New: Book Report: A Perfect Red

Blogger just enabled full editing of templates in the new Layout system. It's different from the old Blogger template system. I played with an early version of it, and I like it a lot better. It was pretty easy to come up with a template that made things look pretty. Or that looked like an old "green screen" monitor, which is perhaps even better than looking pretty. Working with one of the starter templates even taught me some neat stuff about CSS. But blogs about blogging are dull. You're here for the book reports. So as long as we're talking about ways to make things look pretty, maybe this is a good time to talk about A Perfect Red, a book about making things pretty.

Specifically, this was a social history of cochineal, a dye made from insects that feed on nopales. Yes, those same nopales that are so nice when marinated and rolled up in a burrito. But in this book, they're called "nopals". I never saw the spelling "nopals" until I read this book. I guess it's the official English spelling, but that no-one uses the official English spelling. That is, when I conduct a Google internet search for [nopales], I get a quarter million results, but no little "define" link letting me know that I can look this word up in an online English dictionary. When I search for [nopals], there are 800 results, but there's a "define" link. I guess more burritophiles need to take more lexicographers out to lunch more often.

What--oh, the book? The book had some interesting stories of industrial espionage and botany as various gringos attempted to smuggle the secret of cochineal out of Mexico. The book also had some long passages describing What the Color Red Meant to the People of the Time. Maybe that's nice if you're into that sort of thing, but I was happy to skim that part.

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Posted 2006-08-31