RE[3]: Drop the politics...        
Yes, there is a difference between being "exploited" where they are happily employed, I've been "exploited", and actually being exploited where they are close to slave labor. My original statement didn't have room for the above semantics.
          The Battleship Island: War Crimes at the UNESCO Heritage Site        
Hashima Island off Nagasaki was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, despite the fact slave labor was used and abused there. Of course, that totally fits with how the UN does business. It was a grim place for workers, but even worse for the enslaved comfort women. The war is nearly over, but the atrocities will get even worse in Ryoo Seung-wan’s The Battleship Island(trailer here), which opens this Friday in New York.

Although small in total land surface, Hashima was an imposing concrete rock jutting out of the Pacific, featuring a punishing coal mine that bored deep into the Earth. Nobody would volunteer to “work” there, but plenty of Koreans, as well as some Chinese and Southeast Asian prisoners were either remanded there or press-ganged off the docks of Nagasaki. That is what happens to swing band-leader Lee Kang-ok, his musicians, and his young daughter So-hee. Fortunately, he largely manages to avoid the mines by performing for the Japanese. He also secures house-cleaning work for So-hee rather than comfort woman duties, but the way perverted senior Japanese officials look at her represents a constant danger.

The good news is the war is going badly for Japan and is likely to end soon. The bad news is the military and mining company officials will want to eliminate all evidence of war crimes, most definitely including the victims. Park Moo-young might be able to help. The OSS-trained Korean independence fighter originally infiltrated the island intending to rescue Yoon Hak-cheol, a well-respected resistance leader, but that mission was complicated by unforeseen developments.

At one hundred-thirty-two minutes, Battleship does not scrimp on suffering and misery. It makes it painfully clear what slave labor entailed during the militarist Showa era. It is not pretty. However, Ryoo also stages a spectacular, island-shaking, massive-in-scale escape-revolt that stands up to any of the celebrated scenes in Saving Private Ryan, Braveheart, or Heaven help us, Titanic. Still, it takes too long to get to there and the constant presence of So-hee is a buzz-kill. Don’t misunderstand, Kim Soo-ahn is very good in the part—perhaps too good. She is just so young and innocent-looking, it is exhausting in a not-so-fun kind of way to be constantly worrying about her.

Oddly, Hwang Jung-min, who ordinarily swaggers he way through films, is uncharacteristically whiny and churlish as Lee, the swinging scrounger. Instead, it is So Ji-sub who delivers the hardnosed in-your-face attitude as Choi Chil-sung, a gangster who turns rebel after getting shanghaied to Hashima. Plus, the ever-reliable Lee Kyoung-young do his thing as the crafty Yoon, as usual.

This is a huge period production built around oppressively imposing concrete and steel sets and locations. It is easy to understand how Hashima beat down prisoners/laborers as soon as the set foot on the island. Still, it would not have killed anyone, if Ryoo had scored a few less points against the Japanese by tightening up the first and second acts. Nevertheless, anyone in the mood to follow-up Dunkirk with another high-body-count war epic should find Ryoo’s latest fits the bill (but Operation Chromite and My Way are even better). Recommended for fans of Korean historical tragedies, Battleship Island opens this Friday (8/4) in New York, at the AMC Empire.
          Film Review: ALLAN QUATERMAIN AND THE LOST CITY OF GOLD (1986, Gary Nelson)        
Stars: Hoo Boy of 5.
Running Time: 99 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Richard Chamberlain (THE MUSIC LOVERS, THE LAST WAVE), Sharon Stone (CASINO, BASIC INSTINCT), James Earl Jones (STAR WARS, THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, SNEAKERS), Henry Silva (SHARKY'S MACHINE, BULLETPROOF, GHOST DOG), Cassandra Peterson (ELVIRA MISTRESS OF THE DARK, PEE WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE), Robert Donner (COOL HAND LUKE, HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER). Produced by Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus. Based on the novel by H. Rider Haggard (KING SOLOMON'S MINES, SHE). Screenplay by Gene Quintano (SUDDEN DEATH, OPERATION DUMBO DROP) and Lee Reynolds (WHO AM I, DELTA FORCE 2). Directed by Gary Nelson (FREAKY FRIDAY, THE BLACK HOLE). Music by Michael Linn (AMERICAN NINJA, BREAKIN' 2: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO) and Jerry Goldsmith (TOTAL RECALL, ALIEN, GREMLINS). Second unit directed by Newt Arnold (BLOODSPORT, BLOOD THIRST).
Tag-line: "24 Karat Entertainment!"
Best one-liner: "We're starting to piss off somebody's god!"

I've written before at length about the "Cannon Quatermain Canon"––the two films, KING SOLOMON'S MINES and ALLAN QUATERMAIN AND THE LOST CITY OF GOLD, were made simultaneously in 1985, were based on outworn adventure novels by H. Rider Haggard, and were shamelessly attempting to cash in on the success of the INDIANA JONES series.

These films, even moreso than the average American globetrotting adventure film, are xenophobic, racially insensitive (they actually use brownface on Robert Donner to transform him into the excruciatingly offensive Indian character "Swarma"), and generally spit-take inducing. I honestly can't tell if these films are an elaborate joke on the audience, a spoof of the genre's racist tropes, or a genuine attempt at action-adventure entertainment by woefully out of touch individuals.  [It's also worth noting: Cannon's FIREWALKER (with Chuck Norris) was made in the same period and is definitely cut from the same cloth.]

The plot concerns Allan Quatermain (Richard Chamberlain, who deserves better)

Note how his fedora differs from Indiana Jones' in that it is handsomely garnished with a swatch of leopard print from Jo-Anne Fabrics.

and Willie Scott––er, I mean Jesse Huston (Sharon Stone, who also deserves better)

She doesn't even get to sing.

are searching for... not the Ark of the Covenant nor the Sankara Stones nor the Holy Grail, but, I shit you not... a legendary white African tribe who lives in a lost city of gold. At one point, Sharon Stone is made to exclaim, "The white race does exist!" I cannot overstate how unsettling this is.

James Earl Jones (who also obviously deserves better) shows up in a tailcoat, a plastic bone tooth necklace, a Native American feather headpiece, and no pants.

He is playing the warrior sidekick "Umslopogaas," and he wields a giant axe that is conspicuously lightweight and shiny, almost as if it is a piece of plastic covered in reflective paint (which it is). At one point he is captured by the guards of the white tribe's lost city, who are black men wearing white hoods. Again, these decisions appear to be so plainly tone deaf and misguided that it is better to believe they are not deliberate.

According to James Earl Jones, he only signed up for this picture because it allowed him to piggyback his shoot dates with an African vacation. I hope it was a nice vacation.

Master of crazy-eye Henry Silva rules the Lost City like Jim Jones, wearing community theater biblical robes and a Gene Simmons wig. He is clearly based on "Mola Ram" from INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM (complete with a floor-opening sacrificial chamber and a mine full of slave labor), and the major difference is that he does not rip out his victims' hearts, but rather dips them in gold. He screams things like "Which one of you is going to die for slaying our sacred beast?" and appears to be having something approaching a good time.

And wait a minute, who is that on the left, in the Valkyrie breastplate?

Why, it's none other than Elvira (!) herself (Cassandra Peterson), who mostly lounges around and gives the evil eye, which makes her role in this mess the most enviable, from an actor's standpoint.

ALLAN QUATERMAIN AND THE LOST CITY OF GOLD is treasure trove of cheap costumes, depressed actors, incompetent matte work, and mind-bogglingly terrible ideas. There are giant maggot attacks, a wild raft ride (that attempts to mirror TEMPLE OF DOOM's mine-car chase),

and a zany bazaar salesman whose wares include bulletproof spandex.

Furthermore, Quatermain solves literally 95% of the problems he faces with trick-shooting (at tomatoes, natives' faces, trap doors, stalactites, etc.) which is a great message for the youth, too, sure.

In the end, the film is troubling, bizarre, baffling, and frankly the whole thing has aged about as well as the Gold Dust Twins. Now you must atone for your sins by watching the entire catalogues of Ousmane Sembéne, Sarah Maldoror, and Gadalla Gubara. Whew.
          120: Indentured Servitude        
Internships, slave labor? Co-host Sara France joins the fray and an interview with nature photographer, Moose Peterson.
          Walmart Burns more Slaves in Bangladeshi Sweatshops ( Oct 8, 2013 )        
Walmart, Gap, and the lot are in cohorts with each other so they can continue to exploit slave labor in impoverished countries. Their plan is to push their slaves to the absolute limit until they literally burn in their sweatshop machine. This more than apparent in Bangladesh, this is a country where people have been […]
          The Evils of Communism Part 2: The USSR        
"We stand for organized terror - this should be frankly admitted. Terror is an absolute necessity during times of revolution. Our aim is to fight against the enemies of the Soviet Government and of the new order of life. We judge quickly. In most cases only a day passes between the apprehension of the criminal and his sentence. When confronted with evidence criminals in almost every case confess; and what argument can have greater weight than a criminal's own confession."
-Felix Dzerzhinsky 1918

I would like to start with one single case of cruelty and evil. As I said before in the first part of this essay, many who are ignorant of the history and consequences of communism find it easier to brush off the statistics rather than contend with the horrors those numbers represent. The story of Nadezhda Suetonovka is one filled with personal tragedy and betrayal by the Revolution that is so common among the victims of the Soviet Union. She was married to Filipp Kuzmich Mironov a once-proud Colonel in the Red Army who found himself on the wrong side of Trotzky and the Cheka (the Soviet Secret police at the time). They were arrested together on the usual false charges. Pregnant and separated from her husband she was not told of his prison-yard execution soon after. She gave birth to her child in a special prison designed especially for pregnant women. She named him Vadim. When she was eventually released she was not allowed to take a job to care for her and her son. Vadim died at the age of five years old and soon after his mother vanished from records.

The Soviet Union felt nothing for the individual, but contempt. Citizens of Russia that fell out of favor were often compared to insects by Lenin, however, the treatment of even the most loyal Soviets as mindless drones was certainly the norm. The USSR ruthlessly exploited the very people it purported to have fought a revolution for and did so in the name of communism. Some were shot, some were hung, some were starved and some were worked to death

I won't attempt to describe how those people felt, I do not possess the ability to accurately transfer the horrors of communist rule in the USSR from the eyes and ears of those who experienced it. I encourage you to read The Gulag Archipelago by the great Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn if you want to lie awake at night thinking of the pain and suffering endured by real human beings. Or watch this film by Mikhail Mikheev to hear the testimonies of those that witnessed the cruelty and evil first-hand.

For the same reasons that it is important that society knows and remembers the histories of the Holocaust or of slavery it is also important to know the history of communism. While this is far from exhaustive I think it is a good starting point for someone just learning about the subject. Death tolls vary from estimates of over 6,000,000 to approximately 60,000,000 in the USSR. The only thing we can know for sure is that either number is simply too much. What's more the USSR wasn't merely guilty of murder, evil as that was, they were also guilty of systematic torture, rape and slavery. It is much harder to get an idea of how many cases of the State condoning rape and torture there may have been as the victims often remained silent (for good reason).

Stalin tends to get most of the blame for deaths in the USSR, but to excuse Lenin for his role in the Red Terror or the Famine of 1921 is a bit too generous. Below is one estimate for the death toll from George Mason University's Byron Caplan:

The exact number murdered is usually estimated at between 100,000 and 500,000, but the chaotic wartime conditions make the accounting especially difficult. But execution was not the Cheka's only tool; it also pioneered the development of the modern slave labor (or "concentration") camp. Inmates were generally frankly treated as government-owned slaves, and used for the most demanding sorts of work - such as digging arctic canals - while receiving pitifully small rations.

Surely even the low estimates are horrible enough to dispel the notion of Lenin as some sort of Savior of the Russian people. Imagine if a modern American President had overseen even a quarter of that many State executions in four or eight years. Nor is Lenin guilty only of murder:

Five million Russians died. Half a world away, Americans responded with a massive two-year relief campaign, championed by Herbert Hoover, director of the American Relief Administration known as the ARA....
The first American relief ships arrived in Petrograd in September 1921, as the embers of the 1917 Russian revolution still smoldered. American relief workers were among the first outsiders to break through Russia's isolation and to witness and record the impact of the Bolshevik Revolution. They would be tested by a railroad system in disarray, a forbidding climate, a ruthless government suspicious of their motives, and the enormous scale of death and starvation.
The initial plan called for feeding one million children by delivering bread, rice, grits, sugar, corn and milk to the most hard hit regions. Almost immediately, Hoover encountered formidable obstacles. Vladimir Lenin's new communist government was skeptical of American aid and sabotaged the relief effort by planting spies in local American Relief Administration offices. When trains stuck on the tracks prevented food from being transported, Russian officials were uncooperative, resulting in delays that contributed to an estimated 50,000 deaths. New estimates in the fall of 1921 revealed that at least 16 million Russians would be impacted by the famine. Hoover's initial plan to feed just the children would not be sufficient.
That winter, cannibalism became widespread across Russia as the people continued to starve. In the U.S., Hoover managed to double the project's funding, arguing that by providing food famine relief, Americans could demonstrate the strength, kindness and efficiency of American society to a Communist culture.

 If this were the end of the mass-death and mass-suffering a case could still be made against Communism as a whole, unfortunately this is merely the beginning. More famines and more mass executions would follow Lenin's death as the brutal Stalin came to power:

The very scale of the Great Terror — estimates of the number who perished range from 12 million to 20 million, and between 12 million and 14 million more had been inmates in the Gulag — ensured that most Soviet people had been victims themselves or knew one. Moreover, the partial revelations of Stalin’s crimes in Khrushchev’s not-so-secret “secret speech” to the 20th Communist Party Congress in 1956 ignited a public reckoning of sorts for several years, including the official publication of works like Solzhenitsyn’s “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.” 

The rapid "modernization" of Russia also took a bloody toll:

Higher up, beyond the statue of Kirov, stands the Svirskoi hydroelectric plant, built during Stalin’s reign by gulag prisoners, at least half of whom were imprisoned for political crimes. Estimates indicate that no fewer than 480,000 people in the northwestern region of the Soviet Union suffered during those horrendous years of repression, and tens of thousands of those — including a part of the workers who built the hydroelectric plant — were shot and killed. But the Leningrad region has only a few memorial cemeteries and monuments to those victims, while there are hundreds of monuments and streets dedicated to Lenin, Kirov, Bolshevik leader Moisei Uritsky and other Communist leaders.The Svirskoi hydroelectric plant — and the entire town built around it — was built on bones and blood of political prisoners of the Soviet regime. And although at the nearby Alexander-Svirsky Monastery, founded in the late 15th century, visitors are occasionally told that during the Soviet period the monastery was closed and handed over to the local forced labor camps and was almost certainly the site of mass shootings, any mention or memory of the victims of state terror is barely discernible through the countless references to Soviet geographical names and pictures of the Soviet past. Anatoly Razumov is a bibliographer and historian of the Leningrad region who pursues his task with almost religious devotion. Day after day, he has worked since 1991 to recover the names of the people shot and killed in the camps and prisons of northwest Russia. He and his colleagues have already assembled nine of the 15 volumes that will contain a list of the people shot in the Leningrad region. The Levashenskoye Cemetery near St. Petersburg alone holds the bodies of about 50,000 people who were shot by the NKVD between 1937 and 1954 and secretly buried there.

It is shameful that Russia to this day remembers monsters like Lenin, Trotzky and Stalin with anything less than the utter disdain that the world looks at Hitler with. Their crimes were cruel and many and an entire Russian generation has been allowed to forget the crimes of their ancestors:

The central government now demanded impossibly high quotas of grain, forcing the population to give up even the seed-grain supplies needed for next season's planting. There is no doubt that the regime's leaders knew that this would create a food shortage. Indeed, borders were closed and supplies cut off to ensure it; granaries and other food stores were hunted out and locked up under guard by soldiers and secret police units. A man-made famine was thus created deliberately to starve political resisters to death. Up to 7 million people in ethnic Ukrainian regions died of hunger. Some of the too-slow-to-die were shot in large numbers to hasten the genocide.
The quota demands were lifted in 1933, but until 1935 further millions of kulaks and their families were deported to labour camps in Siberia and Kazakhstan. Many died in the appallingly harsh conditions there.

Remember this history when people try to tell you that Capitalism is the root of all evil.

          Defending “Fortress Europe”: The Atlantic Wall        
My name is Tyler; I am a history major at the University of Virginia and am interning with the National D-Day Memorial over the summer. My primary internship responsibilities include the expansion and maintenance of our archives, giving tours, and assisting with our many education programs. Having been exposed to so much D-Day history in the past few months, I developed an interest in the obstacles these soldiers faced and decided to complete more research on the Atlantic Wall.
Steel 'hedgehogs' at the Pas de Calais, April 1944

On March 23, 1942 Adolf Hitler issued Fuhrer Directive No. 40 calling for the creation of the Atlantic Wall.  A nearly 2000-mile long line of coastal defenses, the Atlantic Wall stretched from the northern reaches of Norway, along the coast of continental Europe, and down to the Franco-Spanish border.  Its purpose, to defend against an Allied invasion of Europe no matter where it may come.

The monumental task of designing and building this defensive network was given to Organization Todt, the engineering group which had been responsible for both the Autobahn and the Siegfried Line which protected Germany’s western border.  Over half a million French workers were drafted through the Vichy regime’s compulsory labor program to build the defenses.  Many were paid for their labor, although not much, but slave labor was used as well.  Even with these savings in labor costs the project was enormously expensive, requiring both money and resources.  In France alone the cost was over 3.5 billion Deutschmarks, and the wall defenses as a whole required 600 million cubic feet of concrete and 1.3 million tons of steel.

Rommel surveying defenses along the French coast
Initially these defenses were concentrated around naval and U-boat bases. But starting in late 1943, the fortifications were expanded to cover virtually the entire coast.  In early 1944, Field Marshall Erwin Rommel was given the task of improving the defenses against an increasingly likely Allied invasion.  Because of his experience fighting the Allies in North Africa, Rommel believed that Allied air power posed the greatest threat.  Owing to this, he ordered the building of reinforced concrete bunkers and pillboxes capable of surviving an aerial bombardment.  Further inland, in the open fields of farmland, large sharpened logs were driven into the ground.  Known as “Rommel’s asparagus”, these were meant to destroy Allied gliders should they try to land.

Rommel also believed, quite rightly, that if the Allies were able to secure a beachhead then the war would be lost for Germany.  As such, the beaches were where he focused most of his attention.  Numerous beach obstacles were put in place to guard against Allied landing craft. Steel “hedgehogs” and tetrahedrons were placed in the water to tear out the hull of the invasion craft, and log ramps were erected to capsize them. Mines were used extensively, both in the water and behind the beaches as well; in Northern France alone, over 6 million of these mines were laid.  Rommel never believed that these obstacles would stop an invasion, but he hoped they would slow it down enough to allow reinforcements arrive and repulse the Allied forces.

Clearly, the task of invading France was no easy one, and the Allies knew they would need luck on their side in order to pull it off.  The reserve panzer divisions which could have repulsed the invasion could only be released upon the direct order of the Fuhrer himself. And as luck would have it, Adolf Hitler had taken a sleeping pill the night before the invasion and his staff refused to wake him.  Because of this one blunder, the entire defense network was rendered virtually useless and the Allied invasion succeeded.


          The Iron Road: An Illustrated History of the Railroad        
The Iron Road: An Illustrated History of the Railroad
author: Christian Wolmar
name: Mark
average rating: 3.98
book published: 2014
rating: 3
read at: 2015/05/06
date added: 2015/05/06
The Iron Road
An Illustrated History of the Railroad
Author: Christian Wolmar
Publisher: DK Publishing
Published In: New York City, NY
Date: 2014
Pgs: 389


The history of the railroad is a tale of ingenuity, social change, and bold vision. From the earliest steam engines to the high-speed bullet trains of today. The Iron Road reveals the hidden stories of the railroads--the inspired engineering; the blood, sweat, and tears that went into the construction of the tracks; the groundbreaking innovations behind the trains that traveled them; and the triumphs and tragedies of the people who made the railroad what it is. Packed with lavish photographs, diagrams, and maps to illustrate and illuminate, this is the biography of the machines that carried us into the modern era.


Why this book:
Railroads...trains...I’m in.


Hmm Moments:
Cuba having the most miles of track per inhabitant in the mid 1800s. Placed in context with the sugar barons driving the development, it makes sense. Even with the many miles of track, they were focused closely on the sugar industry and weren’t situated to support other industrial development, a one-trick pony despite their pervasiveness.

It’s amazing how much history evolved and devolved around the railroads; their birth, heydey, and decline.

The graft at the heart of the railroad expansion across America flavored much of modern American business. The government wanted the railroad built, so they subsidized it. The rail barons formed companies to build the railroads that they would own when they were completed, charged exorbitant rates to the government, and pocketed huge dividends and made money out of both the construction and the finished product.

I wondered if the author would shy away from the dark aspects of railroad history. But they were confronted head on. The story of the Holocaust and the slave labor building of the Siam-to-Burma railroad are both here. Horror though they are, they belong in this if it hopes to be a definitive look at the history of the railroads.

Why isn’t there a screenplay?
The Panama Railroad, the Derienni, Ran Runnels, and George Totten would make a helluva movie.


Last Page Sound:

Author Assessment:
Well researched and well written history.

Knee Jerk Reaction:
glad I read it

Disposition of Book:
Irving Public Library - South
Irving, TX

Dewey Decimal System:
385.09 WOL

Would recommend to:
genre fans

          Peace Revolution episode 027: DIAMONDS: The Jewel of Denial / Outgrowing Stockholm Syndrome        
itunes pic

Peace Revolution episode 027: DIAMONDS: The Jewel of Denial / Outgrowing Stockholm Syndrome

Notes, References, and Links for further study:

1.     Invitation to the Tragedy and Hope online community

2.     Peace Revolution primary site (2009-2011)

3.     Peace Revolution backup stream (2006-2011)

4.     (video) Jewel of the Nile (1985) trailer on YouTube

5.     (video) Diamonds are Forever (1971) trailer on YouTube

6.     (video) The Diamond Empire (1995) PBS Frontline Documentary

7.     (video) Blood Diamonds: The True Story (2009)

8.     (video) Diamonds of War (2007) National Geographic

9.     (video) Dr. Steve Pieczenik: bin Laden worked for CIA, MI6, and Mossad

10.  (video) Invisible Empire (2010) by Jason Bermas

11.  (video) “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” by Pink Floyd on YouTube

12.  (article) “Al Qaeda Cash Tied to Diamond Trade” / Washington Post

13.  (article) “Bin Laden is financed by 'blood diamonds' from Sierra Leone / Millions reaped from gems sold by rebel groups” /

14.  (article) “How cut-price diamonds are traded for weapons” / London Telegraph

15.  (article) “Board member of a diamond business is accused of funding bin Laden” / JCK Industry Authority

16.  Cecil Rhodes / Wikipedia

17.  De Beers Diamond Cartel  / Wikipedia

a.     Note it cites N.M. Rothschild and Sons as Rhodes’ financiers.

18.  (book) Glitter and Greed: The Truth about Blood Diamonds, by Janine Roberts

19.  Cecil Rhodes set up the De Beers Diamond Cartel

20.  Rhodes’ will created the Rhodes Scholarships and CFR

21.  Rhodes secret society was based on the military strategy of the Jesuits

a.     Search “Jesuit” and “Jesuits” in the e-book version as linked

22.  Rhodes was a freemason

23.  Freemasonry was infiltrated by the Illuminati, and the Illuminati strategy is also based on the military strategy of the Jesuits.

24.  Moses Hess writes in 1862 that illuminists were progressing their agenda to create Israel in Palestine, from within the freemasonic lodges.

a.     Search “Freemason” “Israel” “Palestine” “Rothschild” “Hirsch”

b.    Originally published by Moses Hess in 1862, even though 1918 Harvard Library Edition is linked above

25.  Rothschild is mentioned in Hess’s 1862 publication as being a key participant.

a.     Search “Rothschild” in the full-text version as linked

26.  Rothschild funds Cecil Rhodes

27.  Rothschild is named in an early version of Rhodes will.

28.  Rothschild is instrumental in the Balfour Declaration and therefore, the creation of Israel.

a.     Israel is likewise based on the military strategy of the Jesuits.

29.  There is an intimate connection between British South Africa and Israel

a.     According to Theodor Herzl’s diaries, Herzl states that Israel must be based on Rhodes’ plan, as per his letters and correspondence with Cecil Rhodes.

30.  Also ongoing in Africa, were other Empires trying to likewise rape the native people of their natural resources, including King Leopold of Belgium, the Prussian Hapsburg Family, as well as Rhodes’ diamond cartel; all of which had dealings with the Rothschild family franchise banks. Call it racism, eugenics, or greed; it’s all part of the history of the biocratic Utopians.

a.     See also: “The First Holocaust: Horrifying Secrets of Germany’s earliest genocide inside Africa’s Forbidden Zone” by the UK Mail Online

31.  Among the imperial financiers participating in the diamond cartel in the early 19th century, was Augustus Belmont, who like many who helped to create the Federal Reserve Bank in 1913, was also part of the American International Corporation, which funded the Soviet Union.

32.  (video) Conflict Diamonds by Lupe Fiasco on YouTube

a.     [Chorus]
Diamonds are forever
They won’t leave in the night
I've no fear that they might desert me

Allow me to break down the game
behind the bracelets, earrings, chains, watches and rings
The bling
the crystal incrusted, princess flooded
canary studded, blue colored and blood stained
Yeah, the older brother of the drug game
the giver of fame, the take awayer of lame
The empowerer of the kings that came with claims and disease
to leave where the native peoples were staying
Believe, my engagement ring received
And flossed at the cost of a bondage child minus pain
Long ago kings use to wear them in their armor when they fought other armies
Because it use to scare them
If you wasn't rich, couldn't wear them
Witches use to marry them
They'll shoot you before they share them
The gift and the curse, the venom and the serum
Most hated lady's best friend, get murked for a cerium


Cecil Rhodes sold war and genocide
Into the countryside just to get his shine on
I fear what De Beers and his peers use to do
Before the world really knew, just to get their mine on
Making paper with slave labor
And hitting little kids with life time bids making them cut and shine stones
Inflating the price and making them look nice
And I wasn't thinking twice when I was putting mine on

About a young shorty in Sierra Leone
Or other conflict countries that people call home
I figured I would never go to Angola
So it never did affect me there, maybe indirectly
That my neck leash was funding a rebellion or a military coup
Started by militias that don't believe in following none of Geneva's rules
I was brushing off the haters, trying to be cool
Didn't have a clue that the rapper was helping the rapers
Raiders of the villagers, pillagers of the schools
Shooters of the innocent, torturers of the witnesses
Burners of the businesses and my bracelet was the fuel
Uhh, I ain't pushing an agenda homie
I'm just pushing the facts, fuck Bush
Cuz there's people doing worse on this earth and there black
I took it for years now let me bring it back
We all know on foreign shores that they finance wars
But ask yourself do they finance yours
When I first got mine I took them out on tour
Didn't know they lost half the value when I took them out the store
Or it was full of moissanites and cubics
But the jeweler knew I was stupid
And that I couldn't prove it
Feeling like I need it because I do music
To impress the groupies and the interviewers
So I didn't appraise it, nor did I loop it
Even gave them to my girl, thinking I was cupid
Homies was all hate hoping they could make me lose it
Creeping through my own hood knew I had to remove it
I see the Russian Mafia, the Jewish Mobsters
The undercover terrorists and the traps for the hustlers
Homie it's a wrap for the nonsense rhyming
Props to Kanye I call this Conflict Diamonds


Peace Revolution partner podcasts:

Corbett Report dot com

Media Monarchy dot com

Gnostic Media Podcast

School Sucks Project Podcast

Meria dot net

Other productions by members of the T&H network:

Top Documentary Films dot com: Hijacking Humanity by Paul Verge (2006)

Top Documentary Films dot com: Exposing the Noble Lie (2010)

Top Documentary Films dot com: The Pharmacratic Inquisition by Jan Irvin (2007)

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          Retro Poster: "White Zombie" (1932)        

Made in just 11 days back in 1932 on a $50,000 budget, "White Zombie" tells the story of a woman (Madge Bellamy) who turns into a zombie at the hands of a voodoo priest (Bela Lugosi). Although the film opened to negative reviews, it has become a favorite to many fans of the horror genre, gaining much of its recognition as being the first feature length zombie film. Although the story line is a bit over the top, the film oozes with atmosphere and eerie camera shots of the zombies, who are basically mindless drones doing slave labor. This one is available streaming instantly on Netflix. If you are a fan of Bela Lugosi, horror classics of the 30's and 40's or interested in seeing how the idea of the zombie originated, it's worth a watch.

          Episode 28: The Fast and Casino Curious        
We talk about our personal lives, and how Jared learned to swim. Meanwhile Lindsey was in a slave labor camp... .and MORE... Continue reading
          Finding Nimmo        
Pitiful conspiracy nut loses control of metaphorical bowels on hearing about global referendum.

Kurt Nimmo, an equal opportunity purveyor of paranoia (left, right and centre), was in a feverish delirium of excitement on Thursday. He'd somehow managed to get hold of the the latest plans of the Green Gay Alliance of Soul Enslaving One Worlders, GGAoSEOW for short. They have well established links to China; just try pronouncing GGAoSEOW. SEE!?

Their appalling plan? To encourage a small NGO to further its plans for a global referendum on global governance—basically, to ask everyone on the planet the following question: Do you support the creation of a directly-elected, representative and democratic world government?

Oh the humanity! GGAoSEOW will stop at NOTHING.

The piece is unselfconsciously titled: Minor League NGO Calls for Globalist Imposed “Democracy.” This from an absolute (as opposed to merely relative) nonentity like Nimmo. Not even the legendary ”total perspective vortex” can crack this kind of self reflection fail.

No doubt, dear reader, your naivete and general air of unknowing innocence will cause you to wonder ... WTF? How is this a problem? I mean we’re just asking the question, right? But you can’t pull the wool over Kurt’s eyes. He KNOWS what the real agenda is. How he knows this isn’t explained exactly ... but surely it has something to do with extended exposure to comic sans, poor formatting and psychadelic HTML.

For your entertainment, here is a brief sample of the lunacy. Don’t forget your safety gear!

Stark and the 45 authors enumerated in the press release are suckers for the real honest to pete globalists who have anything but democracy in mind. On the contrary, the real one-worlders desire nothing less than to strip every last human on the planet of any sort of god-given or natural right and turn what might have been paradise into a slave labor gulag with a high-tech control grid overlay. As for what they ultimately have in mind for us, it is carved on the Georgia Guidestones — a eugenics-inspired reduction in world population to a mere 500 million souls who will be automatons serving at the beck and call of the elite.

Nimmo explores the known continuum of wingnuttery, and perhaps a little beyond, dispensing with a coherent article in favour of wild-eyed paranoia, coupled with weak-kneed bleating. The unholy progeny of this union are an army of straw men; miserable exemplars, all drooping barn scrapings, reeking of bullshit, and drenched in horse piss. Nonetheless, Nimmo knows his audience and hits them with both barrels of teh blazing, undiluted stupid. The kind of concentrated stupid that burns, the white phosphorus of the intertubes.

The depressing truth of course, is that this kind of rancid nonsense detracts from actual atrocities being perpetrated in plain sight; murder, genocide and ethnic cleansing occurring right now in Dafur, Zimbabwe and Chechnya to name but a few of the more familiar trouble spots. You’d think Nimmo’s attention would gravitate to the steaming piles of dung on our collective plate, but no, Nimmo is on all fours studying the dining room floor with a magnifying glass, hunting for the tiny unicorns that live in the carpet.

The real danger to our future doesn’t come from the shadowy bogey men lurking in the dusty corners of Nimmo’s mind, but in our well documented, relentlessly human impulse to demonise, dehumanise and destroy ”the other.” Indeed, Nimmo’s ”article” is a textbook example of the genre; rich with nefarious and scheming ”elites.”

In all of human history the only way we have found to control the impulse to tribalism is through agreed laws fairly applied. It’s time to take that global.
          The Under Guides Graphic Novel Podcast Vol I        

Buying Image Comics on Minimum Wage

The Under Guides Graphic Novel Podcast - Buying Image Comics on Minimum Wage
Three decades long fans offer their views on "indie" comic books, which basically encompasses everything without a Marvel or DC logo. Join Diabolu Frank, Mister Joe Fixit and the Ill Mac "Illegal Machine" as they toss through titles from Image, Valiant, Dark Horse, First, Fantagraphics, IDW, Epic, Pacific, Slave Labor Graphics, Vertigo, Drawn & Quarterly, Avatar... basically everything in the shadow of the so-called "Big Two."

Kicking it 1990s style for the debut episode as we talk the launch of Image Comics, with an emphasis on early and recent material from Todd McFarlane's Spawn, Rob Liefeld's Youngblood, and Erik Larsen's Savage Dragon. Then, our spotlight original graphic novel is Bob Fingerman's Minimum Wage Book One from 1995 for Fantagraphics Books, recently reprinted in the large Image Comics collection Maximum Minimum Wage. Also, a brief nod toward Love and Rockets.

Look for us on iTunes, or elsewhere

As you can tell, we love a fierce conversation and a pretty picture, so why don't you socialize with us, either by leaving a comment on this page or...

          Did income inequality lead to the collapse of ancient Rome?        
In 2013 a consensus developed among American liberals that the problem of income inequality should be a top priority. President Obama stated that income inequality was the 'defining challenge of our time'.

Income inequality was also a major issue when ancient Rome was at the height of its power.  Political struggles over income inequality destabilized the Roman system, and lead to irreversible political changes that fatally undermined Roman civilization.

The Roman city state was founded in the eighth century BC as a kingdom. After a particularly obnoxious king, the monarch was overthrown in 509 BC. Instead of replacing him with another king, the citizens of Rome did something revolutionary.  They swore an oath that no one man would ever again be allowed to rule Rome. They set up a system where no man had absolute power and where the government was accountable to the people. It was similar in many ways to our modern American system. They called it a Republic.

The Republic seems to have been very good for business. Modern science has given us some insight into Roman economic activity through the study of shipwrecks and ice cores. What is really interesting is that both unrelated datasets tell the same story. The Roman economy grew for about 500 years from 500 BC to a peak at 1AD, and then shrank away to nothing by 500 AD.

The data on lead production comes from Greenland ice cores. Lead smelting released pollution, which found its way to the Greenland icecap. The Romans were mining lead so they could use that lead to extract silver from its ore. The Romans needed silver because their monetary system was based on silver coins.

The growth in the Roman economy roughly coincides with the existence of the Roman Republic, which started with the overthrow of the king in 509 BC  and came to an end in 27 BC when the Republic was overthrown. Good institutions are vital to economic growth in the third world today, and the Republic was likely key to the success of Rome.

Much has been written about why Rome fell. What the modern data reveals, is that the economy had been shrinking for centuries before the final collapse of the Roman state. When the last Roman emperor was overthrown in 476 AD, the economy had withered away. The data also shows that the economy peaked around 1 AD, so the cause of the eventual collapse of Rome dates to that era.  The replacement of the Republic with emperors seems to be the most likely reason. Kings and emperors are very common in history, while republics are rare.

Why did the Republic fall?

What seems to have destabilized the Republic was growing income inequality.  By the middle of the second century, the economic situation for the average Roman was declining. The backbone of Rome was small farmers who owned their own land. These small farms started going bankrupt, and they sold their land to aristocrats who set up  large estates worked by imported slave labor. The displaced farmers went to the cities looking for work, but they didn't find many jobs, and ended up dependent on government welfare.

In 133 BC these unemployed people elected a populist called Tiberius Gracchus who promised them land reform. The wealthy elite resisted the reforms, and Tiberius was assassinated. This started a series of political assassinations and military coups which lead to the dismantling of the Republic by 27AD. The whole process took over a hundred years.

          Episode 171: Fiddleheads & Slave Shrimp        
This week on Cooking Issues, Dave Arnold and Nastassia Lopez are smashing smoke detectors! Tune in to hear talks about calcium and pickling, the working conditions surrounding farmed shrimp, kitchen ventilation and more. Learn how to use calcium chloride for crunchy pickles without the unwanted calcium taste. How long is leaf lard safe in a freezer if it has come in contact with oxygen? Dave recounts a recent article that highlights the slave labor involved in overseas shrimp farming, and why it is important to always question the labor involved in food production. Is it safe to ostrich fiddleheads if theyre only lightly blanched? Find out all of this and more on this weeks edition of Cooking Issues! Thanks to our sponsor, Bonnie Plants. People think about sustainability, whether or not their food is local, economics, etc. Not many people consider if their food is made by slaves. [21:00] -- Dave Arnold on Cooking Issues

DSC_8870Ten is the number of bodies that have been found on Long Island's southern beaches since December. The first four, all found between December 11 abd 13, were confirmed to be the remains of women who had had some experience in sex work. The next was found on March 29. Three more were found on April 4, and two were found today. The identities of those most recently found have not been determined, and police have not made a definitive statement about whether all of the murders are connected.

So far, none has turned out to be Shannon Gilbert, the search for whom turned up these other victims.

I suspect they will turn out to be related, victims of a serial killer who targets women who, among all of the other things that they do in their lives, also exchange sex for money. 

SWOP-NYC has responded with a statement that rightly reminds us that the dangers of sex work are the dangers of stigmatization and isolation, and not particular to the exchange of sex for something else of value

I just spent three days at my statewide union's Representative Assembly where health and safety was one of the key concerns. There was a singificant focus on framing issues in human rights terms. There was a lot of talk about the dignity of all humans, and the dignity of all labor. I was even impressed that when the issue of trafficking and children came up, the focus was on slave labor in the cocoa fields of Ivory Coast, and not a lurid focus on sex trafficking. 

But I don't think my union would stand up publicly for sex workers. Not yet.

I spent a couple of hours on Saturday at a huge labor rally in Times Square. I am sure there were people attending that rally who, in addition to all the other things they do, have also exchanged sex for money. But I did not see any sex worker advocacy signs in the block where I was standing. 

We still separate sex from the rest of work, from the rest of pleasure, and essentially from most of everyday life. 

The longer we relegate sex to the dark corners of our political and social discourse, the longer we will continue to find bodies hidden in the reeds of our beaches, long undiscovered because they were marginalized from the start. 

Sexual freedom, including the consensual exchange of sex for other things of value, must come to be seen a fundamental human right. Sex is a valuable thing. The right to physical autonomy and the right to sexual pleasure and the right to earn a decent living all intersect in the phenomenon of sex work.

Stand up publicly for your own right, and the right of others, to safely determine the conditions of each sexual exchange we make. 


Photo is by Karl Monaghan (Red_Tzar on Flickr) and is used under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike license.


          Travel Journal#12.19: New York City Harinam, Janananda Goswami Visit, Albany Trip        
Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 12, No. 19
By Krishna-kripa das
(October 2016, part one)
New York City Harinam, Tompkins Square Park, Times Square, Albany  
(Sent from Manhattan, New York, on October 29, 2016)

Where I Went and What I Did

The beginning of October was special for me, as my authority in England in summer, Janananda Goswami, who loves harinama, came to visit us in New York City. In addition to touring some pastimes places of Srila Prabhupada in New York City, he chanted with our New York City Harinam party in Grand Central subway station and with some followers in Times Square. With him, his followers and local devotees, we celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the start of the first regular Hare Krishna public chanting program in the West that happened in Tompkins Square Park on October 9, 1966. After that date, Srila Prabhupada’s early followers would chant in that park for three hours each Sunday.

Besides my daily chanting with the New York City Harinam party, which I have many videos of,  I went upstate and met with, read to, and had lunch with my initiating guru, Satsvarupa dasa Goswami, in Stuyvesant Falls, and celebrated my mother’s birthday with relatives in Albany. I went to a meeting on racial justice with my activist mother, and a performance of Playback Theatre with some more relatives, and I share realizations about the human condition from them.

I share many powerful insights from Srila Prabhupada’s lectures and his books. I include excerpts from Satsvarupa dasa Goswami’s Begging for the Nectar of the Holy Name. I transmit some nice realizations from Janananda Goswami, speaking at 26 Second Avenue in New York City on the fiftieth anniversary of the first Tompkins Square Park harinama, October 9, 2016, and also some cool insights from his godbrother, Mahavirya Prabhu, also speaking at that occasion. I share a nice point from a lecture by Candrasekhara Swami. I share several profound quotes from Sadaputa Prabhu’s collection of articles, published as God and Science. I share notes on a lecture by Shyamananda Prabhu, a senior Radhanath Swami brahmacari from Pune and Chowpatty. I share notes on lectures by young devotees who attend The Bhakti Center morning program, Virabhadra Rama Prabhu and Bhakta Cesar Prabhu, along with many comments on their lectures by Adi Purusha Prabhu, who has been a devotee since the 70s.

Many thanks to my mother and my sister, Karen, who gave me a birthday present of high quality long underwear, a wool hat, and wool socks, so I can stay warm in New York City in the early winter. Thanks to Atmanivedana Prabhu, who runs a Saturday night Bhagavad-gita class at 26 Second Avenue, for his kind donation. Thanks to Mahagopi Devi Dasi of Queens for her donation for my birthday. Thanks to Kaliya Krishna Prabhu for sponsoring my subway travel in New York City.

Thanks to Francesco Cesari of Italy for his photos of our Union Square harinama. 

He does a lot with black and white photos and has a web site on the internet ( Thanks to Terri Cook of New York City for her photos of our Fiftieth Anniversary of the First Tompkins Square Park Harinama. Thanks to Stella of our New York City Harinam party for her photos of me on harinama with our party in Union Square Park and Jackson Heights – Roosevelt Ave. subway station. Thanks to Jayananda Prabhu, disciple of Janananda Goswami, for his photos of harinama in New York City.


October 8–November 10: New York City Harinam
November 11: Washington, D.C.
November 12–13: Gainesville, Florida
November 14–December 2: New York City Harinam
December 3: Vyasa-puja of Satsvarupa dasa Goswami in Stuyvesant
December 4–January 2, 2017: New York City Harinam
January 3: Gainesville, Florida

New York City Harinam at Union Square

When the weather permitted the New York City Harinam party continued chanting in our usual spot in the southwest corner of Union Square Park.

As usual whole families would play the shakers to our chanting.

New people would also join us from time to time.

One artist did a drawing of us, which he said he would turn into a water color painting. I invited him to show us the final version.

We started offering candles to Damodara for the month of Karttika. 

Here a young lady, whose friends have a table next to our party and who has danced with us, offers a lamp.

To assist the ISKCON Desire Tree devotees in collecting HD videos of kirtanas, I am now taking more videos of our New York City Harinam party. I present them in chronological order beginning with October 1:

Natabara Gauranga Prabhu chants Hare Krishna and Govind plays the trumpet in Union Square Park (

Several times a month, usually after work, Murali Krishna Prabhu joins the New York City Harinam party in Union Square Park. Here he leads the chanting of Hare Krishna (

Kaliya Krishna Prabhu led the Hare Krishna chanting at Union Square, and several kids were inspired to play the shakers (

Kishore Prabhu, who spent a long time as a regular on the New York City Harinam party, came back to visit for a week or so before leaving with Rama Raya Prabhu for Vrindavan, and he led some nice kirtanas while he was here (

This year in the summer and early fall, Bhakta Dan, who I would sometimes do harinama in New York City with, even before Rama Raya Prabhu’s party began four years ago, would join us for at least a couple of hours each day. Here he leads the chanting of Hare Krishna and a onlooker dances (

On October 5, Mitra, Ananda-Murari, and Madhuri Pura Prabhus, who were in the area doing kirtana programs at yoga centers, joined our party at Union Square for some hours. Mitra Prabhu, of North Carolina, although a Prabhupada disciple and older than the others, humbly played the banjo in accompaniment while other devotees led.

Here Ananda-Muraru Prabhu sings (

 Here Madhuri Pura Prabhu, who was a full time member of our party in the past, sings (

Steve spent several weeks with the New York City Harinam party before going to India. One day he sang a nice Hare Krishna tune, accompanied by Mitra Prabhu of North Carolina on the banjo, and many kids played the shakers to the music (

Mukunda Prestha Prabhu of the Bhakti Center joins the New York City Harinam party in Union Square Park a few times a week. Here he leads the chanting of Hare Krishna (

Rama Raya Prabhu chanted with awesome enthusiasm at the end of the day. Here are clips from four of his evening kirtanas (

Later in the month, Kaliya Krishna Prabhu led another nice kirtana (

Stella led a nice kirtana, accompanied by Kaliya Krishna Prabhu on the harmonium (

Chanting with Janananda Goswami in New York City

I chanted with Janananda Goswami and his followers to some of the places where Srila Prabhupada lived in New York City in 1965 and 1966.

We stopped by the West End Superette where Srila Prabhupada would purchase produce.

We also went to the 33 Riverside address where Dr. Mishra had his yoga studio and where Srila Prabhupada would chant.

We passed a building Srila Prabhupada thought might make a nice temple and which is now a Bikram Yoga center.

Later we went downtown and chanted across from 94 Bowery, where Srila Prabhupada lived in an A.I.R. loft with a young man who went crazy on LSD.

After taking a group of disciples to places of Srila Prabhupada’s pastimes in New York City, Janananda Goswami joined our New York City Harinam party, which was playing in Grand Central subway station because of the intermittent rain.

When you have two devotees together who love chanting Hare Krishna and who love sharing the chanting of Hare Krishna as much as Janananda Goswami and Rama Raya Prabhu it has to be especially ecstatic! Just see all the dancing! (

Janandana Goswami could not visit New York City without doing harinama at Times Square, it is such a great venue. As usual, especially in the presence of Janananda Goswami, onlookers enjoyed interacting with the devotees (

I got to lead part of the time.

A Statue of Liberty man posed with a Krishna book.

Fiftieth Anniversary of the First Public Chanting of Hare Krishna At Tompkins Square Park

Janananda Goswami spoke at 26 Second Avenue for an hour or so, and then led a chanting party from there to Tompkins Square Park and around the celebrated Hare Krishna tree to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first public chanting of Hare Krishna there by Srila Prabhupada and his first followers on October 9, 1966. 

Each Sunday after that original harinama, the early devotees would chant at that park for 3 hours, thus it was the first regular harinama spot in the Western world.

Sprinkles of rain did not dampen our celebrative mood. While at Tompkins Square Park I always think of Srila Prabhupada’s amazing vision of the chanting speading all over the world as he chanted there with his early followers, none of whom could understand the scope of his worldwide mission.


Here Janananda Goswami leads the chanting around the Hare Krishna tree (

Terri Cook, a local tour guide and author, took some photos of our party at the park. She wrote two books that tell the history of Manhattan and Brooklyn through the eyes of churches, synagogues, temples and public gardens, Sacred Havens: A Guide to Manhattan’s Spiritual Places and Sacred Havens of Brooklyn: Spiritual Places & Peaceful Grounds. She explained, “I have known about Hare Krishna since the early 70s when I moved to the East Village. An early-morning Krishna group would walk across 14th Street joyfully chanting as I was preparing to go to work. It was a good way to start the day.”

One young lady joined our chanting party, already familiar with the words of the song. I spoke to her and learned she regularly saw the devotees chanting in Los Angeles, where she lives. Just for the weekend she was visiting a friend who lives across from the park, and hearing the chanting she came to join us. I explained we were celebrating the beginning of the public chanting of Hare Krishna in the West which started under this tree, 50 years ago today. She was grateful and amazed that unknowingly she had come to right place at the right time to participate in our auspicious festival.

Jayananda Goswami’s follower, Jayananda Prabhu, takes some dust from base of the fortunate tree.
Esa came from Philly for the program.

After the ceremony at the Hare Krishna Tree in Tompkins Square Park, we chanted through the streets to Union Square, and entered the subway station to join the New York City Harinam, which was situated there because of the rain.

Janananda Goswami sang there as well (

Rama Raya Prabhu also sang in Union Square subway station on that auspicious anniversary day (

Chanting in Jackson Heights

Jackson Heights is one of our favorite place to chant in the subway system. There are many Indians and many Hispanics who often like the chanting.

Sometimes I sang.

Sometimes I danced. Here Mahotsaha Prabhu joined me.

 So did others.

One young man sat with our party and read the book he bought.

We had lots of dynamic singers there on that day, and you can see clips from six of them in this video (

Anna from Kharkov, Ukraine, who loves the chanting, was our final singer. She credits the twice daily harinamas they did in Kharkov with its protection from Russian takeover. Two other Ukrainian cities the Russians were able to claim as planned, but they failed to win Kharkov. It was my favorite Ukrainian city because the devotees there do harinama more there than any other in Ukraine.

Visiting Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami

Satsvarupa dasa Goswami, my diksa guru, lives half an hour from my mother, in Stuyvesant Falls, forty-five minutes southeast of Albany. After my mother picked me up at the Chinese bus station and drove home, I borrowed her car for four hours to visit Satsvarupa dasa Goswami and read to him during lunch.

I recall praising his daily japa journal for giving me hope in my chanting. Most days he reports that he experienced “no outside thoughts” during his morning chanting session. It is nice to know that that state is possible and attainable by serious practice.

He wanted to tell me about the reprinting of several of his most popular books and that he needed proofreaders for them, and he hoped he could count on me as usual. I affirmed that I would be interested and enthusiastic to do the work, and he was happy about that.

He has a devotee read Srimad-Bhagavatam to him during lunch, and I got to do that service which I love. One of the verses I read was one of my favorite verses: “Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto the all-pervading Supreme Personality of Godhead, who possesses unlimited transcendental qualities. Acting from within the cores of the hearts of all philosophers, who propagate various views, He causes them to forget their own souls while sometimes agreeing and sometimes disagreeing among themselves. Thus He creates within this material world a situation in which they are unable to come to a conclusion. I offer my obeisances unto Him.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.4.31)

Stoka Krishna Prabhu, a disciple of his from Italy, made eggplant parmigiana for lunch and it was really good.

After lunch, I helped Baladeva Vidyabhusana Prabhu by frying curd and thus assisting in preparing spinach and panir for my mom’s birthday party the next day.    

Ma’s 92nd Birthday Party

I returned to New York on September 13, in case my family wanted to celebrate my mother’s birthday on the actual day, September 14, but they chose October 7, as more of us could gather then.

I brought everyone’s favorite doughnuts from the original Doughnut Plant shop on Grand Avenue, which is conveniently close to the Chinese bus station, and my niece, Fern, arranged them on a plate to form “92” and placed candles in them to make a novel birthday cake.

Later we had spinach and panir that my guru’s servant, Baladeva Vidyabhusana Prabhu, prepared. Everyone remarked how he gets it perfect every time.

Notes on a Friends for Racial Justice Meeting

[My mother is a social activist, even at age 92, and I went to a Friends for Racial Justice meeting at the Albany Quaker Meeting House with her.]

Jim Ketcham (an ordained American [not Southern] Baptist minister), Executive Director of FOCUS, a group of churches working together to do practical welfare work for those in the Albany area:

There are 63 kinds of Baptists in America alone. I have a saying, “Wherever 2 or 3 are gathered, there will be a church split.”

In a group of blacks as opposed to whites of the same age they are more likely to be accused of a crime, more likely to experience police brutality, more likely to be convicted, more likely to get stiffer sentences, etc.

It it striking when I remember from time to time that we have the first black president living in a White House built by slave labor.

Some people propose free college education to blacks to make up for the decades of discrimination against them. Others protest that. Some northerners claim the southerners should pay for it.

In grade school, the people of color get punished more severely than whites.

I consider myself a work in process.

God loves you just the way you are, and God loves you so much He wants you to change.


In the 1960s I went to Charleston, South Carolina. There were two circuses, one white and one black. Even the water fountains were labeled white and black.

The Bahai faith teaches that all religions come from one God and the prophets of each are teaching humanity more and more about God as time goes on.

They make the point that all people come from the same source and should thus be respected.

Israeli lady:

As a kid I lived in different places, including Leeds, England, before we moved to Israel. In school in Leeds there was a case of a black and white couple who had fraternal twins, one who looked like the mother and one who looked like the father. The teachers favored the lighter skinned one. My mother favored them both, as they were both good, and she could not tolerate the discrimination she saw.


