On the Pile
Just for giggles and grins, I thought I'd post an "On the Pile."
But first . . . A Rant.
I try very hard not to be overly judgmental of others' charitable acts, even when I think that they are terribly misguided. Let's take Oprah, for example (because Scott foolishly kindled my ever-burning Oprah hate). I'm sure we've all seen the pictures of her surrounded by smiling South African girls in their pretty uniforms with their brand-new sacks of school supplies. A nice gesture, sure. But as one of my favorite phrases goes, "Who's going to play Santa next year?" For a few thousand dollars worth of school supplies (and I'd be willing to wager a fair sum that at least some portion of those supplies were donated from the companies and not bought with Oprah's own money), Oprah gets millions of dollars worth of free positive publicity. And the kids go home with a fancy backpack and fancy pencils. But nothing has really changed. Oprah has the money and power to make real, longterm changes---build a teachers' college, build and staff a hospice, pressure pharmaceutical companies to provide low-cost HIV/AIDs drugs. But what does she use her celebrity for? A short-term, feel-good publicity stunt that benefits her way more than it does those kids.
But the "charitable" act that really gets me het up these days is the latest celeb accessory: the third-world baby. Let's start with the fact that right here in the United States, we have plenty of orphans who need good homes. You would never know it because the stories we hear are how hard it is to adopt a child in the United States. One: It should be hard. You're adopting a child, not getting a houseplant. Two: It's really only hard if you want a blue-eyed, blonde-haired perfectly healthy infant. Yes, those are in short supply. But we have a whole lot of children ages 2 and up, with and without special needs, who are stuck in orphanages or being shuttled among foster homes while the very people who have the money and resources to care for these children spend tens of thousands on private brokers or international adoptions.
Now, let's look at the children who are being adopted by the oh-so-charitable celebs. Of the recent adoptions, at least two (Zahara Jolie and David Banda-Richie) have living parents. So they aren't even really orphans. And in Malawi, even if both parents have died, the extended family would take responsibility for the child. Yes, David was in an orphanage. In Malawi, it is common for infants to go to an orphanage if the mother dies during childbirth or shortly after. It's assumed that the father won't be able to care for the infant and it is too much of a burden for the family. But most of those children will eventually be returned to the living parent or the extended family when the children have reached a certain age (usually between 3 and 5 years).
Also, these children have all been reasonably healthy. The celebs aren't adopting the high-needs kids. They aren't adopting kids who are HIV positive or were born with a disability. Again, the kids who have the best chance of thriving with minimal intervention are taken out and the kids who really need more help are shunted to the side.
I know that conditions aren't great for any kids---healthy or otherwise---in Malawi or any other poor nation. But taking a handful of kids out of the country isn't the solution. It's a selfish way to get publicity.
I have more I could say, but this has already turned into a much longer rant than I intended.
Anyway . . .
On the Pile
Finished: Nothing. Really. I have given up on actually finishing a book. I'm lucky if I make it 100 pages in before I have to move on to the next book. I have not finished a single book in almost two months. Which kills me, because I have a thing about finishing books, even really bad books.
* Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison by Michel Foucault. A French structuralist philosopher writing on the underlying principles of the Western penal system. And, yes, it really is as exciting as it sounds. Don't read after eating---the first two pages are a vivid account of an old-school execution. Do read before bed, especially if you have insomnia.
* Claude Levi-Strauss by Edmund Leach. Why I thought that it would be a good idea to read a book on an incomprehensible French structuralist written by an incomprehensible English functionalist I will never know.
* Imagined Communities by Benedict Anderson. A book I can actually understand! Too bad the current establishment thinks he's a crackpot.
* The Nuer by E. Evans-Pritchard. I'll spare you the mile-long subtitle. I'm supposed to have this read for a class tomorrow. Considering that I haven't even cracked the spine on it yet, I'm thinking that's not going to happen.
* A bunch of articles on mental health, occupational health, and injury.
* Facing Mount Kenya by Jomo Kenyatta
* Elizabeth I: The Competition for Representation by Susan Frye
* The Poetics of Manhood: Contest and Identity in a Cretan Mountain Village by Michael Herzfeld
* A bunch of books on religion and family planning in developing countries.
Added to the Pile: As if I didn't have more than enough to read already . . . Although most are for school.
* High Points in Anthropology ed. by P. Bohannan and M. Glazer
* Outline of a Theory of Practice by Pierre Bourdieu
* The Anti-Politics Machine by James Ferguson
* Europe and the People Without History by Eric Wolf
* Writing with Intent by Margaret Atwood
* Moral Disorder by Margaret Atwood
* Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose
Can you guess which ones aren't for school?
I've also recently bought a bunch of craft books in the delusion that I'd find time for crafts. Ha!