If You Want To Preserve Your Power Indefinitely…

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of author, philosopher, and futurist Aldous Huxley. This fascinating, short video was made using audio from an interview by Mike Wallace on May 18, 1958 combined with the animations of Patrick Smith. In the video, Huxley foretells a future when presidential hopefuls use television to rise to power, drugs grab hold, technology takes over, and frightful dictatorships rule us all. On the day of this United State’s presidential debates and the eve of our election, this video seems particularly prescient. From Blank On Blank:

But what these people are doing, is to try to bypass the rational side of man and to appeal directly to these unconscious forces below the surfaces so that you are, in a way, making nonsense of the whole democratic procedure, which is based on conscious choice on rational ground.


Amusing Ourselves To Death

Some Say The World Will End In Fire, Some Say In Ice

This comic by Stuart McMillen is an adaptation from Neil Postman’s book Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. It compares Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” with George Orwell’s “1984”. With the recent revelations of NSA surveillance, I think the jury is still out on which vision is more correct. I think both Huxley and Orwell were right – the iron fist of government and the attention-sapping distractions of technology are dangers to modern society. The whole thing resonates quite loudly in today’s internet landscape.

Amusing Ourselves To Death

Top 10 Most Banned Books: 2011

It’s Banned Books Week again. This year is the 30th anniversary. Since 2009 I have listed the top 10 most challenged books of the year on my blog. This year is no different – the books are listed below with links to Amazon for your purchasing pleasure. With over 326 formal challenges, as reported by the Office for Intellectual Freedom, book banning efforts were alive and well in 2011.

I have also posted top 10 lists for the years 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.

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

A Timeline Of Future Science Fiction Events

Below is a list of predictions made by speculative science fiction authors both past and present. Also listed is the novel or short story in which the prediction was made, as well as the year it was published.

Notably, the list puts the Hunger Games in the year 2108 and robot cats finally make an appearance in 2966. My favorite entry by far is the year 2107 when “Everyone blogs about themselves, all day, without shame: ‘only perverts do things in private.'”
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Top 10 Most Banned Books: 2010

Banned Books Week again. Last year I put together a list of the 100 Most Banned & Challenged Books Of The Decade by aggregating several lists from the American Library Association. This year I’ll keep it a little more simple and display the top 10 most banned books of 2010 (determined out of the 348 challenges as reported by the Office for Intellectual Freedom).

2010

  1. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
    Reasons: homosexuality, religious viewpoint and [unsuitability] to age group
  2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: offensive language, racism, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and violence
  3. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
    Reasons: insensitivity, offensive language, racism, and sexually explicit
  4. Crank, by Ellen Hopkins
    Reasons: drugs, offensive language, and sexually explicit
  5. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
    Reasons: sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and violence
  6. Lush, by Natasha Friend
    Reasons: drugs, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
  7. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
    Reasons: sexism, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
  8. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, by Barbara Ehrenreich
    Reasons: drugs, inaccurate, offensive language, political viewpoint, and religious viewpoint
  9. Revolutionary Voices, edited by Amy Sonnie
    Reasons: homosexuality and sexually explicit
  10. Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer
    Reasons: religious viewpoint and violence



I have also posted top 10 lists for the years 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001

Book List

Radcliffes List of the 100 best novels

1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
3. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
5. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
6. Ulysses by James Joyce
7. Beloved by Toni Morrison
8. The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
9. 1984 by George Orwell
10. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
11. Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov
12. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
13. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
14. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
15. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
16. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
17. Animal Farm by George Orwell
18. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
19. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
20. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
21. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
22. Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne
23. Their Eyes are Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
24. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
25. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
26. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
27. Native Son by Richard Wright
28. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
29. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
30. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
31. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
32. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
33. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
34. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
35. Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
36. Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin
37. The World According to Garp by John Irving
38. All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren
39. A Room with a View by E.M. Forster
40. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
41. Schindler’s List by Thomas Keneally
42. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
43. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
44. Finnegans Wake by James Joyce
45. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
46. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
47. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
48. Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence
49. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
50. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
51. My Antonia by Willa Cather
52. Howards End by E.M. Forster
53. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
54. Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger
55. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
56. Jazz by Toni Morrison
57. Sophie’s Choice by William Styron
58. Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
59. A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
60. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
61. A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor
62. Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
63. Orlando by Virginia Woolf
64. Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence
65. Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe
66. Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
67. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
68. Light in August by William Faulkner
69. The Wings of the Dove by Henry James
70. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
71. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
72. A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
73. Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs
74. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
75. Women in Love by D.H. Lawrence
76. Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe
77. In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway
78. The Autobiography of Alice B. Tokias by Gertrude Stein
79. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
80. The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
81. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
82. White Noise by Don DeLillo
83. O Pioneers! by Willa Cather
84. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
85. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
86. Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
87. The Bostonians by Henry James
88. An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
89. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
90. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
91. This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
92. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
93. The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles
94. Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis
95. Kim by Rudyard Kipling
96. The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald
97. Rabbit, Run by John Updike
98. Where Angels Fear to Tread by E.M. Forster
99. Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
100. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
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How To Be Good Quickly

What does it mean to be a good person? Do you have to be completely selfless? No way, that can be bad actually. Do you have to be completely selfish? An Objectivist would tell you so, but in my opinion, that’s even worse. I think it’s really hard to be good sometimes. I mean really hard. I consider myself a good person most of the time. Or is it that I should consider myself to be a bad person only very rarely and not really a good person most the time, just a person. Do humans automatically default to “good”? I believe they do. I think. Most of the time anyway. But I also believe you must show some sort of undoubtably positive action in order to be considered Good. It takes an effort. Nothing comes easily, especially being good.
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Island

Aldous Huxley is a genius. I first read Huxley my freshman year in college. The book was called The Doors Of Perception, from which The Doors got their name. I read this back when I had a solid interest in psychedelics. Then I read Brave New World (complete text) which to this day remains one of my all time favorites. I also read Chrome Yellow (complete text and .mp3).

Last night I finished reading Island. Huxley can often get a little too philosophical for me, such was the case with Island. In addition, much of the book centers around eastern philosophy and spirituality which lost me. As a result, the book took much longer to finish than it should have. Some parts of the novel I had to force myself through. That being said, the novel overall is pretty good and worth reading once. It has the typical of good writing and ideas expected of Huxley, but it’s not one of my favorites. The plot is weak (simply a vehicle for Huxley to explain his ideas on society at large) and the ending is abrupt. But as a social satire, the novel is very effective.

Most of the novel concerns itself with how people in an ideal society would interact with each other and their environment. The novel presents us with a society that conducts itself, in the eyes of Huxley, in the best possible way that humans can, given their physical and spiritual flaws and restrictions. Huxley has always been great at turning the word “idealist” back into a positive by describing with pragmatic knowledge what in our present world is not working, and more importantly, proposed solutions; this novel does a great job of this.
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