Monday, December 18, 2006

Special Exhibitions

The Met is having a special exhibition: The Americans in Paris 1860-1900, that will be open until January 28, 2007. In the late 19th century, American artists by the hundreds - including such luminaries as James McNeill Whistler, John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt, Thomes Eakins, and Winslow Homer - were irresistably drawn to Paris, the world's new art capital. By studying with leading masters and showing their works in Paris, these artists aimed to attract patronage from American collectors who had begun to buy contemporary French art in earnest soon after the end of the American Civil War. Paris inspired decicive changes in American painters' styles and subjects, and stimulated the creation of more sophisticated art schools and higher professional standards back in the United States.

The National Gallery now has an exhibit: Strokes of Genius: Rembradt's Prints and Drawings, as well as Master Drawings from the Woodner Collection. The latter is only open until Dec. 31, 2006.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I met a man as I was going to St. Ives...

I have just discovered a new (modern) school of painting that I really admire. I stumbled across it after touring a home for sale, whose previous owners had excellent taste in art. I wrote down a couple of artist's names and began looking them up. It's called the St. Ives School of Painting. I'm posting some samples of their work. Eric Ward, David Beer and Simon King are among the artists who I particularly like.

They offer courses year-round, such as Printing Without a Press, and Towards Abstraction:

St. Ives is considered by many to be the cradle of British abstract painting, and with so many contemporary galleries, including the Tate, close by, we have the ideal setting for this workshop. The first morning will be spent walking and gathering visual references to be used over the three days. Through practical exercises and with the help of the tutors, students will find their own path towards abstraction, a journey that will be placed in the context of the post-war St Ives modernist movement. All materials necessary to complete the course are provided.

Another reason why I need to go to England!


After doing a bit more research, it is no wonder that I love these painters! Here's a review in The Burlington Magazine about The Artists of St Ives. London, by Julian Spalding [The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 127, No. 985 (Apr., 1985), pp. 246-248]:

"The small Cornish fishing town of St Ives had proved so attractive to British artists during the last hundred years that it is difficult to think of many who did not spend some time working either in it or close by. Artists as diverse as Whistler and Alan Davie, Matthew Smith and Joe Tilson, were drawn to it, not to mention whole generations of academic painters who made a living there painting holiday scenes for city dwellers. Cheap accomodation, a warm climate and good light combined to make St Ives the ideal artists' resort and, during the war, the ideal artists' retreat. The question that these exhibitions and the recent spate of literature* raises is whether or not St Ives was more than an interesting sideshow in the history of British art, more than just a local peg on which to hang a battery of disparate talents."

* More reading:

A Sense of Place, A Sense of Light, Cornwall. Introduction by David Brown

Painting in the Warmth of the Sun: St Ives 1939-75. By Tom Cross

The St Ives Years--Essays on the Growth of an Artistic Phenomenon. By Peter Davies

Monday, December 11, 2006

More on Babies and Food

Today I picked up Super Foods for Children. I like it because it goes through each food and tells it's nutritional value and also gives sample menus for each age that are seasonal--so all the food is fresh! (It's best for the information, than the recipes).

CW suggests Super Baby Foods too. It teaches you to make your own cereal.

On Introducing Solids, etc.

CW sent me this article, which is really GREAT! I know it's long, but it's really good.

(AP) -- Ditch the rice cereal and mashed peas, and make way for enchiladas, curry and even -- gasp! -- hot peppers.

It's time to discard everything you think you know about feeding babies. It turns out most advice parents get about weaning infants onto solid foods -- even from pediatricians -- is more myth than science.

That's right, rice cereal may not be the best first food. Peanut butter doesn't have to wait until after the first birthday. Offering fruits before vegetables won't breed a sweet tooth. And strong spices? Bring 'em on.

"There's a bunch of mythology out there about this," says Dr. David Bergman, a Stanford University pediatrics professor. "There's not much evidence to support any particular way of doing things."

Word of that has been slow to reach parents and the stacks of baby books they rely on to navigate this often intimidating period of their children's lives. But that may be changing.

As research increasingly suggests a child's first experiences with food shape later eating habits, doctors say battling obesity and improving the American diet may mean debunking the myths and broadening babies' palates.

It's easier -- and harder -- than it sounds. Easier because experts say 6-month-olds can eat many of the same things their parents do. Harder because it's tough to find detailed guidance for nervous parents.

"Parents have lost touch with the notion that these charts are guides, not rules," says Rachel Brandeis, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. "Babies start with a very clean palate and it's your job to mold it."

It's easy to mistake that for a regimented process. Most parents are told to start rice cereal at 6 months, then slowly progress to simple vegetables, mild fruits and finally pasta and meat.

Ethnic foods and spices are mostly ignored by the guidelines -- cinnamon and avocados are about as exotic as it gets -- and parents are warned off potential allergens such as nuts and seafood for at least a year.

