“They tell you to do your thing but they don’t mean it. They don’t want you to do your thing, not unless it happens to be their thing, too. It’s a laugh… a fake. Don’t disturb the universe… no matter what the posters say.”At the time, it was as if Cormier had arrived at a society garden party in his underwear, promptly kicked over the tea servings, urinated in the hydrangea bushes, and then mooned the hostess on his way out. Cormier had shattered convention at time when young adult (YA) novels were paint-by-the-numbers stories about romance, sports, and dating. And the strongest component of the YA formula was the happy ending.
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But you don’t have to watch Gore’s documentary or head to North Pole to see melting glaciers to know that global warming is real.
All you have to do is vacation in Maine.
My family has owned a small pine cabin nestled in a hemlock forest on the shore of a small lake in Maine since 1978. The joke used to be that Maine had two seasons: Winter and the Fourth of July. That’s because Maine is a cold state – vicious, snowy winters that begin in October and stretch out until late April. It’s a rugged state Maine – rocky, moss-laden terrain, jagged hills, thick dark forests, and a coastline battered by a cold ocean.
It used to be that Maine never really shook winter. Its icy grip clutched to summer through the fireworks on Independence Day and the dog days of August. An average summer day had temperatures in the high 70s and early 80s with a drop of a few degrees when you wandered into the shade. At night going to the drive-in required long pants, a sweatshirt, and socks to keep away the chill. Stargazing was best done under a blanket. And then there were those cloudy days when the temperature fell into the 50s (the average low in July and August in Portland, Maine is 56 degrees).
And, of course, the lake never lost the cold – especially when you dove down a few feet and the icy water bit your skin.
Packing for vacation was always difficult – because you needed to be prepared for two seasons – daytime at the beach and night time everywhere else. But this was the beauty of a vacation in Maine. Vacationers got relief from the heat and pollution of the city for the crisp, clean air of northern New England.
Summer in Maine has shaken off the bully winter. In fact, summer has knocked off winter’s hat and pushed it into a mud puddle. Summer has taken lessons from Charles Atlas and is now the one kicking sand. My suitcase for my weeklong vacation this year didn’t include any long pants, only running socks, and one sweatshirt (which I never used). It’s was warm enough to keep the windows open and on two nights it was uncomfortably humid.
Some of the changes are manmade. Our cabin shares a windy, tar roadway with 20 other cabins – but most of these cabins have been upgraded by the owners. New floors and additions have been added, foundations built and garages and bunkhouses constructed. As a result, many (too many) conifers have been cut down to make room for this “progress.” This has caused an increase in sunlight – which used to be blocked by the thick pine canopy.
As a result – our specific area is hotter because there’s not as much shade. Amazingly, some of the new owners have installed central air conditioning and my nights on the screened porch, which used to be filled with the peaceful sound of crickets and the haunting cries of loons, are now interrupted by the drone of air conditioners. These owners, who have cabins just a few feet from the lake, now sit in their temperature-controlled cabins with every window and door sealed tight. They might as well live in a plastic sandwich bag.
But the removal of the trees and the resulting increase of open space is only part of the story. The lake temperature has spiked considerably. The water can feel like a bathtub and even diving deep gets you only a minor difference in temperature. The day time temperatures are regularly in the high 80s and even the 90s. At night, you don't need the extra layers.
And that may be why Gore’s movie was such a success this summer. Global warming can no longer be ignored . People, regular folks, are beginning to experience its effects first hand. You don’t need to be a scientist to realize that you used to have to wear a jacket to the drive-in when you were 13 and now your only need a t-shirt and shorts. You don’t have to be a climate control specialist to notice the temperature is consistently creeping up to the 90s. You don't need to be an environmentalist to realize that the water is warmer.
All you have to do is summer in Maine.
