For a lot of folks, this holiday season is the first one in a while where there are more gatherings, both in family homes and in offices. So to prepare for that, writer Olga Khazan over at The Atlantic consulted an effort to help us all get through the small talk — and even if you don’t want to be a raconteur, it never hurts to be a better conversationalist.
Note that I’m scoring just by the sandwiches alone, not the sandwiches in the actual locale. Granted, it would be wonderful to experience a region’s signature sandwich in its natural habitat –I mean, the tramezzini paired with local wine in Venice sounds wonderful– but that’s for bucket lists.
Right now, my score stands at 11 with several of the rest to be sought out in the near future. Actually right right now, I’m going to get one of my favorite sandwiches not on this list for a late lunch…
In case you didn’t think I’d be interested in how the federal government may or may not be getting into regulating outer space, you might not have realized I already have a tag on this website for space law.
I mean, I get the FCC being interested in regulation of communications satellites and the like. But what about space flights? Isn’t that FAA? And what about the inevitable space hotels? Wouldn’t that be the FTC? And thinking of trade, what about international trade — and when does the WTO come into all this? And how do they all work with each other?
For my work, I’m often focused on continuous improvement — and the silver lining of broken processes means there’s always room for improvement. On the one hand have you ever met those people for whom 99.9999% just isn’t close enough to 100%?
Can more optimization be too much of a good thing?
But what if you are one of the many Americans who doesn’t pass their time with baseball at all? Well, he doesn’t stop there. His premise is that this mechanical optimization has penetrated all sorts of aspects of American culture, including mass media in terms of music and films. And for those of us indie creators, that’s certainly a trend to study.
In fact, if you want to get into music, I’ve been watching musician/producer Rick Beato’s YouTube channel for the past few weeks and goes into a music theory version of why music doesn’t sound as interesting (briefly touching on the risk-averse nature of music labels these days).
In the video post from Monday, John Green briefly mentioned how one of the challenges to his book Looking for Alaska amounted to a person talked to a school official about a page in his book.
The problem is, this kind of scenario happens a lot for challenging books. A single person is bringing this to the attention of a single official and there’s no process in place to review requests, challenges, or concerns. And even when there is a process, many of the school districts or other governmental entities aren’t inclined to follow their own process, as was the case for the Waterloo, Iowa school district back in 2015.
Not only did only one person challenge the book (The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian), the school district pulled the book without following their own process for challenged books. And more often than not, many groups don’t want attention paid to any process (I guess it’s uncomfortable to admit you erroneously acquiesced to someone’s discomfort).
As far as I’m concerned, it’s not about the kids. I mean, really: what’s going to happen to the kids if they read these books? Will they have nightmares for weeks, requiring medication or hospitalization? Will they need therapy for years and years from reading these books? Where is the documentation about these horrible, book-inflicted maladies that strain our medical infrastructure to the breaking point?
What’s that you say? There isn’t a health crisis from reading books? There might be (gasp) questions about the world?
Then we know what to say to censors, who stridently insist they’re protecting the children. Keep the disinfecting sunlight shining.
Next week is Banned Books Week, and as longtime readers may know, I always make a point of reading a banned or challenged book at this time of year. You can check out the most challenged books of 2021 or just do a bit of web searching to find historical lists and find something that might tickle your fancy in a way that scolds and censors feel your fancy should not be tickled.
And although I just linked to an online store (actually a coalition of independent bookstores), I found just about all of these at my local library, either in physical copy or electronically.
Having said that, this year I’m going to dive into a copy of Maus which I was inspired to order when a school board decided to ban it from their curriculum — and evidently, I was not alone. Like many of the books I listed above, Maus has been one of those works I’ve meant to read for years –I even recall reading sections of it in school way back when– but I’ve never sat down and read through the whole thing.
So why now? Because my kids have already asked me about evil in the world and how it can happen and what happens next and what one can do. Because they know the stork isn’t gonna bail them out. So I have a copy, ready and waiting for those sorts of discussions.
Because I’m thinking of the children.
May your reading selection send scores of scolds and censors to their fainting couches.
Next week, September 18-24 is Banned Books Week, an annual celebration of, depending on who you ask, the freedom to read, sticking it to The Man, both, or perhaps all of them and so much more.
Odds are I read challenged or banned books throughout the year, but for the life of this blog, I’ve tried to make sure to do so during the coming week. In part, the most challenged books of a given year are often new ones I haven’t had to check out (though I have gone to classics I somehow missed growing up like The Catcher in the Rye and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings).