[t]his week from Sept. 27-Oct. 4 kicks off an annual celebration of freedom of thought and speech — Banned Books Week.
I was going to pick a banned book to read this week, but I forgot all about it, and now it's here already! Oops!
But you know what I'll do, and I'll encourage you to do the same: Read something that would normally be banned from your own reading list or your own mind. Read something (anything - a book, an essay, a magazine) from another faith, from another country, from the other gender, or from the other end of the political spectrum. Maybe you'll get your own beliefs challenged, and maybe you'll get them reinforced. Either one is good, no? Use that brain you got! Exercise that grey matter!
The Ethicurean, one of the food blogs I read, points me to a series of articles in the San Francisco Chronicle: Food Conscious. The intro says:
In the Food section, we've done stories about eating within the Bay Area foodshed, how to buy grass-fed beef right off the ranch, how to avoid trans fat, what constitutes sustainable seafood, and how the mass market is changing organic food, among many other topics. With Food Conscious, we intend to sharpen that focus. If choices are all about transparency, we want to visit the ranches and farms for people who don't have the time.
We also want to try to cut through rampant obfuscation and misinformation about food, much of it generated by the food industry, marketers, advertisers and the government.
The NYTimes reports that McCain Seeks to Delay First Debate Amid Financial Crisis. Can't say I blame him - it does sound like a good idea to get this dealt with quickly, without added campaign distractions. On the other hand, isn't this the perfect opportunity for everyone to find out how McCain and Obama are planning to deal with this? I hope it'll still be on, and I'm planning to watch.
Let me take you back to 1997, and a conversation I had with Paul Schrader, author of "Taxi Driver," director of "Mishima" and "American Gigolo." He told me that after "Pulp Fiction," we were leaving an existential age and entering an age of irony.
"The existential dilemma," he said, "is, 'should I live?' And the ironic answer is, 'does it matter?' Everything in the ironic world has quotation marks around it. You don't actually kill somebody; you 'kill' them. It doesn't really matter if you put the baby in front of the runaway car because it's only a 'baby' and it's only a 'car'."
In other words, the scene isn't about the baby. The scene is about scenes about babies.
To sense the irony, you have to sense the invisible quotation marks. I suspect quotation marks may be growing imperceptible to us. We may be leaving an age of irony and entering an age of credulity. In a time of shortened attention spans and instant gratification, trained by web surfing and movies with an average shot length of seconds, we absorb rather than contemplate. We want to gobble all the food on the plate, instead of considering each bite. We accept rather than select.
Please read the whole article, wherein Ebert mentions his Q&A on creationism, baby-eating Irish, and Hamlet.
After decades of immigration from Asia and Latin America, Silicon Valley has hit a linguistic milestone that is rare in America: For the first time, a majority of Santa Clara County residents speak a language other than English at home.
In 2007, Santa Clara was one of just 10 counties in the United States where more than 50 percent of residents speak a foreign language at home, according to new U.S. Census Bureau data being released today.
It's one of many reasons I love living here.
Oh, and me? My household languages are English, German and Catinese.