Monday, January 31, 2005

Feminist of the Day

Check out the blog Bitch Ph.D., on the upper right hand side.

Maureen Dowd: Torture Chicks Gone Wild

(courtesy of Oak, who sent it as a companion piece to the previous post about the students who are willing to give up their rights)

Dowd, Maureen. Torture Chicks Gone Wild New York Times (January 30, 2005)

A former American Army sergeant who worked as an Arabic interpreter at Gitmo has written a book pulling back the veil on the astounding ways female interrogators used a toxic combination of sex and religion to try to break Muslim detainees at the U.S. prison camp in Cuba. It's not merely disgusting. It's beyond belief.

First Amendment No Big Deal, Students Say

(courtesy of Abby Normal)

First Amendment No Big Deal, Students Say: Study shows American teenagers indifferent to freedoms MSNBC (January 31, 2005)

"The way many high school students see it, government censorship of newspapers may not be a bad thing, and flag burning is hardly protected free speech."

Richard Koenigsberg: Virility and Slaughter

Richard Koenigsberg

In the First World War, 1914-1918, it is estimated that nine-million soldiers were killed, twenty-one million wounded, and nearly eight million taken prisoner or reported missing. Thus, of sixty-five million troops mobilized, nearly thirty-eight million, or fifty- eight percent were casualties. What was the meaning of this massive episode of civilizational destruction? Why were millions of young men killed or mutilated?

As one studies the battles of the First World War and learns of the prodigious number of human beings killed in each of them, the mind boggles.

What was going on? What kept the war going? Why did leaders persist in sending young men to die? Why didn't Generals alter their battle strategy when it was evident that what they were doing did not work? Why did soldiers rarely rebel against their fate? Why did they continue to fight on even though death stared them in the face?

A collection of this essay and other papers are available online

Colours of Resistance

Colours of Resistance

Colours of Resistance (COR) is a grassroots network of people who consciously work to develop anti-racist, multiracial politics in the movement against global capitalism. We are committed to helping build an anti-racist, anti-imperialist, multiracial, feminist, queer and trans liberationist, anti-authoritarian movement against global capitalism. We are committed to integrating an anti-oppression framework and analysis into all of our work.
Colours of Resistance is both a thinktank and an actiontank, linking the issues of global capitalism with their local impacts. For us, this means working locally on issues such as anti-war, police brutality, prison abolition, indigenous solidarity, affordable housing, healthcare and public transportation, environmental justice, racist immigration policies, and many more. Colours of Resistance acts as a network for us to share support, ideas, and strategies with one another across our diverse communities.

Colours of Resistance fights global capitalism with the goal of eradicating all systems of oppression that capitalism feeds and needs. We are dedicated to addressing oppressive power dynamics in our organizing. This means noticing, and changing when necessary, dynamics that may include whose voices are heard, which priorities are chosen, what actions are taken, who does the work, and who gets the credit. As one step towards this, we aim to have our network organizing collective made up of at least 2/3 people of colour and 2/3 women, and we seek to go beyond mere tokenism by recognizing the leadership of women of colour in particular.

We recognize that both organizers of colour and white organizers have roles in our work, and that these roles may be distinct from one another. For example, resisting white supremacy is not the sole responsibility of people of colour - white organizers have a responsibility to confront and challenge racism in white communities while working in solidarity with organizers of colour. Solidarity does not mean being paternalistic white 'saviours' but working alongside, and looking to the leadership of organizers of colour.

Our collective work as a network includes but is not limited to producing a zine, a website and published articles, sharing ideas through local meetings and email discussion lists, and facilitating workshops and events. While we use the internet as a networking tool, we believe that real resistance comes from real communities and are committed to rooting our work in community-based organizing.

Colours of Resistance first emerged in North America as a response to our growing feeling of a gap between what has been labelled as the 'anti-globalization' movement in the 'West' and the day-to-day organizing efforts in communities of colour to resist the impacts of global capitalism. We share a common critique of the lack of power/privilege analysis among predominantly white and middle-class anti-summit protests in the 'West' and are building a network of people who understand anti-oppression work as integral to any progressive movement building.

Tao Te Ching (Stephen Mitchell translation):

Tao Te Ching (from 10 and 9)

Giving birth and nourishing,
Having without possessing,
Acting with no expectations,
Leading and not trying to control:
This is the supreme virtue.

Do your work, then step back.
The only path to serenity.

Marcia Angell: The Drug Profiteers


It's time to rein in the biggest drug peddler of them all -- the pharmaceutical industry. Author Marcia Angell tackles the $200 billion collossus in her new book,
'The Truth about the Drug Companies.'

-->> Read Kelly Hearn's Q&A with Angell

-->> Read an excerpt from Angell's book The Truth About the Drug Companies

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Terry Eagleton: A Different Way of Death

(courtesy of Charlotte Street)

While insurgents have been blowing themselves apart in Israel and Iraq, a silence has prevailed about what suicide bombing actually involves. Like hunger strikers, suicide bombers are not necessarily in love with death. They kill themselves because they can see no other way of attaining justice; and the fact that they have to do so is part of the injustice. It is possible to act in a way that makes your death inevitable without actually desiring it. Those who leapt from the World Trade Centre to avoid being incinerated were not seeking death, even though there was no way they could have avoided it.

Ordinary, non-political suicides are those whose lives have come to feel worthless to them, and who accordingly need a quick way out. Martyrs are more or less the opposite. People like Rosa Luxemburg or Steve Biko give up what they see as precious (their lives) for an even more valuable cause. They die not because they see death as desirable in itself, but in the name of a more abundant life all round.

Suicide bombers also die in the name of a better life for others; it is just that, unlike martyrs, they take others with them in the process. The martyr bets his life on a future of justice and freedom; the suicide bomber bets your life on it. But both believe that a life is only worth living if it contains something worth dying for. On this theory, what makes existence meaningful is what you are prepared to relinquish it for. This used to be known as God; in modern times it is mostly known as the nation. For Islamic radicals it is both inseparably.

Entire Essay

Aldous Huxley: On Silence

(courtesy of Rob Scharein)

On Silence

The twentieth century is, among other things, the Age of Noise. Physical noise, mental noise and noise of desire -- we hold history's record for all of them. And no wonder; for all the resources of our almost miraculous technology have been thrown into the current assault against silence. That most popular and influential of all recent inventions, the radio is nothing but a conduit through which pre-fabricated din can flow into our homes. And this din goes far deeper, of course, than the eardrums. It penetrates the mind, filling it with a babel of distractions, blasts of corybantic or sentimental music, continually repeated doses of drama that bring no catharsis, but usually create a craving for daily or even hourly emotional enemas. And where, as in most countries, the broadcasting stations support themselves by selling time to advertisers, the noise is carried from the ear, through the realms of phantasy, knowledge and feeling to the ego's core of wish and desire. Spoken or printed, broadcast over the ether or on wood-pulp, all advertising copy has but one purpose -- to prevent the will from ever achieving silence. Desirelessness is the condition of deliverance and illumination. The condition of an expanding and technologically progressive system of mass production is universal craving. Advertising is the organized effort to extend and intensify the workings of that force, which (as all the saints and teachers of all the higher religions have always taught) is the principal cause of suffering and wrong-doing and the greatest obstacle between the human soul and its Divine Ground.

----Aldous Huxley (written in 1946)

Saturday, January 29, 2005

I Need Book Reviewers

Hello bloggers/writers. I'm the review editor for Reconstruction and I need book reviewers. We can offer you "the books" you need for the reviews (I'll request them from the publisher and have them sent directly to you) and the satisfaction of being published.

I am also in need of a couple of reviews immediately (this weekend). Does anyone have reviews ready or could you produce one quickly--if so we would have it up for you very quickly and then I could work on getting you more books to review.

The journal is an interdisciplinary cultural studies project and we welcome a wide-range of perspectives. We are seeking reviews of recent non-fiction books--theory, history, pedagogy, critical/political analysis, etc... We are also looking for reviews of performances, fiction, film, TV, music, and Internet projects. To see previous reviews in order to get a sense of the possibilities go here.

If you can help us out with reviews this weekend, or if you want to apply to be a future reviewer, leave me a message in the comments section of this post and I will contact you. Feel free to tell me your background and what you would like to review. If you already know my email, also feel free to just send me an email, rather then leaving it in the comments section.

Friedrich Nietzsche: Come Let Us Kill the Spirit of Gravity

(courtesy of Yuriy Bronshteyn who is working with a group on our campus to publish an alternative rag--suddenly in this conservative place there is a flurry of alternative media)

"I would only believe in a god who could dance. And when I saw my devil I found him serious, thorough, profound, and solemn: it was the spirit of gravity - through him all things fall. Not by wrath does one kill but by laughter. Come, let us kill the spirit of gravity!"

-Friedrich Nietzsche

Doonesbury: Iraq Timeline

Iraq Timeline

Sun Ra: Space is the Place (Lexington Event)

FILM SCREENING/FUNDRAISER - Sun Ra's "Space Is the Place" (1974) THIS Sunday, January 30 @ the Icehouse, 412 Cross St, just off W. Maxwell 8pm, all ages welcome, donations accepted ($3 suggested)

A rare screening of Sun Ra?s exceedingly odd and wonderfully funny intergalactic blaxploitation/black power epic "Space Is The Place". Jon Pareles of the NY Times described the film thusly, "Black power and free jazz collided with the fashion sense of SUPERFLY. The PUTNEY SWOPE of jazz films." EYES AND ARMS OF SMOKE will play a short set to open the show. Expect different sounds (and a special guest or two) from EAS.

And, as it says above, this is a fundraiser. Financing the Arkestra's trip to Lexington has been a greater challenge than expected (believe me, I've been the
one trying to sort it out). All money contributed at the door will go directly
toward the Arkestra's expenses and guarantee. For more information, email me at or call 536-5568.

Dreaming Essays

I used to get so wrapped up in some of the literary essays I would write as an undergraduate college student that I would become fixated on the time period I was studying and attempt to become the author or characters. Eventually, when the time was right, I would enter into a slipstream state in which I would have dreams of hanging out in pubs shooting-the-shit with the author (or characters) I was currently writing about (sort of a Borgesian experience)... my favorite dreamtime conversation was with William Blake, he was very energetic, passionate, and totally convincing... and the essay won first prize in a university contest--the awarding panel rolled their eyes when I walked up to the podium and thanked Billy Boy for a long drunken discussion about "Heaven and Hell" ...

Friday, January 28, 2005

Carlos Castenada and Paul Williams

(Thanks to Cyndy at Mouse Musings who posted these words when I needed to read them--and to Rob a new friend from the Chuck Prophet concert last night who told me the same thing)

When one has nothing to lose, one becomes courageous.
We are timid only when there is something we can still cling to.
Carlos Castaneda

Possessiveness is a form of doubt.
People cling to what they (think they) have because
they doubt that they're worthy of it.
If they knew their own worth,
they'd know there is no need to cling.
Paul Williams

Thursday, January 27, 2005

The Scarecrow: Never Forget

The Scarecrow, at Comments From Left Field, on what we should remember about the horror of Auschwitz:

Never Forget

David Bornstein: New Solutions

(courtesy of Oso of El Oso, El Moreno and El Abogado)

Bornstein, David. New Solutions IT Conversations (PopTech 2004 Conference: October 23, 2004)

David Bornstein talks about a project to bring electricity to poor people in Brazil: single wires going to houses, grounded in the soil, low voltages. The project is also bringing solar panels to rural areas, renting them for what people generally pay for candles, kerosene, etc. He also talks about "child line" in India, now in 55 cities. It's a number you can call if you see a child in distress. It started with one woman who spent 3 years trying to get the equivalent of an 800 number for it. It's deeply affected India's child protection policies. David Bornstein is the author of How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas, and The Price of a Dream: The Story of the Grameen Bank which chronicles the worldwide growth of the anti-poverty strategy "micro-credit." The Price of a Dream, which drew on ten months of research in villages in Bangladesh, won second prize in the Harry Chapin Media Awards, was a finalist for the Helen Bernstein New York Public Library Book Award for Excellence in Journalism, and was selected by the San Francisco Chronicle as one of the best business books of 1996. Bornstein's articles have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times, New York Newsday, Il Mondo (Italy), Defis Sud (Belgium) and other publications. He co-wrote the two-hour PBS documentary series To Our Credit, which focuses on "micro-credit" programs in five countries.

Alain Destexhe: Defining Genocide

From RWANDA AND GENOCIDE IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY by Alain Destexhe with a foreword by William Shawcross. Reprinted with permission from New York University Press and Pluto Press/UK Alain Destexhe is the former Secretary General of Doctors Without Borders. Copyright 1995.

Genocide is distinguishable from all other crimes by the motivation behind it. Towards the end of the Second World War, when the full horror of the extermination and concentration camps became public knowledge, Winston Churchill stated that the world was being brought face to face with 'a crime that has no name.' History was of little use in finding a recognised word to fit the nature of the crime that Nazi Germany, a modern, industrialised state, had engaged in. There simply were no precedents in regard to either the nature or the degree of the crime. Raphael Lemkin, the Polish-born adviser to the United Staes War Ministry, saw that the world was being confronted with a totally unprecedented phenomena and that 'new conceptions require new terminology.' In his book, Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, published in 1944, he coined the word 'genocide', constructed, in contradiction to the accepted rules of etymology, from the Greek 'genos' (race or tribe) and the Latin suffix 'cide' (to kill). According to Lemkin, genocide signifies 'the destruction of a nation or of an ethnic group' and implies the existence of a coordinated plan, aimed at total extermination, to be put into effect against individuals chosen as victims purely, simply and exclusively because they are members of the target group.

To read more: "The Crime of Genocide."

More about this subject:

Facing History and Ourselves: The Crime of Genocide

Introduction: “Genocide is not just a word to describe massacres. It is an important legal term that many see as the foundation for international human rights law. Ms. Power writes about the man who coined the word, Raphael Lemkin, a legal scholar and a Jew who was forced to flee when the Nazis invaded Poland.”

Crimes Against Humanity and Civilization: The Genocide of the Armenians

Introduction: “Facing History's new resource book, Crimes Against Humanity and Civilization: The Genocide of the Armenians, combines the latest scholarship on the Armenian Genocide with an interdisciplinary approach to history, enabling students and teachers to make the essential connections between history and their own lives. By concentrating on the choices that individuals, groups, and nations made before, during, and after the genocide, readers have the opportunity to consider the dilemmas faced by the international community in the face of massive human rights violations. While focusing on the Armenian Genocide during World War I, the book considers the many legacies of the Armenian Genocide including Turkish denial and the struggle for the recognition of genocide as a "crime against humanity." The book can be integrated into courses dealing with multiple genocides, human rights, as well as history courses covering the late 19th century and World War I as well as U.S. international relations.”

Alexander Laban Hinton's edited collection Annihilating Difference: The Anthropology of Genocide (2002)

Peter Cook: Six Part Debate on the Privatization of Water

Cook, Peter. "Fluid Dynamics: A Debate on Water Privatization, Pt. 1 Grist (July 9, 2004)

Everyone knows that water is the stuff of life. But is it best viewed as a commodity or as part of the commons? Should providing safe, affordable water be the role of governments, corporations, or partnerships between the two? On Tuesday, July 13 (dates may vary for local stations), the PBS show P.O.V. is airing "Thirst," a documentary by Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman that addresses these and other issues about water privatization. In partnership with P.O.V., Grist is hosting a week-long debate on the merits of water privatization between Peter Cook, executive director of the National Association of Water Companies, and Maude Barlow and Sara Ehrhardt, anti-privatization activists with the Council of Canadians.

Part two: "Wrung Dry."; Part Three: "The Right to Privacy."; Part Four: "Drink Different."; Part Five: "Roiling the Waters."; Part Six: "All Wet."]

Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman: Thirst

"Thirst." P.O.V. (PBS: 2004)

Global corporations are rapidly becoming involved with local water supplies, trying to combine private profits with what many feel should be a fundamental right to water access. Looking at tensions in Bolivia, India and Stockton, California, "Thirst" reveals how water is becoming the catalyst for explosive community responses to the management of this precious resource.

Also check out the documentary website. The documentary is available to check out/watch in William T. Young library.

Geitner Simmons: Regions of Mind

Recommended blog:

Regions of Mind

Geitner Simmons is the deputy editorial page editor with the Omaha World-Herald. He is also a Midwesterner, a Southerner, a husband, a father, a son. And always a student.

First post I noticed: “A Nation of Regions, Pt. 1.”

Slavoj Žižek: "The Spectre of Ideology" (excerpts)

Žižek, Slavoj. “The Spectre of Ideology.” The Žižek Reader. ed. Elizabeth Wright and Edmond Wright. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1999: 53-86.

… instrumental reason designates an attitude that is not simply functional with regard to social domination but, rather, serves as the very foundation of the relationship of domination. An ideology is thus not necessarily ‘false’: as to its positive content, it can be ‘true’, quite accurate, since what really matters is not the asserted content as such, but the way this content is related to the subjective position implied by its own process of enunciation. We are within ideological space proper the moment this content—‘true’ or ‘false’ (if true, so much the better for the ideological effect)—is functional with regard to some relation of social domination (‘power’, ‘exploitation’) in an inherently non-transparent way: the very logic of legitimizing the relation of domination must remain concealed if it is to be effective. In other words, the starting point of the critique of ideology has to be full acknowledgement of the fact that it is easily possible to lie in the guise of truth. When, for example, some Western power intervenes in a Third World country on account of violations of human rights, it may well be ‘true’ that in this country the most elementary human rights were not respected, and that the Western intervention will effectively improve the human rights record; yet such a legitimization none the less remains ‘ideological’ in so far as it fails to mention the true motives of the intervention (economic interests, etc.). (Zizek, 61)

