March 30, 2006

And now . . . this - Mar. 30/06

It's official: everything offends Muslims

Posters with the phrase "America's latest hero is a Muslim straight out of jail" has been banned from the Tube by London Underground (LU).

LU said it will not show the posters from a �1m advertising campaign for new TV series Sleeper Cell until creators remove the word Muslim from the text. . . .

An LU spokeswoman said: "Following consultation with Viacom, who manage advertising on the Tube, it was decided to ask for the words 'is a Muslim' to be removed.

"This decision was taken in line with our standard policies, which seek to avoid gratuitously insulting large groups of Londoners."

[Full Story]

Six months from now, we won't even be calling them "Muslims." They will be "Those We Do Not Speak Of," and we will only be allowed to approach them wearing the "safe colour."

March 29, 2006

Yay!

My landlord has purchased a new router and, after much hardship, allowed us to rejoin civilization.

Non-productive use of time will commence shortly.

March 28, 2006

Pro-life apologetics 102

As though to underscore what I had said yesterday about pro-life apologists capturing and holding the intellectual high ground in the abortion debate, today ProudToBeCanadian notes two recent stories on LifeSiteNews.com describing recent outbreaks of pro-abortion neanderthalism in southwestern Ontario.

March 27, 2006

Pro-life apologetics 101

A few days ago on Triablogue, Paul Manata took a few abortion-rights advocates to school. Starting with the post "The Illogic of 'Pro-Choice'" (and continuing here, here, here, here, and finally here), he debunks the pretentious sophism of the pro-murder crowd with reason, logic, and proper definitions.

This is the style of pro-life defense I prefer and which I have personally observed to be the most effective: short on emotionalism and religious argument, and long on logic. While the anti-God, pro-abortion crowd rejects the authority of Scripture, Aristotle dismantles their intellectual pretensions and lays their prejudices against the unborn bare for all to see. This is the methodology of Christian philosopher Francis J. Beckwith, whose book Politically Correct Death is a must-read for anyone wanting to debate the issue of abortion. Stand to Reason takes the same approach in its Pro-Life 101 seminar, as does former STR staffer Scott Klusendorf, who continues to teach the seminar via his newly formed Life Training Institute.

I was present when Scott gave the Pro-Life 101 seminar here in Ottawa in October 2001. One of the things he mentioned to us was that more and more pro-abortion advocates are refusing to debate him (and pro-life apologists in general). Indeed, Scott had also been in Ottawa for a debate six months previously; during the day, the University of Ottawa chapter of Ottawa Youth For Life had rented space to allow him to make a presentation on campus. Instead of trying to refute Scott with facts and arguments, the campus "Womyn's Centre" complained to the administration about "hate crimes" (because of STR's moral stand on homosexuality, which of course was merely a convenient excuse, as it has nothing to do with the abortion issue). OYFL representatives were also questioned by the Ottawa police, and Scott was detained and interrogated at the border for an hour before being allowed into Canada. When the time came for his presentation, one of the campus "womyn" sabotaged it by pulling the plug on a television set Scott intended to use to show a video, and refused to relinquish it while other onlookers attempted to shout him down. (Scott agreed to a change of venue when the police and campus security were called in, and the presentation continued.) Finally, his debate opponent that evening decided to back out, though she later changed her mind.

This anti-intellectual trend amongst abortion-rights activists is ongoing. Albert Mohler's radio program a few weeks ago pointed me to the article "Bioethical Politics," by Jon A. Shields, in the March/April 2006 issue of Society, a sociological journal published by Rutgers University. Conventional wisdom is that the pro-abortion side of the debate is the intellectually respectable one, while the "Religious Right" attempts to impose dogma and superstition on society. Shields argues that, in fact,

it is actually the secular left that has undermined a national discussion on vital bioethical questions - such as when a human organism deserves state protection - by depicting them as fundamentally religious and therefore beyond legitimate public debate. Even more surprising, the religious right increasingly embraces sophisticated philosophical arguments in its efforts to convince Americans from across the political spectrum that embryonic stem cell research and abortion are not religious issues.1

The article continues to give an interesting on-the-ground look at apologetics work by STR and Justice for All volunteers on campuses. While the pro-life students attempted to engage critics and passers-by in discussion on a Denver campus, for example,

not all students were willing to talk to the JFA volunteers. In fact, a handful of pro-choice counter-demonstrators were especially uninterested in dialogue. . . . I spoke with two pro-choice activists with the Feminist Alliance who refused to talk to any of the JFA volunteers. They set up a booth near the pro-choice display and circulated a petition to have the exhibit removed from campus because it was "obscene" and created "a hostile environment."2

It gets worse:

And although the students who approached the exhibit often reciprocated the kindness of pro-life activists, such behavior was less common among the counter-demonstrators themselves. In fact, when the JFA display was disassembled on the final day of the exhibit, some activists cheered and then chanted "pro-life fascits, get your asses off campus!". . . . Yet another student wrote on JFA's "free speech board" each morning "Get the fuck off our campus." But the worst offender was probably a student named Channey who screamed at a few female volunteers and then walked away without giving them an opportunity to respond. . . .

[JFA staffer] Jeremy Alder informed me that a student pro-choice group at the University of Missouri worked hard to maintain the prevailing cultural image of pro-life activists. According to Alder, the group reported to the student newspaper that JFA staff and volunteers hurled aborted fetuses at students and yelled "you're going to hell." . . . At the University of Colorado in Boulder . . . a literature professor took his entire class out to see the JFA exhibit and then proceeded to shout invective at staffers while his students snickered in the background. Likewise, an instructor at the University of New Mexico yelled at JFA volunteers, "You are the American Taliban."3

But the article ends on a happy note. Here's the icing on the cake:

[Most pro-choice advocates] seem unwilling or unprepared to confront the growing philosophical sophistication of pro-life advocates. On college campuses across the country . . . pro-choice student groups refuse to debate their opponents despite the persistent efforts of pro-life students. As one student from the University of Albany put it when I asked him about the reluctance of pro-choice students to discuss abortion, "we have to beg them." Such frustration is fueled by NARAL and Planned Parenthood where elites discourage their campus affiliates from debating or even talking to pro-life students. . . . Meanwhile, Scott Klusendorf, the former director of bioethics at STR and current director of the newly launched Life Training Institute, reports that he rarely succeeds to get pro-choice advocates to debate him. The director of the Pro-Choice Action Network recently corroborated Klusendorf's account with the following admission: "along with most other pro-choice groups, we do not engage in debates with the anti-choice."4

Of course not. It's easier to retreat into emotional rhetoric and yelling F-bombs at pro-life students than to mount an intelligent defense of the indefensible. And that is why people's minds are being changed. We are winning because we have an argument, and the pro-abortion activists have given theirs up.

