Saturday, May 17, 2008

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

This was a book club book. It's a heartbreaking, beautifully-told story of the lives of two Chinese women who, as girls, are arranged by their families to be “laotong”, exclusive friends-for-life. Strangers when they enter into the laotong contract, they become each other’s truest, deepest love.

It’s set in 19th century rural China. Of course that means there’s footbinding. I hadn’t thought much about the mechanics of it, so was surprised that this is how it’s done:

Mama took one end of the bandage, placed it on my instep, then pulled it over my four smallest toes to begin the process of rolling them underneath my foot. From here she wrapped the bandage back around my heel. Another loop around the ankle helped to secure and stabilize the first two loops. The idea was to get my toes and heel to meet, creating the cleft, but leaving my big toe to walk on.

[Then every day she had to walk around on her feet, so that eventually her toes would break.]

One day, as I made one of my trips across the room, I hear something crack. One of my toes had broken. . . My mother’s eyes zeroed in on me. “Move! Progress is finally being made!” ...By nightfall the eight toes that needed to break had broken, but I was still made to walk. I felt my broken toes under the weight of every step I took, for they were loose in my shoes. The freshly created space where once there had been a joint was now a gelatinous infinity of torture. ...On the day that my bindings were rewrapped, I soaked my feet as usual, but this time the massage to reshape the bones was beyond anything I had experienced so far. With her fingers Mama pulled my loose bones back and up against the soles of my feet.

The result: feet that were 7 centimeters long, with a cleft on the sole that had erotic powers, and were an asset, along with a dowry, to be leveraged by one’s family in negotiating an arranged marriage.

The women suffer through brutal life circumstances (in addition to the footbinding), but the real tragedy of their lives is that they have a misunderstanding and break each other’s hearts.

Re: Newt

Per Congresspedia (didn't know there was a Congresspedia), both Newt and Jessie Helms voted for the bill, that was passed 3-1 in the House. It passed 2-1 in the Senate. Reagan vetoed it. Don't question the Savage Nation!

Friday, May 16, 2008


Savage just claimed that Newt voted for the Fairness Doctrine in 1987. Don't have time to look up but anybody know anything or want to look? I note that 1987 is the year before Rush started and wonder if that means anything...


Not altogether original thoughts but:

Huck's terrible joke will take him out of any consideration in the McCain cabinet, and good riddance.

Barry's made a terrible mistake reacting to Bush's speech. Must have hurt.

There is a rumor from an unreliable source that the GOP has a video of Michelle Obama railing against "Whitey" that will come out in the fall. Would that sink Barry?

Hail as big as golfballs...

Struck my part of town Wednesday night about midnight. I was able to save the truck with blankets but my neighbors have those lovely little dings all over their cars. 40,000 without power for a while yesterday; now down to about 3,500. I never lost power but, gasp, have lost internet service.

How can that be when I still have cable? I guess they don't necessarily run in the same lines.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Unquiet

Atmospheric psychological mystery with touches of the supernatural. It's the latest in a series involving Charlie "Bird" Parker, former NYPD dectective now PI. The supernatural stuff came out of nowhere and was a little off-putting but once one accepts it it works.
John Connolly is not to be confused with Michael Connelly who writes the truly wonderful Harry Bosch novels.

Farm Bill

From the AP:

Another provision would give extra money to "geographically disadvantaged farmers" in Alaska and Hawaii.


Maybe our new land baron LJ can take advantage of this environmental program before he builds:

It also would pay for about $40 billion in farm subsidies and almost $30 billion for growers to idle their land and other environmental farm programs.


Michael, ant problems?

New poll -->

Loonies 3, Right-thinking Americans 2.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Dream Lunch

HH invited to have lunch today with VDH and Dr. Sowell. He did not decline.

Monday, May 12, 2008


I started listening to Cartledge’s The Spartans on my drive to and from mom’s house this weekend. The box says the running time is 8 hours so I thought great, I can just get through it if I take the back roads (which I much prefer to the interstate). I got about half way through it, not because I wasn’t enjoying it or not learning anything. I was in fact learning so much that I had to listen to many tracks twice.

It is a really quick ride from the somewhat nebulous beginning of Sparta (roughly late 8th C. to early 7th C. BCE—I think I have that right…690 to 710 BCE) down through Thermopylae (480 BCE) and the repulsion of the Persians through its victory in the Peloponnesian War with Athens to its fall not long thereafter (early 4th C. BCE). That’s a lot of ground to cover so I am grateful for the three minute tracks so periods with which I was less familiar could be listened to twice.

Nice words from Cartledge for Pressfield’s Gates of Fire (“historical” fiction piece that Michael and I both enjoyed).

From the Amazon Blurb:

According to Cartledge, the Spartans' legacy to Western culture includes devotion to duty, discipline, the willingness to sacrifice individual life for the greater good of the community and the nobility of arms in a cause worth dying for. Cartledge's crystalline prose, his vivacious storytelling and his lucid historical insights combine here to provide a first-rate history of the Spartans, their significance to ancient Greece and their influence on our culture. It ties in to a PBS series to air this summer.

That blurb tied in to the 2003 release of the hardcover so I presume it’s long since aired. I’ll visit PBS’s website to see if it’s available…I’m that enamored. I just hope a tenth of the content is sinking in.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Jewett, Texas

On the way home today I stopped in Jewett, Texas. They have a little flea market/festival the second weekend of every month so I decided to stop, get out and stroll. Typical junk but there were a lot of dogs, fancy roosters and fancy rabbits, and very fancy saddles available.

The thing that caught my eye though was three high school age guys who were cruising as if this little market were a major urban mall. They were interested in only one thing and it wasn't shopping.

Why was this in any way interesting? One was black and two were white and they behaved no differently than my two best friends and I did when I was in that mall in Dallas in 1975.

For those who live in more enlightened parts of the country this may have been common for quite a while.

It is different from the white couple in their 60s talking good-naturedly to the African-American vendors. The former was genuine friendship, the latter likely just southern politeness and knowing the times have changed. We are getting there.