1. So, to begin with, we have ideology ‘in-itself’: the immanent notion of ideology as a doctrine, a composite of ideas, beliefs, concepts and so on, destined to convince us of its ‘truth’, yet actually serving some unavowed particular power interest.. The mode of the critique of ideology that corresponds to this notion is that of symptomal reading: the aim of the critique is to discern the unavowed bias of the official text via its ruptures, blanks and slips—to discern in ‘equality and freedom’ the equality and freedom of the partners in the market exchange, which, of course, privileges the owner of the means of production, and so on. Habermas, perhaps the last great representative of this tradition, measures the distortion and/or falsity of an ideological edifice with the standard of non-coercive rational argumentation, a kind of ‘regulative ideal’ that, according to him, inheres in the symbolic order as such. Ideology is a systematically distorted communication: a text in which, under the influence of unavowed social interests (of domination, etc.), a gap separates its ‘official’, public meaning from its actual intention—that is to say, in which we are dealing with an unreflected tension between the explicit enunciated content of the text and its pragmatic presuppositions. (Zizek, 63)

Today, however, probably the most prestigious tendency in the critique of ideology, one that grew out of discourse analysis, inverts this relationship: what the tradition of Enlightenment dismisses as a mere disturbance of ‘normal’ communication turns out to be its positive condition. … what Habermas perceives as the step out of ideology is denounced here as ideology par excellence. In the Enlightenment tradition, ‘ideology’ stands for the blurred (‘false’) notion of reality caused by various ‘pathological interests (fear of death and of natural causes, power interests, etc.); for discourse analysis, the very notion of an access to reality unbiased by any discursive devices or conjunctions with power is ideological. The ‘zero level’ of ideology consists in (mis)-perceiving a discursive formation as an extra-discursive fact. (Zizek, 63-64)

Arguably the most elaborate version of this approach is Oswald Ducrot’s theory of argumentation; although it does not employ the term ‘ideology’, its ideologico-critical potential is tremendous. Ducrot’s basic notion is that one cannot draw a clear line of separation between descriptive and argumentive levels of language; there is no neutral descriptive content; every description (designation) is already a moment of some argumentative scheme; descriptive predicates themselves are ultimately reified-naturalized argumentative gestures. This argumentative thrust relies on topoi, on the ‘commonplaces’ that operate only as naturalized, only in so far as we apply them in an automatic, ‘unconscious’ way—a successful argumentation presupposes the invisibility of the mechanisms that regulate its efficiency. (Zizek, 64) {MB—Ducrot is a French author and the book Zizek mentions Le Dire et le dit is unfortunately not available in English yet}

One should also mention here Michel Pêcheux, who gave a strict linguistic turn to Althusser’s theory of interpellation. His work is centered on the discursive mechanisms that generate the ‘evidence’ of sense. That is to say, one of the fundamental stratagems of ideology is the reference to some self-evidence—‘Look, you can see for yourself how things are!’ ‘Let the facts speak for themselves’ is perhaps the arch-statement of ideology—the point being, precisely, that facts never ‘speak for themselves’, but are always made to speak by a network of discursive devices. … Discourse analysis is perhaps at its strongest in answering this precise question: when a racist Englishman says “There are too many Pakistanis on our streets!’, how—from what place—does he ‘see’ this—that is, how is his symbolic space structured so that he can perceive the fact of a Pakistani strolling along a London street as a disturbing surplus? (Zizek, 64-65) {MB—see Pecheux’s essay in Mapping Ideology}

Last but not least, mention should be made of Ernesto Laclau and his path-breaking approach to fascism and populism, whose main theoretical result is that meaning does not inhere in elements of an ideology as such—these elements, rather, function as ‘free-floating signifiers’ whose meaning is fixed by the mode of their hegemonic articulation. Ecology, for example, is never ‘ecology as such’; it is always enchained in a specific series of equivalences: it can be conservative (advocating the return to balanced rural communities and traditional ways of life), statist (only a strong state regulation can save us from the impending catastrophe), socialist (the ultimate cause of ecological problems resides in the capitalist profit-orientated exploitation of natural resources), liberal-capitalist (one should include the damage to the environment in the price of the product, and thus leave the market to regulate the ecological balance), feminist (the exploitation of nature follows from the male attitude of domination), anarchic self-managerial (humanity can survive only if it reorganizes itself into small self-reliant communities that live in balance with nature), and so on. The point, of course, is that none of these enchainments is in itself ‘true’, inscribed in the very nature of the ecological problematic: which discourse will succeed in ‘appropriating’ ecology depends on the fight for discursive hegemony, whose outcome is not guaranteed by any underlying necessity of ‘natural allliance’. The other inevitable consequence of such a notion of hegemonic articulation is that statist, conservative, socialist, and so on, inscription of ecology does not designate a secondary connotation that supplements its primary ‘literal’ meaning: as Derrida would have put it, this supplement retroactively (re)defines the very nature of ‘literal’ identity—a conservative enchainment, for example, throws a specific light on the ecological problematic itself (‘owing to his false arrogance, man forsook his roots in the natural order’, etc.). (Zizek, 65) {MB—the Laclau comes from Politics and Ideology NY: Verso, 1977}

2) What follows is the step from ‘in-itself’ to ‘for-itself’, to ideology in its otherness, externalization: the moment epitomized by the Althusserian notion of Ideological State Apparatuses (ISA) that designate the material existence of ideology in ideological practices, rituals and institutions. Religious belief, for example, is not merely, or even primarily, an inner conviction; but the Church as an institution and its rituals (prayer, baptism, confirmation, confession … ) which, far from being a mere secondary externalization of the inner belief, stand for the very mechanisms that generate it. When Althusser repeats, after Pascal ‘Act as if you believe, kneel down, and you shall believe, faith will arrive by itself’, he delineates an intricate reflective mechanism of retroactive ‘autopoetic’ foundation that far exceeds the reductionist assertion of the dependence of inner belief on external behavior. That is to say, the implicit logic of his argument is: kneel down and you shall believe that you knelt down because of your belief—that is, your following the ritual is an expression/effect of your inner belief; in short, the ‘external’ ritual performatively generates its own ideological foundation. (Zizek: 65-66)

… Althusser … conceives these micro-procedures as parts of the ISA; that is to say, as mechanisms which, in order to be operative, to ‘seize’ the individual, always-already presuppose the massive presence of the state, the transferential relationship of the individual towards state power … (Zizek: 66)

What liberal criticism (mis)perceives as Fascism’s weakness is the very resort of its strength: within the Fascist horizon, the very demand for rational argumentation that should provide grounds for our acceptance of authority is denounced in advance as an index of the liberal degeneration of the true spirit of ethical sacrifice—as {MB—Wolfgang Fritz} Haug puts it, in browsing through Mussolini’s texts, one cannot avoid the uncanny feeling that Mussolini had read Althusser! The direct denunciation of the Fascist notion of the ‘community of people’ (Volksgemienschaft) as a deceptive lure that conceals the reality of domination and exploitation fails to take note of the crucial fact that this Volksgemeinschaft was materialized in a series of rituals and practices (not only mass gatherings and parades, but also large-scale campaigns to help the hungry, organized sports and cultural activities for the workers, etc.) which performatively produced the effect of Volksgemienschaft. (Zizek: 67)

3) …

Today, in late capitalism, when the expansion of the new mass media in principle, at least, enables ideology effectively to penetrate every pore of the social body, the weight of ideology as such is diminished: individuals do not act as they do primarily on account of their beliefs or their ideological convictions—that is to say, the system, for the most part, bypasses ideology in its reproduction and relies on economic coercion, legal and state regulations, and so on. (Zizek: 67-68)

Here, however, things get blurred again, since the moment we take a closer look at these allegedly extra-ideological mechanisms that regulate social reproduction, we find ourselves knee-deep in the already mentioned obscure domain in which reality is indistinguishable from ideology. What we encounter here, therefore, is the third reversal of non-ideology into ideology: all of a sudden we become aware of a For-itself of ideology at work in the very In-itself of extra-ideological actuality. First, the mechanisms of economic coercion and legal regulation always ‘materialize’ some propositions or beliefs that are inherently ideological (the criminal law, for example, involves a belief in the personal responsibility of the individual or the conviction that crimes are a product of social circumstance). Secondly, the form of consciousness that fits late-capitalist ‘post-ideological’ society—the cynical, ‘sober’ attitude that advocates liberal ‘openness’ in the matter of ‘opinions’ (everybody is free to believe whatever she or he wants; this concerns only his or her privacy), disregards pathetic ideological phrases, and follows only utilitarian and/or hedonistic motivations—stricto sensu remains an ideological attitude: it involves a series of ideological presuppositions (on the relationship between ‘values’ and ‘real life’, on personal freedom, etc.) that are necessary for the reproduction of existing social relations. (Zizek: 68)

It is as if in late capitalism ‘words do not count’, no longer oblige: they increasingly seem to lose their performative power; whatever one says is drowned in the general indifference; the emperor is naked, and the media trumpet forth this fact, yet nobody seems really to mind—that is, people continue to act as if the emperor is not naked. (Zizek: 71)Today, when official ideology is increasingly indifferent toward its own consistency, an analysis of its inherent and constitutive inconsistencies is crucial if we are to pierce the actual mode of its functioning. (Zizek: 83n9)

Žižek Bibliography

Zizek Speeches/Lectures (scroll down)

More Zizek Readings

London Review of Books' Essays

Yahoo Zizek

Axis Mundi Zizek

Breaking the Waves Through Zizek

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Lynn White, Jr.: The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis

Written in 1967 and published in Science magazine, this essay is just as important now, especially in White's understanding of how "Human ecology is deeply conditioned by beliefs about our nature and destiny--that is, by religion."

