Beezus and Ramona

Beezus and Ramona(ō)

By Beverly(ˈbevərlē) Cleary


Beatrice(bēətrīs) Quimby’s biggest problem was her little sister Ramona. Beatrice, or Beezus (as everyone called her, because that was what Ramona had called her when she first learned to talk), knew other nine-year-old girls who had little sisters who went to nursery(ˈnərs(ə)rē) school, but she did not know anyone with a little sister like Ramona.

Beezus felt that the biggest trouble with four-year-old Ramona was that she was just plain(plān) exasperating(iɡˈzaspəˌrādiNG). If Ramona drank(draNGk) lemonade(ˌleməˈnād) through a straw(strô), she blew into the straw as hard as she could to see what would happen. If she played with her finger paints in the front yard, she wiped(wīp) her hands on the neighbors’ cat. That was the exasperating sort of thing Ramona did. And then there was the way she behaved about her favorite book.

It all began one afternoon after school when Beezus was sitting in her father’s big chair embroidering(əmˈbroidər) a laughing teakettle(ˈtēˌkedl) on a pot holder for one of her aunts(ant) for Christmas. She was trying to embroider this one neatly(ˈnētlē), because she planned to give it to Aunt Beatrice, who was Mother’s younger sister and Beezus’s most special aunt.

With gray(ɡrā) thread Beezus carefully outlined the steam coming from the teakettle’s spout and thought about her pretty young aunt, who was always so gay(ɡā) and so understanding. No wonder she was Mother’s favorite sister. Beezus hoped to be exactly like Aunt Beatrice when she grew up. She wanted to be a fourth-grade teacher and drive a yellow convertible(kənˈvərdəb(ə)l) and live in an apartment house with an elevator(ˈeləˌvādər) and a buzzer(ˈbəzər) that opened the front door. Because she was named after Aunt Beatrice, Beezus felt she might be like her in other ways, too.

Bad News Bias

Bad News Bias(ˈbīəs)

The U.S. media is offering a different picture of Covid-19 from science journals or the international media, a study finds.

By David(ā) Leonhardt

Bruce Sacerdote(ˌsasərˈdōt), an economics(ˌekəˈnämiks) professor at Dartmouth College, noticed something last year about the Covid-19 television coverage(ˈkəv(ə)rij) that he was watching on CNN and PBS. It almost always seemed negative, regardless of what was he seeing in the data or hearing from scientists he knew.

When Covid cases were rising in the U.S., the news coverage emphasized(ˈemfəˌsīz) the increase. When cases were falling, the coverage instead focused on those places where cases were rising. And when vaccine(vakˈsēn) research began showing positive results, the coverage downplayed it, as far as Sacerdote could tell.

But he was not sure whether his perception(pərˈsepSH(ə)n) was correct. To check, he began working with two other researchers, building a database of Covid coverage from every major network, CNN, Fox News, Politico, The New York Times and hundreds of other sources, in the U.S. and overseas. The researchers then analyzed it with a social-science technique that classifies language as positive, neutral(ˈn(y)o͞otrəl) or negative.

The results showed that Sacerdote’s instinct had been right — and not just because the pandemic has been mostly a grim(ɡrim) story.

Why April Fools' day is utter crap

Why April Fools’ day is utter(ˈədər) crap

Admit it: April Fools’ day, a day when everyone supposedly(səˈpōzədlē) gets to have a laugh, is crap. There are many reasons for this

By Dean Burnett

It’s April Fools’ Day! Joy of joys! What could be more fun than all of society coming up with their best jokes en-masse and showing them to the world? Nothing! Apart from, maybe, pouring(pôr) lemon(ˈlemən) juice on a vicious(ˈviSHəs) paper cut.

In case that last sentence was too subtle(ˈsədl), I’m not a fan of April Fools’ day. This might surprise regular readers, given that this blog regularly features the most frivolous(ˈfrivələs) and ridiculous of non-stories (in the science(ˈsīəns) section, no less). So surely I approve of April Fools’? But no. I can’t stand it, it grates(ɡrāt) on my nerves (and I’m a neuroscientist(ˈn(y)o͝orōˌsīəntəst), so I don’t use that phrase(frāz) lightly). And, judging by most of the online reactions I’ve seen thus far, I’m far from alone in this.

Why? Why would an occasion(əˈkāZHən) which, whatever its confusing origins(ˈôrəjən), is ostensibly(äˈstensiblē) about having a laugh, be so infuriating(inˈfyo͞orēˌādiNG)? Well, there are several reasons, both social and psychological(ˌsīkəˈläjək(ə)l).