Read our essay on slowing down
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“The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flower were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green. The people of the village began to gather in the square, between the post office and the bank, around ten o’clock; in some town there were so many people that the lottery took two days and had to started on June 2nd, but in this village, where there were only about three hundred people, the whole lottery took less than two hours, so it could begin at ten o’clock in the morning and still be through in time to allow the villagers to get home for noon dinner.”The story follows this pattern to the end. The reader feels like they have stepped into a small village and this lottery they are talking about is something like the square dances and church suppers that are held every Saturday night at the town hall. There’s Old Man Warner complaining that the lottery “ain’t what it used to be!” Dabnabit!
“`Next thing you know, they’ll be wanting to go back to living in caves, nobody work any more, live that way for a while. Used to be a saying about ‘Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon.’ First thing you know, we’d all be eating stewed chickweed and acorns. There’s always been a lottery,’ he added petulantly. ‘Bad enough to see young Joe Summers up there joking with everyone.’Now the reader knows something is wrong, but not how wrong.
`Some places have already quit lotteries,’ Mr. Adams said.
‘Nothing but trouble in that,’ Old Man Warner said stoutly. `Pack of young fools.’”
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It is truly tragic that the God-fearing electorate in Kansas allowed themselves to be duped by scientists with PhDs who convinced them to recently vote against two incumbent school board members who want to teach Intelligent Design in public schools. Many borderline communist publications have trumpeted this as a big win for science, but, in fact, the opposite holds true! School children in Kansas will be deprived of learning about the serious scientific flaws in the “theory” of evolution and about Intelligent Design, a Bible-backed science that stands Darwinian Theory on its ear.
For those of you unfamiliar with biology, chemistry, alchemy, geology, and astrology, allow me to provide you with a crash course in Darwinian Theory and Intelligent Design, so you can better understand the grave danger that teaching a single view of how the world was created undermines the fact that God produced every animal, plant, and human being in existence.
Darwin’s Theory of Evolution
Charles Darwin was a scientist born in the past. He wrote a book called “The Origin of Species” that many colleges and universities not affiliated with any religious organization now consider one of the pivotal works in science and the pre-eminent work in biology. Darwin tediously argues that organisms gradually evolve through a process called natural selection. Natural selection is the theory (a theory mind you!) that individual organisms struggle to survive and those with the best or most favorable characteristics will be more likely to survive. As a result, those favorable traits will be passed onto their offspring and become the dominant characteristics among organisms.
This is where Darwin gets the nutty idea that human beings were monkeys that “evolved” into humans (I’m sure Adam and Eve are chuckling about this up in heaven). Technically, through Darwin’s theory, one could argue that an oak tree could evolve into Boy George! Everyone knows that the only being powerful enough to turn a tree into a has-been British pop star is the Lord God. Darwinists also believe the world to be more than 4.5 billion years old – even though Biblical evidence clearly places the age of the earth at a few thousand years.
Yet despite holes in Darwin’s Theory large enough to drive a NASCAR speedster through, the anti-God scientific establishment continues to embrace the evidence of the chemical and biological origins of life to be beyond dispute. Clearly these scientists need a bit more education!
Some liberal troublemakers will likely call Intelligent Design a fancy way of saying creationism. This, of course, is nonsense! Creationism is the belief that God created the world in one week about 6,000 years ago – and rejects the idea that single cell creatures gradually evolved into eagles, bears, whales, and Nathan Lane over the course of millions of years. While creationism is indeed our most probable truth when it comes to explaining the origins of man and the universe, Intelligent Design does not get so specific and is flexible enough to embrace other religions into its doctrine.
Intelligent Design, which is championed by some of the brainiest scientists in the world working at the Discovery Institute, promotes the rational idea that Darwin’s evolution theory is simply too limited to explain the complexities of the origin of species. That it is only logical to assume that a “designer” (God, if you will) was involved in the process. Is that so radical a notion?