The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Matt Rothschild: The Hidden Passages in Bush's Inaugural Address

Rothschild, Matt. "The Hidden Passages in Bush's Inaugural Address." Democracy Now (January 25, 2005)

Matt Rothschild of The Progressive Magazine ... analyzes President Bush's second inaugural address. Rothschild finds that in addition to the many explicit references to God, Bush's speech contained even more hidden allusions to the Bible.

Also Check out:

Vidal, Gore. "On Bush's Inaugural Address: "The Most Un-American Speech I've Ever Heard" Democracy Now (January 25, 2005)

David Bornstein: How Social Entrepreneurship Can Change the World

Bornstein, David. How social entrepreneurship can change the world." Global Envision (2004)

David Bornstein, a journalist who specializes in writing about social innovation, is the author of a new book, How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas, that willl be released by Oxford University Press on Feb. 5. He has authored articles in the New York Times and the Atlantic Monthly; he co-wrote the PBS documentary "To Our Credit"; and his first book The Price of a Dream: The Story of the Grameen Bank (University of Chicago Press, 1997) was selected as a finalist for the New York Public Library Book Award for Excellence. During the late 1990s, while many journalists focused on the technology boom, Bornstein traveled to far-flung destinations on four continents, chronicling the world-changing emergence of the global citizen sector and the social entrepreneurs who are its leading innovators. "Almost everyone knows about the explosion of the dot-coms — a much smaller phenomenon — but millions have still not heard the big story: the worldwide explosion of dot-orgs," Bornstein writes. Now, after twelve years writing about social entrepreneurs, he has developed a unique knowledge of this exciting and fast-growing field.

Cusano, Chris. Review of How to Change the World: The Global Emergence of Social Entrepreneurs." Global Envision (2004)

Bush Administration Ignores Wishes of New Mexico Governor and People: Drilling Plan in Rare Desert Land Goes Forward

Drilling Plan OKd for Rare Desert Land
By Julie Cart, Times Staff Writer
Posted at Yahoo News

Overriding objections by New Mexico's governor, the Interior Department announced a final plan Monday for expanding oil and gas drilling on Otero Mesa, a rare desert grassland and one of a handful of places in the western U.S. where opposition to drilling had united ranchers, property rights advocates, hunters and conservationists.

The plan, crafted by the Bureau of Land Management, is smaller in scope than originally contemplated, but much larger than what Gov. Bill Richardson indicated he would support. It allows drilling a maximum of 141 exploratory wells and 84 producing wells on nearly 2 million acres of Chihuahuan grassland in southern New Mexico.

The decision sets aside 36,000 acres as habitat for the endangered Aplomado falcon and forbids leasing in wilderness study areas and other designated protected areas. In total, the plan prohibits drilling on 124,000 acres.

Richardson, a Democrat who was secretary of Energy in the Clinton administration, proposed a compromise last March that allowed some drilling but would have placed more than 75% of the federal land off-limits to energy exploration.

On Monday, Richardson lashed out at the Bush administration's "one-way, oil-only energy policy." "I am very disappointed by the Bush administration's failure to respect New Mexico's position on oil and gas leasing in this precious, sensitive and world-renowned area," Richardson said in a statement.

"The Interior Department is ignoring its stated policies of respecting and working with states regarding major land management decisions." New Mexico's attorney general, Patricia A. Madrid, said the state would appeal the decision.

"We need to ensure that the state's voice is heard by national policymakers," she said. More than 85% of public comments regarding Otero Mesa favored no drilling.

Efforts to forestall drilling on Otero Mesa were led by a diverse coalition of New Mexicans concerned about groundwater, wildlife and the preservation of grazing land.
The rugged and rocky desert west of Carlsbad is home to herds of pronghorn antelope, migratory songbirds and countless Indian petroglyphs.

One of the most contested issues is water — both the quantity used for oil and gas production and the quality of water after it is used. Energy companies pump large amounts of groundwater while operating wells, and the used water is sometimes contaminated with saline or petroleum byproducts.

A study commissioned by the state found that Otero Mesa was the largest source of untapped groundwater in New Mexico. "There is really nothing in the plan that speaks to the issue of groundwater," said Stephen Capra of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance. Capra said there were no limits on the amount of water that energy companies could pump.

"The bottom line continues to be we are talking about destroying the largest remaining desert grasslands in America for at best a few days worth of oil and gas. That is shortsighted," Capra said. BLM officials called the plan innovative and environmentally sensitive, noting a requirement that companies restore disturbed areas around drill pads before moving on to new sites.

Moreover, BLM officials said that if the damage caused by drilling could not be repaired, no further drilling would be allowed in the area. "We're trying to listen, we're trying to do the right thing; we have an obligation to manage the energy resource for the good of the country," said Ed Roberson, manager of the BLM field office in Las Cruces, N.M. Roberson said leasing could begin by the end of the year.

The potential energy yield from the area is unclear. According to the BLM, about 100 wells have been drilled in the last century and two have produced oil or gas. The state BLM office rates Otero Mesa's production potential as low to moderate.

Article Link

Project Censored 2005: The Top 25 Censored Stories of 2004

Project Censored 2005

Zandt, Deanna and Evan Derkacz. “Top Ten Censored Stories of 2003-2004.” Alternet (September 8, 2004)

Project Censored’s Top 25 Censored Stories of 2004

Project Censored’s Top 25 Censored Media Stories of 2003

Quote from the Project Censored 2005 website:

"Media criticism does exist in America. But by and large, it is not citizen-based criticism designed to make media a better source of information in a democracy. Instead, it is a cynical manipulation of the discourse designed to silence even the mildest dissent from the conservative, militantly pro-corporate dogma that has come to pass for news in an era when "reporters" brag about the size of their American-flag lapel pins."
- Robert McChesney and John Nichols

Monday, January 24, 2005

Recommended Blogs, Pt. 1

I asked for suggestions last year and this is what I received.

For an up-to-date, work-in-progress, link file--go to WritingReadings where I am building files for my students to access.

Courtesy of:

Adam J. Traveling and Teaching in Thailand and Co-founder of “Formerly Known as L’Bourgeoizine”

Derek Owens, author of “Composition and Sustainability” and founder of 21st Century Neighborhoods


Lisa (who left hers in the comments)

Michael Benton (Compiler)

Thivai Abhor (complainer)

Nick Lewis, co-founder of Progressive Blog Alliance

Joseph Thomas, Subversive Poet/Professor and co-founder of “Formerly Known as L’Bourgeoizine”

Kenneth Applebaum

Michael Miller

Rad Geek People’s Daily


Abby Normal, disturbed Californian sowing seeds of destruction in the psychic wasteland of Southern Illinois.

Suggested Blogs:

I found this blog because they linked to my Dialogic website and I stayed for a long time browsing the links on the left side. An interesting mix of links to cutting edge theoretical writings. Main page postings are in Farsi (I’m assuming here because I can’t read it and I saw it mentioned)—even though I can’t read these the links on the left could keep me diverted for a long time—high quality and intellectual. I would like to know what the title means? (TA)

Rabble says this about another site but it works for this one as well: “Ever wonder what other anarchist bloggers were thinking? Tired of getting relegated outside a two sided debate between warbloggers and bleeding heart liberals? Blogging is personal DYI media, and that's the bread and butter of anarchist media making.” (TA)

Andrew Sullivan
I check in on him for a more moderate perspective, and for a gay-rights perspective. (AJ)

Nearly daily, containing more news about the right's shenanigans than you can shake a stick at, but unafraid to critique the left's panderings and missteps where he sees error. He also has an unhealthy fixation on Tiger Woods, tequila and Shirley Manson from the band Garbage. He puts out a webcast radio show (which is by subscription only, so I've never heard more than the free snippets he posts), and often courts debate from his rightist detractors in live chatroom combat. (KA)

The Beat
Heidi Macdonald used to be a friend of mine, and she remains one of the snarkier writers on the comics industry and all surrounding subcultures. Politics don't tend to enter into it at all; this is where you go if you want your first peeks at what Jessica Alba will look like playing the Invisible Woman in the Fantastic Four movie. (KA)

Body and Soul
This is some good thinking that intertwines culture and politics. Check out this post that works itself in and our and between Ella Enchanted and the shenanigans of the War on Terror to make a statement about the fairy tales that are in play in today’s culture. Progressive, Anit-Bush… (MM)

Bohemian Mama
Personal blog of “activist politics with a dose of mama-hood.” A great series of postings on the state of affairs in our country on the 40th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act (Sept. 25, 2004). Definitely Anti-Bush! (NL)

Likely this will be on just about everyone's lists. Tech-savvy, affiliated with other net staples like Wired and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, as well as old media outlets like NPR and, well, Wired. Their collective finger is usually right on the zeitgeist, if not defining it outright. Definitely to the left, though perhaps a more libertarian left than anything else. (KA)

Captain’s Blog
Ultra-Conservative. Defender of Christianity. Hates long haired hippie freaks and people who do not support the war 100%. He visited my website so I figured I would put him in here to balance out the list. (TA)

