Sunday, July 31, 2005

Thomas R. Peterson: Through Different Eyes

(Sources for the images: The Searching Wolf, Realm of the Wolf and Wolves)

Through Different Eyes: Shifting Values and the Return of the Real Wolf
by Thomas R. Peterson

Ten years ago, on a biting cold winter morning in the world's first national park, I witnessed the release of two wolves brought from Canada into a one-acre acclimation pen on the Blacktail Plateau, a "pre-release" that was the first phase of a wolf reintroduction plan for the 2.2 million acres of Yellowstone National Park. After skiing in to the acclimation site, our small group of journalists and observers saw the first cage brought into the pen and the cage door raised. Instantly a black-as-night wolf bolted out, long black tail low to the ground, and dashed around the perimeter of the pen, gulping snow and looking for an escape. There was an audible gasp from our small crowd. The second wolf, also deep black with grayish underbelly, followed suit, its long, lean legs with hand-size paws covering a lot of ground quickly. This close-up look at a powerful predator left us awed and speechless; we skied and snowshoed away in silence.

Today, ten years after these reintroductions into Yellowstone and the huge wilderness area of central Idaho, and over 25 years since Barry Lopez wrote his seminal book about attitudes towards wolves, Of Wolves and Men, I am still intrigued by a central question: Have we seen a shift in attitudes and perceptions, a shift in values toward wolves? If so, why? And maybe most importantly, what difference does it make to us or to those responsible for wolf management?

Some of the stories I've encountered reflect active shifts toward resolution; other stories still create strong tremors that shake our moral ground in all directions, like wolves being poisoned near Clayton, ID with Compound 1080, a poison with no known antidote that causes extended convulsions and suffering prior to death; or of wolves, like wolf #230, who was most likely shot illegally a couple of years ago near the Yaak Valley in Montana, its radio collar found—cut—in Yaak Falls. And then there are the stories of over 153,000 people to date—among countless millions of visitors—who have been lucky enough to have sighted wolves with their own eyes in Yellowstone.

In our attitudes towards wolves we perceive, seemingly, three different species: One wolf has devil horns on his head; another has a halo; and the third wolf, well, she's just a wolf—a breathing, howling, running, hunting, shitting wolf. How do we ask the necessary questions to determine which is the "real" wolf?

"The whole wolf issue has nothing to do with reality," says Ed Bangs, Rocky Mountain wolf coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), "It has everything to do with symbols. If you're a big cycle person and believe that everything works together, you tend to like wolves. If you believe people are on top of everything, you tend not to like wolves."

Attitude goes a long way in how one regards and responds to a keystone species like wolves. The symbols Bangs refers to, for example, may have been carried here from the Europe of the Middle Ages. "The medieval mind," writes Barry Lopez, "more than any other mind in history, was obsessed with images of wolves." Little Red Riding Hood, The Big Bad Wolf, and other fairy tales and mythologies helped spawn a broad cultural bias. And sayings like "a wolf in sheep's clothing," "wolves at the door," and "a real wolf with women," seem to reflect our culture's continuing antipathy for wolves.

Link to the Rest of the Essay

Also check out:

Wolf Country: Myths, Legends and Stories

We need a wiser and perhaps more mystical concept of wolves. Man surveys the wolf through the glass of his knowledge, and sees a feather magnified, and the whole image is distorted. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therin we err. For no animal shall be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.

Henry Beston, The Outermost House

... We were eating lunch on a high rimrock, at the foot of which a turbulent river elbowed its way. We saw what we thought was a doe fording the torrent, her breast awash in white water. When she climbed the bank toward us and shook out her tail, we realized our error: it was a wolf. A half-dozen others, evidently grown pups, sprang from the willows and all joined in a welcoming melee of wagging tails and playful maulings. What was literally a pile of wolves writhed and tumbled in the center of an open flat at the foot of our rimrock.

In those days we had never heard of passing up a chance to kill a wolf. In a second we were pumping lead into the pack, but with more excitement than accuracy; how to aim a steep downhill shot is always confusing. When our rifles were empty, the old wolf was down, and a pup was dragging a leg into impassable side-rocks.

We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes—something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters' paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.

. . .

Since then I have lived to see state after state extirpate its wolves. I have watched the face of many a newly wolfless mountain, and seen the south-facing slopes wrinkle with a maze of new deer trails. I have seen every edible bush and seedling browsed, first to anaemic desuetude, and then to death. I have seen every edible tree defoliated to the height of a saddlehorn. Such a mountain looks as if someone had given God a new pruning shears, and forbidden Him all other exercise. In the end the starved bones of the hoped-for deer herd, dead of its own too-much, bleach with the bones of the dead sage, or molder under the high-lined junipers.

Excerpts from the Work of Aldo Leopold

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Matt Rasmussen: Recollections of a Summer Job

Anyone ever heard of "dodo trooping"...

Peas, Man: Recollections of a Summer Job
by Matt Rasmussen


This is the Skagit Valley. From its source in Canada the unruly Skagit River rushes south through precipitous mountain terrain, its progress stopped three times by dams that form long, skinny reservoirs tinted turquoise by glacial silt. The valley owes its fecundity to the time before dikes, weirs, floodgates, or dams, when the river braided across this landscape at its leisure. The hard rains of November and December swelled the river beyond its banks and year after year these floods sifted a flour of sediments across the plain, covering the land with bits of rocks and minerals ground to powder in the mountain heights.

The soil of the Skagit is fine and fawn. A freshly tilled field is a magical silk cloth, a weave so exquisite, so even and unmarred, it seems the work of elves. As it turns out, the soil laid down by the elements here is perfect for peas.

My job title was Pod Stripper Operator. (In fact, I soon learned, nobody called the combines "pod strippers"; they called them "pea viners," or just "viners.") I was assigned to the Set 7 night shift, my home range the flatlands outside the town of La Conner.

A pea viner seemed like a monster from a '50s sci-fi flick, an insect zapped with gamma rays and rendered a million times its original size. The body was boxy, ten feet tall with a sheet-metal exoskeleton. The mouth parts jutted forward ominously at ground level. Those mouth parts, or the "header," as they were known, ripped the pea vines from the ground, pods and all, and threw them into the body of the beast. The thing clanked and swayed, roared and hissed. The result of all this effort was a steady little stream of perfectly shelled peas that bounced optimistically down into a quarter-ton bin just behind the cab. What happened between those points of entry and exit was to me a mystery of religious opacity, a transubstantiation of ineffable utility.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Understanding the Zombie Mentality, Pt. 3

After recently posting Zombie Movies for the Bush II Era and reading Oso's (dig the Ganesh on his title header) comments to the Sheep posting, I decided that perhaps it is time to revisit some considerations of the Zombie as a dominant cultural metaphor:

Very good collage-essays from Inspector Lohmann that make some interesting connections. The good inspector has promised to eventually add to the series...

