Thursday, July 31, 2008

Nine days

Nine days to go.
And if life gives you lemons, make limoncello. One of our friends was given a recipe for this lemon flavoured liqueur in Italy a couple of years ago: and after hearing about it I was intrigued. After letting the intrigue bubble for a few weeks, I went out and bought a bunch of lemons and some high-proof grain alcohol (near 100% alcohol).
I pared the skin of the lemons into a bottle, filled it with the grain alcohol, and waited: every day or so, turning it to make sure the flavours get pulled out of the rind. The colour is lovely: a deep golden hue to the liquid.
I'm going to mix it with an appropriate amount of a sugar syrup to get it to the right strength/sweetness, and assuming that it tastes okay, we're taking it to the beach.
Since the bottle of grain alcohol contained more than would fit in a bottle stuffed with lemon peel (just the yellow, not the white pith), I used the rest to make some more vanilla essence. I expect this batch of vanilla to turn out quite full of flavour.

Yours, in essence,

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Counting down until the beach

We have ten days to go: this time ten days from now, we'll be sleeping in strange beds, listening to the waves in the distance, smells of the ocean in our noses for comfort.
Until then, it is the usual grind: work, home, cook, eat, put children to sleep, repeat. Tonight was particularly bad: it is now gone 10pm, and the children are, finally, asleep.
Oh well, they're only young once.... and proving the adage true by making me feel nothing like young any more....

Yours, old and creaky,

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

One of my favourite government agencies

Happy Birthday, NASA! NASA is 50 today --- this to me is incredible, partly the fact that they are so young!
I remember when I was growing up, when NASA wasn't even much of a teenager, being allowed to stay up very late on occasion to watch Apollo take-offs, or on one rather memorable occasion, to watch Armstrong's first steps on the moon. I never became an astronaut, but like huge numbers of children then it was one of my top career goals for years.

It's a curious fact that a huge part of the success of NASA is owed to the fact that the US bullied Canada into shutting down its amazing aircraft industry. In 59, the Diefenbaker government shut down the Arrow project (the "joke" at the time was that they were reversing the WWII "pans into planes" drive and were going pull the planes apart to make aluminium skillets...) at the behest of the US government (on the behalf of Boeing, McD-D, etc). Huge numbers of aeronautical engineers, ten thousand or so, were put out of work overnight, and a large group of them ended up leading design projects for NASA. A bunch of others went to work on other exciting projects in the UK -- Concorde, the Harrier, etc. Who knows where the Canadian aeronautical industry would be today otherwise.

But that's in the past. For today, Happy Birthday, NASA.

Yours, gazing starwards,

Monday, July 28, 2008

slave to posting

Since the beginning of the year (and perhaps somewhat earlier), I've posted consistently. There's not a day without at least one post. Part of the reason for this is that, while I enjoy posting, I'm running out of topics (other than my excitement and simultaneous digust with the US elections this autumn): and I know that if I don't force myself to a regular schedule (every day is best for me) I'll just end up posting less and less -- until I give up. I've seen a good number of other blogs do this -- but I don't want to do so. This is the longest I've kept a journal going ever: I've managed months before, but never a full year or more.
I appreciate the few of you who post comments -- I'm really not writing for you, or at least, not just for you: I'm writing for myself most of all -- but the comments help.
So, I'll sign off today:

Yours, in thanks to you,

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Wireless back up

Well, the call for backup helped, and the wireless is indeed back up.
So this morning the adapter for my pump went missing, and when I went to pump up my bicycle tyres, so that I could go for a quick pre-heat-of-the-day bike ride, I was out of luck.
What will it be tomorrow? Some niggling little thing which just gets in the way, early enough in the day to let the heat and humidity make me grumpy....

Yours, ready for the autumn,

Saturday, July 26, 2008


Wireless up. Wireless down. Wireless back up.
Call for backup.

Yours, in flux,

Friday, July 25, 2008

McCain tells a really funny, hilarious even, joke

You could tell it was hilarious. Why, even McCain surprised himself with the amount of laughter he produced. All from himself.
The joke? Visiting Lance Armstrong, he talked about Obama's upcoming visit to Paris, and the fact that he would be greeted by adoring throngs. "And that's just the press" was the punch line.
McCain laughs. And laughs, and laughs enough he has to wipe his eyes.
Perhaps he hadn't read the joke ahead of time, and the punchline surprised him.

Yours, amazed at how inept his delivery can seem,

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Am I being sent a message?

