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Must post. Rant meme. - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Must post. Rant meme.
Want me to rant or rave about anything in particular?
108 comments or Leave a comment
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sabrinanymph From: sabrinanymph Date: July 7th, 2006 03:16 am (UTC) (Link)
Reality TV.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 7th, 2006 03:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Pfft. It strikes me as a way to avoid paying writers, and denigrate the importance of artistic skill in producing entertainment. Each show can be popular for a little while, but the fan base doesn't exactly stick with it--we're not going to see Simple Life fan conventions in twenty years. God willing.

This doesn't apply so much to contest shows like AI, which are shows based at least in part on competiting on artistic merits. Those are regular game shows. But did we really need to watch Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey bouncing around like newlyweds until they got divorced? Can't we keep that in the tabloids where it belongs?
leeflower From: leeflower Date: July 7th, 2006 03:22 am (UTC) (Link)
ignorance of/indifference to American history.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 7th, 2006 03:44 am (UTC) (Link)
Does a rant need to be longer than AAAAAAARGH!!!!!?

Ignorance of and disinterest in history in general drives me up the wall--we didn't just randomly appear here, you know; we actually came from somewhere--but Americans who pay no attention whatsoever to American history have a special place in my frustrated heart. It's not that long of a history, for crying out loud! You're not memorizing stuff back to the beginning of recorded history. I get not knowing the names of everyone who died in the Vicksburg campaign, but not knowing that the Revolution happened before the Civil War is just... totally illogical, among other things.

And also, know some world history and get the context. I can't say how often I've had to point out that there have been other countries in which people have owned slaves. And no, I'm not kidding. When someone said she was doing a report on slavery and I asked what aspect and where, she looked at me like I'd turned green when I asked if she meant slavery in the U.S. Because, you know, only we could be so terrible evil.

History, art, poetry...

For God's sake. Engage your brains!
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scarah2 From: scarah2 Date: July 7th, 2006 03:23 am (UTC) (Link)
Remus/Tonks: not that it happened but the way it happened.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 7th, 2006 03:51 am (UTC) (Link)
I think I would have liked it better if JKR hadn't decided to make it a mystery, and just said outright that they were dating and Tonks was worried. The red herring didn't really work, and it seems to have annoyed a lot of people, thereby frustrating me beyond belief every time the subject comes up.

On the other hand, since she did decide to do it as a mystery, I can't think of another way she could have handled it without losing track of the Harry-cam, since it was so personal and they were so peripheral. It needed big symptoms from both of them and an awkward revelation at the end. (I actually found that one less awkward than the post-battle narration of everything that happened while Harry wasn't there; at least the R/T revelation made sense in context. Carrying on a coherent action narrative while still grieving and waiting to find out whether or not Bill would be a werewolf is way beyond most people. But then again, that's the limitation of the Harry-cam.)

I don't at all mind the depression on Tonks's part or the childishness on Remus's. Remus is old beyond his years in some ways, but he's been relation-ship-less for most of his life... it's reasonable that he'd go overboard with thinking himself unworthy. And Tonks is a Black--her depression is pretty mild compared to Sirius's in the year before, but it's still in the continuum. And it's clear that they both need each other; they're miserable separated. I don't have issues with that. And hey, it supports my Hufflepuff theory for Tonks... people who need people. ;p

But yeah... there was awkwardness in the revelation, but mostly, I was fairly satisfied with it.
riah_chan From: riah_chan Date: July 7th, 2006 03:23 am (UTC) (Link)
Coke vs. Pepsi. Or soft drinks in general.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 7th, 2006 03:56 am (UTC) (Link)
I drink Diet Coke at work and Diet Pepsi at home. There is no reason whatsoever for this difference. I honestly like the diet stuff better than the non-diet... it's less heavy without all that corn syrup. On the two companies... I don't have an opinion, though I tend toward Pepsi when it comes up because Coke fans are so, um... passionate. It's kind of like Matrix fans. I thought the first movie was all right, but the whole "This is what Star Wars should have been!" made me stay away from the others. I had a friend in high school who wore Coke clothes, had a Coke clock, and so on... so I drank Pepsi.

I'm hopelessly addicted to carbonation, though. It's very annoying. Water tastes flat.
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fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 7th, 2006 04:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Mine started on Canada, and they are not, as far as I know, Canadian.

Honestly, where I am now, the neighbors aren't bad, but where I grew up, the lady across the street used to sit on her front porch with binoculars and spy on everyone in the neighborhood. And the guy next door used to like to stand in the window naked, hoping for a breeze. And on the other side, the guy had a ham radio that interfered with everyone's TV reception.

Neighbors need to remember that other people, by definition, live nearby!
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darkthirty From: darkthirty Date: July 7th, 2006 03:35 am (UTC) (Link)
professional sports?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 7th, 2006 04:07 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm from Buffalo, man. My mom's friend describes it as "a drinking town with a sports problem."