Co-Optation, Radicals, Idealists, Realists and Blogging

Of Zombies, Bloggers, and The Will To Power As Disappearance [Part I: Zombies]

Of Zombies, Bloggers, and The Will To Power As Disappearance [Part 2: Zombie Pedagogy]

Also check out David Chalmers philosophical exploration of Zombies:

Zombies on the Web

Immanuel Wallerstein: Mr. Bush's War

Fernand Braudel Center, Binghamton University
Commentary No. 164, July 1, 2005

"Mr. Bush's War"

We know now that George W. Bush confided to one of his friends before he was president that he wanted a war with Iraq and that, unlike his father, he would get rid of Saddam Hussein. And so he has. But as the U.S. polls turn seriously against him and a majority of Americans today say that the war wasn't worth the loss of lives, it is time to take a reckoning of what Mr. Bush has accomplished.

He wanted a quick war, and he didn't get that. The U.S. occupiers are faced today, two years after the invasion was launched, with a stiff Iraqi resistance which the U.S. doesn't seem to be able to quench. Indeed, it seems to be growing more, not less, deadly as time goes on. The U.S. says its strategy is to train Iraqi government troops to the point that they can handle this resistance. But everyone admits, and first of all the U.S. generals on the scene in Iraq, that the U.S. is nowhere near this goal, and that it might not be reached for a number of years, if ever. Donald Rumsfeld himself is talking of needing to stay in Iraq for twelve years, which certainly doesn't make it seem as if he thinks the Iraqi government is going to be able to handle the resistance very soon without U.S. assistance.

At this point, there are extremely few Iraqi government units that can fight even a minor engagement by themselves. The training doesn't seem to stick. Now, one can presume that the U.S. trainers are competent and highly motivated. So why doesn't the training stick? There seem to be several reasons. One is the motivation of the Iraqi troops. They are in it for the most part because it is a relatively well-paying job, if an extremely dangerous one at the moment. So they collect the pay checks and avoid the battles, especially since they are ill-equipped for the most part. One intrepid Westerner who actually went out with these troops for a while (most Western reporters remain in the well-protected Green Zone of Baghdad)discovered that these troops were singing anti-American songs when U.S. advisors were out of hearing.

Few commentators have made the obvious comparison of these U.S.-trained Iraqi troops with the resistance units. The latter, though lacking the U.S. training and U.S. support, seem to fight very well, as admitted by the U.S. military. They are certainly not in it for the money. Dare I suggest they are in it for the patriotism, whether this is Iraqi national patriotism or Islamic jihad or a combination of the two? And this is a quite powerful motivation. Every once in a while, an American advisor points to the fact that rebellions can be crushed, and offers as examples the British crushing of both the Malaysian rebels and the Mau Mau in Kenya. But there are obvious differences. In Malaysia, the rebels were rooted in the Chinese community and the Malay majority had no sympathy for them. And the Mau Mau lacked any
access to advanced weaponry. There is no comparison with the situation in Iraq, which is closer in structure to all those resistances that did win out against the West or West-supported regimes.

Mr. Bush also wanted a regime in power that would be a strong, long-term ally, capable of running the country. So far he hasn't got that either. On all three counts - strength, role as a reliable U.S. ally, and ability to run the country - the new Iraqi government has yet to show that it can meet the bill. Military strength they clearly do not have. So let's look at the ability to run the country. In the chaotic situation that Iraq presents today, there is an exodus of the skilled professionals which Iraq has in larger supply than most Middle Eastern countries. Under Saddam, some of these professionals left because of repression or fear. Today, they are leaving because their lives are threatened daily by mafiosi, resisters, random violence, and kidnapings. Skilled female labor stays home, in part out of fear of the chaos but in large part because of the Muslim fundamentalist pressures.

As for being a reliable U.S. ally, I sure hope that Condi Rice is not counting on the present Iraqi government in a pinch or in the middle run. For one thing, the Iraqis have to get their act together in the enormous tensions between the differing ethnic/religious groups. If the Iraqi army is weak, that is not true of the militias, which are more clearly the future of order (and disorder) in Iraq. Pulled in all directions, there is no national project, certainly not one of being a good boy in a neoliberal world order.

The third thing Mr. Bush hoped for was the reassertion of an uncontested hegemony of the United States in the world arena. But it is now becoming jaded journalese to point out that de facto multipolarity is the name of the present situation, and that the U.S. is on a downward slide. Dick Cheney can rant all he wants, but one has to wonder whether even he believes that the U.S. is stronger than ever and that the world is complying with U.S. wishes.

And finally, like the narrow-minded provincial that he is, George W. Bush expected that the U.S. would flourish at home and return to the mythical paradise that was the United States of the robber barons of the nineteenth century making their fortunes in a country peopled by happy small-town, Christian families going to church on Sundays and hiding their sins in a big closet. Instead, the United States is living through a national culture war that is massive and threatens to turn violent in the next decade. The U.S. has never been so split internally since the Civil War. Indeed, in some ways, the U.S. is replaying the Civil War. But, as with all these things, the second time around is not only farce but even more vicious.

Richard Nixon seems in retrospect to have been merely a small-time criminal, but at least an intelligent one. He presided over the defeat in Vietnam, but he wasn't the one who started the war. Nonetheless, his downfall was caused by his skullduggery in the context of the defeat in Vietnam. Will George W. Bush be impeached? Doubtful. But his skullduggery is far vaster than that of Tricky Dick, and history (and the U.S. people) will judge him more harshly.

In the meantime, Iraqis and Americans are dying and being maimed every day. And nothing good will come out of these deaths.

by Immanuel Wallerstein

[Copyright by Immanuel Wallerstein. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to download, forward electronically or e-mail to others and to post this text on non-commercial community Internet sites, provided the essay remains intact and the copyright note is displayed. To translate this text, publish it in printed and/or other forms, including commercial Internet sites and excerpts, contact the author at; fax: 1-203-432-6976.

These commentaries, published twice monthly, are intended to be reflections on the contemporary world scene, as seen from the perspective not of the immediate headlines but of the long term.]

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Grad Student Barbie

(Courtesy of Andy Johnson and Melissa Purdue)

Hey kids! Want to learn about the joys of pursuing a higher education? Then check out the newest toy from Mattel: Grad Student Barbie!

Grad Student Barbie

Peter Bergen: Beware the Holy War

(courtesy of Bill)

Beware the Holy War
by Peter Bergen
The Nation

The Power of Nightmares, a three-hour BBC documentary directed by Adam Curtis, is arguably the most important film about the "war on terrorism" since the events of September 11. It is more intellectually engaging, more historically probing and more provocative than any of its rivals, including Fahrenheit 9/11. But although it has been shown at Cannes and at a few film festivals in the United States, it has yet to find an American distributor, and for understandable reasons. The documentary asserts that Al Qaeda is largely a phantom of the imagination of the US national security apparatus. Indeed, The Power of Nightmares seeks nothing less than to reframe the past several decades of American foreign policy, from the Soviet menace of the 1970s to the Al Qaeda threat of today, to argue that neoconservatives in the American foreign policy establishment have vastly exaggerated those threats in their quest to remake the world in the image of the United States.