I don't know. I just don't know. I got an email message this afternoon from my boss, informing me that for my yearly job evaluation, I had been given an "E".
Now, reading the rest of the message, it transpired that the letter most likely stands for "excellent" (gratefully received, though I think that given the way the scale is supposed to work I ought to have received the next grade down: but I'm not going to go into the office to make that case!): but nowhere in the message does it spell that out.
And I'm well aware that in many circumstances an "E" is not considered "passing with flying colours". In some cases, it is not even passing.

Maybe he's trying to tell me something.

Yours, at ease,

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Storms, swimming and friends

Today was a slightly stormy day --- for about an hour, just around the time we were getting ready to go to the (outside) swimming pool for Boo and Skibo's lessons. Naturally, they were cancelled: lots of lightning and swimming lessons don't mix: we'll make the lesson up on Friday, weather permitting.
Actually, I was okay with the class being cancelled today: the teacher had been stressing to Boo that she could do some things yesterday, and the class devolved for a few minutes into a battle of wills. Eventually Boo lost, but it was painful for a little while. As such, I thought that an extra day before the next lesson might make things easier.
Plus, the children's best friends are back in town --- they'd been to California for several weeks (where their father fell of his bicycle to celebrate his 40th birthday --- leading indirectly to a rather badly infected knee) and they and their mother came over for dinner. An absolutely delightful time was had by all, with the exception of Boo insisting that her friend take one of her toys with her as a gift --- a toy given to her by her babysitter, who will notice its absence, making it somewhat less suitable for a re-gift. Oh well, a few tears. The friends are back, the tears will flow, and stop, and smiles will shine. And repeat.

Yours, happily,

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Iraq-Pakistan Border

Surely McCain was making a misunderstood joke. Surely he was pointing out in a subtle, funny, way, to the reporter questioning him about Afghanistan, that he thinks Iran is the problem: and he referred to the Iraq-Pakistan border, clearly meaning Iran.
Right? Right??? Now way he, being such an expert on world affairs and terrorism could have made a mistake here, right???

Yours, shaking my head,

Monday, July 21, 2008


I love TiVo most of the time. And then there are times like today: I had recorded a movie over the weekend, and had planned to sit and watch it some time this week. Since we had a storm tonight, and the satellite was flaky, I decided that tonight could be the night to watch it --- and I sat and thoroughly enjoyed the first 48 minutes. For some reason, the remaining hour and change had not recorded.

Yours, thanking heavens for Netflix,

Aw,... how sweet

It's almost straight out of the West Wing. Jenna's high school boyfriend, who had an important job carrying Bush's coat, now gets a job carrying Bush's policies. He's been promoted to Deputy Chief of Staff.
Why, it's like there's nobody left to mind the store, and they're asking the twelve-year-olds to turn out the lights.

Yours, thankful he's just a deputy,

Reviewing customer reviews

With LOML having a birthday coming up, I've been informed that it would be a good thing if I were to find a good dehumidifier. Yes, that is number one on the birthday list. Really! LOML wants to use the basement much more, but it is rather dank and dingy, musty and mildewed. So a dehumidifier it is.
Problem is, dehumidifiers I know from nyet. What am going to do? Fortunately, there are publications like Consumer Reports around to help, and so that is where I start (lets' throw out any stinkers first before trying to make a decision).
Unfortunately, on this issue, it seems that CR makes their recommendations based on two factors: recommendations of professionals, and customers' self-reported satisfaction (or otherwise). And that self-reported satisfaction (or otherwise) is reported not to CR directly, but rather to Sears, Amazon, and various big box stores with appliance sales and customer reviews.
So I look at the top seller on the CR list, decide that that is what I will get, and discover it is not for sale anywhere. No indication of when it will be back. Presumably the company couldn't deal with the spike in demand when everyone had the opportunity to say "Oh! Okay, I'll just get the one CR recommends".
So now, I am left with going through all the online reviews myself, at half a dozen different sites: and I discover that just about any model gets something between ten and thirty percent stinking reviews: and all the manufacturers have the worst service record of any company in the history of the western spiral arm of the milky way. And so now I'm left no further ahead, much more apprehensive about plonking down $200 on an unknown.
It's a time when I think I shall go buy it from a local store, one with a decent on-site return policy. Even if it is more expensive to buy it that way, and with more limited choice (hey, in this case that might actually be a plus!) I like the added security blanket it provides.

