- Austin Noel
Monday, November 24, 2008
- Austin Noel
BBC NEWS | Health | Hairspray linked to birth defect
Part of the reluctance to apply this methodology to the masses is the painful procedure. Dr. Robert C. Gallo says he’d prefer to take the medicine because of the painful transplant process. It involves obliterating the patient’s immune system and bone marrow using radiation and drugs, and replacing it with those of the donor.
The idea that there are people resistant to HIV is interesting in itself. (...) Scientists call the gene a Delta 32 mutation, first found in gay men in the early 1990’s. The mutated gene blocks receptors on white blood cell preventing an invasion of the disease. But humans are not the only answer.
Scientists are also thinking about taking stem cells from animals. In 1995, Jeff Getty had a transplant of stem cells from a baboon. Although he survived 11 years, but the process was not refined enough and he died of AIDS complications.
The idea that we can reverse AIDS is inspiring and goes to show what we can accomplish with modern medicine. Hopefully with the cure for AIDS in a primitive state, we can continue to work out the kinks and get to a cure that can be given to millions of sufferers. With this breakthrough comes hope for cures of other lethal diseases too. Just as small pox and polio no longer mean inevitable death, AIDS and other lethal diseases may someday become a thing of the past.
During Big Mike’s parole hearing, his defense lawyer, Clemente Monterosso, accused the prison’s poor diet of adding 50 pounds to his client’s girth. When Big Mike was arrested in 2006 he tipped the scales at comparatively svelte 375 pounds. Before Big Mike’s release, the two officers of the Quebec Parole Board emphasized that he is not violent and does not pose any danger to the outside world. Big Mike was freed for factors ranging from his health to good behavior and the positive testimony of his family.
The weight of inmates has also been a problem in the United States. A 500-pound Texas woman accused of killing her 2-year-old nephew is being allowed to live under house arrest during her trail due to her weight and medical conditions. The lawyer of an Ohio convict on death row argued in federal court that his client would be subject to cruel and unusual punishment if executed, due to his 5’7”/ 267 pound stature. The attorney said executioners would have issues locating his client’s veins. In another case, the arraignment of a half-ton New York man accused of shilling knockoff guitars was conducted in a parking lot because he could not fit into the courthouse.
Excuse my lack of political correctness, but should we publicly be accommodating people due to their own disregard of their personal health? Maybe it’s because I weigh less than half of most of these people, but I don’t feel rights should be proportional to weight.
Source: AOL News
Never in a million years would I have labeled myself a voyeur. The Merriam-Webster defines a voyeur as "a prying observer who is usually seeking the sordid or the scandalous" and I thought I fell as far outside of that definition as was possible. However, the more I scrutinized my everyday habits, the more I began to, grudgingly of course, accept that I am a voyeur, and reader, there is a pretty good chance that you are too. In his book, Voyeur Nation: Media, Privacy, and Peering in Modern Culture, Clay Calvert examines mediated voyeurism, defined as "the consumption of revealing images of and information about others' apparently real and unguarded lives, often yet not always for purposes of entertainment but frequently at the expense of privacy and discourse, through the means of the mass media and Internet." The act of voyeurism has transcended the typically taboo picture of the dirty old man in a trench coat peeking into unsuspecting co-eds windows, to acts we perform regularly like watching reality TV, listening to Z100's phone taps, cruising people's MySpace and Facebook pages, or the less discussed but highly popular act of watching amateur porn. Yes, I said it PORN! (...)
While innocently cruising the internet one day, I happened upon a free porn sharing site called Youporn (that's my story and I'm sticking to it). Set-up much like the ever so popular youtube site, youporn allows users to upload clips of their favorite pornographic flicks for viewing pleasure. The site is both free to upload and to view. What intrigued me most about the site, however, was that the majority of clips were not the Vivid production type porn we have usually associated with the porn genre; most of the clips were amateur porn—porn made by low budget filmmakers (think two frat guys and a camera) or couples in possession of a handheld camera and tripod. Herein lies the intrigue. When did we become a society so desensitized, that we are now willing to capture our most intimate moments and share them with millions of strangers?
A clip uploaded onto youporn begins with a young girl in what appears to be the bathroom in a private home. The clip is shot from an angle which the viewer can construe is either being shot from a hidden camera, or by someone hidden in the room. The clip allows the viewers imagination to take flight as the girl proceeds to go from one compromising position to the next seemingly oblivious to being taped. There are tons of clips like this on the website, while many others portray couples filming themselves in their homes. There are even Web Channels created by couples entirely dedicated to sharing regular clips of themselves with subscribers.
I breached the question to my friend Steve "why do you think this quality and type of porn is so popular now?" To which he replied, "Dude, if your mom tells you not to watch boobies, all you wanna do is watch boobies." While not the most eloquent answer, it got me thinking. Have we become so drawn to watching such intimate acts because we have been told repeatedly that we shouldn't? Voyeurism has for such a long time carried a negative connotation, that now that the floodgates have opened allowing the wave of reality TV shows, among other things, to flood our media, it has become cool to be a voyeur, and even cooler to become famous for being the voyeur's target.
Steve also mused that this type of porn exists specifically to be watched. It is his belief that the subjects of the videos are the ones creating this culture of voyeurism, "I mean, this is a fetish, you know? These people get off on being watched----if you think about it---who doesn't like being watched? Sex is everywhere lately. People wanna see it, do it, be it…what better way to get famous, or get people to watch you, than by giving them the very thing they WANT?"
Calvert also explores this phenomenon—called "marketplace accountability"—in his book, writing that "the public determines what is acceptable by showing their approval through tuning into the shows each week. It is what dominates the media system in the United States." Now, it seems, we are left with one of those "which came first" riddles. Are these couples filming themselves to satisfy a demand, or are these films creating the demand? Who is responsible, and who should be held accountable, for this destruction of society's respect for the intimate and private?
- Aisha Douglas
But children will be children. (....)
Children will be ungrateful and insolent, and mankind, having forgotten whence he sprang, soon came to mistreat his Mother Africa.
Africa today lies sick and broken, crushed and bleeding under the weight of centuries of European abuse and exploitation.
With the blood spilled during the Rwandan genocide barely dried, the Tutsi-Hutu conflict has again reared its ugly head---this time in the Congo. While many in the developed world enjoy viewing the Tutsi-Hutu conflict in a historical vacuum, dismissing it as "black-on-black" or "tribal" violence (thus perpetuating degrading and dehumanized views of Africans in the mainstream western media), the fact is that tensions between the two groups is largely the result of Belgian colonialism, under which rulers (or, more accurately, the ruler) institutionalized Tutsi superiority by providing them with advantages in educational and public sectors and imposing upon them the role of (violently) policing the Hutus.
Indeed, Belgian rule of the Congo was devastating and destabilizing to the fullest degree possible.
In 1885, at the Conference of Berlin, full control and political sovereignty of an area of over 2,000,000 square kilometers in Central Africa (essentially the territory of the modern Democratic Republic of the Congo) was granted to King Leopold of Belgium. From 1885 to 1905, Leopold carried out what is now a known, but little-talked about African Holocaust in the Congo. Over ten million people were murdered. Many more were enslaved, mutilated, whipped, and tortured under the orders of Leopold, who let no spark of human empathy mitigate the viciousness with which he pursued the exploitation of the Congo's vast resources---gold, diamonds, cobalt, maganese, fruit products, and most notably, rubber.
