July 27, 2004
CTY From The Other Side

Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, Jacob T. Levy and Tyler Cowan have written about the Center for Talented Youth from the point of view of an alumnus and a parent respectively. I taught Etymology at CTY one summer 10 or 15 years ago and enjoyed it immensely. One thing I noticed: If the students were mostly nerds and geeks, it certainly didn't show. If anything, they seemed on the average less awkward, pimply, and badly-dressed than most high schoolers, and the only grossly obese people on campus that year were a couple of math instructors.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 12:35 AM
A Missed Anniversary

Some of the more paranoid lefties were suggesting last week that the scandal about Sandy Berger pilfering documents at the National Archives was an attempt by the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy to distract attention from Republican scandals. It looks like it worked. As far as I know, not one of the blogs on my blogroll noticed that last Thursday was the one-year anniversary of the 101st Airborne Division's brutal murder of Uday and Qusay Hussein. Poor Uday was already partly crippled by a previous attempt on his life by his fellow Iraqis, but this physical handicap did not deter him from taking an active role in his father's regime.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 12:11 AM

VodkaPundit, the Man Without Qualities, and others report that Teresa Heinz Kerry has accused unnamed persons of showing traits that are not only "un-American" but "un-Pennsylvanian". What's that all about? What traits will accurately distinguish a loyal Pennsylvanian from a vile Jerseyite, Marylander, New Yorker, Ohioan, or West Virginian, to look no further? Does the legislature in Harrisburg have a House Un-Pennsylvanian Activities Committee (HUPAC)? Precisely which activities would fall into that category? Consumption of cold-cut (or even cheeseless) subs? Disrespectful comments about Punxatawney Phil? Eating vanilla ice cream without tiny bits of vanilla beans mixed in? Inquiring minds want to know.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 12:02 AM
July 26, 2004
Another Silly Quiz

From Res Ipsa Loquitur:

