The Curious Autodidact

February 28, 2009

Pivotal Books Read by President Obama

Filed under: book related,cool internet stuff — Honilima @ 2:57 am

McNally Jackson Booksellers in New York City is focusing not on books written by or about Obama but mostly on the books the President read in his 20s, which the store has collected in a display titled “How History Was Made: Books that Inspired a President.” “There is an incredible range of books and writers,” said McNally Jackson’s John McGregor, who came up with the idea for the display shortly after Obama won the election in November.

McGregor conducted extensive research to compile the list of more than 50 featured titles, drawing on such sources as Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope and interviews given by Obama. “It was a really deep period of contemplation and study for him,” said McGregor. The young Obama’s reading selections ranged from Shakespeare’s King Lear and Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook to Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations and James Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son. Also included in the display are some more recent books Obama has indicated reading, such as Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead and Gandhi: An Autobiography.

The books are arrayed on one entire table and half of another, one of the largest displays the store has ever done. Some of the titles are also showcased in a front window, and even in bitterly cold weather passersby are stopping in their tracks to take a closer look. “People have been really curious about it and asking how we came up with the books,” said McGregor. Some of the top-selling titles are Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Self-Reliance, The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes and Philip Roth’s The Ghost Writer.

McNally Jackson’s List of Titles Read by Obama

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren
The Antichrist by Friedrich Nietzsche
The Autobiography of Malcolm X
Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Melville
Benito Cereno by Herman Melville
The Best and the Brightest by David Halberstam
The Bible
The Birth of Tragedy by Friedrich Nietzsche
The Book of Daniel by E.L. Doctorow
Cancer Ward by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Collected Poems of Langston Hughes
The Collected Writings of Thomas Jefferson
The Confessions of St. Augustine
The Courage to Be by Paul Tillich
Dynamics of Faith by Paul Tillich
Exodus by Leon Uris
The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay
Gandhi: An Autobiography
Gandhi’s Truth by Erik H. Erikson
The Ghost Writer by Philip Roth
Gilead by by Marilynne Robinson
Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
Hamlet by Shakespeare
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
In Dubious Battle by John Steinbeck
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
The Irony of American History by Reinhold Niebuhr
King Lear by Shakespeare
Loon Lake by E.L. Doctorow
Mila 18 by Leon Uris
Moral Man and Immoral Society by Reinhold Niebuhr
My Life as a Man by Philip Roth
Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin
The Outsider by Richard Wright
Parting the Waters by Taylor Branch
Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth
The Power Broker by Robert A. Caro
The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
The Quiet American by Graham Greene
Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow
Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky
Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois
Tar Baby by Toni Morrison
The Theory of Moral Sentiments by Adam Smith
Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche
The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Working by Studs Terkel
World’s Fair by E.L. Doctorow
The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon


February 23, 2009

Great Quotes by Women

Filed under: Word Related — Honilima @ 7:18 am

Inside every older lady is a younger lady — wondering what the hell happened.
-Cora Harvey Armstrong-

Inside me lives a skinny woman crying to get out. But I can usually shut her up with cookies.

The hardest years in life are those between ten and seventy.
-Helen Hayes (at 73)-

I refuse to think of them as chin hairs. I think of them as stray eyebrows.
-Janette Barber-

Laugh and the world laughs with you. Cry and you cry with your girlfriends.
-Laurie Kuslansky-

Old age ain’t no place for sissies.
-Bette Davis-

A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do. A woman must do what he can’t.
-Rhonda Hansome-

The phrase “working mother” is redundant.
-Jane Sellman-

Every time I close the door on reality, it comes in through the windows.
-Jennifer Unlimited-

Thirty-five is when you finally get your head together and your body starts falling apart.
-Caryn Leschen-

I try to take one day at a time — but sometimes several days attack me at once.
-Jennifer Unlimited-

If you can’t be a good example — then you’ll just have to be a horrible warning.


If high heels were so wonderful, men would still be wearing them.
-Sue Grafton-

I’m not going to vacuum ’til Sears makes one you can ride on.
-Roseanne Barr-

When women are depressed they either eat or go shopping. Men invade another country.
-Elayne Boosler-

In politics, if you want anything said, ask a man. If you want anything done, ask a woman.

