Sunday, September 18, 2011

9/18/11 This Week in Head Explode

On courage, social justice and policy-making
September 17, 2011 at 11:00 PM

The spring of 2011 opens an instructive window to reflect on the question of courage in policy-making. For some months now we have witnessed "the Arab Spring," when millions of people filled streets across the Middle East in defiance of oppressive regimes and in the face of violent state repression.

These images resonate with familiar lexicons of courage as a quality that enables a person to confront difficulty, danger, or pain instead of withdrawing from it. All of us at one point in our lives or another are challenged to confront threatening obstacles, but these private and daily acts of courage, by definition, defy a common yardstick. How, then, are we to think about courage in the collective enterprise of policy-making?

The opposite of courage in such circumstances, Rollo May argues, is not cowardice but, instead, conformity: our willingness to bend our thinking and behaviour to fit with the status quo however unacceptable it may be.

In The Death of the Liberal Class, Christopher Hedges makes a compelling argument that progressive policy networks in the United States, what he calls the "liberal class," have betrayed this legacy of calling political power into account. Hedges argues that in recent decades the liberal class was seduced by the utopian promises of globalization and the dubious dictum that markets should be the arbiter of all human, economic and political activity. Political science and economics departments and business and law schools parroted the ideology of free markets, refusing to recognize, let alone address, the mounting social and economic disparities that it has left in its path.

Hedges argues that the liberal class abrogated its historic role as social critic. It succumbed to opportunism and then to fear and, in so doing, betrayed the working and middle classes. It also silenced the critics within its ranks, and, when the emperor of an unregulated market was revealed as having no clothes, the liberal class was bereft of alternative visions.

To the many right wing partisan hacks that populate DA the American Democratic Party qualifies as "Socialist" and even "Pro-Marxist", this despite the fact that it's rather common knowledge that in comparison to the rest of the world Obama and his party are really closer to being centre right than on the fringe left. This idea is further buttressed by the fact that while Obama has attempted some changes he has kept a lot of the same policies as the Bush administration. Personally I find that that when it comes to foreign policy be it Democrat or Republican there are very few differences.

A lot of what this article discusses really strikes a chord with me. It echoes my sentiments that Obama has to a certain degree caved and compromised too much.

What are your impressions? Do you think the political spectrum within the US is too narrowly defined by the two major parties?

Mayor not surprised at cat's New York trip

September 17, 2011 at 6:47 PM

NEW YORK, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he was honored a Colorado cat who disappeared five years ago chose his city as a destination.

Bloomberg said Willow, the cat found in Manhattan last week and identified as a feline missing five years ago from the home of Jamie Squires in Boulder, Colo., has good taste in cities, the New York Daily News reported Friday.

"What I think it does show is how everybody in the end wants to come and live in New York,"

Assuming of course the cat had any idea what New York is and how to get there, if said feline were so eager to get to the Big Apple why did it take five years to make a trip that really should only last a month... and anyone who bothered to check a map would see that the trip is almost a straight line across the US.

I'm impressed that this cat survived five years without being roadkill. Even more awesome that they were able to locate the owner :)

Homemade boat nearly through NW Passage
September 17, 2011 at 6:37 PM

YELLOWKNIFE, Northwest Territories, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- A Russian crew aboard a boat made with bamboo, rope and duct tape has nearly completed its journey through Canada's Northwest Passage, a crew member said.

The homemade boat, "Rus," which is about 25 feet long, was southwest of Victoria Island crossing from Nunavut into Northwest Territories waters, crew member Aleksey Skripov said by satellite phone, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

The four sailors are making the journey as part of the Orion Expedition, a multiyear, round-the-world, trans-arctic trip.

Since leaving St. Petersburg, Russia, a few months ago, they have sailed through

the Baltic and North seas and across the Atlantic Ocean, the CBC said.

A Mountie who saw the craft last month in Clyde River, Nunavut, said the boat looked like something out of "Gilligan's Island."