The fact that the film has not been widely shown here is our loss, since it raises important questions about the political manipulation of fear. Yet The Power of Nightmares is also troubling for reasons other than the ones Curtis supposes. For the thesis he advances--that the war on terrorism is driven by nightmares rather than nightmarish potentialities--is one that merits considerable skepticism. It may be that Al Qaeda is less organized and monolithic than George W. Bush would have us believe, but it is a fierce and determined organization that has spawned a global ideological movement led by Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, whose influence and plans we have every reason to be deeply concerned about.

The kernel of Curtis's argument is that Western politicians claim "the greatest danger of all is international terrorism, a powerful and sinister network, with sleeper cells in countries across the world, a threat that needs to be fought by a war on terror. But much of this threat is a fantasy, which has been exaggerated and distorted by politicians. It's a dark illusion that has spread unquestioned through governments around the world, the security services and the international media." Curtis says that this illusion was set in motion by two seemingly very different groups, American neoconservatives and radical Islamists, whose war with each other conceals a history of tacit alliance, and even some ideological resemblances. As Curtis reminds us, the neoconservatives and the Islamists came together in the 1980s in Afghanistan to expel the Soviets, and they share a hostility to the Middle East's authoritarian dynastic regimes (although they seek to replace them with altogether different kinds of government). What is more, both groups view Western liberalism with distrust, fearing that it will erode traditional and especially martial values, thus weakening their societies from within.

Entire Review Essay

Download copies of The Power of Nightmares


(Image courtesy of sTaRe)

Harmlessly passing your time in the grassland away
Only dimly aware of a certain unease in the air
You better watch out
There may be dogs about
I've looked over Jordan and I have seen
Things are not what they seem.

What do you get for pretending the danger's not real
Meek and obedient you follow the leader
Down well trodden corridors into the valley of steel
What a surprise!
A look of terminal shock in your eyes
Now things are really what they seem
No, this is no bad dream.

Excerpt of Pink Floyd's "Sheep" from the album Animals

Banff, Alberta, Canada

I just got back from seven days in Banff, Alberta, Canada. It is one of the most amazing places I have ever been ... I'll write a bit about Banff after I catch-up on work and get some sleep. I am physically exhausted from my time there, which culminated in two hikes in two days up Sulphur Mountain, followed by a hike up and back along the Spray River

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Adam Curtis' BBC Documentary: The Power of Nightmares

(Thanks to Harry for the latest links to this documentary)

This is an essential documentary that originally aired on the BBC and is now being hosted at the Internet Archive. It is essential viewing for understanding the rise of fundamentalism in the Middle East AND the U.S.A.

About The Power of Nightmares

To download the documentary:

To watch/download The Power of Nightmares

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Long Pauses: Sufjan Stevens

I've been suffering from a wicked bout of depression this summer. Strange, as the job search ended successfully with a tenure-track position. I think the stress caught up to me when I finally stopped to assess where I was in life--what I like to think of as the rubberband effect. I also felt a creeping sense of becoming part of the problem (because if you aren't doing anything to change it...) and suddenly, my writing dried up, with a horrifying sense of really having nothing to say. I've also been reacting badly to the general decline of our nation and feeling powerless, sort of like a lone turd circling downward in a turbo toilet flush.

Well, anyway, I've been coming out of that sense of despair and looking at the world anew. I'm starting to write again and will start publishing on this political site (and at my film and literature sites)...

I just visited this website Long Pauses. While browsing Darren's film and literature writings (I like the aesthetic-structure of this site) I followed his suggestion and checked out the music of Sufjan Stevens. Its mellow, but very moving and left me wanting to hear more.

Enough of the Long Pauses of life ... here's to moving onward...

Monday, July 18, 2005

Zombie Movies for the Bush II Era

(courtesy of Cinephilia and Deep Focus)

SCOTT FOUNDAS: Michael Moore notwithstanding, it still seems risky to make a movie [George A. Romero's Land of the Dead] this political in what is effectively a risk-averse Hollywood climate. I’m thinking particularly of those scenes where we see captive zombies turned by their human captors into Abu Ghraib-style sideshow freaks.

GEORGE A. ROMERO: I’m not sure if you showed this movie at the White House that anybody would get it, except when the money burns at the end — then they might feel a little pang of sadness.

Dead Director Rises Again

Thursday, July 14, 2005

CFP: Nineteenth Century Gender Studies

If you are studying or writing in this field you should take notice--this journal will be very important. Take a look at the editorial board!

The editors of Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies welcome submissions for the inaugural issue of this peer-reviewed, online journal.

Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies is committed to publishing insightful and innovative scholarship on gender studies and nineteenth-century British literature, art and culture. The journal is a collaborative effort that brings together advanced graduate students and scholars from a variety of universities to create a unique voice in the field. We endorse a broad definition of gender studies and welcome submissions that consider gender and sexuality in conjunction with race, class, place and nationality.

The journal is published twice a year (April/ November) and accepts both scholarly articles and book reviews year-round. We welcome articles of 4,000-8,000 words on gender studies and British literature, art and culture during the long nineteenth century. Submissions should be in MLA format and must include a brief biographical note which will be posted if accepted for publication. Please send an electronic version of your submission in Word to: Stacey Floyd ( and Melissa Purdue ( To facilitate the peer review process, please send two files—one with your article absent of all identifying information and another with your brief biographical note.

Possible topics include, but are certainly not limited to:

Gender informed (Feminist/Queer Theory/Masculinity Studies/etc.) readings of literature,
authors/artists or works of art
Gender and empire
Gender and class
Gender and medicine
Gender and law
Gender and race
Gender and sexuality
Gender and humor
Gender and science
The body
Gendered spaces or locations
“New Woman” writers
The canon
Gender and migration/immigration/emigration
Gender and travel
Intersections between written and visual arts
British literature/art in European context
Domestic violence
Gender and popular fiction

Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies also plans to publish a diverse range of book reviews including short reviews of single works, multiple book reviews, short review essays (devoted to 2 or more recent books on a single topic), and full-length review essays (assessing recent developments in established or emerging areas of nineteenth-century studies). Scholars interested in reviewing recent publications should contact the Reviews Editor, Lauren Goodlad, at

To be considered for our November 2005 issue, submissions must be received before Sept. 15th.

Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies

Submission Guidelines

Editorial Board

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

EFF: Legal Guide For Bloggers

(Courtesy of Scratchings)

EFF: Legal Guide For Bloggers

United Church of Christ endorses same-sex marriages and "votes to use 'economic leverage' to promote peace between Israel and Palestinians."

Mideast divestment movement picks up steam

Rove Watch, Pt. 2

Exposure of Rove’s lies throws Bush White House into crisis
By Patrick Martin

The Bush White House has been plunged into political crisis by the confirmation of widespread suspicions that chief Bush political strategist Karl Rove was one of the officials who revealed the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame. The exposure of Plame was part of a “dirty tricks” campaign to discredit Plame’s husband, Joseph Wilson, a former ambassador who became a prominent critic of US policy in Iraq.

