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Sundries
...a sweatshop of moxie

Friday, November 18, 2005

Virginia Woolf Friday

Come traipse with me as a stream-of-consciousness mood overcomes Sundries.

  • - I swear, one day I'll have a blog called "A Fistful of Catnip". Why? Why NOT!


  • - As I milled about with the supermarket hordes yesterday, I saw a tall, well-dressed man rush headlong with a Publix attendant, both of them plunging into the Coke & Pepsi & Cookies aisle, as I call the more pedestrian-sounding "Aisle 11".

    The next moment, I saw both of them come out with arms FULL of Arco Panettone, @ $2.99 a pop. Each of them must've had about 20 panettones in their arms. Just as quickly, the darkly handsome man paid for all of them with a platinum credit card (I have damn good eyesight when I'm being nosey), and was gone, a-hugging his dried fruit cakes in the double paper-baggies.

    Good Lord, what was that about? I mean, I love Panettone as much as the next woman, especially if that woman is from Calabria, but why the sudden maddening hurry to buy 40-50 of them at one go? Life is full of these unsolved mysteries, don't you find?


  • - A Harvard prof has embarked on a crusade to thumb his nose at the system of "grade inflation", which unfortunately has resulted in the dumbing down of students' true efforts, since giving anything under a B- is a severe punishment to the GPA. Instead he will mete out to each of his students two grades: a public one which he will submit to the Harvard Registrar, and a private one, or the truthful reflection of that student's efforts in his classroom.

    And this AT HARVARD UNIVERSITY.

    Says the professor in question, Harvey C. Mansfield:

    When I was interviewed by The Boston Globe about my two-grade policy, one cause of grade inflation that I cited provoked a fiercely defensive reaction from the administrators at Harvard. I said that when grade inflation got started, in the late 60's and early 70's, white professors, imbibing the spirit of affirmative action, stopped giving low or average grades to black students and, to justify or conceal it, stopped giving those grades to white students as well.

    Harsh. I like it. (Via The Royal Economics Academy)


  • - Australia are in the World Cup, Aussie Aussie Aussie! Oi Oi Oi!

    Finally, after threatening in so many qualifiers, only to fall bitterly to Iran or Uruguay (whom they beat this go around), the long-LONG suffering Australian footie fan will have his moment in the sun in Germany, next year.

    If you are an American soccer fan, and you think the US as a nation pays little attention to the sport of football, man are you a sick, deluded ingrate. For a nation which not so long ago referred to the sport as "wog ball" (because dark-skinned foreigners like Italians and Greeks were the ones who nourished and sustained the sport in that rugby/Aussie rules/cricket mad country), this is indeed a day to savour.

    Unlike World Cup 1974, the only other time Australia have qualified for a Finals tourney, this time, they have a very decent team who could make life difficult for many another team which could underestimate their gritty play. Trust England to get Australia in their Group. They'll love to stick it to us Poms.

    Ah well. Never mind. Congrats Aussies!


  • - Two words: Marcello Mastroianni.



    *rrrrrrr* Mama mia! Che bello, hubba hubba, yowza! ...what?


  • - Coming as I do from two military families, and with my love of militaria in general, I cannot imagine anything more disheartening in a nation, than not taking the time to be grateful, and to honour those who sacrifice their lives to keep you safe.

    Such was my sadness when I read the following, in The Globe & Mail.

    "The Liberal government has indefinitely shelved a Defence Department proposal to buy badly needed new military aircraft, including transports and helicopters for the troops in Afghanistan, because it has been deemed too politically risky."

    Ugh.

    Politics over safety, especially as Canada is due to take up her share of peacekeeping duties in Afghanistan in 2007, is absolutely criminal.

    But it's not because of the usual corrosiveness of politics that it makes me depressed to hear this, but rather, the reader-reaction commentaries that follow the article below it.

