Thursday, December 09, 2004

The reference desk is slow; I bring you ruminations and links.


I'm not sure how to feel about the way this country is tending on gay rights, except sad. The recent hoo-haw in Alabama over so-called "gay books," which, if you haven't seen it yet, is written up in the Guardian here, is just stupefyingly scary. Not only from the perspective of a gay person who would very much like to see her full human rights accorded to her during her lifetime, but from the perspective of a reader, a librarian, an educated person, and a believer in intellectual freedom.

It's frightening to me that the president of this country draws his most staunch support from a demographic that thinks the play is called "Hammet." Not to mention the brain-melting disregard for personal freedoms and the Constitution, not to mention the staggering ugly-mindedness of the whole stupid scheme. When this story was carried in the University of Alabama's newspaper, The Crimson White, a UA law professor noted drily that Alabama has a history of spending its public monies on indefensible affronts to the Constitution (cf. the Ten Commandments in the courthouse lobby.) Too true. I know ALA is taking this case up, and presumably other civil liberties groups will get involved as it proceeds--but all the way along, we're wasting resources debating something that never should have made it to the table. Call it family value, morals, or whatever you like--it's hatred, it's ugly, and it's diminishing to everyone who supports it.

[Afterthought addition: It's not just books, either, and it's not just gay rights. It's apparently any medium or message that threatens the beliefs of conservative Christian groups in the US. See, for example, this comment on self-censorship in the upcoming film of His Dark Materials. Which I had not read or heard of before, but which now intrigues me.]

In the meantime, the Supreme Court in Canada has approved the government's right to legalize gay marriage. Strange; I thought they did that years ago.


There's an interesting review of a review of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, and the fantasy genre in general, here.

***** notes that appearing on Jon Stewart's The Daily Show can bump your book sales on Amazon by...a whole lot. Mental math was never my strong suit. But it's intriguing to see the direct corollation between a TV appearance and book sales. Food for thought, NEA.


Google Scholar is usefully reviewed here.


And speaking of the NEA, and by extension, of Reading at Risk, a bookstore manager in Tempe, AZ is working to make reading cool again. More power to her. Yay!


And, last but not least, Boris Charles Karpinski is one year old today. Happy birthday, sweet baby boy! What a year it's been...


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