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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Alex's LiveJournal:

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    Tuesday, February 15th, 2011
    10:53 pm
    Division of the Spoils, Fort Rannick Edition
    This entry is only of interest the other players in my Pathfinder gaming group. Click here if you are in my gaming group.Collapse )

    Current Mood: complacent
    Thursday, February 3rd, 2011
    11:24 pm
    Double Helix Wedding Band
    One of my friends asked to see this ring, and since I didn't have her e-mail, I thought the quickest way to share it would be to post it. Cut so I don"t photo-spam anyone"s friends list.Collapse )

    Current Mood: Nostalgic
    Monday, December 20th, 2010
    9:04 am
    Itinerary for California trip:
    Sunday, December 19 (yesterday): drove from Phoenix to Las Vegas.

    Monday, December 20: drive from Vegas to L.A. Dinner with Wade and Courtney.

    Tuesday, December 21: drive from LA up to SF Bay Area. Stay with Amber and Jeremy.

    Wednesday, December 22: Staying either at Amber and Jeremy's place or Patri and Shannon's (pending confirmation from Shannon).

    Thursday, December 23: Probably staying at Patri and Shannon's (pending confirmation).

    Friday, December 24: Staying at Auros' and Xta's.

    Saturday, December 25: Staying at Auros' and Xta's.

    Sunday, December 26: Either staying at Auros' and Xta's or driving back down to L.A. (staying in motel there again).

    Monday, December 27: Either driving back down to L.A., or from L.A. to Vegas.

    Tuesday, December 28: Either driving from L.A. to Vegas, or from Vegas to Phoenix.

    Wednesday, December 29: Back to Phoenix if I'm not already there.

    Current Mood: Itinerant
    Thursday, January 28th, 2010
    7:32 pm
    Pathfinder Story
    I wrote up the major event of our third gaming session as a little story.

    Click here if you want to read it.Collapse )

    Current Mood: creative
    2:30 am
    Session 4: A Division of the Spoils, and Where Do We Go From Here?
    This entry is strictly for the other people playing in the Pathfinder game I've been blogging about; I mean to use the comment thread for game-related discussion. If you're not one of my fellow players, this will not interest you.

    Click here if you are in my gaming group.Collapse )

    Current Mood: nerdy
    Wednesday, January 27th, 2010
    1:53 am
    Pathfinder Party
    Yes, I'm going to keep writing about this. Feel free to ignore it if not interested. Also, be warned that it contains some rather gruesome details about the feeding habits of Pathfinder goblins.

    Click for description of the characters in my gaming group, and some events of our second and third sessions.Collapse )

    Current Mood: cheerful
    Tuesday, January 26th, 2010
    2:25 pm
    I did not write this, but those who did apparently wish it to be spread around. I agree with them.

    Circulate freely:

    Water flows through a pipe. Raise the pressure and more water will flow. Pressure is the driving force; pressure is not water. Electrons flow through a wire. Raise the voltage and more electrons will flow. Voltage is the driving force; voltage is not electrons.

    An American citizen has a right to stand on a soapbox and state his or her thoughts. The person can increase the reach of those statements by using money to pay for various means of propagating them. Money is the driving force; money is not speech.

    Corporate freedom to spend money to make a loud noise will squash the ability of the average citizen, who does not or cannot spend similar quantities of money. Corporate freedom to amplify speech deprives others of the same freedom.

    If the pressure in a pipe is increased without limit, the pipe will burst and shrapnel will damage the surroundings. If the voltage across a wire is increased without limit, the wire will melt and adjacent material will catch fire.

    Big money controlling the government agenda will cause tremendous distortions in our society and economy. Consumers' ability to even discipline corporations through the market can be overcome if those corporations can prevent competition through control over the government. This is a pipe we do not want to burst!

    Current Mood: enraged
    Wednesday, January 6th, 2010
    2:11 pm
    More Pathfinder Fun
    This is a scene I wrote to give more context to the song in my first entry about the Pathfinder game, and link the first and second gaming sessions.

