Sunday, July 30, 2006

Bluegrass Film Society 2006/2007: 24 Films, From 24 Countries, in 24 Weeks

Bluegrass Film Society 2006/2007: 24 Films, From 24 Countries, in 24 Weeks

In a globalized world it is imperative that we begin to develop a broader awareness of the interconnected cultures and societies that influence and shape world events. Anyone remotely aware of the American social landscape must recognize that many of our citizens are unaware of the broader relations and connections of the world in which they live in. Many Americans tend to have a narrow understanding of world history, filtered as it is through ethnocentric American textbooks and mediatized narratives filtered through the lenses of the dominant center, which effectively ignores the realities of the margins (culturally, economically and socially). Many concerned citizens struggle to carve out meaning in the contemporary data stream and suffer the neglect of a mainstream media that limits itself to predigested dualistic positions. In this simplified media environment, vast regions of the world are presumed to be unable to speak for themselves and rarely, in the mainstream media that serves as the news for a majority of American citizens, do we receive sustained and in-depth critical analysis of issues through the voices and experiences of multiple interested parties.

With this in mind I began last year to develop the Bluegrass Film Society as a forum for increasing the awareness of different cultures, histories and perspectives. We presented a broad-ranging selection of films that were chosen to represent multiple voices and realities. As I start the second year of the BFS I remain committed to bringing to our campus and community a program that will continue to expand our awareness of world cultures, histories and experiences. This Fall/Spring 2006/2007 schedule is a journey of 24 films, from 24 countries, in 24 weeks. The BFS is set up as an extension of my film courses for my students, but keeping Bluegrass Community and Technical College’s mission to serve the community in mind, we open this up to all interested community members. All showings are at 7:30 pm and are free of charge. We hope you will join us. The final dates will be available on the website in August and we also have a listserv that sends out notices for each film being showed. If you would like to be added to the listserv please leave your email in the comment section to this post.

BFS Fall 2006/Spring 2007 Films:

Ghost in the Shell (Mamoru Oshii: Japan, 1995) 82 mins

Kontroll (Nimrod Antal: Hungary, 2003) 105 mins

The Edukators (Hans Weingartner: Germany, 2004) 127 mins

Dirty Pretty Things (Stephen Frears: British, 2002) 97 mins

Pickaxe (Tim Lewis and Tim Ream: US, 1999) 94 mins

Farewell My Concubine (Kaige Chen: China, 1993) 156 mins

House of Fools (Andrei Konchalovsky: Russia, 2002) 104 mins

No Man's Land (Danis Tonavic: Bosnia, 2001) 98 mins

What Time Is It There? (Ming-liang Tsai: Taiwan, 2001) 116 mins

Bad Education (Pedro Almodovar: Spain, 2004) 106 mins

The Celebration (Thomas Vinterberg: Denmark, 1998) 105 mins

101 Reykjavik (Baltasar Kormakur: Iceland, 2000) 88 mins

Hop (Dominique Standaert: Belgium, 2002)

Carandiru (Hector Babenco: Brazil, 2003) 146 mins

Tsotsi (Gavin Hood: South Africa, 2005) 94 mins

The Tracker (Rolf de Heer: Australia, 2002) 90 mins and Gulpilil: One Red Blood (Darlene Johnson: Australia, 2002) 56 mins

Time of the Wolf (Michael Haneke: Austrian Director/French Film, 2003) 114 mins

Taste of Cherry (Abbas Kiarostami: Iran, 1997) 95 mins

Amores Perros (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu: Mexico, 2000) 153 mins

Code Unknown (Michael Haneke: Austrian Director/French Film, 2000) 118 mins

In the Mood for Love (Kar Wai Wong: Hong Kong, 2000) 98 mins

Lady Vengeance (Chan Wook-Park: South Korea, 2005) 112 mins

The Magdalene Sisters (Peter Mullan: Ireland, 2002) 119 mins

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Overlook at Raven's Run (Kentucky)

I did a 9 mile hike along the Kentucky River at Raven's Run on thursday and I'm going to go do the same hike tomorrow. Beautiful place and it is only 20 minutes from where I live!

James McPherson: More than 60 percent of U.S. in drought

More than 60 percent of U.S. in drought
By JAMES MacPHERSON, Associated Press Writer

STEELE, N.D. - More than 60 percent of the United States now has abnormally dry or drought conditions, stretching from Georgia to Arizona and across the north through the Dakotas, Minnesota, Montana and Wisconsin, said Mark Svoboda, a climatologist for the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

An area stretching from south central North Dakota to central South Dakota is the most drought-stricken region in the nation, Svoboda said.

"It's the epicenter," he said. "It's just like a wasteland in north central South Dakota."

Conditions aren't much better a little farther north. Paul Smokov and his wife, Betty, raise several hundred cattle on their 1,750-acre ranch north of Steele, a town of about 760 people.

Fields of wheat, durum and barley in the Dakotas this dry summer will never end up as pasta, bread or beer. What is left of the stifled crops has been salvaged to feed livestock struggling on pastures where hot winds blow clouds of dirt from dried-out ponds.

Some ranchers have been forced to sell their entire herds, and others are either moving their cattle to greener pastures or buying more already-costly feed. Hundreds of acres of grasslands have been blackened by fires sparked by lightning or farm equipment.

"These 100-degree days for weeks steady have been burning everything up," said Steele Mayor Walter Johnson, who added that he'd prefer 2 feet of snow over this weather.

Farm ponds and other small bodies of water have dried out from the heat, leaving the residual alkali dust to be whipped up by the wind. The blowing, dirt-and-salt mixture is a phenomenon that hasn't been seen in south central North Dakota since the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, Johnson said.

North Dakota's all-time high temperature was set here in July 1936, at 121. Smokov, now 81, remembers that time and believes conditions this summer probably are worse.

"I could see this coming in May," Smokov said of the parched pastures and wilted crops. "That's the time the good Lord gives us our general rains. But we never got them this year."

Brad Rippey, a federal Agriculture Department meteorologist in Washington, said this year's drought is continuing one that started in the late 1990s. "The 1999 to 2006 drought ranks only behind the 1930s and the 1950s. It's the third-worst drought on record — period," Rippey said.

Svoboda was reluctant to say how bad the current drought might eventually be.

"We'll have to wait to see how it plays out — but it's definitely bad," he said. "And the drought seems to not be going anywhere soon."

Herman Schumacher, who owns Herreid Livestock Auction in north central South Dakota, said his company is handling more sales than ever because of the drought.

In May, June and July last year, his company sold 3,800 cattle. During the same months this year, more than 27,000 cattle have been sold, he said.

"I've been in the barn here for 25 years and I can't even compare this year to any other year," Schumacher said.

He said about 50 ranchers have run cows through his auction this year.

"Some of them just trimmed off their herds, but about a third of them were complete dispersions — they'll never be back," he said.

"This county is looking rough — these 100-degree days are just killing us," said Gwen Payne, a North Dakota State University extension agent in Kidder County, where Steele is located.

The Agriculture Department says North Dakota last year led the nation in production of 15 different commodity classes, including spring wheat, durum wheat, barley, oats, canola, pinto beans, dry edible peas, lentils, flaxseed, sunflower and honey.

North Dakota State University professor and researcher Larry Leistritz said it's too early to tell what effect this year's drought will have on commodity prices. Flour prices already have gone up and may rise more because of the effect of drought on wheat.

"There will be somewhat higher grain prices, no doubt about it," Leistritz said. "With livestock, the short-term effect may mean depressed meat prices, with a larger number of animals being sent to slaughter. But in the longer run it may prolong the period of relatively high meat prices."

Eventually, more than farmers could suffer.

"Agriculture is not only the biggest industry in the state, it's just about the only industry," Leistritz said. "Communities live or die with the fortunes of agriculture."

Susie White, who runs the Lone Steer motel and restaurant in Steele, along Interstate 94, said even out-of-state travelers notice the drought.

"Even I never paid attention to the crops around here. But I notice them now because they're not there," she said.

"We're all wondering how we're going to stay alive this winter if the farmers don't make any money this summer," she said.

National Drought Mitigation Center

Articloe Link

Who Cares--Should We (nothing to do with the post, just wondering)

Interesting lecture (if you have never read a book), I like the concept of "attention" as a cultivated skill (absolutely this must be spread in any way possible--I commend you, of course you are selling this idea, so disregard my kudos)... an awareness of the world and a desire to truly to engage with it (not simply browse or skim our way through it--oops isn;t that the new corporate culture skimming and scamming--yes, think less and absorb more). It’s a techno-geek lecture, it is a bullshit business, lets conquer the world rah-rah, but it raises many important questions through its corporate-speak and led me to think a lot about the competing interests that divide my attention these days. Wow, though, this is corporate thought--at its finest--incorporating whatever keywords and ideas that may be flowing in our society and trying to make them profitable... this is one of the most laughable things I have ever listened to.. can you imagine sitting in the audience?

