|Come on, Anne, lighten up!|
- “Encourages children to break dishes so they won’t have to dry them.” ( A Light in the Attic, by Shel Silverstien)
- “It caused a wave of rapes.” ( Arabian Nights, or Thousand and One Nights, anonymous)
- “If there is a possibility that something might be controversial, then why not eliminate it?” ( Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, by Dee Brown)
- “Tarzan was ‘living in sin’ with Jane.” ( Tarzan, by Edgar Rice Burroughs)
- “It is a real ‘downer.’” ( Diary of Anne Frank, by Anne Frank)
- “The basket carried by Little Red Riding Hood contained a bottle of wine, which condones the use of alcohol.” ( Little Red Riding Hood, by Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm K. Grimm)
- “One bunny is white and the other is black and this ‘brainwashes’ readers into accepting miscegenation.” ( The Rabbit’s Wedding, by Garth Williams)
- “A female dog is called a bitch.” ( My Friend Flicka, by Mary O’Hara)
- “An unofficial version of the story of Noah’s Ark will confuse children.” ( Many Waters, by Madeleine C. L’Engle)
If you think no one would really suggest banning a book for such a stupid reason, you clearly have too much faith in the human race.
|Demon Worship 101 is HARD|
But back to the Internet. Many people are understandably concerned about what their children might find on an average Internet search. I mean, it should be safe to look up, say, bears (don’t). Or possibly kittens (again, don’t). Or maybe plushies (for the love of God, do not do this.) Since even these seemingly innocent words could lead to all sorts of nightmares for years to come, clearly someone needs to sanitize this Internet thing. But what can we do? Maybe some sort of a filter, that lets only the pure and wholesome stuff out, but keeps the bad stuff in – you know, like bloodletting in the Middle Ages.
|THAT’s the White House???|
As it turns out, filtering is just as effective as bleeding out the “bad” blood in medieval patients. Sure, kids are protected from seeing a woman’s bare breasts. They are also prevented from seeing information on breast cancer, breast feeding, the breast stroke, and chicken breasts. Yes, you can change up programs to specifically allow these terms, but after a while, this becomes a full time job. People on the Internet may be scummy, but they’re clever. A good way to get more traffic to their sites is to name it something totally innocuous, like say the White House (well, okay, maybe not totally innocuous). Be sure to look up whitehouse.gov, or else you are NOT going to see the Oval Office. At least not the one you’d like to see.
Not only are there problems with specifically keeping children from seeing the wrong thing (if you think using teddy bears as search query instead of just bears is gonna solve things, think again), these filters are usually set up on all library computers. That means that adults must also be filtered from looking at information that, as adults, they ought to be able to access. No, they shouldn’t be looking at porn in a public place, but there are plenty of things that are not obscene that they could be blocked from. Taking the filters off for certain people doesn’t solve anything, because if you are researching, you don’t know what’s out there. Therefore, you don’t know if you need the filter removed or not. And if you do ask for it to be removed, will people assume you’re a pervert? Many patrons would probably prefer not to take that chance.
Why would librarians use filters? Many are forced to, thanks to CIPA, the Child Internet Protection Act, designed by our government with the best of intentions (which if you remember paves the road to hell). If they want government funds to help pay for a computer lab, and many poorer libraries have no other way to fund one, then they have to agree to filter. So then even those who would not want to use them otherwise are faced with a difficult choice – deny their patrons or deny their patron’s first amendment rights? Not an easy choice.
|This child has been online a bit too long . . .|
What’s the answer? I think it’s rather obvious myself. Libraries do not act in loco parentis (in place of parents). Parents should monitor their children’s Internet use, in my opinion, just as they should monitor what their children read. They have every right to keep their children from certain books or websites, but they do NOT have the right to keep MY children or me from these same books and websites. We all want to protect our kids, but this should not come at the expense of the rights of others. It is, ultimately, our responsibility to parent our own kids in the best way we know how. If filtering your computer is your choice, that’s fine. But just remember – our kids have grown up with computers. So filtering, in many cases, is about as effective on kids as your average child proof container. I wish everyone good luck.
And hey – didn’t I WARN you not to look those words up?
It’s Banned Books Week, a week that the American Librarian Association hatched out to promote awareness of censorship (Not to actually promote censorship, we have Fundamentalists for that). As parents, many of us want to protect little Jimmy and Suzie from the outside world as long as possible. Obviously, some materials are not appropriate for them to read, which is why you rarely see an issue of Penthouse in a children’s library. Oh, sure, there’s National Geographic for the truly desperate children, but most of them have figured out the Internet by now, so there’s probably not as many in the corners of libraries giggling over the shirtless women in third world countries.
