Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Spring 2008 Issue of the BCTC Courier

I would like to congratulate the students who produced the latest issue of the BCTC Courier. This issue is by far the best issue I have seen and I am impressed by the serious issues you are beginning to cover.

Congratulations to Tammy Ramsey and the student journalists!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Pink Floyd: Dogs

(This is a chilling video mashup for this classic song. Courtesy of Spcefrk)

Guerrilla Gardening in Cincinnati, Pt. 2

(Part 1 is below this post)

Long shot of the work... the garden was built in a high traffic space that enters a public park with playgrounds, tennis court and ball fields

Usually we like to get local bulk compost, but b/c we were in an unfamiliar area and had a long drive back home, we decided to bite-the-bullet and get manure and peat moss from Lowes

I missed the shot when we added the second truck load of rock, but you can see that is now higher as we get ready to plant. We try to use heirloom seeds/organic seeds. When we have the opportunity we also prefer to use plants we have already started growing

Then we posed for a group shot next to the finished garden

As we packed up and I walked over to take the last shot, the rain began to fall. A perfect day! The sticks in the garden are clothespins with the plants written on them so people know what is in the garden. During the day I talked to a lot of the neighborhood people and explained what we were doing and the response was very positive. I even gave my contact info to people in a community organization that were wanting to build more gardens. This was our first garden outside our local area and the first one we had done with students that are taking one of our classes. It was an amazing experience that came at the perfect time. A heartfelt thanks to the NKU students who chose the site and provided the inspiration for the garden. I'll post pictures as they send them to us throughout the summer

Guerrilla Gardening in Cincinnati, Pt. 1

(On sunday Benton and Marchman headed north to help some Northern Kentucky University students build a Guerrilla Garden.)

We picked up rock for free on the side of the freeway:

The Northern Kentucky University students had located a good public spot and we discussed which section would get the most direct sunlight

Time to get to work unloading that rock (we ended up getting two pickup loads of rock)

When buidling a public garden you should let your inner creativity interact with the local environment. This will guide your rock selection and the construction of the garden

We place newspaper on the bottom to seal off the grass from the garden. We build above ground gardens so that we do not physically mar the landscape (plus, I think they look better)

Pink Floyd: Pigs; Sheep

(Courtesy of Wes Houp. The Pink Floyd set is dedicated to the KY Legislature for failing to find a way to help out KY's failing education system.)

Roger Waters Unleashes Giant Pig in Support of Obama

or maybe "Sheep" would be a better choice

The Coup: Ride the Fence; Mahjongg: Aluminum

(The Coup and Mahjongg caused me to dance my freaky ass off saturday night at the great WRFL 20th Anniversary Party)

Resolution Written in the Spirit of Preserving the Quality of Education at Bluegrass Community and Technical College

(Humanities Department Resolution)

Resolution Written in the Spirit of Preserving the Quality of Education at BCTC, Promoting Cooperation at BCTC, and Upholding the Mission Statement of BCTC

Whereas, The faculty have been charged by the President and Chief Academic Officer to increase their course caps or teach an additional class per semester due to the College’s great financial distress; and

Whereas, The perception commonly held among faculty is that the College’s administration is filled with redundancy; and

Whereas, The communication regarding the deficit, specifically an account of proposed solutions that would cut and/or generate revenue, has been delivered in a non-transparent and untimely manner; and

Whereas, The wide-spread thought among faculty is that the deficit problems are being disproportionately and unduly assigned to them, now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That administration share detailed budgetary information concerning the origin of the deficit; and

Resolved, That the College employ an outside party to examine the administrative structure of the College and help us determine how and where we can make substantial savings; and

Resolved, That administration reveal in a timely fashion the decision-making process regarding the deficit, including the logic of the choices made based on current budgetary figures and the logic behind the rejection of other ideas based on various proposed budget models; and

Resolved, That administration put aside the policy that would require faculty to increase their course caps while we examine the full budget; and be it further

Resolved, That administration put aside the policy that would require faculty to teach an additional class per semester while we examine the full budget.

Submitted by
Humanities Division
April 25, 2008

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Why I Will Attend the Special Faculty Meeting Tomorrow

(For those that don't know--BCTC's administration has decided that the faculty "must" raise their course caps by 5 student and if they can't because of limitations--room, tech, etc--they will take on a 6th course!!! Faculty had no input in the decision-making process and there has been no discussion of how this will save money or if there are other options.)

