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February 20, 2005

Madonna is Candy Darling


Perfect casting.

No possible argument.

Lorna Luft, Judy Garland's daughter, owns the screen rights to Candy Darling's published diaries, "My Face for the World to See."

Luft said she was looking for "a boy who has to be unbelievably beautiful" to play the lead role in the movie.

Madonna has stated on numerous occasions that "I'm a man trapped in a woman's body."

So the news in today's Washington Post Style section that Madonna has indeed landed the role of Candy Darling (born James Lawrence Slattery) in the upcoming Darling biopic is refreshing.

No trying to cram the wrong star into a role and then wondering why, say, Woody Allen somehow just didn't work out as Genghis Khan.


Darling (above) starred in several of Andy Warhol's experimental films of the late 60s and early 70s, and was the inspiration behind the Velvet Underground song "Candy Says" and Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side."

February 20, 2005 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

'Fountain' — by Marcel Duchamp


This inverted white porcelain urinal, created in 1917 (the original was lost and a copy is now at Britain's Tate Modern museum) was voted "Most influential artwork of the 20th century" in a 2004 poll of 500 of the most important and highly regarded artists and critics in Great Britain.

Second place went to Picasso's iconic 1907 painting,


"Les Demoiselles d'Avignon."

Andy Warhol's 1962 silk-screens of


Marilyn Monroe came third.

Looked at in another light, you could say that Duchamp's Dadaist foreshadowing of so-called "conceptual art" led the parade, with Picasso's invention (along with Braque) of cubism second and Warhol's signature legitimizing of pop art third.

Would I rank these three schools — Dada/conceptual, cubism, and pop — in that particular order?


More important, at least to me, is the enormous effect each of these movements had on the world outside art, both reflecting and creating fundamentally different ways of looking at and thinking about ourselves, the world, and the relationship between the two.

Assuming, of course, there is one.

February 20, 2005 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

'Words of Estimative Probability' — by Sherman Kent


Sherman Kent was head of the CIA's Office of National Estimates for many years.

Among his many contributions to the study and analysis of information was his classic 1964 work, "Words of Estimative Probability."

It was a plea for his colleagues to assign numerical odds to specific phrases they used in their intelligence estimates.

Originally classified "Confidential" and published in the CIA's Studies in Intelligence, it has since been declassified and is available, along with many other works by Kent, on the CIA's website.


Among other things, Kent discoursed wryly on the conflict between the agency's "poets" and "mathematicians."

His arguments for quantification came to naught, but they still offer much food for thought.

Here's is Kent's basic "Odds Table," assigning a percentage value to certain much-used qualifying phrases.

    100% — CERTAINTY



    93% ± 6% ---- Almost certain

    75% ± 12% --- Probable

    50% ± 10% --- Chances about even

    30% ± 10% --- Probably not

    7% ± 5% ----- Almost certainly not


[via Michael Schrage and his superb article, "What Percent is 'Slam Dunk'?," in today's Washington Post]

February 20, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Blogger's Grotto


"Add a frozen margarita machine and a small refrigerator for fresh limes and you just might have the perfect blogger's grotto!"

Where can I buy one?

[via whereisben.com and everythingandbutnothing]

February 20, 2005 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sex–Specific Bibles


They're here.

Just released this month by Zondervan are "True Identity: The Bible for Women" (above) and "Strive: The Bible for Men" (below).


A description of the women's version says, "Whatever you're facing, you probably share your struggles with a friend. Now imagine your friend has incredible wisdom and is available anytime day or night!"

It features 30 "Ask Me Anything" profiles of the women of the Bible, "in an interview format where the biblical woman speaks to modern readers about the life issue she faced."

The men's version takes a different approach: "A Bible specifically designed to speak to Christian men honestly and straightforwardly about their role as Christians in the face of a culture that actively works against God's will and God's way."

More: "Motivates men to redeem their God-given passions, drives, and purposes so they can live out their faith."

Mimi Haddad, president of Christians for Biblical Equality, praises the new renditions.