Footnotes

1 Jon A. Shields, "Bioethical Politics," Society 43 (March/April 2006): 19, emphasis in original.

2 Ibid., 22-23.

3 Ibid., 23.

4 Ibid., 23-24.

March 26, 2006

Case against Abdul Rahman dropped

Now this is a turn of events I was honestly not anticipating:

An Afghan man threatened with execution because he converted from Islam to Christianity is expected to be released from custody at the end of the day, a Western diplomat and Afghan officials close to President Hamid Karzai told CNN Sunday.

But other sources in the Afghan judiciary said the case against Abdul Rahman had been thrown out on technical grounds and sent back to prosecutors to gather more evidence. Those same sources said Rahman may not be released.

On Sunday, The Associated Press quoted an official as saying an Afghan court had dismissed the case against Rahman because of a lack of evidence.

[Emphasis added; Full Story]

A lack of evidence?!

If you were charged with converting to Christianity, would there be enough evidence to convict you? Rahman has affirmed his belief in Jesus Christ, the Christian Gospels, and the Trinity. What more evidence do his accusers need - a signed declaration that there is no god Allah and Mohammed is a camel-humping drunkard?

Not that I'm complaining (and in any case Rahman is not out of the woods yet). But in the past Christ has made blind eyes see; could he now be making seeing eyes blind?

March 25, 2006

An honest KJV-onlyist, for a change

"Jesus is the Bible!"

This is not a phrase I would utter on my own initiative. I have seen it quoted, secondhand, in KJV-onlyism-related discussions, and I have quoted it myself, hoping to elicit comments from KJV-onlyists. What I have found surprising is that while very few KJV-onlyists will actually affirm the sentiment, they don't precisely want to repudiate it, either. (Probably it would hurt their street cred with other KJVers, who are notorious for dogpiling anyone who doesn't toe the party line.)

Then I encountered Steven L. Anderson, pastor of Faithful Word Baptist Church of Phoenix. He came on to the BaptistBoard about two weeks ago, and began posting links to his essays along with some leading comments and limited interaction - in short, spamming. (If you have a stomach for flummery, you can go to his site and read how all birth control, even mechanical contraception, is sinful; homosexuals are beyond salvation; how all music, including "pop, rap, country, rock, jazz, classical, and easy listening" is wicked because it is "of the world" and "doesn't sound distinctly like Christian music in its style" [though Anderson doesn't expend any effort to describe a "distinctly Christian music style"]; how male OB/GYNs are perverts who just want to touch women's private parts; and how repentance means merely changing one's mind, so repentance from sin is not a part of salvation.)

Anyway, an attempt in one thread to engage Anderson on his views on the King James Bible finally elicited this response:

The discussion was meant to be with those who believe the Bible, not with confused people whose authority is several different Bibles and texts. You are your own authority - you may as well be God since you decide what the truth is after looking at all your assortments of translations and texts.

I have one God - the King James Bible - not 10 different Gods who all say things a little differently.

Anyone who uses multiple Bibles (e.g. a KJV and an NIV) is polytheistic because they believe in more than one God (In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word WAS God!)

[Emphasis added; Full Post; from this thread]

There is one word for this view: idolatry. Unadulterated, rank idolatry. I would like to be able to give Anderson the benefit of the doubt; perhaps he mis-spoke. But in the above paragraphs, he identifies the Bible as "God" no less than three times: the KJV as the true God, and other Bible versions as false gods. That is no accident.

The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is spirit. He is not represented by a block of wood. This is true whether the block of wood is carved into a pretty little statue, or whether it is cooked, pulverized, sliced very thin, printed upon, and bound into a black leather cover with "Holy Bible" embossed on it.

Anderson attempts to justify his view by citing John 1:1. He is, of course, wrong to do so. "The Word" is a metaphor, and John makes it clear in the preamble to his Gospel that he is referring to the God-man, Jesus Christ. Just as our thoughts are revealed to others through our words, Christ reveals the mind of God to the world. For Anderson to attempt to use this passage to identify the second person of the Trinity with God's written revelation, the Scriptures, is an equivocation and a gross abuse of the text. (John 1:1 is a biblical "first principle." What is the point of having a "perfectly preserved" Bible, as the KJV-onlyists claim the KJV is, if you lack the ability to interpret even this foundational truth correctly?)

But we have to commend Pastor Anderson for one thing: He's honest. To a fault. Most KJV-onlyists are bibliolators, but they still get very angry when you tell them so. Anderson comes right out and admits it.

But, in all fairness, until he repents of his idolatry (by which I mean turns away from and ceases to practice it, not merely "changes his mind" about it), they should really consider not naming their church "Faithful Word."

March 23, 2006

Ah, dang

Our router is apparently fried. That means Net access from home is, to say the least, limited to whatever few minutes I can scrounge on dialup, at least until a replacement arrives.

Sigh.

I hate technology. I'm going to go write a blog post with a pointed stick and my own blood.

March 21, 2006

Another scientific Internet quiz gets accurate results

No, really, one homemade Internet quiz is worth a thousand credentialed psychologists.

Your results:
You are Derrial Book (Shepherd)

Derrial Book (Shepherd)
80%
Dr. Simon Tam (Ship Medic)
55%
Zoe Washburne (Second-in-command)
50%
Malcolm Reynolds (Captain)
50%
Wash (Ship Pilot)
50%
Jayne Cobb (Mercenary)
35%
Kaylee Frye (Ship Mechanic)
35%
Alliance
30%
River (Stowaway)
25%
Inara Serra (Companion)
15%
A Reaver (Cannibal)
10%
Even though you are holy
you have a mysterious past.
You aren't married.
Have you taken a vow of celibacy?
Click here to take the Serenity Firefly Personality Test

March 20, 2006

I'm a spam blog!

