Tuesday, November 28, 2006

(MS)NBC Pats Itslf on the Back for Ignoring for the Last Two Years That Iraq is in the Midst of a Civil War

Yeah, Keith Olbermann, I admire your candid nature in the midst of a passive mainstream media, but don't get to hippedy-hoppedy about your corporate media station's decision to christen this a "civil war" ... as you state its years in coming. Still you have to give Keith and Congressional Quarterly's Craig Crawford for supplying us a clear picture what is wrong with the corporate mainstream media system (they really aren't telling us anything new about the Bush administration):

To Watch the Video at Alternet

Of course there is also the satirical take:

Daily Show on calling Iraq a "Civil War"

In Vino Veritas?

(via Karolina Lassbo)

... and I thought I liked wine...

Priorities of the Christian Coalition

Christian Coalition pres.-elect leaves
Yahoo News

The president-elect of the Christian Coalition of America has declined the job, saying the organization wouldn't let him expand its agenda beyond opposing abortion and gay marriage.

The Rev. Joel Hunter, who was scheduled to take over the socially conservative group in January from Roberta Combs, said he had hoped to focus on issues such as poverty and the environment.

"These are issues that Jesus would want us to care about," said Hunter, a senior pastor at Northland Church in Longwood, Fla.

Hunter announced his decision not to take the job during an organization board meeting Nov. 21. A statement issued by the group said Hunter left because of "differences in philosophy and vision." Hunter said he was not asked to leave.

"They pretty much said, 'These issues are fine, but they're not our issues, that's not our base,'" Hunter said.

His resignation is the latest setback for the once-powerful group.

The Christian Coalition, founded in 1989 by religious broadcaster Pat Robertson, became one of the nation's most powerful conservative groups during the 1990s, but it has faced complaints in recent years about its finances, leadership and plans to veer into nontraditional policy areas. The group claims more than 2 million members.

Article Link

The Christian Coalition

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Sebastião Salgado: Revolutionary Photographer

(Let me warn you--I got online to just briefly look up some books by Salgado and got lost in the power of his images. Listen to the lecture below--this is a man of ideas just as powerful and passionate as his photographic journeys.)

“Changing the World With Children.” UNICEF

“Epic Sebastião Salgado show at the Berkeley Art Museum.” University of California Berkeley: Campus News (Includes Lecture, Presentation and Panel Discussion: February 8, 2002)

“The Majority World: Three Photo Essays, 1977-92” Terra

“Migrations: Humanity in Transition.” PDN and Kodak Professional (1999)

“Migrations: Humanity in Transition, 1993-1999” Terra

Tired of the Clear Channel Hegemony, Take a Listen to These Independent Online Stations

Tired of the Clear Channel hegemony, poisoning our airwaves with bland copies of what might have once been creative musical inspiration... I don't know about where you live, but in Lexington the airwaves stink with corporate canned radio shows imported for our mindless consumption (with the exception of WRFL who is our independent voice shouting into the wilderness, an oasis in a dry desert).

Take a chance... open our ears, our minds, and hopefully our bodies will follow! Best of all, no commercials...

Independent Radio Available Online

(I'm currently listening to Brazillbent Lounge and it is good, not in that bland safe way, but in a what is that, wow, they did that, what the hell... ha, ha, ha, ....)

Reconstruction 6.4: Theories/Practices of Blogging

(Well it is finally done! The issue is available online and is linked in the title below and I have included the contents page here as a preview. Please feel free to leave any comments about the issue here. We also have an archive of past issues available at the site.)

"Theories/Practices of Blogging"
edited by Michael Benton and Lauren Elkin
Reconstruction 6.4

Michael Benton, "Thoughts on Blogging by a Poorly Masked Academic"

Craig Saper, "Blogademia"

danah boyd, "A Blogger's Blog: Exploring the Definition of a Medium"

Tama Leaver, "Blogging Everyday Life"

Erica Johnson, "Democracy Defended: Polibloggers and the Political Press in America"

Carmel L. Vaisman, "Design and Play: Weblog Genres of Adolescent Girls in Israel"

David Sasaki, "Identity and Credibility in the Global Blogosphere"

Anna Notaro, "The Lo(n)g Revolution: The Blogosphere as an Alternative Public Sphere?"

Esther Herman, "My Life in the Panopticon: Blogging From Iran"

Various Authors, "Webfestschrift for Wealth Bondage/The Happy Tutor" [external link]

Lilia Efimova, "Two papers, me in between" [external link]

Introduction: Lauren Elkin, "Blogging and (Expatriate) Identity"

Various Bloggers, "Why I Blog: Part 1" and "Part 2"

Review Essays
Laxman D. Satya, "The Question is not, 'Can the Subaltern speak?' The Question is, 'Can She be heard?' A Review of Lata Mani's Contentious Traditions: Debate on Sati in Colonial India"

Larry Taylor on "Midwestern Unlike You and Me: New Zealand's Julian Dashper" [art exhibit]

Marc Ouellette on Wheeler Winston Dixon's Film and Television After 9/11

Marc Ouellette on Geoff King and Tanya Krzywinska's ScreenPlay: cinema/videogames/interfaces

Michael Benton: Thanksgiving

(I wrote this last year when I was at one of the lowest points in my life. I was reflecting on what radical friendship, love and companionship would entail. I was seeking comrades of the [im]possible. I send it out this year with much more happiness, hope and humor. Still, though, I seek those comrades... Thanks to Molly Bloom for reminding me about this...)

In my mind, friendship is a radical engagement... how do we form meaningful relationships in this world and what are the significance of those bonds?

This is meaningless pastiche at its worst--you have been warned! A sure sign of encroaching mental illness in that I have a naive belief in language, friendship, erotics/politics, possibilities and change.

I suffer from a Deleuzian stutter, or a Derrida-da-da, in which my language is stifled by the spectacle.

So many friends lost through time, through neglect and through conflict. “We have lost the friend . . . the friend of the perhaps . . . of respectfully experiencing that friendship." So many dead, some institutionalized, and some just disappeared back into the void. “I will continue to begin again … and I’ll have to wander all alone in this long conversation that we were supposed to have together.”

Spectral visitors stay my hand reminding me that the only answers are in questions that produce more questions. Unsure and uneasy, I stumble about asking questions of everything and everyone.

Popular culture haunts my questions and mocks my unrest by co-opting it for entertainment: “I know why you hardly sleep. Why you live alone and why night after night you sit at your computer. … I know because I was once looking for the same thing. … It’s the question that drives us."

My spectral guides condemn those that have escaped into this cultural amnesia of recycled consumer pleasures. Yet, I wonder if we can truly blame these defectors for choosing the tender steak over the complex gruel? When were they offered an opportunity to believe otherwise: “Your soul is like an appendix! I don’t even use it!” My TV encourages me to escape into its warm embrace and forget the outside world:

The television screen is the retina of the mind’s eye. Therefore the television screen is part of the physical structure of the brain. Therefore whatever appears on the television screen emerges as raw experience for those who watch it. Therefore television is reality, and reality is less than television.

Rejecting the siren's lure, I turn everything off and find a quiet place far away from the competing voices. I am listening for the emergence of a being, an/other who escapes my comprehension, this listening requires a transition to a new dimension of understanding.

I am listening to you: although I do not understand what you are saying, I am attentive to your silence amongst history’s mentions, I am attempting to understand and hear your intention. Which does not mean: I comprehend you, or that I know you … No, I am listening to you as someone that I do not truly know … with you but not as you … I reside in a realm of absolute silence in order to hear what you have to say or what is left unsaid or what reverberates from the unknown. I quest for new words, for new meanings, for new modes of understandings that will bridge this river of silence … for an alliance of possibilities that will not reduce the Other to an item of property or a subject to be mastered. This unspeakable silence is a rift that shatters the boundaries of my life in order to produce a conflagration of nothingness that sears the forest of my consciousness clearing the way for new growths. Perhaps, as the borders of my psyche that restrain my various selves breaks-up, there will be the productive explosion of new life spreading across my interior landscape. Chaos enters my realm and produces … possibilities.

“Perhaps the impossible is the only chance of something new, of some new philosophy of the new … Perhaps friendship, if there is such a thing, must honor ... what appears impossible here." Where are the friends that ask questions of the dominant and seek the impossible? I dream of relationships yet to come, writing as a politics of creative imagination that refuses to be silenced. I await a new politics, new friendships and new possibilities... in the meantime I'm not afraid to say I really don't know the answers, but I am still asking questions.

For that I am thankful!