King Leopold's Soliloquy, by Mark Twain, is a pamphlet published in 1905 by the American Congo Reform Association that exposes King Leopold of Belgium's brutal methods of colonial rule. Written in the format of a one-person play, the Soliloquy is scathingly parodic, portraying a mad King raving about meddlesome humanitarian missionaries and journalists who fail to see the good that he, who "ooz[es] piety from every pore", has done for the people of the Congo. Throughout his rant, Leopold picks up pieces of paper on which accounts of horrific acts of violence perpetrated upon the Congolese are written by missionaries. Rape, beheading, the amputation of right hands from living people, and forced-cannibalism are among the atrocities documented. All the accounts are real, gathered by the Congo Reform Association to inform Twain's writing.
The Soliloquy is published in its original form, complete with missing pages and blurred print, in the interest of preserving an important historical document. It is followed by an interview with a Reverend that was published in the English Review in 1905 discussing whether or not King Leoplod should be hanged for his crimes.
King Leopold's Soliloquy created such an outcry among a formerly ignorant American and British public that its publication was banned for 90 years, only to be recommenced by the revolutionary Haymarket Press. I encourage everyone to read it, both as a nod to the late, great, Mark Twain, and in an effort to deepen your understanding of the past, present, and future of Africa--whose welfare and fate is inextricably linked to that of the human race at large.
* (According to the Multiregional Continuity Model, it was homo erectus who left Africa, later evolving into homo sapien in other parts of the world, but the general and evidentially best-supported consensus in the scientific community is the Out of Africa Model.) -Ingrid Feeney
This week Meaghan Keeler shares a poem by William Blake
William Blake was born in 1757 in London, England. At age 10 his father sent him to art school, which would be his only experience of formal education. When he was 24 he married Catherine Boucher, the illiterate daughter of a market gardener. Not only did Blake teach her how to read and write but also how to engrave and print, skills he picked up after art school. In 1800 Blake moved to Felpham, on the Sussex seacoast, where he met and worked with a wealthy biographer named William Hayley. Hayley tried to convince Blake to conform to conventional artistry, but it didn’t work; Blake would later call Hayley the “enemy of [his] Spiritual Life.” As he grew older Blake returned to painting, and died in 1827 working on pictures for Dante’s Divine Comedy. Although he was not well-known as a poet during his life, Blake has gained a tremendous amount of respect from students, professors and readers alike.
The Clod and the Pebble
“Love seeketh not Itself to please.
Nor for itself hath any care;
But for another gives its ease,
And builds a Heaven in Hell’s despair.”
So sang a little Clod of Clay,
Trodden with the cattle’s feet;
But a Pebble of the brook,
Warbled out these metres meet:
“Love seeketh only Self to please,
To bind another to its delight;
Joys in another’s loss of ease,
And builds a Hell in Heaven’s despite.”
I first read this poem in a class I took a few semesters ago and I remember being drawn to it’s structure. Blake presents a poem with symmetry; you can almost draw a line in the middle and separate the two conflicting views. The quotes from both the clay and the pebble are eerily similar, using almost the same words to describe their opposing beliefs. But even with this rigid structure, the poem speaks to such large ideas. Blake is able to talk about the meaning of love and how our thinking and actions impact our feelings yet the poem itself barely takes up half of a page. (...)
We see the speaker touch on the two extremes of love: the side that gives and the side that takes. The images Blake uses mesh well with those he is trying to convey. First we have a clod of clay, finding out midway through the poem that it has been “trodden with cattle’s feet.” By mentioning that it has been walked on we see that the clay is willing to do whatever it takes, including sacrificing itself, for the person it loves. But it doesn’t just end there; the clay can’t even pick itself back up. It has been changed in an instant, stuck until someone else comes along and does it again.
In contrast to such a flexible object we get the image of a pebble in a brook. Even though the image itself is harder, the pebble is in water not on the ground. This shows that it too is not immune to the whims of love. Here the change is slower and thus reflects the kind of changes we experience in love coming gradually. Nothing has smashed the pebble, but instead we understand the progressive wearing away.
The speaker argues that when we love for another, we can build a heaven even when in hell. This idea makes me think of people in unhealthy relationships that know they are being taken advantage of, but still only see the good side of the person they are with. When people only look out for themselves in love, we are presented with the ability to turn any good situation bad. These two characteristics don’t make either view very appealing and leave most readers craving a happy medium: a love where we can live in heaven and appreciate it at the same time.
The views being discussed in “The Clod and the Pebble” are not limited to two different people. Blake himself was interested in a duality of existence, shown through the titles of his most famous works Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience. This poem also could be a way to express what Blake called the “two contrary states of the human soul.” Maybe in the end we are all a little clay and a little pebble.
Describe your funniest or most embarrassing Thanksgiving memory.
Well, I grew up vegetarian, so my mother never made a turkey for Thanksgiving. We also always ate much later than your average American family. One year, we had a lot of extended family over, some of whom ate meat, so my mother made a turkey. When nine-o-clock rolled around and we still hadn't eaten, all the older members of the extended family were thoroughly disgruntled. My mom finally got the turkey on the table, only to be distracted by the fact that Lucy, a dog who our friends had recently found on the streets of Kathmandu, Nepal, had somehow gotten into a bunch of wine and was being disruptive. Next thing we knew, Lucy was on the table, eating the turkey. It was pretty funny.
One year I George Forman Grilled my foot.
My brother wanted to plan a surprise marriage proposal for his girlfriend, so he begged my mom to put the ring in the turkey. It was the dumbest idea EVER, but my mom agreed. She didn't want to put the ring box in the turkey though, so she took the ring, stuck it into the stuffing and put the stuffing into the turkey. My brother had to scrape all the stuffing out the turkey to find the ring...his girlfriend's face was PRICELESS! I thought she was gonna say no to him, but she didn't. Good for her.
I did not grow up in America and my family comes together only around Labor Day, so I don't have an embarrassing story. Though, one year we tried it and I ended up eating turkey neck soup. HEY, does that count?�
My grandpa talks about Bill O'Reilly and how great Republicans are at a table filled with politically-obsessed Democrats. This year should be lots of fun as he talks about how much more experience Sarah Palin has than Barack Obama with facts that even Fox News will admit to be false. Oh joy! It was so bad that one year my mom actually paid me $20 to keep my mouth shut haha!
One year my Grandparents went on a healthy kick. So we had turkey, but everything else was somehow low fat or high fiber and really gross. In my family, the grownups always sit at the dining room table and the kids, me, my sister and the cousins are forced to eat in the kitchen. Anyways, after this horrific, healthy meal, my grandma serves us these high fiber cookies for dessert. And they were like rocks. So we started throwing them at one another. Really hard. And then my grandmother walked in and there were cookies all over the place. And that was the last time she ever made a healthy thanksgiving.�
When we were young, my cousins and I used to go under the table and tie all of the adults shoes together. But, because most of my extended family are joyless snobs they never played it up and just untied their shoes. This happened every Thanksgiving from age 3 to age 8.
