Tuesday, June 24, 2008

This is good.

Good, good, good, good, good.
How did I not know about this until now?
The Slacktivist reads Left Behind so we don't have to. And sends LaHaye and Jenkins to writing school.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Humanities PR

Here's a pretty cool thing, wherein the humanities make a case for themselves. It was just launched by my colleagues at the Stanford Humanities Center.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Cosmic realism

Via Maud Newton, a very interesting essay by Francesca Mari on the genre called "cosmic realism." Marilynne Robinson's a practitioner, credited with coining the phrase. Antecedents include Virginia Woolf, especially in the "Time Passes" section of To the Lighthouse, also Proust, Thoreau, and Emerson. In Mari's short definition, cosmic realism "encompasses a range of description-driven novels steeped in transience and obsessed with iterations of ephemerality."

Thursday, June 12, 2008

On having a robot servant

Trev and I have always avoided vacuuming because of allergies and because of the noise, which makes any concurrent activity impossible in our small condo. Also it scares the cats; it takes hours for them to recover from the trauma. But of course it's the cats who make the need to vacuum all the more urgent. With two white cats, it takes approximately two days for a clean room to become coated in what looks like an early morning frost. Yet the more hair there is, the less we want to vacuum, and the terrible spiral continues.

So we recently bought a Roomba. I hate buying anything (except Moo Shoes and food), and as I've said, I hate the very idea that a product could "change my life." But with the Roomba, resistance is futile. It really makes a difference. Now we can actually be doing other things while vacuuming--frantically doing dishes and cleaning the bathroom, for instance, in anticipation of company, or simply talking (about the Roomba). Best of all, it does not scare the cats. They watch it warily when it first starts up and back away if it charges at them (which it does once in a while, randomly of course); but then they go about their business. No recovery time necessary.

The troubling thing about [the] Roomba (it refers to itself as "Roomba" with no definite article) is its servant status. When we're done with it we take it to the spare room, put it on its charger, and close the door. It feels very Upstairs Downstairs. Maybe if the Roomba weren't so cheerful, with its blooping noises and pleasant requests for assistance ("Please remove and clean Roomba's brushes!") it would be easier. I could do with a little class resentment, a touch of sullenness. Better yet, I'd like it to speak in the voice of George W. Bush. That way I could make it work all day long and not feel the least bit guilty. As it stands I still feel, after a half hour or so, that it really deserves a break.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Hats off to Hillary

I ended up getting fed up with Clinton's campaign and wholeheartedly rooting for Obama. (I regret not being able to vote in the Dem primary--in protest over the first gulf war I registered as a Green, and have not yet switched back. Some small part of me still does not want to be a Democrat, and this part starts to hurt whenever the Democratic congress rolls over yet again, exactly like trained dogs, to yet another Bush. But Ralph Nader? Feh.) As I've said before, I think Clinton is a prisoner of the compromises she's been forced to make. In a way it's tragic, except--hey, she nearly got nominated; she's a senator; she still has a distinguished career ahead of and behind her. In fact, now that the presidential pressure's off, she may be able to extricate herself from some of those compromises (maybe even from Bill--now that, I would dance about). She could really shine.

I don't think misogyny alone doomed her campaign, but I do agree with this, on the Hillary nutcracker. Whoever bought or sold this deserves to have it used on him.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


We went here for my birthday dinner. It was pretty amazing. I am continually struck by how much I have to learn about vegetarian cooking--how much we all have to learn. What happens when you really, really take meat out of the center of the plate? When you stop trying to recreate meat dishes using vegetables? The entire structure of food, not to mention entire meals, changes.