Patchwork Cast:

Jacques Derrida’s eulogy for Gilles Deleuze: “I’ll Have to Wander Alone.”
The character Trinity speaking to Neo in the movie The Matrix
Michael Kelso on That 70s Show
Brian O'Blivion in David Cronenberg's film Videodrome
Luce Irigaray The Way of Love and To Be Two
Jacques Derrida's Politics of Friendship

Sprinkled throughout:

Michael's fears, hopes and desires


Guy Debord
Gilles Deleuze
Michel Foucault
Martin Heidegger
Karl Marx
Friedrich Nietzsche

Intellectual Intoxicants still resonating years later (recipe called for the cook to stir and simmer for years until tightly bottled conception explodes all over the place):

Rebecca Saunder's and Ronald Strickland's courses at Illinois State University "Mourning of Modernity" and "Marxist Cultural Theory"

Like all meaningless writings one must periodically turn over the topsoil exposing the rotten concepts, words and beliefs to the sun, leaving the exposed underground to develop into a new potent hummus... when developed into a potent mix spread liberally across the society. Recipes must be changed frequently to resist contamination from the monological discourse that seeks to control pointless thoughts.

Culture/Collective Memory

(Archival stuff from course weblogs that I am closing down--already compiled so I'm putting it here for others to browse)

12 Gauge (Literary zine based out of Brooklyn, NY—in operation since 1995)

Aesthetics and Visual Culture

African Philosophy Resources

Agenda (A journal about women and gender originating out of South Africa. See this article for a brief history)

AK Press ["Our goal is to make available radical books and other materials, titles that are published by independent presses, not the corporate giants, titles with which you can make a positive change in the world. The sorts of books we stock are less and less available from the corporate publishers, booksellers & websites."]

All Songs Considered (NPR’s signature music show that has a wealth of music tracks and background on the artists—for instance they made available tracks from Nirvana’s Box Set on the day it was released: Listen Here)

Alternative Press Review (Left perspective magazine that collects the best of alternative presses. Originates from Arlington, VA)

American Studies at the University of Virginia (Huge archive of links and resources)

Anderberg, Kirsten. Lonely Amidst Applause (Posted at personal website: January 2005) ["Opening your life up to the public sets one up for at least two lives. There is the public person, that side that the public sees and then expands with their own imaginations, creating personal relationships, albeit one-sided ones, with public entities. Then there is the public personality's private life, that only those in closest proximity to the public person know about. Sometimes there is a third level that only the public person her/himself knows about. These levels of reality are more marked than in normal daily separation of environments, it seems, as the fame aspect follows you through all realms in a way that one's roles at normal work environments would not."]

Art and Politics ["Recent criticism has demonstrated that the museum is not a neutral institution, but is complicit in maintaining the existing social, political, and economic hierarachies."]

ASLE: Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment [Articles, annotated bibliographies, reviews, biographies, study guides and other sources]

Azizah Magazine ( Based in Georgia (US). Self-description: “a magazine that reflects the experiences and perspectives of Muslim women living in North American society.”)

Barrelhouse (Self-description: “In our pages you'll find fiction and poetry from new and established writers, as well as essays and interviews on everything from art to music to reality television.”)

Baseball Directed by Ken Burns. PBS (2003) [""Baseball," the poet Donald Hall told us in a filmed interview, "because of its continuity over the space of America and the time of America, is a place where memory gathers." It was our intention to pursue the game — and its memories and myths — across the expanse of American history. We quickly developed an abiding conviction that the game of baseball offered a unique prism through which one could see refracted much more than the history of games won and lost, teams rising and falling, rookies arriving and veterans saying farewell. The story of baseball is also the story of race in America, of immigration and assimilation; of the struggle between labor and management, of popular culture and advertising, of myth and the nature of heroes, villains, and buffoons; of the role of women and class and wealth in our society. The game is a repository of age-old American verities, of standards against which we continually measure ourselves, and yet at the same time a mirror of the present moment in our modern culture — including all of our most contemporary failings. But we were hardly prepared for the complex emotions the game summoned up. The accumulated stories and biographies, life-lessons and tragedies, dramatic moments and classic confrontations that we encountered daily began to suggest even more compelling themes. As Jacques Barzun has written, "Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball."]

Benton, Michael. “Moonshine Clans of the Alphane Mountains.” In the Fray (June 3, 2004)

"Bhutan: The Last Place." Frontline World (PBS: May 2002) ["the impact of television on a remote Buddhist kingdom in the Himalayas. After centuries of self-imposed isolation, Bhutan legalized TV in 1999 -- the last country in the world to do so."]

Biography Project (Website introduction: “Welcome to the Biography Project. This reference tool is an ongoing effort to catalog and document the contributions of authors, artists, scientists, film makers and other culturally influential individuals on underground culture in its various forms. This is direct response to the unfortunate *lack* of accurate and comprehensive information on the net regarding 'popsubculture'.”)

Black Table (Literary/cultural journal)

Booknotes (Website description: “C-SPAN's signature author interview program, has served as a forum for books about history, politics and public affairs for a dozen years. C-SPAN's unedited, commercial-free format, allows for an in-depth discussion with an author distinct from other author interview programs. The format is simple: one author, one book, one hour. For a full hour every Sunday night, fifty-two weeks a year, an author discusses their recently-released work of non-fiction. Beyond the book's subject matter, authors are also queried about the writing process, about how and why they came to write their book and their own lives and influences. Authors may appear on Booknotes only once in their writing career.” )

Bookslut (website description: “Bookslut is a monthly web magazine and daily blog dedicated to those who love to read. We provide a constant supply of news, reviews, commentary, insight, and more than occasional opinions.” Also “named one of the 50 best websites by Time, one of the best literature websites by The New York Times.”)

Bookworm (website description: “A must for the serious reader, "Bookworm" showcases writers of fiction and poetry - the established, new or emerging - all interviewed with insight and precision by the show's host and guiding spirit, Michael Silverblatt.”)

Byzantine Studies on the Internet

Cabinet Magazine ("Cabinet is an award-winning quarterly magazine of art and culture that confounds expectations of what is typically meant by the words "art," "culture," and sometimes even "magazine." Like the 17th-century cabinet of curiosities to which its name alludes, Cabinet is as interested in the margins of culture as its center. Presenting wide-ranging, multi-disciplinary content in each issue through the varied formats of regular columns, essays, interviews, and special artist projects, Cabinet's hybrid sensibility merges the popular appeal of an arts periodical, the visually engaging style of a design magazine, and the in-depth exploration of a scholarly journal. Playful and serious, exuberant and committed, Cabinet's omnivorous appetite for understanding the world makes each of its issues a valuable sourcebook of ideas for a wide range of readers, from artists and designers to scientists and historians. In an age of increasing specialization, Cabinet looks to previous models of the well-rounded thinker to forge a new type of magazine for the intellectually curious reader of the future. Cabinet was named "Best New Magazine" of 2000 by the American Library Association's Library Journal and "Best Art and Culture Magazine" for 2001 and 2003 by the New York Press.")

California Authors ["Squinting westward, New York publishing seems to see us dimly. California. Somewhere. Out there at the end of the Pony Express line, indefinable on the dusty horizon. But from here, under the bright western sky, Pacific crashing at our feet, California shows up in crisp detail. It is generous, even lavish: rich in literary tradition, the nation's largest book market, home to the readers who create best-sellers, home to the eloquent voices who are defining the best in American publishing. It’s all so clear to us. Here. And because being here counts, we are building CaliforniaAuthors.com — creating an online literary hub for the West Coast's finest writers and their readers. We began with a deep understanding of the publishing industry and the West Coast media–works, an expanding online library, a commitment to supporting literacy and freedom of expression, and a real desire to share California's literary riches with the world. Even New York. Visit daily to check out the latest Left Coast literary news, reviews and new releases — and see why the San Francisco Chronicle calls us “increasingly essential” reading. Browse fresh writing in our collection of essays and excerpts, and enjoy our gallery of premier author websites. You’ll find many of your favorite California writers, along with some wonderful new voices, in our Author Directory. We make it easy to keep up on literary events statewide and cruise the West Coast's eclectic independent booksellers online."]

Calvin and Hobbes (An intelligent, imaginative, and insightful comic strip)

Chelsea Green Publishing ["Chelsea Green sees publishing as a tool for effecting cultural change. Our purpose is: to stop the destruction of the natural world by challenging the beliefs and practices that are enabling this destruction and by providing inspirational and practical alternatives that promote sustainable living. We seek to promote better understanding of natural systems as a global commons. We seek to empower citizens to participate in reclaiming the commons, to serve as its effective stewards, and to help mitigate worldwide social and environmental disruptions. We seek to build a community of new voices that will empower and inspire individuals to reduce their ecological impact and to participate in the restoration of healthy local communities, bioregional ecosystems, and a diversity of cultures."]