Once she gets going she synthesizes some great thoughts but it is always in the strategy of denying others to do the same--listen to her keywords:

“Stone explores the last two decades of information technology and our ability to deal with and manage our daily lives together with new breakthroughs. While the period 1965 to 1985 was highlighted by the collective ideal to value self expression, the eighties and nineties were about a shift to a networked, constantly connected lifestyle. The former instilled a narcissistic quality in us, and influenced the drive for the trust in networking and collective intelligence seen in the latter period. Today we are confronted by an inability to manage crisis. We long for a sense of protection, meaning and belonging. In a world of interconnected communities and constant background noise, the overriding question is: what do we really need, and what do we need to pay attention to?”

To listen to the Program

Hey I'm not disconnected--are you?

“Like a dream … Nothing surprises us in it—with no regret, we agree to live in it with strangers, cut off from our habits.” (55)

Lennon, J. Robert. “Happyland: Part I.” Harper’s (July 2006): 37-56.

Hello to the first speaker--we need no more addictions, there are plenty that we already need to get rid of...

Why can't I just go HOME where everyone knows my name--come on everyone you know the song!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Films in Lexington This Week

(Any opinions if you have seen them? The good thing about being a film professor is that this is work for me! Anyone in the local area interested in checking out one of these films feel free to contact me--the more viewpoints the better, or if you want to write reviews of films that you see feel free to contact me at the Bluegrass Film Society)

Lady Vengeance

Hard Candy


Clerks II

This film has not yet been released, but I read Augusten Burroughs very strange memoir (well actually my friend read most of it to me--with me taking over when she was tired--a truly great literary experience to read a book you are both interested in out loud to each other, the book inspired great discussions and looks of amazement at the very strange events of his early life). From the trailers it looks like they have made a great effort to bring the book to the big screen, I wonder if they will just focus on the quirky/absurd, or if they will also bring into play the very disturbing psycho-sexual-addictive aspects of the book:

Running With Scissors

Organic Consumers Organization: Targets False Labeling of Organic Dairy Products


In April Organic Consumers Association launched a boycott of two leading organic dairy brands and distributors, Horizon (a division of Dean Foods) and Aurora, for mislabeling their products as "USDA Organic." All of Aurora's and much of Horizon's "organic" milk is coming from factory farm feedlots where the cows have been brought in from conventional farms and have little or no access to pasture. After three months, thousands of consumers and a number of co-ops and natural food stores have joined the boycott. Now it's time to expand the boycott to five grocery chains selling bogus organic milk from Aurora Organic:

Costco's "Kirkland Signature"
Publix’s “High Meadows"
Safeway's "O" Organics brand
Wild Oats' organic milk
Giant's "Nature's Promise."

In addition OCA is calling for a boycott of Horizon's sister soy brands--Silk soymilk and White Wave tofu--which have begun turning away from U.S. organic farmers and instead importing cheap organic soybeans from China and Brazil, where labor rights and environmental standards are routinely violated.
Please send an email message to the Shameless Seven, telling them to stop violating organic standards and to source certified organic foods and ingredients from North American family farmers. And please forward this email to interested friends and colleagues.

To Find Out More About This Problem and To Sign the Petition

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are

(This one going out to the SUV driver who ran me down on my bike and left me laying in the street with broken ribs)

"Pigs" by Pink Floyd

Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are
You well heeled big wheel, ha ha, charade you are
And when your hand is on your heart
You’re nearly a good laugh
Almost a joker
With your head down in the pig bin
Saying ’keep on digging’
Pig stain on your fat chin
What do you hope to find?
When you’re down in the pig mine
You’re nearly a laugh
You’re nearly a laugh
But you’re really a cry.

Bus stop rat bag, ha ha, charade you are
You fucked up old hag, ha ha, charade you are
You radiate cold shafts of broken glass
You’re nearly a good laugh
Almost worth a quick grin
You like the feel of steel
You’re hot stuff with a hat pin
And good fun with a hand gun
You’re nearly a laugh
You’re nearly a laugh
But you’re really a cry.

Hey you whitehouse, ha ha, charade you are
You house proud town mouse, ha ha, charade you are
You’re trying to keep your feelings off the street
You’re nearly a real treat
All tight lips and cold feet
And do you feel abused?
You gotta stem the evil tide
And keep it all on the inside
Mary you’re nearly a treat
Mary you’re nearly a treat
But you’re really a cry.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Another Shot of the River and Cliffs Near Bend, Oregon

Bob Fitrakis: Bush-Blackwell-Brewer Continue African American Suppression

Bush-Blackwell-Brewer Continue African American Suppression
by Bob Fitrakis
Fraudbuster Bob

The Other Paper, Columbus’ faux “alternative” paper driven by the junior high hijinks of editor Danny Russell and the cynical search for “political relevance” by Dan Williamson, may have reached a new low. In the article “Blackwell and the black vote,” Williamson, who knows better, leads with the most absurd quote in modern Ohio gubernatorial history. East Cleveland Mayor Eric Brewer, making a bid to be in Uncle Ken’s cabinet, likens blacks who are opposed to Ken Blackwell to the slave Jim in Gone With the Wind. As Williamson describes it, “To Brewer, black Democrats trying to defeat Republican Ken Blackwell for governor are like Jim the slave.” Jim fought with the Southerners against the Yankees. Brewer goes on to say that the African American community doesn’t know “his record,” his being Blackwell’s.

Now let’s look at the facts. Ken Blackwell appeared earlier this year before the super secret far- right Council on National Policy which harbors many known white supremacists. They are based in Texas, a southern Confederate state. The Bush family also has a sordid history of an anti-black and anti-Semitic nature, and these are Blackwell’s political backers. Prescott Bush laundered money to Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, it’s a known fact. George H.W. Bush, the former CIA director who suppressed people around the world and rigged elections, won as a Congressional candidate in Texas in 1966 opposing Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement.

To Read the Rest of the Post

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Mike Head: Antiwar Protests in Israel

Antiwar protests in Israel
By Mike Head
World Socialist Web Site

If one were to judge by the international media, the Israeli government’s assault on Lebanon and Gaza enjoys the virtually unanimous support of the Israeli population. In so far as Israeli citizens have been interviewed, they have been invariably in favour of war, insisting that it provides the only means of protecting the Israeli people.

Despite a barrage of pro-war propaganda in the Israeli media, however, visible opposition has begun to appear. Some 2,000 people marched in Israel’s commercial capital of Tel Aviv on Sunday to demand prisoner exchange negotiations with the Palestinian Hamas and the Lebanese Hezbollah, and an end to the offensive against Lebanon.

“Yes to Peace,” “Stop the War Monstrosity,” “Say No to the Brutal Bombardments on Gaza” and “Our Children Want to Live” were among the calls from the mixed crowd of Jewish and Arab demonstrators organised by several Israeli anti-war groups.

They also accused Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defence Minister Amir Peretz of murdering children and carrying out war crimes in complicity with American policy. The slogans included “Olmert Agreed With Bush: War and Occupation” and “Peretz, Don’t Worry, We’ll be Seeing You at The Hague.”

For all the claims of democracy in Israel, the rally received almost no coverage in the local and international media and was dispersed by police within two hours. Police arrested three protesters, claiming they were holding a demonstration without a permit.

To Read the Rest of the Article

Jihad Siqlawi: Israel and Hezbollah trade fire as Syria issues warning

Israel and Hezbollah trade fire as Syria issues warning
by Jihad Siqlawi

TYRE, Lebanon (AFP) - Israeli jets have blitzed Lebanon and Hezbollah fired off more deadly rockets in a new bout of tit-for-tat attacks as the conflict continued to spiral despite international efforts for a ceasefire.

As a host of top European diplomats descended on the region, Syria fueled fears the fighting could spread, issuing a stark warning that it would intervene if Israel invaded Lebanon.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is also heading to the Middle East with Washington increasingly estranged from European and Arab allies over a conflict that has killed close to 400 people and triggered a major humanitarian crisis.

At least five people were killed in air strikes across southern and eastern Lebanon Sunday as Israel kept up its punishing war on Hezbollah following the seizure of a strategic border village by Israeli ground forces on Saturday.

In a wave of pre-dawn raids, fighter-bombers for the first time struck directly inside the main southern city of Sidon, where tens of thousands of Lebanese have sought refuge from the relentless Israeli offensive.

A three-storey building housing a Hezbollah religious centre was hit.

Israel also targeted Hezbollah's power base in Beirut's Shiite-dominated southern suburbs and struck factories, roads and bridges in air strikes in the eastern Baalbek region.

Shiite guerrillas responded with a new hail of rocket fire on Israel's third city of Haifa, killing two people.

Streams of people, many waving white flags, are making a desperate trek from southern Lebanon after Israel ordered them to leave their homes, raising fears it was planning a largescale ground invasion.

To Read the Rest of the Report

Dave Pollard: Treating Disease and War

Self-Experimentation: This Time it's Serious
by Dave Pollard
How to Save the World

Severe Ulcerative Colitis, the condition I have just been diagnosed as having, has no known cause and no known cure. Apparently, stress causes it to flare up, and once that's happened, you're stuck with it for the rest of your life. All the doctors know is that for some unknown reason the body's immune system suddenly goes hyperactive. They think this happens after it's successfully combated some harmful bacterial infection in the intestine, and the white cells begin relentlessly attacking the good bacteria in the intestine as well, damaging and inflaming (and sometimes rupturing) the intestinal wall in the process.