Newsweek magazine provided the most recent and damning evidence of Rove’s role, which had been repeatedly denied by White House spokesmen and by Rove himself over the past two years. On Sunday night, the magazine’s web site carried the text of e-mails written by Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper recounting a confidential conversation with Rove in which Rove identified Wilson’s wife, without using her name, as a CIA agent.

The e-mails were among the documents turned over by Time magazine last week to the special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, who is investigating the exposure of Plame. The magazine’s decision to turn over the documents undercut Cooper’s own refusal until then to accede to Fitzgerald’s demand that he reveal the confidential source he used for an article on the Wilson-Plame affair. Cooper ultimately agreed on July 7 to testify, after Rove’s attorney called him and released him from his pledge. A second reporter, Judith Miller of the New York Times, stood by her refusal to testify and was sent to jail the same day.

The phone conversation between Cooper and Rove took place on July 11, 2003, three days before the first press report, by columnist Robert Novak, identifying Plame as an undercover CIA operative specializing in weapons of mass destruction. The “spin” which Rove sought to give this revelation to Cooper was identical to that of Novak’s column: that Wilson’s wife had engineered his trip to Niger in 2002, where he investigated claims that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was seeking to acquire large quantities of uranium from the North African country.

The claim of an intensive effort by Iraq to obtain nuclear materials was central to the Bush administration lie that it was invading Iraq to prevent Saddam Hussein from developing a nuclear bomb. Bush cited the “Africa uranium” story in his 2003 State of the Union Address.

Five months later, after the US conquest of Iraq, Wilson wrote an op-ed column in the New York Times revealing that he had investigated the uranium claims in 2002 at the request of the CIA and found they were bogus. The White House was compelled to issue a retraction of the Niger story, but within days it began leaking information to the media in an effort to discredit Wilson.

The implication of both Novak’s column and Rove’s comments to Cooper was that Wilson had not gone to Niger on a mission for top CIA officials, but on a quasi-private junket, for which his wife was responsible. There were multiple lies in this account—Valerie Plame was a CIA analyst with no authority to orchestrate such a mission, and an expenses-only visit to Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world, was hardly a perk. Moreover, Wilson’s findings were reported up the chain of command at the CIA to Director George Tenet, ultimately reaching the White House.

The importance of the Newsweek report is that it confirms the thuggish and anti-democratic response of the Bush administration to political criticism. Rather than attempting to rebut the criticism by Wilson—a retired State Department official with two decades of experience in the Middle East and Africa—the White House sought to smear him as corrupt, and endanger the livelihood and possibly the physical safety of his wife.

The Rove exposure has further revealed systematic lying by Bush, Rove, White House spokesman Scott McClellan and other White House aides. McClellan was the target of a heated barrage of questions Monday at a press briefing in the White House, where reporter after reporter cited the press spokesman’s own words over the last two years flatly denying that Rove had played any role in exposing Valerie Plame, and reminded the Bush operative of Bush’s pledge to fire any official who had been involved.

Rest of the Article

Rove Watch, Pt. 1

Saturday, July 09, 2005

On Feminism

A response to a comment to an earlier post:

Feminism doesn't demand equality in the sense of Kurt Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron" (a classic story of PC mania)... rather it is a simple demand for equal opportunity, value and respect.

I'm sorry but I really do not understand your argument here--there are varying abilities in all people and the fact that some men may be physically stronger than some women is no more important than the equally true fact that some women are stronger than some men. I respect science, more and more as the Bush government seeks to discredit it, but when thinking about gender I think we should avoid a deterministic stance.

Feminism is an important word and theory. It is just as valid today as it was in the past, as we are continuingly assaulted by the decisions of backward-looking theocrats like Dr. Hager; the discrimination of American corporations like Wal-Mart who think of women as servants not leaders; the continuing culture of physical intimidation at a local level and on a global scale; emphasis on body as sole factor in a women's value because she only needs to worry about one thing; or where women's history is generally ignored unless it supports a patriarchal view.

I'm a man, often rightly determined to be chauvinistic in my attitudes... I was raised in the 70s... but damn, how blind must a person be to not recognize a continuing system that grossly favors men overall and that systematically attempts to cover up this reality.

There are abusive feminists, they are human, but you cannot discount an entire movement for the actions of a few members. And I am under no illusion that the world will simply become better if women were placed in power as they are just as capable of cruelty and oppression. This is simply a recognition of systematic discrimination in our society and the call to fight it.

I do not claim gender as a privileged position and recognize that it needs to be put into play with a multitude of other perspectives to understand the relationships of power (most definitely perspectives of class, race, sexuality and place--especially when they are used in a deterministic factor to perpetuate discrimination against groups of people).

Chris Marsden and WSWS Editorial Staff: On the London Bombings

The World Socialist Web Site editorial staff statement:

London Terror Bombings: A Political Crime


At least 50 dead in London bombings
By Chris Marsden
World Socialist Web Site

The final death toll from the four bombs that exploded in London on July 7 will reach least 50. There are more bodies yet to be recovered from the London Underground, but at least 13 deaths have been confirmed as a result of the explosion on a London bus.

The blasts were timed to coincide with the morning rush hour, when the maximum number of civilians—workers, students, tourists—would be using public transportation. This underscores the criminal and reactionary character of the attacks, whoever its perpetrators were. To date, police and official investigators say they have not made a determination as to the authors of the atrocity.

The explosions on the three tube lines and the bus left 700 injured, with 100 held overnight in hospital and 22 in serious or critical condition. Hospitals had to implement emergency measures, calling in extra staff and cancelling non-urgent operations. Many patients were taken into surgery after losing limbs or suffering burns and multiple injuries.

There has been considerable speculation over whether the bus bomb was the work of a suicide bomber. However, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair said there was “absolutely nothing to suggest this was a suicide bomb.”

Andrew Hayman of the Metropolitan anti-terrorist unit said only that each device contained less than 10 pounds of high explosive and could be carried in a rucksack. These had been placed on the floor of tube trains and the seat or the floor of the bus’s top deck.

The events of the past day have underscored how terrorism, far from hindering imperialism, plays into its hands—sowing fear and political disorientation among the masses and giving the ruling elite a pretext for intensifying its policies of militarism and repression.

Leading government figures and much of the media in Britain have seized on the bombings to ramp up demands for further repressive measures and attacks on civil liberties, such as the planned introduction of ID cards.

The G8 summit of major industrial nations at Gleneagles in Scotland was transformed under the leadership of US President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair into an occasion to justify their war against Iraq and the so-called “war on terror.” Bush and Blair seized on the tragedy to further their political agendas. On Thursday morning, within a few hours of the bomb blasts, Bush went before the cameras and declared that “The war on terror goes on.”