Yours, left feeling mildewed by the process,

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Skibo takes another leap forward

Skibo leaps again: this afternoon he pronounced that he was going to write his name: not something that I had seen him do before, but at a similar age, Boo was making these attempts --- but I was absolutely floored by the result. With the exception of the letter S, which he reversed, it was absolutely perfect: beautifully formed letters, almost all on one line, just marvellous!
And what really floored me was that, as bright as Boo is, Skibo's showing work that she didn't manage until several months older than he is now.
So nice to see them both doing so wonderfully:-)

Yours, proudly parental,

New bakery

We visited the new bakery in town yesterday: it's been open since Thursday, and is causing some concern amongst the community: it opened right next to the town's cafe, and appears to be offering some similar fare: and some people are concerned that it will hurt the established and popular business next to it. I'm hoping that it will actually draw more people into town, and expand the business in the community, but it remains to be seen.
We did buy some bread (of course): a baguette, a wholewheat loaf and a raisin challah. The baguette had the style more of an italian loaf, baguette sized, but less of an open crumb than in a Parisian baguette, and a chewier rather than crisp crust. The wholewheat loaf will go down a treat here, I suspect: it was not as hearty as I would like: a very very tender crumb, nice mild wholewheat flavour: very suitable for sandwiches. The challah was good --- but then, I think of challah as a very easy bread to make well.
Lest you think I'm dissing them too much, I will say this: had they been open here when I moved up here eleven years ago, I probably never would have learned to make bread. They would have been good enough that I would have just always bought bread from them: I'd have had no incentive to make the effort, and take the time and trials to learn yeast doughs.
Of the three loaves, I'd buy the baguettes again: even though they are not (for me) really baguettes, they were rather good to eat.

Yours, any way you slice it,

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The year of swimming fearlessly

This is definitely the year of swimming, so far... We went over to the pool at lunchtime: we had lunch first with B&P (who live in the complex where the pool is located), and then all headed to the water with them.
Boo took the opportunity to learn to swim in deep water: she had previously been rather timid about going out of her depth, but this afternoon she took to it like the proverbial duck. She also decided to learn to swim breaststroke as well, picking it up almost immediately.
Skibo, not to be outdone, is progressing at learning to swim with his head down in the water. He's also now jumping in without having to hold hands, or even jump to someone waiting to catch him --- at least in water where he's able to stand on his toes.

It's really amazing to see the rate of their progress over the past six days. Absolutely incredible. And while most of the credit must be shared with their teacher (who is fantastic), the progress that the two of them have made on their own outside of the lessons is really stunning!

Yours, delivering the pool report,

Friday, July 18, 2008

Boo adopts an attitude

Boo has decided to become a teenager. I'm suggesting that she wait a little while.

After the "You're not the boss of me" episode a few weeks ago, she's been refining her repertoire. A couple of days ago, she came out with the phrase "Aw, shucks", replete with hand on an out-thrust hip, other hand palm out. Add to this a bunch of others: "I don't think so", to a request that she do something: "He's so cute", said about one (actually several) of Skibo's best friends: and then there are the unspoken words that go with the looks.

Yours, unready for a teenager,

Important things in my life

I have many important things in my life: some of them I choose to bring up on the blog (how wonderful my sprogs can be, and LOML too: my love of food, and more especially cooking it) and others I tend not to bring up (what I do for a living, though I've left occasional hints, and an inquiring mind could probably add three and three and get one mod five). Politics sort of sits in the middle. And I'm thinking of following Joke's possibly-yet-to-be example, and setting up another blog, perhaps even under another nym, to satisfy my utter need to vent in this political season.

But then, if I do that, could I stop there???? Wouldn't I then need a new blog, just for the intellectual content related to my job-life? And then perhaps another for my children's amazing exploits? And one devoted to LOML?

And then where does yeastandgluten end up? Actually, given that I haven't baked any bread in over two weeks (precisely two weeks, seven hours and twelve minutes since I took a focaccia out of the oven), perhaps this site would fall flat, no longer rising to the challenge.

Yours, wondering where it would all end,

Thursday, July 17, 2008

How can I blog???

Seriously, I'm wondering, how can I blog? There's an election coming up, an election which is at least the most important presidential election that this country has had in years, four at least. An election (can you already tell?) about whose outcome I care very deeply.
And for the past few weeks, I've been biting my typing fingers, making sure that I don't let loose with election-screeds.