Imagine my surprise to get a very odd error message in w.bloggar informing me that I would actually have to log my browser onto blogger.com to post, and directing me to a URL I could read for more information. That page reads, in part:

Blogger's spam-prevention robots have detected that your blog has characteristics of a spam blog. (What's a spam blog?) Since you're an actual person reading this, your blog is probably not a spam blog. Automated spam detection is inherently fuzzy, and we sincerely apologize for this false positive.

Before we can turn off mandatory word verification on your posts we'll need to have a human review your blog and verify that it is not a spam blog. Please fill out the form below to get a review.

Curses! I've been caught. I wonder what gave me away? Hundreds of book titles (which I may or may not have read), no doubt.

Anyway, hopefully Blogger will be quick to correct this.

Postscript: That was quick and painless. I just received a form email from Blogger support saying that the CC has been reviewed and verified as Not Spam. Apparently they have a whitelist of verified sites, as well, so the chances of being randomly zonked again by a silly computer algorithm are, hopefully, nil.

Begun this Scientology™ war has

The opening shot was, of course, the infamous South Park episode last November that mocked the "secret teachings" of the Church of Scientology™.

Last week, Isaac hayes, who voices the character Chef, announced that he was quitting the show, citing religious intolerance.

"There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins," the 63-year-old soul singer and outspoken Scientologist said.

"Religious beliefs are sacred to people, and at all times should be respected and honoured," he continued. "As a civil rights activist of the past 40 years, I cannot support a show that disrespects those beliefs and practices."

[Full Story]

When Scientologists™ start whining about "intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs," you can pretty much take for granted that they mean intolerance and bigotry toward Scientology™ religious beliefs. L. Ron Hubbard himself was known to take snarky jabs at Christianity, and Operation Clambake has a selection of audio files of the dead crook making some of his most infamous nonsensical statements, including his claim that "the man on the cross: There was no Christ." As long as South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, equal opportunity offenders, were taking shots at Roman Catholicism, evangelical Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Mormonism, and native spirituality being mocked, Hayes' conscience wasn't bothered by accepting his paycheque. But laugh at his laughable joke of a self-help science-fiction UFO cult? Ron forbid!

The next salvo was fired by Comedy Central, the cable network that owns South Park. Last Wednesday, they pulled the scheduled rerun of "Trapped in a Closet." Rumours circulated that Tom Cruise, another high-profile Scientologist™, threatened not to promote the upcoming Mission: Impossible III if the episode wasn't deep-sixed (Comedy Central and Paramount are both owned by the Viacom conglomerate). On the other hand, Cruise's "people" deny it, and Comedy Central claims they merely wanted to rerun some vintage episodes featuring Chef as a tribute to Hays. (It wouldn't be the first time the cult attempted to interfere with Viacom's programming, however.)

Parker and Stone, meanwhile, are taking the controversy in stride, saying, in a recent statement:

"So, Scientology, you may have won THIS battle but the million-year war for Earth has just begun!" the South Park creators said in a statement, apparently referencing details of Scientologists' beliefs, in Friday's Daily Variety.

"Temporarily anozinizing our episode will NOT stop us from keeping Thetans forever trapped in your pitiful man-bodies . . . You have obstructed us for now, but your feeble bid to save humanity will fail!"

[Full Story]

I should start a pool. How many days until Scientology™ lawyers like Helena "Handbasket" Kobrin put in an appearance?

March 17, 2006

Yet another annoying booklist

Why, O why, do I let you people rope me into looking at these lists? I know, I know, I am a sucker for lists of prestigious books.

A poll of British librarians has resulted in a list of the books everyone should read before they die. Fortunately I'm well on my way. As usual, the ones I've actually read are in beautiful Palatino Bold:

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  2. The Bible (No kidding.)
  3. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by JRR Tolkien
  4. 1984 by George Orwell
  5. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  6. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  7. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Well, I started it.)
  8. All Quite on the Western Front by E M Remarque
  9. His Dark Materials Trilogy by Phillip Pullman
  10. Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
  11. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  12. The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  13. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
  14. Tess of the D'urbevilles by Thomas Hardy
  15. Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne
  16. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  17. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham
  18. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  19. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  20. The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  21. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
  22. The Prophet by Khalil Gibran
  23. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
  24. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  25. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
  26. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  27. Middlemarch by George Eliot
  28. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
  29. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  30. A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzenhitsyn

Well, 10/30 isn't so bad. If I live to 105, I should manage to finish off the list.

I find it interesting that the Bible, the most significant book in world literature, should play second fiddle to To Kill a Mockingbird. Beyond that, the list is a hodge-podge of the truly great (e.g. Dickens), the pretty-good-but-I-wouldn't-say-it's-that-great (e.g. Life of Pi, A Clockwork Orange) a bunch of stuff I've never heard of, and another bunch of stuff I doubt will stand the test of time. Who's going to remember His Dark Materials a century from now?

March 14, 2006

KidLit redux

Cindy drew my attention to her own post today about children's literature and the decline of bedtime stories. Since it included yet another one of those lists, I had to get on the bandwagon.

Actually there are two lists - one each for the 150 bestselling hardcover and paperback children's books of all time, at least to 2000. I really don't think I could do the subject justice without accessing both. So the big question becomes: Can Scott dig back far enough in his memory to know how many of these things he's actually read? As usual, the ones I have read (or at least I'm pretty sure about) are bolded.