China Mieville: 50 Science Fiction and Fantasy Works That Every Socialist Should Read

"The Civil War." Directed by Ken Burns. PBS (2002) ["Nearly 20 years ago, on Christmas Day, 1984, I finished reading a book that literally changed my life – a wonderful, historical novel called The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. It told the story of the most important battle in our nation's history: Gettysburg. I remember closing that book and telling my father, "Now I know the subject for my next documentary. It's going to be the Civil War."]

Clamor Magazine ["Clamor Magazine's mission is to provide a media outlet that reflects the reality of alternative politics and culture in a format that is accessible to people from a variety of backgrounds. Clamor exists to fill the voids left by mainstream media. We recognize and celebrate the fact that each of us can and should participate in media, politics and culture. We publish writing and art that exemplifies the value we place on autonomy, creativity, exploration, and cooperation. Clamor is an advocate of progressive social change through active creation of political and cultural alternatives."]

Contemporary Cultural Studies Resources

Continental Philosophy Resources

Conversations With History: Research Galleries. Institute of International History, University of California—Berkeley (Extensive online video and audio archive of interviews broken down into easily browsed categories.) Main Catalogue by Subject and Most Recent

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."]

Critical Theory Resources

Django Reinhardt Talk of the Nation (PBS: December 8, 2004) ["Django Reinhardt is a legend of jazz guitar whose shadow still looms over performers 50 years after his death. A new book sheds light on the life of Reinhardt, who rose to stardom in just 43 years."]

Django Reinhardt: The Biography by Alain Antonietto ["The poet Serge evokes the scene as it was then : “Down there in the Gypsy camp a banjo was jiggling with a popular melody.., one had the impression of distant dance music, dizzying waltzes one the sweetness of an accordion. Camp fires were everywhere, each with its cooking pot. Everywhere chickens were stewing and banjos going wild...” This was the setting in which Django grew up - in a world that today has become the stuff of legend, the world of the bohemian and the vagabond on the doorstep of a great city : caravans and horses on the waste ground, wooden fences, weedy ditches for brawling children and bony dogs to roam in, Gypsy women with their kiss-curls and long flowing dresses, black- moustached men in striped waistcoats and broad- brimmed hats, men with dancing bears and performing goats, chair-menders, horse-copers, ragpickers, scrap-metal merchants, basket-makers, tinkers and musical-instrument makers - a whole world lost for ever under the bulldozers, leaving behind only a wisp of smoke from a camp-fire, the notes of a guitar drifting on the wind..."]

Ellis, Joseph. "His Excellency: George Washington." Booknotes (January 1, 2005) ["Joseph Ellis talks about his biography of George Washington, "His Excellency," at the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston. The author explains Washington's position on several issues, including expansion and slavery. Author Bio: Joseph Ellis is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "Founding Brothers," and "American Sphinx," his biography of Thomas Jefferson."]

Fish, Stanley. One Univeristy Under God? Chronicle of Higher Education (January 7, 2005) http://chronicle.com/cgi2-bin/printable.cgi?article=http://chronicle.com/jobs/2005/01/2005010701c.htm

For a Student Researching the Holocaust

From Holler to the Hood

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."]

Ghost Town [This is a motorcycle diary of Elena's, aka Kid of Speed, trip through the nuclear deadzones within Eastern Europe. A great reminder as we recently passed the 25th anniversary of the Three Mile Island Incident in the U.S. and the Nuclear Energy Institute continues to tell us that there is no longer anything to worry about. This story reminds us of some of the worst abuses of the corrupt communist bloc and the continuing lies of our own capitalist system regarding the danger of nuclear power.]

Globalist Person of the Year 2004: Commoner Joseph Darby's Uncommon Courage The Globalist (January 7, 2005) ["In selecting a person of the year, magazine editors often look to heroes and strong leaders. And yet, some of the world’s most remarkable individuals are people who are virtually faceless and nameless. The Globalist’s “Person of the Year 2004” is an American whose courageous actions reaffirmed the world’s belief in America’s true ideals in troubled times."]

"Graphic Novelist with a Comic Sensibility." National Public Radio (January 8, 2005) ["When Derek Kirk Kim's debut graphic novel Same Difference and Other Stories appeared in 2003 as a self-published paperback, it drew little notice. Now it has won the top three awards of the comic world." The comic that won the awards is available online ]

The Great Chicago Fire: Web of Memory Chicago Historical Society and the Trustees of Northwestern University. (1996) ["The exhibition is divided into two main parts. The first, represented by an image of the burning city taken from a contemporary Currier & Ives lithograph, is titled The Great Chicago Fire. Its five chronologically organized chapters focus on the conflagration and the city's recovery. The second part is called The Web of Memory. Its governing image is a doll named Bessie, which was saved from the flames by six-year-old Harriet Peabody when her family gave up their home for lost. The six chapters in The Web of Memory examine a half dozen ways in which the fire has been remembered: eyewitness accounts, contemporary journalism and popular illustrations, imaginative forms such as fiction and poetry and painting, the legend of Mrs. O'Leary, souvenirs of various sorts, and previous commemorations by civic groups and by the Historical Society. In both The Great Chicago Fire and The Web of Memory, each chapter consists of three integrated sections: thematic Galleries filled with electronic images of a great range of artifacts, a Library of relevant texts, and an Essay that provides a context for both the Galleries and the Library."]

A Guide to Anna Deavere Smith's Play Twilight: Los Angeles ("To Anna Deavere Smith, Twilight: Los Angeles is a tragedy. It is a crisis of community to some; a riot to others, a war or an “urban explosion” to still others. It is linked to other outbursts of violence in our nation’s history. Yet it is contemporary, linked most recently to the explosion in Cincinnati in 2001. In 1992, a nation listened to the verdict in the first trial of the Los Angeles police officers indicted for the beating of Rodney King. That beating was broadcast throughout the nation and around the world. All who watched became witnesses. In the hours that followed the acquittal, acts of violence erupted in Los Angeles and angry words of rage were expressed by friends and strangers everywhere. Journalist Richard Rodriguez said of the violence, 'It was the worst moment for Los Angeles. It was also the first moment, I think, when most people in L.A. realized they were part of the whole. The city that the world mocked for not being a city, for lacking a center, having only separate suburbs, separate freeway exits—L.A. realized that it was interconnected." Americans—not only those in the streets but also millions of others who watched on TV—saw rioters drag Reginald Denny from his truck at the corner of Florence and Normandie and beat him. Facing History resource speaker and author Greg Alan-Williams has written about a similar moment when he and others stepped forward to save a life. When students view Twilight: Los Angeles, they ask: Why didn’t more people try to stop the violence? Why didn’t more help? They ask about the causes of the rage and relate stories of injustice and discrimination from their own experiences. Anna Deavere Smith’s Twilight: Los Angeles directed by Marc Levin examines the event from a variety of perspectives. She has collected fragments of monologues that both invite and provoke conversation. Together they raise questions about race, power, truth, and justice. They reveal how myths, misinformation, and misunderstanding can lead not only to prejudice and stereotyping but also violence. “Strangers turned against strangers” energized by rumor, propaganda, rage, and for some, a sort of mindless entertainment—an outlet for misplaced energy and anger. Their experiences deepen our understanding of the importance of listening to one another’s stories and to understanding one another’s point of view. But listening is not enough. Although the looting and burning damaged nine out of every ten Korean-owned businesses in South Central Los Angeles, the tragedy lay in the deaths of 51 human beings. This study guide, both in print and on our website—facinghistory.org—is designed to help teachers and students discuss the difficult and controversial issues raised by the film. It suggests the complexities of Los Angeles’s history or that of any other community in crisis. It also reveals the importance to a democracy of the kind of education that equips students to negotiate those complexities.")

Guide to Philosophy on the Internet

A Guide to the Film Schindler's List ("Schindler's List, the award-winning film directed by Steven Spielberg from a screenplay by Steven Zaillian based on the book by Thomas Keneally, tells the story of Oskar Schindler, a war profiteer and member of the Nazi party who saved over 1,000 Jews during World War II. The movie explores the human capacity for monumental evil as well as for extraordinary courage, caring, and compassion. And by revealing how fragile civilization truly is, it turns history into a moral lesson. No lesson is more needed in our schools today. As Spielberg recently told members of Congress, "History has to cease being facts and figures, stories and sagas from long ago and far away about them or those. In order to learn from history, rather than just about it, students need to rediscover that those people were just like us." Hannah Arendt, one of the foremost political philosophers of our time, explained why the teaching of history must have a moral component when she argued that we can put past evils into the service of a future good only by squarely facing reality. She wrote, "The methods used in the pursuit of historical truth are not the methods of the prosecutor, and the men who stand guard over the facts are not the officers of interest groups - no matter how legitimate their claims - but the reporters, the historians, and finally the poets." And, she might have added, the film-makers. The facts - no matter how horrifying - must be preserved, not "lest we forget," but so that we may judge. Preservation and judgment do not justify the past but reveal its meaning. Several years ago, Steven Spielberg was asked to choose an image that summarized all of his films. He chose "the little boy in Close Encounters [of the Third Kind] opening the door and standing in that beautiful yet awful light, just like fire coming through the doorway." That "beautiful yet awful light" is knowledge and it offers both promise and danger. In Schindler's List, Spielberg encourages us to take a step toward the light - "toward what we don't understand and what we don't know about and what scares us.")