The embattled Lawrence H. Summers, fighting to keep his job as Harvard's president, could do worse than to carry the women's version with him when he re-enters the ring this coming Tuesday for the next round of Harvard's faculty meeting/Inquistion into his remarks on the innate differences between men and women in their aptitude for science and math.

I give Summers a 0% likelihood of keeping his job.


Because now that the wolves are out, stuff is going to be leaked that will just cumulatively overwhelm him. But I digress.

I ran across the new versions of the Bible in an article by Robin Galiano Russell that originally appeared in the Dallas Morning News on February 11 and was then syndicated nationally.

It follows.

    Bible Translation Stirs Gender Debate

    The release of a new Bible translation this month pushes to the forefront a hair-splitting debate among evangelical Christians.

    Depending on whom you ask, the Today’s New International Version Bible is either a way to connect with a new generation or a paean to the feminist agenda.

    It’s an update of the New International Version, the best-selling Bible of all time.

    The NIV, published by Zondervan in 1978, has surpassed the King James Version in popularity.

    One in three Bibles bought is an NIV.

    For evangelicals, it’s the pew Bible of choice. And many don’t want it changed.

    Yet Zondervan insisted it was time for an update. The English language has undergone warp-speed changes in the last 30 years, they say, and the TNIV reflects a more "gender accurate" language than its predecessor. It took 45,000 changes to the text to do that.

    That doesn’t mean the Bible has been "neutered," Zondervan is careful to add. God is still referred to in the masculine.

    But where the original language was meant to include both men and women, translators have changed "man" and "brothers" to "human beings" and "brothers and sisters."

    That’s helpful for the generation that has grown up learning English in an inclusive way, said Paul Caminiti, vice president and Bible publisher for Zondervan.

    Since the 1970s, many textbooks have used gender-inclusive language.

    Schoolchildren may get marked down for using exclusively masculine pronouns.

    As a result, many 18- to 34-year-olds are "used to hearing English in what is now taken to be the correct way," Caminiti said.

    That means with inclusive language.

    Critics, however, say the TNIV interprets Scripture with an agenda that many evangelicals do not support.

    Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a past president of the Southern Baptist Convention, said the translators went beyond trying to clarify meaning.

    "They have an agenda - to attempt to force egalitarian and even feminist perspectives on readers in the name of translation," he said.

    "This is spin city if I ever saw it. Many evangelical scholars do not buy it for a moment."

    Dr. Kenneth Barker, a member of the TNIV translation team, said evangelicals looking for a feminist agenda in the new Bible are misguided.

    Using standard Greek-Hebrew lexicons and dictionaries, his team changed passages only where the text meant to include both men and women, he said.

    Guidelines used for the TNIV are the same as used by the American Bible Society and Wycliffe Bible Translators.

    They differ, however, from the anti-inclusive Colorado Springs Guidelines drawn up in 1997 by James Dobson of Focus on the Family.

    Critics charge that Zondervan changed its mind on sticking to those guidelines.

    Zondervan says it refused to sign on in the first place because it had already published gender-accurate Bibles.

    Evangelical concerns began when the International Bible Society, a nondenominational organization that sponsors Bible translations and holds the copyright to the NIV, announced in 1997 that it planned to update the NIV.

    Zondervan has since said it will continue to publish the original NIV.

    When Zondervan released the New Testament portion of the Today’s New International Version in 2002, evangelical critics unleashed a slew of articles and books to refute what they viewed as a "gender neutral" translation.

    Dr. Vern Poythress is a professor of New Testament interpretation at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia and co-author of TNIV and the Gender Neutral Controversy.
    He says the TNIV translators renegotiated the meaning of Scripture to accommodate popular culture.

    "The question is, where do you draw the line? In translation, you have to be faithful. You can’t always be looking in your rearview mirror," he said.

    Certainly, there were gender-accurate Bible translations already on the market, including the New Revised Standard Version, the New Century Version and the New Living Translation.