Hats off to these guys. They've got some nerve navigating the Northwest Passage in a boat made out of bamboo. I'm sure Red Green would approve of this vessel

Your Favourite Documentaries

September 17, 2011 at 3:02 PM

having just re-watched "The War on Democracy", a documentary about US involvement in regime changes in Latin America, I'm curious to know which are some of your favourite documentaries...

here are some of mine:

"The Tiger Next Door"
"Winged Migration"
"Flow: How do a handful of Corporations steal our Water Supply"
"The Inside Job"
"Food Inc."
"Supersize Me"
"Forks Over Knives"
"The Corporation"
"Capitalism: A Love Story"

and though it's a dramatized documentary "Fast Food Nation" was entertaining.. and not just cause Avril Lavigne was in it... though it helped lol.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Stern on Sidibe: Obesity, Discrimination and Political Incorrectness

"Am I pointing out something that no one else recognizes?"
Howard Stern came under fire not long ago for commenting on Academy Award nominated actress Gabourey Sidibe's morbid obesity. He commented that it is not healthy to be so overweight and that it greatly limits the opportunities of a talented young actress. For this, Stern was vilified by everyone from the NAAFA to daytime talk show touchy-feelies, criticized as heartless and cruel and more or less denounced as Satan incarnate.

Stern was not contrite and had the following to say:

It's easy to demonize me because I'm the guy who says what everyone is thinking. Everyone didn't sit there and say "She looks terrific." They sat at home watching the TV and said "My God, that poor girl, it's disturbing!"...Don't blame me for saying it. Name a movie where the lead woman was a morbidly obese person. And where that person went on to have a career?

Motivational speaker Susan Powter, former host of Stop the Insanity!, was one of the only people who came to Stern's defense. Powter argued Stern is one of the only people that does care and took the time to explicitly say what even Stern wouldn't, a resounding "Fuck you" to the NAAFA. Of equal emphasis was Powter's advice for Sidibe herself.

There is nothing empowering about internally suffocating...wake the fuck up, would you?...Howard Stern is right. Gabby, I'm right, you need to listen to this. [NAAFA], you are so completely wrong, so completely irresponsible, so completely not telling the truth in any way.

False Concern and Condescension
I find myself in agreement with Powter. While no one ever accused Stern of being the world's most tactful soul, his point is a cogent one—obesity is not beautiful. I am all for self acceptance, and more to the point, very critical of the size zero trend sweeping Hollywood starlets. In a way, Sidibe's success is a huge step towards substance (talent) over style (anorexic chic). But striking a blow in the name of anti-lookism only goes so far. It is okay to be overweight assuming you give a damn to do something about it. I am all for living in a pluralistic world. But when people start saying "Hey, just stay morbidly obese and die, it's what's inside that counts" that is when I raise a perturbed eyebrow. Their message is well intentioned but incredibly stupid.

There is nothing more empowering than self acceptance. Robert Wynia said it best, "Don't just sit back and feel pathetic. Love who you are." But is obesity an outward display of esteem for oneself? I don't think The View should preach self acceptance of morbid obesity any more than self acceptance of heroin addiction. "Love yourself enough to stop killing yourself" is the crux of Stern's argument. I abhor the false dichotomy of Goldberg et al.s "yeah, sister!"-ing; accepting one's faults as a human is not synonymous with abandoning all hope for wellness.

On a more venomous note, is it just me or is Whoopi Goldberg a complete dullard? For some reason I used to think this woman was intelligent but her contrarian predilection towards engaging in polemic apologetics for its own sake is rather off putting, to say the least. I am referring specifically to her insistence that Roman Polanski's drugging and sodomizing a 13 year old girl wasn't "rape-rape." Do we really want to live in a completely politically correct world? One where we can't call rapists rapists, obesity obesity and Goldberg a complete fucking idiot?

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