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Archive for April, 2013|Monthly archive page

Bananas! Kafka’s Ape by Justin E. H. Smith

In animals, biology, Europe, nature, science on April 27, 2013 at 20:20

From: Bananas! Kafka’s Ape by Justin E. H. Smith, Berfrois, http://www.berfrois.com

In his 1917 short story, “Report to an Academy,” Kafka tells the story of Red Peter, a chimpanzee captured in Africa and brought back to Europe to be studied by the members of an institution very much like the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris. Red Peter, by some unusual transformation that is never fully explained, develops after his capture into a cultivated, language-endowed gentleman, and the titular report is in fact his narration of his own autobiography, beginning shortly after his first encounter with humans while still in his merely animal stage.

Peter recounts how, early in his captivity, he had been subjected to various experiments in which, for example, scientists hung a banana from the ceiling in order to see whether he had the requisite intelligence to stack blocks together and climb up to reach his reward. This sort of experiment, of course, takes a number of things for granted. Among other things, although it purports to be testing for something human-like, it does not allow for the possibility of individual whim; it does not allow for the possibility of a response such as that of Zira, the fictional chimpanzee in Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971), who cannot help but exclaim, when the human scientists try a similar experiment on her, “but I simply loathe bananas!”

The fact that experiments such as these require a certain course of action in order for an animal to be deemed intelligent suggests that what is being tested for is not really intelligence in any meaningful, human sense –since humans are permitted to have arbitrary whims and individual tastes– but rather a certain automatism that reproduces the kind of action of which a human being is capable, e.g., stacking blocks, but in the pursuit of a species-specific goal, a goal that a creature is supposed to have simply in view of the kind of creature it is, and that for that reason is not the result of a human-like willing, e.g., the will to obtain a banana. If ‘being intelligent’ is defined as ‘being like us’, we may anticipate in advance that non-human animals are doomed to fail any possible intelligence test.

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Reposted with permission from: Berfrois

Video: The Last Bookshop

In books, culture, Europe, society, video on April 27, 2013 at 20:07

Video: The Last Bookshop, https://thelastbookshop.wordpress.com/

joe-halls-bookshop

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The Last Bookshop imagines a future where physical books have died out. One day, a small boy’s holographic entertainment fails, so he heads out to explore the streets of abandoned shops outside. Down a forgotten alley he discovers the last ever bookshop. And inside, an ancient shopkeeper has been waiting over 25 years for a customer…
Produced by The Bakery in the South-East of England, filming took place in 2011, with post-production completed in 2012. The music was composed by Owen Hewson and performed by Arlet. Veteran actor Alfred Hoffman stars alongside youthful co-star Joe Holgate. It is written by Richard Dadd, who also co-directs alongside Dan Fryer.
We love bookshops. But we saw that many are going through tough times. We wanted to contribute to the cultural debate with our own celebration in support of these glorious independents and their shelves of treasures. So with the help of some remarkable independent bookshops, and a lot of talented friends, we have been able to make our idea for The Last Bookshop into a reality. We hope you enjoy this film and share it with your friends…

Permissions: Standard YouTube Licence

Boston Marathon Bombings by Philippe Theophanidis

In government, human rights, law, media, news, North America, politics, war on April 27, 2013 at 19:52

From: Boston Marathon Bombings: the Emergency Declaration as a State of Exception by Philippe Theophanidis, Aphelis, http://aphelis.net

NGUYEN_2013_Boston_manhunt-620x826Up until recently (First World War), warfare had traditionally made a clear distinction between civilian and military targets. The bombings in Boston is yet another striking reminder that things have since drastically changed. The front lines that need to be protected have moved within the most intimate spaces of the civilian sphere. The war zone extend all the way into private living rooms and backyards.

Such an inversion (further) blurs the traditional distinction between what is public and what is private. Indeed, when the front lawn of private homes becomes a theatre for military-like operations in a democratic country, two issues arise. First, the extent of a government’s authority into the intimacy of private lives become spectacularly visible. The fact that such an intervention is conducted for the population’s “own good”, as it was repeatedly argued in the past few days, does not invalidate the relevance of this observation. Second, it raises some questions regarding the democratic principle of the separation of powers.

Which brings the question of the Emergency Declaration that was signed by President Barack Obama for the state of Massachusetts on April 17, 2013. At the time of writing, there doesn’t seem to be much information available online about this presidential declaration. Mainstream media have been very generous in providing the public with various informations regarding the events, including extensive coverage about the lifting of the Miranda rule for the captured suspect in the name of a “public safety exception”. However, informed analysis about the legal aspects surrounding an Emergency Declaration are scarce. A couple of informative points relative to the exceptional character of the authorities’s response are worth highlighting.

