Banned books? People Still Read?

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The Written Word

The most powerful invention created by humanity right after fire, agriculture and the thrown rock (though not necessarily in that order).

The written word allows us to share information across time and space. To store ideas frozen for generations for new thinkers to review, revise, and even renew. Writing connects us with our past and with the future. From the Rosetta Stone to the Gutenberg Bible, writing consistently proved its value to Humanity again and again, allowing ideas, even forbidden ones, social and cultural taboos, their chance at immortality.

If they can get by the censors. For as long as we’ve been writing, there has been someone to say: Oh my god! You can’t write that! What if <insert sheltered group here> were to see this?

Censoring knowledge, hiding the written word is not new. Books can go from being literature to being banned in less than a generation. The Steinbeck classic, The Grapes of Wrath incited rage and banning soon after its release. Today, it is taught as a classic work of early American literature. Want to see a southern sixth grade teacher foam at the mouth? Mention teaching Huckleberry Finn and watch the foam fly. America’s on again, off again love of what is arguably an American classic, Huckleberry Finn, one of Mark Twain’s most famous works, falls into and out of grace like clockwork. The list of authors who have been banned might astound you. I happened to stumble upon this excellent infographic and wanted to share it with anyone who can appreciate just how good you have to be, to be considered BAD for post-literate America.

Post-literacy is the concept of a society where almost everyone is taught to read and no one feels compelled to actually engage in reading. An unfortunate part of the recent anti-intellectualism sweeping the nation. If even one book on this list makes you curious, READ IT. I have read most of them simply because I had a more diverse education than is taught in school today. But all of these books are still available and if someone deemed it worthy of banning, you should read it just because they don’t want you to.

And because TV is lowering your IQ just by being on when you’re in the same room with it.

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Banned Book image by http://www.printerinks.com/

Book censorship in the United States.” Wikipedia.org. N.p. Web. 27 Dec. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org> 

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Poster design is ©Paul Sizer/Sizer Design + Illustration

The future of television

Steven Lyle Jordan @Rightbrane

television-watching familyAmerican television has been undergoing a massive shakeup of late…

Okay, what I should be saying is that American television is undergoing another massive shakeup of late.  Because American television has actually been under attack since the day it was created.  Movies and theater have always been at odds with television, showing it up for being less intellectual, less relevant, less powerful, less colorful, less large, etc, etc.

Over the years, television has taken on these challenges, largely, by evolving the very characteristics that made movies and theater so powerful.  TV has hired writers and actors from the movie studios, improved productions, taken on more relevant storylines, and adopted more street-wise language, sex and nudity.  They’ve even shown movies—the competition, essentially—on TV.  They’ve developed award systems that mirror the Oscars, and have brought the pomp and circumstance of movies to TV.  And TVs have gotten bigger and better, taking up…

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Five Maxims of a Real Challenge

2HelpfulGuys

I was always mediocre at math. I barely scraped by and opted out as soon as I could. I recently started learning microeconomics. It hurts my brain.

However, it is incredibly stimulating. The perspectives, the intricacies of supply and demand, and the theory behind it all. With each problem I solve, I feel a sense of fulfillment, a sense of triumph. I’ve conquered another fraction equation, albeitbarely.

However, the overarching doom of math looms over me. Still, I love it because it is challenging.

Everyone Needs a Real Challenge

All the physical, psychological, and spiritual growth you’ve experienced as a human being has been a result of a challenge. It has destroyed your barriers and pushed you against the ropes. In those particular moments your concentration was invigorated, your ingenuity called upon, and your fortitude and courage tested.

The struggle meant something to you and you focused on the activity…

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Interview with a Dragon or The Smaug Report

Smaug

The Smaug Report

Been on a bit of a TV kick lately. I’m recharging from a year of writing dangerously. I am a watcher of the Colbert Report and as as the show draws to a close I can’t help but feel a bit sad. But Stephen Colbert knew just what I needed. To hear from a “conservative” voice we don’t get to hear from too often, a dragon. Not the large corporate dragons destroying the environment or taking up space in crappy cable channel shows like Game of Thrones.

