Top 10 Most Banned Books: 2016

Well, here we are again, folks. It’s banned books week. Once again I’m here with a new post listing the top 10 most challenged books during the previous year. During 2016 there were 323 recorded challenges by the ALA and they have brought us a new crop of frequently challenged books. The The Holy Bible had been removed from the list this year. However, this is the first time I’ve ever seen a book or series of books being challenged because of the “criminal sexual allegations against the author“. I think it is also worth noting that half of the list are illustrated.

2016

  1. This One Summer, by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
    Reasons: Includes LGBT characters, drug use, profanity, sexually explicit with mature themes.
  2. Drama, by Raina Telgemeier
    Reasons: Includes LGBT characters, sexually explicit, offensive political viewpoint.
  3. George, by Alex Gino
    Reasons: Includes a transgender child, “sexuality was not appropriate at elementary levels”.
  4. I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
    Reasons: Portrays a transgender child, language, sex education, offensive viewpoints.
  5. Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan
    Reasons: Cover has an image of two boys kissing, sexually explicit LGBT content.
  6. Looking for Alaska, by John Green
    Reasons: Sexually explicit scene that may lead a student to “sexual experimentation”.
  7. Big Hard Sex Criminals, by Matt Fraction and illustrated by Chip Zdarsky
    Reasons: Sexually explicit.
  8. Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread, by Chuck Palahniuk
    Reasons: Profanity, sexual explicitness, being “disgusting and all around offensive”.
  9. Little Bill (series), by Bill Cosby and illustrated by Varnette P. Honeywood
    Reasons: Criminal sexual allegations against the author.
  10. Eleanor & Park written by Rainbow Rowell
    Reasons: Offensive language.

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Atlas Obscura Map

Cartography Obscura

Atlas Obscura Map

The very enjoyable Atlas Obscura website has recently hit the monolithic milestone of 10,000 listed locations. To celebrate the occasion they have created a handy map that contains all 10,000 of the world’s most obscure and extraordinary sites.

Places as far-reaching as The Lucifernum, the Tallest Filing Cabinet on Earth, the Huanglong Travertine Terraces and Bo Kaap are mapped out for your convenience.

Have fun exploring!

Top 10 Most Banned Books: 2015

For many, many years I have put together a list of the top ten most banned books from the previous year, during Banned Books Weak. This year the Office for Intellectual Freedom, did not report the number of challenges (not without buying their official list anyway) so I’m unsure if it has decreased or increased year-over-year. However, this year has brought along a whole new crop of books. This is the first time I recall seeing The Holy Bible being on the list. Anyway here are the top ten:

2015

  1. Looking for Alaska, by John Green
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  2. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James
    Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and other (“poorly written,” “concerns that a group of teenagers will want to try it”).
  3. I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
    Reasons: Inaccurate, homosexuality, sex education, religious viewpoint, and unsuited for age group.
  4. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin
    Reasons: Anti-family, offensive language, homosexuality, sex education, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“wants to remove from collection to ward off complaints”).
  5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
    Reasons: Offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“profanity and atheism”).
  6. The Holy Bible
    Reasons: Religious viewpoint.
  7. Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel
    Reasons: Violence and other (“graphic images”).
  8. Habibi, by Craig Thompson
    Reasons: Nudity, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  9. Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan, by Jeanette Winter
    Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group, and violence.
  10. Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan
    Reasons: Homosexuality and other (“condones public displays of affection”).

Click these links if you are looking for the top 10 lists for previous years with easy links to Amazon: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001.

Additionally, in 2010, I put together a list of the 100 Most Banned & Challenged Books Of The Decade by aggregating several lists from the American Library Association.

Twin Peaks

The Entire Cast For The Twin Peaks Reboot

Twin Peaks

Earlier this week, David Lynch and his production crew wrapped principal shooting on the new Twin Peaks. In celebration, Showtime has announced all 217 cast members for the upcoming Twin Peaks revival. There are a bunch of the original cast members returning (noted in the list below in bold), along with some notable newbies. Interestingly, some of the returning actors played characters who are long dead. Standout new cast members include Ashley Judd, Michael Cera, Eddie Vedder, Laura Dern, Trent Reznor and Jim Belushi

I’m torn about whether this reboot will be any good. Lynch will definitely show us something we didn’t ask for, and it will probably unmoor us. Whether that qualifies as “good” or “not good” will depend almost strictly on the individual viewing it. The owls are not what they seem.

