Betsy Devine: Funny ha-ha and/or funny peculiar

Making trouble today for a better tomorrow…

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Entries from December 2004

Imaginary champagne, virtual confetti, and real tsunami donations

December 31st, 2004 · Comments Off on Imaginary champagne, virtual confetti, and real tsunami donations

…late night, and I’m wishing it all for all of you–a New Year that’s
full of people you love, worthwhile metaphorical mountains to climb,
just plain funny stuff that makes you happy.

Meanwhile, this UNICEF tsunami donation page will help us all give the New Year an excellent start.

Tags: Life, the universe, and everything

New Year’s Eve parties turn into fundraisers…

December 31st, 2004 · Comments Off on New Year’s Eve parties turn into fundraisers…

On December 10, the beautiful country of Sweden threw a wonderful party to celebrate, once again, the annual award of Nobel Prizes. Now Sweden is engulfed by national mourning.

As many as 3,500 Swedes may have died in the December 26 tsunami. For reference, Sweden is a nation of only 9 million people–about 1/32 of the US population–while the number of Swedes dead or missing is larger than the number killed in the US on September 11, 2001.

I know that the international aid effort is being targeted to the Asian countries hit–some of the poorest nations in the world. The point of my blogpost is just to say, once again, that the tsunami’s harmful effects extended far beyond the Indian Ocean and in particular, into a country that will always have a special place in my heart.

Other tsunami links of major interest:

Tags: Pilgrimages

Cure for post-Christmas blues…

December 30th, 2004 · Comments Off on Cure for post-Christmas blues…

We just finished our post-Christmas Christmas celebration, I’m headed off for a nap but here are a few reasons post-Christmas Christmas rocks, followed by my promised cure for the blues:

  • This morning, I walked to the store to buy more eggs for our Christmas pancakes–you can’t pick up forgotten items like that on a Christmas-Day Christmas.
  • While we were opening gifts, a DHL truck pulled up and delivered a big Red Envelope box with a big white bow as an extra surprise for Frank–that won’t happen when you open gifts Christmas morning.
  • I got (and gave) some really great things this year including a visible clock, a compilation CD of funny songs, and Christopher Moore’s new book The Stupidest Angel.

Last but by no means least, I fell in the fish pond while trying to knock some ice off its waterfall. (A big heaped up snowfall makes ice look just like the stepping stones–and ice that can hold up a blizzard cannot hold up Betsy.) Boy, that really wakes you up! My feet are freezing!

I do recommend a quick dip in our tiny fish pond as something that makes all the rest of your day look great.

Tags: Life, the universe, and everything

Thailand, Sri Lanka, Indonesia…and Sweden

December 29th, 2004 · Comments Off on Thailand, Sri Lanka, Indonesia…and Sweden

On Thailand’s Phuket Island, seven-year-old Karl Nilsson survived the tsunami with a broken collarbone and some cuts and bruises–but noone knows what has become of his parents and little brothers.

Many Scandinavians escape their dark winter by taking a family Christamas break in Thailand — and many have lost their lives in the recent tsunami. Some 2,000 Swedes may be among the missing–an enormous number for one tiny country to lose.

Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson is calling it “the worst catastrophe of our time.”

An international airlift is underway, bringing in food and medicine — and bringing out survivors from areas now marked by food shortages and widespread looting.

By the way, since my December 26 post about this disaster, has created a special Red Cross pay-page to made it easier than ever to help the international aid effort.

Tags: Pilgrimages

Sucking postmodern chocolate through a mesh bag

December 28th, 2004 · Comments Off on Sucking postmodern chocolate through a mesh bag

Zephoria points to the blogging connection of an essay by Rudy Ramirez, “Authorizing Activism: Arundhati Roy and the Performance of the Public Intellectual.” [Essay as Word doc.] She (Danah Boyd) says:

Of particular interest is the lit review discussion about the collapse of the public intellectual and the rise of the pundit, whereby professional standards are at issue as well as a concern that narrow expertise does not necessarily imply moral authority. All of this is highly relevant to the blogging community.

Trying to decode what Ramirez is saying, however, felt like sucking on Hanukkah geld that I couldn’t unwrap. The essay stays inside the usual mesh bag of loud allegiance to every possible PC ideal. And, standing in for tinfoil that jars your fillings, it’s packed with postmodern* jargon–nobody ever “does” or “says” anything; instead they “perform” it.

