Saturday, January 31, 2004

Cutting Edge Poetry or Children's Literature

In the decade or so I've spent in academia I have met a lot of competent teachers who inform students of the facts, or how to read books, or how to answer problems. These teachers are needed because they help prepare us to do the necessary work of life.

While I appreciate the dedication and craftsmanship of these instructors there are a few, rare examples of another type of teacher. These teachers do not "just" prepare us to become a cog in the machine, they also teach us to imagine new possibilities for living in this world. They do not "just" provide us answers, but more importantly teach us how to ask "questions?" They do not tell their students what it all means, instead they open up their classrooms so that students can create their own meanings (and they move the class beyond the limiting boundaries of the classroom).

We should celebrate these teachers (through all walks of life) and recognize the impact that they have on our lives.

I never took a class with Joseph Thomas as the instructor (although we did take classes together as students), but he taught me more than most of my teachers. Below is a link to his current webpage. His course outlines are loaded with links to great online readings, guides to books and further links to creative resources.

Joseph Thomas

Friday, January 30, 2004

World Hum: Travel Dispatches From a Shrinking Planet

A very extensive website dedicated to travel writing from around the world, it also has a daily blog of travel reports/reviews.

Here are the editors describing the purpose of their website:

"We started World Hum because we love to travel, and because we wanted to offer an alternative to the type of travel writing that appears in most newspapers and travel magazines. We publish stories that reflect the reasons we like to travel: to see the world in all its beauty and complexity, and sometimes all its horror. We travel to learn more about others, and also to learn more about ourselves -- what we love and what we fear, what we believe in and what we don't. We travel to feel a giddy sense of discovery abroad, and to feel a sense of discovery, too, upon returning home, seeing our own lives, and the world around us, anew. We travel because, when it comes right down to it, it's just plain fun. "World Hum" is a phrase from a Don DeLillo novel, and it describes the rush we feel when we travel: a surge of adrenaline, electricity, and sometimes, on this ever-shrinking planet, connection.
We publish new dispatches about every ten days. We update our weblog daily with links to travel stories and narratives, new travel sites, or anything else that's so good we just have to share it. Enjoy the site, and let us know what you think.
The editors,
Jim and Mike"

World Hum



Thursday, January 29, 2004

Interview with "Bend It Like Beckham" Director Gurinder Chadha

The film Bend It Like Beckham with its great story, interesting characters and powerful message was one of my favorite films of last year. Here is Pop Matters Cynthia Fuchs' interviewing the director, Gurinder Chadha (posted at Alternet ):

"It is the ultimate kind of girl power movie, because it doesn't belittle the girls' experience. As much as I love Clueless, it's a little plasticky, even as it is about being plasticky, and it is a mainstream Hollywood movie. Given those constraints, it did pretty well. What I wanted to do was create a story about teens, but a teen movie with balls, so to speak. I wanted to make something that really looks at what you go through at that age. And it's all so complicated, dealing with boys, your girlfriends, your parents, trying to be your own person. And she's Indian, so you have all the Indian cultural stuff, and race, since she's in London."

Entire Interview


"The Sniper's Tale" by Anthony Swofford

An excerpt from Anthony Swofford's book "Jarhead" published in the Guardian :

"Anthony Swofford came from a military family. He was a US marine to the bone. But when he was sent to fight in the 1991 Gulf war and saw the devastation he was part of, doubts and despair set in. What were they fighting for? He tells how it felt to be a soldier on the ground, under fire from the enemy, and, worse, from his own side."

The Sniper's Tale

UBU Web: Ethnopoetics

From the introduction:

"The breakthroughs of the last 100 years in poetry and elsewhere have been marked by new approaches to language and performance. Largely this has been the work of several generations of experimental writers and performers, many of them now archived and available thru Ubuweb and related web sites. It fell to some of us, starting with forerunners like Tristan Tzara and Antonin Artaud, to track related but traditional approaches over a wide range of once impenetrable cultures throughout the world. In my own work I was able to bring some of these lines together in gatherings of the 1960s and 1970s like Technicians of the Sacred and Shaking the Pumpkin, as well as in the magazine Alcheringa that I co-edited for several years with Dennis Tedlock. The name that we gave this enterprise, as it applied to the world’s deep cultures – those surviving in situ as well as those that had vanished except for transcriptions in books or recordings from earlier decades – was ethnopoetics.

In the present Ubuweb collection of ethnopoetic openings, it’s our intention to build a sampler of what we take to be the second great breakthrough of the modernist poetry project. The search here is for a range of poetries outside the domain of customarily accepted literature. In particular we’re interested, in the spirit of other segments of Ubuweb, in soundings and visionings that are the traditional and often culturally acceptable counterparts to what in our own surroundings have been seen and heard as radical, even disturbing departures from conventional practice. In exploring these we will also be mindful of occasions on which the avant-garde experimental line has merged with or deliberately drawn from other culturally specific traditions.

We proceed in the spirit of Gertrude Stein, often quoted by me: The exciting thing about all this is that as it is new it is old and as it is old it is new, but now we have come to be in our way which is an entirely different way.

- Jerome Rothenberg, October 2002"

Enter Ethnopoetics

My Father the Mobster

The UK newspaper Guardian routinely has excerpts from books as a guide to readers. Here is a recent one from Albert Demeo's "For the Sins of My Father":

"At six, his father gave him his first gun; by eight, he could recite 'Two in the head, make sure they're dead,' and for his 11th birthday, his mother bought him the Bible and his dad gave him a copy of Machiavelli's The Prince. But it wasn't until he was 13 that the full weight of being the son of a Mafia capo hit home. In this extract from his gripping memoir, Albert De Meo recalls the conflict and confusion of growing up with a devoted father who was also a feared member of the Gambino crime family with more than 200 killings to his name."