-Margaret Thatcher-

I have yet to hear a man ask for advice on how to combine marriage and a career.
-Gloria Steinem-

Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission.
-Eleanor Roosevelt-

women suffrage

February 21, 2009

Another World in North America Through Reading

Filed under: book related — Honilima @ 7:28 am

Nonfiction Books

That Take you Into Another World

  • Mole People by Jennifer Toth
  • Makes Me Wanna Holler by Nathan McCall
  • On Top of the World by Tom Barbash
  • Complications: A Surgeon Notes on an Imperfect Science by Atul Gawande
  • Deep Survival by Laurence Gonzales
  • She’s Not There by Jenny Boylan
  • The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman
  • Bloodsworthy by Tim Junkin
  • Life for Me Ain’t been No Crystal Stair by Susan Sheehan
  • Nickeled and Dimed by Barabara Ehrenreich

February 18, 2009

British Expressions to Learn and Laugh with

Filed under: Word Related — Honilima @ 8:47 pm

Here are some British Expressions you may or may not be familiar with, there are tons more but they aren’t so “family friendly”

Ace – If something is ace it is brilliant. I used to hear it a lot in Liverpool. Kids thought all cool stuff was ace, or brill.

Arse over elbow – This is another way of saying head over heels but is a little more descriptive. Usually happens after 11pm on a Saturday night and too many lagers! Some Americans say ass over teakettle apparently!

Baccy – Tobacco. The sort you use to roll your own.

Barmy – If someone tells you that you’re barmy they mean you have gone mad or crazy. For example you’d have to be barmy to visit England without trying black pudding

Blinkered – Someone who is blinkered is narrow minded or narrow sighted – they only see one view on a subject. It comes from when horses that pulled carriages wore blinkers to stop them seeing to the side or behind them which stopped them from being startled and only let them see where they were going.

Blooming – Another alternative to the word bloody. You might hear someone say “not blooming likely” so that they don’t have to swear.

Bottle – Something you have after twenty pints of lager and the curry. A lotta bottle! This means courage. If you have a lotta bottle you have no fear.

Chat up – To chat someone up is to try and pick them up. If you spotted a scrummy girly in a bar you might try to chat her up. Or a girl might try and chat up a chap!

Cheeky – “Eee you cheeky monkey” was what my mother said to me all the time when I was a kid. Cheeky means you are flippant, have too much lip or are a bit of a smart arse! Generally you are considered to be a bit cheeky if you have an answer for everything and always have the last word. My licence plate on my MX5 (Miata in American) was CHEEKY, which most Texans thought was something to do with bottoms – wrong!!

Cheerio – Not a breakfast cereal. Just a friendly way of saying goodbye. Or in the north “tara” which is pronounced sort of like “churar”.

Cheers – This word is obviously used when drinking with friends. However, it also has other colloquial meanings. For example when saying goodbye you could say “cheers”, or “cheers then”. It also means thank you. Americans could use it in English pubs, but should avoid the other situations as it sounds wrong with an American accent. Sorry!

Crikey – Another exclamation of surprise. Some people say “Crikey Moses”.

Dishy – If someone is a bit of a dish or a bit dishy it means they are attractive or good looking.

Do – A party. You would go to a do if you were going to a party in the UK.

Do – If you go into a shop and say “do you do batteries?” it means “do you sell batteries”.

Duff – Anything that is duff is useless, junk, trash. It usually means that the object doesn’t do the job it was intended for. Our last Prime Minister was pretty duff!

Duffer – Any person that is duff could be referred to as a duffer. The Prime Minister was a duffer.

Fancy – If you fancy something then it means you desire it. There are two basic forms in common use – food and people. If you fancy a cake for example it means you like the look of it and you want to eat it. If you see someone of (hopefully) the opposite sex then you might fancy them if you liked the look of them and wanted to get to know them a little better!!!

Full of beans – This means to have loads of energy. It is a polite way of saying that a child is a maniac. I was often described as being full of beans as a kid and now it is my wife’s way of telling me to keep still when she is trying to get to sleep. Strangely the same expression in some parts of the US means that you are exaggerating or talking bollocks!