For once, I don't have a story. Every Thanksgiving is the same for my family, and just like every other time we get together. Heated arguments about politics and talking shit about the family. I should go to some patriotic family's thanksgiving dinner and bring a Native American date.�
You want my honest answer? I have none. The only thing so special about thanksgiving is my mom's cranberry sauce. BUT, my mom has a great story. When she was about 15 years old, the same year JFK was shot, she was sitting in the living room on the couch that also doubled as her bed. My grandmother, Esther, was in the kitchen cooking. All of a sudden, my mother heard a wild scream from the kitchen and Esther came running into the living room and began jumping up and down on the couch. She had opened the oven to take out the turkey and had found a mouse! My grandfather, who was in the shower, heard the screaming and came running downstairs to see what the alarm was about, barely wrapped in his towel. He took the mouse and threw it outside and proceeded back to his shower. My mother continued studying. My grandmother sat catching her breath before she shakily returned to the kitchen.�
I had a turkey named "Gobble Gobble" when I was about 7. I lived in the Caribbean though, but one Thanksgiving my aunt was visiting from the US and convinced my mom to celebrate this wonderful day. Let's just say, "Gobble Gobble" was the Thanksgiving sacrifice. I still hate my aunt for her stupid idea...poor "Gobble, Gobble."
I hate Thanksgiving! Every year I have to be the freakin referee when my mom and grandma start fighting. I think I may just boycott Thanksgiving this year.
I'm sure it wouldn't be funny to you, but one year my family was over for Thanksgiving and we had to go around the table and tell why we were thankful.. really corny, but when it got around to my step-dad, (he was last) he was SUPER over the top and started crying. It was funny because we all know he did that just to make a scene. What made it even funnier was that my younger cousin was clownin the entire time...
Monday, November 17, 2008
Afghani Acid Assaults
The streets are not safe if you are a girl going to school in Afghanistan, where it has become a risk to get your education. Recently, young women have been attacked outside of their schools. The assailants shoot acid into the girls’ faces using toy guns. The veils worn by the students shield most of their faces, but serious damage is being done. It is a mystery to who is doing this, but many believe it is being done by those who oppose the education of females. The Taliban banned schooling for women when they were in power, but since their demise women have been able to go to school. The Taliban claims it is not responsible for these assaults. Nothing has been done about this matter other than NATO forces calling the attacks “cowardly”, so these women continue to live in fear.
- Joe Pugliesi
The virtual world has put a whole new twist on marriage and adultery through the medium known as Second Life. Second Life "allows users to create alter egos known as 'avatars' and interact with other players, forming relationships, holding down jobs and trading products and services for a virtual currency convertible into real life dollars."
It is this very world that has caused enthusiast, Amy Taylor's divorce with her husband David Pollard, after catching him in a compromising position with a prostitute...in Second Life. If this seems a bit strange, don't worry it only gets stranger. Amy and David were married in real life and in Second Life in 2005. Amy began to suspect that David was cheating and subsequently hired an online private detective to track David's activities in the online world. It was Amy, however, who discovered David's avatar having sex with a "virtual prostitute." (...) Amy told the Western Morning News, "he never did anything in real life, but I had my suspicions about what he was doing in Second Life...I looked at the computer screen and could see his character having sex with a female character. It's cheating as far as I'm concerned." The couple is now separated, but David maintains his innocence stating: "we weren't even having cyber sex or anything like that, we were just chatting and hanging out together."
Patriot Act aside, is it really okay to base real life decisions on someone's online activities? When did it become okay to remove the differentiation between the virtual and the real? I don't know about you, but I find it ridiculous that an entire marriage’s survival could be based on one of the member's online sexual proclivities—sounds to me like Amy just wanted out. Conveniently enough, she is currently "dating" someone she met while playing World of Warcraft.
Out of principle, I avoid the news. With headlines reading "Triple Baghdad Blasts Kill Dozens", "Boy, 8, on double murder charge," and "Teenage girl wins right to die," it’s almost masochistic not to. News of the school building that collapsed in Haiti killing most of its students early this week, four of whom belonged to a single mother, is even worse. "China Stomps on Call for Tibetan Autonomy," yet again. "Mystery of lost US nuclear bomb,” still unresolved. "Woman Abducted by North Korea alive." And all this, not even inches apart on the screen, not even seconds from reading: "Music Video: Squarepusher in Session." Don’t get me wrong, I’ve spent hours studying to Squarepusher's "Tundra," and I appreciate the video. But, really? (....)
Reading the news, for me, just reinforces that wrenching fear that the world might really be as terrible as it seems, and that maybe we are as base, savage, and as full of cruel instincts as my guts sometimes writhe to feel. My failure to keep up with the news is not something I'm proud of. I realize it’s almost as though I am turning away from those that need to be acknowledged, that are in need. But it's taking the news of others’ suffering so lightly, lightly enough to hold it on level with "Music Video: Squarepusher in Session," that makes me sick enough to avoid it.
In Long Island seven high schoolers set out “to beat up some Mexicans” on Nov 8th. They settled for an Ecuadorian, whom they pummeled and killed. This is what one member on the VNN site had to say: “This beaner's full of shit. People don't want to tolerate, and shouldn't, people who aren't supposed to be here stealing jobs away. He fails, conveniently so, to mention the difference between legal immigrants and illegal immigrants.” Here’s another: “Six White's should be worth at least 10 times their number in casualties, so 6 x 10 = 60 dead latrinos and it may be worth talking about. I'm just sick of seeing good White folk lose their lives…”
It's hard to find the will to keep reading when you realize that you and those around you might not be as different or far from these boys as you’d like to be. Criminals, murderers, but boys, still just boys—as my younger brother is still a boy, and my youngest sister is dating one. How do you take this in? How does it inform your interpretation of the world around you? How does it con you into perceiving differently the quiet boy on the train you might not have noticed an hour ago? Aside from anger, or rage, what drives us on? Which mouth replenishes the hope that feeds us when that kiss Bernard of Clairvaux spoke of is silent and dry?
Tonight, after hours of searching through at least ten reputed news sites, I found these blatantly small-coin, nothing-stories, almost not even worth reporting, except that they helped find what that faint source of hope is for me: "Lost Wallet Found After 55 Years," "Lost Wallet Returned 39 Years On," and "Thief Sent 'Sorry' Letter to Shop." Sometimes seeing the small acts we are capable of can help reconstruct, and illuminate, the greater ones.
Mr. Glenn Goodlove probably lost his wallet in the back seat of his 1946 Hudson car while kissing a girl, home on leave from the US army. Two classic car collectors found the wallet, and went through the trouble of locating the Glenn Putnam on the ID, to then find he had changed his name. Mr. Goodlove, now 75, reports BBC, says, “the find has brought memories of [Mr. Goodlove’s] youth" flooding back. "I could see the house and the car and the town and all the good stuff from living there.”
Doug Schmitt, now 57, left his wallet on the counter of a petrol station in Utah in the Spring of 1967. The owner saved the wallet, hoping Mr. Schmitt would return. Decades later, Mr. Schmitt was located on the internet, and sent the wallet, with its $5 in cash and 8-cent airmail stamps still in it. Mr Schmitt, who is an antiques dealer, said "he was used to looking through people's old relics and letters, but was surprised to find himself looking at his own history." "I never thought I would be the object of something like this," BBC quotes him, "not at this age, anyway." His wife is glad for the college picture of her husband with a full head of hair.