Yesterday I replied to the reminder that the faculty was called to a special meeting on Friday … I received multiple emails and some phone messages asking me to elaborate.

My reply was a spontaneous passionate plea to my colleagues to show up to demonstrate their full concern with and responsibility for the learning environment of BCTC. I kept it short and sweet. I simply said “please” show up and if you want to know why I will discuss it with you. The “please” was a plea straight from the heart and the offer to discuss it was an offer of friendly engagement.

The reason why I will show up and why I hope my colleagues will also show up:

BCTC and Lexington are very important to me.

1) BCTC has been my home for the last three years. I give everything I can for this college. I promote it everywhere I go. I push myself to exhaustion.

2) I am a transplant, but I have come to truly love Lexington. My desire is to be a productive and positive citizen in this city and to expand the learning environment of BCTC into the broader community. I have begun to take root and I care about this place. I even considered that this may be the place I will live for the rest of my life.

This is why I care. My heart is overwhelmed at the thought of ever having to leave this place.

No matter what we are faced with and no matter what decisions we make and no matter what concessions we may make… In the interest of the college, collegiality, and citizenship, I believe, that all of us, no matter what our positions are, must, at least, show up on Friday to show that the faculty “does care” about BCTC and that we deserve a voice in the budget-making process.

Webster Dictionary Word of the Day: Inanition





1 : the exhausted condition that results from lack of food and water
*2 : the absence or loss of social, moral, or intellectual vitality or vigor

Example Sentence

The playwright explained that his work reflected the lethargy and inanition of the age.

Louisville Courier-Journal Editorial: Why tuition taxes?

Editorial: Why tuition taxes?
4/24/2008 Louisville Courier-Journal

The Council on Postsecondary Education should do what its president, Brad Cowgill, suggests -- focus seriously, and skeptically, on the tuition increases being promoted at Kentucky's public colleges and universities.

It's a refreshing change to have the CPE do something meaningful. Especially welcome is Mr. Cowgill's focus on the 13 percent tuition hike that the Kentucky Community and Technical College System wants. KCTCS has boosted its rates some 151 percent over the past 10 years, making them 26 percent higher than the national average for community colleges.

This system's students are particularly vulnerable. Many come from lower income homes. Often they're the first in the family to attend college. They barely scrape together enough cash for tuition, scrimp on living expenses, work multiple jobs and somehow squeeze their college classwork into a crowded schedule. They're especially hard hit when tuition keeps going up.

What CPE really should do is reject all the proposed tuition increases, thereby creating a financial crisis on state campuses and forcing Gov. Steve Beshear to call a special session, during which the General Assembly could pass at least a 75-cent-per-pack increase in the state's cigarette tax -- something it should have had the guts to do during the 2008 regular session.

The problem is, Senate President David Williams might be content with his usual answer -- a little more belt-tightening. The Governor couldn't do a thing about that, since Mr. Williams controls the Frankfort agenda. So calling a special session might make a bad situation worse.

Make no mistake about it. These institutions need the money they're asking for in new tuition revenue -- all of it, and more. If they got stuck with the 6 percent cuts already imposed this year, by Mr. Beshear and the General Assembly, that would set Kentucky higher education back a far piece.

What's needed is more state revenue, not only in higher education but across the state budget -- not just now, through a cigarette tax boost, but consistently, over time, through a modernization of the state's tax system.

These tuition hikes are just tax increases in disguise, imposed on some of those least able to pay.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Support WRFL and Have a Good Time (4/24)

(Practice for the weekend freaky fest. Click it with your mouse and it gets bigger :)

From Griffin Van Meter:

Monday, April 21, 2008

Tony Judt: What Have We Learned, If Anything?

(Courtesy of the American Historical Association)

What Have We Learned, If Anything?
By Tony Judt
The New York Review of Books (Volume 55, Number 7 · May 1, 2008)


Ignorance of twentieth-century history does not just contribute to a regrettable enthusiasm for armed conflict. It also leads to a misidentification of the enemy. We have good reason to be taken up just now with terrorism and its challenge. But before setting out on a hundred-year war to eradicate terrorists from the face of the earth, let us consider the following. Terrorists are nothing new. Even if we exclude assassinations or attempted assassinations of presidents and monarchs and confine ourselves to men and women who kill random unarmed civilians in pursuit of a political objective, terrorists have been with us for well over a century.