    Click for even more gaming goodness.Collapse )
    1:52 pm
    My Pathfinder Character
    Here's the background description I wrote for my character in the Pathfinder Game I wrote about in my last post.

    Click for more gaming goodness.Collapse )

    Current Mood: cheerful
    Monday, December 21st, 2009
    12:04 am
    Pathfinder RPG
    I played the first session of a new RPG campaign last Saturday; the next one's next Sunday. I feel like rambling about it a bit, but I'll put it behind a cut for those who aren't interested in such things (the majority of readers of my LJ, I suspect).

    Click for gaming goodness.Collapse )

    Current Mood: cheerful
    Sunday, February 15th, 2009
    3:57 pm
    This is going to be really cool....
    Someone at HBO has leaked the script for the pilot episode of "A Game of Thrones;" it looks like it's going to be a really good adaptation of Martin's books. I hope they do the opening credit sequence as described in the script: a raven bearing a message from Castle Black to King's Landing, with the landscape over which it flies converted to the map of Westeros, occasionally resolving into aerial views of points of interest such as Winterfell and the Eyrie as the bird dips lower, and ending as it lands on the Iron Throne. Showing viewers the map at the beginning of every episode should help those who haven't read the books follow what's going on in the plot, especially once the wars start, and give an idea of the scale on which the story takes place.
    Wednesday, February 4th, 2009
    12:37 am
    Open Letter to Dr. Richard Mouw
    I'm crossposting this here; it's a response to this essay in Newseek.

    I would say that, as your fellow citizens in a pluralistic society, gays and lesbians have the right to ask you, rhetorically, what right you have to impose your "sincerely held convictions" on their personal lives, and to tell you, forcefully, to mind your own business, which their decisions to contract civil marriages with one another most certainly are not.

    You state that your opposition to "normalizing" same-sex marriage is rooted in concerns about the raising of your children and grandchildren. The problem is that those concerns are implicitly rooted in the malignant lie that sexual orientation is a choice. You ask what children will be taught about sexual and family values in our schools. If they are taught that sexual orientation is inherent, that a minority of people are born homosexual, and that their desire is in no way inferior to that of the majority born heterosexual, then they will be taught the truth, and the truth will make them free: the straight ones free of bigotry, and the gay and lesbian ones free of the self-hatred that, along with rejection by peers and parents, so often leads to psychological illness and even suicide among homosexual youth.

    You ask whether you will be allowed to "counter those influences" without being accused of hate speech. The answer is that, if you teach your children that homosexuality is a choice, and a wrong one, instead of an inherent trait about which people have no choice, and a morally neutral one,* then you will indeed be guilty of hate speech, whether anyone accuses you or not.

    You ask whether there are limits to what you can be asked to tolerate when it concerns matters that violate your convictions. Of course there are: you cannot be asked to tolerate the sexual abuse of children, or rape, or theft, or murder, or any other behavior that violates not only your convictions but the rights of any individual directly affected by the behavior. You can, however, be requested and required to tolerate any interaction, any agreement, any contract between consenting adults that does not directly involve you, including both same-sex and plural marriage. The claim that if we allow same-sex marriage, we have no basis to disallow plural marriage (between freely consenting adults in any combination of sexes, mark you -- not the enslavement of several female children to one rapist disgustingly labeled their "husband" that the polygynous Mormons, Muslims, etc. practice) is true, but in the parlance of computer programmers, that's not a bug, it's a feature -- that slippery slope you fear leads to a far better, fairer, and freer world than the one we live in now.