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Reposted with permission from: Philippe Theophanidis

Adventure on the Vertical by Mark Dorrian

In books, film, North America, photography, theory, visual arts on April 24, 2013 at 07:39

From: Adventure on the Vertical by Mark Dorrian, Cabinet, http://cabinetmagazine.org

Introducing W. Watson-Baker’s 1935 book, World Beneath the Microscope, the English artist and critic William Gaunt wrote:

We are no longer so excited as formerly by the account of trips on the surface … The mind is stretched, uncomfortably sometimes, but with a new fascination, to speed and profundity, to the thought of worlds that lie a million light-years away from us, to the worlds that recede in evolutionary time beneath the lens, to the thought even that they merge or that by some extraordinary trick of relativity the smaller may contain the large. There is an affinity between the telescope and the microscope, between the discovery of stellar space and the discovery of the atom.

The film Powers of Ten was first made as a trial version in 1968, and then remade and released in 1977 in the familiar form that has been so widely disseminated in both film and printed formats. Produced by the Eames Office, the Los Angeles-based firm founded by the husband-and-wife design team, the 1977 version was one of the couple’s final films. In the postwar era of US corporate expansion and ascendancy, the Eameses established relationships with some of the key companies of the time. … While work for corporate clients destined for the international exhibitions of the Cold War period was inevitably situated in an arena of national representation and geopolitical contest, the Eameses were at the same time receiving major commissions explicitly driven by such imperatives. Most notable of these was the film installation Glimpses of the USA, produced the year after the Brussels exposition for the 1959 American National Exhibition in Moscow, coordinated by the United States Information Agency (USIA).

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Reposted with permission from: Cabinet

A Citizen as a Slave of the State? by Melina Tamiolaki

In Europe, government, history, philosophy, politics, society on April 24, 2013 at 07:24

From: A Citizen as a Slave of the State? Oligarchic Perceptions of Democracy in Xenophon by Melina Tamiolaki, Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies, http://grbs.library.duke.edu/index

One of the criticisms leveled at the Athenian democratic constitution, though not so prominent in comparison with other criticisms, was that it imposed
burdensome obligations to its wealthy citizens. The most important among these obligations were the liturgies—the choregia and the trierarchia—and the eisphora. The attitude of the wealthy towards these obligations was ambivalent: on the one hand, these services constituted a source of prestige and glory and confirmed their high status (especially the choregia, which had a strong public and performative aspect). On the other, they also aroused complaints, since they fostered the impression that the city exploited its wealthy citizens financially. These complaints were institutionalized in ancient Athens: Attic oratory provides rich evidence about the procedure of the antidosis, by which a wealthy citizen could avoid a liturgy by indicating a wealthier one, and hence more suitable, to undertake it.

… Charmides, a wealthy Athenian citizen, explains why, in his opinion, being poor secures a more peaceful life than being rich. More provocatively, he claims that by being poor, he resembles a tyrant, because he is absolutely free, whereas before he was clearly a slave:
“Your turn, Charmides,” said Callias, “to say why you take pride in poverty.” “Well,” he said, “there is agreement as fol lows, that it is better to be brave than fearful, to be free than a slave, to receive attentions than give them, and to be trusted by one’s country than distrusted. Now when I was a rich man inthis town, first of all I was fearful that people might break into my house and take my property and do me some personal hurt..”

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Reposted with permission from: Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies

A Bat in a Jar by Elke Weesjes

In aesthetics, biology, Europe, history, medicine, North America, religion, science on April 24, 2013 at 07:06

From: A Bat in a Jar – Wet Specimen and the History of the Curiosity Cabinet by Elke Weesjes, United Academics, http://www.united-academics.org

Jeiven teaches taxidermy classes at the Brooklyn Observatory. She followed in Walter Potter’s footsteps and specialized in anthropomorphic taxidermy. This means attributing human characteristics to taxidermied animals. Jeiven’s animals wear clothes, are usually posed in tableaux, and often represent a parable or a story. In last week’s workshop, Jeiven went outside of her comfort zone and taught a group of enthusiasts the arcane art of wet specimens. These stunning artifacts fill natural history, medical, and anatomy museums. They are deceptively simple to the eye, but in fact, demand special skills to do properly. And Jeiven’s students were lucky; these skills are generally taught only in professional apprenticeships rather than classes for the general public. I was fortunate to be among her students; this blog post describes my experience.

