Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Books, Films, and Politics

I have not written much on the blog lately -- I gave up social media for Lent and, weeks into the Easter Season, I have not gone back to it.  I don't miss the feeling of having my world limited to one point of view, or the assault of angry political rhetoric. 

I want to find a way back to rational discussion and a belief in the common good -- and a respect for facts, for science, for actual historical events, and for the U.S. Constitution. 

I do feel as if the two things I care most about -- education and the environment -- are under attack, and may face irreparable damage under the current leadership in Congress and the Executive Branch.  I have seen actions that are not normal -- and some that are very dangerous.  I'm not discounting those realities, but I still want to find a way back to discussion and compromise.

So what have I been doing away from the Twitter wars?  Reading.  Reading a lot of different books.  A friend of mine challenged me to take a reading challenge, and I've been working my way through the list.  I'm trying to expand my reading into things I might not pick up on my own.

So take a look at the scroll to the right to see some of what I've been reading.  I've found books I loved, and books I liked less well, but I'm enjoying the challenge.

I have more books to read than time to read them, of course, and I'm also working on a cinema challenge -- the films of the last 15 years that my nephew considers to be the best.  As you might expect, they feature excellent cinematography and brilliant directing.  They are fine films, admirable films, but, for the most part, not cheerful films.

I recognize the need for both conflict and important themes in great literature, and I'm learning things  I didn't know -- about Jesse James [The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, about drug cartels, the war on drugs, and how it hasn't changed much since 2002 [Traffic],   had my memory refreshed on some historical points [Frost/Nixon], and visited life in East Germany [The Lives of Others].

I was glad to hear that the current budget compromise restored some of the funding for the National Endowment of the Arts. We need art and literature in our lives, to provide both reflection and escape.  I hope that the Institute of Museum and Library Services will continue to be funded.  All my books and films have come from my public library.  It's a resource we cannot afford to shortchange or allow to disappear.  Even the one to fulfill the challenge: a book you bought at a used book store, I bought at a library used book sale. 

Now would be a good time to re-read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury -- or watch the film, though the special effects are a little different from what we see today.  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060390/

The latest mystery story from Anne Hillerman is an interesting twist on issues surrounding the Grand Canyon and how it should be used or preserved.   It's also a good mystery with interesting characters.  Check out The Song of the Lion, and let me know what you think. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/980282496

Taking a break from social media hasn't changed my primary concerns, but I am currently reading Strangers in Their Own Land, which is extremely interesting so far...

Friday, March 10, 2017

Spiritual Discipline and Popular Culture

The headline in the paper today was how the  local Roman Catholic Bishop is giving everyone special permission to eat meat on St. Patrick's Day, even though it falls on a Lenten Friday.  I'm not going to argue about the  theology;  I was just thinking that I needed my own exemption...though I think an Episcopal Bishop would tell me to follow my own conscience.

I gave up social media for Lent, and, overall, I am happy to be away from the questionable politics and terrible grammar of Facebook for awhile.  My problem is that I am a college basketball FAN, and I miss the family trash talking.

If I were on Facebook, I'd be sharing this:


And also talking about whether Northwestern can make the tournament this year.  And telling my brother and nephew how sorry I was to see KU out of the Big 12 tournament. 

So, I'm cheating with Blogger, which I didn't give up, because one of my resolutions is to write more.  And with Goodreads because I'm doing a book challenge this year -- it is much harder to get social media out of your life than it might first appear.

We have, collectively, given up a lot of privacy for convenience.  I don't know if it is a fair trade off, or a good one -- what worries me is that we have done it, little by little, without thinking about the consequences.  The combination of Facebook and Google facial recognition software has created a database of personal information beyond the wildest dreams of the spy agencies -- all of them -- and we did it ourselves, for our own amusement, in many cases tagging not only ourselves, but friends, family, and children, usually without their permission.  

This story provides even more food for thought, though of course the discussion of it will be online and in social media --- you see the problem, right?


I know a lot of people are reading or re-reading Brave New World, and I can see why the idea of "alternate facts" brings that title instantly to mind.  I don't feel my extensive reading of dystopian fiction  is helping me sleep well these days, but I would recommend Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451

On to March Madness, even if it has a "bread and circuses" feel.  Go Wildcats!  Go Tar Heels!

#noalternatefacts  #MarchMadness #dystopian_fiction #privacy?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The best in Cinematography


Fortune Cookie

Information is not knowledge.
Knowledge is not wisdom.
Wisdom is not truth.
Truth is not beauty.
Beauty is not love.
Love is not music.
Music is the best.
Frank Zappa