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Ban This

There is a popular article by Danah Boyd about book bans and their relationship to screen usage making the rounds across the interwebs. The problem with the article is that it plays loose with the facts. Alan Jacobs points this out in a blog post about the piece and the fury over “book bans.”

danah boyd: “Over the last two years, I’ve been intentionally purchasing and reading books that are banned.” The problem here is that none, literally not one, of the books on the list boyd links to have been banned. Neither have they been “censored,” which is what the article linked to says. That’s why boyd can buy and read them: because they’ve been neither banned nor censored.

I posted about this last week. This is more than just being pedantic. It may be my cynicism, but it seems to me that the media is hyping these “book bans” as a big issue is to stir up outrage in order to gin up subscriptions. This is a textbook example of post-journalism. It’s also part of a practice that is becoming more and more common: making your neighbors out to be hate-mongers and fascists by amping up the language you use when you disagree about something.

But thanks to people who want to smear their RCOs, it is now common to use precisely the same words to describe (a) what the nation of Iran did to Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses and (b) a polite letter from a parent to a school librarian asking that books that offer anatomically detailed descriptions of sexual practices not be readily available to third graders. Of course, many concerned parents are not polite, but polite letters on this topic still count, for the ALA, as a “challenge,” and the organization defines a challenge as an attempt at censorship or banning.

At best, the language is imprecise. At worst, it’s deliberately misleading in order to stir up dissension. It reminds me to paraphrase something else that Professor Jacobs has stated in the past: beware of publications that benefit when we hate each other.

High Demand Religions

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about this post that I came across on Mastodon.

People who belong to a 'high-demand' religion perceive themselves as righteous, i.e. being the only ones "doing it right." They walk around with a heightened sense of superiority, which is toxic and harmful to their families and others around them.

I can totally see the author’s perspective in that I can imagine this as a potential outcome of following the guidelines of Orthodox Christianity. On the other hand, it doesn’t ring true for any of the Orthodox Christians that I know. The Orthodox Christians I know are some of the most humble people I have met. Humility, it seems to me, flows naturally from regular confession and repentance. is, without a doubt, the buggiest app I haven’t totally sworn off of in a fit of rage. If the service wasn’t so good and there were credible alternatives…

The first casualty of the upgrade to Sonoma seems to be Obsidian, which won’t load.

I totally nerd out on things like this comprehensive home office tour. Love the detail.


I’ve written recently about the benefits of physical copies of music, but one thing I love about streaming is that you can find almost all releases on the major platforms. It’s frustrating when a band has been on different labels, and only some of their stuff is available via Bandcamp or on wax, etc.

Just started reading Dominion by Tom Holland 📚. I’m fascinated by the idea that so many concepts we take for granted regarding human rights originated with Christianity and, ultimately, Christ Himself.

As my son searches for a good reverb pedal to make shoegaze sounds, I came across this interesting tidbit from an article on the Guitar Center site.

We should note that perhaps the very first example of dream pop and shoegaze was not realized by psychedelic rebels, disciples of radical British producer Joe Meek or early experimental-music nerds. Nope. Chalk up that accomplishment to The Beach Boys. Their 1970 song “All I Wanna Do”—written by Brian Wilson (who was massively influenced and inspired by Spector’s Wall of Sound) and Mike Love—presented lots of instrumental and vocal layering, delay and reverb that definitely predicted the architecture of shoegaze. Unfortunately, Wilson felt the song was “boring,” and it was never added to the band’s concert setlist until 2015. Had The Beach Boys heavily promoted the song and style, we might be adjusting the history of shoegaze to 1970s California, instead of 1980s Great Britain.

The song definitely has a dream pop feel, though I don’t feel like it goes full shoegaze, which I associate with more guitar effects and quite a bit of distortion.

As far as the greatness of the Beach Boys goes, we hold these truths to be self-evident.

These days, when a book is removed from a curriculum, it’s so much more exciting and inflammatory to say that it has been “banned,” even if that’s not at all an accurate way of describing the situation. Creating a book reading curriculum is by nature a discretionary act.

No War For Heavy Metal (Outcore)

This article about the lifecycle of tricks in skateboarding really brought back memories for me. It heavily references the early nineties, the period I was most active in skateboarding. As noted in the piece, it was a time of big pants and small wheels. Lucas Wiesenthal, who wrote the piece, focuses on a few particular tricks, one of which is the pressure flip. Wiesenthal relates how quickly tricks came into vogue and how, just as quickly, they went out. I distinctly remember the cycle of the pressure flip (and occasionally, I still think about it).