The medical profession's utter cluelessness about this disease does not surprise me, because they are equally clueless about most of the diseases that, today, seriously incapacitate and kill most people. The job of the doctor today is to push the medicines hawked by Big Pharma, and if those pills don't work, to perform surgery, taking out the disease and frequently the essential organs it is preying on at the same time, or to prescribe massive doses of toxic chemicals or radiation that indifferently kill everything they get near, good and bad. I don't blame doctors for acting this way. This is the best they can do with the medieval tools and knowledge at their disposal. They do what they must.

For most diagnoses and treatments, this is the best that medicine can offer, that science can offer, that simplistic solutions in business, politics and every other complex domain can ever really hope to accomplish in the face of complex problems. Like the Israelis in Lebanon and the Americans in Iraq and soon Iran, the strategy is do something spectacular, so the (im)patient/customer/voter thinks that something dramatic and active is being done. No matter that it is nearly as likely to make the situation worse as better. Just try something, anything.

It is causing considerable consternation already among the specialists in my case that I'm not prepared to authorize Shock and Awe missions in my body. I indicated that I am prepared to treat the condition with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and pro/microbiotics, in combination with other natural treatments. That's all. NSAIDs don't cure the condition, of course, they just relieve the swelling and discomfort. Pro/microbiotics attempt to restore the inappropriately-destroyed bacteria in the intestine, but it's problematic -- the digestive system is so hostile to most bacteria at different points that getting the 'good' bacteria to the right place is a little like trying to replace a dictator with an altruist in a country at war, without the combatants noticing. The purpose of both is to make the patient feel better, relieve some of the stress of pain and discomfort, and give the body time to try to figure out how to heal itself.

Doctors generally know this is a hit-and-miss proposition, so they'd rather go in, guns a'blazing, and kill, overwhelm, or remove something instead. This approach, thanks to learnings from previous victims (er.. I mean patients), actually statistically improves your chances of living longer and better, at the risk of masses of unpredictable side effects that, for some, are worse than the disease. But the point remains: there is no cure, and there is no known cause. Without either, it's a mission of desperation. I'd rather give peace a chance, even if that chance is not great.

To Read the Rest of the Post

Khaled Mattawa: Preface to the Words Without Borders "Libyan Literature Issue"

Preface to the Libya Issue
by Khaled Mattawa
Words Without Borders

When it comes to countries that have been locked away—or locked out of—the Western world, Westerners tend to believe that little happens there during the time that they are not paying attention. Like trees that fall in the middle of the forest without someone to witness them, third world countries like Libya must undergo some kind of comatose existence when the West stops looking at them, or so Westerners believe. The reader of these selections from Libya will quickly become aware that Libyan authors have been hard at work at making a national Arab-language literature.

An observant visitor to the country will note that Libya has a strong tradition of oral poetry. Ancient poems as well as the newly composed are recited on important occasions. The national radio devotes several weekly programs to recitals of oral poetry by members of the public and visiting poets. This oral poetic tradition stretches back to the beginning of time, and it has never stopped nourishing the country’s spiritual inclination.

Libyan literature in its written form began in the twentieth century. The late nineteenth century had seen the introduction of modernity and the importation of new modes of literary expression from Egypt and the Levant as an Arab renaissance took root in Cairo, Damascus, and Beirut. During the Italian colonization of Libya from 1911-43, familiarity with European literature increased, and despite Italian censorship, so did exposure to modern Arab literature. Due to this censorship, the great Libyan voices were those of poets who went into exile in Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world.

Writing after the Second World War and before Libya gained independence, Ahmad Rafiq and Abdallah al-Gweiri, among others, made up the first generation of modern Libyan literature. Agitation for independence, increased educational opportunity, and an increased availability for publication ushered in new progressive voices that began to write in the mid-sixties. Here the list gets longer: Sadiq Neihoum, Khalifa al-Fakhri, Kamel al-Maghur, Ali al-Rigaei, to name but a few. In fact, the sixties saw more than a dozen daily newspapers published in a country with a population of hardly two million. Beginning with anecdotal prose pieces, by 1965 the short story had become the public’s favorite genre. Also, by then Libyan poets, like their Arab brothers elsewhere, had begun to write in new metrical forms. Newspapers were the primary means of publication while small print houses began to develop into publishing outfits. The era between the 1960s (the decade in which oil was first discovered) and the early 1970s (the early ears of the Qaddafi rule) was the golden age of Libyan literature.

To Read the Rest of the Preface

To Read the Libyan Literature Issue

Eric L. Muller: A Bigot's Guide to America

A Bigot's Guide to American History
By Eric L. Muller
Alternet (February 2, 2005: also published on The American Constitution Society and Is That Legal?)

Regnery Publishing has a bestseller in Thomas E. Woods' "Politically Incorrect Guide to American History."

Regnery also happened to be the publisher of Michelle Malkin's "In Defense of Internment," which, you may recall, was an effort to demonstrate that everything most people know about one tragic episode in American history – the Japanese American internment – is leftist garbage.

Woods' "Politically Incorrect" resembles Malkin's, except that its thesis is that everything most people know about all of American history is leftist garbage.

No small task, Dr. Woods manages to do it in just 246 pages. With wide margins, no less!

Having read the book myself, I can say with confidence that Jeffrey A. Tucker provides a pretty good summary in his fawning "review":

[Woods] shows that the Constitution was never understood to be a permanent union, that big government caused the North-South conflict, that Alexander Hamilton's friends were racketeers, that the U.S. didn't have to enter WW I, that Hoover was a big government conservative, that FDR made the Depression worse, that there really were Communists in government, that FDR made WW II inevitable, that the Marshall Plan was a flop, that the Civil Rights movement increased social conflict and made everyone worse off, that unions made workers poorer, that the 80s weren't really the decade of greed, that Clinton's wars were aggressive and avoidable, and that his personal issues were a major distraction from the real problems of the 1990s.

Actually, now that I think of it, his summary does omit a few key points: the kindliness and magnanimity of Puritan settlers toward American Indians, the true conservatism of the American Revolution, the lawfulness of Southern secession, the North's responsibility for the post-Civil-War "black codes" in the South, the illegality of the 14th Amendment, the fact that the provisions of the Bill of Rights don't actually apply to the states, and some other stuff. Lots of other stuff too, actually. The book essentially stitches together every moment in American history that might conceivably be given a free-market, states'-rights spin and any piece of scholarship that might be used (or misused) to support it, adds to it a liberal sprinkling of Democrat-hero-bashing, and seasons the mix with a defense of the white majority against suspicions of racial cruelty or oppression.

To Read the Rest of the Review

Andrew Downie: Defender of Brazil's youth faces clash with state

Defender of Brazil's youth faces clash with state
By Andrew Downie
The Christian Science Monitor

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – In her grubby office in downtown São Paulo, Conceicao Paganele leafs through a pile of letters from all over the world.
She can't read French, German, or English but she doesn't have to. She knows what they say and it is this: "To São Paulo [State] Governor Claudio Lembo: Please stop harassing this woman who has made it her life to defend imprisoned youths. If the death threats and intimidation continue or if something happens to her, you will be responsible."

A petite woman in her 50s, Ms. Paganele is an unlikely poster girl for human rights. But since she was accused by the São Paulo state government of inciting riots and jailbreaks, organized crime, and causing property damage inside juvenile detention centers, or FEBEMs, as they are known in Portuguese, she has become just that.

Police are investigating her, and are considering bringing formal charges. Amnesty International has taken up her case.

Paganele's troubles have highlighted the perennial turmoil inside the FEBEMs and put a human face on juvenile crime and the modernization of the much-maligned institutions. To her critics, Paganele is a dangerous troublemaker, more concerned with her image than the well-being of the state's more than 6,000 detained adolescents. To her supporters, she is the scapegoat for officials trying to shift focus away from the mismanagement and violence that have plagued the FEBEMs for decades.

To Read the Rest of the Article

Dan Solove: The Digital Person

The Digital Person
Dan Solove interviewed by Phil Windley
IT Conversations

Daniel Solove doesn't use the familiar metaphor of "Big Brother" when he discusses privacy; rather he uses Kafka's novel "The Trial." He says we're not as much in danger of having our privacy violated by someone with evil intent as we are of having our lives turned upside down from the interactions of unapproachable and faceless corporations and bureaucracies. From our Technometria series with Phil Windley.

Listen to the Interview

Onnesha Roychoudhuri Interview of Michelle Goldberg: The Growing Threat of Right-Wing Christians

(Courtesy of Jodi Dean at I Cite)

The Growing Threat of Right-Wing Christians
By Onnesha Roychoudhuri

"I don't want to be alarmist, but this is actually quite alarming," Michelle Goldberg said. She was referring to the subject of her new book, "Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism," which chronicles the steady rise of the neocons of Christianity.