"Dear sirs, I am writing this letter to make amends to you for something I have done in the past," read an anonymous letter received by Imran Ahmed. "About seven years ago I was walking past your shop late one night when I noticed that someone had broken into it," quotes BBC. "I used this opportunity to enter your shop where I stole 400 cigarettes. The money enclosed (£100) is to pay for those cigarettes which I stole from you.” The writer, a recovering drug addict, explains, “As part of my ongoing recovery I try to put right all of the wrongs I have done in the past, at least where I can…” Imran Ahmed was touched by the remorseful letter and the writer’s desire to “strive to lead a decent and honest life....” He plans to donate the money to a drugs' charity.
In these three stories, two people consciously took the time to consider what might illuminate a strangers day, a third made a wrong right, (a wrong most likely forgotten by everyone but himself), and a fourth gracefully accepted an apology and was in turn inspired to help another. The selflessness necessary to risk a storm or a flood, as so many relief teams and volunteer workers do, is admirable; but the amount of consideration and thought it takes to perform the smaller acts that most often go unapplauded, suggest that even the meeker of us have something to offer. These small incidences of kindness and redemption hardly ever make the headlines, but remain buried in there somewhere, under all of the garbage and debris, that, did I mention, we are slowly finding ways to clean up....
Source: BBC- Lost Wallet Found After 55 Years
BBC- Lost Wallet Returned 39 Years On
BBC- Thief Sent 'Sorry' Letter to Shop
- Carolina Alvarado
Culture of Fear
Since the world began, people have been prophesizing how and when it would all come to an end. There are websites that track these predictions as far back as the year 44, showing that these forecasts can only be mere guesses. Jehovah's Witnesses have been making predictions about the "end" for almost a century: in 1914, 1915, 1918, 1920, 1925, 1941, 1975 and 1994. The fact that we keep trying to pin down when and how this world will end also shows that there is something in our collective consciousness that is fascinated with speculating and becoming fearful of the unknown. (...)
Many extremists use this psychology against us, asserting to have foreknowledge of these coming catastrophes. By claiming to be the "chosen" sect to survive, they use the idea of an apocalypse as a means of control. One of the most famous examples of fear leading to tragedy was the Heaven's Gate cult, who used the coming "rejuvenation" (destruction) of planet earth to convince 38 of its member to commit suicide in March of 1997. Leader Marshall Applewhite convinced members that the only way to salvation was to die and board a spaceship that would be traveling behind the Hale Bop comet. It has been over 10 years since the Heaven's Gate disaster and there still has been no "recycling" of the planet, but there have been more speculations about the end.
I remember people freaking out that the coming of the new millennium (Y2K) would lead to shattering effects on society. Computers would set themselves to the year zero and anything stored in their hard drives would be lost forever. People were spending thousands of dollars to build underground shelters and were stocking up on canned food preparing for disaster. People flocked to banks in the days before Y2K, afraid that ATM's would freeze and lock up all their cash. Yet we all watched on New Years Eve as nothing happened and everything transitioned smoothly.
More recently, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) created on the Swiss-French boarder was reported to have a risk of creating black holes as a result of smashing protons into each other. Even though physicists discussed these effects, claiming that any black holes would disappear as fast as they were created, causing no damage, people were still freaking out and preparing for the entire globe to be sucked into a microscopic abyss. The LHC ran into some problems and testing will have to be postponed until next summer, but don't worry─ we have four long years to fear the coming end predicted in 2012.
Recently there has been huge controversy (and book sales) spurring from the fear that the year 2012 will mark the end of the world. Theorists base this claim on the Mayan calendar, which ends after the winter solstice of 2012 but never openly claims that an apocalypse will follow. People have read the ending of the calendar as a sign that Mayans must have known a huge change was coming. My issue with this claim is the Mayans began recording events on both the Long Count and the Gregorian calendars after the Spanish Inquisition. This leads me to believe that the end of the Long Count calendar may have been for other reasons beside a coming apocalypse. People who claim to know about the end in 2012 get their information from post-Mayan scholars who have tried to line up the Long Count dates to our modern calendar, predicting that the end falls sometime around December 21, 2012.
At least New Age theorists have learned their lesson from men like William Miller, who predicted the end, via the second coming of Jesus Christ, to come on a specific date: October 22, 1844. The days leading up to what is now known as the "Great Disappointment" were similar to the days before Y2K. People were freaking out, unable to do anything but sit and wait. Scenarios like this remind us not to become too wrapped up in theories predicting the end of the world. The bottom line is, even if the Mayans were right and the end is coming in 2012, there is nothing we can do about it. To speculate and worry for the next four years would be a waste of time, because even if they're right it doesn't mean that our lives are guaranteed for the next four years.
With problems like global warming and ozone depletion starting to show grim effects on our environment, it seems more rational to worry about problems that are negatively impacting our world that can be proven and combated. Just in case 2012 theorists, like many others before them, guessed wrong on when the world will end, we should have a plan to ensure a better planet before then. Fear can be paralyzing, and we must struggle against feeling helpless and giving up. Instead of being fearful of things that may happen tomorrow, focus on what you can do today.
Love is Dead -- Lowry is ThrivingThe Brooklyn-based Indy-rock band Lowry released their second album, Love is Dead, a few weeks ago with a live performance at Webster Hall. It was the first time I’d seen the band in well over a year, and I’d never heard them sound so tight.
Lowry’s new songs are inspired and edgy, yet earnest and heartfelt, with not an ounce of the hipster kitschy-ness that most Brooklyn bands rely on to draw crowds – just a vibrant, impassioned chemistry of bass, drums, guitar, keyboard and banjo led by singer/songwriter Alex Lowry.
The record is masterful – vibrant, full of life and mixed to perfection, with vocals notably mixed down for a rougher, indy-rock profile. (....)
The songs have a strong folk undercurrent, but they're also slightly spacey, reminiscent of nineties progressive rock groups like Built-To-Spill, The Flaming Lips and even early Radiohead, with fuzzy keyboard tones and heavily affected lead guitar lines.
In the Myspace era, when ambitious songwriters are shortening and pop-ifying tunes to hook their over stimulated audience, Lowry’s songs are long and contemplative. They unfold intuitively to tell stories, and not to satisfy a tired formula.
Originally from Kansas, frontman Alex Lowry still carries in his singing voice a peculiar country-boy twang that separates him from the mass of white tenor songwriters in New York. His vocal melodies duck, weave and twirl – like a running back – to avoid cliché.
Alex’s lyrics are simple and immediate, and act as beautiful percussive & melodic textures over the already intricate sound, yet when the listener starts to zero in for meaning, their role deepens considerably. These are the opening lines of Roads:
Roads to the places you don’t wanna go
Like the Texico with the frowning man
Look out for animals crossing your way
Look out for women trying to find their way in.
Heartfelt and therapeutic, yet elusive and non-sentimental, Alex’s lyrics have the visceral, stripped down poeticism of Charles Bukowski, but tend to get heady, even fringe on psychoanalytic, as in the coda of Roads:
Too much strangling love-entangled life-affirming vibrating beauty
Too much cosmic breath-taking fortifying forever-dying beauty
Of course, I couldn’t give an adequate description of the singing on Love is Dead without paying due to the harmonies of Heidi Sidelinker, whose haunting voice looms over Alex’s with Garfunkel-esque precision and tastefulness.
