Thursday, October 29, 2009

Peeping Tom: We're Not Alone

Mary Doria Russell: The Novelist as God

(The Sparrow is one of my favorite SF books)

The Novelist as God
Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippett

Mary Doria Russell has grappled with large moral and religious questions on and off the page. We discover what she discerned — in the act of creating a new universe — about God and about dilemmas of evil, doubt, and free will. The ultimate moral of any life and any event, she believes, only shows itself across generations. And so the novelist, like God, she says, paints with the brush of time.

To Listen to the Episode and Access More Resources

Greta Christina: Atheists and Anger

Atheists and Anger
Greta Christina's Blog

I want to talk about atheists and anger.

This has been a hard piece to write, and it may be a hard one to read. I'm not going to be as polite and good-tempered as I usually am in this blog; this piece is about anger, and for once I'm going to fucking well let myself be angry.

But I think it's important. One of the most common criticisms lobbed at the newly-vocal atheist community is, "Why do you have to be so angry?" So I want to talk about:

1. Why atheists are angry;

2. Why our anger is valid, valuable, and necessary;

And 3. Why it's completely fucked-up to try to take our anger away from us.

So let's start with why we're angry. Or rather -- because this is my blog and I don't presume to speak for all atheists -- why I'm angry.

To Read the Rest of This Statement

Jennifer Michael Hecht: A History of Doubt

A History of Doubt
with Jennifer Michael Hecht
Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippett

Poet and historian Jennifer Michael Hecht says that as a scholar she always noticed the "shadow history" of doubt out of the corner of her eye. She shows how non-belief, skepticism, and doubt have paralleled and at times shaped the world's great religious and secular belief systems. She suggests that only in modern time has doubt been narrowly equated with a complete rejection of faith, or a broader sense of mystery.

To Listen to the Episode and Access More Resources

Flaming Lips: The W.A.N.D.

Ursula K. Le Guin: On Anarchism

"An anarchist is one who, choosing, accepts the responsibility of choice."

--Ursula K. Le Guin, Mythmakers & Lawbreakers: Anarchist Writers on Fiction. ed. Margaret Killjoy. AK Press, 2009: 8.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Miguel de Unamuno: On Truth

"My religion is to seek for truth in life and for life in truth, even knowing that I shall not find them while I live."

--Miguel de Unamuno

Peace and Conflict Studies: Part 2

Official Site: The Garden


Documentary: Definition

Music: Criticism

Music: The Torture Playlist

20 Songs

Frontline: The Warning

(Courtesy of Jackie)

The Warning
Frontline (PBS)

In The Warning, veteran FRONTLINE producer Michael Kirk unearths the hidden history of the nation's worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. At the center of it all he finds Brooksley Born, who speaks for the first time on television about her failed campaign to regulate the secretive, multitrillion-dollar derivatives market whose crash helped trigger the financial collapse in the fall of 2008.

"I didn't know Brooksley Born," says former SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt, a member of President Clinton's powerful Working Group on Financial Markets. "I was told that she was irascible, difficult, stubborn, unreasonable." Levitt explains how the other principals of the Working Group -- former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan and former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin -- convinced him that Born's attempt to regulate the risky derivatives market could lead to financial turmoil, a conclusion he now believes was "clearly a mistake."

Born's battle behind closed doors was epic, Kirk finds. The members of the President's Working Group vehemently opposed regulation -- especially when proposed by a Washington outsider like Born.

"I walk into Brooksley's office one day; the blood has drained from her face," says Michael Greenberger, a former top official at the CFTC who worked closely with Born. "She's hanging up the telephone; she says to me: 'That was [former Assistant Treasury Secretary] Larry Summers. He says, "You're going to cause the worst financial crisis since the end of World War II."... [He says he has] 13 bankers in his office who informed him of this. Stop, right away. No more.'"

Greenspan, Rubin and Summers ultimately prevailed on Congress to stop Born and limit future regulation of derivatives. "Born faced a formidable struggle pushing for regulation at a time when the stock market was booming," Kirk says. "Alan Greenspan was the maestro, and both parties in Washington were united in a belief that the markets would take care of themselves."

Now, with many of the same men who shut down Born in key positions in the Obama administration, The Warning reveals the complicated politics that led to this crisis and what it may say about current attempts to prevent the next one.

"It'll happen again if we don't take the appropriate steps," Born warns. "There will be significant financial downturns and disasters attributed to this regulatory gap over and over until we learn from experience."

To Watch the Documentary and Access More Resources

Speaking of Faith: Living Vodou

Living Vodou
Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippet

The word "Vodou" evokes images of sorcery and sticking pins into dolls. In fact, it's a living tradition wherever Haitians are found based on ancestral religions in Africa. We walk through this mysterious tradition — one with dramatic rituals of trances and dreaming and of belief in spirits, who speak through human beings, with both good and evil potential.

