Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Greetings, and welcome to this week's edition of the Boylan Blog! Hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving! As you can see, we're on hiatus this week, but we'll return next week on December 4. Until then, please do continue to post your comments here, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And remember, it's never too early to submit your prose, poetry, plays, or potpourri for Volume 25 of the ENGLISH MAJORS ZINE. You can send it to us via email (or as President Bush calls it, "the Internets"), or you can give it to us in person in our offices at 3416 Boylan. Look forward to seeing you soon!
Monday, November 20, 2006
Greetings! Welcome to this week’s edition of the Boylan Blog. We invite you all to post comments, suggestions, love letters, etc. on this here Blog. Or if posting’s not your thing, email us with whatever at email@example.com. Have a great Turkey Day, everybody!
This brief overview of the week’s events comes courtesy of the eponymous Robin Q. Hood firstname.lastname@example.org:
Monday Nov 20: Transgender Day of Remembrance, 12-4 pm, with a table in front of Whitehead Hall; Trans 101 Workshop: Sex and Gender, refreshments 6:30pm to 8:30pm in the Jefferson-Williams Lounge, 4th Floor of the Student Center
Tuesday Nov 21: Thanksgiving Meals--Puerto Rican Alliance, 1:30 to 3:30pm, on the 5th floor Student Center; Intervarsity Christian Fellowship Meeting: 3:30-5:30 pm, 6th floor of the Student Center; Graduate Student Organization Dinner: 6-10:30pm, Penthouse Student Center—all are welcome!
Also on the film front for Tuesday Nov 21: the award winning documentary The Brandon Teena Story, the story of a young transgender man who was murdered along with two other people in 1993 in rural Nebraska. The true story behind the acclaimed major motion picture Boys Don't Cry will air from 2:00pm to 2:30pm in 214 West End Building; Superartist will be presented by BC Film Society; also the 1967 film Andy Warhol, Edie Sedgwick will be shown and followed by a discussion; Filberto Ojeda Rios Assassination from 7-10pm, 2nd floor of the Student Center
Wednesday Nov 22: Conversion Day: classes follow a Friday schedule
Here's a poem that I have had in my personal library for many years. I began discovering poetry on my own because of On the Road by Kerouac. His style was so new and exciting that I dug into the Beat scene completely. One of these poets that is often not represented in the Beat canon with his contemporaries is Bob Kaufman. I like this poem, the clever word play and message are great. It is from his book of poetry entitled "Solitudes Crowded With Loneliness".
- Chris Gothorpe
Assuming the posture of frogs, croaking at appointed times,
Loudly treading the plastic floors of copied temples,
The creeping cardboard creatures, endlessly creeping,
In and out of time, eating the clock by the hour,
Poets of the gray universities in history suits,
Dripping false Greek dirges from tweedy beards,
While all the Troys are consumed in mushroom clouds.
The younger machines occupy miles of dark benches,
Enjoying self-induced vacations of the mind,
Eating textbook rinds, spitting culture seeds,
Dreaming an exotic name to give their latest defeat,
Computing the hours on computer minds.
The cold land breathes death rattles, trembling,
The dark sky casts shadows across the wounds
Beneath the bright clothing of well-fed machines,
The hungry heart inside the hungry hearts,
Beats silently, beats softly, beats, beats.
Bob Kaufman (April 18, 1925 – January 12, 1986) He was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. He is sometimes referred to as the first "beat" because of a description that was written about him in a magazine. In France, where his poetry had a large following, he was known as the "American Rimbaud."
Kaufman was one of thirteen children, the son of a German-Jewish father and a Roman-Catholic Black mother from Martinique. At age thirteen, Kaufman joined the Merchant Marine and traveled the world for several years. In the early 1940s he briefly studied literature at The New School. There, he met William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg. He moved to San Francisco in 1958 and remained there for most of the rest of his life. He married Eileen Singe in 1958; they had one child, Parker (named after Charlie Parker). Like many beat writers, Kaufman became a Buddhist. He was one of the founders of Beatitude magazine. Upon finding out about the assassination of John F. Kennedy he took a Buddhist vow of silence which he maintained until the end of the Vietnam War in 1973. When he broke his silence he did so at a poetry reading in San Francisco. His poetry is highly influenced by jazz music and many critics assert that his work should be read aloud with jazz accompaniment to get a truer sense of its rhythm. Kaufman would also often perform his poetry in the street for all passers-by.
In light of the recent election results, particularly Senator Hillary Clinton's victory, Damian and Yevgeniya decided to seek answers to the following question:
Do you see a woman becoming the President of the United States in the near future?
