Friday, October 31, 2008
I took this picture for no particular reason, except that it's a library, last July. Today I looked it up and it has a fascinating history:
The Charleston Library Society is the South's oldest cultural institution and the third oldest library in the United States. For more than 250 years it has collected, preserved, and made available cultural materials for the use of its members and researchers from around the world. Today, it is a circulating library and a repository of rare books, periodicals, manuscripts, clippings, maps, directories, almanacs, and visual materials.
Established in 1748 by seventeen young gentlemen of various trades and professions wishing to avail themselves of the latest publications from Great Britain, the Charleston Library Society paved the way for the founding of the College of Charleston in 1770 and provided the core collection of natural history artifacts for the founding of the Charleston Museum – America’s first – in 1773.
During the war years of 1861 - 1865, part of the Library's archives was sent to the state capitol for safekeeping. The reunion of the collections at the end of the war also marked the merging of the Apprentice's Library with the Charleston Library Society, resulting in the long-standing practice of providing each adult member a free membership to gift to a minor twenty-one years of age or under.
The Charleston Library Society's building at 164 King Street is fronted by two of the city's largest ginkgo trees. This species represents memory and long life, and for many years the ginkgo leaf has served as the symbol of the Charleston Library Society.
I love libraries, particularly old ones!
Posted by miriam at 4:20 PM
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
It has been said (sneeringly) of Sarah Palin that she doesn't even have a passport. And what might she have learned, had she had a passport? I've only been to Europe, so please excuse my Eurocentric bias:
1. There are a lot of churches in Europe.
2. Ditto museums.
3. Likewise historic sites where stuff happened.
4. (British Isles and Canada only) Cute young guys in kilts.
5. Also, the Euro is worth about a dollar, sometimes more, sometimes less.
6. Many foreigners speak English. Many do not.
7. There's a long wait to get into the House of Commons; sometimes you don't get in anyway.
8. Did I mention churches?
My trips to Europe did not result in any epiphanies or insights into how to run the nation. I might as well have stayed home and read some Fodor's guidebooks. Going was more enjoyable, but also more costly.
But it was fun, and I heartily recommend that Sarah, Todd, and the kiddies go on a nice family vacation in Europe.
Posted by miriam at 6:49 PM
Saturday, October 25, 2008
the scholastic scribe lists her favorite blogs:
An interesting idea. I can't wait to visit all the blogs she lists.
My own choices, among many: 15 minute lunch; lileks; tim blair; Iowahawk; the nose on your face; not necessarily in that order.
Whew! I'm bushed! Putting in all those links is not easy.
Friday, October 24, 2008
What in the world is the Obama discount on the stock market?
Are investor concerns about an Obama presidency influencing the stock market? And by "concerns" I mean "existential panic." And by "Obama presidency" I mean "a tax-hiking and regulatory reign of terror." And by "influencing" I mean "eviscerating." At least that's the overwrought take I get from a few of my more skittish E-mailers.
Here's my thinking: I was supposed to get a minimum distribution on my 401(k)on Nov 15. However, I was pretty sure the market would tank if Obama were elected president, which appeared very likely. I didn't want to wait until after the election; that would be too late. So, the Friday before the market started to slide gracefully downhill like an Olympic skier, I called the company and asked them to send me the money now--I mean then, of course.
Well, the very next Monday the market started to plummet and has since continued the good work, so I have discovered that I have financial acumen which has hitherto been latent. I was as surprised as anyone to learn that I know as much about the market as anybody else, including Alan Greenspan (who confessed himself puzzled at the way things have gone.)
So, exhibiting the old pioneer spirit which led my ancestors as far west as Columbus, OH, I have decided to set myself up in business as a financial adviser. I am dedicating a corner of my office--the one formerly occupied by the mop and the broom--to my new business. Hours: noon to four, Monday through Friday.
Perhaps I will start a new website called "Miriam pix stox," to be consulted by my devotees when they are in need of some savvy advice. Or you can e-mail me.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
I'm not happy about our country's financial meltdown, but it does have some positives. For instance, when you try to deal with some company on the phone, they are downright civil!--almost matey, in fact.
My car was recalled and I dreaded calling the dealer. People who work at automobile dealers are generally either rude or dismissive. Not this bunch! I told them I was sent a recall notice, and they directed me--in person, not voicemail--to someone to make an appointment with. They gave me the name of the person who would be taking care of my car. I couldn't have been more pleased if they had sent me a dozen roses.
I also ordered a computer for my husband from Dell, this time using live chat. Gabe was friendly and knowledgeable. I explained that we did not need a monitor. Gabe set me up with one of their promotions, and said someone would call me. (Apparently you can't order anything over live chat.)
A few minutes later Craig called and was downright friendly. Entire time spent ordering a computer: 15 minutes. Nor did either Gabe or Craig try to sell me a long-term maintenance contract or upgrade me from what I wanted to something more expensive. They also did not mention their own payment plan, under which you pay them a certain sum of money, an amount which increases arbitrarily from time to time, for the rest of your life plus 10 years.
Now if someone would just do something to Verizon....
Posted by miriam at 10:46 PM
Monday, October 13, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
I, along with a bunch of other librarians from the county, (which shall be nameless) were summoned to an urgent meeting at the office of the community college library director. It turns out there was some state grant money to be spent on the arts, they had a hatful of applications, and someone had to decide who got the money. That would be us. They couldn't think of anyone better equipped, knowledgeable, blah blah blah. Or maybe they couldn't get anyone else on such short notice.