To Read/Listen/Watch and Access More Resources

Open Culture: free cultural & educational media on the web

Great online resource:

Open Culture editor Dan Colman scours the web for the best cultural and educational media. He finds the books you want, the classes you need, and plenty of enlightenment in between.

Open Culture

Galapagos Rap 3.5: Till Infinity

(Courtesy of Open Culture)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Altcountry: #65 Old and New (Tunes)

#65 Old and New (Tunes)
Altcountry (Netherlands)

Appropiate new and old songs by Ronnie Hawkins, Lenny and the Piss Poor Boys, Kathy Mattea, Arlo Guthrie, Drag The River, Shiloh, Hayes Carll, Guy Clark, The Low Anthem, Naked Prey, The York Brothers, Russ Brown and Tift Merritt.

Arlo Guthrie

To Listen to the Episode

Morcheeba: Undress Me Now

Upcoming Peace & Justice Events in Lexington, KY

Tuesday, October 27, 6:30-7:45 p.m. in the OB Auditorium, BCTC – Cooper Campus. Bryan Reinholdt, National Board of Directors, Iraq Veterans Again the War. Description: Veterans' movements have guided the country in the past, what's different now? Who is out there and how can we creatively sustain the anti-war movement? How can the anti-war movement approach Afghanistan? These and other topics will be addressed through the lens of an Iraq veteran serving veterans through the organization: Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW).

Wednesday, October 28, 7:00-9:30 p.m., White Hall Classroom Building, Room 212, UK. Parts 3 & 4 of Appalachia. Description: The PBS documentary Appalachia was 10 years in the making and presents a balanced, insightful and in-depth view of the region.

Thursday, October 29, 6:30-8:30 p.m. in the OB Auditorium, BCTC – Cooper Campus. Michael Kessler, author and filmmaker. Description: The History of the Future, by Mr. Kessler, has been shown internationally. The film draws from the ideas of Albert Einstein and Buckminster Fuller. For more information, go to

Tuesday, November 3, 6:30-9:00 p.m. at the Kentucky Theatre, downtown Lexington. Description: Reel World String Band will perform union music at 6:30, followed by the union classic film Norma Rae at about 7:00 p.m. The event is in recognition of United Nations Day. Admission is only $5.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Bad Brains: I Against I

Peace and Conflict Studies, Part 1: Howard Zinn Archive

[Addition--rephrased this better after your comments in class :)]

For my students in Peace and Conflict Studies--but anyone, feel free to leave comments, questions and resources. To the students, I filled the chalkboard up, in class today, with names, resources and references, if you have any questions and/or comments, please leave them in the comments to this blog post. If you ask me a question about something I mentioned I will explain it in more detail on this website.

Example in the news:

We were talking about Cultural Hegemony today in class and the subtle ways in which the dominant culture tries to influence the way we perceive/understand/experience the world. This process is carried out constantly in a multitude of ways. Walking back to my office after class I noticed the Kentucky Kernel's front page story "Basketball Dorm Naming Rights Causes Stir Over Coal" and read the story ... I was struck by how it was such a clear example. Using money to build a dorm for the most influential cultural force in Lexington (UK Basketball--rivaled only by horse racing and bourbon). Why the insistence that the new building's name have the word "coal" in it? Why the charade that they want to honor the "heritage of the state and coal miners" (there is no insistence on the word Kentucky or workers/miners?)? Why does Gardner attempt to use his money to influence us to accept and support what he terms the "foundation of Kentucky’s economy for many decades, and it’s going to be the foundation for many decades to come"? If so, why the need to spend 7 million dollars to advertise the word "coal" on the dormitory of UK Basketball players (lets not be mistaken--this is advertisement)?

Then watch Mountaintop Removal Begins on Coal River Mountain -- Help Needed Now and think about how activist groups are trying to counter the hegemonic narrative Gardner is buying/producing.

Howard Zinn: A People’s History of the United States

Howard Zinn, Marilyn Young and Jonathan Schell: The Legacy of Robert McNamara

Howard Zinn: I Wish Obama Would Listen to Martin Luther King, Jr

Howard Zinn: The Lessons of the Iraq War Start with US History

Howard Zinn: An Interview With Howard Zinn about Anarchism

Howard Zinn: Empire or Humanity? What the Classroom Didn’t Teach Me About American Empire

Howard Zinn: On War and Social Justice

Howard Zinn: On Teaching for Change

Howard Zinn: Democratic Education

Howard Zinn: On Civil Disobedience

Howard Zinn: If History is to Be Creative

Howard Zinn: The Problem of Civil Obedience

Howard Zinn: America’s Blinders

Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove: Readings from A People’s History of the United States

Howard Zinn: It’s Not Up to the Court

Howard Zinn: The Myth of American Exceptionalism

Howard Zinn: Our War on Terrorism

Thom Yorke and Howard Zinn: The Truth in the Hand of Artists

Related Materials that Explore the Issues We Discussed in Class Today

More Materials That I Discussed in Class Today

Thinking About Radical Democracy

Project Censored: Media Democracy in Action

Arundhati Roy: Instant Mix, Imperial Democracy

People’s Historical Documents; Radical Reader; Cultural Resistance Reader

Milos Stehlik: U.S. Imperialism Through Film

U.S. Imperialism Through Film
by Milos Stehlik
Worldview (Chicago Public Radio)

Hegemony takes many forms. In his regular film documentary, Milos Stehlik of Facets Multimedia looks at how the U.S. culturally colonized the world through film.

