Monthly Archives: December 2005

Holiday Wishes

A friend of mine sent me these tongue-in-cheek holiday wishes. In these times of political correctness, it is an example of how we can sometimes go too far:

“Please accept with no obligation implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral, celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all…

…as well as a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2006, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make our country great, (not to imply that we are necessarily greater than any other country or that we are the only country in the western hemisphere), and without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith, choice of computer platform, or sexual preference.

By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for her/himself or others, is void where prohibited by law, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher.

This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year, or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.”

Happy New Year all, and have a safe, healthy, successful 2006.

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Child Labor in America

DriverThe History Place – Child Labor in America is a haunting series of photographs that depict the use of children –some as young as three– as laborers. The pictures were taken by Lewis H. Hine between 1908 and 1912. Hine traveled across the US on behalf of the National Child Labor Committee, “which was then conducting a major campaign against the exploitation of American children” and used Hine’s pictures to underline the plight of these children.

The picture here is that of a young miner, used as a driver underground. He’d been driving for a year already, and worked every day from 7am to 5:30pm.

The loss of youth is starkingly evident in the eyes and faces of these children. Today, the exploitation of children still goes on. Here are some statistics from the International Labour Organization:

  • 246 million children are child labourers.
  • 73 million working children are less than 10
    years old.
  • No country is immune: There are 2.5 million
    working children in the developed economies,
    and another 2.5 million in transition economies.
  • Every year, 22,000 children die in work-related
    accidents.
  • The largest number of working children – 127
    million – age 14 and under are in the Asia-
    Pacific region.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa has the largest proportion of
    working children: nearly one-third of children
    age 14 and under (48 million children).
  • Most children work in the informal sector,
    without legal or regulatory protection:
  • • 70% in agriculture, commercial hunting and
    fishing or forestry;
    • 8% in manufacturing;
    • 8% in wholesale and retail trade, restaurants
    and hotels;
    • 7% in community, social and personal
    service, such as domestic work.
    • 8.4 million children are trapped in slavery,
    trafficking, debt bondage, prostitution,
    pornography and other illicit activities.
    • 1.2 million of these children have been
    trafficked.

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Best Bumper Stickers

A bit of fun for the nearly end of the year: Best Bumper Stickers

Okay, I have to quote a few, some of my faves:

  • If God is within, I hope he likes enchiladas!
  • Don’t believe everything you think.
  • Veni, Vidi, Velcro. I came, I saw, I got stuck.
  • Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.
  • If there is no God, who always pops up that next Kleenex?
  • Use the best: Linux for servers, Mac for graphics, Windows for Solitaire.
  • Frankly, Scallop, I don’t give a clam.

And many more…

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PlayAway

A mix between ebook and audiobook, PlayAway books are the size of a credit card, and come with a battery and ear buds. No need for a tape or CD player, the command buttons are integrated, from play/stop to voice speed and bookmark. The library is meager so far, but includes bestselling authors such as Dan Brown, John Grisham, and Christopher Paollini. Sounds like an ideal medium, light to carry, easy to listen to. There has to be a catch.

There is. Small print at the bottom:

Playaway prices begin at $34.99

Begin?? Those are horrendous prices, USD, of course. In Canadian dollars, a Playaway would cost over $40. For that price, I can buy nearly seven ebooks from eReader for my Palm Pilot. Angels and Demons, there, costs $5.98, compared to the paperback version at $9.60.

But that got me curious on the price of CD audiobooks. Angels and Demons, for instance, is $32.97US at amazon.com. Barnes & Noble has various versions, in the $20-40 range. So I guess the Playaway books aren’t that expensive in comparison, especially if you want the convenience of portability.

Nonetheless, I’ll continue to patronize my library, which has the audio version of Angels and Demons for absolutely free. Unless I’m late returning it, that is.

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Books I’ve reviewed

Since I changed blog address midway through the year, I thought I’d list the books I’ve reviewed since I began blogging, and what I thought of them:

F= Fiction NF= Non-fiction

  • (F) Sushi for Beginners, by Marian Keyes: great summer read
  • (NF) Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, by Lynn Truss: eminently readable
  • (F) The Bookman’s Promise, by John Dunning: a mix of suspense with compelling historical details
  • (F) Darkly Dreaming Dexter, by Jeff Lindsay: a failed message
  • (NF) The Portable Jung, by Joseph Campbell: still current, 60 years later
  • (F) The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad, by Minister Faust: fresh and imaginative, excellent prose and insight into Canadian African culture
  • (F) The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque, by Jeffrey Ford: fascinating premise, choppy prose, disappointing ending
  • (NF) Hero with a Thousand Faces, by Joseph Campbell: the Myth of the Hero explained. Great read.
  • (NF) Brunelleschi’s Dome, by Ross King: a fascinating foray into the life of the genius architect who built the Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence.
  • (F) Johnatan Strange and Mrs. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke: a compelling story. “Harry Potter for adults.”
  • (F) Ya-Yas in Bloom, by Rebecca Wells: Disappointingly boring and rehashed.
  • (F) The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, by Umberto Eco: challenging, fascinating, bizzarre. Frustrating ending.
  • (F) The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova: mundane writing, hard-to-believe story, extensive historical research
  • (NF) Under the Duvet: Shoes, Reviews, Having the Blues, Builders, Babies, Families and Other Calamities, by Marian Keyes: Fun all the way through.
  • (F) The Fruit of Stone, by Mark Spragg: a literary western. Lyrical prose, great story
  • (F) Long For This World, by Michael Byers: badly edited, clichéed ending
  • (F) Plainsong, by Kent Haruf: Prose with the elegance of many-voiced harmonies
  • (F) Walk Through Darkness, by David Anthony Durham: Simple, elegant prose filled with emotion, about slavery on the eve of the Civil War. A story of hope.
  • (NF) Why Do Men Have Nipples? Hundreds Of Questions You’d Only Ask A Doctor After Your Third Martini , by Mark Leyner and Billy Goldberg: too simplistic, boring information
  • (F) An Unfinished Life, by Mark Spragg: a more relaxed prose, filled with humour, but addressing important life issues.
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