Friday, December 30, 2005

Too funny, eh?

For all of my dear Canadian friends--I post this in your honor. :- )

Can they do that?

This sounds awfully fishy to me. Has anybody else heard of this? It seems to my (legally uneducated) social conscience that there ought to be something Constitutionally wrong here, but I can't put my finger on it...

Thursday, December 29, 2005

What would you do?

Take a look at what landed in my husband's inbox today.

Is chivalry indeed dead? How can this poor woman not get anyone to help her? is so hard.

From Nadia Arafat
202, Kamel El Shennawi street, Garden City, Cairo, Egypt.

Attention dear,

In The Name of Allah, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful
Aselamu Aleikum.

Forgive my indignation to contact you through this medium without prior notice. I am Mrs Nadia Arafat, the wife of late Fathi Arafat brother to Yasser Arafat) who just died on  Wednesday 1st December, 2004. In military hosptal cairo egypt.

It did not take more than 48hours after his demise when I was contacted by his security firm in Asia as his next of kin. Before his death, he entrusted many documents to me and told me to let things be since he knew that he would die considering his cancer ailment. One of those documents bore certificate of deposit from the said security firm that contacted me in London.

Hence I`m requested to correspond with them in the shortest possible time to avoid the demurrages that will accrue following the death of my husband as nobody except me can attend to such transaction. Thus I`m contacting you so that you can help me to retrieve this clasified deposit from the security firm and for safe keeping pending when it will be convienient for me to travel out of Egypt. All eyes are on me now and as such I will not like to attract any attention now either by monetary transactions or by international travel.

As a result, I request you to reply to me as soon as possible so that we shall know the way forward and how to streamline issues and procedures towards the successful retrieval of this clasified deposit which bear the sum of US$ 25.5 Million,  I`m quite convinced that  this classified deposit is enough for any investment of ones choice in a life`s time.

Endeavour to keep this mail very secret even if you are not keen to cooperate with me as I beseeched you.

Please send your reply to my private e-mail address


Mrs Nadia


Amidst all of the admittedly important but usually depressing and rather over-reported news, here is something that is worth blogging about.

I must admit that I appreciate the ire directed at Barbie dolls. There'll be none of that kind in my house, let me tell you. I had them growing up, and while I did have all the pampering accoutrements, usually they were getting driven around in army trucks or thrown at each other as missiles across the playroom. Or they rode My Little Ponies off the edges of steep cliffs. :-) That one was especially fun.

So while I know that Mattel isn't producing American Girl dolls out of any altruistic longing for a less neurotic girlhood, I'm still glad to see this kind of toy available. The only thing that I find mildly disturbing is the presupposition that "innocence, playfulness, and imagination," as the author puts it, are assumed to be limited to children. OK--so sometimes life stinks, and often it's really hard, but that doesn't mean that it's a jaded from here on out. The ability to simply enjoy life and all that is has to offer doesn't have to end with age, and it ought not vanish with the coming of experience.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Hello Again

It's been sooooo long since I've posted, that I suppose I ought to begin by posting my sincerest apologies.

OK, with that out of the way, here's a funny piece of news for the day. I was picking the the NY Times yesterday, and I came across this.

Read it all the way through to the end, and tell me if you don't think his plan is backfiring. :-) Personally, I think they should follow Mr. Mousawi's plan.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Word of the Day

Sorry, Becca, I couldn't find "insanity" in The Devil's Dictionary, but I'm sure that Bierce would have approved of your definition. I hope that you will accept as a satisfactory substitution...

Lawyer, n. One skilled in circumvention of the law.

Now, to get the fuller picture, we must turn to his definition of...

Law, n.
    Once Law was sitting on the bench,
    And Mercy knelt a-weeping.
    "Clear out!" he cried, "disordered wench!"
     Nor come before me creeping.
    Upon your knees if you appear,
    'Tis plain you have no standing here.

    Then Justice came. His Honor cried:
    "Your status?--devil seize you!"
    "Amica curiae," she replied--
    "Friend of the court, so please you."
    "Begone!" he shouted--"there's the door--
    I never saw your face before!"

Monday, December 05, 2005

Word of the Day

As contributed by Chris:

Manna, n. A food miraculously given to the Israelites in the wilderness. When it was no longer supplied to them they settled down and tilled the soil, fertilizing it, as a rule, with the bodies of the original occupants.

(Ambrose Bierce,The Devil's Dictionary)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Word of the Day

In an effort to be of general use to the populace and provide a pedagogical influence to deter the Disneyfication of our day-to-day routines, I've decided to begin posting a Word of the Day.