Hispanics Critique American Girl Doll ["Some residents of Chicago's largely Hispanic Pilsen section are upset over a new doll in the popular American Girl series because her storyline says the Mexican-American youngster and her family left the "dangerous" neighborhood for a better life in the suburbs."]

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

Ideology of Discovery

Images of Authority ["Leaders have long seen the power of images. From Ancient Egypt with the images of the Pharaoh to the images of George W. Bush in government offices, the image of the political leader has been understood to signify the authority of that leader."]

Ireland, Doug. The Howard Hughes Scorsese Doesn't Tell You About." Direland (January 27, 2005) ["Martin Scorcese deserves an Oscar--but not for his mendacious film The Aviator, which glorifies the odious Howard Hughes. Scorcese, of all people, ought to know better than to have done so."]

Internet African History Sourcebook

Internet Ancient History Sourcebook

Internet East Asian Sourcebook

Internet Global History Sourcebook

Internet Histories Sourcebooks Project

Internet History of Science Sourcebook

Internet Indian History Sourcebook

Internet Islamic History Sourcebook

Internet Jewish History Sourcebook

Internet Medieval Sourcebook

Internet Modern History Sourcebook

Internet Women's History Sourcebook

Jazz. Directed by Ken Burns. PBS (2004) ["Jazz has been called the purest expression of American democracy; a music built on individualism and compromise, independence and cooperation."]

Kirsten's BUSKING & PERFORMANCE PAGE ["My main interest is street performing aka busking, as it is not documented properly for some unknown reason, thus I aim to document part of that culture. I also want to leave a road map for others who would like to start busking. But my busking career overlapped with careers playing in swing bands, performing with vaudevillians, etc...so this is a catch all page for performing information I have accumulated over the decades, through the eyes of a solo woman busker, for the most part. I enjoy busking, it is very different than other entertainment venues. It is very antiauthoritarian and a good use of the public square, in my opinion. Busking also helps keep free speech in exercise."]

Lang, Lang: Piano Prodigy 60 Minutes (January 9, 2005) [The 22-year-old Chinese musical prodigy has been called one of the greatest classical pianists of his generation.]

Lois Lowry's The Giver ("To the Nazis, music was the “most German of the arts.” To the Jewish composers confined in Terezín, a concentration camp in what is now the Czech Republic, it was the most universal. In Terezín, they openly created and played music that was censored in other parts of Nazi-occupied Europe. Through that music, writes historian Ruth Bondy, a survivor of Terezín, they “opened a window into another world, different from the reality of the ghetto. Listening with closed eyes to Bernard The Giver by Lois Lowry—a futuristic novel that explores the relationship between past and present, between identity and memory. The Central Question: How do our individual and collective memories shape who we are today and influence our futures?")

Matters of Race ("My mother is a beautiful woman. In times of crisis as a child, I remember looking up at her knowing she had the answers to questions I found so hard for my young mind to grasp. Her words would always relax the moment’s pain and confusion when once again I was reminded that my brown skin, wooly hair, and full lips made me different to my classmates at my Irish Catholic grade school. Her voice, always gentle but firm, would say, “we’re all just human-beings, we’re all equal,” but she never said, “race didn’t matter.” I share this story because in Matters of Race we tried to show, through the stories of everyday people from Hawaii to New York, from South Dakota to North Carolina, that race is something we all live with everyday. It is a real part of our lives that keeps us guessing. “Is it race or is it me?” “Was that an insult because of who I am or just because…?” We might not be aware of it everyday but it only takes a look, a word, an inappropriate action, or an overt denial of basic rights or privileges to make race present, felt, and therefore real. In Matters of Race, we seek to explore our separate, as well as shared, past and present. In these stories of our individual and collective lives we see people grappling with race and its meaning in American society. Through these various narratives, we begin to learn about shared experience. And while that which keeps us together can be the burden of the past, that which unites us is also the challenge and the promise of mutual respect, which we gain through knowledge and the greater appreciation for our differences. The films challenge us to find a way to not just tolerate difference, but respect it. Our nation is a nation of many different cultures, and many different peoples wearing many different colors. While we strive to be a nation of people united with a common purpose, ideals and destiny, we are still a people who come from many places from around the world. We all strive to preserve some of the things that uniquely connect us to those far and varied places of origin. Whether a recent immigrant, native descendent or one who came by force or by choice, we all live here today cherishing our right to express our identity and ourselves as we choose. Our promise to protect and allow difference is what draws many to our shores. But the critical question that writer John Edgar Wideman challenges us to consider in Matters of Race is, “If we are different, who determines the meaning of difference, who benefits from its meaning? Who shall create its form and who will benefit from it?”)

Memory, History and Memorials

Metaphysics Resource Page

Montagne, Renee. Unforgivable Blackness: Jack Johnson's Saga PBS (January 17, 2005) ["In 1908, Jack Johnson made history by becoming the first black heavyweight boxing champion of the world, stunning crowds in Sydney, Australia, by knocking out Tommy Burns. Many whites were outraged by the win -- and soon Johnson found himself squared off with retired heavyweight champ Jim Jeffries, who became known as the "Great White Hope."]

My Hero Project

Mysticism Resources

The National Security Archives [Materials are available online. "The National Security Archive combines a unique range of functions in one non governmental, non-profit institution. The Archive is simultaneously a research institute on international affairs, a library and archive of declassified U.S. documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, a public interest law firm defending and expanding public access to government information through the FOIA, and an indexer and publisher of the documents in books, microfiche, and electronic formats. The Archive's approximately $2.3 million yearly budget comes from publication revenues and from private philanthropists such as the Carnegie Corporation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Ford Foundation. As a matter of policy, the Archive receives no government funding. The National Security Archive was founded in 1985 by a group of journalists and scholars who had obtained documentation from the U.S. government under the Freedom of Information Act and sought a centralized repository for these materials. Over the past decade, the Archive has become the world's largest non governmental library of declassified documents. Located on the seventh floor of the George Washington University's Gelman Library in Washington, D.C., the Archive is designed to apply the latest in computerized indexing technology to the massive amount of material already released by the U.S. government on international affairs, make them accessible to researchers and the public, and go beyond that base to build comprehensive collections of documents on specific topics of greatest interest to scholars and the public."]

Neary, Lynn. "Moral Values Seemingly at Odds with Popular Culture." Morning Edition (PBS: January 3, 2005) ["Many Americans say they voted for moral values in the presidential election, but sex and violence in the entertainment industry is as popular as ever."]

“Niall Ferguson.” Book TV (August 28, 2004) ["Niall Ferguson joined Book TV for a conversation about his life and work. Mr. Ferguson teaches Financial History at the Stern School of Business at New York University. He is also a Senior Research Fellow and Visiting Professor of History at Jesus College, Oxford University, and a Senior Fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He is the author of five books: "The Pity of War: Explaining World War One," "The House of Rothschild" (in two volumes, "Money's Prophets" and "The World's Banker"), "The Cash Nexus: Money and Power in the Modern World, 1700-2000," "Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power," and "Colossus: The Price of America's Empire," which publishes in April 2004. Mr. Ferguson and his family have homes in New York and Oxfordshire, England."]

NPR 100 {"The most important American musical works of the 20th century." Listen to the music and hear the stories behind the music.]

Ozeki, Ruth. “Creating Novel Life Forms—Literally.” Satya (May 2003):

Palahniuk, Chuck. “Diary.” Bookworm (KCRW: November 6, 2003): (website description: “Palahniuk takes on some rather aggressive questions about American culture and the artist. Can an artist survive popularity? Cult adoration? Commercialism? His answers may surprise you.”)

People With a History: An Online Guide to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans History

Philosophy and Culture

Philosophy and Religion

Philosophy Resources

Philosophy, Technology, and Environment (archive of sources)

The Reasoning Page (Resources on rhetoric, argumentation, reasoning, logic, etc…)

Propaganda Nation

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."]

