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Nerd Spot

A shout out to the nerdy and proud.

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Location: Massachusetts, United States

Lifelong nerd, shameless Constitution-hugger, unreconstructed Democrat and thoroughgoing misanthrope

Friday, August 20, 2004

Another Reason Why I Love the Herald

It's good to see that the Herald is giving the NY Post a run for its money in the Enquirer-style front page department. The Herald is utterly disingenuous, hypocritical, and masterful at manipulating language. Really, it's a thing of beauty. Here's the formula. Put "speaker's conference" in quotes and it becomes sinister. For the people at State Street, it's a business trip. For Finneran (or any other elected official), call it a junket and now you've taint it with the whiff of corruption without any effort. Let's open the Herald's books and see what's in there. I'm sure there isn't even a penny spent unnecessarily.

And paging Willard M. Romney. Let's talk about the $6.1 million of his own dough he spent in 2002 to buy himself a governorship (Utah? Massachusetts? What's the difference? For someone who isn't interested in a Senate or Presidential run, he sure spends a lot of time getting his op-eds in the Wall Street Journal and cultivating coverage on MSNBC and CNN.) No doubt he has the interests of you and your $35K a year job at heart. Isn't it nice that he balanced the budget without cutting core services by eliminating what he called almost $2 billion in "waste, fraud and mismanagment" (Globe, "A Look at the Facts Behind the Exchanges," Rick Klein, October 2, 2002) -- you know, denying 15,000 kids health care, kicking 36,000 unemployed people off health insurance, too, cutting funding for AIDS treatment, cutting pharmacy assistance for seniors, cutting $100 million from cities and towns (btw, how did your Representative and Senator vote on the roll call to pass the buck to romney? how much did your community lose out on?) and eliminated the school health program that put nurses into schools in 106 communities.

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Mmmmm mutton gruel

Everything a girl could want in a story -- Robin Hood, the Black Death and recipes! Where is G. Chaucer when we need him?

The Guardian

Bones reveal chubby monks aplenty

Martin Wainwright
Thursday July 15, 2004

The full truth about one of Britain's favourite historical fatties has been tracked down by a three-year study of overweight medieval monks.

Robin Hood's companion Friar Tuck had hundreds of real-life counterparts, according to a newly published analysis of skeletons in three monastic burial sites in London.

Suet, lard and butter were wolfed down in "startling quantities" by the closed communities, whose abbots often depended on arranging large and regular helpings to keep their flocks under control.

"The way to a man's heart is through his stomach and this seems specially to have been the case with monks," said Philippa Patrick, of the Institute of Archaeology, at University College, London. "They were taking in about 6,000 calories a day, and 4,500 even when they were fasting."

Arthritis in knees, hips and fingertips showed that the often under-employed monks were seriously obese.

Ms Patrick, whose findings were revealed to the International Medieval Congress, meeting in Leeds, said: "Their meals were full of saturated fats. They were five times more likely to suffer from obesity than their secular contemporaries, including wealthy merchants or courtiers."

The reckless scoffing was in clear breach of St Benedict's austere rules laid down probably in 530, which warned: "There must be no danger of overeating, so that no monk is overtaken by indigestion, for there is nothing so opposed to Christian life as overeating."

Critics, such as Peter the Venerable, who slated monks for "wearing furs and eating fat", were advised however that Benedict had also warned about grumbling: "Brethren would indeed grumble if deprived of the food to which they are accustomed."

The skeletal data, from 300 sets of bones found at Tower Hill, Bermondsey, and Merton abbeys, includes information on a medical condition known now as Dish (diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis) triggered by overeating and a rich diet. "The marks of Dish keep appearing on their skeletons. It forms a coating on the spine like candlewax dripping down the side," said Ms Patrick.

The findings tally with satire that developed a keener edge after the Black Death and food shortages. Friar Tuck was only one of many fat fictional characters based on medieval churchmen by resentful lay storytellers.

The new evidence backs records from Westminster Abbey, showing that six eggs a day was normal for monks. In the middle ages, monkish obesity was Europe-wide. The Portuguese Cistercians had a test: monks unable to squeeze through a certain doorway at Alcobaca monastery's dining room had to fast while slimmer colleagues tucked into "pastry in vast abundance".

Friar's tucker

A 13th century Cluniac friar's possible daily intake based on Ms Patrick's studies:

11am-1pm Three eggs, boiled or fried in lard. Vegetable porridge with beans, leeks, carrots and other produce of monastery garden. Pork chops, bacon, and mutton. Capon, duck and goose with oranges. Half pound of bread, to use as sop. Peaches, strawberries and bilberries with egg flan. Four pints of small (watery) beer.

4-6pm Mutton gruel with garlic and onions. Posset of egg, milk and figs. Venison with rowanberries, figs, sloes, hazelnuts and apple. Stewed eels, herring, pike, dolphin, lamphreys, salmon, cod and trout. Half pound of bread as sop, sometimes soaked in dripping or lard. Syllabubs of fruit. Four pints of ale. Flagon of sack or other French, Spanish or Portuguese wine.

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Sunday, August 15, 2004

Faux Pal

So ACT has a pretty funny ad with Will Ferrell mocking our President for his pretensions. What will SNL do without Will during the debates? On a similar vein, Maureen Dowd was on OnPoint last week selling her book Bush World, and she drove home the observation that the Bushes deny that their class, status and advantages have influenced their success with the comment that they don't appreciate the difference between "wanting to clear brush and having to clear brush."

Related: See Porter Goss make an ass out of himself on the front page of Michael Moore's website. (why would these people ever say these things on camera???)

If you want to see some excellent coverage of the media's Election 2004 coverage (i know, i know...) and find some stories you may not have seen, check out the Columbia Journalism Review's Campaign Desk.

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Friday, August 06, 2004

I've penn walken the streets at night just trying to get it right...

So I happened to catch At Close Range on some basic cable station last night. Now I have always been a Christopher Walken fan -- he is by far my favorite SNL host. I still smile when i think of him rubbing jimmy fallon's stomach during an opening monologue where they're singing tomato, tomahto together. not to mention as the producer who just wants a little more cowbell in blue oyster cult's don't fear the reaper. But holy f-g sh-t is he unbelievable in this movie. i literally could not take my eyes off of him. sean penn is fantastic as always, but walken steals the show. riveting. he pulls off charm, sexuality, ruthlessness, quotidity. Proteus the shapeshifter. dang! anyway, MGM has some trailers and sound clips for it online.

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Senator, the people are revolting!

"What's your name? Elizabeth? Elizabeth is the name of my new running mate's wife, too." -- Candidate for President U.S. Senator John F. Kerry (D-MA) in a touching moment of bonhomie with a member of the great unwashed.

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I can talk like a dolphin, I can talk like a dolphin

So, as one would expect, The Daily Show had some excellent moments during the week of the convention. One of the best mo's was when whackjob Theresa was pandering in Spanish, French and "Portugues", John Stewart breaks in with dolphin noises to speak with our Delphinidae friends. (Incidentally, Maureen Dowd did a fantastic column on don't call me Thereesa, it's Theraysa on the 19th, delightfully titled Out of Africa. It's archived on the NY Times site, but i was able to find a version here. As I'm quite tired and rambling, this, of course, reminds me of the recent Onion story about Kerry. "KERRY MAKES WHISTLE-STOP TOUR FROM DECK OF YACHT — Democratic frontrunner Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) began a seven-day, eight-state whistle-stop tour Monday, addressing a group of Frigidaire factory workers from the all-teak deck of his 60-foot luxury motor cruiser. ‘George W. Bush put tax cuts for the wealthy and special favors for the special interests before our economic future,’ Kerry told the crowd gathered below the starboard side of The Real Deal II." Sadly, the Onion has moved the article into its premium (i.e., pay) content, but at least for right nowthere is a cached version available.

As for the convention itself, while i chose to absent myself, i hear that they gave away 35,000 tickets for 17,000 seats, stairwells were literally crammed with people who couldn't get onto any floor, because security wouldn't let them. if you left your seat for food (because we couldn't possibly allow a threatening object like a pretzel onto the floor of the Fleet Center), there was a good chance you lost it. Typical of our affairs. The '02 state convention was a worse disaster, although certainly less inconvenient for the people of that fair city of the seven hills, by which i mean...worcester. (one of my favorite things about america is our gumption. for the rest of the universe, the city of seven hills? rome. for us, it's wistah. city of lights, you say? paris? nay, nay, silly fool, it's lowell. everyone knows that.)

Anyway, the best characterization of the two parties I have come across is from Dave Barry. "The Democrats seem to be basically nicer people, but they have demonstrated time and again that they have the management skills of celery. They're the kind of people who'd stop to help you change a flat tire, but would somehow set your car on fire. I would be reluctant to entrust them with a Cuisinart, let alone the economy. The Republicans, on the other hand, would know how to fix your tire, but they wouldn't bother to stop because they'd want to be on time for Ugly Pants Night at the country club."

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