Hillary Clinton is really popular, so if people want a woman President they'll pick her, but 2008 may be too soon.
Anonymous, BC student
I don't see it happening in my lifetime.
Anonymous, BC student
Bush screwed up so badly that Hilary couldn't do any worse.
Anonymous, BC student
America is a male-oriented, republican, religious society; because of that they won't accept a female president.
Anonymous, BC student
I think the country is not ready yet to have a woman-President, meaning that it is highly unlikely, as far as the near future is concerned. Maybe in twenty or so years, when Lindsay Lohan or the Olsen twins grow up and turn to politics...
Anonymous, BC student
Sure, why not? However, it will take a tough, exceptionally strong woman to advance that far in her political career, someone who will not be intimidated by chauvinists and sexists. I'm not sure any of the current female politicians qualify.
Anonymous, BC student
Yes, and Hillary Clinton seems like the perfect candidate. If she decides to run, more than half of the nation will have her back. After all, there are more females than males in the world.
Anonymous, BC student
Is Chocolate Good For The Body?
Researchers have shown that eating a small amount of dark chocolate each day can thin the blood and prevent it from clotting. Dark chocolate can be used as a substitute for aspirin. It also lowers blood pressure and has other effects on blood flow. A performed experiment showed that the blood of the participants who stayed away from chocolate clotted faster than those who ate the chocolate.
However, while eating chocolate may be desirable and beneficial, Vicky Evans, a cardiac nurse, suggests that there are better ways to take care of the heart. Adding a moderate amount of chocolate to a daily diet should be fine. Eating some dark chocolate can be good for the body, but too much chocolate increases the amount of sugar in the blood. Before running to the candy store, Vicky Evans suggests eating about five portions of fruits and vegetables a day.
Tsunami Warnings Dry Out
On November 15, an earthquake of 8.1-magnitude struck a region claimed by both Russia and Japan. Although the casualties have not been determined, the meteorological agency issued a tsunami warning in Japan. In response, thousands of Japanese residing along Japan 's Northern Pacific coast relocated to higher ground for safety. Hours after the earthquake, the same meteorological agency rescinded its warning.
Japanese residents are no strangers when it comes to such excitement. As one of the world's most earthquake-ravaged countries, Japan has instituted drills and government campaigns to inform citizens that tremors can potentially lead to tsunamis. Japan's Meteorological Agency is prepared to declare a tsunami warning even when the agency anticipates only minor waves. Furthermore, Japan’s most populated coastlines are wired with loudspeakers in the event of tsunami evacuations. Tsunami advisories for Russia, Alaska, the Philippine Islands, Taiwan, Indonesia and several Pacific islands were later withdrawn as well.
Source: International Herald Tribune
Stem Cells Treat Muscle Disease in Dogs
Led by Giulio Cossu, scientific researchers at the San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan, Italy have discovered improved walking functions among dogs suffering from a form of muscular dystrophy. These dogs were treated with infusions of a certain type of stem cell called mesoangloblast. Muscular dystrophies are a common genetic disorder in which muscles gradually break down and which may lead to paralysis and death. The stem cells in the experiment were taken from the blood vessels of healthy dogs. In the sick dogs, the stem cells functioned by moving through the vasculature into the muscles, fusing with existing muscle cells, and producing the missing protein needed for normal function. These types of stem cells, identified by the team in humans, could now be studied in people with muscular dystrophy. Mesoanglobalsts hold the special advantage of being able to move through the bloodstream, so they could be simply injected into the blood.
While stem cells have the potential to regenerate many kinds of failing tissue, they have not yet advanced through clinical trials to actual treatments. This study, published online in the magazine Nature, raises further questions, such as whether this kind of therapy can work on the heart muscle and diaphragm, which are also affected in muscular dystrophy, and whether the injected stem cells might produce negative side effects in other parts of the body. Another complication the treatment might hold for humans is the reaction of the sick person’s body against the infused foreign cells: the patient would have to take lifelong immunosuppressant drugs to combat this effect. Current clinical trials are investigating other innovative therapies for muscular dystrophy, such as using viruses to deliver the missing gene to muscle cells.
A study conducted by the University College London has shown that “cells in the heart's outer layer can migrate deeper into a failing organ to carry out essential repairs.” These cells travel through the organism with the help of a certain protein that is already known to regenerate muscle cells after a heart attack.
