Sex education can be a haphazard thing. Well-meaning individuals believe that this sensitive subject is better left to a child’s parents. Other well-meaning individuals believe just as strongly that it would be better to have it done in the schools, as a matter of public health. While all these discussions go on, as they have for decades, children are out there acquiring what bits of information that they can from a variety of sources, some of them far from unimpeachable. The following tale is a case in point.

When I was 8 or 9 my parents received several boxes of bonus books when they purchased an encyclopedia. That is where I first read Zane Grey (8 books) and Ernest Hemingway (9 books). Of course I didn’t understand most of what I read in Hemingway’s works, but I roared through them just the same. There was also a handful of random novels included in this massive infusion of culture into our home, and one of them was entitled Fetish.

I remember two things from that book. One is that it took place in a steaming African country where people lived on plantations and sometimes coveted their neighbors’ spouses. The second contained an episode where some of that coveting bore fruit, starring two people named Flavien and Urgele.

One day this bored and sinful pair decided to commit adultery on the plantation and couldn’t find anywhere to be alone. As their internal tensions rose they became so desperate that they finally ended up making love in an outhouse on those rough boards. As I recall, the descriptions of clothing being discarded, soft skins against harsh surfaces, and sweat dripping everywhere were quite graphic.

Of course, I wasn’t even ten years old yet, and pretty much a blank slate where useful information about sex was concerned. My experiences on my grandfather’s farm had given me only the roughest idea of what was involved, but I did know a great deal about sweating and about privies. Combining all three seemed awfully exotic and was more than a little overwhelming at the time.

The book obviously made a lasting impression, because here I am 75 years later and I still remember the names of the splinter-covered lovers.

Flavien and Urgele. My oh my.

Book of Love, by The Monotones


As you might have surmised, I was a voracious reader from very early on. I still am, although I have slowed slightly. I do remember back in the 60s being intrigued by what was a fad of the time, speed reading. Why, a person could train themselves to read at enormous rates, retaining more, etc. … it all seemed too good to be true.

A system that works; a book that keeps selling. Since 1959, the Evelyn Wood Program of Dynamic Learning has been successfully employed by hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, helping them break free of the self-imposed shackles that hinder learning. By teaching us to tap the natural power of the mind, the Evelyn Wood method helps us to dramatically increase reading speed, retain more of what we hear and read, improve comprehension and develop our powers of concentration. In just minutes, you’ll notice a real difference in your reading speed, and in succeeding chapters of this seven-day program you’ll get the secrets of effective note-taking, find tips for instantly improving your writing, and much more.

From the advertisement for the book The Evelyn Wood Seven-Day Speed Reading and Learning Program on Amazon.com

I did give the method a try, but quit after only a few weeks, because I found that although I could increase my reading speed, it reduced the joy that I found in the reading. For me, an author’s words were to be savored and rolled about in the mind, and the techniques outlined in the book made that more difficult.


While I am vaporing about reading, I think I’ll toss in a comment about e-books. Occasionally I will mention that I often use a reader like the Kindle, and be met with a look like I’ve just said “I like to eat puppies.” Often these are folks who are passionate about public libraries and bookstores, and I can understand their concerns perfectly … because so am I. Libraries have a romance about them that is undeniable. Rummaging in a used bookstore is akin to prospecting for gold.

Public libraries have always struggled with having enough space for shelves and enough money to fill those shelves. In recent years they have also been confronted with the digital revolution. We’re still not sure how this will all shake out eventually, but the process rolls on and trying to stand in the way is to risk having bulldozer tracks all up the front of your shirt.

What is my preference? To read an actual book, borrowed from a library or purchased, under light provided by a softly incandescent lamp, just as I did when I was a child. If I were living in a tiny town in the wilderness, and there was a library which only contained six books, I would happily read and re-read them and then volunteer to help glue the bindings back on when I was done.

But I have many more choices today. The last six books I read were e-books, transmitted to my Kindle through Libby, an app provided by a public library consortium.

Holding a book in my hands and leafing joyfully through it has been my pleasure for several generations now. I will continue to support public libraries and bookstores in whatever way that I can. But what is most important to me is the information and the artistry contained in those books.

The vehicle that brings that information to me is also important, but is not everything. I feel privileged to have access to the worlds of science and of literature that all of these avenues provide.

Teacher, by Gyedu-Blay Ambolley


One more comment on our latest banking scandal. This one provided by Gordon Gecko, one of our leading capitalist exponents. You all remember Gordon, I’m sure, and this is only one of his many bon mots. Probably more than a couple of devotees of his at Silicon Valley Bank, no?


I don’t claim to know a great deal about the Cambodian genocide, the era that created the killing fields in that country. But there was a purity in that horror that was unusual. In the effort to rid the country of elite groups like politicians, intellectuals, and professionals, one of the criteria for selecting victims was – did they wear eyeglasses? The idea being that you only needed glasses to read, and who else needed to read but members of groups like those?

Simple, straightforward, and quite mad. Qualities of the architects of revolutions. Remember the French Revolution, where the admirable speeches about LIBERTÉ, ÉGALITÉ, FRATERNITÉ were being heard at the same time as were the sounds of the guillotines going about their efficient disposal of … who was that again?… those pesky elites, for the most part.

One of the proximate causes of the Revolution is often listed as hikes in the price of a loaf of bread. Now would be the time to ask – who does the grocery shopping at your house? Have you noticed how the price of bread is doing?

Who knows what form our own coming revolution will take? The necessary ingredients are being brought together as wealth continues to be concentrated in a smaller and smaller stratum of society. As armed groups practice in militias around the U.S. that are just as lunatic as any of their Cambodian or French soulmates. As fascism rises, accompanied by its infatuation with strong and cruel leaders. As the average citizen loses their belief in governmental probity.

Perhaps enough scraps of sanity can be found and cobbled together before something like this happens. Perhaps the rich and powerful will do something completely extraordinary and unheard of – learn to share.

As for me, although I would never be confused with being an intellectual or a prince of finance, I do have two pairs of eyeglasses. Lucky me.

Citiest People, by Melanie


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