I mean a real, honest-to-goodness bastard in fire drake form. An evil from an earlier age, a being so, terrifying, so monstrous, only one television show could bring out his inner goodness. I introduce to you without further ado:

The Smaug Report (pronounce it correctly or suffer his fiery wrath!)

Who knows, when Stephen leaves the Colbert Report, maybe we should bring on a real conservative. One who knows how to bring the fire to his enemies…Smaug 2016!

Viewers of the Walking Dead want a Resurrection

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Yes, this is a picture of Beth Greene (played by Emily Kinney) at a happier time (relatively speaking) in the series, the Walking Dead. 

It’s the Mid-season and time for sweeps

This is a picture of a time, fans wanted prolonged, they wanted the series to explore this relationship, help it blossom. The fans hoped it would turn into Love and Zombies as our intrepid farm girls managed both get the pick of the male litter in the “Walker Apocalypse”. So many fanfictions already ring out with the love and wedding bells for Beth and Daryl Dixon.

Alas that time, that hope…<sniff> that hoped for dream has been dashed upon the rocks. Then smashed with more rocks from a followup landslide. Which is then promptly covered up with mud from the mudslide and topped off with an avalanche that covers any trace of Beth Green.

Just the way I like it.

Yes, Beth Greene (played by Emily Kinney) is dead. And if you screamed out spoilers, too damn bad. Watch your Tivo or DVR already.

I am sympathetic to young actresses needing work and being out of steady work is a bummer. But have you seen this girl without all that country dirt, stylish mud and artfully disheveled hair? What a beauty. So don’t weep too long, she will be back at work in just about a minute.

But don’t cheer yet sports fans because there appears to be a fan outcry. (No, your’re not surprised either?) Beth shouldn’t be dead. There is a petition going around which should have just broken 25,000 about six minutes ago. What happens to it after that is unknown but I would expect something to be cluttering some executive’s email in about an hour.

Comic Book.com releases the story of the petition and the heartfelt demands of its creators: 

“Beth Greene (played by Emily Kinney) was killed off in the mid-season finale in season 5 of The Walking Dead. Her death was far too soon and the writers threw away the potential of a perfectly good character. Her story wasn’t over. Emily Kinney and her character don’t deserve this. There was so much more to be done with her character and they chose to kill her in a disgusting, unsatifying death that caused more anger and dissapointment than shock and mourning. Beth was a symbol of hope that a lot of women could relate to and see themselves in (especially self-harmers who saw her as someone who overcame their suicidal/depressive feelings). By sloppily killing her it just shows that she was used to further a man’s (Daryl’s) storyline. We realize that the circumstances she dies in are irreverisble, but this is television. Anything is possible. By signing this petition you can at least show your support for Beth. Let’s show Emily Kinney how much we love her and want her back.”

There were plenty of other people who could have died instead of Beth. I mean the police woman, she died. That was good, karmic justice. Tyler James Williams was not even on the show an entire season, he could die at any time. I mean we already have four or five black characters now.

One (Mishone)…two (Tyrese)…three (Sasha)…four (Crazy Priest, who surely can’t be long for this world)…five (Mysterious Roaming Black Guy who only gets thirty seconds on the screen at the end of every show)… six (Bob). Oh, wait, Bob is no longer with us. We still have a record number of Black cast members. So I don’t know about you but I was sure one of them was going to catch a bullet or slow walk-by chewing…

Why am I not sad that Beth is dead?

From where I was sitting in my mental director’s chair, yes, someone else needed to die. The cast had gotten a bit plump and difficulty to juggle. Some complexity is good, gives us some polarity and conflict but the season had been filled with cutaways, dangling threads, lackluster characters, phoned in deliveries, a bit of moral ambiguity (I mean Rick, really? Slamming into the guy and breaking his back? Damn!) So we needed something to tighten up that ending. A character who people would care about. No, no one was really upset besides Sasha about Bob. He wasn’t a likable character. Not his fault, he wasn’t ever given an opportunity to shine, and an actor can only do so much with a role that isn’t.

