Friday, 13 July 2007

  • Dominic Lawson: From Pentecost island to modern Britain, the futility of trying to measure happiness - Independent
    "Nobody has yet come up with an entirely satisfactory definition of what constitutes happiness - although I think that Sydney Smith's "To love and to be loved is the greatest happiness of existence" will do to be getting along with. A state of unhappiness could be described as the opposite of that, but we might also define it as a life whose reality falls far short of its owner's expectations.

    That is perhaps at the heart of the modern malaise, which has resulted in an unprecedented growth in clinical depression in countries such as the USA and the UK. We have increasingly allowed ourselves to think that happiness is ours by right - it's written into the American constitution - whereas in fact we can't find it: it finds us."

  • Knitting Pattern Central - Free Pattern - Amy Doll
    Cute pattern I saw in a post on knitting dolls at V's blog, (you have to go look at the knees!).
  • Dismay and anger as Pope declares Protestants cannot have churches | Guardian
    "Protestant churches yesterday reacted with dismay to a new declaration approved by Pope Benedict XVI insisting they were mere "ecclesial communities" and their ministers effectively phonies with no right to give communion.
    "Coming just four days after the reinstatement of the Latin mass, yesterday's document left no doubt about the Pope's eagerness to back traditional Roman Catholic practices and attitudes, even at the expense of causing offence."
  • Mom Puts Family on Her Meal Plan - New York Times
    "The pitfalls of the modern family meal are well chronicled: the varying schedules, the demanding diets (low carb, no wheat, no meat) and the fact that all too often the dinner so proudly displayed is greeted by a cheerful “Oh, that looks disgusting.” For most working parents, even a 30-minute meal seems like a June Cleaver-era indulgence. By the time I walk in the door at 7:30 my children are off-the-wall hungry, even having had snacks. Ideally, dinner will take 15 minutes or less to put on the table.

    "But despite the challenges, I tell you it can be done. I committed to cooking a family meal when my first son was born, in 1997, not because of any psychology study about the well-being of children, but because it gave me comfort.

    "Every working mother has to draw the line somewhere. Maybe my children would take their first steps with a babysitter, or perform in school plays with only their grandparents in attendance. But mom would cook their dinners."

    I stay home with one child and still have trouble getting dinner "on the table" (dining room table is currently inaccessible) at a reasonable hour, so glad a I don't have to work full time outside the home, commute and then make dinner.
  • Sarah Churchwell: Why can't British students write like Americans? - Independent
    "An impoverished understanding of their own language combined with an inflated sense of their own talents doesn't merely result in smug graduates with a beggared ability to express ideas. Sophisticated ideas cannot flourish in a linguistic vacuum. Expression and thought are inextricably linked: crude language permits only crude thinking. It's bad enough that these university students can't communicate their thoughts intelligibly; but those thoughts are themselves constrained by embryonic language skills."
    This is a great article. I still feel as though I really need to go back to school and take English Language classes. We did have some grammar "lessons" at middle school (we had a text book there was time set aside to work through). I would say my vocabulary is not too shabby, but my grasp of how the language works is not so good. And I have a degree in Women's Studies and English Literature! When I spent a year at college in the US one of my professors took me aside and asked if I thought I might be dyslexic because of my bad use of punctuation, I said no I just never really learned how a semi colon is supposed to work (and I am queen of the run-on sentence). I am better than I used to be, but have a long way to go and (besides blogging) not much space for working on my writing skills. I really wish we had been taught more at school. At least my primary schools taught handwriting, I think it's so sad that that doesn't happen so much any more.
  • The Knitting Circle Shows Its Chic - New York Times
    "Formerly neglected domestic arts like knitting, quilting, sewing and embroidery are being eagerly embraced, especially by the young. Their passion kindled by the abundance of handcrafted looks on the runways, they are blowing the dust off these folksy skills and lending them the bright sheen of style.
    "“It wasn’t that long ago that people would cringe at the word ‘craft,’ ” said Melanie Falick, who developed a crafts imprint at Stewart, Tabori & Chang. “Ten or 20 years ago, there were far fewer crafters and knitters, certainly fewer who ‘outed’ themselves. Now it has become a badge of honor.”
    "And an insignia of chic. The new generation of needle hobbyists, nimble-fingered women in their 20s and 30s, is growing ever more sophisticated, seeking out novel yarns imbued with bamboo or fur, working confidently with elaborate patterns, swapping tips online and emulating styles by fashion designers like Marc Jacobs, Nicolas Ghesquiere of Balenciaga and Michael Kors."
  • The World’s Best Candy Bars? English, of Course - New York Times
    "it would be easy to take a long, clich├ęd side trip into a discussion of the relative inferiority of British food. But for the rarefied palate that can appreciate the soft, immediate pleasure of an inexpensive candy bar, it's not difficult to give the edge to sweets from the realm of the queen."
    I'm totally biased on this subject of course, growing up with the sweets in England and then moving to the USA where I can be very dissatisfied with the candy on offer over here and wallow in nostalgia thinking about my favourite sweet things that I can't get here. Of course I can find good dark chocolate here (organic and fair trade and mighty tasty) so that keeps me happy mostly. When we visit England I come back with Cadbury's milk chocolate and licorice allsorts for me, and sherbert lemons and kendal mint cake for my husband. My husband is very distressed at the change to natural flavourings and no longer hoards fruit pastilles. The thing I miss most even when I'm back in the UK is the sweet shops with shelves of sweets in jars that were weighed and put into paper bags (cinder toffee, rhubarb&custard, cough candy, bon bons), and the case of penny sweets where I spent my pocket money as a small child (shrimps, bananas, flying saucers, the cigarette and pipe sweets that I loved but which never made me remotely interested in smoking). Sigh.
  • Digital Cameras: The Top 10 Things You Need to Know - Unbiased reviews, prices, and advice from DigitalCamera-HQ
    Seen in a list of links at Not Martha, looks like a useful list to hold onto. Also love the link to the discussion how many is a few? as my husband holds very strong opinions on this subject.
  • Organic Farming Can Feed The World, Says Study | Scientific Blogging
    "Organic farming can yield up to three times as much food as conventional farming on the same amount of land---according to new findings which refute the long-standing assumption that organic farming methods cannot produce enough food to feed the global population."

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