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1000 Black Lines

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Weekly reading

Serendipitous reading is like Greek salad with raspberry vinaigrette -- the contrast of flavors is exciting and startling at the same time. Thus, reading through scores of articles this week was an interesting adventure.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the following links and excerpts are not necessarily those of 1000 Black Lines, but sure makes for some stimulating reading.

The Return of Patriarchy by Phillip Longman
"Patriarchy does not simply mean that men rule. Indeed, it is a particular value system that not only requires men to marry ... it is a cultural regime that serves to keep birthrates high among the affluent, while also maximizing parents’ investments in their children. No advanced civilization has yet learned how to endure without it.

"Through a process of cultural evolution, societies that adopted this particular social system ... maximized their population and therefore their power, whereas those that didn’t were either overrun or absorbed. This cycle in human history may be obnoxious to the enlightened, but it is set to make a comeback.

"Even with a fertility rate near replacement level, the United States lacks the amount of people necessary to sustain an imperial role in the world, just as Britain lost its ability to do so after its birthrates collapsed in the early 20th century.

"Falling fertility is also responsible for many financial and economic problems that dominate today’s headlines."

The Failure of Feminism by Phyllis Chesler for The Chronicle Review
"Today feminists are seen as marginal also because of their obsessive focus on "personal" body rights and sexual issues. This is no crime, but it is simply not good enough. It may shock some to hear me say this, but we have other important things on our agenda.

Women can no longer afford to navel gaze ... not if they want to continue to struggle for woman's and humanity's global freedom. And women in America can no longer allow themselves to be rendered inactive, anti-activist, by outdated left and European views of colonial-era racism that are meant to trump and silence concerns about gender.

"The eerie silence both from feminists and film makers about van Gogh's assassination is deafening and disheartening. The same Hollywood loudmouths so quick to condemn and shame President Bush for having invaded Afghanistan and Iraq have, as of this writing, remained silent about the chilling effect that such an assassination in broad daylight can have on academic and artistic freedom."

The Framers and the Faithful by Steven Waldman for Washington Monthly
"Modern Christian conservatives ... point out—accurately—that neither the Constitution nor the Bill of Rights includes the phrase “separation of church and state.” And they argue that what the First Amendment intended to do was exactly what it says—and no more: prevent the “establishment” of an official state church ... religious conservative David Barton argues that the Founders simply did not support separation of church and state. ... he maintains, this was a Christian nation founded by Christian men who very much wanted the government to support religion. The contemporary intellectual battle over the role of religion in the public square will be determined in part on who can own the history.

It is ironic, then, that evangelicals—so focused on the “true” history—have neglected their own."

Here's a couple excerpts regarding poet Naomi Shihab Nye -- again serendipitously discovered.

Without empathy, what are we?
Naomi Shihab Nye interviewed by John Mark Eberhart for The Kansas City Star
"I think, as human beings, we’re always hungry for some sort of balance. Poetry helps us make connections and find meaning amidst the blur of sorrow and ugliness in daily news. It is astonishing to me how much violence exists and gets reported in today’s world … I can’t believe people are still participating in so much violence with gusto. I can’t believe governments are so stupid that they think violence works … Poetry helps us regain some sort of composure. Poetry helps us look, think, see."

From today's The Writer's Almanac
"The Rider"
by Naomi Shihab Nye

A boy told me
if he roller-skated fast enough
his loneliness couldn't catch up to him,

the best reason I ever heard
for trying to be a champion.

What I wonder tonight
pedaling hard down King William Street
is if it translates to bicycles.

A victory! To leave your loneliness
panting behind you on some street corner
while you float free into a cloud of sudden azaleas,
pink petals that have never felt loneliness,
no matter how slowly they fell.

Um, just another ingredient to the salad -- like maybe a walnut or something.

From The Writer's Almanac for Wednesday, March 22, 2006
"It's the birthday of novelist Louis L'Amour ... One of the hardest working and best-selling novelists ever, he wrote a hundred and one books in his lifetime.

"L'Amour ... started writing for pulp fiction magazines because he needed money and the pulp magazines paid him the fastest ... L'Amour's first big success was Hondo (1953), about a love triangle between a cowboy, an Apache warrior and a young widow living on a remote Arizona ranch. It begins, 'He rolled the cigarette in his lips, liking the taste of the tobacco, squinting his eyes against the sun glare.'

"L'Amour said, 'I write about hard-shelled men who built with nerve and hand that which the soft-bellied latecomers call the western myth.'"

Two books that I have on my shelf that I have not finished reading, but at least they made a top ten list.

Top 10 Verse Novels by Michael Symmons Roberts for Guardian Unlimited
"Fredy Neptune by Les Murray -- Australian poet Murray also took on 20th-century history, but with longer, eight line stanzas. Central to this book is the extraordinary image of a character (Fredy) so shocked by his inability to prevent a massacre that he loses his sense of touch.

"The Sugar Mile by Glyn Maxwell -- Maxwell is a virtuosic writer regularly drawn to the borders of poetry and fiction. The Sugar Mile interweaves two stories - one set in New York the weekend before 9/11, and one in London during the second world war - and does it in poems that stand up by themselves. His skills as a dramatist allow him to write convincingly in many voices."

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