Whether she's attending a Ten Commandments conference or joining Tony Perkins' conference calls to listen in on what D.C. agenda will be passed on to congregations, Goldberg's reporting offers insight into a movement that has reshaped the nation's political and cultural landscape. Goldberg did not go undercover, nor wear any disguise. Rather, she simply showed up, listened and learned. And what she has learned is definitely alarming.

Traveling around the country on her book tour, Goldberg notes that many people have approached her with stories that illustrate the religious intolerance that is the hallmark of an aggressive Christian movement. On a muggy day in Brooklyn, Goldberg sat down with me to discuss the need for Americans -- particularly progressives and liberals -- to recognize the sophisticated intellectual structure of Christian Nationalism, and how it has succeeded in constructing a parallel reality based on Biblical rhetoric and revisionist history.

Onnesha Roychoudhuri: How did the idea for the book come about?

Michelle Goldberg: I've done reporting on the subject for a long time. One of the first pieces I did on the Christian right was on the ex-gay movement. What struck me going to the Exodus Conference was that it takes place in this whole entire parallel universe. They have their own psychologists, psychological institutions and their own version of professional medical literature. The amount of books, magazines and media, and the way it almost duplicated everything that we have in our so-called reality, is remarkable. What struck me years later when I was reporting on the Bush administration was that the parallel institutions that I had first come into contact with were replacing the mainstream institutions -- especially in the federal bureaucracy.

Roychoudhuri: Can you give an example?

Goldberg: In the Department of Health and Human Services, the people they hired to formulate sex education policy, at both the national and international level, didn't come from the American Medical Association or the big medical schools. They're coming from places like the Medical Institute for Sexual Health, which is this Christian Nationalist medical group. [The group says it is a "nonprofit scientific, educational organization to confront the global epidemics of non-marital pregnancy."]

One of the earlier stories I did for Salon was on the UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) which does family planning, but they don't do abortion, mostly safe childcare and reproductive health through clinics all over the world. Congress had appropriated $35 million to the UNFPA. There's this group called the Population Research Institute -- another one of these parallel institutions. They're radically anti-family planning and claim that population control policies are part of this "one-world conspiracy" to cull the population of the faithful so that the "one-world government" can more easily assert its control. On the website it said that not only is overpopulation a myth, but all the people on Earth could live comfortably in the state of Texas. I did this story in 2002. I still had this naïve idea that this kind of thing would remain marginal.

But what's amazing is that Population Research Institution went on to testify before Congress saying that the UNFPA promotes forced abortions in China. These kinds of accusations start echoing up the ladder to the point where Bush froze the UNFPA funding. This despite the fact that the State Department had already sent a delegation to China to investigate and said there was nothing to these accusations at all.

There's a myth on the left that's been fostered by Thomas Frank. I think it's a mistake to think that the religious right hasn't got anything. Frank has fostered this idea that the right votes to end abortion and gets a repeal of the estate tax. They've actually gotten quite a bit. One of the main ways they are rewarded below the radar is by being given vast amounts of control over American family planning policy abroad.

To Read the Entire Interview

Howard Zinn: Lessons of Iraq War start with U.S. history

Lessons of Iraq War start with U.S. history
By Howard Zinn
The Progressive (March 8, 2006)

On the third anniversary of President Bush's Iraq debacle, it's important to consider why the administration so easily fooled so many people into supporting the war.

I believe there are two reasons, which go deep into our national culture.

One is an absence of historical perspective. The other is an inability to think outside the boundaries of nationalism.

If we don't know history, then we are ready meat for carnivorous politicians and the intellectuals and journalists who supply the carving knives. But if we know some history, if we know how many times presidents have lied to us, we will not be fooled again.

President Polk lied to the nation about the reason for going to war with Mexico in 1846. It wasn't that Mexico "shed American blood upon the American soil" but that Polk, and the slave-owning aristocracy, coveted half of Mexico.

President McKinley lied in 1898 about the reason for invading Cuba, saying we wanted to liberate the Cubans from Spanish control, but the truth is that he really wanted Spain out of Cuba so that the island could be open to United Fruit and other American corporations. He also lied about the reasons for our war in the Philippines, claiming we only wanted to "civilize" the Filipinos, while the real reason was to own a valuable piece of real estate in the far Pacific, even if we had to kill hundreds of thousands of Filipinos to accomplish that.

President Wilson lied about the reasons for entering the First World War, saying it was a war to "make the world safe for democracy," when it was really a war to make the world safe for the rising American power.

President Truman lied when he said the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima because it was "a military target."

And everyone lied about Vietnam -- President Kennedy about the extent of our involvement, President Johnson about the Gulf of Tonkin and President Nixon about the secret bombing of Cambodia. They all claimed the war was to keep South Vietnam free of communism, but really wanted to keep South Vietnam as an American outpost at the edge of the Asian continent.

President Reagan lied about the invasion of Grenada, claiming falsely that it was a threat to the United States.

The elder Bush lied about the invasion of Panama, leading to the death of thousands of ordinary citizens in that country. And he lied again about the reason for attacking Iraq in 1991 -- hardly to defend the integrity of Kuwait, rather to assert U.S. power in the oil-rich Middle East.

There is an even bigger lie: the arrogant idea that this country is the center of the universe, exceptionally virtuous, admirable, superior.

If our starting point for evaluating the world around us is the firm belief that this nation is somehow endowed by Providence with unique qualities that make it morally superior to every other nation on Earth, then we are not likely to question the president when he says we are sending our troops here or there, or bombing this or that, in order to spread our values -- democracy, liberty, and let's not forget free enterprise -- to some God-forsaken (literally) place in the world.

But we must face some facts that disturb the idea of a uniquely virtuous nation.

We must face our long history of ethnic cleansing, in which the U.S. government drove millions of Indians off their land by means of massacres and forced evacuations.

We must face our long history, still not behind us, of slavery, segregation and racism.

And we must face the lingering memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

It is not a history of which we can be proud.

Our leaders have taken it for granted, and planted the belief in the minds of many people that we are entitled, because of our moral superiority, to dominate the world. Both the Republican and Democratic Parties have embraced this notion.

But what is the idea of our moral superiority based on?

A more honest estimate of ourselves as a nation would prepare us all for the next barrage of lies that will accompany the next proposal to inflict our power on some other part of the world.

It might also inspire us to create a different history for ourselves, by taking our country away from the liars who govern it, and by rejecting nationalist arrogance, so that we can join people around the world in the common cause of peace and justice.

Howard Zinn, who served as a bombardier in the Air Force in World War II, is the author of "A People's History of the United States" (HarperCollins, 1995). He is also the co-author, with Anthony Arnove, of "Voices of a People's History of the United States" (Seven Stories Press, 2004). He can be reached at

Source Link for the Article

Ken Silverstein: The Minister of Civil War

(Courtesy of Mason)

The Minister of Civil War: Bayan Jabr, Paul Bremer, and the rise of the Iraqi death squads
By Ken Silverstein.
Harper's (Excerpt from August 2006 Issue)

In May 2005, Shiite militia groups in Iraq began depositing corpses into the streets and garbage dumps of Baghdad. The victims, overwhelmingly Sunni, were typically found blindfolded and handcuffed, their corpses showing signs of torture—broken skulls, burn marks, gouged-out eyeballs, electric drill holes; by that October, the death toll attributed to such groups had grown to more than 500. In November, American troops discovered more than 160 beaten, whipped, and starved prisoners—again, mostly Sunni—at a secret detention center run by the country's Interior Ministry. Since then, Shiite militias have become so integrated into the Iraqi government's security apparatus and their work so organized, systematic, and targeted that they are commonly referred to in Iraq (and in the American media) by their proper name: death squads. The death squads, which have expanded their area of operations from the capital across much of the country, are now believed to be responsible for more civilian deaths than the Sunni and foreign insurgents who are the United States' ostensible enemies there. By any reasonable measure, Iraq is in a state of civil war, and some of its most ruthless and lawless combatants are members of the government's own security units.

The rise of the death squads corresponds almost precisely to the April 2005 appointment of Bayan Jabr as interior minister in Iraq's transitional government. The Interior Ministry, which is something like a combined FBI and Department of Homeland Security, controls billions of dollars and more than 100,000 men in police and paramilitary units. Jabr was a former high-ranking member of the Iranian-backed Badr Brigade, the military arm of the fundamentalist Shiite Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) that is now the dominant political force in the country. After taking over the Interior Ministry, he quickly purged it of Sunnis, and members of the Badr Brigade were widely incorporated into the ministry's police and paramilitary units.

Jabr—who in May of this year was named finance minister in a new government headed by Nuri al-Maliki—has disavowed any personal or institutional responsibility for violence committed by the death squads. He has now acknowledged that some groups operated within the Interior Ministry while he headed it, but he insists that they were few in number; he blames much of the sectarian killing on terrorists “using the clothes of the police or the military.” At a press conference last November that followed the discovery of the torture chamber in an Interior Ministry building, Jabr said, “You can be proud of our forces. [They] respect human rights.” (For this article, Jabr did not respond to requests for comment sent to his press office in Iraq.)

