Sunday, October 19, 2008

Access to Information For All

Here's the letter I sent to the paper this weekend:

Dear Editor,

I believe the economic downturn is actually a reason for—not an obstacle to—pulling together as a community to vote for a new library.

There is no question that we need to use our resources wisely, and making do with what we have is a practice we desperately need to return to as a society. My concern, though, is that we’ve been making do with an inadequate library facility for at least the fourteen years I’ve lived here, probably longer.

While not everyone uses the library, we all benefit from living in a literate society. A library is an important resource for people of all ages and from all walks of life, including people who are struggling financially and who look to libraries to help them get back on their feet. I’ve known people who have depended on library services to launch their businesses or to get information and training that have enabled them to transition to new, often better, jobs after being laid off.

Libraries empower us! A strong community is one that truly values literacy and access to information for all. But despite the best efforts of an amazing and creative library staff, our library is simply too small to provide services to everyone who seeks them—a problem that will only get worse if our economy continues to crumble.

I can’t think of a more important time than now to invest in our future and to foster a genuine sense of hope as we navigate the tough road that lies ahead. I will be voting for the library on November fourth. Please join me.

Margy Layton


From the mouth of a (Republican) man I so would have voted for had he run in 2000:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Five Sources

Before I get to my list, I just have to confess that I'm on a tuna salad sandwich jag. On squishy white bread. The tuna is a fine choice, but I've got to get back on the whole wheat wagon soon!

So, I've been talking a lot with my UVU students about understanding and evaluating sources, especially understanding a writer's point of view, expertise and agenda. Because I tend to lean left in a community where most people lean to the right, people may think that I'm just a victim of the liberal media.

Well, I don't believe I am. 

I try very hard to find news sources that present balanced views (of both fact and interpretation of fact). Of course, because I lean left, I have a higher tolerance for left leaning media (we all like to hear what we want to hear, don't we?), but I make a conscious choice not to swallow it whole. In fact, I actively counterbalance my tendencies by tuning in to Fox News from time to time.

So, here is my list of my five favorite regular news sources for national and international news (which, as you'll notice, does not include entertainment personalities posing as serious editorialists at either end of the political spectrum):
  • BBC News (both updates on the radio after I drop Jack off at school and as I drive home from UVU and a daily check of the website). It's especially interesting to get a less US-centric take on international news. 
  • Diane Rehm's weekly news roundup, one hour of in-depth discussion of national news followed by an hour of international. It is broadcast on Fridays, but I usually end up listening to the show as a podcast over the weekend. The whole show is a panel discussion format with guests with a range of political views. They often disagree with one another but they engage in civilized, meaningful discourse. Her other shows during the week are also very interesting and informative (and she regularly hosts authors of books!).
  • This Week with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday mornings. He'll push political guests from both parties, and the round table discussions include panelists with a broad range of views, including regular George Will, a classic conservative. Again, disagreements expressed, but the discourse is civil. (Note: I'm not sure why I started watching this Sunday morning pundit show regularly as opposed to any of the others, but I did. And was even happier that I did when I found out that George is married to one of my favorite funny people, Ali Wentworth.)
  • The New York Times online. I know, I know. Some think it has a liberal slant. But I love reading the editorial page, which presents a wide range of perspectives, including the opinions of several regular columnists who are quite conservative. Plus I've become addicted to reading the op-ed comments! Usually online media comments are completely inane, but NYT readers are particularly thoughtful and they express their ideas really articulately. Not surprisingly, the comments are more often on the liberal side, but I have read countless well considered conservative comments. 
  • The quick news update on Good Morning America or the Today Show every weekday at 8:00 a.m. No in-depth coverage, but at least I'm up on the major headlines. This is a habit I've had ever since 9-11. It's been years, though, since I held my breath before turning the television on. I pray that never changes.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Swim Down

If there is ever a time we need to pull together, this is it. But instead it feels like we're spinning apart in mistrust and hate and fear and panic. 

I keep playing a scene from Finding Nemo in my head. Dory is caught in a fishing net, and Nemo saves her by telling all of the fish in the net to swim down together. They join forces and are able to pull the net free from the fishing boat, saving themselves as well as Dory.

Nemo for president!