Ewen and Ewen note that the practice of creating curiosity cabinets goes back to the Middle Ages, when the Catholic Church assembled relics of saint’s artifacts associated with Jesus and the Madonna to provide believers with concrete evidence and firsthand access to stories from the Old and New Testament. Myriad religious souvenirs were brought back from the Holy Land as part of the crusades and people viewed them with a fervent sense of awe. “In sealed cases, some ornately crafted a panoply of sacred remnants could be found, including such items as a drop of the Virgin’s milk, a pot that figured at the miracle at Cana, a scrap of a martyr’s shroud, nails, or a fragment of wood from the true cross or the comb of Mary Magdalene.”[2] Human remains were also brought into Europe; for example, the arm of the apostle James and parts of the skeleton of John the Baptist. Interestingly, alongside these sacrosanct objects ‘legendary’ artifacts like griffin’s eggs, tortoise shells, and unicorn’s horns were also part of the same collection.

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Reposted with permission from: United Academics

Voices of Opposition Against CISPA

In government, media, news, privacy, technology on April 22, 2013 at 02:31

From: Voices of Opposition Against CISPA, Electronic Frontier Foundation, http://www.eff.org

Here is a list of organizations and influential people that expressed concerns about the dangerous civil liberties implications of the bill. Though each organization or person may differ in their terminology, they all reach the same conclusion—CISPA is not a “sharing of information bill only.” It is an expansive bill that enables spying on users and allows for unaccountable companies and government agencies that can skirt privacy laws.

American Library Association in ALA CISPA Information Page

“This bill would trump all current privacy laws including the forty-eight state library record confidentiality laws as well as the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the Wiretap Act, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and the Privacy Act.

Mozilla in a statement to Forbes:

“While we wholeheartedly support a more secure Internet, CISPA has a broad and alarming reach that goes far beyond Internet security. The bill infringes on our privacy, includes vague definitions of cybersecurity, and grants immunities to companies and government that are too broad around information misuse. We hope the Senate takes the time to fully and openly consider these issues with stakeholder input before moving forward with this legislation.”

Free Press in Free Press Action Fund Joins Stop Cyber Spying Week to Protest CISPA

“As it stands, CISPA could lead all too easily to governmental and corporate violations of our privacy and attacks on our right to speak freely via the Internet. While there is a need to protect vital national interests, we can’t do it at the expense of our freedoms.”

Find out more at the EFF website

 

Call of the Wild by James Searle

In film, nature, North America, society, visual arts on April 17, 2013 at 20:10

From: Call of the Wild by James Searle, The Oxonian Review, http://www.oxonianreview.org

I’m not the first to see elements of Terrence Malick’s epic The Tree of Life in Beasts of the Southern Wild, the debut feature of Benh Zeitlin. Both are ambitious, dreamlike parables about the nature of existence relying on formless, wandering structures. Likewise, both films have attracted devout camps of supporters and detractors prepared to argue at length over their merits and failings. That said, there are two major distinctions between the films. First, Zeitlin’s film, based on the play Juicy and Delicious by Lucy Alibar, is far more accessible and narratively coherent than Malick’s. Moreover, while The Tree of Life obsesses over the balance between the way of Nature (harsh, passionate, male) and the way of Grace (reserved, gentle, female), Wild abandons all traces of civilisation and restraint. This is not a film about balance, but one about raw emotion and embracing nature completely.

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Reposted with permission from: The Oxonian Review

Teaching Criminology to Prison Inmates by Lawrence T. Jablecki

In ethics, humanities, North America, politics, social sciences, sociology, universities on April 17, 2013 at 20:05

From: Teaching Criminology to Prison Inmates by Lawrence T. Jablecki, The Humanist, http://thehumanist.org

Fourteen men—age thirty to sixty and clad in white, serving prison terms ranging from ten to thirty years for violent crimes—sit in a classroom discussing crime and punishment. When asked if they are willing to discuss the impact of their crime and incarceration on their families, their collective reply is “sure, doing time has made us tough.” Almost immediately, the room is transformed into the silence of a chapel as the teacher asks them one by one to share their stories. Two hours pass in a flash during which most of these “tough guys” are choked with emotion, wipe tears from their eyes, and some cry without shame. The emotional intensity in the room is an indescribable experience.