Ricky Gervais, A Hit at the Office." National Public Radio (January 25, 2004) ["In The Office, British comedian Ricky Gervais plays David Brent, a buffoonish, self-involved but affable office manager at a dismal paper supply office in the London suburb of Slough. Gervais created the faux documentary and co-writes and directs the series, for which he won a Golden Globe Award."]

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."]

Smith, Carl. Urban Disorder and the Shape of Belief: The Great Chicago Fire, the Haymarket Bomb, and the Model Town of Pullman. (Book excerpt: University of Chicago Press, 1994) ["Urban Disorder and the Shape of Belief is cultural history at its finest. By utilizing questions and methodologies of urban studies, social history, and literary history, Smith creates a sophisticated account of changing visions of urban America and provides insightful analyses of the process of shaping historical memory and structuring social meaning."—Robin F. Bachin, Journal of Interdisciplinary History]

The Social Construction of Gender ["To be born a man or a woman in any society is more than a simple biological fact. It is a biological fact with social implications. Women constitute a distinct social group, and the character of that group, long neglected by historians, has nothing to do with feminine "nature." "Gender" is the term now widely used to refer to those ways in which a culture reformulates what begins as a fact of nature. The biological sexes are redefined, represented, valued, and channeled into different roles in various culturally dependent ways. An American anthropologist has put it well: a "Sex/gender system [is] a set of arrangements by which a society transforms biological sexuality in to products of human activity, and in which there transformed sexual needs are met."]

Solnit, Rebecca. “The Silence of the Lambswool Cardigan.” Alternet (July 21, 2003) (on the importance of knowing the origin of everyday things)

Survivors of the Holocaust ("Between 1933 and 1945, the Nazis targeted and systematically murdered millions of children, women, and men solely because of their ancestry. Those murders are collectively known as the Holocaust, a Greek word that means “complete destruction by fire.” The word Holocaust evokes the crematoria of Auschwitz and other death camps where the bodies of many victims were burned. This event is also known as the Shoah, the Hebrew word for catastrophe. Immediately after World War II, Nazi leaders were brought to trial at Nuremberg, Germany for “crimes against humanity” and other war crimes. At those trials, the world heard evidence solely of what the per­petrators did. The voices of victims were not given full expression until decades later. Survivors of the Holocaust brings some of their voices to the classroom. Steven Spielberg, in association with Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation and Turner Original Productions, offers viewers a unique opportunity to hear the story of the Holocaust from the perspective of the survivors.")

Terry Tate: Office Linebacker ESPN (2004) [Brief video spoof--a classic!]

"This is Not Sex!: A Web Essay on the Male Gaze, Fashion Advertising, and the Pose." ["It is now routine to speak critically of the way that women are depicted in our popular visual media. There's too much sex in movies, television and magazines, people say. And this is often coupled to complaints that the media represent women as sex objects, provide unrealistic beauty standards, or focus only on women's outer beauty, instead of the more important attributes of character and accomplishment. There is truth in all of this. But often these claims seem to imply that there is an obvious "thing" called beauty or sexual attractiveness, and that the question is simply whether or not the media should display so much of this "thing." The following web essay casts doubt on the belief that there is such a simple, self-evident "thing" as beauty. It looks at beauty as a cultural construct, at how beauty is defined, at how fashion magazines cultivate a very particular notion of what it means to be attractive or beautiful. And it suggests that this particular notion may be less about sex, less about actual human sexual behaviors, than it is about power."]

Thomas Ligotti: Literature is Entertainment or It Is Nothing

A Touch of Greatness: One Good Teacher Can Change a Child's Life Independent Lens (PBS: 2005) ["In the 1960s, Albert Cullum rejected Dick and Jane for Shakespeare and Sophocles in his elementary school classroom, where students swam down the Mississippi River and hurled themselves from the walls of Troy--all without leaving school grounds. This portrait of one of America's most influential educators shows how cullum ignited the imagination of a generation of children, teaching them how to find their own inner greatness."]

Turner, Jack. The Abstract Wild." (First Chapter from the Book of the Same Name: University of Arizona Press, 1996) ["The contrast between that long weekend and my job appalled me. I knew I wanted to have more experiences like that, even if I couldn't explain what 'like that' meant. There was the adventure and the wilderness, of course, but what interested me was something more. Two months later we went back."]

"Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson." Directed by Ken Burns. PBS (January 2005) ["Johnson in many ways is an embodiment of the African-American struggle to be truly free in this country — economically, socially and politically," said Burns. "He absolutely refused to play by the rules set by the white establishment, or even those of the black community. In that sense, he fought for freedom not just as a black man, but as an individual."]

Vaeth, Chris. "Dr. King: The Remix." AlterNet (January 17, 2004) ["Sure, we know that he was born in Atlanta and became a timeless orator and national martyr. But many in the hip-hop nation have yet to be introduced to the radical Martin Luther King Jr."]

The Weimar Republic: The Fragility of Democracy (“The History of the Weimar Republic in Germany (1919-1933) illuminates one of the most creative and crucial periods in the twentieth century and serves as a significant case study of the critical issues of our own time. Many of the questions asked about the Weimar Republic are relevant to problems individuals and societies face in the twenty-first century.”)

What is Culture? ["Culture is not easily defined, nor is there a consensus among scholars, philosophers and polititicians (nor, probably, among the rest of us) as to what exactly the concept should include. We hope, here, to outline some of the broad-ranging debates which have gone on about the concept of culture during the past century. Furthermore, we hope to offer some insight into what the culture debate means in our own lives and to provide some examples of how cultural meanings are formed, maintained, and changed."]

White, Lynn, Jr. The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis Science (March 10, 1967): 1203-1207. ["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."]

Who's Who in the History of Mysticism

Williams, Saul. Tuning In: Musings of a Conscious Artist. Satya (May 2003)

Women Artists of the American West: Past and Present Co-developed by Susan Ressler, Purdue University (Concept developer, editor) Jerrold Maddox, Penn State University (Web developer) (A beautiful, engaging, and illuminating collection of art/writings by/about Women Artists of the American West. A very important site/project. Also produced as a book in a longer form. Divided into four sections at the bottom of the page—click on the links.)

Women at Work ["The following images represent a collection of images I have collected focusing on the theme "Women at Work." Consider these images and articulate the cultural codes the designers draw upon. Whenever possible I have identified the source for the image. See how the designer has adapted the image for the defined audience."]

Joshua Holland: CACI

CACI: Torture in Iraq, Intimidation at Home
By Joshua Holland

Dogged by serious allegations of human rights abuses in Iraq, a leading profiteer from the Iraq war engages in intimidation campaigns against journalists in America who seek to expose its practices.

Consider the unique problems faced by the corporate suits at CACI International, a defense contractor whose services have included "coercive" interrogations of prisoners in Iraq -- interrogations most people simply call "torture."

Think about the image problems a major multinational corporation faces after becoming inextricably linked with the abuses at Abu Ghraib, a firm whose employees have contributed to the iconic images of the occupation of Iraq -- the symbols of American cruelty and immorality in an illegal war. What can a company like that possibly do to protect its brand name after contributing to the greatest national disgrace since the My Lai massacre?

CACI's strategy has been two-fold: its flacks have distorted well-documented facts in the public record beyond recognition, and its senior management has lawyered up, suing or threatening to sue just about every journalist, muckraker and government watchdog who's dared to shine a light on the firm's unique role as a torture profiteer.

Lately, the company's sights have been set squarely on Robert Greenwald, director of Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers, in which CACI plays a starring role. Greenwald has been in a back-and-forth with CACI's CEO, Jack London, and its lead attorney, William Koegel, during "months of calls, emails and letters" in what Greenwald calls a campaign to "intimidate, threaten and suppress" the story presented in the film.

"The threatening letters started early, trying to get us to back off," Greenwald told me. "We refused, and went back at them with a very strong letter saying, 'no, you're war profiteers and we won't be silenced.' Like any bully, they backed down when confronted. No lawsuit was filed-- they're a paper tiger."

The story they don't want told is of a federal contractor that, according to the Washington Post, gets 92 percent of its revenues in the "defense" sector. The Washington Business Journal reported that CACI's defense contracts almost doubled in the year after the occupation of Iraq began, and profits shot up 52 percent.

Yet CACI insists it isn't a war profiteer (a subjective term anyway), but was just answering an urgent call in Iraq. In a letter to Greenwald, Koegel wrote: "the army needed ... civilian contractors to work as interrogators" because the military didn't have the personnel, and CACI responded to the "urgent war-time circumstances" and "has no apologies."