Rest of the Story


Mainstream Media's Anti-Union Bias

Report from In These Times posted on Alternet :

"Unions, as the bumper sticker says, 'brought us the weekend.' The eight-hour day, too. A minimum wage. Social Security. Employer pension plans beyond the executive suite. And more. But those achievements do little to shape the perceptions of labor that dominate our cultural life. For many of the rest of us, organized labor is associated with corruption, high wages for a privileged few and job security for the unmotivated and undeserving. The disparity in our perceptions of unions is directly connected to the image of labor that is promoted by mainstream news coverage, union officials say."

Read Entire Article

Press Think: Ghost of Democracy in the Media Machine

A great site... an excerpt from their manifesto/introduction:

"We need to keep the press from being absorbed into The Media. This means keeping the word press, which is antiquated. But included under its modern umbrella should be all who do the serious work in journalism, regardless of the technology used. The people who will invent the next press in America--and who are doing it now online--continue an experiment at least 250 years old. It has a powerful social history and political legend attached..."

Rest of the Manifesto

or visit their homepage and browse their witty, incisive critiques:

Press Think

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

The Girls Next Door: US Sex Slave Scandal

(thanks to Joseph Thomas for the email about this story)

Catches your attention doesn't it!

The January 25th cover story of New York Times Magazine featured Peter Landesman reporting about crime rings in the US that involve tens of thousands of young people forced into sexual slavery.

Landesman's Article

Immediately after he appeared on National Public Radio's "Fresh Air" in an interview about his story:

Listen to the Interview

The day after the New York Time's Magazine story many people began to question the facts of this amazing story. One of the very first to question these facts was Radosh's blog , then the questioning of the facts of Landesman's story got louder and more mainstream as Jack Shafer of Slate Magazine picked up the story (with a reproduction of the 'original' NYT Magazine cover designed like a cheap slasher flick to titilate readers before horrifying them):

Sex Slaves of West 43rd Street

By tuesday it was a chorus of condemnation:

Doubting Landesman


This is disappointing on so many fronts. More evidence of the lengths that reporters are driven to in order to bring in the juicy story that will sell copies in a "if it bleeds it leads" market? Another in a long line of fabricated stories printed in respected mainstream news outlets? How does this hurt the case of real victims of slavery or sexual imprisonment?

This is a great example of the continuing role Internet new sources (downplayed by some mainstream news reporters and academic scholars as unreliable and low-class) serve in exposing stories that play with the facts.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

The "Home" Project

I have a fascination with words and how we build our own particular meanings out of them. Here is a project from trAce that is creating a document of the many meanings of "home":

"This website invites you to contribute your own memories and imaginings of Home: the sound of it, the scent of it, the feel of it, the taste of it. The place where *you* go for rest, refuge and satisfaction. The site is designed as a series of questions to help focus your thoughts - please answer as few or as many as you wish. Your responses will be added to the collection immediately, and you can also read the contributions of others. Together we are building a Home Page with a difference."

Visit this great site and read contributions from around the world and then add your own particular interpretation of "home."

Enter Home

Over There: How America Sees the World--Part 2

( from Granta )

"Even an American society that has suffered the depredations of George W. Bush and John Ashcroft holds more hope as a model than one shaped by the caste system of India, the lockstep vision of al-Qaida and its supporters, the ethnic rivalries of the Balkans, or the strongman politics of most of Africa, Central Asia and the Arab world. Adam Hochschild on what's he values about American society."

Hochschild's Essay

Stillness by Scott Russell Sanders

( From Orion )

STILLNESS
by Scott Russell Sanders
photographs by John Gruen

THROUGH THE AISLE of waving woodland sunflowers and purple ironweed, I approach a cedar hut where I plan to sit quietly for a few hours, gathering the scattered pieces of myself. Resting at the foot of a hill between a meadow and a forest, surrounded by a deck and railing, the tiny cabin seems to float on the earth like a gabled houseboat the color of whole wheat bread. Grasshoppers lurch aside with a clatter as I move along the path, but hummingbirds and butterflies continue blithely feeding. Here in southern Indiana the tall grasses have bent down under the weight of their seeds, the maples and sycamores have begun to release a few crisp leaves, and the creeks have sunk into their stony troughs.

Entire Essay

Over There: How America Sees the World--Part 1

Part of the Granta series of American experiences in other countries:

Nell Freudenberger makes a mistake in Laos and learns that 'ignorance is no excuse':

Freudenberger's Essay

The American Taliban

The American Taliban
Bill Berkowitz, Alternet

Daniel Levitas, author of 'The Terrorist Next Door,' speaks
about homegrown terrorists, the state of white supremacist
paramilitary groups, and rising racism.

The Interview

Amazing Pictures--Pt. 1

(courtesy of Robert Benton)

A series of pictures exploring the wonder of life:

Amazing Pictures

The Yes Men

Rhizome

"For those that follow political or satirical net art, the Yes Men are probably a familiar 'organization.' Now, the 'invisible theater' of the Yes oeuvre is being introduced to a larger audience: moviegoers. Though it has already played at the Sundance Film Festival, the Yes Men Movie, created by filmmakers Dan Olman, Sarah Price, and Chris Smith, will be officially released by United Artists this summer. The film follows Yes Men Andy and Mike as they impersonate the WTO online, at conferences, and on television, and documents their shock as they 'pass' every time. A recently updated website contains information on the movie as well as first-hand accounts and images of their attempts to provoke unsuspecting audiences. And speaking of provocations, the Yes Men's caper at the textile conference in Finland is a must-see." -Ryan Griffis

Yes Men: The Movie

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Influence Peddling and the Buying of Think Tanks

Excerpted from a report in Tom Paine, "Thought Control" by Steven C. Clemons:

"In his book, The Paradox of American Democracy, John Judis recounts numerous anecdotes about several of Washington's most prominent think tanks. He asserts that the convergence of think tanks, corporate dollars, rich individuals, and foundations has birthed a new breed of influence peddlers.

