Fascist-minded politicos have decided that LGBTQ folk are as “dangerous” as everyone else they fear and hate


WASHINGTON POST/GETTY

Last November, Cameron Samuels was met with cold stares when they attended a school board meeting to speak out against bans on LGBTQ books and resource websites in their district…

Now [Houston’s] Katy ISD students involved in the movement Samuels helped start are trying to push forward a book review policy, which would ensure at least one student is represented on the committee whenever a book is challenged in the district.

Katy ISD is just one of many school districts where students have begun pushing back against book bans. Recently, schools across the US have begun challenging—and in some cases successfully removing—a growing list of books from LGBTQ and Black authors. Some librarians have found themselves targeted for creating book displays featuring LGBTQ titles. And right-wing groups like Moms For Liberty have been organizing around the country to ban books they deem “obscene” from schools, and even make them illegal to sell or lend to minors…

Jonathan Friedman, director of free expression and education programs at PEN America says he is seeing youth voices play a critical role in book ban opposition.

“At a time when many teachers and librarians are having their speech chilled, it is often students who are leading the charge and speaking out for their rights—as they should,” Friedman told Motherboard.

I can empathize. BITD, as a night school student in profession-oriented college courses, simple self-interest pushed me into similar activism. Not often; but, often enough to identify me as a PITA to a few teachers and administrators, who felt they had a vested interest in blocking any doorway that allowed the entry of up-to-date textbooks.

Michigan town defunds library that refused to remove LGBTQ books

Another day, another example of grown adults rallying to ban books that could be educational, affirming, and in some cases life-saving for their kids. This one is in west Michigan, where residents of Jamestown Township voted this week to defund their local library following public disagreements about its inclusion of LGBTQ books for young adults.

The vote was against renewing a millage, the share of property taxes that provides 84 percent of the Patmos Library’s operating budget, for 2023. Ron French noted, in an extensive report for Bridge Michigan, that this “may be the first time a community voted, in effect, to close its library” rather than continue to provide LGBTQ books to kids.

When library staff refused to take the books from the library, the effort to defund it began. The library can operate on its current budget through the end of the first quarter of 2023; after that, library board president Larry Walton told French, the library would have to close.

We must be the leading country in the world at using democratic powers to enforce anti-democratic politics.

Comeback of the Century


Best Example

❝ In the digital age, the printed book has experienced more than its share of obituaries. Among the most dismissive was one from Steve Jobs, who said in 2008, “It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore.”

True, nearly one in four adults in this country has not read a book in the last year. But the book — with a spine, a unique scent, crisp pages and a typeface that may date to Shakespeare’s day — is back. Defying all death notices, sales of printed books continue to rise to new highs, as do the number of independent stores stocked with these voices between covers, even as sales of electronic versions are declining.

❝ Nearly three times as many Americans read a book of history in 2017 as watched the first episode of the final season of “Game of Thrones.” The share of young adults who read poetry in that year more than doubled from five years earlier. A typical rage tweet by President Trump, misspelled and grammatically sad, may get him 100,000 “likes.” Compare that with the 28 million Americans who read a book of verse in the first year of Trump’s presidency, the highest share of the population in 15 years.

❝ So, even with a president who is a historic, borderline literate and would fail a sixth-grade reading comprehension test, something wonderful and unexpected is happening in the language arts. When the dominant culture goes low, the saviors of our senses go high.

RTFA. Short, to the point, illustrative.

I have personal feelings about the subversive reappearance and growth of documentary film, as well. I think this growth parallels the growth in books. Personally, I’m tired to death of all the Murphy Brown wannabes who think the only thing called news is in the “magazine format”. The same topics, of course, on every other magazine format “news” show the whole damned day.

I think some of us really miss learning stuff.

The land where one in ten people will publish a book

Halldor Laxness

There is a phrase in Icelandic, “ad ganga med bok I maganum”, everyone gives birth to a book. Literally, everyone “has a book in their stomach”.

One in ten Icelanders will publish one…

Special saga tours – saga as in story, that is, not over-50s holidays – show us story-plaques on public buildings.

Dating from the 13th Century, Icelandic sagas tell the stories of the country’s Norse settlers, who began to arrive on the island in the late 9th Century.