Death Checklist Activate: Rick, nope. Daryl, nope. Michonne, nope. Kids, nope.

Glenn’s group? No. The reveal Eugene lied and there was no cure was already rocking that group. That group isn’t allowed another shocker till they join up again.

Whose left? Tyrese? Unlikely. He survives the comic for some time and while the character is still unpopular, I think there is room to grow and the conflict between Tyrese and Rick is too good to NOT deal with.

Sasha? Yeah. I see her doom approaching. But not yet.

Crazy Priest? No one likes him or cares for him. If he gets eaten, most won’t even notice.

So we have Carol and Beth. Two women who spent a bit of time away from the main group and story and represent complete opposites as far as characters, character arcs and potential growth of the characters in the future. While the Beth and Daryl fans weep, the Carol and Daryl fans are secretly and quietly rejoicing.

The Verdict (and rationale)

The producers chose Beth over Carol because Carol’s recent arc had made her more more popular than she had ever been. Beth had been gone for a while, (and wasn’t really the most popular of the members of the ensemble) The expectation was, her return ensured she would have a particular emotional value because of her youth and as a relatively undeveloped character there was plenty of life left in her (so to speak).

So her death has more ratings value because, she was young, cute, perky, had just started gaining value because of her reappearance, her connection to her sister as the last member of The Farm, meant now only Rick has any living family members. (I would keep my head low, Carl…)

Beth’s death was both strategically valuable and emotionally shocking to both the characters and to the viewers who were to surely have formed an attachment to her.

My prediction was they would kill Carol because she had such an awesome Heroic Arc. She could die now and have been fulfilled individual (as fulfilled as the Post-Zombie Apocalypse allows, at any rate). She had been transformed from abused wife, who lost her daughter tragically, to only cool head in a tight situation, to being put out of the group after doing the right thing by killing the infected people, to being an ice queen putting down a child who, as sad as it is to say, had to die.

She leaves the group, does not die, instead survives and even thrives, gets hard and finally returns to the group, just in time to “Rambo Up” and cover herself in zombie guts, infiltrate and recon enemy territory, blows up a propane tank (which wouldn’t happen for real but dramatic license made her look even more awesome) saves the group from becoming Kibbles and Bits, and walks away into the sunset.

Anything she does after this is just gilding the lily. Carol has entered into the Awesome Hall of Fame and the only thing she could do now to put her over the top is Daryl.

Beth had to die. It was the only logical thing to do to make midterms end on a painful, “you bastards” note and drive folk to come back and see (now that their favorite was gone) to see whose gonna be next.

After all, isn’t that the name of the game?

Beth Green

The Standard Script Given to the Grieving Mother Whose Black Child Has Been Murdered by Police

Tamir Rice

by B. Sharise Moore

1.

Dress as you would for Sunday morning communion.
Black women appear least aggressive with heads bowed,
while kneeling.
Black rage does not photograph well.

2.

Quote I Corinthians, every grandmother’s go to book.
Call on Jesus.
Even as your stomach knots, restricts to a rawness that numbs,
convince them that this is His will, and that His will shall be done.

3.

Plead for the peace your child was unworthy of while alive.
Pause deliberately.
Denounce. Distance yourself from the riotous fires
that have done more to honor him than this law has.

4.

Quote an out of context syllogism,
preferably“I Have a Dream.”
After all, you are grieving
and no one has studied it anyway.

5.

Tell them they must vote.
This will not happen if they simply vote
…more.
often.
They can move Forward with their Obamas and Holders
on their shoulders. Tell them he cannot really speak for you.
He is not the President of Black America.

6.

Make it plain you’ve raised all of your children to be color blind.
in church.
You are Christians in spite of your dead son’s
Kindergarten suspension.

7.

Call for faith in a system that has failed you for 400 hundred years.
Tell them justice must run the same course
as the too many bullets that splintered your child’s temple,
opened up his abdomen like some twisted Cracker Jack prize.

8.

