Tuesday, April 18, 2006

It seems to me that people have vast potential. Most people can do extraordinary things if they have the confidence or take the risks. Yet most people don't. They sit in front of the telly and treat life as if it goes on forever.
-Philip Adams

Here lies B. Franklin
Hanged by mistake,
The Body of B. Franklin, Printer
Like the Cover of an old Book
Its Contents turn out
And Stript of its Lettering & Guilding
Lies here. Food for Worms
For, it will as he believed
appear once more
In a new and more elegant Edition
corrected and improved
By the Author: The best is yet to come

Lanky, easygoing Christopher Moore never intended to become a nationally best-selling author of wildly comic novels with a cult following: I thought I was going to be a horror story writer. Christopher Moore, who's about to embark on a 30-city tour for his newest novel A DIRTY JOB, talks to the SF Chronicle about his books, why he's into fantastically-tinged stories, and his impending move back to San Francisco Comic horror author writes of Death's antics in S.F. -- 'A Dirty Job,' but somebody had to do it

Art of Living & Literature Across Frontiers: Well, shall we go and get some? The science of happiness
You can't buy joy, but you can learn to lift your spirits. Nothing is funnier than unhappiness, I grant you that. ... Yes, yes, it’s the most comical thing in the world. And we laugh, we laugh, with a will, in the beginning. But it’s always the same thing. Yes, it’s like the funny story we have heard too often, we still find it funny, but we don’t laugh any more. Oprah is doing a poll on her site asking: Are you happy with yourself? Out of almost 14,000 people who have taken it, 75% are NOT happy with themselves. There is no breakdown on male vs. female or age

It's one of those things, like art, that's hard to define, yet we know it when we see it. What exactly is happiness and how can you get it? While that question has occupied the minds of philosophers from Aristotle onwards - humans seek it above all else, he wrote more than two millennia ago - scientific investigation of this most elusive of emotions only really got underway in the past two or three decades.

• Not only are there no happy endings, there aren't even any endings Why go out? Happy lands [From a happy sunburnt country Mick Malley presents: Sleeping like angel ; Restaurant rules with savvy deal ; Saga of failed Bondi restaurant leaves a bitter taste ; Speaking of sleeping and sweet happiness Beware of Snarks! ; Soldiers are out in force on the streets of the Chadian capital N'djamena and residents are stocking up on cash and food in case of a descent into fighting after rapidly advancing rebel forces closed in on the city's outskirts late on Wednesday The Fan is Ready - The Shit is Arriving ; One of the great ironies in the Arab world - If you want to appreciate a common malaise that afflicts the entire Arab world, look at its cities Original Sin ]
• · A Visit With Author Colleen McCullough: Genre-hopping is nothing unusual for Colleen McCullough, bestselling author of The Thorn Birds and 16 other highly diversified works. The publishers hate it with a passion, because they don’t know what the new sales are going to be like ; How the fictional detective meshed with the forensic science of his times. CSI: Sherlock Holmes?; Research finds attractive parents without rings are most likely to be neglectful. Absence Of Wedding Ring Linked To Parental Neglect ; Presence of dance: Dancing Bees Speak in Code ; Clinical depression is Australia's fastest growing illness, striking more than 800,000 people each year and resulting in more deaths from suicide than the annual road toll The black dog/Depression part 1 ; The black dog/Depression part 2
• · · Mark Cuban's Loud Silence ; He is a sex addict ; Balance of Power via USA Today; The History of Love - Today Book Club; Fasting, Feasting - BBC; Someone Not Really Her Mother - Read This; Night - Oprah: Book Clubs ; It's six kinds of wonderful. It's all the wonderful. Search Amazon, the Library of Congress and 45 other world libraries Catalog your books
• · · · The name of Borges, among readers of modern literature, has always been synonymous with labyrinths, babelic libraries, gardens of forking paths, parallel universes, refutations of time and all sorts of cunning intellectual paradoxes Borges and the Plain Sense of Things ; A new study shows correlation between childhood personality and adult political orientation. One Kid, Two Kid, Red Kid, Blue Kid; Anyone for tennis, at the age of 150? Scientific progress promises us far longer, happier lives Yet the 'bioconservatives' want to stop it ; What makes a joke funny? Shaun Micallef explores the essence of mirth In search of funniness
• · · · · How did you sleep at night while working for Reagan? Top 10 Stupidest Questions Asked at Campus Lectures ; One site has now established itself as the Amazon.com of the student feedback system: RateMyProfessor.com. Rank ratings
• · · · · · A biologist explains the evolutionary advantage of sex, and why we're not all asexual clones. Sex—it gives us diseases, sucks away our energy, clouds our judgment and doesn't even transfer our genes that efficiently anyway. So why have humans and most other animals evolved this bizarre, slightly dirty quirk of sexual reproduction? Why Sex? ; There may, however, just be a solution to our drinking woes - one that will allow us to go to a bar and drink as much as we want; get merry, not legless; wake without a hangover; and never have to worry that one of our favourite pastimes may be killing us All the pleasures of alcohol, with no downsides ; The novel that means most to men is about indifference, alienation and lack of emotional responses. That which means most to women is about deeply held feelings, a struggle to overcome circumstances and passion. Literature is mostly about having sex and not much about having children. Life is the other way around - David Lodge Men choose novels of alienation, while women go for passion

[Actually, I hate all these 'what's your favourite?' polls - I can never think of a single film, song or book which could do justice to all the movie-going, listening and reading I've done in my life. And books and singers who were highly influential then can be embarrassing to admit to now - isn't that the point of being an adolescent and then maturing? Actually (again), it doesn't even have to be a case of maturing, just of changing tastes and interests. I mean, to love exactly the same book to exactly the same extent now as I did 30 years ago would indicate some kind of emotional limitation, it seems to me.]