Jabr wears glasses and a neatly trimmed beard that has rapidly turned white over the past few years. He is always immaculately groomed and dressed, and although a devout Shiite—an American who worked with Jabr recalled that he would halt meetings for prayer—he favors expensive Western-style suits rather than the robes worn by many of his colleagues. Jabr's tribe was persecuted harshly by Saddam Hussein's regime, and so he (along with thousands of other Shiites) fled to Iran, where he became a member of SCIRI, founded in Tehran in 1982 with the goal of toppling Hussein's government. The council was heavily supported by the Iranian government, but it also had mostly cordial ties with the the U.S. government and ultimately became part of the Iraqi National Congress, the umbrella opposition alliance created by Washington after the Gulf War and headed by Ahmed Chalabi. During the 1990s, Jabr ran SCIRI's local office in Syria, where he coordinated relations with other anti-Saddam exile groups. In May 2000, when SCIRI fighters launched a rocket attack on Hussein's presidential palace in Baghdad, it was Jabr who served as spokesman. Along with Chalabi, Jabr was among a group of sixty-five exiles named to the Iraqi Opposition Coordinating Committee that was founded in London in December of 2002, just three months before the American invasion.

Iraqi Sunnis accuse Jabr of sponsoring abuses committed by Shiite militias linked to his Interior Ministry. General Muntazar al-Samarrai, a former commander of special forces at the Interior Ministry, publicly stated that Jabr had condoned the torture of detainees. In late 2005, Falah al-Naqib, who preceded Jabr as head of Interior, told the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, that sixteen Sunni men whom Jabr ordered to be arrested were later executed, according to an account in The New Yorker. American officials began pushing for Jabr's ouster from the Interior Ministry in 2006, suggesting that he was too close to Shiite militias and had turned a blind eye to death-squad activities—or, in the most generous interpretation, had taken insufficient steps to control them. Either way, Jabr is thought to have greatly contributed to the political violence in Iraq. “He allowed his ministry to become a preserve of the Shia militias,” said Ken Katzman, a senior analyst on Iraq at the Congressional Research Service. “It all flows from there.”

To Read the Entire Article

Gabrielle Zamparini: Open Letter to United for Peace and Justice

Open Letter to United for Peace and Justice
by Gabriele Zamparini
The Cat's Blog

Dear Leslie Kielson,

Dear Judith Le Blanc,
UFPJ National Co-chairperson

Thank you for your message. Even though I don’t live in your country anymore I am glad to receive your e-mails; it’s a good way to keep in touch with “the largest antiwar coalition in the United States”.

I am not a US citizen but since the American Empire is keeping the world under its boots, I hope you will take the time to read what I have to say.

In your e-mail you remind your supporters of the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s call for an immediate ceasefire. Immediately after you have the impudence to write: “Yesterday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki condemned the Israeli aggression and called on the world to take action”.

Among all the heads of States and Governments you could mention [the entire world but the Axis Washington – London – Tel Aviv] why did you choose the PUPPET Prime Minister of Occupied Iraq?

Your organization wrote a letter to “Dear Ambassador Bolton”, the US Ambassador to the UN. In this letter, you write: “we want to express our concern over the escalating crisis between Israel, Lebanon, and Palestine”. Which “crisis” are you talking about? There is NO “crisis”, as all the world but United for Peace and Justice has far too well understood.

Your letter to “Dear Ambassador Bolton” continues: “We are gravely concerned about the loss of life on all sides. We condemn all attacks on civilians, and call for the release of political prisoners and POWs held on all sides in this conflict.” A masterpiece of hypocrisy.

Israel has been attacking civilians in Palestine since even before the State of Israel came to existence. Its “political aim is nothing less than the liquidation of the Palestinian nation” as John Berger, Noam Chomsky, Harold Pinter and José Saramago recently wrote. To use a more common word, GENOCIDE.

To Read the Rest of the Letter

Saturday, July 22, 2006

My Oldest Brother

River Near Bend, Oregon

Brother's House in Oregon

The View From My Brother's Front Yard--Oregon

Camping with Friends: A Great Smile

Morning Sunrise Over My Brother's Backyard in Oregon

Kafka on Books

(Courtesy of Joseph K at Musings of the Moribund)

A book must be an ice-axe to break the seas frozen inside our soul.

Franz Kafka

What Made Me Smile in the Previous Picture

See the red mud all over the woman on the right. We had just crawled through caves, exploring unmapped areas, finding a small circular cylinder that reached upwards toward infinity, stood in the darkness, made strange noises as others walked by... a great day by any measure--full of adventure and wonder! I told my friends that they were two of the toughest people I had hung out with, boldly searching out every possible route in the caves, pushing me onwards ;) I asked them to show me just how tough they are...

Walt Whitman: I See Something of God

"I see something of God in each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment then, In the face of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the glass, I find letters from God dropt in the street, and every one is sign'd by God's name, And I leave them where they are, for I know that wheresoe'er I go Others will punctually come for ever and ever."
--Walt Whitman

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Four Modes of Understanding

Etymology—the exploration of the forces that produce what the culture validates as knowledge.

Pattern—the recognition of the connecting patterns and the relationships that undergird the lived world.

Process—the cultivation of new ways of reading the world that attempt to make sense of both ourselves and contemporary society.

{Reconstructive} Contextualization—the appreciation that knowledge can never stand alone or be complete in and of itself.

If language is a virus, then I'm going to create an epidemic

by Michael Benton

She chews slowly a morpheme that he has layed down at her feet the murmuring poetics buffering his soul as he hungers for her taking the chance to sally the edges of abstraction as antidote to confusion and angst feeling wounded like a baited bear a torn piece of living being exposed for all to see everyone struggles and my struggle is memory flowing through desire released in language initiating the possibilities thought to hold in her hand how will she receive my scribblings what will they mean is communication possible I recall her inner beauty standing now solitary I listen to the stillness of my world missing her laughter lacking a singing voice or a painter’s eye I offer up words as a humble offering walking alone along boulevards of color and light I play word games gathering winged thoughts that circle above me turning eros into a page that her gentle eyes might touch as time skips a beat in awe, if, as William Burroughs states, language is a virus, then I am going to create an epidemic

Beyond words, simple, yet so complex

On the slope of your sleek back
I write a love poem
With the quill of my tongue

Along the whetstone of your thighs
I scrawl a message of my desire
Beyond the scope of simple words

Journeying into uncharted territories
Beyond words, simple, yet so complex
Creating poetry of the body and soul

The moon smiled down upon me tonight as I walked along the empty streets

The moon smiled down upon me tonight as I walked along the empty streets. I was occupied with thoughts of you. The radiant glow of the moon reminded me of your soft, pale skin and your beautiful smile.

I trudge silently in the night walking these empty streets wondering how you are doing on this warm night. My soul cries out to you, missing the direct connection we usually share, but still feeling the bonds of our friendship.

The night envelopes me in its dark embrace and although it is warm out, I feel a slight shiver course down my back. I miss your touch, I miss your words, and I miss your companionship.

Franz Kafka: I Write Differently...

I write differently from the way I speak, I speak differently from the way I think, I think differently from the way I should think - and so it goes on into the darkest depths of infinity

(Letter to Ottla, July 10, 1914)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Marge Piercy: The Low Road

(from We Are Everywhere)

The Low Road

What can they do to you?
Whatever they want..

They can set you up, bust you,
they can break your fingers,
burn your brain with electricity,
blur you with drugs till you
can’t walk, can’t remember.
they can take away your children,
wall up your lover;
they can do anything you can’t stop them doing.

How can you stop them?
Alone you can fight, you can refuse.
You can take whatever revenge you can
But they roll right over you.
But two people fighting back to back
can cut through a mob
a snake-dancing fire
can break a cordon,
termites can bring down a mansion

Two people can keep each other sane
can give support, conviction,
love, massage, hope, sex.

Three people are a delegation
a cell, a wedge.
With four you can play games
and start a collective.
With six you can rent a whole house
have pie for dinner with no seconds
and make your own music.

Thirteen makes a circle,
a hundred fill a hall.
A thousand have solidarity
and your own newsletter;
ten thousand community
and your own papers;
a hundred thousand,
a network of communities;
a million our own world.

It goes one at a time.
It starts when you care to act.
It starts when you do it again
after they say no.
It starts when you say we
and know who you mean;
and each day you mean
one more.

- Marge Piercy

Monday, July 17, 2006

Aimee and Jaguar (Max Faberbock: German, 1997)

Lilly Wust: What do you want Felice?

Felice: You. All of you. Everything! But I'd be satisfied with one single moment, so perfect, it would last a lifetime. For example, this one. This one here is great. I don't want forever. I want now. Now! Now! Now! I want loads of 'nows' and I want them til I turn old and grey. And besides, I want more cake.