Hardcover

  1. The Poky Little Puppy, Janette Sebring Lowrey (1942)
  2. The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter (1902)
  3. Tootle, Gertrude Crampton (1945)
  4. Green Eggs and Ham, Dr. Seuss (1960)
  5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J. K. Rowling (2000)
  6. Pat the Bunny, Dorothy Kunhardt (1940)
  7. Saggy Baggy Elephant, Kathryn and Byron Jackson (1947)
  8. Scuffy the Tugboat, Gertrude Crampton (1955)
  9. The Cat in the Hat, Dr. Seuss (1957)
  10. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, J. K. Rowling (1999)
  11. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J. K. Rowling (1999)
  12. Where the Sidewalk Ends, Shel Silverstein (1974)
  13. One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, Dr. Seuss (1960)
  14. The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein (1964)
  15. The Littlest Angel, Charles Tazewell (1946)
  16. Hop on Pop, Dr. Seuss (1963) (Best. Seuss. Ever.)
  17. Oh, the Places You'll Go!, Dr. Seuss (1990)
  18. Dr. Seuss's ABC, Dr. Seuss (1960)
  19. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer'sPhilosopher's Stone, J. K. Rowling (1998) (Ahem.)
  20. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle (1969)
  21. The Children's Bible (1965) (Maybe - I have an edition of the Living Bible with this title, though it was published in 1976.)
  22. A Light in the Attic, Shel Silverstein (1981)
  23. The Tale of Benjamin Bunny, Beatrix Potter (1904)
  24. Are You My Mother?, P. D. Eastman (1960)
  25. The Rainbow Fish, Marcus Pfister (1992)
  26. The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, Dr. Seuss (1958)
  27. Richard Scarry's Best Word Book, Richard Scarry (1963)
  28. Disney's the Lion King, adapted by Justine Korman (1994)
  29. The Tale of Jemina Puddle-Duck, Beatrix Potter (1908)
  30. The Little Engine That Could, Watty Piper (1930)
  31. Fox in Socks, Dr. Seuss (1965)
  32. Goodnight Moon (board book), Margaret Wise Brown; illustrated by Clement Hurd (1991)
  33. The Real Mother Goose, Blanche F. Wright (1916)
  34. Go, Dog Go!, P. D. Eastman (1961)
  35. How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Dr. Seuss (1964) (I believe this is the only book I own in all media: print, audio, and video.)
  36. The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin, Beatrix Potter (1903)
  37. The Tale of Tom Kitten, Beatrix Potter (1907)
  38. Macmillan Dictionary for Children, edited by Judith Levy (1975)
  39. Winnie-the-Pooh, A. A. Milne; illustrated by Ernest Shepard (1926)
  40. My Book About Me (By Me, Myself), Dr. Seuss; illustrated by Roy McKie (1969)
  41. Where's Waldo?, Martin Handford (1987)
  42. Just Imagine (1992)
  43. The Great Waldo Search, Martin Handford (1989)
  44. The Polar Express, Chris Van Allsburg (1985)
  45. Find Waldo Now, Martin Handford (1989)
  46. Cat's Cradle, Anne Akers Johnson; illustrated by Sarah Boore (1993)
  47. The Cat in the Hat Beginner Book Dictionary, P. D. Eastman (1964)
  48. Goodnight Moon, Margaret Wise Brown; illustrated by Clement Hurd (1947)
  49. Walt Disney's Storyland, Walt Disney (1962)
  50. The Secret of Shadow Ranch (Nancy Drew #5), Carolyn Keene (1931) (Well, I read some edition of it, anyway - the syndicate that created this franchise updated them every 20 years or so. Ditto Hardy Boys, Tom Swift, the Bobbsey Twins, etc.)
  51. Barney's Favorite Mother Goose Rhymes Vol. 1 (1993)
  52. Falling Up, Shel Silverstein (1996)
  53. The Secret of the Old Clock (Nancy Drew #1), Carolyn Keene (1930)
  54. Richard Scarry's Best Mother Goose Ever, Richard Scarry (1964)
  55. The Tower Treasure (Hardy Boys #1), Franklin Dixon (1927)
  56. Guess How Much I Love You (board book), (1996)
  57. Barney's Farm Animals, (1993)
  58. I Can Read with My Eyes Shut, Dr. Seuss (1978)
  59. Baby Bop's Toys, (1993)
  60. Put Me in the Zoo, Robert Lopshire (1960)
  61. The Touch Me Book, Pat and Eve Witte (1961)
  62. I Am a Bunny, Ole Risom, illustrated by Richard Scarry (1963)
  63. Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak (1964)
  64. Never Talk to Strangers, Irma Joyce (1967)
  65. Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!, Dr. Seuss (1975)
  66. Richard Scarry's Best Storybook Ever, Richard Scarry (1968)
  67. When We Were Very Young, A. A. Milne; illustrated by Ernest Shepard (1924)
  68. The Hidden Staircase (Nancy Drew #2), Carolyn Keene (1930)
  69. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Laura Numeroff; illustrated by Felicia Bond (1985)
  70. The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exup�ry (1943)
  71. Barney's Magical Picnic, Stephen White (1993)
  72. The House on the Cliff (Hardy Boys #2), Franklin Dixon (1927)