If something is wrong, we should protest it.

One lady eating at the Burger King saw Trump on TV, and she said, “That is my man.” Then she started blasting a Hispanic family next to me for having unruly children and told them, “Go back to your own country.” I told the manager, who was Afro-American, but said he could not do anything. The lady kept talking in an insulting way. Then I spoke to the family, praising their children and thanking them for being there. And then that insulting lady stopped speaking and went away.

Hafiz [Sufi poetry]:

“The small man builds cages for everyone he knows. While the sage, who has to duck his head when the moon is low, keeps dropping keys all night long for the beautiful rowdy prisoners.”

Playback Theatre

[I went to a performance of a group called Playback Theatre with my relatives. The theatre group hears stories from the audience and then enacts them in impromptu skits. I note down some realizations of the frustrations of conditioned life from the stories. Before leaving I threw an “On Chanting Hare Krishna” in their donation box. If any one of the four in the group reads it and chants, they can benefit far more than by getting a small donation.]

We make your stories come alive through theatre.

I recovered from the emotional flu [of ups and downs], and I feel so good.

I was humbled by my body twice. I dropped a marker while teaching and realized I could not pick it up. I went to an aerobics class, and my body hurt all over from stretching in ways I have never stretched before.

My aging dog sometimes acts like a puppy and sometimes like an invalid, and it is so confusing and a little sad.

Let Ed be an uncast actor, which means he can play anything, the weather, the cities, etc.

In the artwork of the cities, the striking thing for me
          "Us," Regina Spektor, 2004        

What arcane evil lurks in the heart of man?  What monsters stir shackled in our hearts, brooding in cavernous pits waiting for a jedi sacrifice to unleash fiery rancorous rage upon?   If needed, could we be called upon to hurl a stone at the gate control button of our soul, crushing the beast forever under the heavy metal prongs of morality?  Would we have such strength, such vigilance in extreme duress?

Regina Spektor, the talented and beautiful Russian-American siren of the anti-folk scene, explores such deep moral quandaries regularly in her work.  Inspired by such classic television documentaries as I Shouldn't Be Alive and the masterpiece of late 20th century film, Anaconda (and to a lesser extent, the sequel Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid), Spektor lets the clash of man vs. nature inform her art.   Literary critics often compare the biting existentialism of Dostoyevsky and Solzhenitsyn directly to Spektor's "Us," a musical exploration of the unspeakable survival horror that befell the famous Donner Party in 1846.

From White, Timothy J.  "Savage Irony: The Donner Party and the Immutable Us."  Current Literary Criticism, Vol. 49, 2: 2005.  p. 36:   "...what really comes through in this dark metaphor is...HEY REGINA, I MUST BE A MARTYR CUZ YO' FACE IS TO DIE FOR!  HIT ME UP, MY NUMBER IS 555-213-8647..."

Though White is greatly respected in the field of literary criticism, it is the humble opinion of this blog that no one has come close to fully explaining the intricacies of Spektor's poetry in relation to its rich, horrifying historical backdrop.  White's literary criticism is too rigid to fully address Spektor's artistic flair; thus, our vehicle will be grizzly imagery matched with her chilling lyrics.

The plight of the Donner Party is one of the saddest, harrowing moments in Californian history.   In October 1846-7 a group of approximately 90 settlers heading westward decided to take a poorly charted shortcut through Utah's Wasatch Mountains and the Great Salt Lake Desert, and wound up stuck in 10 feet of paralyzing snow that came a month early.  Though the most forlorn members of the party where merely 5 miles from help, depleted supplies and divisive tensions drove some weary settlers to murder and in some cases, reluctant cannibalism.  Nearly 50 of the travelers were eventually rescued and reached California, but the ruin of those desperate remaining 40 continues to haunt the American psyche.  Their paradoxical breach of the taboo of cannibalism while striving for California, the earthly paradise of Manifest Destiny's promise, has fascinated countless minds. 

The Donner Memorial Statue, Erected 1927, Donner State Park
They made a statue of us
And it put it on a mountain top
Now tourists come and stare at us
Blow bubbles with their gum
Take photographs have fun, have fun

Spektor speaks collectively in the first person for those perished in the Donner Party.  Here, she refers to the statue erected in 1927 at California's Donner Memorial State Park, a popular if not controversial tourist attraction.    

The Donners, reimagined as zombies; come on now, they ate people.  I'm taking this liberty. 

 They'll name a city after us
And later say it's all our fault
Then they'll give us a talking to
Then they'll give us a talking to

Because they've got years of experience

The ghosts of the Donner Party continue their ironic lament, seemingly confused by the fame afforded to their memory.  History seems to alternate between sympathy and scorn for the hopeless travelers.  Should we applaud their practicality and endurance, or characterize their actions with fear and disgust?  Two undergraduate Cornell history students, when interviewed about history's attitude towards the Donner Party, had this to add: 

John "Big John" Roberts:  That really happened? Dude, that's messed up!

David "Heavy D" Reynolds:  Broseph, I'd NEVER dig on human flesh.  EVER.  

John "Big John" Roberts:  Heh.  "I don't dig on swine."  Heh.  Pulp Fiction. 

David "Heavy D" Reynolds:  You got that reference!? Man, GREAT friggin' movie. Am I right?  *The two high five.*

Clearly, current academic attitude towards the Donners seems to be reluctant to scorn or laud their actions.    

The Donners, foraging for vittles.
 We wear our scarves just like a noose
But not 'cause we want eternal sleep
And though our parts are slightly used
New ones are slave labor you can keep

The emotional weight of these four lines could practically cave in a full grown female Rancor's skull.  The very scarves that protected the necks of the Donners from the icy Nevada chill were all too painfully obvious a metaphor for the guilt they felt for eating the dried organs of their friends and family.  Would they be hung by their peers, literally and/or figuratively?  Deeper inside the passage, Spektor brilliantly swaps "organs" for "parts," a grim and ironically twisted confession of cannibalism.  To go out and find new food would have been an entirely too risky expenditure of energy; the Donners chide us that new, fresh meat is slave labor us privileged non-starving folk can keep.

A Donner contemplates the ambiguities of his new diet while journaling.  How emo.
We're living in a den of thieves
Rummaging for answers in the pages
We're living in a den of thieves
And it's contagious

The sheer emotional power of the chorus packs enough explosive power to explode a space station with the power to explode planets.   The Donners were indeed a den of thieves--of organs.   Spektor's twist on the colloquial phrase is brilliant, dark, and witty.  The organ thieves recorded their shocking deeds in now-historic journals, trying to humanize and quantify their actions, rummaging through pages, if you will, for answers to their dilemnas.  Perhaps the most impacting line is the final one, where the Donners plea for mercy.  Their hunger for human flesh, or more generally, their insatiable greed to survive was contagious, and ironically such terrifying contagion makes the seem more human.  Like a Hutt who, though seemingly invincible (perhaps due to nearly impenetrable layers of fat surrounding its heart), only finds itself choked to death by a scantily clad slave princess, the horrific episodes of the Donner Party might seem unthinkable--until we actually think about them.   Thanks to Regina Spektor's amazing lyrical composition and vocal strength, we are forced to confront the humanity of the Donner Party and ask ourselves what we would do in such a situation.  However, do not let this post haunt you like the Donners haunted the American mind.    Do not, I repeat, do not think of human body parts when eating the following foods:

Leychee Nuts, unshelled;

Kidney Beans, uncooked;

Sausage, in general.

You're welcome.


In Soviet Russia, full lyrics to "Us" read you!

In Soviet Russia, creative and fun stop motion video to "Us" watches you!

The incredibly well-researched and cited (for Wikipedia standards) Donner Party Wikipedia article

Did you know Marty McFly's dad is in the Donner Party movie???  Lends a whole new meaning to "Get your hands off her, Biff!"
          WHO IS GOD        
Contemplation by Naomi Wenger
at Florence Church of the Brethren Mennonite – July 28, 2013

Deuteronomy 32:1-4, 10 – 47; Matthew 23:37

In 1989, Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote a small book entitled Who Needs God. This was a continuation of his thought in When Bad Things Happen to Good People, which he wrote after the agonizing suffering and death of his son. Rabbi Kushner intentionally omitted the question mark in the title of his book about God. Likewise, I have intentionally omitted that punctuation from the title of this meditation; who is god. Why? Because it allows the accustomed question of a person, who may be in a great deal of pain, to turn into a statement of hope for all people. Who - each who of us no matter who we are and what we have been through - who needs God.

Like that statement of Rabbi Kushner’s, who is God begs that we consider God as a person. “Who” is a word that wonders and as it wonders tells you all it knows. We have been exploring this summer, a creation about which God is actively caring. But who is this God? Many of us, when we think about God, we use pictures or images of God that describe an attribute of God. Take our text today, the overwhelming image of God is a Rock. 

photo by Jerry Warstler

I have not talked much to rocks. Yes, back in the 1980s at the same time as Rabbi Kushner was writing his book about needing God, there was a pet rock craze and people actually bought rocks, named them, “fed” them and talked to them – even took them for walks – but I am not sure how many of those pet rocks are still friendly with their owners. We now laugh up our sleeves at the silliness of owning a pet rock.

But, here at the end of his life, Moses thought quite highly of this image of God. This Rock is a powerhouse who is perfect and just and without deceit. This rock is greater than the rocks of the other nations’ gods, who are not able to protect them from the vengeance of God.  Where does Moses get this idea? From early in his life, Moses had encounters that were unusual; maybe even divine.  The book of Exodus begins with God noticing that the children of Israel are suffering in slavery. After 430 years of living in Egypt, God hears the cries of his people and begins to act. The conniving midwives, his enterprising mother and an unsuspecting princess save Moses from certain death. Not yet certain of his calling, Moses is curious enough about his kinsmen to come and observe them at work in the slave labor camps Pharaoh has established in Goshen. Seeing an Egyptian mistreating one of the slaves, Moses strikes him, kills him and hides his body in the sand. Sure enough, Pharaoh hears of it and Moses flees for his life to Midian, where he hires himself out to be a shepherd in the wilderness for one of the priests of the place. Now Midian is in the northwest corner of the Arabian Peninsula, beyond the gulf of Aqaba. Later, after Moses has married the daughter of his boss, Jethro, he sees a bush burning but not consumed on a rocky hillside in the wilderness. Out of this bush, God speaks to Moses, telling him to go and set his people free by talking to Pharaoh about their plight.

Later, when the children of Israel are in the wilderness, Moses strikes a Rock and water comes gushing out. And because of this action, striking rather than talking to the Rock, Moses’ experience of the land of promise is reduced to sight only.

Also, Moses ascends a great rocky heap, a mountain, to meet with God and receive the law of God for the people. Here God gives to him two rocks inscribed with laws for the people. After he breaks these first two rocks over the hard heads of the people, Moses prepares two more rocks to receive the law of God. And God says an amazing thing. 

34:5The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name, “The Lord.” 6The Lord passed before him, and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, yet by no means clearing the guilty, but visiting the iniquity of the parents upon the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” 8And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped. 

It is instructive to notice that God is slow to anger and abounding in love to the thousandth generation while his judgment on those guilty of sin only lasts for three or four generations. Yes, God is abounding in love an faithfulness.

photo by Deborah Haak

It is here, on the same rock, Moses asks to see God and God says that no one can see God and live. So, God hides Moses in a rock and passes by whereupon Moses looks and sees God’s backside. Moses and God have a “rocky” relationship.  In fact, it is interesting to note that if you or I had been a lizard in the pack of any of the travelers in the company Moses is leading, our unstinting view would be of rocks. It is therefore not surprising that at the end of Moses’ life, he calls God a Rock. This is an image that every Israelite would have interpreted as ubiquitous, difficult, unmovable, useful, and holy.

Each of them would also have understood the image of God as mother eagle, feeding her young in the crags. That’s exactly what they felt like, out there in the wilderness. Manna and quail on schedule; just when they opened their beaks, God dropped in the food.  This is the image Jesus repeats when he wants to gather Jerusalem like a mother hen her chicks.

google image -- The Prayer Book to Guide Christian Education site

These are realistic images of actual god experiences. Moses does not have to look far to find the 

models for these word pictures. So who is god? Who is god!

God responds: “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt.” There is something about this that is definitional to God. God is the one who rescues. God is the one who hears the cry for justice. God is the one who acts to correct injustice. He is patient with his anger and long-sighted in his mercy. God does remove the Egyptian’s slave laborers, on which they had become dependent, to whom they were cruel, of whom they had ceased to think, “these are fellow humans.” God leads the children of Israel out of Egypt by a way they did not know to a place they did not know among a people they did not know and it was justice. It was also love.

Much later in human history, God says this to the descendants of the people of the Exodus through the prophet Ezekiel (ch. 36), “You profaned the land I gave to you. Then, when I sent you into exile, you profaned my name among the foreign people. You don’t know how to ask forgiveness or even that you need to ask forgiveness. You are so hopelessly lost in your willfulness that you don’t even know who you are. So here is what I will do for you. First, I will forgive you before you ask for forgiveness. Then, I will bring you back to the land that is your inheritance. I will give you a new heart, removing your old one. Then, I will breathe my Spirit into you, like I did in the Garden of Eden to the first man and woman. I will make you completely new. I will even renew the land that has become desolate from the battles and the taking of spoil. Then, you will understand who you are. But more importantly, you will understand who I am.” Who is God; god is a god with a desire for relationship with humans.

Again much later in human history, God determined to come to earth and be born and grow up and live among the people. And God did that. Jesus was born: the God-Man. And when he grew up, he told people this: my prayer for you is that you will be one with me as I am one with God. Be with us. Be part of us. We want you. And he gave us word pictures of relationship like the vine and the branches, shepherd and sheep, lost and found. He painted word pictures of belonging and connection. God wanted us to know that we are desired and desirable.

And through our own histories, we have desired god. So many of our disappointments of god are because god does not answer our expectations. And yet we our very expectations lead us to god. We desire. We long for god.

Barry Lopez, a profound observer of the natural world, in an essay entitled, “The Language of Animals” writes, “My sense is that the divine knowledge we yearn for is social; it is not in the province of a genius any more than it is in the province of a particular culture. It lies within our definition of community.

               "Our blessing, it seems to me, is not what we know,

                  but that we know each other.” 

And I would add to Lopez’s observation that a great portion of that blessing is that we can and do know God.

Who is God. God desires to be in relationship with you and with me. And how do I respond? I respond by weeping with God as two men and two machines eliminate 4 acres of trees and brush in 16 hours. 

photo by Kay Bontrager Singer (07-30-13)
I respond when I hope that the deer, turtles, squirrels find new homes, realizing that God made 

them to do just that.

photo by Kathy Fenton-Miller

photo by Nina Lanctot

I respond by receiving the gallons of wild blackberries that grow without my tending with gratitude. I respond by recognizing that the government under which I live is human construction and I am responsible for it whether I like it or not. I respond by clearing unwanted plants, commonly known as weeds, from garden, field and woodland. 

I respond when I talk to friends about how our wants for what is new, latest and greatest in personal technology creates injustice in places like the Congo and when I curb my own desire for this technology. 

In short, I respond every time I recognize and act on the reality of my relational existence in the universe.

How do you respond?

Jesus showed us that God wants to be with us. God is a personality who cares. This does not make the World perfect. But it makes it relational. We need each other. We need all the creatures, growing things and the rocks of the earth. We need God and God needs us. And that is the blessing. If we can receive this blessing, the blessing of relationship, we can, with God, bless the world with loving kindness to the thousandth generation of those who come after us.

          Comment #936        
Do you have any idea how much support and maintenance these automated systems require?

The automated systems produce tons of jobs and most are high tech. Automated systems in

general produce higher quality items at a lower cost. I remember the old auto manufacturing

process where cars were worn out after 60K miles. Now it's not uncommon for a engine to still

be running strong at 300,000 miles. We have lost so many jobs to other countries that offer

close to slave labor. This hurt... [ More ]
          Alabama's War on Immigrants        

Conservatives are resorting to ever more draconian measures to take back the country from “illegal immigrants.” The latest state to declare an all-out jihad is Alabama. But as with slavery and segregation, they are using the government to commit sins that will eventually require even more government to undo.

Alabama’s law is by far the worst in a slew of similar bills across the country. Like Arizona, the ringleader, Alabama requires police to arrest—without bond, in its case—anyone unable to produce proof of residency. But that’s the kindest thing in the law. It’ll also bar courts from enforcing contracts involving undocumented workers, leaving them no legal recourse against employers who refuse to pay, for example. What’s more, undocumented households will face felony charges if they try to obtain basic municipal services such as running water.

But the provision that has struck terror in Alabama’s Hispanic community is that schools will now be required to collect information about the residency status of students and share it—albeit minus the names—with state authorities. Thousands of Hispanic kids have reportedly dropped out of school, fearing that this is a set up for future deportation.

The idea obviously is to make life so miserable for undocumented workers that they will leave the Heart of Dixie voluntarily. It is deeply ironic that a state that once violated human rights to maintain cheap, black, slave labor is now doing so again to keep out cheap, brown, voluntary labor that, even George Borjas, the Harvard economist much loved by restrictionists because he opposes more open immigration policies, grudgingly admits raises an average American’s wealth by about 1 percent.

But there are parallels galore between the restrictionist and the segregationist crusades.

The most obvious is that they both invoke a grand American principle to justify a dubious cause. Racists justified slavery and Jim Crow in the name of states’ rights then and restrictionists are justifying their attack on illegals in the name of the “rule of law” now. But rule of law in the service of bad laws is a form of tyranny.

There are 11 million undocumented workers in this country because U.S. immigration policies have closed practically all options for them to legally work and live here. Every country has a right to control its borders. But both liberal and illiberal immigration policies are consistent with this right. Dispatching drones and erecting electric fences to prevent willing foreign workers from being hired by willing domestic employers are tactics more suitable to a police state than a free republic.

But a bigger similarity between restrictionists and segregationists is their total blindness to what they are doing to a minority community. If restrictionists have their way, undocumented kids will have a hard time attending school, going to college, or ever gaining citizenship.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration, buckling under restrictionist pressure, deported nearly 400,000 undocumented workers in fiscal 2011, an all-time record. Given that nearly 52 percent of illegals live in mixed-status families, this means that many American children and spouses lost a source of income. Even more tragically, a study released by the Applied Research Center last week found that at least 5,100 children whose parents have been detained or deported are under foster care—a number it expects will grow to 15,000 over the next five years.

Closing off economic opportunities and tearing apart families will ghettoize a subset of Hispanics just as segregation and Jim Crow ghettoized southern blacks. Right now, a country caught up in a restrictionist fury might not care.

But a civilized society doesn’t forever tolerate such blatant inhumanity. Ultimately, some triggering event forces it to confront its turpitudes.

For decades, Americans looked the other way as blacks endured lynchings and daily indignities in the Jim Crow south. But then a relatively minor incident—the disappearance of three voter rights activists in Mississippi (who were subsequently found murdered by the Klan)—shocked the nation. In its aftermath, President Lyndon Johnson pushed through the Civil Rights Act in 1964, paving the way for a giant growth in federal power, some licit and some illicit. 

The act rightly banned government-based racial discrimination. But it also banned private discrimination by businesses. This certainly abrogated their right of voluntary association, but there were no other credible options to root out the systemic racism that froze blacks out of mainstream southern society prepared to impose its ways through violence.

But the Civil Rights era also inaugurated affirmative action programs giving less qualified blacks a leg up. This was unfair, but a nation experiencing a massive guilt attack couldn’t make such fine moral distinctions. And conservatives, who’d lost their credibility by being on the wrong side of history, couldn’t convince it otherwise.

Something of this sort is likely to repeat itself. Restrictionists can’t forever suspend America’s innate sense of justice and equality. Ultimately, the country will have to take responsibility for the havoc their agenda has wreaked on the Hispanic community—especially since Hispanics will comprise a third of the population by 2050. It’ll be impossible to reject their demands for government reparations and programs.

So the question is what do conservatives hate more: big government or undocumented workers? If it is the former, then they should stop drinking any more restrictionist poison. And if it is the latter, then they should stop pretending to be the party of limited government.

Reason Foundation Senior Analyst Shikha Dalmia is a columnist at The Daily, where a version of this column originally appeared.

          The Ancient Secrets of Levitation        
Did ancient civilizations possess knowledge that has since been lost to science? Were amazing technologies available to the ancient Egyptians that enabled them to construct the pyramids - technologies that have somehow been forgotten?

The ruins of several ancient civilizations - from Stonehenge to the pyramids - show that they used massive stones to construct their monuments. A basic question is why? Why use stone pieces of such enormous size and weight when the same structures could have been constructed with more easily managed smaller blocks - much like we use bricks and cinder-blocks today?

Could part of the answer be that these ancients had a method of lifting and moving these massive stones - some weighing several tons - that made the task as easy and manageable as lifting a two-pound brick? The ancients, some researchers suggest, may have mastered the art of levitation, through sonics or some other obscure method, that allowed them to defy gravity and manipulate massive objects with ease.

The Egyptian Pyramids

How the great pyramids of Egypt were built has been the subject of debate for millennia. The fact is, no one really knows for certain exactly how they were constructed. The current estimates of mainstream science contends that it took a workforce of 4,000 to 5,000 men 20 years to build the Great Pyramid using ropes, pulleys, ramps, ingenuity and brute force.

And that very well may have been the case. But there is an intriguing passage in a history text by the 10th century Arab historian, Abul Hasan Ali Al-Masudi, known as the Herodotus of the Arabs. Al-Masudi had traveled much of the known world in his day before settling in Egypt, and he had written a 30-volume history of the world. He too was struck by the magnificence of the Egyptian pyramids and wrote about how their great stone blocks were transported. First, he said, a "magic papyrus" (paper) was placed under the stone to be moved. Then the stone was struck with a metal rod that caused the stone to levitate and move along a path paved with stones and fenced on either side by metal poles. The stone would travel along the path, wrote Al-Masudi, for a distance of about 50 meters and then settle to the ground. The process would then be repeated until the builders had the stone where they wanted it.

Considering that the pyramids were already thousands of years old when Al-Masudi wrote this explanation, we have to wonder where he got his information. Was it part of an oral history that was passed down from generation to generation in Egypt? The unusual details of the story raise that possibility. Or was this just a fanciful story concocted by a talented writer who - like many who marvel at the pyramids today - concluded that there must have been some extraordinary magical forces employed to build such a magnificent structure?

If we take the story at face value, what kind of levitation forces were involved? Did the striking of the rock create vibrations that resulted in sonic levitation? Or did the layout of stones and rods create a magnetic levitation? If so, the science accounting for either scenario is unknown to us today.

Other Astonishing Megaliths

The Egyptian pyramids are not the only ancient structures constructed of huge blocks of stone. Far from it. Great temples and monuments around the world contain stone components of incredible size, yet little is known about their means of construction.

* The Temple of Jupiter at Baalbek, Lebanon has a foundation that contains the three largest stone blocks ever used in a man-made structure. Each block is estimated to weigh as much as 1,000 tons! No super crane in existence today could lift one, yet they are positioned together with such precision that not even a needle could fit between them. Nearby is an even bigger stone. Known as Hajar el Hibla - the Stone of the Pregnant Woman - it lies abandoned in its quarry, never used. But the giant rectangular block is the largest piece of stone ever cut by humans, weighing an incredible 1,200 tons. It is estimated that it would require the strength of 16,000 men to even budge it, and represents a formidable challenge to 20th century machines and technology.
* On an isolated plateau at Tiahuanaco Bolivia, 13,000 feet above sea level, stands an impressive monument called Puerta del Sol, or Sun Gate. The elaborately carved gate weighs an estimated 10 tons, and how it arrived at its present location is a mystery.
* Nan Madol, sometimes called "the Machu Pichu of the Pacific," is a great ruins on the island of Pohnpei, capitol of the Federated States of Micronesia. This lost city, constructed around 200 B.C., is made up of hundreds of stacked stone logs, each about 18-feet-long and several feet in diameter. The logs, stacked like cordwood, constitute walls that are 40 feet high and 18 feet thick. Each stone log is estimated to weigh about 2.5 tons. How they were moved and lifted into position is unknown.

What was the secret these diverse and ancient cultures possessed to manipulate these great stone blocks? A massive supply of slave labor straining human muscle and ingenuity to their limits? Or was there another more mysterious way? It's remarkable that these cultures leave no record of how these structures were constructed. However, "in almost every culture where megaliths exist," according to 432:Cosmic Key, "a legend also exists that the huge stones were moved by acoustic means - either by the chanted spells of magicians, by song, by striking with a magic wand or rod (to produce acoustic resonance), or by trumpets, gongs, lyres, cymbals or whistles."

          House approves new sanctions against North Korea        
north korea

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un applauds during a military parade marking the 105th birth anniversary of the country’s founding father, Kim Il Sung, in Pyongyang in April. Photo By Damir Sagolj/Reuters

WASHINGTON — Determined to exert greater economic pressure on North Korea, the Republican-led House on Thursday overwhelmingly voted to impose new sanctions on Pyongyang targeting its shipping industry and use of slave labor.

Lawmakers approved the measure on a 419-1 as tensions continued to mount over North Korea’s advancing nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Adm. Harry Harris Jr., the top American military officer in the Pacific, has warned lawmakers that it’s a question of when, not if, Pyongyang successfully builds a nuclear-tipped missile capable of striking the U.S.

The Senate must take up the measure next.

The bipartisan legislation is aimed at thwarting North Korea’s ambitions by cutting off access to the cash the regime needs to follow through with its plans. The measure is sponsored by Rep. Ed Royce of California, the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, the committee’s senior Democrat.

The bill bars ships owned by North Korea or by countries that refuse to comply with U.N. resolutions against it from operating in American waters or docking at U.S. ports. Goods produced by North Korea’s forced labor would be prohibited from entering the United States, according to the legislation.

Anyone who uses the slave labor that North Korea exports to other countries would be subject to sanctions under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, the bill states. At times when the nation is facing unusual or extraordinary threats, the president has wide authority under the law, including the power to block or prohibit transactions involving property located in the U.S.

Goods produced by North Korean forced labor would be barred from entering the United States, under the bill.

Royce said companies from Senegal to Qatar to Angola import North Korean workers, who send their salary back to Pyongyang, earning the regime billions of dollars in hard currency each year

“This is money that Kim Jong-un uses to advance his nuclear and missile program, and also pay his generals, buying their loyalty to his brutal regime,” he said. “That is what the high-level defectors that I meet with say. So let’s squeeze his purse.”

The bill also requires the Trump administration to determine within 90 days whether North Korea is a state sponsor of terrorism. Such a designation would trigger more sanctions, including restriction on U.S. foreign assistance.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said at the U.N. Security Council that it’s time for “painful” new sanctions to make North Korea give up its nuclear and missile programs. His statement comes amid rising tension between the Trump administration and the Asian nation, and word of a ballistic missile test. Judy Woodruff talks with former State Department officials John Merrill and Balbina Hwang.

Last weekend, a North Korean midrange ballistic missile apparently failed shortly after launch, the third test-fire failure this month but a clear message of defiance. North Korean ballistic missile tests are banned by the United Nations because they’re seen as part of the North’s push for a nuclear-tipped missile that can hit the U.S. mainland.

The launch comes as both sides in the escalating crisis are flexing their military muscle. President Donald Trump has sent a nuclear-powered submarine and the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group to Korean waters. North Korea last week conducted large-scale, live-fire exercises on its eastern coast.

The U.S. and South Korea are installing a missile defense system and their two navies are staging joint military drills.

The missile defense system, known as THAAD, employs six truck-mounted launchers that can fire up to 48 interceptors at incoming missiles detected by the system’s x-band radar.

READ MORE: North Korea test-fires missile from western region, South Korea says

The post House approves new sanctions against North Korea appeared first on PBS NewsHour.


For the last several years, the mining of diamonds, gold and colored gemstones is often done by essentially slave labor. Rebel groups often use rough diamonds, precious stones and metals as a means of obtaining funds for arms and sustenance. As depicted in the 2006 movie “Blood Diamonds”, the people who work the mines are often, and in some cases, slaves. Captured in raids on their villages, people are taken to the mines are worked in captivity. If they refuse to work or are slow in the endeavors, their limbs are cut off, their family members are abused or tortured or they are murdered.

Slavery does not just exist in the minds and conscience of Americans; it actually exists in many parts of the world today.

How can you help end this modern day slavery and the abuse of other human beings?

Buy antique or old estate jewelry to help prevent these abusive practices and interference with legitimate governments.

Whatever bad policies and practices that were in place at the time the antique jewelry stones were mined, and there were abuses in the past, your purchase of an antique jewelry piece does not provide financial support for past practices and does not support the current practices. By purchasing antique jewelry, you are taking away the money that supports the current systems of abuse and slavery.

Don’t buy conflict or “blood” diamonds. Don’t buy colored gemstones from countries where conflicts exist or where miners are slaves. Even in countries that claim to pay miners, the pay is often pennies a day and the living conditions for the miners and their families are abhorrent.

It is almost impossible to determine the country of origin of a diamond. Once the diamond has been polished, it is impossible to determine its origin. However, according to International Law, diamonds are required to carry certificates of authenticity from the legitimate government of the country of origin of the diamond. That certificate is required to travel with contemporary diamonds.

Yet, according to a 2004 survey, less than 11% of the diamond retailers in the United States had a policy concerning conflict diamonds. Less than 3% of the diamond retailers discussed conflict diamonds or presented the certificates of origin of the stone. If you are buying a new diamond, insist on seeing the certificate of origin before buying and make sure that you are given the certificate with your purchase.

Choosing old estate diamond jewelry or antique jewelry instead of contemporary jewelry can and will help reduce the “Blood Diamond” abuse.
          #FineFellasFriday: Mr. Optimism & Jeff Byrd Part 2        
#FINEFELLASFRIDAY: Hampton Roads Man Gives the Gift of Education

It is a desolate, poor community. Kids are running around with torn clothes, empty stomachs, and broken hearts. A soft song plays in the background, and a narrator prompts you to give as little as 19 cents a day to help a starving child in a third world country. It tugs at your heart. Maybe you feel charitable and give in. For a lot of people the charity would end there. Not for motivational speaker and business coach, Jeff Byrd. His generous spirit lead him to start a school from a small struggling orphanage in Pakistan.

While perusing Facebook one day, Jeff got a message from an old friend about a small orphanage in Pakistan needing funds. Byrd’s friend Nagash had started the orphanage and daycare for the children in Toba Tek Singh Pakistan. The orphans and all children in this area are prime targets for slave labor brick kiln owners. Bricks are made by hand from mud and mold, then fired in brick kilns. The owners use children for cheap labor where they are often subjected to violence, sexual harassment, and abuse. Hearing these stories made Jeff want to help, but he did way more than just cut a check.

Jeff raffled off a photoshoot online to raise money, and others donated, to build a classroom for the orphans in Pakistan. The raffle raised enough money to build a room onto an existing home to host a school called the Byrd Young Leaders School. The school provides a basic education and teach English, an invaluable resource that
provides children a chance to work in the global market later on. Kids are also are able to play sports and participate in creative arts like music and theater. At the end of the year the kids are to sent to a government certified school were they are able to take exams and get diplomas. As a believer in the value God places on each of us, it was also important to Jeff that the children were taught faith and compassion.

“We also teach character development through examples from the Bible, placing a high emphasis on valuing other people and living a life that makes a positive difference for others," Jeff said.

The mission of educating these children is not without its dangers. There is a lot of opposition in the community. Brick
kiln owners are opposed to the school because children in this area are used for extremely inexpensive labor. Even getting to the school can be challenging. One child was killed in a hit and run accident while crossing the street to get to the school, after somehow managing to get by the crossing guard. There was no investigation and no one came forward. Some wonder if the hit and run was done to intimidate school leaders and students.

Out of pressure from the brick kiln owners, the homeowner hosting the school stopped the classes. For two years Jeff with the help of others raised enough money to buy a small property and structure to convert into a school. The school is operational, but is in constant needing of funding.

“We also need supplies, teacher’s salaries, utilities, and more space to accommodate the education of more children,” said Jeff. He also wants to provide the children clothing, food and become a government certified school.

How a motivational speaker from Virginia was able to reach the hearts and minds of children thousands of miles away is a feat in itself. Jeff has never actually visited the school (although he and his wife, Angie, plan to do so as soon as financially feasible), but has pictures and stories to fill many scrap books. Making this school become a reality has taught Jeff more about the power of unity.

“I could never have done this alone. As Mother Teresa said ‘You can do what I cannot do and I can do what you cannot do, but together we can do great things.’”

His job as a motivational speaker allows him to inspire people to be their best selves. Perhaps Jeff’s greatest gift is caring about kids he’s never seen in a place he’s never been. The change that has been made is not lost on him.  It’s only strengthening his desire to give even more.

“There is nothing to compare to the amazing realization that I can make a difference in lives on the other side of the world. Likely there is nothing they can do to ever repay any of us who contribute, but that is the richest reward of all. Whenever I get discouraged I think on the lives that have been changed because I am here. It gives me motivation to keep going and to keep adding value to as many lives possible. Talk about the meaning to life.”

To learn more about Jeff’s school and ways you can help go to or their Facebook page . The school is always seeking donations to reach more children.

A man who cares more about others than himself…. that’s one #finefella

Thank you for sharing your story with Good Girl Chronicles
How I know Jeff: I met Jeff Byrd at a networking event last year. I don’t remember what drew us to each other or what we even talked about, but I will never forget his smile. It is radiant, pure, and genuine. It’s the kind of smile that makes you feel at home in his presence. After months of getting to know him and his business I can see it’s this same energy that makes him so magnetic as a public speaker. (Byrd learns from the John Maxwell program, based on the prolific and super famous speaker and author John Maxwell.) He coaches and motivates businesses to reach their potential. Which is not as easy as one might think. Being a motivational speaker takes heart, and grit. There has to be something about you and your energy that makes a person want to be better. Change is hard for any man so a man who inspire others to live differently has a powerful gift. Jeff has that. But if you ask him what his proudest professional accomplishment is it will most likely lead you to a small school in Pakistan.
          Be Forgiving - Philemon 1: 1-25        
One of the greatest blights in American history was caused by the introduction of slavery into our new country. Slavery has been practiced in one form or another since the earliest biblical times, and there are still forms of slavery even in our country today. The general concept was that a slave was collateral property of his/her owner and could be bought and sold as such; and could be treated or mistreated as the owner wished. I am assuming from my study of the bible that this was the general practice in the Roman Empire at the time of Paul’s writing. In one commentary I found that there was a population of just over a million people in Rome and about one third were slaves. This is a very personal letter written in [about 60 A.D.] while Paul was in prison in Rome, to his friend in Christ, Philemon.

Philemon was probably a very rich person, with land and property, and could use the slave labor to promote… and increase his standing. He may have owned many slaves; but we know that he did own Onesimus, a slave, maybe a black man, [I am not sure]; but this is not the point; he was a man with a soul; and God loves all of his creation regardless of color or creed. This is the backdrop for our lesson today; but the lesson is not about slavery it is regarding forgiveness. The reason it is so important for you to know the setting is that we must be humble enough to forgive even those people we might consider as being of lesser importance than we are; even our slaves, if we were still owners of slaves. God forbid this evil to continue. The bible specifically states that we are to forgive others; even our enemies.

Philemon was converted earlier under Paul’s preaching and was now a member of the young church which was meeting in his house, as was the custom in those days. Onesimus, his slave, had probably heard him speak well of Paul, and when he decided to run away—he sought Paul’s help; who was a prisoner in Rome at the time. As a prisoner Paul still had the privilege of writing and witnessing and stayed active in his church ministry. Paul befriended Onesimus, witnessed to him and Onesimus became a believer under Paul’s teaching.

Paul convinced Onesimus, now that he was saved; it was his Christian duty to go back to his legal master and settle what ever debt he owed. This letter to Philemon is Paul’s effort to also convince Philemon that as a Christian he must forgive his former slave for running away and for his prior theft of property. Paul states that both have a responsibility to do what is right as relates to the renewing of this partnership and now friendship as brothers in Christ.

It was customary for owners to treat run-away slave harshly and sometimes even cruelly, and it must have taken a great deal of faith on the part of Onesimus to be willing to return to his master voluntarily. It also must have taken much faith on the part of Philemon to believe the glowing report Paul gave regarding this slave that had become a Christian, and wanted to return to his master and make things right. This incident required a mutual faith on the part of both men; and under the circumstances that can be hard to comprehend. Only those of us that know about the forgiving spirit of Jesus Christ will believe it to be both possible and necessary.

Paul starts this letter by stating that he is a prisoner because his affiliation with the Lord and his church; he further states that Timothy is there in Rome with Paul and is a brother in Christ; also that they are writing directly to Philemon whom they consider a dear friend and coworker in the spread of the gospel. Note that Paul salutes Apphia and Archippus [who are probably the wife and son of Philemon] and the members of the body that were meeting in his house. It was necessary for all to know about the conversion of the slave, Onesimus, and to know that he is now a converted soul and a member of the body of Christ; therefore is worthy of the forgiveness being requested. Paul prayed that they would experience the grace and peace of God. Grace represents the unmerited favor that Christ gave us and peace represents the state of total satisfaction and comfort that can come only from the God they serve. Together these two words represent all that is indispensable in the Christian faith in their church family—as well as in our church family today.

I think that it is sad that the telephone and email of today has replaced the letters people once used to communicate personally. I hope the readers of this lesson are among the few left of this vanishing breed of letter writers. I personally have received several personal letters commending me for writing “My Life Story on Raft Creek;” and how they were able to relate to my story. Some have written to thank me for preparing these lessons each week. These personal letters have been a special blessing to me. Hopefully, you will take the time to write to your Christian friends when they are hit with hard times or bad health; or when they have accomplished something notable, especially if they have accepted Christ as their Savior. Your complements are as ointment to a wound; they make the recipient feel good. Paul congratulated Philemon for his care and concern for his Christian friends.

Note that in verses 8 through 11, Paul had always claimed to be God’s spokesman with the right to direct new Christians to do what was right. In this letter he did not direct Philemon to accept Onesimus back as his equal—instead he simply requested that he do so in the name of Christ. Paul said that he would really prefer to keep Onesimus there in Rome to help him, but felt that it was only right to give him up, that he might return to his owner and make things right.

In verse 15, Paul indicates that he believes that it was in God’s plan for the slave to run away from his owner so that he could return in this new capacity as the owner’s coworker in Christ. Remember in another scripture it is stated that “All things work together for good to those who love the Lord….” Then Paul told Philemon “If you considered me as your partner, then you should accept Onesimus as you would me.” Paul even offered to pay anything that Onesimus may owe his owner. This reminds us of the man that found a victim who had been robbed, beaten and left for dead—who rescued him and took him to an inn…instructed the innkeeper to treat him, and care for him and that he would return and pay the bill.

We are reminded that it is not position of prominence, name, or background that makes a Christian our brother; neither does it matter who we are or what position we hold that causes us to be responsible for our brother. We are to befriend others and always forgive because of The One we believe in for our salvation. Always give Jesus Christ credit for any good deed you do. God forbid that I ever write one lesson for personal credit; I pray that my Lord will be praised and glorified, and that some soul may be saved. Please pray that I may remain humble and forgiving and that Christ and others may gain.


*Hello, forgive my abuse with your language, but I need to tell you how my beloved country is. Thanks Google translate.

Marina da Silva

It is not the purpose of this text to lecture on "being a woman" since the creation in Genesis! And God made the woman! And since God is Perfect and made man and woman, any discussion about who is more perfect is of such depth that it is only the greatest theologians on the planet or the greatest fools! This clarified however we go to being woman from the transition from feudalism to the capitalist system of production where the social role of the woman assumes a magnitude of transcendental importance for the capitalists increasing the potential of accumulation and concentration of wealth on the expropriation and exploitation of the work of men, women and children!
Roughly the differentiation between feudalism and capitalism can be placed both by the place of production and the destination of what is produced. In the first, the unit of production is the "house," and everything is produced artisanally and for subsistence, goods produced for "use-value" and consumed in the feud; In capitalism the unit of production is the factory and everything that is produced goes to the market, the "value of exchange" or commercial overrides the value of use, expands on a world scale (global market) increasing demand; Artisanal work is supplanted by manufacturing.
The revival of city life, the commercial and maritime revolution engender manufacturing and provide the "accumulation of capital" that brought the feudal mode of production to an end.1
Men, women and children have always worked since they came down from the trees, occupied the caves, invented tools, weapons, agriculture, etc., so long as the world is world! It is also not appropriate here to discuss the historical-economic-social role of women in  Ages before or after Christ. This introduction only serves to guide the subject proposed in the title: Women in transition ... phases. Woman of phases and woman in transition and treat the man-woman relationship in love and sex, in Brazilian patriarchalism, XX century and XXI.Logical that the "transition" is linked to the evolution of the capitalist system, to techno-scientific revolutions, with the Intensive use of science and technology in favor of the market and affects men and women, a postmodern condition, would say David Harvey analyzing the consequences of the technological outbreak from the late Sixties and how this definitely changed the world of work, relations, perception of time and space. The author identifies this phase as "Flexible accumulation of capital".2
Going back to the subject ... You are no more than a woman, you are a woman! A samba singer, Martinho da Vila, chanted male concern about the massive arrival of women in the labor market in the 1970s, from the "Brazilian Miracle"!
Woman's place is in the kitchen! Beautiful, chaste, home! A little plate fork and spoon; Whether you're a sexist or a feminist; Woman bed, table and bath; No one is raped at home washing dishes are some types of violence committed against women naturally and banalized in the media, especially in Globo Organizations and their novels and everything in the name of Brazilian chauvinism, that is, the right to do what it wants with women, violence , Moral harassment, sexual assault, rape and cruel killings included.

 discurso de temer dia da mulher Michel Temer, a corrupt politician denounced in Operation Lava Jet, one of the main mentors of the coup d'état that deposed the legitimate president Dilma Rousseff, elected by more than 54.5 million voters.

“I have absolute conviction, even for family formation and for being with Marcela, of how much the woman does for the house, for the home. Of what he does for his children. And if the society somehow goes well and the children grow, it is because they have had an adequate formation in their houses and surely that which does is not the man, it is the woman [...] she is able to indicate the mismatches of Prices in supermarkets and identify economic fluctuations in the domestic budget”.4
This talk of Michel Temer, corrupt politician, usurper in the midst of the twenty-first century demonstrates how rough is his knowledge about his own country and in no way differs from the general thought that has been built on the social role of women in the civilizing process since "The Origin of Family, State, and Private Property" to the present day! But we live, men and women, The madness of work in Modern Times!"  Modern family. This is a reality that is being built by men and women, together and mixed together. Increasingly, couples who work outside and / or in the home choose to share a life together (heterosexual couples, homosexuals, transgenders) bet on the sharing of homework, education and care of children for the healthy coexistence of the family.

To be born woman is to fight from the womb - every father wants a boy - and to persist in struggling against a system of lowering and lowering socially, economically, politically, morally, culturally, religiously, ethically and sexually, historically constructed by masculine dominance and discourse
In building the sociability and society of private and patriarchal property! A social arrangement from which the capitalists will make use of by intensifying the chauvinist discourse by justifying and forging the invisibility and social alienation of women, the war of the sexes (gender dispute) with the only
 Objective: to obtain profits or extraction of absolute surplus value on the exploitation of the work of men / women, being the woman doubly exploited in the house and in the factory. The history of Brazilian women follows the same historical pattern of struggles in other capitalist western nations, guarded by the proportions of time, space and history (we are a country under construction).
Resultado de imagem para frases machistas humor In the photo: equal rights.Now no use crying the spilled milk. "Sexist joke of the day." Push the donkey. If the idiot and donkey makes jokes study ...

20th century.
Discovering a woman still a girl between 9-14 years of age playing dolls, running in the bush, dropping kites, bathing in rivers or doing embroidery is discovering woman of phases; In fact, a single phase only, that is, the red days in Folhinha (the same as calendar) linked to menstruation; Is born in a country with strong remnants slavery, authoritarian, chauvinist, and has lived with dictators since the end of slavery (1888) and the Empire (1889). Women's education in the twentieth century included arts education, ballet, music, French, religion, home education, and moral and civic education, and everything to keep the "woman in her square" and pleading God not to stand for "auntie" or become an "old woman repressed. "
The girls for marriage or good girls were virgins (?) And watched until the wedding day. And while the long engagements were fulfilled the way was to learn the gifts of the home: cooking (attaching a man by the stomach), washing, ironing, cleaning, sewing, shoe shine and boots, embroidering, knitting, crocheting, And contain the hormones themselves and the male guarding himself so that he does not look bad in society because only "the most holy ones are going to get married". It was up to the man to have work to support his wife and children.
The right to be a "woman of phases" came randomly and from the middle of nowhere with the indiscretion of married women or their friends after the honeymoon or bad girls, those who transgressed the status quo and lived their own sexuality despite the sacrosanct marriage and the holy family.
The search for this secret was equivalent to the search for the Holy Grail6 because to understand the phases of female fertility was to create a calendar of sexual possibilities in the "tabelinha" of games, sexual games and even sex; It involved knowing the body itself, the menstrual cycle and all the physical and psychic changes that accompany the premenstrual  tension or PMT!
Although it was common sense that it is the storks that bring the babies no one explained how the baby came to rest inside Mommy's belly! Many girls believed that one could get pregnant with kisses, hugs, caresses or even sitting where the man just got up as toilet bowl or armchair for buses and cars.


With the knowledge of the rules (name given to the menstrual cycle) it is enough to follow a few months marking the Folhinha (calendar) to see the regularity of the cycle, calculate the period between menstruations and create a table. Usually menstruation occurs every 28 days for most women and the cycle is full of phases preceded by the worst of them,  premenstrual tension or PMT 7.
Resultado de imagem para ciclo menstrual tabelinha The table.

Love and sex in the Folhinha (calendar), although out of date in the 21st century, still has millions of adherents who are prevented from contradicting God's law: "Grow and multiply" applied with rigor in many religious beliefs that demonize contraceptives like pills , Female condom, male condom, the day after pill and IUD-intrauterine device. Abortion, much practiced in all classes, in Brazil, IS CRIME! That does not stop couples from even making love to the Folhinha and practicing sex in the red days of the calendar when the risk of becoming pregnant is zero! There are still couples of boyfriends in whom the man very smart and scoundrel, forces anal sex taking advantage before marriage that may not happen.
Resultado de imagem para é o tchan Hold the tchan!

But in the Nineties the young people already gave the cry of freedom: "Kiss in the mouth is a thing of the past, the fashion is now dating naked!"
And at the turn of the century, new Millennium, sex turned around and the woman of phases became a woman in transition! And all closely linked to the historical context of the more consistent entry of women into the labor market since the 1970s, which became practical in the 1990s and became a rule in the 21st century. A history full of rights struggles and deaths: living, working out and / or at home, studying, to claim labor social rights, the possession of one's own body and sexuality bathed by much domestic violence, rapes and cruel murders that will be the subject of another text!
Linda, caste and housewife, a fiction forged in Romanticism, nineteenth century and permeating all literature, photo-novels, radio-novels, movies and global novels, was always an eternal struggle between "The bean and the dream", and Snoring of the stomach speaking louder and the women went to the fight: YES, SHE CAN! YES WE CAN! Feminization of the global labor market and the fallacy of equal rights, wage isonomy removes the legal protection of CLT- Consolidation of Labor Laws and Federal Constitution 1988 on the work of women and children! Women are used with the false "empowerment" speech to REDUCE MEN'S SALARY AND INCREASE THE EXPLOITATION OF BOTH!

We come to the new Millennium XXI century, with women in Brazil and the Western world occupying 50% or more of the labor market! The power of money liberated women from male economic domination and gave them their own body and voice! It's a revolution in progress
Which has fueled a conservative, sexist, misogynist counter-revolution that incites violence, rape and murder of women! This is also a matter for another time! The feminine power in the 21st century really comes from the economic freedom that allows to funkeir Tati Quebra Barraco: Boladona, Fama de putona, Atoladinha, Opens the legs puts the tongue, Calls me a dog, Soca a theca, Mete até gozar. Tati informs the males: I'm ugly but I'm in fashion! Tati, funker is one of the symbols of the liberation of the woman's body by the power of money! And she will influence generations of XY and Milineum! "I'm paying!" Flexible accumulation is return to the conditions of exploitation of men, women and children at the time of the birth and rise of capitalism. Return to slavery!

Feminization of the labor market means extraction of absolute surplus value: precariousness, low wages, long hours, abuse in the labor relations, unhealthy places, moral harassment, sexual assault, gain less than men, slave labor, which is a family income theft. BOYS AND GIRLS, MEN AND WOMEN, WORKERS, THE ENEMIES ARE: THE NEOLIBERAL STATE, THE CAPITALIST

Resultado de imagem para reforma trabalhista  AÉCIO VOLTA AO SENADO PARA VOTAR REFORM WORKER. Brazilian Senate. On the table against the workers from right to left: Romero Jucá, Edson Lobão, Antônio Anastasia (pmdb-psdb) all involved, quoted, reported, indicted on corruption and theft of public money crimes in LAVA JATO OPERATION.


Photo Marina da Silva. Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais. 06-30-2017: NO RIGHT UNLESS! OUT CORRUPT! NO REFORMS



1. MARX, K; HENGEKS, F. A ideologia alemã. "A tecelagem, que os camponeses praticavam até então como atividade acessória para obter as vestimentas necessárias, foi o primeiro trabalho que recebeu um impulso e um amplo desenvolvimento graças à extensão do comércio. A tecelagem foi a primeira e continuou sendo a mais importante manufatura."

2.HARVEY, David. A condição pós moderna.Uma pesquisa sobre as mudanças culturais. 1989. São Paulo:  Editora Loyola. 7ªedição.1998.

3. Sobre o "Milagre Brasileiro". "Milagre econômico brasileiro Ã© a denominação dada à época de crescimento econômico elevado durante o Regime Militar no Brasil, entre 1969 e 1973, também conhecido como "anos de chumbo". Ver:;;



6.  Sobre o Santo Graal ver "Nos livros de cavalaria da Idade Média, entende-se que é o recipiente ou cálice que Jesus usou para consagrar o vinho, transformando-o no seu sangue, na última ceia, e que depois José de Arimateia utilizou para recolher o sangue e a água resultantes da lavagem do corpo de Jesus. Anos mais tarde, segundo esses livros, José de Arimateia levou-o consigo às ilhas britânicas (ver a pergunta: Quem foi José de Arimatéia?) e aí fundou uma comunidade para custodiar a relíquia, que posteriormente vincular-se-ia aos Templários.."

7. Sobre ciclo menstrual e TPM:;

          WORLD ORDER: LIFESTYLE $ 1.99. Corrosion and Corruption of the Character of Human Sociability        

Marina da Silva

"Occupy, resist and produce", any well-informed person knows that this is the basic principle of the MST- Movement of the Landless People of Brazil. Did you think it was the "principle" of the capitalist economy? Aff.
The basic principle or foundation of the market economy or capitalism is "to occupy, invade, take the market of others", forming trusts and cartels, cheapening the costs of production (labor, raw materials and machinery) and ... INCREASE THE PRICES!
Maximum profit with the minimum of expenses! A lesson in the real world applied to the "first world or capitalist economies of the center" and the "third world or periphery (rest of the world)", Brazil included, by none other than China! There is?
Foto Marina da Silva. Bedside book.

You make mistakes thinking that the "precarization, corruption and corrosion of human life", what I call "Lifestyle $ 1.99" (phase of the "flexible accumulation of capital") began in this twenty-first century and in Brazil.
Going back to history, a period after World War II (1939-1945) that killed some 50 million human beings, a new world order dominated by the United States-United States was established. It was necessary to rebuild the allied or not, devastated and bankrupt nations through the terrible war, and all under the baton and capital of Uncle Sam, through the Marshall plan, which not only capitalized the economies as it established and expanded in them the Fordist / Taylorist
The world has been divided into blocs: capitalist countries led by the United States; Communist countries led by the USSR-Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (Russia) and non-aligned countries!
Gold Age, became known as the post-World War II era of prosperity: economic growth and social development, full employment, welfare state, strengthening the middle classes, mass production, mass consumption, Extremely strong, combative, and demanding mass labor union (working hours, salaries, salubrious working conditions, profit sharing, labor social rights, regulation of the work of women and children, etc.).
Reconstructed, the "advanced" capitalist nations expanded into the "underdeveloped periphery," a transnationalization movement.