Is American cinema imperialist? In a word, “yes.” Sweetheart deals gave Hollywood special access to European markets after World War II. Exporting American films overseas was part of the Marshall Plan that reconstructed post-war Europe. American films were viewed as a way to oppose Communism by promoting the “American way of life.” U.S. films were dumped at cut-rate prices onto war-torn Europe, whose film industries were in ruins, under the guise of promoting the “free market.”

This scheme gave American films world-wide dominance. Today, entertainment is America’s largest export, with sales higher than any other industry, accounting for over 60 billion dollars annually. English-language films account for about 65% of the worldwide box office gross.

American film brilliantly executes its role as the sales agent for this “American way of life.” Though this way of life may never have existed in reality — it did represent a worldwide ideal: the nuclear family, the house with the white picket fence, boy gets the girl, the good guy always wins. American movies fueled the global fantasy: everyone else in the world wanted to be just like us – or just like we seemed to be in American movies.

Shopping malls, T-shirts, fast food – Hollywood films laid the path to globalization — brick by cinematic brick. Cultural imperialism blazed the trail for economic dominance: would McDonald’s or Pepsi or Coca-Cola be the global brands they are today without the Americanization of the global psyche by American movies?

To Listen to the Episode

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Poet and Musician: Wesley Houp

My favorite storyteller-musician:

Wesley Houp

music for the decline of the American empire.

Ron Gregg: Queer Performance, Youth and YouTube

Queer performance, youth and YouTube
by Ron Gregg
Jump Cut

“The ‘magic’ of the Internet is that it is a technology that puts cultural acts, symbolizations in all forms, in the hands of all participants; it radically decentralizes the positions of speech, publishing, filmmaking, radio and television broadcasting, in short the apparatuses of cultural production.” — Mark Poster

"In the evolution of the individual, there is a moment in which rationality gives way to visionary impulse, when the logic of our actions gives way to an extreme desire for freedom, a desire destined to be swallowed up by the infinite rules of the social game." — Francesco Bonami

In this paper, I analyze videos produced and performed by youth on the video sharing website YouTube which feature queer performance, particularly cross-dressing and/or same sex eroticism. I began this study before Oct. 2006, when Google paid $1.65 billion for What drew my attention was the incredible freedom expressed in the youth’s uninhibited and very public performances. Like many queer youth of my generation in the 1960s, I lip synced popular tunes myself, often adopting the cross-gender persona of Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane, one of my divas, sometimes even engaging in a bit of cross-dressing to inhabit that persona. But I kept such performances in the private space of the bedroom. Also like most of my peers, we never discussed it outside of that bedroom.

The web has changed this by encouraging youth to make private performances public. YouTube offers adolescents what Francesco Bonami calls a “moment in which rationality gives way to visionary impulse, when the logic of our actions gives way to an extreme desire for freedom, a desire destined to be swallowed up by the infinite rules of the social game.” I wondered when I started this project, if it was possible that this destiny might change for these young producers recording and uploading their “impulses” to this virtual public sphere and connecting with a large network of vocal, like-minded friends. Would these young performers find themselves less “swallowed” up by and change the rules when they enter the adult world? Or would the corporate and moral authorities successfully discipline such youth and reassert their “rules” in this public space?

Without a doubt, the media attention that made YouTube a cultural phenomenon, the Google purchase, and the increasing clash of different ideological forces have changed YouTube. Many of the videos that I looked at more than a year ago are no longer available. There are any number of possible reasons for these changes: the producers boredom and withdrawal from YouTube; after seeing what their teenagers have uploaded and shared with the world, parents ordering them to remove the videos from YouTube; or maturity—they grow out of their YouTube videos with new interests and more freedom outside of the home. Others may have been scared by denigrating, anti-queer responses to their videos or by sexually suggestive come-ons by older viewers and exited the YouTube community in response. In some cases, the producers have shifted their videos from a public site to a private site, only available to those granted permission.

A few producers had their “user accounts suspended,” clearly for video content that was flagged as inappropriate or used copyrighted material. These suspensions suggest that Goggle increased the surveillance and removal of erotic and copyrighted material. But Google does not want to repress the creative and invigorating youthful energy that has helped to make YouTube the phenomenal success that it is. Thus, YouTube negotiates between youthful energy and conservative corporate and moral interests and continues to be a major site for adolescent queer speak and culture. Although some videos have disappeared, they have been replaced by an even greater number of new ones. They are also no longer just from the United States; YouTube is creating a transnational virtual community.