Aaseng, Jay
Aboutboul, Alon
Adams, Jane
Adler, Joe
Alden, Kate
Allynne, Stephanie
Amick, Mädchen
Anderson, Eric Ray
Andrews, Finn
Anweis, Elizabeth
Ashbrook, Dana
Auger, Joe
Augustine, Phoebe
Bailey, Melissa
Baird, Tammie
Battaglia, Matt
Bell, Chrysta
Bellucci, Monica
Belushi, Jim
Berger, Leslie
Beymer, Richard
Billingsley, John
Bisping, Michael
Blevins, Ronnie Gene
Bohlen, Kelsey
Bolger, Sean
Bower, Rachael
Briscoe, Brent
Broski, Robert
Brown, Wes
Bucher, Richard
Burkum, Page
Cameron, Scott
Cantu, Juan Carlos
Carides, Gia
Castellanos, Vincent
Cera, Michael
Chamberlain, Richard
Chase, Bailey
Chavez, Johnny
Clark, Candy
Clarke, Larry
Coffey, Scott
Collison, Frank
Coronado, Lisa
Coulson, Catherine E.
Cox, Grace Victoria
Coyne, Jonny
Croak, James
Cruise, Julee
D’Angelo, Heather
D’Arcy, Jan
Dastmalchian, David
Davies, Jeremy
Davies, Owain Rhys
de la Reguera, Ana
Del Rio, Rebekah
Dern, Laura
Dickson, Neil
Dillon, Hugh
Douglas, Cullen
Dowlin, Edward “Ted”
Drake, Judith
Duchovny, David
Durbin, Christopher
Eastwood, Francesca
Edelstein, Eric
Ennis, John
Fadem, Josh
Faircrest, Tikaeni
Farren, Eamon
Fenn, Sherilyn
Ferguson, Jay R.
Ferreira, Sky
Ferrer, Miguel
Field, Rebecca
Finck, Robin
Finney, Brian
Fischler, Patrick
Forster, Erika
Forster, Robert
Foster, Meg
Frost, Travis
Frost, Warren
Gagnon, Pierce
Galli, Allem
Gates, Hailey
Gelman, Brett
George, Ivy
Getty, Balthazar
Giordano, James
Goaz, Harry
Goodeve, Grant
Griffith, George
Griffith, Tad
Grixoni, James
Guest, Cornelia
Hammer, Travis
Harris, Hank
Hart, Annie
Hays, Andrea
Heath, Stephen
Hensley, Heath
Hershberger, Gary
Horse, Michael
Hudson, Ernie
Jee, Jay
Johnson, Jesse
Jones, Caleb Landry
Judd, Ashley
Judy, Luke
Kearin, Stephen
Kelly, David Patrick
Kenny, Laura
Kirkland, Dep
Knepper, Robert
Koechner, David
Kull, Virginia
LaLiberte, Nicole
Larson, Jay
Lee, Sheryl
Leigh, Jennifer Jason
Levy, Jane
Lillard, Matthew
Lindholm, Jeremy
Lipton, Peggy
Logan, Bellina Martin
Long, Sarah Jean
Lynch, David
Lynch, Riley
Lynch, Shane
MacLachlan, Kyle
Mahoney, Mark
Makinen, Karl
Malone
Maridueña, Xolo
Marlohe, Berenice
Mars, Rob
Marshall, James
Maurus, Elisabeth
McDermitt, Josh
McGill, Everett
McLane, Zoe
Mears, Derek
Middleton, Clark
Mills, Greg
Morrison, James
Murray, Christopher
Murray, Don
Nash, Joy
Niehaus, Priya Diane
O’Dell, Bill
O’Neill, Casey
Ochsner, Johnny
Olkewicz, Walter
Parenzini, Charity
Parenzini, Elias Nelson
Paulsen, John
Paxton, Sara
Perlich, Max
Phillips, Linas
Phillips, Tracy
Pirruccello, John
Porter, Linda
Quinn, Jelani
Radelet, Ruth
Reber, Mary
René, Adele
Reznor, Mariqueen
Reznor, Trent
Riggs, Carolyn P.
Robertson, Kimmy
Robie, Wendy
Rondell, Erik L.
Rosand, Marv
Rosenfield, Ben
Roth, Tim
Rowland, Rod
Russell, Carlton Lee
Satine, Elena
Savage, John
Seyfried, Amanda
Shiels, Amy
Shipman, Sawyer
Sizemore, Tom
Sohn, Sara
Sreenan, Malachy
Stanton, Harry Dean
Starr, J.R.
Stephenson, Bob
Stewart, Charlotte
Stofle, Emily
Strobel, Al
Struycken, Carel
Suplee, Ethan
Sutherland, Sabrina S.
Szohr, Jessica
Tamblyn, Russ
Tangradi, Bill
Tewes, Cynthia Lauren
Thelen, Jodee
Torrey, Jack
Van Etten, Sharon
Vedder, Eddie
Vrotsos, Greg
Wardle, Jake
Watts, Naomi
Williams, Nafessa
Wise, Ray
Witt, Alicia
Wydra, Karolina
Yi, Chariyne
Yuuki, Nae
Zabriskie, Grace
Zajac-Denek, Christophe
Zima, Madeline
Zingale, Blake

