Friday, January 5, 2007

The beginning of knowledge is the discovery of something we do not understand. Frank Herbert

Happy Birthday Glenn!!!

After such frivolity yesterday (which has ended I note, in my brother calling me a tool - not for the first time. He only gets away with it because no one makes me laugh as much as he does), I slept in late this morning. I'd only been awake for a couple of minutes when the date hit me and I realised that the first thing of note I would have to place on today's blog would be the birthday of my gorgeous old friend, Glenn.

He's 42 you know. Ok, Ok, I'm just kidding, he's only in his 30's. I'd give you his exact age but that would undermine his air of international mystery....

I'm spending the weekend over on Hayling Island with my family. It will be good to spend Twelth Night with them tomorrow, and in addition to the usual day's magic rituals, I'm hoping we can all spend some time, as Bill Emory from the Black & White blog suggested, thinking and talking about the year that has just gone and the year to come. I might even share some of my secret plans (for world domination) with them. I love the sound of the words, Twelth Night; it makes me think of a mystery unfolding.

Today's Read of the Day is Freakonomics, by Stephen D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner.

It's a very hard book to describe, and I think I may have mentioned it on the blog a couple of months ago, but it just made Amazon's most wished for books of 2006 list, and it's definitely on my interesting reads list. To make economics interesting takes some doing, but to make it relevant to the average Josephine requires even more, er, doing. Levitt is the young whizz-kid economist here and Dubner is the journalist who paired up with him to write the book.

If you're not sure about reading this book, check out the book's
website first and see what you think, then read a few posts from the blog. I got Freakonomics from the Library a few weeks ago, and have only just picked it up again (I am such a loose reader, I jump from spine to spine). I spent too long in a too-hot bath before dinner just to find out about the economics of cheating. Half a journey of intellectual detection and half an interesting journey through a random series of facts, this book will make sure you never run out of dinnertime conversation again. Especially if you dine with geeks, or geek sympathisers. Like me.

I was lucky enough to get a witch's Spell A Day Almanac for Christmas, which is my favourite thing du jour. In the introduction, the editors mentioned 'Chambers Book of Days.' Being ever-curious and drawn to unfamiliar things (I'm very fond of things I know well, but often I don't find them as interesting - often true of people, too I find, which is further proof of my ongoing selfishness, I suspect), I Google searched it this evening. I was delighted to find, as I suspected I would (if it exists it must have been partially digitised by now), that someone has put the contents of the Chambers Book Days online, so you can consult it from the comfort of your own pc chair every day.

Today's entry in the Book of Days yielded such interesting information on ways that Twelth Night Eve was often celebrated in Britain's strange past (for your info: by getting bulls to toss cakes off their horns and singing to apple trees - we crazy Engleesh), the death of Edward the Confessor and the fact that today is a feast day for "St. Syncletica (4th century ?), virgin."

Most interestingly to me, however, was the tale of Saint Simeon Stylites, founder of the so-called pillar saints, who earned their name by their peculiar means of worship. In 423, St Simeon "fixed his residence on the top of a pillar, which was at first nine feet high, but was successively raised to the somewhat incredible height of sixty feet (forty cubits). The diameter of the top of the pillar was only three feet, but it was surrounded by a railing which secured him from falling off, and afforded him some relief by leaning against it. His clothing consisted of the skins of beasts, and he wore an iron collar round his neck. He exhorted the assembled people twice a day, and spent the rest of his time in assuming various postures of devotion."

Funnily enough, there weren't ever a huge amount of pillar saints. It never really caught on. We've still got David Blaine though.

Now no one has written to me complaining that the Beautiful Things have gone, I have decided to replace them with a series of random 3-item lists. Suggestions always welcome.

Today's Cultural Confessions

1. I don't like Celebrity Big Brother, yet I will watch Dermot's supporting show if I catch it

2. I haven't seen Titanic, either of the Bridget Jones movies, any of the Godfather's or all of the Star Wars movies. And I don't want to.

3. In Les Miserables, I wanted Cosette to die because I like Eponine better.

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