hmm, hmm.

Conservative columnist William Safire wrote a marvelous column about gay marriage. Very startling, but fun.

I finished Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix tonight, having been driven to read the whole thing this week. Beyond finding it gripping (my natural curiosity makes me a sucker for books like these), I thought it was actually pretty good. It's very dark, pretty much a downer for the first third or so; where the previous novels have made a slow transition from focusing on the milieu, this one makes a bit of a jump into being almost entirely focused on Harry's subjective experience. This has its ups and downs, as the subjective experience of being fifteen got somewhat tedious when it was me, and isn't guaranteed to be thrilling when it's someone else. The characters change and shift in neat ways over time, and veer into genuine despair for a while--not the schoolkid kind of "Oh no, we've got to hide this from the teachers" despair, but real "Battle of the Alamo" kind of despair, where every power is against you and it appears mathematically certain that you're going to lose, and everything you care about and believe in is about to hit the dustbin. (I often feel this way about the US, in its descent into hypocritical conservative moralism trying to conceal sheer economic and political stupidity.)

I set myself a task of cooking dinner with stuff already in the house, and it worked well: stewed tomatoes, a green pepper, mushrooms, chick peas, some water, a mess of mashed garlic, salt, pepper, basil, oregano, set to nearly-simmer for 45 minutes or so. JRA said it looked pseudo-Tunisian and correctly decided that couscous was the proper starch vehicle. Good stuff.