefeater stoicism. He kept shooting his eyes in our direction and grinning like a Cheshire cat. But his stealth training paid off in the fact that, though he smirked cheekily at us at least five times, we failed to acquire photographic evidence.

After spending at least thirty minutes having lovely conversation about Smirks and his Senior Officer right next to them as if when they go on duty they suddenly become deaf to idiot tourists, we mosied down to Trafalgar Square where we had our dinner.

The Sherlock Holmes [Pub & Restaurant] just roped us in and we were quickly in love with it. We had traditional English meals: I had Shepherd’s Pie and Mer had ham and eggs and chips.

sherlock holmes pub Londod streetfront

With the enthusiastic support and help of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s family, the pub was filled throughout with various artefacts and pieces recording the adventures of the Master Detective, including such diverse items as Dr Watson’s old service revolver, original cartoons and the stuffed and mounted head of none other than Read the rest of this entry »

Favorite Daughter Safe in LONDON for Last Week of Adventure

30 07 2009

en route

She just called.
They have tickets to see “Billy Elliot” on the West End — Dance as Cultural Power of Story, what else? 😀


Yeah, Right, No Racist Cops

29 07 2009

badCop no donut graphic

Justin Barrett, Boston police officer, suspended for calling Professor Gates a “Jungle Monkey” in e-mail

(The edible editorial graphic is from an ACLU letter decrying D.C.’s disorderly conduct ordinance, which led to yet another apparent abuse of police power — see first comment for details.)

“Ethics of Being a Theologian”: Chronicle of Higher Education

29 07 2009

Regular readers know that Favorite Daughter has declared a double major, in creative writing and in religious studies. She also has declared herself an atheist.

The distinction that I have drawn between theology and religious study is not merely academic but ethical. . . Academic theologians’ pronouncements give the public a false sense that theology represents an advance in human knowledge. Recent embarrassments, like the rising influence of intelligent-design “science,” demonstrate that claims made by theologians have consequences. Theologians must take a hard look in the mirror and ask if they can live with those consequences.

Theologians’ failure to meet their ethical obligations is particularly significant with respect to the Bible and other sacred writings. The field of biblical studies includes a great many religion researchers but remains dominated by theologians whose pronouncements about the Bible routinely lead the less informed astray.

Not infrequently, theological concepts are packaged as the conclusions of historical research. The problem is not merely that biblical characters like Moses or Jesus are presented to the public as figures of history on the slimmest of evidence, but, more insidiously, Read the rest of this entry »

Last Tango in Paris for Favorite Daughter and Friend

29 07 2009

en route

“Overheard on the Train from Versailles to Paris”
Posted by Favorite Daughter (penguindust)

12-year-old girl: Ugh. I could have done that tour. Everything they told us about the French Revolution, I already knew. We learned it in school.

Me: (raised eyebrows)

12-Year-Old Girl’s Father: What I don’t understand, is, why didn’t Marie Antoinette’s father send an army over?

12-Year-Old Girl: He did, he did. But they got defeated, by Napoléon.

Me: (crying due to silent laughter)


“Last Tango in Paris”
Posted by kiki under France, Paris

Today was our last day in Paris, and we didn’t even spend the day in the city. We took the train to Versailles and saw the magnificent château.

Versailles, the city, was delightful and clean. It was a welcome change from the hoards of tourists crowding the streets and sites of Paris. We walked from the train station to the château and proceeded to wait in line for about an hour while being continually accosted by the voice of a woman who desperately wanted us to know that we could get in for free if we were EU citizens under 26, and that if we wanted to see the SUPER SECRET PRIVATE apartments of a couple of the Louis-es and Marie Antoinette then we would need to book a guided tour.

But finally we got our audio guides and started to walk our way around the ornate palace. We started out at the intricate and grandiose chapel built by Louis XIV. It is the highest part of Versailles Château because Louis believed that he needed to do that to honour God. Pretty nice gesture in my book.

We then saw Read the rest of this entry »

Rules, Authority, Control: It’s the Power, Stupid

29 07 2009

If the insurance industry wins on health care reform by beating Obama soundly on bigger, more transformative change, it will strengthen and embolden every other big special interest. The energy companies on climate change, the big banks on financial reform, and every other special interest lobbyist Obama has said he would tame, will be laughing at the failure of bigger health reform, secure in their knowledge that nothing has changed in Washington, D.C.

No Legal Overstep Left Behind:

“Most of our politics in America is about the disappointment of not meeting the high goals we set for ourselves.”
–Senator Lamar Alexander, a former U.S. secretary of education trying to explain the legally codified rhetoric of No Child Left Behind.

Plus ca change. . .

Do you experience the conservative homeschooling meme as principled belief in personal freedom and limited government, fueling politics meant to secure and protect equal opportunities for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, for all kinds of Americans as autonomous individuals?

Or do you see conservative homeschooling as centered on religious rules and authority trumping secular authority, politics meant to impose fundamentalist social controls that supplant individual freedom (despite “libertarian” arguments and rhetoric)?

See also:
Thinking About the New Bonfire of the Vanities

Public or Private, Groups Still Govern Our Lives

Sarah Palin “Freeing” Herself From Public Office

And Now The Label “Married” Is In for Further Moral Meddling Read the rest of this entry »

Young Son at Shakespeare Camp Makes the Newspaper

28 07 2009
Young son as Richard III at Summer of Shakespeare camp, Tallahassee Democrat, July 28, 2009

Young son as Richard III at Summer of Shakespeare camp, Tallahassee Democrat, July 28, 2009

Here’s the accompanying story by staff writer Kathleen Laufenberg ,and more art by Ana Goni-Lessan, including Young Son’s immortal quote about the Bard’s words:
“”One of the things people really don’t realize about Shakespeare is how great the insults are.”

evan rehearsing death or dream seaequence july 2009 democrat

What: Summer of Shakespeare’s production of “King Richard III”
When: 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Where: SAIL High School, 2006 Jackson Bluff Road
Cost: $5 for adults, $3 for students
Contact: Dr. Cynie Cory

What JJ’s Reading Next

28 07 2009

Dangerous Games: the Uses and Abuses of History by Margaret MacMillan

I heard this on the way to Shakespeare summer camp and after dropping off Young Son (who btw wants to be a historian or I should say, already considers himself one) I headed straight for the bookstore:

“We tell ourselves stories,” MacMillan writes in her introduction, “not always true ones.”

By revealing time and again how often the stories nations tell themselves are in fact wrong, and reminding us of those consequences, MacMillan has formed a powerful and important argument that people — and not just the people in power — must know their true histories. This book is a great place for everyone to start.