There have been anarchist terrorists, Russian terrorists, Indian terrorists, Arab terrorists, Basque terrorists, Malay terrorists, Tamil terrorists, and dozens of others besides. There have been and still are Christian terrorists, Jewish terrorists, and Muslim terrorists. There were Yugoslav ("partisan") terrorists settling scores in World War II; Zionist terrorists blowing up Arab marketplaces in Palestine before 1948; American-financed Irish terrorists in Margaret Thatcher's London; US-armed mujahideen terrorists in 1980s Afghanistan; and so on.

No one who has lived in Spain, Italy, Germany, Turkey, Japan, the UK, or France, not to speak of more habitually violent lands, could have failed to notice the omnipresence of terrorists— using guns, bombs, chemicals, cars, trains, planes, and much else—over the course of the twentieth century and beyond. The only thing that has changed in recent years is the unleashing in September 2001 of homicidal terrorism within the United States. Even that was not wholly unprecedented: the means were new and the carnage unexampled, but terrorism on US soil was far from unknown over the course of the twentieth century.

But what of the argument that terrorism today is different, a "clash of cultures" infused with a noxious brew of religion and authoritarian politics: "Islamofascism"? This, too, is an interpretation resting in large part on a misreading of twentieth-century history. There is a triple confusion here. The first consists of lumping together the widely varying national fascisms of interwar Europe with the very different resentments, demands, and strategies of the (equally heterogeneous) Muslim movements and insurgencies of our own time—and attaching the moral credibility of the antifascist struggles of the past to our own more dubiously motivated military adventures.

A second confusion comes from conflating a handful of religiously motivated stateless assassins with the threat posed in the twentieth century by wealthy, modern states in the hands of totalitarian political parties committed to foreign aggression and mass extermination. Nazism was a threat to our very existence and the Soviet Union occupied half of Europe. But al-Qaeda? The comparison insults the intelligence—not to speak of the memory of those who fought the dictators. Even those who assert these similarities don't appear to believe them. After all, if Osama bin Laden were truly comparable to Hitler or Stalin, would we really have responded to September 11 by invading...Baghdad?

But the most serious mistake consists of taking the form for the content: defining all the various terrorists and terrorisms of our time, with their contrasting and sometimes conflicting objectives, by their actions alone. It would be rather as though one were to lump together the Italian Red Brigades, the German Baader-Meinhof gang, the Provisional IRA, the Basque ETA, Switzerland's Jura Separatists, and the National Front for the Liberation of Corsica; dismiss their differences as insignificant; label the resulting amalgam of ideological kneecappers, bomb throwers, and political murderers "European Extremism" (or "Christo-fascism," perhaps?)...and then declare uncompromising, open-ended armed warfare against it.

This abstracting of foes and threats from their context—this ease with which we have talked ourselves into believing that we are at war with "Islamofascists," "extremists" from a strange culture, who dwell in some distant "Islamistan," who hate us for who we are and seek to destroy "our way of life"—is a sure sign that we have forgotten the lesson of the twentieth century: the ease with which war and fear and dogma can bring us to demonize others, deny them a common humanity or the protection of our laws, and do unspeakable things to them.


How else are we to explain our present indulgence for the practice of torture? For indulge it we assuredly do. The twentieth century began with the Hague Conventions on the laws of war. As of 2008 the twenty-first century has to its credit the Guantánamo Bay detention camp. Here and in other (secret) prisons the United States routinely tortures terrorists or suspected terrorists. There is ample twentieth-century precedent for this, of course, and not only in dictatorships. The British tortured terrorists in their East African colonies as late as the 1950s. The French tortured captured Algerian terrorists in the "dirty war" to keep Algeria French.[7]

At the height of the Algerian war Raymond Aron published two powerful essays urging France to quit Algeria and concede its independence: this, he insisted, was a pointless war that France could not win. Some years later Aron was asked why, when opposing French rule in Algeria, he did not also add his voice to those who were speaking out against the use of torture in Algeria. "But what would I have achieved by proclaiming my opposition to torture?" he replied. "I have never met anyone who is in favor of torture."[8]