The above event took place in a Texas prison where the men were attempting to salvage what was left of their lives with the aid of a master’s degree from a major university. In 1974 the University of Houston at Clear Lake created a bold and controversial degree-conferring program for male inmates serving time at the Ramsey Prison in Rosharon, Texas. Today, this highly successful program offers several hundred inmates the opportunity to earn a BA or MA in the behavioral sciences and also in the humanities. (It’s worth noting that even though men greatly outnumber women in prisons—93.6 to 6.4 percent nationally—several Texas prisons offer educational programs for women as well.)

Probably the most widely held belief about prisoners is that most, if not all of them, claim to be innocent. I can count on one hand, however, the number of my students who have appealed their case with the claim of innocence. Instead, the vast majority concede their guilt and believe they deserved to be punished. This concession to the persuasive power of the centuries-old retributive argument emerged in our many class discussions in which they acknowledged making a decision to commit a crime and described the hard coinage of punishment as their just deserts.

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Reposted with permission from: The Humanist

Fear Going On by Peter Stockland

In media, news, North America, psychology, society on April 17, 2013 at 19:41

From: Fear Going On by Peter Stockland, Cardus, http://www.cardus.ca

I had just returned from a run myself on a gorgeous Montreal April day, up Mount Royal to the Cross at the top and back, when I heard the news as I came into the change room of the Montreal Amateur Athletic building. My first concern was for the 30-plus members of the MAA running club who were at Boston. Reassured they were safe, my subsequent emotion was a bright flash of blackest revenge fantasy that involved inflicting horrible pain on those ultimately found responsible.

That, too, required a quick reality check. Vengeance will not beget justice no matter how odious the crime. So, where did that leave me? Where does that leave us as a people? Here is an image of what I am concerned might emerge from the struggle for an answer.

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Reposted with permission from: Cardus

You Are Where You Live by Susan Griffin

In civilisation, ecology, film, nature, politics, society on April 8, 2013 at 17:59

From: You Are Where You Live: How the sky, rain, geography, and cultures of our place shape us by Susan Griffin, YES! Magazine, http://www.yesmagazine.org

Concerned about the loss of forests, increasing pollution, and the diminishment of the ozone layer, I was beginning to make connections that I had not seen before. For instance, between the oppression of women I experienced and the wanton destruction of nature I was witnessing.

Slowly it dawned on me that the imaginary boundary, drawn centuries ago, that separates nature from culture is the same boundary that has also separated us from each other too, creating categories of gender and race, in which women or those with darker skin or those who earn a living with their hands are described as less able intellectually than the men at the top of the scale; by the same token, we are deemed untrustworthy because we are so mired in sensual experience and extreme emotion, or to put it more succinctly, since we are closer to the Earth.

But another world is possible. As a child, I found more than one refuge. All through the year I body-surfed in the Pacific Ocean, the rush of water in my ears singing to me of a vastness way beyond what was indicated in the strange dystopic landscape I thought of as ordinary. In the summer I camped in the High Sierras, the sound of wind through conifers becoming an inextricable part of my soul. Occasionally, my family would take a trip to the Mojave or the Baja Peninsula where I learned to see the subtle eloquence of deserts. And since I was very small, I took an interest in Native American cultures, which, though they spoke in languages I could not translate, seemed redolent with another response to the lands we shared, the diverse wisdom of earthly existence, voices, to paraphrase Gary Snyder, that capture the pitch of the phenomenal world “totally living, exciting, mysterious, filling one with a trembling awe, leaving one grateful and humble.”

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Reposted with permission from: YES! Magazine

The Three Events of Philosophy by Slavoj Žižek

In history, humanities, philosophy, politics on April 8, 2013 at 17:49

From: The Three Events of Philosophy by Slavoj Zizek, International Journal of Žižek Studies, http://zizekstudies.org/

So why a return to Plato? Why do we need a repetition of Plato’s founding gesture? In his Logiques des mondes, Badiou provides a succinct definition of “democratic materialism” and its opposite, “materialist dialectics”: the axiom which condenses the first one is “There is nothing but bodies and languages …,” to which materialist dialectics adds “… with the exception of truths.”4 One should bear in mind the Platonic, properly meta-physical, thrust of this distinction: prima facie, it cannot but appear as a proto-idealist gesture to assert that material reality is not all that there is, that there is also another level of incorporeal truths. Badiou performs here the paradoxical philosophical gesture of defending, AS A MATERIALIST, the autonomy of the “immaterial“ order of Truth. As a materialist, and in order to be thoroughly materialist, Badiou focuses on the IDEALIST topos par excellence: how can a human animal forsake its animality and put its life in the service of a transcendent Truth? How can the “transubstantiation“ from the pleasure-oriented life of an individual to the life of a subject dedicated to a Cause occur? In other words, how is a free act possible? How can one break (out of) the network of the causal connections of positive reality and conceive an act that begins by and in itself? Again, Badiou repeats within the materialist frame the elementary gesture of idealist anti-reductionism: human Reason cannot be reduced to the result of evolutionary adaptation; art is not just a heightened procedure of providing sensual pleasures, but a medium of Truth; and so on.