  1. WHAT COLOR ARE YOUR BEDROOM WALLS? My apartment (first floor and basement of an old rowhouse) doesn't have a bedroom, so I sleep in the living room. The plastering in most of the rooms is lumpy -- not sure how to define it exactly -- with darker golden-beige over a lighter beige: very pretty.
  2. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW? Marcus Aurelius: Meditations (in English, with occasional glances at the Greek), Claudian, De Consulatu Stilichonis (in Latin, and I'm editing it for my other website).
  3. WHAT’S ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? The Rosetta Stone -- from the British Museum.
  4. FAVORITE BOARD GAME? Diplomacy or Latin Scrabble, not that I often have a chance to play either.
  5. FAVORITE MAGAZINE? The New Criterion. Publishing an article in it is on my list of Things To Do Before I Die -- I even have the title and subject picked out, though actually writing the thing is taking time.
  6. FAVORITE SMELL? Baking bread, or barbecuing pork, or quite a few other things, all of them hot and soon-to-be-edible. Hay fever and asthma interfere with my enjoyment of more natural smells. Or maybe I'm just a glutton.
  9. HOW MANY RINGS BEFORE YOUR ANSWERING MACHINE PICKS UP? Four: I've never cared enough to go to the trouble of changing the default setting.
  10. MOST IMPORTANT MATERIAL THING IN MY LIFE? Can I list all my books as one thing? Even picking out 100 special favorites would be difficult.
  11. FAVORITE FLAVOR OF ICE CREAM? Coffee, though I never drink the liquid kind, unless it's a quadruple espresso with plenty of real cream and sugar. Similarly, I love the smell of a cigar store, though I find cigars quite nasty when they're lit.
  12. DO YOU BREAK THE SPEED LIMIT DAILY? I don't always leave the house, but when I do drive, I generally speed, though not often by more than 10 mph.
  13. DO YOU HAVE A STUFFED ANIMAL IN YOUR ROOM SOMEWHERE? Two on the mantle: a little grey platypus and a big black gorilla, both gifts from an ex-girlfriend. There were three, but the blue elephant was my least favorite, so I gave it away. (Hope she doesn't read this.)
  14. STORMS - COOL OR SCARY? Definitely cool. Even hurricanes are no big deal, since I live in a stone row house, neither on the end nor the top floor, with a garage in the basement so I don't have to worry about a tree falling on my car, and not much prospect of flooding either. Then again, a hurricane struck the day I moved in last September, and I didn't think to put the car in the garage until afterwards.
  15. FAVORITE DRINK? Calvados, or apple jack if my budget is tight -- not that there's a lot of difference, or as much difference as one would expect from the difference in price.
  16. WHEN IS YOUR BIRTHDAY? The Ides of March.
  17. FAVORITE VEGETABLES? Potatoes, but only in the form of home-made fries, with a steak and a salad to accompany them.
  18. IF YOU COULD HAVE ANY JOB, WHAT WOULD IT BE? Professor of Latin.
  19. IF YOU COULD HAVE ANY COLOR HAIR, WHAT WOULD IT BE? Not having much hair to color, the question is almost entirely hypothetical. I will never dye what little (greying) hair I have, though I often shave my head.
  21. TOP THREE FAVORITE MOVIES (IN ORDER)? I haven't seen a lot of movies until lately, but so far: Brazil, Heathers, Killer Klowns from Outer Space. Ask me again in a few weeks: I'm working on a big stack of them.
  22. DO YOU TYPE WITH YOUR FINGERS ON THE RIGHT KEYS? Yes, though sloppily. Being also obsessive-compulsive about spelling and punctuation, I never wrote much of anything before word-processors were invented.
  23. WHAT’S UNDER YOUR BED? Nothing, unless you count the sheet that keeps the futon from getting dirty.
  25. FAVORITE SPORT TO WATCH ON TV & IN PERSON? None. I don't watch sports, and don't play any except occasionally croquet.
  26. WHAT IS YOUR SINGLE BIGGEST FEAR? Drowning. It's always seemed a particularly unpleasant way to die.
  27. FAVORITE CD OF ALL TIME & RIGHT NOW? Classical All-Time: If it had ever come out on CD, my favorite would be Heinrich Schütz, St. Luke Passion and Seven Last Words, Leonhardt Consort and Monteverdi Choir, conducted by Jürgen Jürgens, Telefunken 1974. Since it hasn't, I suppose I would have to pick William Christie's recording of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas. Classical Right Now: Haydn, Les Sept dernières Paroles de Notre Rédempteur sur la Croix, orchestral version (much more thrilling than the string quartet and keyboard versions), conducted by Jordi Savall. Non-Classical All-Time (can I pick a 3-CD set?): Hank Williams, The Original Singles Collection. Non-Classical Right Now: Joe Turner, Things That I Used To Do.
  28. FAVORITE TV SHOW OF ALL TIME & RIGHT NOW? All time: Beavis & Butt-Head. Right now: I don't get cable or Fox (must be a hill in the way), so I suppose the best thing on the three channels I do get is Without a Trace or one of the various CSIs and Law and Orders. I tend to get them all mixed up, and they've been showing nothing but reruns for weeks now, so to Hell with them all.
  29. HAMBURGERS OR HOT DOGS? Hamburgers. See my answers to the TCCI quiz for further explanation.
  30. THE COOLEST PLACES YOU’VE EVER BEEN? Civilized: Oxford. State of nature: Pinnacles National Monument: it's been roughly 35 years but I still haven't forgotten.
  31. WHAT WALLPAPER AND/OR SCREENSAVER IS ON YOUR COMPUTER RIGHT NOW? A porcupine from a South Korean zoo. His eyes seem to follow me around the room.
  32. DOES MCDONALD’S SKIMP ON YOUR FRIES & DO YOU CARE? Who knows? I only eat McMuffins and such, and only when I need to eat breakfast in the car on long trips.
  33. FAVORITE CHAIN RESTAURANT(s)? Popeye's, I guess.
  34. IF YOU HAVE A BOY (OR HAVE ANOTHER BOY) WHAT WOULD YOU NAME HIM? I'll cross that highly unlikely bridge when and if I come to it.
  35. IF YOU COULD LEARN TO PLAY ONE INSTRUMENT OVERNIGHT, WHAT WOULD IT BE? Steel guitar, definitely. It would be cheating to pick Junior Brown's Guit-steel, a two-necked combination steel guitar and not-steel guitar.
Posted by Dr. Weevil at 10:40 PM
July 21, 2004
It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time

Something I'd almost forgotten from about six years ago:

I was working as a computer programming, using a propriety language similar to Visual Basic. One day the boss decided that we needed to standardize all our variable names, using three simple and (apparently) sensible rules:

  1. All variable names must begin with a single letter followed by an underline.
  2. The letter must be capital for global variables, small for local. Or maybe it was the other way around: it hardly matters.
  3. The letter must indicate the variable type: S or s for character strings, I or i for integers, L or l for long integers, F or f for floating point, B or b for binary/logic variables (True/False) -- there may have been one or two other kinds.

