At Home He's a Tourist

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

Friday, September 24, 2004

Book Reviews

One for Felix's Christmas list.

Barnett, Randy E. Restoring the Lost Constitution: The Presumption of Liberty. Princeton.

Choice: “A major work of constitutional theory. The argument is clear, distinctive, wide-ranging in its use of historical and contemporary materials, and likely to provoke substantial scholarly reaction. Recommended.” First Things: “The arguments advanced are careful and clear, and the author’s search for original meanings of particular constitutional clauses is occasionally brilliant. And yet the jurisprudential reach of the book exceeds its analytical grasp, because Barnett opens with contradictory accounts of his two basic premises, constitutional legitimacy and an originalist method of interpretation.” Harvard Law Review: “This highly readable work is sure to be both illuminating and provocative for constitutional scholars and casual readers alike.” National Review: “Thoughtful, earnest, generally careful, and courteous. The book is weakest where it is most conventional.” Perspectives on Politics: “This is a compelling work of original scholarship, combining great analytical acuity with exhaustive historical analysis. It represents one of the most compelling libertarian readings of the Constitution to date and is a welcome addition to a never-ending debate.”

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

In the Library...

Student requested an "Iraqi Bible."

--What, the Bible translated into Arabic?
--No...Uhhh, I'm not sure how to explain it...
--Zoroastrian scriptures?
--Oh, you mean the Koran?
--Yeah! Maybe...

I gave her the call number of our reference copy. Later I asked if the book was what she was looking for. Yes, she said, but if so she must have had only a ready reference question, because she left a couple of minutes later.

The Boss gave Old Curmudgeon a warning; he'll be banned if he continues to curse obscenities at the computer. He has absolutely no patience with Yahoo! Mail.

We've also permanently banned someone for looking at pornographic hair fetish videos online. In reviewing his network password request form our IT Man noticed that his home address is the same as Old Curmudgeon's. Hmm...

Link Dump!

Taiwanese Ministry of Defense urges citizens to give up one milk tea a week to help pay for advanced weapons. A case of misplaced priorities. Update: The government propaganda backfires.

Review of new PKD bio. I'm not sure I understand the concept of "dreamily clinical" prose, but I did relish and agree with the first line.

Basketball film to be shot in Clovis, NM (about an hour and a half from here).

Tuesday, September 21, 2004


Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow--Brilliant visuals, not so brilliant writing. Many plot devices (which I won't give away here) culled from Empire Strikes Back. Love the Art Deco stylings, though!

Link Dump!

Beer has same benefits as wine, but wine is healthier than gin.

La bière belge s'adoucit, accusent les amateurs.

Drinking beer seems to reduce incidence of bladder cancer.

Men with sweet tooth more prone to alcoholism.

Green tea halves ovarian cancer fatalities.

Russian General Kalashnikov, the inventor of the famous AK-47 rifle, has launched a namesake vodka.

France aims to improve café service to stem the loss of patrons. "'Customers are right to complain of a poor or non-existent welcome... and a lack of basic courtesy and reactivity,' an industry spokesman said."

A film version of the Gilgamesh epic to be shot in Turkey.

French film director, fed up with persistently derogatory criticism, takes his case to the public by offering free tickets to his latest film at over 400 theaters. (Intervue en français.)

Looks like Paz Vega, eye candy in a number of Spanish art-house films, is joining compatriot Penelope Cruz in Tinseltown, making her American debut in a sappy James L. Brooks dramedy.

Lebanon Bans Da Vinci Code After Catholics Object.

Librarian Charged With Attempted Murder. (In Gary, IN, if that makes it more plausible.)

Nearly a century of beardless presidents. "But there is second trend, one that makes the first one all the more telling: in this near-century's worth of beardless presidential leadership, who has led the enemies of the United States? Think about it. Pancho Villa. A guy with a mustache. Kaiser Wilhelm II. A guy with pointy mustache. Hitler. Stupid little mustache. Emperor Hirohito. Mustache. Hideki Tojo. Mustache. Stalin. Big mustache. Fidel Castro. Big bushy beard. Che Guevara. Beard. Ho Chi Minh. Wispy Fu Manchu. Yasir Arafat. Scraggly beard. Ayatollah Khomeini. Big long beard. Osama bin Laden. Long beard. Saddam Hussein. Bushy mustache."

Book Reviews

Hughes, Lindsey. Peter the Great: A Biography. Yale.

Journal of Modern History: “Peter the Great is overdue for a new biography. Writing with considerable elegance and verve, Hughes has produced a highly accessible account of the life of Russia’s most important monarch in a critical time of political and cultural change. What Hughes does not do is to offer new insight into the larger causes, means, and significance of Peter’s reign and its core, his reforms.” History: Review of New Books: “Peter Romanov has long deserved a balanced and thorough examination for the general public. Hughes has now filled the vacuum. The book clearly surpasses the good recent biographies as well as the older portrait by Massie. It will become a standard adoption for university courses, and will also engage general readers. Serious students, however, should consult Hughes’s earlier study that sets Peter more broadly and firmly in his times.” Library Journal: “To shorten her 1998 tome, Hughes has eliminated intriguing background material and long transitions between salient points. The result is a series of rather choppy, fact-filled chapters and subsections. The book is interesting, but as it lacks the context provided by the full version, the reader would need to be a Russian history buff or to have an academic background in the subject to enjoy the fast-moving monolog.” Booklist: “Reliable, able.” Contemporary Review: “By constantly relating the story of this highly relevant historical figure to the consequences of his acts Prof. Hughes has given us, if not the definitive biography of Peter the Great, at least the best one available today.” Publishers Weekly: “Accessible and scholarly. This book will likely become a standard for scholars and students who want a short but comprehensive account.” Kirkus: “Impeccable scholarship, though it lacks Petrine panache.”