    You asked to hear from folks who worry about your views, and I, being one of those folks, was moved to reply. I would not have used some of the intemperate language some others have ("fascist," "worst kind of fundamentalism"), but then my rights, as a heterosexual, are not directly threatened by your opposition to gay marriage -- although as a polyamorist, who may someday wish to contract a plural marriage, I am of course somewhat oppressed by your and the majority's opposition to that. For the proponents of marriage equality, Prop 8 represents a different kind of slippery slope, leading back to an era when gay people in most places had to stay closeted for fear of discrimination and even violence to which they were routinely subjected with the tacit or explicit approval of the state and society in general. People like you, as you put it, do not frighten me, but you do often irritate and occasionally infuriate me. For me, you see, reason -- which does not merely include scientific investigation but is synonymous with it -- is not one point of a Wesleyan quadrilateral, but the summit of a pyramid, subordinating both experience (a.k.a. anecdotal evidence) and tradition (including the Bible and all other supposed "holy books"). Experience and tradition are unreliable sources of knowledge, which must be tested with the tools of reason before it can be accepted as true or rejected as false. And if reason alone is insufficient for evaluating a question of ethics, it can be paired with empathy to determine the right course. Seeing the world through the twin lenses of reason and empathy, it becomes obvious that racial justice, gender equality, peacemaking, care for the environment, and equal rights for gays and lesbians, including the right to marry, are all right on their own merits, regardless of whether the Bible supports them or not.

    My vision of a flourishing pluralistic society can be seen in many of the more optimistic works of science fiction: the world of Tellus Tertius from Robert A. Heinlein's Time Enough for Love for example, or Beta Colony in Lois McMaster Bujold's "Miles Vorkosigan" novels, or Beowulf in David Weber's "Honor Harrington" series. The Federation posited by Star Trek comes close, but Roddenberry was overly optimistic, I think, about the potential of secular humanism to replace religion altogether, and was limited by the rules of broadcast television in the 1960's from fully exploring the possibilities for sexual liberation inherent in such a free and secular society. Moderate evangelical Christians such as yourself fit into such a society as an eccentric minority, viewed with bemused tolerance by the secular majority as long as your beliefs do not interfere with their lives or lead you to abuse your children.

    * I make this point because a trait which is inherent may incline a person to behavior which truly is morally wrong. It may be (I don't think there's strong evidence one way or the other) that pedophilia is as inherent and unchangeable as homosexuality, but that does not give pedophiles the right to have sex with children, who by their nature cannot give informed consent and are far more likely than not to be harmed by the experience.

    Current Mood: thoughtful
    Friday, January 23rd, 2009
    5:44 am
    Thank You, Senator Whitehouse!
    Yesterday, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D - RI) gave the following speech on the Senate floor; it sums up eloquently and forcefully why the abuses of power and, quite possibly, outright crimes of the Bush-Cheney-Rove administration must not be swept under the rug:
    Madam President, I rise as we celebrate a new President, a new administration, a new mode of governing, and a new future for America.

    Even in the gloom of our present predicaments, Americans' hearts are strong and confident because we see a brighter future ahead. President Obama looks to that future. Given the depth and severity of those present predicaments, we need all his energy to look forward to lead us to that brighter day, forward to what Winston Churchill in Britain's dark days called ``broad and sunlit uplands.'' But as we steer toward this broad and sunlit future, what about the past?

    As the President looks forward and charts a new course, must someone not also look back to take an accounting of where we are, what was done, and what must now be repaired? Our new President has said, ``America needs to look forward.'' I agree. Our new Attorney General-designate has said: We should not criminalize policy differences. I agree, and I hope we can all agree that summoning young sacrificial lambs to prosecute, as we did after Abu Ghraib, would be reprehensible.

    But consider the pervasive, deliberate, and systematic damage the Bush administration did to America, to her finest traditions and institutions, to her reputation, and integrity. I evaluate that damage in history's light. Although I am no historian, here is what I believe: The story of humankind on this Earth has been a long and halting march from the darkness of barbarism and the principle that to the victor go the spoils, to the light of organized civilization and freedom.

    During that long and halting march, this light of progress has burned, sometimes brightly and sometimes softly, in different places at different times around the world.

    The light shone in Athens, when that first Senate made democracy a living experiment, and again in the softer but broader glow of the Roman Empire and Senate. That light burned brightly, incandescently, in Jerusalem, when Jesus of Nazareth cast his lot with the weak and the powerless.

    The light burned in Damascus, Baghdad, Cairo, and Cordoba, when the Arab world kept science, mathematics, art, and logic alive, as Europe descended into Dark Ages of plague and violence.

    The light flashed from the fields of Runnymede when English nobles forced King John to sign the Magna Carta, and it glowed steadily from that island kingdom as England developed Parliament and the common law and was the first to stand against slavery.