Hunky-dory – My English dictionary tells me that hunky-dory means excellent. We would generally use it to mean that everything is cool and groovy, on plan, no worries and generally going well.

Nark – If someone is in a nark, it means they are in a bad mood, or being grumpy. It’s also the word for a spy or informant. For example a coppers nark is someone who is a police informant – which you might call a stoolie or stool-pigeon. The origin is from the Romany word, nak, meaning “nose”.

Off your trolley – If someone tells you that you’re off your trolley, it means you have gone raving bonkers, crazy, mad!

Read – If someone asks you what you read at university, they mean what was your major at school.

Row – Rhymes with “cow” this means an argument. You might hear your Mum having a row with your Dad, or your neighbours might be rowing so loud you can hear them!

Scrummy – This is a word that would be used to describe either some food that was particularly good (and probably sweet and fattening).

Shag – Same as bonk but slightly less polite. At seventies parties watch the look of surprise on the Englishman’s face when an American girl asks him if he would like to shag. Best way to get a Brit to dance that I know! You can even go to shagging classes!

Stonking – This weird word means huge. You might say “what a stonking great burger” if you were in an American burger joint.

Tickety-boo – If something is going well with no problems we would say it is tickety-boo.

Totty – If a chap is out looking for totty, he is looking for a nice girl to chat up. There is an Italian football player called Totti – which is pronounced the same. It’s really funny hearing the commentators when he gets the ball saying “it’s Totty for Italy”. It sounds like some beautiful Italian girlies have invaded the pitch.

TTFN – Short for “ta ta for now”. Which in turn means goodbye! Said by older folks and one Radio Two DJ in particular.

Twit – You twit! Not so rude as calling someone an idiot but it amounts to the same thing. Remember Monty Python’s “Twit of the Year” competition? Other versions include “nitwit”.

Wangle – Some people have all the luck. I know some people that can wangle anything; upgrades on planes, better rooms in hotels. You know what I mean.

Wank – This is the verb to describe the action a wanker participates in.

Wanker – This is a derogatory term used to describe someone who is a bit of a jerk. It actually means someone who masturbates and also has a hand signal that can be done with one hand at people that cannot see you shouting “wanker” at them. This is particularly useful when driving.

Watcha – Simply means Hi. Also short for “what do you” as in “watcha think of that”?

Wobbler – To “throw a wobbly” or to “throw a wobbler” means to have a tantrum. Normally happens when you tell your kids they can’t have an ice cream or that it’s time for bed.

Wonky – If something is shaky or unstable you might say it is wonky. For example I changed my chair in a restaurant recently because I had a wonky one.

February 15, 2009

Protected: The Jessica Book Project 2015

Filed under: book related,social justice,women heroes — Honilima @ 5:51 pm

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February 10, 2009

Words of Wisdom to Remember

Filed under: Word Related — Honilima @ 7:17 am


Life is like riding a bicycle. You don’t fall off unless you stop peddling. ~ Claude D. Pepper

I would rather think of life as a good book. The further you get into it, the more it begins to come together and make sense. ~ Rabbi Harold S. Kushner

Common sense is the knack of seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done.
~Josh Billings


February 6, 2009

Recycled Posting: Pancreatic Cancer

Filed under: media related — Honilima @ 8:39 pm


It seemed appropriate given Justice Ginsburg’s Recent Surgery to re-Post this article from last May lightly edited:

Raising Awareness of a Silent Killer: Pancreatic Cancer

What do Margaret Mead, Count Basie, Rex Harrison, Henry Mancini, Irving Wallace, Marvin Beli, Michael Landon, Donna Reed, Dorothy Dunnett, Joan Crawford, Jack Benny, Dizzie Gillespie, and Frank Zappa all have in common? They all died of Pancreatic Cancer, as did former President Jimmy Carter’s brother Billy, and mother “Miss Lillian.”

Pancreatic Cancer is the #4 cancer killed in the United States amongst both men and women. It is often referred to as the “silent killer” as it is rarely diagnosed in time for treatment. It has the #1 fatality rate of all cancers. Only 4% of the patients will survive beyond five years.