It’s too familiar

It’s too predictable(prəˈdiktəb(ə)l)

Officially sanctioned(ˈsaNG(k)SH(ə)n) fun is an oxymoron(ˌäksəˈmôrˌän)

It’s patronising(ˈpātrənīziNG)

It’s worse if you work in comedy(ˈkämədē) in any capacity(kəˈpasədē)



Beloved Children’s book author Beverly Cleary died on March 25, 2021, in Carmel(kärˈmel), California, where she’d lived since the 1960s. She was 104 years old.

Beverly Cleary’s first book, Henry(ˈhenrē) Huggins, was published in 1950, immediately setting a standard for realistic(ˌrēəˈlistik) children’s fiction(ˈfikSH(ə)n). More than forty published books later, Beverly Cleary has become beloved by generations of children. Mrs. Cleary has also inspired authors, including Judy(ˈjo͞odē) Blume(blo͞om), to deal with the real issues in young readers’ lives. As the author and reviewer Ilene Cooper said in ALA Booklist, “When it comes to writing books kids love, nobody does it better.”

Suzanne Murphy(ˈmərfē), President and Publisher, HarperCollins Children’s Books shared: “We are saddened by the passing of Beverly Cleary, one of the most beloved children’s authors of all time. Looking back, she’d often say, ‘I’ve had a lucky life,’ and generations of children count themselves lucky too—lucky to have the very real characters Beverly Cleary created, including Henry Huggins, Ramona(rəmōnə) and Beezus Quimby(kwənbē), and Ralph(ralf) S. Mouse, as true friends who helped shape their growing-up years. We at HarperCollins also feel extremely(ikˈstrēmlē) lucky to have worked with Beverly Cleary and to have enjoyed her sparkling(ˈspärkəliNG) wit. Her timeless books are an affirmation(ˌafərˈmāSH(ə)n) of her everlasting(ˌevərˈlastiNG) connection to the pleasures, challenges, and triumphs(ˈtrīəmf) that are part of every childhood.”

Becoming a Parent During the Pandemic Was the Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done

Becoming a Parent During the Pandemic Was the Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done

This completely different person I’ve become since I gave birth is someone virtually(ˈvərCH(o͞o)əlē) no one knows.

By Sophie Gilbert

In early March last year, I was heading home from a work happy hour on the subway when I realized that a woman was staring at my belly(ˈbelē). She looked at my waist(wāst), where my coat was belted(ˈbeltəd), and then at the floor, and then at my waist again, and then she very tentatively(ˈten(t)ədivlē) offered me her seat. I was four months pregnant(ˈpreɡnənt). (I’d also eaten a lot of fried(frīd) food at happy hour, in lieu(lo͞o) of drinking.) I felt pitifully(ˈpidēf(ə)lē) grateful to this woman at the time, and I ended up thinking about her a lot in the following months. She was really the only person—apart from my husband, my obstetrician(ˌäbstəˈtriSHən), some nurses, and my doormen—who ever saw me pregnant. My mother didn’t. My siblings(ˈsibliNG) didn’t. My best friends didn’t either, or my co-workers, or any other kindhearted strangers on the subway. After the second week of March, I stopped going anywhere apart from occasional doctor visits and walks around the city. In July, I gave birth to twins, and then I stopped going anywhere at all. “You take those babies home and you keep them there,” the head nurse at Weill(vīl, wīl) Cornell Medicine told me, and that is exactly what I did.

Three Practices to Celebrate Your Day

Three Practices(ˈpraktəs) to Celebrate Your Day

By Leo Babauta

What would it be like if today were special?

I’m going to share a few simple practices that will elevate(ˈeləˌvāt) every day into something to celebrate.

Practice 1: Win the Day

Instead of starting the day with a list of tasks to get done … what if we identified 1-3 things that would make this day an absolute victory, if we were to do them?

So the practice is to start the day with a simple entry in your notebook or on a simple text document: what could I do to make this day a victory?

I keep this list front and center, and refer(rəˈfər) back to it multiple times a day. It helps bring me back to what I want to accomplish.

Practice 2: A Brief Review

At the end of each day, it can be powerful to take a brief pause and review how the day went. And celebrate anything you can!

Here’s what I like to review:

How did I do with my Win the Day list? Celebrate any progress at all.
How did I do with my practices for the day? Again, any practice at all is a cause for celebration.
Where did I see the divine(dəˈvīn) today ?

This only has to take a few minutes. Set a reminder. I often will take a few more minutes to set my intentions/Win the Day items for tomorrow.

Practice 3: Ending Ritual(ˈriCH(o͞o)əl) for Tasks

We don’t have to wait for the end of the day to celebrate. We can do it after anything we do.

The practice is a simple ritual: pause when you’re done with something, before you move on to the next thing. And reflect. And celebrate.

3 Ways the Pandemic Has Made the World Better

3 Ways the Pandemic Has Made the World Better

COVID-19 has inflicted(inˈflikt) devastating(ˈdevəˌstādiNG) losses. It has also delivered(dəˈlivər) certain blessings(ˈblesiNG).