Does this seem reasonable to you? If so, you haven't thought it through. In many screen fonts, including the one used by our editing interface, I (capital Eye) and l (small Ell) are indistinguishable, so we ended up unable to tell the difference between variables the software was treating as different. It only took a few days to convince the boss to let us change all the variable names back to the old chaotic but legible system, but very little got done that week except the electronic equivalent of digging holes and filling them up again.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 10:42 PM
July 20, 2004
Inquiring Minds

Alex Knapp, the first commenter on this post by Stephen Green at VodkaPundit, asks an important question that has also been bothering me. If Sandy Berger smuggled classified documents "in his pants", does that mean in his pants pockets, where any man will put almost anything that fits, or stuffed in his underwear, like Fawn Hall smuggling documents for Oliver North?* The latter would be far more incriminating -- not to mention unsanitary, unless Berger's pants had specially sewn-in extra pockets on the inside, which would be even more incriminating and seems extremely unlikely.

Pockets may seem far more likely at first thought. However, it's hard to fit 8 1/2" x 11" documents in ordinary pants pockets without folding them in quarters, and even then only if they are very few pages. I also wonder whether members of the commission were required to empty their pockets for inspection on leaving the room. If so, Berger would have had to put them somewhere less obvious. Members were obviously not strip-searched, if it took a warrant and a search of Berger's house to find the purloined documents. Does anyone know whether commission members would have been searched, and if so how?

Of course, the larger question that has still not been answered is whether Berger was taking things to prevent others on the commission from reading them, or to allow others not on the commission to read them.

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*Not exactly like: as I recall, the gorgeous Fawn Hall smuggled documents in the tops of her boots and the back of her blouse, but many male observers liked to think that they (the documents, I mean) were in her underwear.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 12:32 PM
What's Going On?

Can anyone tell me why my view of the internet sometimes goes all to pieces? Here is a screen-capture of what my own website looked like to me for several hours this morning. And here is what Instapundit looked like. All the pictures are missing, and the various sections are misplaced or missized: for instance my links are below the posts instead of to the left of them. This has happened at least a dozen times over the last year or two. It looks as if CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) was turned off somehow, or HTML was not working right, if that makes sense.

My main question is whether the problem is in my hardware or software, or at my ISP. It can't be at the other sites' ISPs, because it affects 90% of them. I'm guessing that the exceptions do not use CSS or have some similar quirk. Three that look fine this morning are the sublime Rogue Classicism and Armavirumque and the ridiculous Rittenhouse Review. If no one can diagnose the problem, I guess the next step would be to do a 'View Source' on all three to see whether they use CSS, or differ from most sites in some other way.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 11:22 AM
July 15, 2004
What Day Is Today?

If you've only heard of St. Swithin's Day on The Simpsons, and always wondered when it comes around, but never cared enough to look it up, it's today. Happy St. Swithin's Day!

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 03:40 PM
Oh No, I Agree With Ted Rall!

Well, at least with the first two-thirds of this sentence (quoted on Small Victory):

I'd rather sleep under a bridge, eating trash out of a Dumpster, than murder human beings for Halliburton.

Hey, I'd rather Ted Rall slept under a bridge and ate trash out of a dumpster, too! "Like common trolls", as Homer Simpson would say.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 09:57 AM
A New Use For Blogs?

Over at Tacitus, 'Bird Dog' brings us up to date on a recent story:

Ten days ago, I wrote about the International Solidarity Movement and its attempts to train activists, send them to Israel and join Palestinian "resistance" efforts. Lee Kaplan of FrontPageMag.com went undercover to an ISM training session and wrote about it here. One of the ISM trainers was a woman named Jamie, described as a "social worker for the city of San Francisco," who handed out ISM training manuals and provided numerous helpful tips to get its fellow travelers through border checkpoints and elude Israeli security. Well, it looks like she could've used a few more tips herself, since IDF busted her in Israel.