  73. Richard's Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things That Go, Richard Scarry (1968) (We were finding Goldbug before that piker Handford ever conceived of Waldo.)
  74. Guess How Much I Love You, Sam McBratney; illustrated by Anita Jeram (1995)
  75. Animalia, Graeme Base (1987)
  76. The Bungalow Mystery (Nancy Drew #3), Carolyn Keene (1930)
  77. Kay Thompson's Eloise, Kay Thompson; illustrated by Hilary Knight (1955)
  78. Charlotte's Web, E. B. White; illustrated by Garth Williams (1952)
  79. Moo Baa La La La (board book), Sandra Boynton (1982)
  80. Disney's 101 Dalmatians, adapted by Ronald Kidd (1991)
  81. Barney's Color Surprise (1993)
  82. Disney's Beauty and the Beast, adapted by Ronald Kidd (1991)
  83. Scholastic Children's Dictionary (1996)
  84. Eloise Wilkin's Mother Goose, Eloise Wilkin (1961)
  85. Oh Say Can You Say?, Dr. Seuss (1979)
  86. The Secret of the Old Mill (Hardy Boys #3), Franklin Dixon (1930)
  87. Disney's The Little Mermaid, adapted by Ronald Kidd (1991)
  88. Love Is a Special Way of Feeling, Joan Walsh Anglund (1960)
  89. The Very Quiet Cricket, Eric Carle (1990)
  90. The Magic Locket, Elizabeth Koda-Callan (1988)
  91. A Fly Went By, Mike McClintock; illustrated by Fritz Siebel (1958)
  92. The Going to Bed Book, Sandra Boynton (1982)
  93. There's a Wocket in My Pocket!, Dr. Seuss (1974)
  94. Big Bird's Color Game (1980)
  95. Aladdin, adapted by Ronald Kidd (1992)
  96. Make Way for Ducklings, Robert McCloskey (1941)
  97. ET: The Extra-Terrestrial Storybook, William Kotzwinkle (1983)
  98. Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? (board book), Dr. Seuss (1996)
  99. Dr. Seuss's ABC (board book), Dr. Seuss (1996)
  100. The Mystery of Lilac Inn (Nancy Drew #4), Carolyn Keene (1930)
  101. Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?, Dr. Seuss (1970)
  102. The Cheerios Play Book, Lee Wade (1998)
  103. Baby's First Words, Lars Wik (1985)
  104. The Runaway Bunny (board book), Margaret Wise Brown; illustrated by Clement Hurd (1991)
  105. Disney's The Lion King, adapted by Ronald Kidd (1994)
  106. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Storybook Based on the Movie (1990)
  107. Disney's Storybook Collection (1998)
  108. The Missing Chums (Hardy Boys #4), Franklin Dixon (1930) (I can't precisely recollect this title, so let's assume no.)
  109. The Way Things Work, David Macaulay (1988)
  110. The Mitten, Jan Brett (1989)
  111. Hunting for Hidden Gold (Hardy Boys #5), Franklin Dixon (1928)
  112. The Eleventh Hour, Graeme Base (1989)
  113. Thomas the Tank Engine's Noisy Trip, Rev. W. Awdry (1989)
  114. Where's Spot?, Eric Hill (1980)
  115. If You Give a Moose a Muffin, Laura Numeroff; illustrated by Felicia Bond (1991)
  116. Baby Bop's Counting Book (1993)
  117. Tawny Scrawny Lion, Kathryn Jackson (1952)
  118. Barnyard Dance, Sandra Boynton (1993)
  119. The Silver Slippers, Elizabeth Koda-Callan (1989)
  120. Richard Scarry's What Do People Do All Day?, Richard Scarry (1968)
  121. Star Wars Episode I Cross Sections (1999) (I browsed it in the bookstore, so I'm counting it.)
  122. House at Pooh Corner, A. A. Milne; illustrated by Ernest Shepard (1928)
  123. On the Day You Were Born, Debra Frasier (1991)
  124. Santa Mouse, Elfrieda Dewitt (1966)
  125. Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories, Dr. Seuss (1958)
  126. My First Bible in Pictures, Kenneth Taylor (1989)
  127. Stellaluna, Janell Cannon (1993)
  128. Love You Forever, Robert Munsch (1986)
  129. The Sneetches and Other Stories, Dr. Seuss (1961)
  130. Ten Apples Up On Top!, Theo. LeSieg; illustrated by Roy McKie (1961)
  131. Baby's ABC, Steve Shevett (1986)
  132. The Very Busy Spider, Eric Carle (1985)
  133. I Spy Christmas: A Book of Picture Riddles, Jean Marzollo; photos by Walter Wick (1992)
  134. My First Word Board Book (1997)
  135. I Am Not Going to Get Up Today!, Dr. Seuss; illustrated by James Stevenson (1987)
  136. Thomas and the Freight Train, Rev. W. Awdry (1991)
  137. Arthur Goes to School, Marc Brown (1995)
  138. Horton Hatches the Egg, Dr. Seuss (1940)
  139. Happy Birthday to You!, Dr. Seuss (1959)
  140. Dr. Seuss's Sleep Book, Dr. Seuss (1962)
  141. Babies So Tall Board Book, Gyo Fujikawa (1963)
  142. Big Bird's Mother Goose, photos by John Barrett (1984)
  143. The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!, Jon Scieszka; illustrated by Lane Smith (1989)
  144. It's Not Easy Being a Bunny, Marilyn Sadler; illustrated by Roger Bollen (1983)
  145. The Jolly Postman, Janet and Allan Ahlberg (1986)
  146. The Tall Book of Nursery Tales, Feodor Rojankovsky (1944)
  147. The Napping House, Audrey Wood; illustrated by Don Wood (1984)
  148. Curious George, H. A. and Margret Ray (1941)
  149. Baby's Animal Friend, Phoebe Dunn (1988)
  150. Richard Scarry's Early Words, Richard Scarry (1976)