Chapel Perilous
Collaborative in spirit but mostly the work of one guy who goes by the handle Bsti Natosi who, with his wife Niqita, run an online sock store. He claims no political affiliation, though he's more of a libertarian who'll grudgingly vote Kerry; the admission and embracing of which has recently earned him the enmity of his more right regulars. CP is one of the major members of the blogring known as The Cabal, most of whom are refugees from the sTaRe Network, formerly united by (KA)

Die Puny Humans
Warren Ellis also used to be a friend, but if Heidi is just inactive, he's outrightly exiled. Still, he has a knack for finding the more depraved elements of culture and shining a glaring spotlight on them for the entertainment of your more nihilistic types. If you say that I sent you I will deny ever hearing your name. (KA)

Discordian Research Technologies News
A collaborative blog of the Barry Bittwister Cabal of Discordians, and
probably the organizing agent of the aforementioned Cabal. News of the Weird is the speciality of the house, though they tend left, sometimes to the brink of anarchy, as is fitting of Eros-worshippers. (KA)

Dr. Menlo
The quote on this site says it all: “Promoting people over profits since 2000.” A wild, dangerous, chaotic, fun, transgressive and sexy site. Excellent visuals! Dr. Menlo is the reason I first started blogging—I read an essay posted on another site in which Dr Menlo explained the significance of blogging and how to get started (thanks!). (TA)

I’m a reformed techno-luddite who is way behind the curve so I appreciate a little bit of explanation about these devices. Tim Lauer provides a regular journal describing some of gear available, projects using new technologies, and it is centered around my profession. (MB)

El Oso, El Moreno and El Abogado
One of my favorite weblogs. This collective blog is a total package (make sure to visit other sections)… politics, language lessons, photos from around the world, arts and music, literary musings, place-based writing and autobiographical reflections. An added bonus is that they hail from my hometown and keep me up-to-date on the happenings there. Beware, if you leave a comment you “must” put a bogus email address in the space or it will wipe your efforts. Oso you need to change that? El Oso sent me a long list of recommended blogs but I couldn’t open his attachment because I am a luddite—check their site for recommendations. (MB)

I'm sure you know this one. He's a bitter thirty-something economist in Philly, and very far-left, albeit within the bounds of the DNC. It might be fairer to characterize him as anti-GOP. I wouldn't characterize the site as rigorous, and it wears its biases proudly. Still, it manages to gather and present all manner of interesting information--I treat it as something of a clearing-house for left-leaning talking points. Additionally, his anti-Big Media perspective, and his economic criticisms, are worth considering. (AJ)

“Lauren of Feministe is a single mother of one and full-time student living in central Indiana surrounded by corn, soybean fields, and 180 degrees of sky. She gardens, knits, and blogs in what little spare time she has, and hopes to graduate sometime before the turn of the next century. She started blogging to get over the isolation of new motherhood almost five years ago, and has stuck with it ever sense, knowing that if one can’t find fellow-minded folks in Indiana, one must look elsewhere.” Wide range of subjects, with a heavy emphasis on politics and music. (RGPD)

Front Page Magazine
Collective blog for the magazine An example of the far right …

fUSION Anomaly
Very likely the most venomously left-wing political news site out there. They say the nasty shit about the right so that just about anything lesser I can say seems diplomatic by comparison. At first it seems disingenuous how they sometimes edit stuff in that doesn't appear in the original cited text, but once you get used to the running jokes, not to mention that they link to the original articles, you learn to enjoy the invectives. (KA)

Inspector Lohmann
The Inspector escaped from the belly of the machine and has quickly become a respected critic of its operations. I enjoy his patchwork quilts of references and critiques. (TA)

Jesus General
Gen. JC Christian gives us God's own take on current events. A 10 on the Manly Scale of Absolute Gender Scale the General is not a homosexual. Abby who suggested the Genral states that: "The General takes swipes at the wingnuttery surrounding us and has the balls to actually send the letters." (AN)

Lines in the Sand
John Gibbs a contributor to Wealth Bondage maintains this individual blog. Intense, intelligent and wide-ranging. Progressive focus on social justice issues. Example posting: Green Jazz (recommended by Harry; blurb by TA)

Little Green Footballs
Sometimes I skim through Little Green Footballs, one of the more popular right-wing blogs (like an anti-Atrios). They're pretty repulsive people there, though--very openly racist, for instance. Dr. Menlo hosts a parody of the site “L.G.F. Quiz” (AJ)

Memory Hole Blog
Associated with the Memory Hole site run by Russ Kirk. Stated mission of “rescuing knowledge, freeing information.” Breaking news on the war and other important world events. Memory Hole was one of the first sites to run Russ Kirk’s photos of returning coffins of American soldiers. (TA)

Michael Bérubé Online
Michael Berube was one of the original controversial Cult Studs. This was a nickname (not always complimentary) given to a few progressive academics who came to fame in the late 80s/90s for engaging the aggressive, conservative right, opinion-makers in public forums. Bérubé is very intelligent, has a sense of humor, reaches out to younger intellectuals and he was very approachable and gracious when he was at the University of Illinois. (blurb by MB, recommended by AJ)

Mighty Girl
Heavy emphasis on shopping experiences… with some insights into gender and relationship politics. (blurb by MB; recommended by Lisa; condemned by TA)

A Mixed Blog
A collective blog production of The Multiracial Activist “a libertarian oriented activist journal covering social and civil liberties issues of interest to individuals who perceive themselves to be ‘biracial’ or ‘multiracial,’ ‘interracial’ couples/families and ‘transracial’ adoptees.” Lots of information/posting with very unique content and perspectives. Obviously we are talking about a progressive viewpoint. (MB)

Near Near Future
Ostensibly a tech blog, it's actually more about the ways in which tech is being applied towards more artistic, expressionistic ends. Right now they're featuring stories about USB drives as necklace lockets, prefab modular housing, postal service envelope hacking and a spinoff of "Wallace & Gromit." There's no overt political content, but the blogger is a French woman so, well, you do the math. (KA)

Net Politik
Collective blogging site. Progressive site, with wide-ranging analysis, extensive links, great quotes, and intelligent essays. As an added bonus—good aesthetics! Part of their statement of purpose: “We are a fellowship of progressive bloggers; there are no leaders, and there are no followers. We are not some petty "citizen's media"; we are writers, thinkers, and activists. We are not a part of the "new media". We are part of a tradition that is old as Thomas Paine's essay Common Sense. We recognize that ideas have more power than a hydrogen bomb -- and we hope to take advantage of that.” (TA)

David Neiwert is a freelance journalist based in Seattle. His reportage for on domestic terrorism won the National Press Club Award for Distinguished Online Journalism in 2000. He is the author of Death on the Fourth of July: The Story of a Killing, a Trial, and Hate Crime in America, (Palgrave/St. Martin's, 2004), In God's Country: The Patriot Movement and the Pacific Northwest (1999, WSU Press), as well as the forthcoming Strawberry Days: The Rise and Fall of the Bellevue Japanese-American Community (Palgrave/St. Martin's Press, 2005). His freelance work can be found at, the Washington Post, MSNBC and various other publications. (TA)

Don’t let the weblog name fool you—Buyankasha does some good sifting and analysis. Two contributors from Wisconsin—definitely reflects the left-leaning politics of a state that once gave us a communist mayor (TA).

Public Domain Progress
Michael Miller’s weblog is focused on linking and referring to essays and articles. Brief introductions—good selection of links. Progressive—not for Bush. (TA)

Rad Geek People’s Daily
Web developer Charles Johnson’s site reflects his web skills and the content is informed by his wide-ranging interests in philosophy and radical politics: “As you may have discerned from my constant growling on the subject, my politics are anarchist, radical feminist, anti-war, anti-racist, pro-labor, populist, and humanitarian. I identify closely with the Left and the Libertarian movement (although I am at times intensely critical of both), and the political programme that results is perhaps best described by Benjamin Tucker’s apt phrase, voluntary socialism. Philosophically, I’m chiefly interested in modal metaphysics, pure metaphysics and epistemology, responses to skepticism, philosophical method, and the role of philosophical criticism in building a free society. My influences include ancient philosophy (e.g., Socrates, Aristotle), German anti-psychologism (e.g., Kant, Frege, Husserl, Wittgenstein), common sense and ordinary language philosophy (e.g., G. E. Moore, J. L. Austin, Wittgenstein), and radical political theory (e.g., Benjamin Tucker, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Emma Goldman, James Baldwin, Murray Rothbard, Marilyn Frye, John Stoltenberg, Chris Sciabarra). Bêtes noires include: skepticism, anti-realism, relativism, psychologism, reductionism, scientism, positivism, irrationalism, psychologism, Hobbesian moral psychology, elitism, anti-intellectualism, modernism, ahistoricism, authoritarian Progressivism and misanthropic Romanticism posing as Leftism, vanguardism, fascism, Keynsianism, racism, male supremacy, pornography and slimy apologists therefor, nationalism, militarism, collectivism, corporate privilege, heterosexist privilege, marriage privilege, and the State as such.” Always interesting and great visual aesthetics.

