Friday, January 4, 2008

Banned Books

The Golden Compass has raised the ire of some people due to its alleged promotion of atheism. Now, I have not read the book, but my philosophy on reading has always been that people should be free to read whatever the want. Children are included in "people."

My parents never denied me a book and while once in awhile they cautioned me about the mature nature of the book (I read Brave New World in junior high and my father offered that it might cover some issues advanced for my age) but I was never told not to read a book. Once while I was walking to a babysitting job and was carrying Valley of the Dolls. A conservative neighbor man passed me and asked if my parents knew I was reading such a book. I was proud to announce that yes, they were aware of my reading selection. A more alarming issue was when, as a ninth grader, I went to the public library to check out In Cold Blood and was denied the book by the librarian due to the content of the book. A phone call to my parents assured the librarian that I was allowed to read the book.

When I became an English teacher I foolishly required my 7th graders to write book reports. I never limited the book selection unless it was ridiculously below the student's reading level. I may not have liked some selections (Flowers in the Attic was a popular series, and I would tell students how much I disliked those books) I never told them not to read it. I was happy they were reading.) What I have found over the years is that the quickest way to get a child to read a book is to tell them they can't. Forbidden fruit is always more appealing because people want to find out what they are missing.

While parents have a right to direct their own children's reading, I am amazed when people want a book removed from a school library! Just because people don't want their children to read a book does not mean they have a right to dictate to everyone else's children. What scares me about such people is their need to have others believe/think what they think/believe.

Of even greater interest to me are the people who don't want their children or themselves to read a book that doesn't agree with their religious beliefs. Are people so insecure that they can't be exposed to alternative ideas? Do they not want to question their beliefs as a healthy way to keep their beliefs viable? I was entranced by the people who found Harry Potter promoting the occult. I am equally enthralled by the hullabaloo over The Golden Compass. It isn't as though an evil creature is going to cast a magical spell over a child and brainwash them into becoming an atheist. Wouldn't it be a wonderful opportunity for a child to read the book and then ask questions of the parents thus possibly enhancing the family's religious beliefs?

This website is from the American Library Association On the list of 100 banned books 1990 - 2000 I have read 30 of the books. I was disappointed it was only thirty. In the "Banned and/or Challenged Books from the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century" I have read only 28.

Adolf Hitler burned books that were determined to be in conflict with his regime. Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 and George Orwell's 1984 tackle the issue. While asking to ban books is hardly book burning it is important to heed the past and read the warnings in both Bradbury's and Orwell's books. A society that is afraid of new ideas and a government that wants to limit citizen's access to written material are dangerous. A look at North Korea is enough to scare me to the core.
In the spirit of reading, keeping an open mind, and questioning, I am off to buy the Golden Compass series!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Iowa Caucus

Barack Obama won the Democratic Iowa Caucus although it wasn't a landslide win. Edwards came in second. I will take Obama or Edwards over Hilary.

The one that bugs me is that Mike Huckabee won the Republican Iowa Caucus. ABC indicated that it was the evangelical right that made the difference. Great....just what we need is another potential president who knuckles under to that group. I am hoping that in the long run the general population won't like a candidate backed by the evangelicals.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Hermit Life

I am tired of socializing for awhile. While I am an extrovert, I tend to like my alone time and minimal socializing. The Sunday prior to Christmas we watched the Packer game with some of Dan's family at a bar in Wrightstown; my parents, brother and sister-in-law were here for Christmas Eve day; I was with Dan's family (37 people) Christmas Eve night; tree hopping (also known as a round robin) was this Saturday; went back to Wrightstown after the Packer game on Sunday. I like all the people with whom I socialized, I enjoy the holidays, but I am socializing saturated for awhile.

When it is cold and dark for a good part of the day, and after spending that much time with others I want to be a hermit. I'm not sure for how long I could "hermit" but would like to give it a try. How long could I be away from people, not have phone contact (I insist on a computer but don't need IM), and not leave the house. Most people would bet I couldn't last long.....while I think that is true, another part of me would like to prove them wrong.

It would help if I was in the middle of nowhere. When I am in NL I am more prone to staying in the house because I don't want to see anyone I know. When I'm in Appleton I am prone to wandering about the city -- I have more anonymity. If I lived in the middle of nowhere I could be a hermit and still leave the house if I wanted to go for a walk. I could walk about and not see a soul.

I can't really start hermitizing just yet as I remembered I am meeting Lois for coffee tomorrow....I suppose I could cancel coffee and get on with my hermit life. I will sleep on it. I may be seeing Julie and Brenda Thursday and Friday so that throws a wrench in it, too, although my time with Brenda may be limited so I want to be sure to make a hermit exception to a visit with her.

I am going to give hermiting some further thought.

Monday, December 31, 2007


Resolutions have been of no use to me in the past. The number one, yearly resolution for most of my life has been to lose weight. There were probably 5 years of my life when that wasn't a resolution. But, in an attempt to record changes I would like to make in my life, I am going to record my "resolutions" here and check on them periodically to see how I am doing.

1. Lose weight
2. Exercise
3. Save money
4. Write more
5. Read more
6. Keep a list of all the books I read this year.
7. Clean the spare bedrooms and basement

Okay, this is probably a high standard to set for myself. I suppose I could tackle each item a bit each day or set aside one day for each. My success rate might be better if I post a list on the refrigerator -- a check list so I can check off items daily when the task is accomplished.

I figure I don't have to start until Jan 2 or if I really want to ease into it January 7 for a fresh new week. Tending toward procrastination as I do, Jan. 7 looks like a good start me time to grocery shop and make up a budget and refrigerator list.

I'll keep you all posted.

Dumbass Drivers

Can someone explain to me why why why people drive in fog without their car headlights on? I have the car headlights on all the time -- rain or shine because I want to make sure my car can be seen. I once heard the explaination that people don't turn headlights on during the day because they don't want to burn out the headlights any sooner than necessary. H E L L O The cost of headlights is more important that other drivers being able to see your car???? It would be one thing if the dumbass, lightless driver would only hurt him/herself in an accident but that is rarely the case.