But while the firm had experience in electronic surveillance and other intelligence functions, it, too, didn't have the interrogators. Barry Lando reported finding an ad on CACI's website for interrogators to send to Iraq, and noted that "experience in conducting tactical and strategic interrogations" was desired, but not necessary. According to a report by the Army inspector general, 11 of the 31 CACI interrogators in Iraq had no training in what most experts agree is one of the most sensitive areas of intelligence gathering. The 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, which was in charge of interrogations at Abu Ghraib when the abuses took place, didn't have a single trained interrogator at the facility.

To Read the Rest of the Article

Friday, November 24, 2006

Raymond Federman: The Real Begins Where the Spectacle Ends

(a manifesto of sorts)

Si la littérature est le silence des significations, c'est en vérité la prison dont tous les occupants veulent s'évader.
Georges Bataille

What are the forms of representing the world that today parade before us? The cynical or frivolous precipitation of the spectacular, the triviality of trash-TV or the obscene tautologies of TV docudrama into which the real subsides without a trace. Now, and without any doubt more than ever, the derealizing flux of media images runs away with our powers of discernment, our conscience, our lives, and of course our writing. It forces us to surrender to what can only be called, in a strict sense, the fabulous and seductive grasp of spectacle. It bars us from a simplified representation of the real. It educates us in the dazed distrust of what is there in front of our eyes -- those eyes that have been overfed with icons. But despite our embittered submission to the charm of these icons, despite our willing servitude to the spectacle, we know very well that it is all false, that it is nothing but a theater of shadows that exhausts our sense of the real in its emptiness, and teaches us nothing, nothing but a mythology custom-made for a new breed of savages.

But the world is far more complex, far more chaotic, far more confusing, far more inaccessible than the false images we are offered daily. And the experiences that create the world for us are far more complex, chaotic, confused and confusing than THEY think. By THEY, I mean those who falsify OUR WORLD for us. OUR WORLD -- the one we as writers deal with everyday -- is a static-filled screen, a fuzzy image agitated by emotions a hundred times more voluptuous, but also a hundred times more painful than those THEY are trying to make us feel. Even the quickest move on the remote control cannot relieve us of the vertiginous bombardment of information to which the world subjects us. Its space is infinitely more profound, more decentered, more polymorphous. And the time which we spend in its flow never aligns itself according to the monochrome scenarios that supposedly symbolizes its passage.

How to react? How to reply? How to write today the world in which we live and write? How are we to symbolize differently and more truly (I did not say, more realistically, but more truly) our experience of the world? It will most certainly not be in the mode of an easy, facile, positive literature written in an industrial high-tech prose, it will not be a literature which has sold out to the Spectacle whose rich territory it wants to enter by any means, by compromise or by prostitution, but especially through simplistic cynicism, or with an ostentatious kitsch. This pseudo-literature, which is becoming more and more drab, more and more banal and predictable, more and more insignificant, functions beyond the pale of our anguish and desire.

When literature ceases to understand the world and accepts the crisis of representation in which it functions, it becomes mere entertainment, it becomes part of the Spectacle.

What is the antidote to this unreflexive and lazy precipitation of what still pretends to be literature? It is the kind of writing that resists the recuperation of itself into distorted or false figures and images. The kind of literature we need now is the kind that will systematically erode and dissipate the setting of the Spectacle, frustrate the expectation of its positive beginning, middle, and end, and cheap resolution. This kind of writing will be at the same time frugal and denuded, but rhetorically complex, so that it can seize the world in a new way. This kind of writing must create a space of resistance to the alienated devotion to images -- to the refining and undermining of the world by images. This kind of writing should be like an ironic free tense within the opacity of the Spectacle.

Anyone who persists in doing literature without acceding to the fact that doing literature can only be an intra-worldly diversion, a career path, a subjective confession, anyone who does not assent to the idea that literature can have no possible social impact, is today urgently confronted with the lacerating questions? What end does it serve? What good is it? What meaning, in the world and for the world, can the pursuit of this activity have? An activity that society has definitely marginalized, an activity reduced to a sort of deliciously and pleasantly outmoded form of survival, an activity performed beyond the bounds of serious self-reflection.

When literature becomes a surplus of culture, a supplement of culture, it can no longer call itself literature. When fiction becomes a product which can be bought in supermarkets next to the tomatoes, then it no longer deserves to be called literature, or even to be created.

But now one must ask, is it possible for fiction, for the serious writers of fiction (I assume there are still a few writers among us who think of themselves as serious writers) -- is it possible for these writers to escape the generalized recuperation that is taking place in the marketplace of books? Is it possible for fiction to survive the kind of reduction, the kind of banalization that mass media imposes on contemporary culture? Is it possible for fiction to escape the way publicity and advertising ingest and digest culture? Is it possible for fiction to survive the hypnosis of marketing, the sweet boredom of consensus, the cellophane wrapping of thinking, the commercialization of desire? In other words, can fiction escape conformity and banality and yet play a role in our society, have a place in our society? And finally, are there still people out there willing to turn their backs on the SPECTACLE and find time to write and read works of fiction? These are urgent questions that demand immediate answers.

Copyright © 1996 Raymond Federman

If I was to imagine an actual hell...

If I was to imagine an actual "hell," the descriptions of life described in this article would come close... tortured and murdered bodies are left in the streets, large-scale death-dealing bombings, people being incinerated on the streets, and a Prime Minister that is involved in the bloodshed:

New Savage Twist to Violence in Baghdad

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

Greg Grandin: Ollie North Returns to Nicaragua

Ollie North Returns to Nicaragua
By Greg Grandin

With the election of former Sandanista leader Daniel Ortega as president, Nicaragua shows its refusal genuflect to Washington's commands, and that makes Cold Warriors like Ollie North furious.

The electoral wave that battered Republicans last week rolled well beyond Ohio and Arizona, traveling as far south as Nicaragua, where voters rejected intense U.S. pressure and elected Daniel Ortega president. This was Ortega's third attempt to regain the office since stepping down in 1990, after a decade in power as the head of the revolutionary Sandinista government. And even as George W. Bush was stumping for his candidates in the heartland, Oliver North was traveling down to Managua to urge Nicaraguans to vote for anyone but Ortega.

The ex-Marine colonel told Nicaraguans that they had "suffered enough from the influence of outsiders" -- a remark meant to criticize Hugo Chávez's support for Ortega but that some, considering North's role in running the covert operation that illegally funded the anti-Sandinista Contras in the 1980s, must have mistaken for a confession. In addition to North, Bush's Ambassador to Nicaragua, Paul Trivelli, threatened that the United States could cut off aid, while congressional Republicans warned that they would pass legislation prohibiting Nicaraguans living in the United States from sending remittances home if Nicaraguans voted the wrong way.

Over the last couple of weeks, with polls predicting that an Ortega win seemed likely, conservative blogs, think tanks, and policy intellectuals whipped themselves up into a near-frenzy at the thought of a Sandinista comeback. The National Review breathlessly warned that a triumphant Ortega would bring the threat of nuclear or biological terrorism to "within walking distance of our undefended border." Over at the Washington Post, the American Enterprise Institute's Roger Noriega predicted that an Ortega victory would push Nicaragua "toward the abyss."

But Ortega is a changed man from the revolutionary who for more than a decade withstood a Washington-backed assault of intense ferocity. He has declared himself a free-trade Christian, and just before the vote joined forces with the Catholic Church to back an anti-abortion law that is more punitive than anything James Dobson's Focus on the Family hopes to pass here in the United States.

The reason for such hysteria cannot be explained by what Ortega may or may not do once in office, but rather by the dissonance his victory creates deep in the recesses of the neocon psyche.

Central America, particularly Nicaragua, played a key role in the formation of the world view of our foreign-policy hawks. As diplomatic historian Andrew Bacevich points out, in "neoconservative lore, 1980 stands out not only as a year of crisis but as the year when the nation decisively turned things around." When considering this turnaround, most casual observers usually point to the fall of the Soviet Union and the liberation of Eastern Europe. Neocons, though, have a complicated relationship to those two events, coming about as they did not through confrontational militarism but negotiation and patience. Just a few years ago, when pressed by the Republican chair of the House Armed Services Committee to admit that Bush's Iraq policy was similar to Ronald Reagan's in Europe, Wesley Clark had to remind his interrogator that "Reagan never invaded Eastern Europe." In fact, Reagan, in sharp contrast to his rhetorical escalation of the Cold War and his increase in defense spending, followed a course of restraint in most foreign policy arenas, so much so that by 1986 his conservative base had taken to calling him the Soviet Union's "useful idiot" for negotiating arms reductions with Mikhail Gorbachev.

There was, however, one area where the administration's rhetoric did match its actions, and that was Central America. The United States spent billions of dollars, and trained and inflamed anti-communist allies that killed hundreds of thousands of civilians.

