A lecture explaining why using our imaginations, and providing for others to use theirs, is an obligation for all citizens
Its important for people to tell you what side they are on and why, and whether they might be biased. A declaration of members interests, of a sort. So, I am going to be talking to you about reading. Im going to tell you that libraries are important. Im going to suggest that reading fiction, that reading for pleasure, is one of the most important things one can do. Im going to make an impassioned plea for people to understand what libraries and librarians are, and to preserve both of these things.
And I am biased, obviously and enormously: Im an author, often an author of fiction. I write for children and for adults. For about 30 years I have been earning my living through my words, mostly by making things up and writing them down. It is obviously in my interest for people to read, for them to read fiction, for libraries and librarians to exist and help foster a love of reading and places in which reading can occur.
So Im biased as a writer. But I am much, much more biased as a reader. And I am even more biased as a British citizen.
And Im here giving this talk tonight, under the auspices of the Reading Agency: a charity whose mission is to give everyone an equal chance in life by helping people become confident and enthusiastic readers. Which supports literacy programs, and libraries and individuals and nakedly and wantonly encourages the act of reading. Because, they tell us, everything changes when we read.
And its that change, and that act of reading that Im here to talk about tonight. I want to talk about what reading does. What its good for.
I was once in New York, and I listened to a talk about the building of private prisons a huge growth industry in America. The prison industry needs to plan its future growth how many cells are they going to need? How many prisoners are there going to be, 15 years from now? And they found they could predict it very easily, using a pretty simple algorithm, based on asking what percentage of 10 and 11-year-olds couldnt read. And certainly couldnt read for pleasure.
Its not one to one: you cant say that a literate society has no criminality. But there are very real correlations.
And I think some of those correlations, the simplest, come from something very simple. Literate people read fiction.
Fiction has two uses. Firstly, its a gateway drug to reading. The drive to know what happens next, to want to turn the page, the need to keep going, even if its hard, because someones in trouble and you have to know how its all going to end thats a very real drive. And it forces you to learn new words, to think new thoughts, to keep going. To discover that reading per se is pleasurable. Once you learn that, youre on the road to reading everything. And reading is key. There were noises made briefly, a few years ago, about the idea that we were living in a post-literate world, in which the ability to make sense out of written words was somehow redundant, but those days are gone: words are more important than they ever were: we navigate the world with words, and as the world slips onto the web, we need to follow, to communicate and to comprehend what we are reading. People who cannot understand each other cannot exchange ideas, cannot communicate, and translation programs only go so far.
The simplest way to make sure that we raise literate children is to teach them to read, and to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity. And that means, at its simplest, finding books that they enjoy, giving them access to those books, and letting them read them.
I dont think there is such a thing as a bad book for children. Every now and again it becomes fashionable among some adults to point at a subset of childrens books, a genre, perhaps, or an author, and to declare them bad books, books that children should be stopped from reading. Ive seen it happen over and over; Enid Blyton was declared a bad author, so was RL Stine, so were dozens of others. Comics have been decried as fostering illiteracy.
Sir Bruce Forsyth, the veteran entertainer and presenter of many successful TV shows, has died aged 89.
The former Strictly Come Dancing host had been unwell for some time and was in hospital earlier this year after a severe chest infection.
His long career in showbusiness began when he was aged just 14.
He became Britain’s best-paid TV star, famous for hosting game shows like The Generation Game, Play Your Cards Right and The Price is Right.
- Sir Bruce’s life story
- Life in pictures
- Tributes to Sir Bruce
- Stars remember Brucie
- ‘A very special man’
He also presented BBC One’s Strictly with Tess Daly from 2004 to 2014.
A statement from his manager Ian Wilson said he died “peacefully at his home surrounded by his wife Wilnelia and all his children”.
“A couple of weeks ago, a friend visited him and asked him what he had been doing these last 18 months. With a twinkle in his eye, he responded, ‘I’ve been very, very busy… being ill!'” he added.
Sir Bruce’s family thanked “the many people who have sent cards and letters to Bruce wishing him well over his long illness”, adding there would be no further comment at the moment.
Tributes have been paid by his friends and admirers in the showbusiness world. Sir Bruce’s Strictly co-host Tess Daly said she was “heartbroken”.
“From the moment we met, Bruce and I did nothing but laugh our way through a decade of working together on Strictly Come Dancing and I will never forget his generosity, his brilliant sense of humour and his drive to entertain the audiences he so loved,” she said.
Former Strictly judge Len Goodman also paid tribute, saying: “As long as I can remember there has always been Bruce on our TV.
“His work ethic, professionalism and charm will be with me forever. Bruce it was nice to see you to see you nice.”
Strictly presenter Claudia Winkleman, who replaced Sir Bruce after he left the show, tweeted that he was “the King of TV, the Prince of performers and the most generous of people… all toe-tapping twinkle, all kindness, all love….
“The Bruce you saw really was the man he was. We’ll miss him so much.”
Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood added: “Extremely sad to hear the news of Bruce’s passing. A true legend and national treasure. He will be deeply missed but always remembered.”
Former judge Arlene Phillips said the entertainer was an “indestructible titan, tap dancing his way through life”.
She added: “Working with him on Strictly was personally a joy. His endless teasing of my judging style, particularly with strong sportsmen, was an ongoing joke.
“His enormous support after I was let go from the Strictly panel meant so much.”
Sir Bruce Forsyth 1928-2017
Longest TV career of any male entertainer
First TV performance, Come and Be Televised
Last TV performance, Strictly Children in Need Special
5 years The Bruce Forsyth Show
10 years The Generation Game
14 years Play your cards right
2 catchphrases Didn't he do well? Nice to see you, to see you nice.
In a tweet, Prime Minister Theresa May said the country had “lost a national treasure”, adding: “Like millions of others, for years I watched Sir Bruce dance, sing, joke & laugh. He will be sorely missed.”
BBC director general Lord Hall described Sir Bruce as “one of the greatest entertainers our country has ever known”.
Comedian Jimmy Tarbuck added: “He could do it all. He was magnificent and he was a great entertainer. He could dance, he was a very nice pianist, he was good at sketches, he was the greatest moaner in the world on the golf course, and he was a unique friend to me.”
Former chat show host Sir Michael Parkinson described the entertainer as “funny” and “irrepressible”.
Sir Michael also praised Sir Bruce’s ability to manage his career, saying: “He was very canny – we only know about the shows he said yes to, what we don’t know are the hundreds of ideas he said, ‘That’s not for me.’ He had the smartness – that’s the sign of a great star.”
BBC Radio 4 presenter Nicholas Parsons added that he was “devoted” to Sir Bruce.
“He had great charm, great humour – he was an all-round performer. He was one of the country’s most talented players – a great dancer, great singer and a comedian and also very good actor. The way he ran a game show was exceptional – a unique talent. He was a lovely man.”
The Beano tweeted a picture of Sir Bruce which appeared in the comic in 2008, describing him as an “entertainment legend”.
Sir Bruce had not been seen in public recently, due to ill health. He was too frail to attend the funerals of close friends Ronnie Corbett and Sir Terry Wogan last year.
In 2015, the presenter underwent keyhole surgery after suffering two aneurysms, which were discovered following a fall at his Surrey home.
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Nothing like putting down an icy cold beer. Except, of course, achieving a higher state of being and eventual transcendence of the Self through the practice of yoga.
But what if you could do both, at the same time?
Yes: Beer yoga is here. After being enjoyed by Berlin hipsters, it’s now found its way to Australian shoresa land where beer’s most definitely a religious practice, at least as much as yoga. And not in the best way.
Germany’s BierYoga A.K.A BeerYoga bills itself as the “marriage of two great lovesbeer and yoga. Both are centuries-old therapies for mind, body and soul,” according to its website.
And if you think they’re just being cute, think again.
“BeerYoga is fun but it’s no joke,” founder and yogi Jhula writes. “We take the philosophies of yoga and pair it with the pleasure of beer-drinking to reach your highest level of consciousness.”
But even Jhula wasn’t the first person to promote enlightenment through yoga under the influence of alcohol. The instructor told Ex Berliner they first saw it done at (American culture festival/desert apocalypse party shitshow) Burning Man.
But wherever it came from, it’s definitely now a thing, and a thing being marketed unironically Down Under.
Two special sessions of beer meets asana will take place in Sydney this weekend, where students can learn yoga poses involving “beer salutations” and balancing beer bottles on one’s headjust watch out for bottle smashes.
The event page assures would-be attendees that no yoga experience is necessary. Just an “open mind and a love of beer.”
And if you think that all this does nothing to curb binge-drinking and/or cheapens a legitimate and sadly oft-perverted spiritual practice, then you can just Namaste away.
BONUS: NBD, just a massive alligator out for a stroll
No one will love you until you learn to love yourself is an easy enough phrase to believe is true. But its terrifying, especially when you have depression. What if you never learn? As a teenager, it made me fear for my life as an adult. I was certain I would never be capable of being in a relationship, but I was very wrong. Honestly, I do not like myself very much, and in August of 2013, a boy fell very, very much in love with me.
I have dealt with depression for as long as I can remember. Ive been on and off medications, been to therapy, but its still alive and well, comfortable in its home in my bones. I can feel it every day, a tiny inkling that causes breathtaking emotional pain at the most inconvenient of times.
My depression doesnt care that I am in a relationship with a boy who makes me laugh, tells me Im beautiful 20 times a day, and cares more deeply for me than any other boy has. I am grateful for the nights he holds me while I cry for hours for no reason. I am thankful that he puts up with my random periods of irritability. He constantly attempts to comfort me if I am suddenly uncomfortable when were out in public. He fills me with hope for the future when I lead myself down the darkest of paths, plays with my hair when Im having trouble sleeping, and encourages me to eat when I have no appetite. He takes care of me and I never even had to explain myself. I still consciously think to myself, nine months into this relationship, Wow, someone is in love with me. I often think about how lucky I am to be loved, regardless of my flaws in chemistry.