Well, times have changed. In the US today there are many respectable, thinking people who favor torture— under the appropriate circumstances and when applied to those who merit it. Professor Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School writes that "the simple cost-benefit analysis for employing such non-lethal torture [to extract time-sensitive information from a prisoner] seems overwhelming." Professor Jean Bethke Elshtain of the University of Chicago's School of Divinity acknowledges that torture remains a horror and is "in general [sic]...forbidden." But when interrogating "prisoners in the context of a deadly and dangerous war against enemies who know no limits...there are moments when this rule may be overridden."[9]

These chilling assertions are echoed by New York's Senator Charles Schumer (a Democrat), who at a Senate hearing in 2004 claimed that "there are probably very few people in this room or in America who would say that torture should never ever be used." Certainly not Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who informed the BBC's Radio Four in February 2008 that it would be absurd to say that you couldn't torture. In Scalia's words,

Once you acknowledge that, we're into a different game. How close does the threat have to be? How severe can the infliction of pain be? I don't think these are easy questions at all.... But I certainly know you can't come in smugly and with great self-satisfaction and say, "Oh, it's torture, and therefore it's no good."[10]
But it was precisely that claim, that "it's torture, and therefore it's no good," which until very recently distinguished democracies from dictatorships. We pride ourselves on having defeated the "evil empire" of the Soviets. Indeed so. But perhaps we should read again the memoirs of those who suffered at the hands of that empire— the memoirs of Eugen Loebl, Artur London, Jo Langer, Lena Constante, and countless others—and then compare the degrading abuses they suffered with the treatments approved and authorized by President Bush and the US Congress. Are they so very different?[11]

Torture certainly "works." As the history of twentieth-century police states suggests, under extreme torture most people will say anything (including, sometimes, the truth). But to what end? Thanks to information extracted from terrorists under torture, the French army won the 1957 Battle of Algiers. Just over four years later the war was over, Algeria was independent, and the "terrorists" had won. But France still carries the stain and the memory of the crimes committed in its name. Torture really is no good, especially for republics. And as Aron noted many decades ago, "torture—and lies—[are] the accompaniment of war.... What needed to be done was end the war."[12]

We are slipping down a slope. The sophistic distinctions we draw today in our war on terror—between the rule of law and "exceptional" circumstances, between citizens (who have rights and legal protections) and noncitizens to whom anything can be done, between normal people and "terrorists," between "us" and "them" —are not new. The twentieth century saw them all invoked. They are the selfsame distinctions that licensed the worst horrors of the recent past: internment camps, deportation, torture, and murder—those very crimes that prompt us to murmur "never again." So what exactly is it that we think we have learned from the past? Of what possible use is our self-righteous cult of memory and memorials if the United States can build its very own internment camp and torture people there?

Far from escaping the twentieth century, we need, I think, to go back and look a bit more carefully. We need to learn again—or perhaps for the first time—how war brutalizes and degrades winners and losers alike and what happens to us when, having heedlessly waged war for no good reason, we are encouraged to inflate and demonize our enemies in order to justify that war's indefinite continuance. And perhaps, in this protracted electoral season, we could put a question to our aspirant leaders: Daddy (or, as it might be, Mommy), what did you do to prevent the war?

To Read the Entire Essay

"Dead Souls" by Nine Inch Nails

Free Press: "The Pentagon is infiltrating the media with pro-war propaganda."

(From Free Press)

Dear Friend,

The Pentagon is infiltrating the media with pro-war propaganda.

The scheme reaches all the way to the Bush White House, where top officials recruited dozens of "military analysts" to spread favorable views of the war via every major news channel -- without revealing they were working from Pentagon scripts and often lobbying for major military contractors looking to cash in on the war.

This is a violation of every conceivable standard of journalism -- and possibly of federal law.

Take Action

Eat for Peace and Global Citizenship (May 3)

(I will be at this event--good time and good cause.)

Eat for Peace and Global Citizenship:

Looking for something to do on Kentucky Derby day? Look no more.

We are still taking reservations for a 3-course pasta dinner to benefit the 2008 Peace and Global Citizenship Fair. The dinner will be held on Kentucky Derby day and will cost $20 per person. It will include a homemade pasta dish (as in, the pasta will be homemade), a salad featuring greens picked on-site, and a dessert. Dinner guests will also get preferred seating for an 8:30 show by local acoustic blues musician Wes Houp. (Among other places, Lexington’s Red Barn Radio has featured Wes’s music.)

The dinner will be held at the People’s Property, a 12-acre patch of land located just outside Lexington in Keene, KY (5 miles past Man O War and Harrodsburg Road) on what was once a terminal of the Rhiney B Railroad. The property is surrounded by 2 farms and features two 11-hole disc golf courses that are available to diners.

