SOUTHERN HERITAGE….EXACTLY WHAT “HERITAGE” ARE WE TALKING ABOUT, ANYWAY?….Patrick Nielsen Hayden writes today about the Sons of Confederate Veterans, one of those “Southern heritage” groups we heard about so often during the Trent Lott affair. Apparently SCV has been taken over by a faction headed by Kirk Lyons, who a couple of years earlier laid out his vision for, among other things, making America once again into a “majority European-derived country.” Read the post and the accompanying article so you’ll have something to say the next time someone tells you that racism doesn’t really exist in America anymore.

And right below this is a post about bookstores, where Patrick makes a very good point for those who bemoan the way Barnes & Noble has put so many small, independent bookstores out of business:

The fact that all over the country, in the second-tier cities and suburban sprawls where most people live, you can find a decent selection of books in all sorts of highly specialized categories–well, that’s a change. Indeed, sometimes it’s hard to convey to people who grew up in Cambridge or Berkeley or New York what a transforming change it really is.

He’s right. Even in a populous place like Orange County it’s made a big difference, with an enormous selection of books now available in half a dozen big bookstores within ten miles of my house. This wasn’t the case 20 years ago, and of course the Internet has broadened book availability even more.

The death of small shops is a modern trend that there is no chance of stopping, and I doubt there’s much point in trying. And if it’s the social contact you want, there are plenty of other ways to meet likeminded people. Besides, isn’t there a benefit to having books from lots of different categories all under one roof instead of having to spend half a day traipsing around to a bunch of specialty shops to find what you want?

Still, having said all that, I’m surprised there is not a single specialty science fiction bookstore in Manhattan. That does seem a bit sacrilegious.