Yet experts say children over 6 months can handle most anything, with a few caveats: Be cautious if you have a family history of allergies; introduce one food at a time and watch for any problems; and make sure the food isn't a choking hazard.

Parents elsewhere in the world certainly take a more freewheeling approach, often starting babies on heartier, more flavorful fare -- from meats in African countries to fish and radishes in Japan and artichokes and tomatoes in France.

The difference is cultural, not scientific, says Dr. Jatinder Bhatia, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics' nutrition committee who says the American approach suffers from a Western bias that fails to reflect the nation's ethnic diversity.

Bhatia says he hopes his group soon will address not only that, but also ways to better educate parents about which rules must be followed and which ones are only suggestions.

Rayya Azarbeygui, a 35-year-old Lebanese immigrant living in New York, isn't waiting. After her son was born last year, she decided he should eat the same foods she does -- heavily seasoned Middle Eastern dishes like hummus and baba ghanoush.

"My pediatrician thinks I'm completely crazy," says Azarbeygui, whose son is now 13 months old. "But you know, he sees my child thriving and so says, 'You know what, children in India eat like that. Why not yours?"'

How to introduce healthy children to solid food has rarely been studied. Even the federal government has given it little attention; dietary guidelines apply only to children 2 and older.

In a review of the research, Nancy Butte, a pediatrics professor at Baylor College of Medicine, found that many strongly held assumptions -- such as the need to offer foods in a particular order or to delay allergenic foods -- have little scientific basis.

Take rice cereal, for example. Under conventional American wisdom, it's the best first food. But Butte says iron-rich meat -- often one of the last foods American parents introduce -- would be a better choice.

Grain cereals might be worst thing

Dr. David Ludwig of Children's Hospital Boston, a specialist in pediatric nutrition, says some studies suggest rice and other highly processed grain cereals actually could be among the worst foods for infants.

"These foods are in a certain sense no different from adding sugar to formula. They digest very rapidly in the body into sugar, raising blood sugar and insulin levels" and could contribute to later health problems, including obesity, he says.

The lack of variety in the American approach also could be a problem. Exposing infants to more foods may help them adapt to different foods later, which Ludwig says may be key to getting older children to eat healthier.

Food allergy fears get some of the blame for the bland approach. For decades doctors have said the best way to prevent allergies is to limit infants to bland foods, avoiding seasonings, citrus, nuts and certain seafood.

But Butte's review found no evidence that children without family histories of food allergies benefit from this. Others suspect avoiding certain foods or eating bland diets actually could make allergies more likely. Some exposure might be a good thing.

And bring on the spices. Science is catching up with the folklore that babies in the womb and those who are breast-fed taste -- and develop a taste for -- whatever Mom eats. So experts say if Mom enjoys loads of oregano, baby might, too.

That's been Maru Mondragon's experience. The 40-year-old Mexican indulged on spicy foods while pregnant with her youngest son, 21-month-old Russell, but not while carrying his 3-year-old brother, Christian.

Christian has a mild palate while his younger brother snacks on jalapenos and demands hot salsa on everything.

"If it is really spicy, he cries, but still keeps eating it," says Mondragon, who moved to Denver four years ago.

That's the sort of approach Bhatia says more parents should know about. Parents should view this as a chance to encourage children to embrace healthy eating habits and introduce them to their culture and heritage.

"So you eat a lot of curry," he says, "try junior on a mild curry."

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Great Deal!

I know I haven't posted in a while, things have been really hectic in trying to prepare for my mom's Annual Home Sale. But I just came across these amazing deals on, while I was doing my Christmas shopping... and thought I would pass them along.

Calphalon pans are on HUGE discount right now on Amazon. For example the Calphalon Commercial Hard-Anodized 12-Inch Everyday Pan with Lid is $22.99 down from $168.00!

There are other styles also on sale, as well as a 9 piece set for $184.99 (originally, $492.00).

Kids toys

Oompa is a site for European children's toys (resonably priced!).

These fun blocks are $23.49.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Best Places

This is a entertaining and informative site that lets you know the vitals on cities in the US, so you can discover what the Best Places are.

It provides information such as people, economy, housing, health, crime, climate, education, transportaion, cost of living, religion, and voting. And then you can compare cities as well.

You can also take the Find Your Best Place quiz! And Find out where you should be living. Here's my list. I think it must be a little off, but not much!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Shop It To Me!

This is kind of a fun program. You put in your sizes, and the site culls through all the sales on items of your size and chosen brands, sending you an email on whichever day you choose linking to the sale.

There is also Shop It To Me Running. This program is for both men and women.