Greg Tuohey’s lead guitar is also worth noting. In Roads and Zipped Up the Lost Coat especially, it pierces through the heaviest rock sections of the album with warm, pastel tones in jagged and frenetic patterns that are reminiscent of Johnny Greenwood on Radiohead’s Ok Computer.
As a songwriter myself, Love is Dead just inspires the hell out of me. It is organic, selfless, and intuitive music that slips out of the stranglehold of any defined genre, yet knows exactly what it is—independent. My only complaint of the album is that it is too short with only eight songs.
The buzz at Lowry’s record release party that night at Webster Hall was that the band had actually made money on their most recent tour – a huge victory for independent artists everywhere – and they exuded confidence, composure and most of all, independence.
- Dan Asselin
Our Brain on Music
Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks
Have you ever heard a song played, hummed along with it, and looked for the radio to turn the volume up higher, only to realize that the radio was not turned on? Such a case, and many more musical tales of our brain’s symphony, are deeply explored in Dr. Oliver Sacks’ revised book, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain. Presented through the eyes of an inquisitive physician, who doubles as a fellow man with musical challenges of his own, his quirky anecdotes and case studies are in a way both subjectively and objectively portrayed. (....)
Dr. Sacks’ personal anecdotes about his experiences with feeling music in his life—hearing a catchy tune over and over again, or becoming engrossed in the performance of a classical piece all in his own head—are striking and engagingly familiar. It is these first person accounts I found myself agreeing with. Take for example what Sacks’ calls “pianist’s imagery.” Even a quick glance at the score sheet of an opus can lead to seeing one’s fingers flying over the black and white piano keys to the final pleasure of hearing and feeling the richness in a piece of music.
Visualizing the physical aspect—pressing keys or plucking strings—and consequently hearing the notes is something I, as an amateur violinist, can relate to. “I tend to fall in love with a certain composer or artist and to play their music over and over, almost exclusively, for weeks or months, until it is replaced with something else,” says Sacks; something I can absolutely relate to as well.
As a practicing physician, Sacks’ does bring in related cases of patients he has treated or who have come to him for advice. In fact, the case studies are the bread and butter of this book. From testimonies on musical hallucinations and accounts of amusia (when the perception or interpretation of music is misconstrued), to the effects of memory on music and the many descriptions of the results from temporal lobe imaging tests, Sacks gives a versatile array of such accounts even presenting them in their original letter forms, emphasizing the first-hand perspective of each case.
The downside of such a presentation is that many of the cases take on a hospital-like aura, as if we as readers have just been teleported to Sacks’ examining table. While at first, such exposure was novel, it becomes somewhat of a burden at the end of the book.
However, it is the story of music and the brain that continues to glide through the pages, defining musciophilia, our love for music, almost as if it were a living thing, Sacks persuades us that music can become an extension of ourselves, like an added appendage. For in Sacks words, “Music is part of being human, and there is no human culture in which it is not highly developed and esteemed.”
Mike B. answered "Richard from Guess Who."
Dominique G. answered "Wow that's a tough question. I don't know. (After constant questioning) I am the Walrus. Coocoocachoo.
Tiffany C. answered "A girl standing in front of a boy."
John D. answered "I am that I am."
Monday, November 10, 2008
Following is a poem by an anonymous intern:
November 4, 2008
In these crispy autumn winds a gale of change does blow.
And carried in that breeze can be that fear that shows
itself at the beginning of a long and unmapped journey.(...)
Although the past may serve as prologue, the forward is not finale.
Let our exhausted hearts be brave, let our uncertain future rally
us to persevere. Trust that weary legs can still carry,
can still stride shaky grounds undauntedly, our steady hearts are able
to un-tether us from sinking ships of precedent. Let those unstable
vessels founder now. The past has lost its power.
Mark this hour. For in the name of love today we proclaim victory.
Mark this day our new anniversary.
After September 11th 2001, the Bush Administration passed the Patriot Act, which essentially negates many of the rights afforded to citizens of the United States by the Constitution. Also passed during this time were the "Military Commission Orders", a body of laws drafted by the Department of Defense and signed by John Ashcroft. Military Commission Order No. 3 put into effect what are referred to as "Special Administrative Measures," or SAMS.
This Military Order No. 3, enacted on November 13, 2001 deals with the "detention, treatment and trial of certain non-citizens in the War Against Terrorism," and with the "monitoring of communications (including oral, electronic, written or any other means) between individuals whom the President has determined to be subject to reference...for security or intelligence purposes. For purposes of this Order, "monitoring" includes both real-time interception and analysis and recording of the subject communications by any means."
Among the people being detained under SAMS is Sayed Fahad Hashmi, alum of Brooklyn College's political science department. (...) He was arrested on June 6th, 2006 at Heathrow Airport based on an indictment from an American federal grand jury. He was subsequently imprisoned as a “Category A” inmate at London's Prison, Belmarsh, for a year while fighting American extradition. Following the High Court of England and Wales' ruling against him in May of 2007, Hashmi was extradited to the United States where he has since been held in solitary confinement in Manhattan with no trial.
"The US government accuses Fahad of providing material support to Al Qaeda, but a close look at the evidence shows that the charges make little sense. He is awaiting trial in 2009 for letting a former acquaintance, Junaid Babar, stay for a couple of weeks in his London apartment, where Babar allegedly stored ponchos, raincoats and waterproof socks in a suitcase. Then Babar─ not Hashmi─ gave these socks and ponchos, it is alleged, to a high-ranking member of Al Qaeda." (freefahad.com)
Fahad is on 23-hour solitary confinement lockdown, with one hour of recreation allowed per day─ in a cage. At first he was not allowed to see anyone. Now he is permitted one visitor for an hour and a half every other week. He is forbidden to listen to news, radio or watch televised news reports. He is allowed to read newspapers deemed appropriate by his jailers, after they are 30 days old.
It is the undisputed consensus among psychologists is that "There is not a single published study of solitary or supermax-like confinement . . . that failed to result in negative psychological [and often physical] effects."So not only will Hashmi have been stripped of his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment, but also his Sixth Amendment right to be in sound enough condition to prepare for his defense and thereby receive a fair trial.
Jeanne Theoharis, a professor here at Brooklyn College, has helped to organize a Free Fahad campaign. The campaign's official website can be found here.I entreat you all to read more about this case, for it does not only involve the needless suffering of an innocent man but also illuminates the egregious assault on personal freedoms carried out by the Bush administration in the name of the "War on Terror."
Source: The Village Voice
Africa’s Unwell Heart
Tens of thousands of people are still running, displaced in the Democratic Republic of Congo. “Without improvements in the security situation, people will be forced to continue running,” notes a Doctor without Borders article.
Civilians have long been caught in the middle of a control battle between local and foreign militias and the Congolese army since 1998. The fight over power has intensified since September 2007, and even though a cease-fire treaty was signed in January 2008, armed groups continue to attack the civilians at random. (...)
Then in August 2008, war resumed in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In early October, rebels attacked a Congolese army base and all hell broke loose. People who were already living in refugee camps were forced to leave. Some camps are deserted while others are being burned down. This cycle of repeated displacement makes aid delivery scarce; clean water, healthcare and food are especially needed. Ironically, the void created by the lack of basic necessities is filled with an overabundance of social unrest, rape, epidemics and the general fear of being killed.
