(Can I just say that slacktivism is one of my favorite made-up terms from the past decade?)

I read a lot of blogs. I’ve already admitted that perhaps more time than necessary is spent with my Google Reader. Of course, the blog world – as well as the internet in general and the real world – has been afire since the earthquake/tsunami in Japan. We are devastated. We are heartbroken. We want to help. (I’m assuming most of us are decent people who feel such things – though there are sure to be some who are heartless and therefore cannot be heartbroken, and who think Japan deserved this disaster. Hmm. For the rest of us, what happened is a big deal.)

Back to the point – a majority of the blogs I read are participating in a Blogger’s Day of Silence today. The point is to “raise awareness” and to make an effort to “respect and acknowledge” the situation. Bloggers posted about the Day of Silence earlier in the week and encouraged readers to participate, as well as to donate.

I am really not trying to offend anyone here, but…


Signing up for this day of silence does nothing more than make you feel like you’re part of a cause. Or rather, a Cause. You have nobly, selflessly, put others’ needs ahead of your own. Also, your blog was linked on the main Day of Silence page.

Why not make this a donation-focused day? Why not organize a day where everyone blogs about their favorite charity that is currently helping Japan? It’s because we don’t want to ask readers for money, we don’t want to ask ourselves for money.

Well, slacktivism aside, I did donate through the link on the Blogger’s Day of Silence page. I usually go through LDS Philanthropies, but this is specifically created to help Japan. (The Red Cross allows you to donate for Japan as well, but they have a $10 minimum and I’m poor.) So. I refuse to be silent, mainly on principle.

But I will help!

And you should too.


The Book of Air and Shadows

by Michael Gruber

{ 2007 | William Morrow | 480 pgs }

As a general rule, the more I tell you about a book’s plot, the less likely I am to recommend that you actually read it.

This is one of those times.

The Romgi picked up The Book of Air and Shadows before he did his internship in Korea last summer, but never got around to reading more than 100 pages or so. I picked it up last week after too-much-schoolwork and it turned out to be a quick read. The book has a fascinating plot: a fire at a bookstore selling rare antique books leads to the discovery of a 17th-century manuscript that mentions Shakespeare. It turns out to be a letter from a dying man to his wife and a series of ciphered letters from the man to his employer; the man (Richard Bracegirdle) spent part of his life spying on Shakespeare, who was a suspected papist. Most importantly, the ciphered letters detail a play that Shakespeare wrote about Mary, Queen of Scots, and indicate that the play, though unpublished, has been preserved and hidden. The big question of the novel is, are the letters genuine or part of some elaborate fraud?

The story is well-told. It alternates chapters of first-person narration, third-person narration, and excerpts from the Bracegirdle letters. I enjoyed the variety of viewpoints and the way the story progressed. Unfortunately, there was enough vulgarity in general and depravity in the first-person narrator in general that I’m going to draw the line: there are other worthwhile books to read. You can skip this one.

I thought for a while after finishing The Book of Air and Shadows about whether I wanted to recommend it or not. As I said, the story was engaging and well-told. But it was peppered with foul language and lewd references. How much is too much? Do we turn off the movie or put down the book at the first expletive? Usually not. Should we? I’m not sure. It seems like there are so many more worthwhile things we could do with our time, though. And so in the end I decided against giving this the thumbs-up.