    It rekindled in Europe at the time of the Reformation, with a bright light flashing in 1517 when Martin Luther nailed his edicts to the Wittenberg Cathedral doors, and faced with excommunication stated: ``Here I stand. I can do no other.''

    Over the years, across the globe, that light, and the darkness of tyranny and cruelty, have ebbed and flowed. But for the duration of our Republic, even though our Republic is admittedly imperfect, that light has shown more brightly and more steadily in this Republic than in any place on Earth as we adopted the Constitution, the greatest achievement yet in human freedom; as boys and men bled out of shattered bodies into sodden fields at Antietam and Chickamauga, Shiloh, and Gettysburg to expiate the sin of slavery; as we rebuilt shattered enemies, now friends, overseas and came home after winning world wars; and as we threw off bit by bit ancient shackles of race and gender to make this a more perfect Union for all of us.

    What has made this bright and steady glow possible is not that we are better people, I believe, but that our system of government is government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Why else does our President take his oath to defend the Constitution of the United States of America? Our unique form of self-government is a blessing, and we hold it in trust, not just for us but for our children and grandchildren down through history; not just for us but as an example out through the world.

    That is why our Statue of Liberty raises a lamp to other nations still engloomed in tyranny. That is why we stand as a beacon in this world, beckoning to all who seek a kinder, freer, brighter future.

    We hold this unique gift in trust for the future and for the world. Each generation assumes responsibility for this Republic and its Government, and each generation takes on a special obligation when they do. Our new President closed his inaugural address by setting forth the challenge by which future generations will test us: Whether ``with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.''

    There are no guarantees that we will. This is a continuing experiment we are embarked upon and a lot is at stake. Indeed, the most precious thing of man's creation on the face of this Earth is at stake. That is what I believe.

    So from that perspective, what about the past? No one can deny that in the last 8 years America's bright light has dimmed and flickered, darkening our country and darkening the world. The price of that is incalculable. There are nearly 7 billion human souls in this world. Every morning, the Sun rises anew over their villages and hamlets and barrios, and every day they can choose where to invest their hopes, their confidence, and their dreams.

    I submit that when America's light shines brightly, when honesty, freedom, justice, and compassion glow from our institutions, it attracts those hopes, those dreams, and the force of those 7 billion hopes and dreams, the confidence of those 7 billion souls and our lively experiment is, I believe, the strongest power in our national arsenal, stronger than atom bombs. We risk it at our peril.

    Of course, when our own faith is diminished at home, this vital light only dims further, again, at incalculable cost. So when an administration rigs the intelligence process and produces false evidence to send our country to war; when an administration descends to interrogation techniques of the Inquisition of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, descends to techniques that we have prosecuted as crimes in military tribunals and Federal trials; when institutions as noble as the Department of Justice and as vital as the Environmental Protection Agency are systematically and deliberately twisted from their missions by odious means of institutional sabotage; when the integrity of our markets and the fiscal security of our budget are open wide to the frenzied greed of corporations, speculators, and contractors; when the integrity of public officials, the warnings of science, the honesty of government procedures, and the careful historic balance of our separated powers of government are all seen as obstacles to be overcome and not attributes to be celebrated; when taxpayers are cheated and the forces of government ride to the rescue of the cheaters and punish the whistleblowers; when a government turns the guns of official secrecy against its own people to mislead, confuse, and propagandize them; when government ceases to even try to understand the complex topography of the difficult problems it is our very purpose and duty to solve and instead cares only for those points where it intersects with party ideology so that the purpose of government becomes no longer to solve problems but only to work them for political advantage; in short, when you have pervasive infiltration into all the halls of government--judicial, legislative and executive--of the most ignoble forms of influence; when you see systematic dismantling of historic processes and traditions of government that are the safeguards of our democracy; and when you have a bodyguard of lies, jargon, and propaganda emitted to fool and beguile the American people, well, something very serious in the history of our Republic has gone wrong, something that dims the light of progress for all humanity.