Here are a few of the interesting ideas I think Ramirez expresses:

  • The role of “public intellectual” is under siege, because audiences just want punchy sound bites.
  • Expertise gives you no authority to make moral statements–neither does celebrity, of course, but audiences are curious about what celebrities think.
  • OTOH celebrity is more fragile than expertise–if Roy stops being photogenic and “famous” then her message loses its interest to the public.
  • Professional intellectuals may be corrupted by those who pay for their expertise.
  • Therefore Ramirez prefers to think of Roy as an amateur intellectual rather than as a celebrity pundit.

All in all, it’s an intriguing essay, with interesting applications to blogging.

* Still, although it quotes Foucault once, it is Derrida-free.

Tags: Metablogging

Excellent old-dog news with scientific flavor

December 27th, 2004 · Comments Off on Excellent old-dog news with scientific flavor

MarianneMini: West Highland terrier named Marianne Dashwood My dog Marianne turned sixteen years old in October. Here you see her ladylike indoor face.

Last year, I blogged about a two-foot snowfall
that inspired Marianne to rowdy rompings and woofings. This year, when some
inch-or-so dustings of snow failed to interest her, I wondered if she
might finally be getting old.

I can now report a scientific finding that’s much more cheerful: Marianne
needs at least 3 inches of snow to make doggy snow angels. She’s not getting old, she was just somewhat

I will be writing this up for Science and Nature, but you read it here first. 

Tags: Life, the universe, and everything

South Asian disaster and role model Dan Gillmor

December 26th, 2004 · Comments Off on South Asian disaster and role model Dan Gillmor

Early this morning (December 26), an ocean  wave (tsunami) 30 feet high swept up over South Asian coastlines. Millions of people have been left injured or homeless–many thousands of people are dead or missing.

The scope of the disaster is overwhelming local resources–the International Red Cross is sending emergency aid–the American Red Cross is asking for donations to its International Response Fund. Internet users can find a donation form here.

And, bloggers, let’s help Dan Gillmor get this message out.

Tags: Heroes and funny folks

Guest linkmeister: Frank Wilczek

December 26th, 2004 · Comments Off on Guest linkmeister: Frank Wilczek

A thoroughly modern couple, Frank and I shoot multiply cc-ed emails back and forth between our adjoining studies. (No, we haven’t forgotten how to holler, we do that too.) He sent out a great one this morning and said I could share:

Here is a link to a very interesting video:

I got to it via I recommend their “Christmas puzzles” both in themselves and as portals:

Does this video forecast the future of bloggers, “Googlezon”, and the New York Times? Co-author Robin Good posted a transcript and more commentary. Oh, and the Christmas chess puzzles are fun too, not to mention those Flash-imated reindeer.

Tags: Life, the universe, and everything

Non-Christmas non-dinner and other Dec. 25 gossip

December 25th, 2004 · Comments Off on Non-Christmas non-dinner and other Dec. 25 gossip

Our non-Christmas non-dinner today was open-faced California grilled veggie sandwiches. Mmmmm, delicious.

We’re saving our family Christmas hullabaloo for December 30, when both daughters will be around. Stockings will hang by the chimney with care on the night of December 29, while New-Years-Eve-Eve will feature more gifts and big festive meal.

There’s something comforting about shifting “Christmas” (the name we give our family’s own pagan festival of gifting and getting together) away from December 25, the official birthday of the Christ child since 336 A.D. It somehow gives us a little more leverage against the thousand and differing voices trying each year to tell other people how Christmas “should” be celebrated.

The commercial push to buy and spend, for example, doesn’t push so hard on people who don’t share the same “last-minute shopping days” with everyone else.

Our first early Christmas was in 1999 or so. Because we were scheduled to spend Dec. 25 on an airplane bound for Chile, we moved Christmas to December 21. Amazingly, the next four days felt calmer for us than for anyone else we knew–getting ready for 3 weeks on the other side of the Equator and the International Date Line was much less stressful than gearing up for Christmas.

Of course, our family might just cheat a tiny bit. As I type this, Frank is thumping out “Joy to the World” on the piano. And we had some Christmas stollen for lunch dessert.

Anyway, I wish all my readers a good celebration of any kind you fancy, and a happy 2005 to follow!

Tags: Life, the universe, and everything


December 24th, 2004 · Comments Off on ABCDEFG HIJKMNOP QRSTUV WXYZ…

Look, it’s the Christmas alphabet–no L!

Do you know what goes “Ho-thud, ho-thud, ho-thud”? Could it be maybe Santa Claus jumping rope?

OK, remember how shepherds watched
their flocks by night
, then an angel came down and told them all
“Fear not.” Now I told you what the angel said, can you tell me what the sheep said?

The sheep said, “Fleece Navidad,” and I wish you the same.

Tags: Learn to write funny