Controversial Subject Matter

A group of concerned parents voiced their objections to  literature selected for a tenth grade advanced placement English class.  The books on the mandatory reading list are suspended pending review, but available in the school library. The selections aren’t in the same vein as “Fifty Shades of junk Gray”, but some of the titles  address homosexuality, sex, America’s working poor and other controversial subject matter.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict there will be a run on these suspended titles, the likes of which the school librarian has never experienced.
Kids being kids will check out the books, read the titillating portions and miss the big picture. How do I know this? In the land before time, we did not have Google, but we did have the encyclopedia Britannica. Armed with the encyclopedia and a dictionary we came up with ballpark information that formed the basis for uninformed opinions.

These students will miss the opportunity to learn about literature under the guidance of a professional. Classroom literature creates an opportunity to learn and discuss sociology, history and politics in a structured academic setting. I wonder how many of the parents who object to the reading list create an opportunity to do this at home?

These same students are old enough to drive themselves to concerts, some of which include sexually suggestive performances. A trip down the information superhighway powered by Google, can render knowledge about subjects that are barely legal, even in Holland. Television programming leaves little to the imagination and depicts all kinds of sex.

Even the Animal Planet features what some would consider controversial subject matter; http://www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/monsters-inside-me/videos/bedbugs-food-and-sex.htm

I offer impeccable credentials based on first hand experience when I state Kids will always find a way to uncover  banned subject matter. I was a teenager when  Etta James  “Roll With Me Henry” hit the airwaves. The local radio station banned it. Being extremely resourceful (i.e. smart alecs) my friends and I stayed up til midnight  to listen to the one radio station in Del Rio, Texas that would play it. The song was about dancing, nothing raunchy. The commercials featuring the sale of items best unmentioned, along with autographed photos of Jesus were beyond raunchy.

The unintended consequence of banning often results in information we really don’t need to know.

Self Help

Today most  women’s magazines feature a self help section. A recent one that caught my eye was how to handle annoying people. These solutions came off as too much saccharine and not enough substance.

For efficiency the expert categorized each annoyance according to the degree of irritation and methods for dealing with each:

Inadvertent Irritators – People who have issues that aren’t their fault; snore, hiccups and gurgles.

Solution: Picture the irritation passing through you.

Insensitive Irritators – People who don’t or won’t pick up on social cues i.e. ask embarrassing questions.

Solution: Mentally flee the scene

Inexcusable Irritators – People who are over the top rude. Tell racists jokes etc.

Solution: Retrain them like Pavlov’s dogs i.e. Smile when they behave, display no facial expression when they don’t.

Those are excellent suggestions for people who have to have a “cause” in their life and have tons of time. Personally I found them lacking from a practical standpoint. Speaking as one who acknowledges she is annoying and somewhat flawed; I have no qualms about offering my fast and easy solutions.

I renamed the irritations into simpler terms that leave no doubt as to their category:

Dumb ass – People who have issues that aren’t their fault; snore, hiccups and gurgles.

 This is the same expert who writes about self esteem, so why would I permit someone’s snores, hiccups and gurgles to pass through me? It’s their issue, let them absorb the fall out. Picture the irritating habit passing through them. Failing that, suggest they remain at home until they figure out a solution for their issue.

Smart ass – People who don’t or won’t pick up on social cues

They do it on purpose and always at an alcohol free occasion where you have no means of self medicating into a stupefying haze. Excuse yourself to go to the powder room and make a run for it.

Jackass – People who are over the top rude. Tell racists jokes etc

This goes beyond annoyance. Why make an effort to control your horror when someone tells a racist joke? If you do or say nothing, they’ll think you’re dense and come up with something worse. Find a dumb ass and introduce the two.

If self help isn’t simple, it isn’t much help is it?

Mid Life Crisis

Some self appointed guru came up with a list of mid life crisis symptoms. “Crisis” as defined by Wikipedia is any event that is an unstable or dangerous situation affecting an individual, group, community, or whole society. The “expert” elected to use that limited definition of crisis to generate a list of symptoms of mid life crisis.

I believe the entire concept of a mid life crisis is junk science – pure bunk. To make matters worse, he left readers in the lurch when he failed to provide solutions for dealing with these symptoms.

After pondering the list of symptoms I have provided solutions, some a bit unorthodox, but hello, this is supposed to be a crisis.

  1. Looking into the mirror and you no longer recognize yourself. If the image is sporting a unibrow it’s time to hit the spa.
  2. Desiring to quit a good job.  “Job” is another word for “chore. I’ve never had a chore I wouldn’t ditch in a heartbeat.
  3. Unexplained bouts of depression when doing tasks that used to make you happy. Ditch the ladies book club and go to a sleazy bar.
  4. Changing or investigating new religions, churches or new age philosophy. Why not;
    Richard Gere did and he’s still hot.
  5. It feels good to get hurt. Get thee to a shrink fast and put him on speed dial.
  6. Wanting to run away from everything. Running away does not have to include a Thelma and Louise ending.
  7. Irritability or unexpected anger. It’s better to be pissed off than pissed on.
  8. Exploring new musical tastes. Really, that’s an indication of crisis?
  9. Sudden desire to learn how to play an instrument. Unless it is an accordion or tuba why not?
  10. Extreme changes to what you eat. Who says ice cream for breakfast is bad?
  11. Excessively buying new clothes and taking more time to look good.  As the sands of time shift, looking good requires more time.
  12. Hair changes. If hair changes indicate a symptom, women have been in crisis since leaving the womb.
  13. Leaving (Mentally or physically) family or feeling trapped in current family relationships. My no fail three step solutions; lie, don’t answer the door, ignore the phone.
  14. Doing things that get you into trouble when it surprises everyone as being out of character. Unless the trouble making activity is felonious, go for it. Surprising everyone by doing something out of character is fun. Besides we are the only ones who get to define our character.