Then again, perhaps she could have used one fewer 'tip'. I wonder whether the Israelis in charge of keeping out people like Jamie read Front Page, or Tacitus, or any of the other blogs that linked to the story. Knowing that one of the ISM leaders is a woman named Jamie and a San Francisco social worker would probably have been enough to identify this one, even without knowing her last name. Of course, the Israeli government may well have infiltrated ISM themselves, but in this case they could (and perhaps did) save themselves the trouble, the expense, and (not least) the potential embarrassment if they were caught doing so.

I should perhaps add that I see nothing whatsoever unethical in either the Israelis or Front Page or the blogs acting as they have done, if things happened as I have surmised. Israel has a perfect right to keep out Jamie and her ISM associates.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 09:42 AM
July 14, 2004
Books (and Videotapes) For Sale!

I have way too many books, and am trying to unload some of them before my next move. Since my landlord is raising my rent by more than 40%,* that will be the end of next month, whether my next job (whatever it is) is in Baltimore or not. Please check out my listings here. Further notes:

  1. All prices are 10% off through midnight Sunday, July 18th: just subtract 10% from the advertised price.
  2. Don't miss the $2.00 and $2.25 videotapes (only $1.80 and $2.02 this week). Sure, you'd rather have the DVDs, but how can you resist prices like these?
  3. The first person to inquire about a particular book has first claim on it, though I do expect a decision one way or the other within, say, 48 hours, if someone else inquires in the interval.
  4. I can take either PayPal or a personal check in U.S. dollars, and generally ship the books within 24 hours.
  5. I will be adding more books between now and Friday. Check back from time to time if you want to make sure not to miss anything.
  6. Special for Latinists: As a bonus to the first eleven orders, no matter how large or small, I will throw in an official PanAm Latin-language instruction pamphlet from 1962. It is titled 'Ad Clericos et Religiosos Viros Iuvandos per Terrarum Orbem Peregrinantes', that is, "For clergy and religious men travelling through the world". (They seem to have assumed that nuns either did not know Latin, or did not travel, since "men" here is specifically masculine.) Click here for a small picture, here for a large one (190 K). Please note that these pamphlets were apparently used as teaching tools at some point, so there is a small amount of underlining or similar marks, in pen, on one page of each, as you can see on the larger picture (near the bottom of the page with the airplane on it). Of course, you may not want this if you don't know any Latin, so you have to ask for it. I guess that makes it a bonus for the first 11 to ask for it.
  7. Finally, I have added not-very-competent pictures of a few of the more interesting titles. So far, these are all under Biblical, Modern Philosophy, French, and English. While browsing, just click on any camera icon you see:

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*That's my estimate of the difference between $750 with all utilities included and $875 with no utilities included.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 12:57 PM
An Unlikely Health Food

Is this a sign of the Apocalypse? Check out the latest health food, in the extended entry, so you can try to guess first:

This is the package for Utz brand pork rinds:

I first noticed the red dot a week or two ago, but the rest of the label is at least a few weeks older than that.

I suppose pork rinds are carbohydrate-free and therefore Atkins-friendly, but I never thought I would live to see the day when deep-fried pig fat would be considered in any way healthy. Then again, my mother is still amazed that Utz and its competitors have the nerve to charge potato chip prices for pork rinds. When she was a little girl (the '30s) the local butcher used to fry them up and give them away to the neighborhood kids whenever he slaughtered a hog.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 12:41 PM
July 11, 2004

I posted this on my other (mostly for Latinists) website, but there's very little overlap in readership, so I'll post it here, too. If you've already read it, you don't have to read it again.

Terry Teachout recently posted a sort of quiz designed to judge how compatible anyone else's cultural tastes are with his, the Teachout Cultural Compatibility Index, or TCCI. I thought it might be amusing to post my own answers, with accompanying comments.

