Cry Havoc and loose the Penguins of Irony*: Google celebrates US Banned Books Week

Google, as you may recall, has the following two items in its 10 points of corporate philosophy: “Democracy on the web works” & “You can make money without doing evil.” Observers didn’t realize these were meant to be ironic until the company began kowtowing to the Chinese government and censored their search results there.

Now, in yet another effort to throw yet another fig leaf over their corporate brand they have announced the following effort for Banned Books Week:

To Kill a Mockingbird. Of Mice and Men. The Great Gatsby. 1984. It’s hard to imagine a world without these extraordinary literary classics, but every year there are hundreds of attempts to remove great books from libraries and schools. In fact, according to the American Library Association, 42 of 100 books recognized by the Radcliffe Publishing Course as the best novels of the 20th century have been challenged or banned. Google Book Search is our effort to expand the universe of books you can discover, and this year we’re joining libraries and bookstores across the country to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Banned Books Week – a nationwide initiative to help people learn about and explore banned books. You can start by browsing these 42 classics – books we couldn’t be more pleased to highlight. — Google press release.

And the irony flowed like herring. Hey, can someone ban The Da Vinci Code? Cuz it’s terrible.

*I’m looking for a graphic for the Penguins. Anyone care to suggest or submit one? There’s a free T-shirt in it for you. (At right, our first submission from Mr. Impatient. Thanks, Mr. I!)


Never say the Scots don’t have a sense of humor

Collateral Damage's in-laws stopped by the Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland, something they've been doing for many years whenever they visit the UK. They report the town and the chapel have been overrun by Da Vinci Code tourists (they had to tell me it was in the book. Apparently it shows up after page 8, which was how far I'd read when I threw it against a wall). The townspeople have not been hesitant to make a pound or two off this phenom and the local pub serves things like "Da Vinci Code Chicken." Another local has posted a sign that reads "Da Vinci Code Horse Manure, 50P" over a regularly refreshed pile of the stuff. A shovel is provided but it appears you have to bring your own container.

(BTW, apologies for my abscence. It's been one of those weeks.)


The Da Vinci news

To pretty much no one’s surprise, reviews for the “Code” are in and are tepid at best (OK, so this one is from the “Catholic News Service,” you don’t think they’d hold a grudge do you?). Imagine my surprise. That said there is some actual news relating to the book that makes Tom Clancy look like a good writer:

  1. “Da Vinci” unites Indian Muslims and Christians In India, “Islamic clerics promised to help Christian groups launch protests if the authorities did not ban the screening of the controversial film.” Let’s try to show it in Iraq and see if that does any good. Can’t really make things worse. I for one am willing to join any protest over the quality of the writing in the book. And Tom Hank’s hair.
  2. Reading “Da Vinci Code” does alter beliefs: surveyThe Da Vinci Code has undermined faith in the Roman Catholic Church and badly damaged its credibility, a survey of British readers of Dan Brown’s bestseller showed on Tuesday.” Reading a book will change your beliefs? Somewhere Martin Luther is laughing his anti-Semitic butt off.

People are now twice as likely to believe Jesus Christ fathered children after reading the Dan Brown blockbuster and four times as likely to think the conservative Catholic group Opus Dei is a murderous sect.

Well, it has certainly altered my faith. My faith in the fact that I had a rough idea of how credulous people are.

Quick takes

  1. Intentionally or unintentionally ironic? From the Journal's website: Video: Bush on economy | Snow on jobs
  2. Really pissed that Dan Brown was found not guilty in the Da Vinci Code plagiarism case. Not that I think he stole any of it, I was just hoping someone would be made to pay for writing a book that bad.
  3. Fox News hard at work. This is their lead from the Bush dropped the dime on Valerie Plame story: WASHINGTON — President Bush was defending the War on Terror to an audience in North Carolina on Thursday, just as word came that newly filed court documents reveal Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney authorized Cheney's former chief of staff to release classified information about Iraq in July 2003. What, other than getting the phrase War On Terror into the sentence does the first part of the sentence have to do with the second?
  4. Product innovations I really don't understand: Oblong Oreos — allegedly better for dunking.

It could have been worse: Dan Brown claims he did rewriting on “Duhh Vinci Code”

If what we have is the re-write, imagine how bad the original was…

Dan Brown returned to the witness stand Wednesday and acknowledged “reworking” passages from an earlier book for his best-selling novel “The Da Vinci Code,” but he firmly rejected charges that he ripped off key ideas for his conspiracy thriller.