Bluegrass Film Society: Proposed Fall 2006/Spring 2007 Schedule

Bluegrass Film Society

Bluegrass Film Society 2006/2007: 24 Films, From 24 Countries, in 24 Weeks
By Michael Benton (7/13/06)

In a globalized world it is imperative that we begin to develop a broader awareness of the interconnected cultures and societies that influence and shape world events. Anyone remotely aware of the American social landscape must recognize that many of our citizens are unaware of the broader relations and connections of the world in which they live in. Many Americans tend to have a narrow understanding of world history, filtered as it is through ethnocentric American textbooks and mediatized narratives filtered through the lenses of the dominant center, which effectively ignores the realities of the margins (culturally, economically and socially). Many concerned citizens struggle to carve out meaning in the contemporary data stream and suffer the neglect of a mainstream media that limits itself to predigested dualistic positions. In this simplified media environment, vast regions of the world are presumed to be unable to speak for themselves and rarely, in the mainstream media that serves as the news for a majority of American citizens, do we receive sustained and in-depth critical analysis of issues through the voices and experiences of multiple interested parties.

With this in mind I began last year to develop the Bluegrass Film Society as a forum for increasing the awareness of different cultures, histories and perspectives. We presented a broad-ranging selection of films that were chosen to represent multiple voices and realities. As I start the second year of the BFS I remain committed to bringing to our campus and community a program that will continue to expand our awareness of world cultures, histories and experiences. This Fall/Spring 2006/2007 schedule is a journey of 24 films, from 24 countries, in 24 weeks. The BFS is set up as an extension of my film courses for my students, but keeping Bluegrass Community and Technical College’s mission to serve the community in mind, we open this up to all interested community members. All showings are at 7:30 pm and are free of charge. We hope you will join us. The final dates will be available on the website in August and we also have a listserv that sends out notices for each film being showed. If you would like to be added to the listserv please leave your name and email address in the comments (and let me know something about you, if you are so inclined).

I broke some ribs this summer and had some downtime to watch a lot of films--having sifted through some promising films, here is my proposed schedule for the coming year. I have tried to give a wide perspective (culturally/geographically/themes) of contemporary international films.

Please feel free to comment on the second schedule, on our previous year, or whatever else moves you.

I have not yet set dates (I'm thinking of either wed or thurs night--or perhaps a combination for the fall, spring will depend on my teaching schedule)--I will make a schedule with dates/times as soon as they are available.

Princess Monoke (Hayao Miyazaki: Japan, 1997) 134 mins

Kontroll (Nimrod Antal: Hungary, 2003) 105 mins

The Edukators (Hans Weingartner: Germany, 2004) 127 mins

Dirty Pretty Things (Stephen Frears: British, 2002) 97 mins

Gift (Perry Farrell and Casey Niccoli: US, 1993) 80 mins

Farewell My Concubine (Kaige Chen: China, 1993) 156 mins

House of Fools (Andrei Konchalovsky: Russia, 2002) 104 mins

No Man's Land (Danis Tonavic: Bosnia, 2001) 98 mins

What Time Is It There? (Ming-liang Tsai: Taiwan, 2001) 116 mins

Bad Education (Pedro Almodovar: Spain, 2004) 106 mins

The Celebration (Thomas Vinterberg: Denmark, 1998) 105 mins

101 Reykjavik (Baltasar Kormakur: Iceland, 2000) 88 mins

Hop (Dominique Standaert: Belgium, 2002)

Carandiru (Hector Babenco: Brazil, 2003) 146 mins

Tsotsi (Gavin Hood: South Africa, 2005) 94 mins

The Tracker (Rolf de Heer: Australia, 2002) 90 mins and Gulpilil: One Red Blood (Darlene Johnson: Australia, 2002) 56 mins

Time of the Wolf (Michael Haneke: France, 2003) 114 mins

Taste of Cherry (Abbas Kiarostami: Iran, 1997) 95 mins

Amores Perros (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu: Mexico, 2000) 153 mins

The Sacrifice (Andrei Tarkovsky: Russian Director and Sweden/UK/France funding, 1986) 149 mins

In the Mood for Love (Kar Wai Wong: Hong Kong, 2000) 98 mins

Born Into Brothels: Calcutta's Red Light Kids (Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman: India/US, 2004) 85mins

The Magdalene Sisters (Peter Mullan: Ireland, 2002) 119 mins

Call for researcher/coauthor for book on women and body image in US history

Call for researcher/coauthor for book on women and body image in US history. Publication Date: 2006-10-07
Date Submitted: 2006-07-05
Announcement ID: 151849

I am looking for a researcher/co-author to help me with a book on the history of women, beauty, and body image in the US. The book is currently under contract with a major university press. In particular, I am looking for a scholar who has worked on women, beauty, and body image issues in the period between 1970 and the present. Please contact me at the e-mail below with a brief statement of your publications, research, and interests.

Samantha Barbas

NEH Grant Deadlines: Interpreting America's Historic Places

NEH Grant Deadlines: Interpreting America's Historic Places Date Submitted: 2006-07-03
Announcement ID: 151831

National Endowment for the Humanities
Places where history was made have a special power to connect people to the past and to impress upon us the deeper lessons of our history. NEH invites proposals for public programs that exploit the evocative power of historic places to address themes and issues central to American history.

Are you preserving an historic place? If so, you might also want to think about exhibits, interpretive materials, heritage tourism partnerships, or other strategies for helping the public to learn more about your historic place, and the people, stories, events, and ideas that make it a significant part of American history.

“Interpreting America’s Historic Places” grants support public humanities programs that use one or more historic sites to interpret important topics in American history. Projects can interpret a single historic site, a series of sites, whole neighborhoods, communities or towns, or larger geographic regions.

September 12, 2006, is the deadline for proposals for both Consultation Grants and Planning Grants for Interpreting America’s Historic Places.

January 23, 2007, is the deadline for proposals for Implementation Grants.

For guidelines and further information about INTERPRETING AMERICA’S HISTORIC PLACES grants, visit the website

To speak with a program officer about an INTERPRETING AMERICA’S HISTORIC PLACES proposal, call 202-606-8269 or send an e-mail to

Megan Lacy
Intern, National Endowment for the Humanities

Harvey Wasserman: More atomic bomb balm from the New York Times

More atomic bomb balm from the New York Times
by Harvey Wasserman
The Free Press

The New York Times Sunday Magazine has chimed in for the "bring back nukes" crowd with an ill-conceived screed that completely ignores the reality that the world's power must ultimately come from clean, safe renewable energy and increased efficiency.

Entitled "Atomic Balm," the lengthy Sunday magazine piece tries to portray a nuke industry on its way back. But hidden throughout the article are trap after trap that will doom atomic power, and that show the Bush Administration's attempt to revive it to be ever more futile and corrupt.

To begin with, this very long article fails to mention that the National Renewable Energy Laboratory has issued a draft report showing that between 99% and 124% of the nation's electricity can be supplied by renewable means by the year 2020. Since nuclear power supplies only electricity, this simple fact makes complete mincemeat of any pretext for bringing it back. If we can get the juice cheaper, safer, cleaner and more quickly from nature, why build sitting ducks for terrorists that have only 50 years of failure to show for a trillion dollars invested?

The industry rap against renewables, repeated briefly in this piece, is that they are too diffuse, expensive and futuristic to deploy. But none of that is true. Today's wind turbines could supply 100% of the nation's electricity from available wind just in North Dakota, Kansas and Texas, and 300% from all the states between the Mississippi and the Rockies. It is a sophisticated, advanced industry worth $10 billion/year or more. It is growing worldwide at 25-35% per year, with far more new installed capacity than nukes. There are political and environmental challenges to be faced with wind power. But they pale in the face of nuclear waste, radioactive emissions and the likely melt-downs from error and terror.

Photovoltaic cells (PV), which convert sunlight directly to electricity, are plummeting in price. Their deployment on homes and buildings avoids transmission costs. While fossil/nuke backers dismissively charge that PV needs huge desert areas to supply our nation's needs, in fact the deployment of solar cells on our building stock will happen, it will be hugely profitable and it will fill an enormous chunk of our coming needs for electric supply.

Bio-fuels such as ethanol and diesel will also play a huge role. In the future they will not come from annual food crops like corn and soy, but rather from inedible perennials like switchgrass, poplar trees, Jerusalem artichoke and hemp.

Grounding the mix will be vastly increased efficiency, the cheapest way to increase our available supply. The Times piece gives short shift to the pioneering "negawatt" work of Amory Lovins, who has shown that immense amounts of energy are being wasted, and could be regained cheaply and cleanly with basic efficiency measures.

Like so much else in this piece, the obvious green path to increased efficiency is presented in straw man fashion and then dismissed.

Conveniently overlooked is the vast failure of atomic power to pay for itself, or to prove out an engineering regimen for the future. The first commercial reactor went on line in Shippingport, Pennsylvania in 1957. Now, a half-century later, the industry is selling a totally new set of unproven designs, essentially telling us that the trillion dollars invested in the first set left us with a technology that can't cut it.

The Times also makes the obligatory genuflection toward increased security, ignoring the fact that no reactor can be defended from the air, or from inside infiltrators who could make a nuke the ultimate suicide bomb. In fact, nuclear power plants are pre-deployed weapons of mass radioactive destruction for terrorists, capable of doing us damage on an apocalyptic scale.

The article admits, but does not emphasize, that the entire push for new nukes is a massive welfare program for rich Bush backers. Without gargantuan government subsidies, there would be no talk whatsoever of another generation of reactors. Without federal liability limits on the obvious consequences of a major melt-down, all the plants now in operation would shut today.