Resultado de imagem para a historia da poluição do ar de cubatão CUBATÃO. Dirty transfer of polluting industries. "In 15 years, about 60 km² of Atlantic Forest had undergone degradation, forming a clearing that could be seen by those who descended the Serra do Mar. However, the rulers of the city , As well as the businessmen, did not bother to reverse the situation, since the pollution of Cubatão yielded billions to the year, causing the city to be one of the five major tax collectors of the state, about 76 billion cruzeiros. Accounted for 2% of the country's total exports. " Free traslation

Brazil, besides barn of the world, lung of the world, suplier of low added value raw materials turned host of dirty industries (chemical, petrochemical, steel, metallurgical) highly polluting, dangerous, unhealthy and dangerous to humans and nature (fauna, flora, soil contamination , Groundwater, rivers, lakes, seas) and atmosphere; And the "green revolution", intensive use of pesticides, herbicides and many other agrochemicals.
The city of Cubatão, the valley of death, is a historical scar of the Brazilian economic miracle of the military dictatorship and external indebtedness and interference of the International Monetary Fund in the country.

"Results of transnationalization: The transnationalization of the economy and industrial production has dependency Countries to the richer nations. The national economic spaces were modified according to the interests of multinational companies. This has caused a revolution in the world economy and brought some instability to the local production systems. Briefly, it is possible to say that the process generated an internationalization of capitalist production. The emergence of this world economic space has resulted in the internationalization of capital. In this context, the United States, European countries, Japan and some other nations have benefited greatly. Transnationalization also served to consolidate American power in the world. In short, transnationalization has affected capital, geographic structure, economy and, consequently, people's lives. The process of transnationalization of capital also altered the entire labor context." "Http://

The dominant powers, USA and USSR [Russia] sought to ensure the policing and security of their postwar niches: literal capture of brains and technologies  developed  and in development,  mainly from Germany (scientists, doctors, engineers and the like) who dominated and invested heavily providing of huge sums in researches and also of human lives, mere laboratory rats in concentration camps. Americans and Soviets began an arms race (atomic arsenal) and space race, ordering, each and every one, its world-wide space. It's war ... cold! 1 Henry Kissinger, is alive to see the most communist capitalist country in the world born: China!

In addition to economic support, nations have received economic, logistical support and armaments to establish savage and cruel dictatorships stimulated and / or imposed worldwide. Unspeakable atrocities were committed against immense population contingents in the name of the capitalist and communist / socialist empire all over the planet!
"Anyone who occupies a territory will also impose upon him his own social system, and all will impose their systems to the extent that their armies reach." 2 Stalin imposed the Moscow system throughout Europe East from 1945. Germany was divided in two by a wall in Berlin.
And as nothing lasts forever and / or bar and disrupts the inexorable expansion of capital and its foundations ...
The entry of "new players" in the competition for the world market threw the very high profit rates to an end, ending the "golden era of capitalism" still there in the late Fifties and beyond! The Century was short, in the words of Eric Hobsbawm! How to recover high profits again? There is a "law" and was disintegrated by Karl Marx in volume 1 of "Capital. Critique of political economy. "3 Translated into this text as a simplistic didactic resource; Profit comes from the "composition / combination" of two variables: absolute surplus value (labor exploitation) and relative value (machinery, technological innovations, use of science in industry). By changing one and the other and / or making simultaneous use of both the entrepreneurs manage to maintain a reasonable rate of profit between the competitors that now act as partners as well as competitors. The fall in the rate of profit is a trend and condition of the Capitalist system of production and  takes sleep and fills the life of businessmen of nightmares until the mid-1980s when capital went out of production and went to financial speculation, changing the face of the "cyclical" crises of the system.

Mosaic from What does China have?

Going back to the seventies of the twentieth century ...
The historic meeting between President Richard Nixon of the United States and Mao Tse Tung in China on 02-02-19724 is an important milestone in history, revolution, geo-strategic, geopolitical and geo-economic, but not exactly for North Americans and Soviets!4

"The White House knew that a crucial part of the trip was to convince American public opinion that many benefits would come from the resumption of Sino-US relations. He also knew that the meeting needed to impress his international allies in order to lessen the animosity surrounding his dubious foreign policy. Washington calculated the variables. Henry Kissinger, then US Secretary of State, made a previous visit to China to sew the resumption of relations in July 1971. He left with an invitation to Nixon, who promptly went to the TV to tell Americans that he would visit China soon . "(Idem) Free translation

China had already established a strategic distance from Moscow and had started to walk with its own legs! The "Great Leap Forward" 5 of Mao Tse Tung was joined by a new era for China that from then on was giving birth to a hybrid dragon: communist head (dictatorship and ideological authoritarianism over the population) and capitalist body (a system of Which has won several stages of industrialization receiving  in the arms advanced technologies). From the late Nineties, China was much more than the largest country in territorial extension, the most populous, the largest army on the planet! It was ready to rise to the podium and demand its place as a second capitalist power, surpassing GDP - the gross domestic product of the seven richest, most advanced and industrialized countries, the G-7: the United States (number ONE), France, Japan, Germany, Canada, United Kingdom, Italy! With Russia out of the way with the breakaway wave (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), general east European overthrow, unification of Germany (fall of the Berlin wall in 1989), the dissolution of the USSR is carried out by Mikail Gorbachev (1991 ).

Communism-capitalist or Capitalism-communist? It matters little and does, the truth is that China has adhered to and complied with commendation is transmutation itself "Preparing for the 21st Century!" 6
While the Chinese dragon did not reach "birth to end" advanced capitalist powers invested heavily in labor-saving technologies, lean industrial plants, and internal and external industrial relocation to break down organized trade unionism, forced lowering of wages, contracts of precarious work, abusive use of legal and illegal immigrants, and other riddles and corrupting the job market! Production restructuring, globalization, flexibilization, privatizations, outsourcing (subcontracting, commissioning, teleworking, etc.), verticalization of production are terms that synthesize the so-called "third technological revolution" and the resurgence of economic-political liberalism from the end Of the Seventies.
An unprecedented revolution in the means of transportation, communication, computer science, robotics, mechanization based on microelectronics, bioengineering, new raw materials and new niches of cheap and / or slave labor. The new forms of production made possible the geographic dispersion of stages or even of the whole productive process! It's "The end of jobs. The inevitable decline in employment levels and the reduction of the global labor force "7 - states Jeremy Rifkin in 1994. Indeed, there has indeed been an extraordinary reduction in the well-paid jobs of the" white " "And for whom Rifikin dedicated a Requiem to the working class," The other side of the emerging techno-utopia - that replete with victims of technological progress - (...) incidental stories of lost lives and abandoned dreams.
This other world, Rifkin should consider, began with that grasp of Mao, ops, hands between US and China in 1972. A short century, a century of wars, a century of capitalist and communist lies camouflaging the imperialist thirst of nations (Unit States, Russia), which Henry Kissinger affectionately calls ambiguity between the divine historical mission of bringing democracy and the principles of freedom (free market) to "infidels" and under the American empire! The same divine mission was granted to Russia, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Spain, Portugal, Japan, Rome, Greece, Egypt, Mongolia summing up not to lengthen much the rise and fall of the empires!

Mosaic from images and photos Belo Horizonte. Mg. Marina da Silva. Lifestyle $ 1.99 or 99p or Ten dolars

The world was to produce in China, the planetary factory and the forms of production, raw materials, goods were never more the same, nor labor relations and the world of work too! In 1999 China joins the WTO-World Trade Organization and the hybrid dragon takes the world by storm. The dragon age marks the Chinese invasion and the Chinese way of cloning, forging, pirating, smuggling goods!
Everything that is solid melts in the air!8
 The same goes for the quality of the goods and character of individuals: rare, unique, authentic, true, classic, individual, referential, noble, traditional, extraordinary. Everything that is original can be faked! "The corrosion of the character of production," says Richard Sennett,9 spreads to life! Increasingly human needs and desires are confined miserably to the rude, crude, false, necessary, reckless, pirate, ordinary! Unimaginable spiritual misery corrupts entire societies, especially those who call themselves advanced, First-Worldists!
An ordinary, foul, grotesque life in human relations, a very high degree of lies and corruption and blows in the economy, politics, religions, culture, finally, in all spheres of life coexists with a material opulence and concentration of riches ever bigger and corrupted! Another handshake and another geostrategy doomed to generate more tension between the  Powers and their divine missions in the sharing of world space. For the people: wars, losses, mutilations, deaths, destruction, horror, a continuation of the terror of the last century.

An unimaginable material wealth detached from the aggrandizement of the spirit; A life more and more inauthentic, apathetic, devoid of human values ​​that were dreamed to come tied to the progress and capitalist expansion and even with the utopias and real experiences of communism and socialism became "The postmodern condition", mainly for the middle classes Traditional


1. Cold war. Http://

2. KISSINGER, Henry. World Order. Ebook KINDLE, position 4871-72

3. MARX. K. THE CAPITAL. Critique of political economy - the process of capital production. Book I. Vol.I. Rio de Janeiro: Civilization, 1998.

4.About the theme see ARQUIVOS ESTADÃO:

5. Great Leap Forward [1958-1962]. Http://

6. KENNEDY, Paul. Preparing for the 21st Century.

7. RIFIKIN, Jeremy. The end of jobs. The inevitable decline of employment levels and the reduction of global labor force. São Paulo: Makron Books, 1995.

8. Everything that is solid breaks into the air, the work of Marshal Berman and is used here to refer to the power of capital to turn everything into its opposite, to break any kind of barrier, be it physical, moral, ethical, religious, states National, traditions, folklore, whole cultures in their process of continuous expansion and on an enlarged scale.

9. SENNETT, Richard. The corrosion of character. Personal consequences of labor in the new capitalism.

          NCAA Football 13 Feature: EA Continues Franchise's Quest        

NCAA Football 13 by EA Sports allow fans to take control of the world of college football from their consoles. What’s probably less obvious but just as valid a motivation in producing this game for EA is the opportunity to dominate the market for a college football game.

With each year’s edition EA add new wrinkles to try to increase the realism of the video game as compared to the actual day to day affairs of NCAA football teams. NCAA Football 13 is no exception to this rule. In Dynasty mode, the recruiting now features more player dynamics to keep track of.  These include increased options of pitches that can be made and new rules that if not followed can result in “sanctions” on the team being controlled by the user.

The criticism that has always been levied against this game still is valid with this year’s issue. NCAA football players have long accused EA Sports of profiting at their expense with no return on that money. While EA Sports does not produce or sell the game with the names of players on the individual team rosters, the players do carry a jersey number that corresponds to the active roster the teams had at time of production. It is not hard for the average player to connect the dots, for instance, everyone playing with the Hawkeyes will know exactly who “QB #16” is. There are also online forums which will for free provide the player with named rosters for download.

Iowa Hawkeyes on NCAA Football 13

NCAA rules create a barrier to royalties being paid to student-athletes for the use of their identity in a football video game. Technically as long as the names are not used, EA Sports can claim that they are not using the identity of the athletes. However, the technicalities are often lost on these athletes that feel they are being taken advantage of.

A player that is indifferent to the issue of EA profiting off NCAA athletes without compensation will enjoy this game. However if the system of “slave labor” that some athletes accuse EA and the NCAA of is an issue, it may very well hamper the enjoyment of this game for such an individual.

          Episode 243: The June Previews Catalog        

The Two Guys with PhDs, AKA "Ben" and "Jason," are back with another Previews episode. And for the month of June, there's a lot that Andy and Derek want to highlight. Among the many upcoming titles they discuss are:

          Interviews - Jim Rugg        

Andy and Derek are happy to have on the podcast the multifaceted Jim Rugg, whose new printing of Street Angel (created with Brian Maruca) was just released by AdHouse. The guys talk with Jim about the significance of the new printing -- a colorful discussion -- as well as the book's protagonist Jesse Sanchez, an "orphan of the streets and skateboarding daughter of justice" who "fights a never ending battle against the forces of evil, nepotism, ninjas, and hunger." The artist discusses the title's early days at Slave Labor Graphics as a serial and its final issue as the launching pad for another Rugg/Maruca creation, Alan "Afrodisiac" Driesler, the mysterious, irresistible, smooth dark chocolate brother of the streets who fights to protect his turf and his ladies. And of course, it's inevitable that the guys get into a discussion of 1970s culture and comics, including kung fu, TV cop shows, blaxploitation films, and Big Jim action figures. Derek and Andy also talk with Jim about his work on other titles, including Supermag (AdHouse), The Plain Janes (DC/Minx), and his art for titles as diverse as The Guild, Adventure Time, and Henry and Glenn Forever and Ever. It's a fun conversation, one with as much savvy and street smarts as the characters who populate Jim's stories.

          Episode 64 - The December Previews Catalog        

It’s time again for the Two Guys with PhDs to go through the monthly Previews catalog. This time around there are a number of noteworthy solicits to mention, including Fatima: The Blood Spinners, The White Suits #1, and Someplace Strange (from Dark Horse); The Royals #1 and Daytripper: Deluxe Edition (DC/Vertigo); Red Panda: The Mask of the Red Panda (IDW Publishing); The Fuse #1, The Revenger #1, and The Mercenary Sea #1 (Image Comics); Sanctuary (Slave Labor Graphics); A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (Bloomsbury); Turok: Dinosaur Hunter #1 (Dynamite Entertainment); Walt before Skeezix: 1919-1920 and the new printing of The Fixer (Drawn and Quarterly); Zero Hour and Other Stories, Insect Bath #1, and Cannon (Fantagraphics); The Bunker #1 (Oni Press); The Simon and Kirby Library: Horror (Titan Books); Tippy and the Night Parade (Toon Books); The Bojeffries Saga and Alone Forever (Top Shelf); and American Comic Book Chronicles: 1965-1969 (TwoMorrows Publishing). Also in this episode: Andy discusses the merits of buying local for his family dinner, and Derek shares a rabbit-induced trauma from his childhood.  Oh…and there’s some good general comics talk.

          Episode 56 - The October Previews Catalog        

This week on The Comics Alternative, Gene Kannenberg, Jr. joins Derek to talk about the many great finds in the October Previews. They begin by looking at some of the offerings coming up soon for Halloween ComicFest 2013, then they get into the nitty gritty of this month’s catalog.  Among the many titles they highlight are 47 Ronin and Breath of Bones (Dark Horse), Dead Boy Detectives #1 and The Invisibles Deluxe Edition, Book One (DC/Vertigo), Richard Stark’s Parker: Slayground and The Illegitimates #1 (IDW), The Saviors #1 and The Complete Multiple Warheads, Vol. 1 (Image), Where Bold Stars Go to Die (Slave Labor Graphics), The Wonderful World of Lisa Simpson #1 (Bongo Comics), The Midas Flesh #1 (BOOM! Studios), Susceptible and Trove Jansson’s Moomin books (Drawn and Quarterly), The Blighted Eye and Sucker Bait and Other Stories (Fantagraphics), The Fifth Essence Part Two: Planet Difool (Humanoids), The Best of Wonder Wart-Hog (Knockabout Comics), Diesel Sweeties: Bacon Is a Vegetable, Coffee Is a Vitamin (Oni Press), The First Kingdom Vol. 3: Vengeance (Titan Comics), and World War 3 Illustrated #45 (Top Shelf).  This episode is jam-packed with sweet, nougaty comics goodness, and Derek and Gene discuss more good titles than humans should be allowed to read.

          A Response to "Why I'll Never Apologize for My White Male Privilege"        
I do not know well what the debates around privilege look like at Princeton, or other Ivy League schools. But I note that the situation has become uncomfortable if not antagonistic. Perhaps this is like the debates over “political correctness” in the 1980s. As the coeditor of "I Don't See Color": Personal and Critical Perspectives on White Privilege, and as a philosophy teacher, I was struck by Tal Fortgang’s Op Ed article in Time.  His remarks combined what he calls stories, profoundly compelling, and arguments that confused me. This is not rhetoric, although I will come back to the question of rhetoric shortly. Let me try to begin to lay out what contributed to my confusion.

The situation at Princeton is expressed in the form of the phrase: “check your privilege.” This is characterized as something that “floats around college campuses” in the U.S. The floating phrase gets transformed into a reprimand or weapon used by persons who position themselves as Fortgang’s “moral superiors.” And the phrase is an imperative: “check your privilege!” Fortgang tells us that those who utter it do so as “a command that teeters between an imposition…and a reminder” that he should feel “personally apologetic”—for precisely what is not, or what is ambiguously, his privilege.

From teaching philosophy, I have learned to be concerned about language: how it works; how it forges situations that can be taken for reality, or indeed, that create reality. Remember what is called the “illocutionary” dimension of language: “I now pronounce you man and wife”; “I hereby declare this meeting adjourned.” These simple phrases forge new states of affairs. Two people are henceforth married. The meeting is closed. Of course, illocutionary acts have to occur within institutional frameworks, follow social morays or formal laws, and often require the possibility of conventional or institutional sanctions. The illocutionary is one example of “how we do things with words.” It is important here not because “check your privilege” is an illocutionary, but because language contributes to shaping reality, and many speech acts literally create new states of affairs. What is more, there is the affective impact of language, the perlocutionary. This is the way words strike our feelings. Rhetoric once studied this. It even proposed techniques for shaping emotions in public discourse.

“Check your privilege,” is, on Fortgang’s characterization, a phrase that floats… and reminds. To float means that it moves, metaphorically, like a miasma, or a cloud, raining on some people or getting into peoples’ lungs. That the phrase “descends recklessly, like an Obama-sanctioned drone”suggests that it is rooted in aggressive, if misguided, moral suppositions, and that it is likely to imply negative commands: Do not do this, do not imagine that. “Check your privilege”: Do not suppose that you are here by your own hard work or dessert. Finally, to remind means that the phrase makes a claim to history or to memory. Fortgang’s holding together of reminder and rebuke forms the core of his opinion essay.

The pull-out introducing the article states it well: “Behind every success, large or small, there is a story, and it isn’t always told by sex or skin color.” The idea of a “story” gives the essay its trajectory. It allows Fortgang to exclaim: “I condemn them [those who use the phrase] for casting the equal protection clause, indeed the very idea of meritocracy, as a myth.” His story justifies his gesture of condemnation.

Indeed, his story proceeds on facts, important facts. There is no story to oppose it (and there should not be). The narrative opposes what Fortgang takes to be the ultimate meaning of “check your privilege.” Ultimately, and by an implication whose links he does not work out, the rebuke-reminder says that nothing he has done in his life belongs to him. We need only read his third paragraph. It is hard, certainly, to oppose a story to a slogan. A slogan is condensed. It can be uttered with little regard to circumstances or to history. It is often aligned with ideology, because it foreshortens or shuts down reasoning and criticism. A story expands, contextualizes, or contests slogans. And, whether probative or parochial, stories are more than slogans, though they may be the humus soil of a multitude of possible slogans. That is why it is hard to oppose stories and phrases.

Perhaps such opposition is essential when the story represents what Fortgang calls a “personal Weltanschauung.” But what is a personal Weltanschauung? A Weltanschauung, or worldview, certainly passes into and is voiced by a people. It is not personal. By definition, a Weltanschauungis a vision or intuition of the world. We know today that Weltanschauungenare several. They get placed into hierarchies, and they change somewhat over time. So the personal Weltanschauunghe speaks of is more than personal. Perhaps he sees the conflict here as one between two basic worldviews, like the American dream versus postmodern relativism. This seems to be borne out toward the end of the essay, where he discusses his “distinct privilege that [his] grandparents came to America.”  “They came to a country,” he writes, “that cares not about religion or race, but the content of character.” Is his Weltanschauung personal or is it American, then? Is the worldview of the U.S. religion- and race-blind? Is it above race and religion? Our book addresses these questions. It does not find the answers so clear.

Fortgang may protest that he received a worldview from his family. They had one; part of it entailed hard work, education, and sacrifice. This worldview crosses into both European and American ethē, cultural spirits, and it is found in the ethos of many Jewish communities; among other things, before the horror and destruction of the communities in central and Eastern Europe. I make no claim, here, about the merits of a worldview. I have received one, as have other readers. But I would emphasize that a worldview is something often more than cultural, which recalls the old distinction between civilization and cultures. Rather than discussing the pessimism which exploited that distinction, I propose to turn to something more important: structures—cultural, economic, and political structures. “Check your privilege” refers, I believe, to the act of scrutinizing the role of structures, conditioning and making possible the privilege of members of certain groups. It proves a risky thing when individuals feel personally attacked by such invocations. To oppose a story, calling it a “personal worldview,” to structures, assumes that if we all tell our story, we may be able to compare the merits and desserts brought to light thanks to the events composing those stories. That is not so easily said. Why not? I don’t know, for example, what would have happened if an Irishman arrived in New York in 1860. At that time, the U.S. was not indifferent to race and religion. Historian Patrick McKenna writes that in the mid-19th century, Irish immigrants were dubbed “Negroes turned inside out.” I also don’t know what would have happened if a Haitian woman arrived in New York in 1946, with a high school education and rudimentary English. My mother did that and she got a job as a secretary at CBS. She had no secretarial training; she travelled to the U.S. from France. Differences of treatment may be called “historic” differences. Above all, they are differences whose evolution points to changes in structures: social, political, economic—not to mention affective-imaginary ones. I should add that I don’t feel guilty about my mother’s good fortune. I am aware of it, however, and I keep it in mind. The possibility of speaking and living with others who may be different from myself depends on it, and I with that possibility. Rather than taking the words “check your privilege” as imposition and reprimand, the author could see in them an invitation to a much larger, more transformative conversation.

In our book Personal and Critical Investigations of White Privilege, we begin by looking at the word “privilege” in its Roman origins. Privilege is a strange concept because it is a combination of the words privus and lex. A humanist philosopher, Cicero, defined it as a private law that concerns a particular group, and is passed against them (On the Laws 3:44). Privilege thus emerges with an exclusionarysense. Of course, a private law contradicts any idea of equality under law. Only through a succession of transformations did privilege come to circumscribe and elevate, rather than exclude. But if we look closer, we find that status elevation also requires exclusions. More important is that from the outset the privus lex is opposed, in spirit and letter, to equality under laws, which Fortgang identifies with the “privilege” intrinsic to his family’s country of welcome. Now, we should avoid confusing loss of privilege with loss of rights, as Lewis Gordon points out. Indeed, we tend to consider legal structures that integrate “private laws” as typifying authoritarian systems, one recent and disgraceful example of which were the 1935 Nuremberg Laws. So much for the double-edged sword of privilege that may begin trivially and end tragically.  My point is that this is a matter of legal and economic structures. The stories flow from the impact and experience of these structures. To speak of structures, therefore, is not to appeal to myths or to play with big words—though some structures draw their vitality from myths, like the theories about racial hierarchy, from telegony to the “bell curve.” 

The focus on privilege in critical white studies, understood as thinking about the structures, norms, and symbols dominant in a given culture, means this: to grasp critically the dynamics through which persons are constituted in a larger community, as differently subject (recall privus lex) to what holds the larger community together (lex). This is a way of saying that the study of privilege concerns a particular relationship between structures and groups, where individuals are like sites that express the impact of those structures. But the relationship goes beyond stories to look at how norms, values, laws function by creating distinctions. I am not interested in whether the distinctions are visible to all or not. It is important to me that the analysis of structures not be immediately equated with “conspiracies,” a term the author uses twice. The second time, he merges it with the frivolity of an imaginary institution, writing “conspiratorial imaginary institutions.”  

An example of the operation of “structures” is given by psychologist, Joy DeGruy, in an anecdote about white and black racism. Asking a predominantly white audience if they knew cases of white racism, she received an array of answers. Reversing her question and asking the audience if they knew of cases of black racism, she again collected the responses. Everyone present knew, apparently, of black racism. DeGruy herself knew people of color who disliked whites, some who would not attend the same parties as whites, or had nothing positive to say about them. But she added, importantly: “You get the loan anyway.” The white victim of black racism gets the loan anyway. We don’t know whether “you” always get the loan. But black anger has not conspired against white economic opportunities. Again, this is about structures of influence and constraint, not about “conspiratorial imaginary institutions.”

One reason for the invisibility (to Fortgang) of the “dynamics” of structures is the multiple levels at which “institutions” operate, not to mention the distance of impact of decisions or measures taken at one level; say, at a high level. It may be hard to produce a compelling personal narrative of decisions enacted in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, for example. Moreover, while many of us remember seeing a person of color with his hands on his car, flanked by two police cars, on the island in a thoroughfare, it remains that the level of police action is much more visible than that of many institutions whose decisions percolate downward. By the time it is in police hands, the chips are down.

Structure is the crucial and neglected concept here, and it pervades the story of the Fortgang family. It was legislation, Gestapo violence, SA violence, slave labor, and the mutations in the technology of murder that made the Final Solution possible. The Entlösungwas directed at groups. Like other racisms, anti-Semitism itself unfolds at a host of structural “levels.” There was and is the cultural level, too complex to unpack here, of prejudice coming from non-Jewish families toward Jews. “I don’t want to live next door to Jews,” is a small element of cultural anti-Semitism, in Germany and certainly elsewhere. There was the economic and professional anti-Semitism that debarred Jews from doing science in Vienna, and elsewhere. Freud, the controversial monument of psychology, suffered from it, as did many others. But there was also the “metaphysical” anti-Semitism that argued that Judaism was outdated, made obsolete with the incarnation of “the messiah” (“supersessionism”). Many other arguments could be presented about how structures constellate and impact groups, and through them, individuals. It is not easy to dismiss the systematic infringement of well-being, health, residence and other rights formulated by the NAACP in a document that W.E.B. Du Bois submitted to the U.N. in 1947. Systemic is the watchword. It is the way that structures work together that affords the “punch” and drama to measures that, by the time they are in the hands of the police, have lost their complexity and are translated by sheer violence. Structures matter and Fortgang ignores this.

As a white woman, I do not want my arguments taken to support Fortgang’s refusal to see that he reaps the benefits of structural privilege, to say nothing of all of the ways in which his own body can today move through space without being stereotyped, marked, traumatized through micro-aggressions. I urge him to look at Peggy McIntosh’s unpacking of the “invisible knapsack,” in which she details over 25 ways in which she, I, and white people generally, benefit from a putatively universal, color- and religion-blindness. She has an essay in our collection.  

A remark on rhetoric: we might like to think that in a good argument, rhetoric doesn’t matter. But before we check our privilege, we should ask ourselves what the unfolding of language does to our thinking; what the simple slide from “I” to “we,” or the use of an anonymous “you” does, imperceptibly, to our feelings and thoughts. When Fortgang writes, “Now would you say that we have been really privileged?...You don’t know what their struggles have been, what they may have gone through to be where they are,” the claim seems fair, universalizable. But whom is he talking to? What happens to me if I identify with the “you” he has employed; in what position do I stand, then, and whom do I shut down? Rhetoric was taught long ago by Aristotle, who knew that rhetoric strikes our emotions before our reason has a chance to kick in. We need to be aware of rhetorical shifts in texts.

“I am privileged that values like faith and education were passed along to me. My grandparents played an active role in my parents’ education, and some of my earliest memories included [sic] learning the Hebrew alphabet with my Dad. It’s been made clear to me that education begins in the home,” writes Fortgang. That is hard to contest. Learning a new alphabet and a non Indo-European language expands intelligence and confronts a person with a text whose depth and age (over two thousand seven hundred years) can only make one sensitive to history, language, and reasoning. Thatis a legacy. It sharpens our minds. I do not believe that intelligence simply equates to privilege, except where intelligence combines with social and economic structures that have a place for the intelligent applicant. I am not ignoring personality and talents. But I cannot accept the reduction of privilege to a story that relies on a complex network of histories, social, legal, and economic institutions, without ever admitting that that is where the power of the “story” really lies. This reduction of privilege to an individual, suffering from rebukes at Princeton, is not what privilege awareness should be about. Behind every story, there are histories, and the histories unfold as a constellation of environment, laws, political structures, economics, industry, even agriculture… Complex, but these structures canbe studied. And they must be understood, critically. That means analyzing how individuals are impacted by, then implicated in, these structures, and how they may reinforce them. 

A moving part of the essay is Fortgang’s own reminder that “while I haven’t done everything for myself up to this point in my life, someone sacrificed themselves so that I can lead a better life.” Perhaps here is where the story of individual actions and ethics enter into the picture. I have not even spoken of what happens when one finds oneself in a culture and a country without a family, without a book like the Bible, and without viable traditions remaining, because one’s parents were sold to someone else. Sacrifice can be made by individuals. But if we situate the key to privilege in self-sacrifice, then we commit an error, even if it is a well intentioned one. Two questions remain: first, does sacrifice lift everyone out of deprivation and if not, why not? Second, if sacrifice is entailed in “environmentalism,” as Fortgang remarks, but also in the accumulation and transferral of wealth, as he adds, then what shall be oursacrifice? How shall we as a generation take up the legacies of our parents—notably, if sacrifice has forged material legacies for some but not for others, many others whom we forget or resent? Indeed, if environmentalism concerns the sheer possibility of a future world, what future does property transmission concern? Should we not begin our own sacrifice by asking these questions? I do not agree that “sacrifice of any form shouldn’t be scorned, but admired.”  I do not believe the cases of sacrifice cited here are equatable. I do respect sacrifice, although I would urge that we understand the what, the content, of sacrifice, when we tarry, as George Yancy has said, with these difficult questions. I urge that we understand better the interaction between the particular and the general, the story and the dynamics of structures. That is what "I Don't See Color": Personal and Critical Perspectives on White Privilege attempts to do.

This guest post was written by Bettina Bergo, co-editor of "I Don't See Color": Personal and Critical Perspectives on White Privilege, forthcoming in January. This volume gathers together some of the most influential scholars of privilege and marginalization in philosophy, sociology, economics, psychology, literature, and history to examine the idea of Whiteness.

          Comment on Anonymous Calls for Legalization of Marijuana Operation Cannabis Phase 1 by Paul Pot        
Thank you Anonymous, always nice to see a new face get behind the cause. I’d really like to see the energy that’s going into occupy and all the revolutionary movements around the world go into fighting the drug war. Because folks, the drug war is the source of all our modern problems. It’s the last weapon left to the establishment for keeping us divided, fearful and ignorant and therefore slaves of the system. Globally we spend close to half a trillion dollars on consuming illicit drugs and on policing illicit drugs every year. What other world war gets financed to that degree every year for decades without question? No economy can continue bleeding like that indefinitely without finally collapsing in a corrupted, cancerous mass. And what would we have if we did not have this system of fear and control? We would be living on the land providing for ourselves. And that’s nothing to freak out about. Until recently, most people round the world were doing pretty well till colonialism made them slaves. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t live a happy and healthy four or five score years in a low tech rural economy. Good health and longevity is down to good diet, and community management rather than an endless introduction of the latest high technology. And there’s not much room for corporate profit in a rural community that provides for all its own needs. Because if you want freedom from the multi-nationals that’s what you’re asking for, the right to go back to the land, self sovereignty, self responsibility. But the government made that very hard by banning one of the most important crops on the planet. Amongst a number of strategies they also made it hard on rural communities by heavily regulating alcohol. Alcohol isn’t really legal either; just try making some and selling it yourself. Brewing and trading in alcohol is something people have been doing for thousands of years. It is one of the basic rights of people to make, use and prosper by the gifts that nature affords us and our own labor and governments have no right to prevent us from activities that result in economic transaction for any reason. The current alcohol regulations were the compromise that we were left with when prohibition ended. Prohibition literally remained in force as far as fuel alcohol was concerned as it was basically impossible to produce it lawfully for sale unless you were a large company. Alcohol is an important cleaner, lighting, cooking, engine fuel and a basis for many other products. All plastic products can be made from alcohol instead of fossil fuels and the chemistry of plastics is not that difficult to work with. So the heavy regulation of alcohol meant everyone was denied the right to produce these materials locally for the benefit of local communities. Then add the ban on hemp and the new synthetic materials made from fossil fuels are left with two major competitors safely and completely out of the way. Hemp was just making a comeback in America having been displaced by cheap slave made cotton. With slavery gone and the development of new harvesting machines, hemp suddenly became very economical as a source of paper and fiber, seriously undermining William R. Hearst’s massive forest holdings. Had it not been for these laws of first prohibition and then strict regulation we would be looking at a very different world today where farmers the world over would be producers of natural fibers and synthetic fibers made from their own multi-purpose alcohol. Without these regulatory interferences, fossil fuels probably would still have been used but not to the same extent as today. The alternatives like locally produced alcohol and hemp fibers for all purposes would have had a place in the market. These extreme regulations took products that had belonged to people for thousands of years and locked them up. And then we are sold synthetic, toxic mass produced artificial copies of things we used to make with our own hands. The making of things was taken from the common people of rural communities and handed to the multi-nationals. Everything that once came from the land and from the rural communities would now come from an oil well enriching a few men while millions of people are now forced to live in over crowed cities without the work that kept them occupied in rural communities for centuries. When it’s all added up, after decades without one of the major crops and basic commodities missing from the rural economies of the world, that is surely going to have the effect of literally moving the economy away from the rural communities and giving it all to the companies that own the oil wells. Had there been these two extra industries in our rural community’s money and then jobs might not have been so hard to come by for country people So if we want to get our rights back and be free of the giant companies we have to get the land back and the right to grow and produce the things that people have produced as a matter of course for many centuries. WE have to legalize and deregulate all naturally produced commodities. That is just the occupy Wall Street angel on the argument The full extent of negative effects of the drug war could fill a large book. But let’s start with the corruption of every police force in the world. That’s bound to have some bad repercussions for a start. And if it’s a problem in the western world, what does it do to developing nations? It rips them apart. To fight the drug war every police force in the world has been made about fifty percent larger in size. Then they find they can’t do anything to stop the river of drugs and money and so they might as well dip in for their own benefit. Once the rot has set in, it spreads like a virus and soon the whole institution of governance is corrupted. Departments end up being controlled by self righteous bullies who bulldoze their policies through rather than involve the community, because prohibition is a law of bullies. You have to be a bully to enforce this law and bullies prefer the company of bullies and make sure that bullies are employed around them and replace them and so the mantle of power is handed to the next generation of bullies. This is how we end up with giant shopping malls inappropriately dropped on quiet suburban areas, or poorly designed nuclear reactors built on fault lines. Well the bullies have had the power long enough it’s time to take their power from them. Worldwide we spend more than a third of a trillion dollars a year on drugs. Then through our taxes we also spend almost two hundred billion dollars a year on policing drugs. That’s almost half a trillion dollars a year spent on a war year after year, decade after decade without question Even though it never gets closer to its goal of eliminating drugs. The goal obviously is not to win the war but just to fight the war, keeping soldiers employed and vested interests in positions of power. By centralizing services, people were denied their rights to self reliance leaving them dependant on corporations for every day commodities. The big company is not essential for development, there are or were, people designing and building silicon chips in their back yard shed. A very sophisticated shed but it can be done like the black smith, the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker. It’s a world where the customer buys a product from the person who made it. It might cost more but it’s built to last, resources are used sparingly and profits are slimmer but income is distributed more equitably throughout a cottage industry based, rural economy. The general populace shares the costs and the resulting benefits of self-employment and development does continue but at a slower and more manageable pace. Because it happens in a landscape of cottage industries that appear out of spare rooms and back yard sheds. This is what leads to inventiveness and provision of quality custom made goods and if they are expensive that is right and proper because well made things are hard to come by and to NOT pay their worth for them results in exploitation. Which is what we see happening around the world. Nations that supply many resources and goods have problems with how they treat their citizens and as a result don’t pay them enough which is how we end able buying the goods they produce at the cost of jobs at home. It’s called out sourcing and it results in our western economy relying on tyrannies that produce cheap products by exploiting their people as a virtual slave labor force. Prohibition is the keystone in the arch of global corruption and tyranny; remove that and it all comes tumbling down. Suddenly we get our rights back, our land, our homes, our identity, our connection with our nature and each other. Please support any efforts to reform marijuana laws.
          Dreams of the Red Wizards        
Dreams of the Red Wizards
author: Steve Perrin
name: Rindis
average rating: 3.59
book published: 1989
rating: 3
read at: 2016/07/18
date added: 2016/07/20
shelves: ad-d, fantasy, gaming
The sixth FR-series supplement headed east, extending the detail maps of the Forgotten Realms another panel to the east (while jogging slightly south) of the original boxed set ones, and hit the eastern edge of the large map in the process. This centered the book on one of the peripheral villains of the setting, the Red Wizards of Thay. The Wizards themselves remain popular villains (including a 5e adventure series that echoes the title of this book), and the area has been revisited in Spellbound and Unapproachable East .

The module returns to the normal layout: 64-page detached book in brown ink with faux-parchment background, one poster map, and no printing on the inside cover. The east edge of the map just barely shows some of the Sunrise Mountains, another convenient chain that defines the edge of the known lands of the Realms (there's only a bit of hint of foothills on the boxed set's 90 mi/in maps, meaning this map actually goes slightly off the edge of that map). While there's some very nice Valerie Valusek illustrations, and a reproduction of the main map in the book, there's no detail maps to be had (perhaps because the Red Wizards forbid any maps to be made of their cities...).

While Thay is actually only a part of the area covered, they are front and center in the book, even when they aren't (the 'History of Thay' and 'Geography of Thay' sections actually cover a lot of things outside of Thay). Surrounding countries are largely defined by how prepared they are, or who they typically ally with, to fight off Thay when they inevitably invade. Make no mistake, Thay is an evil country; expansionist, power-hungry, and with an economy built on slave labor. It's made clear that not everyone is evil (just like a 'good' country doesn't have an entirely 'good' population), just everyone in charge is.

Overall, Thay is given a well-rounded presentation. There's no 'rule of law', just tradition and pronouncements, no one system of taxation (merchants going through one city are effectively 'taxed' by the Thieves Guild...), but there is administration. The Tharchions handle the ordinary running of the country, and defer to the Zulkirs (the top Wizards) when they intervene. With a bunch of high-level magic-users in charge, one might wonder how Thay isn't much bigger than it is, especially since most of its neighbors don't have the ability to resist that sort of firepower. But the Zulkirs aren't a united group, and often work against each other to prevent any one from becoming too powerful, moreover there are some who would rather research, and not deal with wars disrupting trade in rare spell ingredients. And the economy is changing, with an emerging middle-class that the powers that be are uncertain about.

Late-era 1e AD&D seems to have gotten an inclination to keep adding new spells to the system. Focused on a set of wizards, FR6 naturally spends ten pages on new spells more-or-less unique to the Red Wizards. This could have been great, if the spells had a bit more flavor, like many of the ones in FR4 had. Unfortunately, many of these actually borrow from existing Cleric and Druid spell lists, with minor changes (different levels, different component requirements, and slightly different effects), making it feel more like they are destroying the essential flavor of those classes instead of adding anything new. Also, the largest section is for Abjuration (protection) spells, the bulk of which are variations on the theme of 'Protection From [Effect/Creature]'. This could allow a Red Wizard to be annoyingly difficult to deal with, if he knew which spells to memorize beforehand.

There is also an eight-page player's guide to Thay. Instead of the well done in-world introductions of the Gazetteer series, the bulk of this is taken up by giving the available spells to learn if you're a magic-user studying in Thay, or are from Thay. For a campaign visiting the mysterious country for the first time, half the player's guide needs to be hidden away. But the first sections are a handy player-facing glossary, and a set of rumors. The latter are followed up in an adventuring section that gives further information and inspiration on what to do with them (this is much better than the usual approach that can leave you wondering what the author was thinking about). Thay is currently involved in two different wars, and a few other activities that adventurers could easily get involved in.

The big problem with Dreams of the Red Wizards is that Thay is a long way away from the usual adventuring grounds of the Forgotten Realms line, and the book wanders between presenting it as a possible campaign site, and trying to figure out how to draw existing adventurers from further west into range of the material presented. Furthermore, the power structure of Thay is primed to be rife with intrigue and deadly politics, but very little is really said about that, making an internal-view campaign difficult to set up. This isn't as good as the highlights of the series ( FR1: Waterdeep and the North and FR5: The Savage Frontier), but despite the problems, still presents a lot of material very well.

          The Hundredth Post        
I started writing this blog a couple of years ago, on a rainy fall afternoon. At the time, the Gulf Oil Spill was still in and out of the headlines, with the well recently having been stopped up at least. There was still quite a lot of news coverage about the effects of the spill, who was responsible, what the lasting environmental damage was, and so on. As of today, the full impact of the spill is not known, but things like increases in the death rates of large marine mammals, mutations are widespread in smaller marine animals, and much of the information related to the environmental impact is still suppressed due to an "ongoing criminal investigation," so the full extent of damage may not be public for a long time, if ever.

Back in October of 2010, the event was still so fresh that these issues were not yet identified on any scale, but it was clear that we were dealing with something unprecedented related to the consequences of our reliance on cheap energy. If an oil well could blow and poison a massive body of water, what other consequences could the addiction to energy produce? Fukushima was still months off, but it seemed clear that the consequences had been identified, at least on some level. Remember, also, that this was two years into the global economic downturn, brought on by an addiction to spending and overconsumption, the need for MORE. In June of 2012, the gulf is still reeling from what was released into it, then dumped into it, Fukushima is still smoldering, real unemployment in America and elsewhere is around 20%, gas has not fallen back down to affordable levels, the stock market is increasingly looking like a minefield, pick something.

In the almost four years since October 2008, the world has not shown signs of recovery. The green shoots dry up and blow away as soon as they emerge, in spite of what optimists says, and another "downturn" is around the corner. These things are not "stumbles" on the road to a brave new epoch, but signs that we have exceeded our grasp as a civilization, both in terms of using them, and understanding them. Humanity has become the equivalent of a child who finds the door of the candy store unlocked and decides to go in and have "just one piece." With half the store eaten up, and a bellyache like no other, it's come time to decide how to proceed.

Is there a plan for dealing with the world, and a way forward to a more sane and sustainable civilization? Clearly, political "leadership" has become playing to the polls and trying to catch up with what people want to hear -- the expression "The American Way of Life is Not Negotiable" tells you all you need to hear about the attitude toward "American Exceptionalism." It's a grand, fine-sounding "line in the sand" type of expression, but falls short of physical reality.

The human imagination is both our greatest friend and worst foe. We can imagine wonderful things like travel to other stars, thinking computers, and worlds of fantasy. In the past, we've been able to implement some of these dreams, too, such as the airplane, the telephone, and so on. However, it's also our worst enemy in many ways. We become so focused on the "possible," that we ignore the "practical" and the "realistic."

Right now, we still have the ability, as a civilization, to begin examining our models and deciding what the best course to take is. There is still enough in the way of resources, wealth, and energy to begin promoting alternative ways of doing things. Rail, an end to widespread automobile use, turning grass into gardens, an end to consumerism and overspending. It's not a question of whether or not we need to make adjustments, but whether or not we will choose them or be forced into them. In this, civilization is not unlike a boat at sea with a storm coming -- we can choose our own harbor while there's still time, or get smashed against the rocks from forces we cannot control.

Unfortunately, like political leaders who adopt a "No Compromise" position on the consumer-driven lifestyle on campaign stumps, our society, from businesses, civic organizations, institutions of higher learning, religious organizations, down to individuals has also preferred to ignore reality and continue doing things as they have. After all, there is no such thing as Peak Oil, our oil-industry connected scientists tell us. Our bankers say there is no problem with the economy and not to worry. Our priests and preachers tell us "God will provide." All is well, don't worry.

For people who have taken the time to study the issue, and listen to the voices crying in the desert in the past such as Thomas Malthus and M. King Hubbert, who have examined the science and numbers, and even lies and distortions, for themselves, the picture is sobering, if not bleak. We have overshot our planet's carrying capacity for people by a factor of thirty or more, based on the use of fossil fuels to create massive short-term surpluses of artificial labor and resource utilization.

Think about that for a moment, and take a look around you. Count out thirty people. Pick one of them. The earth only has enough capacity for that one person, without the application of cheap energy to act as a surrogate "slave." This is less than the population of America, much less the world. It is a sobering exercise, but one we have ignored to the peril of our species and human civilization.

We are still collectively toward the cliff, but individually, we have begun to wake up, here and there. The critical model of mass consumption is not going to be untied and discarded on a mass scale, but we can begin to understand where we are headed and what our seat on that "bus" is going to be. Do we join in with the mass of people who are like bipedal locusts, congratulating themselves on their latest purchase? Or do we take a measured approach to life, live with low-impact, and prepare for when the "black swans" take to wing en masse?

The Leibowitz Society has gone through a couple of iterations since I originally defined it. In the beginning, I had looked at it as being a stuctured sort of thing, combining both a running analysis of our descent into a new Dark Age, with efforts to collect and store as much relevant knowledge as possible. Allied with these goals was the idea of trying to raise some level of awareness as to where we are, and what can be done about it, if anything, including defining how society may reorganize itself and what we can do as responsible people to make things better locally, even as they get worse globally.

Discussing the events leading to the Dark Age quickly moved the other considerations to the back burner, and I suppose it's a natural reaction. When Rome fell, there was a Dark Age on three continents (the Byzantine Empire survived, of course, but often felt "under siege" through most of its existence), as the mechanisms which had built daily life up to a high level fell apart. Now, America is stumbling and the coming Dark Age, brought on by resource scarcity, environmental failure, and economic mismanagement, is going to cover the entire globe. It will unfortunately be a collapse of unprecedented proportions, where the conditions on the other side of the globe will be no difference from what they are down the weed-dotted and decaying street. Like a train wreck, we can't look away from this.

However, the study of our near future is at some point going to become the study of our past, and it's the far future which will take precedence. As responsible people, we understand where the world is headed. We also know that this understanding doesn't lead to a comfortable complacency. We will all likely only live to see the early manifestations of the new Dark Age -- wars, riots, starvation, looting -- but our children and grandchildren will be there to see the dust settle and try to make sense of it all. They will have questions and will need answers. How did they get to where they're at? How to go forward? And what to go forward with?

One of the most sobering ancedotes I have ever read concerned a village in the south of France, not long after Rome collapsed. It had been an agricultural area, and it doesn't take much to imagine how many people it supported. Within a generation or two, human remains showed signs of starvation or even death by starvation, as the knowledge of high-intensity farming was quickly forgotten. And, this was just one village in one area. How many places like this existed, but were not known about in remains of Rome? This was not in a time and place where the science of agriculture depended on high technology to make it work, but on remembering procedures that had been discovered and modified over several generations. Even if we take slave labor out of the picture, figure that people would shift priority to food production away from whatever other pursuits they had.

If you take modern America, where even fewer people are connected to food production -- maybe three percent at most -- and most of them are involved in the "high energy input" tye of farming, are we going to fare much better when the cash runs out and the cupboard is bare? And what about other things, like medicine, governing ourselves, maintaining our structures, and so on?

We can save books on things that interest us, and it's a start, but we also need to think in broader terms. If we accept that information is DNA, then knowledge is an organism built from it. Do we really know what the books mean? And how to use them? Are we missing areas of knowledge that would be vital? Would we have any way to pass this on to another person or people? Or form a community of learning?

This was the original intention of the Leibowitz Society and where I want it to go toward again. This doesn't mean we can't talk about the path we're headed down, only that we need to think clearly about what we do once we get there. And it's likely that none of us will survive to see the "hard landing" when it finally happens. Rome's collapse took several generations. We started ours in 2008 and have not managed to reverse course, although we limp along, meaning our children or grandchildren will be the ones to see "lights out," more likely.

I don't see all this as being pessimistic, no more than someone who looks up at a darkening sky and says it's going to rain is being a pessimist. We're gifted with reason and foresight and would be fools not to use them. We can make a difference in our futures, and the futures of people yet to come, by taking steps now to preserve thousands of years of wisdom and knowledge, and having a plan to pass it on. The problems we face now are not going to go away, but only get worse, and it's up to us to light the future.

          Embodied Solidarity        
Embodied Solidarityby Steve Clemens. April 13, 2016

To the casual observer, the sight might have been striking to a proponent of “American exceptionalism”: 25 activists who appeared to be white according to our nation’s obsession with racial identity, arms linked together, taking instructions and directions from a group of black women. Blocking the tracks of the Light Rail transit system as well as two adjacent streets, this action shut down the traffic outside Target Field for the Minnesota Twins home opener.

On the other side of this publicly funded stadium, another group of Catholic Workers and local faith community leaders were being led by another group of women of color in blocking a different intersection as some dropped a large “Justice 4 Jamar” banner from the over-looking parking ramp by the main entrance to the ball park. Inside, as the National Anthem was being sung, two additional activists hung banners over the large black wall in centerfield. They read, “ Re-open Jamar’s Case” and “Target Field: End Your Slave Labor.”

Back outside, signs reading “White Silence = Violence”, “White Silence Kills”, and “White Silence Killed Jamar” were directed at the predominately white-looking crowd attempting to enter the stadium. Some shouted encouragement, others angrily “flipped us the bird” or yelled for us to “Get a Job!” We sang, and chanted, led by our cadre of brave black women until the police issued their third warning to leave under threat of imminent arrest for trespass. Our leaders from Black Lives Matter Minneapolis and the Black Liberation Project moved to the sidewalk with the others who had served as marshals as the police started to handcuff those of us remaining who were blocking the train and the street.

Less than two weeks before, my wife Christine and I were invited to be part of a walk along the Minnesota River led by Ojibwa elder, Sharon Day. The women carried a bucket of water drawn from the source of the river in west central Minnesota to be poured back into the river at its confluence with the Mississippi at a place called Bdote by the Dakota people. I was honored to carry the eagle staff behind the woman carrying the copper pail. We prayed for the river, thanked her for her gift of life to the land. We offered tobacco at ceremonies at the beginning and ending of each day of the walk with a moving ceremony at the conclusion of the walk on Friday near the repressive reminder of Ft. Snelling and it’s 1862-63 concentration camp for Dakota women and children. On Wednesday of the walk, we passed the memorial where 38 Dakota warriors were hung by the US Government in 1862 and while the tears and sadness of the memories from our past lingered as we walked, the river, fighting the pollution caused by industrial agriculture run-off, kept calling us to continue our prayerful journey. As the young Native girls threw an offering of corn, berries, wild rice, tobacco and other traditional symbols tied in a red cloth into the river at the end, two eagles circled overhead. I remembered a Native friend who told me that “eagles circling” are carrying our prayers to the Great Spirit.
In another two months, Christine and I will join some Muslim friends at an Iftar – the meal to break the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan at a local mosque. We have done so for the past several years as a way for Christians, Jews, Muslims, and others gather to help break down the stereotypes and walls that often divide Americans. I remember how pleased my Iraqi friends were when our delegation visited the Holy Shrines in Karbala and Najaf, Iraq several years ago.

“Embodied solidarity” is a term used by a Wheaton College professor, Dr. Larycia Hawkins, as she donned an hijab during the weeks of Advent as many Muslims were being vilified in the media at the instigation of some Presidential candidates as well as religious “leaders”. She wanted to show with her body her oneness and connectedness to those often seen as “the other”. It cost her her job at the college, my alma mater after a storm of protest arose from the broader “evangelical” community. I already had many of my own reasons for distancing myself from Wheaton so this merely added to my list of grievances. But I am thankful for her witness and example. I, too, want to place my body in alliance with peoples pushed to the margins in our society, culture, and nation. 

Part of the time outside the Twins stadium I stood arm-in-arm with my dear friend, Kathy Kelly. She had told me in the past,  “Where you stand determines what you see.” I would add to that, “With whom you stand can also change your perspective.” Following the leadership of Lena Gardner and Candace Montgomery of Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, the inspiration of Rev. Osagyefo Sekou of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the love and compassion for the water evidenced by Sharon Day of the Indigenous People’s Task Force, the passion of the action coordinators from the Black Liberation Project, and the insights and observations of my numerous Muslim friends has helped give this 65 year-old male who has for decades identified himself as “white” a window into a world of exciting and challenging diversity. Thank you!