A Poem So You’ll Know All Of Scrabbles Two-Letter Words

Happy National Scrabble Day! David Bukszpan, author of Is That a Word?, wrote this poem to help us remember all 101 105 two-letter words that you can use in Scrabble.

The most important lesson for aspiring Scrabble nerds
is to memorize the whole list of two-letter words.
There’s one hundred and one, just like the Dalmatians,
but instead of pooches they’re pronouns, prepositions, exclamations.
And rather than skinning these pups, à la Cruella de Vil,
you’ll play with them daily—it’s your opponents you’ll kill.
Some of these words are obvious, others uncanny
But master them all and you just might beat Granny.
AA, pronounced “ah-aah,” is cindery lava,
the word’s from Hawaii but you may find some in Java.
An AB is a muscle found on magazine covers,
an AD in the mag says Virginia’s For Lovers.
AE thing is one thing, the word’s oldish and Scottish;
AG means agriculture, the word’s academic and oddish.
AH expresses surprise, like “Ah, look at those!”
an AI is a sloth who’s just got three toes.
AL is not just Pacino, it’s an East Indian tree,
and AM is not just talk-radio, it’s a form of “to be.”
AN is an indefinite article, I just said it twice,
and AR is the letter that starts the word “rice.”
When you use an example, you can use the word AS,
and AT tells you where, such as “At Alcatraz.”
We make the sound AW when we see kittens sneeze,
or when lumberjacks insensitively AX stately trees.
AY one might say, to say “I agree.”
BA is the Ancient Egyptian idea of the soul, basically.
To BE is to exist, to have actuality;
a BI is a guy or girl with bisexuality.
BO is a pal, like “Meet my bo, Jackson.”
“BY the way,” one might say, “he’s looking for action.”
DE, from the French, means “of” as in “from;”
DO, like the deer, is the first tone you hum.
ED is education, it’s just shorter this way,
And EF is for F, like “What the ef word did you just play?”
EH…it’s like…I don’t know…like an expression of doubt?
The EL train (think el tren elevado) is a pain to wait for when it’s raining out.
EM refers to the letter; the same goes for EN.
ER is…hesitation; use ES to start “sen.” (A former Japanese currency.)
ET is a past tense of to eat; the letter EX marks the spot.
FA is also sung as part of the scale. (Some folks think it’s “far” but it’s not.)
The Hebrew letter FE (“fay”) was long ago used by Moses.
As GO is a word referring to the game, so its plural gos is.
“HA!” blurted Adam, earlier in the Bible, when HE saw Eve evolve from his rib,
“HI,” she replied, then “HM,” because she couldn’t ad lib.
“HO!” Adam said, easy—it can be another sound of surprise—
and Adam’s ID fought his ego. (The superego decides.)
IF, IN, IS and IT we pretty well know
But how about for sweetheart the endearing term JO?
Then there’s a couple kay words that can keep back a conniption,
the first one is KA: the spiritual self—like ba, it’s ancient Egyptian.
The other is KI—pronounced “chee”—is a deep concept, son,
referring to the Chinese vital life force—way before Obi Wan.
LA, a note to follow sol
LI, about five hundred yards
That, LO—attention!—will bring us up to MA, a mom, a female mom,
ME, a name a I call myself…
But in the song of course MI also a note meant.
Use “MM” to assent; and a MO is a moment.
The Greek letter MU, MY friend, should NA (not) be unknown to us,
At least compared to El Greco’s real name—NE Dominikos Theotokópulos.
NO, the Greek letter NU should likewise not be a shock,