But the United States did win. Leftist insurgencies were defeated in El Salvador and Guatemala, and Ortega and the Sandinistas, after sacrificing the idealist goals of their revolution in order to defend themselves against a war of aggression launched by the most powerful nation in world history, were voted out of office in 1990.

For neocons, that this victory took place simultaneously with America's victory in the Cold War led to a dangerous conflation: extrapolating from the defeat of the Central American left, they gave credit for America's triumph over the Soviet Union to the kind of hardline Reagan pursued in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala.

This is why, over the last couple of years, as the situation in Iraq deteriorated, Central America has made its way into the pronouncements of Bush officials and allies with a frequency that Freud would find familiar. With dissent against the occupation building, William Kristol went on TV to hail Reagan's Central American policy -- which directly led to the deaths of 300,000 civilians, tens of thousands of whom were simply "disappeared," the torture of over a hundred thousand more, and the exile of more than a million -- as an "amazing success story, over the bitter opposition of the Left." In the 2004 vice presidential debates, Dick Cheney held up not post-WWII Japan or Germany, but El Salvador, with 50 percent of its population below the poverty level and violent crime at record highs, as a model for what his administration hoped to achieve in Iraq. Responding to accusations that John Negroponte's involvement in the coverup of hundreds of executions while he was ambassador to Honduras made him unfit to serve as America's intelligence czar, the National Review praised Reagan's policy in Central America as a "spectacularly successful fight to introduce and sustain Western political norms in the region."

To Read the Rest of the Article

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Citizen-Shift: War Resisters

(From Canada Citizen-Shift has been documenting the growing movement of American soldiers resisting the Iraq War by fleeing to Canada--includes filmed testimonies. Another example of how independent short documentary films can be quickly made and distributed on the Internet, circumventing the traditional cinema house circuit.)

War Resisters

U.S. soldiers are going AWOL and coming to Canada. They want to stay. Canada must choose whether or not to give refuge to these Americans who refuse to take part in the US-led war on Iraq. They say the war is illegal under international law; and if returned to the United States, they face severe prison terms for desertion. Hear the stories of war resisters in Canada and the US and find out how citizens on both sides of the border are fighting to end the war. Get a historical perspective - watch films and read about "peaceniks", draft dodgers and deserters of the Vietnam era. Leave your opinion, find out how to take action, come back and find out - will Canada let them stay?

To Watch the Films

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Alex Blumberg: What's in a Number?

(In my film courses we have recently been watching contemporary documentaries, including The Ground Truth and The Road to Guantanamo, and while doing some research I came across this important story about The Lancet study about the number of deaths in Iraq as a result of the current war. Just one of the horrifying facts detailed in this report, Iraqis have begun tatooing their name/addresses on their bodies so that when they are killed someone will be notified. Via Green Cine and AlterNet.)

What's In a Number: 2006 Edition
by Alex Blumberg
This American Life (WBEZ: Chicago)

Recently, the British medical journal The Lancet published an study which updated their estimate of the number of Iraqis who've died since the U.S. invasion. With that in mind, we revisit a show we did in 2005 about the earlier study published in Lancet estimating the number of Iraqi deaths. That study was mostly ignored in the U.S. Alex Blumberg revisits the original study and looks at the new one.
Prologue. Host Ira Glass talks to ordinary Iraqis about life in their country since the U.S. invasion. Every one of them has friends and relatives – civilians – who've been killed in the violence there. (5 minutes)

Act One. Truth, Damn Truth and Statistics. Two years ago, a John Hopkins University study published in The Lancet estimated the number of civilian casualties in Iraq. It came up with a number – 100,000 dead – that was higher than any other estimate at the time, and was mostly ignored. Producer Alex Blumberg tells the remarkable story of what it took to find that number, why we should find it credible and why almost no one believed it. (36 minutes).

Act Two. Not Just a Number. Captain Ryan Gist was given a particularly tough assignment in Iraq: to build relationships with a town where U.S. bombs had killed twelve innocent people. But first he has to apologize to the families of those who were killed. We hear the apology, captured on tape by a journalist in Iraq, and talk to Captain Gist about his work there after this incident. (8 minutes)
Act Three. The War This Time. The Lancet's new study of deaths in Iraq, by the same research team that did the earlier study, yielded an astounding number – 650,000 civilian deaths. Producer Alex Blumberg talks to Ira about the debate over this new study. (6 minutes)

To Listen to the Program

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Sibel Edmonds: The Hijacking of a Nation, Pt. 1

(Courtesy of Alternative Press Review)

THE HIGHJACKING OF A NATION: Part 1: The Foreign Agent Factor
By Sibel Edmonds
National Security Whistleblowers Coalition

In his farewell address in 1796, George Washington warned that America must be constantly awake against “the insidious wiles of foreign influence…since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government.”

Today, foreign influence, that most baneful foe of our republican government, has its tentacles entrenched in almost all major decision making and policy producing bodies of the U.S. government machine. It does so not secretly, since its self-serving activities are advocated and legitimized by highly positioned parties that reap the benefits that come in the form of financial gain and positions of power.

Foreign governments and foreign-owned private interests have long sought to influence U.S. public policy. Several have accomplished this goal; those who are able and willing to pay what it takes. Those who buy themselves a few strategic middlemen, commonly known as pimps, while in DC circles referred to as foreign registered agents and lobbyists, who facilitate and bring about desired transactions. These successful foreign entities have mastered the art of ‘covering all the bases’ when it comes to buying influence in Washington DC. They have the required recipe down pat: get yourself a few ‘Dime a Dozen Generals,’ bid high in the ‘former statesmen lobby auction’, and put in your pocket one or two ‘ex-congressmen turned lobbyists’ who know the ropes when it comes to pocketing a few dozen who still serve.

The most important facet of this influence to consider is what happens when the active and powerful foreign entities’ objectives are in direct conflict with our nation’s objectives and its interests and security; and when this is the case, who pays the ultimate price and how. There is no need for assumptions of hypothetical situations to answer these questions, since throughout recent history we have repeatedly faced the dire consequences of the highjacking of our foreign and domestic policies by these so-called foreign agents of foreign influence.

Let’s illustrate this with the most important recent case, the catastrophe endured by our people; the September Eleven terrorist attacks. Let’s observe how certain foreign interests, combined with their U.S. agents and benefactors, overrode the interests and security of the entire nation; how thousands of victims and their loved ones were kicked aside to serve the interests of a few; foreign influence and its agents.

Senator Graham’s Revelation

It has been established that two of the 9/11 hijackers had a support network in the U.S. that included agents of the Saudi government, and that the Bush administration and the FBI blocked a congressional investigation into that relationship.

In his book, "Intelligence Matters," Senator Bob Graham made clear that some details of that financial support from Saudi Arabia were in the 27 pages of the congressional inquiry's final report that were blocked from release by the administration, despite the pleas of leaders of both parties in the House and Senate intelligence committees.

Here is an excerpt from Senator Graham’s statement from the July 24, 2003 congressional record on the classified 27 pages of the Congressional Joint Inquiry into 9/11: “The most serious omission, in my view, is part 4 of the report, which is entitled Finding, Discussion and Narrative Regarding Certain Sensitive National Security Matters. Those 27 pages have almost been entirely censured [sic]….The declassified version of this finding tells the American people that our investigation developed information suggesting specific sources of foreign support for some of the September 11 hijackers while they were in the United States. In other words, officials of a foreign government are alleged to have aided and abetted the terrorist attacks on our country on September 11, which took over 3,000 lives.”

In his book Graham reveals, “Our investigators found a CIA memo dated August 2, 2002, whose author concluded that there is incontrovertible evidence that there is support for these terrorists within the Saudi government. On September 11, America was not attacked by a nation-state, but we had just discovered that the attackers were actively supported by one, and that state was our supposed friend and ally Saudi Arabia.” He then cites another case, “We had discovered an FBI asset who had a close relationship with two of the terrorists; a terrorist support network that went through the Saudi Embassy; and a funding network that went through the Saudi Royal family.”

The most explosive revelation in Graham’s book is the following statement with regard to the administration’s attitude on page 216: “It was as if the President’s loyalty lay more with Saudi Arabia than with America’s safety.” Further, he states that he asked the FBI to undertake a review of the Riggs Bank records on the terrorists’ money trail, to look at other Saudi companies with ties to al-Qaeda, to plan for monitoring suspect Saudi interests in the United States; however, Graham adds: “To my knowledge, none of these investigations have been completed…Nor do we know anything else about what I believe to be a state-sponsored terrorist support network that still exists, largely undamaged, within the United States.”