Genocide, invasion and civil war have long been the main disease attacking central Africa. We should all remember the terrible genocide in Rwanda in 1994. The Hutu attacked the Tutsi and desperation spread everywhere. It lasted for one hundred days. The West did not intervene and the UN watched from afar. This cannot happen again!
The US, Europe and Asia (to name the obvious) can work together and come up with ideas and money for bail out plans for our needs, so why is it that these powerful nations cannot get together and really formulate a hands-on plan for Africa? I understand that we are busy people but the people of DRC are dejected and exhausted because they have been running for ten years. As absorbed as we are in our own state of chaos, nothing compares to what is going on in the heart of Africa. Nothing!
Source: Doctors Without Borders
This week Jacob Victorine introduces us to spoken word poet Suheir Hammad
Watch Hammad's Performance Here
“Suheir Hammad is a Palestinian-American poet, author and political activist who was born on October 1973 in Amman, Jordan to Palestinian refugee parents and immigrated with her family to Brooklyn, New York City when she was five years old. Her parents later moved to Staten Island.”
Note* Unfortunately, I do not have access to a written copy of “What I Will,” so I was forced to transcribe the poem from Hammad’s performance to the best of my ability. I used traditional punctuation and tried created line breaks based on the pauses in her speech pattern. With that tidbit of information out of the way, I present to you:
“What I Will”
I will not dance to your war drum.
I will not lend my soul
nor my bones
to your war drum.
I will not dance to your beating.
I know that beat.
It is lifeless.
I know intimately that skin you are hitting.
It was alive once.
Hunted, stolen, stretched.
I will not dance to your drummed up war.
I will not pop, spin, break for you.
I will not hate for you
or even hate you.
I will not kill for you.
Especially, I will not die for you.
I will not mourn the dead with murder nor suicide.
I will not side with you
or dance to bombs
because everyone else is dancing.
Everyone can be wrong.
Life is a right
I will not forget where I come from.
I will craft my own drum.
Gather my beloved near
and our chanting will be dancing.
Our humming will be drumming.
I will not be played.
I will not lend my name
nor my rhythm to your beat.
I will dance and resist
and dance and persist
is louder than death.
Your war drum
than this breath.
I was first introduced to Suheir Hammad while watching Russell Simmon’s Def Poetry on HBO. I can’t remember what season of the series I first saw her, but I do remember that she instantly stood out due to her stage presence, confidence and clear delivery. Hammad is strikingly beautiful, which as a spoken word poet could have boxed her in, since her appearance is part of her poetry. At first glance, one might expect her poems to focus on love and relationships, but Hammad flips this stereotype on its head. To the contrary, much of her poetry is grounded in social or political issues, but told from a personal perspective. (...)
“What I Will” is by far my favorite of Hammad’s poems. Every single time I listen to it I get chills down my spine. With its spare style, repetition, powerful imagery and infrequent, but effective rhyme it seems to conjure Langston Hughes. When discussing a disturbing social or political issue, one could do much worse.
Throughout “What I Will,” Hammed takes the cliché phrase “war drum” and cleverly turns it into an image that persists throughout her poem. The first instance that the poem begins to pull me in is with Hammad’s description of the drum: “I know intimately that skin you are hitting./ It was alive once./ Hunted, stolen, stretched.” Using a hunting metaphor, she reminds the listener that wars are often built on the backs of the dead; that there is a human cost to war. Hammad then furthers her drum imagery by using different connotations of the word. She calls the war a sham or “drummed up” and then uses people dancing as a metaphor for following the propaganda machine of war. I love the way she plays with the idea of a drum throughout the piece.
The section that always seems to suck me in, however, is “life is a right/ not collateral/ or casual.” It is the first time in the poem that Hammad uses a hard “c” sound and it brings power to her words. She then mixes this sound with alliteration and a slant rhyme in a brief three-word span between “collateral” and “casual.” Hammad captures the significance of life with a few simple words, but words that pack more power than thousands of the most complex could.
Hammad’s metaphor begins to fully form when she states: “Gather my beloved near/ and our chanting will be dancing./ Our humming will be drumming.” Hammad’s fight against this war will be through her words. She will not dance or drum, but chant and hum instead. The repetition of dance and the brief rhyme that soon follows this cements the strength of Suheir’s words. She says: “I will dance and resist/ and dance and persist/ and dance.” The word “dance” acts as brackets and a centerpiece for her rhyme of “resist” and “persist.” This structured repetition punctuations the importance of the few words she uses in this section.
My favorite lines of Hammad’s poem are reserved for her ending. Playing off of her many previous drum metaphors, she illustrates the impact of words. She says:
is louder than death.
Your war drum
than this breath.
The beat of a heart, Hammad’s heart, is “louder” than the beat of death that gives war its rhythm; her breath, her words, are “louder” than any propaganda pushed to pursue war.
After all of this talk of the structure and devices used by Hammad, it is extremely important to note her performance. Hammad’s poem is effective and beautiful on paper, but her presentation is what gives it its power. Her deliberate delivery mixed with an underlying, but restrained emotion gives the poem a fire that burns just below the surface. This control—the fact that the flame never reaches a full burn is what makes Hammad’s words so commanding. You can feel the emotion seeping through the pores of the poem, but she never allows it to prevent the significance of her words from getting through.
- Jacob Victorine
Source: Suheir Hammad's Official Website
A Festering Turd Even Obama Can't Polish
Originally I'd planned to write this article on Bronx Gangster Larry Davis and his folk hero standing. I heard about him for the first time when it was reported he'd been killed in prison. He was infamous for shooting 6 police officers then eluding a citywide search for 17 days. After a complex and lengthy trial he was found "not guilty" to all 6 charges of attempted murder, a decision that bisected New Yorkers pretty much right down the race line. NY's black community regarded Davis a hero and celebrated his exoneration as a triumph over racist law enforcement tactics. Kids at the time even made up a dance called "the Larry Davis" to honor his victory over police persecution.
City officials, the NYPD and many white new Yorkers considered him a monster; some 1500 police officers and their supporters gathered to demonstrate his acquittal. When Davis did eventually go to jail in 1991 on a weapons charge--where he stayed until his recent death--he was subject to disturbing retributive acts by police like beatings, feces in his food and all out attempts on his life.
Then I stopped writing, and I started thinking. Does white America understand why Larry Davis is revered instead of abhorred? Could they understand the twisted history which fuels the distain black America has for the police? Did I even fully understand why I allied with Larry Davis?
The answer lies in history.
First of all, slavery was not abolished because the majority decided racism was bad. It was abolished for economic reasons. Few provisions were put in place to protect freed people. We were lynched without trial, our lives worth little more than that of the mule we were promised but never received. Our inferiority was still presumed. Racism was institutionalized. We were segregated. Relegated to substandard facilities by the country we built for free. We were not included in the plan for America's future. America was a scary and dangerous place for us. The only home we ever knew was not a welcoming one. We were not welcomed here.
Fast-forward to the present day, where black people are still second class citizens. Every other immigrant group has eventually been accepted as Americans, except for us. We are still suspect. We are still subject to racism. We are watched by the officials. We are arrested for driving while black. The plantation overseer still exists and has been given a new name: Police Officer. We are still killed at will. We still are not welcomed here.