It turns out there were two kinds of organizations looking for grants. First, those which were doing okay without the money but could have used some, and those that were hopeless. Among the hopeless was an application to paint a mural on the side of a disused barn in the middle of nowhere.
We had to decide where to disburse the money that very day. The applications had apparently been found in somebody's inbox just a day or two before the deadline, so we had to make up our minds very fast.
I discovered then and there how good it felt to spread money around. It was a small amount, but we felt powerful and important. A thousand here, a thousand there--we felt the thrill which undoubtedly motivated the Rockefellers, with the pleasing difference that it wasn't coming out of our pockets.
So I learned how easy and rewarding it is to give away somebody else's money. Well, it felt like other people's money, even though it was tax money and we were the taxpayers.
Posted by miriam at 10:22 PM
The Bill Ayers/Barack Obama/Annenberg Challenge mess chiefly inspires this sentiment in me: Shame on you, Annenberg Foundation! You gave enough money to rebuild a whole neighborhood in New Orleans, to a couple of radical fakers and time-servers who wanted to radicalize school children--and they couldn't even do that! (Neither could they teach them to read, write and calculate, which I bet is the reason their parents send them to school-- but that's another issue.)
President Roosevelt liked to build dams and other infrastructure projects, because something tangible was there to show where the money went. These Annenberg idiots could have built a school, a bridge, a bikepath, a dam for God's sake, and have something to show for the money. They could have bought every child in Chicago a Big Mac.
I'm all for eliminating tax-free foundations. They just make mischief.
*It means money thrown away.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Well, the Jewish holidays are over, and I can now ignore the Jewish religion until Passover, when another spasm of piety will undoubtedly strike. I am not religious, but I draw some kind of strength and certitude from being among believers. There is something noble about those who take religious precepts seriously and govern their behavior accordingly.
When I visit my cousin Bernie for Shabbat dinner and he recites the blessing over wine, I admire his dignity and strength. I also acknowledge a direct connection between him--and me--and our ancestors who did the very same thing, far away, in a different country and in different circumstances, but using the very same words. Tradition continues l'dor v'dor--from generation to generation, and I am still part of this, one link in the chain.
Posted by miriam at 9:46 PM
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
through Google and other search engines. They are a strange lot.
I would say the number one search that lands people on my site is Miriam's porn. I get them from all over--Eastern Europe, Western Europe, Australia. They must be so disappointed; it's kind of deceptive advertising, actually. I should take it down--that and my numerous references to nude blogging. Then no-one would visit me.
Another combo that gets hits is English towns with funny names. They are pretty funny. Example: Butthole Lane. Also, Mercedes-Benz: the car of choice for dictators. Some British automotive magazine linked to this one, and I got a lot of visits.
I get visits from people who want to view the soler system. At least half of them think that is the correct spelling. Poor education.
Monday, October 06, 2008
Saturday, October 04, 2008
So she must be qualified for a position of leadership.
It stands to reason. But certain soreheads resent her success:
Ken Lay and Jack Abramoff must be green with envy over the all the mischief that has been accomplished by Jamie Gorelick, with scarcely any demonization in the press.
Imagine playing a central role in the biggest national defense disaster in 50 years. Imagine playing a central role in one of the biggest economic disasters in your country's history. Imagine doing both as an un-elected official. Imagine getting filthy rich in the process, and even being allowed to sit self-righteously on a commission appointed to get to the bottom of the first disaster, which of course did not get to the bottom of that disaster or anything else for that matter.
Some people just don't want anyone to get ahead.
One of the advantages of being old(er) is that I've seen it all. From the perspective of a faculty wife, I've seen my share of blockheads who went to Harvard, Swarthmore, Berkeley, you name it. People who couldn't tie their own shoes without a government grant. These people, by the way, were employed as tenured professors in highly prestigious institutions of higher education. And they had sneering privileges over the rest of us, lowly graduates of state institutions that were probably founded to educate farmers on how to rotate the crops. Like the University of Idaho, where some nobody whose name escapes me got her degree.
Apparently the hardest part of going to Harvard is getting in. After that, it's duck soup. Cut classes, foment revolution, burn down historic buildings, rape the president's daughter, it doesn't matter. All will be forgiven. My brother the genius informs me that it's just the same at MIT. Just get admitted, and the faculty and administration are frightened that you will commit suicide if your little frailties are not overlooked.
ht to lead and gold.
Thursday, October 02, 2008
I thought they both did okay and did not commit any egregious errors. What struck me was how Biden kept dragging Bush into the debate. It's his King Charles' head.
Cheney was also dragged into the debate on topics that had nothing to do with him What is it about Cheney that makes him such a bogeyman? Parents apparently frighten their children by threatening to call in Cheney to discipline them if they don't mind.
Frankly, I can only think of two things Cheney did in his eight years in office. One was telling Senator Leahy to go f*** himself, and the other was shooting his friend on the hunting trip.
Posted by miriam at 11:34 PM
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
From Milton Friedman: [W]hen Adam Smith was told that the British loss at Yorktown would be the ruination of Britain, Adam Smith replied, "Young man, there's a deal of ruin in a nation."
From an interview by Rightwing News.
A remarkable political fact of Mr. Biden's career is that his top campaign contributor is SimmonsCooper, a law firm in Madison County, Illinois, of all places. Aficionados of tort law will understand. SimmonsCooper is a big asbestos player, and Madison County was until recently one of America's meccas for jackpot justice. But the story gets better: Mr. Biden has been helping the tort bar turn his home state of Delaware into a statewide Madison County.
Posted by miriam at 11:11 AM