Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Book Burning?

In this day and age you would think that the subject of book burning wouldn't be in the headlines. The Milwaukee branch of the Christian Civil Liberties Union and three plaintiffs are seeking the right “to publicly burn or destroy by other means” Baby Be-Bop, a book on the coming out of a gay teen by Francesca Lia Block. They are asking for $120,000 in damages after being “exposed” to it in a library display. The row over Be-bop, described by CCLU plaintiffs as “explicitly vulgar, racial and anti-Christian” blew up in April. Four members of the library board were suspended for refusing to remove the book and two others from the young adult section of the West Bend Community Memorial Library prior to the books being formally reviewed. The plaintiffs, all of whom are elderly, claim their mental and emotional well-being was impaired by seeing the book on display. One has to wonder if these people actually read the book.
In the book, "Dirk is beaten by gay bashers but steadfastly clings to the possibility of finding love," notes Salon. The book also uses "offensive" words... n*gg** and f*gg*t (I wouldn't want to be banned by spelling them out.) To a group calling themselves the West Bend Citizens for Safe Libraries, that's enough to harm children. Of course, Mark Twain used the first word in his (sometimes banned) books. When the library ignored the original request for removal, the CCLU came in with the lawsuit. They say it uses racist and explicit terms and promotes discrimination. In fact, the book uses the terms to expose such things. It attributes the "bad words" to the antagonists in the book in order to illustrate how wrong such irrational bias is. The American Library Association addresses the issue here.
Book-burning didn't go out with the Inquisition. It was practiced as recently as WWII by another belief-system, Nazism - i.e. the belief in world domination by a master Aryan "race". There will always be those who want to "protect" the world from "bad things" and those who fight to preserve free speech. Sure, there are really bad things out there which a civilized world does not need, like murder, racism, oppression, etc. However, if there are no laws being broken and no harm being done to others, where do you draw the line? Sometimes you have to expose the "bad" in order to fight against it. Fortunately, so far, the library is winning the fight. Unfortunately, it is a huge expense that didn't need to be taken on right now. The money could have been used for new books and library updates instead of fighting a nuisance suit which, if won, will not make the library "pure" by the CCLU's standards anyway.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Time stands still for no man

Getting back to my normal routine isn't easy after a vacation of spontaneous gadding about. Waking up very early is the hardest part. I came across some interesting alarm clocks which, I thought, might make my getting up a little easier, or at the very least more interesting. My favorite was the polite alarm clock. The Polite Speaking Alarm Clock "reproduces the subtle wit employed by P. G. Wodehouse's most famous character, the valet Reginald Jeeves." In fact, it plays back 126 wake-up messages in the voice of Stephen Fry, such as "Excuse me sir, I'm so sorry to disturb you, but it appears to be morning... very inconvenient, I agree... I believe it is the rotation of the Earth that is to blame, sir." At $99.95, it is a bit pricey, but unique nonetheless.
Then there's the vibrating pillow that does what you’d expect, it vibrates. It not only works for the hearing impaired but also for the couple who wake up at different times in the morning. With this handy gadget, the one who gets to sleep in a bit later doesn't have to be disturbed by the partner's alarm. It is also a less shocking way to wake up. So is the Wind Chime clock which wakes you up to soothing chimes. If that isn't good enough, try waking yourself up. There's the alarm clock which allows you to record your own voice.
My son has an alarm clock that employs a whirligig which is ejected into the air when the alarm goes off. The sleeper must retrieve the flying wheel in order to stop the alarm. This works on the same principle as the Puzzle Alarm clock which ejects 4 puzzle pieces into the air when it goes off. It's guaranteed to get you out of bed. Not surprisingly, this alarm isn't used too often.
There is a website dedicated to clocks as entertainment. Albert Einstein said that time is an illusion, why not measure it creatively? Illusion is just another form of reality since we all have our own perspective to reality. Our senses perceive the world around us. Then our brains interpret the stimuli. I may look at a garden and see the beautiful flowers whereas another person may see the green grass or the weeds which long to be pulled. Yet another may see the sprinklers which are begging to be ran through. Time is the same way. Waking up time is way different than evening time. I like gadgets that entertain as well as perform a useful function.
Waking up with ease helps you start the day with a smile, or at the very least, without the normal aggravation. This eliminates the usual stress involved in waking up. Then, you can start your day with a clear, creative mind.