At Home He's a Tourist

He fills his head with culture/ He gives himself an ulcer.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

The Librarian is Out

Like any good American blogger, I'll be offline for the Thanksgiving holidays. Instead of gathering around the table with family, though, I'll be eating Turkey Spam and cranberry sauce out of cans while huddled around a camping stove with Pablo the Blogless. He's flying into Lubbock tomorrow, where I'll pick him up and continue on to Guadalupe Mountains National Park, one of the least visited in the NPS. It's in a remote, dusty corner of west Texas, near the least populated county in the United State (Loving County, pop. 70). We'll hike the highest peak in Texas--which, at 8,700 feet, isn't in the same league as Wheeler, but it's supposed to provide an excellent view all the same.

On Sunday evening a high school friend who's making a western tour before entering graduate school will be passing through the area, so I'll spend Monday showing him around the Amarillo area. See y'all on Tuesday, then.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Music: Mondegreens

Listened to the King Crimson discs. Court of the Crimson King sounds a lot like early Genesis (or vice versa). Anyway, I heard a mondegreen on the second track, "I Listen to the Wind." One stanza goes:

I'm on the outside looking inside.
What do I see?
Much confusion...

I heard:

I'm on the outside looking inside.
What do I see?
Munchkin Fusion...

The image of melding dwarves was so striking I had to look at the lyrics sheet immediately. What a disappointment to read the actual, pedestrian lyrics. Captain Beefheart forestalls the problem by putting the mondegreens in the original lyrics.


Bainbridge, David. The X in sex: how the X chromosome controls our lives. Harvard, 2003. 205p bibl index afp ISBN 0-674-01028-0, $22.95.

Choice: "tongue-in-cheek, yet informative...Despite some misleading statements...the book makes for an interesting and informative read." Library Journal: “a well-written, well-researched, easy-to-read study…An excellent example of good science writing that will also appeal to general readers, this is recommended for most libraries.” Booklist: “a discussion rich with history, evolution, and philosophy…A fascinating, often humourous analysis of the science of sexuality.” Kirkus: “entertaining and informative, if slightly too brief…A fine demonstration of science made accessible.” Commonweal: “This book will inform, delight, and challenge readers…What make Bainbridge’s treatment…engaging are his literary style and wacky humor…Three deficiencies in the book deserve mention. First, the title promises more than it delivers. Bainbridge does not actually show ‘how the X chromosome controls our lives.’…Second, although the book does not intend to explicity engage religion or theology, the occasional aspersions Bainbridge casts on faith and organized religion are unfortunate…Finally, Bainbridge follows many of this scientific comrades in overreaching when it comes to ethics."

Monday, November 24, 2003


Portales, NM up the penalty for keeping overdue library books.


I'm not too concerned about this sort of scientific explanation of Biblical miracles, because the fact that the proposed natural causes occurred exactly when they needed to is evidence enough of divine providence...

Humphreys, Colin J. The miracles of Exodus: a scientist's discovery of the extraordinary natural causes of the biblical stories. HarperSanFrancisco, 2003. 362p bibl index ISBN 0-06-051404-3, $24.95.

Choice: "This thoroughly enjoyable and fascinating book is not easy to classify. Part science, part religion, part travelogue, part apologia, this is an attempt by Cambridge University physicist Humphreys to show that the biblical Exodus really happened as described in scripture, and that there are valid scientific explanations for all the various miracles of the plagues of Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, etc. This, of course, is not the first time somebody has tried to do this, but Humphreys's account is the first one this reviewer has encountered that gives a convincing argument for every incident...Highly recommended." Booklist: “Although the complexity of some of the techniques he employs (and the scrutiny with which he examines the most minute details) may prove taxing from some general readers, most of the time the narrative is nicely paced and thoroughly intriguing. Certainly, Humphrey’s enthusiasm is infectious…There are, of course, other books that offer theories about the Exodus, but this one deserves a place in the forefront.” Publishers Weekly: “Humphreys’ analysis reflects an unusual combination of homework, legwork and creativity…his enthusiasm for his subject and joy in puzzle solving have a contagious appeal in spite of occasionl quirkiness…The book’s title is somewhat misleading since Humphreys’ goal is to reconstruct the whole Exodus narrative…rather than to focus on the miracles themselves...Although many of his hypotheses have been published before, Humphreys’ refinements of detail and especially his comprehensive retracing of the exodus route will invite curiosity, debate and perhaps some new ways of approaching the Exodus story in historical terms.” Library Journal: “a fascinating, highly readable series of scientific explanations for the miracles described in the stories of ancient Israel’s exodus and wanderings in the desert…Though controversial, his work is carefully researched and cogently argued…Recommended for both public and academic libraries.” Kirkus Reviews: “Humphreys takes a schoolmasterish tone…that readers will find either pleasantly meandering or maddeningly roundabout—but just about always to the point. Biblical history buffs will likely enjoy Humphreys’s exodian excursions—even if his conclusions do tend to steal some of God’s thunder.”