Archive for the 'General' Category

On Standardized Testing

Big portions of the Internet seem to be going all sturm und drang over this account of the horrific evils of standardized testing. A lot of the drama is from teachers bitching about them, which is… understandable. And there are a lot of rants from parents about various flaws with standardized, one-size-fits-all tests (or at least how they’re used).

And those are probably quite good and important conversations to have, I freely admit. I just kind of think a lot of people are really missing the point.
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Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', General | on October 7th, 2013 | No Comments »

Daughter of the Coast Guard

I’m not normally one to write book reviews, but I’m also usually not in the strange position of having read a book that nobody on the Internet seems to have ever reviewed before. Even with my eclectic tastes in books, there’s almost always someone out there who’s read pretty much anything I’ve come across.

Not so with Daughter of the Coast Guard, a novel by Betty Baxter that was published by Goldsmith Publishing in 1938. Since it’s a fairly decent book that nobody’s ever heard of, I thought, eh, might as well review it, for posterity, or something.

Warnin’: Here be spoilers.
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Published in: General, History | on October 4th, 2013 | No Comments »

An Enigma, in Silver-Grey

So, online auctions.

The first rule of online auctions is “Caveat Emptor”, right? Buyer beware. Everyone knows that, I think. Well, I hope.

But what’s the second rule? Or the third? The fourth?

Personally, I like to say they are, in no particular order, “don’t buy something if the seller doesn’t know what it is, because it’s probably fake, or broken, or both”; “don’t buy anything if the seller is less-literate than a fourth-grader, you’ll just encourage them”; and “don’t buy something if you don’t know what it is, either”.

Sometimes, I’m not afraid to admit, I break those rules myself.

Case in point…
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Published in: General | on May 2nd, 2013 | 1 Comment »

Untitled Bit of Link-Heavy Self-Serving Nonsense

No count has yet been made of the number of movie patrons who went to see The Seventh Veil in fond expectation that it would combine the most salient features of Salome and Minsky. It didn’t, of course: the veil that was lifted concealed only actress Ann Todd‘s innermost thoughts.
A more pertinent estimate made recently, however, indicates what producers have long suspected—that one-fourth of all movie-goers select their entertainment solely on the appeal of a film’s title. High-powered publicity, star casts, critics’ reviews and personal recommendations mean nothing to this phlegmatic 25 per cent. If the title “sounds pretty good”, they will pay their money without further ado.
Any businessman will tell you that 25 per cent is a figure to be treated with respect. In the move industry, it often means the difference between red ink and black. Small wonder that some of Hollywood’s highest-paid brains labor mightily over movie titles—occasionally bringing forth a mouse.
Twentieth Century-Fox had a sad experience when it first released Bob, Son of Battle, from the book of the same name. This was at a time when war stories were fast loving favor and movie-goers mistook it for a picture about the war. The thousands of dollars already spent to publicize the title had to be written off, and the opus—about a dog—relabeled Thunder in the Valley, a phrase which suggested intense conflict in a satisfactorily vague fashion.

Do not adjust your Internet. Yes, this gossip, though interesting, is slightly dated. It may still be somewhat relevant, however…
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Published in: General | on December 1st, 2012 | No Comments »

On the Nomenclature And Design of Tie, Scarf, And, If You Insist, Stick Pins

This is a tie pin:

It’s probably late Georgian or early Victorian – 1830-1850 – and it’s not, alas, mine; it belongs to a friend. (Were it mine, I’d have polished it. Silver’s supposed to shine, y’know.)

Anyway, I enjoy vintage jewelry as much as the next fellow. Actually, I probably enjoy it more than the next fellow, because part of the enjoyment I derive is knowing and understanding how the pieces were made. It’s an invaluable skill, not only because it lets you spot modern reproductions more easily, but because it helps you appreciate the amount of labor and effort that went – goes – into making entirely handmade jewelry.

Anyway, tie pins – which are two to two-and-a-half inches long, pretty much always; anything much longer than that is almost certainly a hat pin – are fun little pieces of history because they’re obsolete, because they’re inexpensive, and because they’re unisex.
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Published in: General | on August 23rd, 2012 | No Comments »