Since its founding in 2005, one of the most astonishing things about YouTube — and one of the ways it most fulfills Poster’s hope that the web will provide a forum to those usually excluded from cultural production — is that, at least, in its pre-Google days, evidence suggests that 12-17 year olds were YouTube’s primary producers and consumers. YouTube has provided amateur filmmakers and performers a virtual space where they can easily upload videos they have produced themselves and which they and/or their friends perform, making them available to a larger virtual community.

Many adolescents find that the sharing, response, and linking nature of YouTube builds a supportive community for their art and/or behavior. After sharing a self-produced video with the YouTube community, the young producer receives responses and ratings from viewers, which sometimes leads to discussions about the video’s aesthetics and content. Out of these discussions, small communities of like-minded “friends” connect and pass on video favorites between themselves, the larger YouTube community through their personal YouTube webpages, and to other linking sites. Each video’s webpage indicates how often the video has been viewed, lists comments by viewers, and links the viewer to other videos by the same producer as well as to her/his favorite videos by other producers.

To Read the Rest of the Essay

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Deadly Mistakes

More resources:

Deadly Mistakes

Most students finish high school, and even college, without critically analyzing recent US history. With public discussion of past misadventures also lacking, how can citizens form educated opinions about today's crises?

In a series of short films, DEADLY MISTAKES? looks at US interventions abroad during the second half of the 20th century: the overthrow of the government of Iran, intervention and genocide in Guatemala, the Cuban missile crisis, the Vietnam War, Somoza and the Contra War in Nicaragua, and the Cold War.

It also looks at our present situation: nuclear weapons on a hair trigger, preventive war and the invasion of Iraq, and the war in Colombia.

These films ask whether any or all of these events and policies are mistakes? Are they justifiable or are they crimes? What should we learn from the mistakes of the past, and how can we apply these lessons to help shape America's future? What can we do to prevent future "deadly mistakes"?

The final three films look at where we go from here. They are entitled: "Mistakes or Crimes?", "Why do states pursue homicidal policies?", and "It's Your Future."

Amongst those contributing to these films are Father Daniel Berrigan, peace activist; Dr. Bruce Blair, former U.S. Air Force Launch Officer; General Lee Butler, USAF (ret.), former Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Strategic Command; Noam Chomsky, philsopher and linguist; Lawrence Eagleburger, former Secretary of State; Dr. Jane Goodall D.B.E., primatologist; Rear Admiral Gene LaRocque, USN (Ret.); James Loewen, author of Lies My Teacher Told Me; Ray McGovern, retired senior CIA analyst; Robert McNamara, former Secretary of Defense; General Merrill McPeak, USAF (Ret.), former U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff; Joshua Muravchik, author and foreign policy specialist; Ralph Nader; Grace Paley, author and peace activist; Marcus Raskin, co-founder, Institute of Policy Studies; Admiral Stansfield Turner, USN (Ret.), former director, CIA; Peter Weiss, President, Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy; RobertWhite, former Ambassador to El Salvador; and General Charles Wilhelm USMC (Ret.).

The second disc contains six extended interviews. They are:

James Loewen, author "Lies My Teacher Told Me": LIES MY TEACHER TOLD ME

Lawrence Eagleburger, former Secretary of State: FOREIGN POLICY AND SAUSAGE

Rear Admiral Gene LaRocque, USN (Ret): CREATING TERRORISTS

Ray McGovern, retired senior CIA analyst: WE CALLED THEM "THE CRAZIES"

Robert White, former Ambassador to El Salvador: IT'S NOT MUCH MORE COMPLICATED THAN THAT

Marcus Raskin, co-founder, Institute of Policy Studies: INSTITUTIONAL INSANITY IS APPROXIMATELY WHAT WE HAVE

Worldview: The Legacy of American Empire - Puerto Rico

Worldview (Chicago Public Radio)

... [continuing a] week long series, The Legacy of American Empire, with a look at Puerto Rico. It is a self-governing, unincorporated territory of the United States. We’ll find out what that means.

To Listen to the Episode

Pearls Before Swine: Google It!

(Courtesy of Laura W.)

Friday, October 23, 2009

(Relax) Everything is OK!

I'm sorry that I point out what is wrong with the world, I have learned the error of my ways, and have come to recognize That Everything is OK!!!

