Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas Booty

chee_yun_faure_sonata.jpghopper_calendar_2013.jpg


four_seasons_richter.jpgjulia_fischer_bach.jpg


Fauré, Debussy, and Saint-Saëns: Violin Sonatas by Chee-Yun, from my lovely wife.

Vivaldi: The Four Seasons, recomposed by Max Richter, from my older daughter.

Edward Hopper 2013 Calendar, from my son.

Bach: Violin Concertos, by Julia Fischer, from my younger daughter.

Also three dress shirts, a scarf, and a pair of socks — not a bad haul for a curmudgeonly old man!

Monday, December 24, 2012

“Which shall be to all people.”

adoration_of_the_shepherds_martino_thumb.jpg
And there were in the same country
Shepherds abiding in the field,
Keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them,
And the glory of the Lord shone round about them.
And they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them,
Fear not: for, behold,
I bring you good tidings of great joy,
Which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day
In the city of David
A Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you;
Ye shall find the babe
Wrapped in swaddling clothes,
Lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel
A multitude of the heavenly host
Praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace,
Good will toward men.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Oh Kitten Tree

oh_kitten_tree_spangler.pngIt wouldn't be Christmas without our favorite puzzles, Oh Kitten Tree and Frosty the Snowcat, by Randal Spangler. We've had them since the kids were little, but dig a little and you can still find them.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy Solstice

The world didn't end.

Actually, according to The Spectator, 2012 was the best year ever.
In 1990, the UN announced Millennium Development Goals, the first of which was to halve the number of people in extreme poverty by 2015. It emerged this year that the target was met in 2008. Yet the achievement did not merit an official announcement, presumably because it was not achieved by any government scheme but by the pace of global capitalism. Buying cheap plastic toys made in China really is helping to make poverty history. And global inequality? This, too, is lower now than any point in modern times. Globalisation means the world's not just getting richer, but fairer too.

The doom-mongers will tell you that we cannot sustain worldwide economic growth without ruining our environment. But while the rich world's economies grew by 6 per cent over the last seven years, fossil fuel consumption in those countries fell by 4 per cent. This remarkable (and, again, unreported) achievement has nothing to do with green taxes or wind farms. It is down to consumer demand for more efficient cars and factories.

And what about the concerns that the oil would run out? Ministers have spent years thinking of improbable new power sources. As it turns out, engineers in America have found new ways of mining fossil fuel. The amazing breakthroughs in 'fracking' technology mean that, in spite of the world's escalating population — from one billion to seven billion over the last two centuries — we live in an age of energy abundance.

Advances in medicine and technology mean that people across the world are living longer. The average life expectancy in Africa reached 55 this year. Ten years ago, it was 50. The number of people dying from Aids has been in decline for the last eight years. Deaths from malaria have fallen by a fifth in half a decade.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Gingerbread Enterprises Inc.

gingerbread_enterprises_inc_thumb.jpgParts and people for a half dozen houses cooling on the dining room table... time for photos. She's blogging this, you know. Senior project.

Ahem. One of the gingerbread girls appears to be with child.

gingerbread_woman_with_child.jpgMeanwhile on the stereo:
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:
And the government shall be upon his shoulders,
And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor,
The mighty God, everlasting Father,
The Prince of Peace.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Understatement of the Year

An adult cowering in a classroom while an evil or deranged shooter is killing children is not an effective response.
He's talking sense — not that we expect anyone to listen.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Dismal Statistic

From The Weekly Standard.
Between 1910 and 1970, the "ever-married rate" — that is, the percentage of people who marry at some point in their lives — went as high as 98.3 percent and never dipped below 92.8 percent. Beginning in 1970, the ever-married number began a gradual decline so that by 2000 it stood at 88.6 percent.

Today, the numbers are more striking: 23.8 percent of men, and 19 percent of women, between the ages of 35 and 44 have never been married. Tick back a cohort to the people between 20 and 34 — the prime-childbearing years — and the numbers are even more startling: 67 percent of men and 57 percent of women in that group have never been married.
It's a voluntary human extinction movement. And unless they're living together without benefit of clergy, an awful lot of cold beds.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Hello Roseburg!

dnb_land_ocean_ice_thumb.jpgThe December 7, 2012, APOD is a composite of cloud-free, nighttime images of the earth from five hundred miles up, with my hometown clearly visible as a single speck of light against the dark blue background of southwestern Oregon.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Winston and Molly

Mister Winston Fussybuttons was a serious cat. He got up every morning, had a sensible breakfast, groomed his tail, and always left for work by 8:00. He had no time for daydreamers, layabouts, or catnip nippers.

Molly Fussybuttons was his exact opposite....
Lumberjack has penned a new Holiday Classic.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Umpteenth Annual Christmas Tree Expedition

christmas_tree_expedition_2012_thumb.jpgIt's a tradition so even though Leslie's Explorer lunched another transmission last summer and has been sidelined while we decide whether to fix it or just put it out of its misery we borrowed Greg's Blazer and headed up toward Diamond Lake for a couple of those Noble or Grand or Shasta or Silver Tip or whatever the heck kind of fir trees it is that we all love to festoon with lights and angels and Santas and snowmen every year.

Still only five bucks with a Forest Service permit.

Sharper eyes may notice that Marielle's tree looks a little anemic from the waist down, but that's OK because she's only going to use the top three feet. Charlie's holding the living room tree, all eight foot six and ¼ inches of it absolutely gorgeous.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Ungovernable is not a bug.

Sarah A. Hoyt said it.
But, listen, the problem with these sons of... Babel is that they might be American, but they're not American enough. If they were, they'd understand "ungovernable" and this willingness for each of us to go it alone (often for common benefit, but on own recognizance, nonetheless) is not a bug. It's a feature. And that it's baked in the cake of a people who came here to escape the top-down spirit of other places. Some of the black sheep (or as one friend of mine calls it, the plaid sheep) attitude is genetic, hereditary, inborn. And enough of us have it.

Push harder and we escape harder, through crevices they don't even know are there. Forbid us from making a living, and we'll find a way to go around you. Make it impossible to defend ourselves, and I shudder to think what some of my friends and neighbors will come up with. Make the economy impossible, and we'll create another one you can't reach. Make regulations too binding and we'll either ignore them or — more likely — creatively subvert them.

They captured the flag, and they think they captured the nation. It's the type of mistake that the bureaucratic mind makes.
Via Instapundit.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Adaptation

Urban sparrows like cigarette butts.
Local sparrows and finches incorporate smoked cigarette butts in their nests to provide cosy cellulose lining for their chicks and nicotine to ward off mites, they believe.

A team led by Constantino Macias Garcia at the National Autonomous University monitored 57 nests and found that the tally of bugs declined as the number of smoked butts in each nest increased.

Sparrow nests had between none and 38 used butts, with an average of eight per nest, and finch nests between none and 48, with an average of 10.