Sunday, October 26, 2008

Forgive some sinner and wink your eye at some homely girl

I am not the biggest fan of publicly funded libraries. In addition to the arguments against them that I have raised in the past, I also think that their selection is often second rate. As a quick example, take H.L Mencken. Since Mencken was a local guy (from Baltimore) you would think that a Maryland library would have a pretty substantial selection of Mencken's work. Although the Mencken selection at the HoCo public library appears pretty decent at first glance (I know that link does not work, but I gave up trying to fix it), it is actually pretty pathetic when compared to the works from Mencken that can be found at Amazon.

I bring this up because I am reading a really good Mencken work that is not available at the local library ("A Mencken Crestomathy" which the first hit on Amazon). In this book Mencken goes on an entertaining but completely rational tirade against zoos. Here is my favorite part:

Least of all do zoos produce any new knowledge about animal behavior. Such knowledge must be got, not from animals penned up and tortured, but from animals in a state of nature. A professor studying the habits of the giraffe, for example, and confining his observations to specimens in zoos would inevitably come to the conclusion that the giraffe is a sedentary and melancholy beast, standing immovable for hours at a time and employing an Italian to feed him hay and cabbages.