(Courtesy of Marchman)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Uprising Radio: Wendy Norris -- Media Coverage of Shriver Report Lauds Women's Progress, Ignores Shocking Disparities

Media Coverage of Shriver Report Lauds Women's Progress, Ignores Shocking Disparities
Uprising Radio

This week the NBC network is teaming up with California First Lady Maria Shriver to present a week of television programming on the state of 21st Century American women. The programming will be based on a new report called The Shriver Report: A Woman's Nation Changes Everything.? The Shriver Report reveals that for the first time in US history half of all workers are women, and that mothers are the primary breadwinners or co-breadwinners in nearly two-thirds of families. And yet, wage parity between the sexes is a long way off. Taking a look at the consequences of this dramatic socio-economic shift the report hopes to shape new policies to address the modern American family. There is also a deep look at the need for family-friendly benefits, child care and elder care. Also highlighted is the crucial role of immigrant women in the low-paying jobs of housekeeping and childcare which enable American women to enter the workforce at their expense, and the disproportionate ill-effects of the nation's private health insurance system on women. The Shriver Report is being heralded by the media as a major marker of women's progress and the
closure of the gender gap. But, according to investigative reporter Wendy Norris, the report's disturbing disparities in women?s well being are being downplayed or completely ignored.

GUEST: Wendy Norris, investigative reporter based in Denver, Colorado, working on assignment for RH Reality Check, editor and founder of Unbossed

Read Wendy Norris' article here

Read the Shriver Report here

Listen to this segment

New Health Care Ad Featuring Heather Graham

Heather Graham ... mmmmmmmmmm... wait was there a message (just kidding)... I like this ad, very effective imagery and how they link it to American celebration of open market competition

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Worldview: Revolutions

Worldview (WBEZ: Chicago)

This week, Northeastern Illinois University hosts a conference on revolutions; from the French Revolution to Hugo Chavez’s Bolivarian Revolution, we'll talk about the evolution and impact of these movements. Also, Professor Stephanie Shonekan talks about her new movie inspired by the life of a Nigerian women rights activist.

To Listen to the Episode

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Underground Spiritual Game: 33rd Show - African Dance Party, Pt. 2

(Literaghost--if you listen to this and like it, let me know, I'll burn you a copy... great music!)

Underground Spiritual Game: 33rd Show - African Dance Party Second Hour
(Seeing Red Radio Productions)

Orlando Julius & His Afro Sounders – Mura Sise
Tabu Ley Rochereau – I Need You
Hypnotic Brass Ensemble – Sankofa
Alèmayèhu Eshèté – Betchayén Tègodahu
NOMO – Bumbo
Etubom Rex Williams & His Nigerian Artistes – Akpaison
Les Volcans De la Capital – Oya Ka Jojo
Ry-Co Jazz – Mambo Ry-Co
Gbeti Madjro – Rythmo
Bola Johnson – Lagos Sisi
Peter King – Ajo
Os Kiezos – Princeza Rita
Fela Kuti – Fogo Fogo

To Listen/Download


AAAARG (you know you are curious ;)

Chris Hedges: The Victims of Pornography

The Victims of Pornography
By Chris Hedges

This excerpt is taken from Chris Hedges’ newest book, Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.

The Pink Cross booth has a table of anti-porn tracts and is set up in the far corner of the Sands Expo convention centre in Las Vegas. It is an unlikely participant at the annual Adult Video News (AVN) expo. Pink Cross is a Christian outreach program for women in the porn industry, run by ex-porn star Shelley Lubben.

In a convention exalting the pornography industry, Lubben’s table is not overrun with visitors, most of whom are male and middle-aged with cameras around their necks. The few men who make it to the far corner of the convention centre look curiously at its pink banner and walk past. The expo is filled with more alluring fare. There are numerous booths for porn producers and distributors, many with women in tiny skirts and bras who, often clinging to stripper poles, gyrate and bend over and spread their legs for groups of men. They simulate masturbation and flash their breasts for crowds of onlookers. Huge banners hang from the ceiling promoting new releases such as Slutty and Sluttier 6.

A local escort service, VegasGirls, has a booth about 100 feet from Pink Cross. There is a homemade wooden wheel with a flipper that looks like a middle-school shop project on its table. Those who spin the wheel can get various discounts or even a free visit by a “stripper” to their hotel room. Small, glossy cards are fanned out on the table, showing women in evocative poses and not much clothing, all with a first name, the agency’s phone number and the phrase “actual photo” emblazoned on the side of the card.

“You want to take a picture of my boobs, then you have to take my card,” a woman in front of the booth tells a camera-wielding, middle-aged man.

“If I call this number, is it you who will come?” he asks.

“Here, baby,” she says, giving him the card. “I will come.”

Many of the booths at the Sands Expo feature well-known porn stars. There are long lines of men waiting for a signed photo and the chance to have a picture with stars from the Wicked Pictures studio, including Kaylani Lei, Kirsten Price and Jessica Drake. The men usually wrap their arms around the women for the photo, always taken by a friend or someone in line. As they hug the women’s waists, the women sometimes playfully grab the man’s crotch or lick their lips. Huge plasma screens placed in the booths run nonstop porn, often featuring the stars having anal sex with multiple partners or giving blow jobs. The sheer volume of porn blasted throughout the convention floor by the sea of giant screens becomes, very quickly, numbing.