As our signs read, “White silence kills.” Let’s break the silence among those who identify in our culture as “white” and recognize that racism against black people hurts me and you. Failure to include queer and transgender people diminishes all of us. We have much to learn (and repent for) from our indigenous neighbors. Muslims need to hear you embody a message of “welcome!” I don’t want to live in the mythical American “melting pot”. We don’t all need to blend together into some unidentifiable porridge; rather let’s embrace our diversity as we embrace one another and determine to reject the cancer of white supremacy which has poisoned our world. And, as Rev. Sekou beautifully and forcefully remind us in our training for “militant nonviolence”, we do this work out of “deep abiding love” and filled with “joy”.

          Night Trains: a free sample        
Before Twilight

I put the gun to the back of the woman’s head. The muzzle almost brushes against her bronze hair, once glorious, now matted and lifeless after al l the sleepless nights and the long journey on the back of a lorry. Her body quivers and she whimpers something in the incomprehensible gibberish of Yiddish.

It’s a beautiful day. The summer is so intense, so warm, so determined to stamp her full glory on the world before she’ll wither away in a few weeks’ time. The crisp, fragrant air fills my lungs, and I feel they could burst through my chest and float to the sky like two balloons. Above me, pine treetops spear the deep blue sky. There’s hardly any breeze to sway them. I have never felt so alive.

I pull the trigger.

A clap of thunder rings through the forest. And yet there are no storm clouds in the sky.

Blood, brain, and bone splinters rain on me, spray my face, coat the front of my uniform. Again. I’ll have to get it washed tomorrow. I wipe my cheeks with a handkerchief. The cloth is no longer white.

The women collapses as if the ground had suddenly disappeared from under her feet. A few short spasms convulse her body and then everything around me is still again. Only other thunders explode among the trees. No other sound intrudes. The birds are long gone, and the flies haven’t arrived yet.

The woman is lying a few feet away from a girl, seven, maybe eight years old, and a younger boy. I gave the mother a choice: which one of her children did she want to save? She took too much time deciding, so I shot the boy first, then the girl, and then, finally, her. By that stage, I suppose, her mind was already gone. Next to these three lay an old man, half his face missing, his long white beard matted with blood that has already started drying out in the warm sun. And further away, another woman. She screamed, tried to run, took two bullets.

I weigh the gun in my hand. The magazine is empty. I eject it and slip in a new one. Time for a break. I walk back towards the edge of the clearing.

Werner’s there, leaning against a tree, smoking a cigarette. He offers me one from a pack and I take it.

“How’s the pest control going?” he asks.

“Good,” I say. “Hopefully not many more today. I want to go swimming.”

“Yes, a nice day for a little dip, isn’t it?” Werner says, looking up to the sky.

Somebody, somewhere out there cries out. The shots keep on ringing.

* * *

The night is so peaceful and still that for a brief moment I can almost believe that none of it is real.

But it’s no use.

And so here it is, T.J. I made a promise to myself that one day I would tell you. I’m sorry it’s so late – too late–but I just couldn’t do it before ... Bear with me and you’ll know why.

When you’re listening to these words I’m probably dead. Or at least away. Far away. I’m sorry if it’s not making much sense to you. That’s because it all still doesn’t make much sense to me. It has destroyed my whole life, yet I still don’t know quite what to make of it.

But listen on. Even if you won’t understand, at least you’ll know, and for whatever it’s worth I’m now quite desperate for somebody to know. Having to hold it all inside has been tougher than anything else I’ve had to go through.

Maybe it’s better that I not tell you all this. Maybe it’s better if you remembered me like I was before. Maybe.

But the tape is rolling, and it’s too late for second thoughts.

So here it is, T.J.



It didn’t seem like the way my life would start to end. I guess it never does.

Just an ordinary station at midday. Walls of trees muffling the noise from distant roads, a dirty quilt of clouds, promising the rain that would not come. A world of its own, suspended like an insect in a drop of suburban amber.

All the smoothly dressed professionals working in the city were long gone, taking with them their rolled up newspapers, irritating cell ring tones, and bored looks. Schoolchildren were gone, too.

So it was just me, the platform, and three others.

There was a dishevelled schoolboy very late for school, swinging his legs from a bench too high for him, and a few paces away from him an unhealthy looking pensioner, his parchment-like skin tightly wrapped around his head as if his old skull were a precious gift. He was sweating profusely, suffocating inside a woollen coat two sizes too big.

And then there was an old man in a grey tweed suit, sitting on a bench against the wall of the station building.

Later, I would wish that I’d not have paid him any attention and forgotten about him as the train took me away. But now I realize that it wouldn’t have mattered. I don’t have the luxury of believing in coincidences anymore, and I know that if it hadn’t been that day, I’d have met him some other time.

So I can’t really curse myself that I suddenly grew tired of standing alone at the end of the platform and came over to sit on the bench next to the old man in a tweed suit.

* * *

Night. A different station. There’s no moon and no stars, all hidden under the dark shroud of clouds. The only light, a sickly bluish glare, comes from a few lamps swinging underneath the overhanging roof. On the platform, bundles wrapped in blankets and shapeless coats huddle against the wall of the building, barely distinguishable as human beings.

I strike a match and bring it close to my face. I feel the pale shadow of warmth on the palm of my hand as I shelter the flame from sudden gusts of wind. It comes violent and biting, like howling packs of wolves, travelling all the way from the deep bowels of a frozen continent.

The tip of the cigarette starts to glow faintly inches from my face. I inhale slowly and close my eyes. The tobacco is raw, fetid, and priceless. The smoke scratches at my eyes and flows down my throat like a vaporous sand paper. But it kills the stench of fear and burnt onion that hovers over the shapeless forms that share the platform with me. The one next to my feet stirs uneasily in its sleep, perhaps dreaming of home, a lost lover, or maybe just the warm welcoming darkness of death.

In a few minutes a train will slowly roll alongside the platform. An asthmatic steel centipede will exhale great clouds of steam as its wheels grind to a halt, and the station will erupt out of hibernation with a few frenzied moments of scramble and noise.

A man in his early thirties will step out onto the platform, a flowing overcoat with a fur collar hastily thrown on top of a drab olive uniform. He will look around, slowly and deliberately, a copy of yesterday’s paper tucked under his right arm as an agreed signal. Our gazes will meet for a moment and I will look into his eyes, burning in the pale lamplight with the sick glow of a morphine addict. He will take in a few deep breaths of the ice cold air, cough perhaps, and disappear back inside the carriage without acknowledging me. After the last drag, the cigarette will die under my boot and I will follow him onto the train, to the third compartment down the corridor.

I’m straining to hear that distant rumble of the steam engine, but there’s nothing yet. I turn my back to the wind and try to peer through the black curtain. The light of day, a cloud-covered sky and the rain that doesn’t fall are an unthinkably distant memory. So is the old man in a grey tweed suit. I can picture him in my mind as if I’d seen him only a moment ago, but he, the bench he sits on and the station - my station - are so very far away they might as well be somewhere beyond these stars that I can’t see tonight.

* * *

Although he was sitting down I could see he was small and rather chubby. His clothes were neither new nor fashionable, but they were tidy and well cut. Even the felt hat resting on his lap was color-coordinated with the rest of his outfit. The picture seemed just right; a perfect grandpa from a TV commercial shot in warm autumn colors through a misty lens.

There was a healthy glow about him that made him look at least ten years younger than betrayed by the whisks of white hair behind his ears and at the back of his head. His gaze was fixed on something in the distance, his thick rectangular glasses half way down his nose, overhanging a snow white, pencil thin, well groomed moustache that went out of vogue a long, long time ago.

I came over to the bench and sat down on the edge. He turned towards me, smiled and nodded. I nodded back, hoping that this would be the extent of our social interaction. I always hated small talk with strangers, with its fake politeness, fake concern and fake interest. No casual conversation with a stranger has ever had any consequences for my life. Until that day, that is.

“I hope it will not rain,” he said after a while, breaking the pleasant silence.

I turned and nodded in a non-committal way, but he didn’t elaborate and returned to staring into the distance.

I was just about to fall back into my thoughts when he spoke again. “I do not like these trains.” He turned towards me and added, “They are not real trains, you know?”

He saw the blank expression on my face and waved his hand impatiently.

“They do not have... how should I say it... any soul.”

Nothing mundane then. I was expecting a lecture about the perpetual lateness of service, overcrowding, or the schoolkids putting their feet on the dirty-green seat, but his was merely a metaphysical complaint.

“Those suburban trains; they are just glorified trams,” the old man went on, unfazed by my silence. “The real trains, now that is something. None of those electric wires, doors that open by themselves, and windows you cannot open at all. Trains were not meant to be like that.”

He hesitated for a moment, as if suddenly embarrassed by his exuberance. “But then I think that is what they call progress and I am just an old man who likes to complain, so do not mind me, please,” he added and a weak smile played briefly on his lips.

It was difficult to pinpoint his accent on a simpleton’s mental map of the Old World. I placed him somewhere in Central Europe, because it reminded me of a neighbor I once had. He was a stern-looking man who kept mostly to himself and listened to crackling foreign stations on his long wave receiver. For some reason he terrified me, though my older brother displayed an unhealthy fascination, imagining him a war criminal, hiding from his blood-soaked past on our quiet suburban street. Only when the man died and his estranged son came up from interstate to take care of his father’s affairs, we learned he was Estonian, a slave laborer in Germany during the war; a victim, not a perpetrator. That truth seemed to disappoint my brother. I would wonder whether in some twisted sort of way he really wanted to live next door to a pensioned monster.

“And one other thing; those suburban trains are just that – suburban trains,” I realized that the old man was still talking to me. “How far can these trains go? Just to the outskirts and that is it. Trains should be free like horses; go, go, go” he cackled. “Go across the empty fields, through forests, down the valleys...”

He paused suddenly and lowered his eyes, “Gosh, you must be wishing you had not sat next to me.” Suddenly he seemed almost bashful. His fingers drummed on the bench next to his leg, yet his face radiated with excitement, as if he had just won a hundred meter sprint.

I didn’t quite know what to say. “No,” I murmured, but meant yes, even if the old man seemed harmless enough. I glanced at my watch. A few more minutes of waiting.

The old man took a white handkerchief out of a coat pocket and wiped his brow. “You see, I was a stationmaster in Europe, a long time ago, during the war,” he went on, but more subdued now. “Do not get me started on trains, I can go on whole day,” he chuckled again, but it was a humourless response.

I bet he could. “I won’t,” I promised.

The train arrived just on time, its rumble breaking slowly like a distant wave above the white noise of the city.

“I–,” I stood up and pointed towards the train when it came to a halt in front of us.

The retired station master did not let me finish. “Well, have a nice day,” he waved me on. “Who knows, I might see you again some other time soon, young man.”

No promises, old man.


He was there again, one Saturday morning, some two weeks later. I forgot about the switch to the weekend timetable and found myself with twenty minutes to spare before my train was to arrive.

I was reclining back on the bench with my eyes closed, mentally undressing a girl I briefly kissed last night before she disappeared leaving me with her phone number. Things were looking good.

“Good afternoon, young man. I see we meet again.”

The girl vanished, and he was here instead, a rather poor replacement. He had a different suit on, a black woollen outfit with grey pin-stripes, as elegant but just as out of fashion as his previous choice. His hat was again resting on his lap, his long fingers caressing the felt rim. I didn’t hear him come over and sit down next to me.

“Indeed,” I forced a weak smile.

“Going to the city?” he asked.

“My car’s getting fixed,” I said. “Normally I would drive in on the weekend.”

He pursed his lips and nodded in apparent sympathy.

“By the way,” he said. “It is quite rude of me to chat with you like that all the time without introducing myself.” He extended his hand, “My name is Bartok. Franz Bartok. Like the composer.” he added with hesitation in his voice, judging me an inhabitant of a cultural desert.

“Martin,” I shook his hand. “Any relation? To the composer, I mean.”

If he were a maiden, he would have blushed then. “Oh, no. Not that I know, at least. One could hope, of course. It would certainly be exciting.”

His father was Hungarian, he explained, his mother Austrian (“God rest their souls.”), but he missed out by a few years being born the subject of the Austro-Hungarian Emperor. Seeing the empire didn’t quite survive the end of the First World War, that made him what? Pretty old. Hell, time had obviously been very kind to him.

“-drew a new border and my parents decided they would rather take their chances in the new Austria. We had more family there and they wanted to help, so we moved to near Innsbruck. My father used to work for the imperial railways, after the war for the Austrian railways. When I turned fifteen I too-” He paused, “Oh dear, I am boring you very much, no?”

I shrugged. “No, that’s fine.” I didn’t really care.

* * *

By the time Hitler had realized his dream of uniting all the German people within his Reich, Bartok was a station master in a small town close to the Swiss border. A year later, when the war broke out, he avoided the draft as his work for the railways was deemed essential to the war effort. He survived years of bombing raids, but his home was hit by a shell in the last months of the war, and his wife and young son were buried under the rubble.

There was nothing left for him in his small town, and so one day he walked away and joined the wandering of millions of others to find a new life beyond the ocean. He kept on working for the railways in his new homeland, retired some time ago and now lived alone in a little house on Alicia Street, not very far from the station.

So that was it. Just another pensioner with nothing much to do in what the marketing industry has ironically christened as the golden years. Nothing much to do, except to sit on a bench and let the sun warm your old bones.

And talk to strangers about trains.

I didn’t remember seeing him at the station before, but he insisted that he’d seen me quite often in the past. I rarely paid much attention to people around me in public places, so he might have been right. I didn’t press the point.

The train finally arrived and we said our goodbyes.

“Until the next time,” he said as he waved me farewell.

* * *

His English was pretty good for a migrant with no more than a primary school education. Those who came off the ships after the war didn’t have a lot of time to better themselves. Railway work didn’t make one a polyglot either. They lived, played and prayed among their own, and their English remained clumsy and basic, barely overlaying the inflections of their old corners, and betraying them as surely as did their mannerisms and habits.

Bartok’s speech was different. Yes, he would never escape the distant echo of his mother tongue, but the way he spoke, his careful grammar and the textbook vocabulary made him sound more like an émigré professor than a railway man. Maybe this determined young man with no family and too many memories keeping him awake had taught himself the new language night after night while his friends slept, felled by the day’s backbreaking work. Maybe.


I can’t remember what woke me up.

I was a light sleeper; it could have been anything. It probably wasn’t.

I pulled the sheets over my head and curled up in the middle of the bed, hoping to catch a lift back to the comforting landscapes of my dream country. But it was no use. My mind was now awake, even if my body still resisted.

After a while I sighed and opened my eyes. Square digital numbers were glowing on the face of the alarm clock, just some red shapes too blurry for me to read. My hand felt around the paper mountain on the desk, searching for my glasses. I finally found them wedged between books and computer keyboard.

It was two thirty. Too early to give up on sleep. It would catch up with me by lunchtime, and I couldn’t afford to spend half the day barely conscious. But I couldn’t sleep either.

A gust of chilly morning air burst in from outside and gave me a violent shiver. I leaned over and slid the window shut.

The night was dark, cloudy, and moonless. Instead, it was the pinpricks of street lamps scattered along the valley down below that formed their own giant Milky Way, as if the heavens and earth decided to swap places for a while.

Ahead of me and slightly to my right, at the foot of the hill, lay the train yards. A maze of tracks, with a scattering of old sheds and decrepit buildings, spread out over a few dozen acres in the valley. At night the yards formed a rough rectangle of pitch darkness, a black hole surrounded by the lights of suburbia.

All tracks led to the city, and all of them would pass through the yards.

Once, when railroads still mattered, the whole wealth of the state would roll through there. That time was long gone. The lines have closed and the economy now bypassed the yards. Property developers salivated over the inner city site, community groups dreamed of a new park, and the transport bureaucracy, the yard’s cruel stepmother, sat back and reserved its judgment, as bureaucracies tend to do. A few freight trains would still pass through, and the old rolling stock would come down to their own elephant cemetery, but it was all a pretense. The last night watchman had left years ago, following the realization that there was nothing valuable left to steal, and even the part-time Satanists now preferred the local cemetery.

The yards should have been peacefully asleep now. It took me a while to realize they weren’t.

Somewhere in the middle of the dark expanse a few pinpricks of bluish light shone brightly, teasing the darkness like the eyes of a predator.

I don’t know why I paid it any attention. The last man out must have forgotten to switch off the lights. I would have probably collapsed back onto the bed if not for the train.

The only movement I saw with any clarity were the bellows of steam coming out of the chimney. Almost as soon as I realized what I was seeing the train disappeared somewhere behind the line of trees and old warehouses.

The muffled metallic tattoo of wheels rolling on the tracks lingered on a bit longer but soon it too receded into the night.

The spectacle lasted maybe ten seconds.

Steam engine, I thought, how quaint. It was almost like seeing a dinosaur, and just as surreal, at two thirty in the morning.

I took a few deep breaths and I felt the sleep descending on me again, gently caressing my back and pulling a curtain over my eyes. I lay back on the bed and let the night close in around me. In my last conscious thought I realized that after the train had gone, the lights have gone out too and darkness claimed the railway yards once again.

I didn’t think about the train until breakfast. It then suddenly occurred to me that I haven’t actually seen it coming. Suddenly it was just there, running at full speed through the yards, and moment later it had passed and vanished, like a dream. The more I thought about it the less certain I was that I have really seen it.


I cranked up the air conditioning and wound up the window to escape the summer heat, the bark of mad dogs, and the quintessentially suburban smell of freshly mowed grass, which I despised.

I was driving back from my ex-girlfriend’s place. I had to visit and console her on the tragic and unexpected death of her mother. The mother had turned 45 only a few days ago and was returning home after small celebrations with her friends from work when she wrapped her brand-new Toyota around a power pole on a particularly tricky curve about one kilometer up the road from home. She was never a heavy drinker; her friends later said that she wouldn’t have had more than two glasses of champagne.

There were no other cars involved, and no witnesses. An old lady who lived across the road heard the crash and called the police. It took the firemen two hours to cut the body out of the wreckage. The accident got a fifteen second mention on the nightly news, just before the sports segment.

“They did the autopsy the next day,” my ex said, her head resting on my shoulder, half turned away towards the window. I had my arms around her, but it was nothing like it once used to be. “You know what they’ve found?

She had an undetected cervical cancer. The doctor said she would have been dead in twelve months’ time. It was too advanced, he said, they wouldn’t have been able to do anything for her.”

“Double whammy,” I said. “Shit.”

We were standing in the middle of the living room. The sun filtered softly through the curtains and the dust danced on the rays of light.

“I’m glad you came. I really appreciate it,” she sighed. She did not cry, and somehow I didn’t think she would while I was with her.

“Don’t even mention it,” I said rocking her gently in my arms. “I’m sorry it took me so long. I’ve only heard last night. From Jim.”

Sarah was the only one of my relationships that ended without tears and recriminations. We allowed ourselves to slowly drift apart, intuitively satisfied that it simply wasn’t to be, but not blaming each other for our disappointment. Later on, we didn’t exactly try to keep in touch, but we did not avoid each other either when mutual friends brought us together for an occasional celebration. We exchanged Christmas cards every year and sincerely wished each other all the best.

We talked for a few more minutes about safe and neutral things, and after the obligatory offer of anything I could do, we said goodbye.

I remembered the road works and the line of traffic I passed on the way to Sarah’s place, and driving back I took a different route. I didn’t realize quite where I was until I felt the jolt of driving over a railway crossing. Then I knew.

I put the indicator on and pulled up on the side of the road. A wave of oppressive heat hit me when I opened the door. I swore under my breath and yanked myself out of the car.

There was another unguarded crossing about fifty meters down the road. The gate was locked and it didn’t look like it had been in use recently.

A rusty chain link fence separated the grounds from a narrow asphalt sidewalk and the street. Wilted weeds sprouted along its base, adding to the desolate feel.

Twenty meters beyond the fence a row of decrepit warehouses rose up from the ground. Just like the railways they serviced, the warehouses had seen better times, ages ago. The new management had not even bothered to paint over the ghosts of the old writing. On one wall I could still see “Johns & Sons. Grain Merchants,” which in its prime must have stood out in bold black against a white background, but now gray was only melting into another shade of gray.

Only two or three out of a dozen warehouses seemed to be still in use.

They looked just as decrepit as the others, but their doors were open and a few workers were milling around, attending to old wagons. Further away, a forklift was unloading small containers from a freight train.

A railway worker was standing outside a small gate, about twenty yards from where I parked my car. He was a tall, prematurely balding man in his thirties, turned rich brown from working outdoors. The black oval sunglasses gave him a menacing insectoid look. He was getting the last few drags out of his cigarette and absent-mindedly kicking the dirt with his boot.

“Excuse me,” I started walking towards him.

He turned towards me and stared at me like a man caught doing something improper.

“Listen,” I said. “Do you still get many steam trains going through here?”

His body relaxed. I wasn’t trouble.

“Steam train enthusiast, eh?” he said. It sounded more like an insult than a question.

“Yes, a bit,” I lied.

“Not from around here, are we?” he asked. I couldn’t see his eyes behind the sunglasses but his expression was pretty blank.


“Well, otherwise you’d probably know that they took all steamers out of action years ago.” There was a hint of satisfaction in his voice, as if he was happy to disappoint another sucker. “Too costly to run and too costly to fix,” he added, trying to sound like an expert.

I’m not sure what sort of answer I was expecting but this wasn’t it. “I could have sworn I’ve seen one here quite recently,” I persevered.

He pressed his lips tightly and shook his head. “Couldn’t ‘ave been. As I said we don’t use ‘em any more. Switched to diesel engines completely. There’s still some steam ones running, but that would be up north, just for the tourists. None here.” He paused for a few seconds as if pondering something. “When did you say you saw one?”

“Oh,” I shrugged. “A few days ago. Actually it was at night.”

It didn’t ring any bells with him. He shook his head again. “There wouldn’t ‘ave been trains going through here at night. And no steam trains as I said. You must’ave seen a normal one.”

“Yeah, I must have.” I hadn’t. Normal trains don’t blow smoke.

“Yeah,” he said, eager to finish the conversation with a budding trainspotter who couldn’t tell a steam engine from a diesel one.

I was just about to walk back to my car but I stopped and asked one more question. “Do you fellows do much work on the nightshifts?”

“We don’t have any nightshifts,” his eyebrows rose betraying impatience.

“So no one does any work around here at night?”

“No. Why?” The suspicious animal stirred again.

I made a vague gesture with my hand. “It used to be busier, eh? The government’s not spending much on railways anymore?”

“Too right, mate,” he said. “Too right. The bums only look after themselves and this whole place is going to shits.”

This time I was leaving. “Well, thanks anyway.”

“No worries,” he waved his hand, glad to be left alone.

I was staring at my car when I saw a Barman’s Express van pull by the gate. The driver stepped out, slid the side door open, took out a carton of beer and passed it onto the railway man. My railway insider exchanged a few words with the driver while fishing in his pocket for some change. It was one o’clock.

Maybe it was all a dream. Otherwise I was stuck with a steam train that wasn’t there, going through the yards lit up by workers who weren’t working there at that time.

The day seemed to be getting hotter and I already had a splitting headache. I didn’t feel like thinking too much anymore.


He waved at me as I was descending the stairs from the overpass onto the platform. Instinctively I waved back, realizing too late that now I would be obliged to go over to him and have a chat. The angel sitting on my right shoulder was taken aback by my antisocial impulse. Get a hold of yourself, he whispered in my ear, he’s just an old man, not a child molester.

“I saw a train,” I said as I sat down next to him. It was one of those Freudian slips; I meant to say ‘Nice day, isn’t it?’

“Ah,” he smiled. There was a delicate breeze in the air and it levitated a rebellious strand of hair behind his left ear.

“It was a–” I was suddenly lost for words, “–a different train.” I didn’t know whether I really wanted to go any further. It felt vaguely embarrassing, as if I had to owe up to still wetting my bed. But who better to confide about trains than a retired station master? Please lay down on the bench and relax, young man, and tell me about your relationship with your mother. And about the trains.

“A different train,” he repeated, just when the silence was starting to become uncomfortable. His gaze drifted off. “Every train is different.”

I pushed my glasses back. On humid days like this they had an irritating habit of slowly sliding down my nose. “It was a steam train,” I explained.

His upper body rotated towards me, as if to make the conversation more intimate. “Ah, a steam train,” he repeated. “Not many of those left around. Pity,” he sighed wistfully. “They were the real trains.”

A sharp staccato noise made me jump and look around. A half crashed can of Coke was rolling down the platform. It lingered motionless for a moment and then drifted, pushed by a sudden gust of wind, over the gray gritty concrete of the ramp, past the yellow “don’t cross this line while the train is approaching” line and disappeared over the edge. There was a dull clink as it hit the gravel and then the station was quiet again. I turned back around. Mr. Bartok, no relation to the famous composer, was still looking at me unperturbed.

“You did not tell me before that you were interested in trains,” he said.

A half-question, half-statement. Of regret, perhaps.

“No, I didn’t. I’m not, “ I shrugged. “I’m not interested in trains. But this one was different.”

“You said that already.”

A truck with a broken muffler thundered somewhere close by. This time I resisted the urge to be distracted.

“I know,” I said, feeling more self-conscious with every word coming out of my mouth. I was ready to stand up and make up some convenient excuse, then leave. It was silly. “It was in the middle of the night,” I heard myself stumbling on instead. “Pretty dark. A moonless night. But I could see it, you know, the smoke–”

He nodded, encouraging me to go on with my confessions. “I looked out the window but I couldn’t really see it. As I said, just a movement; a black shape against the black background. And the steam coming out... Then a few days later I was passing by the yards and I started talking to this fellow who works there, and you know what he told me?”

“That there are no steam engines working anymore?”

I opened my mouth but before I could say anything Bartok leaned over towards me and patted my hand with his. “I am a station master – well, a retired stationmaster, remember?” he shrugged. “I know such things.”

He was right, of course. But my palms were sweaty and it wasn’t just the Queensland summer heat. “So what was it?” I asked.

“It was a train, “ he said. “A different train, as you said.”

“How different?” I pressed on. “Some kind of tourist train from interstate?”

He took out a white handkerchief out of the blazer pocket and wiped his brow. “You could say that.” At that moment I thought I could imagine him like he used to be, almost sixty years ago, the smiling, friendly station master. It’s twenty-five past four, madam. I’m afraid there will be a slight delay. Some little problem up the line. Terribly sorry. Say, aren’t they lovely children? You must be so proud. “A tourist train from interstate,” the retired station master repeated slowly. He was old again and sitting next to me.

“Have you ever been on it?” I had no idea why I asked this question.

“Oh, no. Unfortunately not.” he sounded almost apologetic, as if sorry to disappoint me. “Not on this one. I know it well, though. It is the 2:35 to Vienna.”


“Why what?”

“Why is it the 2:35 to Vienna?”

“Well,” his hand caressed the rim of the hat. “Because it departs the station at 2:35, and it goes to Vienna.”

The eyes are supposed to be the mirrors of one’s soul and I peered very hard into his to find a glimmer of insanity, or maybe just a senile dementia. But he held my gaze and the only thing I thought I could see was a flicker of amusement. I now expected him to burst out in giggles, wave his hand around and apologize for having fun at my expense. But he didn’t. He stood up instead.

“If you excuse me,” he put his hat back on and then straightened the wrinkles on his coat with slow and deliberate movements. “It is my tea time.

When you get to my age you do not want to miss it.” He put two fingers to the brim of his hat in an old-fashioned farewell. “As always, it was nice talking to you, Martin.”

I didn’t call after him, or try to stop him as he walked away. The metal tip of his umbrella clinked on the concrete with his every step, until the passing traffic drowned it out.

The train to the city was two minutes late. It was only some time after I stepped out into the beehive of the central station that I realized I had left my bag on the seat. I stood on the platform, motionless, long after all the passengers disappeared up the escalators. On the billboard across the track an unnaturally joyful young couple were engaged in a pillow fight, but I wouldn’t be able to tell you what they were advertising.

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          Day 222: Thor: The Dark World and What's Missing in Movies        
Just the other day I watched the 2nd Thor movie, Thor: The Dark World, in 3D. I have to say, it's quite a testament to the skill of movie makers these days, that they can take a big, hulking guy, in a red cape, that flies around with a giant hammer, and make it not look totally ridiculous. That's quite impressive. But that's not what I'm here to blog about.

What I noticed as I was watching a sweeping view of the massive vaulted ceilings and stone columns and ornate décor of the interior of their opulent Asgardian palace, was what you rather don't notice while watching the movie, or really in fact almost all movies, which is – where are all the slaves?

Now, what do I mean by that? I mean – who built these massive columns and chambers and ornate decorations? It certainly wasn't the main characters of the movie. And who makes their clothes? Their fancy ornate costumes that flutter and shine so perfectly like the utter symbol of regality? Certainly not them. Who cooks their food, does their laundry, cleans their bathrooms?

I never used to consider these points in movies and shows. I used to just watch and try to 'sink into it' in a way and 'just watch the show', but this would often just seem so empty. And that's because movies usually are quite empty as in not having anything of real substance within them. Like they are usually just trying to evoke some feeling or emotion like 'hope' or 'excitement' or 'romance' and in the end you're left with nothing but a momentary feeling. There is usually very little that actually has any relevance to life, but is usually meant to be a momentary distraction from it, to distract from the general disappointment with the status quo or with how our lives are going by for a moment taking us into some fictional reality which becomes a sort of coping mechanism, so that we can tolerate our reality for a bit longer, without ever actually getting so bad that we would actually want to change it.

So I had eventually lost much interest in movies, until I found that it is actually a cool tool to test yourself and your awareness of reality. How you do this is to simply watch the movie and as you watch, don't just 'sink into it' like a zombie where it is really then just your mind watching it while you are in like a trance state not really here, and see what you notice as you go what is out-of-sync with reality. This becomes quite a fun game, suddenly the movie experience is not so empty, and you are testing, exercising and building your awareness as you go. Suddenly watching movies and shows has become a self expansive and rewarding thing to do.

It's also quite fascinating and quite humorous at times to see just how far departed from reality movies and shows can be.

It's also interesting to see in what ways a movie does actually mirror reality, like for example with the Thor movie, and many others, where in reality we tend to take for granted all the 'behind the scenes' stuff like who makes our clothes, and we have a whole slave labor thing going with people working in sweat shops to make our clothes, which we then wear as we're trying to be the characters in our own personal 'movie' of our life, where our clothes are just costumes that we wear to 'express' our 'individuality', while disregarding the truth behind them, and the fact that we're all wearing the product of slavery, essentially.

Just like as we watch these movies, we don't even for a moment consider how were the fancy buildings built and where are the people who built them, and did they build them because they were slaves to labor, or because they actually wanted to build them? And the people who made their armor and their clothes, and cook their meals, and clean their rooms, why aren't they in the movies? Who mines the rocks, the metals, filters the drinking water, grows the food they eat? And this goes for the 'alien' races as well. If we saw that stuff, those inner workings of the system that we tend to ignore, would it change our perspective on those people? Like when we look at how all that exists in actual reality and is a result of largely forced, abusive and/or poorly compensated labor – it's not so cool is it? So no wonder we don't show that in the movies, and we only see the 'pretty parts', the parts that we've given a 'positive' value – the heroes, the action, the suspense, all the emotional and dramatic moments.

But what I realized is that no matter how awesome that 1.5-2 hours in the theater was, the same reality was waiting for me when I walked outside. Actually, reality has been steadily getting worse, while we tend to hide away in distractions instead of face what's here. Imagine, if we sorted this reality out, then we wouldn't care so much about having a moment's distraction, which only lasts for a moment anyway, and never changes anything. No matter how much of a positive experience I had, nothing positive had actually happened, in reality.

I'd like to see what movies would be like if they weren't just here to distract us from reality for a little while longer. Or if they weren't made just to make a few bucks off of our desire to be distracted for a moment more. We would certainly see a lot less horrible movies that were made purely just for the money!

So here, sharing how I've transformed movies and tv shows into tools for self expansion and made them something actually worthwhile and truly entertaining, instead of just distracting. If you too have noticed how just blindly watching movies has become empty, try it out and see what you see.

This is also a cool point for those who may have come across all the info that is out there about how movies are used to 'brainwash' the masses, perhaps by the 'Illuminati' or the 'powers that be' and such, because if you are sticking to reality and developing your awareness of reality and crosschecking with what you see in the movies, then you are certainly not going to be brainwashed by it. So, this is also the solution for those that would fear that point. The solution being to make sure you develop effective self awareness and awareness of reality so that you can't be fooled, and movies and tv shows which are essentially total fiction, are thus a great way to test and assist in developing that. So you take the tool that's been used to 'placate' and 'brainwash' the masses, and actually turn it around and use it as a tool for the development of your own self awareness! And, you can still find the movies entertaining, which I did find of Thor: The Dark World.

There are also other dimensions to how you can use movies to increase your self awareness, which I will likely blog about in a future post to come, so stay tuned for that.
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          Day 218: When Our Jobs Don't Pay, We Need A Living Income Guaranteed        

Here's a great article that in a lot of ways sums up what is going on in our labor system for the millions who are working low-wage jobs that don't pay enough to properly live: SeaTac’s minimum wage workers might not get their raise after all

One of the arguments against raising the wage is the businesses that won't be able to afford it, or may have to lay off one or a few employees.

But really – should businesses that can't afford to pay a living wage even exist? Otherwise what we've got is slave labor. And that is where the LIG comes in that provides the support buffer so that if you're out of a job for even just a moment, you're covered, and covered Far Better than Most Low Wage employees today, who earn far below a living wage, because the LIG will cover all your costs of living, whereas low wage even does not do that.

So you can start to see how having a buffer of a basic income can actually really take the pressure off of all aspects of our labor system, which currently is literally a life or death game. And this would take the pressure off of those who would want to have a business, because if it doesn't work out, which the vast majority of businesses fail within the first year, then it's not a problem, you're not going to wind up on the street.

And, if you really want to do something whether it makes money or not, you could, and still have enough to live effectively.

This would obviously result in aligning more people with what they'd really like to be doing. You could really follow your passion and have choice to do what suits you. I mean, do we really want people doing things that they really don't want to be doing? What kind of service do we get from that? The worst quality. This is why we have so many malpractice lawsuits, because so many of our doctors are in it for the money, and not because it's what they'd really like to do.

There's argument that having a basic income though would be a disincentive to working. But we are viewing this from the eyes of what is already here. I mean, what would you call disincentive? Being severely underpaid to the point where you have to take multiple jobs and still can't pay all your bills? Being short staffed and overworked, where the service you provide is often the cheapest it can possibly be and cutting corners is a requirement of the job so there is really no satisfaction in the service you're providing, and often facing disgruntled customers who don't like the poor service for the price they're paying when it's not like you are doing it on purpose? Receiving little to no paid time off or benefits? Where the company for whom your labor is making profits for has no regard for you? Where's the incentive in that?

Obviously our current situation is the main reason why people don't want to work. It's not that they don't want to work – they don't want to work in such conditions. Who would? Maybe only someone who has it even worse. But then, it's still not what they would really want, just the better out of two shitty choices.

Is this really what we want our labor to be like? There's no actual reason or need for it to be this way, and there certainly is no benefit. Investigate LIG, so that we can sort this out before it's too late.

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          Day 215: Happy Who-lidays? The Santa Story Complicit in the Abuse of the World        

Here we are coming up on yet another Christmas holiday and something quite profound has just struck me in regards to this generational tradition. Now, I was recently watching a video about fast food, in which it was mentioned that Ronald McDonald is most recognized by children second only to Santa Claus. I believe it was in this video here: The Dark Side of Fast Food: Why Does It Make You Sick / Fat / Tired / Taste So Good (2001) which was very eye-opening and informative on the fast food industry and it's impacts and so I suggest to watch it, however in this blog we're talking about Santa Claus, and this interesting fact, that Santa Claus is the most recognizable fictional character by children.

What this shows is just how pervasive the Santa Claus story is. Meaning, that many, many, many of us are raised with this story. The story of Santa Claus and how on he manages to deliver presents to all children. Well, just those who have been nice, and not those who have been 'naughty'. What shocked me about this is that in a world where billions are living in poverty and most assuredly do not get any kinds of presents at any time of the year, let alone have their basic needs met, what are we doing giving children the extremely false idea that apparently everyone is going to be taken care of, and if you aren't, it's because you were naughty.

I remember myself as a child, thinking, 'man that is so cool' because it makes sense that everybody should be enjoying themselves and be taken care of. But, the reality is anything but that. And more and more of us are feeling that reality as it becomes harder and harder to make a living and pay all the bills, let alone have enough for gifts.

It truly is an elitist holiday, as only those who are lucky enough to have 'extra money' can participate, and those who don't are just out of luck, and have to watch everyone else being jolly and giving gifts, while feeling bad that they can't give the gift they'd like to, because that is a big part of what Christmas has become, proving to our family how much we love them by buying them stuff. And this is no joke, we will experience these things, I know because I went through it myself in a rough year where I had no money for gifts and I felt horrified because I couldn't participate in the gift giving like everyone else, and I dreaded what others would think of me when I would receive a gift from them but they would get none from me in return. I feared that they would be disappointed, like they missed out on an opportunity to have received a free thing, because really that is what Christmas has become about. And that they would think less of me because they had given me a gift but got nothing in return, and I mean, we will think/say these things. And all of this is really petty when we look at what is really going on in the world.

There is almost no consideration for the consequences of this holiday, of all the slave labor that goes into massive amounts of products produce just to hopefully be bought as Christmas gifts. And where a lot of the gifts that are given are immediately thrown away because they weren't wanted. Or all the pets given as gifts that end up becoming strays or in shelters, have a look at these articles: No Christmas Puppies, Please! and Many pets given as Christmas gifts end up in shelters, animal advocates say, which shows how an idyllic picture in mind “of floppy-eared puppies peering innocently out of a colorful gift box” meets up with reality, and the cute puppy ends up in a shelter, where many pets are euthanized due to lack of space.

So if the picture of cute puppies in our mind helps us to ignore and not consider the reality of what having a pet and being responsible for another living being entail, then what affect does giving children the impression that we all get presents every year as long as we're 'nice' have, in a world with massive global poverty?

How sinister is it actually to tell such a story, when the reality is that there are children who won't even have anything to eat on Christmas day, there are thousands of children who will in fact die on Christmas day, and if we really cared at Christmas, we would want to know whether all children got a present, whether all children were able to be in a 'Christmas spirit' and enjoying themselves. Wouldn't we be outraged to discover that on Christmas Day, the day in which all children are supposed to get presents, that children who have never done anything to deserve it, are busy starving to death? Wouldn't we care that reality goes entirely against the beautiful, nice picture we're trying to paint? Could we really stomach it, to go on and pretend all this Holiday Cheer and niceness, while allowing such atrocity to be the real reality?

Could you tell the story of Santa Claus to a starving child who is living in abject poverty? Could you tell them a fat man is going to come and give them a present? Would you tell a homeless child on the street that if they are nice Santa will visit their cardboard box? Obviously not, because they are going to see the reality pretty quick. So why do we tell any children this lie at all? Especially when it's the children who are in positions of support who can then grow up thinking that life is good to you if you are good, and if you're poor you must have done something wrong, you must have been 'naughty' or you are 'just lazy'. Who grow up to be the adults who could actually make a difference in this world, whereas those in poverty are stuck in poverty.

What we are teaching our children is to believe in a fairytale nice story and ignore reality, but what this leads to is the problems in our reality are ever increasing, and eventually no one would be able to hide from it in a nice fantasy.

And all this may sound bleak, and that is because the situation is bleak indeed, and yet, all we need to do, it is so simple really, is to face the problems, and sort them out. And then we can live in a world where Christmas is not in reality a dirty lie, a world where all children really are supported, where you really are gifted with a life worth living, where Holiday Cheer is not something that's forced out of habit and fear of not conforming. I mean, it's like we fear more to be different and do something different from the crowd and what everyone else is doing, that we would participate in what we really can't pretend anymore to be a 'positive' thing, as it's become all about consumerism and is one of the most stressful times of the year.

You don't have to be a part of the deception. One by one we can set ourselves free by living the example that you don't have to go along with this mass illusion, and become an individual that shows that it really is ok to stick to reality, it really is ok to not have to exchange gifts and find a gift for everyone, it really is ok to let go of a fairytale, so that we can get down to earth and focus on making reality what it should be: A Joy for All Any Time of the Year.

The Living Income Guaranteed is THE Gift to give ourselves, as an act of real caring, to show that we are beings that don't just believe in fantasy utopian stories, but actually care to make reality match up to the principles we pay lip service to, and make sure that no child has to suffer at Christmas time again, to put in place the support that would make sure that all children actually could have a Merry Christmas.

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          Modern Day Slave Labor in the Fishing Industry        

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          A Culture of Insanity!        
great essay by a friend of mines