So, I know that I have referenced several times, but I thought I would post on it. I have really gotten hooked on it! You get free shipping over $25.00. Their prices are usually better than Target, and it's very convenient to have them shipped right to the doorstep. They also have a "list" function which is quite nice. So that when you want to re-order commonly ordered items, you can do so easily, without having to re-search for them on the site.

They also have customer reviews for the products, which have thus far been quite informative and reliable.


What are some of your suggestions or tricks in dealing with teething. Gretta is starting to get her first tooth! woo hoo! It's so cute. I got her some chewing/teething rings and really like the Munchkin Fun Ice Soothing Ring. You can freeze it, and the gel inside still stays soft.

I also bought, but have not tried yet, Hyland's Teething Tablets. They are a homeopathic remedy for fitfullness and sleeplessness associated with teething. They are all natural, and dissolve on the tongue. And they got rave reviews on

I'll let you know how it works!

Introducing Solids

Any thoughts?

According to the AMA, one should not introduce solids until 6 months of age. Other have said 4-6 months, and I am sure there are many other theories. What are your opinions?

I have gotten some feeding spoons for Gretta, for when she does start eating. I received them today, and really like them. They are the Baby Bjorn feeding spoons. They are almost floppy at the ends, that's how flexible they are. I like that for Gretta's soft pink gums!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Finding a Doctor

The American Medical Association has a doctor finder with plenty of information on nearly every phycician in the United States. You can find OB/GYN, pediatric, or any other kind of doctor on this site. It's very helpful. And by the way, I have found a new doctor that I think I am going to like a lot: Dr. Laurence Murphy, of Burke, VA. He was educated at Georgetown Medical,is a member of both the AMA and the AAP, and comes highly recommended from a woman in my church. I called and spoke with the office today, and they don't have the normal infant schedule. Instead of 2, 4, and 6 month visits, they do 3.5 and 5.5 visits. I like them already.

Art Supplies

Dick Blick is a great source for art supplies. They carry just about everything that you could need, an consistently offer the best (lowest) prices available. When I was doing price comparison for linoleum block DB beat even the local art store's prices, inlcuding shipping.

Right now they are having a clearance sale and I thought I would bring to attention one item. Showcase Portfolios are very nice carry and storage cases, and are usually $47.95-67.95. They are on sale now for 75% off = $11.99-16.99.

More on Vaccines

I found this link on the American Academy of Pediatrics website, you can order hard copies of several reports and informative pamphlets on vaccination--FREE!

Also, a report on the links between vaccines and autism. Studies "...consistently provided evidence that there is no association between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism."

On Multiple vaccines at one time: A number of studies have been conducted to examine the effects of giving various combinations of vaccines simultaneously. In fact, neither the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) nor the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) would recommend the simultaneous administration of any vaccines until such studies showed the combinations to be both safe and effective. These studies have shown that the recommended vaccines are as effective in combination as they are individually, and that such combinations carry no greater risk for adverse side effects. Consequently, both the ACIP and AAP recommend simultaneous administration of all routine childhood vaccines when appropriate. Research is under way to find ways to combine more antigens in a single vaccine injection (for example, MMR and chickenpox). This will provide all the advantages of the individual vaccines, but will require fewer shots.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Hiking Upward

This is a great site for finding local hikes. They have interactive maps that show you signposts, pictures of what you will see, etc. It gives you detailed information on the hikes, by people who have really hiked them!

You can search for hikes by area , by GEO Caching, by caloric output! and other ways.

Two new nursing gadgets

BSC let me know about these two new things:

LilyPadz's Unique Design works on the age-old principle that pressure on the nipple (like a finger) temporarily stops breast milk leakage, LilyPadz keep that pressure constant, even in the absence of a bra. So instead of absorbing your milk, LilyPadz prevents you from leaking altogether! LilyPadz are so thin you no longer have to worry about them showing through your shirt or bra. You can even wear them swimming! They can be used and re-used as much as you like.

Also the Belly Hugger Nursing Cover:
Allows discreet nursing by covering back and belly while you pull up your top shirt

And according to BSC:
"That girl that runs the site is really cute…a Christian who wanted to be at home with her kids and found a job to make that work…that’s my kind of girl!"

Monday, November 06, 2006

Building a new Home?

Consider this option: (Go to "Videos" and look at the videos as well as the animations).

We might get the arm chair slide in our newly built castle out on 50E.



This is GREAT!

A better way to save? Quit calling 411 and dial 1-800-FREE411, a new directory assistance service without the annoying 411 charges that creep up on your monthly phone bill.

Instead of spending $1.50 to locate the number for late-night pizza delivery, a 24-hour grocer, or your hairdresser’s new number, you can get the same directory assistance as regular 411 at no cost. Dial away! Calls are unlimited. Plug 1-800-FREE411 (800-373-3411) into your speed dial.