Mention the good police.
Not all bad. Not all vigilante.
Not all trigger happy. Not all racist.
Yet all more alive and well than your child.

9.

Be respectable. Remind them of Black on Black crime.
Tell them the police kill them because they kill themselves.
Tell them that they are responsible for the smashed skulls
of their own daughters and sons
with their sagging pants, poverty,
and murderous rhymes that malign collective progress.

10.

Repeat:
“This is not about race.”
“This is not about race.”
“This is not about race.”
Repeat as you watch yet another mother fold her tears in her already bulging purse.
Watch while she strains to push her child back inside the safety of her womb.
Stare as she leans over a son who looks oddly like your own:
Dead and stiff and indicted and tried more than his murderer.

11.

Repeat:
“This is not about race.”
“This is not about race.”
“This is not about race.”
Remind them of Black on Black crime.
Of Black on Black Crime.
Of Black on Black crime.
“This is not about race.”

12.

Convince her it is necessary
that she believes it too.

Change Yourself, Then Save the World

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“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
~~ Tolstoy

It’s unavoidable. It is your destiny…

Emperor Palpatine’s words to Luke Skywalker resonate with everyone who heard them because from the time we are young children, we are told we can change the world. It is something everyone grows up considering to be part of their personal manifesto.

Television adds to this mental framework showing us how it’s possible to acquire instant fame (just add water and social media), motivational gurus tell us we need to put it out into the universe and the universe will change to accommodate our desires (Pay for my secret methods, he says, it will help you get rich, he says.) Usually the only person getting rich is the guru. We are lead to believe changing the world is a simply want it to be different.

I suspect the problem with changing the world starts with this simple quote from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar:

Cassius:
“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”

Julius Caesar (I, ii, 140-141)

Shakespeare hoped to convince his viewers that it’s not fate that determines our future. It’s our personal volition to take charge of our lives. This is where we come in to contact with an inherent instability in the system. Everyone wants to change the world to suit their perspective of it. Politicians believe they can lie the world into a shape they can control. Warlords believe they can kill their way to the top. Media stars dream of entertaining their way into power. Each believes their talent, their genius is just what the world needs.

If we’re so smart, why are things so screwed up?

Humanity is blessed and cursed with the idea that it is the most clever creature to have ever lived on Earth. We believe we have created technologies and systems so advanced that in a few years, they may begin thinking for themselves.

Unfortunately, while we postulate on the ideas of singularity and transcendence, quantum computers and the beginnings of the Universe, we wage war all over the planet.

We allow people who could be fed, to starve; we dump pollution everywhere in a consumer-driven orgy to create products out of flora and fauna alike. We turn living things into dead things for money and profit.

Makes you question how smart we think we are, doesn’t it?

While the ability to turn natural things into something that can be sold may be laudable and financially lucrative, it has cost us something, a thing so vital and yet so ephemeral, we don’t even recognize that we have lost it.

We have lost our connection to each other.

More importantly, we have lost our connection to ourselves.

Our cooperative drive to make the lives of other people better has been subsumed by our urge to read about Celebrity X or follow Basement Cat and Ceiling Cat memes.

We have turned the trivial into the important and the important has been hidden so the wealthy can acquire more wealth they can never spend, put greater distance between each other in their private enclaves on the hill.

This is an untenable future.

One where we watch the world burn, onscreen, in real-time, in the comfort of our homes, while forests are clear-cut, while children are enslaved, while coral reefs starve and great elephants are cut down for their tusks to make art and penile-enhancement poultices.

It’s not too late to make a difference.

By choosing to be connected to live people, to be invested in their lives and have their lives affect mine. By defying what has been said to be the natural order of things. By resisting the urge to hide, to cower in fears created by others, telling me how to live. I have helped people without profit being the primary goal.

I have changed the world, incrementally, one mind at a time. As a teacher and mentor, my goal is to change people touching one heart at a time. Sharing that transformation with others who see things need to change.

Most importantly, I am making the changes in me, I want to see in the world. I am aware of the constant need for personal change. You cannot make the world better if you choose to support the ideas that are corrupting it in the first place.

