Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The modern version of Cliff's Notes and condensed books

So while avoiding work and browsing on the internet, I saw an article entitled, “Read more using these apps…”
Oh, goody! Maybe one of the apps would offer a better way to discover new writers I’ll like. Because Amazon’s recommendations suck, and downloading/deleting stuff from KU can get discouraging after the ninth or tenth hopeless loser.

Well, no. The article might better have been entitled, “Feel virtuous while avoiding actually reading.” Then I wouldn’t have clicked, because (a) I have no desire to replace reading with potted book summaries, and (b) who the heck feels virtuous about reading, anyway? Like just about everybody I know, I consider reading a semi-guilty pleasure. As in, “Yeah, yeah, I know I promised to clean out the refrigerator today, but it’s really my duty as a writer to keep up with the current state of urban fantasy and I’ve just downloaded three new dragon fantasy novels.”

Sigh. Let’s face it, if anybody actually did design an app for people like me, it would be called something like “Get off your butt and clean the refrigerator!” and we’d never download it.

In the meantime, this article has been a mildly interesting window into the world of those for whom reading is a virtuous and not terribly attractive activity.

Of seven recommended apps, four are book summaries and three purport to teach speedreading techniques. While the speedreading courses leave me cold – what I really want is a slowreading course so I can make books I really enjoy last more than a day – the proffers of summaries taking anywhere from 3 to 12 minutes to read leave me mildly curious… and ambitious to try my own. What do you suppose a five-minute summary of Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire would contain? How about a one-paragraph precis of King Lear? The twelve-minute version of War and Peace?

By the way, the prices of these apps are even more impressive than their promises of instant literacy – in more than one way. Quoted list prices range from $100 to a whopping $1200… but they’re all “on sale” for at most 20% of list price, some at a mere 5 to 10%. One gets the feeling that not too many people are actually springing for canned book summaries and promises of increased reading speed. Certainly, even though I’m faintly embarrassed by the fact that I somehow managed to get a minor in German literature without actually reading The Sorrows of Young Werther, I’m not really tempted to pay one of these services to summarize it for me. I’ll settle for Thackeray’s version:

WERTHER had a love for Charlotte
Such as words could never utter;
Would you know how first he met her?
She was cutting bread and butter.

Charlotte was a married lady,
And a moral man was Werther,
And, for all the wealth of Indies,
Would do nothing for to hurt her.

So he sighed and pined and ogled,
And his passion boiled and bubbled,
Till he blew his silly brains out,
And no more was by it troubled.

Charlotte, having seen his body
Borne before her on a shutter,
Like a well-conducted person,
Went on cutting bread and butter.

Monday, February 3, 2020

But what about the madrassas?

Elizabeth Warren recently made a statement that, predictably, outrages much of the Right while much of the Left nods in agreement.

“States should focus on funding public schools, not private ones—especially not ones that maintain anti-LGBTQ+ policies. We must ensure every kid—especially LGBTQ+ kids—can get a high-quality public education.”

-Elizabeth Warren

Right-leaning columnists and writers are screaming that this would amount to religious discrimination against Christian schools. Left-leaning writers, on the other hand, are just fine with discrimination against Christian schools.

So… I read that there are ever more Islamic schools in this country. And, you know, Islam is not precisely gay-friendly. Some Christians believe that homosexual acts are sinful; but some Moslems believe that gays should be flogged, hanged, or maybe just tossed off high buildings. I mean, enough Moslems believe that to make such draconian punishments for homosexuality the law in every Moslem country I’ve checked on.

So I just wonder… what happens if somebody goes after not only Christian religious schools, but also Islamic ones, for discriminating against gays or teaching that homosexuality is wrong?

Will the Right still be upset about religious discrimination, or will it decide that in some cases it’s a great idea? Will the Left prioritize Islam over gay rights, and scream that madrassas must get those precious tax credits, or will they attempt to be consistent with prior statements?

Short answer is, of course, that it’s not going to happen, because nobody’s going to attack Islamic schools. In the Leftist victim hierarchy, Moslems > LGBTQWERTY > women (Christians don’t even make the list), so the present situation is just hunky-dory. And leaders on the Right are, so far, much more interested in defending Christian schools than in having a serious discussion about values in education.

But I do wonder what’ll happen if the question ever comes up.

(Image: andrew wales [CC BY (])
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
My Blogger TricksAll Blogger TricksLatest Tips and Tricks