The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead has won the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction! It deserves it - and all the other many awards it's received. The Underground Railroad is a wonderful story; moreover, it's an important one.
|"The first time Caesar approached Cora about running north, she said no."|
Cora, a third-generation slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia, takes her life in her hands and runs North on the underground railroad. Chased by a ruthless slave catcher with a grudge, as well as by the memories of a mother whose own race to freedom left her a vulnerable ten-year-old stray, scarred in body and soul, Cora struggles to find true freedom. With a dash of magical realism, including a literal subterranean train system, and featuring caricatured/fantastical versions of several states, Whitehead's novel depicts a stark and graphic picture of slavery and racism in pre-Civil War America. At the same time, it brings into focus our modern systemic problems, uncovering the foundational national sins on which so much of our country was built.
Not an overly long book, it nevertheless took me a long while to read; it is not an easy book to get through, emotionally. While the story is engaging, the wording gorgeous, and the characters real and relatable, the story is not a light one, and must be approached seriously. Although I'm sure there are those who will object to the graphic violence and language, I believe it would make an excellent addition to high school curriculum.
- Library Land
- The Return to Osten Ard: Revealing The Witchwood Crown I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am to read this! I have been hooked on Tad Williams since I first read his Tailchaser's Song as a kid; his Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy (which begins with The Dragonbone Chair) is one of my most commonly recommended fantasy series. Coming back to Osten Ard feels like coming home.
- Science & Technology
- An ‘alternative facts’ South Dakota bill sparks fears for science education in the Trump era "The bill is one of four that have been introduced so far in 2017 in state legislatures — the others are in Indiana, Oklahoma and Texas — that would allow science denial in the classroom. "
- Hundreds of current, former EPA employees urge Senate to reject Trump’s nominee for the agency "Opposition to Pruitt from environmental groups and congressional Democrats has only grown more vehement since his confirmation hearing last month, in which he declined to say whether he would recuse himself from his ongoing cases against the EPA if confirmed as the agency’s new leader. In addition to those legal attacks, opponents have pointed to his substantial financial support from the oil and gas industry and his views on climate change as reasons he should not lead the agency charged with protecting the air and water of all Americans."
- Privacy - she ain't what she used to be... Google, unlike Microsoft, must turn over foreign emails: U.S. judge Related: Google to appeal against order to hand over user emails stored outside US
- Continuing the trend to limit information access: FBI axes FOIA requests by email, so dust off your fax machine
- U.S. Politics
- 9th Circuit Court of Appeals says it will rule soon on whether to restore Trump's travel ban After listening in, I don't know which way it will go.
- Army Approves Dakota Access Pipeline Route, Paving Way For The Project's Completion "In doing so, the Army cut short its environmental impact assessment and the public comment period associated with it. In a Jan. 18 notice published in the Federal Register the Army had said it would accept public comments on the project through Feb. 20, still nearly two weeks away." Not at all shady, I'm sure.
- Betsy DeVos Confirmed As Education Secretary "Vice President Pence had to cast an unprecedented tie-breaking vote, after hearings that became fodder for Saturday Night Live; after angry constituents swamped Senate offices with 1.5 million calls a day; after two Republican senators defected; and Democrats held the floor overnight in protest." The kakistocracy continues to evolve. (Mutate? Maybe that's the better word...) Related: She’s a billionaire who said schools need guns to fight bears. Here’s what you may not know about Betsy DeVos.
- GOP lawmaker proposes abolishing Department of Education "On the same day the Senate confirmed President Trump’s secretary of Education pick by a historically narrow margin, a House Republican introduced legislation to abolish the entire department Betsy DeVos will lead."
- The Modal Man "'People (at least when sober) can look at high level athletes and recognize immediately, 'That person is vastly better than me at this thing.' To a lesser extent we recognize that in other areas of our lives, too....Despite this, Americans remain absolutely convinced in large numbers that the process of governing the third most populous and most economically and militarily powerful nation on Earth requires no particular skills of any kind. Anyone can do it! It's just like running a hardware store or balancing the family checkbook!" Unfortunately for the U.S. right now, that is very much not true.
