« March 2009 | Main | May 2009 »

April 23, 2009

MOA and Stillwater

People are very unaware of thing around them. Always going about there day, never just taking the time to notice the small significant thing around them. I understand exactly what Ian Frazier was talking about when he told about the old home plate of the twins. People would just walk by, never noticing it, never knowing that that was where the twins won the world series, that “Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew, the greatest Twin long-ball hitter ever, who batted right, stood there many times on the way to a lifetime total of 573 home runs.” coming from the small town of Stillwater, or the birthplace if Minnesota, I see people like that everyday. I often found myself downtown Stillwater just looking at all of the old original buildings that are still standing off of the St. Croix River. The old lumber mill for example, just think of how many thousands of trees passed though there when it was still running what though thousands of trees went to. Or the old prison, that was burned down because someone, who was not supposed to be in there, got bored. That prison held one of the most famous bandit to ever walk, or rather ride, in the US, Jesse James. Nobody really seems to care about the old anymore. We are all just too absorbed in our own fast paced lives. Look to the future and leave the past behind, Hakuna Matata as some would say. But I have news for you my friend; history is part of our future. If we don’t remember the past, we can’t move on to the future. History repeats itself. It is sad really that we don’t care about the local events that happen before our time. Our past is part of who we are, and that is something that we can not change.

Google and the Future of Books

In 2004, Google came up with a new search engine to revolutionize the internet. They wanted to scan books online and put them in the search engine for everyone to find and read easily. However, in 2005, Google was sued by the Author’s Guild and the Association of American Publishers for copyright infringement. The lawsuits were quickly settled and allowed Google to expand its library to many universities and public libraries.

According to Bruce Sterling of Wired Magazine believes that despite the growth of this specific database as well as the usage of it by the public, we would be better off without it. I, on the other hand, believe that it is a necessary tool and that everyone should be able to use it for their own purposes. The point being that it makes doing research, for example, so much easier.
Sterling sees the Google library as pointless and necessary. In his article “Ink-slinging wretches, lacking a business model, scrabble for my survival”, he rants about how information got around between some of the great minds of the 18th and 19th centuries. He talks about Thomas Jefferson James Madison sending countless letters and books to each other and explaining their views on them. Sterling was quite interested in the battle between Voltaire and Rousseau where they just argued about every possible subject that went on in their day. Sterling does bring up a good point in that back in 18th century France, one needed a royal privilege in order to publish anything. Sterling says that the only people who could obtain a privilege were the rich and powerful. On top of that, they had to pass a rigorous process of not only getting the privilege, but also passing the censor’s approbation where everything that the person wrote were put into the words of either the censor or people of royalty.
In Robert Darnton’s article “Google and the Future of Books”, which was the reason why Sterling wrote his article, he too talks about the enlightenment period as well as most things that Sterling talks about, but into greater detail. He states that the libraries want everyone to be able to achieve gaining every possible resource imaginable. For example, at the Boston public library, it says “Free To All” on top of the entrance to tell people that anyone is able to use the library. In the Trustees’ Room in the New York Public Library, it has a quote by Jefferson that says, "I look to the diffusion of light and education as the resource most to be relied on for ameliorating the condition promoting the virtue and advancing the happiness of man." Jefferson believes that the true path lies in being able to better understand the world through books and articles and what not. In fact, when the founding fathers constructed the constitution, they made sure that even though the authors and writers should get something for their work, the access to their periodicals to the public should be a higher priority.
It is necessary for at least the public libraries to “encourage learning” as Darnton puts it where as Google is just in this to make more money. Even if that accusation is true, Google is still trying to at the very least help students and other people by giving them a free way to research. One reason why people need Google to accomplish this is the reliability of the internet. Since anyone is able to post their opinions about anything for everyone to see, it is vital to find the right information whether it supports their view or goes against or even if that information is true or false. By now Google should be a widely known company that can and should be trusted with the information given to them from other libraries and universities. Think about all of the research databases that the University of Minnesota has in order for its students to learn about anything at a scholarly level.
Near the end of the article, Darnton explains that all of the periodicals and writings should be digitalized, but at the same time they need to be democratized like the writings during the enlightenment period. Darnton says it can be done by “rewriting the rules of the game, by subordinating private interests to the public good, and by taking inspiration from the early republic in order to create a Digital Republic of Learning.”
Sterling sees only a monster that no one can defeat in Google books whereas Darnton has found a way to best the monster. It is something that has to be done in order for the world to better its learning.

American Memories at the Mall

Ian Frazier’s article “Mall of America” he talks about his experience at the country’s largest mall on his numerous book tours. He talks about how Tim Hedges shows him the ins and the outs, the history of the museum and the overall experience of it. He touches on how the Mall used to be the home of the Metropolitan stadium housing the Twins and The Vikings. I was not aware that this was the deal, I also didn’t know that the Mall was only recently built in 1987, with how massive it is I thought it had been there for ages. I liked his view of how the Mall is ever changing he said, “In that respect the Mall is like television- you know what you’re watching when you’re watching it, but it slips from your mind when new images appear”.

As a teenage girl I have spent many an hour at the mall, and have experienced how it’s changed. From campy snoopy to park at the mall to nickelodeon and how it’s lost it’s glam. As a thirteen year old it had all it’s glitz and glam and adventure, but as a I’ve grown older it gives me panic attacks and is way to overwhelming. At first I was offended by how Frazier ended the article with, “It’s the seed crystal that continues to grow, turning the limitlessness of the Midwest into a limitlessness that holds no surprise”. But even though I can’t go to the Mall of America for longer than fifteen minutes it will still always hold memories for me. Of my first official date, buying that great dress or where I got my ears pierced when I was eight.

I really appreciated the way Ian wrote the article, it was really descriptive and insightful. “the kind of night when you’re eighteen and you step out on the front stoop and close the door behind you and you’re sure that something exciting is just about to happen,” I love that quote. Being a freshmen in college I’m having a hard time leaving behind being a teenager, I’m turning twenty in a about two months and I just completely agree with that sentence. Even when he was talking about the stadium history he wrote beautifully, “History is memory shared, even when what’s remembered has no particular significance or drama. For a while longer we stood in the timeless time zone hovering around the home-plate plaque. Then we went our way, one foot after the other, selling the Mall”.