The heart’s reparative cells resemble stem cells in their ability to transform into adult tissue, with a few advantages. According to the study’s lead researcher, Dr. Paul Riley, “this approach would bypass the risk of immune system rejection, a major problem with the use of stem cell transplants from another source.” Dr. Riley added that the research would have “the added benefit that the cells are already located in the right place—within the heart itself,” unlike stem cells, which come from the bone marrow.
The experiments with adult mice proved the cells’ potential to repair damaged blood vessels and the heart tissue itself. Researchers hope that this will open doors to a more effective way of preventing and treating heart disease—an illness that claims lives of more than 105,000 people in the UK, and over 700,000 in the US.
Anarchy, the Other Side of Freedom: Traffic Signs Become Too Restrictive
In an effort to facilitate free and open interactions between pedestrians and drivers, the European Union has implemented programs in seven European countries that eliminate all street signs. The project stems from the desire to remove barriers that supposedly infringe upon the freedom of people who are restricted by traffic signs that dictate what they should do on the road. Ideally, both pedestrians and drivers would communicate by way of gestures, eyes contacts, head nods, and verbal cues. Already implemented in a small Dutch province, proponents claim that the lack of traffic lines, parking meters and signs would increase social responsibility by making pedestrians and drivers aware of their actions towards others.
The presence of traffic laws has bred resentment within drivers who are forced to obey these rules. Manners disappear as people try to secure their advantage on the road. Envisionists foresee drivers and pedestrians “blending into a colorful and peaceful traffic stream.” And the best part, all asphalt will be removed and replaced with cobblestone paths. Save for the presence of a horse and buggy, it looks like modernity is a thing of the past.
Source: Spiegel International
Monday, November 13, 2006
Greetings! Welcome to this week's edition of the Boylan Blog. We invite you all to post your comments here or email us at email@example.com.
Last week saw a successful turnout for the annual Open Mic. We had a fresh variety of pieces read and even sung! Here are some photo's taken by Maryana of the event:
Thanks to all those who read and attended. We look forward to more original works next semester and encourage anyone interested in reading to do so in the spring. We want to remind everyone that the English Major's Zine is currently accepting submissions for the spring semester; we ask that any electronic submissions be accompanied with a hardcopy version.
This week, Maryana Isakova and Jade Zirino ask BC students the following question: Which location in the world would you like to travel to and why?
Spain, to work on my Spanish, and Vienna, [because it is] the capital of music. I love music and I want to learn more about why Vienna’s the capital of music.
Fae Aguda, Freshman
England, France, big countries. I want to see the difference between America and other countries because I don’t think other countries are as diverse as America, or as New York, and I want to see how they are different.
Eleonor Leger, Freshman
Greece. I have an unexplainable attraction to Greece because of the architecture and history of it. It’s something that’s so old right in front of you, it’s like going to museums.
Simone Herbin, Freshman
Egypt, because I would never normally go there by myself because it’s unsafe.
Patricia Multari, Freshman
Morocco and Egypt, non-Western countries, to gain a new perspective on their culture. The point is to go study abroad, gain a new outlook.
Karishma Chawk, Freshman
Greece, because there’s a lot of interesting history around it and I want to see all the temples.
Angela Chung, Sophomore, Creative Writing Major
Ireland. I'd like to see historic sites and be on vacation.
Anonymous BC Student
London. Since I'm an English major, it should be a great experience to visit a place where so much English literature was inspired. London is filled with history and buildings older than the USA in its entirety.
Galo Calderon, BC Student
Rita Arditti and the Grandmothers of the Disappeared
"I am going to tell you a story," Rita begins, her eyes bright, her smile large and inviting, "of how a group of women in Argentina with no scientific background…enlarge[d] the public conversation about science and society by demanding that scientists live up to their social responsibility and support their work for truth and social justice." Rita’s address, "Blood, Memory, and Identity," was delivered at the National Women’s Study Association in June 2004, and although I wasn’t there, I know the fierce eyes and compelling smile. I have heard her speak about her work with the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo and her book Searching for Life: The Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo and the Disappeared Children of Argentina (University of California Press, 1999). Searching for Life traces the courageous work of the Grandmothers, a group of women who challenged the ruthless dictatorship that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983, when some 30,000 activists were kidnapped and murdered. Acting as both detectives and human rights advocates in an effort to find and recover their grandchildren, the Grandmothers identified eighty-five of an estimated 500 children who had been kidnapped or born in detention centers. Their work led to the creation of the National Genetic Data Bank, the only bank of its kind in the world, and to Article 8 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the "right to identity," that is now incorporated in the adoption legislation in Argentina. Rita Arditti has conducted extensive interviews with twenty Grandmothers and others connected with their work; her book is a testament to the persistence of these "traditional" older women.