This intense love is frightening, because every day, I fear that one more thing will push him over the edge. That one more time of me rolling over in bed, teary-eyed, for no reason, could push him away. I know it upsets him, and I reassure him through my salty, blurred vision that its not his fault. I am often overcome with guilt and I hate that my feelings about myself cause any pain on his part. Sometimes he is not easily convinced, but I try as hard as I can with the little energy I have. Some of our nights end in a tight hug and an Im sorry mumbled from my lips, but Im just thankful that he is still happy to wake up to me every morning.
Every day is a struggle. I am constantly on edge, going back and forth between caring too much and not caring at all, wondering when he will have enough. He is quick to remind me how much he loves me, but I am just as quick to be overcome with crippling doubt. We both know that this is how forever will be, and if he hasnt given up yet, Im certain that he is 100% all in.
Never let anyone tell you that you are not worth being loved if you dont love yourself. Never let anyone tell you that your mental illness is the reason why you are not in a relationship. Never let anyone tell you that you should smile more, fix your hair, or wear more color. Never let anyone makes you feel bad about what you cant always control.
Someone will be in love with you regardless of your most comfortable state, and if that happens to be curled up on the floor of your room, crying as you listen to your favorite sad songs, then you have found true love.
Just as the case of Charlie Gard drifts out of headlines and his family attempts to find peace after their long battle both with the infants condition and Englands nationalized health service, another somewhat prominent example has gained some attention and it involves none other than famous star searcher and producer Simon Cowell (from “American Idol,” “X Factor” and “Britains Got Talent”).
Enter 15-year-old Julia Carlile, who appeared on Cowells show “Britains Got Talent” along with her interpretive dance group Just Us (renamed MerseyGirls). During on-air introductions shortly before their first performance, Carlile revealed she was born with and suffers from spinal scoliosis (a condition that causes the spine to curve and the body to contort).
She also stated that she was going to need corrective surgery shortly after the performances on the show and the result of such surgery in England would mean her dancing days would be over. Her condition was so severe that her surgery would need to be performed before the end of the year because her spine was crushing into her lung. The surgical option offered through NHS involved fusing metal rods to her spinal column which would have severely limited her bodys natural movements and have a recovery time of up to six months or more.
Cowell and the judges were so impressed by Carliles attitude and her groups performance (to Rachel Plattens “Fight Song”) which worked Carliles scoliosis into the performance, that co-judge Alesha Dixon awarded them the rare Golden Buzzer which meant the group advances through preliminary competition. The group promised to give Julia the reward money (£250k) for her surgery if they won. They went on to finish 9th for the show. But that wasnt the end of the story for Cowell and Carlile.
But the question remains for kids like Carlile with such limited options and a health care system that is more concerned with panels and cost over care and innovation, the very same system the Democrat party wants to bring to this country.
She revealed to the Liverpool paper, The Echo, that Cowell himself had offered to cover her medical costs for her surgery. She told the paper that Cowell had approached her backstage during the shows finale and told her he would cover the £175,000 bill for her surgery (roughly $220,000).
But her surgery wasnt going to be performed through NHS and she wasnt going to receive fused rods to her spine. Carlile opted for a medical procedure only offered in the United States called vertebral body tethering, which involves the placement of screws, not rods, along her spinal cord. The procedure has a six-week recovery time and is reversible. Furthermore it wont limit Carliles body movements as severely, allowing her to continue to dance.
The procedure, which was performed on Carlile in New Jersey on July 23rd, is not offered through Englands NHS. Its also not offered in Cuba. Or Sweden, or Denmark or anywhere else where nationalized health care is lionized by the political left in this country.
Carlile kept fans and followers on Twitter updated on her status including posting a photo in a dance pose after her first operation. 9 days post op and i’m dancing already, it was a long bumpy road to recovery but i did it! Second op tomorrow #strong #fighter #scoliosis
She also posted an update after her second surgery just two days ago. Second surgery was a success! Now on the road to recovery. Thankyou @SimonCowell she tweeted.
Cowell picking up the tab is an act of generosity that shouldnt ever be forgotten among his famous hard demeanor. But the question still remains for kids like Carlile with such limited options and a health care system that is more concerned with panels and cost over care and innovation, the very same system the Democratic Party wants to bring to this country. And without a GOP health care plan to repeal or replace ObamaCare, they might very well succeed in the near future.
In the meantime, Carlile is expected to make a full recovery. Thats as good a reason as any to dance.
Stephen L. Miller has written for Heat Street and National Review Online. Follow him on Twitter at @redsteeze.
Atlanta (CNN)In the aftermath of last year’s election, the centrist old guard is out and progressives have won the battle for the soul of the Democratic Party, Elizabeth Warren declared Saturday.