The Mall holds a great history whether it’s from it’s roots in the Southdale mall or The Metropolitan stadium it holds memories for whoever has visited it. Whether it be a terrible memory, a teenage memory or visiting it as a tourist. The Mall of America is a landmark of what America really is.
Frazier talks about how The Mall of America doesn’t really represent America because all it’s
products aren’t produced in America. But isn’t that what America is nowadays? Most our large corporations are constantly being investigated for workers treatment and pay, why would it surprise us that a patriotic store is made up of products from China? Or that we don’t have manufacturers in North Korea and Iraq? America is all about exploitation, tourists spending all there money at a large shopping center and support of the American high school stereotypical hang out. The Mall has an extensive history and represents America for all it’s blue collar glory.

April 21, 2009

Reading will always be "reading"

Books have been an educational source and a filled with imaginations for the brain to picture. In the 21st century, technology has taken over many people’s lives and made the world busier. Now no one has time to sit down and relax with a book in there hand. People are always checking the there stocks in the market, checking e-mails, or simply on Facebook; Also known as screen reading. With our busy lives, are books slowly fading out of our lives?

Christine Rosler has taken on a topic that most people are too busy to realize. Books are simply just not that popular when comparing to the old days. I believe that though books are fading away, our society will actually be increasing the better readers than the past, because people have an easier access to the internet to read the news, emails, etc. We will have the world’s news within seconds when it happens. This generation is much well equipped to be smarter than the past generation. Just as Rosler states in the article “Just as our styles of reading have changed, so too have our reasons for reading and the amount of time we devote to it.”

I found the reports of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) published a report, “To Read or Not To Read: A Question of National Consequence” ridiculous. It states that “People who read regularly for pleasure are more likely to be employed, and more likely to vote, exercise, visit museums, and volunteer in their communities; in short, they are more engaged citizens.” I think that people who read regularly for are smarter people but I don’t believe that that would make them more likely to vote, exercise, etc. I don’t read regularly for pleasure but I still do all of those things. It is just that I don’t have time to read regularly, I have better and important things to do in life.

I also highly agree with Steven Johnson, author of Everything Bad Is Good For You: How Today’s Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter (2005). He argues against the NEA stating that when comparing the economic status of obsessive novel readers and obsessive computer programmers over the next ten years, who will be more successful? Steven Johnson is trying to say that in this society, novel readers play no big important role in the economic society. Others have found that screen reading is just as or more effective than book reading with educational use.

Comparing the two, they both play a different role in teaching especially to kids. Book reading is useful in a way for the kids to imagine in the mind of the places that the book takes place. When screen reading for example like reading from the internet, games, etc. The games are teaching critical thinking skills and a sense of you as an agent having to make choices and live with those choices. They can control the destiny of the characters and have them learn from their mistakes. In a novel, they would have to follow along with what the author has written in his book. These are the new ways of learning they both are valuable to the children who are at the perfect age for learning. This will give our children a broader experience when comparing to the past generations of just novel reading. This expands the mind to think in different ways. After all this is the new age filled with great technology. The chief executive of Scholastic Publishing said, “We’ll see more about the impact of technology and the interaction between graphics and words,” he said, but since reading is “visualizing in your mind, there could easily be a rebirth of intellectual activity, whether you call it ‛reading’ or not.”

With the fear of books going out of style, an newly item changed the way humans have read novels. It is call “Kindle”, launched in 2007, it is a portable electronic reader. This saves the readers the space and weight of the books that will be needed to carry around. This item has memories to save many books into the system for easy reading. I thought this was a great innovation, this save space and money for the readers. This also saves the trees from being cut down to become the pages for the books. This item will be a great use in this society where everyone is too busy to have pleasure reading time.

Facebook and Bebo infantilising human minds

I think lady Greenfield is taking some of theories to far. "Human brains are exquisitely sensitive to the outside world", but I don't think social networking sites are putting attentions spans in jeopardy and I don't think this should be an issues looked into. I have a facebook page and most of my friends have one too. From what I’ve noticed and from my own perspective I don't block the real world around me and spend all my time on facebook and neither does my friends. Facebook is a place where you can meet and talk to new people while your online at that time, but if someone spends all their time on these social networking sites then I think they have their own self confidence issues and made need to seek psychological help, but I don't think this effect everyone that visits these sites. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder -- also referred to ADD or ADHD -- is a biological, brain based condition that is characterized by poor attention and distractibility and/or hyperactive and impulsive behaviors and it can has been caused without the help of the popular social networking sites.

Of the number of friends you have on facebook, it doesn't necessarily have to mean that they are really truly your friends. I know I have plenty of "friends" on facebook that I met through someone else or seen around at school and half of them I probably never messaged them or had a real conversation with, but sometimes I just add them as a friend just so I can look at their pictures and see what they either like doing.

If anything’s was "infantilizing the mid-21st century mind, leaving it characterized by short attention spans, sensationalism, inability to empathize and a shaky sense of identity" it wouldn't be social networking sites it would use and the increase in technology in general. Cell phones are one of the popular technologies that everyone uses and people become attached to their phones by texting, instant messaging, sending pictures, and just talking on. If anything the future generations will probably get worse because how much technology is increasing. When most video games are created they are not made to care about the princess or whoever is featured in the video game because that isn't the objective of the game. This isn't a good comparison of social networking sites and where the immediacy of an experience trumps any regard for the consequences, because on facebook there usually aren’t any serious consequences. Some students just don't like to read and that could be the explanation for the loss empathy for a child to read a book.