It doesn’t end there.’s free directory search gives you exactly what (or whom) you’re looking for — flowers for that special someone, the best nail salon in town, a shoe cobbler to fix that broken stiletto. Unlike other engines out there (Google, Yahoo) that return a ton of unsorted listings, provides you with the exact information you want.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Putting your best foot forward?

Women Dress Best When Ready to Mate

Morning Edition, October 11, 2006 · A UCLA study says women tend to put their best fashion foot forward when they are most fertile. In the study, a panel of men and women looked at photos of college students taken during their most and least fertile phases of the month. Researchers say the judges picked the photo in the fertile phase 60 percent of the time. Other animals release powerful scents, or change color, when they are ready to mate. Apparently, women just need to go shopping.


I am really interested in your responses to this post. Gretta's 4 month check up is coming right up, and I have been doing some thinking about vaccines.

I had thought that I would just go along with the recommended vaccination schedule, but after seeing how hard it was on Gretta (no extreme reactions, just hard), I began rethinking the vaccination schedule.

I know that some people do all the vaccinations, but just at different times than those recommended or not all at once. I would love to know what you all do, and how you decided on which vaccinations to get and when.

I have found the Department of Health and Human Services' recommendation schedule and an interesting article on whether or not multiple vaccines overwhelm the infant's immune system. Here is also a link to get a personalized immunization schedule for your baby (free).

The above article seemed to be pretty convincing on why vaccines are good and okay at this point in Gretta's life.

The only question I still have is on whether or not it is good to get them all at the same time. This article was arguing that it was perfectly okay, but there was a comment in the article that gave me pause. And so I though perhaps I just didn't understand why they thought this was okay:

"Achieving similar immune responses by giving vaccines at the same time at different sites may be more easily accomplished than by combining vaccines in the same syringe. Challenges to giving many vaccines in a single injection are based partly on incompatibilities of agents used to buffer or stabalize individual vaccines."

So my question is: Why do they think that these agents that are used, that would be incompatible when put together, would not be incompatible when injected at the same time?

My doctor friend responded: "My guess is that because the vaccines are prepared differently that a solution used for one vaccine would inactivate another vaccine. This isn't a problem in the body because the vaccines injected at different sites will be locally taken up into the lymphatic system and wont have a chance to interact with the vaccines at other sites."


I thought I would include some (particularly good) brief exerpts from the article:

On the infant's immune capacity:
"...then each infant would have the theoretical capacity to respond to about 10 000 vaccines at any one time (obtained by dividing 107 B cells per mL by 103 epitopes per vaccine).

"Of course, most vaccines contain far fewer than 100 antigens (for example, the hepatitis B, diphtheria, and tetanus vaccines each contain 1 antigen), so the estimated number of vaccines to which a child could respond is conservative. But using this estimate, we would predict that if 11 vaccines were given to infants at one time, then about 0.1% of the immune system would be 'used up.'"

On the number of vaccines given today:
"Although we now give children more vaccines, the actual number of antigens they receive has declined. Whereas previously 1 vaccine, smallpox, contained about 200 proteins, now the 11 routinely recommended vaccines contain fewer than 130 proteins in total."

On whether or not vaccines weaken the immune system:
"Vaccines may cause temporary suppression of delayed-type hypersensitivity skin reactions or alter certain lymphocyte function tests in vitro. However, the short-lived immunosuppression caused by certain vaccines does not result in an increased risk of infections with other pathogens soon after vaccination. Vaccinated children are not at greater risk of subsequent infections with other pathogens than unvaccinated children. On the contrary, in Germany, a study of 496 vaccinated and unvaccinated children found that children who received immunizations against diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, Hib, and polio within the first 3 months of life had fewer infections with vaccine-related and -unrelated pathogens than the nonvaccinated group.

"Bacterial and viral infections, on the other hand, often predispose children and adults to severe, invasive infections with other pathogens. For example, patients with pneumococcal pneumonia are more likely to have had a recent influenza infection than matched controls. Similarly, varicella infection increases susceptibility to group A ß-hemolytic streptococcal infections such as necrotizing fasciitis, toxic shock syndrome, and bacteremia."

Cute Baby Shoes

literally. Cute Baby Shoes are supposedly very good for the babies too.

Pediatricians recommend that babies and toddlers not wear hard-soled baby shoes as much as possible until they are two years old. Babies feet start off nearly flat, with little arch. Our soft-soled crib shoes not only let baby's feet breathe, but they build up the arches and strengthen the ankles and allow baby to grip the floor when learning to walk. Our infant shoes offer all of the benefits of going barefoot combined with the warmth and protection of soft leather.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


From GR:

" you Virginian's, I found the following website extremely helpful as I was researching different canidates platforms.


"Unlike many in this area, I don't stay on top of canidates quite as much as I would like. Rather, I'm afraid I cram a little before elections."