This breed is being rapidly cloned and it's adding a toxic element to important national policy debates. It's also changing the fundamental nature of the way think tanks operate.

It used to be that think tanks were funded to do independent basic research that upheld the organizations' missions but wasn't targeted at creating a specific effect. Increasingly, though, think tanks are being funded to do applied research aimed at created what's called an "advocacy impact," seducing legislators and administration officials to adopt their policy proposals or to heed their counsel on important policy questions.

If that sounds like lobbying to you, you should know that it does to a lot of people who are a part of the think tank world and are concerned about these changes."

Read the Rest of the Essay

The End of Oil?

Excerpt from Stephen James Kerr's essay "The End" in Z-Mag

"Get out of the way. American capitalism has declared war on the laws of physics.

Somebody please tell the president of the United States that whatever political and economic system we create, human beings cannot change the 1st law of thermodynamics. We can't create energy from thin air. Big business may be able to swindle the American electorate, but it can't repeal the law of diminishing returns.

Capitalism has developed, and our population has grown from one to six billion by drawing down a massive natural gift of energy in the form of cheap crude oil.

It's half gone. Since the mid 1990s Petroleum geologists have known that global oil production would peak in the first decade of the 21st century and decline forever thereafter. There is no adequate substitute for oil energy. The peaking of production means the further growth of energy demand, and thus of the global capitalist economy, is physically impossible. No energy - no economy.

Below is the scenario for world oil production predicted by Dr. Colin Campbell, in a report The World Oil Supply 1930 - 2050, written for Petroconsultants in Geneva in 1995. Petroconsultants, now IHS Energy is the biggest consulting firm to the oil industry. The report cost $35,000 per copy."

Rest of the Article

Why I Started a Blog

(My response to Bronwyn's question about blogs, originally posted at Media Squatters )

I recently started a blog for six reasons:

1) I want to practice writing in any form possible and the blog provides me
with an easy journal style format (especially since my work is involving
more and more computer time). This format seems to lend itself to
free-associational writing which is good for inspiration and creativity that
could translate to other projects.

2) I like to share news and writings that I find inspiring or important. At
the same time I realize that it can become very annoying for those that are
bombarded with random emails so I use the blog to post what I would like to
share and if someone finds it useful--cool.

3) It supplies a weird record of my ADD derives across the Internet and my
random cultural fixations. Perhaps allowing me to rein in my thought and
develop a clearer focus?

4) I want to develop new methods for teaching writing and I hope that the
blog-format could become a forum for student writing
experiments/creativity/collaboration. In my class I have this strange sense
that I am also a student and I am learning from their understanding and
interactions with the world. I'm lucky in that I continue to learn from
earlier generations instead of losing contact with them due to generational
barriers or disinterest or fear.

5) As a good friend hinted I'm probably somewhat narcissitic in that i think
I have something to say or share--so be it...

6) I want to talk to other people that care about these things I post or
write--thus a comment function is a necessity. Most of my face-to-face
friends are in different geographical locations across the world... I miss
them and perhaps this is a way to reach out to them? Like the other posting
that talked about developing community... there is definitely a desire to
find new contacts/friends/colleagues that help me to re-think the world
anew...

Ubu Web--Archive of Text, Sound and Images

An unbelievable Internet site. This is a dream come true for researchers of the history of avant-garde or cutting-edge creative expressions. I'm serious this has to be seen to be believed:

Ubu Web

Horse Race Journalism

From Tom Paine:

Jay Rosen is chair of the Journalism Department at New York University and the author of What Are Journalists For? His weblog is PressThink: Ghost of Democracy in the Media Machine .


"Political stories don't just 'happen' the way hailstorms do. They are artifacts of a political universe that journalism itself has helped to construct." -- Paul Taylor, former political reporter, The Washington Post.

"There are seven interlocking parts in a kind of contraption political journalists operate for us every four years—campaign coverage, as we have come to dread it. Recognize any of the following?

The Gaffe: when a candidate on the campaign trail takes a pounding in the press for something that just isn't said to the press on the campaign trail.

The Expectations Game: when a candidate "wins" by losing but doing better than the press expected, or "loses" by winning but doing worse.

The Horse Race: when the press centers its coverage around shifts in who's ahead, based on poll results the press says are bound to shift.

The Ad Watch: when the press converts political advertisements—and the strategy behind them—into political news, and then analyzes that news to advertise its own savviness.

Inside Baseball: when the press tells the story of politics by going to insiders, the "players" who know the game because they play the game and get paid to know it.

Electability News: when the press shifts from reporting on a candidate's bid for election in the here and now, to the chances of the bid succeeding later on.

Spin Alley: when, after a debate, the press shows up in the spin room to be spun by stand-ins and spokespeople who are gathered there to spin the press."

Rest of the Essay

Saturday, January 24, 2004

CBS and Democratic Debate

(posted at Media Squatters):

Last week, CBS censored free speech by refusing to sell airtime to the
MoveOn Voter Fund for a political ad during the Super Bowl. The ad is
critical of the Bush Administration's run-up of the federal deficit.

