Archive for May, 2005

Good and Evil Face Off in the Forest

Monday, May 30th, 2005

Imagine the range of the human spirit as a spectrum of enlightenment: primal brutality at one end, transcendent wisdom at the other.

Imagine two individuals who embody these two extremes. At one end it would be easy to place the Buddha — a timeless archetype of nonviolence and reason; at the other, who else but the terrorist, who advances his brutal cause — personal, nationalistic, or religious — by the heedless (even deliberate) slaughter of innocents? Imagine the Buddha witnessing the most horrific image of our age: the collapse of the twin towers of the World Trade Center, as thousands perish before his eyes.

Believeable Satire? Now, That Is Scary

Monday, May 23rd, 2005

Recently, I posted on this blog an essay, thinly disguised as a news report, entitled “Bush Declares War on Ivory-Billed Woodpecker.” The premise was that our president had placed a $10,000 bounty on the head of each specimen of this magnificent, newly rediscovered creature, thought for 60 years to have been extinct, because he didn’t want to add another animal to the Endangered Species List.

The post was, of course, a satire — one of the oldest forms of literature, with a pedigree dating back at least to Aristophanes. Satire has long been a weapon of choice for scribes targeting entrenched, corrupt, criminally belligerent power elites, and it was in this spirit that I invoked the form.

The Lowdown on Low-Fat

Sunday, May 22nd, 2005

There they sit on the supermarket shelves, in the dairy cases, in the freezers: cookies, crackers, ice cream, cheese, lunch meat, frozen dinners and diet soda.

And they’re all labeled “low-fat”!

Hallelujah! Fill up the shopping cart. Take it all home, eat it all up — in moderation, of course — and the result will be a healthier you: less “bad” cholesterol, lower blood pressure, etc.

Don’t be so sure.

Environmentalism Lives; You Just Have to Look Closely

Sunday, May 22nd, 2005

At a meeting in April of the Environmental Grantmakers Association, two warhorses of the green movement, Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus, released a statement entitled, “The Death of Environmentalism” — a dismal litany of the Bush administration’s murderously successful war on the environment that caused quite a stir among the tree-hugging set. While noting that established environmental organizations have become stunningly impotent in trying to slow down the neocon juggernaut, the report lacks any clear prescription for what to do about it.

Liberal Bashing: Off Target and Out of Touch with Reality

Friday, May 20th, 2005

Liberal has become a four-letter word in American culture, even to the point that many liberals now shun the word.

Why has this time-honored tradition of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and a host of other great Americans who have sought to help all rise to a better life in America become anathema?

The culpable force is a well-oiled, extremely well-funded Right-Wing propaganda machine that distorts the truth every chance it can get to defame a great tradition and great people.

Liberals are painted by Right-Wing commentators, radio personalities, and a stream of authors and political leaders as irresponsible spend thrifts who throw money at social causes in a blind attempt to help the less fortunate. We’re accused of a senseless compassion for the less-well-off that severely weakens our country, putting a drain on our economy and our personal wealth through unnecessary taxes.

Small Is the New Big Thing

Friday, May 20th, 2005

A large charge. A whopper. Big Sky Country. Big Oil. Walking Tall. The Great Plains. Great Caesar’s Ghost. Bring out the big guns.

For better or worse, hugeness has always been a big (get it?) part of the American spirit.

I suppose it has something to do with the spirit in which the pioneers had busted out of the claustrophobic broom closet of Europe and spilled onto a sprawling continent that must have seemed as big as the moon.

And nobody lived there. Nobody of consequence, anyway. One might consider the taming of this continent, and the substantial annihilation of (yawn) Native-American culture, to have been America’s first hostile takeover.

They Don’t Make Pyramids Like They Used To

Monday, May 16th, 2005

Whenever I see or hear the term “food pyramid,” I imagine a bunch of sandblasted archaeologists opening up an ancient sarcophagus, and discovering a stash of Doritos that’s been buried and forgotten for three thousand years.

Thanks to sodium benzoate and BHT, they haven’t changed a bit. They’re perfectly edible. Somebody in khaki shorts sends out for a case of Diet Coke on ice, and a good time is had by all.

Yes, We Have Bananas, But …

Thursday, May 12th, 2005

Nationwide, the market for organic foods has soared from $3.57 billion in 1997 to $10.38 billion in 2003, according to the Organic Trade Association. The group predicts sales will reach $14.5 billion by the end of 2005 as Americans buy everything from radishes to beef grown without conventional pesticides and fertilizers, biotechnology, antibiotics or growth hormones.
– The Associated Press

Guy wielding machete takes aim and whacks at the stem of a dangling bunch of bananas. Banana bunch, big as an atom bomb, plummets toward the earth, where somebody catches it.

It’s loaded onto a truck. Truck rumbles off through the jungle, arrives at a dock, where zillions of bananas are loaded aboard a ship. Ship heads out to sea. Several days later, it reaches a dock on the southern coast of North America. Bananas are exhumed from cargo hold and placed on another truck.

Next stop: distribution center. Next stop: supermarket.

Vote With Your Dollars! Stop Feeding the Corporate Beast!

Monday, May 9th, 2005

John K. Wilson is coordinator of the Independent Press Association’s Campus Journalism Project and founder of the Indy, online at Wilson interviewed various media critics for a report to be distributed at the Free Press-organized National Conference on Media Reform in St. Louis, Missouri, later this week (May 12-15).

What follows is Wilson’s email interview with Jennifer Nix. This interview and others, including those with Barbara Ehrenreich, Mark Crispin Miller, Howard Zinn, Sonia Shah and more, will also appear this week on MediaChannel .

John Wilson: You have criticized the fact that so many celebrity progressives like Michael Moore use mainstream corporate publishers (even after experiencing censorship and frustration). But don’t the large advances and connections and marketing people give these big publishers an advantage over what small publishers can offer?

Jennifer Nix: A lot to answer there!

First, I don’t make a distinction between celebrity and non-celebrity progressives. And after a great deal of thinking about this, I don’t even want to make the distinction between those who are progressives, and those who are not, as there are people of all political persuasions who believe our media system needs help. The real problem is that even those people who advocate against media consolidation and the corporatization of news in this country apparently do not see the hypocrisy of publishing their books with—and making further profits for—the very same big media conglomerates against which they rail on other fronts. For example, Amy Goodman: Why speak out against Disney-owned ABC News and its role in furthering the agenda that took us to war in Iraq, and then publish your book on that very subject with Hyperion Books—owned by…yes, Disney. Why allow the profits from your book to further strengthen the Disney-ABC machine? Independent book publishing must be included in the equation for shoring up our independent media, and an alternative infrastructure for disseminating news, information and ideas. Independent book publishing should be, in fact, the solid base of that infrastructure.

Politics is Perception: The Myth of the Liberal Media

Monday, May 9th, 2005

Welcome to the post-factual age, a time when politics and government have abandoned any allegiance it once had with policies and positions supported by facts for a free-for-all of misleading images and ingenuous values that cloak an ugly truth.

Today, politics has foresaken reason and become a game of perception. Facts have become irrelevant to those who mislead, indeed brainwash, the public to accept an ideology of a select few who stand to benefit from the constant barrage of lies and subterfuge that is systematically robbing us of our country.

In this day and age, details and facts have been relegated to the back seat. Perception is everything, and it’s riding in the front seat with no seat belt on and an open bottle of Jack Daniels!

Take the myth of the liberal media.

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