The porn films are not about sex. Sex is airbrushed and digitally washed out of the films. There is no acting because none of the women are permitted to have what amounts to a personality.

The one emotion they are allowed to display is an unquenchable desire to satisfy men, especially if that desire involves the women’s physical and emotional degradation. The lighting in the films is harsh and clinical. Pubic hair is shaved off to give the women the look of young girls or rubber dolls. Porn, which advertises itself as sex, is a bizarre, bleached pantomime of sex. The acts onscreen are beyond human endurance. The scenarios are absurd. The manicured and groomed bodies, the huge artificial breasts, the pouting, oversized lips, the erections that never go down, and the sculpted bodies are unreal. Makeup and production mask blemishes. There are no beads of sweat, no wrinkle lines, no human imperfections. Sex is reduced to a narrow spectrum of sterilized dimensions. It does not include the dank smell of human bodies, the thump of a pulse, taste, breath—or tenderness. Those in the films are puppets, packaged female commodities. They have no honest emotions, are devoid of authentic human beauty and resemble plastic. Pornography does not promote sex, if one defines sex as a shared act between two partners. It promotes masturbation. It promotes the solitary auto-arousal that precludes intimacy and love. Pornography is about getting yourself off at someone else’s expense.

To Read the Rest of the Excerpt

Truthdig: David Cole's The Torture Memos

The Torture Memos

Georgetown University law professor David Cole’s new book, The Torture Memos, investigates how key members of the U.S. Office of Legal Counsel rewrote the law to make torture legal.

To Listen to the Episode

Wafrika: The Cult of Having Versus The City of Being

The Cult of Having Versus The City of Being


Put differently, democratic equality will never be achieved as long as we are alienated from human values, from nature, and from social and political reality. Nor can this problem be resolved as long as we choose the having mode over the being mode of existence. We live in a soulless culture that promotes and glorifies the former at the expense of the latter.

Since authentic love has been a rare phenomenon in the modern period particularly, it is no surprise that the ideological quest for money is a defining cultural trait throughout much of the world, since it is not just a reflection of, but an overcompensation for, lack of authentic love:

Our seemingly insatiable quest for money and material consumption is in fact a quest to fill a void in our lives created by a lack of love. It is a consequence of dysfunctional societies in which money has displaced our sense of spiritual connection as the foundation of our cultural values and relationships. The result is a world of material scarcity, massive inequality, overtaxed environmental systems, and social disintegration. As long as we embrace money-making as our collective purpose and structure our institutions to give this goal precedence over all others, the void in our lives will grow and the human crisis will deepen. (David Korten)

The solution, according to same source, is to “create societies that give a higher value to nurturing love than to making money.” And by love, it must be understood that we are talking about non-hegemonic love, as opposed to sadomasochistic attachment, which is the prevailing form of love today, between parents and children, husbands and wives, teachers and students, etc. (in the second instance, the roles are not fixed but switch according to caprice).

Erich Fromm, in The Art of Loving, shows compellingly that “love is not a sentiment which can be easily indulged in by anyone, regardless of the level of maturity reached by him. …all his attempts for love are bound to fail, unless he tries most actively to develop his total personality, so as to achieve a productive orientation; that satisfaction in individual love cannot be attained without the capacity to love one’s neighbor, without true humility, courage, faith [in reason and the potential for good in humanity] and [self-]discipline.” And he correctly concludes that “In a culture in which these qualities are rare, the attainment of the capacity to love must remain a rare phenomenon.”

Fromm’s postulation that love for one’s flesh and blood is no achievement, since even animals are capable of loving and caring for their offspring, is a damning implicit indictment of the nuclear family, in my view, since the family is a miniature state in which submissive and hegemonic values are reproduced in the young pursuant to their preparation for societal life. The more the child is exposed to arbitrary authority during its upbringing, the more smoothly (as opposed to naturally) it will execute its function later in life by submitting to state, church and corporate authority (all of which are coercive hence illegitimate), while also dominating those he can dominate insofar as his social position allows domination (to the detriment of psychosocial health in himself and others, of course). If he doesn’t, then he always has the possibility of procreating, since children are always fair game, towards whom society (even Western society) shows nothing but the most callous indifference, even in cases involving extreme—physical, psychological, and sexual—abuse (indeed, loving parents are the exception rather than the rule, since toxic parenting is a very pervasive problem throughout the world, as many studies have shown). The point is simply this: there is a strong connection between the having mode and the authoritarian structure. Fromm elaborates this point thusly: “…in the having mode, and thus the authoritarian structure, sin is disobedience and is overcome by repentance ? punishment ? renewed submission. In the being mode, the non-authoritarian structure, sin is unresolved estrangement, and it is overcome by the full unfolding of reason and love, by at-onement.”