CBS -- owned by media giant Viacom -- says it doesn't run
"controversial" ads during the Super Bowl. But it plans to air a White
House drug policy spot during the game. The last such ad linked
marijuana smoking to terrorism... hardly uncontroversial.

It is no coincidence that the White House and the FCC are pushing
through new media ownership limits at the behest of CBS and other media
giants -- efforts that MoveOn and Free Press activists have been
fighting. CBS/Viacom spent $4 million lobbying Congress in the last
four years alone.

CBS is playing politics with the right to free speech: another example
of media monopoly's chilling effect on democratic debate.

We need your help to spread the word about CBS and the growing media
crisis. Many members of Congress continue to fight media consolidation
because millions of Americans have raised their voices. This recent
insult proves that we need millions more.

First, forward this email to everyone you know who cares about free
speech and democracy.

Next, go to Media Reform to learn more and sign up
to be a Free Press E-Activist if you are not one already.

Help us expand the number of activists working to build a media system
that serves the public interest, not just corporate interests. Our
democracy depends on it.

Onward,
The Free Press Team

P.S. Stay up to date on news relating to media reform with our free
daily headline service. Sign up at
http://www.mediareform.net/news/deliveries.php . Give it a try; both
subscribing and unsubscribing are easy.

P.P.S. Support media reform by becoming a Free Press Action Fund
member at http://www.mediareform.net/support.php

Friday, January 23, 2004

Citcorp Announces New Environmental Considerations in the Authorization of Business Loans

A step in the right direction:

Citicorp's Environmental Initiatives

The Meat Industry

Everyone acted shocked that evidence of Mad Cow disease has begun to show up in US cattle stocks, but in all actuality this has been reported over the years. What happened to honest meat-packers that reported cases to the USDA and other governmental agencies? Why don't we hear about these reports? Lets take a look at how the system discourages reporting of tainted meat:

Meat Packing Maverick

The Chain Never Stops

CBS Record of Censorship Continues

CBS has refused to air the winner of Move On's Citizen Ad competition during the Super Bowl (Move On would pay for the ad to be aired just like everyone else) on the grounds that CBS doesn't air "advocacy" ads.

Definition courtesy of Merriam Webster Online:
Main Entry: ad·vo·ca·cy
Pronunciation: 'ad-v&-k&-sE
Function: noun
: the act or process of advocating or supporting a cause or proposal

What do you call advertising? Is it not in its essence always advocacy of a lifestyle, worldview, or product? Why are they showing White House ads supporting the continuing Drug War during the Super Bowl?

To find out more about this controversy:

Censorship of Citizen Ad

Unfortunately this is just one of many recent instances of CBS censorship. For instance CBS caved-in to conservative protest over the Reagan miniseries and removed it from their schedule:

Censorship of Reagan Miniseries


UK Latin American Studies Program Spring Film Series--Free Admission

All films are free and open to the public--they begin at 6pm and are in the Classroom Building, room 102.

Showing Monday, January 26th:

Yo, La Peor de Todas (1990)--directed by Maria Luisa Bemberg

Synopsis of the Film

More About the Director

UK Latin American Studies Program

The 25th Annual Women Writers Conference-March 25-27, 2004

"The Kentucky Women Writers Conference is so proud of our quarter century tradition of bringing the ‘prophetic voices of women’ to Central Kentucky, we’re painting the town red in celebration. Join us for a weekend of readings, workshops, panel discussions, receptions, exhibits, screenings, concerts, and downtown festivities and make a little history with the oldest women writers conference in the country. Learn more about 2004 conference..."

Conference Website

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Fan Culture in All Its Vulgarity!

Trio, the all pop culture cable station, is doing a series on fan culture/style/attitudes in the parking lots of pop culture events. It has to be seen to be believed!

Parking Lot Shows

Robert Plant on Fresh Aire

Robert Plant was the legendary lead singer of the band Led Zeppelin . He was featured tonight in an episode of National Public Radio's "Fresh Air" . The entire episode is available online:

Listen to the Entire Episode

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah is an amazing person, and in my view, despite the fact that I rarely have the opportunity to see her show (due to its time slot), she has consistently produced one of the best shows in the history of television.

Today I was busy writing on the computer in the other room and I heard Melissa watching today's episode which featured documentary filmmaker Angela Shelton (and her brother), former NFL player Esera Tuaolo and a courageous woman named Cheryl. I grabbed something to eat and sat transfixed as I watched an episode that, in a respectful, non-sensationalized, honest manner, dealt with some of the most important issues in our society. All three of her guest are amazing role models.

To see about the episode:

Confronting Family Secrets

Defending the Right to Read!

Excerpt from "Defending the Right to Read" by Clarisse Butler, published by New York Teacher :

"Librarians and teachers find themselves on common ground in dealing with the pressures and politics of censorship. Teachers have the responsibility of selecting reading materials and other resources. For school librarians, the task is even greater. They must choose - and often defend - titles for an entire school or district's library. With America's schools and classrooms more diverse than ever, many educators strive to represent their students' backgrounds in the literature they choose.

When two parents objected to the inclusion of the Junie B. Jones series in the Corinth Elementary School library, librarian Fran Aveta, a member of the Corinth Central Teachers Association (Saratoga County) went to bat to keep the series. "There's no way that a person should dictate what can be on a library shelf," said Aveta. The series was challenged on the basis that it didn't teach values of common decency and respect. Aveta's multi-layered efforts to keep the books, including bringing them to the school board, won her the New York Library Association's Social Issues Resources Series Intellectual Freedom Award."

Entire Article

Thinking Long Term...

