Iowa State | The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race
By Jared Diamond (author of Guns, Germs and Steel)

To science we owe dramatic changes in our smug self-image. Astronomy taught us that our earth isn’t the center of the universe but merely one of billions of heavenly bodies. From biology we learned that we weren’t specially created by God but evolved along with millions of other species. Now archaeology is demolishing another sacred belief: that human history over the past million years has been a long tale of progress. In particular, recent discoveries suggest that the adoption of agriculture, supposedly our most decisive step toward a better life, was in many ways a catastrophe from which we have never recovered. With agriculture came the gross social and sexual inequality, the disease and despotism, that curse our existence.

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette | Parent files complaint about 70 ‘sexually explicit’ books in school libraries
The Fayetteville School District has a procedure for parents to file formal complaints against school library books they find inappropriate.

But what if the number of books is 70?

That’s how many alleged sexually explicit books local resident Laurie Taylor claimed she found during a personal “audit” of the library system.

Taylor, who has filed previous complaints against school library books, claims the books in question contain segments on “threesomes, teenage sexual foreplay, detailed sexual escapades, explicit homosexual affairs, despicable language, dangerous instruction and promotion of sexual behavior.”

Taylor listed seven of the alleged objectionable books in an e-mail Wednesday to school board members and Superintendent Bobby New.

They were “The Homo Handbook: Getting in Touch with Your Inner Homo” by Judy Carter, “The Other Woman” by Eric J. Dickey, “Rainbow Boys” by Alex Sanchez, “Doing It” by Melvin Burgess, “Choke” by Chuck Palahniuk, “GLBTQ: The Survival Guide for Queer and Questioning Teens” by Kelly Huegel and “Forever” by Judy Blume.

Wall Street Journal | ‘You’re Reading…What?’
Hilary Armstrong was happy to see her 12-year-old daughter Katherine reading at the kitchen table one afternoon — until, that is, she glanced at the back of the book jacket. “I was mortified,” says Mrs. Armstrong. The book, which her daughter got from a friend, had a blurb on the back that read, “After all, no one really wants to go to college a virgin.”

The San Francisco mom allowed Katherine to finish the novel, one of the popular “Gossip Girl” series, but started keeping closer tabs on her daughter’s reading material. She wishes the book business would help out. “It would be nice if they had a big rating on it, like at the movies,” Mrs. Armstrong says.

It’s the summer book season: Do you know what your child is reading? To appeal to teens brought up on suggestive music videos and cable-TV shows, publishers are releasing more books full of mature themes and unflinching portrayals of sexual activity, with young protagonists the same age as their target readers. One publisher is venturing beyond its titles on dragons and bunnies with “Claiming Georgia Tate,” about a 12-year-old girl whose father pressures her into a sexual relationship and makes her dress like a prostitute. In “Looking for Alaska,” prep-school students watch pornography and pass the time binge-drinking. Coming this fall is “Teach Me,” in which a male high-school teacher has sex with a student.

The subject matter is rarely clear from a book’s title or graphics. “Rainbow Party” features tubes of lipstick on the cover — though it isn’t about girls discussing makeup, but a teen oral-sex party.

I’m such an old fogy.