    One, from St. John says:

    "My brother will be in Afghanistan putting himself in harm's way in 2007 as part of Canada's international peace keeping commitments. The cause is just. The danger he will face is very real. He should not have to endure further risk due to his own government's lack of willness to step up to the plate and invest in FUNDAMENTAL military infrastructure while at the same time patting itself on the back for maintaining Canada'a military contribution to international security.

    I know how I will vote in 2006."


    So would I, if I were Canadian.

    And this career military official in Ramstein, Germany writes plaintively:

    "As a member of the Canadian military for over 30 years, I have seen many governments come and go. None of them, Liberal or Conservative, have proved themselves "military friendly". The military budget is always the first department to get chopped when "fiscal restraint" is implemented. This is a fact. Canada does not have a population that relates the military. The average Canadian would rather have more effort put into subsidized day-car or the medical system rather than into the military budget. Military rust-out is not a new phenomena here, it is rather the norm when it comes to personnel and equipment.

    The military will always play second fiddle in Canadian politics. We take the crumbs the politicians throw to us and make do the best we can."

    I feel for this man. It must be awful to live in that type of cultural climate.

    Second only to the incursions against religion in the public sphere, this erosion of respect for the military that is symptomatic of the "Brussel's Syndrome", that which seeks to reduce, remove or ridicule the military, is one of my greatest concerns for the future of Western Europe and North America.

    -- One can already see the seeping of this disapproving tone, by certain elements who ostensibly are working to keep military recruiters out of public schools in the US, who must do so to man the 100% VOLUNTARY military; one of the few countries which doesn't have a mandatory period of duty for all able-bodied males when they reach the age of 18. And still, they're not satisfied. And they won't be, until there is no military at all --

    If we abdicate our military responsibilities in the name of "peacekeeping" tokenism, with a mere for-show military power structure, is it a small wonder those who would harm that which we share, our Western ideals of liberty, are emboldened by this lack of resolve when we need it most? (Via The Snapping Turtle)


  • - Sodoku. I don't want to know. I already have too much on my hobby plate, like erm, blogging.

    But every time I pass the "Sodoku" table in my local bookstore, daggumit, I feel out of it.


  • UPDATED MALARKEY: More stream-of-consciousness below, before I head out for the night.

  • Bonnie Prince Charlie, a recent blog subject of mine, celebrated his 58th birthday upon his return to ole Blighty, by suing the pants off of the Mail on Sunday, who somehow got a copy of his private journal.

    In the entry in question, when the Heir to the Throne was present at the handing-over of Hong Kong to China, he described the Chinese leadership present as "appalling old waxworks".

    He entitled the entry, "The Handover of Hong Kong — or the Great Chinese Takeaway".

    (Takeaway, is the British equivalent of the US term, take-out, and this un-PC reference raises my opinion of him, which was lying on the ground, a tiny notch)

    It's one thing to go around berating the public on your views, but even I realise they're entitlted to their private opinions, as long they keep them private. It's not like he were blogging about it, so good for him for suing them.


  • Has Family Guy become the new 3 Stooges? You know, that divide between male and female humour.

    As I revealed recently in another blog, I used to LOATHE Family Guy, and now I tolerate it. In fact, yes, I like it a lot -- especially Stewie. Well, I would.

    But here's one guy, who uses it as a litmus test for his potential girlfriends, if you please.

    Anyway, the nail was drilled into the coffin when we watched an episode of The Family Guy together-- a good litmus test for a girl's "keeper" status by the way-- and not only did she not think it was funny, but during the funniest, most absurd part, she went, "ooooookayyyyy..." Every muscle in my body tensed up at that moment and that was the last time I ever saw her.

    It's good to know I'm a potential "keeper". (Via Underneath The Turban)


  • A gel which grows human organs for potential transplants? It's not Asimov. It's reality from Utah and Missouri researchers.

    As for ethical implications, as long as it's not from tissue of foeti, dollink, I'm in.