"What is the difference between an adult and a child, or a good government and a poor government? The ability to think in the long term. Thinking short term: we topple Saddam now, while creating generations of enemies for the future; we act unilaterally now, weakening the alliances that ensure a peaceful future; we fail to provide regular health care now, guaranteeing emergency room visits in the future; we run up deficits now, which will be a huge burden for the future; we do standardized testing now, instead of investing in schools and teachers for the future; we support energy company profits now, rather than protecting clean air and old growth forests for the future...In every way, the Bush policies are about making an impression now at the expense of the future. To defeat Bush, this must be made clear to all the adults who, because they have children, have some reason to care about the future."
- David Berman, Teacher (January 22, 2004; New York, NY)

Now watch the winner of the MoveOn citizen ad campaign:

Child's Play

Film Societies

Start one now--host it in an abandoned building, your favorite pub/coffeehouse, a friend's living room, a university building/public library, or wherever you can get a space... here is a great example of a long-running film society:

ISU Cinema Society

It is cheap and easy to do and well worth the effort.

The Eyes Have It: Surveillance in America--Christian Parenti

Christian Parenti the author of The Soft Cage: Surveillance in America from Slavery to the War on Terror (Basic Books 2003) explains the significance of the increased practice of social surveillance and authoritarian watchfulness.

Excerpt from the Tom Paine report:

"Recent weeks have brought a slew of stories about the rapid proliferation of routine surveillance. First, Jet Blue violated its own privacy policy by handing over a million passenger names to a Pentagon contractor. Then came the news that the Biloxi, Mississippi school system has installed surveillance cameras in every classroom, and that a number of other schools are doing the same. Taken on their own, these news stories can seem minor, but the political whole of creeping surveillance is greater than the sum of its many disparate parts.

The principal of one Biloxi school praised the classroom cameras as a form of "truth serum" that insures student obedience. Her message was clear and highlighted the larger social issues at play in each specific instance of increased surveillance. The implications of such a pro-camera argument go as follows: What does one have to fear from total surveillance as long as one submits totally to all rules and laws?"

Read Entire Article

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Just in Case you Were Wondering After Last Night's Presidential Speech, It's Still the Economy...

The Village Voice reporting on the New Hampshire primaries:

"BERLIN, NEW HAMPSHIRE—If this were anywhere else but a New Hampshire mill town on the brink of a presidential primary, Joe Lieberman's Secret Service detail might have yanked Mark Milstein out of his seat at the Tea Birds Café, just to play it safe.

The burly printer looked angry as he waited at a back table for the Democratic candidate to get around to him. When Lieberman came over and sat down, they shook hands and spoke for five minutes in tones so hushed that even the reporters sitting at the next table had trouble hearing. That's the kind of audience you command as a voter in New Hampshire these days.

George Bush may be trying to distract the populace with talk about space exploration, but Milstein, like his fellow Berliners, is clearly most concerned about the economy—and constantly annoyed about the loss of jobs overseas. Like so many other towns in America, Berlin, population 10,000, has just been buffeted by another round of layoffs. Foreign-trade policies aren't solely to blame: There are New Hampshire jobs heading for other states."

Full Article

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

President's Speech and the Democrat Response

Its amazing how speeches are so different without the rah, rah, cheerleading, standing ovations, and quick camera cuts... here is Bush's address to Congress:

Bush's Address to Congress

I was very impressed by the Democrat's response. An affirmation of this country's development and purpose, combined with a clear distinction of where they believe President and the Republicans are wrong. Perhaps this could prove to be interesting:

Democrat Response

Joke of the Day--Texas Story

(Courtesy of my Mom :)

Two cowboys from Texas walk into a roadhouse to wash the trail dust from their throats. They stand at the bar, drinking a beer, and talking about current cattle prices.

Suddenly, a woman at a nearby table, who is eating a sandwich, begins to cough. After a minute or so, it becomes apparent that she is in real distress.

One of the cowboys looks at her and says, "Kin ya swaller?"

The woman shakes her head, no. "Kin ya breathe?"

The woman begins to turn blue and shakes her head.

The cowboy walks over to the woman, lifts up the back of her dress, yanks down her drawers and quickly gives her butt cheek a lap with his tongue.

The woman is so shocked, that she has a violent spasm and the obstruction flies out of her mouth. As she begins to breathe again, the cowboy walks slowly back to the bar and takes a drink from his beer.

His partner says, " Ya know, I'd heard of that there 'Hind Lick Maneuver', but I ain't never seen nobody do it."

David vs Goliath: Percy Schmeiser and Monsanto

A 73 year old farmer is fighting Monsanto before Canada's Supreme Court:

From activist site supporting Schmeiser:

"Percy Schmeiser is a farmer from Bruno, Saskatchewan Canada whose Canola fields were contaminated with Monsanto's Round-Up Ready Canola. Monsanto's position is that it doesn't matter whether Schmeiser knew or not that his canola field was contaminated with the Roundup Ready gene and that he must pay their Technology Fee."

Read More

Also an Associated Press report on Yahoo with links to Monsanto and Canadian Supreme Court websites:

AP Report

Remembering Johnny Cash

Think about the drivel that is played on corporate radio--where are the poets/revolutionaries/shamans???