Larry Davis became a folk hero because he fought back. He did not let corrupt cops kill him like they'd killed us before, like they'd kill us again if we let them. And he got away! And he got acquitted! He stands as an example of us not only fighting back but winning!!
This brings me to Barak Obama. I was really proud the night he was elected. Seeing a black family as our first family was a powerful and moving image. His election however, was but the first step in a very long and uncharted journey. This single act is not enough to repair the longstanding damage slavery and institutionalized racism has caused the black American psyche. This single act alone means nothing.
With Barack Obama's recent victory, his supporters are thrilled by the symbolic implications for the future of the country and all of mankind. Though avid Obama fans, we at the Boylan Blog started to feel a bit numbed by all the lofty rhetoric surrounding him, and wanted to know instead how everyday Brooklynites imagined Obama's presidency would affect their day-to-day lives in the next few years.
This week Dan Asselin and Chantal Hauser asked the students of Brooklyn College:
How do you think Obama’s Presidency will directly affect your Life?
“I will finally admit to being an American abroad, and feel more like one at home.”
–Carolyn Soroka, Smart Student
“The President will be representing my political views for once.” –Brett, Hard Worker
“He makes me more interested in Politics, whereas before I never really cared. Before the walls of my rooms were lined with Art. Now, I hung up Obama’s commencement speech, which I intend on showing my children and grandchildren.” –Jennie, Dancer
"It think he will keep his promise and bring the troops back from Iraq, which will directly effect our family because my husband has a nephew there. I think the Stock market will react favorably to Obama's being elected which will positively effect our pensions, which have recently taken a nosedive. And I also think that he thinks enough about education to halt some of these No-Child-Left-Behind initiatives which will effect my husband's job as a teacher and also our kids' experience in public schools. "
--Katherine, Professor at Brooklyn College
"I don't know, maybe I'll meet more European chicks." -Julian, Musician
"It's going to cost me a couple of extra dollars, but in the next few years I believe with Obama's policies all my employees will be able to get health insurance. And also, his 4,000 tax credit will benefit my daughter in college."
--Mike, General Contractor
"It's a shame that I won't be able to think of Sarah Palin in the shower anymore. Hahahaha. I'm actually pretty skeptical. I don't think he's going to effect my life that much -- we're in so much deep shit right now that it will take his policies a long, long time to become effective." --Otto, Restaurant Owner
"Hmmm...(thinking), Well, I guess I won't be needing that back-alley abortion anymore!"
--Ingrid Feeney, Fortune-Teller/Homeopathic Healer
"My family's $135 million-a-year company is going to take a huge hit from Obama's tax laws. It's a little bit scary. I'm on that payroll. Our company's stocks, bonds & CODs are all going to be cut in half by his policies. These were securities my family counted on for their children so they wouldn't have to work for a living. " --Brandy, Corporate Partner
Monday, November 03, 2008
The final date for submissions is November 22, 2008. Works submitted after that date will not be considered for publication, so please submit your work as soon as possible. Submissions should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Star Music's Debut Recording Out of This World
Scientists are hearing the debut music of the cosmos as the sounds of three distant stars have been recorded for the first time by a powerful French telescope. An article published in the latest edition of Science Journal explains that each star's distinct rhythm allows scientists to learn about their inner workings in new ways with a newly pioneered technique called 'Stellar Seismology.'
For the past 50 years, scientists have used only the images captured by telescopes to determine the characteristics of distant stars; adding the information provided by celestial audio signals to the mix enables researchers to figure out the 'size, age, and internal structure' of a star from a new perspective. (....)
Although the fledgling study of stellar seismology may potentially provide unparalleled leaps in our earthly knowledge of neighboring galaxies, the BBC reports that the information gathered to date from the intergalactic noise is 'close to what was predicted.' Nonetheless, 'a slight variation from what was expected…suggests that astronomers might need to refine their theories of stellar evolution.'
Realistically, a new interpretation of how a star is born is probably light years away, as precisely how to understand the brand new data seems to still have researchers a touch puzzled. A professor from London compared the painstaking task of studying the recordings to 'listening to the sound of a musical instrument and then trying to reconstruct the shape of that instrument.' Indeed,the analogy sounds baffling-- nearly impossible —yet scientific breakthroughs never come easy.
I'll bet early proponents of germ theory were at first ridiculed by their peers.
'Invisible parasites, everywhere you say? Good luck with all THAT!'
Yet now, nearly everyone knows that we are indeed surrounded by microscopic enemies. New ways of looking at information found the very progress from which new information stems. Would we not be stunting our own growth by believing that only the input from a sole sense can reliably inform us about the world? If seeing truly is believing, then hearing is also believing and tasting must be believing too. Today, let us restore equal credibility to our five means of understanding; let the testimony of each of our senses weigh equally on our inner juries of information. Finally feel free to listen to the galaxy, to look through a stethoscope, to feel the scent of a flower on your skin. Finally feel free to be a human being.
- Phyllis Forbes
Warm Hands, Warm Hearts
The age old adage that having cold hands equals warm hearts has been put to the test. Researchers have found that people with warm hands tend to act more warmly towards others. In a study conducted by scientists at Yale University and the University of Colorado, college students who were recruited for personality research studies were given either something warm or cold to hold (a cup of hot or iced coffee). The students then listened to descriptions of a fictitious person’s personality traits and were instructed to rate these presumed traits. Those who had held onto the hot cup of coffee viewed the person as more good-natured and sociable, traits attributed to those with “warm” personalities, than those who had held the ice coffee. So do we all become beings with an added appendage; a steaming hot cup of coffee forever plastered to our palms?
“The bigger message is that very subtle cues from our environment can significantly influence behavior and feelings” said lead researcher Dr. Lawrence Williams. To neuroscientists and psychologists, what’s interesting is that the same parts of the brain that process physical concepts can also process mental and psychological concepts as well. Thus, our impressions about someone can be influenced by external factors. So if you’re trying to make a good first impression, it might not be a bad idea to warm up your hands before that very important first handshake.
- Diana Kuruvilla
Source: Discovery Channel
in Just by e e Cummings
spring when the world is mud-
luscious the little
whistles far and wee
and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's
when the world is puddle-wonderful
old balloonman whistles
far and wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing
from hop-scotch and jump-rope and
The first time I read this poem, I was a sophomore in high school. I remember having to read it for the class and getting yelled at by Mrs. Britt for not reading it the way it was written. I had to pause at every break and ramble off every made up compound word. It felt like an eternity reading this short poem. I despised it. I would say to myself, “There’s no punctuation, he randomly capitalizes letters that he’s not suppose to and doesn’t capitalize those that deserve capitalization. Everything has a dash. Why does everything have a dash?” I thought he was just doing all of this with his wild spacing and lack of structure to be artsy. I was isolated as a reader.
This poem has followed me around ever since. It seems as if every English class I took made me read “in Just” by e e Cummings or every book I flipped open had that goat-footed “balloonMan” looking at me whistling. I had every intention of doing this poem for the Poem of the Week and writing about how much I hate it. So I found it, read it today, and am extremely disappointed with myself for liking it.