- Sean Spicer is on thin ice because Melissa McCarthy played him on ‘Saturday Night Live "President Trump, like most of the rest of the country, watched comedian Melissa McCarthy's vicious takedown of White House press secretary Sean Spicer on this past week's 'Saturday Night Live.' And he wasn't happy. Not because of how Spicer was portrayed — as a hectoring know-it-all — but reportedly because the actor who was impersonating Spicer was female."
- California and President Trump are going to war with each other "It’s not clear why Trump says that California is 'out of control.' If he’s talking about the state’s finances, California is in a much stronger position than it was five years ago....If, however, Trump is saying California is out of control in regards to his go-to metric, crime, the state is very much in control. We need to step back from this, though, and recognize the broader context. Trump is mad about California because voters there overwhelmingly rejected Trump in November." And now he's threatening to withdraw federal funding if CA doesn't fall into line.
- Trump: the murder rate is at a 45-year high. Actual statistics: that’s not remotely true. It's a lie he keeps repeating.
- Building a Wall of Ignorance "Our government hasn’t always done the right thing. But it has kept its promises, to nations and individuals alike.Now all of that is in question. Everyone, from small nations who thought they were protected against Russian aggression, to Mexican entrepreneurs who thought they had guaranteed access to our markets, to Iraqi interpreters who thought their service with the U.S. meant an assurance of sanctuary, now has to wonder whether they’ll be treated like stiffed contractors at a Trump hotel.That’s a very big loss. And it’s probably irreversible."
- Trump 'shows true face of US,' says Iran's Supreme Leader This image, too - that the U.S. is morally corrupt and uncaring about human rights - could be irreversible.
- Beware Trump's Reichstag fire "Just to be clear, I'm not suggesting that President Trump is going to turn the United States into a genocidal dictatorship. But we should understand that eventually, there will be some kind of terrorist attack on U.S. soil — perhaps one that fails, or one that succeeds in killing a few Americans, or more than a few....And when the first one of Trump's presidency occurs, he will probably move quickly to take advantage of it. In fact, I'd be surprised if Stephen Bannon and Stephen Miller aren't already working on a plan for what to do when they get the chance."
- How to stop an autocracy "The danger isn’t that Trump will build an autocracy. It’s that congressional Republicans will let him."
- For Afghan Children, A Year Even More Brutal Than The Last "Nearly 11,500 civilians were killed and wounded in the country last year — including more than 3,500 children. It is an overall increase of 3 percent compared with 2015, which was the previous record-high since the U.N. began systematic documentation in 2009." While continuing conflicts account for most of those deaths, unexploded military ordnance is a huge issue - and "the vast majority — 86 percent — of people killed and injured by so-called unexploded ordnance were children."
- Syria's Secret Mass Executions "An investigation from Amnesty International details Assad's attempt to create a phony paper trail to cover up mass executions in Syria."
- Severe weather hits U.S. Gulf Coast; tornado reported in Louisiana Anxiously waiting to hear in from all my Louisiana krewe...
- The New Face of American Unemployment "Because of where the structurally unemployed live, what they’ve done, or the skills they lack, employers can’t or won’t hire them. The problems that keep today's jobless stuck on the sidelines are different than those of past recoveries: a complex web of often interrelated issues from disability and drug use to criminal records. Behind the statistics are people with 20 million unique stories. Here are five."
- Developing Children into Good People "If the aim of Character Education is to develop children into good people, then Professor Burkowitz suggests that we need to adopt more sociological and psychological strategies within Character Education in order to develop more holistically good people." What do you think?
- How Mass Incarceration Pushes Black Children Further Behind in School "A new study shows that the disproportionate imprisonment rates faced by people of color contribute to race-based inequalities in educational attainment." Related: Mass Incarceration, Visualized