At Home He's a Tourist

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

Friday, July 02, 2004


An obvious choice for our library...

Macculloch, Diarmaid. The Reformation: A History. Viking Press.

Library Journal: “The definitive survey for this generation…What sets this work apart is the sweep of its coverage…a joy to read…the work’s size and information density will make it slow going for those without a basic knowledge of the subject…Highly recommended for larger public libraries and academic library collections in European and Christian history.” Publishers Weekly: “wide-ranging, richly layered and captivating…valuable and engaging portraits of key personalities…spectacular…MacCulloch’s magisterial book should become the definitive history of the Reformation.” Booklist: “Comprehensive and superbly written. An outstanding work that examines fairly and objectively a definitive epoch in the history and spiritual development of the Western world.” Kirkus: “Monumental, superb. An essential work of religious history.” Commonweal: "MacCulloch marshals vast erudition in a simultaneously synthetic and analytical narrative, and The Reformation is a remarkable achievement by any measure. But MacCulloch's treatment of Catholics is much less satisfactory and less sympathetic than his depiction of Protestants." Atlantic Monthly: "One of the most magisterial and stylishly written historical works to be puhlished in a decade. The book sparklingly synthesizes scholarship on an astonishing array of subjects. Throughout, MacCulloch explicates complex theological issues with startling lucidity. And his analyses of the lives, personalities, ideas, and struggles of Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, Cranmer, Philip II, and Ignatius of Loyola are at once sharp and profound (and not infrequently funny). A lasting work."


Made the switch from Netflix to Greencine. To start off, I picked some French titles starring Sandrine Bonnaire: La Cérémonie and the two disc Jeanne La Pucelle. I wonder if Greencine's network of distribution centers is as extensive as Netflix's; I could usually get a Netflix selection within two days from their Coppell, TX warehouse.

If any of y'all are on Netflix and would like to stick with them, you might click the Cancel membership link anyway. When I did, I was offered a special deal to encourage me to stay.

Thursday, July 01, 2004


Alcohol may protect women's bones. Why not men's? Unfair...


Orthodox Anglican groups unite. It would be great if their combined strength enabled them to plant a congregation somewhere around here.

Catholic layman brings heresy suit against Kerry. I'm not optimistic that the hierarchy will actually excommunicate him, but one can always hope. I like it that one of the charges brought against Kerry is "Diabolical Scandal Leading to Heresy." Amazing to find a church nowadays that actually believes in the Devil.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004


Brimelow, Peter. The worm in the apple: how the teacher unions are destroying American education. HarperCollins, 2003. 286p bibl index afp ISBN 0-06-009661-6, $24.95

Choice: "Because Brimelow pulls no punches, he occasionally swings wildly, but overall his critique is devastating. He cites a wide range of scholarly studies, but it is his ability to weave anecdotes, interviews, and NEA leaders' public statements and actions into a coherent picture that makes this book so readable and significant. Highly recommended." National Observer: “Mr. Brimelow has brought research skill, valour, and frequent wit to this analysis of America’s schools.” First Things: “Lively and frequently polemical. A manifesto that, if taken to heart, could help move millions of children into the adventure of learning.” Booklist: “Rougher reading than Alien Nation but just as bracing.” American School Board Union: “This book overlooks many of the advances made by teachers unions that have benefited both teachers and students. But even if you object to Brimelow’s take on teachers unions, you should find worthwhile material in the back of the book.” Publishers Weekly: "Suffers from selective use of research and unnecessary teacher bashing (e.g., he opens the book with a commentary on how extraordinarily fat teachers are) to make the point. He can also be hypocritical, as when he accuses union spokespeople of hyperbole when warning against vouchers, merit pay and other conservative proposals for school reform, yet engages in much of the same, detracting from what might otherwise be a welcome addition to the national conversation on education."

Tuesday, June 29, 2004


While I'm on this doublage des Simpson kick, you'll have to put up with links of limited interest:

  • La Fierte en Jaune: Le doublage des Simpson au Québec. The most interesting statement in the article: "Matt Groening, créateur de la série, supervise en personne les essais menés pour le choix des voix québécoises et ce sont des comédiens compétents à la polyvalence vocale éprouvée qui sont retenus." [Matt Groening, creator of the series, personally supervises the try-outs conducted for choosing the Quebec voices, and skilled actors with proven vocal versatility are chosen.]
  • Scripts in French for selected episodes. These are the French French translations, not the Quebecois translations, but they're not totally useless for me because the first season zone 1 DVD has the VFF.


Some theologians argue that Original Sin corrupted, not only human nature, but the environment as well. (Cf. Romans 8:20-22: "For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.") Here is fresh evidence of such a perversion of the natural order: Caffeine-free coffee tree is discovered.