    But it was different with the NIV, which had found a home on pastor’s desks, seminary professors’ shelves and in the pew.

    "Certain individuals and organizations sent out inflammatory sound bites that say, 'Here’s someone changing the Word of God.' It sends hackles up the back of people’s necks," Caminiti said.

    Proponents of the TNIV say it follows in a long tradition of getting the Bible into the common people’s language, much like Martin Luther did when he translated Scripture into German.

    It’s like crossing over into the 21st century, culturally speaking, they say.

    Ben Irwin, 28, who heads up the Bible marketing team for Zondervan, said baby boomers and older readers are used to translating in their minds "human beings" or "men and women" whenever they see "mankind."

    But research shows 18- to 34-year-olds misinterpret it 90 percent of the time.

    "That is huge," he said.

    "The reality is language changes all the time. You could say we still want to use it in the way we’ve always used it, but you’d be miscommunicating to your audience."

    And it’s even harder for people for whom English is a second language, who "truly misunderstand the good news of Jesus" when they read passages that refer only to men, Irwin said.

    He described his own 20-something generation as unique, in that they are:

    The most spiritually intrigued on the planet, yet they are turned off by organized religion.

    More visually attuned.

    They spend 16 hours a week on the Internet, 14 watching television and 12 listening to the radio.

    Six of 10 say the Bible is relevant to their life.

    Yet 8 million, says researcher George Barna, will leave church by the time they’re 30.

    Poythress and other critics of the TNIV say there are other ways to reach young people, including Bible study guides.

    But the Scripture itself should be handled with care.

    "We’re sympathetic to the concerns, but the Bible is not ours to renegotiate.

    When it comes to the Bible, we want it to be accurate," he said.

    The TNIV publisher and translators say accuracy is their goal, too.

    They say they have picked up on nuances missed earlier because information available to translators has grown exponentially in the last 30 years.

    Translators have benefited from a better understanding of the use of ancient languages, new archaeological discoveries and greater availability of manuscripts.

    "It’s as if something was in black and white, and now it’s in color," Caminiti said.

    People who want a word-for-word translation don’t realize how cumbersome that gets, said Barker of the translation team.

    It ends up as gobbledygook because of differences in grammatical structure and word meaning.

    Instead, he said it’s better to go for dynamic equivalency, or the intent of the original thought, which the original audiences would have understood immediately.

    Patterson prefers a more literal yet readable translation. He predicts most Southern Baptists will neither buy nor support the TNIV.

    Indeed, the Southern Baptist Convention’s publishing arm, now Lifeway Christian Resources, came out with its own alternative to the NIV in 2004, the Holman Christian Standard Bible.

    That version uses traditional language and is closer to the NIV in translation style.

    Barker, who lives in Lewisville, Texas, and is a Southern Baptist deacon, said he and others on the Committee on Bible Translation felt comfortable making changes to the NIV because a translator’s job is simply to recognize a shift in language, "whether you like it or not."

    The committee is the same group of 15 scholars - except for those who have retired or died - that put out the NIV.

    They are faculty members at evangelical institutions such as Wheaton and Westmont colleges.

    The main controversy, Barker said, is over the TNIV’s gender language.

    The battle has been drawn between egalitarian and complementarian views of marriage and ministry.

    Egalitarians believe the Bible doesn’t teach separate roles for men and women in marriage, and say both are equally gifted to serve as pastors, preachers and elders.

    Complementarians believe the Bible has different roles for men and women in the church and at home.

    They restrict women from serving as a pastor or elder, and say God has given men the role as leaders in the home.

    And evangelicals reside in both camps.

    Mimi Haddad, president of the egalitarian organization Christians for Biblical Equality, praised what she called the clarity and accuracy of Today’s New International Version.


    "Modern people no longer use male-dominated language. When you see the word 'men' on a restroom door, you don’t go in. But women are supposed to recognize that 'rise up, O men of God' includes us, too?... We want people to know that men and women are both included in Christ’s atoning work," Haddad said.