Site: http://add.about.com/od/adhdthebasics/a/ADHDbasics.htm

April 17, 2009

People of the Screen

“People of the Screen,” is to me, a highly biased opinion piece on what Christine Rosen calls the death of “print literacy”. She believes that what she calls “digital literacy,” will soon completely take the place of books. I have to highly disagree with her. The internet and other such technologies have opened man kinds eyes to entirely new way of receiving, gathering, and sharing information, but no website, television show, or technological device will ever take over the place of a book. Books have been for hundreds of years the only possible way to track and record history. I can argue this because in the last hundred years books have continued to be printed and published in higher numbers consistently.
Christine also brings to light some studies that were done showing that an individual who does leisure reading is technically more engaged in every day life. I can agree that a person who reads more might possibly be more well versed in the knowledge that surrounds all of us, but I find it really hard to believe that there is a connection between leisure reading and being an engaged citizen.
I also admire her stance that reading for pleasure is a characteristic that is instilled at a very young age and the determining factor is ultimately the parents. The parents should be responsible for helping their children grow intellectually by reading to and providing books to their children. I think everyone can agree that you are more likely to succeed in life if you can read and write.
I say that this piece is biased because Christine throws some tid bits in the article about supporters of a “digital literacy” over that of “print literacy,” but she quickly disregards that which those supporters have to say as obtuse and misguided. She talks about the screen as some thing that has only brought destruction to the age of books. In many ways the Internet and TV have opened an entirely new and innovative way for people to learn. I can agree that reading on the screen can be somewhat distracting sometimes, but it is often useful to have several windows open doing multiple things at once. It is called multi tasking and it is the reason why human beings are at the top of the food chain.
I believe that reading from a book is a great and probably one of the best ways to learn about something, but Rosen describes it, as the end all, be all. When a supporter suggests that the screen also offers an innovative way to learn something based on putting yourself in the position of a character in video games or something of the sort, Rosen quickly denies this saying that when trying to learn in this form, the person in control and cannot possibly learn anything because of this. She suggests that in a book when must first surrender any consumptions that they might have had and accept that they are not in control, that they are the novice and the writer is the ultimate teacher.
I think the article is very well written and that she makes some good point that I myself can definitely back up, because I too am a firm believer in the power of the word in its oldest from. But to say that nothing is to be gained from the screen is absurd. I believe as some do in the article that the two can coincide and that they can build off of each other seeing as how things today are so utterly interdependent in the world we live in.

April 16, 2009

Tear of The Year

January 20, 2009 marked an ultra historic day in the America’s history. A time where it was impossible not to feel affected and moved in some way. Over two million people showed up to witness the inauguration speech of our newly elected president Barrack Obama and it was a day of many emotions. The tears flowed and people came together forgetting the differences that they once held.

This article states that there are two types of tears, the type you get when your dog bites the dust and the kind you get when you read the 23rd Psalm or hear Amazing Grace belted out by a woman like Aretha Franklin. This was a day when the eyelids of many were filled with tears of joy. People lost sight of the fact that he was the 44th man to swear on that Bible, he was the first of this new revolution. This day marked a new era, the first black president to ever hold office. The expected crowd number (1.5 million) was shattered by the two million that showed. Obama had become “the cool kid”; Stephen Colbert joked on his show that as an American he pledges to support him…as long as he is popular. We as American’s have gotten swept up by the fact that our president is a black man and not chosen to study the qualifications of him as our leader. Proof came on inauguration day when everyone came together in a big, emotional gathering. Anything that the president or the appointed speakers said that day was considered “holy”. Reverend Lowery, a guest speaker, gave a speech similar to one that would be expected from Dr. Seuss:

“We ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around -- when yellow will be mellow -- when the red man can get ahead, man -- and when white will embrace what is right.”

I am not saying that I was not also caught up in this day. The fact that I am a Republican did not deter me from tearing up from something other than allergies. His planners realized the majestic aura that surrounded Obama and everything he touched so they took advantage of it. There was not a dry eye in the house when Aretha Franklin sang from her soul or when Barrack looked upon his children and grinned with a look that sighed, “We did it.”

We were blinded by this rhetoric. The planners of this recalled the times of 9/11 when Patriotism was at a sky-high point. Someone could have thrown up red, white, and blue and would have been applauded. Can these two events be compared? Everyone was excited for this new era, a chance to come together and stand as brothers. Even if you didn’t believe in the man, you could not help but feel like you were part of something great. These antics, in a way, gave Obama a free pass in writing his speech. Michael Gerson, Bush’s former speechwriter said it well:

“Given President Barrack Obama's background, his inaugural address would have been memorable even if every word had been a Flag Day platitude. Unfortunately, too many of his words were platitudes.”
I am not knocking Obama as a speaker or a president; he was simply placed into a win-win situation. One thing that was speculated about the day is that it made everyone feel like a family. We were all excited about a common thing and ready for change. The problem was that the person we glorified as our leader of brotherly love (Obama) was slyly bashing our previous administration (Bush) despite the warmth that had grown between them. With Bush and Cheney only a few feet away on the platform, Obama proclaimed:

"And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more."

My words in this paper could easily be misinterpreted as cynical or downgrading to our president and his team. I have nothing against a black man in office and I hope that he brings some worthwhile change to our floundering nation. Many people at the speech or watching it on television seemed to have gotten caught up in Obama’s mesmerizing words similar to the way a beautiful hymn can shoot straight to the heart unexpectedly. The fact that he has the power to mystify like that is unnerving for me and I am anxious to see how his term carries out.