It's not what I generally want to blog about --- but at the same time, at this time every four years, it drives me crazy.

But at the same time, I don't want to lose those of my friends (waves at a subset of them) who have strongly different political views: and nor do I want to lose all of those European blog-friends who don't want to read about US politics....

Oh well. If I lose you, please try coming back after this all is over. I'll try to be interesting then:-)

Yours, (I'm practicing making you yawn....)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Brosnan was on the daily show

Brosnan was plugging the movie Mamma Mia on the Daily Show last night: he seemed --- how do I put this gently --- off his mark? bothered? blotto?

Very strange performance....

Yours, not impressed by his singing, or his description of paddle-boarding (punting without the thrill?)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Day two

It started off with Boo being reluctant to do the things that her teacher asked of her: she didn't want to swim towards her, to keep her head in the water, to let her feet rise to the surface so that she could kick, etc.
It took a few minutes, but she was gradually worn down, and decided to just do as her teacher asked; it was brilliant! Boo is now swimming for ten seconds or more, basically with her face under water the whole time.
And Skibo decided after watching for a few times that he was ready to do the same thing. Yes, scaredy-cat Skibo, terrified of independence, as it sometimes seems, let go, put his faith in her, in the water, and in his own abilities, and launched himself.

We all swam for a while after the lesson was over: and Skibo got better and better and better! All in all a day to make us proud!

Yours, making a splash of it,

Monday, July 14, 2008

Swimming lessons

Boo and Skibo's swimming lessons started this afternoon: a glorious day, not too hot, (although close!) and the children did wonderfully. Their teacher was rather pleased by how well they did: in spite of their last lessons being a year ago, they could still do just about everything she'd taught them then.
This is rather more surprising than one might think, given that we hadn't taken them swimming for perhaps 9 of the intervening 12 months!

The more I see of her teaching them, the more impressed I am with how good she is: the way she gets them to try things, to work through nerves and fears, is really incredible!

Yours, happy things going swimmingly well,

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Comfort viewing

There is something immensely comforting to both LOML and me, having grown up in the UK, about some British mystery series. We've just watched a few episodes of Lewis, the Morse spin-off, with great delight: tonight it was Foyle's War, set in WWII Hastings, and starring Michael Kitchen: the quality of the acting is so superbly understatedly subtle: the scenery is beautiful (and still, in a way, home): and there is a gentle reality about the existence, even when it involves lots of murders, that seems lacking in most American crime dramas. Indeed, perhaps this is the key difference: over here there are crime dramas: over there there are dramas that happen to be about crime.

Anyway, when Foyle retired at the end of the last season of episodes, we were so disappointed we immediately tried to find a realistic way out --- and the writers found it. And he's back. And we are pleased to be

Yours, Foyle'd again,

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Having decided that Hellboy II looked fascinating, LOML went to the movies tonight. I had similarly made a decision on the same movie, but in the opposite direction, so I stayed at home with the children:-) We watched The Little Mermaid instead (Boo wanted to go with LOML, but I explained that Hellboy II was a really scary movie: ten times as scary as The Little Mermaid (which she had long refused to watch on grounds of scariness): so between us we decided she and Skibo would watch that. With me there for them to sit on my lap during the scary parts.

It was quite delightful: admittedly we did fast forward through a few scenes (with subtitles on, I can read the dialogue on double speed:-) and Boo cried near the end, unwilling to trust me that things would work out okay. And she was very upset that Ariel's daddy wouldn't get to see her much again... so I twisted the plot a bit, and pointed out he could choose to come to the surface any time he wanted to see her:-)

For dinner, chicken soup with rice, Boo insisted that her name was Ariel, and that she be called that rather than Boo. All meal long. As wearing as it was, it was really quite sweet.

Given that they were willing to try this one, perhaps we can try them on some other movies soon...

Yours, taking it frame by frame,

Friday, July 11, 2008

Eat local

We've been buying, where possible, from the farmers market on the square since it returned last month. It gives us nice warm fuzzies to think that we're eating local produce: plus the food is cheaper, and tastes so much better than the stuff that they stock in the grocery stores.
This evening we had leftover roast pork from last night, together with local beans and potatoes: tiny, tiny new potatoes, simmered until tender, and then tossed in butter and chopped mint. Absolutely delicious. I think that we'll be having a lot of them for the next week or three!