To Read the Rest of the Article

To the Best of Our Knowledge: Constructing Narratives

To the Best of Our Knowledge


Tom Wolfe reads the opening to "The Postman Always Rings Twice" and explains why it's his favorite. Also, award-winning radio producer David Freudberg talks with Anne Strainchamps about what narratives mean to people and how to construct a narrative. And he plays samples from his work. David is Executive Producer at Human Media.


John Pollack is the author of "Cork Boat." He tells Jim Fleming how he collected well over a hundred thousand wine corks and used them to build a replica of a Viking ship which he then sailed in Portugal. Before his boating adventure, Pollack was a speech-writer for Bill Clinton. And, Amy Tan shares her love for Nabokov's "Lolita."


Vivek Maddala composes new scores for silent movies and is a judge for Turner Classic Movies annual Young Composer's Competition. He tells Steve Paulson how music can tell a story and plays excerpts from film scores he's written. And, novelist Jane Hamilton reads her favorite novel endings: Ray Bradbury's "Dandelion Wine" and Robert Penn Warren's "All the King's Men."

To Listen to the Epsiode

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Thinking About Democracy

There are a few basic concepts we must start re-thinking in order to understand what they mean for us as citizens of our communities, our nation, and the world. One of these is the concept that is at the center of how we define ourselves as Americans. "DEMOCRACY"

The best collection I have found is, Timothy Patrick McCarthy and John McMillan, edited, The Radical Reader NY: The New Press, 2003.

It would be great to teach this collection with a contemporary volume that has an international perspective, perhaps something like, 'We Are Everywhere: The irresistable rise of global anticapitalism' edited by Notes from Nowhere and published by Verso. It is described as '... a whirlwind collection of writings, images, and ideas from direct action by people in the frontlines of the global anticapitalist movement' and involved the untold stories of resistance, reclaiming and subversion all in a positive and life-affirming fashion. Its a huge, inexpensive collection of activist statements/reports from around the world. It covers the years 1994-2002. An excerpt states that:

It's a radical intervention in publishing - a celebration of direct action movements across the planet, unfiltered by the mainstream media, and told through the words and images of the people who were (and still are) there. Framing and connecting their stories are seven essays , written by the editors, which explain some of the defining characteristics of this movement. We've also included how-to boxes on direct action tactics. Running along the bottom of each page is a time-line of actions and victories which spans from 1994 with the Zapatista uprising to the present. Interspersed amongst everything else are gorgeous photographs, which capture the diversity and playfulness of our actions. These elements all add up to a real overview of the movement: where we came from, what we want, who we are, and where we're going. We Are Everywhere is history as it should be told.

The We Are Everywhere website includes excellent links, essays and references to inspire any activist. Of course, if we are talking activism, lets not forget the patron saint of community activism, Saul Alinsky and his classic Rules for Radicals.

Another periodical that consistently questions, challenges and (re)defines the democratic project from an environmental perspective is Orion magazine. Orion magazine inspires me because its definition of radical democracy rests upon the cultivation of open spaces and the recognition of the interconnectedness of our lives.

Homeland (Seven Stories Press, 2004) by Dale Maharidge and Michael Williamson is an important book that seeks to plumb the soul of post 9/11 America and documentary filmmaker Mark Wojahn traveled the nation to ask us What America Needs

Reverse Shot: Reverse Shock

(I like the thematic question that frames this issue and would be interested in hearing other choices for "Reverse Shock" films.)

Reverse Shock: Introduction to Spring 2006 Issue of Reverse Shot

We figured that, in a year when Brokeback Mountain is considered “transgressive” cinema, then it’s time to question just what the word means. Certainly the film really “played” to the middle American audience unused to seeing tender depictions of homosexual relationships, yet at the same time, the film had a curiously regressive streak, and a final, laconic sigh that seemed wholly satisfied with staying in the closet. Within the subsequent months, we’ve seen a host of allegedly subversive or shocking movies hit theatres (United 93, The Notorious Bettie Page) attempting to jar us out of our complacency. This of course begs the question: What does truly ruffle us? As movie watchers, writers, thinkers, critics, people? What causes us to sit up and take notice of a sea change, however tiny or seismic? Does a narrative schism like that in Psycho truly commit as much cultural damage as a galvanizing social event like Easy Rider? Or is the latter simply a manufactured cultural phenomenon? And is the former as well?

In this issue of Reverse Shot, we asked our writers to tell us how we can reapply overused words like “subversive” or “transgressive” or “shocking.” We didn’t really want to hear any more about those films that are generally identified as epochal moments (i.e., Psycho, Easy Rider); instead we asked for something more personal—a film that shook, shocked, or socked us right in the gut. Or, perhaps a film that subtly snaked its way into our subconscious, arriving at a time and place that allowed it to be truly questioning of personal values and mores without appealing to reactionary ideologies or audience self-affirmation. In short providing the viewer a good, healthy “Reverse Shock.”

We also wanted, perhaps, to pit the shock of the completely new against the shock of the utterly banal, to isolate those tendencies across national cinemas, American or other, to try to find those places of deviation and those of derivation. Is an artist necessarily more compromised for working in the studio system? Or can we find instances in which limitations on capital do translate to limitations on potential? When critics bring the word “shocking” to bear, what is it that they’re really saying about themselves, and how they view their audience?

As always, we left it up to the writing to shape the scope of the issue, rather than vice versa. The results were eye-opening: from Catherine Breillat to Charles Burnett, from Kubrick to Cassavetes, everyone had their one film that, in its own way, however noticeable to the outside eye, truly breaks boundaries and violates norms.


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Waiting (im)Patiently For the Release of the Film A Scanner Darkly

I cannot believe it! Someone (actually Steven Soderbergh/George Clooney, et al are producing and Richard Linklater is directing) has finally decided to go through with adapting Philip K. Dick's novel A Scanner Darkly...

I don't know though, I'm not a big fan of this "live action photograph overlay" technique that Linklater favors (see "Waking Life"), but I'm willing to "hope" that it will be a good attempt and recognize that this is probably a more appropriate style to realize Dick's vision:


A report from the Philip K. Dick trust:

A Scanner Darkly: Film Adaptation

Can anyone though truly bring to life the true subtext of this powerful pulp novel. Philip K. Dick's exploration of the incestous, symbiotic relationship of chaos/order, law/crime, yin/yang, and so on and the reproduction of this destructive/creative duality within us all... even more disturbing for some may be the conclusion that we all have that dark side and feed it one way or another. Mind your addictions folks...

The links in the text below were added by me--it just seemed appropriate. This can give the uninitiated insight to why Philip K. Dick, a true pulp writer, has developed such a following... remember this speech was in 1978!!!
(Courtesy of The Deoxyribonucleic Hyperdimension)

How to Build a Universe That Doesn't Fall Apart Two Days Later
by Philip K. Dick, 1978

Well, I will tell you what interests me, what I consider important. I can't claim to be an authority on anything, but I can honestly say that certain matters absolutely fascinate me, and that I write about them all the time. The two basic topics which fascinate me are "What is reality?" and "What constitutes the authentic human being?" Over the twenty-seven years in which I have published novels and stories I have investigated these two interrelated topics over and over again. I consider them important topics. What are we? What is it which surrounds us, that we call the not-me, or the empirical or phenomenal world?


In 1951, when I sold my first story, I had no idea that such fundamental issues could be pursued in the science fiction field. I began to pursue them unconsciously. My first story had to do with a dog who imagined that the garbagemen who came every Friday morning were stealing valuable food which the family had carefully stored away in a safe metal container. Every day, members of the family carried out paper sacks of nice ripe food, stuffed them into the metal container, shut the lid tightly—and when the container was full, these dreadful-looking creatures came and stole everything but the can.

Finally, in the story, the dog begins to imagine that someday the garbagemen will eat the people in the house, as well as stealing their food. Of course, the dog is wrong about this. We all know that garbagemen do not eat people. But the dog's extrapolation was in a sense logical—given the facts at his disposal. The story was about a real dog, and I used to watch him and try to get inside his head and imagine how he saw the world. Certainly, I decided, that dog sees the world quite differently than I do, or any humans do. And then I began to think, Maybe each human being lives in a unique world, a private world, a world different from those inhabited and experienced by all other humans. And that led me wonder, If reality differs from person to person, can we speak of reality singular, or shouldn't we really be talking about plural realities? And if there are plural realities, are some more true (more real) than others? What about the world of a schizophrenic? Maybe, it's as real as our world. Maybe we cannot say that we are in touch with reality and he is not, but should instead say, His reality is so different from ours that he can't explain his to us, and we can't explain ours to him. The problem, then, is that if subjective worlds are experienced too diffrently, there occurs a breakdown of communication... and there is the real illness.


It was always my hope, in writing novels and stories which asked the question "What is reality?", to someday get an answer. This was the hope of most of my readers, too. Years passed. I wrote over thirty novels and over a hundred stories, and still I could not figure out what was real. One day a girl college student in Canada asked me to define reality for her, for a paper she was writing for her philosophy class. She wanted a one-sentence answer. I thought about it and finally said, "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." That's all I could come up with. That was back in 1972. Since then I haven't been able to define reality any more lucidly.

