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I think I feel a political post coming on.... [Jul. 12th, 2006|06:28 pm]
[mood |pissed offpissed off]

Today, as part of a number of errands, I spent some time perusing the political section of my nearby Borders. Mostly I read dust jackets and back covers, and used that to get a probable sense of the interior contents of the work in question. Given that and the other political events of the day, I think I'm going to start with some observations and then probably rant for a while.

To start, the thing about the political section these days that I noticed first is that the obviously partisan works, especially from the Right but also from the Left, are designed to capture attention: bright colors and big, impressive titles are the rule. The thing about this is that since everybody does it, it doesn't make any of them particularly stand out. It just make the section that much more of an eye full. Furthermore, it can become difficult to determine, at least for me, what seperates may of these works from one another. After all, how many books can give me the inside scoop on how the liberals are assaulting America's most precious values? Many books attest that they can show me how. Some of them might even have quotes from other conservatives praising the book on the back.

Second, the section isn't organized in any logical sense. Works from both sides stand next to each other, mixed in with other works that might actually be credible academic accounts of recent political events(these works are usually camoflagued between others, as they aren't really trying to sell themselves). How, then is a good partisan to seperate the good from the bad? Clearly something must be done.
More seriously, I don't like this because it places all work on an equal footing: the insane monologues of vapid media celebrities get as much or more space than serious works. I can only image how most people would perceive this presentation of politics: as the hysterical ranting of fools. If someone takes that picture to heart, well, the increasing indifference to the actions of their political superiors makes a bit more sense. Political dialogue has become something where opinion counts no matter how informed or supported it may be.

Other news today: Israel. They've certainly gone invasion crazy lately. First Gaza, now Lebanon. Gaza, while upsetting, didn't piss me off nearly as much as Lebanon. Why? Because Israel is blaming the Lebanese state for the kidnapping of a few soldiers and some rocket attacks, on the grounds that Hezbollah is responsible and that Hezbollah participates in the government.
Frankly, that's absurd. Even assuming that it was Hezbollah members, they probably didn't share their plans with the rest of the government, as many of those groups are rather more friendly towards Israel. And if they didn't do that, it seems unlikely that the government could have approved anything, as Hezbollah is rather excusively Shia, and the goverment is rather heavily not Shia (distortingly so, which only makes Hezbollah and other groups stronger because they get lots of angry young recruits).
So this isn't a police action(Israel says it isn't), this is an invasion of another state. For a few soldiers. Frankly, the Japanese did a better job setting up Mukden than this shit.
This is a great example of the kind of action that Israel MUST NOT take if they're ever serious about peace. And why the US, which has the job of holding Israel's leash, should never get itself into a position where it can't do shit about punishing Israel. Or maybe, someday, somebody else who will beat the dog until it learns will take the leash from us.

I lost my head of steam rather quickly. Sorry about that. I'll try to have more good content next time.

[User Picture]From: thegelf
2006-07-14 12:20 am (UTC)
Come up with a better organization scheme for the Politics section (what subsections, alphabetized by author/title within subsection, justification, etc), talk to the manager of the store, email it to me, and I'll talk to the managers at the store I used to work at. It might even go up the chain to Borders central and actually get implemented.

Or just submit the idea here: https://www.bordersstores.com/care/care.jsp?page=7

It's not gonna change unless you complain, and it's the chain of stores that sells the books that is responsible for the layout of the section.
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[User Picture]From: darkskywatcher
2006-07-14 07:51 am (UTC)
It's mostly just interesting. I don't actually think the heavily partisan materials should be seperated, as that would allow members of both sides to become isolated in their own ideological worlds.

The practical problem I have with seperating "partisan" from "academic" is that, of course, it can in some cases be very difficult to tell where a particular work may fall along that spectrum. And I certainly do not feel knowledgeable enough, let alone unbiased enough, to make those kinds of decisions.

My real problem is not with the shelves, but some of the things that wind up on them. And this isn't the fault of the bookstores: after all, it is in their business interest to sell the things that sell, and to a certain extent to make sure that there's enough shelf space to cover a myriad of topics.
Furthermore, I appreciate the existance of Borders and its ilk because it functions as an alternate library. Not only am I allowed to peruse the shelves for a good long while without buying anything, the store is in fact at least an extra story larger than my local branch library and yet only slightly farther away. Also, since I don't actually want to read many of the books I looked at, Borders gives me an easy way to get a sense of the literature generally(especially the newest literature), which is what I am more interested in.

Because the nature of that literature is the real problem here: people are being published, are selling lots of books, when they haven't got enough credibility to fill the soapbox they're standing on. And that's a problem that it is much more fundamental, and much more damning in the long run (at least, that seems to be the case currently: I can see a good defense of free speech possibly overruling that line of reasoning).
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[User Picture]From: thegelf
2006-07-14 05:26 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I see your point. And to a certain extent book store displays are dictated by the publisher. "You will display X copies of this book in prominent location Y, or we will cease doing business with you."
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