At Home He's a Tourist

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

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Another activity with the Calvinists on Friday night: a talent show featuring the kiddies playing holiday tunes on various instruments, then a traditional Christmas dinner. Found out that the lawyer in our congregation was involved with a very famous case recently, and was pestered for months by reporters from CNN, BBC, etc. Another person at the table was a former court reporter, so he and the lawyer swapped amusing anecdotes about local attorneys and judges. I didn't have much to add to the conversation, but I did contribute the bull's blood.

Friday, December 10, 2004


Chronicle of Higher Education: Advice for out-of-work Ph.D.'s considering librarianship. The tips seem flatly commonsensical to me, but the guy ended up at Yale so he must be doing something right.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

A number of new classes were recently approved by the administration, so I got a hold of the tentative syllabi and am looking for books on the featured topics. I devoted most of the day to a Social Gerontology course. The accoutrements of my book hunting:, WorldCat, book reviews on Academic Search Premiere. Interrupted at noon by a meeting of the Library Committee convened for the purpose of approving this year's budget (although the art prof took issue with my factoid (supplied by a book vendor) claiming that the average art book costs $38 (which does seem low, although the population from which the average is derived probably includes paperbacks (but it's a non-issue anyway since there are always surplus funds at the end of the year which could pay for requests she might submit (although I wonder if she'll appreciate my spending hundreds of "her" dollars filling in what I perceive as gaps in the art collection?)))).

Lots of interesting-sounding movies have been released lately (Zhang Ziyi kung-fu flick, Tautou/Jeunet collaboration, Kinsey biopic, and a road movie/buddy film about wine connoisseurs), none of which are playing within 300 miles of here.


Famous atheist now believes in God, based on the complexity of biological organisms. [Courtesy Crowhill.] This will probably be blown out of proportion by people on both sides of the issue, hailed as evidence for the obviousness of God's existence by theists, lamented as a sign of senility (Flew is 81) by atheists.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Book Reviews

Lewis, Bernard. From Babel to Dragomans: Interpreting the Middle East. Oxford, $28.

Library Journal: “A very useful collection for both academic and large public libraries.” Publishers Weekly: “As this collection of writings and speeches from the last 40 years demonstrates, Lewis is probably the world’s most erudite scholar of the Middle East. As a result of its scholarly bent, this book may attract a narrower audience than his other recent works, but they reflect the thinking of a profound mind.” National Review: “Lewis has long been considered the West’s leading interpreter of Mideast culture and history, and this collection only solidifies his reputation. His writing is erudite but not dry; he venerates the facts of history while remaining fully alive to their echoes and implications in the present. There is deep wisdom here for would-be appeasers.” Booklist: “Lewis displays the full range of his eloquence, knowledge, and insight regarding this pivotal and volatile region. Lewis has never shrunk from controversy, and many of his views presented here are widely disputed by other scholars both within and outside the Middle East: but Lewis remains essential reading.” Foreign Affairs: “Lewis’ arguments are forceful and subtle.”

Monday, December 06, 2004

"On Saturday, December 11, The Salads will be part of an historic attempt to construct the World's Largest Poutine." Is that really a category in Guinness?

Reuters: Alcohol reduces incidence of "metabolic syndrome".

NYT: Glamour Lives, in Chinese Films

Sunday, December 05, 2004

An uneventful week. (Aren't they all?) When things are slow at work, I like to check our holdings in a particular subject and fill in any major gaps. You might remember me doing that a while back with beatnik lit--I was shocked, shocked I say, to discover we didn't have any Keroac, Ginsberg, or Burroughs. This week I decided to do the same for our art collection. The lacunae aren't as serious as with the beats, but I found that we don't have any books devoted to Modigliani or Daumier, and in some other cases (e.g. Renoir, Bruegel) what we have is old and/or inadequate (e.g. a Time/Life "Great Masters" series from the sixties, with drab, faded reproductions). I checked Amazon for in-print books on these figures and then checked our periodicals databases for reviews of the titles. I eventually spent about $300. The nice thing about this job is that I can actually spend time reading about the books I might purchase; my impression is that many academic libraries just use approval plans. So it might not be such a tragedy if I end up stuck here.

There was a university Christmas banquet on Friday evening. A nice time, except that a woman hit on me whom I would rather not be hit on by. (Grammar?) Too bad young, pretty women don't hit on me (although I guess they have the luxury of not needing to hit on anybody).