Photo by Simon_44 via flickr

Pressure flips initially seemed really cool and exotic. I loved technical flat-ground tricks and was never really into the Evel Knievel-style big scary stunts. Once everyone was doing the trick, though, I was glad to see its departure from the scene.1 Back then, once a trick was “out,” it was verboten to do it, unless you were having a larf. To do tricks that were no longer fashionable was to risk serious scorn.

And that’s basically what skateboarding was like in the early ’90s. Doing a trick that was a month past its expiry date could get you vibed out of a spot, and the self-worth of teenage skaters worldwide hinged on how closely they could emulate a group of slightly older teenage skaters from San Francisco.

Reading the article, all of this easily comes back to mind in vivid detail. I used to ask my friends who would go into D.C. to skate at Pulaski Park, which was featured in New Deal videos, what tricks were popular with that crowd. I even recognize the pressure flip trick guide from Thrasher that was linked to from the piece.2

I wasn’t as active in skateboarding later on in the decade, but I started to notice a shift that has recently become more complete. You can now basically do any trick and no one is going to hassle you. It all comes down to personal style and expression.

“Aside from maybe a street plant or something, if you do it right, I don’t think there’s really much limitation on it,” says Ellington. “It’s who’s doing it, and they’re doing it in a certain way, and they’ve got speed and they’re flowing. I couldn’t write off anything. You could kind of do anything and get away with it.”

I love this change in skateboarding. That — and the fact that I have a skatepark nearby — makes me wish I were still active in the sport today.3

via Clive Thompson

The aforementioned article got me curious enough to checkout Braille Skateboards, which makes inexpensive skateboards, offers lessons and encourages people to skate regardless of age, color, body shape or size.

  1. I could only flip the board halfway, which probably partially accounts for my glee when they became passé. ↩︎

  2. I also recognize the ad for Bad Religion’s Generator album, which I bought for Greg Graffin’s now embarrassingly emotional take on the first Gulf War, “Heaven Is Falling.” ↩︎

  3. My advancing age and increasingly fragile body keep that wish from becoming a reality. ↩︎

Superfuzz Bigmuff: Deluxe Edition by Mudhoney

Superfuzz Bigmuff: Deluxe Edition by Mudhoney

One thing that is good about having sold a number of well-loved CDs decades ago is that I can buy them again in deluxe versions without any guilt. Superfuzz Bigmuff is such a seminal album that is the defining work for the grunge genre. When I sold it, I gave away a dictionary definition of what the term originally meant. Its lesson wasn't forgotten, though.

"If I Think" has what I think has to be my favorite dynamic shift on any song. When Mark Arm sings, "I open my eyes..." it sets in motion an intense chorus that drives home a message of no regrets. "In 'n' Out of Grace," for all of its pseudo-blasphemy, marks that transition that probably most of us feel at some times between being nice and being naughty. "Touch Me I'm Sick" needs no introduction or comment, but still always reminds me of the band Citizen Dick from the movie Singles and their song "Touch Me I'm Dick."

Sometimes I feel like these deluxe reissues with the bonus discs of live material are nothing but a cash grab, but in the case of this artifact, the live songs are well worth the price of admission. The live version of "If I Think," for example, loses nothing of the ferocity of the studio take.

This is an album (technically a compilation) that, while it set the template for grunge, also transcends the style. If you need one fuzzed out, dirty garage rock album in your collection...

Owning Your Music

Denise Lu prefers buying digital music to renting it through a streaming music service.

I don’t need the entirety of recorded music at my fingertips. I just need the few curated albums that I cared enough about to collect. Having my own library means I can distinctly remember the context of every find, and that makes my intimacy with the songs I care about — the ones I can mentally fill in when one earbud falls out as I’m tying my shoes — feel especially rich.

One thing I’ve noticed about music I own is that I tend to give to give it more attention. This is especially true if I have it on CD, in which case I’m much more likely to listen to the whole album in a sitting. When I’m using a streaming music service that puts the world of music at my fingertips, I tend to be more distracted and less focused. I just don’t have the same kind of patience.

Made with in North Carolina
© Canned Dragons