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Librarian Blog

Bee on the brain

Planning is well under way for this year's adult Spelling Bee sponsored by the Friends of the Library.
The date is Sept. 22. The place is the Community Center.
We will have a recognized Toastmasters expert who will be our official pronouncer, and a nice lunch for those who compete and those who cheer them on.
If you'd like to sponsor a team, please contact Carroll at the library.

A small crime, but still ...

Perhaps it is one of Vladimir Putin's lesser crimes, but still it's notable for what it tells us about the man who leads Russia and wants to tilt the world to his way of thinking.
Natalia Sharina was put on trial recently for not being careful enough about perpetuating official Russian lies about the Ukraine.
Sharina was director of the Moscow Library of Ukrainian Literature, and on the shelves in storage were some materials that suggested that Ukraine had a history that was separate from the one Russians want to try to perpetuate, ala the methods of Stalin and Goebels.
The New York Times published a recent editorial about the trial, noting that Sharina was guilty of nothing beyond being a librarian.
She simply did not go along with the Newspeak way of the Putinistas.
"But in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, rights, responsibilities and the law have fallen prey to the old Soviet notion that any deviation from the position or the lies of the state is liable to be prosecuted under vague anti-extremism legislation," The Times opined.
Everywhere there are warnings to our way of governing if we fall victim to the same kind of thing in the facile notion that we will be safer or stronger or better for it.

Very popular topics

Perhaps you noticed that we have a new poll posted on this site, just below this entry.
The new poll is about climate change. It may or may not draw much interest.
The poll we just took down (it had been on the site for a month, the regular limit) was the most responded-to poll we've ever had on the website. We had more than 50 people select choices.
Maybe the reason that poll was the most popular was because it was about local issues, ones facing the City Council of Wimberley right now, like water and sewer and expansion.
I hear anecdotes around town about all kinds of goings-on that draw multiple opinions.
Watch our website poll space for more as times goes by.

No surprise here

It should come as a surprise to no one that we are not as mindful as we think we are. Or as we should be.
Daniel Kahneman, an eminent economist, pointed this out a couple of years ago in a class work called "Thinking Slow and Fast." His insight was to describe how we think about things, and he deftly pointed out that too often on too many tasks, we just don't.
Now comes Steve Casner writing in a new book about some of our prevailing myths about thinking and consciousness that tend to put us in peril that is very real -- as in hospital or death-bed real.
The book is called "Careful: A User's Guide to Our Injury-Prone Minds." I read a review of the book written by Edward Kosner for The Wall Street Journal. Having read the review, I probably don't need to read the book. I've kind of observed the same things that Casner calls attention to: even in the use of my own mind.
The key piece of advice in the book seems to be this: If you think you can multi-task you are woefully wrong. And being wrong could be your demise.
You probably already know that.
But you probably don't care. Or you think you can beat the odds.
I'm watching for you on the streets of Wimberely and the highways of Texas. You better watch out for me, too.

Feeling bad about dystopianism

Wooey. Jill Lepore is put off and put out.
Her target, in the latest issue of The New Yorker: dystopian literature.
You know, think "1984" and "Animal Farm" and "Brave New World" and "Fahrenheit 451," etc., and so on. More recent examples are regularly appearing in the young adult fiction categories, with titles like "The Giver" and "Walkaway."
Lepore does not like what's going on in this genre in the least. Dystopianism has become too dark, too ugly, too awful.
Here she is in her final paragraph on the subject:
"Dystopia used to be a fiction of resistance; it's become a fiction of submission, the fiction of an untrusting, lonely, and sullen twenty-first century, the fiction of fake news and infowars, the fiction of helplessness and hopelessness. It cannot imagine a better future, and it doesn't ask anyone to bother to make one. It nurses grievances and indulges resentments; it doesn't call for courage; it finds that cowardice suffices. ..."
It goes down from there.
Perhaps Lepore is right. I haven't read enough of these books to really know.
But, if they're attracting a large audience, there's a reason.
What would that be?
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