Choosing positive freedom over wage slavery; free, creative labor over dead, predatory capital; non-exclusive, non-hegemonic love over pathological love of money and sadomasochistic attachment; life over death—these are all moral imperatives, rooted both in our biological instinct for survival and in our human nature in a cultural sense (just because these are repressed doesn’t mean that they don’t exist). Those who have lost this basic biological and moral instinct due to decades of overwhelming toxic indoctrination and propaganda need to be assisted in the art of de-programming and humanization, so that they may come to life and bring to life everyone in their orbit.


To Read the Entire Essay

A Guide To Practical Polyamory

Home sick, haven't kept food down for two days, feeling very weak and i am slowly dismantling (see the film: I Heart Huckabees)... and studying this... are my politics separate from my relationships?

A Guide to Practical Polyamory

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Freakonomics: A Terrible Book

A terrible book... typical economic wunderkind believing they can explain the world through random data analysis and poor theoretical analysis ... stunning in its blindness to bigger issues that are behind the figures (teachers cheat to satisfy No Child Left Behind requirements--has nothing to do with the ridiculous nature of the larger systemic absurdity, just an individual failure) and larger problems with reliance on figures wholesale (yes, mainstream media presents a supposed two sided story, but what is left out--this myopic economist never asks or recognizes this problem)

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Pete Seeger: Which Side Are You On

Faith Petrc: Ain't Done Nothin If You Ain't Been Called a Red

Funkadelic: Super Stupid

Son of Nun: Reality Check

Fela Kuti: Water No Get Enemy

The Colbert Show: Michael Moore on Capitalism: A Love Story

Protests of the 2009 G20 Summit in Pittsburgh: Part Two

Seeing Red Radio: May Day 2009, Pt. 1

May Day 2009: Pt. 1
Seeing Red Radio

This is the first musical installment of our two-part series celebrating this Day of International Workers’ Solidarity. First, we remember the late Black Panther leader, Fred Hampton; then we address police brutality, Katrina, Tookie, Lebanon, the demonization of undocumented workers, the anti-war movement, the grueling exploitation of workers everywhere, and the necessity of organized workers to fight back with words from Fannie Lou Hamer, Martin Luther King Jr., Kwame Ture, Jon Stewart, Maurice Brinton of Solidarity, Bill Moyers, Noam Chomsky and the dueling reconciliation hypocrisy of Democrat Nancy Pelosi and Republican Greg Judd.

Solidarity Pamphlet from “For Workers’ Power: The Selected Writings of Maurice Brinton”, edited by David Goodway, published by AK Press

Freddie Ain’t Dead – Rollingcalf (Seeing Red Radio Mix)
Kalakuta Republic – MixMaster Mike, Lateef and Gift of Gab of Blackilicious
-No Info, please contact if you know-
Fiffteen – Family Values
Katrina, Tookie, and Illegal Immigrants – Son of Nun
Let Them Eat War – Bad Religion
Got to Fight Back – Civilianslave
Join the Union Tonight – John Handcox
Minimum Wage Strike – David Rovics
Stab Them or Shoot Them – Utah Phillips with Ani DiFranco
Which Side Are You On – Pete Seeger
Use Your Cobra Skulls – Cobra Skulls
There is Power in the Union – Billy Bragg
Homefront – Tree
Understanding Marx – Red Shadow
You Ain’t Been Doing Nothing If You Ain’t Been Called a Red – Faith Petric
The Internationale – Billy Bragg

To Listen to the Episode

Mark Hosler: "Adventures in Illegal Art" on Sunday, October 11 at Natasha's Bistro

(Courtesy of Saraya. Extra credit opportunity for my students)

Hey all - this is going to be a really great presentation on corporate media, pop culture, intellectual property and the interplay between. Not sure if you are familiar with Negativland but they are pretty culturally significant - they have been pushing the buttons of corporate media pretty hard since the early 1980s, and the topics covered are still very relevant today. thought you might be able to pass it on to anyone you felt might be interested - students, faculty or friends. Thanks so much!

Cultural icon Mark Hosler, founding member of Negativland will give his multi-media presentation "Adventures in Illegal Art" on Sunday, October 11 at Natasha's Bistro in conjunction with WRFL 88.1's 21st birthday extravaganza, BOOMSLANG.

"Pranks, media hoaxes, media literacy, the art of collage, creative activism in a media saturated multi-national world, file sharing, intellectual property issues, evolving notions of art and ownership and law in a digital age, artistic and funny critiques of mass media and culture, so-called “culture jamming”.... even if you've never heard of Negativland, if you are interested in any of these issues we think you’ll find this presentation worth your time and attention.