Yours, minty fresh,

One down, four more weeks to go

Well, the undergraduate research team has left: a successful eight weeks, all in all. We had a nice farewell lunch --- well, the farewell part was nice, although the lunch (for some reason their choice was a pizza chain!) was fairly ordinary.
Now I'm just left with the remaining part of my job for four more weeks, and then it is off to the beach!

Yours, in need of a vacation,

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Phil Gramm

There has been a lot of sound and fury today about McCain's economics advisor, Phil Gramm (he and his wife are largely responsible for much of the deregulation of the energy business that some are blaming for the soaring price of oil --- others, including Paul Krugman disagree with this analysis: I'm not sure where I stand on it).
Anyway, Gramm was interviewed by the Washington Times (motto: "We bring you the news, from the time the Sun rises, to the time the Moonie shines") and reportedly said

"You've heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession," he said, noting that growth has held up at about 1 percent despite all the publicity over losing jobs to India, China, illegal immigration, housing and credit problems and record oil prices. "We may have a recession; we haven't had one yet."

"We have sort of become a nation of whiners," he said. "You just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline" despite a major export boom that is the primary reason that growth continues in the economy, he said.

Now, the focus that I've heard is on the "nation of whiners" comment: and it is a bad thing to say --- after all, who wants to be called a whiner? But I think that the coverage has missed the bigger point: he's not talking about the recession, whether or not it's happening: he's not talking about the people at all: he's talking about those who are whining about a loss of competitiveness: and the people whining about that are not those suffering: he's completely ignoring the ordinary folks who would never use the phrase "loss of competitiveness", and focusing instead on the "movers and shakers" who've worked so hard over the past few years to ship jobs overseas....

Yours, trying to figure out the conversion factor between gramms and ouches,

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Back to one job....

This week is finally winding down: one more day to go, and I'm back to working just one job a day again for the next few weeks. I'll be sorry to see the research crowd go, though: they've been a great bunch this year, and their final presentations have been first rate. One more to go, and then Friday we'll get together for lunch to say final goodbyes.

Right now we are discussing possibly postponing next year's research session until the following year: I am certainly in need of a year in which I have a little time for my own stuff in the summer. And LOML and I would love to be able to take the children to the UK for an extended period: they'll be old enough to enjoy it, but still young enough to feel the wonder....

But for now, I have two more days of overlapping duties. And I'll enjoy both of them:-)

Yours, overworked, and underpaid, but enjoying every minute, even now,

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A scary thought

If Al Gore had become president, we might all be facing the prospect of President Lieberman coming up now.

Yours, shivering at the thought,

Monday, July 7, 2008

On the sidelines

Sidelined, yesterday, by a summer cough, I watched the final. Note how now, it has become that: no need to specify anything else. Just "The Final".

Not that I would have been out there playing tennis (I've never really played: rowing and squash were more my sports at college, recreationally I'd rather swim or cycle): but I have one of those tickles-becoming-hacking-becoming-painful going on, and I've found lying down eases the coughing.

What a match! And to have it interrupted by rain like that, with the lead going one way, then the other... I'm disappointed, in some ways, to hear that Wimbledon will finally have a roof next year --- so that there are no more rain delays. So much for tradition.

Now if I could only get an eye-witness report on Henley... or better yet, television coverage!

Yours, (cough)

Sunday, July 6, 2008


It had to happen --- and I was fully prepared for it to happen: but I thought that perhaps the children would wait until they were, oh, seven or eight or so.

But no, at five years old, Boo came out yesterday with
"You're not the boss of me!"

Yours, crushed,

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Naming the same

In this country, it is very common (well, common enough that you see it a lot) for fathers to name their sons the same name. Once commonly comes across "James A. Smith IV", etc. The "III"'s in particular are frequent enough that there are not one but two common nicknames, Trip and Trey, which holders of these names use.
I'm rather surprised that it hasn't already dawned on me, but I realised today that I can't name a single, not a single example of a woman whose name follows the same rule!
More than surprised --- both by the fact, and the fact that I hadn't noticed it before...

Please, do prove me wrong by listing hundreds of famous examples.

Yours, astounded.

Friday, July 4, 2008

The food?

"The food?" you ask? "At the party?"

You didn't ask? Okay, then I'll pretend you did.

I won't say much about it, no recipes for now: but here's a list of some of the stuff we (and others) made.