a culture of insanity!
by Khalif Williams

“The most significant damage done to the African was the colonization of his mind.” – Dr John Henrik Clarke on ABC’s Like It Is with Gil Noble. This statement made by the late great Dr Clarke expresses the root core of the dilemma of people of African descent. The only way to reclaim the aspects of our humanity stolen, trampled upon and utterly stripped from us by our oppressors we must understand the mind and psychology of those who do the oppressing. It is in this understanding that we can truly uncover not only what was has happened to our people, but it can also create an atmosphere of diagnosis and healing. From our healing and the restructuring of our paradigm a process of liberation can begin that cannot be thwarted by the machinations and manipulations of those who control our day to day existence. We can take an inventory of our successes and the mistakes we have made over the last 500 years of our interaction with our oppressors and our struggles for freedom in our respective places of residence both continental and in the Diaspora.
Europeans and Arabs as well have effectively commandeered the minds and psyches of their African subjects from the very beginning of their conquests and conquering of lands that didn’t belong to them. This colonization has created generations of fractured families, psychological conditions like Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome, deadly skin bleaching epidemics, children made to feel so inferior that the only way of life they see in their future is one where they are striving to transform themselves physically into their enemies by surgery or other “beauty” alterations. Another expression of this mental illness is a concerted effort to exclusively date outside of their race to genetically alter the features and bleach the skin tone of their offspring to match more closely those they desire to be like, Europeans. They try to attain a beauty standard they will never reach but this beauty standard is the yardstick used by people all over the world simply because Europeans have colonized most of the known world and domesticated them to a Europeanized vision and version of reality.
Colonization has also created racist, cold blooded hateful human beings unable to see the humanity inherent in other people because they are blinded by the inflated ego of an altered history. They are tainted by the disease of hate and moral ambiguity in reference to the treatment of those they have been taught by clergy, teachers, political leaders, entertainers, scientists, employers, law enforcement, the media, and their parents and etc are subhuman. This culture of insanity hurts the oppressor no less acutely than the oppressed, but by virtue of their dominant position in society and racisms gangrenous effects they are unable to see it.
Europeans through their total control of education and their false retelling of history have created a race based history altered to make them look like the torch bearers of civilization and religious consciousness while effectively destroying and subverting the history, culture and religions of the indigenous people and people of color they have dominated for generations. Some of the different forms of mental illness created by this dilemma has been outlined by doctors like, Dr Francis Cress Welsing, Dr Joy De Gruy, Dr Marimba Ani, Dr Richard King, Dr Yosef Ben Jochannan and many more. The most acute way this illness rears its head is in the intra-racial expression of violence and rogue criminal terrorism displayed by one member of the oppressed group towards another. Dr de Gruy has discussed the phenomena of oppressed people who tend to adopt a most violent posture towards their own people overwhelmingly more than they do the people that are the cause of their suffering. Some oppressed people tend to readily degrade themselves and their
people as backwards while striving to emulate every behavioral attribute including the disdain for their own people expressed by their enemies. A good example of this was the Sean Bell shooting where the majority of those killer cops were people of color. I have personally experienced harsher treatment by black police officers compared to their white counterparts. It isn’t all pervasive but it happens. If one can be trained to totally forget and forsake everything they are in order to “make it” in the world they live in then they have truly become one with a culture of insanity.
If European culture is insanity then at the fundamental level that humans define and perceive reality we, as Afrikans and people of color have a serious problem. If a cultural minority becomes the power majority and, this minority, through military, media, and religious might force the majority cultures to adopt it’s culture as their own, then insanity becomes the norm and is redefined as sanity. Accepting another’s reality as your reality makes their reality yours. If the global majority, are right then Europeans are wrong, how dare they stand in judgment?
Unfortunately as is the case with European cultural imperialism, if the insane can convince the sane that insanity is sanity, then the sane majority, become insane and insanity becomes universal and comes to be seen as sanity. Those individuals or groups that hold onto their original sanity become universally depicted as the truly insane (backward), and those who are carriers of the original insanity become universally depicted as the truly sane (modern). Indeed, Europeans are a minority. They currently represent less than ten percent of the world’s population and their numbers are steadily shrinking to an estimated 3% by 2073 – “The Cultural Continuum” Negroes and Other Essays by Mwalimu Baruti pg 39
The above quote discusses the process of mental colonization and how cancerous its spread can be. The quote also outlines the far reaching implications of this mental illness. Keeping in line with our theme of education or edited dictation from Journey 7 of Brothers Perspective the two main ways this culture of insanity was developed and then utilized on the unsuspecting citizenry was through religion and education and as we will see below politics.
Legislation is a piece of paper it takes more than paper to change the minds and paradigm of a nation. This is why the apartheid of Jim Crow was instated after Africans were so called freed by President Lincoln. The theory of race and the dynamics set forth in the legal and religious sanctioned terrorism and murder of blacks could not be abated simply by Lincoln “setting us free”. In order for there not to be a revolt by those white Americans who thought it their religious and civic duty to lynch blacks Jim Crow became the new law and order. To create a false atmosphere of seeming political change while embracing an ideology of continued psychological comfort of the vast racist populace of the United States so they could still hold on to and openly express their racist, violent beliefs. While blacks would still effectively have to “stay in their place” Jim Crow was the next logical step to avoid racial anarchy. Despite this truth we were and still are taught to see our kidnappers and former slave masters as our beneficent civilizers, spiritual saviors.
Though our traditional African societies were older and far more advanced than anything an ancient or pre-colonial European could have conceived of whether that was pre-colonial Africa or ancient Africa. In truth African Americans and whites in all honesty should have diametrically opposed views of the founding fathers because of the roles they played in the lives of the different groups that inhabit the country of the America. Does that diminish our allegiance to the country in which we live? No, simply because our survival is intrinsically tied to the survival of America. It diminishes our allegiance to psychologically crippling untruths that dominate the culture and wider educational system of the United States. It also diminishes our allegiance to the aspects of American life that adversely affect us as a race and keep us perpetually subjugated.
The reason our survival is tied to the survival of America is because we have not made the necessary connections, and in roads economically and politically with our African brethren in other parts of the world to create an economic, political and cultural situation of mutual benefit for Africans and African Americans and African Caribbeans independent of the European and European American machine. That was one of the most important lessons of Garvey’s UNIA platform through his Black Star Line and other programs this is what he tried to attain, a Pan African network of cross cultural, political, economic and trade exchange that would exclusively benefit people of African descent and give us freedom from the yolk of our oppressors. Malcolm X eventually came to the same understanding before he was assassinated. What we needed was a Black Wall street model applied on a global scale. Something other ethnic and racial groups have done from time immemorial.
Honesty can foster unity where lies foster pain, anger and dissention. Unity is not the intent of American society because to foster unity the system as it presently exists cannot exist. We would have to quite literally destroy it and rebuild it from the ground up because the foundations were built on glass. In other words American culture is a culture of insanity because it was founded on murder, genocide, forced kidnapping, enslavement, and the illegal appropriation of land that was never theirs. Yet none of us are to ever speak or acknowledge this history otherwise we are considered un-American. This false sense of amnesia in regards to how America came to be is one of a few things at the foundation of the issue. That is exactly what they did with the Bible Africans were NEVER to question that God put Europeans on Earth to dominate all other indigenous peoples all over the world. The first thing Europeans and Arabs did upon their arrival and conquest of indigenous people is to usurp their concept of the creator as we will see later in this essay.
For Native Americans the founding fathers are genocidal maniacal thieves and pillagers, For Africans they are kidnapping, mass murderous, genocidal slave drivers and thieves and for Europeans they are the frontiersmen and explorers, the genesis of a new way of life for those of their people under tyranny of British hegemony. The founding fathers are the ones who gave them a new land to exploit and colonize for their own benefit, political sovereignty and global expansion. This is why whites are able to selectively forget their atrocities and celebrate their colonization of this land as a form of patriotism. These differences in perspective from an accurate rendering of history are what a curriculum of inclusion would show for all to understand. But we are all trained by “formal instruction and supervised practice” to see these men through the same lying rose colored lenses. It is this lack of truth that makes race the pink elephant it is in our culture. Everyone acts like it is not there but its’ effects are felt and perpetuated ad infinitum though the clandestine institutionalized forms in which racism rears it’s ugly head because racism is not only about race it is more about acquisition of power.
As the two illustrious ancestors Malcolm X and his good friend the late great Dr John Henrik Clark said “Only the slave can truly set themselves free.” Dr Clarke said it even better in his book: Notes for an African Revolution: Africans at the Crossroads and I quote: “Powerful people never educate the victims of their powering how to take their
power away from them….the ideology of our former slave masters cannot save us. We will not truly be liberated until we are the instruments of our own liberation.”
A slave master doesn’t have the capacity to free the slave because the slave master can only see freedom from the perspective of the dominant group. A former slave must define freedom for him or herself and take that freedom or have control over the process like the Maroons of Jamaica for example otherwise they are NOT truly free. The dominant group’s freedom will always be a place above his former subjects. That is why there is the visceral opposition to reparations for African Americans to make even a 500 year head start white Americans have had in the game of life in America. Yet the Jewish community, Japanese Americans placed in concentration camps in America, and even Native Americans have all received some form of reparations for their own respective holocausts. When asked statistically most white Americans feel African Americans do not deserve reparations though they have the longest running most oppressed history of any of the other citizens of this country sans the Native Americans. That is the psychological conditioning of oppression from the oppressor’s perspective. Thus the form of freedom he gives to his former property will always be to his benefit, which is the case for African Americans.
Racism was and remains Europe’s most valuable export in terms of their ability to take and control the majority of the world’s resources. Even the victims of it are tainted by its cancerous plague like spread. Its’ maintenance is essential for their privilege and wealth to be maintained in the places they ruled in person or now rule as a long distance puppet masters. In order to truly understand the minds and the behavior of the oppressed one must study the oppressor. Once one understands their (the oppressors) psyche and the motivating factors of their treatment of others, then the victim can analyze what is wrong with his own mind and exorcise the sinister domestication of his mind. Without their own understanding of their own circumstances and how they got there, this ignorance can propel them towards participating in activities that are not in their own best interest.
Racism [is] discrimination by a group against another for the purposes of subjugation or maintaining subjugation. In other words one cannot be racist without the power to subjugate.
Racism is a European manufacture. They planted it and cultivated it everywhere they went. It is a tool of white supremacy that elevates Europeans and creates oppression and antagonistic infighting among the remaining disempowered population. They are global trespassers; it has become a universal phenomenon. They were its’ sole and remain its’ primary carriers. Racism continues to be replicated wherever they “discover” new untamed frontiers and “uncivilized” peoples. It remains where they have physically departed but have remained absentee resources controllers. – Racism, Colorism, and Power by Mwalimu Baruti
Police are needed to police foundationally corrupt communities in foundationally corrupt countries. The interdependence of the world and all that takes place in it tells us that if something is wrong with the head (government) then something will be wrong with the body (the states, towns, cities, families and individuals). One can tell the civility of a group by their lifestyle and, culture and even vocabulary. The extensive and all pervasive humane and genuinely spiritual people Africans were, is expressed in the ancient and pre-colonial records from Strabo to Count Volney, Diodorus Sicilus to Homer:
Traditionally African society was so remarkably nonviolent and crime-free that there was not even a West African word for “jail”. Indeed, this peace and general harmony of African societies amazed and awed early European and Arab travelers to the Sahara.
Africans built a number of civilizations lasting over 100 years without a network of jails and without a word in their vocabulary that meant “jail”. – (excerpt from Mwalimu Baruti’s essay The Cultural Continuum
The above is saying that historically in West Africa there were no such things as prisons because the society was inherently morally conscious and harmonious and universally so. The phenomena the prison industrial complex and even the word for jail came with Europeans and Arab invaders and conquerors. Their plans are apparent in their actions. As the prison, historical and educational records show. They (Europeans) originally made education illegal and punishable by death in order to keep Africans docile and subservient. Nat Turner was one perfect example of many of what an ability to read would do to the mind of Africans wanting freedom from slavery and terrorism. Christianity was not a religion of cheek turning non violent people. He used it’s tenets a revolutionary force that drove him to strive for change. I believe Christianity was a tool, the instrument of his awakening. For Nat Turner I think freedom was his true religion.
Thinking that one’s former slave master will truly give them the education they need is like letting a fox guard a hen house. Sadly too many people of African descent choose to play a secondary role if any role at all in their child’s education and as a result they lose their children to death or the system long before they even know something is wrong. Those of us African Americans that are suffering the worst, tend to take the least interest in using education to their benefit or at least supporting the education of their children. Or if they do have a vested interest they don’t have adequate time because of financial issues to be there for their children. Charlie Reese again sums it up best in regards to the connections between education and economic independence. It is exactly what is happening today.
“Just as a truly educated person is difficult to control, so too is an economically independent person. Therefore, you want to create conditions that will produce people who work for wages, since wage earners have little control over their economic destiny. You’ll also want to control the monetary, credit, and banking systems. This will allow you to inflate the currency and make it next to impossible for wage earners to accumulate capital. You can also cause periodic deflation to collapse the family businesses, family farms, and entrepreneurs, including independent community banks.
To keep trade unions under control, you just promote a scheme that allows you to shift production jobs out of the country and bring back the products as imports (it is called free trade). This way you will end up with no unions or docile unions.
Another technique is to buy both political parties so that after a while people will feel that no matter whether they vote for Candidate A or Candidate B, they will get the same policies. This will create great apathy and a belief that the political process is useless for effecting real change” – Charlie Reese
All the things outlined above directly affect the poverty stricken people of America, especially poor African Americans. We are demoralized and lack motivation to seek change because of our own unacknowledged experience in this country and our complacency towards and fear of a mental revolution.
Non Domesticated Thinkers:
“Those individuals or groups that hold onto their original sanity become universally depicted as the truly insane (backward), and those who are carriers of the original insanity become universally depicted as the truly sane (modern).” – Mwalimu Baruti
During the enslavement of Africans the slave master would make an example of the strongest and most rebellious slave in order to keep the masses of slaves docile by fear. In other words “If you act up and fight for your human rights you’ll be lynched like him.” That was the purpose of public lynching and castration and other forms of domestic terrorism performed on African Americans. If we can’t domesticate or educate you to be what we want you to be then you are worth nothing to us and are therefore expendable.
This form of psychological warfare was perfected as far back as Roman times and earlier. Romans had ingenious ways of killing the undesirable especially in a public spectacle of fanfare. Things like Crucifixion, The Iron Bull, and other forms of grotesque killing was used to keep the Roman populace in line with their Kings political agendas without any public opinion to the contrary being voiced. This same sort of public mass murderous spectacle was the strongest technique used for the psychological domestication of black people. They continued to do it through out history by killing off or imprisoning our leaders. Malcolm X and Martin Luther King were two of the most celebrated of our more recently publicly murdered strong black leaders.
Those who are truly educated enough not to fall victim to traps set by our consumer culture, or at the least are not lulled into complacency by it or they defy their own continued exploitation by a system that uses institutionalized racism in a subversively and deceptively covert fashion they put one in their place using the police officer. Law enforcement plays the same role in urban communities that the overseer played on plantations. Their role was organized terrorism and psychological conditioning through fear of the unknown. Africans in America always sat wondering, what was the next heinous act that they would experience at the hands of those who were supposed to be ensuring law and order? The Police officer in my opinion is really a policy overseer: they see that policy as set by politicians and local government no matter how oppressive or progressive are adhered to by any means necessary including brute force. The police force is an urban militia, the first line of defense to enforce laws on society. If the law enforcement can’t do the job then they call in reinforcements like the C.I.A., F.B.I. the National Guard etc.
The police force was used in the 60’s to legally and forcefully keep blacks in their place because of their race. This is how a culture of insanity manifests itself. Use force to get converts and once everyone is psychologically trained by that brute force to follow your lead you no longer need to use force. This is identical to the Pavlov experiments where dogs were trained by Pavlov and other scientists. Every time they fed the dogs they rang a bell. This was done over an extended period of time. The training was so effective that every time a bell was rung in the dog’s presence they would automatically salivate expecting to be fed, even when there was no food present. This is what was done to Africans. They were so well trained to stay in their second class position in society by 500 years of physical and psychological conditioning that now they do so of their own volition. But, every so often when those in control believe we have forgotten our place the police kill a young black male or two to remind us.
This system of peaceful coercion sometimes called domestication or physical brutality sometimes called policing is all geared towards making one think and act the way the dominant group wants one to think or act. Even ones perception of morality is dictated by the dominant group in society. At one time in America to murder and terrorize people of color was normal and enforced by law and religious sanction for hundreds of years. Whites were educated to be the dominant group who had the ability to use all force necessary to enforce their dominance. Blacks on the other hand were educated to believe they were inferior, sub-humans saved by the conquest of and subdued by the superior being, the white man who was ordained by God to be our owners.
Religion was the first tool of domestication used by European powers in taking control of the minds, land and resources of people of color. This letter written by King Leopold II is what I believe to be the true documented Willie Lynch letter:
Letter from King Leopold II of Belgium to Colonial Missionaries, 1883
The letter which follows is Courtesy of Dr. Vera Nobles and Dr. Chiedozie Okoro.
“Reverends, Fathers and Dear Compatriots: The task that is given to fulfill is very delicate and requires much tact. You will go certainly to evangelize, but your evangelization must inspire above all Belgium interests. Your principal objective in our mission in the Congo is never to teach the niggers to know God, this they know already. They speak and submit to a Mungu, one Nzambi, one Nzakomba, and what else I don’t know. They know that to kill, to sleep with someone else’s wife, to lie and to insult is bad. Have courage to admit it; you are not going to teach them what they know already. Your essential role is to facilitate the task of administrators and industrials, which means you will go to interpret the gospel in the way it will be the best to protect your interests in that part of the world. For these things, you have to keep watch on disinteresting our savages from the richness that is plenty [in their underground. To avoid that, they get interested in it, and make you murderous] competition and dream one day to overthrow you.
Your knowledge of the gospel will allow you to find texts ordering, and encouraging your followers to love poverty, like “Happier are the poor because they will inherit the heaven” and, “It’s very difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.” You have to detach from them and make them disrespect everything which gives courage to affront us. I make reference to their Mystic System and their war fetish-warfare protection-which they pretend not to want to abandon, and you must do everything in your power to make it disappear.
Your action will be directed essentially to the younger ones, for they won’t revolt when the recommendation of the priest is contradictory to their parent’s teachings. The children have to learn to obey what the missionary recommends, who is the father of their soul. You must singularly insist on their total submission and obedience, avoid developing the spirit in the schools, teach students to read and not to reason. There, dear patriots, are some of the principles that you must apply. You will find many other books, which will be given to you at the end of this conference. Evangelize the niggers so that they stay forever in submission to the white colonialists, so they never revolt against the restraints they are undergoing. Recite every day-“Happy are those who are weeping because the kingdom of God is for them.”
Convert always the blacks by using the whip. Keep their women in nine months of submission to work freely for us. Force them to pay you in sign of recognition-goats, chicken or eggs-every time you visit their villages. And make sure that niggers never become rich. Sing every day that it’s impossible for the rich to enter heaven. Make them pay tax each week at Sunday mass. Use the money supposed for the poor, to build flourishing business centres. Institute a confessional system, which allows you to be good detectives denouncing any black that has a different consciousness contrary to that of the decision-maker. Teach the niggers to forget their heroes and to adore only ours. Never present a chair to a black that comes to visit you. Don’t give him more than one cigarette. Never invite him for dinner even if he gives you a chicken every time you arrive at his house.
“The above speech which shows the real intention of the Christian missionary journey in Africa was exposed to the world by Mr. Moukouani Muikwani Bukoko, born in the Congo in 1915, and who in 1935 while working in the Congo, bought a second hand Bible from a Belgian priest who forgot the speech in the Bible. — Dr. Chiedozie Okoro
We should note:
1] that all missionaries carried out, and still carry out, that mandate. We are only lucky to have found King Leopold’s articulation of the aim of all Christian imperialist missionaries to Africa.
2] Even the African converts who today manage the older churches in Africa (the priests, bishops, Archbishops, Cardinals etc of the Roman and Protestant sects), and especially also those who evangelize Born-Again Christianity, still serve the same mandate. Which is why they demonize African gods and Anglicize African names, and drop the names of African deities which form part of African names; and still attack and demolish the African shrines that have managed to survive, e.g. Okija.
The second note above says that modern African clergy are now doing the job for the missionaries until this very day. It is unnerving to say the least how complete the conversion of some of our people has been. The sane have truly embraced insanity (modernity) to the detriment of their and their people’s future.
In studying the role entertainment can play in the colonization of the mind, we went from the Civil Rights Movement and Black Liberation Era of the 1960’s, almost immediately after their start the F.B.I., the C.I.A. and COINTELPRO successfully neutralized all concerted forms of organized struggle by blacks. This began the use of the medium of entertainment to usher in the Blaxploitation Era of the 1970’s. Super Fly, Black Ceasar, Hell Up In Harlem and other big budget films helped to shift the paradigm of African American thought from liberation to subjugation of their own communities through crime for financial success. To thoroughly crush any semblance of our ancestral memory of struggle the C.I.A in Los Angeles and the NYPD and other law enforcement branches across the country then infiltrated communities of color and urban communities with drugs via the Crack Era of the 1980’s and 1990’s. Movies like Scarface had an immense impact on the psyche of inner city youth especially impoverished African Americans. Documentaries like Scarface for Life and The Larry Davis Story by Troy Reed, Gangland on the History Channel and American Gangster on BET as well as Bastards of the Party by Cle “Bone” Sloan and Cocaine Cowboys documentary all speak of the impact of the organized effort made by different branches of law enforcement to bring drugs into inner city communities which served to psychologically anesthetize an already and damaged oppressed people and fragment their family structure with irreparable damage. The overwhelming role movies like Scarface had in changing the psychological landscape of African American thought from communal survival and upward mobility through education to a false sense of success through criminal activities glorified in cinema which took its cue from American History and current state of American Society at the time. The precedent for success set by these films and the societal landscape rife with corruption from federal government to local government and law enforcement created an atmosphere of embracing and mirroring the terrorism inflicted on us by our enemies under the auspices of trying to find a way out the hell of inner city life with self preservation being the primary focus of ones goals, rather than the preservation of the community. We went from a communal group consciousness to embracing the Europeanized solely individualized consciousness we still follow today. This is the same mentality that gives one the drive to sell drugs, and other detrimental practices and morally justify it in our minds. If that isn’t embracing a culture of insanity I don’t know what is.
In Conclusion
The fact that a prison term basically legally can make a slave out of you is as outlined in the 13th amendment this excerpt brings this truth home:
The United States Constitution Permits Prison Slavery and Involuntary Servitude
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime where of the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Prison by definition as codified in the thirteenth amendment of the United States Constitution can hold people in slavery and involuntary servitude. Prison labor is slave labor at worst and coerced cooperation at best. It is a growing phenomenon in the prison industrial complex.
Angela Davis Professor at University of California sums it up like this:
As prisons take up more and more space on the social landscape, other government programs that have previously sought to respond to social needs -- such as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families -- are being squeezed out of existence. The deterioration of public education, including prioritizing discipline and security over learning in public schools located in poor communities, is directly related to the prison “solution.”
Like Dr John Henrik Clarke once said on Like It Is with Gil Noble “The educational system as it is today is geared towards educating people of African descent to accept their own re-enslavement.” The re-enslavement he was speaking of was the prison industrial complex. Our lack of control over not only the education we receive but the quality of that education is what sets African Americans up for failure. Besides this our lack of autonomy in our own communities does the same. Most African Americans do not own the businesses in their neighborhoods so they are subject to the whims of the racist white majority in terms of making a way in America. If we owned our own businesses in our own communities it would serve as a buffer to our children since they would be interviewing with and working for people who are successful and look like them as well as live along side them and understand their struggle. Instead we send them to be taught by our enemies, to be given an inferior education and prepare to have to doctor their identity or sacrifice their identity all together and lose their cultural perspective to fit in a white world that doesn’t want them to begin with unless it can exploit them.
This failure leaves these people few positive choices for their own survival thus leading them to the self destructive path. Once on the self destructive path it becomes a revolving door of incarceration for the now criminalized victim. These are the things we must grapple with if we are to truly liberate our children from the fetters of inferior self knowledge which has a direct correlation to the incarceration rate which is as we have seen is the new slavery. In a culture of insanity one who adheres to the system blindly will always fall victim to it.
Education or Edited Dictation by Khalif Williams
How to Control People by Charlie Reese
Notes for an African Revolution by Dr John H. Clarke
Negroes and Other Essays by Mwalimu Baruti
The Destruction of Black Civilization by Dr Chancellor Williams
The Trouble with Africa’s Political Development by Chinweizu
Angela Davis excerpt borrowed from Third World (
Section from US Constitution borrowed from: Borrowed from: http//

An essay by Khalif Williams
          Eve Ensler and "Rape-Free" Gadgets        

In the Congo, explains Eve Ensler, militias use rape to fracture communities and the threat of sexual violence to coerce slave labor to mine coltan (a colloquial name for columbite-tantalite ore) which is used to produce capacitors that …

          No Lives Matter        
[T]here have been many publicized instances in which whites have been victims of police brutality or even egregious acts of prosecutorial misconduct (known as “railroading”). Of course, the white victims of blatant misconduct and abuse are disproportionately poor and working class.


While black victims of police brutality obviously run the class gamut, the reality is that African-American victims of police excess are likewise disproportionately poor and working class.

According to some Sanders critics, the Sandra Bland tragedy makes clear that race is not reducible to class. ...

While there is no denying that a job did not insulate Bland from police misconduct, abuse of power, or even negligence on the part of corrections officers, it is worth considering here that the purpose of race in origin and its ongoing function today was and is to denote one’s socioeconomic status as well as one’s value as a laborer. From the start “negro” and eventually “colored” were essentially shorthand for highly exploitable laborers who, by the second third of the nineteenth century, were deemed to possess distinct, innate traits that made them uniquely suited to perform “bad jobs” — the most obvious example being slave labor.

Eventually, and this includes today, those alleged traits were also what made African Americans uniquely “qualified” for mass unemployment and incarceration. For people we might call racists, “black” and “African American” — despite changes in nomenclature — remain shorthand for “poor person” and/or “bad worker” today. Thus even in the mind of the average racist, race and class are inextricably linked.

One result of this reality is that irrespective of black people’s individual accomplishments — and this is one of the things that makes the Bland case seem especially tragic — African Americans are often treated by “less than enlightened” workers in the criminal justice system, prospective employers, supervisors, school administrators, etc. in much the same way that poor white people are: as morally disreputable, intellectually suspect, and potentially dangerous.

If one views the excesses and failures of the criminal justice system solely through the lens of race, then victims of police brutality and prosecutorial misconduct tend to be black or Latino. However, if one understands race and class are inextricably linked, then the victims of police brutality are not simply black or Latino (and Latinos outnumber blacks in federal prisons at this point) but they tend to belong to groups that lack political, economic, and social influence and power.
See also. Or, if you prefer the version with riffs:

          J.B. Say argues that colonial slave labor is really quite profitable for the slave owners at the expense of the slaves and the home consumers (1817)        

J.B. Say argues that colonial slave labor is really quite profitable for the slave owners at the expense of the slaves and the home consumers (1817)

          What money?        

What can we learn from Pete and Repeat? Pete has been a law abiding American citizen. (The Dude abides.) And he has still found himself short on a dime in the new world economy. The old recession and depression cyclicality of economies has turned Pete into the same old Repeat. It's left poor Pete wondering where's the money? Show me the MONEY!

So, here's a lesson, Pete, about the new way to compete. Ask yourself "What money?".

This is a global economy, baby, you gotta dance around 24 time zones if you want to survive. Your money is not the same as the Aussie Dollar, or the Japanese Yen, or the British Pound. Your money is far different. Your money is an exact reflection of your local economy, right down to the door knocker on your domicile. If you could get the Treasury Department to put a new phrase on the greenback you better tell them you want it to say "This bill is legal tender for all debts within five miles of (insert your home address here)".

The only place your money is good is at your vicinity. If you want the reasons for this, ask the truck driver that brings the groceries to your local supermarket, ask your landlord, ask the neighbor's landlord, and ask the property tax man. All these dudes will tell you that the value of your money is a function of your proximity to these other dudes. They will all say that your money is measured in a widending arc from your front door knocker. For instance, ask the guy who lives in a penthouse on Park Ave in New York what his landlord thinks his rent should be and why? Then ask the Iowa farmer in the middle of a DesMoines sunflower field. The reason the address assigns the value to the legal tender is because you gotta pay to play, and some games cost more than others. It leaves poor Pete without a leg to stand on when he gets his paycheck, because somebody who's legal tender has more worth than his legal tender doesn't care that his buck is worth less... (worthless at this point).

How then, can Pete get more for his bucks? He's either gotta move from a higher area to a lower, and then move again, and then move again. Or he's gotta get his country, and the rest of the world to realize that this is how economies work, and do something to schedule and regulate the value and strength of his legal tender from one locale to other locales. It's creating an ratio in the currency, so a buck is really a buck, is really a similar piece of legal tender anywhere in that country.

Pete likes this because he likes where he lives. It also means he can curtail the practice of slave labor, which is what buying labor in a cheaper area is tantamount to, when a New York size dollar bill pays a person to make a pair of tennis shoes in Indonesia, or a telephone company hires people in India to spend an hour on the phone in America.

What money? Pete's money. Earned here, spent there? No sir. No thank you, sir. Pete says "Legal tender by trade schedule" should be printed on his money. Let's make it happen, Cap'n.

          Why I Am A Liberal        
Well, friends, I am starting to string some sentences together to start working on my next book, which will be called "Now, What's Left?"

The first thing I have to do is put together a book proposal, which is kind of a big job, but - the good news is that when it's done, you've really done the hardest part of writing the book.

So, in preparation for the proposal, I'm sort of synopsizing everything that's been rattling around in my head that I want to be a part of this book, and one of the things I ended up doing was making a list of the reasons I am a liberal.

I'm sure I'll think of more, but... here goes!

This is what being a liberal means to me:
·      I believe that freedom means freedom for everyone, not just me and mine;
·      I believe in not only personal responsibility but shared responsibility towards the group of which I am a part;
·      I believe that leadership does not equal dominance
·      I believe that every person is entitled to dignity and respect, not because of what they have but because of who they are – human. I do not believe that someone who has more than I do is more worthy than I am, and I do not believe that someone who has less than I do is less worthy.
·      I believe that each individual’s religious belief (or non-belief) should be respected, but it should not infringe upon others’ belief, non-belief, or personal freedom and that religion and government should be separate – for the good of both.
·      I believe that the qualities of tolerance and empathy are not the same as ‘moral relativity’ (whatever that actually means), but are expressions of the Golden Rule and moral values to which I am proud to aspire.
·      When people disparage ‘diversity’ (always said with the little eye-roll), I assume they prefer inbreeding.
·      I believe that there are some things that government is better equipped to deal with than private enterprise; that there is room for both. I do not believe government should be run like a business, and I do not believe that private enterprise should be run like the government.
·      I believe that the areas that include shared life-and-death resources (clean air, fresh water, safe food, transportation infrastructure, judicial and legal infrastructure, essential [not elective] medical care, military defense), and education for all, should be administered, overseen, and protected without a profit motive by a body that is accountable to the people – that is, government.
·      I respect tradition, but not for tradition’s sake only; I embrace change, but not change for change’s sake. For each I ask myself, “Is it necessary?”
·      If I claim freedom for myself, I need to extend it to others in return. Civil rights are rights conferred upon citizens, and civil marriage is one of those rights. No one should be guaranteed a religious marriage; that is up to the tenets of that particular religion and not the business of government. But civil marriage recognized by the state grants rights, benefits and responsibilities to married couples that all citizens who wish to marry the person they love should be able to benefit from – and be responsible for.
·      I believe basic health care is a right, and not only that, but a benefit to society that saves money to all Americans in the long run. I believe that national single payer health care, administered (but not provided) by the government, is the most cost-effective and fair way to ensure that no person is denied care because they can’t afford it, or goes bankrupt because of an illness or accident.
The argument that health care should not be called a ‘right’ because no doctor shoud be forced to care for an ill person against their will makes no sense. Emergency rooms are already mandated to care for anyone who comes in regardless of their ability to pay; the cost is astronomical and borne by the taxpayers anyway.
No one should die because they can’t afford care, and if the costs of medical care are shared in a large enough pool that includes healthy people as well as sick people, then medical costs will be more affordale all round. This is nothing more than insurance, taken to its logical conclusion – but without the profit motive that takes precious dollars away from health care. No other industrialized nation allows insurance for profit; even private insurance is non-profit. It is immoral to me to enrich myself at the cost of human health and life. Not only that but it is a drain and an expense that society must pay for in terms of lost productivity, lost wages, families thrown into poverty (and the public dole) – so it is actually cheaper and more efficient on many, many levels for society to manage health care.
If I wish to have a 5-star hotel-room hospital experience, or get elective plastic surgery to indulge my vanity – by all means, let the market take care of that! If you want it and can afford it and an insurer wants to make a profit from that, go for it.
Private, for-profit insurance for things like cars, houses, travel, flood, hurricane, fire and other things that you choose to have in your life that cost a lot to replace is perfectly useful as far as I’m concerned, but in matters of a human life it is unconscionable.
·      I believe that government is US – We the People – and, as flawed as it can be, it is answerable to us. Private enterprise in charge of public needs is NOT answerable to us (See California’s disastrous power deregulation and susequent grotesque theft from the people of CA for a good example of what the lure of the profit motive can lead to with public utilities.) Privatization is not the answer to what’s wrong with government.
·      I do not believe that the Invisible Hand of the Free Market will make everything hunky-dory with the economy. I think that is a willful misinterpretation from Adam Smith that Republicans accept as fact because it favors the interests of Big Business to do so. I do not believe that ‘free markets’ are free if all the power is on one side of the equation.
·      I do not believe that tax cuts for the wealthy create jobs. All they do is add to the deficit and give Republicans an excuse to cut social programs in the name of ‘deficit reduction’.
·      I do not believe you can ‘cut’ your way out of a depression (pardon me – a recession.) by belt-tightening. Just ask Hoover – or go visit a Hooverville. I hear they’re quite the ‘coming thing’.
·      I believe that workers have the right to organize and negotiate with the companies they work for. Otherwise, it becomes a race to the bottom for the cheapest labor – leading to the demise of American jobs, massive outsourcing and the demand for, not just immigrant labor, but illegal immigrant labor (basically slave labor) – as a business model! Union wages keep non-union wages high as well, leading to a strong economy where there are consumers who can afford to buy things that cost a little more. It’s a race to the top instead of the bottom.
·      I also believe in reasonable regulation. If we had had reasonable regulation in place over the last 15 years, we would not be in an economic collapse only rivalled in the last century by the Great Depression. There is a middle ground between micro-managing and reasonable regulation, but the corporate powers-that-be treat any attempt to oversee financial matters as the grossest of meddling, nit-picking, and job-killing. That, of course, is their strategy. It’s called ‘working the refs’ and it has worked like a charm for them. For us? Not so much. Even a football game has rules.
·      I believe that justice and the rule of law should not be for sale to the highest bidder.
·      I believe that elections should be financed by the public to ensure that politicians are not purchased by corporations and that the important work of our nation is not disrupted by 24/7 fundraising once a candidate is elected. I don’t believe a congressperson should be under the thumb of corporate money, and subject to the pressure of having an opponent financed by a corporation if that congressperson doesn’t ‘play ball’. I also do not believe that there should be a revolving door between Congress and K Street once that Congressperson leaves office.
·      I believe we overlook conflicts of interest at our peril.
·      I do not believe that military dominance of the world is the way to keep America safe.
·      I do not believe that we should ever pre-emptively attack another nation, and that war should be the last of last resorts in self-defense. Real last resort, not pretend, made-up ‘last resort’ that was actually the first resort. I wish there was no reason for war at all, but if we do go into combat, we should take care of our soldiers both in and out of the service, for as long as they need it. It is the least we can do for the men and women of whom we have asked the unspeakable. David Swanson is right; war is a crime. I wish I were smart enough to figure out how to keep our governments from engaging in them.

Well, it's a start...
          Watching the 20th Century, 1911-1912        
Dante’s Inferno

This was a difficult movie to get through for several reasons. One was time constraints -- at just over an hour, this is the longest movie by far that I’ve watched for this project. I now can no longer get in a quick movie over a single breakfast. There’s also the reason that the subject matter is -- albeit appropriate for where this story takes place -- depressing stuff. But the biggest reason for me is that the film dutifully recreates the visuals of Gustave Doré’s illustrations, complete with lots -- LOTS -- of male nudity (or almost full nudity). Dangly bits are always concealed, but there is only so much naked man butt I can look at before it throws me off my cereal.

That said, this film is pretty remarkable. It accomplishes a lot without CGI that would be totally CGI’ed today. People float around with impressive wire work. Beatrice’s scintillating halo looks like it’s achieved by shining a bright light through a big fan positioned behind her head. When you see Geryon and he’s obviously a model, it’s more of a “I want a Geryon action figure right now!” moment than a “wow, is that cheesy” moment. The demon costumes are pretty impressive. Forced perspective and split screens make some of the monsters, like Lucifer and Antaeus, appear to be giants. Everything else is achieved by using extreme long shots. Is that a tiger threatening Dante, or a guy crouching in a costume? At this distance it’s impossible to say.

Most of Dante’s Inferno is Dante walking around and getting to hear the life stories of the sinners being tortured. Most of these are only summarized in single title cards -- but two stories are acted out for us to see. One occurs in the middle of the movie, serving as an intermission of sorts, to break up the movie, but the second one comes, puzzlingly, almost right at the end.

Anyway, the Italians set the bar pretty high with this production. Now back to American movies of 1911 to see what they were getting done!

Fighting Blood

*Sighs*...yeah, this is what American movies were doing at the time. D. W. Griffith churned out a Western here with a little family drama mixed in. By our modern perspective, we understand that Tuttle is a crazed militiaman squatting on Indian lands, and the fact that he punches his son in the face doesn’t make him any more likeable. It’s only the cute little kids you root for when the Indians attack.

The real interesting thing here is the aerial footage of the attack. It’s filmed from a stationary position, so it’s not a flyby. Is the cameraman leaning over a cliff to takes these shots?

The Indian Brothers

If I follow this short D.W. Griffith film, Indian refugee comes and asks the chief of a tribe if he can join them, gets mocked for wearing a skirt and is given a dress to wear, goes berserk, turns into Gollum (he starts crawling around like Gollum, anyway), and kills the chief. The chief’s brother (they’re both dressed as chiefs, so they must have been co-leaders) says “This time, it’s personal!” and chases after the killer. The chase moves from on foot to on horseback, and some Indians the killer stole his horse from get into the chase. The chief’s brother has a territorial dispute with the horse owners, wins it with a knife fight, and then drags the killer back home to kill him in front of his brother’s funeral pyre. I’m ...60% sure that all happens, and probably made it sound better than it was.

Lady Godiva

Spoilers - you don’t see her naked. Instead, the movie follows the drunken pervert who tries to invent the peep show, but gets so excited he dies from a heart attack (or God smotes him down, or something). I cheated for this one, watching it even though it was nine minutes (by my rules, it should be at least eleven).

His Trust and His Trust Fulfilled

Essentially a remake of “Swords and Hearts”, which I’d reviewed before, but D.W. Griffith starts to double down on the racism here. While I had praised Swords and Hearts for putting a black character in a heroic action role, I can’t praise the same thing here because a) while it was more ambivalent in the previous film, the blacks are clearly slave labor in this one, ) the blackface makeup, more convincing in the previous film, looks cartoonish here, c) George’s (the slave butler) motivations are not clearly paternal enough -- I would have been perfectly fine with George sacrificing his life to raise a white girl if she was like a daughter to him, but the title makes it pretty clear that we’re supposed to accept this is the black man’s burden to serve a white man even after his death, d) instead of raising the girl himself, George has to turn the girl over to a white couple he pays to raise her -- it seems REALLY weird, looking back, that it was considered too taboo for audiences to see a black man raise a white girl, but it’s okay later when her cousin shows up to woo her once she’s an adult. And e) there’s no payoff to this movie! George just goes home to die and the girl never finds out about all she did for him.


The Invaders

This movie tries, and almost succeeds, at being a war epic. Two pairs of lovers, a lieutenant and a colonel’s daughter and a white assayer and an Indian chief’s daughter, are caught in the struggle of federal government vs. native Americans. The movie is as ambivalent towards who the true invaders are as the title suggests. It gets its history pretty much right, showing the feds making treaties to give the natives some sovereign land, and then casually ignoring those treaties later. The Sioux seem pretty wimpy at first, as it takes them over an hour to beat five white men. After that, I thought there would be no suspense to this film. But then the Sioux team up with a bigger tribe and wipe out most of the nearby Army garrison. There is a powerful climax as the besieged fort colonel has to decide how to use his last bullet.

I’m unsure if this movie used all authentic Indian actors, or a combination of Indians and whites in make-up. There’s one brave who had a dark face but suspiciously white arms. Ethel Grandin, then just 18, really rocked the corset look, and her father the colonel is none other than Francis Ford, then already 31 and directing films, as well as being a charismatic presence on screen.

The Copper Beeches

This is one of my favorite Sherlock Holmes stories, and the Jeremy Brett TV adaptation was a masterpiece, so it was both disappointing and baffling that this 1912 adaptation -- supposedly done under the direct supervision of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself -- is so awful. Perhaps assuming that everyone had already read spoilers, the story is presented in chronological order, giving away the story’s big reveal right at the beginning. Worse, when Holmes does show up, he is shown right to the door where the missing girl is right away -- and incredibly, instead of opening it -- ignores the door and proceeds to look for clues as to the motive for why the girl is locked in there. And then,instead of arresting the father for abusing his daughter, Holmes waits until Rucastle tries to murder the boyfriend and only then has Rucastle arrested. The rest of this original 1912 series of Holmes adaptations are all missing; one can only presume they were all as terrible.
          Why ‘Corporate Responsibility’ Campaigns Fail        

Michelle Chen

Despite decades of outrage over sweatshops and slave labor, the problems in the global supply chains remain.

The post Why ‘Corporate Responsibility’ Campaigns Fail appeared first on The Nation.

          Nestle is not for girls        
Nestle is in all sorts of trouble in the PR area. I guess. It hasn't stopped them from being one of the largest food distributors in the world, which is maybe why the twibbons haven't influenced them yet. In case you haven't heard, they're accused of endangering the lives of third world children through misleading advertising and marketing that goes against World Health Organization standards. Not to mention slave labor.

Here, they are something like Coca Cola. Ubiquitous and seemingly innocuous. But due to a Christmas care package my parents put together for my husband, I recently fell victim to their seedy advertising. Just look at this candy bar.

What's with the 'o'? Normally, I don't look at candy bar wrappers all that closely. Examining them brings me to the nutritional information and that is the last thing I'm concerned about when unwrapping chocolate. But just in case the fancy girl buster logo wasn't clear enough, they spelled out the weirdest marketing ploy I have ever seen stamped on a piece of candy.

Now what is in a chocolate bar that is NOT for girls you ask? I was expecting something strong. Bold. Like maybe chock full of nuts you had to shell with your teeth or something. Instead, it was just plain old milk chocolate. Mediocre milk chocolate at that.

So guys . . . you can keep your Yorkies. I'll consume my empty calories with something a little more . . .lila.

          Books to Read If You Can't See Hamilton!         
Hamilton is huge as most of you know. So huge that it's very hard to get tickets.  So if you can't see the musical, here's some books you could maybe read instead!

First to learn about the man and how he influenced our country.

The Making of American: Alexander Hamilton
by Teri Kanefield

The America that Alexander Hamilton knew was largely agricultural and built on slave labor. He envisioned something else: a multi-racial, urbanized, capitalistic America with a strong central government. He believed that such an America would be a land of opportunity for the poor and the newcomers. But Hamilton’s vision put him at odds with his archrivals who envisioned a pastoral America of small towns, where governments were local, states would control their own destiny, and the federal government would remain small and weak.

The disputes that arose during America’s first decades continued through American history to our present day. Over time, because of the systems Hamilton set up and the ideas he left, his vision won out. Here is the story that epitomizes the American dream—a poor immigrant who made good in America. In the end, Hamilton rose from poverty through his intelligence and ability, and did more to shape our country than any of his contemporaries.

If you want to learn more about who Alexander Hamilton was and how he shaped the United States, this would be a great place to start.  It starts with his childhood and goes on hitting the highlights of his life.  The writing is simple and straightforward, so completely perfect for middle grade and older.  At the end of the book is a timeline of his life, endnotes for each chapter and a list of other places to look for information on Hamilton.  Great book! 

If you want more of a story - a love story!

Alex and Eliza: A Love Story
by Melissa De La Cruz

Their romance shaped a nation. The rest was history.

1777. Albany, New York. 

As battle cries of the American Revolution echo in the distance, servants flutter about preparing for one of New York society’s biggest events: the Schuylers’ grand ball. Descended from two of the oldest and most distinguished bloodlines in New York, the Schuylers are proud to be one of their fledgling country’s founding families, and even prouder still of their three daughters—Angelica, with her razor-sharp wit; Peggy, with her dazzling looks; and Eliza, whose beauty and charm rival that of both her sisters, though she’d rather be aiding the colonists’ cause than dressing up for some silly ball. 

Still, she can barely contain her excitement when she hears of the arrival of one Alexander Hamilton, a mysterious, rakish young colonel and General George Washington’s right-hand man. Though Alex has arrived as the bearer of bad news for the Schuylers, he can’t believe his luck—as an orphan, and a bastard one at that—to be in such esteemed company. And when Alex and Eliza meet that fateful night, so begins an epic love story that would forever change the course of American history.

When I got a copy of this in the mail my daughter - a huge Hamilton fan - tore it out of my hands and claimed it.  She also immediately Snapchatted a pic to her friends.  Let's just say she was excited.  So if you want to know about the relationship between Alexander and Eliza this is one you'll need to check out.  

          10-Stitch Blanket but 0-Stitch Brains...        

Has anybody attempted/finished a 10-stitch blanket such as ? I've tried and frogged 4 times now. I can't get past the corner stuff. It's either too many instructions, or too many new concepts for a newbie, or I'm missing something, or whatever. I've tried looking for a video of it being made, to no avail. My next step is child slave labor.


          Quote of the Time Being: Secession        
Normally, when someone makes a joke about letting Texas secede from the US, I tend to make a comment along the lines of, "Okay, but give me some warning so I can move out, first." But Vicki provides a good reason to never seriously consider allowing any nutty state to secede:

When you say “let them secede” you’re also saying “let them beat gay people to death, let them imprison women for having miscarriages, let them imprison poor blacks on dubious charges and then use them as slave labor.” They’re doing too much of that already: do you really think an independent, right-wing south wouldn’t be worse? Think about that runaway gay sixteen-year-old: they might manage to hitchhike or pay for a bus ticket to someone whetter, but they’re not going to have a passport to get them to what’s left of the United States.

          Introduction: Visuality's Romantic Genealogies        
December 2014

Introduction: Visuality’s Romantic Genealogies

Theresa M. Kelley
University of Wisconsin-Madison

1.        The five essays gathered in this Praxis volume, together with exhibits in the new Romantic Circles Gallery, including two developed by Lucy Kimiko Hawkinson Traverse and Matthew Rarey, whose essays also appear in this volume, recognize what we have come to understand as the wide cultural reach of Romantic visualities, as manifold and often divergent impulses that join the cultural moment of Romanticism to our own. This Praxis volume and the new Gallery exhibits together convey how we have begun to understand Romanticism’s visual cultures, and gesture toward work that awaits future contributors who seek to understand how visuality conducts its operations across Romantic culture.

I. Romanticism’s Emergent Counter-Visualities

2.        Visuality, we might say, is not merely a feature of the contemporary, nor does it reduce to the visible or the social facts of the visible. As Nicholas Mirzoeff elaborates in The Right to Look: A Counterhistory of Visuality (2011), the descriptive force of the very term emerges importantly not just with contemporary critical theory (xiii-xvi; 1-34). Its history stretches back before its key turning point use, in Hal Foster’s edited collection Vision and Visuality (1988), to insist on the constitutive interlining of vision by the changing “social fact” of visuality—that is, to understand vision as riven by differences. [1]  This apparently modish critical neologism that initiated a reckoning with vision as historically and culturally embedded has its own histories and counter-histories. [2]  It enters official English in the writings of historian Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) to characterize a tradition of heroic leadership and its claimed capacities for visualization from the literal battlefield to the terrain of history writing, from the political to the aesthetic. [3]  It is a term for the seemingly “ineluctable” force of strategies of visualization that undergird autocratic authority, making it appear natural and inevitable. [4]  In his homage to the “Hero,” Carlyle’s prime example of the political capacity of “clear visuality” to render an authoritarian, great-man version of history with gripping and yet naturalizing intensity is Dante’s Divine Comedy in which: “every compartment of it is worked out, with intense earnestness, into truth, into clear visuality” (Carlyle 79).

3.        To mark this late Romantic site as the first modern use of the term “visuality” is not merely to argue that visuality as a modality of power (from the oversight of the slave plantation complex through imperialism and its division of the sensible to the sense of visuality as war) has a history. It is also to find a pivot point around which to re-narrate the emergence of counter-visualities, important historical instances of the contestatory claim to the “right to look” (beginning, one may argue, with slave revolts in the Caribbean that led to the Haitian revolution and extending, one might imply, to there being something “queer”—a term for the off-center with its own nineteenth-century etymologies—about the appropriation of rights and rites of inspection by those who are held to be its discriminated objects). [5]  This volume participates in the excavation of the Romantic genealogies of visuality and its contestations in practice while also attending to other imminent possibilities within a reconfigured field of Romanticism, one opened and stretched geographically, temporally, and beyond the bounds of the disciplinary division of objects. That is, besides the important claiming of the right to look, this volume also considers counterpoints that texture and complicate the story of visuality’s emergence. Such a reconfiguration brings newly into view not merely a different array of “objects” of and for Romanticism but also reposes the question of their ethical, political, and aesthetic stakes in the past as well as for our present.

4.        Two decades ago it was still possible to suppose that Romanticism referred wholly to visionary experience and poetics, and that its locus was squarely in the European metropole. The point of William Galperin’s The Return of the Visible in British Romanticism (1988) was not to suggest that the visible had ever left town (and here he means London), but that its presence in Romantic culture had hardly been noticed. As Galperin did note, however, it was precisely because the aesthetic representation of the visible took so many forms and commanded so much public attention that Coleridge felt he had to warn against the “despotism of the eye” and Wordsworth had to insist that he had never been “infected” by the rage for the picturesque. [6]  These gestures we now recognize as defensive maneuvers against a complex global Romantic culture that was at once very visual, spectacularly so, and very public. That is, we can understand these gestures as part of the internal roilings within dominant modalities of Romantic visuality and its critique of what has more recently been called “ocularcentrism.” [7] 

5.        The essays in this volume approach the question of visuality’s Romantic genealogies by addressing an arresting affiliation between interiority and invisibility and the highly visual, spectacular Romanticism that we now recognize as a persistent element in Romantic culture. The thread that binds and weaves between these Romanticisms is a shadowed recognition of an “other” that visuality seeks to control, but which may also be implicit or occulted. What makes Romantic visuality compelling is, we contend, not a sudden departure from a line of objectivist thinking about vision, but the continuing modern exploration of the suppositionality of vision, combined with deepening recognition of the difficulty of conveying the remarkable and remarkably resistant character of the physical world and the precarious desire of the European observer who seeks to manage that world as though separated from it. In Romantic visuality what is spectral or invisible, half seen at the edges of vision and understanding, presses on both the technologies of the visible and the global encounters with others that “shadow so much of Romantic culture” (Casid 1-34).

6.        The spectral otherness of Romantic visuality is difficult to put aside precisely because it operates so close to the bone of scientific visuality and a metropolitan European culture keen for news and images from the global wars that the English and their European counterparts waged. [8]  Romantic visuality’s odd and estranged relation to what is hidden or desired lurks at the edges of the visual frame. The complex refracted relation between the visible and its others sets the stage, at once philosophical and cultural, for a surprising but compelling affiliation between this visibility and the Romantic critique of ocularcentrism. If the geneaology of the critique of embodiment and vision begins millenia earlier in the debate about seeing and the imagination that Plato, Aristotle, and Augustine begin and Locke extends, its Romantic instantiation includes Hegel’s critique of sense certainty, especially vision—a critique complexly entwined with his use of visual metaphor to characterize the liabilities of phenomenal vision understood as the ground of knowledge. Hegel’s critique specifically registers the problem of the “other” for the metropolitan European Enlightenment subject. [9]  For Hegel, visionary possibilities, even if we reject them, train the mind to look beyond empirical sight in much the way that, we suggest, Romantic experiments with the “otherness” of visibility invited seeing otherwise. The wider Romantic address to the “other” involves Hegel’s dance with spectral “phenomena,” and much more: new techniques for manipulating the real and the appearance of the real; and many reasons for hiding or obscuring what might be seen—among them that indicated by the dark side of the Abbé Raynal’s L’Histoire des deux indes (1770): the global reality of slavery and other instrumentalizations of the human. [10] 

II. Technologies of vision and objectivity’s slippages

7.        If scientists and their illustrators imagined objectivity as an empirical and verifiable standard of representation, achieving objectivity was also a difficult project in practice. [11]  Among those for whom emerging standards of scientific and ocular objectivity were important, botanical illustrators toggled between their putative object of study, the specimen, and the work of other illustrators. This odd arrangement was in part motivated by the taxonomic inquiry that such images were supposed to illustrate: the plant depicted had to convey the taxonomic traits or “character” of its species (Nickelson 188-215). Artists copied other artists to get as close as possible to a full and accurate species image, but perhaps also to save time as they competed in a hotly competitive market for botanical illustration. Fidelity to the established system for identifying and naming the species in question set its own formal terms: artists who drew or engraved plants for Linnaean botanists were expected to depict its floral parts in detail, typically in separate, schematic drawings on the same sheet or plate.

8.        The force of formal constraint as its own technique for attaining the appearance of “scientific” objectivity may be traced in the collaboration on the publication of English Botany (1790-1813) between Sir J. E. Smith, first president of the Linnean Society of London, and James Sowerby, one of the principal artists and engravers of works on natural history. The two corresponded regularly about drawings and descriptions for the thirty-six volumes of English Botany, which appeared serially over a twenty-five year period. To indicate a set of distinctions between two closely related species that an initial drawing failed to offer, Smith explained to Sowerby what the leaves of the species under consideration looked like under magnification so that the drawing might be altered to reflect this information; he also directed Sowerby’s application of color, noting in some cases that holding up a plant to the light or even adding water to the specimen to make it look bigger will show its “true color.” If magnification by microscope or adding water does not quite approach the scalar excess of the huge flowers depicted in Robert Thornton’s The Temple of Flora (1799-1807), neither is it a straightforward brief for copying the plant specimen at hand. Instead, magnification and other alterations with light and water functioned as techniques for making specimens yield up the effects of the “true” unavailable to naked observation from the “life” and yet claimed to be merely inherent (Kelley 72-73). [12] 

9.        We might say that technologies of vision for the production of “objectivity” were internally given the slip by the very devices of scalar alteration on which they depended. Technologies devised to assist the creation of accurate, putatively objective records become inevitably entwined with the reversibility of their operations of attentive particular focus (a kind of miniaturization) and magnification. The use of microscopes to magnify plant cells, as Franz Bauer did at Kew from 1800 on, suggest one side of the scalar extremes that bind diverse forms of Romantic visibility, from miniature images and writing, to scalar exaggerations and tricks used in the eidofusikon and the panoramas. Such devices slide easily between what might be called a recognizably human scale and its various others: forms so small or so obscure they cannot be seen (or imagined) without visual amplification (or suggestion). Wordsworth’s presentation of London shop signs in the Prelude, Book 7, insist both that the slippage at issue is between the human and something extra-human and that this slippage is pitched toward the consuming subject:

The comers and the goers face to face—
Face after face—the string of dazzling wares,
Shop after shop, with symbols, blazoned names,
And all the tradesman’s honours overhead:
Here, fronts of houses, like a title-page
With letters huge inscribed from top to toe;
Stationed above the door, like guardian saints,
There, allegoric shapes, female or male,
Or physiognomies of real men,
Land-warriors, kings, or admirals of the sea,
Boyle, Shakespeare, Newton, or the attractive head
Of some Scotch doctor, famous in his day. (The Prelude [1805] Book 7, ll. 172-183)

10.        Sophie Thomas’s essay in this volume, “Representing Paris: History and Actuality at the London Panoramas,” considers the Romantic panorama, perhaps the most extravagant of Romanticism’s visual spectacles, by emphasizing its claims to represent reality in an all encompassing visual form—albeit one we now experience via textual remainders such as maps and descriptions—that appears to have found its métier in the presentation of wartime episodes. Not incidentally, as Thomas makes clear, the goal of representing history—particularly recent history—as fact was crosscut by two counter-impulses: the need to adapt facts to national and propagandistic protocols, and the use of illusion and disorienting complexity to insist on the thick actuality of the spectacle. Whether it was London and the English as seen in Parisian panoramas, or Paris and the French as seen in London panoramas, war and specific battle scenes were popular, and for that reason, repeatedly made into panoramas that staged what Mary Favret has called “war at a distance,” to characterize how most Romantic audiences experienced the ongoingness of war in their time and as such gesture toward our modern experience of war as news and propaganda. Premier among those staged spectacles in its use of effects to promote the illusion of its factuality, the panorama works in part by confusing its viewers with details, prompting both euphoria and a disorienting view of its staged reality. The double project of the panorama is arresting: designed to give viewers a sense of observational control and sovereignty over a huge city that, were the viewer down below, would be a place in which to get lost, or a battle scene in which being there might well mean ending up being dead, the complexity of visual, even geometric, tactics used to persuade the viewer of the panorama as a multifaceted reality might also be profoundly disorienting. Writ large and small (this perspectival extreme being the stock and trade of a panoramic prospect), the panorama might take away whatever powers it promised to give.

11.        The reversibility of the techniques of objectivity and the degree to which metropolitan European Romantic and imperial visuality was internally challenged by its own techniques of panoramic all-seeing, assemblage, and atomizing classification help to specify location and origin of Romantic visuality as less exclusively a European phenomenon than one shadowed by its putative “others” and, as such, an unstable site where unruly and global force challenge British and European metropoles.

III. Indigenous or Transplanted Fruits: Visuality’s Genealogies

12.        Visuality, we might say, not only has a Romantic genealogy but a one. In Imperial Eyes, Mary Louise Pratt suggests how we might recast Romantic ways of seeing as an accidental and infectious byproduct of colonial contacts. Gesturing briefly to Venezuelan writer Teresa de la Parra’s autobiographical novel Memories of White Mother (1929), Pratt gives us a glimpse via Parra of an alternative historical itinerary for Romanticism and its celebrated lyric “I,” an eye that tracks what Hegel insisted the ego-subject always misses about its interpellation with the world and its putative “others”:

I believe that like tobacco, pineapple, and sugar cane, Romanticism was an indigenous [American] fruit that grew up sweet, spontaneous and hidden among colonial langours and tropical indolence until the end of the eighteenth century. Around that time, Josefina Tascher, unsuspectingly, as if she were an ideal microbe, carried it off tangled up in the lace of one of her headdresses, gave the germ to Napoleon in that acute form which we all know, and little by little, the troops of the first Empire, assisted by Chateaubriand, spread the epidemic everywhere (138).
Situated in a garden beside tobacco and pineapple and, most notably, with the sugar cane—that exotic transplant of colonial landscaping or the plantation machine—Romanticism becomes, like the introduced and capitalized sugar cane plant, an “indigenous fruit” of the Americas. Memories of White Mother figures Romanticism in the formal and yet also material terms of one of its preoccupations: fusions with the environment and its extension in the anthropomorphization of plants. An acclimitizable and yet transculturating fruit, Romanticism becomes, like the changes wrought by the sugar-cane plantation, an outbreak that, in its attempted conversion of slave labor and colonial commerce into the comestible sweets of sugar, fruit, the aesthetic, or transformative empathy, also sends infectious counter-influence across the Atlantic from the Americas to Europe. This characterization of Romanticism as an unsuspected and seductively transforming germination without an original seeing/knowing agent is further mobilized by Pratt to suggest that
If one unhooks [Alexander von] Humboldt from Schiller and locates him in another “romantic” line—George Forster and Bernardin de Saint Pierre (two of Humboldt’s personal idols), Volney, Chateaubriand, Stedman, Buffon, Le Vaillant, Captain Hook, and the Diderot of the “Supplement to the Voyage of Bougainville”—one might be tempted to argue that romanticism originated in the contact zones of America, North America, and the South Seas. (138)

13.        This change of direction is not without consequence. The cultivation of the eye as a means of developing sensibility becomes embedded with material forms of “cultivation.” But, further, the cultivation of an empathic visual imagination becomes part and parcel with the actual and imaginative appropriation of “domestic” and “foreign” lands: practices so often translated as arts not of conquest but of “cultivation.” The essays in this collection variously resituate European and especially British works of the late eighteenth to mid-nineteenth century as troubled and troubling contact zones of encounters in various registers that put aside the inflated heroic sublime to consider the curious, the wandering, the grotesque, the ridiculous, and the bitingly satirical—all of which are shaped by and give form to the mixed and heterogeneous intra- and extra-national, imperial, and continental arenas we now call “Britain,” “British Empire,” the “Americas,” and “Europe.” In doing so, these essays contribute to an scholarly inquiry that seeks to reread the graphic, literary, scientific, and philosophical developments of European omanticism along the trade routes, exploratory paths, detours, and wanderlust of global trade and colonization.

14.        Marcus Wood’s “Brazilian Romantic Satire on the Peripheries of Photo-Realism: the Case of Angelo Agostini” takes up the abolitionist satires of Angelo Agostini (the Italian artist who was working in Rio from the early 1860s until the end of the 1880s). Although Wood shows that Brazilian abolitionist satires were in important dialogue with English and American Romantic literatures and images, the Brazilian side of this dialogue was particularly and brazenly insistent on deploying the same figures (the crocodile, for example) to insist on readings antithetical to those offered in American and European accounts. Agostini worked with stone lithography mainly for mainstream illustrated periodicals, producing social and political satiric art across a wide range of issues (concentrating more heavily on slavery in the 1870s and 80s) in the metropolitan center of Rio de Janeiro, a of industrialized capital in which slave labor existed hand in hand with the development of new technologies including gas light and steam power. The essay’s detailed examination of some of Agostini’s especially ambitious prints opens up a space in which to initiate understanding of the specific qualities which define Brazilian Romantic graphic art. As Wood demonstrates through close reading, these distinctive qualities are tied inextricably to the graphic exploration of the visuality of a slave system that even when it transitions to abolition conveys what happens when a repressed power that is only manifest as literal physical bondage is redeployed as the terror of enforced restraint. The crocodile that marks the Brazilian specificity of these satires is also the thought-image for the violent extremities of a post-Emancipation world. But this is not an argument for Brazil’s modern nature to Europe’s culture of modernity. Rather, turning to Agostini’s political lithographs produced for O Mequetrefe, Wood argues for the appropriation or translation of an unsettling “realism,” a kind of effect of “objective visual energy” that could be harnessed for disruptive satiric ends. Photography meets lithography in Post-Emancipation Brazil and the graphic effects unleash possibilities for a counter-visuality of Romanticism that is bitingly real.