Several newspapers made calls for basic freedoms to be sacrificed in the name of fighting terrorism. The Daily Mail stated, “Make no mistake, Britain will almost certainly have to sacrifice some of our ancient legal rights if we wish to protect our citizens.”

The Sun, published by right-wing media mogul and Blair supporter Rupert Murdoch, went further. Its editorial declared, “Britain is crawling with suspected terrorists and those who give them succour. The Government must act without delay, round up this enemy in our midst and lock them in internment camps.

“Our safety must not play second fiddle to their supposed ‘rights.’

Rest of the Report

Friday, July 08, 2005

David R. Dow: A Justice to Keep America From Straying

A justice to keep America from straying
By David R. Dow
Christian Science Monitor

When President Bush nominates someone to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, he should remember one thing: Judges are America's prophets.

The president and his allies have said many times that judges aren't supposed to impose their personal values on the rest of us. That is true. What judges are supposed to do, however, is to force us to live in accordance with our own values.

It is easy to confuse these two things. When judges force us to adhere to our own values, they sometimes require that we behave differently from the way we have been behaving. Because they have forced us to alter our actions, it's natural to think they must be imposing their own values on the rest of us. But that's not what is happening.

Consider how, in these landmark cases, the court told us we had to change our behavior:

• Brown v. Board of Education (1954): We can't require blacks and whites to go to separate schools.

• Baker v. Carr (1962): We must count the votes of all citizens equally.

• Gideon v. Wainwright (1963): We can't imprison people without providing them with a lawyer.

• Griswold v. Connecticut (1965): We can't prevent married couples from using contraceptives.

• Loving v. Virginia (1967): We can't prevent whites and blacks from marrying one another.

• Batson v. Kentucky (1985): We can't strike people from juries just because they are black.

• United States v. VMI (1996): We can't prevent women from attending state-run military schools.

• Lawrence v. Texas (2003): We can't interfere with private sexual activity between consenting adults, even if they are the same gender.

In all these cases, the court forced us to act differently from the way we had been acting. When the court did all these things, therefore, it was interfering with the political process. It was thwarting the will of the majority. Legislatures, representing us, had enacted all these laws that the court struck down. But it is a mistake to think that the court was imposing its own values. Rather, in all these cases, the court was safeguarding our own. It was telling us that we had betrayed the Constitution, our higher law.

Rest of the Article

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Another Review Needed

For Reconstruction I am seeking a reviewer for:

Brad Mosma's The Sespe Wild: Southern California's Last Free River (U of Nevada P, 2004)

If you are interested please leave your email in the comments.

Stuzzicamente il blog di Luistar: That's Life in the Third Millennium

For more photos check out the intriguing photoblog Stuzzicamente il blog di Luistar

More Reviews Needed

I need two more reviews for Reconstruction if anyone is interested:

The website:

"Forest Park: A Journal" by Joel Weishaus

This would be for the Rhetorics of Place issue and would need to be reviewed in 7 days (next wednesday), but would be published at the end of this month!

The novel:

by Roxanna Robinson

Would be included in the "water" theme issue in the spring of 2006

Leave a message in the comments with an email if you are interested.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Reviewers Needed

I need reviews of these two books (to be published in Reconstruction ):

City of Flows: Modernity, Nature, and the City
by Maria Kaika (NY: Routledge, 2005)
ISBN 0-415-94715-4

Water, Race, and Disease
by Werner Troesken (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004)
ISBN 0-262-20148-8

If interested leave me a message in the comments with an email to contact you.

I'm also seeking reviews of books, films or websites in regards to the theme of "place" for a special issue on the "Rhetorics of Place."

Amanda Marcotte: On the Supposed Problems With the "F" Word

(Courtesy of Evan Derkacz)

Nothing To It
by Amanda Marcotte

"The problem with feminism is not the word. The problem is that equality for women is a controversial idea. When I write about specific feminist issues, the bile comes out not at the word "feminist" but at the idea that women exist for our own reasons and not at the disposal of men. You could call it "suckacockism" and people would still hate it as long as you were calling for women's social, economic and political equality."

Rest of the Post

James Moore: Karl and Karma

(Courtesy of Evan Derkacz)

Karl and Karma
by James Moore
Huffington Post

Down here in Texas, many of us have almost given up on obscure concepts like justice and the ephemeral notion of karma. Since the late 1970s, we have watched Karl Rove push so hard on ethical boundaries that he has turned lying into a conventional political tactic. Instead of being prosecuted or humiliated, he has risen in the Republican Party. And there are already signs he is a few steps ahead of the federal investigators trying to resolve the mysteries of the Valerie Plame affair.

He always starts his evasions by parsing language and law. Rove's attorney has quickly conceded that his client spoke to Matt Cooper of Time, and other reporters. This is the presidential advisor sending forth his minions to frame the ensuing discussion.

"Of course, I talked to the reporters," the reasoning goes, "I've got the same First Amendment rights in the White House as every other citizen."

Positioning is Rove's favorite political sport and that's the purpose of this admission. It's a metaphorical "so what" shrug of the shoulders. But the sub text of Rove's words shows another strategy. The presidential advisor undoubtedly knows he is guilty of a federal crime but, for obvious political reasons, he needs it to be something less than treason. Perjury will be his default position. The political harm to be done to his president and his party for a conviction of treason is incalcuable.

And the federal investigators appear to be making a case for perjury. The American Prospect has already reported that, in his 2003 appearances before the federal grand jury, Rove said he had not spoken to reporters about Valerie Plame's identity until after her name was published in Robert Novak's column. Unfortunately for Rove, early reports indicate that the e-mails being turned over to the federal prosecutor by Time magazine apparently show Rove was in communication with reporter Matt Cooper well in advance of Novak's piece. Sending such e-mails directly from his West Wing computer is not the kind of mistake Rove can be expected to make but Cooper's identification of his source through Time communications ought to facilitate a simple case of perjury against Rove, particularly if Judith Miller of the New York Times can be compelled to stop protecting a source who appears to have betrayed the entire country.

Rest of the Essay

Monday, July 04, 2005

Karen Armstrong: The Battle For God

Karen Armstrong's introduction to her history of fundamentalism:


One of the most startling developments of the late twentieth century has been the emergence within every major religious tradition of a militant piety popularly known as "fundamentalism." Its manifestations are sometimes shocking. Fundamentalists have gunned down worshippers in a mosque, have killed doctors and nurses who work in abortion clinics, have shot their presidents, and have even toppled a powerful government. It is only a small minority of fundamentalists who commit such acts of terror, but even the most peaceful and law-abiding are perplexing, because they seem so adamantly opposed to many of the most positive values of modern society. Fundamentalists have no time for democracy, pluralism, religious toleration, peacekeeping, free speech, or the separation of church and state. Christian fundamentalists reject the discoveries of biology and physics about the origins of life and insist that the Book of Genesis is scientifically sound.