Rita visited my class years ago, when I was discussing Lawrence Thornton’s Imagining Argentina, a fictional history of the Disappeared in Argentina, a place Thornton had never visited. She brought with her some of the white head scarves the Grandmothers wore while protesting in the public square. My class and I were transfixed.
The world needs feminist scientist-activists like Rita; the world also needs to honor the extraordinary work of ordinary mothers and grandmothers whose courage comes from such profound dedication and love.
I stumbled across the following poem, Nihilism, quite accidentally, but was immediately captured by Lionel Johnson's articulate language and smooth verse. I relegate this poem my list of favorites, as it is a work that captures acute despair mixed with calculated observation of reality.
Among immortal things not made with hands
Among immortal things, dead hands have made:
Under the heavens, upon the earth, there stands
Mans life, my life I am afraid.
Where silent things, and unimpassioned things,
Where things of nought, and things decaying are:
I shall be calm soon, with the calm death brings.
The skies are grey there, without any star
Only the rest! the rest! Only the gloom,
Soft and long gloom! The passing from all thought!
My life, I cannot taste: the eternal tomb
Brings me the peace, which life has never brought.
For all the things I do, and do not well;
All the forced drawings of a mortal breath:
Are as hollow as the music of a bell,
That times the slow approach of perfect death.
Lionel Johnson (1867-1902) was an English poet, essayist and critic. He was born at Broadstairs, and educated at Winchester College and New College, Oxford, graduating in 1890. He became a Catholic convert in 1891. Johnson's keen interest in the Irish Literary Rennaissaince is reflected in many of his poems. Johnson's verse is often described as deliberately old-fashioned, orderly, precise, and classical. As a whole his poetry is spare and austere, often spiritual in content and deeply emotional. His works include Poems (1895) and Ireland and Other Poems (1897), and a critical work, The Art of Thomas Hardy (1894). He lived a rather solitary life in London, dying of a stroke after a fall in the street.
Panama Set For Security Council
On Thursday, November 2nd, South American countries made steps to support Panama for an open, highly coveted United Nations Security Council seat. The United Nations’ General Assembly will officially vote on the seat member on Tuesday, November 7th. The decision to endorse Panama came after a somewhat lengthy battle for the seat between Guatemala and Venezuela, which ended with the two countries’ agreement to rescind their candidacies for the position. Prior to this decision, Guatemala led Venezuela by votes in all but one round of voting; however, it did not acquire the two-thirds majority needed in the General Assembly. Gert Rosenthal, Guatemala's Foreign Minister, remarked that Panama was "a country that unites South America and Central America." He also said that Guatemala will try again for a seat in 2011, as long as other South American countries agreed. The open seat comes from Argentina, who will vacate the position on December 31. In other parts of the world, South Africa, Indonesia, Italy, and Belgium won two-year terms in the council, replacing Tanzania, Japan, Denmark, and Greece.
Source: Washington Post
Pakistani "Ghost School"
Usually when you enter a school, you expect to find students seated at the desks reading or receiving some instructions from a teacher, but that is not what authorities found recently at a school near Hyderabad. They found chickens that were being raised for poultry. The state-funded school, or "ghost school," as it is called, was supposed to contain 59 students and two teachers. The "teachers" at the location received government funding and used it for personal gain, exacerbating the situation later by becoming poultry farmers instead. The education problem in Pakistan is not new, but this case is unique. It has been reported that less than 2 percent of government spending goes towards education. Some students are beginning to speak out against the poor quality of public education because it is not preparing young people for a place in the modern world. Cracking down on those people that cheat the system is at least a step in the right direction.
Military Cover-Up in “Friendly Fire” Death of Pat Tillman
The Associated Press has uncovered disturbing new details in the death of Pat Tillman, who died in a friendly fire shooting while stationed in Afghanistan in April 2004. After reviewing internal army documents and interviewing dozens of people with close ties to the case, the AP found that each of the four shooters failed to identify Tillman and an allied Afghan before opening fire on them, an action that is in direct violation of the Army fire discipline techniques. One of the shooters, Staff Sgt. Trevor Alders, testified that his vision was “hazy” after recent laser eye surgery; another, Spc. Steve Elliot, said he saw “shapes” and got “excited”; a third, Spc. Stephen Ashpole, claimed to have spotted two figures in the distance and started opening fire; and the fourth, squad leader, Sgt. Greg Baker, stated that his “tunnel vision” was honed in on the man he thought was the enemy, but was actually the Afghan friendly that was with Tillman. Three of the four soldiers have since left the Army and therefore cannot be tried by a military court.