    As we look forward, as we begin the task of rebuilding this Nation, we have an abiding duty to determine how great the damage is. I say this in no spirit of vindictiveness or revenge. I say it because the thing that was sullied is so precious. I say it because the past bears upon the future. If people have been planted in government in violation of our civil service laws to serve their party and their ideology instead of serving the public, the past will bear upon the future. If procedures and institutions of government have been corrupted and are not put right, that past will assuredly bear on the future.

    In an ongoing enterprise such as government, the door cannot be so conveniently closed on the closets of the past. The past always bears on the future. Moreover, a democracy is not just a static institution. It is a living education, an ongoing education in freedom of a people.

    As Harry Truman said, addressing a joint session of Congress back in 1947:

    One of the chief virtues of democracy is that its defects are always visible, and under democratic processes can be pointed out and corrected.

    Entirely apart from tentacles of the past that may reach into the future are the lessons we as a people have to learn from this past carnival of folly, greed, lies, and sabotage, so that it can, under democratic processes, be pointed out and corrected. If we blind ourselves to this history, if we pull an invisibility cloak over it, we will deny ourselves its lessons. Those lessons came at too painful a cost to ignore. Those lessons merit discovery, disclosure, and discussion. Indeed, disclosure and discussion is the difference between a valuable lesson for the bright upward forces of our democracy and a blueprint for darker forces to return and do it all over again.

    A little bright, healthy sunshine and fresh air, so that an educated population knows what was done, and how, can show where the tunnels were bored, when the truth was subordinated, what institutions were subverted, how our democracy was compromised; so this grim history is not condemned to repeat itself; so a knowing public, in the clarity of day, can say: Never, never, never again; so we can keep that light, that light that is at once America's greatest gift and greatest strength brightly shining. To do this, I submit, we must look back.

    I yield the floor.
    This is why I think supporting candidates against moderate Republicans like Linc Chafee, the man Whitehouse replaced, is really important: moderate Republicans generally come from liberal states, and can thus be replaced by strong progressive Democrats, whereas in most cases the best we can hope for in challenging conservative Republicans is to replace them with moderate or even conservative Democrats.

    By the way, if anyone knows of a video link where this speech can be viewed, I'd greatly appreciate it; I checked youtube, but it's not up there, at least not so far. I'm also curious about that "Madam President;" the President of the Senate, as of three days ago, is Joe Biden, and the President Pro Tempore is Robert Byrd, so someone else must have held the gavel as Acting President Pro Tem -- probably either DiFi or Mikulski, since that position is usually based on seniority.
    Thursday, December 18th, 2008
    4:21 am
    Article I saw about using "content poisoning" to fight P2P piracy
    I saw an article today from a couple of software engineers proposing a way for intellectual property defenders to single out "pirates" among P2P network users and target their "content poisoning" efforts specifically at them. Click the link for the abstract and my immediate thoughts.Read more...Collapse )

    Current Mood: cynical
    Saturday, November 1st, 2008
    6:54 pm
    I went out door-knocking for Bob Lord's campaign to retire Bush Republican douchebag John Shadegg from the House of Representatives today. My canvassing partner, a retired communications professor named Dennis, and I hit fifty-five houses and talked to twenty-four people between one and five o'clock in the afternoon. Most of the people we talked to were happy to see us, and enthusiastic about the election; many had already voted. The one that stuck in my memory was the lady undergoing chemotherapy who hadn't yet filled out her absentee ballot, and was worried about the lines at the polls on Tuesday; she seemed immensely relieved to learn that, since she has a mail-in ballot, she can have her daughter drop it off at the polls and not have to go and stand in line herself. I plan to go back tomorrow morning and do more.

    Current Mood: accomplished
    Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008
    1:20 pm
    Krab Casserole
    I made this for dinner last night; it was yummy. Unfortunately, Mary got sick to her stomach afterwards, and though we don't know if it had anything to do with the food (I ate more than she did and was just fine, and it all tasted and smelled great), she'll probably have taste aversion to it anyway. Pity.