For clarity, I have bolded both choices, but RED means I agree with Teachout, BLUE means I disagree, and BLACK (the majority) means I have insufficient information to decide one way or the other. As a shorthand method to get across how I decided some of them, I sometimes give pairs of ratings on a scale of 1-10. Thus, 10-1 means I absolutely love the one and hate the other, 4-3 means I rather like both, but the first one a little bit more, 2-1 that I dislike both, but one slightly less than the other. An X means insufficient information: thus 9-X means I really like the first item, but don't know the second, so I can't say for sure I would still prefer the first if I did. Clear enough? If not, the comments are open. My compatibility index seems to be 75%, higher than any yet recorded on Teachout's site: the 'vote' is 36-12, with no fewer than 52 abstentions and spoiled ballots.

Here are my answers, or rather preferences:

  1. Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly? X-X: insufficient information. I don't watch a lot of movies, and have no clear picture of either.
  2. The Great Gatsby or The Sun Also Rises? Ditto: never read either that I can remember, but I don't much like Hemingway, so would probably prefer Fitzgerald.
  3. Count Basie over Duke Ellington. 4-3: I haven't heard a lot of either, but more of Basie, mostly on a few Big Joe Turner albums. And I've liked what little I've heard of both, but Basie a bit more, so Basie it is.
  4. Cats over dogs. I'm not a pet person, but if I had to own one or the other, it would definitely be a cat, preferably calico.
  5. Matisse or Picasso? X-2: Don't really know Matisse, don't care for Picasso. Sue me.
  6. Yeats over Eliot. 6-4: Neither is all that high or low on my list.
  7. Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin? X-X: See #1. Keaton's bit part in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum was not bad, but that's hardly enough to tip the scales.
  8. Flannery O’Connor or John Updike? Never read either, but I strongly suspect from their reputations that I would prefer O'Connor.
  9. To Have and Have Not or Casablanca? X-8: I don't recall having seen the former, but it would be hard to beat Casablanca. Still, I can't vote without more information.
  10. Jackson Pollock or Willem de Kooning? 1-X: Drips and spatters leave me cold, and mystified. I suppose I've seen a DeKooning or two, but have no mental picture at all. They either made a negative impression or none at all.
  11. The Stones over The Who. I find rock in general leaves me cold, but there are degrees of coldness, so I'd have to call this for the Stones by 2-1. Remember: there's no zero on this scale.
  12. Philip Larkin over Sylvia Plath. 9-1. I guess I prefer reading a screwed-up depressive man to a screwed-up suicidal woman.
  13. Trollope over Dickens. Call it 8-3. I would think that most people who prefer Trollope would also prefer Tolstoy (number 15), and vice versa, but Teachout is an exception.
  14. Billie Holiday or Ella Fitzgerald? Never heard much of the latter. Call it 6-X.
  15. Tolstoy over Dostoyevsky. Maybe not by much: call it 9-7.
  16. The Moviegoer or The End of the Affair? Never read either, and had to think for a while to remember who wrote them.
  17. George Balanchine or Martha Graham? Insufficient information.
  18. Hamburgers over Hot dogs. As long as they have cheese on them, and maybe some bacon, and ketchup, mustard, and fresh onion, but no relish or lettuce or tomato, and are burned on the outside but bleeding raw inside, and are bought from a trustworthy butcher so they won't make me sick. I mean not immediately sick from food poisoning: they can't be good for my heart.
  19. Letterman over Leno. Not that I care much for either: 2-1.
  20. Wilco or Cat Power? Never heard Wilco, or heard of Cat Power, though I gather it (they? he? she?) is or has some kind of band.
  21. Verdi over Wagner. No contest here: 8-3.
  22. Grace Kelly or Marilyn Monroe? Can't recall any of their movies, though Monroe's is certainly a familiar face -- and blown-up skirt.
  23. Bill Monroe over Johnny Cash. Not by much: maybe 5-4. I have no particular preference for bluegrass over country, so this could have gone either way with different representatives on each side. For the former, I would give either the Stanley Brothers or the Louvin Brothers an 8, Del McCoury a 7, for the latter Hank Williams a 9, Loretta Lynn an 8, George Jones and Dwight Yoakam a 7, and so on.
  24. Kingsley over Martin Amis. By about 9-2 -- not that I've read much Martin, but what I little I have (a few pages browsing in the bookstore) has not tempted me to go further. Perhaps I should try again some day.