Paperback

  1. Charlotte's Web, E. B. White; illustrated by Garth Williams (1974) (A well-deserved #1 book.)
  2. The Outsiders, S. E. Hinton (1968) (Ironically, the one book of Hinton's that I have read - Tex - isn't on the list.)
  3. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Judy Blume (1976)
  4. Love You Forever, Robert Munsch; illustrated by Sheila McGraw (1986)
  5. Where the Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls (1973)
  6. Island of the Blue Dolphins, Scott O'Dell (1971) (Don't hear people talking about this one too often. An overlooked classic.)
  7. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer'sPhilosopher's Stone, J. K. Rowling (1999) (Ahem.)
  8. Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret, Judy Blume (1972)
  9. Shane, Jack Schaeffer (1972)
  10. The Indian in the Cupboard, Lynne Reid Banks (1982)
  11. A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'Engle (1974)
  12. Little House on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder; illustrated by Garth illiams (1971) (Ironic that the best-selling Little House book should be one of the few I haven't read. My hometown public library had all of them but this one.)
  13. Little House in the Big Woods, Laura Ingalls Wilder; illustrated by Garth Williams (1971)
  14. The Incredible Journey, Sheila Burnford (1984)
  15. The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exup�ry (1968)
  16. Johnny Tremain, Esther Forbes (1969)
  17. Just Me and My Dad, Mercer Mayer (1977)
  18. Go Ask Alice, Anonymous (1976)
  19. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. J. K. Rowling (2000)
  20. Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great, Judy Blume (1976)
  21. Blubber, Judy Blume (1976)
  22. The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Elizabeth George Speare (1972)
  23. Superfudge, Judy Blume (1981)
  24. Bridge to Terabithia, Katherine Paterson (1987)
  25. Freckle Juice, Judy Blume (1978)
  26. On the Banks of Plum Creek, Laura Ingalls Wilder; illustrated by Garth Williams (1971)
  27. That Was Then, This Is Now, S. E. Hinton (1972)
  28. Sideways Stories from Wayside School, Louis Sachar (1985)
  29. The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger (1951) (Unfortunately. Why is this a children's novel? It must be because all those high-school English students are forced to read it.)
  30. Farmer Boy, Laura Ingalls Wilder; illustrated by Garth Williams (1971)
  31. Just Go to Bed, Mercer Mayer (1993)
  32. Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak (1984)
  33. Goodnight Moon, Margaret Wise Brown; illustrated by Clement Hurd (1977)
  34. The Long Winter, Laura Ingalls Wilder; illustrated by Garth Williams (1971)
  35. The Berenstain Bears' New Baby, Stan and Jan Berenstain (1974)
  36. By the Shores of Silver Lake, Laura Ingalls Wilder; illustrated by Garth Williams (1971)
  37. Little Town on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder; illustrated by Garth Williams (1971)
  38. The Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room, Stan and Jan Berenstain (1983)
  39. The Pigman, Paul Zindel (1978)
  40. The Yearling, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (1961)
  41. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E. L. Konigsburg (1973)
  42. Merry Christmas, Mom and Dad, Mercer Mayer (1982)
  43. Just Grandma and Me, Mercer Mayer (1975)
  44. Just for You, Mercer Mayer (1975)
  45. Sarah, Plain and Tall, Patricia MacLachlan (1987)
  46. When the Legends Die, Hal Borland (1984)
  47. Bunnicula, James Howe (1980)
  48. James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl; illustrated by Nancy Burkert (1988)
  49. The Berenstain Bears Go to School, Stan and Jan Berenstain (1978)
  50. The Night Before Christmas, Clement Hurd; illustrated by Douglas Gorsline (1975) (Come on, who hasn't?)
  51. These Happy Golden Years, Laura Ingalls Wilder; illustrated by Garth Williams (1971)
  52. All By Myself, Mercer Mayer (1983)
  53. Stuart Little, E. B. White; illustrated by Garth Williams (1974)
  54. The First Four Years, Laura Ingalls Wilder; illustrated by Garth Williams (1971)
  55. Hatchet, Gary Paulsen (1988)
  56. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Barbara Robinson (1979)
  57. The Cay, Theodore Taylor (1970)
  58. Kristy's Great Idea (Babysitters Club #1), Ann M. Martin (1986)
  59. The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food, Stan and Jan Berenstain (1985)
  60. Then Again, Maybe I Won't, Judy Blume (1973)
  61. I Was So Mad, Mercer Mayer (1983)
  62. The Berenstain Bears Meet Santa Bear, Stan and Jan Berenstain (1984)
  63. The Giver, Lois Lowry (1994)
  64. The Berenstain Bears and Too Much TV, Stan and Jan Berenstain (1984)
  65. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl (1988)
  66. The Berenstain Bears Forget Their Manners, Stan and Jan Berenstain (1985)
  67. The Berenstain Bears Learn About Strangers, Stan and Jan Berenstain (1985)
  68. Julie of the Wolves, Jean Craighead George (1974)
  69. The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist, Stan and Jan Berenstain (1981)
  70. The Berenstain Bears and the Truth, Stan and Jan Berenstain (1983)
  71. Gremlins, George Jipe (1984)
  72. Stone Fox, John Gardner; illustrated by Marcia Sewall (1983)
  73. I Just Forgot, Mercer Mayer (1988)
  74. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Judith Viorst, illustrated by Ray Cruz (1976)
  75. How to Eat Fried Worms, Thomas Rockwell (1975)
  76. The Mouse and the Motorcycle, Beverly Cleary (1980) (What? No Ramona on the list? Where's Henry Huggins?)
  77. When I Get Bigger, Mercer Mayer (1983)
  78. The Berenstain Bears in the Dark, Stan and Jan Berenstain (1982)
  79. 500 Words to Grow On, Harry McNaught (1973)
  80. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, Mildred Taylor (1984)
  81. Merry Christmas, Amelia Bedelia, Peggy Parish; illustrated by Lynn Sweat (1987)
  82. Number the Stars, Lois Lowry (1990)
  83. The Trumpet of the Swan, E. B. White; illustrated by Edward Frascino (1973)
  84. The Cricket in Times Square, George Selden; illustrated by Garth Williams (1970)
  85. Misty of Chincoteague, Marguerite Henry (1956)
  86. It's Not What You Expect, Norma Klein (1976)
  87. Matilda, Roald Dahl; illustrated by Quentin Blake (1990)
  88. The New Baby, Mercer Mayer (1983)
  89. The Chocolate Touch, Patrick Catling (1984)
  90. Corduroy, Don Freeman (1976)
  91. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis (1970)
  92. The Berenstain Bears Go to the Doctor, Stan and Jan Berenstain (1981)
  93. The Berenstain Bears Get in a Fight, Stan and Jan Berenstain (1982)
  94. Sounder, William H. Armstrong (1972)
  95. The Return of the Indian, Lynne Reid Banks (1987)
  96. The Kitten Book, Jan Pfloog (1968)
  97. Dinosaurs, Peter Zallinger (1977)
  98. Wee Sing Children's Songs and Fingerplays (1977)
  99. The Truck Book, Harry McNaught (1978)
  100. Barney's Hats (1993)
  101. The Sign of the Beaver, Elizabeth George Speare (1984)
  102. Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself, Judy Blume (1978)
  103. The Berenstain Bears: No Girls Allowed, Stan and Jan Berenstain (1986)
  104. Farm Animals, Phoebe Dunn (1984)
  105. Richard Scarry's Please and Thank You, Richard Scarry (1973)
  106. Rascal, Sterling North (1964)
  107. Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls (Babysitters Club #2), Ann M. Martin (1986)
  108. Just Me and My Mom, Mercer Mayer (1990)
  109. Me Too!, Mercer Mayer (1983)
  110. A Wind in the Door, Madeleine L'Engle (1974)
  111. Iggie's House, Judy Blume (1976)
  112. Meet Samantha, Susan Adler; illustrated by Dan Andreasen (1986)
  113. Poems & Prayers for the Very Young, Martha Alexander (1973)
  114. The Farm Book, Jan Pfloog (1964)
  115. The Berenstain Bears and the Sitter, Stan and Jan Berenstain (1981)
  116. Just Me and My Puppy, Mercer Mayer (1985)
  117. Welcome to Dead House (Goosebumps #1), R. L. Stine (1992)
  118. The Chocolate War, Robert Cormier (1986)
  119. Chocolate Fever, Robert K. Smith (1978)
  120. Say Cheese and Die (Goosebumps #4), R. L. Stine (1992)
  121. Meet Addy, Connie Porter; illustrated by Dahl Taylor and Melodye Rosales (1993)
  122. Frog and Toad Are Friends, Arnold Lobel (1979)
  123. The Alphabet Book, P. D. Eastman (1974)
  124. The Berenstain Bears Get the Gimmies, Stan and Jan Berenstain (1988)
  125. Rumble Fish, S. E. Hinton (1976)
  126. The Little Duck, Judy Dunn; photos by Phoebe Dunn (1976)
  127. A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Madeleine L'Engle (1979)
  128. The Secret of the Indian, Lynne Reid Banks (1990)
  129. Curious George, H. A. and Margret Rey (1973)
  130. The Velveteen Rabbit, Margery Williams (1979)
  131. Good Work, Amelia Bedelia, Peggy Parish (1996)
  132. The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Birthday, Stan and Jan Berenstain (1986)
  133. The Zoo Book, Jan Pfloog (1967)
  134. 101 Dalmatians, Dodie Smith (1976)
  135. The Berenstain Bears and the Trouble with Friends, Stan and Jan Berenstain (1987)
  136. The Berenstain Bears and the Week at Grandma's, Stan and Jan Berenstain (1986)
  137. In & Out, Up & Down, Michael Smollin (1982)
  138. Amelia Bedelia, Peggy Parish; illustrated by Fritz Siebel (1983)
  139. The Berenstain Bears Go Out for the Team, Stan and Jan Berenstain (1987)
  140. The Berenstain Bears Go to Camp, Stan and Jan Berenstain (1982)
  141. Amelia Bedelia and the Baby, Peggy Parish; illustrated by Lynn Sweat (1982)
  142. Just Shopping with Mom, Mercer Mayer (1989)
  143. Richard Scarry's Find Your ABC's, Richard Scarry (1973)
  144. Grover and the Everything in the Whole Wide World Museum, (1974)
  145. The Runaway Bunny, Margaret Wise Brown; illustrated by Clement Hurd (1977)
  146. Sunshine, Norma Klein (1976)
  147. Deenie, Judy Blume (1974)
  148. The Berenstain Bears and Moving Day, Stan and Jan Berenstain (1981) (Uh - do you get the impression that the Berenstain Bears are perennial favourites? 'Cause I do.)
  149. Meet Kirsten, Janet Shaw; illustrated by Renee Graef (1986)
  150. Clifford the Big Red Dog, Norman Bridwell (1985)

