29 September 2011

The paper burns, but the words fly away.

It's Banned Books Week ... you might be surprised by some of the titles on the 2010-2011 List of Challenged or Banned Books as reported by the American Library Association.

Even though I advocate for Banned Books Week every year, and post these lists every year, I'm always still surprised by some of the thoughts and ideas that people want to censor. Though I have to admit that it doesn't surprise me that the vast majority of these challenges come from parents.
"Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us." ~ Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas

As always, bear with me as I whip out my soapbox and make my annual open declaration in support of freedom of thought:

Look, I get it: I'm a parent. I want to protect my kids from all that "bad" stuff out there, too. And I agree, wholeheartedly, that it's perfectly acceptable - important and necessary, even - for parents to guide their children's content-intake.

You, as a parent, should absolutely be as aware as possible of what your child is reading, viewing or playing. And you have the right and responsibility to censor that content as you see fit FOR YOUR OWN CHILDREN.
Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

Please note my oh-so-subtle emphasis there. Attempting to remove a book or other material from the public domain is NOT a parental right - it is an act that infringes on the rights of others.

Even the best of motivations - to protect children from inappropriate content - has a hugely detrimental effect on one of our most fundamental rights: The freedom to think and to express those thoughts without censorship by the government.
"Congress Shall Make No Law Respecting an Establishment of Religion, or Prohibiting the Free Exercise Thereof; or Abridging the Freedom of Speech, or of the Press; or the Right of the People Peaceably to Assemble, and To Petition the Government for a Redress of Grievances."
~ First Amendment
 Even more than protecting my kids from the "dangerous" thoughts of people I don't agree with, I am personally and passionately compelled to protect that right for my kids.

Are there books that I personally wouldn't mind going away forever? Yeah, in theory. There are some pretty reprehensible thoughts out there.
"If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all." ~ Noam Chomsky

But I would - and do - still defend their right to exist. And, in my opinion, none of the books on this year's Challenged or Banned Books list or on the Frequently Banned Books list come even close to that level of "inappropriate content".

But, that's just the point. It's not my opinion that matters for you, nor your opinion that matters for me. You only get to decide for you.

So, here's the deal: You stay the hell away from my public library with your black marker and red pens, and I won't give you kid a gift-wrapped copy of the Harry Potter collection, and we'll all get along just fine, 'kay?
"The paper burns, but the words fly away." ~ Akiba ben Joseph
Enjoy your book,


Don't forget to check out the Banned Books Week Virtual Read Out on YouTube.

06 September 2011

Geek Girl meets NerdyShirts: A Love Story


Once upon a time, hearing that from my classmates made me cringe.

I was the girl in the twisty pig-tails with her nose stuck in a book while the other kids played on the jungle gym; the one who actually took pride in raising my hand in class and knowing the right answer. I was the girl who would really rather go home and play with my brother's Masters of the Universe and Star Wars action figures than go out and play Barbie or Cabbage Patch dolls with the girls down the block. And I was probably the only girl on that block who couldn't decide who she wanted to date more: Han Solo, Gambit or Starbuck. (What? I like the bad boys, so sue me. I totally had a thing for Wesley Crusher, too, if that helps.)

I learned pretty quickly that it wasn't "cool" to be a nerd - especially a nerd of the girl variety. So, I learned to be a little bit "in the closet" about my geek girl tendencies for most of my school years.

But in college - I learned to embrace my nerdiness. Partly because it was around that age that I started to realize that what random people think of me is nowhere near as important and what I think of me. And partly because I found, for the first time, friends who shared my interests.

Suddenly, it was okay to be smart. It was cool to quote scifi movies. It was fun to spend a Saturday in a Buffy marathon.

And it was finally okay for me to buy and wear the awesome "guy" tees that I secretly coveted as a little girl. (I cannot tell you how desperately unfair it was that only boys got to have superhero Underoos when I was a kid. I am still traumatized by the injustice of it all.)

Still, even then, I was buying "guy" shirts. They just didn't make "nerdy" tees for girls.

Today, it's a little easier to find geek girl gear than it once was (yay!), but it's still more of a man's world when it comes to nerdy apparel.

When I find a cool place to buy new and fun nerdy tees and accessories - AND when that place actually sells shirts made to fit over *gasp* boobs and not just skinny basement-dweller torsos and Comic Book Guy proportions - my previously oppressed inner geek girl gets pretty excited.

So when the nice folks at NerdyShirts asked me to check out their site and *ooooo* pick out a free t-shirt to try out ... well, I'm not gonna lie, Marge, I kind of *squeeed* a little. Then I got to shopping.

I have to admit, I spent a loooong time browsing around NerdyShirts. I had a really hard time picking out just one shirt to get my grubby little hands on to review for you, my awesome readers, who I love and would pimp myself out offer up my review services for.

First: My one little criticism ... the selection at NerdyShirts is not as broad as some other similar sites. BUT, the fact that they have a whole section of "girl" shirts that's almost as big as the "guy" section goes a long way for me.

The prices are really pretty good, too - most of their shirts are $14.99. That's better than a lot of other similar online shops by at $5-$10. But the lesser price doesn't mean lesser quality. Based on the shirt that I got (see awesome pic above) these are not cheap, thin, flimsy tees - it's got decent material and construction that should last as least as long as your average scifi tv series. (Kidding! It will totally outlast most of those.) ;)

I also really like that you can easily filter your search results by gender and size and theme - cuz, you know, sometimes you want an XL Star Wars shirt for your favorite geek guy and sometimes you're looking for a size small vintage comic book tee for your gal pal and sometimes you need a last minute birthday present for your medium-sized brother the recovering Nintendo-addict.

My verdict: Overall, NerdyShirts is a great site: Easy interface, quality products, good prices - and, my personal favorite - a great "girls" section. Oh, and apparently, these guys never read the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition, because, if you're not happy, they've got a great return/exchange policy, too.

True story: I've already picked out my brother's xmas present from NerdyShirts and I suspect Santa will be doing a bit more shopping there before the end of the year.

So: Geeks and Gamers and Nerds (Oh, my!): Check it NerdyShirts yourself and let me know what YOU think?

Let your geek flag fly,