GR, I don't think you are alone in this! Thanks for the tip. For those of you who are not residents of the Promised Land, you can follow the link and find your state's info too.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Mummy Tummy

I have wanted to write about this for quite some time, and am now finally sitting down to do it. As some of you may know I have/had severe diastasis from my pregnancy. It is the stretching and separating of the abdominal wall. According to my research most women who have had children actually have diastasis to some degree or another, but most don't realize it. This is why women say that they "show" much more quickly with their second and third pregnancies. Julie Tupler is an RN and physical therapist who has written extensively about the "mummy tummy" (Maternal Fitness), and seems to be one of the only medical health professionals to really take it seriously. Most doctors treat it as merely an aesthetic misfortune. However, having diastasis does affect your strength and ability to lift things, as well as increasing your lower back pain.

Tupler explains how diastasis happens and what you can do to remedy it. She claims to have a very high sucess rate, and also maintains that her routine can help women, no matter how long ago you had your baby.

I bought her work out video and her book. Both are helpful, but if you just get one, get the video. I have found the excercises to be very easy, and so far very successful.

Check and see if you have a mummy tummy! Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. As you lift your head off the floor, with your fingertips, measure the width of the separation between the muscles. If you can place more than two fingers in the muscle gap, you have a diastasis recti.

ps. You can get this from weight gain and/or improper excerce technique.

A Mouthful

A great quote from Roger "nimble minded" Kimball:

"Our avant-gardist artistic establishment preens itself on being 'transgressive,' 'challenging,' 'provacative,' etc. But it prefers to exercise its anti-bourgois animus within the coddled purlieus of bourgeois security."

Kimball is the editor of The New Criterion and is author of many books including The Rape of the Masters: How Politcal Correctness Sabotages Art, Arts Prospect: The Challenge of Tradition in an Age of Celebrity, and The Long March: How the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s Changed America. TNC is, according to the Times Literary Supplement, "is probably more consistently worth reading than any other magazine in English."

Be sure to check out Arma Virumque, the TNC weblog, and their list of "other sites".

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Office

For all you Office fans out there, I have just discovered that there are deleted scenes and webisodes available online!


A podcast can consist of audio or video and can be thought of as a downloadable radio program, or TV program. You can listen or view on your computer or upload to a mobile device such as an iPod or other MP3 player. Listen while you drive to work, do the laundry, or work out at the gym.

The San Francisco Opera is now reaching a worldwide audience thanks to podcasting. You can stay up to date with the Opera wherever you are, with informative lectures, previews, and insights available on-line.

In addition, now many museums offer free podcasts to accompany exhibits. It's a great way to "tour" the exhibits, even when you can't make it to see everything.

What are some of your favorite podcasts?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Moonspoons are beautiful handmade wooden utensils. Check out the Gallery Collection.

They are a collaborative effort by designer Betty Bergmark and wooden spoon maker Jonathon Simons of Jonathon's Spoons in Pennsylvania. These spoons are made of cherry wood and have laser-cut designs of stars and moons with flame-blackened edges that create a dramatic effect. Moonspoons are whimsical and fun, but at the same time fully-functional.

The North House

For my Grandma's 80th Birthday we are all meeting up in Grand Marais, Minnesota. I am so excited! We are all going to stay at the North House Folk School and take courses together. Among those offered are making a Finnish knife, various cooking courses, raku pottery, sailing lessons, making a long bow, and many more.

For all of you whose Scandinavian heritage is calling... this is a great place to visit (they have cabins and dorms to rent), and the North Shore is one of the most beautiful places in America. And while you are there, visit Duluth!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

MEP: Calendars and exhibits

It's that time again:

The leaves are just starting to turn. The night air is cool enough for a sweater. And the summer reading racks in your local Borders are being replaced by scores and scores of calendars.

Of course there is always a trade off involved with buying a calendar: do I buy a pretty one? Do I buy a practical one? Vain as I am, I usually end up buying a pretty one, and hoping I remember when and where I have to be.

Luckily, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is always inventing news ways to bring art into everyday life, has designed THE BEST WALL CALENDAR EVER. I reapet: BEST...EVER.

It has ample room for the comings and goings of each person in the family. And each month we're greeted by a new design of the Met's on collection. Even with only two people at my house, we'll be so much better off with this!

As long as I am at it, the MET also has some outstanding exhibits coming up:
*Set in Stone: The Face in Medieval Sculpture. September 26, 2006*February 19, 2007
*Cezanne to Picasso: Ambrose Vollard, Patron of the Avant-Garde. September 14, 2006*January 7, 2007
*Children's Book Illustrations. October 17, 2006-January 7, 2007.
*Americans in Paris, 1860-1900. October 24, 2006-January 28, 2007.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Civic Literacy

The Intercollegiate Studies Institute has published their findings in their Civic Literacy report. Below are the findings per school. You can take a sample quiz yourself!