Sagas are written on napkins and coffee cups. Each geyser and waterfall we visit has a tale of ancient heroes and heroines attached. Our guide stands up mid-tour to recite his own poetry – our taxi driver’s father and grandfather write biographies.

Public benches have barcodes so you listen to a story on your smartphone as you sit…

So what has led to this phenomenal book boom?

I would say it is due to a crop of darn good writers, telling riveting tales with elegant economy and fantastic characters…No wonder JRR Tolkien and Seamus Heaney were entranced and Unesco designates Reykjavik a City of Literature.

Solvi Bjorn Siggurdsson, a tall, Icelandic-sweater-clad novelist, says writers owe a lot to the past.

We are a nation of storytellers. When it was dark and cold we had nothing else to do,” he says. “Thanks to the poetic eddas and medieval sagas, we have always been surrounded by stories. After independence from Denmark in 1944, literature helped define our identity…”

An enjoyable read, too brief.

But, then, I have always loved Iceland. Even the first time I stopped over, changing planes from one Icelandic Air flight to another, followed by 2 FBI agents because I was on the way to Scotland to visit a friend doing post-doc cancer research and liaison between Madame Binh of the Vietnamese National Liberation Front and American activists opposing the US War upon the people of VietNam.

The salmon fishing is also phenomenal if you know how to cast a fly in a gale. 🙂

BBC correspondant meets Venezuela’s four-legged mobile library

A university in Venezuela is using a novel method to take books into remote communities and encourage people to read. As James Ingham reports, the scheme is proving a great success…

Chiquito and Cenizo greet me with a bit of a snort and a flick of the tail…

But these mules are rather special…They are known as bibliomulas (book mules) and they are helping to spread the benefits of reading to people who are isolated from much of the world around them…

The idea of loading mules with books and taking them into the mountain villages was started by the University of Momboy, a small institution that prides itself on its community-based initiatives and on doing far more than universities in Venezuela are required to do by law.

Accompanying us was local guide Ruan who knows a thing or two about mules…

Read – and enjoy. An Andean version of a bookmobile brings literature to mountain villages. A delightful task illustrating dedication to people and education.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Pentagon says they need 6 years & $1 billion to face an audit


They can bring back the Davy Crockett rocket –
One of the dumbest nuclear weapons ever made!

The Defense Department, considered by some a black hole of federal spending, is promising lawmakers it will open its books and show in detail how the billions are spent. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta…admitted Thursday that the Pentagon must improve its accountability.

“While the department’s systems do tell us where we are spending taxpayer funds, we do not yet have the details and controls necessary to pass an audit,” Panetta said in remarks prepared for his appearance before the House Armed Services Committee. “This is inexcusable and must change.”

Until now, the Pentagon has never been subjected to a so-called “clean audit,” a full examination of its spending. In the past, the Defense Department had pledged to provide Congress with auditable financial statements by 2017. Panetta shaved several years off that deadline to deliver that key part of how the Pentagon monitors its spending.

“I have directed the department to cut in half the time it will take to achieve audit readiness for the Statement of Budgetary Resources, so that in 2014 we will have the ability to conduct a full budget audit,” Panetta said. “We owe it to the taxpayers to be transparent and accountable for how we spend their dollars, and under this plan we will move closer to fulfilling that responsibility.”

The Statement of Budgetary Resources, according to the Pentagon, shows what funds the Defense Department received, what was obligated and what checks were written. It is just one of four parts of the internal accounting. The other three, including a consolidated balance sheet and a net cost for the entire department, will remain on the 2017 timetable.

Perish the thought that actual budget cuts have a chance to go beyond the smoke-and-mirrors cuts already agreed to between the White House, Congressional Republicans, Democrats with big military bases delivering welfare checks to their districts and the ever-popular military-industrial complex that has been sucking at at the teat of taxpayer dollars for decades.

Who needs a Cold War when you can have the War on Terror producing non-consumable goods forever and a day?

e-Books now outselling paperback, hard cover books

Kindle ebook reader

Amazon.com…now sells more eBooks than books printed on paper.