Internal Army documents seem to suggest that the Army, as well as the Pentagon, have been engaging in a cover-up of the Tillman case. Many of the key figures have refused to cooperate with investigators, and even Tillman’s parents were only made aware of the circumstances of their son’s death after his funeral. Tillman’s platoon was on a mission to divide the Pakistani border and penetrate into Afghanistan. In a controversial decision, the tactical operations center coordinating the mission elected to split the platoon in two, thus leaving it more vulnerable to enemy attack. There have been charges that the overseeing officers had an “artificial sense of urgency” to continue the mission, and despite Tillman’s attempts to be recognized by the other half of his platoon, he and the Afghan were killed in the confusion. While Army officials assured the Tillman family that those responsible for the crime would be severely punished, only a few soldiers have received reprimands, and the internal investigative report of the case has been withheld from the public.
Source: Associated Press
Wikipedia entry on Pat Tillman:
France Conducts Nuclear Test
The international community remained silent today as France conducted a test of its new, improved submarine-launched thermonuclear missile. The missile - designated the M51 SLBM, capable of carrying six TN-75 thermonuclear warheads - was monitored to have a range of 6,000 miles. The only outcry over the test came from a Greenpeace activist Xavier Renou, who denounced it as “a violation of France's commitments to nonproliferation and a provocation to the international community.” Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie defended the test as necessary for determining the effectiveness of military hardware and maintaining France’s competitiveness in today’s modern warfare.
Source: Associated Press
Iran to Train Suicide Bombers
Iran's new "trained professionals" are suicide bombers. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), in charge of the training operation, is teaching recruits how to blow themselves up in the face of an enemy invasion. According to the IRGC commander, the Revolutionary Guard does not depend solely on its “technological might,” because “it has thousands of martyrdom seekers and they are ready for martyrdom-seeking operations on a large scale." The IRGC is also responsible for launching the "Great Prophet" exercise in the Gulf, in which Iran displayed its military power by firing hundreds of missiles and rockets.
As a side note, Monday, November 6th, marked the day Iran tested its automatic cannons and rocket launchers with a range of 75-120 kilometers. Iran intends to make its weapons available for purchase to outside countries.
Monday, November 06, 2006
Tuesday, November 7th, 2006 from 1:30 - 3:30pm in the State Lounge, SUBO
BE THERE OR BE SQUARE!
If you were unable to signup in advance, do not despair! Spaces might open up… and we’ll allow as many artists as possible to read!
Come support your fellow BC students!
And be sure to check back here next week for photos!
After the Open Mic, don’t forget to go vote!
Here are some sites to explore so you know what to expect upon entering the voting booth:
This site provides links on how to find your local polling place, what you will need to have with you in order to vote, and other useful information in order to make voting easier.
http://www.vote-smart.org and http://www.ontheissues.org
These sites list current politicians voting records in the Senate and House. Discover how your representatives represent you. Contains rankings from some major advocacy groups.
There is a NYPIRG chapter on Brooklyn College that can provide more information on voting rights and campaign issues. You can contact Jessica Scholl or Andrew Morrison, the Project Coordinators at BCNYPIRG, at (718) 859-7177 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Brooklyn College Women's Center and Health Clinic invite you to attend "Every 28 Days", part of the Student Health Series that takes place the first Tuesday of every month in 227 New Ingersoll from 1:45 to 3:15 pm. On November 7, there will be a Film Screening and Discussion of Notsoprivate, where African American women discuss their first sexual experiences, the impact of their familial teachings, their emerging body consciousness, and the way that their own sexual desire and that of others has colored their world. This program is co-sponsored by Women's Studies Programs. For more information, please contact Nava Renek at 718-951-5777.
The Brooklyn College Art Gallery, in collaboration with the Department of Puerto Rican and Latino/a Studies cordially invites you to a cocktail reception celebrating The Possible Dream on Wednesday, November 8 from 6 to 8 pm in the Brooklyn College Library. Speakers at this event will include Heriberto Ferrer, Benjamin Pacheco, and Bonnie Lee Tozzi. This exhibition is sponsored by the ames, '68 and Anna Fantaci Art Fund: and the Donald E., '40, and Edith S. Peieser Fund. For more information please call 718-951-5181 or 718-951-5561,
Are you thinking about applying to graduate school in English or a related field? Do you need to take the GRE Subject Test in English? If the answer to either of these questions is yes, you might be interested in participating in a graduate school discussion session, and/or a separate review session for the GRE Subject Test in English. If you would like more information about either (or both) of these, please contact Prof. Geoffrey Minter at email@example.com.
