I’m at home sick, reading the Helen Oxenbury illustrated version of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland because it’s Banned Books week. I’m not 100% sure if this is just a US based thing or a worldwide thing but I told Dylan Horrocks I would read it so I’m reading it. I’ve made it onto the second page where the “Rabbit actually took a watch out of its waistcoat-pocket and looked at it” but I’ve got some thoughts running around my head about censorship, surveillance, community, education, society, the fall of Troy, and Joseph K. They’re distracting. I was going to wrangle them into some sort of proper thing but y’know, sick, and I can’t seem to form sentences properly, so I’m going to do a linky thing instead.
In no particular order…
- Orwell and the Librarian, a Love Story by Alex Brown. It’s US based so YMMV re the legalities. “The library is a free, public space, which means it’s my job as a librarian to make sure you have the ability to exercise that freedom. I may not like your opinions, but you have the right to express them. It’s my job to not judge you and to make sure you have access to all materials you may need, unless they’re detrimental to the public as a whole. A public library is funded by your taxpayer dollars, so it’s our imperative to use that money responsibly and fairly. This sounds like a slippery slope situation, and sometimes it is. But most of the time, it’s a system that works relatively well. For a lot of people, particularly kids and teens, the library is the only place they can go where they have access to the things they’re interested in without judgment or mockery.” (My emphasis there because I love it so much.)
- Sometimes collection development isn’t easy CatyJ writes about how she made a decision not to purchase a book. (Luckily not every book has to go through this process otherwise buying stuff would take forever.)
- David Herkt’s vivid description of Parnell punk 78-79 Juxtaposes “Music from the punk heartland of the UK was hard to get, New Zealand’s precious remaining overseas currency reserves were guarded ruthlessly. Getting a postal order to send away to a company that advertised in the back-pages of a three-month-old copy of NME was a major bureaucratic mission. Forms had to be filled in. Larger postal orders required government approval. Like petrol, new records were rationed.” with “…they definitely were overdose years. The potency of the heroin and the fine line between “good time” and “death” meant experimentation could be tricky. Mouth-to-mouth was necessary knowledge.“
- Border control and censorship by Matt Finch. “It’s as if the business of policing material and cultural boundaries were interchangeable in the eyes of the Kiwi state.“
- In the UK, former home secretary David Blunkett talks about why he backs a plan for “UK service providers to impose “default” filters to block pornography.” From an earlier law “But he admitted to early “hiccups” with the controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, which was initially abused by local authorities to spy on householders. When asked why things had gone wrong, he said: “Because we are human and we are frail and when we pass something we can not guarantee that other people won’t misuse it.“” (My emphasis again.)
- The tricks of being online in Cuba, “where home Internet is banned for all but a trusted few Party officials, and public access such as in hotels is prohibitively expensive“
- Transcript of Seeby Woodhouse’s speech at the Stop the GCSB meeting in Auckland, August 2013, followed by the news that “since he spoke out against the Government’s GCSB legislation he was stopped entering America and questioned about his business and shockingly he was pulled aside and questioned by NZ officials when re-entering NZ.” Information that interests me here the connection between the GCSB and the Telecommunications Intercepts bills.
- One of my favourite writers, Giovanni Tiso, on Michael Clarke, surveillance, and the emperor penguin that washed ashore at Pekapeka. (And a bunch of other things.) “The case of Michael Clarke is a refutation that society works as a Panopticon, keeping a constant and watchful eye on its subjects: all that it took for this lonely retiree to move into the shadows was a sufficient flow of funds and effective banking arrangements. Based on the evidence that he continued to be an economic subject, the system simply assumed that he was also a living one (I leave the biopolitical implications to those who care to pursue them). With Happy Feet, the reverse has happened: since his GPS transmitter stopped sending signals, it was quickly speculated that the penguin must have died a gruesome death, however unlikely that eventuality might in fact be. So of Michael Clarke we said we can’t see him, therefore he must be alive; whereas of Happy Feet we say we can’t see it, therefore it’s probably dead. And of course it very much matters that we wish to look at one and not the other. Surveillance is also a spectacle onto which desire and pleasure are projected.” (Update on the penguin: Happy Feet the Penguin has been found. Excitement at Caroline Bay palpable.)
Okay, I’m going back to the Rabbit now.