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Saturday, December 23, 2006 -- 11:37 am

There's been an article in the NY Times lately -- another of those personal-interest features that don't actually qualify as news -- trying to rationalize for people that mess is actually a good thing, and they shouldn't fight it.

Saturday, December 23, 2006 -- 8:38 am

I suppose it's entirely possible that at some point we'll be able to provide at least a partial, scientific account for the variety of people's taste in music. I find it utterly baffling that Baroque polyphony isn't wildly popular (doubly surprising that complex fugual writing is restricted, apparently, to such a tiny corner of the planet and a blink in the history of the world's music). By the same token, I find it shocking that people can tolerate most of the Christmas music churned out these days like so much sausage, even seem to like it. And the words! Trite recitations of jejune sentiments.

I suppose this could be grounds for considering me a bit of a humbug. But I do like Christmas; I just want to observe it as I see fit, not as others think I should. That's not too much to ask, I think.

Sunday, December 17, 2006 -- 9:48 am

Gift-giving, of course, reminds me of the Kula trade of Melanesia, which I know of from various survey readings in anthropology. None of the books I've read on New Guinea/ Melanesian anthropology, however, have really given a detailed account of kula as an economic system. Hopefully a Malinowski book I have on order will help with that. It seems that ethnographies, like grammars of endangered languages, are difficult works to come by.

But following are some of the projects which I would like to explore in coming months, as time permits:

Naturally I'm an expert in none of these areas.

Sunday, December 17, 2006 -- 8:58 am

A crucial consideration in silverware shopping is taste -- some lines have a metallic taste that simply destroys the flavor of the food. How can a shopper possibly make an informed decision on sight and touch alone?