Earth Day!

Monday — “How I Met Your Mother” — man, is this now my favorite show or what?! This season has been heartbreaking and funny and romantic. I may not have quite felt it with “Friends” (at least not since the early days of the Monica and Chandler romance), but “HIMYM” really does it for me, makes me giddy! (I could reveal what happened in Monday’s episode, but then I’d have to harm you, dear reader – go watch it!). Please, CBS, don’t hurt the series!

Former US Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky/Slate contributor (as Poetry Editor), providing answers to FAQ’s about poetry. I especially loved Pinsky’s answer to the last question:

“Well, I like poetry that is amusing, that maybe makes me chuckle a little. I’d rather read something reassuring and light than something complicated or gloomy. Is that bad? Does that mean I am a jerk?”


Good one! 😉

Fascinating post from Time’s China Blog: Ling Woo Liu, Time Asia reporter, on a documentary about Chinese/Chinese-American actors who couldn’t get roles versus the yellow-face roles (i.e., white actors playing Chinese); the difficulties of the world of drama.

I had read this article about “the lazy girl’s guide to spring cleaning” in the paper version of Daily News some weeks ago, and found it again on-line; what I ought to do is get around to do real cleaning.

Some Earth Day items (although, really, every day should be Earth Day):

Interesting NY Daily News article about Kristin Jordan, a lawyer by day and designer by night – who knits tote bags and handbags with yarn made out of plastic shopping bags! Very cool!

Washington Post article about the disconnect of the meaning of Earth Day – we seem to be more proactive than ever, yet how it feels like we’re not doing enough (well, no, we’re not – not in the DC area and certainly not in NYC).

Last but not least: April 23 is Shakespeare’s (presumed) birthday. And, hmm, as much as I find all the speculation interesting, the point from this Slate article by Ron Rosenbaum on “Shakespeare for Everyone” is true: we have no (contemporaneously documented) evidence whether he loved or hated his wife or what religion or even personality he had. But, his work – what great work!

Poem in Your Pocket Day!

Thursday, April 17 – Poem in Your Pocket Day!

I’ve been into reading Emily Dickinson poetry, and since I’m not violating copyright law (Dickinson now in public domain), this has to be one of my favorite poems, simply for being morbid and full of imagery:

BECAUSE I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labor, and my leisure too,
For his civility.

We passed the school where children played
At wrestling in a ring;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.

We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice but a mound.

Since then ’t is centuries; but each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses’ heads
Were toward eternity. — Emily Dickinson.

Other stuff, of whimsy and otherwise:

On Rewarding people who recycle? Sounds like a great idea to me.

Slate’s Ad Report: Seth Stevenson on the story behind that Travelers’ ad with a man walking around with the whimsical large red umbrella and helping people along the way. Nice insight.


David Leonhardt writes in the NY Times about whether money really is happiness:

[….] In 1974, Richard Easterlin, then an economist at the University of Pennsylvania, published a study in which he argued that economic growth didn’t necessarily lead to more satisfaction.

People in poor countries, not surprisingly, did become happier once they could afford basic necessities. But beyond that, further gains simply seemed to reset the bar. To put it in today’s terms, owning an iPod doesn’t make you happier, because you then want an iPod Touch. Relative income — how much you make compared with others around you — mattered far more than absolute income, Mr. Easterlin wrote. [….]

But now the Easterlin paradox is under attack.

Last week, at the Brookings Institution in Washington, two young economists — from the University of Pennsylvania, as it happens — presented a rebuttal of the paradox. Their paper has quickly captured the attention of top economists around the world. It has also led to a spirited response from Mr. Easterlin.

In the paper, Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers argue that money indeed tends to bring happiness, even if it doesn’t guarantee it. They point out that in the 34 years since Mr. Easterlin published his paper, an explosion of public opinion surveys has allowed for a better look at the question. “The central message,” Ms. Stevenson said, “is that income does matter.” [….]

ife satisfaction is highest in the richest countries. The residents of these countries seem to understand that they have it pretty good, whether or not they own an iPod Touch.

If anything, Ms. Stevenson and Mr. Wolfers say, absolute income seems to matter more than relative income. In the United States, about 90 percent of people in households making at least $250,000 a year called themselves “very happy” in a recent Gallup Poll. [….]

[Mr. Easterlin] agreed that people in richer countries are more satisfied. But he’s skeptical that their wealth is causing their satisfaction. The results could instead reflect cultural differences in how people respond to poll questions, he said.

He would be more persuaded, he continued, if satisfaction had clearly risen in individual countries as they grew richer. In some, it has. But in others — notably the United States and China — it has not. [….]

The fact remains that economic growth doesn’t just make countries richer in superficially materialistic ways.