    Meanwhile, Randy Stinson, director of the complementarian Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, said translators interested in making gender-based changes to Scripture "should have dealt with that in a footnote."

    "We all want the Bible translated in the language of the people. The key difference is in how far you are able to go to try to reach the culture. We want true accuracy in the text, and leave the application and meaning up to others. It’s possible to have good motives and yet produce a poor product," Stinson said.

    Barker predicted the furor on the part of those who are opposed to inclusive language will die quickly.

    "Some (critics) are pulling in their tentacles a little and backing off. This is not a battle they can fight," he said.

    "What amuses me is that some of those who criticize the TNIV are the same ones who apologize for the use of masculine pronouns. They will say, 'Ladies, we know that Paul says 'brothers' here, but you are included.' The nice thing about the TNIV is you don’t have to apologize anymore."

    Poythress disagreed, saying the controversy will probably continue because evangelicals consider the Bible to be the Word of God.

    "It’s the most important book in the world. The stakes become higher because we want to base our lives on it," he said.

    Examples of Text Changes

    The Committee on Bible Translation made more than 45,000 changes to Today’s New International Version Bible. Most of the changes deal with readability, including gender-related rewording, and new findings from biblical study in the last 30 years. Here’s a comparison between the TNIV and the New International Version:


    "alien" vs. "foreigner"

    To today’s generation, the word "alien" brings to mind men from outer space. However, when used in the Bible, "alien" is referring to foreigner or someone not originally from that land. Whilethe NIV uses the word "alien," the TNIV uses the more understandable "foreigner."

    Genesis 19:9


    "Get out of our way," they replied. And they said, "This fellow came here as an alien, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them." They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door.


    "Get out of our way," they replied. "This fellow came here as a foreigner, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them." They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door.


    "with child" vs. "pregnant"

    Matthew 1:18


    His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.


    His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.

    "fourth watch of the night" vs. "shortly before dawn"

    Matthew 14:25


    During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.


    Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.


    "men" vs. "people"

    All gender-related changes in the TNIV are made to update masculine terminology that in the original languages had generic intent. These passages, when translated in the masculine form, are often misunderstood by younger generations. However, all references originally intended to be masculine remain masculine in the TNIV. All references to God are masculine.

    I Timothy 2:3-4


    This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.


    This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

February 20, 2005 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Once–Bitten™ Cookie Cutter


"4 out of 5 dentists could not tell the difference between a cookie bitten by human teeth and one baked with Slycraft's 'Once–Bitten Cookie Cutter.'"

What more do you need to know?

$8.99 here.

3" diameter.

"Made in America out of durable, shiny copper."


"It's very easy to clean with soap and water (but don't forget to 'floss' between its 'teeth'!)."

[via whereisben.com]

February 20, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wear Your Dog


Believe it or not, PETA would give this a big "paws-up."

Betty Burian Kirk (above, with her dog, Rex) of Lemont, Illinois will knit you a hat or scarf from the hair of your dog.

Send her between $50 and $200 along with a grocery bag full of your dog's hair and you'll get back a wearable version of your beloved companion.

Jennifer Skalka wrote about this new version of pet intimacy in a February 16 Chicago Tribune story, which follows.

    Knitting a Close Bond With Dogs

    Lemont woman thinks she has found a niche by turning canine fur into fashion, spinning hairballs into accessories that can cost $200

    Devoted dog owners will do almost anything for their favorite pooch.

    They let them sleep in their beds on expensive linens.

    They give them filet mignon and short ribs.

    They pucker up for wet, silly smooches on the lips.

    But would they want to wear Rocky or Stella?

    One Lemont woman is betting they do.

    Betty Burian Kirk knits with dog fur. Bring her your golden retriever's hairballs, and she'll spin you a scarf or a hat.

    Kirk, whose work is featured through March in an exhibit in Lemont Public Library titled "Putting on the Dog," is a former elementary school art teacher turned spinner.