(ps. Hooray for Grove City College!)

A Report of the National Civic Literacy Board: The Coming Crisis in Citizenship
RankCollege Learning Added or Subtracted

1Rhodes College +11.6%
2Colorado State University 10.9
3Calvin College 9.5
4Grove City College 9.4
5University of Colorado, Boulder 8.9
6Spring Arbor University 8.3
7University of New Mexico 8.2
8University of Mobile 7.5
9Florida Memorial University 6.8
10Central Connecticut State University 5.0
11George Mason University 5.0
12Youngstown State University 4.9
13North Carolina Central University 4.8
14Utah State University 4.5
15Lynchburg College 4.0
16Catholic University of America 3.2
17University of Massachusetts, Boston 3.0
18Princeton University 2.8
19Eastern Kentucky University 2.7
20Baylor University 2.6
21West Texas A&M University 2.5
22University of South Alabama 2.0
23University of Texas, Austin 2.0
24Wheaton College 1.9
25Harvard University 1.9
26University of Washington 1.8
27Appalachian State University 1.7
28University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 1.6
29Capital University 1.3
30American University 1.0
31Stanford University 0.9
32University of West Florida 0.7
33Washington & Lee University 0.2
34Dartmouth College 0.1
35University of Michigan -0.1
36Ithaca College -0.2
37University of Chicago -0.3
38Massachusetts Institute of Technology -0.4
39Williams College -0.7
40University of Florida -0.8
41Wofford College -0.9
42University of Virginia -1.1
43Georgetown University -1.2
44Yale University -1.5
45State University of West Georgia -2.0
46Duke University -2.3
47Brown University -2.7
48Cornell University -3.3
49University of California, Berkeley -5.6
50Johns Hopkins University -7.3

Source: National Center for Education Statistics's Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.

Who Is Noam Chomsky?

Someone who should have stuck to syntax.


Noam Chomsky's popularity owes little or nothing to the eminent place that he occupies in the world of ideas. That place was won many years ago in the science of linguistics, and no expert in the subject would, I think, dispute Prof. Chomsky's title to it.

He swept away at a stroke the attempts of Ferdinand de Saussure and his followers to identify meaning through the surface structure of signs, as well as the belief, once prevalent among animal ethologists, that language could be acquired by making piecemeal connections between symbols and things. He argued that language is an all-or-nothing affair, that we are equipped by evolution with the categories needed to acquire it, and that these categories govern the "deep structure" of our discourse, no matter what language we learn. Sentences emerge by the repeated operations of a "transformational grammar" that translates deep structure into surface sequences: As a result, all of us are able to understand indefinitely many sentences, just as soon as we have acquired the basic linguistic competence. Language skills are essentially creative, and the infinite reach of our understanding also betokens an infinite reach in what we can mean.

Although some of those ideas had been foreseen by the pioneers of modern logic, Prof. Chomsky develops them with an imaginative flair that is entirely his own. He has the true scientist's ability to translate abstract theory into concrete observation, and to discover intellectual problems where others see only ordinary facts. "Has," I say, but perhaps "had" would be more accurate. For Prof. Chomsky long ago cast off his academic gown and donned the mantle of the prophet. For several decades now he has been devoting his energies to denouncing his native country, usually before packed halls of fans who couldn't care a fig about the theory of syntax. And many of his public appearances are in America: the only country in the whole world that rewards those who denounce it with the honors and opportunities that make denouncing it into a rewarding way of life. It is proof of Prof. Chomsky's success that his diatribes are distributed by his American publishers around the world, so as to end up in the hands of America's critics everywhere--Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez included.

To his supporters Noam Chomsky is a brave and outspoken champion of the oppressed against a corrupt and criminal political class. But to his opponents he is a self-important ranter whose one-sided vision of politics is chosen for its ability to shine a spotlight on himself. And it is surely undeniable that his habit of excusing or passing over the faults of America's enemies, in order to pin all crime on his native country, suggests that he has invested more in his posture of accusation than he has invested in the truth.

To describe this posture as "adolescent" is perhaps unfair: After all, there are plenty of quite grown-up people who believe that American foreign policy since World War II has been founded on a mistaken conception of America's role in the world. And it is true that we all make mistakes--so that Prof. Chomsky's erstwhile support for regimes that no one could endorse in retrospect, like that of Pol Pot, is no proof of wickedness. But then the mistakes of American foreign policy are no proof of wickedness either.

