Celebrate the freedom to read – Banned Books Week – Sep 30 – Oct 6

source: Banned Books Week

 

Everyday in America someone tries to ban a book. The American Library Association reports 326 challenges in 2011. A challenge is more than a person being annoyed with a book, it is a person telling the library they don’t want anyone else to read the book. That is censorship in its most basic form.

And these books are not always the most controversial ones – sometimes they are classics that have been on the shelf for years. Here are the most challenged books of 2011:

  1. ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series) by Lauren Myracle
  2. The Color of Earth (series) by Kim Dong Hwa
  3. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins (series)
  4. My Mom’s Having A Baby! A Kid’s Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy by Dori Hillestad Butler
  5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  6. Alice (series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  7. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  8. What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones
  9. Gossip Girl (series) by Cecily Von Ziegesar
  10. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Celebrating Banned Books Week is about the freedom to read and that takes us beyond the printed paper. For the internet it means supporting free and open access to information – a fundamental right and need in countries all around the world.

So take a chance this week, read a banned book and support someone else’s right to do so.

A final word from David Brin on freedom of speech:

Freedom of speech is not a gift from on high. It was not declared by God. It is not holy, or even natural. No other human society ever practiced it. Even we, who are loony enough to consider it sacred, don’t practice it very well. Yet, although it runs against every tyrannical impulse of human nature… impulses to suppress whatever that loudmouth fool over there is saying… the fact is that we try to live by it. Not because free speech is holy, or natural, but because it works. Because it is pragmatic. Because it allows the rapid generation of a multitude of ideas, most of which are chaff, and then allows those notions to be criticized by other egotistical people, so that a fair percentage of the best ideas rise, and most garbage eventually sinks.

Continue reading Celebrate the freedom to read – Banned Books Week – Sep 30 – Oct 6

82% of Americans have a favorable opinion of Queen Elizabeth II

As Britain prepares to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s 60th year on the throne, the sovereign’s popularity in the United States is at a 15-year high — 82% of Americans say they have a favorable opinion of the queen in a CNN/ORC poll released Friday.

That’s a 35-point jump from 1997, when her favorable rating stood at 47%. That was the year Princess Diana died in a car crash in Paris. Many Americans and Brits were disappointed in the royal family’s handling of the death of the “people’s princess,” saying the queen didn’t sufficiently reflect her subjects’ sense of loss following the accident.

Since then, however, Queen Elizabeth’s favorable ratings have been on the rise, reaching 75% in 2002 and 80% in 2007.

“Americans love Queen Elizabeth and they think the royal family is a good thing for the people of England, but only one in eight would like to see royalty here in the United States,” CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said.

Prince Philip, the queen’s husband, is not as popular as his wife, though is still viewed favorably by 59% of Americans.

via WCVB

 

And, just for fun this satire – Prince Philip Says: “I’m Not Going To The Bloody Sodding Royal Pageant On The Buggering Thames In No Barge And That’s That!”

Continue reading 82% of Americans have a favorable opinion of Queen Elizabeth II

Pixar’s newest movie – Día de los Muertos

Pixar’s “Toy Story 3” is the highest-grossing movie of all time in Mexico, where the animated adventure tale collected $59 million at the box office in 2010.

The follow-up from “Toy Story 3” director Lee Unkrich and producer Darla K. Anderson is also likely to have strong appeal with Mexican audiences — and to boast more authentically Latino characters than a Spanish-speaking Buzz Lightyear doll.

The duo’s next movie is a still-untitled project about Día de los Muertos, the Mexican holiday of the dead, which Disney and Pixar first announced at CinemaCon last month.

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On the Day of the Dead, which has its roots in indigenous Aztec culture, families in Mexico and many Latin American countries pay tribute to deceased loved ones by creating graveside altars with treats like candy and bottles of Coca-Cola, and donning elaborate skull masks and costumes for processionals.

“This is a very different view of death than the American one,” said Unkrich. “It’s not spooky. It’s celebratory.”

via The Envelope

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Why is Cinco De Mayo not celebrated in Mexico, only the U.S.?

UCLA professor David Hayes-Bautista stumbled upon the answer to a question that for years had puzzled scholars and amateur historians alike:

Why is Cinco de Mayo so widely celebrated in California and the United States, when it is scarcely observed in Mexico?

As Hayes-Bautista explains in “El Cinco de Mayo: An American Tradition,” his new book on the origins of the holiday, Cinco de Mayo isn’t Mexican at all.

Rather, it is an American holiday, rooted in the Civil War and commemorated today because a network of Latino groups in California known as the juntas patrióticas mejicanas (Mexican patriotic assemblies) deliberately created a public memory of it.

“We have had a lot of conjecture, a lot of guessing, but no one actually really knew,” he said. “Now we know why it’s celebrated.”

 

Keep reading – to learn how France invaded Mexico, for slavery and the Confederacy, only to be defeated on May 5, 1862.

Or, listen to Professor Hayes-Bautista explain it himself:

Spanish version of the talk

Tribute to a Legend: Jacques Pépin

We honor the culinary success of one of America’s most celebrated chefs, Jacques Pépin.

“Easily the most influential French chef to the wave of young American chefs.”

“His earliest work was all about taking the classic dishes and demystifying them, almost decoding them, and making them accessible.”

See his public access show – Essential Pépin (Episode 103 – Desserts)

Family History Day: a new American holiday

Would you like to celebrate a new holiday with me?

I call it Family History Day, or Ancestors Day. 

Let’s celebrate it right before Halloween with a variety of fun and somber rituals, pulled from the most popular festivals around the world:

  • Qingming festival from East Asia
  • Día de los Muertos from Mexico
  • The rituals of Shinto in Japan.

From each I have chosen the best elements and combined them together to form a truly marvelous holiday. One that, I hope, will accomplish the goal: to gain wisdom. Wisdom is an elusive foe, one that evades us all our lives. Sometimes we find it right before we die or after a great tragedy, but none of us have it on a daily basis. This holiday is an attempt to find wisdom every year by seeking out those in our past who had it, for just a brief moment. It also formalizes the search into a ritual that can teach us about family, honor, and respect. Here is how other cultures celebrate.

Qingming

The Qingming Festival, often called Ancestors Day, occurs on the Spring Equinox, usually around April 15, and is celebrated in many countries from China to Cambodia. “Celebrants remember and honour their ancestors at grave sites. Young and old pray before the ancestors, sweep the tombs and offer food, tea, wine, chopsticks, paper accessories, and/or libations to the ancestors.” “It is also the time when young couples start courting. Families go on outings.” There is also a rich history of honoring ones ancestors through poetry and painting.

English Translation:

The ceaseless drizzle drips all the dismal day, So broken-hearted fares the traveler on the way. When asked where could be found a tavern bower, A cowboy points to yonder village of the apricot flower.

Día de loe Muertos

Día de los Muertos, translates as Day of the Dead, is celebrated in Mexico over two days, November 1-2. The first day honors children and second honors deceased relatives. It is a fun and morbid holiday that celebrates death with joy. Families create candy and treats for children in the shape of skulls and skeletons.

Young ones get involved with costumes and skeleton dolls at parties with dancing and music. Adults visit cemeteries to “build private altars containing the favorite foods and beverages as well as photos and memorabilia of the departed.” Celebrated on the Catholic holiday All Souls Day, the intent is to encourage visits by the souls, so that they will hear the prayers and the comments of the living directed to them. Celebrations can take a humorous tone, as celebrants remember funny events and anecdotes about the departed.

Shinto

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