Category Archives: Links

What’s it about? It’s about nothing.

I don’t know who Brian Hennigan is, but after reading this, I think perhaps I should find out…

This had me in stitches.

It was also another one of those “I said this EXACT SAME THING!” moments (yes, I know exact same is redundant). (It happens w/ Anderson Cooper a lot. Which is why I think we could be BFF. But I digress.) Okay, I’ve not been quite as pejorative as he gets in his closing paragraphs. But this guy is Scottish, after all. I’m Canadian. You see the difference.

This, however, could be a direct quote:

Let me also say that, yes, I have read a Harry Potter book. It was nice enough – for a children’s book. But at no point did I ever think that I was involved in anything other than a book for children.

There was not anything of entertainment value for a fully-developed adult mind.

HP aside, these “Hey! I said that last week/month/year!” moments happen so frequently that I wonder if there is not an audience for my observations/opinions. Perhaps one needs to be semi-famous first before anyone is interested in what one has to say? Possibly. But maybe, just maybe, it’s simply a matter of articulating stuff that people identify with.

Revisions

Writer Cody talks about changes to his novel ‘Ricochet River’

[T]his new version of the coming-of-age novel is missing certain sexual references and profanity that Cody thinks caused some high schools to ban it from their classrooms.

In one, the book’s main characters — all teens — spend the night in a hotel room in The Dalles. It’s a comic scene that has been one of Cody’s favorites for out-loud readings. But it involves alcohol and sex, and Cody understood parents’ and teachers’ discomfort with the messages the scene might send to high schoolers.

Cody removed this scene and toned down another that occurs in the woods near some mating salmon. He also replaced a few expletives.

Caveat: I don’t know this book.

That said, hmm. He says he did it because he understands teachers feeling uncomfortable with those bits in the classroom, not because of right-wing pressure / book banning.

Yeah, I dunno. Isn’t it the stuff that’s uncomfortable that’s most important to deal with–not avoid?

Alcohol and sex is the reality of high school for a lot of people. Aren’t we better off acknowledging and dealing with it directly that than pretending it doesn’t happen?

And seriously, profanity? Profanity is the reality for everyone.

A lot of people seem to want childhood/adolescence to be something that simply doesn’t exist. That never did exist. I think it must be true that when most people grow up, they forget what it was like to be 7, 10, 15.

In one of Madeleine L’Engle’s books (I think it’s Circle of Quiet) she talks about how when she’s writing about being 15 (or a character who’s 15), at that moment, she is 15. When I first read that, it was an “aha” moment for me. I realized that when I was telling a story of something that happened when I was 13, I’d go back there, I’d be 13 again, if only for a moment (people would sometimes comment on how worked up I could get about things that happened years ago, and I guess I wondered if I was weird for still being able to feel my 13yo pain). I think that ability is essential for a writer, but I guess not everyone has it.

Continuing Sagas

Conspiracy Theories

“If you liked The Da Vinci Code, you’ll love the Downing Street Memo.”

Okay, so this article at Slate isn’t really about the Da Vinci Code. But I had to share anyhow, because it’s exactly what I’ve been thinking ever since the hype started and exactly why I haven’t read it yet (well, that and the hardcover vs. paperback thing).

A few weeks ago, at an airport in Europe, I saw Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code staring at me across the bookstore bins. I had seen it many times before and averted my gaze, but I was facing a long delay, and I suddenly thought: May as well get it over with.Well, of course I knew it would be bad. I just didn’t know that it would be that bad. Never mind for now the breathless and witless style, or the mashed-paper characters, or the lazy, puerile reliance on incredible coincidence to flog the lame plot along. What if it was all true? What if the Nazarene had had issue, in fleshly form, with an androgynous disciple? The Catholic Church would look foolish but, then, it already looks foolish enough on the basis of the official story. “Opus Dei,” according to Brown, is a sinister cult organization. Excuse me, but I already knew this, so to speak, independently.

OPEN LETTER TO KANSAS SCHOOL BOARD

As previously mentioned, snarking at creationists? Always fun.

I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. It was He who created all that we see and all that we feel. We feel strongly that the overwhelming scientific evidence pointing towards evolutionary processes is nothing but a coincidence, put in place by Him….

We have evidence that a Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe. None of us, of course, were around to see it, but we have written accounts of it.

It is absolutely imperative that they realize that observable evidence is at the discretion of a Flying Spaghetti Monster. Furthermore, it is disrespectful to teach our beliefs without wearing His chosen outfit, which of course is full pirate regalia.