This is important. For it is his ability to excite not just contempt for American foreign policy but a lively sense that it is guided by some kind of criminal conspiracy that provides the motive for Prof. Chomsky's unceasing diatribes and the explanation of his influence. The world is full of people who wish to think ill of America. And most of them would like to be Americans. The Middle East seethes with such people, and Prof. Chomsky appeals directly to their envious emotions, as well as to the resentments of leaders like President Chavez who cannot abide the sight of a freedom that they haven't the faintest idea how to produce or the least real desire to emulate.

Success breeds resentment, and resentment that has no safety valve becomes a desire to destroy. The proof of that was offered on 9/11 and by just about every utterance that has emerged from the Islamists since. But Americans don't want to believe it. They trust others to take the kind of pleasure in American success that they, in turn, take in the success of others. But this pleasure in others' success, which is the great virtue of America, is not to be witnessed in those who denounce her. They hate America not for her faults, but for her virtues, which cast a humiliating light on those who cannot adapt to the modern world or take advantage of its achievements.

Prof. Chomsky is an intelligent man. Not everything he says by way of criticizing his country is wrong. However, he is not valued for his truths but for his rage, which stokes the rage of his admirers. He feeds the self-righteousness of America's enemies, who feed the self-righteousness of Prof. Chomsky. And in the ensuing blaze everything is sacrificed, including the constructive criticism that America so much needs, and that America--unlike its enemies, Prof. Chomsky included--is prepared to listen to.

Mr. Scruton, a British writer and philosopher, is the author of "Gentle Regrets" (Continuum).

Monday, September 25, 2006


This is a textile magazine. Now for those of you who at the very mention of textiles don't get all hot and bothered, I should say that it is really about what's happening in art today. And the reason that you should be interested is they express reasonable responses to art.

"As I get more and more steeped in the quilt and patchwork world, and spend time viewing thousands of contemporary pieces, I get more entrenched than ever in my passion for traditional designs. I don't dislike many contemporary quilts, I just find myself at a loss in front of many pieces where you need to read a label full of information before you can appreciate it. Call me old-fashioned but I want a quilt to be so sensitively or passionately coloured that I am moved by the work before having it explained."
-- Kaffe Fassett

Is the tide changing in the art world? This comment prompted me to think that perhaps there is. The cynicism and sarcasm and exclusive wit that most contemporary art expresses was bound to get tiresome... perhaps this turning back to old forms will excite new artists to really create an art for our time. Is a 21st Century Renaissance beginning?

Bible Exhibit Reminder

This is just a reminder about the Freer/Sackler Bible exhibit coming soon! They also have a free two day symposium on the subject, October 20 & 21, for which you can now sign up online.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Get Junk Food Out of America's Schools

CW sent me the newsletter for the Parents Against Junk Food:

Join Parents Against Junk Food and we'll send you (if you wish to receive it) a free newsletter with recipe makeovers (see Mac & Cheese recipe below), quick weeknight recipes, and fun, kid-friendly recipes such as Wacky Cake (included below in this email). Plus, you'll get tips, shortcuts, tasting results and equipment testing recommendations from America's Test Kitchen. Just click on the website address to join.

I am not sure what I really think about this, since I don't really think that we need more instances of government regulation. However, since the school cafeterias are already a part of the public school system, perhaps it would be a better idea to have some sort of regulations. I'll miss those old sloppy joes though!

Holy Mountain Teas

CC emailed:

Here's a fun one- Display teas...we saw them on a travel show on China--they weave tea leaves together so that when you put them in hot water they open up like a flower...they're very pretty & a neat display for when you have guests. I recommend snow Lotus, Peach Blossom Green, and Budding Flower

Splendid Items for Traditional Homes

I know that I have already posted on great places to get amazing wallpapers and other type items... but I couldn't pass this one up:

Charles Rupert's Shop
is a great place for reproduction William Morris wallpapers, etc.

MEP: Trodgor: Protecting Babies since 2002

Perhaps some of the adults who read this blog won't appreciate the power of the web-cartoon website HomestarRunner. Suffice it to say that the weekly Strong Bad Email could have an entire college campus laughing within the course of a few hours. This is not to mention the brilliant teenage satire Teen Girl Squad. I know Issue #3 could be quoted in its entirety by every girl on my campus.

But HomestarRunner's shining moment came with the creation of TROGDOR, the Burninator. So imagine our jubilation to find that HomestarRunner now has baby clothes dedicated to Trogdor himself. Let the Burninating begin!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Victorian Web

The Victorian Web is one of my favorite websites. The articles included are of varrying quality, but all are interesting. Best of all though, it is a great resource for pulling everything together to create a comprehensive picture of the time period. (And for all of you in the book club, there are some interesting articles on Possession).

On why you should be interested in the Victorians!:

or much of this century the term Victorian, which literally describes things and events in the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901), conveyed connotations of "prudish," "repressed," and "old fashioned." Although such associations have some basis in fact, they do not adequately indicate the nature of this complex, paradoxical age that was a second English Renaissance. Like Elizabethan England, Victorian England saw great expansion of wealth, power, and culture. (What Victorian literary form do you think parallels Elizabethan drama in terms of both popularity and literary achievement?)