Rest of the introduction:

The Battle For God

Happy Fourth of July!: Here Is What I Think of Trickle Down Economics

(Courtesy of the newly wed Rob and Linda)

Reconstruction: 5.1

(I'm the new review editor for Reconstruction--so if anyone is interested in writing for us let me know. I'm looking for reviews of books, films, music and websites. The only requirement is that you make a strong statement for its cultural significance--whether positive or negative or somewhere in-between--leave a message in the comments if you are interested)

We are proud to announce the latest issue of Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture (vol.5, no.1) at Reconstruction ISSN:
1547- 4348. With this issue we introduce a "new look" thanks to the technical wizardry of Benjamin Lefebvre.

Included in this issue are:

Camelia Elias, "The Graveyard of Genre: David Markson's Postmodern

Philip Leonard, "Spivak after Marx after Derrida"

Simone Roberts, "Burn the Panopticon: Irigaray's Ethics, Difference, Poetics"

Jake Kennedy, "'But who is any longer interested in the possible?': Kathy Acker in Hell Failing Fuck You"

Anthony Lambert, "I Connect Therefore I Am: Connectivity and Networking in Bodies, Technologies, Communities, and Selves"

David Houston Jones, "The Body Eclectic: Viewing Bodily Modification in David Nebreda" well as several new book reviews and review essays.

Additionally, submissions for our future issues are also being actively
solicited: Reconstruction Info

Please see editorial guidelines as published on the site for further
information regarding contributions to Reconstruction. Reconstruction is a peer-reviewed journal, and indexed in the MLA International Bibliography.

We are also currently seeking reviewers: Contact Thivai in the comments below and he will hook you up.

If you would like to receive our newsletter, with important updates, new reviews, and notifications about calls for papers and forthcoming issues, please join our community list at:

Reconstruction Community

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Another Infected Cow is Found in Texas

My thinking is that it is sort of similar to cockroach infestation in houses, if you see one you should worry, as you know there are thousands more hidden behind the baseboard:

Experts Don't Expect More Cases of Mad Cow

Moderate Christian Group Asks: "Since When Was God Pro-War and Pro-Rich"

'Reclaim our faith': America's pulpit politics take a left turn
Posted at Yahoo

America's moderate and progressive evangelists, outgunned for years by the mighty "religious right," are demanding their own share of the political action.

Their mantra, in a building campaign against conservative Christians, a key constituency of President George W. Bush, is: "Since when was God pro-war, and pro-rich?

"There is a silent majority of moderate and progressive Christians out there and other people of faith who have felt completely left out of the conversation," Jim Wallis, a leading evangelical activist, told AFP.

Christians opposed to Bush, the most overtly religious president of modern times, say his war in Iraq, and tax cuts which they claim favor the rich, do not square with a faith which teaches followers to love their neighbor.

"We can no longer stand by and watch people speak hatred, division, war and greed in the name of our faith," said Patrick Mrotek, founder of the new Christian Alliance for Progress. "We must reclaim our faith."

Left-leaning Christians shudder at the prominence of conservative televangelists like Reverend Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, who preside over vast political empires.

They are seething over comments Robertson made on the ABC News Show "This Week" in May, which implied "liberal" judges were more of a threat to America than "a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings."

But Republicans say their politics are deeply rooted in faith.

"We are called by our Creator to use this gift of freedom to build a more compassionate society -- where families are strong, life is valued and the poor and the sick can count on the love and help of their neighbors," Bush said in a satellite address in June to the Southern Baptist Convention, one of the most influential conservative evangelical groups.

Pulpit politics in America came under renewed scrutiny after exit polls suggested that voters prioritising "morals" may have swung last November's election to Bush over Democratic challenger John Kerry.

And they are about to be thrust right back into the political arena, as religious groups of all stripes blitz the airwaves in the fight for the Supreme Court seat left vacant on Friday by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's retirement.

Nomination battles could turn on issues like the separation of church and state and the fight over whether abortion should remain legal.

Religion and politics are perhaps more intertwined in the intensely religious United States than in any other developed Western nation.

"Religion has enormous political power -- it is very loud, it gets access to the press and to government power," said Marci Hamilton, author of the book "Religion and the Rule of Law."

A Newsweek poll in December 2004 found that 79 percent of Americans believed the Virgin birth was literal truth.

A national exit poll after the election found that 59 percent of Protestants and 52 percent of Roman Catholics voted for Bush, along with 78 percent of evangelicals and 61 percent of people who go to church weekly.

Each constituency was carefully courted by Bush in his first term, and Republicans have been far more proficient than Democrats at God talk.

But activists like Wallis, who heads the Sojourners national faith-based group, see a huge silent majority that could benefit Democrats in future elections.

"If Democrats just talk policy and don't talk about moral issues, they are going to keep on losing," warned Wallis, whose book "God's Politics" camped out in The New York Times bestseller list for 16 weeks.

But can a fledgling "religious left" movement take on the conservative Christian establishment, which boasts television stations, newswires and a direct line to the White House?

The religious right's allies in the powerful conservative talk radio sector are ready to smother any progressive Christian movement at birth.

"The religious left in this country hates and despises the God of Christianity and Catholicism and whatever else," the high priest of conservative talk radio, Rush Limbaugh, said on his show April 27. "They despise it because they fear it and it's a threat, because that God has moral absolutes, that God has right and wrong, that God doesn't deal in nuance."

AFP 2005

Article Link

For a good example of progressive Christians check out the excellent publication Sojourners

Eminent Domain in Action, Pt. 3: Oakland Seizes Small Businesses' Properties

The new Supreme Court ruling has now opened up the opportunity for cities, in collusion with large corporate interests, to target individual and small-business properties, so that huge sprawling complexes of hotels, condos, ballparks and corporate headquarters can be erected (supposedly in the public interest). Harry at Scratchings supplies us with another example of a small business owner whose family has owned a property in downtown Oakland since 1949:

OAKLAND: City forces out 2 downtown businesses. Action follows high court ruling on eminent domain

Previous reports:

Eminent Domain in Action, Pt. 2

And the Rockets Red Glare...

Each firework going off in the sky... what does it represent?

(Courtesy of Bill at Thoughts on the Eve of the Apocalypse)

Z Communications

A Seriously Good Rant

Ricia over at Impetus Java House blows off some steam by writing one of my favorite rants this year. Check it out:

Open Letter to Known Shit Heads, Pt. 1

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Rebecca Solnit: The Silence of the Lambswool Cardigan

The Silence of the Lambswool Cardigans
By Rebecca Solnit
Originally printed in Orion
Reposted at Alternet

There was a time not so long ago when everything was recognizable not just as a cup or a coat, but as a cup made by so-and-so out of clay from this bank on the local river or woven by the guy in that house out of wool from the sheep visible on the hills. Then, objects were not purely material, mere commodities, but signs of processes, human and natural, pieces of a story, and the story as well as the stuff sustained life. It's as though every object spoke -- some of them must have sung out -- in a language everyone could hear, a language that surrounded every object in an aura of its history.