What Graham is trying to establish in his book and previous public statements in this regard, and doing so under state imposed ‘secrecy and classification’, is that the classification and cover up of those 27 pages is not about protecting ‘U.S. national security, methods of intelligence collection, or ongoing investigations,’ but to protect certain U.S. allies. Meaning, our government put the interests of certain foreign nations and their U.S. beneficiaries far above its own people and their interests. While Saudi Arabia has been specifically pointed to by Graham, other countries involved have yet to be identified.

To Read the Rest of the Report

Saturday, November 18, 2006

G. Pascal Zachary: Young Borrowers Face A Life of Debt

Young Borrowers Face A Life of Debt
By G. Pascal Zachary

Financial insecurity is one of the staples of American life, and fuel for our nation's politics as well as cable TV shows. Once the elderly worried endlessly about money matters, athough now people over 65 count as the wealthiest group of Americans. Rather, today the biggest worriers about what's euphemistically called our "financial future" are the young, and especially people under 25 years old.

For new college graduates and people out of school for only a few years, financial worries are enormous. Home prices, even if they are starting to fall, remain very high relative to ordinary incomes, and higher mortgage rates are no balm to money worries either. All Americans carry more debt on average than in the past but the increase for young people is most striking since young workers generally earn the least. Between college loans and car loans, people in their 20s are amazingly burdened financially compared to earlier generations, especially compared to my own generation of late-stage baby-boomer.

If in the 1960s and early 70s, my college friends and new graduates shouted, "Burn baby burn," to signify their desire to tearing down the status quo, youth today embrace the credo, "Borrow, baby, borrow" because of their dependency on cheap credit without which their chances of building a decent middle-class life seem poor to none.

If you wonder why borrowed money fuels the lifestyles of all ages, turn on a new documentary, "In Debt We Trust," by the veteran dissenting TV journalist and media critic, Danny Schechter. "In Debt We Trust" vividly shows how Americans get ensnared in a web of debt spun by a "credit industrial complex" that almost seems to function like a conspiracy to drive people into financial servitude. Schechter's central insight is bold, provocative and timely. As he quotes a Brooklyn consumer activist, "Debt is profitable."

Out of this kernel of truth comes Schechter's fascinating tour of the various ways that lenders earn money, chiefly through short-term loans through credit cards. While the abuses of card companies are well known, Schechter sheds light on some emerging credit practices that will inspire outrage in his viewers. One of the most insidious is a service by H. & R. Block to loan money against future tax returns at very high rates.

To Read the Rest

Just Some Stuff as I Finalize the Theories/Practices of Blogging Issue for Reconstruction


Set up Weblogs:

Read Matrix Philosophy: Blue or Red Pill? and write a response about which pill you would choose and why?


Smith, Mark K. Community: A Review of the Theory The Encyclopedia of Informal Education. (2001: Last updated January 28, 2005)

Further Readings:

Blood, Rebecca. Weblogs: A History and Perspective Rebecca's Pocket (September 7, 2000)

Drezner, Daniel and Henry Farrell. “Web of Influence.” Foreign Policy (November/December 2004) {Every day, millions of online diarists, or “bloggers,” share their opinions with a global audience. Drawing upon the content of the international media and the World Wide Web, they weave together an elaborate network with agenda-setting power on issues ranging from human rights in China to the U.S. occupation of Iraq. What began as a hobby is evolving into a new medium that is changing the landscape for journalists and policymakers alike.}

Hourihan, Meg. "What We're Doing When We Blog." O'Reilly Network (June 13, 2002)

Lanson, Jerry. “Our Waste Howling ‘Cyberness’.” Christian Science Monitor (February 18, 2005) (my response to the essay)

Mead, Rebecca. "You've Got Blog: How To Put Your Business, Your Boyfriend, and Your Life Online?" (November 13, 2000)

Miller, Carolyn R. and Dawn Shepard. "Blogging as Social Action: A Genre Analysis of the Weblog." Into the Blogosphere (2004)

Rabb, Christopher. “Blogging While Black.” Alternet (February 18, 2005) {“Blogging is not a luxury, it's a civic responsibility.” Recognition of the blogosphere as a democratic form of organizing and communicating and a call to the black community to make use of its potential.}

Ways to Use Blogs UThink: Blogs at the University of Library (University of Minnesota: 2004)

Walker, Jill. Weblog: Definition Jill/Txt (June 28, 2003)

Weblogs Guardian Unlimited (2004- : Ongoing special archive of reports)

Photographic Truth in the Digital Age

Photographic Truth in the Digital Era - Teachable Moment

Greg's Digital Retouching Portfolio

Ethics in the Age of Digital Photography

Fake or Photo?

Digital Truth?

Doctored Picture of John Kerry During 2004 Elections

Doctored Images of George Bush: Political Satire

Doctored Images of Osama Bin Laden: Political Satire

Designing Ananove: World's First Virtual Newscaster

WTF: A Guide to Political Babble

To go along with the slowly growing Glossary of Terms for the United States of Amnesia, I thought we might start a new collection called WTF (What the Fuck): A Guide to Political Babble. Its not really going to be a project of deciphering the statements (although feel free to provide your own commentary and suggestions for inclusion), it is more like a collection of the worst offenders so that we can all say WTF were they saying?

Attorny General Alberto Gonzalez blasting cautious citizens (including a defiant judge) who have the temerity (G's claim, not mine) to question the Bush administration's new proposal for a "warrantless surveillance" program:

"We believe the president has the authority under the authorization of military force and inherent authority of the constitution to engage in this sort of program, but we want to supplement that authority," he said. (AP 11/17/06--posted at Yahoo news)


Don't have a lot of time right now to blog as I am putting together a journal issue, but here is a contributor's site that might be of interest:


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Simpson's Satirizes Military Recruitment Techniques and Advertising Campaigns


"A scathing clip of The Simpson's satirizing the [military] recruitment process.

Including a recruitment commercial so ridiculous it could only be taking its cues from actual recruitment commercials..."

To Watch the Clip

Diane Farsetta and Daniel Price: A follow-up multimedia report on television newsrooms' continuing use of fake news provided by PR firms

Still Not the News: Stations Overwhelmingly Fail to Disclose VNRs
A follow-up multimedia report on television newsrooms' continuing use of fake news provided by PR firms
Diane Farsetta and Daniel Price
Center for Media and Democracy

This report includes:

Video footage of 33 video news releases (VNRs), plus the television news segments that incorporated them;

A list of the 46 television stations, by state; and
Sections on frequently asked questions about VNR disclosure and policy issues, and on research methodology.

In Brief

The ongoing controversy over video news releases has not stopped television stations from airing the fake news segments without attribution. Over six months, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) documented 46 stations in 22 states airing at least one VNR in their newscast. Of the 54 total VNR broadcasts described in this report, 48 provided no disclosure of the nature or source of the sponsored video. In the six other cases, disclosure was fleeting and often ambiguous. Ten of the TV stations named in this study were also cited in CMD's April 2006 "Fake TV News" report, for undisclosed VNR broadcasts. These findings suggest that station and industry codes of conduct—not to mention an ongoing investigation by the Federal Communications Commission—are not sufficient to ensure the public's right to know who seeks to persuade them via television news, the most widely used information source in the United States.

Report highlights include:

WTOK-11 in Meridian, MS, aired without disclosure a VNR titled, "Global Warming: Hot Air?" The segment ridiculed claims that increased hurricane activity is related to global warming. The VNR was funded by TCS Daily, a website then published by the PR and lobbying firm DCI Group, which counts ExxonMobil among its clients.
In 12 instances, television stations actively denied disclosure to their news audiences by editing out on-screen and verbal client notifications included in the original VNRs. WMGM-40 in Philadelphia aired a full-length VNR after making just one edit—to remove the on-screen disclosure. A WMGM-40 reporter re-voiced the VNR, following the original script nearly verbatim, but omitting the verbal disclosure at the end of the script.

In four instances, television stations not only aired VNRs without disclosure, but showed PR publicists on screen, as though they were staff reporters. KHON-2 (Honolulu, HI) and KFMB-8 (San Diego, CA) allowed publicist Mike Morris to "report" on Halloween traditions (and promote his client, General Mills), while KVCT-19 (Victoria, TX) and KSFY-13 (Sioux Falls, SD) showed publicist Kate Brookes "reporting" on medical advancements (specifically, machinery produced by her client, Siemens).

Ten television stations named in this study had previously been cited in the April 2006 "Fake TV News" report for undisclosed VNR broadcasts, including such major market stations as New York City's NY1 and WPIX-11, WDAF-4 in Kansas City, MO, and WSYX-6 in Columbus, OH. Only two of the 10 stations previously cited—Philadelphia's KYW-3 and Cincinnati's WCPO-9—provided disclosure of their more recent VNR broadcasts.

To Read the rest of the report, click on links to videos of fake news, and access other resources on fake news