    I'll be keeping an eye on this story, fear not.


  • So Castro has Parkinson's, eh. And I always thought it was just Viejo-chochoismo.
  • 14 Comments:

    • Oh dear. There's something wrong with the blog's Frontispiece! It stops loading after a few lines.

      I'll see what is the matter...

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Fri Nov 18, 12:52:00 pm GMT-5  

    • I'm an American soccer fan, but missed the why we (Amer soccer fans) are whatever you said we are.

      "blog's frontispiece" Heh. Blogs dont have frontispieces. They have headers and templates and embedded java scripts and all sorts of cool geekery. But no "frontispiece."

      Cheers,
      The Commissar

      By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Nov 18, 01:38:00 pm GMT-5  

    • I'm an American soccer fan, but missed the why we (Amer soccer fans) are whatever you said we are.

      Ahh. Another long-suffering ESPN2 viewer like me.

      Well, it's like this: American footie fans, in my long years gracing soccer fora like BigSoccer, and RSS, always like to go on how their sport is marginalised, or how much of a bad deal they have, as opposed to those who come from more soccer-friendly countries.

      You don't know how good you have it here!

      Okay, maybe Romey makes fun of you, and the attitudes of Sports Illustrated leave much to be desired as compared to the Big 4 sports, but you guys have it good compared to...Australia, or indeed, Canada.

      That's all, see? ;)

      "blog's frontispiece" Heh. Blogs dont have frontispieces. They have headers and templates and embedded java scripts and all sorts of cool geekery. But no "frontispiece."

      Don't rain on my parade, Commissar! I'll call it frontispiece, et basta!

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Fri Nov 18, 02:18:00 pm GMT-5  

    • So this soccer thing...I've heard about it, where do they play it, Alabama? Albania? (Aren't they the same?) Looks like another of those fads, like pop rocks, and tamagucchis!
      (the shoes that have their own personality, and tell you when they need love!)

      Well, if the Red Sox care to join in, I'm sure they'll find some way to kvetch about their performance in that sport too...

      By Blogger Ron, at Fri Nov 18, 06:52:00 pm GMT-5  

    • I'm partial to Le Tre Marie brand myself but $2.99 is a great deal! He was probably next off to get some spumante.

      Cancon: This helicopter story has been going on for years. One of Jean Cretino's 1993 election promises was to cancel the newly announced helicopter contract if elected. He won and politicians have long memories when it comes to elections so it's no surprise this has come up again.

      It's a little more complex in that the specifications were so specific that no Canadian designs could compete with the Italians and Americans. The Canadian firms have hired some lobbyists and are mounting a PR battle. It's interesting how the G&M's corporate sister CTV has the same story but with a completely different emphasis: http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20051116/aircraft_purchase_051116/20051116?hub=Canada

      I prefer Sundries over Corey Hart.;)

      By Blogger Renato, at Sat Nov 19, 12:51:00 am GMT-5  

    • Nice lil run there, Victoria! I'm not exactly a cuisine-philistine, but what the Hay is Arco Panettone? Arco used to sell petrol in the western US, as far as I know... :-)

      By Blogger Buck Pennington, at Sun Nov 20, 10:42:00 am GMT-5  

    • Psst, Buck.

      Just for you. ;)

      The only detail I forgot to add is that Arco is like Motta, the brand of panettone.

      Motta is much better known though.

      Mangia bene!

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Sun Nov 20, 11:52:00 pm GMT-5  

    • I'm partial to Le Tre Marie brand myself but $2.99 is a great deal!

      Yeah, it's not bad FOR HERE. But wait a minute -- in Brazil, it would be about a dollar.

      He was probably next off to get some spumante.

      *LOL*

      Martini and Rossi, Asti Spumante.

      A post referencing that soon, you'll see.

      Cancon: This helicopter story has been going on for years. One of Jean Cretino's 1993 election promises was to cancel the newly announced helicopter contract if elected. He won and politicians have long memories when it comes to elections so it's no surprise this has come up again.