Anyone interested in watching the Kentucky Derby may drop by 2 hours before post-time to “prepare” for and then to watch the race on a 40-inch flat-screen t.v.

If interested, please contact Danny Mayer at
Danny dot Mayer at kctcs dot edu
for reservations or more information.


Bluegrass Community and Technical College Spring Film and Speaker Series (April 21-25)

(Message from Rebecca Glasscock)

April 22, 6:30-7:45 pm in the OB Auditorium: Garrett Graddy, UK Geography Graduate Student. The source of our food – the seed – is the topic of this presentation. Open pollinated versus hybrid versus genetically modified seeds and their global distribution result in misery or bounty for those who plant the seed. On Earth Day, come and learn about the political ecology of seed.

Films: With food and agriculture (food protests and even riots, biofuels production, mal- and over-nutrition, to name a few) in the news, these films may be of interest:

• April 21 at 6:30 pm in the Oswald Auditorium: The Future of Food (88 minutes)
The Future of Food (88 minutes), 6:30 p.m. in the OB Auditorium. Description: “THE FUTURE OF FOOD offers an in-depth investigation into the disturbing truth behind the unlabeled patented genetically engineered foods that have quietly filled U.S. grocery store shelves for the past decade. From the prairies of Saskatchewan Canada to the fields of Oaxaca Mexico this film gives a voice to farmers whose lives and livelihoods have been negatively impacted by this new technology. The health implications government policies and push towards globalization are all part of the reason why many people are alarmed about the introduction of genetically altered crops into our food supply. Shot on location in the U.S. Canada and Mexico The Future of Food examines the complex web of market and political forces that are changing what we eat as huge multinational corporations seek to control the world's food system. The film also explores alternatives to large-scale industrial agriculture placing organic and sustainable agriculture as real solutions to the farm crisis today. The Future of Food reveals that there is a revolution going on in the farm fields and on the dinner tables of America a revolution that is transforming the very nature of the food we eat.”

• April 23 at 7:00 pm in the Oswald Auditorium: King Corn (90 minutes)
King Corn (90 minutes), 7:00 p.m. in the OB Auditorium, with discussion facilitated by Michael Benton. Description: “Engrossing and eye-opening KING CORN is a fun and crusading journey into the digestive tract of our fast food nation where one ultra-industrial pesticide-laden heavily-subsidized commodity dominates the food pyramid from top to bottom - corn. Fueled by curiosity and a dash of naivety college buddies Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis return to their ancestral home of Greene Iowa to figure out how a modest kernel conquered America. With the help of some real farmers oodles of fertilizer and government aid and some genetically modified seeds the friends manage to grow one acre of corn. Along the way they unlock the hilarious absurdities and scary but hidden truths about America's modern food system."A graceful and frequently humorous film that captures the idiosyncrasies of its characters and never hectors" (Salon) KING CORN shows how and why whenever you eat a hamburger or drink a soda you are really consuming corn.”

• April 24 at 6:30 pm in the Oswald Auditorium: Fast Food Nation (114 minutes)
Fast Food Nation (114 minutes), 6:30 p.m. in the OB Auditorium. Short review: “If you're still eating that fast-food burger after watching Super Size Me, you might not feel too hungry after watching Fast Food Nation, a fictionalized feature based on Eric Schlosser's bestselling nonfiction expose. Director Richard Linklater, who co-wrote the screenplay with Schlosser, guides a topnotch ensemble cast through a peek behind the veil of how that Big Mac is born. Much of the film focuses on the illegal immigrants who work in the loosely regulated meat-packing industry, and actors including the luminous Catalina Sandino Moreno (Maria Full of Grace), who plays a desperate but outraged laborer. Greg Kinnear also delivers a spot-on performance as a fast-food chain marketing manager, trying frantically to discover the source of stomach-turning contamination in the company's meat. Stories are woven in unexpected ways, and cameos by the likes of Kris Kristofferson, Patricia Arquette, and especially Bruce Willis keep the narrative fresh. The film has a point of view, but thanks to Linklater's deft touch, is never didactic. As Willis's character slyly says, ‘Most people don't like to be told what's best for them.’ Agreed, yet Fast Food Nation likely will help the viewer be more conscious of what's on the end of that fork.” --A.T. Hurley

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Kiva: Global P2P Loans

(Courtesy of Melissa Purdue)

Kiva's mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty.