April 10, 2009

Mall of America

The countries biggest mall is in the great state of Minnesota. Although it’s not the world’s largest mall it soon will be when the future addition is added. The Mall of America is a huge building with the main building being a rectangle and a smaller rectangle in each corner. These four rectangles represent the four main stores of the mall. The author, Ian Frazier, talks about his different visits to the mall as a writer on his book tours, and how each time he comes back stores change from one thing to another. I think this helps prove the point that things in today’s society are constantly changing and being improved and people still continue to come to the mall and spend their money, so we need to grasp the concept of change and fast pace because fighting it will not help.
The mall isn’t just about the current new stores of today but it also has a rich history. Where the mall is located today is where the Metropolitan Stadium used to stand in from 1956-1981. I myself didn’t know this about the location of the mall. I’m sure generations before me are aware of this since this was where the Washington Senators blossomed into our Minnesota Twins and improved a great deal as well. This is also where game seven of the 1965 World Series between the Twins and L.A. Dodgers was held. This is now marked with the home- plate plaque. So many great players stood in the same place and played the game they loved, that now millions of people are walking on that same spot every year. I have only been to The Mall of America a couple times and I remember the commercials one TV about camp snoopy. It was every little kids dream to go and ride the rides all day, but that too has been replaced by Nickelodeon Universe just another addition to the mall only this time one that I can remember.
The thing about this mall that really intrigues me the most is that the name is The Mall of America, but yet as Ian so proved it doesn’t really seem that American to me. He walked around the different stores and looked to see where the products in each of them were made. Now anyone that pays attentions knows that most of the things in this country aren’t made in this country and he proved just that. I realize that the reason we have these little things made from foreign countries is so we can get them cheap because otherwise there would be no way that we could afford them, but it seems to me that the name really contradicts itself. That was never something I thought about until I read this article.
When we are talking about such a big place with so many people of different races and such the security in the mall needs to be sure that it is set up in the proper places and to the proper degree. As stated in the article the mall in probably the only place in Minnesota that terrorists would be looking to hit. After the terrorist attacks in New York on the twin towers people were scared to come to the mall because of risk of the mall being attacked in some way. That did begin to change not long after people started coming back to the mall and the numbers went back up. Since the attacks in New York the mall actually has a store that you can buy many different patriot things like mugs, hats, and t-shirts and this was among one of the many stores that had every item made from another country. I still think that our own colors and patriot things for the store USA American Pride should be made in the U.S. Afghanistan was likely one of the many on the list that made these items and Afghanistan is in fact the country that the terrorists of 9-11 were from, maybe a correlation there?
Mall of America is rooted back to the Southdale Mall that was built in the fifties, and in all its glory it still isn’t the biggest in the world but it is the most visited. With its fancy Nickelodeon Universe and its many different businesses from a chapel, restaurants, clothing stores, National American University, and its big rectangle with a small rectangle in each corner shape; to me it really is nothing more than a big building with many stores that technically has a counterfeit name.

April 9, 2009

Natalie Dylan, what is the price to pay?

There has been a lot of recent controversy regarding Natalie Dylan. Dylan is a 22 year old female who plans on completing a master’s degree in Marriage and family therapy. However, what has sparked a great amount of controversy has been her decision to sell her virginity online. At first glance, I thought it was in a lot of ways immoral, but after reading through the articles, I realized that this brings up a lot of social issues and in the end may actually be somewhat beneficial to the woman activist movement.

The article “GlobalComment” noted that sex is something that is seen as empowering to men and degrading for women. In other words, men are praised for the number of sexual partners they have had, while women are looked down upon. This brings out a long debated issue that men are the one who supports financially the family, and the women are far less dominant in social standards. While I believe that society is attempting to move forward, this is still a big problem. Lindsey Riddell of the San Francisco Business Times noted that regarding CEOs, “a lot of women are opting out, more so now than they were 10 years ago.” In terms of the social ladder, society still seems to put women one step below men. Dylan is trying to change this by using her “virginity in to something that allows me to gain power and opportunity from men.” Even though her method is unorthodox (i.e. many women try to change the social status by having higher positions with their jobs), it may prove to be very effective. I am not saying that after she does this, every woman will go and sell their virginity, but it will cause a ripple through society. Word of this will make people (especially men) realize that society is underestimating them.

Many parallel this to prostitution. While there is an obvious similarity, the two ideas are not substantially related at all. The motives differ. Prostitution is intended as a last means for getting by (paying rent etc.), but Dylan’s act is a social experiment in many ways. She indeed does that need the money as a last resort. In my opinion, money may not even be the whole point of her experiment. She says that “the winning big won’t necessarily be the highest – I get to choose.” As noted earlier, the whole point is to expand her power and dominance in a society that readily does not think high of women.

As written in the article “GlobalComment,” sex can be judgmental at some times. In other words, just like any other issue, it is often unique in the eye of the beholder. Saying that society as a whole demean women in relation to sex provides only a general image. It does not account for the many who feel opposed to this. One person may say that sex is a situation where there is equal appreciation from the male and female. So it is not dominant in any way for males and females have an equal say in it as well. However, no one really takes much account into what an individual believes. They tend to stick to the crowd and worry what many others think. This is why people are worried about what society as a whole believes. There may be many others who believe Dylan is doing this to stretch her power, but society as a whole will believe that she is greedy and has no self respect for her body.

Dylan is attempting a social experiment, but the public have not had a good reaction. Selling her virginity online seemingly is degrading, and non appreciative of her body. But, a close examination will reveal that she is merely trying to improve the outlook of women in the society. This problem has plagued us for many generations, and Dylan is trying to kick start a rebellion against this. Many will view her actions with a keen eye, and notice that women are beginning to revolt against the current social ladder, where women are below men. Her act is not prostitution, but a means of empowering women in society.


No Caption needed

World leaders, including our very own Obama met in London to try and work together to solve our global economic crisis. They were not alone, but joined by thousands of protesters trying to demonstrate their opinions, and concerns. There were as many as 35,000 anarchists, anti-capitalists, anti-war, and pro-environmentalist protesters in London, that showed up for these meetings.

After looking through the photographs at the event, it seemed to be a type of circus. People were dressed in costumes of all sorts. Some of these included the Joker from “Batman,” a Storm Trooper from “Star Wars,” Jesus in a police helmet, a nightmare version of Mickey Mouse, a horse with a flower in his nose, a gorilla in a bathing suit, there was even protestors carrying a effigy of a giant dead canary. I seem to wonder if all of the costumes ended up undermining the seriousness of the topics they are protesting about. From the surface, when I look at the pictures all I see is a sort of angry Halloween in the spring. Is it possible that by going to such great lengths to catch the attention of the global press, the world then became distracted from the real issues.

The variety of costumes and outfits played out well for the cameras, the people protesting, failed to send out one main coherent message to the world. Everyone had a different concern about what was being done in this modern world. A man named Harry explained that he was dressed as Death to represent “the death of the economy” and “the death of the English pound.” He was also concerned with the micro-economic problem that he was in danger of losing the deposit he’d left on the grim reaper costume he’d rented, since the police had confiscated the mask that went with it, arguing that people with covered faces were trouble. He was side by side with people carrying a large dead canary. One of the people carrying the canary that he had brought the huge bird effigy to the demonstration “to symbolize the death of Canary Wharf,” a former dockyard area that was redeveloped to become a center of London’s financial industry, and also the death of “the current financial system.”