The River
Mostly political critiques, also occasional cultural commentary and autobiographical posts. The first blogger I met IRL (TA)

Individual blog run by Harry. Harry is an informed and voracious reader who keeps me up-to-date on new blogs and books. Wicked humor and biting commentary. Also some mind-blowing art and music links. (TA)

Silliman’s Blog
A weblog focused on contemporary poetry and poetics. One of my most trusted comrades (and poet) Joseph Thomas turned me on to this site. Silliman makes poetry seem a live to me and for that I appreciate what he has to say. (JT and TA)

Spontaneous Arising
When I first came across Michael H's site I read his bio and said, oh shit, a new age looney-tune (sorry Michael, I'm a native-Californian and they are as plentiful as the sand on the beaches, and you were writing a novel about the "the oracular art of Genital Divination™"--its sort of a gut reaction--by the way I would like a definition of OAGD?)... but because of Buyankasha’s recommendation I revisited it a couple of times and damn I'm liking what I am seeing. The last four posts were about Ward Churchill on imperialism; Michigan militia attacks on Michael Moore's character; the strange similarity between Dubya and the protagonist of the movie Being There; and Oregon Microbrews (is there a better subject?)! Michael H. later posted an explanation of who he is and what OGAD means Michael also has a strong theme of exploring spirituality and consciousness. (Buyankasha and TA)

Talking Points Memo
I find this to be far more rigorous and well-reasoned. You probably already know this site, and Joshua Micah Marshall. If not, here's his self-description: "Joshua Micah Marshall is a writer living in Washington, DC. He is a Contributing Writer for the Washington Monthly and a columnist for The Hill. His articles on politics, culture and foreign affairs have also appeared in The American Prospect, The Atlantic Monthly, The Boston Globe, The Financial Times, The Los Angeles Times, The New Republic, The New Yorker, The New York Post, The New York Times, Salon, Slate, and other publications. He has appeared on Crossfire (CNN), Hannity and Colmes (FOX), Hardball (MSNBC), Late Edition (CNN), NewsNight with Aaron Brown (CNN), O'Reilly Factor (FOX), Reliable Sources (CNN), Rivera Live (CNBC), Washington Journal (C-SPAN) and talk radio shows across the United States. He has a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and a doctorate in American history from Brown University." He offers fairly in-depth political analyses of all manner of current situations. (AJ)

Thoughts on the Eve of the Apocalypse
Introductory posting of news reports and critical essays—generally has a negative view of the current administration and its policies. (TA)

Ubu Web
One of the sites that just blew me away when I visited it after a recommendation from Joseph Thomas. It is a combination archive/blog/metacommentary on the world of experimental culture. A stunning collection! (JT and TA)

Wealth Bondage
These collective bloggers are masters of wickedly funny posting (think of laughter in its subversive manifestation) that provide intelligent insights and critical analysis. One of my favorite sites because they force me to assess and reassess my interpretations of their creative posts and the juxtapositions of sources/stances/voices bring-to-light contemporary absurdities. They also recognize the power of linking as a form of creative and critical meta-commentary. (TA)

What She Said!
Extensive blog-archive dedicated to bringing notice to progressive women bloggers. A much needed perspective in the blogosphere. (Nick)

Where Project
Tim Lindgren's is a must see...lots of good stuff & links there... (DO) With a recommendation from Derek I knew that this had to be a good weblog and I wasn’t disappointed. This is a very unique blog that is centered around the theme of “place.” Tim states that it is: “an experiment in place-based blogging designed to help me explore the relationship between literacy, place, and the web … As part of this project, I'm wrestling with the question, ‘Can the web help us develop a deeper sense of place?’” (Recommended by Derek, blurbed by MB)

Z-Net Blog
“A Community of people committed to social change.” This collective blog is the headquarters for Noam Chomsky and other radical critics. A part of the vast and radical-left community associated with Z-Net and Z-Magazine (AJ)

Lexington Happenings

(courtesy of action-arts collective)

Tuesday, January 25 @ CD Central, 377 S. Limestone
7pm (sharp!), all ages welcome, FREE
(donations for the band are appreciated but not required)

French soprano saxophonist Michel Doneda, Pennsylvanian saxophonist Jack Wright, and Japanese percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani (now living in New York)are an incredibly subtle trio. They build enveloping improvisations around small sounds, giving them full space to breathe and resonate. It's music that rewards attentive listening. Recommended to the musically-adventurous, in general, and, specifically, to fans of European free-improv (think John Butcher or Axel Dorner) and the Massachusetts improv scene (think Bhob Rainey, Greg Kelley, or Matt Weston).

Like it says above, any dollars you can donate for the band are appreciated,
but nothing's required.


Wednesday, January 26th @ Charles Mansion Dead Machines (member of Wolf Eyes) w/The Haunting (Mike and Tara Connelly) and Eyes and Arms of Smoke - 9pm, all ages, donations accepted for bands for directions, email

Sunday, January 30th @ the Icehouse, 412 Cross St.
Film Screening - Sun Ra's "Space Is the Place"
8pm, all ages, donations accepted ($3 suggested)

Wednesday, February 2nd @ Mecca, 209 N. Limestone
Dragons 1976 (from Chicago)
* Aram Shelton - saxophone, member of Grey Ghost
* Jason Ajemian - bass, member of Triage, Born Heller, and the LayAllOverIts
* Tim Daisy - drums, member of the Vandermark 5 and Triage
9pm, all ages, $3

Thursday, February 3 @ the Kentucky Theater
Film screening - "Beneath the Mask: Portrait of an American Ninja"
7:30pm, all ages, $5.50 (half the price of admission will be donated to Lexington Habitat for Humanity)

Saturday, February 5th
Lexington's 2nd Annual Mardi Gras Jazz Parade led by special guests the Sun Ra Arkestra! 6-7pm through the streets of downtown Lexington (want to get involved? visit for the lowdown)

7-9pm a FREE, all ages afterparty featuring a short set by the Arkestra and prizes for the most creative parade participants in the atrium of Victorian Square and, 9-11pm the after-afterparty at the Dame, 156 W.Main St, featuring FREE Cajun food from Gumbo Ya Ya, a set by Detroit soul legend and Fat Possum recording artist Nathaniel Mayer, and a full performance from the Sun Ra Arkestra under the direction of Marshall Allen - tickets for the Dame event are $10 and can be purchased in advance at CD Central or on the web at

Josh Russell: If This is Democracy Who Needs Fascism

(courtesy of the University of Kentucky's Leftist Student Union who are trying to start their own publication)

If This Is Democracy Who Needs Fascism?

Chris Arsenault: Photo Essay on a Decade of Zapatista Resistance

(courtesy of Matt at pas au-delà)

Arsenault, Chris. Zapatistas: Reflecting on Ten Years of Resistance The Dominion (January 18, 2005)

On New Year's Day 1994, the day the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect, 3,000 poorly armed indigenous peasants seized 6 towns in Chiapas, Mexico's southernmost state. The Zapatistas demanded work, land, housing, food, healthcare, education, autonomy, freedom, democracy, justice and peace. Their rebellion wasn't an attempt to seize state power; the Zapatistas' stated goal was to draw attention to brutal poverty and ill-effects of NAFTA, which they called a "death sentence". NAFTA allowed heavily-subsidized US crops to flood the Mexican market, eliminating market access for millions of small farmers. As a precondition to the agreement, the Mexican government removed Article 27 from the constitution, an amendment dating to the first Mexican revolution which guaranteed communal land access for small farmers. The Zapatistas' uprising received worldwide attention, and drew much of its support from tens of thousands, particularly in North America and Europe. In the days following the insurgency, the army counter-attacked. Their capacity to destroy the Zapatistas was undisputed, but there was too much popular support behind the rebels; 100,000 rallied in Mexico City, chanting "we are all Zapatistas", and support demonstrations erupted at Mexican embassies and consulates around the world. Twelve days after fighting began, the army agreed to a ceasefire. After a series of fruitless negotiations with the government for indigenous rights and autonomy, three federal administrations, and a 2001 march on the capital drawing hundreds of thousands of supporters and the attention of the world media, the Zapatistas say they are coming to grips with the old maxim, "if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself." Unable to compel the government to negotiate in good faith, they are creating their own political structures, schools, health clinics and economic cooperatives. This photo essay looks back at eleven years of zapatismo, and provides a window onto the future of what the New York Times called "the first post-modern Latin American revolution."

Vilanyanur S. Ramachandran: The Emerging Mind

Ramachandran, Vilanyanur S. The Emerging Mind Reith Lectures (BBC and The Open University: 2003)

The history of mankind in the last three hundred years has been punctuated by major upheavals in human thought that we call scientific revolutions - upheavals that have profoundly affected the way in which we view ourselves and our place in the cosmos. First there was the Copernican revolution - the notion that far from being the centre of the universe, our planet is a mere speck of dust revolving around the sun. Then there was the Darwinian revolution culminating in the view that we are not angels but merely hairless apes, as Huxley once pointed out in this very room. And third there was Freud's discovery of the "unconscious" - the idea that even though we claim to be in charge of our destinies, most of our behaviour is governed by a cauldron of motives and emotions which we are barely conscious of. Your conscious life, in short, is nothing but an elaborate post-hoc rationalisation of things you really do for other reasons. But now we are poised for the greatest revolution of all - understanding the human brain. This will surely be a turning point in the history of the human species for, unlike those earlier revolutions in science, this one is not about the outside world, not about cosmology or biology or physics, but about ourselves, about the very organ that made those earlier revolutions possible. And I want to emphasize that these insights into the human brain will have a profound impact not just on us scientists but also on the humanities, and indeed they may even help us bridge what CP Snow called the two cultures - science on the one hand and arts, philosophy and humanities on the other.