Obviously, I have read a little too much Dr. Seuss for my own good.

There are a multiplicity of worthy children's books not on the list, that deserve mention:

  • The classics, those books that have been read and enjoyed for decades, if not centuries: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Heidi, Black Beauty, Tom Sawyer, Anne of Green Gables, and so forth. I would guess that their public-domain status means that since no one publisher has a monopoly on them, the multiplicity of editions dilutes the statistics.
  • Henry Reed, Inc., by Keith Robertson, and its sequels. Henry is the son of a travelling diplomat who spends his summer holidays with family friends Stateside. The books are his journals of the ensuing mayhem.
  • The Space Ship Under the Apple Tree, by Louis Slobodkin, and its sequels. While on summer vacation, at his grandmother's, kid meets alien kid who crashed his flying saucer in the yard. Inevitably, weird stuff happens. Criminally, these books are out of print.
  • This Can't Be Happening at Macdonald Hall! and the collected works of Gordon Korman. Every kid my age practically lost his lunch laughing at the misadventures of Bruno and Boots and Korman's other characters. (It's been 25 years since I first read I Want to Go Home!, and I still call camp counselors "clones.")

These are the fond memories of my childhood. I'm sure you could think of other deserving titles: feel free!

March 13, 2006

Why this boy reads girls' books

On his blog last Friday, Al Mohler asked the question, "Why would boys read books written for girls--books like the Laura Ingalls Wilder 'Little House' series? One answer he comes up with is interesting, quoting Emily Bazelon, writing for Slate:

The real appeal of Little House for many boys probably isn't the narrative, but rather the precise and detailed descriptions of how to tap a maple tree for syrup or load a musket. . . . To generalize wildly, "They don't set out looking for story and relationship. They set out looking for information."

I think there's at least something to that. When I read Ingalls Wilder's Little House in the Big Woods for the first time, I thought the most interesting parts were the ways that pioneers living on isolated homesteads did things. Bullets manufactured by hand. Doors hung on hinges made from leather straps. Meat smoked in an oven made from a hollow tree trunk. Sunday afternoons spent quietly studying catechism (the Ingalls family, you may not be aware, were Congregationalists in an era when that actually meant something). I had a great interest as a child of eight or nine in how things were made. I'm sure I'm not alone in that. (I still do - another classic mentioned by Bazelon, Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things That Go, is still kind of fun, even if I am ten times the age of its target audience.) So it was the details of late 19th-century life on the frontier that kept me reading the series.

But what started the series was a reason so mundane that it hardly merits psychologizing: My family watched the TV series Little House on the Prairie. I liked it. Ergo, I wanted to read the books it was based on.

At 10 and 11 or thereabouts, I started reading Nancy Drew books because I had practically exhausted the Hardy Boys books at the library, and I had not yet discovered Agatha Christie in the adult stacks.