  25. Robert Mitchum or Marlon Brando? As I said, I don't see a lot of movies, though I have vague memories of On the Waterfront, and wasn't that Mitchum as the marine stranded on a Japanese-held island with a nun in Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison? Not a bad movie, but hardly sufficient to tip the scales here.
  26. Mark Morris or Twyla Tharp? Never seen either's work.
  27. Vermeer over Rembrandt. Just an impression, based on vague acquaintance.
  28. Chopin over Tchaikovsky Maybe 5-3. Other romantics would have tipped the scales much further one way or the other. I do find the slushier of the romantics (e.g. Liszt) far more tolerable on the piano than with a full orchestra. Perhaps if Tchaikovsky had written much at all for the piano I would like him better.
  29. White wine over red. If I'm drinking wine at all. I generally prefer hard liquor over wine or beer.
  30. Noël Coward or Oscar Wilde? Insufficient information: call it X-6.
  31. Grosse Pointe Blank or High Fidelity? I've never seen either.
  32. Shostakovich over Prokofiev.
  33. Mikhail Baryshnikov or Rudolf Nureyev? Insufficient information. I get the two mixed up: can't even remember which one played an Amish farmer in Witness. (Is "Amish farmer" redundant? Maybe not: I imagine a few of them are blacksmiths and barrel-makers.)
  34. Constable or Turner? No clear picture (sorry!) of either.
  35. The Searchers or Rio Bravo? I don't recall seeing either of these -- certainly not in the last 20 years.
  36. Comedy or tragedy? I've gone back and forth on this one and still can't decide. When it comes to Greek plays and Shakespeare, definitely tragedy. For opera and modern English plays (e.g. Pygmalion and Importance of Being Earnest), definitely comedy. For Roman plays, I'm not sure: Plautus and Seneca are so different I can't think how to really compare them. For movies, probably comedy. I think I'd better pass on this one.
  37. Fall over spring.
  38. Manet or Monet? Time to hit the art museums and develop an opinion?
  39. The Simpsons over The Sopranos. Haven't seen much of the latter, but what little I have seen seemed good, not great, and I love The Simpsons.
  40. Rodgers and Hart or Gershwin and Gershwin? I've certainly heard some works of each, but never stopped to check the authorship. When it comes to The Great American Songbook, I'm astonishingly ignorant.
  41. Henry James over Joseph Conrad. 10-8: Conrad would have won most other matchups.
  42. Sunset over sunrise.
  43. Johnny Mercer or Cole Porter? No idea: see number 40.
  44. Mac or PC? Never used a Mac, so I can't say. Maybe I should try one before I replace my current 6-year-old wreck.
  45. New York over Los Angeles. I've never been to Los Angeles, but I love most of what I've seen of New York (6 months residence in 2001-02, 15-20 weekend visits since). Perhaps I would like Los Angeles even better, but it seems unlikely.
  46. Partisan Review or Horizon? Huh? Is Partisan Review still in business? And what's Horizon, some kind of travel magazine?
  47. Stax or Motown? No idea. I don't tend to notice the label on pop recordings.
  48. Van Gogh or Gauguin? See number 38.
  49. Steely Dan or Elvis Costello? I've never knowingly listened to either, and couldn't name a song by either, though I have a clear picture of the latter's face, or rather his haircut and glasses. I think both postdate my total loss of interest in non-country, non-bluegrass contemporary pop music, though I may be wrong about Steely Dan's dates. I've certainly never owned or borrowed any album by either one.
  50. Reading a blog or reading a magazine? What did you think I was going to say?
  51. John Gielgud or Laurence Olivier? Insufficient information.
  52. Only the Lonely or Songs for Swingin’ Lovers? I don't even know who did these, though I gather they are album titles. Sinatra? No idea.
  53. Chinatown or Bonnie and Clyde? I may have seen the latter long ago.
  54. Ghost World or Election? Haven't seen 'em.
  55. Minimalism or conceptual art? Hmmm. How to settle the precedence between a louse and a flea? I'm going to pass on this one even if that violates the spirit of the TCCI.
  56. Daffy Duck or Bugs Bunny? I've never watched non-contemporary cartoons, and have no idea which I would prefer if I did. Perhaps I should. It's been far too long since I've watched either of these to have an opinion. Ask me to judge Beavis & Butt-Head, The Simpsons, Duckman, Futurama, King of the Hill, and South Park, and I'll have an answer. In fact, that is my answer, in decreasing order of preference. (I almost began "Except for the occasional Three Stooges episode, I've never watched non-contemporary cartoons" -- until I remembered that they're not actually cartoons, they just seem like them somehow.)