The large crowd of protesters were not left to roam freely in the streets, but were met by a crowd of the 5,000 police that were deployed for the event, that were armed and ready for battle. Using the photographs as evidence, we know that the clash between the protestors and the police resulted in scenes of dramatic bloody violence. A modern successful protest is an even that requires coroperation between the protestors and the police. Violence only happens when people no longer decide to cooperate. The people decided not to work together with the police, but that’s what got the world’s attention. I also find myself wondering, is this what people are resorting to, in order to get their opinion heard? Shouldn’t the common person’s opinion matter just as much as our world leaders?

As we can see, no longer are people just able to express their opinion. Well, they can, but it’s very unlikely that anyone will hear what they have to say. Now people have to show what they mean through their actions. Costumes and bloody violence may be going to the extreme, but that appears to be what is now necessary. After all, it worked. I am sitting here talking not about the decisions made in the G-20 meetings, but what the protesters did. So their efforts may have been extreme, but it captured the attention of the media, and was brought throughout the world. I am now listening to what all the protestors have to say, and what they want done.

April 7, 2009

Arbus: A Photography Legend

Diane Arbus was an amazing photographer with an essential voice to her era. She has capture things that no one else has been able to; she’s gone places no one else has even dared to go and photographed the fringes of society in a depression. Diane Arbus was one of the most adventurous fairy-tale like human beings I have ever read about. When I saw that an article and documentary was up about her, I jumped at the chance to write this, she has been a heroine of mine since I was fourteen and first discovered her in my first black and white photography class.

Diane grew up with rich parents, the founders of Russek’s fur company and great lovers of the horse track. She married Allan Arbus at 18, didn’t attend college, and worked with him in commercial photography. Diane raised two daughters and quickly felt trapped in her life of fashion and advertising.
Not a lot is really known about Diane Arbus’ life verbatim, there have been many myths created around her life. A couple years back there was a documentary or well movie produced with Nicole Kidman as the star. It was absolutely atrocious and was mostly just inspired by her life. Her daughter Grace is actually rumored to have pulled it out of the theaters as soon as possible, since nothing in it was of any factual information. Another biography, mentioned in the “Where Diane Arbus Went” article, by Patricia Bosworth is also just a series of guesses and theories on Diane’s life and doesn’t provide any insight on her photography. Recently Diane’s exhibition “Retrospective” has been touring, and was actually at the Walker Art Center a couple of years ago, tries to clear up some of these myths. The exhibition was huge and provided all her diaries, notes, enlargers and all her cameras.

In the documentary, Diane Arbus from the Masters of Photography, Diane’s photographs are presented with a good friend reading over them a speech she had given a year before she committed suicide. Diane not only was a great photographer, but also a writer. Her friends cherished the letters she wrote to them, and a lot of her work included her writing next to it. She also kept an extensive diary of her day-to-day life, and the experiences and adventures she had. Diane’s described as a woman of piercing intelligence and great sophistication, and I think her writing and the way she speaks really demonstrates this.

Diane was well known for her photographs of the fringes of society, of freaks, homosexuals, what the 1950’s found to be unusual. She had a strong voice for her period, and was said to be an essential part to her era. From the article provided, people from the era said that her photographs were shocking. There’s this great description of her work, “A single Arbus photograph will finger delicately the ticking moments of a fantastic encounter in a room that never sees sunlight, and will also find there the spectacle of America flung forward by it’s gargantuan dreams, and see in this how bloated and fragile the country has become”.

She was influenced by the greats. Weegee was a big one, which is obvious with his crime photography he had captured many adventures that probably inspired Arbus. Also Angus Sander and Walker Evans. She even got to work with Gary Winogard and another personal favorite Lee Friedlander.

It’s hard to tackle everything about Diane Arbus in a couple of photographs; her life was full of adventures and wisdom. She’s said to have killed herself in 1971, but once again there are so many myths to what really happened. Her mysterious life intrigues me, and fascinates me. Her work is amazing, and to listen and read what she has to say she’s so real and down to earth, she’s a true inspiration and an essential voice for the world of photography.

Stewarts CNBC Takedown

This is ironic how the CEO's of all these companies are trying to cover up and convince the public that their company is doing fine and will be fine in the future. Basically the public is being lied to and it is hurting the public. The CEO's make it sound like everything is going to be alright, so do not worry if you have some connection to the company. Then you have Jim Cramer telling the public "buy buy buy," when stocks are low because you can make money in the future. Then these companies go under and the public is in a lost. Then you have home owners that went out recently got loans to buy a house and now are losing the house because they cannot afford the payments anymore. They public wants to know why their payments went up. Now it does not matter if you have perfect credit and a large down payment you are going to have a lot of trouble getting a loan for anything right now. Then you have the loan companies working with the public to work out payment plans for their mortgages. They companies will pretty much do anything to get you to be able to pay them some of the money because if they take your house they are losing money. They public needs to start reading the loan agreement know exactly what they are signing.
It is sad that it takes a Comedy Central show like the Daily Show with John Stewart to actually show the real side of the economy to the public. Most people are experiencing hard times due to the economy falling. The public does know what is going on. But to have someone actually sit down and research it and inform the public of something’s they may not know, and actually have evidence to back it up and support it. This is being done by a comedy television production, think that is a little ironic. This is pretty ridiculous. Yes, journals and news papers do not have the opportunity to put videos together to back up what their article is about but the still need to research the thing they are to be writing about. This is getting harder and harder because the companies are losing employees due to cut backs because news papers are becoming less useful and unnecessary. This is just becoming a vicious circle of things going downhill. The public needs to look farther into major choices in their life, like signing for loans.

April 5, 2009

Inside view by Jessica Dimmock on the 9th floor in NYC

In the position paper Jessica does a very good description of what it going on in the photos as well as on the 9th floor looking over Manhattan. At first when looking at the pictures you are very disgusted and disturbed on what was all taken. But then you have to ask yourself: why am I looking at these pictures? In today’s world we are drawn to violence; we like looking at pictures and hearing stories. Not only that but we also like to watch movies with violence like murder, wars, destruction, and death. We watch this because we do not see it every day and we become engaged in violence. With violence being the leading entertainment for the media and the world this is why we get amused. You think of how they could have money, space, or even veins left to afford the addiction to drugs. Why do the people turn to drugs on the 9th floor: to make it in order to live or just to get their next hit?

