Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “Arnold Schwarzenegger”

Top Ten Banned Books for Banned Books Week – Tom Rossi

Here are my top ten choices for Banned Books Week:

10. The Kid is not My Son by Arnold Schwarzenegger and John Edwards, with an introduction by Michael Jackson

9. Faithfully Yours by Bill Clinton

8. Uhhhh… What? by John Boehner

7. Face of a Bunny, Heart of a Hart by Newt Gingrich

6. How To Not Put Your Mouth in Your Foot by Joe Biden

5. Dumb? Who Screwed, and Who GOT Screwed? by George W. Bush

4. Liberals: Ha Ha! Suckers! by Barack Obama

3. Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bee by Mitt “Shifty” Romney

2. Idiot? You Betcha! by Sarah Palin

1. Meowch! Paul Ryan Shows There’s More Than One Way To Screw a Cat by Paul Ryan, with Michael Crichton

OK, OK… I kiiiid, I kiiiid.

Banned books week just ended (sorry, I was distracted last week) and is actually a really important event. From the Banned Books Week website: “Banned Books Week is the national book community’s annual celebration of the freedom to read. Hundreds of libraries and bookstores around the country draw attention to the problem of censorship by mounting displays of challenged books and hosting a variety of events.”

Here is the list of the most often “challenged” (attempts to ban them by various state and local governments or other bodies) books of the year 2011:

1. ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle

Reasons: offensive language; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group

2. The Color of Earth (series), by Kim Dong Hwa

Reasons: nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group

3. The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins

Reasons: anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence

4. My Mom’s Having A Baby! A Kid’s Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy, by Dori Hillestad Butler

Reasons: nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group

5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie

Reasons: offensive language; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group

6. Alice (series), by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Reasons: nudity; offensive language; religious viewpoint

7. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley

Reasons: insensitivity; nudity; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit

8. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones

Reasons: nudity; offensive language; sexually explicit

9. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily Von Ziegesar

Reasons: drugs; offensive language; sexually explicit

10. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

Reasons: offensive language; racism

The list of books that have been banned or challenged at least somewhere in America at some time in the past is shocking and includes such titles as, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and… I’m not kidding about this one – the American Heritage Dictionary.

I implore you not to succumb to fear – fear of knowledge or fear of education, especially. Don’t listen when Republicans argue for technical training over real education. As the UNCF says, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

Buy these books from the banned and challenged list. Give them to your kids. Have conversations. Let the gears of your and your kids’ minds churn. Not everything every author writes is an endorsement, nor a recommendation. Books make you think. Books are food for the brain.

Feed!

-Tom Rossi

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Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

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A Good Leader is A Good Reader

The problem with writing blog posts in advance is that they run the danger of being out-of-date before tehy are published. I wrote this post two weeks ago and since then, Herman Cain has resigned. I decided to keep the post because, amidst the sex scandals, something very important surfaced and needs to be processed.I have left the post intact because when I began to edit it to being in retrospect, it lost the anger that I felt. I hope this doesn’t prevent the point being made.

I’m somewhat surprised by the Republican debates. Blame it on the TV coverage, or the fact that they are facing a standing President who, despite struggling to see his agenda through to practical fruition, is still extremely impressive, but how are the Republicans allowing certain candidates to still be in the running?

When do people start losing in this game of Musical Chairs?

More specifically, how are they allowing Herman Cain to stay in the running? If it is really about the money, who is willing to stand up and admit to investing millions in this man, or at least to continue to invest their money in him.

The sexual allegations are of course the most shocking. If this man is being totally set up and framed, let’s expose those behind it and send them to jail where they belong. If the answer is anything but this, why on earth is Herman Cain still running?

I have no doubt that Mr. Cain is a keen and astute businessman. We need such people helping to set our economy right. But the seat of the Presidency requires a lot more.

Mr. Cain’s lack of grasp on foreign policy is stunning. Libya? Really?

But it is with somewhat mixed emotions that I discovered that Mr. Cain and I have something in common. We both love The Simpsons. I also quote from the show, Mr. Cain, but I’m not sure I would if I was a presidential candidate.

I love that scene from 2007’s “The Simpsons Movie” when Arnold Schwarzenegger who is the movie’s President of the United States has to make a critical decision. His aids offer him several options and he immediately picks one without reading the briefs. The character of Schwarzenegger when asked why he doesn’t read the options replies: “I was elected to lead, not to read.”

He does encourage people to read his own book.

In a recent post, The Power of Paolini, I shared my gratitude to J.K. Rowling and Christopher Paolini, for turning my son and his generation onto reading through their respective Harry Potter and Eragon series. I want a President who can inspire the nation, a President who can make educated decisions, and a President who considers  all the options.

Never go anywhere without your nuclear launch codes and a good book.

Perhaps if we lived in a country that read, if we were a nation who stayed informed, we would not have allowed ourselves to dig such a deep hole that we now have to climb out of.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

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