"All commodities are only definite masses of congealed labor-time," said Marx, but who now could dissolve them into their constituent histories of labor and materials, into the stories that made them about the processes of the world, made them part of life even if they were iron or brick, made them come to life? For decades tales have circulated of city kids who didn't know that milk came from cows, and more recently the inability of American teenagers to find Iraq on a map made the rounds, but who among us can picture precisely where their sweater or their sugar comes from?

I've been thinking about that because a new shopping mall has opened up at the eastern foot of the Bay Bridge, in what was once, according to the newspaper, the biggest shell mound in northern California (though the town I grew up in claimed the same distinction for the Miwok mound it bulldozed -- without excavation for a shopping center -- in the 1950s). From the 1870s to the 1920s, this place was Shellmound Park, an amusement park, racetrack, dance hall, and shooting range, but Prohibition put the pleasure grounds out of business and the mound was bulldozed for industry. The remains of seven hundred Ohlone people that an archaeologist snatched from the construction site in 1924 are still at the University of California at Berkeley. Meanwhile, the industrialized site hosted paint and pesticide factories that eventually made it into a wasteland so toxic that those venturing into it wore moonsuits. It was reclaimed for shopping, and the cleanup disturbed the Ohlone remains that hadn't already been bulldozed.

The street that goes out there is still called Shellmound, but the mall itself hosts all the usual chains that make it impossible to know if you're in Phoenix or Philadelphia: Victoria's Secret, Williams-Sonoma, Express, all three versions of the Gap corporation, including Old Navy and Banana Republic, all laid out on a fake Main Street. Anti-Gap protestors haven't arrived yet, though they are frequent presences in downtown San Francisco, decrying both the Gap's reliance on sweatshop labor and the clearcutting of old-growth redwood forests in Mendocino owned by the Gap's CEO (see Gap Sucks ). But the day the mall opened, activists from the International Indian Treaty Council handed out flyers protesting the desecration of a burial ground. As a substitute for protecting the actual site, the city of Emeryville has offered a website with information about it, as if a place could be relocated to cyberspace. The mall is a distinctly modern site, a space that could be anywhere into which commodities come as if out of nowhere.

In "The Making of the English Working Class," Engels recounts the crimes behind the production of everyday things -- ceramics, ironware, glass, but particularly cotton cloth. He wrote in a time when objects were first becoming silent, and he asked the same thing that the activists from do, that we learn the new industrial languages of objects, that we hear the story of children worked into deformity and blindness to make lace, the story of the knifegrinders with a life expectancy of thirty-five years, or nowadays the tales of sweatshop, prison, and child labor. These industrial stories have always been environmental stories too, about factory effluents, cotton chemicals, the timber industry, the petrochemical industry.

Somewhere in the Industrial Age, objects shut up because their creation had become so remote and intricate a process that it was no longer readily knowable. Or they were silenced, because the pleasures of abundance that all the cheap goods offered were only available if those goods were mute about the scarcity and loss that lay behind their creation. Modern advertising -- notably for Nike -- constitutes an aggressive attempt to displace the meaning of the commodity from its makers, as though you enter into relationship with very tall athletes rather than, say, very thin Vietnamese teenagers when you buy their shoes. It is a stretch to think about Mexican prison labor while contemplating Victoria's Secret lavender lace boycut panties. The Western Shoshone rancher and land-rights activist Carrie Dann, whose own family graveyard has been flooded by a goldmine pumping out groundwater to get at the gold below, once remarked to me that everyone who buys gold jewelry should have the associated spent ore delivered to their house. At Nevada's mining rates, that would mean a hundred tons of toxic tailings for every one-ounce ring or chain you buy.

The objects are pretty; their stories are hideous, so you get to choose between an alienated and ultimately meaningless world and one that makes terrible demands on you. Most consumers prefer meaningless over complicated, and therefore prefer that objects remain silent. To tell their tales is to be the bearer of bad news -- imagine activists as Moses coming down from Sinai but cutting straight to Leviticus, the forty thousand prohibitions: against shrimp (see Monterey Bay Aquarium), against strawberries (methyl bromide, stoop labor; see Eric Schlosser and Strawberries), against gold (see Great Basin Mine Watch), and on and on. It's what makes radicals and environmentalists seem so grumpy to the would-be consumer.

Maybe the real question is what substances, objects, and products tell stories that don't make people cringe or turn away. For the past half century the process of artmaking has been part of its subject, and this making becomes a symbolic act that attempts to substitute for the silence of all the other objects. But nobody lives by art alone. There's food from the wild, from your own garden, from friends, ancient objects salvaged and flea-marketed, heirlooms and hand-me-downs, local crafts, and a few things still made with the union label, but it's not easy for anyone to stay pure of Payless and Wal-Mart. Good stories, too -- pricey organic and free-range and shade-grown food that is only available in the hipper stores of the fancier regions -- can be a luxury.

Some of the enthusiasm for farmer's markets, which are springing up like mushrooms after rain, is of meeting objects that aren't mute, because you see the people who grew the produce and know the places they come from are not far away. This alternative economy feeds people who want to be nourished by stories and connections, and it's growing. Some farmer's markets are like boutiques with little bunches of peas or raspberries displayed and priced like jewels, but I go to an intensely multiethnic mobscene called Heart of the City Farmer's Market. The food, even some of the organic stuff, is pretty cheap and everyone is present, including the homeless who hang out in that downtown plaza all week anyway, and the locals who use the market to make up for the way supermarkets boycott poor neighborhoods. Seeing the thorn scars on the hands of the rose growers there was as big a step in knowing what constitutes my world as realizing that, in this town where it never snows, our tapwater is all Sierra snowmelt.

What bothers me about the mall is its silence, a silence we mostly live in nowadays; what cheers me are the ways people are learning to read the silent histories of objects and choosing the objects that still sing.

Rebecca Solnit wrote the essay for photographer John Pfahl's new book Extreme Horticulture. It's titled "The Botanical Circus, or, Adventures in American Gardening."

This article originally appeared in Orion, 187 Main Street, Great Barrington, MA 01230, 888/909-6568, ($35/year for 6 issues).

© 2005 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online

Eminent Domain in Action, Pt. 2

On June 23 Supreme Court Rules Cities May Seize Homes and already Cleveland has begun the charge to claim private property for corporate use, in this case Progressive insurance (from a post on Scratchings):

Eminent domain: Progressive seeks man's land in Mayfield Village

Most telling is the city's condemnation of the private property as not being used effectively (the man uses it for storage, work and research, not for a residence--is Progressive planning on housing its executives in their headquarters?) and the city's rosy understanding of Progressive's benefit to the community structure (when we know the tax breaks that are cut for corporate move like this).