In science and technology, the Victorians invented the modern idea of invention -- the notion that one can create solutions to problems, that man can create new means of bettering himself and his environment.

In religion, the Victorians experienced a great age of doubt, the first that called into question institutional Christianity on such a large scale. In literature and the other arts, the Victorians attempted to combine Romantic emphases upon self, emotion, and imagination with Neoclassical ones upon the public role of art and a corollary responsibility of the artist.

In ideology, politics, and society, the Victorians created astonishing innovation and change: democracy, feminism, unionization of workers, socialism, Marxism, and other modern movements took form. In fact, this age of Darwin, Marx, and Freud appears to be not only the first that experienced modern problems but also the first that attempted modern solutions. Victorian, in other words, can be taken to mean parent of the modern -- and like most powerful parents, it provoked a powerful reaction against itself.

The Victorian age was not one, not single, simple, or unified, only in part because Victoria's reign lasted so long that it comprised several periods. Above all, it was an age of paradox and power. The Catholicism of the Oxford Movement, the Evangelical movement, the spread of the Broad Church, and the rise of Utilitarianism, socialism, Darwinism, and scientific Agnosticism, were all in their own ways characteristically Victorian; as were the prophetic writings of Carlyle and Ruskin, the criticism of Arnold, and the empirical prose of Darwin and Huxley; as were the fantasy of George MacDonald and the realism of George Eliot and George Bernard Shaw.

More than anything else what makes Victorians Victorian is their sense of social responsibility, a basic attitude that obviously differentiates them from their immediate predecessors, the Romantics. Tennyson might go to Spain to help the insurgents, as Byron had gone to Greece and Wordsworth to France; but Tennyson also urged the necessity of educating "the poor man before making him our master." Matthew Arnold might say at mid-century that

the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain.

but he refused to reprint his poem "Empedocles on Etna," in which the Greek philosopher throws himself into the volcano, because it set a bad example; and he criticized an Anglican bishop who pointed out mathematical inconsistencies in the Bible not on the grounds that he was wrong, but that for a bishop to point these things out to the general public was irresponsible.

Landow, George P. "Victorian and Victorianism." The Victorian Web. September 14, 2006.


"Put Your Personal Trainer in Your Pocket"

This is a new line of downloads available on iTunes. You can choose your workout program--there are 10 to choose from, including iStretch and iTread!

What we'va all been waiting for: The iCrib™ is a compact crib sound system that lets you choose the music that soothes your baby to sleep - because some kids are a little bit country, and others a little bit of rock 'n roll. (Also, there are free Mozart downloads available on the site).

Now I am just waiting for one for my RockStar stroller... :)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

If you haven't yet discovered this site--GO! It is the best online resource I have explored for finding new and good recipes. You can search by ingredient, occassion, and fork rating. You can even start your own recipe card index online, or print them out in three convenient sizes to however you store your recipes in the kitchen. The Guinness chocolate cake is amazing!

Daily Candy

My sister-in-law turned me on the Daily Candy. With Daily Candy, one receives a

Free Daily E-mail

The ultimate insider’s guide to what’s hot, new, and undiscovered.

They have editions for all the major cities in the US. You receive tips on what's going on in your area, new restaurants to check out, and deals. They even have a kids edition (for those of you with kids). It's an email I never get tired of receiving... partly because of the cute watercolors in each of them.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Address labels

Felix Doolittle carries the classiest address labels I have seen (too bad they are priced as such!).

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Great Prints!

A few years back, I bought some great post cards in MN. I loved them and have them hanging in the entrance to my attic lair. Miss Maggie P. saw them and got me some in CA! (Thank you ever so much, by the way). They inspired me to look up who this cool man is who makes these simple prints.

The origianls are expensive-ish. But I'm glad that they make post cards of them for the rest of us to enjoy. Check out his site.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Pankey Dentists

If you are looking for a good dentist, I would suggest looking for a Pankey trained dentist in your area. They have a website that lists Pankey dentists by area.

They have a patient oriented way of practising dentistry. I was going to Dr. M. Hughes in PA, and my experience was the best that I have ever had at a dentist. The Pankey theory is very comprehensive, and on your first visit they do an extensive whole mouth check up--so they really know what is going on in your mouth. Not only that, they keep their practises small, and really get to know their patients. Dr. Hughes put in a porcelin onlay that I subsequently cracked, and he redid the whole thing (with a gold onlay) for free. He said it was b/c he is proud of his work, and it's not right if it doesn't last.

Anyhow, tomorrow I am going to see my new Pankey dentist Dr. Hermann in NOVA, and I expect to have a very similar experience with him.