Tag Archives: violence

Adventures at the Coin Laundry

In Japan, there are many little laundromats called coin laundry. They’re open twenty-four hours. I’ve encountered strange people there before. And right now, I’m in the coin laundry washing and drying something.

A man came in and angrily tossed his laundry into the dryer. He slammed the washing machine and dryer doors, and stalked out of the coin laundry. Not sure what he was angry about. I guess I’m waiting for the laundry to finish instead of going home while it dries.

Other times, I’ve been stared at by old men while I loaded the dryer. And on one occasion, a couple old men started talking to me. I think they were testing my Japanese, because they seemed very interested in my brief replies. They were impressed by simple answers. I didn’t really want to talk to them. Their attitude was a bit odd.

So now, I’m sitting here with another man who’s drying his clothes. He’s concentrating in his phone, so no problem.

Ever have strange encounters at the laundromat?

Banned Books Week – No Censorship for Me

This week is Banned Books Week.  It’s the week when you can support the freedom to read anything you like by reading books that have often been challenged for various reasons by parents, religious groups, and so on. They want to ban these books from bookstores, public libraries, and schools.  I’ve read quite a few banned books, considering that the entire fantasy genre is quite blasphemous according to many religious groups.  The book I’m reading now has most definitely been challenged for many reasons, including violence, adult themes (nudity, sex), religious reasons (polytheistic religions, magic, something that could be considered Satanic), and offensive language.  George R. R. Martin sure can piss off many people.

So, for this post, I’m not censoring myself at all.  Expect some language, but nothing sexual.  And I’ll be very blunt about what I think about the people who want to ban these books.

Let’s look at the reasons why people want to ban books.

Sexually explicit. This is pretty obvious.  I can understand it not being allowed in schools, considering it’s not age appropriate.  Little kids can be spared this kind of thing.  But libraries and bookstores?  No damn way.  To be honest, I’ve known quite a bit about sex since I was pretty young.  You can thank the Encyclopedia!  Ooh, let’s ban the Encyclopedia now.  Go into a school library and find an Encyclopedia.  I bet it has entries on sex, reproductive organs, and so on.  Oh, and for those prude people, sex isn’t offensive.  It’s natural.  It’s a fact of life.  I won’t shield my kids from what sex is.  I’ll be honest if they ask, and I won’t try to hide the truth.

Offensive language. Fuck that shit, you assholes.  There are classic books with swear words, you know.  They’re read in school. I’ve read books with swearing in school.  No one cared.  Really.  We didn’t giggle.  You know why?  Kids learn swear words from an early age.  They hear it from their parents, they hear it outside, they hear it from friends, TV, movies.  It’s everywhere.  They understand what it means, they understand they’re not good words to use in polite company.  Honestly, I don’t care.  What’s important is that parents try limit their swearing around their kids.  Parents are the most important role models, and kids will emulate their parents.

Violence. This is very common for action oriented books.  But I’d say violence in TV and movies is more influential because kids can see it.  In books, it can be described explicitly, but it’s often difficult to imagine it clearly.  Anyway, just as in TV, movies, and video games, this must be made clear to kids that the violence isn’t real and should not be reproduced.  Again, it’s parental responsibility.

Unsuited for age group. Yes, I can see this one easily.  An elementary school kid won’t read Fifty Shades of Grey.  It’s up to the school to put age appropriate books in the school library.  But in a public library and bookstore, it’s the parents’ responsibility to keep their kids away from more adult books.  It also depends on the maturity of the kid.  I was pretty mature for my age, so a lot of more adult books, TV shows, and movies didn’t affect me as much as many of my peers.

Nudity. I’m pretty liberal-minded, open, and a free-thinker.  Nudity shouldn’t be an issue.  It’s religious groups and the media that sexualise nudity.  Nudity isn’t sexual.  Nudity is the default for the human body.  Animals are naked.  They aren’t aroused because they see other naked animals.  A lot of tribes in the Amazon or in Africa have no problems with nudity.  Naturist groups don’t view nudity as sexual.  That’s because it isn’t sexual.  Nudity doesn’t corrupt youth.  I think if kids could see just how the human body is more often, there’d be fewer problems with rape, body image, and self-esteem.

Drugs/alcohol/smoking. I’m against drugs and smoking, but they’re a reality.  Alcohol is fine in moderation. There are some ways to show how they can be bad in literature by showing the effects.  Isn’t that a positive way to use them?  But I think that books aren’t likely to influence people to takes drugs or start smoking.  It’s far more likely that other people will influence.  Books aren’t the problem here, it’s the people.