Heroin was a drug that was use in a photograph of Dioon who was addicted. Dioon stated the typical junkie seems to only have one thing on the mind when heroin is involved. When getting in the mind of Jessie who had the addiction, Jessie stated, “All I was thinking about was, I wanna get high. I wanna get high. You know, I wanna get high. I guess the junkie life was what I wanted. I had really no other aspirations. I just never tried to do anything. The only thing I really wanted to do was, you know, get loaded, and sit around and do nothing. So that's what I did.” We see by this statement that people are destroying themselves and the person they were before doing the drug. When the drug takes over someone’s body there is no feeling or personality left in the person; that person loses themselves and everything they used to have. When one’s only motivating force in life is heroin, long-term goals, passions, and even friends and family can be overruled by the pursuit of the next fix.

Becoming addicted may only be a psychological illness but once addicted, it is a physical illness as well. Addiction can take over your body and going through withdrawal can be an extremely painful process. Initially, however, it is all a matter of choice and if the resource is available. People today often just want to experience positive emotions and they find they can achieve this by becoming intoxicated or high. Even though I have watched many people recover from an addiction there are also some who have never recovered and continue to be addicted. This is when I think individuals choose this kind of path for their life – when they believe there is no way out of the hole they have dug for themselves. You cannot understand the insanity as you look in from the outside unless you yourself have been inside that hole attempting to put down the shovel and crawl your way out. Dioon later explained, “I'm not stupid. I don't think anyone owes me anything. I know that everything I did I made my own choice about it. And that's what sucks real bad”. This is why people have to take responsibility for their actions. People make their own choices, not the drug. This is when they decide if they want to be saved or not. Dimmock presented herself in a dangerous situation, but as Dimmock said at the end of her whole research article “You can explore further... you should explore further.”

I also have to admit that I am one of those people who are fascinated by the violence and death scenes that Jessica showed and explained. I find it entertaining because I do not see it on a daily basis. This is why you have to think about what it is really like to be addict to actually understand what Jessica is saying in this position paper.


April 3, 2009

Smackdown! Of CSNBC

The hot issue on the tip of just about anyone’s tongue these days is the current financial crisis in America. Everyone has an opinion about it and is eager to share their thoughts. Unfortunately, a good majority of these people fall into at least one of the following categories: 1) Everyday citizens who have no idea what the real problem is and therefore just talk out of their ass, 2) Drunks who have no idea what the real problem is and therefore just talk out of their ass, or 3) Political/economic “experts” who have no idea what the real problem is and therefore just talk out of their ass. One of the few people who does not fall into one of these 3 categories is Mr. Jon Stewart. In his facetious rant against “loser homeowners” Stewart hits on many key points regarding CNBC’s (lack of) quality reporting prior to the fall of the stock market. The most striking aspect of this rant, however, is that an economic prowess of Stewart’s level is not even necessary to realize how insufficient CNBC’s reporting is. All one needed to do was to sparingly tune into an episode of “Mad Money,” any of CNBC’s interviews with CEOs of financial companies, or any of the discussions their “experts” had regarding the interviews with said CEOs, and then simply hear of these CEOs companies going under and the market falling. My point here, folks, is that while, in a perfect world, the leading reporter of financial news would honestly and truthfully report to us the condition of our market, the truth is this world is far from perfect; CNBC analysts knew what was going on. The people that provide us with our news benefit more from keeping us in the dark than from shedding light on the dubious, unethical, and sometimes unlawful practices of the institutions that hold our money.

In his blog, Will Bunch writes that the research that Jon Stewart does for his show is “The kind of research that's so hard for most newspapers to do anymore, with downsized staffs and ever-looming deadlines…” While I know there is truth to this statement, I see it as a cop-out excuse at best. I refuse to accept tightening of funding as a reason to not research the truth behind an issue, especially when the countries financial security, which includes Bunch’s own retirement fund, is put in jeopardy as a result. Bunch later goes on to say, “I don't have the answers to problems facing American journalism-“ Hey, I do: It’s called DO YOUR EFFING JOB. On March 12th, Stewart interviewed Jim Cramer from CNBC’s “Mad Money” on The Daily Show. In this interview, Jon grilled Cramer about the knowledge CNBC had about the shenanigans going on in the financial world, and how it kept from the viewers this knowledge. When confronted with clips contradicting his defense of himself, Jim admits, “Should we have been constantly pointing out the mistakes that were made? Absolutely. I truly wish we had done more.” (1) This brings to mind a certain saying my dad once told me about wishing in one hand and crapping in the other. When Jon brings up the access CNBC has to CEOs, Cramer tells him “I had a lot of CEOs lie to me on the show.” (1) The only thing more dangerous than having greedy CEOs driving companies into the ground while telling us they are doing “fine” is for us to accept their words at face value! As I stated before, it does not even take diligent research to figure these things out; this is something you and I can all do.

Now don’t get me wrong, I agree with almost every point Will Bunch makes about how media outlets should take a page or two from Jon Stewart when presenting the news. However, I can’t stand his stereotypical American attitude of “Oh yeah, I really want this to get done, as long as I’m not the one to do it” in regards to doing research to inform readers and viewers of what is happening in the world. It is the job of newspapers, magazines, and TV news sources to provide the consumers with this knowledge. However, it is apparent that this does not happen nearly enough. At the risk of sounding like the usual anti-government conspiracy theorist I say the following: we know what they want us to know. But this does not have to be the case. Keep an eye on the economy, and do listen to what the “experts” have to say, but think critically about their words.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to bow in the direction of Jon Stewart.

1. http://www.thedailyshow.com/video/index.jhtml?videoId=220538&title=jim-cramer-pt.-2

April 2, 2009

Optimal Number of Facebook Friends

I believe that the author of the said article makes a valid point. It is not a good thing to spend all hours of the day online chatting on facebook or other related online social networks. It is hard to have too much of a good thing but, when time could be spent being productive and or in the real world making face to face connections that could lead to positive and productive opportunities the individual should wake up and smell the roses. When doing their studies and analysis the researchers should have also looked at how many of the friend requests were being made by the individual, and how many people had requested the individual to be their friend.