To listen to the lectures

Wole Soyinka: Climate of Fear

Soyinka, Wole. "Climate of Fear." Reith Lectures (BBC and The Open University: 2004)

This year's Reith Lectures consider the Climate of Fear. The lecturer, Nigerian writer and activist Wole Soyinka, draws on his time as a political prisoner and compares the behaviours and motivations of the "quasi-states" who use terror to further their aims, and asks if lack of regard for others has lead the world to its present, paranoid state.

Also check out Commentaries/Background on Wole Soyinka

BBC Documentary: The Power of Nightmares


Please tell me that by now you have watched this very important BBC Documentary.

I first saw this documentary mentioned at Wealth Bondage, then my buddy Paul told me the international students in his apartment complex were sharing downloaded versions, so I sought out an online version and, of course, the great folks at Information Clearinghouse have come through again making all three parts available. Of course the biggest thanks are due to the BBC who aired this three part documentary. As the Happy Tutor states, Can you imagine this being aired on US TV?)

Should we be worried about the threat from organised terrorism or is it simply a phantom menace being used to stop society from falling apart?

Watch pt.1--The Power of Nightmares: Baby Its Cold Outside

The Power of Nightmares continues its assessment of whether the threat from a hidden and organised terrorist network is an illusion. Part two, the Phantom Victory looks at how two groups, radical Islamists and neo-conservatives with seemingly opposing ideologies came together to defeat a common enemy.

Watch Pt. 2--The Power of Nightmares: The Phantom Victory

The Power of Nightmares assesses whether the threat from a hidden and organised terrorist network is an illusion. In the concluding part of the series, the programme explains how the illusion was created and who benefits from it.

Watch Pt. 3--The Power of Nightmares: Shadows in the Cave

For those that don't have the technology to watch it--here are the transcripts

Then check out this insightful critique (courtesy Matt at pas au-delà) of The Power of Nightmares from Media Lens and Adam Curtis's equally intelligent response--its great to see this kind of dialogical engagement.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Ursula Le Guin: The Day Before the Revolution

I just read this short story, out loud, for Melissa and I while we were driving home from defending my dissertation proposal in Illinois (it was accepted and approved!). Its a very powerful character study of an anarchist innovator reflecting back on her life, while dealing with her present day's events, on the eve of her revolutionary moment:

"Odonianism is anarchism. Not the bomb-in-the-pocket stuff, which is terrorism, whatever name it tries to dignify itself with; not the social-Darwinist economic 'libertarianism' of the far right; but anarchism, as pre-figured in early Taoist thought, and expounded by Shelley and Kropotkin, Goldman and Goodman. Anarchism's principal target is the authoritarian State (capitalist or socialist); its principal moral-practical theme is cooperation (solidarity, mutual aid). It is the most idealistic, and to me the most interesting, of all political theories." -- From the prefatory remarks to "The Day Before the Revolution," in The Wind's Twelve Quarters (HarperCollins: 1975).

LeGuin and Anarchism

LeGuin's Personal Website

eBook version of the short story only 99 cents

And damn if I didn't find it available online:

The Day Before the Revolution

PBS: Slavery and the Making of America

Slavery and the Making of America PBS (2004)

The first were bought in 1619. The last freed in 1865. In the intervening 250 years slaves labored to make America what it is today.

David Gewirtzman and Jacqueline Murekatete: Remembering the Past

Remembering the Past NewsHour with Jim Lehrer (PBS: April 9, 2004)

Two people who have survived periods of horrific genocide have teamed up to speak about their experiences in the Holocaust and Rwanda, with the hope of preventing such acts from happening again. Jeffrey Brown speaks to David Gewirtzman and Jacqueline Murekatete about their experiences and how they met.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Judy Bachrach of Vanity Fair Speaks Out on FOX News

(courtesy of a tip from Goose at Comments From Left Field and Oliver Willis who is hosting the clip)

Cheers to Judy Bachrach, contributing editor at Vanity Fair, who criticized the outrageously expensive festivities for the Bush inaugural during a time of war (when we can't even fully arm or protect our soldiers). I commend her bravery--lets face it anyone in a public position who speaks out in this way risks possible retribution. Pay close attention to how the FOX announcer Brigitte Quinn attempts to defend FOX news' ideological position (unbiased--ha!):

Judy Bachrach Appearance on FOX

Goose also has posted breakdowns of the costs for the coronation and very importantly has posted on the recent tragic flooding in Costa Rica (which is being ignored in the aftermath of the Tsunami).

Frontline: The Plea

“The Plea Frontline (PBS: June, 2004)

Nearly 95% of All Cases Resulting in Felony Convictions Never Reach a Jury. They are Settled Through Plea Bargains In Which a Defendant Agrees To Plead Guilty In Exchange For a Reduced Sentence. But What Are the Implications of a System That Relies on Pleas to Expedite Justice?

Manuel Garcia, Jr.: God and Country

This essay really resonated with my current thinking about religion, reminding me of why I broke with institutional Christianity, why I am a pagan, and my desire to rescue religion from theocracy/theology.

Garcia, Manuel, Jr. "God and Country." Swan Commentary (January 17, 2005)

To criticize religion is unkind, like ridiculing a child's thumb sucking and security blanket. Then why discuss it, since for many, discussion is equivalent to critique? Because concepts of God are at the root of attitudes about community, security and power, and these in turn affect our shared external reality -- country. Church and State, God and Country, they are never far apart. The ideal would be to keep our Gods contained within ourselves so they do not destroy what we enjoy together. Reality is otherwise.

Is Your Computer Screen Dirty?

Click on this link to clean your computer screen:

Screen Cleaner

What Would a Compassionate President Do?

(Dave at Central America and Beyond posted this excerpt from an editorial by Paul Tullis that was published in the Fort-Worth Star Telegram today--visit Dave's site to get the rest)

Congratulations to Mavericks owner Mark Cuban for using his high profile to voice what many have been thinking and saying to one another -- that the parties and balls surrounding President Bush's inauguration aren't the best way to spend $40 million.

Coming as it does on the heels of one of the worst natural disasters ever, not to mention in the middle of a bloody war that Bush initiated, the president's bash makes our country appear callous toward the victims of the tsunami and the war.

Laura Bush said in a recent interview that the inauguration celebration should never be canceled, and she chatted about the dresses she would wear to the various events. Perhaps she has forgotten that, in 1945, President Franklin D. Roosevelt directed that his inauguration be a low-key affair without expensive festivities, out of respect for Americans giving their lives overseas.

What a generous gesture it would have been for the Bushes to do the same and take the money raised so far and give it to aid the tsunami survivors.

It wouldn't have raised our government's total giving to the level of some smaller countries, but it would have been a powerful symbol to the world that we have our priorities straight. The president could have offered to return the contributions to those who didn't want their money used for that purpose, but I'll bet most would have agreed to the move and donated even more.

Thinking Of King as the Bush is Crowned

(courtesy of Ben Carter at Blue Grass Roots)

Difficult and painful as it is, we must walk on in the days ahead with an audacious faith in the future. When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds of despair, and when our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember that there is a creative force in this universe, working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil, a power that is able to make a way out of no way and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows. Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

--Martin Luther King, Jr.

Jason Vest: Reporting Errors of History

Vest, Jason. "Repeating Errors of History." AlterNet (January 12, 2005)

The U.S. counterinsurgency tactics used in El Salvador are at best a case study in how to prolong an insurgency, not end it. And it won't be any different in Iraq.

On Jan. 8, Newsweek revealed that the Bush administration is "intensively debating an option that dates back to a still-secret strategy in the Reagan administration¹s battle against the leftist guerrilla insurgency in El Salvador in the early 1980s." The "option" under consideration: the use of death squads to kill Iraqi insurgents.

Webster Dictionary Word of the Day: Obviate

Word of the Day

obviate \AHB-vee-ayt\ verb

: to anticipate and prevent (as a situation) or make unnecessary (as an action)

Example sentence:
Rob checks every ledger entry twice to obviate any problems when it comes time for an audit.

Did you know?
"Obviate" derives from the Late Latin "obviare" (meaning "to meet or withstand") and the Latin "obviam," which means "in the way" and is also an ancestor of our adjective "obvious." "Obviate" has a number of synonyms in English, including "prevent," "preclude," and "avert"; all of these words can mean to hinder or stop something. When you prevent or preclude something, you put up an insurmountable obstacle. In addition, "preclude" often implies that a degree of chance was involved in stopping an event. "Obviate" generally suggests the use of intelligence or forethought to ward off trouble. "Avert" always implies that a bad situation has been anticipated and prevented or deflected by the application of immediate and effective means.

Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee to Condoleezza Rice: Bush Administration Disrespectful to the Venezuelan People

"Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee to Condoleezza Rice: Bush Administration Disrespectful to the Venezuelan People" Democracy Now (January 19, 2005)

Condoleezza Rice singled out Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at her confirmation hearing for Secretary of State calling his rule "very deeply troubling." The most interesting exchange came from Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island. We play an excerpt of the hearing and speak with Larry Birns of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Rachel Cook: Emails From the Edge

Cooke, Rachel. "Emails From the Edge." Observer (January 16, 2005)

A female architect's poignant and witty dispatches about living with her mother-in-law in the West Bank have become a surprise publishing success, revealing the absurdity and adversity of everyday Palestinian life.

Civility 101: A Sermon

Weissbard, Dave. "Civility 101: A Sermon." The Unitarian Universalist Church, Rockford, IL (June 8, 2003)

There is a single word which encapsulates belief in the inherent worth and dignity of every person; justice, equity and compassion in human relations, acceptance of one another; the free and responsible search for truth and meaning, the right of conscience, the use of the democratic process, and the goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all. That word is “civility.”

Civility is written about and talked about a lot these days. There are many who decry its decline in America. Some acknowledge that Europeans have always accused Americans of being short on civility, but even they acknowledge that it seems to have slipped dramatically of late.

Civility, Stephen Carter, the conservative African American law professor from Yale, tells us in his book of that name, was popularized in the 16th century by Desiderius Erasmus, the Dutch philosopher, who wrote De civilitate morum puerilium (On civility in children.) The concept of civilité is related to civilized and civilization. It has to do with how people live together. Its root means “member of the household.” Carter observes:

"To be civilized is to understand that we live in society as in a household, and that within that household, if we are to be moral people, our relationships with other people (our fellow citizens, members of our civic household) are governed by standards of behavior that limit our freedom. Our duty to follow those standards does not depend on whether or not we happen to agree with or even like each other."

There are ways in which we are expected to relate to one another. It has to do with courtesy, but even more with a modicum of respect. The democratic process is dependent upon the free exchange of ideas. It assumes that there will be differences in perspective and that those differences must be considered to arrive at a course of action.

Daniel Brook: How Sweden Tweaked the Washington Consensus

Brook, Daniel. How Sweden Tweaked the Washington Consensus." Dissent (Fall 2004)

Living last fall in Sweden, I often felt as if I were in the richest country in the world. In my two months there, I never saw a boarded-up window or dilapidated house. Cell phones were ubiquitous, carried by everyone from children to seniors. In small Swedish towns, I saw the trappings of upper-middle-class American life-travel agencies, chic cafés, and such Swedish chain stores as H&M and Ikea, whose aesthetic quality limits their range in the United States to a handful of sophisticated metropolitan areas. The general outlook of Swedes in all but the most remote parts of the country was like that of America's upscale, educated, urban elite. The nation still reflected Susan Sontag's 1969 observation that "the ideas and attitudes of, say, The Village Voice, are 'establishment' opinions" in Sweden.

As I chose among the eight varieties of pickled herring in a Stockholm supermarket, I heard Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" pumped in over the sound system. In provincial train station newsstands, I saw an array of books like that in small, independent bookstores in Berkeley or Cambridge. Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed was prominently displayed in English, and Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation was available in Swedish. The Parliament (Riksdag) had long-ago enshrined gay civil unions and outlawed spanking one's own children. A sex education magazine for teenagers put out by the Swedish National Institute of Public Health seemed concerned not merely that teens were having safe sex, but that they were enjoying it. The lead article included an excerpt from the Kama Sutra detailing a rather acrobatic sexual position and informed its teenage readership, "The clitoris is for enjoyment. It is in just the right place for fondling." A government-funded publication of this sort would be almost unthinkable in the United States.

... Choosing between the American and Swedish systems is a matter of choosing one's problems. Is it better to have higher rewards for those at the top or free higher education available to all? Is it better to ensure that no one who works full time lives in poverty or that every immigrant who is willing to work hard at a low-skill job can find one? Should the government be more concerned that its citizens can raise healthy families or build healthy companies? There are trade-offs between equality and economic growth, and each society must strike its own balance.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The New Republic Editorial: Labor Pains

Labor Pains." The New Republic (Editorial: January 10, 2005)

The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 was once considered the crown jewel of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. The National Labor Relations Board (nlrb), which it created, was supposed to ensure that workers enjoyed the same freedom of association in the workplace that they did in the political arena. By guaranteeing that workers could organize without being fired or threatened, it redressed the growing imbalance of power in the workplace. By encouraging the growth of the labor movement, it stilled the fires of revolutionary socialism and Huey Long's populism and laid the foundation for a new democratic pluralism by giving workers a seat in Washington next to business.

For 45 years, the Act worked reasonably well. The ranks of labor swelled without threatening the profitability of U.S. business. The gap between rich and poor, which had widened in the 1920s, was reduced. The afl-cio, courted by Republican and Democratic administrations, became part of the Washington consensus. But, in the 1980s, that consensus began to fall apart when the Reagan administration drastically cut the nlrb's funding--causing huge backlogs of cases--and when its appointee to the board chipped away at employees' bargaining rights and at penalties for unfair labor practices. Bill Clinton tried to undo some of the damage, but George W. Bush has resumed Reagan's approach. Since becoming a majority in 2003, his appointees to the nlrb have taken business's side in more than 25 controversial cases. None of these rulings was earthshaking, but together, they presage an erosion of workers' ability to organize.

More Notes on "Community of Truths" by Parker Palmer

(for my ENG 104 students)

“Community of Truths” by Parker Palmer (From the book Courage to Teach)
Notes by Michael Benton



1) Why is Truth “not a word much spoken in educational circles these days.” And why would it signify an earlier “naïve era when people were confident they could know the truth”? (99) Explain the difference between Truth (universal and absolute) and truth/s (provisional, relational and mutable).

2) What is the mythical objectivist model of truth? (99) Discuss the two visual models that Palmer supplies in the essay (100 and 102). Refer to the belief of some that the “objectivist knowledge” is the only method to “uncover” the truth. This is a belief that “Truth” is out there waiting for us to discover it in its unaltered and eternal form. The Dangerous Myth of Objectivity (unbiased objectivity) insists that facts can be separated from values, and that the proper role of the expert (media, journalist, scientist, historian, teacher, leader, conqueror) is to sort, verify, and deliver those "unbiased" facts to readers. A critical function of the ideology of objectivity is to render invisible (or as Palmer states “unconscious”) the expert’s power to shape and reinforce public opinion and cultural standards. Furthermore, the objectivist model relies upon the production of passive consumers who absorb knowledge without questioning instead of active citizens who search out their own meanings and understandings of the truth/s. For Palmer and others the notion of an objective “Truth” waiting to be discovered is a “myth.” This is because they realize that we produce our subjective understandings of truth/s through a dialogical/dialectical process of interaction, comparison, discussion and conflict between: knower <--> subject, subject <--> community, community <--> knower, knower <--> subject <--> time/space, and so on…

3) What does Palmer mean when he says “The community of truth is, in fact, many communities, far-flung across space and ever-changing through time” (101).

4) Why is this distinction so important: “a subject is available for relationship; an object is not” (102).

5) Key quote: “As we try to understand the subject in the community of truth, we enter into complex patterns of communication—sharing observations and interpretations, correcting and complementing each other, torn by conflict in this moment and joined by consensus in the next. The community of truth, far from being linear and static and hierarchical, is circular, interactive, and dynamic. At its best, the community of truth advances our knowledge through conflict, not competition. … Competition is the antithesis of community, an acid that can dissolve the fabric of relationships. Conflict is the dynamic by which we test ideas in the open, in a communal effort to stretch each other and make better sense of the world. (103)

6) Now at this point someone will probably ask “isn’t this just a slide into extreme relativism in which there is the impossibility of knowing the Truth?” Now we know that there will always be Truth in the sense that if you cut my arm off with a sword there is no denying that my arm has been cut off, BUT, what I am saying here, is that your “reason” for cutting off my arm is debatable and our understanding of the “truth” of your motivations/reasons for the act depends on the interpretative community that resolves the situation. This is why in our society if someone did cut my arm off in front of witnesses, there may still be a trial to decide guilt or innocence (or degrees of guilt).

7) This brings us to another key quote: “This communal dynamic is governed by rules of observation and interpretation that help define us as a community by bringing focus and discipline to our discourse. To be in the community of truth, we must abide by its norms and procedures, which differ from one field to another… . These standards are strong but not chiseled in stone: they evolve even as our understanding of a subject evolves. We can challenge and change the norms, but we must be able to justify any deviation from them in a public and compelling way” (103-104)

8) Why is it important to Parker Palmer that we recognize and participate in the production of truth/s. Is this important to a democratic society?

9) Why does Palmer state that: “truth is an eternal conversation about things that matter, conducted with passion and discipline” (104).

10) Another key quote: “We need to know the current conclusions in order to get in on the conversation. But it is not our knowledge of conclusions that keeps us in the truth. It is our commitment to the conversation itself, our willingness to put forward our observations and interpretations for testing by the community and to return the favor to others. To be in the truth, we must know how to observe and reflect and speak and listen, with passion and with discipline, in the circle gathered around a given subject.” (104)

Also see:

Response to Parker Palmer's "Community of Truths" and Democracy as a Concept

Teaching in the Face of Fear