Kiva is the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs in the developing world.

The people you see on Kiva's site are real individuals in need of funding - not marketing material. When you browse entrepreneurs' profiles on the site, choose someone to lend to, and then make a loan, you are helping a real person make great strides towards economic independence and improve life for themselves, their family, and their community. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates and track repayments. Then, when you get your loan money back, you can relend to someone else in need.

Kiva partners with existing expert microfinance institutions. In doing so, we gain access to outstanding entrepreneurs from impoverished communities world-wide. Our partners are experts in choosing qualified entrepreneurs. That said, they are usually short on funds. Through Kiva, our partners upload their entrepreneur profiles directly to the site so you can lend to them. When you do, not only do you get a unique experience connecting to a specific entreprenuer on the other side of the planet, but our microfinance partners can do more of what they do, more efficiently.

Kiva provides a data-rich, transparent lending platform. We are constantly working to make the system more transparent to show how money flows throughout the entire cycle, and what effect it has on the people and institutions lending it, borrowing it, and managing it along the way. To do this, we are using the power of the internet to facilitate one-to-one connections that were previously prohibitively expensive. Child sponsorship has always been a high overhead business. Kiva creates a similar interpersonal connection at much lower costs due to the instant, inexpensive nature of internet delivery. The individuals featured on our website are real people who need a loan and are waiting for socially-minded individuals like you to lend them money.

Kiva: Loans That Change Lives

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Robert Greenwald: Condi Must Go

Condi Must Go

Marilyn Ferdinand: Response to Standard Operating Procedures

Standard Operating Procedure (2008) Director: Errol Morris
by Marilyn Ferdinand
Ferdy on Films


Errol Morris didn’t forget. After an exploratory interview with Karpinski, he determined that the story of Abu Ghraib hadn’t been fully explored, that the pictures had, in fact, closed down a wider investigation of the truth because they made it so easy to point a finger at the grunts on the ground and be done with it. Morris was sure that there was a story outside the frames of those pictures, a human face to the low-ranked monsters who were punished that deserved to be seen as well, a cover-up to be investigated. Returning to the investigative mode he so brilliantly executed with The Thin Blue Line, Morris doggedly pursued interviews and information, eventually getting Javal Davis, Tony Diaz, Lynndie England, Megan Ambuhl Graner, Sabrina Harman, Janis Karpinski, Roman Krol, and Jeremy Sivits—all prosecuted or otherwise punished for the abuse—to speak with him. Former Abu Ghraib MPs Ken Davis and Jeffrey Frost provided their version of events. Military interrogator Tim Dugan discussed what he saw and gave his opinion of the effectiveness of the MPs’ softening techniques. Finally, Brent Pack, a special agent for the Criminal Investigations Division, showed how he put together a timeline of events and corroborating evidence of who took part in the abuse through the use of the photographs themselves.

Morris introduces us to the prison first. We learn about an elaborate tour of the facility that was planned for Secretary Rumsfeld’s visit in September 2003. Rumsfeld entered the room where hangings took place under Saddam, then hurriedly left the prison with an offhand “fine, fine" comment. When Major General Geoffrey Miller visited Abu Ghraib a day later, the results were more “fruitful." He intended to run the prison in Gitmo fashion, and Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez issued the now infamous Interrogation and Counter-Resistance Policy for Iraq, which tacitly and explicitly authorized certain forms of torture and humiliation in opposition to the Geneva Convention. With the necessary instructions now in place, the 372nd MP Company took up their duties in Abu Ghraib.

To Read the Entire Response

We All Live Downstream: Young Americans Reflect on Mountaintop Removal (CFP: May 1)

(Courtesy of Teresa Tope)

Opportunity for students to be published -- MotesBooks announces an extended submissions deadline for its upcoming anthology We All Live Downstream: Young Americans Reflect on Mountaintop Removal. Submissions will be accepted until May 1. Before submitting, young writers should read complete guidelines at Mote Books

The Academy of American Poets announces the first national Poem In Your Pocket Day on April 17. The Academy encourages you to select a poem then carry it (poem in your pocket!) throughout the day. Held during National Poetry Month in New York City for the last five years, Poem In Your Pocket Day is marked with festivities in classrooms, parks, libraries, bookstores, workplaces, and other venues where readers unfold their pocketed poems and read in celebration of the visions of poets. Help the Academy promote this literary celebration in your community by: Organizing a "Poems for Pockets" giveaway in your school or workplace in the days leading up to Poem in Your Pocket Day. Put poems in office mailboxes, lunch trays, or other unexpected places.

