04/26/2006 12:29 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Bad Manga, and Other Bits

Stray bits from an untidy table....

Afghanistan, the "Good War"...
I've seen references in a couple of thoughtful places recently to Afghanistan as Bush's "good war"--something vaguely ok that Bush has accomplished (in a context of "So name one thing good thing Bush has done").

But even here one has to groan at the folly. And I don't mean the screw-ups at Tora Bora. I mean last I checked, Karzai's Afghanistan is the world leading opium supplier. It's a country of drug bosses now, on top of fundamentalist warlords and revived Taliban (not to mention the spot of bother when you try turning Christian).

But wasn't Afghanistan supposed to be our original post-9/11 Muslim showcase for how to do things right, after getting things so wrong? Remember the phrase of the day, "blowback?" --that you will bitterly harvest what you recklessly, carelessly, and half-bakedly sow?

But who can keep track any more. To live under Bush is to travel by air disaster.

A Name in Your Ear: Cecilia Munoz...
If the rousing of the Hispanic immigrant community signals a new popular movement in this country, then I think it has also brought to light a new (at least to me) name and face with terrific leadership potential: Cecilia Munoz of the National Council of La Raza. I've seen Munoz on TV twice, and she was sensational: calm, poised, lucid, humanely compelling, authoritative. And glamorous to boot. She handled the cranks and bigots on a Cspan call-in with an aplomb and considerate steel that was something to see. I say run her for office. Or put in a Cabinet in a happier future. Get her in front of the cameras, muy pronto. She is political gold.

Bad Manga...
As a writer with a new kids' book just out, a novel that includes bits of manga, I couldn't help but note that San Bernadino, CA (where the air quality does get very bad) has pulled a history of Japanese manga off the country library shelves--because of a single complaint by a 16 year old boy about depictions of sex. (Can I wonder what kind of healthy 16year old would complain about sex depictions?) I'll note that book was filed in the adult section.

Okay, so it's one more scrap of sun-baked medievalism. So let me toss in this heftier bone:

Two weeks ago a young editor at one of the main school textbook publishers in New York told me that, in any textbook for the Texas school system--one of the biggest markets in the country--the words "conjure" and "imagine" may not be used. I am not joking. Because of possible associations with witchcraft.

Food for thought, no?

Speaking of food (candy, actually) and jokes, I'm off on a book tour for my new Another Nastybook: The Curse of the Tweeties. If you're in LA this Sat. April 29, stop by Dutton's Booth in the Children's Area of the LA Book Festival, 10-11am, and say hi, and we can vent together. Rest of book tour info here.