By Zeynep Tufekci

This has been a year of terrible loss. People have lost loved ones to the pandemic. Many have gotten sick, and some are still suffering. Children have lost a year of school. Millions have lost a steady paycheck. Some have lost small businesses that they’d built for decades. Almost all of us have lost hugs and visits and travel and the joy of gathering together at a favorite restaurant and more.

And yet, this year has also taught us much. Strange as it may sound, the coronavirus pandemic has delivered blessings, and it does not diminish(dəˈminiSH) our ongoing suffering to acknowledge them. In fact, recognizing them increases the chance that our society may emerge(əˈmərj) from this ordeal(ôrˈdēl) more capable, more agile(ˈajəl), and more prepared for the future.

Here are three ways the world has changed for the better during this awful(ˈôfəl) year.


Review of "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial"

Review of “E.T. The Extra(ˈekstrə)-Terrestrial(təˈrestrēəl)”

By Roger Ebert

Dear Raven(ˈrāvən) and Emil(ə):

Sunday we sat on the big green couch and watched “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” together with your mommy and daddy. It was the first time either of you had seen it, although you knew a little of what to expect because we took the “E.T.” ride(rīd) together at the Universal tour(to͝or). I had seen the movie lots of times since it came out in 1982, so I kept one eye on the screen and the other on the two of you. I wanted to see how a boy on his fourth birthday, and a girl who had just turned 7 a week ago, would respond to the movie.

Well, it “worked” for both of you, as we say in Grandpa Roger’s business.

Raven, you never took your eyes off the screen–not even when it looked like E.T. was dying and you had to scoot(sko͞ot) over next to me because you were afraid(əˈfrād).

Emil, you had to go sit on your dad’s knee a couple of times, but you never stopped watching, either. No trips to the bathroom or looking for lost toys: You were watching that movie with all of your attention.

Exercise vs. Diet? What Children of the Amazon Can Teach Us About Weight Gain

Exercise vs. Diet(Diet)? What Children of the Amazon(ˈaməˌzän) Can Teach Us About Weight Gain(ɡān)

What we eat may be more important than how much we move when it comes to fighting obesity(ōˈbēsədē).

When children gain excess(ikˈses, ˈekses) weight, the culprit(ˈkəlprət) is more likely to be eating too much than moving too little, according to a fascinating(ˈfasəˌnādiNG) new study of children in Ecuador(ˈekwəˌdôr). The study compared the lifestyles, diets and body compositions of Amazonian(ˌaməˈzōnēən) children who live in rural(ˈro͝orəl), foraging(ˈfôrij) communities with those of other Indigenous(inˈdijənəs) children living in nearby towns, and the results have implications for the rising rates of obesity in both children and adults worldwide.

The in-depth study found that the rural children, who run, play and forage(ˈfôrij) for hours, are leaner(lēn) and more active than their urban counterparts(ˈkoun(t)ərˌpärt). But they do not burn more calories(ˈkal(ə)rē) day-to-day, a surprising finding that implicates the urban children’s modernized(ˈmädərˌnīz) diets in their weight gain. The findings also raise(rāz) provocative(prəˈväkədiv) questions about the interplay(ˈin(t)ərˌplā) of physical activity and metabolism(məˈtabəˌlizəm) and why exercise helps so little with weight loss, not only in children but the rest of us, too.

Words Are Actions

Words Are Actions

By Steve Pavlina

Some people claim that actions matter and words alone(əˈlōn) don’t count for much.

That philosophy may be popular, but it isn’t based in truth.

Words matter tremendously(trəˈmendəslē). Words are actions, and they absolutely do count – at least as much as any other form of action does.

Words influence people. Words create impact, even when you’re not trying to be impactful. Words create ripples(ˈripəl). And words incur(inˈkər) responsibility.

With words alone you can change the course of someone’s life. You can affect someone well beyond (or contrary to) your intent.

The law recognizes this too. You can go to jail(jāl) just for your words if you choose the wrong ones, including in countries that profess(prəˈfes) to have great freedom of speech. And you can most assuredly(əˈSHo͝or(ə)dlē) be sued(so͞o) for your words.

Intent may be considered, but the bigger issue is impact. With your words you could contribute to damaging someone’s health, ending a job or a relationship, or even ending a life.

You could also inspire someone to make a major positive change in their life. You could reduce someone’s stress. You could help form a healthy and positive relationship.

You can have these effects with words alone.

How many transitions(tranˈziSH(ə)n) would never have occurred if certain words had never been voiced?

How many regrets trace back to words alone, whether spoken or unspoken?

You don’t need a large platform or audience to have impact with your words. A small number of words communicated to one person can be unexpectedly(ˌənəkˈspektədlē) life-changing.

I guarantee you that your words have already affected people – and will continue to affect them – in powerful ways you don’t see at all.