More and more Corporations Rule the World

NOW: Milton Glaser and the Design of Dissent


Intro to the show which I am watching as I write this--Highly Recommended!:

The careful crafting of images and messages on TV, in advertising, and in politics is shaping the way Americans think and act. In uncertain times, legendary graphic artist and marketer Milton Glaser is questioning how people's responses to these symbolic messages is affecting democracy. David Brancaccio interviews Glaser for his thoughts on what the intersection of design and politics has done to the way Americans discern between truth and propaganda and how it's affected our ability to question the politics of the moment. "Everything is spun in terms of achieving a certain result," he says. "The fascinating thing about it is that the public, who's grown up conditioned by advertising, perfectly accepts political misrepresentation this way." For over 50 years, Milton Glaser has not only influenced the world of graphic design, but has had an impact on American culture. A founder of NEW YORK MAGAZINE, which became the model for city magazines around the nation, Glaser has worked in a wide range of design disciplines including print graphics and corporate identity, environmental and interior design, as well as design in publishing, music, theater, film, and civic enterprise. His 1976 "I ♥ NY logo" has been described as "the most frequently imitated logo design in human history." Glaser's work has been exhibited world-wide, and he is represented in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. His recent exhibition and book THE DESIGN OF DISSENT, which showcases over 100 political posters and other graphic art from around the world, examines the graphic response to the constraints of government to expose the truth beneath the surface of public discourse.

The NOW site which includes many other sources

The Design of Dissent Exhibit

Stan Goff: It's Time To Build a Mass Movement

(Courtesy of Scratchings and The River)

It’s time to build a mass movement
by Stan Goff
Feral Scholar

Politicians are elected and selected, but mass movements transform societies. Judges uphold, strike down, or invent brand new law, but mass movements drag the courts, laws and officeholders all in their wake. Progressive and even partially successful mass movements can alter the political calculus for decades to come, thus improving the lives of millions. Social Security, the New Deal, and employer-provided medical care didn’t come from the pen of FDR. The end of “separate but equal” didn’t come from the lips of any judge, and voting rights were not simply granted by the Voting Rights Act of 1965. All these were hard-won outcomes of protracted struggle by progressive mass movements, every one of which operated outside the law and none of which looked to elected officials or the corporate media of those days for blessings or legitimacy. It’s time to re-learn those lessons and build a new progressive mass movement in the United States.

Mass movements are against the law

Mass movements exist outside electoral politics, and outside the law, or they don’t exist at all. Mass movements are never respecters of law and order. How can they be? A mass movement is an assertion of popular leadership by the people themselves. A mass movement aims to persuade courts, politicians and other actors to tail behind it, not the other way around. Mass movements accomplish this through appeals to shared sets of deep and widely held convictions among the people they aim to mobilize, along with acts or credible threats of sustained and popular civil disobedience.

Politicians are elected and selected, but mass movements transform societies. Judges uphold, strike down, or invent brand new law, but mass movements drag the courts, laws and officeholders all in their wake. Progressive and even partially successful mass movements can alter the political calculus for decades to come, thus improving the lives of millions. Social Security, the New Deal, and employer-provided medical care didn’t come from the pen of FDR. The end of “separate but equal” didn’t come from the lips of any judge, and voting rights were not simply granted by the Voting Rights Act of 1965. All these were hard-won outcomes of protracted struggle by progressive mass movements, every one of which operated outside the law and none of which looked to elected officials or the corporate media of those days for blessings or legitimacy.

Entire Essay

Friday, July 01, 2005

And Then It Got Worse...: The Darkness Before the Storm

O'Connor, First Woman on High Court, Resigns After 24 Years

Cory Doctorow: Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town

I haven't read this yet, but I am very interested and will probably get a copy to read on my trip to Banff, Canada in July.

What I want to do here is just say thanks to Cory for staying true to his creative commons philosophy by once again concurrently making the book available online. I still enjoy my books in "book-form," but I appreciate the symbolic gesture and I'll definitely get a hardback copy (something I rarely pay for at cost).

Website for Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town

Also Cory's weblog:


Silja J.A. Talvi: Torture Fatigue

Torture Fatigue
By Silja J.A. Talvi
In These Times

“The Christian in me says it’s wrong,” Army Specialist Charles A. Graner Jr. said of torturing prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. “But the corrections officer in me says I love to make a grown man piss himself.”

Photos taken of him demeaning captives at Abu Ghraib exposed Graner as the sadist that his surroundings allowed him to be. But are the differences between brutal correctional officers like Graner and other Americans as stark as we would like to think?

An acquaintance of mine recently admitted how much he enjoyed watching the torture scenes in the new blockbuster, Sin City. “I know it’s strange,” he said, “but there’s something I get out of seeing torture and violence like that on the screen. It’s like it’s some kind of release.”

Entire Essay

Also check out from Psychology Matters:

Demonstrating the Power of Social Situations via a Simulated Prison Experiment

Logo: First American Basic Cable Channel Devoted to Gay Programming Launches Tonight

This is a good move to increase positive representation of homosexuals during a repressive period.

In regards to the article I can sympathize with Monica Mehta's enthusiasm, but it is kind of naive to state that this station is the "kind that doesn't have any 'agenda'"? Doesn't it seek to portray homosexual populations in a positive light? Isn't that an agenda?

Merriam Webster
Main Entry: agen·da
Pronunciation: &-'jen-d&
Function: noun
Etymology: Latin, neuter plural of agendum, gerundive of agere
1 : a list or outline of things to be considered or done {agendas of faculty meetings}
2 : an underlying often ideological plan or program {a political agenda}

Mehta just because you think that Logo is a good idea, doesn't mean that Logo does not have an "agenda" and by stating that it doesn't we are misleading and easily dismissed as liars.

I'm tired of the fake bullshitting that has been going on at all levels of our society, demands that we should honor the rules of polite society and lets keep that for a time when the children aren't around (or for many people groups of people that they may believe lack mature sense: e.g. women, poor, minorities, etc...) The hell with that, look people in the eye and state yes we do have an agenda (if you have faith in your cause, state what it is--even when your cause is simply to entertain gay people). Tell people what it is and why you believe it is a positive agenda.

As for this polite society crap... don't get me started!

A small complaint in regards to an otherwise good posting.

Gay channel comes out tonight

For a more in-depth look at the new cable station and its surprising founder (what a long strange trip its been?), check out Adam Sternbergh's piece in New York magazine:

I Want My Gay TV

and if you are at all confused why I believe this channel is a good development:

Being Gay Is Just As Healthy As Being Straight

It is ridiculous at this point that we have to sit down with adults and explain this to them--look at the language in that last "positive" article which by implication of associating heterosexuals as "straight" it implies, still, even while telling us that they are healthy and well-adjusted, that homosexuals are "crooked" or "bent" (still considering the history of DSM tests and psychology's demonization of homosexuality, this can be viewed as progression?)

One more thing, since I'm ranting, when are we going to evolve to a point where sexuality is viewed as a positive force (while not ignoring its negative impulses) in society that needs to be seriously discussed, represented and studied... as opposed to being kept behind the curtain, exploited for profit and to be used as advertising fodder? I view the repression directed toward homosexuality as just one part of a larger move toward controlling our freedom of creative expression--one of the most basic and powerful is our expression of sexuality identity...