Wednesday, December 3, 2008


The 2008 Christmas List

1. The BFG, by Roald Dahl (1982). The Big Friendly Giant is good for kids and adults both. It has the flavor of science fiction, and the way the BFG talks is hilarious.

2.Netflix instant movies. Netflix appeared in a previous list, but what is new is being able to watch movies instantly on your computer.

3. The Coincraft coin shop across from the British Museum. Roman coins for only one pound each, and wonderful browsing in the shop, catalog, and website.

4. The TeXbook, by Donald Knuth (1984). This famous computer manual will teach you TeX, typesetting, and a lot of good quotations. It's for reading through, not looking up.

5. Evidences of Christianity, by William Paley (1794). Paley's watch-in-the-forest argument for God, from another book, is better known. This book argues for Christianity specifically, using historical rather than design arguments. Free at

4. Economics and Jewish Law: Halakhic Perspectives, by Aaron Levine (1987). The questions in this book on ethics and economics are as good as the answers.

5. Stomp Rockets . It's amazing how high a rocket powered merely by jumping-propelled air can go. Even Faith could make it rise a few feet. See

6. Youth hostels . These are better than hotels for families, as well as cheaper. We stayed at the Eu castle kitchens in Normandy, Melrose in Scotland, near the Abbey (the best), and Hawkshead in Cumberland.

7. English country walks. The countryside and weather are ideal for walks, with varied scenery, marked paths, villages, and sheep.

8. Britanny's gites (farmhouses). We rented one near Languenan. In France, having your own kitchen is good.

9. To Teach the Senators Wisdom; or, An Oxford Guide Book by J.C. Masterman (1952). This is a mix of travel guide and novel, as college fellows converse about what sights are the essence of Oxford. It's the best Oxford guide I have seen.

10. Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behavior by Kate Fox (2004). Dr. Fox is an anthropologist who studied English manners and conversation and wrote them up humorously but analytically.

11. Wacky Wednesday, by Theo LeSieg (Dr.Seuss) (1974). I didn't know the LeSieg Seuss books, a bit different from his usual style. This one is about a day when detached feet appear on ceilings and mice chase cats.

12. Portsmouth. The Victory, other old ships, helicopter simulations, the modern naval base, naval museums, an artillery museum (the Royal Armoury), a partly Roman castle, the sea... It's easy to get to and good for many visits.

Lists of good things from other years are at Some other items this year: Fraser's Flashman, McCall-Smith's African mystery books, Sights of Britain, Salisbury Cathedral, Bern, St. Malo, Walking with Dinosaurs, HREF=""> Rummy, English sausages. The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends music CD. The Silver Chair movie (1990, Alex Kirby), pommeau aperitif, Harry Potter books. British Museum coin exhibit. Bernard Cornwell's Sea Lord , Richard Fortey's The Secret Life of the Natural History Museum , Carreg Cennen Castle .

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007


My 2007 Christmas list. My 2007 list of good things I've discovered over the year is up at : Merry Christmas, all!

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