But what is appropriate and who decides? What is obscenity, and do you know it when you see it? Many parents, teachers, administrators, preachers, politicians, and others with an ax to grind seem to know what it is, and by golly, they’re going to protect the rest of us. These people work tirelessly to make sure that no one sees anything dirty, sometimes exposing themselves to loads of possible pornography. No sacrifice is too great to protect the children! At times, they have to go through MULTIPLE viewings, just to make sure.
So then, what are these truly horrific acts of disgusting, vile, trash that those freaky hippie librarians are trying to taint our precious offspring with? For starters, I’ll give you the most banned book in America, according to the ALA for 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2010 (apparently they were distracted in 2009). Prepare yourselves, hide your children, squeamish people shut your eyes and plug up your ears, for this is not for the faint of heart. The most banned book for these 4 years is . . .
|Go ahead. Look inside . . . if YOU DARE.|
That’s right. It’s not Satanic Verses, or Madonna’s charming “Sex” book, or even that Twilight book (not for obscenity, just for general insipidness.) Nope, it’s a book about, and do not forget this . . .
|Bert and Ernie leaving the closet?|
Eat me! Drink me! Drugs. Where would we be without them? Drugs have radically changed our society. Penicillan has helped millions (unless they are allergic to it – hello – and then it just makes them swell up). But generally speaking, Penicillan was a lifesaver.
But just like Penicillan, all drugs have side effects. Some are dangerous if taken too often. We are learning all the time. Like, for instance, it’s not the best idea to give your child narcotics for teething pain. (Don’t believe me, check out the newspaper ads from the early 1900s.)
So we’ve come a long way. Eventually we got the FDA, or the Federal Drug Administration, to regulate this stuff. Which meant, for starters, actually labeling what was in the bottle. (Something more than ‘drink me’ was usually preferred). Granted, the FDA isn’t perfect. And even approved drugs have their nasty side effects. So now we have people afraid to take so much as an aspirin.
But does that mean we fear all drugs? Even drugs that can save our lives? What about drugs that help regulate the brain? Now there’s something that really bothers people, especially Scientologists. Do people need “quick fixes” like antidepressants? Do we need a nation of people on “happy pills”? I don’t know about you, but I’ve yet to have a “happy pill”. A “somewhat normal and doesn’t want to jump off a cliff pill” is really quite okay with me. And that is what is in your average antidepressant. If you get REALLY happy off antidepressants, chances are you’re manic depressive. Here’s a quick test. If you managed to paint the house and reshingle the roof in one night, you probably need a little help in that department.
Anyway, antidepressants are obviously not for everybody. And they aren’t the only solution. Diet and exercise are always beneficial. But for many people, antidepressants do help. Antidepressants can give people the will to eat and exercise. They don’t make one “happy” and they are far from a “quick fix” as most take at least two weeks to either work or let you know that they are definitely not working. And most come with side effects. It’s a matter of what risks you prefer to take. I prefer “drowsy” over “suicidal” myself.
And if someone has a problem with that, well, they can “eat me”.
This ain’t yo mama’s library. I’m pretty sure that’s a library’s slogan somewhere, possibly somewhere in the Bronx, though more likely in some nice suburban area that is attempting to be “hip”. So hip that they haven’t figured out that no one uses that word anymore. You see, the idea is that if libraries are to survive, we must appeal to everybody, because everybody is a stat – er, an important member of society. Plus, they technically pay us through their taxes. So it pays to please them.
|Public Libraries are Fun|
|And then the librarian got a RAISE . . . the end.|
There are other libraries to choose from, of course. You could try to be a school librarian. Not bad, eh? Summers off, and all you have to do is read books to kids! Oh, and uh teach lessons to six or seven classes of kids from all grade levels and with various special needs. And do every bit of clerical work, because you have no staff. And listen to teachers tell you how good you have it. They have to be with CHILDREN all day long, for crying out loud, and they want vengeance. This often consists of assigning children projects on subjects like playa lakes, on which the library has exactly one book. On lakes. Period. My mother was a public school librarian for years. Her advice when queried is “Run. Run fast.”