    1 pound imitation crab meat, diced
    4 medium hard-boiled eggs, diced
    6 green onions, chopped
    1 medium fennel bulb, chopped
    2 medium yellow squash, sliced into roughly 1/8 inch slices
    1 cup breadcrumbs
    1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
    1/2 pint heavy cream
    6 oz. cooking sherry
    2 tbsp. butter or oil

    Heat butter or oil in large skillet; sauté onions, fennel, and squash in skillet until tender. Empty vegetables from skillet into large casserole dish, add crab meat, eggs, cream, and sherry, and mix well. Sprinkle breadcrumbs and parmesan on top, then cover with foil and bake in preheated oven at 350º for twenty minutes. Uncover and continue baking for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand ten minutes before serving. Serves 6-8 people.

    Current Mood: satisfied
    Sunday, July 27th, 2008
    1:39 pm
    Titan trying to eat my head
    This tends to happen after I go for a swim; Titan thinks chlorine is catnip.

    Current Mood: amused
    Tuesday, July 8th, 2008
    2:57 am
    No surprises here....

    Which is the right religion for you? (new version)
    created with
    You scored as Atheism

    You scored as atheism. You are... an atheist, though you probably already knew this. Also, you probably have several people praying daily for your soul. Instead of simply being "nonreligious," atheists strongly believe in the lack of existence of a higher being, or God.






















    Friday, June 27th, 2008
    11:55 am
    "Big Read" meme
    The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they've printed.

    1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
    2) Italicize those you intend to read.
    3) Underline the books you LOVE. (I should note that some of these I read when I was quite young, and might not love as much were I to re-read them as an adult.)
    4) Reprint this list in your own LJ so we can try and track down these people who've read 6 and force books upon them ;-)