This, then, is our basic philosophico-political choice (decision) today: either repeat in a materialist vein Plato’s assertion of the meta-physical dimension of “eternal Ideas,” or continue to dwell in the postmodern universe of “democratic-materialist” historicist relativism, caught in the vicious cycle of the eternal struggle with “premodern” fundamentalisms. How is this gesture possible, thinkable even? Let us begin with the surprising fact that Badiou does not identify as the “principal contradiction,” the predominant antagonism, of today’s ideological situation the struggle between idealism and materialism, but the struggle between two forms of materialism (democratic and dialectical).

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Reposted with permission from: Zizek studies

Video: The K-Pop Effect

In Asia, documentary, media, music, video, visual arts on April 8, 2013 at 17:35

From: Video: The K-Pop Effect: Plastic Surgery, Documentary.net, http://documentary.net

k-pop-effect-220x120

Viral sensation ‘Gangnam style’ sparked imitations worldwide. Yet closer to home, the dream to be like such K-Pop idols is driving young South Koreans to a darker level of imitation: plastic surgery.

“Once people graduate almost all of them get double-eyelid surgery”, explains Gina, who recently left high-school. “In Korea they say, ‘please make my nose into the style of this star’.” In the district that is home to K-Pop’s major entertainment companies there are over 300 plastic surgery clinics on a single street. But some fear this growing beauty obsession is threatening young people’s sense of identity; “they treat their body as a product. They are losing the meaning of who they are”.

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Disclaimer from the website: “Yes it is free and legal. Films are provided by the filmmakers or rights-holders themselves. Or they claim their copyright protected contents on YouTube and monetize it (like National Geographic).”

Reposted with permission from: Documentary.net

Featured: Poetry of Wanda John-Kehewin

In books, Featured, literature, North America, poetry, writers on April 2, 2013 at 20:41

Cree poet Wanda John-Kehewin studied criminology, sociology, Aboriginal studies, and creative writing while attending the Writer’s Studio writing program at Simon Fraser University. She uses writing as a therapeutic medium through which to understand and to respond to the near decimation of First Nations culture, language, and tradition. She has been published in Quills, Canadian Poetry Magazine, the Aboriginal Writers Collective West Coast anthology Salish Seas, and the Writer’s Studio emerge anthology. She has shared her writing on Vancouver Co-op Radio, performed at numerous readings throughout the Lower Mainland, and read for the Writers Union of Canada. Her first book of poetry “In the Dog House” was recently published by http://talonbooks.com

Featured: One Thousand Cranes by Wanda John-Kehewin

Someone set sail one thousand cranes last night in the spirit world of amethyst dreams. Someone wished the sun to kiss your cheeks and opalescent moon beams to paint light in the darkness so you never lose your way.

Someone dreamt of a painted sea turtle, last night who knew one thousand secrets who was the keeper of the door way to the spirit world that sits on the oceans edges-he said.

Someone wished for you last night an orchard of cherry blossoms dancing gracefully in the wind reminding you to be gentle and kind to yourself and never forget to dance in the wind as cherry blossoms soar in warm winds, dance with them just be and remember me- they said.

Someone dreamt of you in the spirit world last night in a valley of fuchsia baby azaleas and a white camellia in your hair reminding you to patiently wait for the sea turtles secrets at the edge of the ocean.

Someone wished for you last night one thousand cranes to guide you to them in the twilight and astral of your sleep- They say when sorrow is too great they do not want to come too soon for you may never want to leave the dream world- And so they wait at the edge of your dreams with love resonating, encompassing you, for love has no timeline and reaches beyond the edges of the human sorrow.