Honestly, I don't follow sports with anything like enthusiasm, and mostly they just annoy me when they interfere with my schedule. But when the local team is doing great--when the Bills are in the Superbowl, or the Patriots win it, or the Sox win the Series... man, that's a great feeling. It's stupid and I can't explain it, but there's just neat, heraldic pride in the thing.

That said, I wish that there was some inspiration for athletes to be loyal to their teams. I can't say that I personally see any reason for Pedro to be loyal to Boston--they paid him, then the Mets offered to pay him more--but it would be nice if there was some kind of reward for loyalty, and some sense that the guys really are hometown guys who are invested in the cities that they play for, instead of seeking out the cities that pay them best.
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kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: July 7th, 2006 03:41 am (UTC) (Link)
Is there truly a list of 100 (or 50, or 30, or 10) pieces of literature one should read before dying? What's the point of this kind of list?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 7th, 2006 04:15 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't know if there's a specific list, but I do think that at some point, people should be familiar with the major figures of their literary history. Anglophones who have never seen Shakespeare performed just confuse me, especially if they live in cities where it can be seen for free. Americans should certainly all know Huck Finn. And if you live anywhere in the western world, you should have a pretty good idea of what's in Homer and the Bible (both Hebrew and Christian scriptures), if for no other reason than that they inform nearly everything significant that came after.

But there are too many books and too many traditions to say that one list is right for everyone. Generally, I'd have to say that if you're reading a particular sort of fiction, the best thing to do is look at the things that lead up to it. Track things around. It's just a sense of getting things into historical context.
ella_menno From: ella_menno Date: July 7th, 2006 03:57 am (UTC) (Link)
From your user info:

Let's see... I'm a Jew (a convert, and don't get me started on the term "Jew by choice"--grrr)

Could you elaborate on the grr-ness of this term?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 7th, 2006 04:21 am (UTC) (Link)
I think the term bothers me less than the reasoning I was given for it: "Saying 'convert' implies that you think it's a better religion, and we don't want to give that impression..." Well, er... yeah. That's why I converted. It's better for me. And it shows a deep misunderstanding of the Christians around them as well. "Convert" is not a loaded term to them.

My other issue is the notion that we live in America in the 21st century. Anyone practicing any religion is doing so "by choice," whether born to that religion or not. It implies that all of those other practicing Jews, if only they had some choice, would surely not be practicing.

Also, it's just clunky. My language-brain hears silly, made-up phrases like that where one perfectly good existing word will do and just...cringes.
a_t_rain From: a_t_rain Date: July 7th, 2006 04:02 am (UTC) (Link)
The fine art of writing assignments (for research papers and whatnot). Am quite curious to hear a librarian's perspective on this.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 7th, 2006 04:34 am (UTC) (Link)
Number one with a bullet: To quite the venerable Mr. Twain, use the right word, not its second cousin. Don't say, "Find a book about..."; say "Find information about ____ in a book." Because the student has no idea what's in the library, and no idea what the teacher means, and will utterly freak out when he or she finds out that no, we do not have a whole book about the viscosity of shampoo. And tell them why a particular sort of source is what they need. I can do that, but because I'm not the one doing the grading, my advice doesn't carry much weight.

Second, make sure the student knows what you mean. "Read something with better diction" may mean something specific to you, but your student most likely has no clue. And while there are some words I can translate back from the teacher-language, I can't always guess. I may have an entirely different idea of what the word means.

Third, give them an idea of what you want them to get out of an assignment... or at least drop a line to the librarians so that we know. These vague assignments like "Oh, read a biography" or "Read something from an African American author" are overwhelming because of the number of choices they present without any guidance about what the educational value is supposed to be.
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chickadilly From: chickadilly Date: July 7th, 2006 04:28 am (UTC) (Link)

I have been eaten alive and am just too tired to rant.

Evil, nasty things!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 7th, 2006 04:35 am (UTC) (Link)
Evil, nasty things sums it up. Miserable little flying vampires.

I'm allergic to the little buggers, and bites swell up into inch-and-a-half wide welts, raised about a quarter of an inch. When I broke my ankle, I had several of these bites on my shin, and the doctors wanted to know how badly I'd hurt the rest of the leg to get those bruises! They were a bit skeptical when I said they were just mosquito bites.
purple_ladybug1 From: purple_ladybug1 Date: July 7th, 2006 04:36 am (UTC) (Link)
No thanks, although I'll enjoy reading your responses to others.

My mom told me about this site, lulu.com, which is a self-publishing site. I haven't read any of your original stuff, only your fanfic, but you're so talented, I thought you might be interested in this.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 7th, 2006 04:40 am (UTC) (Link)
Self-publishing my fanfic is enough self-publishing for me. Anything I can't get through at least one editor is not worthy of being published.
From: le_parapluie Date: July 7th, 2006 04:58 am (UTC) (Link)

Or...the decline of well-made animated movies? (*sad face*)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 7th, 2006 11:03 am (UTC) (Link)

Just... stop. We have better technology now, and better designs. Cities can co-exist with trees, and suburbia can co-exist with trees. Agricultural areas, granted, have to have large areas of non-forested land, but better farming techniques mean that even these can be somewhat smaller... and besides, at least here, there is plenty of land without forest in the first place.

