Saturday, June 30, 2007
** added later: related video on youtube of a frustrated MSNBC newscaster about to loose it on the air, being goaded by her colleagues. She agrees with me and others that the Paris Hilton story shouldn't lead.
Friday, June 29, 2007
My dad challenged his readers to join him in a series of “desert island” reviews – the most essential, can’t-live-without-‘em, albums in your collection. This is a personal list, not a best-of list. If I’m stuck on this island with other people who I would share music with, I might change my answers a bit. So, I don’t know how many of these posts I’ll do, but I’ll start today.
I remember waiting anxiously for my pre-ordered copy of this cd to arrive in the mail. When it finally came I was immediately in love – every song was stunning in its own way. It covers a range of content – from love songs (Lifelong Fling) to political statements (Remind Us) to songs that defy categorization (most of the rest of them). I have always loved Karin and Linford’s lyrics, and their music for that matter. And this album really showcases everything that I love about them.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Now, I'm not sure if these requests really do anything to improve the level of political discussion or not, but it definitely draws attention to the theatrical quality of some of this political entertainment (in case there is anyone left who doesn't think Ann Coulter is theatrical, I suppose). Perhaps pointing out how unproductive personal attacks are is fruitful in itself. If nothing else, it helps politicians separate themselves from entertainers by emphasizing their own seriousness.
Barack Obama is still my candidate, but I'm growing more and more fond of Ms Edwards.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
The truth, of course, is that political campaigns get interesting only when the candidates stop speaking in ringing generalities and infuriating phrases, which doesn't mean that they therefore become successful or even good for the country. Sen. John McCain's 2000 campaign appealed precisely because he eschewed pre-prepared gobbledygook—though that wasn't enough even to win the Republican nomination.While I am quick to point out the art of political speech, I think the writer has a point here. Indeed, my memorable introduction to the difference between the art of rhetoric and the art of poetry came when I attempted to analyze a political speech for the beauty of the language. While some speeches certainly have a beauty of rhythm and image, the training I had from English Department New Critics (the irony of calling this method new criticism is that to me it is the oldest) did not suffice. While truly great political speeches create new paradigms, inspire, and persuade, the vast majority, perhaps, aim simply to not alienate anyone. Especially in a media environment that searches for a good clip, repeating phrases that are generally agreeable seem to be in a candidates interest.
Is this sad or just the way of things? Is there a way to train the public to wade through the tired cliches and discover policy differences? Can politicians find a way to grab attention without ruining their ethos?
Monday, June 11, 2007
I’m working on a Revise and Resubmit on a paper about Martin Luther King, Jr. this week. And as part of my research for this revision I’ve done a lot of reading about African-American Christianity. My reading in Black Theology and history has left me stunned that African-Americans adopted Christianity at all. After all, their only contact with Christianity was that it was being fed to them by their oppressors – often as a strategy for creating a moral obligation of slaves to masters and thereby ensure better work. In spite of this clearly oppressive spin on the gospel of freedom, though, illiterate slaves were able to learn and understand the story of the Exodus and of the God who sets captives free and looks after the oppressed. And in spite of their oppression they held on to a radical hope found in the Gospel story. And while the social, individual, and economic problems that resulted from decades of slavery continue to create injustices in our society, that hope remains alive.
Eddie S. Glaude, Jr. explains the importance of rehearsing these stories toward hope and political activism: “Put simply, liturgies always entail an ethics: they presuppose a certain way of being in the world and seek to impart that to participants and their activity… Liturgies and other rituals – just as explicit forms of racial activism – articulated early conceptions of the moral community among northern blacks as well as southern” (Exodus! P 31).
I wonder if those of us who have more social power can also see these stories – and the enactment of them in liturgy – as an impetus for action and activism. How can the Biblical God of freedom speak into our time and bring about hope for justice, just as the same God did to American slaves?
Saturday, June 09, 2007
In Kansas the stepmother who fed her own children while starving her husband's daughters is sentenced to only 44 months in prison.
Somehow this story seems less... cool when it's real. But I sure do hope those daughters get some kind of outrageous comeuppance. Not neccessarily marrying a prince, since, um, we don't live in a monarchy. What's some kind of modern feminist equivalent? Elected Governor?
Saturday, June 02, 2007
The new google street view feature has sparked some concern about privacy. I’m still thinking it through. On the one hand, it’s really cool to take a virtual walk around the neighborhood in some cool cities. On the other hand, I think a little bit of suspicion about the availability of this kind of technology is appropriate. After all, I am often reminded of the book 1984 lately and in that book the government has tvs in every home that are also cameras, so they can tell if you’re doing your required exercise and if you’re thinking and writing the right things. I mean, this is a long way from that, but the technology now exists to make it happen. And I have to say, it makes me a little bit nervous.
The biggest irony of this whole thing, however, is that the woman who raised this question managed to get her photo and the cat that google captured in a much clearer image in the New York Times. Of course, her point is not that photos of her cat are available on the internet (heaven knows enough people post pictures of their cats on the internet). Her point is that that kind of detail might lead into realms we don’t really want. Is this the fun part of people watching or the creepy part?
All I know is that I have had plenty of moments in my life when I lose my balance in an ungraceful way or need to take care of a wedgie when I look around and say "oh, good, I don't think anyone saw that." Ubiquitous cameras might make this moment a little bit more paranoid.