Always glad to hear of some I may have missed or good venues to hear original music (at least I can still find mostly commercial free music at Shoutcast and Public Radio stations)

I heard Johnny singing that Nirvana song about pain the other day in my office and it just shook me... I can remember the first album of his I heard, the live Folsom prison recordings, I was just a child and I couldn't understand why he would play a concert in a prison ... only later did I realize that Johnny understood that they were humans too and when you deny anyone respect they will only reciprocate in-kind. For so long corporate country stations mostly ignored his music ... why? such a powerful giant of the field? of course now he is dead and it will become safe again to play some of his songs................ the machine mobilizes to make money off his corpus.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
From the The Nation :

"Though he wasn't widely known as a political artist, Johnny Cash waded
into the controversies of his times with a passion. Like the US troops in
Vietnam who idolized him, he questioned the wisdom of that war. And in the
mid-1960s, at the height of his success, he released an album strongly
challenging his country's treatment of Native Americans."

Read Article

Low-Wage America

From Moving Ideas :

"The U.S. economy is generating jobs again, but not enough good jobs. Tens of millions of Americans receive less than a living wage - and many jobs lost in the last recession are being replaced by jobs that pay less. Recent books have vividly described daily life in low-wage America, but few have addressed why our ever more productive economy doesn’t generate more good jobs.

The Russell Sage Foundation recently published the most important piece of research in a generation on why the economy keeps producing bad jobs. The study, Low Wage America, co-sponsored with the Rockefeller Foundation, relied on the work of 38 researchers examining 464 enterprises in 25 industries. This Prospect special report, in partnership with the Russell Sage Foundation, examines the dead-end workplace -- and points to solutions."

Low Wage America Reports


Top Ten Drug War Stories of 2003

Top Ten Drug War Stories of 2003
Kevin Nelson, Alternet
The drug war continues to exact crippling costs to taxpayers, minority groups, the environment, civil liberties and struggling democracies around the world.

Read Report

Monday, January 19, 2004

Music--the good, the bad, and the ugly

I was watching Saturday Night Live this weekend and "G-Unit" was the guest band. Has rap lost all respectability? This was one of the worst bands I have seen on that show--no imagination, no talent and piss-poor lyrics. I was embarrassed for the band...

Luckily, lovely Melissa, my life-partner, got me the Funk Box 4cd Set ... click on the link and listen to these songs, that is music designed to get your booty shaking ;)

I also recently received a care package of burned cds from my good friend Liz, including the latest from Outkast, Black Eyed Peas, Michael Franti and Spearhead and Jill Scott. Another recent favorite is the band Dead Prez...

Check out this site for a list of other interesting possibilities:

Just Think Alternative Media

So why do people buy cds by bands like "G-Unit"?

Project Censored's Top 10 Censored Stories of 2003

Project Censored's ANNUAL LIST
Kari Lydersen, Alternet
Sonoma State University releases its list of the year's top
ten under-reported and censored stories.

Entire Report

Ariel Sharon and the Geometry of Occupation

A three part essay by architect Eyal Weizman:

"Israel’s ‘barrier’, ‘wall’, or ‘separation fence’ across the West Bank is the latest architectural expression of a twenty-year old political strategy. In a mind-opening three-part series that extends his renowned “The Politics of Verticality” into a new dimension, Eyal Weizman offers a penetrating analysis of how ideas about power, security and planning intersect with politics to shape the spaces in which the Israeli-Palestinian conflict develops."

Read the Essay

Natalie Gummer on Reading "Critically"

"'To read critically' does NOT mean 'to criticize' what you read. If you think that you have read a text critically simply by poking holes in its ideas, by finding its logical inconsistencies or weaknesses in its argument, or by denigrating its plot, style, characterization, and so forth, think again (literally!).

Granted, every text has its weaknesses, and a good reader will recognize them. But every text also has strengths. If you only look for weaknesses, then you're not challenging your own perspective; you're not learning."

Read Entire Text

Honoring Martin Luther King's Radical Message

Martin Luther King was a pacifist in that he preached change through non-violent protest, but he was not "passive" when confronted with the need to address injustice and oppression. His words were a rallying cry for a re-vision of the United States of America... now that he has a holiday, streets, and schools named for him it is easy to forget how he, and other strong souls, fearlessly spoke truth to power:

Film: Honor the Legacy

One of the better articles attempting to realize Martin Luther King's "truth force" is on Alternet :

Dr. King: The Remix

Susan Brandau Asks the Important Questions

In Books, Bits & Bytes by Susan Brandau

I want to thank you for the glorious year you have planned for me. I realize
that because some of you are new to your offices you have no idea what you
are doing or what the "rules" are. The rules are simple. There is only one
rule. You were elected to your office to HELP the citizens of the
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Not just the rich ones, not just the ones who
contributed to your campaigns, not just the ones to whom you owe favors, but
all the citizens .

Read Entire Column

Sunday, January 18, 2004

City of God by E.L. Doctorow (hypertextual review)

City of God may have an experimental beginning that can be frustrating for some readers... don't worry though as you travel into the narrative landscape it slowly pulls together threads of meaning that create an evolving state of awareness, by page 50 you are recognizing clear patterns and by pages 80-90 you have the names of the main characters down. Don't let this frustrate you, this book is not a Bic Mac designed to be hastily gobbled down, rather, it is a sumptous feast for the senses and soul, a fulfilling meal designed to feed the spirit.

It tackles the big issues of the 20th Century and creates a dazzling array of voices to bring this historical moment of the century's end to dramatic life. It is so searing when it hits on all engines, the descriptions of the city are very powerful bringing a sense of the majestic aliveness of urban life and its chaotic sensory effect. The portrayals of the past through a World War II Jewish ghetto and a young boy's experiences are soul-shattering. The relationship of the main characters in the New York present are vivid and real...

The last 100 pages are a powerful literary experience of the continuing importance of religion in our society, while also providing a no holds barred critique of the reactionary traditions that try to stop us from evolving as humans and as spiritual beings (in a very subtle storytelling manner).