Someone whispered to you last night, you will dream of them on a white Manchurian crane when you are ready to let their essence into the light and finally smile when you think of them; place blue bells in the lightest room to remind you of how grateful they were to know you and love you. Place lavender under your pillow for tender dreams where loved ones meet And we will fold one thousand cranes in a field of flowering sweet pea flowers and budding zinnia and we will let soar one thousand cranes over a thousand dreams above our temporary goodbye and we will have wished someone else peace, love, strength, light in the darkness- And one thousand cranes…

Reposted with permission from: Wanda John-Kehewin

Points of Light by Ian Marcus Corbin

In ethics, film, nature, photography, theory, visual arts on April 2, 2013 at 20:25

From: Points of Light by Ian Marcus Corbin, The New Atlantis, http://www.thenewatlantis.com

Rumors of our civilization’s collapse have been somewhat exaggerated. When the National Society of Film Critics announced its awards for the year 2011, the top two films — Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, in first place, and Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, in second — were separated by a single vote. It is fitting that they should vie so closely: they are opposite and in some ways equal attempts to show the essential nature of reality and the best way to live in it — openly flouting the au courant truism that art is fit chiefly to interrogate, unsettle, and subvert. Both films debuted at Cannes. If there had been any separation between their release dates, it would seem certain that one was made as a rebuttal to the other, for while the symmetry of the two films is striking, there is a deep philosophical quarrel between them. Von Trier and Malick can’t both be right: Melancholia argues that reality, including life, is best understood in the light of death; The Tree of Life argues that reality, including death, is best understood in the light of life. These propositions are familiar enough; more surprising and important are the force and grandeur with which the two films substantiate them.

The tone and the source of light in The Tree of Life are vital to Malick’s philosophical vision. He is a rhapsode of the Emersonian order — plainly enchanted with the stuff of existence. His world is one of illuminations. Rich, clear light suffuses leaves, grass, fabric, hair, water, even skin. The lovely, if sometimes flickering, radiance of earthly life echoes a deeper, more enduring light. As Mrs. O’Brien says, love smiles through all things. We simply need eyes naked and patient enough to see them as they are. The journey of the movie, from Jack’s conjuring of the Big Bang onwards, is an effort not to impose a novel vision, but to shake the scales from his eyes. In Melancholia, by contrast, things in themselves don’t shine. Life has nothing to say for itself. Illumination always comes from without, whether it is cast by the comforting artifice of human technology, the very occasional glimmer of sunlight, or by the sharp white light of heavenly death. Only one of these sources of light has the power to reveal the truth. For von Trier, to bathe in the stark, blanching light of death is simply to become reconciled with reality; death is the one star that illuminates everything.

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Reposted with permission from: The New Atlantis

The Monsanto Protection Act? with Amy Goodman

In biology, ethics, government, law, North America, politics, science on April 2, 2013 at 20:12

From: The Monsanto Protection Act? A Debate on Controversial New Measure Over Genetically Modified Crops with Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!, http://www.democracynow.org

President Obama outraged food activists last week when he signed into law a spending bill with a controversial rider that critics have dubbed the “Monsanto Protection Act.” The rider says the government must allow the planting of genetically modified crops even if courts rule they pose health risks. The measure has galvanized the U.S. food justice movement, which is now preparing for its next fight when the provision expires in six months. We host a discussion on the “Monsanto Protection Act” and the safety of genetically modified foods with two guests: Gregory Jaffe, director of the Biotechnology Project at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization that addresses food and nutrition issues; and Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch and author of the book, “Foodopoly: The Battle Over the Future of Food and Farming in America.” On Wednesday, Hauter’s group is releasing a major new report called “Monsanto: A Corporate Profile.”

AMY GOODMAN: One of the biggest supporters of the provision was Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, Monsanto’s home state. Blunt reportedly crafted the bill’s language with Monsato’s help.
On the other side was the lone member of the Senate who’s also an active farmer, Democrat Jon Tester of Montana. Senator Tester tried to remove the rider when the budget bill made its way through Congress last month. Speaking on the Senate floor, Tester said the provision would undermine judicial oversight and hurt family farmers.

SEN. JON TESTER: The United States Congress is telling the Agricultural Department that even if a court tells you that you’ve failed to follow the right process and tells you to start over, you must disregard the court’s ruling and allow the crop to be planted anyway. Not only does this ignore the constitutional idea of separation of powers, but it also lets genetically modified crops take hold across this country, even when a judge finds it violates the law—once again, agribusiness multinational corporations putting farmers as serfs. It’s a dangerous precedent. Mr. President, it will paralyze the USDA, putting the department in the middle of a battle between Congress and the courts. And the ultimate loser will be our family farmers going about their business and feeding America in the right way.

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Reposted according to copyright notice from: Democracy Now! website

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