  57. Modernism over postmodernism. I much prefer Classicism, actually, but if I have to choose . . . .
  58. Batman or Spider-Man? In comics, or in movies? Either way, I have no idea. In fact, I don't know and don't care.
  59. Lucinda Williams over Emmylou Harris. 7-4. Perhaps I should buy some of the latter's albums: there's a good chance she would move up, since I've liked what little I've heard. Then again, the one I like best is just a remake of the Louvin Brothers version ("If I could only win your love").
  60. Johnson over Boswell. Perhaps I should recalculate, but I figure the best parts of Boswell are direct quotations from Johnson, and there's plenty more Johnson not in Boswell, so how could he lose?
  61. Jane Austen over Virginia Woolf. 10-3. I was going to say 10-1 to get across the degree of difference, but I suppose there are plenty of worse authors than Woolf.
  62. The Honeymooners or The Dick Van Dyke Show? Before my time, I think, or might as well have been. (I'm 51.)
  63. An Eames chair or a Noguchi table? No clear picture of what either looks like, much less feels like to sit on, or at, though I suspect I've seen one or both on Frasier.
  64. Out of the Past or Double Indemnity? No clear memory of seeing either.
  65. Don Giovanni over The Marriage of Figaro. Not that I've seen the latter, or listened to it, enough to judge fairly. Can I get back to this one when I do?
  66. Blue over green.
  67. A Midsummer Night’s Dream or As You Like It? Have never seen the latter, or read it since college, and remember nothing of that.
  68. Opera over ballet. 10-2, though I've seen very few ballets.
  69. Film over live theater. And not only because I can watch films at home. But what about films of theatrical productions? If he hadn't said "live", it might have been more difficult to decide.
  70. Acoustic over electric. No contest.
  71. North by Northwest or Vertigo? I have only vague memories of seeing the first, none of the second, so there's no way to decide.
  72. Sargent over Whistler. Nothing against Whistler, but I really like Sargent.
  73. V. S. Naipaul over Milan Kundera. I don't recall the last time I read any Kundera, but Naipaul's a favorite, so call this 9-X and mildly provisional.
  74. The Music Man or Oklahoma? Don't know, don't care, never liked musicals.
  75. Sushi, yes, oh yes!
  76. The New Yorker under Ross or Shawn? Insufficient information, and I've never really cared for or about the magazine, or read it much all. Do you have to grow up with literary ambitions and dreams of being published in it to be a New Yorker fanatic? I am vaguely aware that Ross came before Shawn, and that the latter was the father of the guy who played the Grand Negus (Nagus?) of the Ferengi on Star Trek: Deep Space 9, but that's about it.
  77. Tennessee Williams or Edward Albee? Modern drama (I mean the last 50 years or so) is a closed book to me, with a very few exceptions from my time in New York. I did like Zimmerman's stage version of (parts of) Ovid's Metamorphoses. and Stoppard's Invention of Love, on A. E. Housman. I suspect I may have been the only person in the theater for the latter who had read just about all of Housman's prose and very little of his verse.
  78. The Portrait of a Lady over The Wings of the Dove. Actually, I've never read either, but can be quite sure the score would be something like 10-2, at worst 9-4. I've read and loved several other earlyish James novels: The Europeans, Washington Square, The Bostonians, even The Reverberator. I found What Maisie Knew and The Spoils of Poynton hard going, but worth it: I sometimes had to read a sentence three or four times to construe it, but was never tempted to give up. Given that James' style is reliably reported to get even more difficult by the time of The Wings of the Dove, I have no doubt that I would far prefer The Portrait of a Lady. I really need to find time for it soon, also The Princess Casamassima, which I've read about a quarter of. In that case, I quit because of a job change and resulting overwork, not at all because I'd lost interest. Time to knit up the broken strand, or just start again at the beginning?
  79. Paul Taylor or Merce Cunningham? Insufficient information. I know nothing about dance.