At the moment, I am an academic librarian. You don’t get a lot of bums here. Most of the students know how to bathe. And usually they can find their way to the library without their teachers, at least after they’ve shown them once or twice where the building is, and that it, in fact, exists. They don’t, however, know how to get anywhere without being plugged into at least 3 electronic devices at one time. These cutting edge bionic children are our future. And our future doesn’t know where the reference desk is – that big desk with the giant sign labeled REFERENCE. Not that it matters, since they also don’t understand what reference is, or why one would need it. I mean, we got rid of books years ago, right?
Nope, sorry to dissapoint. Everything has not yet been converted to digital. By the time it is, we will certainly then be writing in midair with our fingers, and paying through the nose for it – perhaps literally through the nose. Until then, while we do have computers, databases, DVDs, and even a coffee shop in the library, we’ve got books too. Many students find they make great coasters.
|I need all this for faceboo . . . class!|
|A standard work meeting|
Yes, that’s it,’ said the Hatter with a sigh: `it’s always tea-time, and we’ve no time to wash the things between whiles.’
`Then you keep moving round, I suppose?’ said Alice.
`Exactly so,’ said the Hatter: `as the things get used up.’
– Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Workplaces want more than just nose-to-the-grindstone workers. Oh, sure, they want those too, especially if these workers will also work for bread crumbs and nose insurance. But to really succeed in almost any business, you have to show you’re involved. As in, you need to join clubs. That’s right, you just thought you left high school.
But it gets better. Just like no one ever threw a pep rally for the Honor Society, so people are more impressed with those who volunteer for extra activities. It shows you are a “team player”. Instead of volleyball practice, these activities invariably involve meetings. And the meetings almost always involve committees, which involve sub-committees, until you are effectively always in some sort of meeting. That has nothing to do with your actual job. Ironically, the more you do this, the better your job outlook.
And so, lately I have been quite involved in an Activities Committee. And I’ve been in a lot of meetings. I help plan birthday parties, and parades, and fundraising walks, and Chili Cook-Offs and of course what we shall serve in the coffee shop (I don’t actually work at a coffee shop, by the way). This can’t be done by just anyone. It involves a lot of deep thinking involving whether we should use fancy toothpicks or little wrappers for samples, or how to dress up a float (would voodoo be out of line in a conservative Bible-Belt town?), or stupid team names (don’t make me repeat these). Like I said, important stuff.
I’ve missed several blogging days. I’ve been busy. In meetings. One must always have these, because little gets accomplished in the other meetings, which calls for another. But it’s like this in all things – as soon as you get used to something being one way, it’s time to change, and another meeting to figure out how to do so. New cup, move down.
|Q of H – a real people person|
`Would you tell me,’ said Alice, a little timidly, `why you are painting those roses?’
Five and Seven said nothing, but looked at Two. Two began in a low voice, `Why the fact is, you see, Miss, this here ought to have been a RED rose-tree, and we put a white one in by mistake; and if the Queen was to find it out, we should all have our heads cut off, you know. So you see, Miss, we’re doing our best, afore she comes, to–‘ At this moment Five, who had been anxiously looking across the garden, called out `The Queen! The Queen!’ and the three gardeners instantly threw themselves flat upon their faces. There was a sound of many footsteps, and Alice looked round, eager to see the Queen.
Finally, we get to the real star of the book, the Queen of Hearts! At least that’s what she tells me and I’m inclined to agree with her. How many of us have known such a queen? I certainly have. She went by the title of “director” but I’m fairly certain she saw herself as queen, for her employees were most certainly treated as serfs.
|My former fellow employees and me|
I picked the scene of the card employees painting the white rose bush red for a reason. What’s so ironic about this is that when you work under a tyrant, sometimes the least useful thing for the company is the thing you must do to survive. The bush is still a white rose bush, but it appears red, and that’s enough to keep her staff’s heads on their shoulders, so that’s all they care about. When you’re trying to avoid fury, the last thing you think about is how well the company is doing. After all, you’re only one tiny, small peg in the wheel.
This is why the authoritarian style NEVER works. I don’t care whether you’re a spouse, a parent, a teacher, a preacher, a boss, or a queen. People will respond to fear – but only enough to keep from getting into trouble. If you want them to actually help you, help the business, help the family, help the kingdom – you must treat them with respect. But too many use the authoritarian approach because it’s easier. As an aside, is it just me, or does the Queen of Hearts remind you a bit of Michelle Bachmann? Maybe it’s just me.
