One for the Loaded Questions Dept.: Do School Libraries Need Books?
My favorite line: "Books offer a place away from the inbox, where we can go to quiet our minds and reflect."
I'm a little dismayed at how much more difficult it becomes with every passing year to disconnect from all this stuff and just sit somewhere quietly with nothing but a book and our own mind for company. (Or another human being, for that matter.) The Kindle's got a wireless connection — bingo, instant distraction. Yes, you can turn it off, but that's not even the real point. I like the fact that a book is a thing in itself and nothing else, and you have to take it as it is and not change the channel, so to speak.
Something else that came to me as I was shoveling out the driveway: "How does extreme weather affect the public’s understanding or misunderstanding of global climate change?" The way I understand it — warming means more melting, which in turn means increased precipitation in parts of the world where you have such things. I wouldn't be surprised in the least if we uncover plenty of good evidence that putting all that vapor and CO² into the atmosphere makes things all the more violent.
And here's a bit of dismay about the "new global novel", which is inevitably going to be in English (since, so goes the thinking, if you're not published in English you aren't really published):
What seems doomed to disappear, or at least to risk neglect, is the kind of work that revels in the subtle nuances of its own language and literary culture, the sort of writing that can savage or celebrate the way this or that linguistic group really lives.
The comments go on to argue whether or not this is the case for genre fiction (Stieg Larsson's books come to mind) or truly ambitious literary work (Jorge Luis Borges).
If I recall correctly this is something that has been already bemoaned about modern Korean literature (I can't remember the reference, assume it's someone else's): much of modern Korean writing relies heavily on words ported in from English and other languages rather than Korea's own native pool of cultural references and linguistic choices. Not long ago I read Young-Ha Kim's I Have The Right To Destroy Myself, and while I was stuck reading a translation (!) of the original I could see how that might be considered a case study for just such capitulation.