"Is Negativland a “band”? Media hoaxers? Activists? Artists? Musicians? Filmmakers? Culture jammers? Comedians? An inspiration for the unwashed many? A nuisance for the corporate few? Decide for yourself in this presentation that uses films and stories to illustrate the many creative projects, hoaxes, pranks and "culture jamming" that Negativland has been doing since 1980.

Most famous for getting sued for their “U2” single, Negativland has had many years of experience being a tiny thorn in the side of the corporate media and entertainment biz. They’ve released a gazillion CDs, do occasional tours, published a few books, make little movies, put on art shows, and were the subject of San Francisco filmmaker Craig Baldwin’s 1995 feature film “SONIC OUTLAWS”."

Offthesky, a sound & video performance by former WRFL DJ Jason Corder, will open. Sunday, October 11, 4:30 p.m. Nastasha's Bistro is located at 112 Esplanade. Please be aware that Main and Short Streets will be closed for Second Sunday; you will need park a couple blocks away, or walk or ride a bike.

$3 general public, FREE with festival pass!

Other Boomslang acts throughout the weekend include Os Mutantes, Faust, Atlas Sound, Mission of Burma, The Black Angels and Papa M. The festival will also include workshops, sonic experiments, art & literary events, a film showing at KET, and a free, all ages carnival featuring fire twirlers, glass-walkers, spoon benders, a circus-themed fashion show, participatory workshops and installations and much more. For more information, including scheduling and ticket info, please visit Bommslang

Monday, October 05, 2009

Jacques Ranciere: Consensus

"This shift has a name. Its name is consensus. Consensus does not simply mean the agreement of the political parties or of social partners on the common interests of the community. It means a reconfiguration of the visibility of the common. It means that the givens of any collective situation are objectified in such a way that they can no longer lend themselves to a dispute, to the polemical framing of a controversial world within the given world.”

Jacques Ranciere—“Contemporary Art and the Politics of Aesthetics” (2009)

Seeing Red Radio

(A new favorite podcast: Music, news and commentary)

Seeing Red Radio

Seeing Red Radio is a Revolutionary Socialist radio program that covers the headlines from the front-lines of the International class war. Whether from Oaxaca to Amherst, Chicopee to Caracas, Seeing Red Radio chronicles the struggles of workers to free themselves from the oppressions of globalized capitalism. Tune in and arm yourself with the history, culture, and theory that can make a more humane world possible.

Seeing Red Radio is broadcast on Valley Free Radio, WXOJ-LP, Northampton, MA and can be heard on the Valley Free Radio webstream every Thursday at 8 PM Eastern. Podcast available on Saturday, if not earlier

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Glenn Greenwald Radio: Rep. Alan Grayson on de-funding corrupt defense contractors

Rep. Alan Grayson on de-funding corrupt defense contractors
Glenn Greenwald Radio (Salon)

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) -- my guest on Salon Radio today -- yesterday pointed out that the bill passed by both the Senate and House to de-fund ACORN is written so broadly that it literally compels the de-funding not only of that group, but also the de-funding of, and denial of all government contracts to, any corporation that "has filed a fraudulent form with any Federal or State regulatory agency." By definition, that includes virtually every large defense contractor, which -- unlike ACORN -- has actually been found guilty of fraud. As The Huffington Post's Ryan Grim put it: "the bill could plausibly defund the entire military-industrial complex. Whoops."

I spoke with Rep. Grayson this morning regarding the consequences of all of this. He is currently compiling a list of all defense contractors encompassed by this language in order to send to administration officials (and has asked for help from the public in compiling that list, here). The President is required by the Constitution to "faithfully execute" the law, which should mean that no more contracts can be awarded to any companies on that list, which happens to include the ten largest defense contractors in America. Before being elected to Congress, Grayson worked extensively on uncovering and combating defense contractor fraud in Iraq, and I asked him to put into context ACORN's impact on the American taxpayer versus these corrupt defense contractors. His reply: "The amount of money that ACORN has received in the past 20 years altogether is roughly equal to what the taxpayer paid to Halliburton each day during the war in Iraq."

The irony of all of this is that the Congress is attempting to accomplish an unconstitutional act: singling out and punishing ACORN, which is clearly a "bill of attainder" that the Constitution explicitly prohibits -- i.e., an act aimed at punishing a single party without a trial. The only way to overcome that problem is by pretending that the de-funding of ACORN is really about a general policy judgment (that no corrupt organizations should receive federal funding). But the broader they make the law in order to avoid the Constitutional problem, the more it encompasses the large corrupt corporations that own the Congress (and whom they obviously don't want to de-fund). The narrower they make it in order to include only ACORN, the more blatantly unconstitutional it is. Now that they have embraced this general principle that no corrupt organizations should receive federal funding, how is anyone going to justify applying that only to ACORN while continuing to fund the corporations whose fraud and corruption is vastly greater (not to mention established by actual courts of law)?

To Read the Rest of the introduction, listen to the interview, and see updates