I think we can all look forward to the time when these three theories are given equal time in our science classrooms across the country, and eventually the world; One third time for Intelligent Design, one third time for Flying Spaghetti Monsterism, and one third time for logical conjecture based on overwhelming observable evidence.

Bwahahaha.

Religion is the root of all evil.

GOD AND COUNTRY

There’s a wealth of snark here, from students who think “their beloved” GWB doesn’t lie to the biology professor who teaches that “the earth was created in a week” — but I’m going to focus on the subjugation of women.

Keep in mind, these quotes refer to university students:

Brobst was wearing a cherry-red suit, Ross a peacock-blue one, with stockings and pumps�the uniform of Washington wives in waiting.

Power suits? Stockings? Pumps? Hello? Makes me want to say go west, young women, to the land of Birkenstocks, fleece, and year-round shorts.

Referring to du M�e, he said, �Maybe one day he�ll be the one standing before the Supreme Court, arguing to overturn Roe v. Wade.�

Oy. You know it’s one thing when a 60+ person holds certain, ah, “values” I disagree with. I think, okay, well, maybe their small-mindedness was due to the times they grew up, etc. I think they’re wrong, but I can see where/how their opinions developed. OTOH, I always find myself startled when I realize the person going all ballistic over “One Dad, Two Dads” is closer to my age than my parents’. I think, WTF? It’s like we grew up on different planets. That there are twenty-somethings who also hold such views is both perplexing and disturbing.

Ross would look for a job, but only to pay back loans. Eventually, [Ross & du Mee] want to adjust to living on one salary so that she can homeschool their kids.

In theory, homeschooling may have its merits. In reality, homeschoolers = crazy people. The fact that the students in this article were homeschooled in part explains how they can hold views the views they do. Public school is terribly flawed. However, it has the advantage of exposing you to people who are not the same as you and who don’t share your parents’ views/values. IMO, this compensates for a lot.

Ben Adams … sent out a nine-page e-mail to the entire student body before the spring formal reminding the girls to dress modestly. �Lust is sin,� it said. �It is sin for you to tempt us. It is . . . unloving. Unsisterly. Un-Christlike.�

Asshat. Blame the girl. It’s all the girl’s fault. Women are evil. etc. etc. etc. Hate that. This is why I couldn’t get past page 1 of the Bible (I did try to read it once, for its literary merits). Step up, Asshat! Take responsibility for your own actions. Also, the shame/guilt element here is disturbing. No one should feel that bad about sex–which, after all, is a natural biological function, while “sex only w/i marriage” is a mere social convention.

Girls talk about not �stumbling� a guy, the equivalent of tempting him, and resident advisers keep a close eye on them to make sure they don�t wear shirts that show any bra. If they do, they�ll get a friendly e-mail��I think I saw you in dress code violation,� followed by a smiley emoticon.

Phony niceness. Yeah, that’s a good value to encourage. I guess this is “hate the sin, love the sinner” again. Hate that message too. Anyhow, what I notice is that these “values” encourage people to be shallow, to focus on the external. It’s all about appearances, looking “good” to others. Bleh.

Matthew du M�e, who was an R.A., told me that if he saw a boy and girl sitting too close for too long he would pull the boy aside and tell him to stop, because �the guy is supposed to be the leader in the relationship.�

I’ve heard this one before. Newsflash: 21st Century. Speaking of which…

Even the most ambitious [girls], those who wake up at 3 a.m. to study, told me without reservation that as soon as they had children they would quit their jobs to raise them.

Elisa believes the Bible dictates that �there are different roles for men and women�; … But the expectation of most of the guys she knows at Patrick Henry�that wives should just �fade out,� that she should instantly take on the identity of a wife and mother �and consider it a blessing��is not something that she�s comfortable with.

This is simply sad. Honestly, people still believe this shit in 2005? Really? I mean, really, truly, deep inside, without the slightest bit of hypocrisy, they believe this? Doubtful. More likely the guys selfishly want it (who wouldn’t want their very own personal assistant who works for free?) and the girls delude themselves into accepting it in their eagerness to please everyone around them who is expecting them to be perfect. Ugh.

*

Soldiers of Christ II

In the parking lot outside the center, I come across a pickup truck with large hand-painted panels bearing anti-gay slogans and a round red circle with a line through the center superimposed on the faces of two men kissing. STOP THE INSANITY, it says across the top. I pick up one of the pamphlets in a metal box on the side of the truck: �Protect Your Family & Friends from the Dangers of . . . Homosexuality: The Truth!�

The truth. Riiiight.

