Thursday, July 30, 2009

World affairs

I know this is childish, but I have to say it. Next time we invade a country, can't we pick one that I am at least slightly interested in? This morning NPR spent about half of the whole morning show on reports about the election in Afghanistan. I think that I am a pretty well-informed person who feels a responsibility to care about the rest of the world, but I am sorry, I have tried and I simply can't work up the slightest bit of interest in the election in Afghanistan. Couldn't we pick a country with SOME feature I am interested in, the food or the language or some good animals that live there? Something? Just a little bit of help here?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Wisdom of the East, and West

In Book II of the Analects, Confucius turns to Tzu-lu and says, "Shall I teach you what knowledge is? When you know a thing, to recognize that you know it, and when you do not know a thing, to recognize that you do not know it." Just one hundred years after Confucius, Socrates would make the same point in his Apology: "I decided that I was wiser than the man who... thinks he knows something when he knows nothing. Because while I may not know anything, at least I never pretend I do." About twenty-five hundred years later Chief Petty Officer Prendergast told me the same thing when I was learning to become a naval navigator: "The best thing is to know where you are. It's a little worse not to know where you are. But the worst thing is to think you know you are someplace when you really ain't there."

-T.R. Reid, Confucius Lives Next Door

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The book business

The Bobbsey Twins and Baby May received what is regarded as the most extreme rewrite; it is a story about the Bobbsey family's adventures trying to find the parents of a foundling baby. Since, by the 1960s, modern social services had rendered the original story utterly implausible, an entirely new novel was written about the twins' adventures with a baseball-playing baby elephant.

Um, because a baseball-playing baby elephant is so much more plausible, right?


(Quote from Wikipedia, thanks to Cat and Girl.)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

In the News

This is sure true at my house:

Taller People Make More Money


And, if I had only made this important a psycholinguistic discovery in my career, I would have been proud:

Swearing Makes Pain More Tolerable

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Computers still can't compete with millenia of evolution

I heard the first cicada of the season last night. And I thought, uh oh. We've had unusually cool weather up to now, and I was afraid that the cicada meant that summer was finally really here.

And indeed, when I got up this morning, it was the first day where I could already feel the heat that early. There's still a cool breeze, but the humidity is lurking behind it, and it's obvious where the situation is headed. This is what July normally feels like here.

On the other hand, the weather service was predicting a 60% chance of thunderstorms overnight and there wasn't a drop and the garden is dry as a bone.

Really, should my tax dollars go to support a weather service that predicts less accurately than an insect?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The amazing animal mind

The pugs now recognize the snap that my new laptop makes when it closes and come running when they hear it. They've figured out that when the laptop closes, we are either moving our location - like maybe we're going inside and are going to get a cookie - or even better, maybe we're done working for now and pugs are going to be paid attention to.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Pug puppy pushing pram

Here is a link to the third best pug video on the whole Internet.

(The first two are linked here.)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

pugs on the rocks



He who the pugs call Not-the-Mama nicely agreed to take them on a hike today, but miscalculated a couple of things. One, that a blind pug can't climb up and down piles of huge boulders; and two, as seen here, that once you've climbed through the mud to get up on a rock and frame the perfect shot, you have to remember to focus on the pugs, not the river.

Lilly was having a great time - even at her age she is still like a little mountain goat. For Rose's part, she was thrilled when it was over, but I figure, we all should have an experience like that once in a while for a sense of perspective.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

More Bostons


There is an excellent new store in Rehoboth Beach where we met an excellent Boston terrier, Mirabelle. This is her website with artistic renditions of her adventures, and here are many things to buy which are decorated with her. I have to admit that while pugs are cute, there is nothing like a Boston if you want striking graphic design.

Unfortunately we were there just a few days too early to see her own art show with paintings of her by many different artists.

We were glad to see that Rehoboth has become more smush-faced, and hope to go back soon to buy more things that we never got around to looking at because we were too busy talking about dogs.