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

EDUCATION WEEK Commentary
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? 😀

UNSCHOOLING EUROPE tag





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.)