This Friday I had the chance to help facilitate a workshop with the New York City Nutrition Education Network, better known as NYCNEN. Held at The New School, the workshop was part of their May General Meeting. The overarching theme for the meeting was “Developing Partnerships for a Healthier NYC: A Workshop Exploring Resource Mapping and Cu...[more]
I’m Not Mad at You in Particular, Just Everyone in General
It’s been one of those weeks,
in the middle of the month
when you just want to scream
and break something beautiful
like those drones in the halls
playing pretend scholars
on blood money and silenced ghosts
You don’t change things by asking ...[more]
Earlier this week the FBI announced that they were elevating Black Liberation Army (BLA) and Black Panther Party (BPP) activist Assata Shakur (formerly Joanne Chesimard) to their ‘Most Wanted Terrorist’ list of domestic suspects, making her the only woman in history to have such a designation, and the second US citizen ever to be added ...[more]
In other news, Politix reports on a recent incident where students were allegedly forced to listen to a Christian fundamentalism sermons disguised as a student assembly, this time in a Mississippi public school in Rankin County.
“A Mississippi public high school has caused a furore by forcing students to attend Christian assemblies, students ...[more]
So this weekend I had the pleasure of wandering around the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens with a friend at their Sakura Matsuri Festival, which was a combination of the annual cherry blossom festival plus lots of other Japanese cultural events–taiko drums, cosplay, origami workshops, Ukiyo-e artists, musical performances and more. The cherry blos...[more]
I live in a Greenpoint, Brooklyn neighborhood in the northwestern corner of the Greenpoint area, sandwiched between the BQE, Calvary Cemetery and the East River industrial zone. It’s a lovely little place with a very toxic history dating back centuries, and continuing today. Although the form of the industrial pollution may change from time t...[more]
So in honor of the annual celebration that is 420, I whipped up a little something something in the kitchen–Carurú De Camarón. And before you ask, no, it was not a “420 dinner,” as some folks might suspect given the date, just the basic ingredients, with no special sauce
So the dish I made is one I really enjoy, and have made 6-...[more]
[Editor's Note: Offensive language follows]
Did you catch the latest white supremacist twitterganza following the MTV movie awards? If not, then check out Public Shaming’s Tweets of Privilege post here. I would say that this sort of thing is shocking, but truth be told, having spent this semester teaching a course on race, immigration and whi...[more]
Reflecting on this week’s reading by John May (Sensing: Preliminary Notes on the Emergence of Statistical-Mechanical Geographic Vision) and Peter Galison (War Against the Center), it is clear that the importance of the optics of war cannot be underestimated, either in their purely military application or their civilian and scientific emergence. Galison helps us to think about how military logics, both those of attack and counter-attack, have played an important role in how the US urban landscape developed as we know it today. Likewise, May offers an important insight into how we go about seeing, and the ways that statistical probability and and its related logics of reduction and abstraction have played an important role in the geological science, from mapping and thermal imaging to what we use almost every day in the form of something such as Google Earth.
“If her functioning as a female is not enough to define woman, if we decline also to explain her through “the eternal feminine,” and if nevertheless we admit, provisionally, that women do exist, then we must face the question: what is a woman?”
What is a Woman? According to Google...
As seen above, these are just a few examples from the top search hits under Google Images for “woman.” What do you notice in relation to de Beauvoir’s piece? What tropes of the woman are reproduced here. Or, we might ask, how is woman visualized, and what does she signify within the visual space of the image? Read More
“…based on the various reports, it is possible that they were located using surveillance technology that tracked their satellite phones.” – EFF report on foreign journalist deaths in Syria
I’d like to start this post with a stark and sad reminder. Technology is never neutral. It is always designed with a function, and that function can be creative or destructive. Who controls the function is what really matters. In memory of Marie Colvin and Rémi Ochlik (French photographer), casualties of our obsession with technology.
“It’s a complete and utter lie they’re only going after terrorists…The Syrian Army is simply shelling a city of cold, starving civilians.” – Final words of Marie Colvin Read More
Some materials to think through in relation to questions of Nazi and Fascist aesthetics, and the influences of German art and politics between WWI and WWII. Reflections on Nazi film propagandist Leni Riefenstahl, Susan Sontag’s critique of her in Fascinating Fascism (1975) and Boris Groys reflections in The Hero Body: Adolf Hitler’s Art Theory on the body in relation to politics, domination, control and visuality. Does BDSM carry a latent fascist sexuality? All this and more!
“What is interesting about art under National Socialism are those features which make it a special variant of totalitarian art. The official art of countries like the Soviet Union and China aims to expound and reinforce a utopian morality. Fascist art displays a utopian aesthetics—that of physical perfection. Painters and sculptors under the Nazis often depicted the nude, but they were forbidden to show any bodily imperfections. Their nudes look like pictures in physique magazines: pinups which are both sanctimoniously asexual and (in a technical sense) pornographic, for they have the perfection of a fantasy.” – Susan Sontag, Fascinating Fascism Read More
I’m a storyteller. That’s what I do in life — telling stories, writing novels — and today I would like to tell you a few stories about the art of storytelling and also some supernatural creatures called the djinni. But before I go there, please allow me to share with you glimpses of my personal story. I will do so with the help of words, of course, but also a geometrical shape, the circle, so throughout my talk, you will come across several circles.
The following is a video animation project I was working on over the weekend for the Social Justice Committee at the New School. We’re trying to teach people how to use consensus, and this was meant as an instructional video to help demonstrate it.
While teaching a lesson today on the creation and passage of the 1970 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by President Nixon, one of my students asked if the Keystone XL pipeline had gone through the process of environmental review we were discussing, in particular an Environmental Assessment (EA) or an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), and what the outcome had been. I had to admit I wasn’t sure, which wasn’t an ideal answer, but it is what it is. So after doing a bit of updated research on the project, I decided I would just turn this into another teachable moment, both for myself and for others.
