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Books and Birthdays
buzzed, B&W
hairylunch
So, tonight I went to a book discussion group that was discussing Rand's Fountainhead. I really like Rand - perhaps not as much as when I first read Atlas back when I was in high school, but still, her romantic ideal still appeals to me. On the other hand, the discussion group tonight was painful. There were people who just totally misread the book and didn't get any of the scenes. Like I was telling Carolyn, I felt that a lot of people came in having read the book, but not having processed it, almost wanting the discussion group to help them form their opinions. Ironically, this is one of the ideas that Rand strongly criticizes in her book, with Keating being the epitome of this idea - of the "second-handers" who can't form their opinion, but instead merely parrot ideas they hear. (This reminds me - Matt's loaned me a video since we were discussing Objectivism once at the bar, but I still haven't watched it. *sigh*)

Anyway, today was also my b-day. As I told several people who asked if I was celebrating, it's a non-event, but I do appreciate all the happy birthdays I received from folks - the text from my brother, my old roomie and his girlfriend, Dan (I'm assuming that's why you called - sorry I didn't get a chance to call you back), Justin, and all the local Helena folks. Kelly even baked me a cake!

On a related note, today is when I start my 40 days and 40 nights challenge. I did this a little over a year ago (and I don't think it made a significant difference in my life, unlike in the movie). This year I'm adding the challenge that I'm also going to abstain from alcohol. Kelly doesn't think I'll make it. When my brother was here to snowboard, we talked about this - he was thinking people should bet on it. It wasn't clear whether it should be an over/under, or a specific day. In any case, I think it should be doable, and since I think I'm going to start training for a 10k, I should have plenty to keep me busy.

And now for something completely different - I meant to babble about this 1st amendment study a few days ago, but I haven't had a chance to really look at it till now. It's a study about what high school students think of freedom of speech and the First Amendment. The actual key findings of the study are here. Seeing the actual questions and the answers they had to pick from makes it super painful. I mean, almost one out of five thinks unpopular opinions should not be expressed and 49% of students think newspapers should be censored by the government. The study goes a little bit further, trying to examine the correlations between media classes and opinions, but really, the first couple findings are the most appalling. (It doesn't really bother me that 3/4 of the students think flag burning is illegal - that decision was made in 1989, which is around when most of these kids were born and it hasn't been a hot-topic issue for quite a while.) Part of me gets this thinking that maybe our NYSD event focus on civic engagement, and building awareness among youth about civil liberties, but that may be a bit too political. (Even getting youth to take true, active planning roles in service events would excite me - too often they're just figureheads, or names who get thrown on a list as planners, but the event isn't truly their's.) Anyway, enough ranting . . . .

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