Unlike the word coined by the German Baron Dr. Carl von Reichenbach,
who came up with OD, a hypothetical life force,
which he derived from the god Odin—who of course was Norse.
From that same part of the world, not far from the Highlands,
we get the word OE, a whirlwind off OF the Faroe Islands.
“OH,” you cry, “OI, my brain is starting to swell!”
But relax, my friend, take heart, you’re doing so well,
try saying an OM to help counter confusion,
for ON we go to OP, abstract art based on illusion.
OR think also of OS, another word that might be new to us,
it could refer to a bone, or an orifice of the uterus.
You might exclaim, “OW!” if like an OX,
you stub your big toe, wearing just sox.
“OY,” you might cry, “come help me, PA!”
(Which reminds me to warn you not to try to play “da.”)
PE, like fe, is another Hebrew letter,
tho Greek and math people prefer their PI better.
QI, Scrabble’s most popular word, is just ki spelled with a kue,
and like qat (or your cat) it doesn’t need U.
Back to the Von Trapps, let’s not forget the tone RE,
and don’t SH them yet—they have more to say:
there’s also SI and SO from the scale diatonic,
and don’t say TA, or thanks, to them yet, for their lesson harmonic
because we likewise have to make time for TI,
TO which the music teacher Sarah Ann Glover changed the tone si.
UH, UM…oh yeah, there’s UN,
Juste comme the French, it simply means one.
There’s UP and US, and UT—an old name for the first (and last) tone, do,
and WE (the funnest pronoun) and WO, which is woe.
With the Greek letter, XI, we’re near the end of our song.
The Viet coin, XU, was a cent to their dong.
Congrats: YA got all the words that I wanted to teach YE
And—YO! —I almost forgot: there’s ZA, which is pizza!
So now you know your Scrabblish AA, BO, QIS,
next time won’t you sing with MI?

The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary Fifth Edition has added some new two letter words since this poem was first published at The Daily Beast way back in 2003. I have created the following addition to modernize David’s poem.

Since time has passed, Scramble has changed its ways
and you will come to find out DA is a safe word to play.
GA is the white robe worn while performing martial arts.
TE sounds like TI, the seventh note if you’re smart.
PO is a chamber pot, a safe place to pee in.
And now that you know this, more Scrabble you should win.

Five Web Based Analytical Tools That Will Improve your Writing

Over the last couple of months I have stumbled across a slew of new writing tools. Below is a collection of ones I determined to be helpful or interesting.

Sharethrough Headline Analyzer: Helps you craft successful headlines that engage the brain, communicate an idea at the moment of impression while still enticing readers to click through to a full content experience. The analyzer will help you analyze and improve the quality of your headlines, optimizing for both impression and engagement. More here.

Expresso: A practical tool to analyze, edit and compare text styles. Enter your text into the web app, hit analyze, and you’ll get a breakdown of filler words, weak verbs, modals, clustered nouns, and more. The tool relies on metrics that are broken down into two groups: metrics for editing and general metrics. As the names suggest, the first group has useful tools for editing your texts and improving writing style while the second one contains other interesting metrics to explore.

