You are currently browsing the daily archive for December 4, 2012.

The gels have been engrossed recently in the Gone series of “young adult” angsty-fantasy-thrillers by Michael Grant.   (They’ve tried to explain the story to me – it’s to do with vanishing yoots with “special powers” who have to fight off zombies or whatnot while trapped behind some energy shield thingy.  Or something.  I confess I didn’t pay all that much attention, so perhaps this isn’t quite right.)

At any rate, it just so happens that Michael Grant is also the name of a (now deceased) famous classicist.  The Port Swiller Manor library contains several volumes of his popular histories of the Greco-Roman world, together with a couple of translations from the Latin that I used back in college.  (I’ve got his Tacitus, for example.)

Given the way the gels have carried on about their Grant, the thought flitted into my braims of suggesting that he and my Grant are, in fact, the same person and that they’d really enjoy reading my Grant books as much as they do reading theirs.

“Honest, sweetie, I’m sure there’s a part in the Agricola where the druids start spiriting away centurions and trapping them inside Stonehenge and making them fight tree spirits.  Just keep reading!”

It’s an idea.


From the WSJ comes an article about the psychology of gift-giving.  The bottom line seems to be that the best thing to do is give people what they actually want.  What would we do without psychologists?

Then there’s the subject of regifting:

There are efforts to promote regifting. Money Management International, a nonprofit that helps people facing financial difficulties, has run a website for more than five years and declared the third Thursday in December to be National Regifting Day, to coincide with many holiday office parties. At least one state, Colorado, has officially sanctioned an annual regifting day.

“National Regifting Day”?   I recently ranted about the unusually heavy-handed consumerist tilt to the season this year, but I guess I missed that one.   And just out of curiosity, how does a state “officially sanction” such a day?  Does this imply, giving the ever-more crushing embrace of the regulatory Colossus, that regifting on non-sanctioned days will now be verboten?

Cor lumme, stone the crows.

Oh, and this is the perfect opportunity for ol’ Robbo to restate and update a holiday reminder:  The article freely uses the gerunds “gifting” and “regifting”.  When I become Emperor of the World, use of the word “gift” in any verb form will constitute a flogging offense.  “Regifting”, however, will be considered acceptable under the Seinfeld Exemption Clause which provides immunity for use of language coined or popularized by, or otherwise associated with, Jerry & Co.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!  Is it Tuesday again?  Sigh, I suppose it is.  Well, you know what that means:

♦   Congratulations are in order for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge following the announcement that she is preggers.  It would seem that the Brits are getting ready for some serious babypalooza already. (Indeed,  I’ve already learned more about the current state of the royal insides than I really want to).  Curiously, my first thought when the nooz about the Duchess’s condition broke yesterday was, “Well, that’s what you’re getting paid for, after all.”   (I hadn’t had much sleep and was in an extremely cynical mood.)

♦   Flipping through the Beeb, I came across this article about Tamerlane the Great in which the author goes on at length about Tamerlane’s physical handicaps and how he overcame them to become (although the author doesn’t quite put it this way) one of the champeen murderers, pillagers and rapists of history.  Oh, hoorrah?

♦    The local classickal station ran a performance of “Rejoice Greatly, O Daughter of Zion” from Handel’s Messiah this morning.  The soprano, whose name I didn’t recognize, had a lovely clear, bright, lively voice, but she put such vibrato into it that she ended up sounding like Glinda, the Good Witch of the North.  Why do singers do such things?

♦    Several friends of the decanter have asked what I think of the nooz that Pope Benedict has just opened his own Twitter account as @Pontifex.   I shrug.  What’s a “tweet” anyway?

♦    I also shrug over the headlines about the “fiscal cliff” negotiations.  Deck chairs on the Titanic as far as I’m concerned.

♦     I see from Wiki that today is the anniversary of the discovery in 1872 of the brigantine Mary Celeste, abandoned but under sail in the eastern Atlantic.   The article discusses some pretty interesting theories about what might have happened to the crew, the most plausible seeming to be that a sudden panic about the extremely dangerous cargo of alcohol in the hold prompted everyone to leap into the lifeboat, which somehow became separated from the ship and lost.   The article also mentions that a Dr. Who episode from the mid-60’s suggested that the crew leaped overboard after being attacked by Daleks.   That put a voice in my head saying, “Ex-ter-mi-nate, me hear-ties!”

♦     Yes, I am easily amused.

♦      For those of you following the Baseball Mid-winters (and just in case Mike Rizzo is a secret friend of the decanter), ol’ Robbo’s opinion is that his beloved Nationals probably ought to let LaRoche go and move Morse over to 1st Base.  I think the talk of dealing Morse and Espinoza for a good starting pitcher is foolish.  Mikey is a team leader and Espi is going to get better at the plate – why throw away such valuable assets?  We can pick up the arm other ways.  UPDATE:  From my keyboard to Rizzo’s eyeballs – The Nats just signed former Angel Dan Haren to a one year deal, thus kicking the 5th starter can down the road aways.  Now there’s really no reason to be dealing quality guys.

♦    And finally, a bleg?  Just supposing for hypothetical purposes that ol’ Robbo was mulling a new computer for Port Swiller Manor, what would be a good choice?  I’m a PC guy myself but could deal with Mac products if necessary.  We don’t need a lot of whistles and bells, just something reasonably priced on which the kids can do their homework, Mrs. R can manage the household, and yours truly can keep pouring here.


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December 2012