According to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network ( approximately 32,180 people will be diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer this year. Yet, “despite the especially lethal nature of pancreatic cancer, the research spending per pancreatic cancer patient is only $1145, the lowest of any leading cancer.”

Why is this? Perhaps because most people don’t even know where their pancreas is located or what role it plays on our body’s good health. It works in the production of enzymes for digestion and the production of hormones that regulate blood sugar levels. It is a gland located deep in the abdomen between the stomach and the spine.

Every 17-minutes someone in the country dies of this lesser known disease that has a 99% fatality rate.

Although it is the fourth cancer killer in the country most people do not know the risk factors or the symptoms of this type of cancer. Hence, November has been designated as Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month.

Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer include:

Pain in abdomen or back

Jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes)

Dark Urine


Fatigue or Weakness

Digestive Problems

Nausea and Vomiting

Significant Weight Loss

Risk factors include:

Smoking: 2-3 times increased risk for smokers vs. nonsmokers

Chronic pancreatitis

Family history: 2-3 times increased risk if first degree relative diagnosed with PC


Only a small percentage of people who are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer are able to have the tumor surgically removed. More often than not, by the time the diagnosis comes, the cancer has spread and there are not at this time many treatment options.

The NW is home to one of the country’s highly-respected Pancreatic Cancer researchers, the UW’s Dr. Teri Brentnall and Dr. Sunil Hingorani at Fred Hutch Cancer Center both of whom have been nationally recognized as outstanding researchers.

Thank you for reading this article and for taking a moment to be aware of some of the symptoms of these lesser-known but grave forms of cancer.

If you know someone with pancreatic cancer, or a friend who is caring for someone who has this form of cancer, I urge you to lend a hand —it is a horrible disease. This article is to raise awareness and urge you to support the quest for additional research dollars to help find a cure.

February 5, 2009

Timeless Quotes to Remember

Filed under: Word Related — Honilima @ 7:55 am

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. –Margaret Mead

The only person you should ever compete with is yourself. You can’t hope for a fairer match. –Todd Ruthman

I find television very educating. Every time someone turns on the set, I go in the other room and read a book. –Groucho Marx

The best way to keep children at home is the make the home atmosphere pleasant—and let the air out of the tires.

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967)

Photo by Shahab Maghami

The masonry Bridge of 33 Arches over the Zayandeh River is the epitome of Safavid dynasty (1502-1722) bridge design. Esfahan, Iran. Photo by Shahab Maghami

February 4, 2009

Almost Endless Educational Potential On-line

Filed under: cool internet stuff,media related,money saving ideas,nonprofit — Honilima @ 1:08 am

Academic Earth

Although we missed the boat when it comes to utilizing the television to its highest potential as a teaching tool it looks like it is coming to life on the Internet. The latest site worth your attention is Academic Earth

Perhaps you weren’t able to attend one of these fine Universities:

* Berkeley
* Harvard
* Princeton
* Stanford
* Yale

Well even if you did you can now log on-line and see and hear selected lectures and watch the videos of the classroom.

Readers may be interested in hearing Yale’s professor Amy Hungerford’s lecture on Toni Morrison’s Bluest Eye, Edward P. Jones’s Known World or Marilyn Robinson’s Housekeeping. You can attend one class lecture or stay for the whole course The American Novel since 1945. Or you can surf over to Stanford and listen to Guy Kawasaki’s lecture on Passion vs. Money or the other more than 300 business lectures on-line. Is there a science topic you’d always wished to have explained to you? Well this is your site, if you don’t grasp it listening the first time, hit a button and you can hear it again or let it settle in your mind and listen again next week.

The site is organized by: University, Topics, and even Top Rated Instructors.

Now the only issue is how to find time to listen to all these lectures that are now available without subscription, to all internet users with a fast connection, and time to watch.

This site unleashes some of the educational potential of the Internet and will likely be one you will enjoy again and again.

Miles and Miles of Knowledge in the library and on-line too

Miles and Miles of Knowledge in the library and on-line too

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