Friday, May 1, 2009

Not so fast...

I was listening to a radio story about how the economic downturn was affecting our area and, during the interview, the subject of folks taking jobs they were "overqualified" for came up.

When I heard that I assumed they would be discussing situations where people who had been account executives were now working entry level jobs at advertising firms or lawyers taking paralegal positions to make ends meet.

Instead, they began talking about friends they had who took jobs working in bars and restaurants.

Sorry my friend...while it might be work they didn't plan to do I'm going to say working in a bar or restaurant is rarely work that someone is "overqualified" to do.

And if you think you are, please don't wait on my table.

Free Comics Are Coming! Free Comics Are Coming!

Cue the circus music...tomorrow is Free Comic Book Day at comics shops around the country.

Come one, come all...step right up and marvel at this carnival of wonders! A cavalcade of freaks, geeks, goths and guys who live in their mother's basements (1)!

I kid. I kid out of love.

If you're not familiar with Free Comic Book Day it's a day when various shops across the country will give out free comics, have special signings and host special guests.

But it's not simply about free comics or luring a certain subset of teenage boys out into the sunlight on a Saturday (2), this is a literacy campaign in disguise.

Anyone who dismisses the educational value of comics hasn't spent a lot of time reading them. I actually learned the word "hyperbolic" from reading a Legion of Superheroes comic book. I learned the word "panacea" from reading an issue of New Teen Titans (3).

No, I have no idea why these examples have stuck in my head...but they have.

So hit the Free Comic Book Day Web site...find out your closest shop and check it out.

1. Yes, we know. You have a hot plate and your own entrance. It's like having an apartment.
2. KIDDING! Frankly, I was that teenage boy.
3. Probably bears mention that this all occured when I was in elementary school...not last week.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

It's all fun and games until someone reads a book...

For those of you missing the good old days of book burning and censorship and bigotry-fueled limitations on the exchange of information and free speech you're in luck.

It seems that four members of the library board of West Bend, Wisconsin were dismissed because they refused to remove what articles about the removal refer to as "controversial books." A post in Librarian and Information Science News refers to the books in question as "homosexual themed" books.

I've done some looking and, while I haven't been able to find a list of the books that started the controversy, I found this quote at The Lucious Librarian's blog (1) from the start of the saga:

We find the books for youth on homosexuality to be biased, gay-affirming, promotional and romanticized,” the Maziarkas said in an e-mail sent to the Daily News. “We believe our library should be offering appropriate, wholesome literature to our youth instead of pursuing the illegitimate goals of transforming the views of other people’s children on the contentious issue of homosexuality.”

In case you were curious, the Maziarkases also wanted "an equal balance of faith-based and ex-'gay' books that oppose a prohomosexual ideology."

As I've never been in a West Bend library building I can't make this statement for certain but I'm going to guess that "faith-based" books are probably available. Do I think that there is a book titled All The Homosexuals Are Going to Hell & That's Fine By Me? Probably not. But that's just because Ann Coulter hasn't finished writing it.

Here's the thing.

I can understand that there are books in every public library that someone would prefer not be included. I respect your right to tell your child that they are not allowed to take those books out (2). I would even go so far as to say I respect your right for you to ask permission for your child to not have to read a book assigned in school because it violates your moral belief system. See that, I respect your right not to read. Novel, eh?

What I don't respect is your trying to tell other people what not to read. What I don't respect is your assertion that to show children that being accepting, informed and open to the world is an attack on you.

What I don't respect - and what I hope occassionally sits on the thoughts of the 5 members of the West Bend Common Council who voted to dismiss these individuals from the library board - is the idea that anyone in a position of power would elect to use it to promote ignorance and bigotry and the reduction of ideas.

An online petition has been started that you can access here.

1. I know. Genius, right?
2. Because that means they will take them out of the library the minute they have the chance.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Okay...maybe keep the cake...

So, if you had planned a big, "Welcome to the World One Millionth Word in the English Language" party I'm afraid you're out of luck.

Take down the banner. Return the cake and the 10-foot hoagie.

It didn't happen.

And while some Gloomy Gus lexicographers think that such a threshhold can never be accurately determined, the linguennials (1) believe we'll now reach one million words sometime in late June.

Which kind of blows because that's when my birthday is and you just know there are going to be all kinds of people who decide to double up gifts.

1. Hey, wait...does that count?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It's funny till Brown really adopts this...

As the printed hardcover book continues it's reported march toward a technology-induced extinction, very serious academic types are examining the future of reading and writing.

But the reports those folks are generating are generally long and require my looking up at least one word every few pages and reference great works of literature that I've probably never read.

So, instead, I give you this to consider.

McSweeney's Internet Tendencies has published Robert Lanham's syllabus for ENG 371WR: Writing for Nonreaders in the Postprint Era.

Among the topics to be discussed:

The Industry—Getting Published
Students will learn inside knowledge about the industry—getting published, getting paid, dealing with agents and editors—and assess why all the aforementioned are no longer applicable in the postprint, post-reading age.

Week 8: New Rules
...what if Susan Sontag had friended 10 million people on Facebook and then published a shorter version of The Volcano Lover as a status update: "Susan thinks a volcano is a great metaphor for primal passion. Also, streak of my hair turning white—d'oh!"

Monday, April 27, 2009

Let's see...I want a Coke, a Mars bar and a copy of 1984...

There's a new publisher on the block: The Espresso book machine. An article in The Herald newspaper describes it as an ATM for books where items are printed on demand from a kiosk station.

According to the Web site for OnDemandBooks: "What Gutenberg's press did for Europe in the fifteenth century, digitisation and the Espresso Book Machine will do for the world tomorrow."

Of course, what they don't ever talk about is how many monks Gutenberg put out of business.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


In the last week I have gotten four notes from people about the lack of updates to my Facebook page.

Here's the story. I'm currently in the midst of one of those periods where I completely understand how people can commit a Cisco Fatty.

Are there things that I could be commenting about in my status field right now?

Oh yeah.

Would they ultimately cause me more problem than relief?

Oh yeah.

Besides. I'd like to save all this for the painful confessional memoir I might write one day. Then folks can pay $25 to find out what's been going on.