15.        Matthew Rarey’s essay “Romantic Visualities, Technologies, and Travelers in Mexico, 1804–1844” extends Romanticism’s genealogies to explore the potentials of a Romantic Atlantic. Rarey’s particular assemblage of case studies of work by explorers and travelers whose images of Mexico circulated on both sides of the Atlantic presents the views articulated in antiquarian Mexican travel narratives in the first half of the nineteenth century as navigations of a fine line between the demands of an objective scientific rationality and those of picturesque scene-making that demonstrate the shaping role of nascent visual technologies – the camera lucida, the panorama, and the daguerreotype. This geographic and cultural reframing to consider representations of Mexico thus cuts across segregated media histories, allowing us to see a network which includes the views produced by Pedro José Márquez, a Mexican Jesuit priest working in Rome in 1804, their publication by the German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt in Paris in 1816, and the views of Mexico in the camera lucida as they emerged in the hands of Scottish artist and architect Frederick Catherwood in the Mediterranean and Mexico (with the support of English entrepreneur Robert Burford). As Rarey demonstrates, this network of image-making connects Burford’s panoramas (discussed by Sophie Thomas as major attractions in London), which relied on Catherwood’s camera lucida-aided drawings as prototypes for panoramic images, to the resistant difficulties of using the camera lucida and the new daguerreotype technology in explorations of the Yucatán. While the technologies of the camera lucida and the daguerreotype promised to render an objective visual account of Mexican antiquities and landscape, they emerge as stubborn, defiant apparati and powerful agents in complex and often surprising circuits of intellectual, artistic, and technological exchanges, forming and transforming the Romantic Atlantic and the Mediterranean.

IV. Proto-Photography, Panopticism, Slavery: Visuality’s Romantic Beginnings and its Ghosts

16.        If the ground of the plantation is entangled with the picturesque garden, the locodescriptive poem and the optical devices for picturesque tourism that focused and enframed the vistas of the so-called , and Romanticism is a germination of transplanted seeds, visuality as visibility’s imbrication with formations of social power may also be said to emerge with the modernity of colonial technologies of subject formation: the panopticon, gas light, stereotypy (and printing of many kinds), and the beginnings of photography. Visuality is never simply the body (whether plant, animal, human, or its crossings) visualized. Despite the dream of truth’s emergence as total optical clarity, what may be propped along the sight lines of the panopticon, illuminated by gaslight, enframed by the modern Romantic resuscitations of easel painting, and registered by the aid of the camera (and the camera lucida) always has its haunting remainders.

17.        In “Turner’s Slavers, Race, and the Ridiculous Human Fragment,” Dian Kriz exposes a telling rift between the aesthetic and the visual politics of race in her trenchant reading of J. M. W. Turner’s 1840 painting, The Slave Ship Slavers Throwing overboard the Dead and Dying—Typhon coming on. As other recent analyses do not, Kriz questions the effort to assign the visual rhetoric of this painting to the Romantic sublime, arguing instead that, as its early commentators repeatedly noted, Turner’s canvas belongs to another register in which exaggeration operates—the grotesque and ridiculous. What early reviews identified—the wildly flailing arms and hands of the drowning slaves and the huge mouths of fishes ready to consume them—signals a Romantic theorizing of race and blackness as ridiculous, excessive, a domain in which disembodied hands and feet constitute the fragmented non-being of the slave body. Kriz argues here for understanding the racism in Romantic aesthetics by reading the visual representations of race frontally, rather than allowing the sentimentality on offer in some Romantic depictions of slave bodies to encourage turning away from the fragmented, abused body of Romantic-era slavery. What Turner stages, Kriz argues, is a profoundly disturbing representation of race and slavery from the vantage point of its European Romantic “others.”

18.        In “Unsanctioned Wandering: Capturing the Vagrant in Romantic Prints,” Lucy Kimiko Hawkinson Traverse traces the doubled figure of the vagrant, a figure of fugitive movement that is at once the rogue body at the edges of the law, the paradigm of Romantic movement and thought, and the ideal representative of the liberal metropolitan subject. Attending closely to a representative array of British Romantic prints bound in a range of books published in London in the first two decades of the nineteenth century (between 1800-1820), Traverse sketches the strategies of containment, appropriation, and erasure used to capture the vagrant body in print, teasing out the tensions and slippages between the text as material object and the roaming body it seeks to arrest. As Traverse demonstrates through this paradoxical and precarious figure, while wandering may be integral to Romantic thought and action, so too is the desire to capture, record, and classify. The Romantic obsession with the vagrant produces prints of wandering types that not only hover between mobility and stasis, but also present the very figures of highly prized movement immobilized. Indeed, the figure of unsanctioned wandering is also a paradigm of the collection organized around a verb which its strategies cannot capture without converting into its opposite. Here the objective vision that classifies relies on alterations in scale (miniaturization) and minimization that result in a decontextualization, a poaching of the ground on which to move. But, as Traverse also shows, these strategies are precarious at best in that the bodies they attempt to still also subtly critique the texts they occupy—at times leaking out and exceeding their print confines. There are larger issues at stake, not least being the question of the relation between a liberalism that represents itself through movement and the techniques of the panoptic encyclopedic project with its archiving and encyclopedic assemblage of types that endeavor to contain—and yet also strive to mimic—the movements of their subjects.

19.        Unsanctioned wandering—in and out of dominant panoptic visuality—may give us a metaphor for the practice of tracing alternative genealogies of visuality and doing so critically. Read together, the essays in this volume give us a different account of modernity, its languages, and its technologies. In Mirzoeff’s “Ghostwriting: Working out Visual Culture,” 1822 is the turning point. For in that year, when the Arcades of Paris were illuminated by gaslight, they created a vivid, critical figure or thought-image for the condition of being a subject in colonial modernity, illuminated not merely by a camera flash but by being located within an emerging disciplinary society of luminous consumption. “Here is a critical mix indeed,” Mirzoeff writes, “the panoptic institution illuminated by new visual technologies of gas and electricity, yet haunted by spirits and [. . .] ghosts” (240). Even as gaslight once illuminated the shops of Rio as well as the arcades of Paris, the wake of global slavery and capitalism continues to cast its shadows. Such shadows, ghosts, and excesses are, in important part, the animating “subjects” of the essays in this volume. But we would insist that attention to the fossil impressions and fugitive traces in and of the images in existing archives, together with what is not pictured or represented, are both objects of our inquiry and, at least as critically, a necessary part of the method implied by attending to and thinking “visuality” and its genealogies.

20.        As the new Romantic Circles Gallery reminds us, visuality is more than a set of images, an iconography, a topic, or a theme. At its most critical and prescient moments, visuality allows us to revisit and rethink the history of the regimes within which we live and the questions and problems posed by the legacy of efforts to work out power, pleasure, and knowledge through the register of the visible—both its failures and remainders. The essays in this volume, together with the exhibits already part of the new Gallery and future exhibits, will assist our effort to know how it is that Romantics saw and embodied what they saw or imagined, and how we in turn understand the knowledge power performed or undermined by Romantic visuality.

Works Cited

Buck-Morss, Susan. Hegel, Haiti, and Universal History. Pittsburgh: U of Pittsburgh P, 2009. Print.

Carlyle, Thomas. “Lecture III.” On Heroes, Hero Worship, and the Heroic in History. In The Norman and Charlotte Strouse Edition of the Writings of Thomas Carlyle. Ed. Michael K. Goldberg. Vol. 2. Berkeley: U of California P, 1993. Print.

Casid, Jill H. Scenes of Projection: Re-casting the Enlightenment Subject. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015. Print.

Daston, Lorraine, and Peter Galison. Objectivity. New York: Zone Books, 2007. Print.

Derrida, Jacques. Right of Inspection. With Photographs by Marie-Françoise Plissart. Trans. David Wills. New York: Monacelli, 1998. Print.

Favret, Mary A. War at a Distance: Romanticism and the Making of Modern Wartime. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2009. Print.

Foster, Hal, ed. Vision and Visuality. Seattle: Bay Press, 1988. Print.

Galperin, William H. The Return of the Visible in British Romanticism. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1993. Print.

Houlgate, Stephen. “Vision, Reflection, and Openness: The ‘Hegemony of Vision’ from a Hegelian Point of View.” In Modernity and the Hegemony of Vision. Ed. David Michael Levin. Berkeley: U of California P, 1993. 87–123. Print.

Jay, Martin. Downcast Eyes: The Denigration of Vision in Twentieth-Century French Thought. Berkeley: U of California P, 1994. Print.

Kelley, Theresa M. Clandestine Marriage: Botany and Romantic Culture. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2012.

Mirzoeff, Nicholas. “Ghostwriting: Working Out Visual Culture.” Journal of Visual Culture 1.2 (2002): 240. Print.

---. “On Visuality.” Journal of Visual Culture 5.1 (2006): 53–80. Print.

---. The Right to Look: A Counterhistory of Visuality. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2011. Print.

Nickelson, Kärin. Draughtsmen, Botanists and Nature: The Construction of Eighteenth-Century Botanical Illustrations. Dordrecht: Springer, 2006. Print.

De la Parra, Teresa. Memorias de Mama Blanca (1929). In Obras Completas. Caracas: Biblioteca Ayacucho, 1982. Print.

Plissart, Marie-Françoise. Droit de regards, suivi d’une lecture de Jacques Derrida. Paris: Éditions de Minuit, 1985. Print.

Pratt, Mary Louise. Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation. New York: Routledge, 1992. Print.

Raynal, Guillaume Thomas François, Abbé. L’Histoire philosophique et politique des établissements et du commerce des Européens dans les deux Indes. [L’Histoire des deux Indes.] 5th ed. 7 vols. Maestricht: Jean-Edme Dufour & P. Roux, 1777.

Smith, J. E., and James Sowerby. English Botany, or, Coloured Pictures of British Plants. 36 vols. London: J. Davis, 1790–1814.

Thornton, Robert. Temple of Flora. London: R. Thornton, 1799–1807.

Turner, Joseph Mallord William. Slave Ship (Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying, Typhoon Coming On). Ca. 1840. Oil on canvas. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Wordsworth, William. The Prelude, 1799, 1805, 1850. Ed. Jonathan Wordsworth, M. H. Abrams, and Stephen Gill. New York: W. W. Norton, 1979. Print.


[1] Hal Foster, “Preface,” Vision and Visuality (Seattle: Bay Press, 1988), ix-xiv. For analysis of the ways in which Foster’s formulation of visuality has been used in the development of the transdisciplinary field of visual culture but also historically, see Nicholas Mirzoeff, “On Visuality,” Journal of Visual Culture 5.1 (April 2006): 53–80. BACK

[2] See The Right to Look, xiii-xvi and “On Visuality,” 53-80. BACK

[3] Mirzoeff relates Carlyle’s construction of the “living light” of the near mystical figure of the statesman-poet drawn in On Heroes (and the aesthetic translation of authority as “light”) to the images and ideas of warfare as practiced and theorized by Karl von Clausewitz. See The Right to Look, 3. BACK

[4] As Mirzoeff tactically demonstrates, “the ineluctable modality of the ineluctable visuality” comes to us from critique within modernity and its grappling with the legacies of early modern metaphysics, that is, from James Joyce’s Ulysses. See Mirzoeff, xiii. BACK

[5] The phrase “the right to look” comes from Jacques Derrida’s coinage of the phrase “droit de regards” to account for the exchange of the mutually genitive and yet gaming exchange of glancing looks between women lovers in Marie-Françoise Plissart’s book-length photo-essay to which Derrida wrote a “following” lecture. Given the oscillation of “droit” between law and right and the question of the plural “regards” which would most readily translate as “looks” but is also an important play on “au regard de la loi” (or “in the eyes of the law”), there remains appropriately a remainder, an irreducible problem of translation. “Droit de regards” is translated in the English version of the text by David Wills as “right of inspection.” Deploying “the right to look” as a claim for autonomy, political subjectivity and collectivity without the demand for sameness, Mirzoeff insists, instead, on the “right to look” as a way to keep open the gap between law and right which might seem closed by the term “inspection.” See Plissart; translated as Derrida’s Right of Inspection. BACK

[6] William H. Galperin, The Return of the Visible in British Romanticism (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1993). BACK

[7] See, in particular, Martin Jay. BACK

[8] Mary A. Favret, War at a Distance: Romanticism and the Making of Modern Wartime (Princeton: Princeton UP, 2009). BACK

[9] See, in particular, Stephen Houlgate. BACK

[10] See especially Susan Buck-Morss. BACK

[11] Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison, Objectivity (New York: Zone Books, 2007). BACK

[12] The practice of augmenting specimens prior to sketching them was widely asserted even by those who claimed that such illustration should faithfully record the specimen at hand. What obviously troubled this protocol, and thus prompted the contradiction, was the fact that while specimens might well convey parts more clearly (and were chosen because they did so), they quickly became a “hortus siccus,” to use Mrs. Delany’s acute phrase, with little resemblance to the vital plant. The instance we refer to here occurs in J. E. Smith to James Sowerby, Sowerby Correspondence, Boxes 19 and 20, A56 through A59, written between 1799 and 1810, BMNH, London. BACK

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          Turner’s Slavers, Race, and the Ridiculous Human Fragment        
December 2014

Turner’s Slavers, Race, and the Ridiculous Human Fragment

Kay Dian Kriz
Brown University (Emerita)

Is the picture sublime or ridiculous? Indeed I don’t know which.

William Makepeace Thackeray

1.        Writing in Fraser’s Magazine, William Makepeace Thackeray broached the question of the sublime and the ridiculous in his review of J. M. W. Turner’s Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying: Typhon Coming On (figure 1), which was on display in the annual exhibition of the Royal Academy in 1840 (731). Thackeray’s ambiguous answer is somewhat disingenuous, judging from the exuberantly sarcastic tenor of his review. In this famous passage, filled with mock horror, for example, he comically rejects the possibility that the painting offers any kind of convincing illusion of the tragic scene suggested by its title:

Rocks of gamboges [strong yellow] are marked down on the canvas, flakes of white laid on with a trowel; bladders of vermilion madly spirited here and there. Yonder is the slaver rocking in the midst of a flashing foam of white-lead. The sun glares down upon a horrible sea of emerald and purple, into which chocolate-coloured slaves are plunged, and chains that will not sink; and round these are floundering such a race of fishes as never was seen since the saeculum Pyrrhae, gasping dolphins redder than the reddest herrings; horrid spreading polypi, like huge slimy poached eggs, in which hapless niggers plunge and disappear. Ye gods, what a ‘middle passage’! (731)
Unlike Thackeray, most scholars writing about the Slavers over the past century have opted for the sublime, despite the fact that they invariably cite Thackeray’s review as well as equally hostile ones by his contemporaries. [1]  In the essay that follows I want to consider the case for the ridiculous, and to suggest that by so doing Turner’s painting can be productively situated with the contemporary Anglo-European discourse on racial difference. In 1990 Paul Gilroy argued that Turner’s Slavers “offers one opportunity to appreciate that English art and aesthetics are not simply in place alongside English thinking about race;” rather, they are “an integral means with which England was able to make sense of itself and its destiny” (51). In the two decades since this statement, many thoughtful accounts of the Slavers have been published, but they have largely ignored issues of race in their eagerness to analyze the painting within the context of the Atlantic slave trade. [2]  Questions of race are deeply intertwined with the institution of slavery in the early modern period. And yet, when considering cultural representations of Atlantic slavery, it is unwise to conflate slavery with race, especially in dealing with visual representation, since aesthetics and visuality have been central to the construction of racial difference from the late eighteenth century forward. Before turning to the “ridiculous,” and racialization, I want to briefly consider how modern scholarship came to assess Turner’s Slavers as a sublimely Romantic masterpiece.

2.        Foundational to this characterization of the Slavers is John Ruskin’s impassioned account from Modern Painters, published three years after its first exhibition (3: 571-3). Relegating to a footnote the subject—the jettisoning of enslaved Africans from a slave ship tossing in a storm-swept sea—Ruskin brings the painting to life. Unlike Thackeray, he makes no references to paint, brushwork, and composition in this passage, only to sublime natural effects such as the “glorious light [. . .] which burns like gold, and bathes like blood,” and “the mist of night [. . .] advancing like the shadow of death upon the guilty ship [. . .] its thin masts written upon the sky in lines of blood, girded with condemnation in that fearful hue which signs the sky with horror” (3: 572). Through Turner’s genius, nature and the slave ship (but not the fish and fragmented human bodies) become the embodiments of horror and beauty, capable of moving the viewer to aesthetic admiration and moral outrage. In producing a work of art capable of eliciting this sort of moral and aesthetic response, the Romantic genius becomes a sort of a superconductor who feels more deeply than ordinary individuals and can brilliantly and beautifully convey those feelings to the less sensitive via his art (Kriz, Idea 87). Ruskin writes in Modern Painters about the special character of the landscape painter who

makes him [the spectator] a sharer in his own strong feelings and quick thoughts; hurries him away in his own enthusiasm; guides him to all that is beautiful; snatches him from all that is base; and leaves him more than delighted,—ennobled and instructed, under the sense of having not only beheld a new scene, but of having held communion with a new mind, and having been endowed for a time with the keen perception and the impetuous emotions of a nobler and more penetrating intelligence. (3: 134)
This form of shared viewing through the mind of the artist would also seem to involve the spectator with yet another mediator: the Romantic critic. Certainly Ruskin’s fervent prose is every bit as much a performance of the deeply sensitive self as Turner’s painting. [3] 

3.        This cultural formation, which insistently values artistic sensibility, also produces “Romantic scholarship”—that is, scholarship driven by the belief that analyzing great art depends on discerning the artistic genius’s feelings and motives so viewers may channel “the keen perception and the impetuous emotions of a nobler and more penetrating intelligence.” Even though much of the recent scholarship on the Slavers has been extremely “contextual,” engaging with the complex histories of Anglo-European colonization and the Atlantic slave system, by and large the scholarship has maintained a Romantic fixation on finding “meaning” in the painting by focusing on Turner. Scholars have considered in detail his intentions, his visual and textual sources, his attitude towards history in general and the slave trade in particular, and more recently his investments—I refer here to Sam Smiles’ recent discovery that in 1805 the artist had invested in a Jamaican venture dependent on slave labor (47). [4] 

4.        If we turn our attention away from the artist and toward his contemporary critics, we are immediately confronted with the issue of the ridiculous. Turner’s use of intense, highly-keyed green and purple (lost over time), and the still-brilliant red, orange, white, and yellow in the sky and water attracted bemused criticism (McCoubry 336-7). But even more sport was made of the human fragments (hands and a leg), floating chains, and strange-looking fish located in the foreground ([Thackeray] 731, Eagles 380, "Fine Arts," "Exhibition"). [5]  Now, as a glance at nineteenth-century Royal Academy reviews confirms, it was not unusual for a painting—especially a painting by Turner—to provide critics with an occasion to display their talent for withering satire. During the fifty years that Turner had been exhibiting at the Royal Academy, his paintings provoked satiric comments about his paint handling, figures, composition, and color. [6]  But the critics in 1840 did not shrink from making jokes that, while aimed at Turner, also seemed to be at the expense of those fragmented bodies of African slaves who had been cruelly thrown overboard by the slavers and left to drown or be eaten by the fish.

5.        Recall that Thackeray described the “horrible sea of emerald and purple into which chocolate-coloured slaves are plunged, and chains that will not sink ” before turning to the sea life: the “gasping dolphins redder than the reddest herrings; horrid spreading polypi, like huge slimly poached eggs, in which hapless niggers plunge and disappear.” From this almost cannibalistic description of slaves that are chocolate colored—a reference that threatens to turn the slaves into one of the edible New World commodities they produce—one might imagine that their bodies would be clearly visible. But in fact, the slaves are denoted by fragments, primarily hands, which seem at points to be indistinguishable from the dark fish tails silhouetted in the blood-red sun and from the wings of birds flying low over the water (figure 2). Even the largest identifiably human body part in the painting, the dusky-colored leg in the lower right corner (figure 3), is framed between the bodies and tails of two large fish, whose tailfins rhyme with the spread toes and loose chain attached to the foot. This leg drew the attention of the critic for the Times: “the leg of a negro [. . .] is about to afford a nibble to a John Dory, a pair of soles, and a shoal of whitebait”(6). The same leg provided one of Turner’s most consistently hostile critics, the conservative Reverend John Eagles, with the occasion to attempt a pun: in his review for Blackwood’s Magazine he remarked that the “fish claiming their leg-acy is very funny” (380). Marcus Wood has appropriately asked “if indeed this is funny, why is it funny?” He concludes that the bottom-right corner of Turner’s painting centered on the leg is a “tragic-comic lament on the slave trade,” and that the “diving leg implores us to try to understand mass murder by picking up the pieces” (Blind Memory 49, 50). This is a fine piece of impassioned Romantic criticism, undergirded by thorough scholarship and an appropriate application of trauma theory. It constitutes Turner as the Romantic subject and “us” as the privileged viewer. My interest, conversely, is “them”—those contemporary critics who seem to have recognized the comedy, but somehow missed the point.

6.        First, it is worth noting that while Turner often produced figures that were shapeless, ambiguous, or vague, he usually did not emphasize the fragmented body in other scenes of human disaster. Even in the strange and disturbing Field of Waterloo (1818, figure 4), where the dead are rendered as a molten mass, they appear as notionally complete bodies. We cannot know why Turner chose to represent the dead and dying African slaves as fragments in his Slavers, but we can be certain that there was plenty of cultural precedent for doing so.

7.        As Roxann Wheeler has shown, for most of the eighteenth century, human difference was predicated on a range of factors, including religion, clothing, social organization, and language. Skin color and other aspects of physical appearance were registered as differences (often attributed to differences in climate), but they were not foundational to the formation of human categories, which were more often described in terms of “variety,” rather than race (31). By the third quarter of the eighteenth century, however, human difference increasingly became subject to categorization based on physical traits, although socio-cultural differences never lost their power to describe variations in the civility and rudeness of a people. There is no simple explanation for this shift. Contributing factors included the enhanced scientific authority of natural history, now extended to the study of humans (in widely influential writings by Linnaeus and Buffon, for example). The expansion of European exploration and colonization was also a crucial factor, along with the explosion in print culture that brought natural and civil histories of European and non-European peoples to a widening readership. There was also an acceleration of popular interest in the pseudo-science of physiognomy, which claimed that character could be read through an analysis of the shape of the skull and facial features. And, significantly, there was the development of a body of writing on aesthetics, which, like scientific writings, could not avoid taking up the issue of human difference, increasingly posed in racialized terms. [7] 

8.        Publications in all these various fields of activity routinely registered human difference through a listing and picturing of physical characteristics such as skin color and the color and texture of the hair, and also the shape of the skull, nose, lips, and skeletal frame. The comparative anatomist Petrus Camper (1722-1789), the widely-read physiognomist Johann Caspar Lavater (1741-1801), and the influential author of books on antique art and aesthetics, Johann Winckelmann (1717-1768), acknowledged the diversity of human groups spread across the globe; however, the “negro”—a term that I use throughout this essay to indicate a socially constructed racial category associated with sub-Saharan African peoples—was frequently positioned as anatomically most distant from the European. [8]  White Europeans also were described via lists of facial features and body parts. Crucially, however, they were normalized in writings on natural history, racial science, and aesthetics through reference to a sculptural ideal based not on the fragment, but rather on a body that was smooth, closed, and complete, and that was most often exemplified by the Apollo Belvedere. [9]  There is, of course a huge irony that that extant version of the statue fueling such admiration in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was a fragmented Roman copy after a lost Greek original (the left forearm and fingers of the right hand were restored in the sixteenth century). [10]  It was the restored marble that British travelers encountered when they visited Rome during this time period, and that was reproduced in the many copies that graced British collections. And it was this fantasy of the ideal Apollonian body that grand tourists like Sir Wyndham Knatchbull-Wyndham emulated when he had his portrait painted in the pose of the Apollo by Pompeo Batoni (figure 5). The fact that this ideal body was conjured up from a fragmented copy of a lost original of an imaginary being suggests just how fantastic and precarious the edifice of whiteness was (and still is).

9.        My research indicates that within the intertwined discourses of race and aesthetics there was no viable “negro” counterpart to the Apollo; the black body always failed to measure up to this white ideal, and never could aspire to its perfection (Kriz, Slavery 71ff). The alternative idea of the negro is in fact the bestial body, given over to the base appetites and physical senses, rather than reason, judgment, and (good) taste (Virey 2: 41-2). The most well-known scientific representations of this idea come from a highly influential treatise on skull shape, physiognomy, and human difference by the Dutch anatomist Petrus Camper, first published in 1786. He developed a scale for differentiating between the skulls of certain mammals and various types of humans based on the slant of a straight line drawn from the lip, to the tip of the nose, to the top of the forehead. This “facial line” not only served to distinguish various animal and human types, but also to order them aesthetically: according to Camper, the more vertical the facial line, the more beautiful (100). [11]  One of the diagrams published with the text (figure 6) shows frontal views of the head and skull of an ape, negro, Calmuch (Mongolian), European, and the Apollo, placed in order of increasingly vertical facial lines. By including the head and skull (!!) of the Apollo at the “high” (most beautiful) end of the scale, Camper disrupts the very system of scientific evaluation he sets up, which was based on serial assessments of difference and similitude. [12]  The relationship between the European skull and the Apollo is one based on notion of artistic imitation, not on the principles of comparative anatomy. Whether writers on aesthetics argued for a universal ideal of beauty (such as Johann Winckelmann) or multiple body types that varied by racialized group (such as Joshua Reynolds), only the white European male was considered to have an imitative relationship to the Apollo (Kriz, Slavery 75-6, 86). This relationship was guaranteed by a cultural genealogy that traces a line from the art of the Greeks to the Romans and forward to other European nations.  [13] 

10.        Camper disparages the idea that cranial similarity between apes and Africans (positioned at the “low” end of the diagram) was a sign of the latter’s bestiality (32). But placing like-shaped objects next to each other within the same field had for centuries been a way of inviting an exploration of their similarities, based on long-standing notions of resemblance and contiguity. The naturalization of the link between the African and the slave—forged over the course of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries—further promoted the association of the African with the bestial. Long before Africans were enslaved and forcibly transported to the New World, the idea of the slave as beast of burden was a commonplace in writings on slavery. And in the eighteenth century, even the prominent abolitionist Thomas Clarkson agreed with his anti-abolitionist opponents that African slaves had a brutish appearance and diminished mental capacities. In a passage from his Essay on the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species, published in 1786, he insisted that these are the effects of slavery, not essential qualities (21). Whatever the cause, however, Africans were triply susceptible to charges of animality: because of the alleged similarity of their skulls to apes; their origin in a mysterious continent filled with strange creatures; and their enslavement by Europeans, which was bound to turn humans into beasts.

11.        In art, the racialist (and racist) idea of the negro finds its fullest expression not in antique sculpture, but in caricature, which historically had deployed the rhetoric of the grotesque, the fragmentary, and the excessive, often in conjunction with the animalization of the human. Drawing on visual traditions going back several centuries, many of the British caricatures that were commercially marketed from the eighteenth century onward gleefully used animal imagery to satirize public figures, as well as social and national types. [14]  In these cases, the subject’s character was impugned, but not his or her humanity. But the strong and repeated connection of the negro with the animal in aesthetics, writings on New World slavery, and the emerging scientific discourse on human variety, gave a powerful, legitimating force to caricatures that represented black people as creatures who tested the limits of the human.

12.        One of the most potent caricatures to capitalize on the idea of the fragmented and animalized negro slave was James Gillray’s print from 1791, Barbarities in the West Indias [sic] (figure 7). This caricature makes evident what the “scientific” discourse on the “negro” does not—namely, that the fragmentation of the negro as a racial type thematizes the high level of violence enacted on the black body under Atlantic slavery. According to the inscription on the print, the image is based on a report read before Parliament in 1791 claiming that an English slave driver had punished a slave who insisted he was too sick to work by immersing him in a vat of boiling sugar.  [15]  Ronald Paulson has suggested that the sheer excessiveness of the imagery—the wildly gesturing limbs of the victim rhyming with the black human arm and ear that appear alongside the vermin nailed to the back wall—calls into question the political motivation of the print (Paulson 204). And it may well be that this is not an atrocity print designed to convince viewers of the horrors of West Indian slavery, but rather a parody of abolitionist accounts that reveals how ridiculous such claims of suffering really were.

13.        In either case, the excessiveness of the image reinforces the reputation of the West Indian colonies as a space of excess and extremes—of climate, profit taking, and behavior. Through the hyperbolic language of caricature, the artist vividly suggests that everyone who comes in contact with the West Indies is debased—the English driver becomes a monstrous cannibal (a type associated both with the indigenous peoples of West Africa and the West Indies), and the slaves are reduced to body parts that will be eaten or displayed as vermin. And yet, the caricatured English slave driver still represents a deviation from some kind of ideal, virtuous, white body. The black body fragments do not. There is no coherent alternative or ideal that secures the representation of the African slave in caricature as a deviation. Rather these bestial bits are what figure the negro. This trope only gained strength between the publication of Gillray’s print in 1791 and the exhibition of Turner’s Slavers in 1840, with its fragmented bodies that eerily conjure up the boiled, drowning slave in Barbarities.

14.        In 1821, for example, George Cruikshank produced a parody on Camper (figure 8) in which caricature and comparative anatomy join forces to reinforce the negro-ape connection. [16]  This is a quickly executed print that attempts to solicit a cheap laugh from its viewers. But that unguarded laughter acknowledges an acceptance of assumptions about racialized difference that might be deemed unacceptable in other circumstances. Cruikshank’s wood engraving invites its viewers—even those who oppose slavery and the slave trade on humanitarian grounds—to laugh, and thereby confirm as common sense, the bestiality of the African.

15.        The trope of “the negro-as-fragment” was advanced even in caricatures that represented notionally complete bodies. [17]  A case in point is a crude aquatint from 1836, titled Venus and Adonis (figure 9), which depicts a black man stuffed into hunting garb, taking leave of his tearful and overdressed wife. [18]  This is one in a series of prints published by Gabriel Tregear that mocked the alleged attempts of black people to enter refined British society through the performance of its rituals. These black interlopers would likely be identified as immigrants from the West Indies, since Parliament passed the bill abolishing slavery in the British islands two years before this print was published. The caricature’s ironic title affirms the conceptual impossibility of a black Venus or Adonis and the image reinforces this idea by reducing the black figures to a series of ridiculous and disarticulated parts: bulbous noses, pop-eyes, and lumpish hairdos. The garish, unmodulated coloring of black skin set against light fabric, such as the face and frilly white cap of the standing servant on the right, also advances the idea of the black body as a series of ill-formed and disconnected parts.

16.        Laughter and varying degrees of alarm or horror seem to go together in these prints, which attempt to maintain the fiction of racial difference (Cruikshank), or to fantasize about black contamination of white society through ingestion (Gillray), or social invasion (Tregear). We’ve seen that Turner’s Slavers generated a similarly mixed response in 1840, directly put by Thackeray: “Is the painting sublime or ridiculous. I don’t know which.” Andrew Wilton has noted that the fine line separating the sublime from the ridiculous was acknowledged by Turner himself. In one of his sketchbooks, the artist comments that Tom Paine “says that the sublime and the ridiculous are often so nearly related that it is difficult to class them separately. One step above the sublime becomes ridiculous and one step above the ridiculous makes the sublime again” (cited in Wilton 356). In the case of Turner’s Slavers, this fragile line between the sublime and the ridiculous threatens to dissolve, conveying the horrors of slavery via black bodies that are fragmented and degraded to the level of the bestial. The hands are so abstractly rendered that they appear more like glyphs than illusionistic representations, offering the minimal amount of visual information necessary to identify them as hands (Bryson 48-52). Some of them are formally indistinguishable from the wings of birds and the tailfins of the fish hovering around them. It is hard, therefore, to imagine these bits, then, attached to wrists, arms, and bodies. Likewise the leg is so oddly formed and disposed that it is nearly impossible to imagine the body to which it belongs. (McCoubrey 338). [19]  These ill-formed and disconnected extremities have a cartoonish air about them, bringing the ridiculous into direct and dissonant confrontation with the sublimely-marked sea and sky. In this way the painting serves as a visual demonstration of the unstable line between the sublime and ridiculous that Turner referenced in his sketchbook.

17.        If, for a viewer like Ruskin, the horror of the event is brilliantly connoted by the slashing brushwork and clashing colors of sky and sea, the hands and leg would seem to impede viewers from imagining the dead and dying victims lying beneath the waves. These parts seem more like incongruous bits of flotsam, rather than tragic fragments that index a human wholeness. And, as British writers on humor repeatedly insisted, incongruity forms the basis for laughter (Kriz, Slavery 74). James Beattie, for example, wrote in 1764 that “laughter arises from the view of two or more inconsistent, unsuitable, or incongruous parts or circumstances, considered as united in one complex object or assemblage” (602). [20]  Whatever Turner’s motives, then, his painting’s reliance on the device of fragmentation offered his contemporary critics the occasion to treat it like a sublime caricature that did not so much subvert as reinforce the fragmentary image of “the negro” in scientific discourse, civil and natural histories, pro-abolitionist tracts, and caricatures.

18.        Appearing in the same exhibition as Turner’s painting was another on the subject of the slave trade that seemed to offer wholeness in place of fragmentation, and to solicit a sigh of empathy rather than the awful laughter and bafflement generated by the Slavers. François-Auguste Biard’s Bartering for Slaves on the Guinea Coast (figure 10) offers viewers the titillating spectacle of newly captured slaves being whipped (upper left), branded (center left), inspected (center), and led away in coffles (left and right middle ground) as two slave traders, an exotically dressed black and a languorous white, sit and watch (foreground right). This aesthetically conservative display of academic exoticism has been vehemently disparaged by modern scholars. Albert Boime and Marcus Wood have (rightly, I think) attacked Biard for his flagrant sentimentalism and for the sadistic thrills he affords viewers, who are invited to disapprove of and, at the same time, take perverse pleasure in violence, humiliation, and torture so illusionistically presented (Boime 138, Wood, Blind Memory, 44). The work appears to have been a popular favorite at the Exhibition, however; it was taken off the walls of the Academy and presented to Thomas Fowell Buxton, the organizer of the Society for the Extinction of the Slave Trade and for the Civilization of Africa, which was meeting in London in the first week of June 1840 (Boime 37). Decorated with whips and chains, the picture was hung in Exeter Hall for the World Anti-Slavery Convention, which followed directly on the Society’s meeting.

19.        Thackeray raved about Bartering for Slaves, perhaps, as John McCoubrey has suggested, to demonstrate his support for abolition in the face of his savage treatment of the Slavers (345-6):

Yonder is a poor woman kneeling before a Frenchman, her shoulder is fizzing under the hot iron with which he brands her, she is looking up shuddering and wild yet quite mild and patient: it breaks your heart to look at her. I never saw anything so exquisitely pathetic as that face. ([Thackeray] 731)
John Eagles followed suit: his review of Biard’s picture, was, if anything more enthusiastic than Thackerary’s. Declaring Bartering for Slaves to be “perhaps in reality the most powerful picture in the exhibition,” he concluded that “[w]e have seen representations of horror, of plague, pestilence, and famine—but we never saw a piece of more real deep pathos” (384). For decades abolitionists deployed this kind of sentimental rhetoric in texts and images of suffering slaves in an effort to stir the feelings of white Britons. But, as Saidiya Hartman and Marcus Wood each have shown, these kind of empathic representations involve an act of displacement. In attempting to feel for the slave, the reader/viewer imaginatively (and here, sadistically) takes possession of the slave’s body (Wood, Slavery, Empathy, 16-7; Hartman 18-19). As a result, the spectator ends up feeling “for himself rather than for those whom this exercise in imagination presumably is designed to reach;” in the process the sentimental object is obliterated (Hartman 19). [21]  In Thackeray’s case the spectacle of the suffering slave woman prompts a performance of suffering by both the critic and the viewer (“it breaks your heart to look at her”). This process of displacement and display is flexible and can accommodate a variety of sentimental objects. But, as Hartman notes, the problem of sentimental obliteration is particularly acute in the case of African slaves, since one of the ways the system of plantation slavery rendered black people as “thingly bodies” was to disavow their capacity to feel the physical pain of hard labor and to experience the trauma of separation from homeland and family (18-23).

20.        For all their important aesthetic and ideological differences, then, there is a way that Turner’s Slavers and Biard’s Bartering for Slaves reinforce each other by soliciting similar responses to the suffering black body: they keep the feeling, sentient black body at a distance, threatening it with obliteration or dehumanization. Turner represents slave victims as glyphs that comically mimic fish and birds, and displaces “feeling” from bodies onto the sublime natural elements of sky and sea. Ian Baucom has suggested that this distancing effect in the Slavers is enhanced by the artist’s use of smeared Romantic brushstrokes throughout the composition (275). These blurry strokes serve to abstract what they seem to represent: they show us what we cannot see. In contrast, Biard offers a high degree of figural illusionism in the form of whole black bodies that are reduced to the level of suffering beasts in their “wildness” and passivity, a point that both Thackeray and Eagles emphasize in their reviews. [22]  This double move, promoting sympathy for African slaves and political redress for their plight while maintaining their inferior, savage status, is what allowed slavery to be abolished, but racism directed against black people in Africa and the Atlantic Diaspora to persist and even increase in the nineteenth century.

21.         I want to be clear that I am not saying that Turner’s Slavers is as banal and aesthetically impoverished as Biard’s picture. Rather, I am claiming that at the historical moment in which it was exhibited, the affective viewing relationships the Slavers constitutes between the African body and the white viewer are compatible with that produced by a sentimental mode of representation and also by caricature. One can laugh at, be horrified by, and take empathetic possession of this kind of body—but not imagine an equal power relationship with it. That breakdown of imagination is in part due to the way aesthetics came to occupy the heart of scientific racism. It is all to easy to assume that politically liberal or radical artists who produced aesthetically progressive or modern or difficult works of art in the nineteenth century rendered these works immune to ideological appropriation by conservative interests. But even when—or, especially when—an aesthetically innovative work of art is greeted by confusion, contempt, and laughter among a group of conservative critics and an uncomprehending art public, it can still be actively involved in the production of a regressive “commonsense” notion of racial difference. I am suggesting that one way (among many) to move beyond a Romantic art history is to pay serious attention to the dismissive laughter of seemingly uncomprehending viewers. In the case of the Slavers, that laughter suggests some degree of complicity with, not simply contempt for, an artist who employed tropes and devices that confirm widely-held myths about the partiality and animality of the black body.

Acknowledgements: I am extremely grateful to Jill Casid and Theresa Kelley for their insightful comments on this essay.

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Virey, Joseph Julien. Histoire naturelle du genre humain. 2 vols. 2nd ed. Paris, 1824.

Wheeler, Roxann. The Complexion of Race: Categories of Difference in Eighteenth-Century British Culture. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 2000.

Wilton, Andrew. “Sublime or Ridiculous? Turner and the Problem of the Historical Figure.” New Literary History 16:2 (Winter 1985), 343-76.

Winckelmann, Johann. History of Ancient Art. 4 vols. in 2. Translated by Alexander Gode. New York: Unger, 1968 (orig. pub. 1764).

Wood, Marcus. Blind Memory: Visual Representations of Slavery in England and America 1780-1865. London: Routledge, 2000.

---. Slavery, Empathy, and Pornography. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2002.

List of Figures

Figure 1: J. M. W. Turner, Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying: Typhon Coming On, R. A. 1840, o/c. Photograph © [2011] Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Figure 2: detail, figure 1

Figure 3: detail, figure 1

Figure 4: J. M. W. Turner, The Field of Waterloo, ex. R. A. 1818, o/c. The Tate Gallery.

Figure 5: Pompeo Batoni, Portrait of Sir Wyndham Knatchbull-Wyndham, n. d. Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Figure 6: Table 3 from The Works of the late Professor Camper, on the Connexion between the Science of Anatomy and the Arts of Drawing, Painting and Statuary (London: J. Hearne, 1794).

Figure 7: James Gillray, Barbarities in the West Indias, 1791, colored etching.

Figure 8: George Cruikshank, Ferocity Exemplified, by Comparative Anatomy, wood engraving. Mock advertisement in William Hone’s A Slap at Slop and the Bridge Street Gang (London, 1821). © The British Library Board. 806.k.1 (124)

Figure 9: Hunt after W. Summers, Venus and Adonis, etching and aquatint. Plate 5 from Tregear’s Black Jokes: Being a Series of Laughable Caricatures on the March of Manners amongst Blacks (London: Gabriel Shire Tregear, 1836).

Figure 10: François-Auguste Biard, Bartering for Slaves on the Guinea Coast, ex RA 1840, o/c. Photograph: Bridgeman Art Library.


[1] Negative contemporary reviews include Eagles' in Blackwood’s Magazine; “Fine Arts. Royal Academy,” in Athenaeum; and “Exhibition of the Royal Academy,” in Times (London). BACK

[2] There is a large body of scholarship on this picture. Some of the major publications from the last twenty years include Boime, McCoubrey, Wood's Blind Memory, Baucom, Castello, and Marsh. BACK

[3] This point has been made by McCoubrey (349-50) and Marsh (51); they note that some Americans, who encountered Turner’s painting only through Ruskin’s description, were keenly disappointed when they viewed it after it came to Boston. BACK

[4] Sam Smiles discovered evidence that in 1805 Turner was an investor in scheme to finance a cattle pen (ranch) in Jamaica. Wood (Blind Memory 41-68) and McCoubrey offer the most thorough analysis of Turner’s visual and literary sources. BACK

[5] In Reinventing Allegory, Theresa Kelley argues that Turner moved the Slavers away from the illusionism of the real and into the realm of the allegorical through the use of forms and figures that tend toward the excessive—such as the oddly floating chains, which dramatically index the submerged bodies connected to them (177-78). Kelley astutely shows how the allegorical and the satiric mode share a visual vocabulary that depends on the grotesque and the theatrical—an insight that is suggestive for new lines of study. BACK

[6] See Butlin and Joll, vol. 1 for excerpts of Turner criticism. BACK

[7] There is a rapidly expanding body of literature devoted to the study of the rise of natural history, racial “science” and aesthetics in the eighteenth century. Bindman provides a succinct and lucid account of the major philosophers, natural scientists and aestheticians who contributed to the formation of a “scientific” discourse of racialized difference in Ape to Apollo. Wheeler’s Complexion of Race is essential reading for the eighteenth century pre-history and development of this discourse. Londa Schiebinger’s Nature’s Body provides an important analysis of the role of gender in the formation of this scientific discourse. My Slavery, Sugar and the Culture of Refinement (chapter three) takes up many of the issues around race science, aesthetics and caricature discussed here. BACK

[8] For some of the most pertinent publications by these three writers, see Works Cited. I discuss each of these writers in chapter three of Sugar, Slavery and the Culture of Refinement (Winckelmann, 76; Lavater, 80-2; Camper, 82-6). BACK

[9] The male body, as Schiebinger has shown (143-83), was the most common exemplar of racial difference in this discourse, although the female body certainly did figure in many accounts, and was seen as crucial to shaping the racial character. The white female counterpart to the Apollo in this discourse was usually the Medici Venus. BACK

[10] For a brief account of the Apollo Belvedere from its discovery in the late fifteenth century through the late nineteenth, see Haskell 148-51. BACK

[11] All references to Camper’s treatise are to the 1821 English edition. For a brief history of the development and publication history of Camper’s treatise, see Bindman 202-6. BACK

[12] On the use of antique sculpture in the representation of human skeletons, see Callen. BACK

[13] Martin Bernal’s Black Athena offers a well-known account of how the African roots of ancient Greek civilization were severed and disavowed over the course of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This publication stimulated wide-ranging and heated debates about the “whitening” of Greek history and culture, and its consequences for our current understanding of the history racism (including anti-Semitism). BACK

[14] A key work in this long tradition was Giambattista della Porta’s De Humana Physiognomonia (1586), which analyzes human character by exploring the similarities between animal and human physiognomies. His work was influential in the development of natural history and caricature. Zoomorphism persisted throughout the nineteenth century and beyond (see Donald 44-57). BACK

[15] According to the caption, this incident was reported by abolitionist Philip Francis in Parliamentary testimony. BACK

[16] Cruikshank’s print was a mock advertisement that appeared in William Hone’s satirical broadside, A Slap at Slop and the Bridge Street Gang (London, 1821). At several points this broadside promotes the cause of English laborers by suggesting that they are more poorly treated and politically devalued than black slaves in the West Indies. BACK

[18] This was one in a series of racist cartoons titled Tregear’s Black Jokes: Being a Series of Laughable Caricatures on the March of Manners amongst Blacks. BACK

[19] McCoubrey claims that the leg belongs to a woman whose breasts are “clearly visible” above the picture frame, but he admits that he cannot make sense of the leg’s relationship to the rest of this body (338). No contemporary critic claimed to see bodies and breasts in the water or indeed attempted to assign a gender to any of the depicted human fragments. BACK

[20] Beattie reviews the writings of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Richard Addison, and Mark Akenside in the course of making this claim. BACK

[21] Hartman is referring here to a specific instance of this kind of sentimental projection—a letter written by John Rankin that was

          Brazilian Romantic Satire on the Peripheries of Photo-Realism: the Case of Angelo Agsostini        
December 2014

Brazilian Romantic Satire on the Peripheries of Photo-Realism: the Case of Angelo Agostini

Marcus Wood
University of Sussex

1.        The following analysis considers four abolitionist satires produced by Angelo Agostini (1843–1910), a satiric lithographer of genius who worked in Rio de Janeiro in the second half of the nineteenth century. Agostini made his prints in a place and at a time riven with contradictions which resulted from the manner in which incipient urban capitalism was thrown up against the survival of a slavery system operating feudal social structures. Rio was a metropolitan center in which slave labor existed hand in hand with the development of new technologies including gas-lighting and steam power. Rio also had more operative photographic studios than any city in the world with the exception of London. Agostini, while he incorporated modern developments into the subject matter of his work, produced print satires which dealt with ancient social abuses. In their compositional complexity and metaphorical ambitions, many of Agostini’s works, in fact, resonate with much earlier visual analogues. His most successful prints are best compared with the work produced by James Gillray and Francisco Goya at the height of the golden age of Romantic print satire in England and Spain, well over half a century earlier. A detailed examination of some of Agostini’s more ambitious designs might open up a space in which to initiate understanding of the specific qualities which define Brazilian late-Romantic graphic art.

2.         Agostini’s designs for the journal O Mequetrefe [“The Good-for-nothing”] typically focus on one central dramatic scene, which is set against a blank, or almost empty, backdrop. Several prints analyze slavery and abolition in terms of fantasies with quasi-allegorical settings. Many of the more effective prints use the beast-fable or draw upon well-known classical and Christian martyrological narratives. Their metaphorics consequently evolve out of some of the basic building blocks of European graphic traditions of satire. Yet what gives Agostini’s work its dynamism, and its unique status within graphic print satire, is the manner in which the visual language is infused with quintessentially Brazilian elements. These elements are sometimes quite literal, and involve the incorporation of Brazilian flora and fauna into his symbolic repertoire. Yet Agostini also does things with Brazilian social custom, political process, labor methods, and even the idiosyncrasies of the Brazilian sense of humour which are quite unprecedented.

3.        Agostini’s big, almost lumbering, prints for O Mequetrefe are at their most powerful when they challenge the limits of genre and formal convention, and when they destabilize political truisms. At their best they share with late Goya, both as painter and printmaker, an expressive universality which is capable of getting beyond the limitations of specific political causes or the peccadilloes of particular politicians. [figure 1] The following print satire “ESCRAVIDÃO” (O Mequetrefe, no. 447, January 14, 1888, 4-5) meditates in a general way upon slavery and emancipation, as Brazil teetered on the very verge of abolition. Here Agostini expands the potential of the beast fable by conflating antagonistic elements of realism and fantasy. He creates both a mythical monster, and something very real, and in this particularly looks straight back to Goya’s ghastly Fiero monstruo! [Wild Monster!], from The Disasters of War. Agostini’s print is both wise and pragmatic, and suggests that the moral dilemmas which slavery and emancipation generate have no simple solutions and may well lead to a violent, uncertain, and quite possibly ruined future.

4.        The print could not on the surface be simpler, one word “ESCRAVIDÃO” [“SLAVERY”] is inscribed in capitals upon the body of a crocodile, which a group of men try to restrain and capture. Yet despite its monumentality the print is deeply conflicted. On closer examination the interplay between word and image emerges as saturated in ambiguities. The inscription at the bottom of the print reads: “Emquanto estes não atam nem desatam, vem chagando o caçdor que lhe dará o .” [“The huntsmen, really don’t want to let it go, they move forward to make the coup de grace”]. The print seems to say that, whether they want to or not, the politicians must slay the monster slavery, and yet to kill slavery they must paradoxically let go of it.

5.        This print uses narrative and stylistic shock tactics; it appears to be naturalistic, but juxtaposes antagonistic realities. The naturalism is consequently layered and charged, for the drawing throws into bizarre collision two contexts which, although both realistically observed, would never normally co-exist. A specific set of caricatured, fashionably accoutred, and spectacularly bourgeois Rio politicians express intense psychological anxiety. They experience their extreme emotion over the issue of abolition, yet this emotion is combined with a realistic rendering of the technical methods used by professional crocodile hunters, as they restrain their very real and very dangerous prey, prior to executing it. The print is built upon an ingenious and confusing contradiction which is cleverly embedded in a pun on the verb “desatar.” “Desatar” means in its most immediate sense “to let go,” or “to untie,” but also carries, or implies, many other meanings including “to release from captivity a person or animal,” “to liberate,” “to give up control over,” and “to become unravelled” (Novo Michaelis). Finally there is a set of meanings leaning towards desertion, in its familiar English sense: the verb can imply the withdrawal of involvement in a thing or project, the act of walking away. Viewed as the center of a web of possible significations, the crucial verb consequently takes on a series of disconcerting political inferences. The politicians don’t want “to let slavery go” in each and every one of these possible senses. They don’t want to end the system of bondage they are familiar with and responsible for, and they don’t want to let the monster they have both created, and which they control, go loose. The paradox at the heart of the satire can be summarized as follows: in order to kill slavery the slave power must commit an act of emancipation. But of course this is “to let slavery go” in a further sense, to release it into a chaotic future in the form of an unknown and untried socio-cultural phenomenon, “freedom.” It is in this context that several of the secondary meanings of “desatar”—“to unravel,” “to come apart”—become prominent. In this sense the real crocodile is not mere “slavery” but a more horrifying prospect: the politicians” internalised terror of “freedom.”

6.        The print consequently articulates a social and psychological dilemma, the idea that slavery may become much more potentially lethal for the former slave owners once it is reconstituted in the form of a concrete mass liberation. The print looks out with a certain unflinching—not to say grim—pragmatism, at the reality of emancipation for a slave-holding empire. Written into this metaphoric crocodile is a terror of the effects of emancipation which cuts two ways. Once it has been let-go-of, what will this freed crocodile of slavery/liberty represent, how will things fall apart, in what form will the snapping jaws manifest themselves? The two extremes of violence held in balance in this print—one liberationist, one repressive—embody two possible but apparently irreconcilable futures. One might be manifested in the violence of the ex-slavers, in the expression of a colossal resentment and in a continued desire to re-impose control and to exploit. The other might be manifested in the fury and revolutionary potential of a slave population bent on revenge and pumped up for it by centuries of persecution.

7.        In its ideological interrogation of slavery and freedom through a metaphorics of monstrism, this print makes significant intellectual advances upon the extant tradition of Anglo-American abolition graphics. When this print was made it was building upon—while simultaneously interrogating—a longstanding tradition of late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century English and American abolition prints which had shown slavery as a monster. Yet this monster invariably took the form of a rampant and insatiable force of evil. The most common manifestation was a rabid, often animalized, planter with a whip, or a knife, or instruments of torture, actively tearing into slave bodies. Other examples depicted slavery as a serpent or fantastic dragon with crocodilian elements. Slavery appeared conveniently allegorized and distanyiated; it was invariably an inhuman mythologized force of evil actively consuming the slave body in acts of brutality and torture. Demonic, bestial, anarchic, and sadistic, it was an evil “other” which abolition as a manifestation of the civilized power of developed and enlightened nations needed to kill off (Wood, 2000, 95-101; Wood 2010, 112-30).