If this sounds interesting you might also be interested in Black Elk Speaks, Nothing Sacred by Douglas Rushkoff, The Concept of the Foreign by Rebecca Saunders, The Infinite Conversation by Maurice Blanchot, and The Cunning of History by Richard Rubenstein ... I read these books near the time I was reading "City of God" and they all speak to the need for new modes of interpersonal human relations or a new spirituality for a changing world.

The Politics of Anti-Politics

From Open Democracy

It’s election year in the United States! In the first of his weekly
columns, TODD GITLIN asks: is this less a presidential election than a
race to be outsider-in-chief?

Read Column

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Rhetorics of Place: California

University of California-Berkeley geography professor Richard Walker breaks down the cultural-geographic history of California:

California and the Pacific Rim

Lecture Notes


Social Issues Research Centre (UK)

Social Issues Research Centre is a UK collective that has been publishing online a series of pamphlets and books. Here is an example of their list of publications and bulletins:

SIRC Publications
SIRC Bulletins

I came across them through their book size survey "Social and Cultural Aspects of Drinking":

Read Here

Deconstructing George (from TomPaine.com)

TomPaine.com demonstrates the critical method of hypertextual linking past comments and actual facts inside a speech to illuminate misleading or just plain wrong statements.

From the posting:

"The White House's PR smog is thickening. Here, for your reading pleasure, is an annotated transcript of Bush's Sept. 15 speech at the Detroit Edison plant in Monroe, Michigan."

Read Deconstructing George

H-Museum's "9/11: Memory--Remembrance--Museum"

From the site:

"The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, have become an event of world history, which is explored by historians, museum specialists, archivists, librarians, and other scientists. Exhibitions aim at keeping alive the memory of the thousands of victims, recollections are collected in archives, museums store the relics of the attacks retrieved from the rubble of the collapsed Twin Towers, from the rubble of the points of impact at the Pentagon Building and in Pennsylvania. On the Internet too 9/11 is a day of remembrance. At numerous private and "official" websites the victims of the attacks are remembered. In 2002 H-Museum made 9/11 the subject of its "Current Focus". One year after the event a comprehensive survey was given of how the terrorist attacks had been reflected in the remembrance culture of the media as well as in the field of museums and archives. In 2003 H-Museum wants to document the situation two years after the momentous series of attacks."

Visit Exhibit/Archive

CBS Cuts MoveOn, Allows White House Ads During Super Bowl (Media Channel report)

Media Channel reports:

The nearly 100 million viewers who tune into the Super Bowl on CBS will be served up ads that include everything from beer and bikinis to credit cards and erectile dysfunction. They will also see two spots from the White House. Are these advocacy ads? If so, why did CBS opt to include them while cutting MoveOn from the program?

Read Entire Article

Al Gore Speaks on Global Warming and the Environment

Move On is changing the face of politics by giving voice to everyday citizens (see their citizen ads in an earlier post this week) and increasing public awareness by making available on the Internet speeches that are not covered by mainstream media.

Al Gore's Speech

State of the Union Scorecard

On Tuesday, January 20th, President Bush will deliver his annual State of the Union address to Congress.

TomPaine.com has made available a scorecard to check to see if the President address major issues that Americans are currently facing in their lives--individually, communally and as a nation. If you would like a copy of the State of the Union Scorecard:

Scorecard

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Award Winning Documentary "February One"

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 15, 2004) -- A free screening of the award-winning documentary, “February One,” written and co-produced by University of Kentucky history professor Dan Smith, will be shown at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 31, at the Kentucky Theatre on Main Street in Lexington.

More Info

Last Week Of Whitney Exhibit at UK Art Museum

Just a reminder - don't miss seeing Visions from America: Photographs from the Whitney Museum of American Art, 1940-2001 at the University of Kentucky Art Museum! The last day to view this important exhibition is Sunday, January 25. Over 100 photographs from the past 60 years are featured in a variety of formats: color, black-and-white, large-format, digital, etc. Postcards, a poster, and a catalogue of the exhibition are for sale in the museum shop.

On Sunday, January 18, a photography workshop will be held at Shakertown in Mercer County. Led by photographer Don Barker, students will learn various photography techniques and tips. Film is provided by Murphy's Camera, and tickets are required. Please call 257-6199 by 3:00 p.m. on Friday, January 16 for ticket prices and reservations.

Hope to see you in the museum soon!
Jane Vahlkamp Andrus
Marketing & Membership Coordinator
_________________________________________________
UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY ART MUSEUM
Rose Street & Euclid Avenue, Lexington, KY 40506-0241
859.257.8164, Fax 859.323.1994, www.uky.edu/ArtMuseum

John Crowley's "The Deep"

I kept seeing raves about Crowley's books so I read his first book "The Deep" (1975). On the surface it is about a mysterious stranger that has amnesia while wandering around a feudalistic environment. The society which is divided into two constantly shifting, warring factions thrives upon pageantry and intrigue. The book touches upon the mysteries of beginnings and endings, game theory, and our deeper dark passions (of course all in an otherworldly fantasy).