Cummings is a poetic anarchist who pays no attention to format. I see this poem so clearly in my head and love its lack of structure. He makes up words like “puddle-wonderful” and “mud-luscious.” This poem, for me, is about a creepy man who lures the children away from their parents with his balloons and whistling (like the piper). A creepy balloonman, who I imagine being an evil/horny satyr, making the children dance away with him.
The reason why I feel I like this poem now is because I read it on my own time. No one was forcing me to read it aloud or asking me what I thought of the structure. I wasn’t hearing people praise his unique style. I went in with low expectations and a surprising conclusion. You can’t make a judgment on things the first time you encounter them, and sometimes the second or third times. Taste changes and you find yourself on the other side of arguments you once fought for.
- Joe Pugliesi
Growing up in East Hampton, I was lucky enough to be able to learn to surf and to experience the desirable surfer lifestyle, spending 90% of my waking life in the ocean, on the beach, in beach parking lots, or in cars headed there, even when life dictated my presence elsewhere (such as school, work, court, etc.). During that time I met and befriended tons of surfers. And amazingly I've found, nine times out of ten, a person's surfing style consistently reflects his personality, upbringing, and even socioeconomic status. (...)
Take my friend Trent for example. A successful music journalist and long-time New York City resident, Trent is also a great surfer. Originally from the midwest, he moved to New York City after college without the slightest idea that people even surfed on Long Island. After living in Manhattan for almost a decade, Trent took a few
surfing lessons with his girlfriend while they were staying at her parents' summer house in Montauk, and he's been hooked ever since. He's got an extensive (and ever-growing) collection of surfboards from every era of the sport, most of which he doesn't ride, but purchased simply because he's captivated by the spirit of wave-riding, and because his income allows it. Surfing for Trent is the ultimate way to unwind from the stresses of his work life, and to recharge his creativity and focus as a writer. You can see this reflected in his approach to surfing. His style is smooth, balanced, and unambitious -- defined by underplayed and relaxed maneuvers. When he's out in the surf, he leaves the rush of urban life behind, often passing up dozens of good waves in anticipation of the one that will offer him a ride that's just right.
Out in Montauk, where the swells break over rock-reefs, Trent plays it safe. He'll end his ride early if he catches glimpse of a boulder down the line. He steers clear of waves that slam over shallow water, and picks his rides carefully on big days. Although he loves surfing, he loves it because it complements and enriches his city lifestyle so well. He's not taking any risks for a quick thrill.
At 27, John is also an excellent surfer, but in a totally different way than Trent. Although the guy eats, breaths and sleeps surfing, the lifestyle was essentially chosen for him. He comes from a long line of fishermen and grew up on the docks and at the beach, watching his dad and older brother charge the surf. For John, surfing is a ritual that reinforces his alpha-male status in the local community. He surfs aggressively, in dangerous proximity to rocks, on the biggest, scariest waves. He confronts the steepest, most crucial sections of heaving water with conviction and confidence, often performing on a professional level. His style is less subtle and contemplative, and more driving than Trent's, and his abilities have earned him supreme respect at every surf spot from Southampton to Montauk point. Every surfer who lives in the area, even if they've never seen or met him, have heard his name, and associate it with skill and fearlessness.
When a hurricane swell hits out at Montauk point, you'll find both surfers charging it. John will take his place at the main peak, waiting for the biggest, most-challenging waves to rise up off the horizon. Trent will wait for more manageable waves closer to shore with the rest of the crowd. Although the two surfers recognize each other, they will keep their distance. John sees Trent as just another yuppie who's discovered this cool new hobby called surfing -- the former's sacred lifeblood -- to get girls and impress his rich city friends. Trent, on the other hand hugely respects John's abilities, but sees him as a close-minded, small town glory-boy who brings a hostile vibe into the surf line-up -- the place that's become his escape from the hustle-and-bustle of urban life.
As a tourist out exploring the pristine beauty of Montauk state park, you'll no doubt be captivated by surfers zipping white lines across those massive, crystal-green waves. So make note of the various styles and approaches you see, and you'll be amazed at how much can be inferred about their story-lines and personalities.
- Dan Asselin
Science of Breath
Breathing. We do it all day long, 24 hours, every passing second. But have you ever really thought about breathing and the science behind it? I came across the book, Science of Breath, and I have to tell you that after reading it, I was breathless!
It is a short book consisting of 112 pages, so the excuse of not having the time to read it is invalid. The book only has four chapters: “(1) Why Bother With Breath?,” (2) “Respiration And The Chest,” (3) “Following Your Nose,” and (4) “Portal To Higher Awareness.” The first chapter is a nice introduction on how the East connects with the West. It focuses strongly on Energy and why it is important to breathe correctly. The following two chapters are more scientific. They are written by Rudloph Ballentine, M.D. and Alan Hymes, M.D. Complemented by lively anatomical diagrams, it makes the content easy to understand, even for a non-medical student (like me!). The focus is on how breathing actually works in your chest, and the effects it has on your body each time you inhale. How does the air pass through your lungs to your heart, supplying your blood with oxygen? This intriguing question is answered in a straightforward manner. Moreover, the book answered a burning question of mine, “is there a difference between inhaling air as a second-hand smoker and between inhaling air in a congested city (like New York) full of stinking cars?” You will have to read the book to find out!
The chapters go on further to explain the act of breathing through the nose, and how it is connected to your thinking, and therefore, your mood. To quote from the book: “Just as the floor of the nose is the roof of the mouth, so is the roof of the nose also the floor of the brain and of the cavities which house the eyeballs. In other words, we are speaking of a three-story structure. The brain, eyes, and optic nerves occupy the top floor, and the mouth occupies the bottom floor. In between, on the middle floor, is the nasal cavity. That puts the internal nose in an interesting place since anything going on inside of it is closely related to the brain, the nervous system, the pituitary gland (which is located in the floor of the brain), and many other strategic structures.” (...)I am sure there might still be skeptics among some readers that this whole talk about the Body-Mind-Soul connection is nonsense; but I do not think I can make it any easier for you to decide for yourself than by presenting you with this book suggestion. The connection exists.
The last chapter, written by Swami Rama, deals primarily with the Yogic culture and its branch of pranayma (Sanskrit for Breath). He elaborates on the seven major Chakras (specific points in your body and along your spine that house different energies), emphasizing the use of certain breathing positions (with pictures!) to make you listen to your breathing. Furthermore, he elaborates on Meditation and the importance of the Mudras, (the practice of placing your arms, hands and fingers in a specific position to better connect with yourself).
Breathing has everything to do with your Mind and Mood and with your Body and Digestion. If you are interested in yourself and your body, I recommend you read Science of Breath. I think we all know that breathing is essential, but how aware are we of the mechanics of inhaling and exhaling?
- Chantal Hauser
This week Aisha Douglas and Austin Noel asked the students of Brooklyn College:
"If you could perform one heroic act, what would it be?"
"I would shut down WalMart." - Riley Peters
"I would probably perform the cliche saves-a-baby-from-a-burning-building act." - Betty Pierre
"I would lock the Jonas Brothers in a box, and throw away the key."- Joseph Noel
"I would want to adopt 100 dogs from the pound." -Anonymous
"I would stop the Chinese and Japanese from killing whales." - Jao
"I would give all my money to charity...and I have A LOT of money." - Rick