Dennett, Daniel C. Freedom evolves. Viking, 2003. 347p bibl index afp ISBN 0-670-03186-0, $25.95 .

Choice: “lively and worthy addition to the huge literature on the age-old philosophical problem of free will and determinism, this book belongs in every college and university library, and in many public libraries.” Publishers Weekly: “incendiary, brilliant, even dangerous.” Booklist: “In a complex presentation, Dennett’s essential points will be plain to the serious readership for this work.” Kirkus: “Difficult but nonetheless stimulating look into the roots of freedom and responsibility.” Library Journal: “written in engaging, largely jargon-free prose that will be accessible, and of interest, to the educated reader...Unfortunately, Dennett has somewhat missed the mark in his approach, which is primarily empirical and materialistic…This aside, Dennett has a deservedly large readership, and librarians in most academic and public libraries will want this book.” Journal of Philosophy: “vigorous and lively…This is a synoptic and compendious book, not likely to be appealing to the more meticulous analytic philosophers. Its target, I would think, is primarily a more general audience of intellectuals and scholars in other fields, although even the most fastidious philosopher may find some intriguing, suggestive, and provocative observations…Dennett’s discussion could benefit from a subtler, more articulated view of the target phenomena…Dennett is at his best when he is essentially challenging philosophers to be broader in our intellectual gaze, but evidently he feels that the need to avoid parochialism is asymmetric.” Quarterly Review of Biology: "Offers intellectual adventures, fascinating examples, and engaging writing. But Dennett seems more confident about the ability to ascribe full responsibility to individuals than I am. I object to Dennett's attempt to redefine the term free will, which has a long accepted definition." Commentary: “long, ingenious, and often entertaining…But Dennett cannot begin to come to terms with the ‘ring of Gyges’ problem…Nor does Dennett come close to providing a justification for the feeling that good people deserve to be rewarded and bad people deserve to be punished. There is, in fact, something almost comical about the mental contortions Dennett goes through in his effort to square the moral circle…Will such arguments persuade scientists? I very much doubt it. Nor will they convince anyone hoping to defend a more robust idea of moral autonomy than seems compatible with present-day natural science.”

Monday, June 28, 2004


From Lileks' page of bad comics: The Adventures of Mr. Coffee Nerves. "Foiled again by Postum!"

Ricks, Christopher. Dylan’s Visions of Sin. Ecco.

Library Journal: “His criticism is erudite and incisive, his writing witty and enjoyable, and his analysis broadened by comparisons to the poetry of canonical writers such as Eliot, Hopkins, and Larkin. Highly recommended for academic libraries and for public libraries with strong literature or music collections.” Publishers Weekly: “Sometimes Ricks strives to be too hip and precious; nevertheless, Ricks’s affectionate critical tour-de-force reminds readers why Dylan continues to encourage our ‘hearts always to be joyful’ and our ‘songs always to be sung’ as we remain ‘forever young.’” New York Times: “Perhaps thinking of potential new readers, Ricks makes the book a seductive primer in his own methods. Close reading, on close reading, turns our in Ricks’s hands to be a lively sport, full of beguiling allusions, teasing asides and free philosophical musings, and bursting with groanworthy puns. Readers may indeed be disconcerted by Ricks’s sheer goofiness. Despite a tone of vast assurance, the book is agreeably humble. There are moments, while reading Ricks, when you want to shout: The 16-year-old Robert Zimmerman didn’t want to be Lord Tennyson, man, he wanted to be Muddy Waters! But Ricks himself wouldn’t argue, and that’s the strength of his book. The critic has, seemingly, merely wished to test the songs he loves against his own pre-existing context, which happens to be Philip Larkin and Matthew Arnold, not Blind Willie McTell.” Kirkus: “Ambitious and intellectually freewheeling. The approach is sometimes strained, and some of the songs don’t sustain the author’s thematic scrutiny. Ricks nonetheless proves to be a lively and learned guide through the sometimes-daunting thickets of Dylan’s compositions. He is especially astute at picking apart the musician’s rhyme schemes and turns of rhythm, and he is an especially lively and playful guide through the mechanics of the work. But the author is less skilled at discussing the meaning and moral weight of the songwriter’s oeuvre. Ricks’s interpretations often seem too open-ended and airless. Its length, intellectual density, and plentiful citations of poets both ancient and contemporary will probably put off all but the most devoted Dylan enthusiasts, while poetry buffs will likely ask themselves if a musician, even one of Dylan’s caliber, is worthy of something as weighty as this.”

Sunday, June 27, 2004


As a Episcopalian, I'm not sure how I feel about this: Archbishop of Canterbury
to be on ‘Simpsons’?
I guess it depends on how well the particular episode is done. I'm not optimistic, however, since the show jumped the shark years ago.