Anyway, I did manage to finally escape my Queen of Hearts, and now I work for a new kinder, gentler queen. And I work hard for her, harder than I ever did for the other, because I genuinely want to please her. If I planted the wrong bush, I wouldn’t cover it up now. I’d admit I goofed, and I’d plant another. And more than likely, this queen would pick up a hoe and help me do so. No more painting the roses red. And, thank God, no more threats of “Off with their heads!”
While the Duchess sang the second verse of the song, she kept tossing the baby violently up and down, and the poor little thing howled so, that Alice could hardly hear the words:-
`I speak severely to my boy,
I beat him when he sneezes;
For he can thoroughly enjoy
The pepper when he pleases!’
-Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
What a lovely nursery rhyme! Okay, so the Duchess would not be considered parent-of-the-year material. In fact, the whole shaken baby thing would definitely get her a day in court, unless the child were to turn into a pig, in which case she’d only have to worry about PETA.
But what makes the “perfect” parent? Obviously we don’t want to beat children for sneezing – not when there are so many other reasons to smack them. Not saying that I do, of course, but I doubt there’s a real parent on earth who hasn’t thought of it at least once. This is why television is such a lifesaver. Without the occasional use of the boob tube babysitter, I bet there’d be a lot more sneezing beatings.
But of course you’ll get the parents who know more than you do. Nevermind that thus far, you’ve managed to not kill your kids, a very awesome success in itself, these people are certain they are doing it better than you are. Their precious child never had a bottle, never watched a second of T.V., never threw tantrums, never ate anything but organic homemade food, never had a second of unstructured time. They did learn to speak, crawl, and walk earlier than other babies. Also, their children prefer the taste of spinach over chocolate, and eat it all the time, and are involved in every type of sport, and also make straight As. And then, of course, they wonder – what do YOU do?
I am a slacker mom. I used to be embarrassed about this, especially around the Stepford wife crowd, found anywhere, but especially known to congregate in churches. But now I look at my kids, and I realize that they’re not perfect, but they’re happy most of the time. They weren’t breastfed for years, but they have fewer allergies than their breastfed peers. They didn’t always walk and crawl and talk right when the book said they should, but my eldest hummed “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” to herself at less than a year.
Her little sister was more the scientist type than the artistic – at about 17 months she discovered through personal experimentation that super glue was, in fact, not a poisonous substance. And this was after quite a few hours of the dreaded Clifford the Big Red Dog, Teletubbies, and Big, Big World, a show that would make the staunchest environmentalist want to burn down a rain forest. But they did learn from these shows, and as far as I can tell, haven’t lost brain cells because of it. I might need to tone down the Disney channel, though, because I’m fairly sure I’ve lost some from it merely by secondhand exposure.
Sometimes I get mad at my kids and shout at them. Sometimes I’m too tired to play. Sometimes I have to GET OUT before I go completely insane. They aren’t in any structured activities save church and Girl Scouts. But thus far they haven’t written a tell-all book about me. And my eldest even wrote an essay praising my good qualities, including showing them vidoes on Youtube. Which might have made the teacher wonder. But, ah well. When I’m feeling down, I remember that at least I don’t beat them for sneezing. So, with any luck, they won’t grow up to be pigs after all.
“A slow sort of country!” said the Queen. “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”
At the end of it all, I am fortunate to have enough energy to bathe myself and flop into bed. Except then I have the elusive free time, which I can use to keep myself up longer and thus make the next day even harder. I am always running, it seems, just to stay in place. Often I think that I don’t really do anything, as the house is in constant disorder, and I’m always forgetting stuff like appointments, library books, and the location of my glasses. But then I get sick – as I am now – and I realize that I do stuff. I stay in place. When I’m sick, I fall a few steps back, and I see that the house can look worse as it edges toward getting us a guest spot on “Hoarders”. Oh, my husband helps, but it takes two, especially when one also has things to do, like play with tools. So I am hoping that the doctor, after relieving me of that burdensome 30 dollars, will cure me so that I can once again stay in place. And maybe, just maybe, I can run twice as fast one day, and get somewhere else.
I wonder what that place might be?
“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”
– Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Why DID I come here? I came here to write this blog for my own amusement and to preserve my sanity – or perhaps, insanity. It’s hard to decide some days which is better. After all, those making all the big decisions are supposedly sane, right?
Many people have misconceptions about Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Some assume it is just a nonsensical children’s story of the worst kind – fantasy. Others say that it’s a venerated classic to put on a shelf, but not actually read. I agree with neither. I think Alice in Wonderland is the story of my life – and really, the lives of most human beings. For, you see, we’re all mad here.