Around 13, my family attended a performance of the musical Anne of Green Gables while on a trip to Prince Edward Island; again, I wanted to read the book on which it was based. A few years later I read a number of L. M. Montgomery's other novels because I had a crush on a girl who enjoyed them. (For any armchair psychologists worried about the feminizing influence of "girl books" on adolescent boys: So there!) Even though that particular relationship went by the wayside years ago, I still read them because I know and enjoy fine writing when I see it - and indeed you may already have noticed that Emily of New Moon currently sits at the top of my recent-reading list.

True, the Nancy Drew and Anne books were originally written for a girl audience. But granting that, what makes a book a "girl book" anyway? Is The Wonderful Wizard of Oz? What about Alice's Adventures in Wonderland? The protagonists of both are little girls, the latter even based on tales improvised by Lewis Carroll to amuse Alice Liddell and two of her sisters. Yet these two books are considered classics, enjoyed by all regardless of age or sex.

God willing, at some point I'll have my own son, whom I will encourage to read. If, at some point, I spy him turning the pages of a copy of Little House in the Big Woods or Heidi that he pulled off my bookshelf, it won't worry me too badly.

March 04, 2006

F5 #3: Mightier than the sword

Yes, I am aware of the irony of writing a tribute to a pen when I can't keep a freakin self-imposed deadline. So sue me.

I have lousy handwriting. I always have. It's small, narrow, and pointy. Loops tend to turn into little horseshoes. M's turn into N's, and V's and W's turn into U's. Block capitals replace cursives at random. Little flourishes obscure entire words. Needless to say, I never got high marks for penmanship in school.

I personally think it comes from two factors. First, I'm left-handed. Like all lefties, I have to modify my writing posture, though I don't use that "hook" that so many lefties adopt. Second, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool note-taker, and when you want to write down a whole lot of stuff before the speaker says something else important, there's not an awful lot of time to make sure your O's are little perfect circles or your T's are crossed.

Over the years, I've tried two things to neaten my handwriting. The first was to revert to block letters when taking notes in subjects that weren't heavy on English text, such as math, physics, or chemistry. I started this in grade 11, and as a result I can now switch effortlessly between block and cursive - even unconsciously, depending on the subject matter.

The second was when I bought my first fountain pen, in 1999. My thinking at the time was that a heavier tool than a standard ballpoint, and which laid down a darker, thicker line, would compel me to write slower, and hence neater. To a certain extent, I was right.

Since then, any serious handwriting I've had to do has been done with a fountain pen. Ballpoints are handy for jotting quick notes, but they simply can't compare to the comfort of a good fountain pen.

That first pen was a matte black Sheaffer "Award" - the first of many, in fact, as the style seemed to be cursed. In a single year, five pens died horribly as I dropped them (point first, of course, with double points for concrete), bent the nibs by accidentally pressing too hard, and otherwise mangled them. Award #6 survived (along with a lifetime supply of spare parts cannibalized from its dead ancestors), but by then Sheaffer had discontinued their fine writing line.1

My current weapon of choice is the Waterman Phileas (or, as the Waterman company prefers to pretentiously spell it, the Philéas). This is an Art Deco-inspired pen2 with a two-tone medium nib and gold-plated trim reminiscent of the band on a fine cigar. The illustration to the left shows the blue-marble Phileas; I have it in green. This is a wonderfully made workhorse pen, and I'm also happy that I'm still on my first one.

Part of the pleasure of writing with a fountain pen is the infinite variety of inks that are available. With cartridges you are generally limited to whatever the pen manufacturer supplies, but with a bottled-ink converter, you can fill your favourite fountain pen up with whatever brand and shade strikes your fancy. Some pen suppliers (like Waterman) frown on you using third-party ink in their pens, but my Phileas is long out of warranty. Besides, Waterman's black ink is rather weak, so for my preferred colour, I would rather use the bolder (and cheaper!) Pelikan 4001.

The fact is, I love bottled ink. Try and find a ballpoint that writes in as rich a shade as Mont Blanc's turquoise or Bordeaux, or Waterman's blue-black. I can't walk past an ink display without stopping, for the same reason I can't walk past a perfume counter: bottle designs fascinate me. Ink bottles are nearly as carefully crafted as fragrance bottles (and perhaps grappa bottles). Mont Blanc's horizontal bottles are the most interesting, while Levenger's long curves and Waterman's crystalline angles have a simpler elegance, and Lamy's Bauhaus-inspired mushroom-shaped bottles (with their practical built-in rolls of blotting paper) reflect that efficient German engineering.

My current stable of fine writing implements comprises:

  • a Waterman Phileas, medium nib, filled with Pelikan 4001 Black
  • a Sheaffer Award, medium nib, filled with Waterman Blue-Black
  • a Sheaffer NoNonsense, fine nib, filled with Mont Blanc Turquoise
  • a red Lamy Safari, medium nib, filled with Levenger Cocoa (a nice shade, but the ink is a little "wet")
  • another charcoal Safari, fine nib, filled with Pelikan 4001 Black (backup)
  • a Parker Reflex, medium nib, filled with Mont Blanc Green
  • another Parker Reflex, filled with Mont Blanc Bordeaux (which has an odd tendency to gum up the tip of the nib with brown goo if left unattended for more than a few days)

None of these pens cost more than $60 - the all-plastic Reflex is sold for under $10, and I think even a Phileas sells for less than $50 now. I'm not a collector, I'm a writer. As I see it, a pen is the most practical tool there is, so it should be affordable and easily replaceable. If you pay over $150 for a pen, you are buying jewelry, not a writing instrument. Of course, some pens exist only to impress other rich idiots.

Mind you, for only about $10, you can get a really relaxing, laconic writing experience. Buy a Speedball nib and handle, and a bottle of ink, then write away, dipping the pen every few words.

Footnotes

1 Or so I had been told, although Sheaffer's own Web site lists numerous styles of fountain pen, including the Award. Perhaps they changed their mind? If it was true, it was ironic considering how much profit my destructive writing lifestyle was making them.

2 A lot of my favourite things seem to be inspired by Deco, in fact. Maybe I should write a post on my fascination with the 1930s? Phileas fountain pens, Old Spice cologne, Gillette double-edge razors - it never ends.