Facebook can be a good and a bad thing. If I meet a cute girl at a social get together I tend to try them on Facebook. This is a good way to stay connected with them and try to meet up with them again rather than building up the courage to ask them for their number and possibly get shot down. This method is fail safe, and sometimes the cute girl may even request you as a friend which is a definite plus which assures you that they want to speak to you again. Which in turn gives you more confidence when it comes down to face to face interactions. How much more confidence? In my experience, if I see someone in the real world who added me on Facebook, I feel like I am definitely more likely to approach and communicate with these people.

I myself have 386 friends on Facebook. Do I then have too many friends? It is true that maybe 100 of those friends are people I actually see and talk to on a daily basis, and truly consider good friends. First it was myspace and now Facebook, these social networks were alien to me until about my sophomore year in high school and I did not get a Facebook account until I was in college because it seemed like everyone was asking me if I had one. I felt almost out of the loop that I did not have one. I proceeded to make my account and acquire more pictures and constantly more friends ever since. I would like to think more people have asked me to be their friend, than I have asked others to be my friend. Does that fact make me popular? The truth is, he process of friend requesting seems to be very insubstantial when it comes to actually being good friends. A lot of my Facebook friends are not my best friends. I feel like the word friend on Facebook is tossed around very loosely, giving people with an absurd amount of friends to be "social sluts" who spend all day Facebooking "hard" as me and my friends say. Facebook may and definitely can be overused as a procrastinating tool in class, when trying to do homework, or even going out to social events. Michael Wesch unintentionally stumbled upon this information while doing his study on pedagogy at Kansas State University where the study showed that many students sitting in classes they paid thousands of dollars for, were socializing on Facebook rather than trying to learn the material covered in class.
I find it really interesting that popularity has links to genes. The fact that our genes predispose us to certain behaviors is easily believable, but the fact that the so called "bad" genes seem to be making people more popular is a bit scary. It makes more sense when you find out that all these case studies were conducted on men. You always hear about the bad boys. They seem to be more fun to talk about rather than the guy who sits on his computer playing video games all day. I myself have gotten into a fair amount of trouble, but I have never attributed people liking me due to this behavior. I ask myself, does this article then promote not so popular individuals to behave more irrationally and less socially acceptable. In the past this seems to be true. Our nation was somewhat found on this principle. The British Americans stuck it to the man when they told our English rulers to piss off, and since then America has been a world leader in many aspects. In times of need or direction, people are more often to accept more radical ideas and people, as was the case with Adolf Hitler in Germany, but many times this shows to be not so beneficial to everyone as a whole. I do believe Facebook is a good indicator of social connectivity, but if what is said about going against the grain and rebel activity is true, should it not be the individuals who do not exist on Facebook be the most popular of all?

On Stewart's CNBC Takedown

Jon Stewart’s take on CNBC, is a critical view of a huge news broadcasting company that has consistently been wrong in its alleged expertise. In order to repay Rick Santelli, who had been booked for the show to elaborate on his statements regarding homeowner bailouts, the Daily Show devoted about seven minutes of the show to reveal false optimistic predictions before and during the economic crash. The seven minutes also included, what Jon considered to be lighthearted interviews with top CEO’s that beat around the bush without asking any real questions considering the meltdown taking place.

Ultimately, the seven-minute clip showed a supposedly well-informed financial network projecting future trends and advising very poorly. I am wondering what’s wrong with this? Maybe the fact that if Jon Stewart and the Daily Show didn’t point this out to the American public, I highly doubt any one would have noticed. I’m sure this has dealt a fair blow to CNBC’s credibility as a financial network as it would have done to any other network that was reporting false information time and time again.

More and more people are beginning to watch shows like the Daily Show because it seems to be one of the only ways to obtain news via television that is not partly full of shit. Its roots go deeper than just the way the information is presented and the correctness of that information. In such a time where the economy is in chaos, people want more help from the government but they are highly critical of the way that help is implemented and distributed. When a comedian like Jon Stewart comes on and shows allegedly well respected professionals and reporters who are supposed to be giving sound financial advise to be not just slightly wrong but no where near the correct quadrant, it deals a real blow not only to that network but to the credibility of all news networks.

Jon had obviously invited Rick Santelli to be on the show in regards to his slight on homeowner bailouts while he was sitting in Wall Street complaining about the economic crisis. Santelli’s network, CNBC, cancelled, saying it was “time to move on to the next big story.” People say that CNBC and Rick Santelli should have known that the criticism was coming because of the similar situation that happened with Letterman who used the same tactics when senator John McCain cancelled an appointment on the late show. As with many of his guests I believe John would have made Santelli squirm through some of the humiliating material as he often does with Fox News Channel’s Bill O’ Reilly when he visits the show, but I believe Jon would have been affable as well. In any case, even if Rick Santelli were humiliated, he would have at least had the chance to defend himself and the network. It is often said that it is not the explosion of a bomb that is most terrible, it is the silence that follows, and without Santelli there to rebuttal the silence followed.

This clip really shows that a professional network that a lot of people trust may not be as trusty as they thought. In a society where most of the news is gained from television it really makes one question what can I believe. This is the exact reason that these so-called “fake news” programs are becoming so popular. They bring into light that which is often hidden by the respected and prestigious networks. Perhaps this is the exact reason why everyone feels so comfortable that the tid bits of news that one extracts from the Daily Show are reliable and fact based because it is often news on news that was reported falsely or incorrectly.

Another reason that I believe that the American people are giving more credit to shows like the Daily Show and the Colbert Report is because they can relate more to these comedians better than they can relate to respected officials and reporters of prestigious networks. Since the beginning of my education it has basically reiterated that politicians are untrustworthy, cheating, stealing individuals. It shows the enormity of the radical changes that have taken place in our society in the last thirty to forty years. When it is taught to our children, and often true, that politicians are often not very trustworthy and that everything they say is to be taking with a grain of salt. These untrustworthy people are the leaders of America, often very respected individuals, and we can’t even trust them?