On Nov. 9, The Poetry Club will get down to business by WORKSHOPPING our writing at the meeting. Please think about which piece of writing you would like to be workshopped by your peers. We will break up into groups of three to closely read and discuss our work. You will need to bring three hard copies of your piece that day. If you have suggestions, concerns, or questions regarding the workshop process, feel free to email back firstname.lastname@example.org.
It was with little fanfare that on October 17, 2006 President Bush signed and Congress passed the Military Commissions Act, granting the president and the Secretary of Defense unprecedented powers in the name of prosecuting the War on Terror. The Act confers upon the president the authority to declare a person an unlawful enemy combatant without the burden of offering substantive proof, to reinterpret or otherwise ignore the Third Geneva Convention on the humane treatment of POW’s, and to establish secret military tribunals that strip defendants of the ability to see all of the evidence being presented against them. On their own, each of these provisions would be enough reason to protest this Act—but what makes it especially chilling is its evisceration of the writ of habeas corpus, which provides detainees with the right to challenge unlawful imprisonment. In other words, if President Bush deems you to be, according to section 948d, “a person who has engaged in hostilities or who has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States,” then that’s all the justification that’s needed to keep you locked away for a long, long time.
Just imagine: one day you’re snatched from the streets without a warrant, interrogated without a lawyer present, shipped to a top-secret detention center without being allowed to call family or friends, and kept there indefinitely without being told why. Even Camus would’ve been hard-pressed to construct this sort of grim existentialist hell; even Orwell couldn’t have dreamed of a scenario where the US would want to emulate the secret police tactics of the former Soviet Union and make people “disappear.” And before you stop to say, “but this couldn’t happen to me,” note again the deliberately vague language that the Act uses to define an unlawful enemy combatant: a person who has engaged in hostilities or who has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States. It’s a definition that is open-ended and therefore subject to a variety of interpretations: for some, “purposefully and materially supported hostilities” could include speech that supports Al-Qaeda, that advocates overthrowing the US government, or even criticizes President Bush. Without habeas corpus protection, the Bill of Rights becomes a neutered document, effectively nullifying the right to free speech, freedom of assembly, protection from illegal search and seizure, and so on. Some will point to the fact that the Act primarily targets undocumented aliens and allows US citizens to retain their habeas rights, as if denying rights to the minority somehow protects the rights of the majority. One is reminded of the words attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller, who watched as the Nazi’s systematically targeted the “undesirables” such as communists and trade unionists, until he found that “when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out.” Even as I write this, a dark thought creeps across the furthest recesses of my brain: will they one day come to get me too? What does it say about the state of this country, a country once looked upon as a model for democracy, where such a notion is now legally possible?
Over and over again, President Bush tells us that measures such as the Military Commissions Act are necessary in order to defend the US from the terrorists, but if the laws and principles upon which this country was founded can be invalidated on the spurious whims of the president, would there even be a democracy left worth protecting? This president has shamelessly exploited our fear of another terrorist attack in order to deflect attention away from his attempts to establish an all-powerful executive branch that can interpret or even rewrite the laws. Bills such as the McCain Detainee Amendment, which was intended to prohibit the inhumane treatment of prisoners at detainment centers such as Guantanamo Bay, have been nullified by presidential signing statements that give President Bush the power to cherry-pick which sections of a bill he’ll abide by. This hubris extends to members of the Bush administration, most notably Vice-President Cheney and Attorney General Gonzales, who have come out in favor of techniques such as waterboarding, which is when a person is strapped down and has water directly poured over his face, thus causing the person to believe that he is drowning. Human rights groups have condemned such activities as torture, yet this administration continues to insist that they don’t engage in its practice, despite evidence to the contrary.
Now with bills like the Detainee Agreement and the Military Commissions Act, the president has the legal backing to conduct programs without reprisal that violate the civil rights of so-called enemy combatants and have the potential to do the same to American citizens. It has contributed to this current climate of paranoia and suspicion where many terrorism suspects are falsely accused of engaging in terrorist activities based on hearsay and coerced confessions, and where critics of the policies of this administration and of this president are demonized as unpatriotic. Indeed, it is the greatest form of patriotism to critically question the policies of one’s elected officials, but it seems that President Bush is unwilling to accept any perspectives that don’t already conform to his own preconceived notions. He is so certain that he knows best when it comes to defending the country and prosecuting the War on Terror that he has suspended or overturned laws that check his presidential powers, essentially making him a de-facto monarch. In our zeal to keep the country safe, we must never forget the principles and values that we are defending—and if we condone laws that void habeas corpus, even if they aren’t used against us today, then we’re already on a slippery slope towards totalitarianism.