“Customers are now choosing Kindle books more often than print books,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and chief executive, in a statement. “We had high hopes that this would happen eventually, but we never imagined it would happen this quickly — we’ve been selling print books for 15 years and Kindle books for less than four years…”

“This includes sales of hardcover and paperback books by Amazon where there is no Kindle edition,” the company said. “Free Kindle books are excluded and if included would make the number even higher.”

The success of eBooks isn’t limited to just Amazon and its Kindle. The entire industry is pushing more digital copies now, with eBook sales tripling over the last year.

Among the recent contributors to eBook sales for the Seattle-based retail giant is the newest, cheapest version of its Kindle — Kindle with Special Offers — which sells for $114 and has risen to be the company’s best selling eReader, Bezos said.

Unlike other Kindles, Kindle with Special Offers runs advertisements and digital coupons on the eReader’s display in a strip across the bottom of the home screen or as a screen saver when the device isn’t in use.

A few sources have published a breakout by category – but, most of those require a subscription. I did see a note that gave me a chuckle: the growth of e-readers surpasses print in every category Amazon sells – except books on religion. Got to get past that Gutenberg thing, folks.

Vatican gets to burn their own books for blasphemy


Whatever you do, don’t smoke the seeds!
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

Thousands of copies of a new book about the Catholic Church’s teachings will have to be pulped after a translation error suggested that the Vatican had radically changed its views on contraception.

The book was officially launched on Wednesday at the Vatican, but the event was overshadowed by the embarrassing error, which will mean that around 30,000 copies will have to be scrapped.

The book, called YouCat – short for Youth Catechism – was originally written in German and contains a question and answer format about whether Catholic couples are entitled to plan the size of their families by “regulating conception”.

The answer provided was yes, because the Church sanctions ‘natural family planning’, in which married couples chart a woman’s menstrual cycle to determine when she might be capable of conceiving.

But in the Italian edition of the book, the question was translated as whether married couples could “use contraceptive methods.”

Again the answer was yes, implying that the Church had overturned its entrenched opposition to condoms, the pill and all other forms of contraception…

The translation mistake is just the latest in a series of public relations debacles to hit the Holy See.

In November, ambiguities in the translation of a book about the Pope, Light of the World, suggested that he believed that condoms were morally justifiable in some circumstances, for instance in preventing the transmission of a deadly disease such as Aids between a prostitute and a client.

Of course, the Holy Roman Catholic isn’t about to open the door to modern knowledge, ethics or understanding. Leaving the 14th Century behind might be too much of a shock. Might even lose a few gold bars along the way.

Library clears its shelves to protest threatened closure

The library at Stony Stratford, on the outskirts of Milton Keynes, looks like the aftermath of a crime, its shell-shocked staff presiding over an expanse of emptied shelves. Only a few days ago they held 16,000 volumes.

Now, after a campaign on Facebook, there are none. Every library user was urged to pick their full entitlement of 15 books, take them away and keep them for a week. The idea was to empty the shelves by closing time on Saturday: in fact with 24 hours to go, the last sad bundle of self-help and practical mechanics books was stamped out. Robert Gifford, chair of Stony Stratford town council, planned to collect his books when he got home from work in London, but left it too late.

The empty shelves, as the library users want to demonstrate, represent the gaping void in their community if Milton Keynes council gets its way. Stony Stratford, an ancient Buckinghamshire market town famous only for its claim that the two pubs, the Cock and the Bull, are the origin of the phrase “a cock and bull story”, was one of the communities incorporated in the new town in 1967. The Liberal Democrat council, made a unitary authority in 1997, now faces budget cuts of £25m and is consulting on closing at least two of 10 outlying branch libraries.

Stony Stratford council got wind in December and wrote to all 6,000 residents – not entirely disinterestedly, as the council meets in the library, like many other groups in the town. “In theory the closure is only out for consultation,” Gifford said, “but if we sit back it will be too late. One man stopped me in the street and said, ‘The library is the one place where you find five-year-olds and 90-year-olds together, and it’s where young people learn to be proper citizens’. It’s crazy even to consider closing it.”

Beancounters never think of the support such services provide to the future of a community. I’ve written a number of times of the value and direction provided to my life by weekly visits to our neighborhood Carnegie Library. It was a regular part of Saturday recreation for my mother and sister and me.

Learning became recreation.

Milton Keynes Council should support libraries and independent learning – not work at spoiling the process for others.