  80. Frank Lloyd Wright or Mies van der Rohe? Insufficient information. I don't know anything about architecture, either.
  81. Diana Krall or Norah Jones? Never heard (and barely heard of) either.
  82. Watercolor or pastel? Huh? Depends on what the artists do with them.
  83. Bus or subway? Depends on the city, I think.
  84. Stravinsky over Schoenberg.
  85. Crunchy over smooth peanut butter. I rarely eat either, except in Thai food, but I always buy crunchy, even for baiting mousetraps. Why not give the furry little bastards a special treat before they die?
  86. Willa Cather over Theodore Dreiser.
  87. Schubert over Mozart. Hard to decide: 10-9.
  88. The Fifties over the Twenties. Just an impression with nothing much to back it up.
  89. Huckleberry Finn over Moby-Dick.
  90. Thomas Mann over James Joyce. 7-3: would be 7-1 if it weren't for Dubliners.
  91. Lester Young or Coleman Hawkins? Haven't heard either lately, and have no impression strong enough to decide. My jazz collection is severely limited: several Minguses (Mingi?), Cecil Taylor's first two albums (like Henry James, but much faster, he seems to have gone around the bend into unintelligibility as he got older), a couple of others.
  92. Emily Dickinson over Walt Whitman. Neither is a big favorite, but the latter leaves me completely cold -- too prosy, and oratorical, if that's not a contradiction: maybe 4-1.
  93. Abraham Lincoln or Winston Churchill? Sorry, too different to judge. I'll have to think about this one some more.
  94. Liz Phair or Aimee Mann? Mere names: I don't even know whether they sing, dance, paint, sculpt, or what.
  95. Italian over French cooking. If restricted to these two, I have a mild preference for Italian (maybe 4-3), but what I really prefer is almost any kind of Asian: Japanese, Korean, Chinese in all its varieties, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, Afghan, and more. Any of these would beat Italian and French, though it may just be that I can't afford to eat in the restaurants that make the latter worthwhile. On the other hand, it may just be a generalized preference for the exotic, since I would also rather eat Ethiopian or Mexican food over anything strictly European -- not that good Mexican food is particularly easy to find. And I almost never order a steak, tossed salad, and baked potato in a restaurant: I can make those at home.
  96. Bach on harpsichord over Bach on piano. I'm not a militant 'original instrument' fan, but here it does make a difference. If the pianist is Glenn Gould, I might vote the other way, but it usually isn't.
  97. Anchovies, yes. I was going to add "but only on pizzas and in Caesar salads", but (a) that's the only place I ever come across them, and (b) I suppose they would be good in other dishes, too. I find that one of the best ways to make a frozen pizza at home is to buy a large four-cheese pizza and add a whole can of anchovies, so I guess that means I like anchovies.
  98. Short novels or long ones? Depends on the author, I think, and how much free time I have.
  99. Bebop over swing. I guess, if bebop includes Charles Mingus (see number 91), and I think it does
  100. "The Last Judgment" over "The Last Supper". I have a weakness for the apocalyptic.
Posted by Dr. Weevil at 03:55 PM
July 09, 2004

The sixth comment on this Bill Hobbs post includes the delightful misspelling "hippocracy". That would mean "rule by horses", as in Book IV of Gulliver's Travels. Then again, perhaps it's short for 'hippopotamocracy', "rule by hippopotami" ("river horses" in Greek), and refers to what are otherwise known as "fat cats".

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 10:16 AM
July 03, 2004
Improving A Joke

Henry Hanks (Croooow Blog) refers (here and here) to Michael Moore's latest movie as "Fahrenheit 911 Lbs". That gave me the idea for an even better joke along the same lines, in fact the perfect title for Moore himself, or his next movie -- on American health care! --, or both. It's in the extended entry, if anyone wants to treat this as a riddle and try to guess it.

Avoirdupois 911

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 01:22 PM
July 01, 2004
On The Usefulness Of The Classics

From a 'Dr. Armstrong' (1846):

Read aloud resounding Homer's strain,
And wield the thunder of Demosthenes;
The chest so exercised improves its strength,
And quick vibrations through the bowels drive
The restless blood, which in inactive days
Would loiter else in unelastic tubes.

This was quoted in the late and much-missed journal Encounter in August or September 1986.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at 03:03 PM