Tag Archives: reading

The Crazy Makes my Head Hurt — Updated

I picked up a pamphlet outside a hairdresser’s the other day. Finally got around to reading it and it is full of batshit-crazy conspiracy theories. Did you know, e.g. that Planned Parenthood is part of a eugenics conspiracy? That advocates of sex-ed programmes want to hypersexualize your kids so as to groom them for abuse? So much crazy in 6 very short articles made me write to the hairdresser’s to ask them why they had a holocaust-denier’s pamphlet next to their own brochures. No answer so far.

Note: I am not going to link or name the batshit-crazy publisher of the pamphlet, nor the hairdresser. Simply because I don’t think it’s a good idea.

UPDATE: the hairdresser answered saying that she always finds the articles in this publication interesting and that she thinks the publisher is being maligned because he dares to speak truths that the media ignores or hides. This answer is, of course, not what I was hoping for. I can understand her reasons but I don’t agree with them. She could be handing out pamphlets from Amnesty International or Reporters without Borders that also contain information that is relegated to the less prominent slots in traditional media… instead she chooses to hand out hateful propaganda by an unsavory character.

Morning Routines

There was a time when I would get up and, after washing my hands and face etc., make a cup of tea and check mail, read articles, check my Twitter timeline and plan my day. No more. Now I get up and attend to someone else’s needs, then I go to the bathroom, sometimes A plays with M and me in the bed before we all get up and make breakfast and tea and then I play with M until it’s time for a mid-morning nap that gives me enough time to empty the dishwasher and put a load of laundry to wash. Email, Twitter, the Guardian, the NYTimes, XKCD: all of that has to wait until I am nursing or M is distracted by a new toy (the lid of a jar, say).

Sometimes I miss being able to read 10 articles in one morning. Sometimes I end up nursing somewhere far away from the computer and the bookshelves. Sometimes M just won’t settle down for relaxed nursing or a mid-morning nap. That leads to me missing a lot of the Cyprus coverage. And the North Korea thing. Lots of news basically. Which is OK, I guess… but I feel kinda bad that I am really bad at having conversations about those things or anything grown-up and instead am good at having conversations about baby-related things. The unread and barely-read issues of Der Freitag piling up next to my bed are a constant reminder that I am not reading enough.

In conclusion: my belated New Year’s resolution is to read more non-baby things. Wish me luck.

What I read today

Because I barely have my arms to myself and am busy amusing a very small person I am not baking, cooking, writing or doing anything much that would interest anybody. But I can link to what I’ve been reading today… because I rather liked it.

Also: in my head I’ve been working on a pattern… and because I haven’t really written many patterns it is a mess. So it’s a good thing it’s only in my head.

The Stories We Tell Ourselves

Last week the Supreme Court of the US ruled that video games are protected by the First Amendment. They basically came to this conclusion because they compared video games to other forms of storytelling – such as oral traditions, (comic) books, film, and TV – and found that what is depicted in games is not that different from what we see, read, or hear in the other media (read the entire ruling here). They also pointed out that humanity has a long tradition of telling itself stories of violence, citing some fairytales as evidence.
A few days later there was this opinion piece in the New York Times by a medical student, describing how fairytales helped her come to terms with some of the strange cases and encounters she had to deal with in hospitals. From one of the Grimms’ versions of Cinderella (in which the two step-sisters have their eyes picked out by doves during Cinderella’s wedding) to Bluebeard’s chamber full of dead wives, fairytales describe weird and disturbing goings-on and try to analyze them without the help of Freud and other more modern theories. They are one of the basic mirrors our species holds up to itself in an attempt to understand and warn.
Today I found this excellent summary and analysis of the various Bluebeard versions by Terri Windling. It also describes how over time the depiction of the characters and the moral of the story changed. How a story of pluck and courage turned into a story about obedience. Go read it. And then you’ll understand why my first reaction to Charles Perrault’s morals of the story was “this sounds like he wrote something he heard about and didn’t quite understand what was going on and so tried to tack something on to the end.” A similar sentiment to the one Susan Sto-Helit has when she reads the fairytale of the clock-maker in Terry Pratchett’s Thief of Time.
I would also like to point you in the direction of Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes, simply because as a child I delighted in this irreverent re-telling of some of the best-known fairytales.

Go read all of that. And then go to the Gutenberg Project and read some fairytales. After all, they are some of the oldest stories we’ve been telling ourselves over and over again (Warning: some are pretty gruesome). And you might even want to try out a video game, the new narrative medium of choice for some.