Not to most Americans! According to the good folks at Gallup, about 46 percent of Americans believe in strict creationism and 36 percent believe God was an active guide in the evolutionary process. That’s a whopping 82 percent of the American public who reject sound science in favor of Christian religious beliefs! So although the ideas presented in evolution are supported by a large body of scientific evidence that is widely accepted by the scientific establishment, most Americans won’t allow themselves to be brainwashed by these anti-Christian zealots. Good for them!
Clearly, the Darwinists want to censor rival scientific theories – even if they are believed by the majority of Americans. Talk about being anti-science! Despite the bombastic rheoric by Darwinists, Intelligent Design isn’t bad science, but a more compelling and rational science than evolution.
The misinformed citizens of Kansas may have rejected two Intelligent Design school board members, but it is only a minor setback. I’m confident that Intelligent Design will soon be the standard of teaching evolution in public schools and that the American people are smart enough to realize that everything you need to know about life can be found in the pages of the Holy Bible.
Now if only our scientific community was smart enough to realize that!
(The Rev. Colson Crosslick is pastor of the Pretty Good Shepherd Church in Ripsaw, Arkansas. In the past, he has called for a ban of the Darwin Awards. He also writes the regularly appearing column Under God's Right Arm for DaRK PaRTY.)
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I asked professors who teach the meaning of life to tell me
what is happiness.
And I went to famous executives who boss the work of
thousands of men.
They all shook their heads and gave me a smile as thought I
was trying to fool with them.
And then one Sunday afternoon I wandered out along the
And I saw a crowd of Hungarians under the trees with their
women and children and a keg of beer and an accordion.
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(Reuters) LONDON __ Author Neville Onions, 63, is no stranger to controversy. Two of his children’s books published in 1973 were banned in the United Kingdom after Christian groups successfully argued that the books contained thinly veiled drug references to LSD, magic mushrooms, and marijuana.DaRK PaRTY contacted Onions yesterday at his London flat. He called the controversy a “tempest in a tea pot” and vowed to fight the campaign mounting against him and his new book.
The resulting scandal ruined Onions’ publishing career and led to the removal of the two books – Damon Trips Out and Falling Down the Rabbit Hole – from bookstore shelves. In July, after a 30 year hiatus from writing, Onions announced his return to children’s literature with the upcoming publication of Phlyst the Pony by noted children’s publishing house, Cranberry Peach Books. The book, which is about a pony and his friendship with a water fairy, is scheduled for mass distribution on September 18.
Yet already the book is causing controversy – and this time with book reviewers, who have questioned the sexual content of Phlyst the Pony. The reviewer for the London Daily Mail called the book “smut” and the literature editor at the London Evening Standard described the advance copy of book as “a twisted orgy of homosexual pornography.”
“I was deeply disturbed by the excerpts that I’ve read,” said Literature Professor William Straw of University College of London. “This is a book targeted at six, seven and eight year old children and it contains graphic and disturbing sexual imagery that you’d expect to find scrawled on a men’s room wall.”
Onions denied the charges, but declined to comment for this story.
Terry Goodkind, president of Cranberry Peach Books, released this statement yesterday: “Cranberry Peach Books is dedicated to our audience of juvenile readers and we pride ourselves for publishing original, creative and wholesome children’s literature. We are in the process of reviewing the contents of Mr. Onions’ book and will make an official statement after a thorough investigation of the material.”
Prof. Straw provided Reuters with several examples of what he calls “severely unsettling” material from Phlyst the Pony:
• "O glorious day!" he thought. "Take me in thy arms and squeeze me like a sticky bath towel!"
• His heart grew and grew until he could stroke it with his sweaty hands. Here was a magnificent pony on who he could impale his never-ending love to!
• Puckerlip wrapped his skinny, pale arms around Phlyst's neck as his growing love was replaced by a mounting fear. His fear grew so large and bulging that he could no longer fit it in his mouth.
• Afterwards, they swam naked in the cold river to quench the fire of their passion.
