Thursday, October 2, 2008

Losing a friend

The librarian at Merrill M.S. and fellow book review committee member has lost her long struggle with cancer. She was a sweet, sweet lady who took her illness with grace and courage. She was intelligent and kind (not an unusual combination!) and a lover of books. We will miss you Brenda~!


Prediction: If Obama loses, it will not be because he is black (although there will be some who won't vote for him for that reason) it will be because the right has successfully painted him as one of the "liberal-elite"...

Book of the year!

In response to the post of yesterday, I think it is even more important for all intelligent human beings to read 'The Age of America Unreason'. In this book, Susan Jacoby addresses the anti-intellectualism that is a part of the history of, and is still rampant in, this country. She points out periods of brief respite from these attitudes, when America led the way in intellectual thought and challenging ideas. But the all too brief modern renaissance was stifled and nearly quashed in the 70s when television began offering news in a much simpler and dumbed down format. Books and newspapers became passe- with newspapers capitulating to the forces at hand and dumbing down the more detailed information they offered- shortening articles and adding a sound bite quality to the articles. Couple this with deregulation of the media, allowing one corporation to own (and more importantly control!) the sources for news, public information became more and more limited. The internet has opened up some of these channels, but the anti-intellectual sentiment is strong on this venue as well. Anyone can say anything on the internet and since most have developed a lassez fair attitude toward research (which was encouraged by the influx of quick news on televison) what results is a mass of misinformation rather than a mass of information as some would claim. Anti-intellectualism also results in allowing anyone to be a so-called "expert" simply because they had an experience, read a few articles or decided to say they are. There is often no standard for showing any expertise. It is as though we have become a nation of snake oil salesmen- and for some reason we are okay with that.

It is this attitude that Jacoby reveals, analyzes brilliantly, dismantles and then moves the reader on, challenging them to pick up the gauntlet of reason and go out into the world armed with intelligence. This, she challenges, is the only way we will find our way out of this morass!

Death and Politics at the End of the World

The air envelops, vacuum-sealing the skin with moisture, ill-fitting and alien. Clothes react to the alteration in the physique, the stiff pleats melting. Tendrils of mouse brown bangs cling- cooked spaghetti in a pan. It isn’t until the Ft. Lauderdale airport fades from view and the Florida toll road that the air conditioning in the rental beats back the sullen mid-afternoon July heat.

Palm trees and sprouting developments dapple the landscape, the tropical foliage out of place among the hastily built habitations, dubitable monuments to William Levitt. The loosely coiled expressway through Miami is pleasant. Toll booths unfortunate dams in the Gulf Stream’s trafficked flow. I cynically wondered if the state didn’t encourage rental agencies to recommend the “road less traveled” to ensure the population of their taxable byways. I was exhilarated to see the exit to Homestead and Highway One approaching, the expectancy of arrival heightening, more so as I contemplate a solitary dime jingling in my pocketbook. They could pave the everglades on someone else’s penny. They’ll have to.

I tucked my wallet away, relaxed into the leather of the import and set the cruise control, realizing even as I took my foot off the accelerator that the stop-and-go flow of the mostly one-lane highway would make cruising superfluous. I gazed off to the side, anxiously awaiting the first blush of the ocean… new time, new place. Key West is a different world; the real world, paradoxically, is the unwanted dream. The carbon dioxide in the back and deepest section of my airway passage loosens, releases…

At last…

Blue, turquoise, green, indigo, cyan, white surf spraying, rolling, pulling, dragging out… nothingness.


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