    She works with traditional materials, such as felt and wool, but also has created a process for turning dog hair into skeins of yarn, which can be woven into accessories.

    "Like anything else, it's finding your market," said Kirk, 51.

    "I thought this would be perfect because people love their dogs."

    With her Belgian sheepdog, Rex, panting heavily at her feet and a ball of yarn made from Rex's hair in her lap, Kirk explained that she is attracted to dog hair because it is sentimental and produces novelty items that people won't find at the mall.

    "My youngest wants me to make a Rex hat for him," said Kirk, who has two teenage boys and is married to a systems engineer.

    As she spoke, several scarves and hats born of man's best friend sat by her side.

    They were fuzzy, slightly coarse and in a range of earthy colors, such as taupe, gold and chocolate brown.

    Kirk instructs dog owners interested in immortalizing the family pet to collect a grocery bag full of its hair.

    The most sumptuous hair, she said, is from a dog's underbelly.

    Because no one wants to smell like their dog, Kirk's first move is to wash the hair with dish soap and vinegar.

    Once it dries, she cards it to straighten out the fibers.

    Then Kirk, who grew up in Cicero and is a graduate of Morton East High School and Northern Illinois University, spins it into yarn, which eventually becomes the skein.

    Kirk's creations cost $50 to $200.

    Not every breed's coat provides a luscious finish.

    Fluffy Samoyeds, huskies and chows are great.

    Pointers and Labrador retrievers, which have shorter hair, are not.

    Though Kirk has found her passion, she concedes it's not everyone's bag.

    And dog hair, several local hobbyists said, still is a rarity in the knitting world.

    Renana Lavin, co-owner of We'll Keep You in Stitches on Oak Street, recalls a customer who brought in the shaved coat of her recently deceased collie.

    With bags of the dog's hair in her clutches, she asked the shop's owners to help her knit something with it.

    But Lavin said she just couldn't abide, and the woman left the store mumbling angrily under her breath.

    "In my mind's eye I saw the naked collie," Lavin said.

    "We were trying not to throw up. We were horrified."

    Lynette Swanson, owner of Three Bags Full in Northbrook, said she's never knitted with dog hair.

    "I think of dog hair as something you vacuum up," Swanson said. "I don't think of wearing it."

    But these days, experts say, knitters are using a variety of textiles, including those made from paper and wire.

    Stores offer the requisite range of wools, of course, but there's also llama wool, alpaca and rabbit fur.

    "I'm not fond of that either, but people love it," Lavin said of rabbit fur.

    "At least it comes already wound, so we don't have to cry and think of Bugs Bunny."

    At Cherry Tree Hill Yarn in Barton, Vt., an imported yarn made of opossum hair is a big seller.

    The yarn, from New Zealand, is available in a variety of colors.

    "It's just a very soft yarn," said store manager Brittany Carpenter. "People really like it."

    Carpenter may be keen on opossum, but she's not at all into knitting with dog hair.

    "I have a dog, and I couldn't do it," said Carpenter, who has a West Highland terrier at home.

    "I just couldn't do it."

    But Kendall Crolius, co-author of the book "Knitting With Dog Hair," says knitting with dog hair should not be pooh-poohed.


    There are practical benefits in using dog hair — the materials are free, and the dog owner is doing his or her part to recycle.

    Also, Crolius said, dog hair is exceptionally high quality and is warm.

    "You're basically getting cashmere for free," said Crolius of Southport, Conn. "What's not to like?"

    Crolius said the emotional reward is by far the greatest gain from knitting with dog hair.

    She's gotten many letters over the years from grateful readers.

    Kirk says she has turned down requests that she expand her repertoire to include cat hair.

    Her husband and one of her sons are allergic.

    And for naysayers who question the practicality or cleanliness of knitting with dog hair, Kirk has a quick reply.

    "If you buy a camel sweater, think of a camel in the zoo," she said as Rex whimpered nearby.

    "Your cashmere is from a goat. And if you're talking about odors, you don't want a goat in the house."

February 20, 2005 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

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