For more information on Crowley's books:

John Crowley


Lexington Event:

Committee on Social Theory
Spring Lecture Series:
RELIGION and IDENTITY



January 23: “Denying Evolution: Creationism, Scientism and the Nature of Science”
Massimo Pigliucci
Dept. of Botany & Dept. of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
University of Tennessee

February 20: “Postcolonial Politics and Islam(ism)”
Bobby Sayyid
School of Sociology and Social Policy
University of Leeds, UK

March 5: “Religion, Social Identity, and Toleration”
Ian Markham
Dean and Professor of Theology & Ethics,
Hartford Seminary

April 2: “Pageant and Performance: Early 20th Century African American Women’s Religious Drama”
Judith Weisenfeld
Dept. of Religion
Vassar College

April 23: “Religions and Social Bond: The Church and the Modern State in Haiti (from 1492 to Today)"
Laennec Hurbon
Director of Research,
Centre Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris, France


Location of lectures:

Jan 23, April 2, 23: President’s Room, Singletary Center
Feb 20, Mar 5: Auditorium, Young Library

Time: 2PM



--- for additional information, please contact David Wise (7-4693; dhwise@uky.edu)
From The Nation:
Lookout by Naomi Klein


The Year of the Fake
[from the January 26, 2004 issue]

Don't think and drive.

That was the message sent out by the FBI to roughly 18,000 law enforcement
agencies on Christmas Eve. The alert urged police pulling over drivers for
traffic violations, and conducting other routine investigations, to keep
their eyes open for people carrying almanacs. Why almanacs? Because they are
filled with facts--population figures, weather predictions, diagrams of
buildings and landmarks. And according to the FBI Intelligence Bulletin,
facts are dangerous weapons in the hands of terrorists, who can use them to
"to assist with target selection and pre-operational planning."

Entire Article

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Lexington Events:

January 14th
Energize, Educate, and Elect
Lexington Theological Seminary
631 S. Limestone St.
7pm-9pm
From the flier:
The Peace Action Task Group invites you to an evening dedicated to igniting efforts that change the direction our nation is headed. Our purpose is to bring together people to discuss registering voters, getting out the vote, and educating the electorate.

Saturday, January 17th
Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War
Kentucky Theater
214 E. Main St.
11:30am-12:30pm
As a native Californian I am still shocked by the results of the recent election. Here's a solid theory of why Arnold is now Governor:


FRAMING ARNOLD
George Lakoff shows how conservatives used framing to win the election -- and how Democrats ignore the power of framing at their peril.

Framing Arnold

THE REAL NATIONAL SECURITY THREAT: THE BUSH ECONOMY
Ian Williams, AlterNet
Thanks to the enormous trade and budget deficits run up by the Bush
administration, the U.S. economy is dangerously dependent on foreign
investors, especially China.

The Real National Security Threat
Attention Writers and Artists: New Publishing Opportunity

Untitled Bourgeoizine Project 9 (Spring 2004)


When both monkeys were given a cucumber slice after handing over the
token, they completed the trade 95 percent of the time. But when one was
given the tastier grape for the same amount of work, the rate of
cooperation from the other monkey fell to 60 percent, with the cheated
primate sometimes throwing the token, refusing the cucumber or giving the
cucumber to the other monkey. The suggested theme of issue #9 is
“correspondence.” The submission deadline is 29 February 2004.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Recently I noticed in a CFP that there is a Public Nature Corporation that seeks to "inhabit and affect, both physically and conceptually, spaces where art and the broader public interact: public parks, foyers, roadways and airways."

For me, Tim Peyton first articulated a theory of the concept of mutable and anonymous public art. The possibilities of creating art that would last but moments and possibly inspire random audiences seemed guerilla. It was based on a rejection of the corporate need to profit from every single creative inspiration. Later I came across Hakim Bey's "Poetic Terrorism" and revisited situationist theories of the spectacle and even flirted with the Geo-Sift. Adam Jones would later turn me on to a whole history of landscape artists.

Through these spontaneous interactions with our environment we can experience a renewal of the appreciation of the world outside our terminal screens. I've never been higher than when I collaboratively produced spontaneous art: street theater, mutable nature art (as if we could ever match what is already there), spontaneous performances in the classroom (both mine and my students), or public interventions.

Should I be concerned about a business called "Public Nature Corporation"? I admit I wince everytime I think of it, but there are much worse ways to make a buck?

I would very much like to hear about examples of spontaneous mutable performances, art and interventions...


Public Nature
Poetic Terrorism
GeoSift
Situationist International Online
Bureau of Public Secrets
Public Art Review
MoveOn.org ran a campaign for the public to create their own homemade ads to use in the 2004 presidential campaign. Here are some of the winners:


Bush in 30 seconds
Monologism at its extreme denies the existence outside itself of another consciousness with equal rights and equal responsibilities, another I with equal rights (thou). With a monologic approach…another person remains wholly and merely an object of consciousness, and not another consciousness. No response is expected from it that could change everything in the world of my consciousness. Monologue is finalized and deaf to the other's response, does not expect it and does not acknowledge in it any decisive force. Monologue manages without the other, and therefore to some degree materializes all reality. Monologue pretends to be the ultimate word. It closes down the represented world and represented persons. (Bakhtin: 292-93)

The dialogic nature of consciousness. The dialogic nature of human life itself. The single adequate form for verbally expressing authentic human life is the open- ended dialogue. Life by its very nature is dialogic. To live means to participate in dialogue: to ask questions, to heed, to respond, to agree, and so forth. In this dialogue a person participates wholly and throughout his whole life: with his eyes, lips, hands, soul, spirit, with his whole body and deeds. He invests his entire self in discourse, and this discourse enters into the dialogic fabric of human life, into the world symposium. (Bakhtin: 293)

Bakhtin, Mikhail M. Problems of Dostoyesky’s Poetics. ed. and trans. Caryl Emerson. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota P, 1984.
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This quote by the great Russian writer/critic Mikhail Bakhtin inspires me to listen to 'other' discourses in order to re-view my understanding of the world. I've started this blog as an attempt to map out what I am hearing/reading/seeing in an open-ended re-imagining of the world. Hopefully it won't remain a monlogue for long...