Wright promises the audience that as the new president of NRB he will fight to block the passage of hate-crime legislation, something many Christian broadcasters fear might be used to halt their attacks on gays and lesbians.

�If we had to give equal time to every opposing viewpoint, there would be no time to proclaim the truth that we have been commanded to proclaim,� he says. �We will fight the Fairness Doctrine, tooth and nail. It could be the end of Christian broadcasting as we know it if we do not.�

Oh, darn. The end of hate-filled broadcasting. I weep.

I can�t help but recall the words of my ethics professor at Harvard Divinity School, Dr. James Luther Adams, who told us that when we were his age, and he was then close to eighty, we would all be fighting the �Christian fascists.�

…fascism, Adams warned, would not return wearing swastikas and brown shirts. Its ideological inheritors would cloak themselves in the language of the Bible; they would come carrying crosses and chanting the Pledge of Allegiance.

…too many liberals failed to understand the power and allure of evil, and when the radical Christians came, these people would undoubtedly play by the old, polite rules of democracy long after those in power had begun to dismantle the democratic state. …

Adams told us to watch closely the Christian right�s persecution of homosexuals and lesbians. Hitler, he reminded us, promised to restore moral values not long after he took power in 1933, then imposed a ban on all homosexual and lesbian organizations and publications. Then came raids on the places where homosexuals gathered, culminating on May 6, 1933, with the ransacking of the Institute for Sexual Science in Berlin. Twelve thousand volumes from the institute�s library were tossed into a public bonfire. Homosexuals and lesbians, Adams said, would be the first �deviants� singled out by the Christian right. We would be the next.

In all seriousness, though, this is scary shit. I strongly believe that organized religion just gives people an excuse to hate. Organized religion imposes a set of manmade “values” on its followers, which they must follow blindly or else they aren’t a good whatever and risk punishment (in some cases, the heaping on of guilt, in others, the heaping on of stones). It doesn’t encourage people to think for themselves; in fact, it does the opposite. It encourages people to be submissive, to let those who “know better” take charge and tell them what to do. People are exploited and hurt in order to feed the ambitions of the religion’s hierarchy. It’s all about power & money for the people at the top.

Please.

Javanomics 101: Today’s Coffee Is Tomorrow’s Debt

She just graduated summa cum laude , after three years of legal training that left her $115,000 in debt. Part of that debt, which she will take a decade to repay with interest, was run up at Starbucks, where she buys her lattes….

“A latte a day on borrowed money? It’s crazy,” said Erika Lim, director of career services at the law school.

I love how it’s the career services person who’s all aghast at the lattes. Shouldn’t she be doing something useful … like finding students jobs?!

Seriously, bigger issues here than $3/day spent on coffee.

Always Wait for the Paperback.


Open letter to ‘The Da Vinci Code’ publisher

This one’s a guy ranting about why he won’t buy The Da Vinci Code in hardcover. (For the record, I’m the other person who has not yet read The Da Vinci Code.) And why won’t he? Well…

Why? Well, it’d go against one of the two rules by which my mother taught me to live life: Always Wait for the Paperback.

FOCLMAO. I had the hardcover vs. paperback discussion with some other reader/writer-types a few years back. I said I only bought paperbacks. Trade paperbacks, usually, but paperbacks, nonetheless. I think people thought I was wacky or something. Like, hardcovers are soooo much better! They smell great, etc. Yeah, yeah. Whatever. They’re also f’ing expensive and big/heavy (i.e. hard to carry around). I have changed my stance on the hardcover thing a little in the last couple years, though, since I discovered the remainder table. I mean, if I the hardcover is selling for $2.99, who’m I to say no? (I actually got one for 99 cents! That’s like FREE in American!)

I suspect there’s something politically incorrect about buying books off the remainder table. Like the author gets no royalties or something. (Anyone know?) But here’s the thing: if I’m buying full-priced paperbacks, I generally stick to writers I’ve read before. Who wants to shell out 20 bucks for a book that sucks? Also, the regular bookshelves in a large bookstore can be somewhat overwhelming–there are so many books! Which ONE to choose? So it’s easier just to go to my favorite authors and look for something I haven’t read yet.

