The Fires of Ignorance

When I was in High School an injury forced me to resign from PhysEd and accept service in the school library. I learned so much: how to load the date stamps clipped to the end of the pencils; how to carefully letter the spine of new books for entry into the collection; how to shelve books in strict dewey-decimal order; and which binding glue was the happiest. You know: all those skills needed to support a library in the 1940s.

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Remembering Guy Montag

Have you heard about the newest American wedge issue: banned books? We’ve always had books being banned, generally for understandable, even if unreasonable, reasons. Classic works often contain words or activities that are no longer acceptable. Many more contemporary works are designed to appeal to the reader’s most basic, animalistic imagination. How many excellent books question or even ignore such sacred human constructs as religion or American Exceptionalism. Nowadays it seems the universal excuse is that a book makes someone, anyone, uncomfortable.

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A 451 moment

Over on another weblog there has been a lengthy and highly repetition discussion of gentle, kind, but smelly books made of paper and evil digital books that will ruin your eyes but are handy for traveling, at least until the subliminal terrorist messages kick in and turn you into the Manchurian Candidate. The pros and cons are many, quite obvious, and will never eliminate the dialogue. My favorite reason for preferring either format is that books smell so good. Now I am intrigued by the smell of an old-fashined dairy farm and all those cows and all that hay and you finish the series, but I don’t want one to move next to my little shack in the swamp. I wish to suggest a positive attribute of digital books:  they don’t smell!

But the wildest reasoning I ran across was the suggestion that if civilization no longer had electricity, the digital books would be worthless whereas paper books would always be available. Now, if the intention was to project a major power outage that exceeded two or three days, then I agree, since the digital book might require recharging, it would be nice to have an old-fashioned paper book on hand (I have about a thousand) … but only in the daytime since paper books are seldom back-lit and are difficult to read in the dark.

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