American readers of the blog will probably not be familiar with the Christmas hamper concept, unless they are even older than me and reside in the Northeast, perhaps. But the Christmas hamper has been the main vehicle of Christmas cheer for working class families in Great Britain since the early 20th century, and Farepak was one company leader in this field, a company which combined elements of direct sales, network marketing and modern finance with the old fashioned idea of "buying Christmas" a year ahead of time and paying for it in small zero-interest payments throughout the year. A charming picture until it all went horribly wrong in September of this year. This website, a real grass-roots effort by victims of the fund's collapse, tells the intricate but nauseatingly familiar story of big banks balancing their books on the backs of small consumers and workers.
27 December 2006
23 December 2006
Sadly, I must report the sudden death of Sanjay, our prettiest budgie. Last night, after a normal day of playing and chirping and other birdy activities, he suddenly fell off his perch and just died. So now there are four. They seem OK, so it must have just been his time to go. To budgie heaven.
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 23:18
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 22:54
20 December 2006
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 23:17
18 December 2006
Tonight and tomorrow night BBC Four TV will be showing Spike Lee's When the Levees Broke. Earlier I posted about a spate of excellent books that came out over the year and a bit since Katrina. One that I didn't know about then but later discovered was by one of my great favourite authors from New Orleans, Andrei Codrescu, New Orleans Mon Amour (actually a collection of stories, poems and essays spanning the last 20 years, from and about NOLA.) I bought the book for my daughter, another doomed lover of the Big Easy, and I have heard that she liked it a lot. And now I found this story, one of many concerning how the various communities of New Orleans, the musicians, the artists, the political activists, have been struggling creatively but often painfully, to rebuild in the wake of the great deluge.
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 20:20
14 December 2006
This just makes me sick. Ok, I wasn't at the trial and I should not judge someone by the expression on their face and I am not one of these uber-feminists who believes all men are rapists or even that most men are. And yes, I have thought that the astonishingly high numbers of people who claim to have been molested by a relative, usually a father or grandfather, is a little questionable. But dammit - look at his face. And look at his words: "I have no idea why my daughter hates me so much as to falsely accuse me of raping her." Well, that's damned suspicious. It would be more believable if you could come up with a plausible reason. Lots of girls are angry when their fathers leave their mothers and it usually doesn't escalate to an accusation of rape, then a formal charge, then a dramatic and messy suicide. How likely is it that a 17 year old girl genius would jump out of a hotel window to certain ugly death just to score a point against her innocent but hated father? I just don't think so.
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 22:07
13 December 2006
My Wednesday Website of the Week for this week is Television Without Pity. This wacky website is couch-potato heaven, with the most in-depth, spoiler-ridden episode guides to current and past TV series you can hope to find. It includes the high-brow and the low, the silly and the sublime, although all the reviewers are rather silly. The episode synopses can run to 14 or more web pages and are often more entertaining than the show itself.
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 21:56
08 December 2006
A new book produced by graphic designer and long-time friend of Muhammad Ali, George Lois, Ali Rap, is a collection of "quotable moments" and iconic images of "The Greatest". Lois is also well-known for his infamous Esquire magazine cover of Ali as St. Sebastian (left). The history behind the picture is fascinating.
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 14:16
06 December 2006
The second ever Deborama's WWW (Wednesday Website of the Week) is Six degrees of Wikipedia. In case the name is not self-explanatory enough, it works like this. You type the titles of two Wikipedia-articled people, places, things or concepts into the two search boxes provided and click on "go". It returns the number of links that separate them. I was astonished how short the links are. I tested it first with my ex-brother-in-law (the only near relative I was sure would be Wikiable) and HM the Queen (entered as Elizabeth II). There were only four degrees of separation; in fact, only three if I did not exclude day-and-date pages. (Try it and you will see why: Wikipedia cross-references all the dates it cites on grand index pages by year, month and day.)
Postscript: SInce just after I posted this, I have not been able to access this site; I keep getting a server-down message. Apologies to readers who tried it and couldn't access.
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 22:44
03 December 2006
City Pages has a great article about and interview with Neil Gaiman. I love the headline : Why Neil Gaiman is about to become bigger than Death. If you're a Gaiman fan you will get that. But apparently our boy is not the nerdy comic book writer and story teller he once was (not that he was then, either, but he came off that way). There are a massive raft of movies coming out in the next few years that are either based on his novels or graphic novels or otherwise involve him in the production. One is a live-capture version of Beowulf and one is called Death and is based on the Sandman graphic novels. I am sort of a Neil Gaiman fan. I still have never read Good Omens, which he co-wrote with Terry Pratchett and a few of his books I was not able to get into. On the other hand, I did love the Sandman series and also his novel American Gods.
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 00:09
01 December 2006
If Barack Obama is as good a politician as he is a writer, he will soon be President, says Steven D. Levitt of Freakonomics fame. The many pages of comments hash out the question of whether or not he (Obama) is in fact a good politician, and with the lively participation of conservatives, it's about even.
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 17:44