That book meme everybody's doing

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#6 What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?
Sangue Fresco, by João Carlos Marinho. Some kids get kidnapped and taken to the Amazon by a diabolical outfit that plans to milk them for their "fresh blood"—that's the title. They escape into the jungle and get back to civilization by looking for a sunken place in the carpet of leaves—that's a stream—and following it to another stream and another until eventually they get to the biggest river of them all.

#7 What is the worst book you’ve read in the past year?
The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella: 5/10. I read so much at the beach that I ended up with nothing to read on the flight back, so I bought this slab of literary junk food at the airport newsstand. It's a tie between that and Is There An Engineer Inside You?, a title that evokes either horror or porn, with some of the crappiest writing I've ever read inside.

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You Decide, I Report Too

Last time on You Decide, I Report, my flist chose Rachel Getting Married for me to see. This weekend I'm choosing between The Wrestler, Mickey Rourke's comeback film, which one of my favorite critics called a chick flick, and Waltz with Bashir, something animated from Israel about a soldier's memories of the 1982 war in Lebanon, that's gotten great reviews.

ETA, Sunday: Thank you for all your votes. I'll be seeing the winner tonight. Right now it looks like that'll be Waltz with Bashir, but all you Wrestler fans, there's still time to get your votes in and make a difference. I'll be closing the voting today at 5 PM Eastern Daylight Time (GMT -0500).

Poll #1361505 You Decide, I Report Too
This poll is closed.

Which of these movies should I see this weekend:

What's wrong with you? Go watch something cute like Confessions of a Shopaholic.

If I get a quorum of at least five votes I'll abide by your decision and report back in this space on how I liked it. Don't feel you have to have seen these to give your opinion. Darts, pet flea, stone-paper-scissors, any way you want to choose is fine. I'll be happy to see either one.

The Sensible and the Insane

Two ends of the spectrum in today's New York Times:

First, here's what strikes me as a smart proposal to reincorporate newspapers as nonprofits. Strong news reporting is a public good. Stories aren't going to report themselves, and web ads can't cover the cost of keeping bureaus around the world and digging up the tough news here at home. I used to subscribe to Times Select and I'd still be happy to pay a little to read a lot of the stories out there. But so many readers have gotten used to the idea of reading news for free that I don't think there's any stuffing the genie back into the bottle. Nonprofit newspapers sound like a good alternative to all-Brangelina-and-açaí-all-the-time. And maybe a nonprofit NYT would feel free to lay off the sycophantic stories about multimillion-dollar living-room makeovers and travel stories about the mud baths of Papua New Guinea.

And then... I wish I'd never seen this. I think it's safe to say we can, uh, stick a fork in the bacon trend now.

(no subject)

I'm interrupting your regularly scheduled Christmas for some political gloating. This is just too beautiful not to share.

A 27-year-old student at the University of Utah "tainted" a Bureau of Land Management auction of oil and gas leases on public land by pushing bids up above the usual rock-bottom prices. Talking Points Memo points out that
  1. this means the leases are worth a lot more to the bidders than they had been paying, and
  2. the whole thing never would have been possible if the Bush Administration hadn't waived the usual process for prequalifying bidders in an attempt to put as many underpriced leases through as possible before January 20. Buuuuuuurn!

    Oh yeah, Merry Christmas to everybody who is celebrating it.

Sweet potato sweet potato

Happy Thanksgiving! Here, by request, is a sweet-potato recipe I made the other day that could convert even a sweet-potato hater. This (like a lot of other good things to eat) comes from the culinary fiends at America's Test Kitchen, the people who publish Cook's Illustrated magazine. You don't have to be a carnivore or even an ovo-lacto to enjoy it, either. It's vegan.


Note: This recipe can easily be doubled, with two provisions: use a large Dutch oven and double the cooking time.

2 pounds sweet potatoes (3 medium), peeled, quartered lengthwise, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
Black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro (green coriander)

Combine everything except the cilantro in a large saucepan. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes fall apart when poked with a fork, about 40 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Mash with a potato masher until smooth. Stir in cilantro. Enjoy.

Meaty Links

Here's some thinky reading for your Monday:

Hugh Bartling reports on a design competition to make central Arizona's strip malls greener and more people-friendly without tearing them down. Ideas range from a robotic parking tower to a billboard that provides the complex with solar power and shade to a permeable roof of solar panels over the whole thing.

Slate has a story on how not all subprime lenders are predatory scum.

Mark Bittman has a plan to save the world's fisheries from collapse: stick to eating better (wild-caught) fish, less often.

I'm sure everybody will be happy to hear that the US Supreme Court has upheld the Bill of Rights by a vote of 5 to 4.