Showing posts from February, 2013

Arilla Sun Down, by Virginia Hamilton

Pretty good young adult fiction. Arilla is the younger sibling of an interracial couple. Her father is Native American, or Amerind, while her mother is African American. Set in the 70s, the family attracts unwelcome stares in public, but Arilla’s primary plight is lacking a sense of identity. She doesn’t relate to her peers, and what few friends she has is due to her mother’s profession – she teaches dance to the girls in the community. Her older brother Jack Sun Run’s popularity grates on her; he embraces his Native American roots and celebrates its more romantic elements by riding his horse nearly everywhere, wearing a bandana, and expertly using a lasso. The young men envy him and the girls fawn. In contrast, Arilla feels inconsequential. Her brother calls her Moon, and while fitting, the name annoys her.
What appealed to me most throughout the story was, ironically, the very thing that initially turned me off. Arilla recounts her youth with a writing style that reflects her age, me…

Philosophy Digestibles

Plato: The Trial and Death of Socrates, Four Dialogues, edited by Shane Weller.Socrates (469 BC - 399 BC), like any noted philosopher, had his protégés. Chief among them was Plato. In fact, without Plato’s writings chronicling his mentor’s ideas and approach, Socrates’ contributions would not have survived. To this day, his famous Socratic method is an invaluable technique for understanding the essentials of any intellectual or moral dilemma. Socrates is famous for the line ‘The unexamined life is not worth living.’ He stressed the value of reasoning through the important things in life to determine truth.
As the title implies, the book focuses on Socrates’ ideas (four dialogues), which went against the authority of the state of Athens. This led to his imprisonment and his death. His devotion to logic shouldn’t deflect from his humanity. His love for reason, beauty, and justice was astonishing. I wept when he drank the deadly hemlock and paced his cell before his legs gave out.