Orzo, beans and chickpea salad (with minced hot peppers through it for warmth)
Hummus and pita bread
Vietnamese chicken salad
Sausage rolls
Focaccia (one with onions, one with rosemary, one plain)

Vegetarian chili, with cashews
Garbonzo bean and tomato curry
Marinated lamb
Spare ribs
Grilled chicken, sausages

Assorted cheesecakes
Chocolate roulade
White cake
Mocha cake
Lemon cake

And I didn't burn myself once --- until I had finished cooking and was taking something out of the stove...

Yours, happy,

Happy Y!

Happy Fourth of July, that is!
We had out now-traditional (seventh year in a row) party: somewhere between 40 and 60 people or so: lots to eat (so lots of leftovers for tomorrow etc).

LOML had the inspiration to buy a canopy cover for the deck: essentially a tent without sides --- which we put up this morning.
At 3:30 this afternoon, I heard a call from the deck --- "Help, quick!" The canopy, which we had not yet tied down, had reacted badly to a stormy gust of wind, and had ended up on the roof. Broken, too, as it turned out. Hopefully the store will take it back (the way that it broke suggests a design flaw in the struts, to my way of thinking.

The party was fun: lots of different types of people, so some nice intermingling going on. A few small tensions, but only a few, so I think that we can count this one a success.

Yours, partied-out,

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Good advertising

I bought some CDs yesterday, and I'd like to tell about my positive experiences: they brought such a smile to my face that I'm wanting to tell the world how wonderful these people are.
First, Zoe Lewis's newest CD is out: as in it is released, but doesn't appear to be for sale anywhere yet: she had emailed her mailing list to say that she would ship early copies out to those who sent her a cheque: I couldn't find my chequebook for many weeks (because I write a cheque about once every three years!). I finally happened upon it, so I emailed to ask whether the disk would be available online soon, or should I send a cheque: and she replied, within five minutes (!) that I should just send a cheque, and oh, by the way, just email my address to her and she'd send the disk immediately and trust me to send the money! The money is on the way, as apparently is the disk.
I had discovered that there was an earlier disk of hers that we don't have, available on CDBaby --- and so looked around that site for some other music: a couple of disks of children's songs in French, and ordered them. Immediately I got an auto-generated response, saying that I'd get an email from a real live human within a day, letting me know things had been shipped: I expected to get something by this afternoon, but no, it was within an hour: and the message was beautiful: it talked of
how lovingly the CDs had been plucked from the shelves, placed on satin pillows, etc. Beautifuly funny, and left me with all sorts of warm fuzzies for the company.

So, buy some good independent music from they pay the artists a much higher portion of the price than other places, they are pleasant to deal with, and you too can get a lovely "we've shipped" message to make your day!

Yours, wanting to help advertise these people,

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Education, a right or a privilege?

I remember back when I was an undergraduate: in the UK, if you were accepted to a university, you were eligible for a grant which covered some of your living expenses (rent, food, etc). Your fees were covered (invisibly: you never saw a bill, nor did you hold the money to pay said bill in your account) by the grant. It was on the order (if I recall correctly) of about a thousand pounds or two per year: it was means-tested, so that if your parents were wealthy they were expected to make up some of it (although, significantly, the fees were still covered by the government).
Thatcher changed all this: not necessarily for the better --- it is hard for me to tell from this side of the Atlantic: but the situation over here is far far worse. Fees and rent at some private colleges now run on the order of $40000--$50000, and while most places have some "scholarships" available, it is still the case that for a huge number of students, going to even a cheaper college, costing "only" $10000 a year or so, involves going significantly into debt.

Now, if one comes from a wealthy family, the idea of starting adult life with a huge debt might be tenable: and of course, one might be able to persuade daddy and mummy to contribute a substantial portion. But for someone whose family is in, say, the bottom 30% income bracket, the prospect of assuming a bigger debt load than a couple of years income can be quite daunting.

This, of course, is just one component in how the US has been able to maintain such a huge military force --- serve for long enough and you get to go to college with a great deal of support.

Education in this country, it seems, is a privilege, not a right: and I find that disappointing.

Yours, having taken it for granted,

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Alec, now Stephen

Baldwins, they are all the same.
First, supposedly back in 2000, Alec Baldwin threatened to leave the country if Bush was elected. Now, his younger, less talented brother is threatening to leave if Obama is elected.

Yours, yawning over this news, except that it's funny,

Happy Canada Day!

Today, of course, is the first of July: and that, coincidentally is the answer to the question, often asked by Americans of Canadians:
"When do Canadians celebrate the fourth of July?"

Yours, eh?