But I must also admit to having an ulterior motive, namely the incessant rage I feel when reading an article like this one from the end of the summer about this project. The NY Times story, U.S. Offers Key Support to Canadian Keystone XL Pipeline, was enough to set me off, but then against my better judgement I began reading through the 200+ comments on the story. And I should mention I am working on my dissertation proposal as well right now, which is largely about environmental politics and the current state of global denial. So in large part this was the perfect example of one of those “really, are you serious, ugh!” moments.
My life is different; my death will be like untimely rain.
Amhi vasare vasare, muki upasi vasare
Gaya panhavato amhi, chor kalatat dhar
Tapa tapa gham unarato, unarato bhuivar
Moti pikavato amhi, tari upasi lekare.”
“We are calves, dumb hungry calves
We tend to the cows, thieves walk away with milk and cream
We sweat and sweat on the fields
We cultivate pearls, but our children remain hungry.
-Shrikrishna Kalamb (50), Indian cotton farmer and poet from Vindarbha district of Maharashtra state who killed himself in March of 2008.
So as some folks may know, I’m teaching an Environmental Politics course at Fordham University this fall. So far the course has been going well, although we are only in the second week of the class. This week we have been discussing Rachel Carson and Silent Spring, and it’s role in shaping public discussions about toxins in the environment, and in particular, insecticides and pesticides like DDT.
One of the things which I find particularly interesting going back to this period of time is how relevant the debates are still today, even around something like DDT, which you would think should have been over decades ago. However, not so. In fact, some proponents are calling for an increase in DDT use, especially in relation to Malaria control regimes in the Tropics (esp. in African nations). Some of these calls are coming from the usual corporate pundits that thought DDT was a great thing in 1945, and still feel the same way today. Others are more international players, like the World Health Organization (WHO) or the US-based Agency for International Development (AID). Then there are the usual right-wing pundits like John Stossel at ABC News who think anything environmental is bad, and think DDT was the best thing since Wonderbread. Two such examples are here, one of which I showed in my class to give folks a feel for the pro-DDT arguments, which I have to admit, are weak at best, and oftentimes outright false misinformation.
It’s particularly interesting to watch how Stossel dismisses Silent Spring off-had as:
a) not scientific, and
b) full of lies
This is particular telling given that a Congressional Committee setup by JFK found her book to be quite accurate and scientific in its basis, and there has been no successful attempt to discredit her work that has gained any serious legitimacy, especially in the scientific community, because she did the hard work of scientific investigation at the time with other real scientists like herself, rather than armchair pundits like Stossel who simply “claim” scientists have rejected the book and its findings–another deception.
However in the course of doing research on this I came across some interesting debates and information regarding current DDT debates through the Stockholm Convention and their Working Group reports on DDT alternatives, which they are trying to put in place in order to phase out all DDT production globally by 2020. The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants went into force in May of 2001, and currently involved a wide range of countries, international organizations and other partner agencies. Not surprisingly, the usual major players in chemical warfare production, the US and Israel, have refused to ratify the document, making it meaningless as a policy tool for real reform in those countries.
But what I did find interesting, which I came across in a text called Pesticide Selectivity, Health and the Environment (W.R. Carlile, 2006) is that currently India is the last major producer of DDT for export, at about 4,000 tonnes a year, much for internal use on agricultural fields. But even more interestingly, there is a strong and positive correlation between countries that use large amounts of agricultural DDT and related toxins and countries with high suicide by poison rates. For example:
Between 1983 and 1998, 100,000+ deaths in Sri Lanka were linked to suicide from pesticides.
The WHO estimates that 2/3 of the 100,000 yearly pesticide-associated deaths are from organophosphates and carbamate insecticides.
A national suicide survey in China in 2001 showed that of 250,000 suicide attempts, 2/3 were with pesticides, especially rodenticides.
6 surveys from Indian hospitals published in 2000 showed that of 1,777 documented poisonings, 59% were associated with pesticides.
India is also the site of massive farmer protests and widespread farmer suicides. It is worth remembering that close to 60% of Indians still work in or rely on rural agriculture to survive. Given this, the fact that between 2002 and 2006 over 17,000 farmers a year killed themselves, we can see this is a just the tip of the iceburg. The cause of most of these suicides was either farm-related debt or drought. And the latest statistics from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) in India suggest that over 17,000 farmers killed themselves in 2009.
A January, 2008 headline from The Hindu newspaper in India gives a sense of the situation:
Mumbai: Farm suicides in Maharashtra rose dramatically in 2006, more than in any other part of the country. The state saw 4,453 farmers’ suicides that year, over a quarter of the all-India total of 17,060, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) in its report Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India, 2006. That is the worst figure recorded ‘in any year for any state’ in the country since the NCRB first began logging farm suicides.
An earlier article from 2000, this time in The Independent in the UK, had this to say about the issue, and is an eerie reminder of how little has changed in the past decade on this issue:
But many Indian farmers have almost no capital and are vulnerable to fluctuations of market price and the depredations of money lenders. Thousands have committed suicide because they were unable to repay debts incurred buying herbicide, pesticide, seed and other “Green Revolution” necessaries.
And while the issues in India are not the same ones that Rachel Carson was writing about in 1962, the questions of impacts to farmers and the larger environment have not gone away. If anything, they have only gotten worse. So this was a good reminder of why the lessons of the past need to be continually revisited in the present, to help inform how we move into the future. And in the case of toxins and Carson, we still have a lot of work to do.
Here’s the YouTube playlist of some of the videos I was using for my class.