8.        The novelty and shocking Brazilian-ness of Agostini’s work emerges in the manner in which he makes slavery into such a naturalistic beast. To show slavery as a very realistic salt-water crocodile, being restrained according to a system of capture used by coastal Indians in the Northeast then (and to this day) is disconcerting at a number of levels. The creature is not simply emblematic or allegorical in the manner of earlier abolition prints, but it is complicated by its documentary naturalism. If the label “slavery” is removed from its side, what we have is a very lifelike crocodile being disabled by having its two natural weapons—the muscular tail, and the deadly jaws—bound up and tied down. The crocodile squats on a muddy shoreline, very reminiscent of endless mangrove swamps of the Northeast, of Penambuco and Alagoas. The scrubby intertwining trees in the background reaching down to the tide-line appear to be mangroves. The men at the back are lashing the tail to a tree to immobilize it, one bracing himself by the knee against the trunk to get better purchase; the men at the front have bound the jaws together, and are keeping the crocodile fully extended in order that it cannot exert any leverage. The crocodile’s fore and back legs grip the muddy bank in an attempt to hold their ground, while the body is accurately drawn and exists as one serpentine torpedo of muscle. In spatial terms the print is wonderfully ordered. The whole thing is set on a tilt; on the slide, the knotted groups of politicians forced out to the right and left desperately fight to stay where they are, to stop the beast, aided by the inevitable forces of gravity, drawing them back into the waters from which it was seized.

9.        The satiric brilliance of the print lies in throwing such a precisely observed description of the genuine technique used to catch a crocodile up against the fantasy of the politicians, who have jumped in from another world, decked out in the fashionable European costumes of Rio power-brokers. These gentleman politicians, complete with bow ties, wing collars, and elegant Victorian trews, slither awkwardly about in the dirt, pushed out to the margins of the composition, with the monster of slavery clearly at the center of attention for the viewer and the would-be captors alike. We are given a world on the slide, where the majority of the surface areas is composed of a blank wall of mud. The animal belongs to the landscape, and is at home on Brazilian water, Brazilian land, or in a soupy mixture of the two. It is the politicians in their European borrowed robes and their precarious patent leather shoes, who are the alien presence. They are moving out of their depth, and as they slither on the bank, the mud which they slide upon—and which entraps them—is also a symbol of political corruption.

10.        These men come off as truly out of their element, artificial, somehow foreign; they attempt to battle a natural force which is at home, angry, and resistant. One strong reading of the print is as a pessimistic and pragmatic warning that modern Brazil should simply walk away from, or blank out, the horror of its slavery inheritance. Viewed this way, the print warns that if slavery constitutes a saurian horror as terrible and as fierce as the politicians envision, then what is the point of civilized men trying to capture and restrain it? Surely it is better to leave it alone, to live out its sinister existence in peaceful, invisible oblivion within the muddy waters which the politicians dare not enter. What the water means in this print is consequently also open to conjecture—it is a natural element which is itself both symbolically and literally obscure. It is not easy to know what to make of this slow impenetrable element which flows out to the bottom-right-hand corner of the print and out beyond the margins of the picture. The Atlantic ocean was, of course, the route by which the entire slave population of Brazil was originally imported, yet the ocean is also an ancient and profound metaphor for freedom. This swamp shoreline may be the sign of an ambiguous and torpid freedom, but what sort of freedom lurks in mud? Is it freedom for the slaves and the politicians to live together in the warm, dark, maternal waters of a post-emancipation Brazil, or the ironic freedom for slavery to continue to endure, renamed but essentially unchanged? As with so many of Gillray’s greatest political satires, Agostini finally refuses to give the viewer any simple final answer, and in this sense addresses the impossible legacy of slavery with a maturity that confronts—indeed embraces—conflict and contradiction.

11.        In the best of the work he did for O Mequetrefe, Agostini takes the political lithograph into new satiric and descriptive territories, and his innovations seem to grow out of his ability to embrace elements which photography had introduced into visual culture. At what may initially seem to be its most simple level, the influence of photography upon Agostini’s print technique relates to the pure power of documentary realism. Creating political propaganda by adopting an aesthetic of “less is more,” Agostini was capable of harnessing within his lithographs the objective visual energies generated by photography. Photography had injected new and unsettling elements of realism into the conventions of many extant visual genres including portraiture, landscape and the tableau vivant. In the following print he fuses all three of these areas to create what remains a genuinely unnerving interrogation of slavery and ignorance.

12.         [figure 2] The title of “O supplicio do escravo Bernardo (Vide o texto),” [“The Entreaty of the Slave Bernardo (look at the text)”] (O Mequetrefe, no. 435, May 28, 1887, 4-5) directs the reader to a long accompanying article which takes up the two preceding pages of the issue. Under the stark headline “Um Crime Impune” [“An Unpunished Crime”], the text gives a melodramatic account of the circumstances leading up to the death of Bernardo as a result of his prolonged torture and abuse at the hands of a gentleman, one Antonio de Atahyde e Souza, described as “a widower, farmer and native of Portugal.” Bernardo, who had been given his emancipation papers a year earlier on 4 March 1886, was still being kept as a slave by Atahyde. The “slave” had gone to the authorities to state that he was free and to complain of his abuse at the hands of Atahyde, only to be returned to the now irritated “master.” Bernardo was put in the stocks then repeatedly whipped and beaten, the abuse leading to terrible wounding of his back and buttocks. He finally died when he was subsequently kept in the stocks. He lay on a cold brick floor for 52 hours without food or water, and continually aggravated his wounds by rubbing them against the floor. The statement that Bernardo lay there all night, in his agony grinding his injuries into the stone and dirt, came from a slave witness, and are seen by the article’s author as opening the way into an imagined world of unending pain: “What a prolonged and dolorous agony now saturates these words!” Despite the exhumation and examination of the corpse, and the presentation of medical testimony to the authorities, Atahyde was never prosecuted. The article ends with outraged condemnation not only of all who participated in the atrocity, but with the statement that if such things can happen in this nation, then Brazil itself is “a land of barbarians.”

13.         Agostini’s task was to create, within a single visual narrative, a commentary on this all too typical—and in fact all too commonly reported—little set of circumstances. The choice of subject and the descriptive method are quite different from anything that had appeared in earlier print satire dealing with slave trauma in Europe and North America. The approach Agostini adopts is also dramatically different, in rhetorical terms, from that of the written text. He opts for a strategy of severe restraint and narrative understatement. The moment and the event he chooses to describe are carefully choreographed. The viewer is placed inside the outhouse in which the atrocity occurs. We stand on the same brick floor on which Bernardo is tortured, and witness the beginning of his ordeal, knowing that the violence we witness will damage his body in ways which then cause his lonely and extended death during the ensuing night. The design ironically exploits its landscape format. The middle and background of the print consists of a view of the farmhouse, and outbuildings poking up from a sloping field. It is the sort of outside view that people never bothered to paint, but which the camera frequently would record, because, quite simply, it is there. The ordinary, open, calm, uninhabited suburban land is monumentally banal: a silent everyday backdrop for a banal, silent, everyday event expressing the limitless power of slavery. The foreground, on the other hand, is formally dramatic, and occurs, like so many narrative studio photographs of the period, within a narrow stage-like foreground, complete with proscenium-style frame and props. Part of the satire’s power comes from the manner in which it suggests frozen action upon a stage—in other words a tableau vivant. The composition is set up through a series of strict rectilinear forms and spaces. The outhouse architecture sternly encases the human action, a large horizontal beam runs across the top, and two vertical beams point down, like mighty arrows, into the composition. Set at a slightly oblique angle against this stark frame are two rectangular box forms: the first is the massive stocks, the second the packing case upon which Atahyde sits. The stocks itself is drawn with great accuracy, and precisely conforms to the typical structure of the communal tronco which occupied such a central and self-consciously dramatic symbolic space in the fazendas and town squares of nineteenth-century Brazil. Made of hardwood, these vast structures, with their geometric holes, still stand in public spaces and museums across the Northeast of Brazil. But Agostini insists that the tronco is not a theatrical monument to the memory of slavery, but merely a useful part of the furniture of the farm outhouse. It thrusts dramatically into the composition from the left. The far end remains invisible, shooting out of the picture frame and suggesting that there is no end to this terrible set of parallel lines.

14.        The most charged space of visual/emotional punctuation in this print are the sets of black holes into and out of which the slave limbs penetrate. The great planks are periodically cut through by these ghastly geometrical orifices, circles which are obscenely polished pebble-smooth by the twisting limbs of innumerable victims over immemorial time. The manner in which Agostini inhabits these holes is inspired. On the left of the design, the further set are filled by two anonymous legs, the body tumbling back and out of the left margin of the design. This faceless disembodied victim is challenging us as witnesses to give him, or her, an identity, to make the suffering mean something. These are perhaps two of the most traumatically-charged legs and feet in the slavery archive. This fragmented body serves, in compositional terms, to provide a counterweight to Bernardo’s body. As he lies left to right, the other body lies right to left, the space between the two supine victims providing the dramatic stage inhabited by the slave with the whip, who is about to begin the process of flagellating Bernardo. The knotted flail which he raises has several lashes, and each is weighted with pieces of lead. One detail is terrific, pushed up above the horizon line of the tronco we see four toes. These pitiful digits are the only part of any body which reaches though a hole and becomes visible out beyond the stocks, inhabiting the free space of the landscape. The toes “stand” there, yet because of the perspectival trickery of the composition, the strands of the cat-of-nine-tails dance around these naked parts of a foot, emphasising that there is no escape, no free space, no way out of this world of arbitrary torment.

15.        The display of Bernardo’s smooth, unblemished back has something ghastly about it, and only the whipper and ourselves (existing as viewers who are both witnesses and accomplices) are privileged to see this. Much of the extraordinary power of this design comes from the sense of separateness; there is the constant intimation that the scene which we are witnessing is cut off from the eyes of the rest of the world. The ultimate terror which the narrative embodies relates to the fact that the only white witness, the torturer himself, seems completely oblivious—or to use the vernacular phrase “out of it.” The vertical support beam creates a separate performative space for Atahyde; he is set up in his own little compartment on the right hand margin, almost as if he is posing in a studio for his portrait. His visual independence from the rest of the composition is striking; he could be cut off from the page with a pair of scissors. He would then exist as a powerful portrait study, and nothing would suggest the horror which he is at the heart of. Again Agostini has given slave power a new kind of face: this is a modern man, an urban gent, a man who could step straight into a Machado de Assis dinner party. He has a manicured beard, and elegant brushed back grey hair. He is dressed in a city suit, with white wing collar and bow tie, and is holding a large cigar with casual ease in his right hand, his left hand resting on the box top. He doesn’t look particularly good or bad, he doesn’t look handsome or ugly, he doesn’t look at all. There is no moral decay or inuman barbarity written into this face, there is no emotional engagement of any sort. He just looks like anyone else, a dull man who is spectacularly unexcited and unaware, locked into thinking his own unexceptional thoughts. The crucial thing is the detachment: a psychological detachment to match the spatial one. What defines both this man’s evil, and the social tragedy his actions create, is the fact that there is no sadistic engagement in what he has instigated, and no interest in what is happening or will happen. Agostini has risen above the melodrama and sadism with which the Anglo-American abolition archive had so energetically and easily demonized the slave power. Rejecting the easy and pornographic spectacle of grinning planters bathed in the blood of writhing mulattas, or of slaves foundering in boiling vats of sugar cane juice, Agostini has given us something far more terrifying and of infinitely greater moral worth. Agostini has created slavery in the form of a modern monster: a placid, passive being, complacent within the mantle of its assumed superiority.

16.        Agostini takes a mundane story of pointless violence and attempts to explain both why it happened and why it will never be prosecuted. While the journalist rants and sends up rhetorical fireworks of arch sarcasm, Agostini grimly exposes the silent confidence, the meditative oblivion, the transcendent impunity of the slave power. Agostini is the only artist I have come across who, in a spirit of furious satire, could show the smooth-faced, calm, unimpeachably well mannered appearance which Brazilian slavery presented to the world, even at the brutal instant when it did its very worst.

17.        As abolitionist propaganda reached a crescendo in the late 1880s, Agostini produced work which seemed to push at more and more aesthetic boundaries. In February of 1888, only five months before the passage of the Golden Law abolishing slavery, the Brazilian media suddenly became fixated upon a certain extreme case of slave abuse. Two small slave girls, Joanna and Eduarda, had been kept in a cellar, starved, beaten, burned with irons, and systematically tortured over months by an insanely cruel mistress, who shamefully had connections with the Royal Court. The great mulatto journalist, propagandist, and abolition leader Jose do Patrocinio had been tipped off about the case, and published a series of articles concerning the abuse. The case became a cause celèbre, and a local photographer, one Heitor, was called in to make a series of portraits of the traumatised, scarred, and swollen children who were also displayed in public. Agostini contributed to the cause and used the photograph as the basis for a lithographic portrait [figure 3] Os fructos de perversidade [“The fruits of perversity”] (O Mequetrefe no. 399, 10 February 1886, 8). In giving this portrait of horror such a simple brief ironic title he achieves a disgusted aphoristic extremity reminiscent of the sparse sarcastic linguistic fury which energizes certain of the captions of Goya’s Disasters of War—for example, “This brings you luck,” (beneath a grotesque scene of torture) or “This is what you were born for” (The caption for an image of a man vomiting over a pile of corpses). But Agostini is working in a different technical world from that of Goya, and the power of this work comes out of the way it explores a peculiar empathy between the qualities of early photographs and stone lithography. The portrait that Agostini developed out of Heitor’s photograph maintains—even though we are now familiar with the graphic representation of extreme abuse through many millions of photographic images generated across the vast tracts of useless violence which constitute twentieth-century history—the power to hold our attention. The icon of these two small female victims is so unforgiving, and it whips up a combination of things that is almost unbearable to see united. There is the pathos of the shabby dirty little one-piece utility frocks, collarless, shapeless, ragged at hem and cut off sleeves, tied at the waist with string. This is clothing which informs us that slavery was a mass institution, that its victims wore uniforms. This is the clothing of the work-house, and the industrial factory floor before there were child labor and factory acts. This is the clothing which systems of ultimate abuse put on children, when they no longer respect or see the innocence they embody. There is the fact that one girl is taller than the other, the fact that the shorter one goes barefoot, while the taller one wears thin slippers. There is the fact of physical stiffness saturating such young bodies. They are bent, prematurely stooped at the waist, lost in some sort of space we can never understand, upright but teetering, going nowhere, futureless, out of time, forcing us to stay there with them for as long as we can take it. The arms out in front reaching into thin air are like a blind person's; they are held down and out, they are damaged, useless, bandaged at all four wrists. The hands are swollen, the one hand held palm upwards, with the faintest suggestion that it is waiting to receive the stigmata, or maybe pleading, or maybe begging, or maybe just fractured. Rhetorically more forceful than anything, the fact of isolation—the visual fact that in their dumb pain these two little girls, standing so close, do not reach out to each other, do not seek to touch, to hold hands, but let their hands hang, unfelt in space, because maybe it would hurt too much to make contact with anything or anyone, maybe because they inhabit a world of pain where it is inconceivable that anyone else can be alive to share it. And then those unspeaking, unspeakable, heads, hair shorn like adult felons, or victims of disease, or inhabitants of the lager. The large visible ears of the figure on the left have a dreadful fragility, a delicate nakedness, that makes us wonder what ghastly and unrecoverable sounds they have had to hear. And finally those faces, the faces of children beaten into an ageless, genderless, fissured pulp. The foreheads rent with sharp slits, precise cuts which Lucio Fontana would have appreciated, and the eyes closed, one would say looking down, but these faces seem driven so far beyond the capacity to see anything. That simple horizon line, and the barest indication of the uneven ground on which they stand, are the only things that locate these icons of the human crime of Atlantic slavery in time and space. And yet the patterns the bandages make, and the way the black flesh moves in and out of the clothing, is formally beautiful.

18.        Maybe one way to come at the magnitude of Agostini’s achievement in the portrait of Joanna and Eduarda is to think about the other options that might have been available. What if he had decided to turn the whole event into something more like a comic strip, and tried to link it, as some sort of proto-graphic novel, into the general concerns of the abolition movement? What if he had done this, yet opted to incorporate elements of documentary realism as charged with an hallucinogenic realism as those of Goya’s Disaster’s of War, and as infused with human metamorphoses and animalizations as extreme as those of Gillray at his wildest? We get some idea both of how deeply the event struck Agostini’s imagination, and of his ability to draw on a European graphic inheritance, by the fact that he did exactly this. [figure 4] Here is the alternative interpretation of the outrage of Joanna and Eduarda which appeared in Revista Illustrada (no. 427, 18 February 1886, 8) eight days after the portrait in O Mequetrefe.

19.        In this remarkable sheet, Agostini has gone for a very different narrative and aesthetic approach. He draws again upon photographic resources, but also takes up narrative techniques which were developed in the older single-sheet, compartmentalized narrative prints of Europe (Kunzle, 1973). Then beyond this, the print even seems to anticipate cinematic techniques. The print incorporates a series of long and short views, sequential narrative, and shocking surreal montage effects to express outrage. The page works through seven vignettes that are to be read, initially, from left to right, top to bottom. Yet these images also set up dramatic sets of contrasts if read vertically or through diagonals. The sudden jumps in scale and viewpoint encourage such visual mixing and matching on the part of the viewer, the whole page is in spatial terms radically unstable and so invites us to throw away visual convention in responding to it. It is as if the outrageousness of what we are being shown requires a new way of telling a visual story to do it justice.

20.        The top two scenes take up about a third of the page, and consist of a middle-distance crowd scene and of a close-up double portrait. The first image to left shows the girls being displayed in public by the two abolitionist propagandists. Beneath the caption reads: “Naõ é só no interior que se commettem crimes contra os escravos. As pretas Eduarda e Joanna levadas ás redacções dos jornaes pelo José do Patrocinio e João Clapp provam que na Corte tambem ha verdugos.” [“It is not only in the interior that crimes are committed against the slaves. The blacks Eduarda and Joanna, taken up in the newspaper articles of José do Patrocinio and João Clapp prove that even at Court there are inhuman torturers”]. Agostini starts out, then, by attempting to break down a stereotype which still pervades attitudes to slave abuse today. Slavery is not something that happens away from civilization and urban centers, in “the interior,” out of site, amongst barbarian slave-holders. Again, this is a blow against the emotional extremism of European Romantic and Sentimental constructions of slave abuse. Agostini focuses on the point that the most extreme abuse of defenseless children is happening in the heart of the most modern city in Latin America, the then-capital of Brazil, Rio da Janeiro, and further that it is being perpetrated by female aristocrats. The crowd that surrounds the two white-clad, staggering girls is not done up in the stereotypical attire of the tropical planter, but is dressed in top hats and dark suits. The lady who exits the frame at right, and towards whom Patrocinio gestures, wears a crinoline and bonnet, and is probably not dressed unlike the lady responsbible for torturing these children. All these figures, with the exception of the victims, could be transplanted to the streets of central London, Paris, or New York with no difficulty. The next scene uses a “zoom” technique to focus in on the two girls in close-up, but again looks down from a slightly elevated view-point. This portrait is a miniature variation on the full-sized and full-figure portrait Agostini had produced for O Mequetrefe. It is based on another of the photographs of the girls taken by Heitor, and again shows two victims front on, almost blinded by beatings, and with their faces completely wounded and disfigured. The caption is simple and factual: “Heitor, the photographer, took the portrait of these two vicims, nearly blinded from beating, and with their faces cut up and disfigured” [“O photographo Heitor tirou o retrato das duas infelizes, quasi cegas de pancadas, e com o rosto todo ferido e desfigurado”]. There are major differences between this portrait and the earlier one. This time the girls are shown three-quarter figure, and seated. The older of the two girls has the top of her dress taken down over her shoulders, uncovering the top part of her breasts, while the younger girl’s top remains firmly buttoned up. The effect is to suggest both the femininity and the girlish vulnerability of the victims. This device, partially unclothing one girl while leaving the other dressed, is used to force the viewer to see both of them as abused yet as on display. The hint of sexualised voyeurism in the double portrait requires the viewer to remember that these girls, although children, are slaves, and as such are sexually available to whoever owns them. There are no limits to what the owner can do to either body, as Aime Cesaire instructed, “you can do anything” to any slave body. Yet as we as viewers look at these bodies, we are made aware of a terrible ambiguity: we cannot tell if they are looking back at us. The image is terrifying because of the way it upends the conventions of the full-face portrait. Normally we would expect to look into the eyes of the viewer, but here we cannot tell where their eyes are directed, or indeed if they have any eyes left. They may be looking at us or into some blood-filled haze; their children’s eyes appear completely swollen shut.

21.        The third, fourth, and fifth vignettes fill the middle section of the image, but only about one quarter of the space. These intense little views constitute, if the page is seen as a whole, the filling in a visual sandwich. For these scenes of the official response to the death of one of the girls, Agostini has pulled right back for a distant view, almost a wide-angled set of scenes. The effect is to remove us, to take us out of the action, to make us distant and less intimate viewers; peering into the scenes from far away, we are forced to try and work out what is going on. The third scene suddenly shows the girl we have just been looking at, the older of the pair, Joanna, now stretched out and completely undressed apart from a sheet over her abdomen acting as a sort of forensic modesty veil. She has passed from alive, tortured, seated, and partially clothed, to dead, supine, beyond pain, and unclothed. Again the prose is tight and factual, reflecting the nature of the scene we are witness to: “Three days later the unfortunate female Joanna found herself in the Morgue, where several doctors carried out the autopsy, they declared that she died from tuberculosis aggravated by maltreatment” [“Tres dias depois a miserera Joanna achava se no Necroterio, onde varios medicos, precendendro a autopsia, declaravaram ter ella fallecido de uma tubercolose aggravada por maus tratos”]. There is no false sentiment here, only the facts of the case, and the uneasy conclusion that the doctors found the cause of death to be TB and not the direct result of her extended torture. She, and the doctors who stand around her, are shown only about one quarter the size of the figure she was when alive. In death she gets a surfeit of medical attention from the best doctors around, she has become a tragic celebrity, and at the same time an object of medical curiosity.

22.        The next two vignettes are drawn from the same distant perspective, but move from inside to outside, and show the funeral procession of the girl and her interment. The captions take up the theme of celebrity and tell us that Joanna’s death has now become the concern and responsibility of the abolitionists: “The Abolition Confederation accompanied her to the Cemetery and conducted the burial” [“A Confederação Abolicionista fez o enterro, acompanhandora até o Cemeterio”]. From an elevated viewpoint, as if looking down from a window, we see an elaborate procession entering the cemetery gates, and incorporating a series of horse drawn carriages. The furthest away comprises a glass-sided and elaborately-decorated funeral carriage, Joanna’s body visible to the public. This is the sort of spectacular funeral arrangement which would normally be reserved for aristocracy or celebrity—Joanna, in death, has become a cause celebre. The last of the middle scenes shows the scene at the graveside. Only at this point does the print, through the caption, pass from grim and uninflected social reportage into openly satiric mode. The caption announces: “On top of the coffin, beside a garland of flowers, her emancipation certificate was nailed!” [“Sobre o caixão, ao lado de uma grinalda, achava-se pregada a sua carta de liberdade!”]. Death is here ironized and literalized as the final form of liberation for the slave.

23.        This shift into dark humour allows the print to pass into its final stage, which replaces the stark documentary naturalism of the earlier artwork with something that borders upon surreal fantasy. In its sudden transfusion this imagery looks weird, and yet all Agostini has done is suddenly return to the language of his eighteenth-century progenitors. The fantasy, of course, looks directly back to the collective animalizations which invigorate countless Gillray satires, and the Capricios of Goya. The bottom half of the print is dominated by a strange scene in which two caricatured males are shown surrounded by a menagerie of domestic birds and beasts. A small Pierrot-style juvenile in striped body suit, wearing a fool’s cap, and clutching a giant pen, bends over them at right. The elaborate caption draws out the satire:

And yet in spite of all these horrors of slavery, we must not lose heart. The philanthropic spirit has penetrated into the highest class of our society, which, overwhelmed with emotion at the appalling treatment suffered by donkeys, dogs, cats and so on, has resolved to found a society for the protection of animals.

The president of this humanitarian Association is the most Excellent Senator Senior Nunes Gonçalves and one of his most fervent henchmen, the Excellent Senior, the Chief of Police Coelho Bastos.

– To our guardians of beasts. –

[“Apezar de todos esses horrors da escravdidão, não devemos desanimár. A philanthropia penetrou na alta classe da nossa sociedada, que, comovida com os maus tratos que soffrem os burros, cães, gatos et.c. resolveu fundar a Sociedade Protectora dos Animaes.

O Presidente desta humanitaria associacão é o Ex. Sr. Senador Nunes Gonçalves ed um dos seus mais fervorosos adeptos, é o Ex. Sr. chefe de Policia, Coelho Bastos.

- - Os nossos parabens á bicharia.”]
Agostini suddenly shifts attention to the social world in which the abolitionists must function and make themselves heard. The surge for animal rights had been inaugurated in Europe and America, at exactly same moment as abolition, and disconcertingly, often existed in an explicit relationship to it. Animal rights rapidly lead to the foundation of the humane societies in Europe and North America in the latter half of the nineteenth century, and was also making headway with the emergent middle classes of Brazil’s urban centers. This final part of the print is, then, a very ingenious and very serious confrontation with a series of issues relating to the equation of animals with slaves first evolved in the abolition literatures of Europe from 1780-1833 (Wood, 2003, 398-406). This problematic equation involves the moral levelling of the rights of human slaves with those of farm livestock, an ethical descent which was explicitly legitimized by the slave codes. Yet beyond this, the equation incorporates the blurring of the moral boundaries between human rights and animal rights, which arose in the wake of the new emotional bourgeois concerns for the feelings of animals. Agostini focuses on the insane moral contradictions which can allow a society to maintain slavery with all its attendant cruelties, while officially buying into the new universal sentimentalism fixated on animal rights. The attack works by suggesting that abolitionists need not despair, for if Brazil’s elite are prepared to begin by feeling sympathy for beasts, then who knows—in time they might feel some pity for African slaves. The design plays cleverly with conventional animal symbolism: the two politicians, notorious pro-slavery figures singled out in the text for their support of the new animal rights society, are shown attached to their bestial symbols. Gonçalves embraces an ass, while a pig squats at his feet, and a dog jumps up his leg. The associations of these animals relate to stupidity, greed, and servility. Bastos has a gesturing ape on his shoulder, the traditional symbol of both foolishness and lust. Bastos, in top hat and tail-coat, also holds a large angora rabbit under his arm, and looks exactly like a magician who has produced a rabbit out of a hat. The implication is that if these two can get away with this piece of political chicanery, they can, in the public’s eyes, get away with anything.

24.        The final phrase is a superb and typically Agostinian pun. While on the surface it is a cry of applause for the saviours of the animals, the word “bicharia” can also mean a crowd of people, or a heap of vermin. Are we looking at protectors of animals, or protectors of a crowd of people, because the slaves should have—indeed from an ultimate humanitarian perspective do have—the same rights as animals? Or is it a venom-spitting finale saying that the politicians, their followers, and the animal rights activists are all a pile of vermin, as long as they cannot feel for the slaves? There may also be an obscene pun on the colloquial meaning of “bicha” designating a low form of homosexual. No wonder the little figure on the right, who runs through the pages of Revista Illustrada and is representative of Agostini’s satiric muse, gazes in childish amazement at all he has seen in the page opposite and above. The very last scene, bottom right, shows the little satirist simply giving up. In Juvenalian mode he declares: “This country of ours really does take the cake!” [Esta nossa terra é um cumulo!]. He gives the whole thing up—the ghastly joke is beyond the powers of satire—and seems to echo the famous declaration from Juvenal’s first satire, that in a world of utterly depraved contradiction “it is difficult not to write satire” [“difficile est saturam non scribere”]. The satire Agostini has created has achieved a novel shock effect, one that comes out of forcing the collision of two hitherto-unknown worlds. The new world of photographic documenatry realism and the old world of the transposed beast fable (transmogrified into high satiric art by the etching needles of Goya and Gillray) are thrown into each others’ arms on terms of aesthetic equality.

Works Cited

O Mequetrefe. Rio de Janeiro, 1885.

Revista Illustrada. Rio de Janeiro, 1888.

George, Mary Dorothy. Catalogue of the Political and Personal Satires: Preserved in the Department of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum. London: British Museum, 1935–4.

Goya, Francisco, y Lucientes. Los desastres de la guerra, etching sequence. Madrid: 1815–20.

Kunzle, David. History of the Comic Strip, 2 vols. Berkeley/Los Angeles: U of California P, 1973–90

List of Figures

Figure 1:

Figure 2:

Figure 3:

Figure 4:

Authored by (Secondary): 

Parent Section: 


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NINES Type(s): 

          Cleaning up the news feed: making Facebook work for ME.        
(....actually -- you MUST go check out the "reviews" for the Lady-Pens. As good as "wolf t-shirt" reviews...)

First off, I'll remind us that I spend All Day On The Internet. All caps. It's a "short attention span for real work" sort of thing, coupled with a genuine Love and Affection for Al Gore's Brain Child. 


Realized the other day that it seemed like my Facebook (and, to a similar extent, Twitter) feed had become nothing but one big, loud, obnoxious, never-ending advertisement for crap I don't need. Realized, concurrently, that I'd been the maestro of my own irritation, orchestrating a series of "likes" and "subscriptions" and "follow" mouse-clicks that meant my day was spent scrolling through nothing but advertisements for junk hucked at me by companies I'd rather just left me alone.

Anyone who's ever "liked" a store at which they shop or a product they buy and then immediately regretted that the company actually posts annoying stuff with much regularity will relate to the chagrin: it was beginning to feel like my online life was nothing but a collection of commercials. And no one likes commercials. 

Unless they're Dos Equis commercials. Or, if you're Mr Wonderful, the "free credit score dot com, dot com" commercials, EVEN THOUGH the jingle gets stuck in his head for days. Especially at night when we're trying to sleep. 


Sure, I "liked" Jiffy Lube to get a $5 discount, but I don't really want to hear what they have to say about winterizing my car when I fire up Facebook in the morning.

Yep, I "liked" that steakhouse downtown because they had a free dinner giveaway once (a dinner that costs most of a pay check, actually), but I don't really care to read about their whiskey-tasting dinners and their famous guests chefs when all I really want is to cruise through pictures of actual friends' weddings and pregnant bellies.

Maybe I "like" that tanning salon, but would they PLEASE stop posting pictures of bikini-clad girls in lots of jewelry asking fans to "Yea" or "Nay" whether or not layered necklaces are a "must" when poolside this summer - ???

And yeah, I "like" that cheap chain clothing store that cranks out chintzy junk made by Chinese slave labor, but I don't care that they just slashed clearance prices on their website and I don't care that they want to re-direct me to this month's "Elle" magazine to see the many ways I can copy designer looks for less. And I don't have Homecoming anything on the horizon (this should be telling me something about their target demographic. And it ain't me). 

Yes, I "like" the expensive department store, but that doesn't mean it helps my "buy things" compulsion to have $9700 dresses appearing in the news feed as though any REAL people (read: people who do not appear on any television programming on the Bravo network) would ever buy a Lanvin for ten grand just because Facebook showed it to them. Now when they finally get the full line of Tom Ford cosmetics, then maybe I'll........NO. No, I'm not a masochist. 

And I couldn't even tell you why I "liked" that particular film studio, in the first place. All they produce are violence-heavy, dude-magnet action flicks. Wait -- actually, I love those.

Where were the "friends" in my "social networks?" Don't real PEOPLE use these sites anymore? Why am I constantly sifting through the songs they just listened to on Spotify? Why do I care that so-and-so likes Tide detergent? 

Life on the webertubes was becoming like commercial radio -- you think you stop by to hear some peppy summer hip-hop, you end up dodging "Ovation Cell Therapy" commercials and Nothing But Katy Perry.

It's a wasteland.

Because I allowed it to be. 

Cue moment of clarity. 

I created this mess, I can unsubscribe myself from this mess. 

Sort of like when I purged my email of ALL junk mail a year ago. If it wasn't from a person, I unsubscribed. It gradually seeps back in, the junk, but at least I had a baseline. For a few good months, my phone wasn't full of 18 junk emails when I checked it in the morning. If I could do that, I could do the same with Facebook, right?

So I did. 

And, because most of the rest of us are deluged with crap we "like" and songs we played (or skipped), it was a little.....desolate out there, once I whittled the noise down to just friends and family. So, I started adding back to the mix. Rather than overloading myself with sales pitches, I chose to follow sites that I actually visit and respect. Blogs and organizations that add something positive to the online conversation. The equivalent of choosing to eat at a restaurant I really ENJOY during a lunch break instead of filling up on beef jerky and diet coke from the drug store down the block from the office.

(But no one else does that, do they.....? Those little "Cocktail Pep's" are so good when you need a salty, greasy, mid-afternoon protein fix....... And at least I weaned myself from the Sour Patch Kids.....THAT must deserve a pat on the back...? Heather, you're gross.). 

Anyway -- I've realized that it sort of restored my faith in the webernet to make a more focused decision about my online diet. Less Oberto, more parsley. Less candy, more grapefruit. All of a sudden, the world is a brighter, more optimistic place. 

I need more optimism these days. I hate my day job (even while it provides ridiculous amounts of time for You Tube and celebrity gossip.....). I'm frustrated with the current political dialogue. I don't get nearly enough sleep. There are 11 pounds more of me to love than I'd prefer, say my jeans. The wedding planning is a massive undertaking for which Mr Wonderful and I are woefully under-prepared. I'd love a vacation. BUT. But! In the midst of that, I can remind myself that there are smart people out there, saying smart things about important topics in ways that are accessible to massive numbers of people. 

It's just our job to go find it. 

(...look! local issues getting national attention!...)

(....Decision made: I'll "like" organizations that re-focus my "webernet diet...")

(....see? It makes me THINK during the day......)

( cupcakes! see, I can keep some "junk food" and still ENJOY the newsfeed...)
(...I've discovered legitmately RESPECTFUL discussions in the comments...!)

(...I love these "Business of Books" ladies -- they teach publishing. And are witty......)

          What’s really behind all the fabricated anti-Russia hysteria?        

Why so much naked propaganda and fake news directed against Russia especially since Trump’s election?


Executive Summary:

The Deep State now fears a “partnership for peace” between the United States and Russia more than anything else.  It used to fear the natural alliance between Russia and Germany, since the Anglo-American domination of the world would be genuinely threatened by such a powerful geopolitical relationship.  The two World Wars were engineered to pit Russia against Germany in order to preclude such a bloc from forming. The same Neocon cabal has been very busy setting up Europe for yet a third world war by manipulating Merkel’s government against Putin’s Kremlin.  The immigrant crisis that began with the wars in the Middle East and North Africa was literally manufactured to destabilize Europe as a precursor to World War III.
However, in the wake of the Trump presidency, Deep State now has a much bigger ‘problem’—the very real prospect of a United States-Russian Federation entente.  For this reason, the C.I.A. and MSM (mainstream media) have been beating the war drums like never before.  Russia has, overnight, become the whipping boy for everything wrong with the Democratic Party as well as the scapegoat for every major intel security lapse in the USA.  The U.S. Intelligence Community will continue to fabricate patently false stories about the Trump Administration with respect to Russia as pre-emptive strikes to make any meaningful dialogue politically precarious.  At the request of the C.I.A., the MSM will also continue to publish fake news and naked propaganda about the same in order to greatly inflame anti-Russian sentiment.
Whenever the Neocon cabal wants war, they pull out all the stops.  However, in 2017, their New World Order is under serious assault around the globe and war has become an apparent necessity.  Populist movements and nationalist revolutions are springing up like mushrooms across the planet.  After the controlled demolition of the global economic and financial system, the cabal considers war — World War III — as their only real option (just as they created the Great Depression to set the stage for World War II).  Inciting extreme Russophobia has always been their means to starting the real big wars. WW3 will be no different, unless Trump and Putin meet in broad daylight and declare Deep State the archenemy of We the People everywhere.  That’s the short story, now read on for the extended back story.
The entire anti-Russian campaign is being quite deliberately orchestrated at the highest echelons of Deep State and the U.S. Intelligence Community.[1]
As usual, the Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.) is coordinating the Russophobic propaganda campaign.  The following data point explains why the C.I.A. is always so effective in this endeavor and institutionally oriented to forever conduct war propaganda campaigns distinguished by extreme Russophobia.
“General Reinhard Gehlen, former head of Nazi intelligence operations against the Soviets, was hired by the US Army and later by the CIA to operate 600 ex-Nazi agents in the Soviet zone of occupied Germany.
In 1948, CIA Director Roscoe Hillenkoetter assumed control of the
so-called Gehlen Organization.”
The World Shadow Government, itself, which directs the clandestine leadership in the Vatican, the City of London, and the District of Columbia, is behind every move.
The Global Control Matrix, which overlays the entire planetary civilization, is also deeply involved in every aspect of this black operation to unseat a sitting POTUS and overthrow the Russian president.
The globalist New World Order (NWO) agenda, which has been operating in the background for centuries, hinges upon the strict adherence to some key organizing principles.
The central organizing principle, which is always followed religiously by the secret NWO ruling cabal, concerns the strict maintenance of the perpetual war economy.
Toward that end, world peace can never be achieved.  Rather, only the false notion that peace may be attained — at some magical moment in the future — is ever projected.
Consequently, the imaginary split between East and West is always exploited to the max by the ruling cabal.  The East is just far and foreign enough relative to the West that it can always be successfully set up as the [fictitious] bogeyman.


The landmass of the Russian Motherland is not only the largest on Earth, it’s also the only country that stretches from the Far East to the West.
Given this geographical reality, Russia naturally serves as the bridge between East and West.  Russian society and culture, traditions and customs, philosophies and religions come from both the East and the West.
As both the land bridge and the diplomatic bridge between East and West, Russia’s fundamental role is to unify and reconcile humankind.
The Great Game initiated by the British Empire centuries ago, and perpetuated by the present US-UK Empire, is an ongoing attempt to sabotage the great destiny of Russia.
Because Russia is so heavily influenced by Eastern philosophy and spirituality, its current leadership has much patience and forbearance.  Putin et al. are well aware of every attempt to wreck and ruin Russia, as well as diminish its standing within the world community of nations.
Putin’s Russia has been preparing (and practicing) for this intensifying global conflict for many years, as the Motherland has over decades before him.  Hence, the present Kremlin leadership is undaunted by the endless saber-rattling by the West.  They know that empty cans make the most noise.

The World Wars

Each of the World Wars was intentionally staged and planned well before their actual occurrence.  Both wars were in actuality major moves within the context of the Great Game.  The global geopolitical chessboard was profoundly rearranged at the end of each world war.  For example, both World War I and II were quite instrumental in paving the way for the illegal establishment of the Modern State of Israel.
World War I was precisely engineered to keep Germany and Russia from forming either a political alliance and/or an economic union.  Both bilateral arrangements would have spelled disaster for Anglo-American hegemony which had been well established by 1914 through British imperialism.
However, it was the purposeful weakening of Russia by the ravages of WWI from 1914 through 1917 which set the stage for the Bolshevik Revolution.  That fake Russian Revolution was manufactured by a collaboration of London and New York City banksters, at the direction their Illuminati overlords.
The very purpose of the unrelenting Great Game is not only to completely control the four corners of Russia, but also to exploit its vast supply of natural resources and manpower. The notorious slave labor camps known as the Gulag Archipelago were established to accomplish both of these objectives.
Soviet Communism was then painstakingly set up high in the international firmament as the global bogeyman which must be resisted by all democracy-loving people.  In this way, the future National Socialists of Germany would be used to further antagonize the Marxist Communists of the Soviet Union as a means of keeping both countries alienated from each other.
According to a fastidiously designed blueprint, World War II was the second global conflict devised to keep Russia and Germany apart.  Both Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin were carefully groomed by their handlers to take opposite sides during the second “Great War”.  There’s no better way to prevent a natural alliance between two emerging superpowers than to instigate an epic war between them.
The ensuing Cold War provided the perfect pretext for the Military-Industrial Complex to become deeply entrenched throughout the all the major Western powers.  Once the Deep State was inaugurated, the perpetual war economy would never run out of wars to fight. In this fashion, the West and the East would be forever pitted against each other right up to the present day.

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

The most unacknowledged byproduct of the fall of the Berlin Wall is that it facilitated the immediate liberalization of Russia as well as all of the former republics and satellites of the USSR.  This pre-planned neoliberal scheme was expeditiously implemented in order to indoctrinate all the concerned nations for the coming predatory capitalism.  The populace of each country was told that the predatory capitalists from the West were there to show them the right way to run an economy, as well as their governments.
In actuality, the new class of oligarchs (both homegrown and foreign) only arrived to steal the wealth of each target nation, as well as the hard assets of the citizen owners.  This pervasive dynamic of plundering, pillaging and raping all of the former states which comprised the USSR continued until the very day that Vladimir Putin was handed the reins of government by President Boris Yeltsin.
The relentless campaign against Putin essentially began the very day that he left the neoliberal reservation and started taking back what was stolen from Russia.  He also began the process of national social transformation by gradually bringing Russia back to its conservative roots.  As a matter of historical fact, all of the largest Eastern societies are quite conservative by tradition and values.  Russia, China, India, as well as the other nations of the East, share common beliefs and core principles which are profoundly antithetical to the ultra-liberalism of the West.
The very purpose of imposing Marxist Communism by the Anglo-American banskters on Russia and China was to erode the long-held conservatism and genuine religiosity of those peoples. The same attempt was made in India, which leaned toward Russia and China throughout the Cold War; however, Mahatma Gandhi short-circuited that subversive NWO plot overseen by the British.

The BRICS Alliance

Because India successfully threw off the yoke of British imperialism under Gandhi’s leadership, the Western power’s “divide and conquer” conspiracy revealed itself as never before. The imposed partitioning of Pakistan exposed what the leaders of the BRICS nations have always known: that “divide and rule” would forever be the control mechanism used by the Anglo-American Axis (AAA) to dominate planet Earth.
The formation of the BRICS economic union at the urging of Vladimir Putin represents the single greatest threat to the US-UK Empire.  The unification of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa constitutes such a danger to the NWO agenda that their intelligence agencies were ordered to come up with a plan to destroy the BRICS association. The fairly recent coup d’état in Brazil is just one conspiratorial plot that was hatched to achieve that goal.
There are literally hundreds of plots afoot to torpedo the BRICS flagship—Russia.  After all, it was Putin who stepped into the role of point man for this extremely dangerous but liberating project.  Because of this extraordinary act of self-sacrifice, he has been resoundingly vilified throughout the Western mainstream media (MSM).  Likewise, his every peace initiative has been misrepresented as warmongering by his Neocon nemeses, when it is they who are the incessant warmakers.
Most of the MSM-generated propaganda is disseminated so as to stop the decline of the U.S. dollar.  As the world’s reserve currency since the 1944 Bretton Woods Agreement, the dollar stands to lose the most as the BRICS cease using it for international transactions. The transitioning away from the greenback for oil and gas purchases is the single greatest threat to the U.S. dollar.  And it’s the very reason why so many countries in the Middle East have been attacked by various nations belonging to the Anglo-American Axis.  Those that were victims of unprovoked aggression by AAA militaries simply took serious initiatives to decouple from the U.S. dollar.
Syrian war refugees (AP Photo/UNRWA, File) — Click on photo to enlarge.

Armageddon in the Mideast

The ever-unfolding Armageddon in the Middle East, especially throughout the Northern Levant, is yet another ploy by the AAA leadership to continue their perpetual war economy.  Not only did they hope to further the Greater Israel project coordinated by Israel and quietly advocated by the Sunni-backed governments in the region such as Saudi Arabia, they also hoped to take control of all the oil and gas resources in the Mideast.
It’s no wonder then that extensive areas would be transformed into a dystopian, post-apocalyptic wasteland.  This was all done by design in order to remove the indigenous peoples from their ancestral lands.  Only in this manner could the corporate coveted lands be freed up for unbridled oil and gas exploration and development.  Except that one day the Russian military showed up as the skunk at the picnic.
If there’s one transgression that the Neocon cabal will never forgive, or forget, it is Russia’s unanticipated entry into the Syrian theater of war.  This sole act of defiance by President Putin showed the whole world that the combined US and NATO war machine wasn’t nearly as invincible as it appeared to be.  Putin’s generals ran roughshod over the CIA-trained ISIS terrorists and Al-Nusra Front mercenaries.[2]  Actually, they first ensured their military success by totally controlling the airspace above ISIL raining bombs and missiles on their most strategic strongholds and supply lines.
By overwhelming Daesh positions all over Syria, Putin’s generals basically blew up the Greater Israel project for the rest of this decade and beyond.  In so doing, the entire NWO agenda has been significantly curtailed.  No other individual can be given so much credit as Putin for throwing a wrench in the Zio-Anglo-American juggernaut.  The cabal has gotten so desperate that they have been using Saudi Arabia to carry out all sorts of military operations (e.g. Yemen), as well as terrorist attacks whenever and wherever they are needed.
With this understanding of Putin’s role in the prevention of a totalitarian One World Government via the ever-unfolding NWO agenda, it should be clear why the cabal forever crucifies him in the press.  Truly, Vladimir Putin is a personification of everything the New World Order is working hard to destroy.  He is, at once, a nationalist president and a genuine peacemaker, a spiritually advanced leader and a world-class statesman, a master chessman and rugged individualist.  In short, Vlad scares the heck out of the Neocon cabal.

Trump and Putin

It ought to be self-evident by now as to why the same cabal is so very afraid of a Trump-Putin compact.  They know that a USA-Russia détente would even be more deadly to their misguided plans than a German-Russian alliance.  Were President Trump to take his intentions one step further, a Russo-American accord would guarantee that the New World Order agenda would effectively be terminated.
Given the multi-century crime spree committed by those at the very peak of the pinnacle of  the World Shadow Government, they understand that they would eventually be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  The world’s premier law enforcement agencies possess untold volumes hard evidence of crimes against humanity in the form of countless war crimes, several premeditated genocides and numerous acts of state-sponsored terrorism.
The members of the cabal, both covert decision-makers at the top and overt collaborators in the middle, know that they are all facing unprecedented existential threats.  And, that they must use every ruse and stratagem to nullify those threats.  Therefore, they simply fall back on what they have always done best and assert that â€œThe Russians are coming!”  After all, the Russian Red Scare has worked like a charm for many decades, so why should it fail now?
However, what the cabal has quite deceitfully failed to tell the people is that it is they who represent the real Red Scare of the 3rd millennium.  Their One World Government is nothing but a supranational and tyrannical ruling body that is answerable to no one save its hidden masters.  Their furtive plans are all carried out to turn the whole world into a monolithic, communist superstate. Their future unelected totalitarian government is closely modeled after the European Union’s, which has proven to be the bane of existence for countries and citizens all over the Continent. EU Exposé: A Planned Totalitarian Superstate to Destroy Europe

Where is this all going?

Now the reader can better comprehend why there is so much propaganda spewed at Russia, and outright lies written and told about Putin.
Because Trump cuts a similar profile to his Russian counterpart, he has been hoisted even higher in the public square and made the victim of nonstop ridicule and unwarranted persecution.
Deep State is now clearly on the defensive as it takes every offensive measure it can think of to neutralize both Putin and Trump.  By fabricating one accusation after another against Trump, they hope to keep him in the state of constant agitation.  In forcing his entire administration to fight one fire after another, Team Trump will eventually succumb to political PTSD which eventually paralyzes as it incapacitates.
Similarly, the agents of Deep State will continue to launch one allegation after another against Putin’s Russia.  They then follow-up on these unproven violations of international law by imposing economic sanctions and financial constraints which constitute the cold phase of WW3 in order to soften up the Russian people.  The Neocon cabal knows that their only hope is to trigger a hot phase of a full-blown World War III.  This is why they have pushed Putin so hard with black operations like murdering Russia’s top diplomats and ambassadors. Who is killing all the Russian diplomats?
It’s important to point out that the Anglo-American Axis is merely following the exact same playbook that they used as a prelude to starting World Wars I and II.  With the planned election of warmonger Hillary Clinton, the cabal had hoped to finally push the world into a WW3 scenario.*  It really does appear that they never counted on Donald J. Trump showing up and being ready for active duty—as Commander-in-Chief.
*Key Point: It’s an historical fact that Democratic Administrations
have been used to start and prosecute the World Wars as well as most
of the regional wars since 1900.[3]

Clinton and Podesta

As always, there are several levels of intrigue going on simultaneously whenever Deep State undertakes such an all-consuming global operation as the “Russian hack” psyop. The sheer domination of the daily news cycle by “Russia this; Russia that” is always a reflection of what TPTB really do fear the most.  However, there is also a purely political point being scored with this completely contrived Russophobia black op.
Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign chairman was John Podesta.  Both Clinton and Podesta have gone down in U.S. presidential election history as the two of the biggest losers of all time.  Bear in mind that this was Clinton’s second humiliating loss after being blindsided by Barack Obama in 2008.  Not only did these two very bad losers need a very good excuse for all the livid donors, they were also desperate for a story that would pacify their ultra-sensitive and still-crying liberal base.
There are actually multiple reasons why these two characters required the â€œexcuse of the millennium” as to why they just got trounced by Trump.  The very best they could come up with was the “Russian election hack”.  This false accusation led to the baseless conclusion that the election was hacked by the Russians and, therefore, the Democrats were powerless in defeat, even though no such thing happened.
This gave Podesta, especially, something very BIG to talk about at a time when his direct involvement with Pizzagate was being virally exposed in the worldwide Alt Media, and then to a lesser extent by the MSM.  Once Pizzagate was exposed as Podesta’s Achilles’ heel, he became like a wounded animal thrashing about in sheer desperation.  This is when the anti-Russian campaign was really racheted up because the very future of the Democratic Party was hanging in the balance as was his political fate.
Clinton also needed to blame anyone but herself, being the most inferior and corrupt, caustic and unlikeable, offensive and dangerous, mean-spirited and vengeful presidential candidate in U.S history.  How she ever even got the nomination can only be explained by the staunch support she received from the warmongering Neocons.  They prepared her over the course of her entire career to be the POTUS who would wage war on Russia, even if it meant going nuclear on them.
Key Point: HRC was actually disqualified from holding any public office based on her own admissions of fact. (U.S. CODE: Hillary R. Clinton is disqualified from holding any public office in the United States Government)
Most expediently, the concocted “Russian hacking” narrative by Podesta perfectly plays into the Neocon machination to provoke Russia into a regional war (e.g. Ukraine) on the way to triggering a full-scale WW3.  The war propaganda also feeds into their desire for massive war profiteering in the form of gun running, human trafficking, drug smuggling, artifact black marketing, oil theft and other illicit enterprises which are easily covered up in the fog of war.
Lastly, this “Russian hacking” approach, the Neocons hope, will afford them the opportunity to again take back the Motherland from the Russian people. The Neocon cabal longs for the day when they can complete their Russia exploitation project via their oligarch agents of predatory capitalism and the draconian application of neoliberal economics.  What follows is the back story to this multi-decade conspiratorial movement that has brought so much death and destruction to Russia for a century, as well as to the world-at-large. STRATFOR Chief Reveals Zio-Anglo-American Plot For World Domination
The bottom line here is that neither Clinton nor Podesta would take any blame whatsoever for their epic failure.  Clinton herself had issued many anti-Russian screeds during the debates in order to smear Trump so it was a very convenient excuse when they were soundly defeated at the polls.  It’s a well known fact that criminally insane psychopaths will never assume responsibility for their misconduct and/or unlawful actions. When such bad actors enter politics, their incorrigible criminal behavior mixes with those of similar ilk, and then all hell can break loose as it is across America today. This link explains the surreptitious process of ponerization in much greater detail: PONERIZATION: How the American Republic was taken over by political cliques of criminally insane psychopaths

Deep State

Because of so many unanticipated eventualities, the agents of Deep State are working triple time to sow seed of chaos and confusion everywhere and anywhere.  It’s as though Pandora’s box has been opened in every nation on Earth wherein each is now plagued with so much political pandemonium and social mayhem, economic instability and financial insecurity.
In light of this rapidly devolving predicament, it’s more essential than ever for President Trump and President Putin to meet face-to-face in order to meet this extraordinary global challenge. The world is truly at a crossroad: it can follow the Neocons to more war or the righteous leaders to an enduring peace.
The current generation has never witnessed two presidents of the 2 superpowers willing to sit down with each other in a mutually respectful manner.  This alone bodes well for humanity; now, if only they can be compelled by their good conscience to speak to each other as members of the universal brotherhood.
Remember, Deep State knows that it will  be like the Titanic colliding with the iceberg should Trump and Putin cooperate to expose the real “Beast” that has terrorized the planet for so long.  And Deep State will be the Titanic.  Should enough people wake up to this unfolding reality, everything can change in a day and a night. There is nothing so strong and formidable as people power in this age of populist movements and authentic revolutions. Therefore, the real mission here is to enlighten as many people as possible before things really get so out of control that we move past the point of no return.
Special Note: 
The real benefit of Trump’s victory is that the focus of Deep State has been shifted from Russia and Germany to Trump and Putin.  Enormous amounts of time, energy and resources had been directed to degrading the Russo-German relationship.  Now the Neocon warmongers have been compelled to sabotage the US-Russian with all deliberate speed to avert the utter collapse of their NWO implementation plan.  No matter what the POTUS does or does not do, the Trump movement has squared off against the purple revolutionaries who ignorantly blame Russia for Hillary’s historic loss.  This exceedingly polarizing dynamic alone should serve as an insurance policy against Trump being neoconned into war with Russia.  Also, there is this: How Trump Averted World War III


Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin must schedule a summit meeting post haste before the US president is so undercut that he no longer has the power to proceed toward a durable peace.
The American people have no quarrel with the Russian people.  Nor do the Russians have any disagreements with Americans.  It is rogue elements within the US government that have stoked the divisions that separate both countries.  Likewise, it is the malevolent Neocon factions within Deep State that seek to advance the doomed NWO agenda. Which is why Trump has no choice but to knock down the 3 primary pillars of Deep State.
Trump cannot allow a fake Russian conspiracy to keep him from his stated mission. He said many times on the campaign trail that there was no reason not to make peace with Russia.  And Trump asked why anyone would ever want war with the nuclear superpower. Putin is his own man and quite willing to meet with Trump.  The vast majority of his people only want peace and good will between the two nations.
Given these true circumstances, there is no reason why Putin and Trump cannot bring the world together under one big tent marked by mutual respect and good will.  Since both are professed Christians, there is plenty of common religious ground upon which to convene their historic peacemaking venture.