And also, I just got a copy of The Devil's Dictionary, and I think it's hilariously funny. :- )

So, without further ado, the Word of the Day is...Absurdity, n. A statement of belief manifestly inconsistent with one's own opinion.

Bonus thought

I was listening to President Bush's speech at the Naval Academy yesterday on the radio while I was on my way to work, and it occurred to me...

Why is it that he is able to call us to fight a war on "terror"? What is it about Americans that makes us think that we can cut out of our lives what is a daily part of so many other countries? Why do we think we can achieve a world without terror?

Could it have anything to do with a fixation on Innocence?

Percolating away...


Well, then. I've finished the book, and had an evening to turn it over in my head. Here are some of the noteworthy passages from M. Giroux for your review. I think I've captured most of the essence of his book, although I did leave out some of the more socialistic passages, since that's not really what I want to focus on.

Innocence is one of the key issues that Giroux explores. He describes it...

"As suburban America witnesses urban violence invading its schools, homes, and neighborhoods, Disney becomes a symbol for the security and romance of the small-town America of yesteryear--a pristine never-never land in which children's fantasies come true, happiness reigns, and innocence is kept safe through the magic of pixie dust."

...And then details how Disney is using it and some problematic implications.

"Media culture has become one of the most important vehicles throgh which coporate executives like Michael Eisner invoke innocence in order to express their committment to middle-class family values, the welfare of children, and their expansions into noncommercial spheres such as public schooling. Such rhetoric represents more than the staged authenticity of the corporate swindle; it also works strategically to 'celebrate innocence over politics and other forms of critical knowledge.'"

Innocence doesn't just affect the young either...

"Disney has given new meaning to the politics of innocence as a narrative for shaping public memory and for producing a 'general body of indentifications' that promote a sanitized version of American history. Innocence also serves as a rhetorical device that cleanses the Disney image of the messiness of commerce, ideology, and power."

So why would Innocence be so important for Disney to connect with its image?

"In Disney's moral order, innocence is 'presented as the deepest truth,' which when unproblematized can be used with great force and influence to legitimate the spectacle of entertainment as escapist fantasy."

Escaping is another big theme. OK, so what if Disney is providing a way for the average American to escape? Why is that bad? It seems that the problem is not so much that it's a way to escape, but that Disney is so pervasive that escape becomes a way of life, and in that sense, ever so much more real than...well, reality.

"Far from representing a benign cultural force, Disney's theme parks offer prepackaged, sanitizecd versions of America's past, place a stong emphasis on the virtes of the individual as an essentially consuming subject, transform the work of production into the production of play, and ignore the exclusionary dynamics of class and race that permeate Disney culture."

"There are no strikes in Disneyland. no history of labor unrest. No history of attacks on immigrants. No history of slavery or segregation. No Red scare, no McCarthyism, no atom bomb. Nor will one find in Disney's rewriting of public memory any mention of corporations' abuse of labor, corporations' responsibility for acid rain, or responsibility for the effects of corporate downsizing. Not in Disney's history. Walt Disney once announced that 'Disneyland is a place where you can't get lost.' Disney's rewriting of public memory echoes that sentiment and offers its patrons a history 'without classes, conflict, or crime, a world of continuous consumption, a supermarket of fun.'"

So what? Why does it matter if we are a nation of consumers?

"Disney educates and entertains in order to create corporate identities and to define citizens primarily as consumers and spectators."

Giroux argues that a nation of consumers cannot be a nation of citizens because consumption is by definition self-centered, while citizenship carries (or ought to carry) the weight of civic duty and moral responsibility. Ultimately, the more the body politic is degraded into a nation of shoppers, the more democracy is dissovled into a group of uneducated non-participants.

"Rather than being viewed as a commercial venture innocently distributing pleasure to young people, the Disney empire must be seen as a pedagogical and policy-making enterprise actively engaged in the cultural landscaping of national identity and the 'schooling' of the minds of young children. This is not to suggest that there is something sinister behind what Disney does. It points only to the need to address the role of fantasy, desire, and innocence in securing particular ideological interest, legitimating specific social relations, and making a claim on the meaning of public memory."

"When politics is cloaked in the image of innocence, there is more at stake than simple deception. There is the issue of cultural power and how it influences public udnerstandings of the past, national coherence, and popular memory in ways that often conceal injustice, criticism, and the possibility of democratic renewal. Innocence, in Disney's world, becomes the ideological vehicle through which history is purged of its seamy side."