      Oh I see.

      But you know, Renato, it simply confirms what the Ramstein Canuck said.

      In the US, if a candidate said he were reducing the military, a lot of people would balk, and vote against him, just because Americans are more pro-military than not.

      In Canada, it gets you elected.

      Thanks for the linkiepoo! ;)

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Sun Nov 20, 11:56:00 pm GMT-5  

    • Ron = soccer = best sport in the world.

      Next to baseball, and cricket, and...you get the idea. ;)

      Cheers,
      Victoria (GO RED SOX TOO!)

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Sun Nov 20, 11:57:00 pm GMT-5  

    • Family Guy was good tonight. Agreed?

      By Blogger Tim Urban, at Mon Nov 21, 05:15:00 am GMT-5  

    • By the way, I was in the class of Harvey Mansfield's when he gave out the 2 grades per student. It was a fiasco. Right after the story broke, 200 black Harvard students filed into the class in addition to those enrolled in the class. They stood all around the class in silence and stared angrily at Mansfield throughout the entire lecture. It was one of the most awkward hours of my life. Mansfield didn't acknowledge them except to say, "It looks like we have some company today" which was greeted with a nervous chuckle.

      Frankly, Mansfield was probably right in his comments, if a little too honest, and the reaction of the black community was a bit over the top.

      In any case, I won't complain. My real grade was a B plus, but the grade that counted was the second one he gave me-- a straight A. Good class, too.

      By Blogger Tim Urban, at Mon Nov 21, 05:08:00 pm GMT-5  

    • Family Guy was good tonight. Agreed?

      Agreed. Although I didn't see it. ;)

      I was out on the town, celebrating a family occasion. I'm sure I'll catch it on TBS or the Toon Channel, as well as on Fox when it reruns!

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Nov 22, 12:50:00 am GMT-5  

    • By the way, I was in the class of Harvey Mansfield's when he gave out the 2 grades per student. It was a fiasco. Right after the story broke, 200 black Harvard students filed into the class in addition to those enrolled in the class. They stood all around the class in silence and stared angrily at Mansfield throughout the entire lecture. It was one of the most awkward hours of my life. Mansfield didn't acknowledge them except to say, "It looks like we have some company today" which was greeted with a nervous chuckle.

      Frankly, Mansfield was probably right in his comments, if a little too honest, and the reaction of the black community was a bit over the top.

      In any case, I won't complain. My real grade was a B plus, but the grade that counted was the second one he gave me-- a straight A. Good class, too.


      Wow, what can one say -- but what a coinkidink, Tim!

      I'm so glad you came to the blog to post your first-hand account of the whole sorry mess.

      It was not the first time I had heard of this kind of protest being used in a classroom.

      It might even have been in your time at Harvard, but there was a professor there who quite innocently (and correctly) used the word "niggardly" -- which obviously means "skin-flint" etc. -- in a class.

      For people who don't know the etymology of the word, it was nothing short of racist.

      So a troupe of students (yes, also black by coincidence) trooped into the professor's classroom, and glared at ...her, IIRC.

      They then went to the newspapers, and stirred up a hornet's nest, in a matter which, had it taken place anywhere else other than a NE ivy league university, might've been laughed off as ridiculous.

      I know that in Oxford University, it would not have gotten to the point of animous it did. First, we don't have the demographic, and secondly, our students have been examined carefully to verify if they understand the meanings of even obscure words...

      Thanks for visiting, Tim. Hope you come back whenever. :)

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Nov 22, 12:56:00 am GMT-5  

    • I don't like Family Guy. But then, I never kined the Three Stooges, either.

      For all he's been through, Castro is amazingly sturdy, Parkinson's or no. Sort of like Cuba itself in that respect, I guess.

      By Blogger misterniceguy1960, at Tue Nov 22, 05:11:00 pm GMT-5  

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