Chart: Almost Every Obama Conspiracy Theory Ever

Fake birth certificates, ghostwriters, teleprompters, a teenage trip to Mars, and more of the most paranoid and bizarro Obama conspiracy theories out there.

By Asawin Suebsaeng and Dave Gilson / Illustrations by Steve Brodner

Venn diagram of Obama conspiracy theories

Barack Obama's presidency has been an inspiration to many Americans—especially nutjobs. Ever since the first-black-president-to-be appeared on the national political stage, a cottage industry of conservative conspiracy theorists has churned out bizarro, paranoid, and just plain racist effluvia—some of which has trickled into the political mainstream. Below, we've charted some of the Obama-baiters best (i.e., worst) work. (Scroll down for more detailed descriptions of the conspiracy theories in the diagram.)


Disclaimer: It should go without saying that none of these are true. Follow links at your own risk.
Obama is a secret Muslim: This one began right after he took the stage at the 2004 Democratic convention, with chain emails alleging his "true" religious affiliation. The rumor soon found its way onto the popular conservative online forum Free Republic, and took on a whole new life in the years to come. Related: Obama secretly speaks Arabicattended a madrassa as a kid in Indonesia, referred to "my Muslim faith" in an interview, and was sworn in on a Koran. Steve BrodnerSteve Brodner
Obama is bringing 100 million Muslims to America: Avi Lipkin and his PR outfit Special Guests claimed to have evidence of a scheme to bring roughly 100 million Muslims from the Middle East into the United States, converting the country into an Islamic nation by the end of Obama's second term and making it easier to obliterate Israel.
Obama once aided the mujahideen: Harlem pastor and professional race-baiter James David Manning contended that in his younger days, Obama went undercover as a CIA agent to facilitate the transfer of cash and weapons to the Afghan mujahideen in the '80s, thereby aiding what would become the Taliban.
Obama is in the pocket of the Muslim Brotherhood: Billy Graham's son Franklin wants you to know that Obama is allowing the Muslim Brotherhood to take over the federal government.
Obama redecorated the Oval Office in Middle Eastern style: Driven by his fierce sense ofanti-American interior design, Obama got rid of the red, white, and blue decoration scheme in his White House office. 
Obama married a Pakistani guy: World Net Daily correspondent and conspiracymonger extraordinaire Jerome Corsi posted a video in which he claimed to have "strong" evidence that Obama was once married to his college roommate from Pakistan. The smoking gun: Photos of the chums in which the future president is "sitting about on the [Pakistani roommate's] lap." Related: For years Obama wore a gold ring on his left hand. Was it his gay-wedding ring?
Obama's ring has a Koranic verse on it: The very same ring, which Obama now wears as his (straight) wedding band, is allegedly emblazoned with a key phrase in the Islamic declaration of faith: "There is no god except Allah." (It's not.)
Obama was funded by a Saudi prince: Another fairy tale courtesy of Corsi: In late-'70s Chicago, Obama secured political and academic funding from a variety of sketchy Arab sponsors, including a Saudi prince. Which may explain why President Obama bowed to the Saudi king when they met in 2009.
Obama was born in Kenya: In early 2008, fringe theorists began a push to prove Obama was born on foreign soil and was therefore ineligible to live in the White House. The theory gained national attention thanks to the efforts of perennial GOP candidate Alan Keyes, "birther queen" Orly Taitz, and Corsi. Related: Obama's birth certificate is a fake, he killed his grandmother in Hawaii because she knew the truth, sealed access to his birth certificate and other damning documents, and did pretty much everything horrible you could possibly do for the sake of a phony birth certificate.
Obama lost his US citizenship: According to Corsi, Obama became a citizen of Indonesia while he lived there as a child.Steve BrodnerSteve Brodner
Michelle's "whitey" tape: During the 2008 campaign, rumors surfaced that a video of Michelle Obama using the word "whitey" would be released to sink her husband's campaign. It's never materialized. Related: The time Glenn Beck called Barack Obama a racist
Obama was a Black Panther: Well, only if you're not very good at spottingphotoshopped images.
Obama is the son of Malcolm X: Because, you know, black people. This charmer popped up on Atlas Shrugged, Pamela Geller's anti-Muslim website. (Geller is also known for obsessing over Shariah turkeys she believes are destroying Thanksgiving.)
Obama is the son of Frank Marshall Davis: The conspiracy film Dreams From My Real Father espouses the theory that Davis, a leftist activist, was not only Obama's ideological mentor but his biological father. Related: Obama got a nose jobto make his nose look less like Davis'.
Obama's mom and dad were communists: That would be his real father, Barack Obama, Sr. And you know thatcommunism is an inherited condition.
Obama's ghostwriter was Bill Ayers: Conservative commentators claimed they uncovered evidence that ex-Weatherman Bill Ayers was the true author of Obama's 1995 memoir Dreams from my Father. Beyond their shared radicalism, Obama asked Ayers to help because he had writer's block.
Obama trained to overthrow the government: In 2008, leading Obama conspiracy theorist Andy Martin declared on Fox News' Hannity's America that the then-presidential candidate had trained for "a radical overthrow of the government" during his time as a community organizer in Chicago.
Obama wouldn't say the Pledge of Allegiance: During the '08 campaign, Obama was rumored to have refused to say the pledge during a town hall meeting. A photo of the incident was actually taken while the national anthem was being sung.
Obama removed the flag from Air Force One: â€¦and replaced it with his campaign logo.
Obama ordered soldiers to swear allegiance to him: In April 2009, a clearly satirical report detailing how secretary of defense Robert Gates was growing "extremely frustrated" with the White House's plans to scrub the Constitution from the military oath of loyalty made the rounds on the right-wing blogosphere.
Obama secretly gave away American islands to Russia: Texas House candidate Wes Riddle endorsed this theory and noted the relinquishment as grounds for impeachment. However, the seven Arctic islands were actually given away in 1991 by President George H.W. Bush.Steve BrodnerSteve Brodner
Obama caused the recession—in 1995: According to a recent Daily Caller story, Obama's efforts to force banks to lend to African Americans in the mid-'90s led to the subprime mortgage crisis that killed the economy in 2008.
Obama's youth reeducation camps: Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) warned that "young people will be put into mandatory service" at politically correct, billion-dollar camps run by the Democrats.
Obama's coming for your guns: Extreme gun-rights outfits, along with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), alleged that the Obama administration is supporting the (nonexistent) United Nations Small Arms Treaty, which would lead to nationwide gun confiscation. Unfounded fears of gun confiscation have multiplied since the Newtown massacre.
Obama's coming for your gold: This theory was floated by Glenn Beck—and the gold company he shilled for.
Obama is planning FEMA concentration camps: Again with the camps. This theory got a big boost from Glenn Beck (whoclaims he didn't mean anything by it). Related: An executive order titled, "National Defense Resources Preparedness," was issued in the middle of March 2012. Conservative commentators saw it as a martial law power-grab that allowed the president to commandeer farmland, steal everyone's food, and draft any American into slave labor for a war of aggression against Iran. Also, he has a "secret vault" at Interpol's headquarters for imprisoning Americans. (Chuck Norris is on the case.)
Obama wants to confiscate your IRA: sent out an message ad claiming that Obama wants to seize your retirement account by force.
Obama caused the BP oil spill: Conspiracy-minded radio host Alex Jones promoted the theory that the Deepwater Horizon spill was all part of the administration's plans of oil nationalization and global government.
Obama was behind the Aurora massacre: In July, Gun Owners of America blasted out a press release claiming that the mass murder at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, was suspiciously timed. "Someone in Washington" was probably behind it, paving the way for Obama-led firearm confiscation and "government genocide."
Obama personally caused Hurricane Sandy: It wasn’t global warming that made Sandy so intense; it was Barack. Alex Jones' site reported the president engineered the storm using a Pentagon weather modification project. The mayhem caused by the hurricane would afford Obama the opportunity to score points by briskly managing disaster relief a week before the election.
Obama had Andrew Breitbart killed: In March 2012, conservative media impresario Andrew Breitbart died of heart failure. Less than a month prior to his death, he had announced that he had uncovered footage of Obama's formative years as a radical. So obviously, Obama had him offed. (The tapes were later revealed to contain things like a young Obama hugging a black college professor.) Related: People—like a Rod Blagojevich fundraiser and an Obama impersonator—died between 2008 and 2012. Obama was in office between 2008 and 2012…coincidence?!?!
Steve BrodnerSteve Brodner
Obama spiked the jobs report: "Jobs truthers" (like former GE CEO Jack Welch and Florida tea party congressman Allen West) accused the Obama administration of cooking the September unemployment numbers to manufacture a rosier picture of the economy and boost the president's chances of reelection.
Obama faked bin Laden's death: Since no photographs of Osama bin Laden's corpse were produced, the Al Qaeda leader must still be out there. Fox News' Steve Doocy and Andrew Napolitano entertained the idea that Operation Neptune Spear was merely a ploy to revive Obama's sagging approval ratings. Related: Obama was photoshopped into the iconic killing-OBL White House photo.
Obama's plan to fake an assassination attempt: A false-flag operation would create urban tumult and give Obama the pretext to declare martial law, thus suspending democracy, postponing the 2012 election, and prolonging his stay in office. The theory was flagged by Tenn. State Rep. Kelly Keisling, among others, after circulating online.
Obama's planning a third term: The dust from the 2012 election had barely cleared when this one popped up.
Obama the brainwashing hypnotist: As a master of neurolinguistic programming, Obama convinced Americans to vote for him via subliminal messages. Related: Rush Limbaugh pondered if hypnosis was the reason that so many Jewish voters were in the bag for Obama. In October, Georgia GOP lawmakers held a briefing on the president's secret mind-control plot.
Obama's teleprompter: Obama's eloquence is a myth! The 44th president is incapable of speaking in public with his teleprompter.
Obama had a ghostwriter for everything: Jack Cashill over at WND had a hot scoop on how Obama's love letters to his college girlfriend were ghostwritten.
Obama's anti-Semitic poetry: However, according to the American Thinker, Obama's ghostwriters did not write his youthful poem "Underground," which compares Jews to fig-eating underwater apes and echoes Koranic verse.
Obama's exiled lover: Obama was supposedly fooling around with an attractive young staffer from his 2004 Senate campaign. Michelle Obama had the temptress packed off to the Caribbean before the '08 campaign.
Obama is gay: Which explains why he joined Rev. Jeremiah Wright's church. No, really. (Via Corsi, of course.)
Obama's crack cocaine/gay sex/murder orgy cover-up: In 2008, a small-time conman named Larry Sinclair and his kilt-wearing lawyer held a press conference to tell the world of the future president's murderous, drug-and-sodomy-fueled crimes.
Obama's campaigns were funded by drug money: During an October conference call organized to oppose pot legalization, a writer from Lyndon LaRouche's magazine asked about "reports [that both Obama's] 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns have been financed in part by laundered drug money."
Obama is the Antichrist: Obviously. Related: If you play his 2008 Democratic nomination acceptance speech backwards, you can hear him instruct listeners to do Satan's bidding.Steve BrodnerSteve Brodner
Obama is a lizard overlord: According to codes hidden in Biblical verse, Obama is a reptilian humanoid. This idea has found its way on to some right-wing radio shows, and two Daily Caller reporters recently published a (satirical?) e-book on the topic titled, The Lizard King: The Shocking Inside Account of Obama's True Intergalactic Ambitions by an Anonymous White House Staffer.
Obama's adventures on Mars: As a teen, Obama participated in a CIA initiative to teleport to Mars using a top-secret "jump room." Self-described time travelers William Stillings and Andrew Basiago claim to have met the future POTUS at American space bases on the Red Planet. In early 2012, a spokesman for the National Security Council actually acknowledged these claims, and issued a fairly convincing denial.


          The Liberation of Stalag VIIA, at Moosburg, Part II        



NOTE: This  account of the liberation of Stalag VIIA at Moosburg, Germany, on April 29, 1945, was posted by Glenn M. Strong nine years ago on the site  ( ) honoring the 60th Anniversary of the Liberation. An amalgamation of various sources, accounts, conversations, Strong’s piece captures the intense pandemonium, jubilation, and joy of that day. His father was among the POWs liberated. My father, Lt. John Cravey, was also liberated that day. Spittin’ Grits thanks strong for permission to re-post. He plans to create a presentation for next year’s 70th anniversary.




The Guard Tower at Stalag VIIA,




In roaming the town, the 47th and the 68th uncovered almost a score of arsenals, loaded with German machine guns, pistols, rifles, panzerfausts, all sorts of small arms.
The tanks of S/Sgt. Claude E. Newton, S/Sgt. William T. Summers, Lieut. Hack and Lieut. Boucher led the chase through town; Moosberg was not all the battalion wanted. There was a bridge across the Isar River; and this bridge was blown as Newton's tank moved into the first span.


Among its own men liberated, the 47th found Tec/5 William Weichelt, Corp. Laufor Cobbledick, Tec/5 Edward Kulawiak, Corp. Gilbert Maines, Pfc. John Nestorek, Tec/5 John Wertz, Pfc. Verle A. Kruger, and Corp. Robert D. Hills.

German prisoners taken included boys of nine, fully uniformed and armed, and girls of 17 and 18 - also uniformed and armed.

By night, the Division was established along the Isar, and behind it were unbelievable scenes - mile long columns of German prisoners being marched to the rear, a light tank in front of the column and a light tank in the rear - each with its lights on full blast - and fields with 2000 Germans in a bunch, being guarded under lights, while among them lay the burned out German vehicles caught in the fight that morning, the German dead lying in grotesque positions as Graves Registration Officers moved among them preparing for burial - all the bloody incredible litter of a battlefield just passed, under the bright lights of the overwatching vehicles.

And through the streets roamed streams of Allied prisoners, newly freed and not quite sure what they wanted to do, but they wanted to do something.
They broke into liquor - schnapps and champagne and cognac and wine - in cellars and kitchens and wine shops and warehouses.

They got into food - chickens and pigs and lambs and geese, potatoes and eggs and ham and bread - in pantries and kitchens and living rooms and stores.
They found clothes - shoes and pants and shirts and coats - in closets and trunks and windows and suitcases.

Ex-PWs and ex-slave laborers, ex-concentration camp inmates, soldiers and civilians, men and women, young and old, from every nation in Europe, drunk or sober, crying or laughing, they roamed the streets that night and reeled along the sidewalks, singing, shouting, kissing, wearing tall silk hats gotten from God knows where, carrying stoves, geese, pictures, cross-bows and sabers.

Through that seething jam the American Army was trying to move back more German prisoners of war, columns four men wide and half a mile long.
And - up through the mad bacchanalia the combat troops were trying to move, tanks and endless lines of silent infantrymen from the 68th Armored Infantry Battalion, faces set and hardly seeing the weaving scene about them, eyes straight ahead and with trick men have who are going into combat of catching their lower lip and holding it caught between their teeth.

The dying nation dissolved into a snarling, giggling montage of human shapes, like a color fantasy on a movie screen where the eye is not able to see nor to understand, but only to snatch at endlessly shifting swirling jumbles of shapes of the wildest human emotions, and joy is translated into a dissolving cone of orange fading quickly into red and black and green and ravage

British ex-prisoners of war rode bicycles through the towns - freed prisoners took most of the bicycles and motorcycles and autos with which Germany was so well supplied. Slave laborers, men and women stood by every road, making a "V" with their fingers and grinning and throwing flowers. "Endlisch frei, endlich frei," said one, and a private first class of the French army introduced himself and gravely said:

"It is very fine that our governments understand each other, and our generals and ministers, but I would like to tell all the American privates first class that I am eternally indebted to them and eternally grateful."


NOTE: The introduction to this series here mentioned eating instructions handed out to liberated POWs. It is a yellowed crumbling document in the fragile scrapbook that my mother had put together. My sister, Susan Cravey, found the instructions and sent a photo of it to me. The content had to be transcribed.

She has the task of removing each item as carefully as possible and to put them all into high quality plastic holders or to put them on acid free paper. We hope to donate the contents to one of the U.S. Air Force’s musems.


POW Eating Instructions





COM Z, (?)TOUZA (maybe, STOUZA)

Surgeon’s Bulletin APO 562 1 May 1945


T A K E T H E D O C T O R ‘ S A D V I C E

The Medical Department welcomes you - - with an armful of pills and paregoric! You have just been liberated from your enemy, the Germans. It is up to you now to liberate yourselves from your new enemy, - - your appetite and your digestive system.

After eating here several times you may begin to wonder what the score is, why the medics won’t let you gorge yourself with doughnuts and hotdogs complete with mustard and sauerkraut, about which you must have dreamed for months. You may begin to wonder why the mess supervisors won’t let you come back for seconds when you are still hungry. There’s a reason for it!

Most of you have been on a starvation diet for months. A regular diet consisting of coarse German bread and watery soup wen taken over a period of weeks and months does something to your stomach, digestive system, and entire body. You have lost tremendous amounts of weight, there have been changes in your digestive system, your skin, and other organs. You have become weak and are susceptible to diseases. You almost all have the G.I.’s.

The reason is that you lack vitamins and you have lost the proteins so necessary in building healthy, solid tissues and muscles. The lining of your stomach is sore, delicate, inflamed, and irritated. Your stomach has shrunk.

If you overload that weak, small, sore stomach of yours you will become acutely ill. Your belly will become swollen and painful. You will have cramps and your diarrhea will be much worse. Some of you will have to be hospitalized and even become very seriously ill. You must overcome this terrible craving of yours and curb your appetite. You must realize that to become well quickly and get back to normal you must eat small feedings and at frequent intervals until gradually you can once again tolerate a normal diet. The food you will be served is good and you will get more than enough. If you get hungry between meals go to the Red Cross for cocoa and egg-nog. Just don’t drink too much. The first kitchen you will go to will feed you a soft, bland, non-irritating diet. Your next kitchen will give you a diet which approaches normal. Know this for your own good.

The Medical Department advises you to obey the following rules and build yourselves gradually to the point where you can once again eat anything you want and as much as you want, without getting severely ill:

1. Eat only as much as you are given in the chow line.

2. Don’t come back for seconds.

3. Take the vitamin pills that are given to you in the mess

line (and swallow them).

4. Go to the Red Cross for egg-nogg (sic) or cocoa between

meals if you get hungry. Don’t drink more than one cup.

5. Don’t overeat. If you overload your small stomach you will

get sick.

6. Don’t eat candy, peanuts, doughnuts, frankfurters, pork,

rich gravies, liquor, spicy foods, or anything that you know

will make you sick.

7. There are three dispensaries in each of the three areas

where you will bivouac. If you move from one area to the

other, go to the dispensary in that area. Sick Call will be held

between 0800 – 1700 hours. After that come only for an

emergency. If you have trouble see your Medical Officer. He will be glad to help you.

For the Camp Surgeon:






The Lt. Col. John Thomas Cravey WWII USAAF
and USAF Careers Collection
The Lt. Col. John Thomas Cravey WWII USAAF and USAF Careers Collection is protected by copyright©

          The Liberation of Stalag VII at Moosburg, Part One        





NOTE: This  account of the liberation of Stalag VIIA at Moosburg, Germany, on April 29, 1945, was posted by Glenn M. Strong nine years ago on the site  ( ) honoring the 60th Anniversary of the Liberation. An amalgamation of various sources, accounts, conversations, Strong’s piece captures the intense pandemonium, jubilation, and joy of that day. His father was among the POWs liberated. My father, Lt. John Cravey, was also liberated that day. Spittin’ Grits thanks strong for permission to re-post and will run Part Two tomorrow.





It is 0600, 29 April. The attack of Combat Command A is due to be resumed at this moment. The command post is located in Puttenhausen, Germany.

The 47th Tank Battalion is eight miles to the southeast where it halted operations at 2300 last night. Lieut. Col. Bob E. Edward's 68th Armored Infantry Battalion is three miles north of the command post, having run into hard resistance late the preceding day and having been ordered to halt in Mainburg to avoid running into a known night ambush.

Soon now, reports should arrive that the battalions are moving, and the guns of Joseph J. Murtha's 500th Armored Field Artillery Battalion should be heard. At one minute before 0600 a strange group strode into the headquarters of Combat Command A, to meet Brig. Gen. C. H. Karlstad, Combat Commander. It consisted of a German Major, representing the commander of the Moosburg Allied Prisoner of War Camp, Col. Paul S. Goode of the United States Army and a Group Commander of the British Royal Air Force, the senior American and British Officers respectively, imprisoned in the Moosburg Camp; a Swiss Red Cross representative; and Lt. Col. James W. Lann. The German Major brought a written proposal from his commander for the creation of a neutral zone surrounding Moosburg, all movement of Allied troops in the general vicinity of Moosburg to stop while representatives of the Allied and German Governments conferred on disposition of the Allied Prisoners of War in that vicinity.

The German proposals were rejected and the party was given until 0900 to return to Moosburg and to submit an unconditional surrender offer - or receive the American attack at that hour; a CCA staff officer was dispatched to General Smith.

German SS troops moved outside the city and set up a defense perimeter. They opened the fight.

By 1030 the SS were lying dead in the fields and along the roads, grey-white faces and open mouths, twisted and staring sightlessly at the cold, blue sky above; and American medium tanks were roaring through the cobbled streets of the ancient city.

The 47th had split in two columns, one led by Maj. Kirchner and the other by Col. Lann; and Gen. Karlstad went into the city with the 47th. Gen. Karlstad picked up a German officer as guide, and with Lieut. Joseph P. Luby and Lieut. William J. Hodges took off for the prison camp proper.

The jeep mounted a .30 caliber machine gun; as it swung up, there were several score armed German guards outside. Luby rolled into their midst, his jeep stopped, and with his hand on the gun called: "Achtung!" The group surrendered.

General Smith arrived at the camp shortly thereafter; an American flag was raised.

Official estimates of the total Allied prisoners freed at Moosburg were 110,000, including an estimated 30,000 Americans, officers and men. Besides a series of seven prisoner of war camps, the Division captured a German garrison of 6,000 men at Moosburg.

Once the sharp, pitched battle by the SS was over, the German defenses crumbled. The 600-man 47th Tank Battalion took 2,000 prisoners; the 600-man 94th Reconnaissance Squadron took 2,000 more. Division total for the day was set at 12,000.

Scenes of the wildest rejoicing accompanied the tanks as they crashed through the double 10-foot wire fences of the prison camps. There were Norwegians, Brazilians, French, Poles, Dutch, Greeks, Rumanians, Bulgars. There were Americans, Russians, Serbs, Italians, New Zealanders, South Africans, Australians, British, Canadians - men from every nation fighting the Nazis. There were officers and men. Twenty-seven Russian Generals, sons of four American Generals. There were men and women in the prison camps - including three Russian women doctors. There were men of every rank and every branch of service, there were war correspondents and radio men.

Around the city were thousands of slave laborers, men and women.

All combined to give the 14th the most incredible welcome it ever received. The tanks were finally slowed to five miles an hour as they went through the camps - the press of men in front of them was so great. Men, some of them prisoners five years, some American Air Corps men prisoners two years, cried and shouted and patted the tanks.
"You damned bloody Yanks, I love you!" shouted a six-foot four Australian and threw his arms around a jeep driver.

A weary bearded American paratrooper climbed on a tank and kissed the tank commander. Tears streamed from his cheeks. The women had flowers, and they threw the flowers on the tanks and in the jeeps. Italians and Serbs, tired and drawn, jammed around the vehicles, eagerly thrusting out their hands to touch their liberators, weeping.
An American Air Corps lieutenant kissed a tank. "G*****n, do I love the ground forces," he said. "This is the happiest day of my life!" "You were a long time coming, but now you are here!" There were no words to express the feelings of these men.

As the German guards were formed in columns of four and marched away, each man carrying two or three loaves of black bread, some of the tankers took the bread from them and tossed it over the fences to the Allied prisoners.

Tec/5 Floyd C. Mahoney of C-47 freed his own son, a lieutenant in the Air Corps.

Part II, tomorrow’s post.


Allied Command-ed

The Allied Command at Liberation



Other sites:,


          THIS JUST IN! COMEY'S LEAKY WAND!        





Do you fear yet for Iraq's future?

Because you should.

A message has been sent.

Just like one was sent after Nouri al-Maliki lost the 2010 election but wouldn't step down and Barack Obama, then-US president, went around the Iraqi people to give Nouri a second term via The Erbil Agreement.

Within two years, Barack had turned on Nouri.

After Barack won the 2012 election, Nouri called to congratulate him and Barack refused to take the call, palming it off instead on Joe Biden.

It would be two more years (2014) before Barack would publicly rebuke Nouri.

Those millions Barack's going to get for his superficial tract on his life in the White House should warrant a little honesty on Iraq and especially on Nouri.

By 2010, Nouri's use of torture and secret prisons were well known.

But Barack chose to give him a second term.

ISIS would most likely never have gotten a foothold in Iraq were it not for Nouri's second term.

(Nouri's responsible for the rise of ISIS but I say "most likely" because Nouuri's far from the only despot in Iraq and someone similar to Nouri could have also precipitated the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq.)

When Barack's door step is finally released, Nouri al-Maliki should figure prominently in it.

As should Barack's sleight of hand with regards to the Iraq War.

A bunch of silly fools enlisted into The Cult of St. Barack.

They believed he'd end the Iraq War.

That's on them.

Barack didn't end it.

And they're still in denial.

I can understand being temporarily fooled.

Elaine and I met him when he was trying to get into the US Senate.

And the hype laid down had us both excited.

But all he had to do was say that the US was already in Iraq and blah blah blah for us to realize he wasn't anti-war and that embarrassing and sparsely attended 'big' speech of 2002 didn't matter.

If Barack was honest about ending the Iraq War, I would have supported his Senate run.

If he were honest, I would have turned this site, in 2007 and 2008, over to non-stop Barack -- one long running infomercial.

But he was a liar.

And it's amazing that eight years later, as the Iraq War continues, his Cult still can't get honest.

And I've been kind enough.  Stop pretending you couldn't have known.

RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
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          What to Expect -- Week 4 (Monday 12 July -- Sunday 18 July)        

Greenwich, London

This week, we will discuss the American Revolution and the institution of slavery. On Monday, 12 July, we will look at the American Revolution and the early years of the new nation. We will also briefly discuss the effect of the war on England and relations between the two nations.

For class on Wednesday, 14 July, we look at how England and its colonies, and then later the United States, became dependent upon slave labor, how the slave trade worked, and the growing opposition to it in the 1800s in both England and the U.S.

For our final field trip, we will visit two places in South-East London. First in the morning, we will arrive at the Canary Wharf Underground Station to visit the new slavery exhibit at the Musuem of London Docklands. Following lunch, we will travel to the Cutty Sark station to visit the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, the site of the Greenwich Mean Time clock, from which all time zones derive. We will discuss the maritime history of London, and its role in slavery and with relations to the U.S. in the 1800s.

Musuem of London Docklands

The Docklands area of London

The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich

The Royal Observatory in Greenwich

The Official Greenwich Mean Time clock

          NIKE: Stop Union Busting & Slave Labor Conditions-World Day Of Action        
As part of a world wide action to defend NIKE workers San Francisco activists and labor advocates went to the Union Square store of NIKE to demand that they stop the union busting and slave labor conditions around the world. The Honduran government and other governments controlled by the US and NIKE repress workers who try to organize unions to defend themselves.
          King Leopold's Ghost        
King Leopold's Ghost
author: Adam Hochschild
name: Ron
average rating: 4.15
book published: 1998
rating: 4
read at: 2011/07/03
date added: 2011/07/03
I first heard about King Leopold II of Belgium and the atrocities of the Congo about a year ago. I was amazed to learn that this man was responsible for the death of an estimated 10 million people during the late 1890s and early 1900s but yet I have never heard of him. I was immediately drawn to the period of time.

The book doesn't solely speak about King Leopold II, it takes into account many other people, organizations, and countries that supported or opposed horrors of the Congo. It's a very interesting part of history that has seldom been highlighted. The number of deaths is staggering. The bulk of the deaths can be attributed to murder, exposure to the elements, disease, exhaustion, low birth rate, and other factors related to the force slave labor gather ivory and rubber.

The book is filled with unimaginable characters, some brave and others that committed heinous acts.

This is a part of history that needs it moment in the light.

          Liz Taylor Dies, Leaving Hundreds of Dead Animals & Blood Diamonds in Closet        
Liz Taylor--nice to humans. To animals? Not so nice.

Those dead foxes would have liked a birthday

A Dog's Rant About Liz Taylor
Liz Taylor was a great actress, I'll give you that. And she raised a lot of money and awareness for victims of HIV AIDS. But, like the rest of us, she wasn't perfect.
I know you're supposed to revere celebrities, especially dead celebrities, but I'm a dog so I don't roll like that. A dog doesn't have to be politically correct. So I'm going to say it.
This old actress had an awful lot of dead animals in her closet. This movie star that everybody is crying about today owned more fur than the entire country of Tanzania.
I looked at hundreds of pictures of her today and she looked like she really liked sweltering and posing with dead animals. There are a few pictures of her with little furry live animals, and they all look more like the property of the prop department at Paramount than her friends.
There are some pictures of her with a store-bought Maltese dog, but never the same dog! It's like she would buy one for a "roll" down a red carpet and then, when the carpet ended, so did the dog. What happened to all those Maltese dogs? Didn't they ever get get old?
And, the few pictures of her with bunnies and puppies are way outnumbered by pictures of her draping dead animals over sequins, beads and gold lamé.
Right up to the end, like at her last birthday party, there she was, wheeled into the spotlight, draped in two dead, white foxes. Ouch. You know, foxes are trapped and they lie there dying for days sometimes before they are skinned alive. "Hey, Liz! Thanks for bringing us to the after party!"
I know a lot of people were dying to have their picture taken with Liz but way too many foxes, chinchillas, lynx, minks and coyotes literally died to get their picture taken with her.
And what about her obsession with diamonds? Liz Taylor had a lot of diamonds. Liz Taylor liked diamonds so much she named her perfume, Diamonds! Did she know how much blood has been shed for diamonds? Did she not know how many child laborers have had their hands chopped off for diamonds? That's why they call them blood diamonds!
"I'm so happy I have Diamonds and fingers!"
Her favorite diamond, the 33 karat Krupp, had belonged to a guy whowas accused of war crimes against Jews during the holocaust. Richard Burton gave her that big, shiny, holocaust memorial-diamond and she seemed to think it looked really splashy with her dead foxes. Set against the fur, it sparkled like a million paparazzi bulbs.
Victim of child slave labor in diamond mines

Almost everybody admires Liz for her fundraising for AIDS research and yeah, that's cool to want sick people to get better. But from my point of view, a dog, I'm sorta wondering what kind of hell those pregnant monkeys were living in when the vivisectors from NIH were injecting them with the AIDS virus. Did Liz ever ask what happened to all those animals who were tortured for the medical research she was promoting? I don't think so. I'm surprised she didn't ask for their fur. A monkey's coat wouldn't even require that much "Liz Tailoring." Hm....
And everybody is talking about how loyal she was. I'm a dog; I know loyal. It means sticking with one person through thick and thin. How could Liz be loyal to eight husbands? Sounds more like a home-wrecker to me. i guess she was loyal to Michael Jackson. She stood by him and not his victims. She never wavered in supporting him instead of the children he molested.
"I'm not a monster! I'm NOT," she yelled in Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf. She won an Academy Award for that, but I think she was type-cast.
Written by Jinky, as told to Carole Raphaelle Davis

Jinky, the Dog of a Hollywood Wife tells it like it is

          Actualités OVNI Paris Décembre 2015         

 Soirée OVNI au Tardigrade

Le COLLECTIF 39 vous propose de participer à sa 1ère conférence sur les alliés de l’humanité présentée par Nikolaos Koulis. A cette occasion, l'Association COLLECTIF 39 vous reçoit au TARDIGRADE située au 39 rue de la Solidarité à Montreuil le vendredi le 18 Décembre de 19h00 à 21h00.
Cette conférence durera environ 1h30 et sera suivie d’une séance de questions / réponses.
1ère partie : petite introduction générale au phénomène OVNI
2ème partie : présentation de la première série d'Exposés des Alliés de l'Humanité par Marshall Vian Summers, qui nous peignent un tableau global de la présence extraterrestre
3ème partie : Questions / réponses

…Il y a plus de vingt ans, un groupe d’individus venus de plusieurs mondes différents s’assemblèrent en un endroit discret de notre système solaire, près de la Terre, dans le but d’observer les visites que nous font certains extraterrestres.
De leur poste d’observation caché, ils furent en mesure de déterminer l’identité, l’organisation et les intentions de ceux qui visitent notre monde et de surveiller leurs activités.
Ces observateurs s’identifient comme faisant partie des «Alliés de l’humanité».

Les Alliés nous ont livré leurs rapports successifs en 1998, en 2000 et en 2008. Ces rapports ont été publiés sous forme de trois livres, pour faire connaître le message des Alliés à notre monde…
Chacun de ces rapports contient une série d’exposés traitant de thèmes particuliers relatifs à la présence extraterrestre qui s’intensifie dans l’entourage de notre planète.

l'Association COLLECTIF 39 vous reçoit au TARDIGRADE (cantine participative) :
mercredi : .......... 7h - 20h30
dimanche : ....... 12h - 20h30
+ journées des adhérents

"Ovni à Table"

Le prochain repas " Ovni à Table " à Bourg-en-Bresse aura lieu le vendredi 4 décembre 2015 à 19h00 avec la conférence : " Retour sur 40 ans d'ufologie : enquêtes, témoignages, rencontres avec des témoins et des pionniers… " par Bruno Mazzocchi.

Bruno Mazzocchi est un enquêteur et un ufologue de terrain qui a parcouru à maintes reprises les départements de nos régions, l'Ain, l'Isère, le Jura, la Saône-et-Loire, etc. Il a lui-même fait quelques observations insolites et, pour en savoir plus sur un phénomène qui ne cesse de l'intriguer, il a rencontré de nombreux témoins célèbres, des contactées aussi, mais également de nombreux ufologues, y compris parmi les pionniers aujourd'hui disparus.

L'OVNI du vendredi 13 : WT1190F attendu sur Terre le 13 novembre 2015

Sa densité prouve que ce n'est pas un objet rocheux. Les astronomes estiment qu'il s'agit d'un étage de fusée ou d'un de ces déchets spatiaux qui encombrent l'espace proche de la Terre.

POUBELLE. Près de 25.000 déchets de plus de 10 centimètres flottent dans l’espace proche situé tout autour de la Terre : certains comparent cette banlieue de notre planète à une véritable poubelle ! C’est un de ces détritus, d’environ un à deux mètres de diamètre, qui devait retomber sur Terre le 13 novembre 2015. Il n'en a rien été : l'objet s'est désintégré pendant sa traversée de l'atmosphère de notre planète. Celui que les scientifiques ont baptisé WT1190F ne devait de toute façon occasionner aucun dommage : selon les calculs des astronomes, le contact avec la surface du globe devait se produire dans l’Océan Indien, à 65 km au moins au sud du Sri Lanka.

Un satellite pour capturer des images d’ovnis en orbite

Un satellite pourrait prochainement être placé en orbite afin de rechercher des traces de présence d’ovnis et extraterrestres.

Des développeurs canadiens envisagent d'envoyer dans l’espace un satellite en orbite basse avec une caméra et des équipements de détection de rayonnement dans le but de capturer la première séquence vidéo d’un éventuel vaisseau extraterrestre.

Le projet de campagne de Crowdsourcing a attiré 50.000 $ (33.000 £) pour développer et lancer le projet "Cubesat" de divulgation.

Plusieurs étranges ovnis aperçus en Californie

Dans la nuit du 16 octobre dernier, à Bakersfield, en Californie, plusieurs Américains auraient vu un étrange rassemblement d’ovnis dans le ciel, rapporte le

L’un des témoins raconte que son voisin était dans la rue et criait son nom, visiblement en état de détresse. Il croyait d’abord qu’il avait besoin d’aide, mais en sortant de chez lui, il a tout de suite aperçu plusieurs lumières bizarres dans le ciel.

Selon lui, il y avait une centaine de vives lumières blanches et bleues se déplaçant sur une surface équivalant à 45 pâtés de maison.

«Quelques voitures se sont immobilisées en bordure de la route pour regarder ce que nous observions. Plusieurs voisins sont sortis et ont regardé la scène en état de choc. Nous étions tous là, incrédules, à regarder la formation. Ils se sont éloignés, puis ont disparu», a raconté le témoin au site dédié aux observations d’ovnis.

Le message de la Nasa pour raconter la Terre aux extraterrestres

Si des extraterrestres quelque part, dans l'immensité de l'univers, venaient à tomber un jour sur l'une des deux sondes Voyager, ils découvriront aussi à son bord le "Golden Record", soit le message imaginé par la Nasa pour raconter la planète Terre en 116 images accompagnées de sons divers et variés.

En 1977, les sondes Voyager 1 et 2 ont été envoyées dans l'espace afin d'explorer les confins de notre système solaire. Les deux sondes ont récolté un grand nombre d'informations sur Jupiter, Saturne, Uranus et Neptune, explique le site américain Vox. Après avoir fait le tour de ces quatre planètes, elles auraient gagné assez de vitesse pour échapper à l'attraction du Soleil et continuer leur chemin dans l'espace au-delà de notre système solaire. C'est la raison pour laquelle la Nasa a décidé d'utiliser ces deux sondes comme des messagers à destination d'éventuels extraterrestres.

Klaus Dona : L'Histoire cachée du genre humain

Cette vidéo est un diaporama de 45 minutes, commenté par Klaus Dona en personne. C'est riche de données, détaillé, intense, captivant et il se peut qu'il y ait là une concentration plus importante d'informations surprenantes sur l'histoire récente de la race humaine que dans aucune des vidéos que vous ayez jamais vues.

Un message de Marshall Vian Summers

« La cosmologie que j’ai reçue comporte de nombreux messages, et l’un d’eux est que l’humanité est en train d’émerger au sein d’une Grande Communauté de vie intelligente, à laquelle nous devons nous préparer. Enchâssée dans ce message se trouve la compréhension que l’humanité n’est pas seule dans l’Univers, ou même seule dans son propre monde, et qu’au sein de cette Grande Communauté, l’humanité aura des amis, des compétiteurs et des adversaires. 
L’humanité se place actuellement en position d’extrême vulnérabilité. Avec le spectre de l’épuisement des ressources naturelles, de la dégradation de l’environnement et du risque grandissant de voir chaque jour les liens de la famille humaine se fracturer davantage, nous devenons des proies de plus en plus faciles pour ces races.»

Case 60850 - Taipei, Taiwan - 10.16.14

I have witness 8~10 UFo flying . I was on the air plane of Eva Airline. from Vancouver Canada to Taipei, Taiwan BR0009 it was Oct16 5am.. 30 mins before landing first clip was only 5 seconds, I saw a bright light flying under. 2nd picture i saw 3 UFO in my camera 3rd video I have is 38 seconds. about 8 UFo flying under the plane

Cape Town unusual cloud formations spawn UFO and flying saucer comparisons

Cape Town had some unusual cloud formations in the sky over the weekend and these clouds were not only unusual looking, but some referred to them as resembling UFOs. Many of the folks who witnessed the Cape Town clouds posted the unusual images they captured in photos online. Some UFO enthusiasts believe that UFOs have the ability to disguise themselves as clouds, but that wasn't the case this weekend!

While this makes a cool fairy-tale and some might say these folks watch too many movies, these UFO-like clouds have a perfectly sound scientific explanation. News Max reports on November 10 that CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam offered up an explanation that is void of little green men.

Large group experience Alien and UFO Contact in Los Angeles

I received an interesting email a couple of days ago, which I would like to share with you. Whilst some may be a little sceptical of the contents, I am sure there is a great deal of truth to it. Although it may not be an answer to all situations, it could account for many.
To add some balance to this article, I have also included information on an account that took place in 1967, but first let me show you the information I received:

Many were contacted by “aliens” during an experiment conducted by the OOBE Research Center at UCLA. It was the first experiment to ever prove that close encounters with UFOs and extraterrestrials are a product of the human mind.

Los Angeles, October 27, 2011 - 20 volunteers assembled at UCLA on October 7th, 2011. They were instructed to perform a specific procedure upon overnight and early-morning awakenings over the next few days. More than half of the volunteers experienced at least one full or partial out-of-body experience as a result. 7 of them made visual contact with UFOs or extraterrestrials. Meanwhile, the sensations they described were identical to those of accounts by “alien abduction survivors”. By some estimates, up to one million Americans experience such encounters every year.

According to the researchers, the term “out-of-body experience” is used to refer to the sensation of having left the body, and not a real exit of some essence from the physical body - although this is just the impression often had by test subjects.

The fact that UFOs and extraterrestrials may be deliberately encountered in a controlled manner and within a few days proves that such experiences are a product of the human brain. Experiment author Michael Raduga explained, "We tried to right a common misconception with this experiment - the issue at hand isn't extraterrestrials, but hidden human abilities. If you've encountered UFOs or aliens after sitting or lying down, it can now be unequivocally stated that you've had a spontaneous out-of-body experience. We have proven this."

H.R.2262 - U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act

“This bill directs the Department of Transportation (DOT) to report periodically to specified congressional committees on the progress of the commercial space transportation industry in developing voluntary consensus standards or any other construction that promotes best practices.”

US Congress Passes Bill Protecting Slave Labor on Mars & Corporate Space Colonies

On November 16, the U.S. House of Representatives joined the Senate in passing a bill that provides legal protection for space mining conducted by U.S. based corporations that establish off-world operations. While most Congressional members that passed H.R.2262 – U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act may have done so with the impression that they would protect the rights of U.S. companies in future space mining missions, they instead have provided legal protection to corporations that have been secretly conducting such operations for decades.

          Lufthansa’s Use of Child Slave Labor During WW II        

Nazis, child slave labor all in the past – Lufthansa is much different today Science Codex, May 7, 2015 The history of German air traffic is closely interwoven with the history of the “Lufthansa” enterprise. That history went hand in hand with illegal government weapons manufacturing, and they had close ties to the Adolph Hitler’s […]

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          How German Manufacturers Became VERY Rich with Slave Labor Under Hitler        

Revealed: How the Nazis helped German companies Bosch, Mercedes, Deutsche Bank and VW get VERY rich using 300,000 concentration camp slaves List of companies a ‘Who’s Who’ of modern German industrial might Some companies still to come clean with their business dealings Bayer used 20,000 slaves but official history brushes Nazi period Deutsche and others enriched […]

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          Investing in a New World (Shane Claiborne)        

Nearly a decade ago, we threw a party on Wall Street where we gave away $10,000 outside the Stock Exchange. The money had formerly been invested in stocks but was divested, broken into thousands of small bills and coins that were dumped at the NYSE entrance, where we invited homeless folks from around New York to join the party.
As the opening bell kicked off the day's trading, we blew a ram's horn and announced the Jubilee vision, and money fell from the sky. You can catch a few glimpses of it here:
The ancient Jubilee was God's alternative to the patterns of inequality. It was a systematic interruption of injustice -- where property was redistributed, debts were forgiven, and slaves were set free. It was God's way of making sure masses of people do not live in poverty while a handful of folks live however they wish.
No doubt Wall Street has some things to learn about Jubilee. Jubilee was God's alternative to the patterns of Wall Street.
As the Occupy Wall Street movement catches the world's attention, those of us who are critical of Wall Street have a responsibility. We can't just be defined by what we are against, but should be known by what we are for.
After all, the word "protest" originally meant "public declaration". It wasn't just about being against something, but it was about declaring something new and better. "Protest" shares the same root as "testify".
It's time to protest-ify.
Gandhi spoke about the need for a "constructive program" -- insisting that the best critique of what is wrong is the practice of something better. So his movement started making their own clothes and marching to the sea to get their own salt. They were building a new society in the shell of the old one.
I think the Occupy movement is off to a good start, and will continue to be a catalyst for change … as long as it stays nonviolent and humble.
The Occupy folks may not have all the answers but they are stirring up the right questions. Saying "no" to the way things are is the first step towards a better future.
Something is wrong with a world that continues to privatize wealth and subsidize debt.
There is an entire generation that is saying no to a world where the average worker makes $7 an hour while the average CEO makes over $1500 an hour.
The world is saying no to the patterns where 1% of the world is using up 36% of its wealth.
We can do better. And we must.
But saying no to Wall Street is only the beginning. We need to create alternatives to Wall Street.
I got excited this week when I heard about "Move Your Money Day," one of the concrete constructive-program suggestions coming out of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
On Nov. 5 folks all over the world will divest from Wall Street and its banks … in order to invest in a better world.
Ideologies alone are not enough. There came a point in the movement to abolish slavery where ideology required responsibility. As one abolitionist said, "The only way to be a good slave-owner is to refuse to be a slave-owner." To truly be against slavery also meant that you didn't drink sugar in your tea, because sugar was produced with slave labor.
So on November 5, my wife and I will be joining the "Move Your Money" celebration, moving our money from Bank of America to the non-profit credit union here in Philadelphia.
It is one small step away from the vicious cycle that continues to see money transfer from the increasingly poor to the increasingly rich.
It is trying to take to heart Jesus' command to "Get the log out" of my own eye.
It is a move towards Gandhi's call to "Be the change you want to see in the world."
It's one little step towards being less of a hypocrite tomorrow than I am today.
Although moving our $2,000 savings may not break the Bank, we realize that we are one little drop in what we hope is becoming a river of justice flowing through the streets of New York City and 1,000 cities around the world.
Enough small things can become a tipping point for massive change. When Rosa Parks decided not to move from her seat on that bus in Montgomery, she said one little, "No" that changed the world. So can we.
Can you imagine if the universities started relocating their endowments?
What if religious denominations moved their retirement funds?
It would be an honor to be a member of the post-Wall-Street Jubilee generation.

          Tearing Down the Wall        
Caption: US Border fence at Brownsville (Courtesy Wikimedia/Creative Commons)

The immigration debate is everywhere. Not just in the United States, where it is focused, but worldwide as well. All eyes are on the country, especially now, with Barak Obama as President, to see if it will remain true to its liberal past of freedom and justice for all, to its immigrant history, to its long struggle to impose respect for universal civil and human rights, to its sense of humanitarianism, to the blood with which it drenched its own soil in order to abolish the enslavement of one race by another and to so many other shining examples of its vocation for often hard-fought, but eventually effective self-criticism and for simply doing the right thing, which, surprisingly enough, is also often the most expedient thing as well.

Quite frankly, after eight long and grueling years in which the administration of George Bush (The Lesser) systematically violated, suspended, ignored and banned rights and principles that had always been considered basic to US-style democracy and decency, a lot of people elsewhere aren’t expecting much of us Americans anymore. Worse still, some Americans even had time during the Bush years to get used to the US thumbing its nose at “corny notions” like multilateral decisions on world security, due process, rule of law and respect for human rights, and started almost finding it ‘cool’ for their leaders to talk like Dirty Harry about such things – about smokin’ out the evildoers and killin’ ‘em – which, in their eyes makes Barak Obama “a wimp”.

But hopefully, the current administration – in spite of a jittery economy, a radically hostile opposition, two wars that are looking more and more like an even longer and more pernicious nightmare than Vietnam, the worst oil disaster in the history of the world and a churlishly impatient public that apparently expected President Obama to soar in like Superman and, with a wave of his hand, fix everything that was not just broken, but utterly demolished, overnight – will find the time and energy to go out of its way toward restoring the battered image of the United States as the intellectual as well as material leader of the Free World.

Like it or not, and whatever your personal stance may be, the immigration debate forms part of this context. It has for some time now, but it recently has been shoved to the forefront as a result of the unilateral decision of Arizona to impose its own rules which – despite all of the skewed logic with which the public is being bombarded by far-right commentators – are tantamount to racial profiling.

Clearly, at this moment in its history, the United States has an immigration problem. And it is, for the most part – though not entirely – an Hispanic problem. Let me hasten to say that what I mean by this is that the main problem is in how the United States will deal with the influx of immigrants from that ‘ethnic’ group (whatever that means, since they hail from highly varied backgrounds), and not that the problem is theirs. The problem is, strictly speaking, a US problem.

An Immigrant Nation

The United States is an immigrant country. While the majority of the US population is made up of whites, it cannot really be said that there is anything like a “typical American”. Unless, of course, you are only speaking of those who have descended from the 53 people who survived out of the 102 passengers who left England in 1620 aboard the Mayflower, bound for Virginia, drifted off course and ended up settling in Massachusetts. If not, then the vast majority of Americans are of immigrant stock and, technically, the first settlers were immigrants as well. The fact is that the only authentically “typical Americans” form less than one percent of the population and are not white, but ‘red’. All the rest of us are the descendants of “intruders” – though I am proud to say that some genuine native blood does flow in my veins, thanks to my great-grandfather, Job Cavinder, who was half American Indian.

Caption: My great-grandfather, Job Cavinder, was half Indian. My Great-Aunt Ruth (standing behind Job) demonstrated clear Native American facial features. Seated with Job is my great-grandmother, Mary Landis, and behind her, my Great-Aunt Edith.

But now, this is where our insistence on placing everybody in neat little pigeonholes gets messy and confusing. My wife, Virginia, for instance, is an Argentine national. She was born in South America and speaks Spanish as her first language. Back in the days when we lived in the United States and she needed a visa, she was pigeonholed by the Federal government as “race: Latino”. (Back then, the Federal government didn’t care about the gender concerns of the Spanish language, so for them, there was no such thing as Latino/Latina: immigrants from “south of the border” were Latino Male and Latino Female). In point of fact, however, Virginia is not latina, or at least not in the American sense of the word, which refers to peoples of Hispanic origin. Both of her grandfathers – Mel and Carlucci - emigrated from their native Italy to