Google Goodies:

Two new toys from Google Labs: Google Viewer lets you view search results as scrolling web page images, and Google Webquotes gives you search results with quotes about them from elsewhere on the web. [via Lockergnome]


Mystery Enshrouds Writer and Internet Persona:

“Kola Boof says a fatwa was ordered up on her in London for her stand against organized religion, but particularly against Arab Muslims. Sudanese officials in London, however, said that was not true. One of those officials did denounce her in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, a leading Arab-language newspaper in the United Kingdom. A number of well-known African-American activists have taken up her causes, which include her opposition to slavery in the Sudan and her condemnation of stoning and female castration and other harsh measures taken against African women.” NY Times


"Low, low low"?

Linda Hall: Coolspeak:

“I find righteous denunciations of the present state of language no less dismaying than the present state of language,” Lionel Trilling once wrote. But then Trilling, I am certain, did not live to see Columbia students address their women instructors (the ones they get along with) as “Dude.” On the same campus where I am Dude, I hear a professor tell a student that she has chosen a cool topic.

…The measure of the decline in reading is to be found not in S.A.T. scores—those may be artificially high owing to coaching and cramming (cranking!)—but in our decreasing ability to speak. “A person who does not read, or reads little, or reads only trash, is a person with an impediment: he can speak much but he will say little, because his vocabulary is deficient in the means for self-expression,” Mario Vargas Llosa observed not long ago. “We learn how to speak correctly—and deeply, rigorously, and subtly—from good literature, and only from good literature.” The Hudson Review


Facing Race, Rape…

Jim Sleeper: …and Outrage:

Since the international outcry against false charges that the black “Scottsboro Boys” had raped a white woman in the South in 1931, liberals, at least, have been reluctant to acknowledge the ugly entanglement of race and rape in our national experience.

America’s original racial sin was a long trail of rapes of black women by white men, especially slave masters. Many African Americans’ “white blood” and lighter skins marked these violations and other illicit intimacies, some of them gentler, perhaps, but most of them palpably coerced in the shadow of white omnipotence.

The Central Park jogger trial of 1989, in which five black and Latino teenagers were convicted of assaulting and raping a young, white investment banker, seemed to turn the tables on Scottsboro: This time, the “black” boys were indeed guilty, everyone agreed, with liberals and feminists at the head of that consensus.

Now comes Manhattan Dist. Atty. Robert Morgenthau’s recommendation that the teens’ convictions be vacated. Morgenthau had to respond after Matias Reyes, an imprisoned serial rapist who had never been charged or convicted in the jogger case, came forward this year and established that it was he who raped her that night in 1989. LA Times commentary


Convicted? Need a Gun?

No Problem: “Since the creation of the National Instant Criminal Background Check, or NICS, administered by the FBI to screen firearm sales, 10,000 people forbidden from owning guns have obtained them despite FBI screenings, according to the Bureau of Alcohol and Firearms.

The poor quality of criminal records maintained by states is the main reason the NICS system fails to identify individuals prohibited from acquiring guns, said Jim Kessler, policy director of the Americans for Gun Safety foundation.” Wired


Whistling While Rome Burns Dept:

Arctic Ice Melting at Record Rate: “More ice melted from the surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet this year than ever before recorded, report scientists from the University of Colorado. The same team found that the extent of Arctic sea ice reached the lowest level in the satellite record in 2002, offering further evidence that climate change is already altering the Arctic.” Environmental News Service Along with the erosion of domestic civil liberties, the impending devastation of Iraq, and the gutting of the arms control infrastructure, surely one of the most execrable legacies the Bush dysadministration will leave the generation to come will be having failed to address global warming or, indeed, acknowledge that it is even a real phenomenon, while we still could.


Cockney pub landlady is toast of the art world,

Named one of the most influential figures in modern art: “Since the East End has become the fashionable district for London’s young artists, the Golden Heart pub in Spitalfields has become its hub.

For her role as a homely mother confessor to the angry generation of British conceptual artists, Sandra Esquilant has won the improbable reward of 80th place in a list of the 100 most powerful figures in contemporary art.” Telegraph UK


The Rite of the Sprinkler:

Damage reports trickle in after concert hall deluge: “…(D)uring a Philadelphia Orchestra rehearsal, a sprinkler system began discharging dirty water over musicians and incoming music director Christoph Eschenbach… A second Steinway grand piano was damaged in Tuesday morning’s deluge at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, some warping has begun to appear in the floor of Verizon Hall, and 11 orchestra musicians are reporting damaged instruments.” Philadelphia Inquirer


Bad Sex:

Third time ‘lucky’ for bad sex winner:

Author Wendy Perriam has won one of the least coveted prizes in literature – the Bad Sex in Fiction Award.

And it was third time “lucky” for the author who has the misfortune of being nominated three times in row.

Some of the biggest names in literature had been nominated for the title, including Will Self and Nicholas Coleridge. BBC


Dialect Survey

“The Dialect Survey uses a series of questions, including rhyming word pairs and vocabulary words, to explore words and sounds in the English language. There are no right or wrong answers; by answering each question with what you really say and not what you think is “right”, you can help contribute to an accurate picture of how English is used in your community.

The test is designed for speakers of North American English, but speakers of all varieties of English are welcome to take the test.”