Economic growth can also pay for investments in scientific research that lead to longer, healthier lives. It can allow trips to see relatives not seen in years or places never visited. When you’re richer, you can decide to work less — and spend more time with your friends.

Affluence is a pretty good deal. Judging from that map, the people of the world seem to agree. At a time when the American economy seems to have fallen into recession and most families’ incomes have been stagnant for almost a decade, it’s good to be reminded of why we should care.

So, bottom line to me: what is happiness? If money isn’t it, or maybe it is, or maybe polls are worded badly, what does it – whatever “it” is – lead us?

Thoughts on Post Tax Day

Back to work on Tuesday, after my attempt of having a personal four-day weekend, and being unable (as usual) to relax. Who was I kidding?

Monday TV:

“How I Met Your Mother” – plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, particularly for lawyers:

Marshall realizes he hates Big Firm Law Practice, because it means drafting pointless legal research memoranda on how to deal with 23(b) class actions, because it means analyzing the factors of commonality, numerosity, etc. (clearly, there are one or more writers on the staff of HIMYM who’s the ex-lawyer!).

The gang didn’t want to hear about that and advised him to refer to the memo as “The Ninja Report” (awesome! I want to write a Ninja Report! I don’t know what a law firm would have to do with ninjas, but, say, the client’s suing a bunch of ninjas for ruining a contract or something).

Marshall has to deal with student loans and a horrific mortgage for an apartment that has an uneven floor and requires massive renovations to correct; his wife has a poor credit rating and a shopping addiction (plus as a kindergarten teacher and struggling artist, she’s not making all that much for their income); hence he can’t just quit the Big Law Firm, although his boss – the partner or senior associate – is a complete ass…

Barney’s company is “friends” with North Korea (thus explaining further why Barney is such a mentally-messed-up corporate cog – it doesn’t help that his idea of helping Marshall is to encourage poor Marshall to yell at lesser people to let go of the pent-up frustration).

Robin’s idea of helping Marshall is to suggest threatening his boss with a gun (thus returning NRA Member/Gun-Crazy Robin back to “HIMYM,” to which Ted replies: that may be how things are done in Robin’s Canada, but not, say, Corporate NYC).

And, last but not least, Ted’s trying to protect his shiny new car from his friends’ messiness (to no avail) – but, really, why does Ted have a car, when he’s a mid-level architect living in Manhattan? Is it for those trips home to Ohio (or where ever Ted came from prior to NYC) or to Staten Island (to visit the loathed cousins)?

Watched most of what might be the series finale of FOX’s “New Amsterdam.” I think it might get canceled – the writing’s not very good and some casting needs serious tweaking if this is going to work. That being said, I like the chemistry between the immortal John Amsterdam and his family – perhaps the character’s journey is about accepting the journey of life (no matter how much it sucks) and family and personal growth, rather than this hopeless search of finding his One Soulmate (the doctor as the love interest had no chemistry with John, plus she seems a little dim – poor writing indeed). Plus, the cop adventures in this series are ridiculously tedious. If you’re going to make this a little interesting in a fantasy tv way, place a Big Bad Villain, as shows as flawed as “Charmed” or as entertaining as “Buffy” and “Angel” figured out during their tenures.

Hugh Laurie in a big-screen American crime movie . When I saw the poster on a subway platform near work, I just thought – Hugh Laurie? Dr. House? The ex-Bertie Wooster, the British twit? Has Hugh Laurie come a long way or what? (oh, and Yahoo has the clips of Hugh Laurie’s moments from the movie; he has his House accent, of course, to play an American Internal Affairs detective. Hmm).

Sarah Weinman on “Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind” posted
on what I thought was a little disturbing – that there are those in the publishing industry that don’t like libraries, sharing of books, or used books sales because they don’t really make money for the industry (which gets their share from first sales). Yeah, I know that this is a capitalist world, but life is more than money; shouldn’t we all want people to be literate? And, if books are accessible, then people will think about buying more books because they liked the writer they tried out from the library or even decide to buy a new copy of a book. Win-win, right? Anyway, Weinman links to an article on Library Journal, where librarian Barbara Fister proposes some ideas on how the publishing industry, libraries, and booksellers can cooperate to make a better world for readers.

Mark “The Minimalist” Bittman with a video on Hangtown fry, whereby you eat oysters with scrambled eggs and bacon; he adds mushrooms and parsley to the recipe and goes into a nice explanation. I’m a bit leery of raw seafood (yeah, oysters too), but I’m of the view that scrambled eggs make anything tasty.

Lastly: in one year after the killings at Virginia Tech: how a family honored the memory of their daughter by helping others.