Please pass along to other faculty that you may think would want to share with students.
- Teresa-

Talk of the Nation: States Grapple with Electronic Voting Technology

States Grapple with Electronic Voting Technology
Talk of the Nation (NPR)

Maryland recently announced that it will be moving away from entirely electronic systems to ones in which paper ballots are read by electronic scanners. Florida and California have also turned away from all-electronic "touch screen" designs. Computer security expert Avi Rubin discusses how states are using electronic voting systems.

To Listen to the Episode


The Science of Political Polling

Webster Dictionary Word of the Day: Demarche




1. a : a course of action : maneuver b : a diplomatic or political initiative or maneuver
*2. : a petition or protest presented through diplomatic channels

Example Sentence

The ambassador delivered a demarche objecting to the regime’s harsh treatment of refugees.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Just wondering...

(It really disturbs me when people believe they are not political... )

Is this politics?

Is this politics?

Is this politics?

Is this politics?

Is this politics?

Is this politics?

Is this politics?

Is this politics?

Is this politics?

Is this politics?

Is this politics?

Is this politics?

Is this politics?

Is this politics?

Is this politics?

Is this politics?

Is this politics?

Is this politics?

Is this politics?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Spin (Brian Springer: USA, 1992)

(The cumulative effect of this video is startling... we know this is how the mediatized world is produced and reproduced, but it is surreal and disturbing to step behind Oz's screen and see how the machine operates--MB)

Video Data Bank description:
Pirated satellite feeds revealing U.S. media personalities’ contempt for their viewers come full circle in Spin. TV out-takes appropriated from network satellite feeds unravel the tightly-spun fabric of television—a system that silences public debate and enforces the exclusion of anyone outside the pack of journalists, politicians, spin doctors, and televangelists who manufacture the news. Spin moves through the L.A. riots and the floating TV talk-show called the 1992 U.S. presidential election.

Illegal Art description:
Using the 1992 presidential election as his springboard, documentary filmmaker Brian Springer captures the behind-the-scenes maneuverings of politicians and newscasters in the early 1990s. Pat Robertson banters about "homos," Al Gore learns how to avoid abortion questions, George Bush talks to Larry King about halcyon -- all presuming they're off camera. Composed of 100% unauthorized satellite footage, Spin is a surreal expose of media-constructed reality.

Bill Moyer's Journal: John Grisham on our Legal and Political System

John Grisham
Bill Moyer's Journal (PBS)

Critics have acclaimed John Grisham's novels for their detailed portrayal of the intricacies of our legal and political systems — with a sinister twist. Grisham's ability to portray the worlds of law and politics comes from experience — he has been both a trial lawyer and served in the Mississippi House of Representatives from January 1984 to September of 1990. As Grisham notes "All my books are based, in some degree on something that really happened. There's an element in truth in all these books."

After 18 novels, John Grisham turned to non-fiction for the first time in his career. THE INNOCENT MAN was Grisham's investigation into why Ron Williamson and another man were wrongly convicted of a 1982 murder, and why he spent eleven years on death row before D.N.A. evidence finally set him free. Grisham has lent his talents to the Mississippi branch of The Innocence Project and speaks on this issue around the country:

We've sent 130 men to death row to be executed in this country, at least 130 that we know of, who have later have been exonerated because they were either innocent, or they were not fairly tried. That's 130 people that we've locked down on death row. And they've spent years there, including Ron Williamson, the guy I wrote about. Well, you know, if that doesn't bother you, go to death row. Go see a death row. Go look at one.

In his latest novel Grisham has turned his attention to the issue of judicial selection in America. He says THE APPEAL has more politics in it than any previous novel — and plenty of legal intrigue too, of course.

This is about the election of a Supreme Court justice in the state of Mississippi. Thirty some odd states elect their judges, which is a bad system. Because if they allow private money, just like the campaign we're watching now for president, you got corporate people throwing money in. You got big individuals. You got cash coming in to elect a judge who may hear your case. Think about that. You've got a case pending before the court and you want to reshape the structure of the court, well, just to get your guy elected.

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