Racism. I’d like to mention one book here that I read in school, To Kill a Mockingbird. This was a book about racism.  Let’s ban this one?  I don’t think so.  It was against racism.  It was also required reading in school.  I wasn’t very impressed with it back then, but that’s because we had to read it.  If I’d chosen to read it, I think I’d have enjoyed it more. Anyway, since racism is still a big issue, it’s important to bring up the subject.  Books are a great way to show the negative effects of racism.

Homosexuality. Another hot topic.  This is mostly a problem to religious groups.  And I have this to say: get over it.  Homosexuality has been around for as long as humans have.  It exists in wild animals.  It is natural.  Yes, natural.  It’s not a choice, it’s not a decision.  I’m happy to see homosexuality in books.  It needs to be represented.  And shielding your children from it will do more harm than good.  They’ll become prejudiced against it.  Again, parents need to be responsible here.

Religious viewpoint. One religious group tries to ban books from libraries and bookstores because it offends them.  What about the other groups who aren’t offended?  Aren’t you imposing your beliefs on others?  I won’t tolerate that.  You keep your religion out of other people’s freedom to read books.  You don’t want your kids to read a book?  Then it’s your responsibility.  I don’t care what your religion is.  No religious group has a right to prevent others from reading books.  Go away.

And there you have it.  You may agree or disagree with me, but if you are one of the people who wants books banned, then you are part of the problem.  Don’t be a problem for others.  Respect other people’s right to read what they want.

Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

How Much Violence Is too Much in Fiction?

A recent discussion on a Facebook group I’m a member of asked a similar question to this.  I saw a variety of answers.

The typical answers said that as long as it contributes to the story, any amount is fine.  Other people said that they didn’t like violence and avoided it like the plague.  They couldn’t bare to read it.

Novels like A Game of Thrones shows an incredible amount of violent and graphic violence and deaths.  Is it necessary?  Well, considering that the world is similar to the medieval world, and that was a violent time with wars involving swords and gruesome deaths, it’s completely justified.  War is not pretty.  It’s very graphic.

I’m currently reading Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind, and while it started off like a typical fantasy story, it soon proved to have an incredibly sadistic antagonist.  Some of the things he does is sickening.  Is it necessary?  I think so.  It shows how insane he is and what he’s willing to do to win.

Those are only two examples.  My opinion is that violence is often quite justified.  That includes extreme violence.  It doesn’t turn me away from a novel, unless it’s completely out of place and makes no sense.

What do you think?  Do you have a problem with violence in novels, or are you fine with it?  Please leave a comment.

Book Review – The Arrival

thearrivalThe Arrival is the first book of the Burden of Conquest trilogy by J. Thorn.  Unfortunately, it is out of print at this time.  I was able to read it as a free download for Kindle.

This is the first book of a fantasy series that chronicles a dying empire’s Jaguar Knight trying to save his country while being invaded on several fronts.  Machek, the Jaguar Knight, is our protagonist, and he has the duty to protect his empire.  He has a lot of important decisions to make with pressure from several people who have different objectives. I find him interesting, as his character is a shade of gray, not black or white.  He has some demons and isn’t your perfect hero. The Serpent King is one of the invaders who appears to be extremely powerful. He has a very interesting background which is quite surprising.  He has a motivation that’s understandable, so I felt like some part of him is good.  Gishwan and Ri are an interesting pair, the student and the teacher.  The student is a bit naive, while the teacher has ulterior motives.  Acatel is a very brutal character, but he also has a believable motivation for his actions.  He is an antagonist, but I feel like his people’s culture makes him that way.  The characters in this book are three dimensional and well-done.

The world, called the One World, has a somewhat Aztec feeling to it, yet it is also fairly original.  The cultures and religions are very well-developed, as well as the history.  In any fantasy that creates a new world, world building is a very important aspect of the story, and one which I find intriguing.  This world is very well-done.

There is a lot of violence and rape in this book, which can put some people off reading it.  However, war is violent and not very pretty.  It doesn’t bother me if there’s violence or sex in a book, just as long as it’s realistic and natural sounding.  I did wonder about the amount of death at the hands of the invading people, though.  Overall, the character behaviour is good, but I felt at times that too strongly emotional.  I also am not sure about Gishwan’s motivations and reasons for her behaviour.  Maybe that’s answered in the second book.

Overall, I’d give this a rating of 4 out of 5 stars.  It’s a great start to an epic story in a well thought out world.  I just wonder if it’ll be in print again in the future.  It is highly recommended.