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Monday, August 3, 2009

Monday Musings



- Maira Kalman's illustrated New York Times column never fails to amaze and inspire me. This month: Benjamin Franklin and the need for invention -- and, in turn, creativity.

Don't mope in your room.
Go invent something.
That is the American message.
Electricity. Flight. The telephone.
Television. Computers. Walking on the moon.
It never stops.

- Michael Pollan. I just adore the man. This fantastic New York Times Magazine piece about how Julia Child gifted America with "The Art of French Cooking," and how that art has gradually disappeared from American homes, gives us all another reason to worship him. And I say that as a Food Network viewer.

Plus it contains this juicy tidbit:

The BBC supposedly took 'The French Chef' off the air because viewers wrote in complaining that Julia Child seemed either drunk or demented.

- Let other cities have their models and movie stars; we have Capitol Hill's 50 Most Beautiful People.

- A behind-the-scenes look at Secret Service recruit training from last week's Washington Post Magazine.

- Now we know the true reason why the English hate the Scots: haggis, that delectable dish of sheep heart, liver and stomach, may actually be an English recipe.

- Over-spending and "keeping up with the Joneses" is driving the Korean economy into the gutter.

This explains so much about life here:

South Koreans work more, sleep less and kill themselves at a higher rate than citizens of any other developed country, according to the [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development]. They rank first in time spent online and second to last in spending on recreation, and the per capita birthrate scrapes the bottom of world rankings.

My students get seriously winded -- to the point of crawling and leaning against walls, gasping for air -- after walking up three flights of stairs. Asking "What's your favorite hobby" is invariably answered with, "Playing computer games." And it's more common than not for an elementary school student to attend school and hagwons (private educational institutes) from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. every day except Sunday.