Walt Whitman (May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892) is widely considered to be one of America's best and most influential poets. Translated into more than 25 languages, Whitman is said to have invented contemporary American literature as a genre. Critics, as well as readers enjoying his talent, thought him a harbinger and a prophet of the gay rights struggle. In the 1970s the gay liberation movement made Whitman one of their poster children, citing the homosexual content and comparing him to Jean Genet for his love of young working-class men. Whitman, forced to cover up his true sexuality in a homophobic culture, nonetheless sang American democracy and held a philosophical view that America was destined to reinvent the world as emancipator and liberator of the human spirit. He believed that homosexuality and democracy are convergent and identified the former as the key to forming the community without which democracy would be incomplete:
It is to the development, identification, and general prevalence of that fervid comradeship (the adhesive (homosexual) love, at least rivaling the amative (heterosexual) love hitherto possessing imaginative literature, if not going beyond it), that I look for the counterbalance and offset of our materialistic and vulgar American democracy, and for the spiritualization thereof.
This week's poem is a part of Whitman's 5th book, "Calamus," and it openly celebrates a homosexual relationship as a source of happiness and satisfaction for the author. Enjoy!
- Yevgeniya -
Of the Terrible Doubt of Appearances
Of the terrible doubt of appearances,
Of the uncertainty after all, that we may be deluded,
That may-be reliance and hope are but speculations after all,
That may-be identity beyond the grave is a beautiful fable only,
May-be the things I perceive, the animals, plants, men, hills,
shining and flowing waters,
The skies of day and night, colors, densities, forms, may-be these
are (as doubtless they are) only apparitions, and the real
something has yet to be known,
(How often they dart out of themselves as if to confound me and mock me!
How often I think neither I know, nor any man knows, aught of them,)
May-be seeming to me what they are (as doubtless they indeed but seem)
as from my present point of view, and might prove (as of course they
would) nought of what they appear, or nought anyhow, from entirely
changed points of view;
To me these and the like of these are curiously answer'd by my
lovers, my dear friends,
When he whom I love travels with me or sits a long while holding me
by the hand,
When the subtle air, the impalpable, the sense that words and reason
hold not, surround us and pervade us,
Then I am charged with untold and untellable wisdom, I am silent, I
require nothing further,
I cannot answer the question of appearances or that of identity
beyond the grave,
But I walk or sit indifferent, I am satisfied,
He ahold of my hand has completely satisfied me.
What type of activities do you participate in on campus (outside the classroom)?
I went and saw this cool Ginsberg at Brooklyn College film – and I also saw the Howl at Fifty event. It was really exciting to see such a world renowned poet up close and personal.
Anonymous BC Student
I’m not actually part of any clubs on campus, but I do like to stick around after classes and hang out with friends. You can see me in the cafeteria, around the pond, on the steps of Boylan just hanging with my pals. College is more than a school, it’s a place where I can make friends and hang out with them.
David W., BC Student
I work full time and have to schedule my classes around a forty-hour work week. Needless to say this doesn't leave me any time for extracurricular activities. I would like to participate more, but I also want to graduate before 2010.
Mark, BC Student
I am a freshman and haven't really felt like I've figured everything this school has to offer out. I played tennis in high school, so I may try to play some tennis come springtime, but for now I am just enjoying meeting new people and taking care of my work load.
Ilena, BC Student
Well, ever since I took music core I enjoyed going to Gershwin for music concerts. Towards the end of the semester music majors put on shows, and I like those the best. I like seeing people my age performing music. I also like using the school tennis courts when I get the chance.
Anonymous BC Student
I love attending the Poetry Club meetings, and I really can’t wait to go to the Open Mic on Tuesday. It’s like a revelation when I see how many amazing and creative people attend Brooklyn College… and they come out of the woodwork for these events! It’s awesome…
Anonymous BC Student
Climate Change in Africa
Droughts and climate uncertainty are becoming major problems in Africa. The environmental groups say that although climates across Africa have always been unpredictable; scientific research indicates “new and dangerous extremes." Arid areas in the northern, western, and eastern parts of Africa are getting drier, while the equatorial and southern parts of Africa are getting wetter. Many dry areas will get drier and the wet areas will get wetter due to global warming, which could mean droughts and floods. Tragically, Africa has done little to cause its own global warming problems, while the rich industrialized countries have played a greater role in spreading emissions. An organization called Friends of the Earth has encouraged other countries to reduce their greenhouse emissions to help save the people of Africa and the land itself.