    1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
    2 The Lord of the Rings - J. R. R. Tolkien
    3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
    4 Harry Potter series - J. K. Rowling
    5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee One of the few classics I read for school that I actually enjoyed, although I wouldn't say I loved it.
    6 The Bible
    7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
    8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
    9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
    10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens -- Gods, how I hated that book! Mark Twain's 10th rule of literary art (from his brilliant, scathing essay on Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses) requires "that the author shall make the reader feel a deep interest in the personages of his tale and in their fate; and that he shall make the reader love the good people in the tale and hate the bad ones." But in "Great Expectations," as Twain asserts of Cooper's "The Deerslayer," "the reader ... dislikes the good people in it, is indifferent to the others, and wishes they would all get drowned together." At least, that was the effect it had on this reader.
    11 Little Women - Louisa M. Alcott
    12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
    13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller -- I should probably read this one again; I didn't care for it much at the time I read it, but it might be better now I'm a bit older.
    14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
    15 Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier
    16 The Hobbit - J. R. R Tolkien -- the first full-length novel my father ever read to me. The green collector's edition, with all of Tolkien's own illustrations, is practically the Platonic Form of "book."
    17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
    18 Catcher in the Rye - J. D. Salinger
    19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
    20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
    21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
    22 The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald -- another one I positively loathed, for much the same reason as "Great Expectations." In fact, I doubt Twain would have been much kinder to Fitzgerald that he was to Cooper, except where the mechanics of language were concerned -- where Cooper's was irredeemably sloppy, Fitzgerald's carries a high mirror polish which is perhaps his chief virtue as a writer.
    23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
    24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
    25 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
    26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
    27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
    28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck -- I didn't hate this one, exactly -- I can see why it's considered a great book -- but it's an incredibly painful, depressing slog with no resolution at the end.
    29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll -- but I liked "Through the Looking Glass" better.
    30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
    31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
    32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
    33 Chronicles of Narnia - C. S. Lewis -- I'm less impressed with these now. Lewis was more interested in writing Christian allegory than in believable, three-dimensional characters or dramatic tension. The new movies, especially the one that's out now, actually represent a marked improvement on the books in those regards.
    34 Emma - Jane Austen
    35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
    36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - C. S. Lewis (this is part of the Chronicles of Narnia, but I suppose a fair number of people have read it without reading all the rest of the series, especially after the movie came out -- not to mention the 1967 miniseries, the 1979 animated film, and the 1988 BBC telefilms of the first four books, all of which probably introduced at least some new readers to the book)
    37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini -- I liked the movie, will probably read the book sooner or later.
    38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
    39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
    40 Winnie the Pooh - A. A. Milne
    41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
    42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown -- Anything that annoys the Catholic Church this much I'll have to read eventually, even if it is a cheesy thriller in the Tom Clancy mold.
    43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
    46 Anne of Green Gables - L. M. Montgomery My wife is Canadian, I'll probably end up reading this to our kids some day -- I did love the Megan Follows miniseries of it.
    47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
    48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
    49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
    50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
    52 Dune - Frank Herbert -- Not really my kind of science fiction, but worth reading once. I think if I were making a list like this, though, and wanted to include as little science fiction as Big Read has, "Dune" would have been cut well before "The Left Hand of Darkness" or "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress"
    53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons Considering how much I love the movie, I really should read the book one of these days.
    54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
    55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
    56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
    57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
    58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
    59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
    60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
    62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
    63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
    64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
    65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
    66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
    67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
    68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
    69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
    70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
    71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
    72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
    73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
    74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson -- hadn't heard of it until I saw this list, but I googled it and now I want to read it. I think of myself as a bit of an Anglophile, mostly from reading British fantasy (aside from Tolkien, Rowling, Lewis, and Pullman, I'm also very fond of Lloyd Alexander and Susan Cooper -- I'd probably have included "The Dark is Rising Sequence" over "His Dark Materials" in constructing a list of this sort) and watching British shows on PBS -- I've probably watched more total hours of British than American TV programming in my life -- but I've never yet been across the pond. Bryson's book sounds like a wonderful way to prepare for a trip to the British Isles.
    75 Ulysses - James Joyce
    76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
    77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
    78 Germinal - Emile Zola -- a bit like a French version of the Grapes of Wrath, although it least it has an actual ending of sorts.
    79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
    80 Possession - A. S. Byatt
    81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
    82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
    83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
    84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
    85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
    86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
    87 Charlotte's Web - E. B. White
    88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
    89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle -- I really need to read the complete collection one of these days; I've liked the few Holmes stories I've read a lot, as well as the BBC series with Jeremy Brett.
    90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
    91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
    92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
    93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
    94 Watership Down - Richard Adams --
    95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
    96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute -- has perhaps the most beautiful closing paragraph in twentieth-century literature.
    97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
    98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare (Which is also part of No. 14 – the Complete Works of Shakespeare, but even more than with C. S. Lewis, far more people have read "Hamlet" than have read ALL of the Bard's plays and poetry.)
    99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
    100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

    I have reservations about a list that includes "The Da Vinci Code," "The Lovely Bones," "The Five People You Meet in Heaven," "Bridget Jones's Diary," and "The Wasp Factory," but nothing by Mark Helprin or Umberto Eco. Granted I haven't read any of the five books I just named that are on the list, but nothing I've heard or read about them suggests that any of them is worthier of inclusion in a list like this than "Winter's Tale," "A Soldier of the Great War," or "The Name of the Rose." Oh, and how the bloody hell do you construct a list like this and not include single book by Mark Twain!? Can you really justify having no less than six by Dickens while excluding "Huckleberry Finn?" (Actually, I like "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" and "The Complete Short Stories of Mark Twain" better, but "Finn" is the one that critics and professors of literature seem to hold most dear.)
    Saturday, June 21st, 2008
    8:28 am
    R.I.P., Pthirus pubis -- you will not be missed.
    Lice are interesting insects inasmuch as they are generally obligate parasites of a single host genus or species; the three species that parasitize humans even specialize in different parts of the body, and are optimized for clinging to hair of different thicknesses. This has created a problem for the crab louse, Pthirus pubis, which specializes in pubic hair: the increasing popularity of the Brazilian bikini wax in Europe has apparently made it an endangered species if not extinct altogether. A natural history museum in the Netherlands has so far been unable to obtain a single specimen for its collection. Somehow, though, I doubt that this particular victim of anthropogenic habitat destruction will be afforded any protection by the World Conservation Union....

    Current Mood: amused
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