With the remainder table, I can get 4 books for 20 bucks. If a book sucks, well, it’s no great loss. I’m free to take risks. The selection is smaller and more eclectic. It’s generally not literary phenomenon-type stuff, The Book Everyone is Reading. Which is good, because I’m really not into jumping off cliffs just because everyone else is. But often there will be books by “name” writers that I haven’t read. Hey, here’s a chance to check them out. And I always look at first novels. Sound interesting? I’ll pick it up.

It’s the randomness of it that I like. It’s the same principle as used bookstores, which I’ve always loved. You never know what you’re going to find, what you’re going to discover. And the selection is never the same twice. So you can’t waffle. You have to leap.

And the thing is, all it takes is one book to hook me. Next time? I’ll be looking for you on the regular shelves. As long as you’re in paperback 😉

I can’t imagine living without books.

Book lover, collector turns silo into unusual library

The article’s about a guy who turned an old silo into a three-storey library with a spiral staircase in the middle. Too cool. But I loved this quote:

“I can’t imagine living without books. If I go out to dinner at someone else’s home, and they don’t have books visible, I wonder if I want them as friends,” said Barbara Farnsworth, an antiquarian bookseller in West Cornwall, Conn.

It’s so true! I always find it disturbing to be in a house that lacks books. Like, do I have anything in common with these people? I remember a time I was house-sitting, and I kept wandering around the house thinking “something’s not right” but not clueing in to what it was, and then I realized. No books! I gasped. I did another circuit of the house to check and make sure, but no, it was true. Not a single one! I was quite literally shocked.

I also find it disturbing when a house lacks living things other than people (i.e. plants and/or pets) and personal mementos (not tchotchkes, but photographs and other items of personal significance). Without those things, it seems like a hotel room, not a home.

When I was in my last year of high school I babysat for this “rich” family. (I put in rich in quotations because it turned out they were in fact living beyond their means. ) Anyhow, I’d never seen anything like the house they lived in. I mean, not the house itself, it was typical for the neighborhood. But the interior. It had clearly been “done” by a decorator. Everything matched, from the furniture to the paint colors to the accessories (they were clearly accessories, not personal items). For instance, there was a white baby grand piano in the living room. I’m sure no one in that house played piano. There was never anything out of place, no magazines on the coffee table or toys on the floor or anything like that. It was stunning. And completely sterile. The only room I felt comfortable in was the unfurnished playroom (the room builders call the “bonus” room) that held all the kids’ toys. After the perfection of the rest of the house, it was delightfully messy.

Something “more”

Teen spirit

When [girls] pick up Forever, her hallmark folksy, first-person voice eases their transition into the book’s more adult world, conveying subliminally the idea that sex is not something “other” – and therefore to be feared – but something “more”; the logical next step on the ladder to adulthood.

I always liked Judy Blume, despite the fact that I never understood Margaret and her friends in Are You There God? (I thought they were insane.) Anyhoo. Never owned a copy of Forever (or any other Blume books that I can recall, though I read them all), so I can’t reminisce about where I hid mine. That’s not a slight. For as much as I read, I really owned very few books as a pre-adult. Most were library books or borrowed. Forever was borrowed. It got passed around my junior high until everyone who wanted to had read it. Who it actually belonged to, I don’t remember, if I ever knew.

Blume now finds herself in the rather curious position of being, as she herself puts it, “one of the most banned writers in America” …

What I find fascinating about Judy Blume is how her books are always on those “most-banned” lists. In fact, most of the authors on those banned lists are YA authors. I find that amusing because I started reading novels-written-for-adults when I was about 10. Nothing a teen novel could throw at me was particularly revelatory. I don’t even particularly remember much about the plot of Forever (I think there was a ski trip?). What I remember is that dog-eared paperback being passed around the school.

I think there’s a common theme here…

Creationism: God’s gift to the ignorant

Because snarking at creationists is always fun. 😉

Love, Family, and Fairness, or How to Raise a Gay Friendly Child

I don’t think I’ve ever seen this said better, if at all. I think this is really important, and it’s something I’ve thought about a lot, especially with all the recent media attention on banning books that depict same-sex families because they’re “age inappropriate.” One, I don’t think that it’s ever too early to show kids that not all families are of the one mom, one dad variety. And two, I think it’s pretty presumptuous to assume that your child is heterosexual.

The Talented Miss Highsmith

I also think she’s terribly cool. She’s on my “must read all books by her/him” list. I try to take these things slowly though, because it’s always a little disappointing when you’ve read a writer’s entire oeuvre and there’s nothing left to discover.