Monosyllabic grunts, OR, how I sound when I’m coerced into using online chat in online purchasing situations



that’s fine







A Story of Courage, Community, and War
By Nathaniel Philbrick; Narrated by George Guidall

I assumed the standard story about the pilgrims being lovey-dovey with the Indians was bogus, but I didn’t realize just how bogus.

Philbrick does an excellent job of showing just how thoroughly the second generation of Plymouth citizens forgot about the debt they owed the Native Americans and proceeded to kill, maim, steal from, and enslave their neighbors.  The war that occurred some 50 years after the Plymouth settlement began wiped out a huge percentage of the population — about 8% of the English and nearly HALF of the Native Americans.

A couple shamefacts for ya:

  • Many Indians, seen as too dangerous to keep around, were enslaved and sold to plantation owners in the Carribbean.
  • In their first winter, the pilgrims stole corn from the storehouses of a native village and dug up graves to plunder from the dead.
  • A large community of converts to Christianity, called the “Praying Indians” were hustled off to an internment camp for a significant portion of King Phillip’s War, as the English were suspicious they would turn traitor.

Despite those interesting nuggets, I learned very little about buckled hats.

Picture of money strikes again!

Thanks to Clancy, I’m now aware that my photo of money has appeared on another blog, explaining how kids can make money and be eco friendly.  ( and Tales from the Other Side used it before as well.)

Go Creative Commons!

In case you didn’t know how awesome open source software is…

Here’s how long it took to configure the my ubuntu linux installation to have write access on my Windows NTFS partition:

0:00 Google “ubuntu ntfs read write”
0:05 skim choices
0:15 Click third choice “NTFS-3G – Read & Write NTFS in Linux …”
0:20 Skim page, see name of app is “ntfs-3g”
0:45 Open Applications -> Add/Remove
1:00 search for “ntfs-3g”
1:30 select the app and install it
2:30 start app
2:45 click ONE checkbox
3:00 done.


Avery recommended reading list

The other day, Jenny brought Avery downstairs (where my office is) to say hello. Avery went straight for the bookshelves and, one at a time, pulled five books from the shelf and brought them over to me. Here, for your edification, is the Avery-recommended reading list:

labyrinth.gifLost in the Labyrinth

by Patrice Kindl

For some reason, I have an uncorrected proof of this book, so the cover is different.

angels.jpgThe Rebel Angels

by Robertson Davies

What a creepy cover!

warriors.jpgOnce Were Warriors

By Alan Duff

Now a powerful New Zealand Film.

brother.jpgFallout (Originally called Brother in the Land)
By Robert Swindells

A nuclear-apocalypse story, for ages 12 and up.

ninthlifelouisdrax.jpgThe Ninth Life of Louis Drax

By Liz Jensen

Creepy and exciting cover on that one.

The Book of Lost Things

Book of Lost ThingsBy John Connolly

Connolly’s tale of a land of fairy tales was a bit disturbing and pretty entertaining, though I didn’t find it as fascinating as I thought I would.  The Crooked Man was certainly creepy, but the enjoyment I got out of the book was pretty minimal.

Most interesting about the book was its take on the way fairy tales would have happened.  Here are a few bullets of its hilarities:

  • Snow White is a grouchy bitch, and the dwarves hate her.  They tried to poison her and blame it on the “local evil stepmother,” but their plan backfired when a prince kissed her, woke her, found out what a jerk she was, and left her to hound the dwarves.
  • After Hansel and Gretel outwitted the candy-house witch, Gretel built her own house and lived on her own in the woods.  Hansel, being lazy, ended up being captured and eaten by a different witch.
  • Red Riding Hood had a thing for wolves, and she mothered a whole race of half-wolves who ravaged the land.

Public domaining a book

When I was in Duluth, I bought a cool old book from the 1890s called Santa Claus Annual. There’s no date in it, but the bookseller told me it was from the 1890s. I will work to find out when exactly it was published, but in the meantime, I’m planning to slowly scan or photograph all the pages and put them online for everyone. What fun! Here’s the cover:

Santa Claus Annual cover

Delightfully uncomfortable

It’s our job to give people a delightfully uncomfortable level of intellectual challenge.

Dean Deborah Holdstein, at our LAS faculty retreat yesterday.

Shadow Divers

The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II 
By Robert Kurson, narrated by Michael Prichard

I enjoyed this book immensely.  It has everything: adventure, danger, science, history, emotion, and romance.  (Only a little romance, though.)  You can always tell you’re reading a really well-written book when your mind starts to dabble in imitation: I could be a wreck diver, my brain tells me.   Then I read about how one of them dies, and I know I couldn’t be a deep wreck diver.  Yikes.

The book tells how a group of divers discovered a sunken U-boat off the New Jersey coast.  They spend years diving the wreck and searching for artifacts and clues as to its identity.  In the process, they rewrite a few bits of history as well.

I’m gonna objectivise you

A good teacher is someone who facutualizes students up.


So claimed a student at Columbia’s new faculty orientation. Looks like I’ve got my goal for the year.

On voices

It’s occurred to me before that the voice of the reader influences the experience of the audio book, but this is the first time I’ve had a repeat-reader shape the experience of a different book. Unlike when I actively pursue repeat readers, as in the audiobooks of the Amelia Peabody series, the experience of listening to Shadow Divers has a strange tenor to it since the reader, Michael Prichard, is the same man who read Chasing the Devil. Devil was a first-person memoir written by the Sheriff who pursued and captured the Green River killer; having that voice read Shadow Divers lends it a strong air of inevitable authority. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.

Here’s how the voices have broken down on the audiobooks I’ve read thus far:

  • Alys Attewater – Ragged Dick
  • David Birney – Ponzi’s Scheme
  • Scott Brick – Foundation; In Cold Blood
  • Richard M. Davidson – The Perfect Storm
  • Paul Giamatti – Through a Scanner Darkly
  • John Gonzales – The Picture of Dorian Gray
  • Holter Graham – City of Falling Angels
  • George Guidall – Bearing an Hourglass
  • Richmond Hoxie – Emporers and Idiots
  • Garrison Keillor – The Adventures of Guy Noir*
  • David McCullough – 1776*
  • Bob Newhart – I Shouldn’t Even Be Doing This*
  • John Nicholson – King Solomon’s Mines
  • Simon Prebble – The Bounty
  • Michael Prichard – Chasing the Devil; Shadow Divers
  • David Rakoff – Don’t Get Too Comfortable*
  • Richard Thomas – Team of Rivals
  • Simon Winchester – A Crack in the Edge of the World*

* Books narrated by their authors; boldface entries are books whose narrators I’ve encountered more than once; underlined entries are public domain books from Librivox.

As an interesting aside, in researching this book, I learned that abridged audio books have different readers. The abridged Shadow Divers, for instance, is read by a man named Campbell Scott. I wonder if it’s cheaper to edit the text and have a new recording made than to fiddle with editing words out of the unabridged audio.