Thursday, July 31, 2003

"Hawk-Eyed Reader"

I've been a fan of Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo site for a couple of years. He writes thoughtful, thought-provoking stuff about subjects ranging from Chandra Levy to redistricting. Anyway, today something bugged me about a reader e-mail he was dicussing, so I fired off a response and found myself quoted. Cool.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Who Is Chad Mulligan?

I'm currently reading American Gods, last year's Hugo winner. One of the characters, a police officer, is named "Chad Mulligan". What is odd about that is that there is also a character in Stand on Zanzibar, the 1969 Hugo winner, with the same name. The characters don't seem to have much in common. What's going on here?

A Google Search turns up a a police officer in Arkansas named "Chad Mulligan". At first I thought this was a joking reference to one of the books, but the site appears legit.

For what it's worth, according to Census data, 0.004% of Americans have the last name "Mulligan" and 0.165% of American men have the name "Chad". The 2000 male US population was 138.1 million. If the "Chad"s and "Mulligan"s are distributed evenly among the population, there should be about 9 "Chad Mulligan"s. Yahoo! People Search gives three. (None in Arkansas.)

I have no conclusion here. It's just a thing that makes me go "hmm".

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

The Lost Roll of Film

I recently found an unidentified roll of film in a camera bag. Christina had it developed, and it turned out to be the last roll of film we took with my old camera. These pictures were taken on Lady Elliott Island during our trip to Australia last summer.

I can't believe we flew in on this tiny plane.

I'm glad I got rid of those clip-on shades.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Bill Bryson's African Diary

I got this book out of the library and spent, at most, an hour total reading it. For the cover price, it's not a good bargain to buy, unless you desparately need to have it on your shelf. The high cover price is justified by the proceeds from the book going to CARE. But donating the cover price directly to them gets you the tax deduction and saves them the cost of producing the book. So if you're thinking of getting it to "help out", do that and check the book out of the library.

That aside, the content was interesting. Instead of Bryson's usual solo traveler tales, we get to see Bryson the VIP tour some decidedly dangerous areas in Kenya. He also gets to see some very beautiful areas, but the focus of the book is on the crushing poverty of Kenya and CARE's attempts to make a difference. The book makes a good case for their work without hitting you over the head with it, while still retaining some of Bryson's light touch.

Monday, July 21, 2003

Reading & Writing

Christina posted last week about what she's been reading and hinted at what she's writing.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

What Ever Happened to "Baby Shaq"?

For some reason, the other day I started thinking about Charles Claxton, who played basketball at Georgia a decade ago. During my first two years at Georgia, I got cheap basketball tickets ($1/game, and they threw in a free t-shirt). Claxton played center and was nicknamed "Baby Shaq". Unfortunately, as far as we in the stands could determine, he only shared two attributes with Shaquille O'Neal. Both are 7'1", and neither could shoot free throws.

The last sighting I could find of him was as in 2000-01 as an All-Star for the Brighton Bears, a British basketball team. Not exactly the Phoenix Suns (who drafted him before his final year at Georgia in a weird arrangment).

Since I couldn't remember Claxton's name off the bat, I had to resort to a Google search. The search was somewhat complicated by:

The list goes on...

Monday, July 14, 2003

Books, books, books

I usually do most of my reading when traveling, but with July free from travel, I've found some time to do some reading around the house.

Harry Potter

I reserved the new Harry Potter book from the library months ago and picked it up the day it was released. I found it to be really enjoyable. I was particularly impressed that Rowling was able to increase the maturity level of the series as the characters (and readers) mature. Christina pointed out that this progression was part of Rowling's original plan from the book, but I was impressed that she was able to pull it off. I look forward to Book Six.

Atlantic Telegraph

In an age when news zips around the world in the blink of an eye, it's interesting to look back to a time when information traveled at a relative snail's pace. I think it was reading about the Battle of New Orleans, fought after a peace treaty had been signed in the War of 1812 that first got me interested in the transition to the Information Age. That transformation happened with the development of the telegraph. The Victorian Internet was a good read (though poorly titled) on that subject, and A Thread Across the Ocean joins it in filling in my knowledge of how the telegraph shrunk the world. The book gives an idea of both the massive technical challenges that faced the transatlantic cable, as well as the social and political effects of the connection.

Sunday, July 13, 2003

My Civil War Ancestor

I got e-mail the other day from Dale Jones, my mother's fourth cousin. He and I corresponded a few years back about our common ancestor, William Cooley. Dale is descended from William's son, Robert, and has information about that family on his web pages. I was happy to link to Dale's pages for that branch of the family, and Dale e-mailed me to give me his new web address.

My mother's great-great-grandfather was Robert's brother Reuben. Despite the fact that all of my ancestors made it to the US by the end of the 19th century, Reuben appears to be the only one who fought in the Civil War. Years back, I ordered Reuben's pension records, and I took this opportunity to add an excerpt from his application to my web pages. I learned from the pages that his disability resulted from the fact that in "Jan'y, 1864, he contracted "Rheumatism," also at Columbus Ky in summer of 1863 he contracted Chronic Diarrhaea and resulting "Piles". Ah, glory.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Exchange Program

Christina has a post up about To Say Nothing of The Dog, which I read last fall. She mentions our "exchange program" where she is reading a Hugo-award winning novel, and I read a Pulitzer-winning novel. I'm not sure when I'll read another Pulitzer-winning novel, as I think I'll pretend for a while that I learned everything I needed to know about serious fiction by reading one book.

That book would be The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. I enjoyed it quite a bit and particularly enjoyed the author's deft touches. One example was his writing style, which seemed to me overly punchy, until I realized it was evocative of the style of the Golden Age (late 30s, early 40s) comic books the two protoganists created.

It looks like since last fall I've read two other Hugo-award winning novels The Doomsday Book and A Fire Upon The Deep. To Say Nothing of the Dog is a sequel, in a loose sense, to The Doomsday book -- they share some minor characters and the setting. I didn't find it as enjoyable -- I don't think the author did as good of a job with the medieval setting as she did with the Victorian one.

So what next? It's probably time for another Hugo winner. I could read American Gods, last year's winner, about which I've heard good things. And I look forward to seeing which of this year's nominees gets the nod.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Fair Isle

Christina's parents now have a web site for their furniture company, Fair Isle, Inc..

Sunday, July 06, 2003

Friday, July 04, 2003

Phone Book

A picture my father took made it on the cover of his local phone book...

...or at least I'm assuming that's why he sent it to me.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Jury Duty

Hey, if I get enough content from family members, I'll never have to come up with anything original myself.

Christina posted a new entry on her jury duty experience.