Friday, September 28, 2007

Immigrants, Unhappy Women, Shoplifting Bird, Big Haul at the Book Fair

Some links:

1.) The federal government released some new questions immigrants seeking citizenship must answer. The New York Times put together a 10 question quiz, which you can take here. The questions are all drawn from the redesigned test, and the answer link is at the bottom of the quiz. I missed 3 straight up. Immigrants have to get 6 right, so they can only miss one less than I did. All 100 questions and their answers will be made public, so immigrants seeking to become citizens will have the chance to study the questions they'll actually be asked. There have been some complaints about ambiguity, however. For example, this question: "What is the rule of law?" The answer: "That all people follow the law." Weird, huh? When some of the other questions are so specific, trying to answer one so vague/simplistic might be a challenge for someone trying hard to answer 6 questions correctly. You can see all 100 of the questions (and their answers) here. My wife made a good point about the test: is it really more important that a new citizen of the country know exactly how many voting members of the House of Representatives there are, or that they know, once they're citizens, no one may in any way restrict their right to vote; or that their taxes are due on April 15th every year. The kind of real-world citizen stuff that might actually bite them in the ass if they don't know it. But I guess history and a basic understanding of how the US government works is better than nothing.

2.) That frown on your wife/girlfriend's face isn't your imagination. American women are getting unhappier all the time. Check it out. Some choice bits from the article: a.) men enjoy spending time with their parents more than women do by a huge margin. The article suggests this is due in part to the fact that, when visiting with the parentals, men can sit back and watch a DVD, or the game with dad, (for example), while for women, visiting parents often resembles work in that they're helping with household tasks or planning some event. And b.) dusting is at the very bottom of everyone's to-do lists:

"Mr. Krueger’s data, for instance, shows that the average time devoted to dusting has fallen significantly in recent decades. There haven’t been any dust-related technological breakthroughs, so houses are probably just dirtier than they used to be. I imagine that the new American dustiness affects women’s happiness more than men’s."

Pretty funny. So not only are women getting more frustrated, houses are getting dirtier. (Though I take exception to the idea that there haven't been any dust-related technological breakthroughs. Swiffer Dusters, anyone? Those things work like magic!)

3.) My father-in-law sent me an amusing forward today. (I know! The legend is true! Amusing email forwards still exist!) According to the email (which is true according to email-forward-debunker, there's a sea gull in Scotland who's taken to shoplifting. Here's the story, and at the bottom of the page, the video. This line from the email, was my favorite detail about the story: "Customers have begun paying for the sea gull's stolen bags of chips." I just love the idea of Scottish customers paying for the gull's stolen cheese Doritos (which is the only kind he takes, by the way). Before, a person could show their consideration for nature by going out of their way to give the Earth's menagerie of animals their space and their lives. You know, don't tease the animals, don't lay out traps that kill, whether in one's house or in the wild, don't go out into their habitats to hunt, etc., etc. . But because people have had less and less interaction with animals as we've all been pressed into cities these last couple of centuries, opportunities to show consideration for wildlife are generally rare. But when an opportunity does arise for us to show respect for animals, even the dirty annoying ones like gulls, we take it. In this case, showing respect for animals means reimbursing a shopkeeper for a sea gull's premeditated larceny. I laughed a good bit at this, so I thought I'd share.

4.) Went to a book fair this afternoon at Perimeter Mall and found deal after deal after deal on used books. Hardcovers, trade paperbacks, all of it. I got about 15-18 novels and short story collections (I still haven't gone through my haul), some of which were on the shelves as new books mere months ago. A couple of hardcover Alice Munro hardbacks in great condition, an old and hard to find Ian McEwan trade of short stories, a hardcover Margaret Atwood, and more than few major prize-winners. Anyway, it was a hell of a lot of fun and I could have easily gotten about 10 other books, but thought I should only get as many books as I could physically carry.

All right, that's all I got. Have a good weekend er'rybody.


Peter said...

is Peggy frowning because of netbank?

harwell said...

Hey Crane - there's a signed hardback of "In the Lake of the Woods" for sale at a used bookstore here in Asheville. The signature's personalized, so you won't be able to pretend that O'Brien actually signed it for you, but I think it was only going for 20 bucks. If you're interested let me know. I could pick it up for you. And then dust the living crap out of it.