Finland Drenched in Alcohol
Finland’s state statistics agency has recently released figures for 2005, which indicate alcohol consumption as the leading killer of Finns between the ages of fifteen and sixty-four. The study states that alcohol is the leading cause of death for Finnish men and the second largest cause of death for Finnish women, second only to breast cancer. Figures also indicate that alcohol consumption contributed to suicides, accidents, and violence. Statistics show that consumption of alcohol in Finland has gradually risen over the past 20 years. Furthermore, in 2005 Finnish citizens drank an average of 10.5 liters of pure alcohol. Some believe this may be related to the 40% tax cut on spirits, which was administered two years earlier.
Ismo Tuominen, a senior official in the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, remarked, "If the trend continues, we are talking about a significant matter even from the point of view of the economy, because people of working age pay the pensions of the coming generations, and keep the economy competitive." In response to the growing trend, Finland’s Parliament wants to promote health warnings, restrict alcohol advertising, end discounts for alcohol sales, and ban the sale of alcohol before nine AM.
Same-Sex Weddings in Ireland
Same-sex couples wishing to enter a legal union in Ireland are forced to seek refuge in the British embassy in Dublin, since the homosexual marriage ceremony is not yet legalized in the Republic. The embassy, a British territory, has held five weddings since mid-August, all of them taking place in a public area so that any form of opposition could be openly demonstrated. Thus far, there have been no hateful incidents against same-sex couples and “no one has threatened to ruin a couple’s big day.” In order to be legally bound, however, one of the partners must be a British citizen. The embassy’s openness to homosexual unions is consistent with Britain ’s legal attitude towards gay citizens, which changed last year with the country’s legalization of civil partnerships.
Irish citizens are following Britain’s lead and demonstrating growing support for same-sex marriages – the latest polls show that 64% voted for granting the same rights and protections to homosexual couples as to heterosexuals. The Irish government recognizes the public pressure to change the law. However, as Justice Minister Michael McDowell pointed out, “granting full marriage rights [to gay couples] would require a change to the constitution.”
Source: The Guardian
Gay Pride Marching with Difficulty Toward Moscow
Although homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia in 1993, public acceptance of gay people is still up in the air as Moscow residents deliberate on whether a gay pride parade should be allowed to take place in the city in May. The government is against it, claiming it would disrupt traffic, incite violence, and flaunt something most homosexuals would rather keep private. The officials say that Russia is not ready for such a move. Muslim and Christian Orthodox religious leaders who oppose the Pride worry that it will glorify the sin of homosexuality and exacerbate existing hostilities. Organizers and supporters of the Pride, including Oscar Wilde’s grandson, Merlin Holland, say that it is a necessary and positive step toward Russia’s advancement as a tolerant nation. It will show residents that homosexuals need not be feared, pitied, or marginalized, as they are nowadays in the Russian media. Nikolai Alexeyev, the main organizer of the Pride, predicts a turnout of 5,000 and believes that, “If people had really maintained the status quo in our history, the Cold War would have never ended, Boris Yeltsin would have never come to power and homosexuality would still be a crime in Russia.”
Since May 2006, protests by teachers, activists, and grassroots movements have paralyzed the city of Oaxaca, Mexico. What began as a demand for better working conditions, pay, and plans for poorer students has expanded in light of the government’s response to the protestor’s demands. The protests now involve hundreds of thousands of people calling for the resignation of Governor Ulises Ruiz for various infractions against the people of Oaxaca. The governor has dealt poorly with the protestors, and is blamed for the death of four in June due to his disastrous call for 750 armed troops to remove the protestors. The last mass protest attracted about 900,000 people, and finally on October 28th President Vicente Fox sent in 4,000 riot police. They dispersed the protestors who had occupied the city centre, but violence still rages in Oaxaca. On October 30th, senators asked Oaxaca ’s governor to “consider” resigning in order to restore peace. As the governor refuses to resign, thousands of teachers and protestors work to regroup their efforts. Over one million children have been unable to attend school due to the continued teacher strike and failure of the Oaxacan government to address the issues effecting teachers and students.