Instead of the leaders of America, we are to turn to former comedians to gain and attain viable worthwhile information. People’s shady opinion of politicians and network reporters has led to the lack of trust in the information presented by them. I believe that the Daily Show is a direct form of democracy that keeps the bigger fish in America in check, and not only do these sort of shows act as watch dogs but also a very good source of entertainment.

Death or Pleasure?

After reading and looking at the pictures of Jessica Dimmocks photographs, I was sickened by the views of her giving head to a man aside the road, having sex, and bleeding out all of the blood that streams through her body while shooting herself up. Yes these pictures are sickening and disturbing, what it is what people love to watch. Everyone loves to watch people suffer.
When it comes to today’s social life and media, everything deals with violence and sickening views. From violent shows like UFC, worlds dangerous scenarios, and Spike T.V. Including sickening, deadly shows like Crime T.V. and websites as rotten.com for people to view sickening pictures of deaths that had happen to people. As you can see everyone loves violence and deaths that is the one of the biggest entertainment viewings people watch and love. So for Dimmock to make a project like this is very difficult and hard.
The way Dimmock presented herself in this project was a smart young woman that was innocent and a nice grown girl. But she wanted to explore more of what meth heads go through; which is one of the hardest things a person could do. Simply coming from being innocent to being in a household and having meth put on a plate every single day. By being a photographer and only having her camera, she takes evidential pictures of everything that goes on in the household. Innocent people in America love seeing what people are initially afraid of. They love to watch the horror and suspense people go through, in movies, shows, but they get into it even more when it is reality setting in.
One of the websites that people like going to is Rotten.com. It is a sick website where FBI, crime investigators take pictures of how people died and post them up on a website for peoples entertainment. The website includes t-shirts, press, porno, mug shots, and legal rights on the website. But the biggest reason why people visit the site is because there are sickening pictures as a guy gets his head chopped off by a helicopter and photographers take up close and personal photographs of these dead people. There is another picture that caught my eye on it which it is called knife fight. And the title explains what the photographs are of, a man getting into a severe knife fight and having gauging cuts all over his back, ribs, and chest. The website has gotten a lot of public media, which over hundreds of thousands of people visit to watch and view the pictures for entertainment. And since our media of creepers have gone up to strange weird things; Dimmock presenting herself with porn, drugs, and sadness has made big media towards people that like that stuff.
Not only did Dimmock show us sickening, touching pictures of what she went through but this is a quote out of her article that she said. “All I was thinking about was, I wanna get high. I wanna get high. You know, I wanna get high. I guess the junkie life was what I wanted. I had really no other aspirations. I just never tried to do anything. The only thing I really wanted to do was, you know, get loaded, and sit around and do nothing. So that's what I did.” Anyone can read this part and realize that people’s lives get destroyed. The person they were before is gone, and it shows the only side effects that happens when you do drugs; the negative side of drugs. It shows that there are no feelings or personality left in a person after taking drugs; you lose yourself through everything you used to have.
From everything that I read and saw on Dimmocks article, I was not grossed out or had any negative side effects, I was actually amused and thought that the pictures were interesting where I stared at each picture for five minutes. I am one of those people that are stuck into violence and death myself, I find all of it amusing because it is not a thing I see every day or even occasionally. Unlike the hymen Natalie Dylan, Dimmock took a chance, a dangerous one that could have ruined her whole life, but she did research on a whole new level, by actually experiencing it. The way Dimmock presented herself was dangerous yes, but as Dimmock said at the end of her whole research article “You can explore further... you should explore further.”

April 1, 2009

Define or Be Defined: Dimmocks Photodocumentary

After looking at Jessica Dimmocks photographs, I got the sinking feeling I intruded on experiences that can only be explained as private. Furthermore, I felt sick. I felt sick looking at the “dead folks walking behind the doors of 4 W. 22nd St’, the rabbit hole. Yet, I couldn’t help but wonder, how did they have enough money, space, or veins left to afford the drugs? What choices did the people in the rabbit hole have to make in order to live, or at least get their next hit?

The photos of the madhouse were described as a disturbing insight into the lives of heroin addicts through a chance encounter. I noticed that Heroin rarely functions in a sentence with out being juxtaposed with the word ‘addiction’. People are viewed not as people, but as addicts subservient to the drug. As Dioon (a character Dimmock photographed) said, the typical junkie seems to only have one thing on the mind.

“All I was thinking about was, I wanna get high. I wanna get high. You know, I wanna get high. I guess the junkie life was what I wanted. I had really no other aspirations. I just never tried to do anything. The only thing I really wanted to do was, you know, get loaded, and sit around and do nothing. So that's what I did.”

Now, if I claimed, “ I want a cookie, I really want a cookie.” I would have to make a conscious choice to go and get the cookie. The phrase “I am a cookie addict” would only function to describe my choices. Thomas Szasz hypothesized that the statement 'I am addicted to drugs' is functional, rather than veridical. The idea that addiction is only a psychological illness is totally ridiculous. Rather, It's a matter of choice and available resources. People, generally speaking, will take any intoxicant or any drug that gives them a pleasant effect if it is available to them. Perhaps if I had fruit available to me, I would make the better choice, but sometimes, fruit just does not taste as good or do the trick.

Perhaps the pictures made me sick, but rarely do images of blood soaked needles and flesh make me feel happy. It is hard to understand why an individual would choose that path of life. Hunter S. Thompson, a notorious journalist famous for his drug-ridden novel “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”, perhaps explained the gap in perspective best, “I wouldn't recommend sex, drugs or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me”. The lifestyle is attractive to some, while the pictures are clearly repulsive to others. Perhaps the insanity really can’t be understood unless you are on the inside looking out. Dioon later explained, “I'm not stupid. I don't think anyone owes me anything. I know that everything I did I made my own choice about it. And that's what sucks real bad”. People must be held accountable for their actions, true. Yet, it seems that we prefer to stare at the fantastical pictures to create a collective sense of guilt or blame rather than holding responsibility to the individual user. People make the choices, not the drug. Jessica through her naivety seemed to realize that the people “couldn’t be saved”. Perhaps they do not want to, and if they do, they will choose to be.




Szasz, Thomas. The Myth of Addiction. 1960.