Forests are part of the ecosystem. They provide oxygen and biodiversity. They serve a purpose. But I don't care about that. They are pretty and they smell good, and for those reasons alone, they deserve some protection.
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From: (Anonymous) Date: July 7th, 2006 06:29 am (UTC) (Link)
US relationship with the UN
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 7th, 2006 11:07 am (UTC) (Link)
I think the U.N. has proven itself useless and corrupt, and it's time to start a new organization with some actual constitutional requirements for member states. The U.N. has a habit of blaming everything it can on the U.S. and Israel, and is totally ineffectual at enforcing its own rules.

That said, if we are going to remain members and try to change the organization from the inside, we should pay our dues. If we aren't going to pay our dues, we should probably send them packing to find headquarters in some other country and just start over.
gehayi From: gehayi Date: July 7th, 2006 08:25 am (UTC) (Link)
Education in America. I haven't heard a good edurant from you in a LONG time.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 7th, 2006 11:25 am (UTC) (Link)
Ah, so many possible rants, so few characters allowed in a reply post...

So, the short forms of some of them:
  • Community service requirements. Community service is a beautiful and meaningful thing... when done voluntarily. When it's forced, there are ethical issues about forced labor anyway, but more to the point, why is it that kids have time to be forced to do community service, but are strapped for time necessary to master things like, oh, history and grammar. You know, academic subjects, which seem to the last thing in the world schools are worried about these days.
  • Summer reading assignments. Reading is good. Reading in the summer is good. Forcing students to spend their summer vacations reading miserably depressing books that just annoy them is an idiotic strategy for encouraging reading as a lifelong habit. Here's a summer reading assignment I could get behind: Go out and find five books that bliss you out, and when you come back, tell everyone why they're so awesome.
  • "I don't want to teach to the test, but the state is forcing me!" Yeah. That's because kids were graduating without knowing how to add two and two and believing that the Civil War took place in the 1950s. And don't plead money issues. None of that crap is a money issue. That's purely a lesson plan issue. Most of the textbooks manage to have information in them, even when they present it poorly, so you can't say, "Oh, we can't do this unless we're given all new materials." If you're stuck with a bad textbook, you may have to--:shuddergasp:--teach beyond it based on your own studies, but you know... sacrifices sometimes need to be made. And these are very basic requirements. Start with the assumption that the kids will do better on the tests than they do in your class, and be tough. Um... that's a full length rant of its own.
  • Schools are not the only institution in a child's life. I know, it's practically blasphemous to bring up the idea that just because something is important in the world doesn't mean it's something that should be taught in schools. After all, there are many important causes out there. Isn't it more important that people learn sharing and cooperation than algebra?

    Why in the world are they in competition? And why would schools be checking in on the moral side of the equation instead of the academic one? Schools are there to make sure people have skills they're not getting elsewhere and to master bodies of academic achievement. There are other institutions--the family, the church/synagogue/mosque/etc, the community center, volunteering clubs--where lessons like sharing and cooperation can be taught. Schools may have in loco parentis for emergencies, like kids breaking their legs in gym class, but schools are not, in fact, parents, and should stop doing parents' jobs for them. It's not their business, and the fact that some parents are lazy doesn't justify schools wasting their time covering for them. Put it back in the parents' laps, man. If there absolutely has to be some intervention, then turn it over to social services. But we have not got the academics so well mastered that we can turn our academic institutions into social services.
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: July 7th, 2006 11:34 am (UTC) (Link)
Drastic links between Darth Vader and Lord Voldemort. To the point where Harry is ZOMG SO VOLDIE'S SON and Lily and Voldemort were in love.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 7th, 2006 01:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, dear God. I love SW and I love HP, and there are some thematic similarities, but they are not the same story, anymore than HP is the same story as Titanic! If it's SW you love, then write goddamned SW fanfic. There are plenty of homes for it, and even a sizeable shared fan base who will know you from one fandom and read you in the other.

The fact that the big revelation about Luke and Vader was that they were father and son does not mean that this is always going to be the case. There is not always, or even usually, a question about who someone's parents are, and knowing that James is, in fact, Harry's father does not qualify as a spoiler. It's not even a matter that's up for question. (I've seen it with Snape/Lily more than Voldemort/Lily--Snape is more like Vader; Voldie more like the Emperor in terms of function.) There is not always going to be a mystery, and even where there is, it's likely to be about something else... say, a prophecy, or why Voldemort chose Harry over Neville, or whatnot. Not everything boils down to some weird romantic entanglement. People do occasionally have other things to do in their lives.
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