Good Things of 2004, December 15, 2004 (

1. The Companion Bible, a study Bible by E.W. Bullinger (1837-1913). Scholarly and opinionated, with lots on the Masorah and acrostics. Sometimes wrong, but always clear. The 198 appendices, essays on topics such as "the genitive case" or "words for repent" are up on the web, as is a sample page.

2. An Artist of the Floating World 1988, and The Remains of the Day, 1989, by Kazuo Ishiguro. Gripping, though-provoking novels of character, about the sadness of old age when one realizes one's idealism has been spent on a bad cause-- Japanese militarism and English appeasement. A warning to us all.

3. Leafblowers, and the Electric, Sears Craftsman ones in particular. $35.

4. One Gigabyte Sandisk Thumbdrives. They store more than a CD, are more durable, are smaller, and connect faster. $90.

5. Jonathan Edwards,Perry Miller, 1949. The subject's ideas are the focus and events weave in and out to illustrate them. Edwards's project was to combine the new philosophy of Locke with the data of the Bible and human behavior to find the truth and apply it to daily life.

6. Essay on Man, Alexander Pope, 1744. Philosophy in poetry. Man is "Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurled: The glory, jest, and riddle of the world!"

7. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, Jared Diamond, 1996. Better would be: "Wheat, Yams, and Pigs: Why Civilization Arose Where It Did". The Middle East is not only truly he middle of the world, it has the best wild grasses and the most domesticatable animals.

8. Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950, Charles Murray, 2003. Murray picks up where Diamond leaves off. Two stupendous tasks: 1. To measure the accomplishments of genius numerically, comparing times and places; and 2. To figure out why the numbers are different.

9. The Defense of Duffer's Drift, by Captain E.D. Swinton, 1905. Six dreams of Boer War Lieutenant Backsight Forethought, left with 50 men to hold Duffer's Drift. In each dream, he makes plans to hold it, remembering in the next dream the lessons from his defeat in the previous one.

10. Tennessee Ernie Ford's wonderfully rich voice, especially in his gospel songs.

11. Fridge Phonics alphabet toy. When a child puts a letter in a box and presses it, the box says the letter's sound. $18.

12. The Incredibles, 2004. An aristocratic and bourgeois animation movie combining Toy Story with James Bond, about a family of superheroes. It teaches elitism and devotion to honor against the whines of the mediocre, yet the family is perceptively 1950's American.

Other items: Seed postcards from The Wildflower Trading Company. , Ben Gadd, Handbook of the Canadian Rockies. The LIttlest Rebel. Shirley Temple. For backache: A Methocarbimol-acetaminophen mixture of muscle relaxant and pain reliever . Boot The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power 2002, One's own domain. Oliver Winery Reisling is very good. Blue bottles.

Lists of good things from other years.