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Summary: In the not-so-distant future, a criminal mastermind named Billy the Poet is on the loose and on his way to Cape Cod. His goal is to deflower one of the hostesses at the Ethical Suicide Parlor in Hyannis. The world government runs the parlors and urges people to commit suicide to help keep the population of 17 billion stable. The government also suppresses the population’s sexual desire with drugs that numb them from the waist down. Despite a sting by the authorities, Billy the Poet outwits them and kidnaps six-foot blond hostess, Nancy McLuhan. McLuhan vows to fight Billy to the very end, but the drugs wear off, and when she is deflowered by Billy, her mind opens as well. Billy convinces her that sex and death aren’t the answer – birth control pills are. In the end, Billy lets Nancy go, but she is forever a changed woman.
This is one of the plaques on the desk of the World President in Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s short story “Welcome to the Monkey House.” What else is there really to say? That one word encapsulates the future world Vonnegut creates in this witty, clever satire that often makes you snicker out loud.
A couple of his gems:
- On the pills that keep your body numb from the waist down to suppress sexual longing: “The pills were so effective that you could blindfold a man who had taken one, tell him to recite the Gettysburg Address, kick him in the balls while he was doing it, and he wouldn’t miss a syllable.”
- On the one drug that would counteract the anti-sex pills: “Nancy went over in her mind all the terrible drugs she’d learned about in school, persuaded herself that the women had taken the worst one of all. That drug was so powerful, Nancy’s teachers had told her, that even a person numb from the waist down would copulate repeatedly and enthusiastically after just one glass. That had to be the answer: The women, and probably the men, too, had been drinking gin.”
The beauty of Vonnegut is that he disguises biting social commentary as mild parody. He rarely takes big, tasty bites out of his targets, but prefers to take small nips at them until their ideas have more holes than a spaghetti colander. His main victims here are the religious right and big government, but he also takes the time to skewer the UN, blonds, the pharmaceutical industry, and assisted suicide.
Vonnegut’s strengths in his short fiction are also his weaknesses. He tends to exaggerate his victim’s politics to such ridiculous ends that it’s easy to dismiss his barbs. It backfires in stories like “Harrison Bergeron” when he creates a society based on equality of everything – from IQ to physical gifts. But no supporter of equal rights advocates for that type of society. Vonnegut simply distorts their real philosophy for his story – but ends up undermining his own points. It never reaches this level in “Welcome to the Monkey House,” although he does resort to an unnecessary, overly preachy lecture at the conclusion.
What you do get with “Welcome to the Monkey House” are Vonnegut’s witty, telling observations about the future: ocean water replaced by blue concrete, the extinction of birds and bugs, rampart overpopulation, government ownership of everything, and a passive society kept happy by TV. Keep in mind that Vonnegut wrote this piece in 1968.
The best part of “Welcome to the Monkey House” is Vonnegut’s wicked snipe at the religious right – which makes the story so relevant 38 years later. The population has exploded (New York City has 63 million people) and the government requires all adults to take anti-sex pills. Because of the influence of religious conservatives, the government believes it would be immoral to use birth control, so the government instead uses the pills to remove all pleasure and desire for sex. Even so, the population continues to increase so the government opens suicide boutiques staffed by beautiful women in revealing outfits to attract volunteers to kill themselves (sex for death, but not for pleasure).
The creator of the pills, J. Edgar Nation (that name alone had me snickering), decided to invent the pills when, after church services one Easter, he takes his wife and 11 kids to the Grand Rapids zoo. Mr. Nation tells us: “There is nothing like an Easter morning to make a man feel clean and reborn and at one with God’s intentions.” But inside the monkey house, his family is shocked to discover a masturbating monkey. So Mr. Nation develops his pill to “Make monkeys in the springtime fit things for a Christian family to see.”
Ahem. “Welcome to the Monkey House,” indeed.
Read our literary criticism of Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery"
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