But the problem is a real one, not a mere intellectual game. Because today we live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups—and the electronic hardware exists by which to deliver these pseudo-worlds right into the heads of the reader, the viewer, the listener. Sometimes when I watch my eleven-year-old daughter watch TV, I wonder what she is being taught. The problem of miscuing; consider that. A TV program produced for adults is viewed by a small child. Half of what is said and done in the TV drama is probably misunderstood by the child. Maybe it's all misunderstood. And the thing is, Just how authentic is the information anyhow, even if the child correctly understood it? What is the relationship between the average TV situation comedy to reality? What about the cop shows? Cars are continually swerving out of control, crashing, and catching fire. The police are always good and they always win. Do not ignore that point: The police always win. What a lesson that is. You should not fight authority, and even if you do, you will lose. The message here is, Be passive. And—cooperate. If Officer Baretta asks you for information, give it to him, because Officer Beratta is a good man and to be trusted. He loves you, and you should love him.

So I ask, in my writing, What is real? Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms. I do not distrust their motives; I distrust their power. They have a lot of it. And it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind. I ought to know. I do the same thing. It is my job to create universes, as the basis of one novel after another. And I have to build them in such a way that they do not fall apart two days later. Or at least that is what my editors hope. However, I will reveal a secret to you: I like to build universes which do fall apart. I like to see them come unglued, and I like to see how the characters in the novels cope with this problem. I have a secret love of chaos. There should be more of it. Do not believe—and I am dead serious when I say this—do not assume that order and stability are always good, in a society or in a universe. The old, the ossified, must always give way to new life and the birth of new things. Before the new things can be born the old must perish. This is a dangerous realization, because it tells us that we must eventually part with much of what is familiar to us. And that hurts. But that is part of the script of life. Unless we can psychologically accommodate change, we ourselves begin to die, inwardly. What I am saying is that objects, customs, habits, and ways of life must perish so that the authentic human being can live. And it is the authentic human being who matters most, the viable, elastic organism which can bounce back, absorb, and deal with the new.


The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words. George Orwell made this clear in his novel 1984. But another way to control the minds of people is to control their perceptions. If you can get them to see the world as you do, they will think as you do. Comprehension follows perception. How do you get them to see the reality you see? After all, it is only one reality out of many. Images are a basic constituent: pictures. This is why the power of TV to influence young minds is so staggeringly vast. Words and pictures are synchronized. The possibility of total control of the viewer exists, especially the young viewer. TV viewing is a kind of sleep-learning. An EEG of a person watching TV shows that after about half an hour the brain decides that nothing is happening, and it goes into a hypnoidal twilight state, emitting alpha waves. This is because there is such little eye motion. In addition, much of the information is graphic and therefore passes into the right hemisphere of the brain, rather than being processed by the left, where the conscious personality is located. Recent experiments indicate that much of what we see on the TV screen is received on a subliminal basis. We only imagine that we consciously see what is there. The bulk of the messages elude our attention; literally, after a few hours of TV watching, we do not know what we have seen. Our memories are spurious, like our memories of dreams; the blank are filled in retrospectively. And falsified. We have participated unknowingly in the creation of a spurious reality, and then we have obligingly fed it to ourselves. We have colluded in our own doom.

And—and I say this as a professional fiction writer—the producers, scriptwriters, and directors who create these video/audio worlds do not know how much of their content is true. In other words, they are victims of their own product, along with us. Speaking for myself, I do not know how much of my writing is true, or which parts (if any) are true. This is a potentially lethal situation. We have fiction mimicking truth, and truth mimicking fiction. We have a dangerous overlap, a dangerous blur. And in all probability it is not deliberate. In fact, that is part of the problem. You cannot legislate an author into correctly labelling his product, like a can of pudding whose ingredients are listed on the label... you cannot compel him to declare what part is true and what isn't if he himself does not know.


If any of you have read my novel Ubik, you know that the mysterious entity or mind or force called Ubik starts out as a series of cheap and vulgar commercials and winds up saying:

I am Ubik. Before the universe was I am. I made the suns. I made the worlds. I created the lives and the places they inhabit; I move them here, I put them there. They go as I say, they do as I tell them. I am the word and my name is never spoken, the name which no one knows. I am called Ubik but that is not my name. I am. I shall always be.

It is obvious from this who and what Ubik is; it specifically says that it is the word, which is to say, the Logos. In the German translation, there is one of the most wonderful lapses of correct understanding that I have ever come across; God help us if the man who translated my novel Ubik into German were to do a translation from the koine Greek into German of the New Testament. He did all right until he got to the sentence "I am the word." That puzzled him. What can the author mean by that? he must have asked himself, obviously never having come across the Logos doctrine. So he did as good a job of translation as possible. In the German edition, the Absolute Entity which made the suns, made the worlds, created the lives and the places they inhabit, says of itself:

I am the brand name.

Had he translated the Gospel according to Saint John, I suppose it would have come out as:

When all things began, the brand name already was. The brand name dwelt with God, and what God was, the brand name was.


Such is the fate of an author who hoped to include theological themes in his writing. "The brand name, then, was with God at the beginning, and through him all things came to be; no single thing was created without him." So it goes with noble ambitions. Let's hope God has a sense of humor.

Or should I say, Let's hope the brand name has a sense of humor.

Link to Read the Entire Speech


In the comment section of an earlier post of this speech, many of us listed our favorite PKD novels (for those that would like to read some of his work). Please feel free to suggest more in these comments.

Elizabeth Weil: Breeder Reaction

Breeder Reaction: Does everybody have the right to have a baby? And who should pay when nature alone doesn’t work?
by Elizabeth Weil
Mother Jones

Guadalupe Benitez and her partner, Joanne Clark, had been buying frozen sperm at a bank in Los Angeles and trying to get pregnant at home for two years when Benitez finally sought out the services of a fertility specialist. Not at all uncommon—infertility affects more than 6 million Americans, and about 20 percent of them seek help through assisted reproductive technology, or ART. At that point, 1999, Benitez was 27 years old, Clark was 40 years old, and the couple had been together for eight years, since Benitez emigrated from Culiacán, Mexico. Benitez, a medical assistant, had some infertility benefits at a nearby OB/GYN clinic, the North Coast Women’s Care Medical Group. There, Dr. Christine Brody put Benitez on a hormonal drug called Clomid, to treat her polycystic ovarian syndrome, and also told her that she was willing to oversee her treatment but not to perform inseminations because, as a Christian, she disapproved of lesbians having children.

“When she said that,” Benitez told me, “I was so upset, but she made it better by saying the other doctors would do it for us.” Benitez and Clark tried home inseminations for a few more months, and Brody even did some exploratory surgery. But when the time came to schedule a more effective in utero insemination—a procedure that involves injecting sperm directly into the uterus—an assistant from North Coast Women’s Care called to inform Benitez that no one in the practice would do the procedure, nor would they refill her prescriptions. Benitez demanded to speak with the head of the clinic, who responded by telling her that he, too, objected to helping lesbians have children and would not further her care. “They had just lied and lied to me, trying to brush me aside to do inseminations at home as some form of excuse. But once they found themselves against the wall, they had no choice but to tell me they flat-out wouldn’t do it.” So Benitez sued.

Benitez’s is far from the only case brought by a woman turned down for fertility services. Kijuana Chambers, a single blind woman living in Denver, Colorado, was eventually turned away from her fertility clinic. Among the reasons cited at trial by one of the clinic’s doctors: She was prone to emotional outbursts; she had dirty underwear. Chambers lost her trial in the U.S. District Court in Denver in November 2003. Last summer, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals declined to rehear her case.

Screening at fertility clinics is not just a concern for gays, lesbians, and the disabled. Women over 39 and women with severely compromised fertility are commonly turned down for services or told they won’t be treated unless they agree to use donor eggs. This is largely a matter of economics. Assisted reproduction is a $4 billion-a-year business. The average cost of a single cycle of in vitro fertilization, including medications, egg retrieval, sperm washing, fertilization, incubation, and embryo transfer, is $12,400. Given all the failures and repeat attempts, the average amount spent per baby born through IVF in the United States is much higher: $100,000. Few insurance companies pick up the tab, so patients themselves decide where to spend their considerable money, and they do this largely based on a clinic’s success rate. As a result, many doctors try to game the system, producing high “live birth” success rates by cherry-picking patients. Before being accepted by a clinic, a woman must submit to a battery of tests to determine things like the level of follicle-stimulating hormone on day three of her menstrual cycle. Get a number over 12, and she’s out of luck.

According to Dr. Geoffrey Sher, founder and medical director of the Sher Institute of Reproductive Medicine, the largest chain of privately owned fertility clinics in the world, almost any clinic that can afford to turn down patients does. “I’d like to think most doctors try to be honest. The problem is, you’re confronted with the reality that if you don’t get high success rates, patients don’t come to you.”

To Read the Rest of the Article