Tuesday, July 25, 2006

My Favorite Kid's Stories

That would be Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories, now appearing with full original illustrations right here. I particularly love The Elephant's Child", and The Cat That Walked by Himself.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The War According to Schiff

My fascination with the Zidane head-butt has been replaced by a much larger obsession with the events in Israel and Lebanon. One of the best informed commentators in Israel is Zeev Schiff, and here are a couple of articles that he wrote - this one today, and this one a couple of days ago

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Much Maligned Milk

I had a brief conversation today with a guy that provides veterinary services to diary cows.

First I heard from him that Israel ranks very high (second or third in the world) in per cow production of milk.

Second, and no surprise here, that the consumption of milk is going down in the U.S., with the biggest decline being in drinkable milk (as opposed to milk products).

Family lore has it that I stopped drinking milk as a result of the foolish advice given by my pediatrician when I was two years old - to wean me off the bottle. After that traumatic event I refused to touch milk - perhaps I was too wounded to risk an additional loss.

My aversion to that opaque white fluid extends to all its wanna be competitors - soy milk, rice milk, anthing that looks or feels like milk is anathema to me. The thought of even taking a sip fills me with dread.

But apart from my aversion to drinkable milk, I like virtually any milk product. Yogurt, cheese, butter - life would be greatly diminshed without them.

But in this I seem to be in a minority among my friends - at least those of the female persuasion. And here I'm finally getting to my point. How did milk products become such pariahs in our La La Land society?

First it was cholesterol. Then it was the idea that we're all somewhat lactose intolerant. Then it was the Ayuervedic idea (never provable by scientifi method) that milk causes congestion and build-up of mucose...

Ultimately, my friends may developed an aversion to milk products that's similar to my aversion to drinkable milk - it's an irrational fear that this stuff will be a bad idea.

Which is really too bad.

What Ticked off Zidane????

I so want to know what Materazzi said to Zizou. That unexcusable statement that made Zidane lose his cool and a large part of his legacy just ten minutes before the end of his career.

Whatever it was, I wonder if it was a momentary flash of genius on Materazzi's part, or a well planned offensive, prepared well in advance of the match. Did the Italian team have a insult-specialist devising carefully crafted phrases to be used to defeat the enemy, or was it left to the ingenuity of the players?

And how did Zidane get such a reputation for gentility, if (as it turns out) this business of head-butting his opponents is somewhat common practice for him? BTW, it turns out that Materazzi has quite a reputation for violence too. Maybe it takes one to understand one. Meaning that it takes someone like Materazzi to really know how to tick off Le Great Zizou.

Regardless, I was rooting for the Italians, so I was pleased.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Loving Gates and Angelina

First a full disclaimer. I despise Windows as much as almost any other geek. I love my friend's bumper sticker: Friends Don't Let Friends Do Windows (he's an Apple fan). I tend to view Microsoft as the Evil Empire.

But that being said, I take my hat off to the Gates' and their Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It might seem only natural that they would donate such large sums, and start such large foundations, but consider their peers. Bill Gates is resigning at age 50 from Microsoft to pursue his philanthropic efforts, and has committed most of his wealth to his foundation. Compare that say to Rupert Murdoch, with personal assets of about $30B. I'm not aware of any significant Murdoch family foundation. And when there is a large foundation grant - such as the Geffen grant to the UCLA medical school, one questions whether it was done to further the broader good, or to ensure that Geffen and his friends get absolutely top notch attention when they're ill.

So while I have very little sympathy with Bill Gates' business practices, I am a great admirer of his philanthropic activities. Maybe the real person to thank is Melinda Gates, but obviously, he's going along with the program. Bravo.

And along those lines, not matter what can be said about Angelina Jolie as a homebreaker, vixen, self-promoter, it's tough to ignore how she almost single-handedly has made adoption chic. I'd'speculate that at least thousands of babies from southeast Asia and Africa will owe their adoption to her. Again, my hat goes off to her.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

What Shamu Taught Me...

The NYTimes online has a great feature, one of those miracles of the online age - a listing of the ten most e-mailed NYTimes articles for the day. The top ten of article popularity. It's the first thing I read after the headlines.

Normally, articles remain on the top ten for a day or two. The rare exception will stay on for three days. I think four days is the maximum I'd ever seen. But the current selection has an article that, as far as I can tell, has beaten all records. It's been on for almost two weeks (!!!), and it's still #1. It's called "What Shamu Taught Me About A Happy Marriage".

Since it's a bit long, I'll try to summarize. Basically, it essence is that if your husband (or wife) is driving you crazy with their behaviour, just take some guidance from animal training: Ignore bad behaviour, and encourage greatly praise good behaviour.

How big an insight is that? Seems to me that used to be included in child-rearing 101 manuals. But something in this particular article seems to have hit the bull's-eye of the current Zeitgeist. Go figure...