I have changed the world by teaching. By learning. My students are aware of the insidious nature of corporate powers who seek to demean them, imprison their minds, their hearts and their creativity in a never-ending cycle of consumption.

My students question authority. Even mine. They ask questions. They challenge all pretenses of authority, requiring it to validate itself through reason, through discourse, through interaction.

The modern world does its level best to prevent our youth from knowing anything; in the United States we price education beyond the reach of most. Those forces now realize if they can keep you clicking your smartphone in a self-celebratory masturbation, they can steal the future from beneath your feet.

The world cannot be changed by any single individual. That way lies madness. The only single individual you can change is you. Being the best you, that you can be will lend itself toward changing the world by proximity.

Change the World by Changing You

Release yourself from the mental prison so crafty created for you. Stop following worthless celebrities who produce nothing; your obsession with them absorbs your most precious of resources. The one thing you have a fixed and finite amount of and can never recover no matter how rich you become…

Your time.

Use your time, wisely. Read works that transform how you think. Experience life, share what you have with others, get out and see the world. Make your relationship to the world one you are excited about.

See the world as something worth having, worth saving. You can only save something you value.

Connect to people, not just on the internet, but in person. See them. Feel them. Know them. Become one with their dreams; value their hopes and ambitions the same way you value YOURS.

You see, in this lies the saving of the world.

If we spent less time finding differences, creating emotional disconnects, promoting fear and loathing, separation for exploitation sake, demonization of our unique natures, we would learn a truth those in power don’t ever want us to know:

We are more alike than different. That our collective fates lie in the hands of each other, more than anyone who believes they have power over us.

In truth, we are not trying to save the world. If science is to be believed, the world has existed for four billion years. It has had six extinction events where nearly all life on Earth was extinguished. Put in a different way, 90% of all Life that has ever walked the Earth has died.

And yet it is still here, teeming with billions of lifeforms engaging in a delicate dance of living and dying in harmony.

It is likely, that even if we make the Earth an inhospitable ball of burning of burning toxic waste, killing all of humanity, the world will find an equilibrium and return to being as fecund as it always has.

We are not trying to save the world.

We are trying to save ourselves – from extinction.

Be protean, be open to changing yourself. Be willing to adapt how you see people you don’t know. Eat a meal you do not know, with a person you didn’t know yesterday. Such ripples are what the future is made of.

So often the complaint goes something like this: “Changing myself won’t make a difference and I sure as hell don’t have any faith in man to change on its on in my lifetime or the next. Evil exist and controls this world. People are sheep, lead by the elite programmed, manipulated, divided, structured in such a way to serve them. You are Borg, you are assimilated, resistance is futile. Just my humble opinion.”

No one asked you to change your mind, you are free to stay exactly the same as you are. But Einstein had a point: “You cannot change the world with the mind that created it.” The future comes from thinking differently, creatively. “Imagination is greater than Intelligence.”

People are often sheep, but not all of them: Fighting back takes will, independence, strength of spirit and character. Things most people don’t realize they even possess until something forces it out of them.

Evil IS prevalent but not OMNIPRESENT: The fact you can make your statement and not find a neo-Gestapo police force breaking down your door for making it means it is still a world where choices can be had.

People ARE divided but still find time for what they think is important: Judging from the quiet protests in the streets, some people are UNITING for a better world.

We are not Borg. If we were, we would all be doing the same thing, in the same ways, with no need for things like social media to share our perspectives. We would already be one large Hive Mind working toward a common goal of absorbing other intelligences. NO. We are not Borg, yet.

Resistance is never futile. I can never be assimilated because I will not allow it. Assimilation is about choice. You can choose to stand there and say, it is impossible to change the world.

You cannot hope to change the world until you are first master of your individual self. World changing comes when you are aware of your individual power to make change. Then change happens around you because you are centered and aware of the ability you have to make a difference.

Don’t change the world. Change yourself and make all the difference.

To quote Ashleigh Brilliant: “If you can’t change your mind, how do you know you still have one?”