Cleartext: A Mac text editor that only allows the 1,000 most common words in English. It is based on Randall Monroe’s Simple Writer, a web app that does the same thing. Don’t miss out on trying out the Trump Mode.

Proselint: This tool calls itself a linter for prose and is currently only available as a command line utility or a plugin for Sublime Text. Its focus is on detecting redundancy, jargon, clichés, sexism, misuse of symbols, malapropisms, oxymorons, hedging, apologizing, pretension, and more.

Hemingway App: This web app puts an emphasis concision and brevity and not general style. Its goal to help your reader will focus on your message, not your prose. There is also a recently released desktop app called Hemingway Editor 2 for Mac and Windows.

Emo For Emo’s Sake

Rolling Stone has taken a shot at listing the 40 Best Emo Albums of all time. Emo seems to a pretty polarizing genre so I suspect many will have trouble with the list (and some will even protest it’s existence). There are always problems with lists like this, but this one seems pretty darn solid to me.

The top 10 rounds out like this:
10. My Chemical Romance, ‘Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge’ (2004)
9. Fall Out Boy, ‘From Under the Cork Tree’ (2005)
8. Jimmy Eat World, ‘Bleed American’ (2001)
7. Cap’n Jazz, ‘Burritos, Inspiration Point, Fork Balloon Sports …’ (1995)
6. American Football, ‘American Football’ (1999)
5. Braid, ‘Frame and Canvas’ (1998)
4. Jawbreaker, ‘Dear You’ (1995)
3. The Promise Ring, ‘Nothing Feels Good’ (1997)
2. Rites of Spring, ‘Rites of Spring’ (1985)
1. Sunny Day Real Estate, ‘Diary’ (1994)

For the uninitiated here is a primer called “What the heck *is* emo, anyway?”

Definitive List Of Things You Should Have Already Experienced On The Internet Part 2015

Greg Rutter is at it again with his annual Definitive List Of Things You Should Have Already Experienced On The Internet. The lists seem to get shorter and short as the years go by with this list clocking in at only 47 entries (I’ll try to add some deserving entries when I get the time). However, like earlier years, every link is a worthwhile link. A great way to waste away your winter break.

01) Dover Police Dash Cam Confessional
02) Ship Your Enemies Glitter
03) Selena Gomez Prom Invite
04) RC Millennium Falcon
05) Cat Jumps Through Snowbank
06) Dr. Phil With No Dialogue
07) Cantore Thundersnow
08) What Color Is The Dress
09) Llama Drama
10) Justin Bieber’s Carpool Karaoke
11) Himalayas From 20,000 Feet
12) Hype Man Duties
13) Zoolander at Valentino Show
14) Robert Downey Jr. Delivers A Bionic Arm
15) Earl Sinclair Performs “Hypnotize”
16) Left hanging when you need the answers on a test
17) Why the f*ck you lying
18) Drake’s Hotline Bling
19) Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch
20) Father Invites Stepfather Down The Aisle
21) Attention Kmart Shoppers
22) Rejected Pepto Bismol Superbowl Ad
23) Man In The Giant Waterballoon
24) Babboon With Computer
25) Duck Army
26) Father Daughter Beatbox Battle
27) Chuck Esterly’s Stand Up Debut
28) Peanut Butter Baby
29) Obama Reads Mean Tweets
30) Tee Ball Bat Flip
31) Later That Same Life
32) The Dancing Doge
33) An Irishman In Las Vegas
34) Pizza Rat
35) Company is coming
36) Holy Mother Nikki
37) Adele At Adele Impersonation Contest
38) Chairbacca
39) The Last Message Received
40) Pelican Learns To Fish
41) U2 Busks On The Subway
42) Silento- Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)
43) Plastic Ball Prank
44) Guy Has Seisure While Skydiving
45) Merry Christmas Starbucks
46) This Damn Ass Rock
47) Cats Vs Cucumbers