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“If a man has an apartment stacked to the ceiling with newspapers we call him crazy. If a woman has a trailer house full of cats we call her nuts. But when people pathologically hoard so much cash that they impoverish the entire nation, we put them on the cover of Fortune magazine and pretend that they are role models.”
-– B. Lester

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 Reviews: Pixar’s Lesson for Kids — and Adults

We need all our emotions to be healthy, even the ones that hurt.

By Jill Richardson

Pixar’s latest flick holds some major life lessons for kids — and adults, too.

Inside Out takes place inside the head of an 11-year-old girl, Riley, as she and her parents move from Minnesota to San Francisco. The main characters are cute personifications of the main characters inside of each of us: Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Fear.

Joy, played by Amy Poehler, runs the show, attempting to keep Sadness from bringing Riley down as she struggles with her family’s move. As far as Joy’s concerned, Sadness is a downer. And really, what’s the point of being sad anyway?

Riley’s parents pile on by encouraging her to be happy all the time and praising her when she manages a smile.

You might recognize this parental behavior, because it’s a common one.

At one point or another, parenting means finding yourself in a situation when your child’s emotions are really, really inconvenient. Sometimes in a public place, frequently over an issue that — to you, as an adult — is no big deal, and often with loud sobs and crocodile tears.

What do you do? ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Monday, July 06 @ 21:06:46 EDT (2391 reads)
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 Reviews: "The Mouse That Roared":

Business News
How Disney Instills Greed and Consumerism - Starting at Three Months

by: Martha Sorren, Truthout | Book Review

In American culture, Disney has become synonymous with childhood. Present-day grandparents grew up watching the animated films, wearing Mickey Mouse pajamas and begging to go to Disneyland. But while it all seems innocent, few people have considered the hold that the Disney Corporation has not only on their own lives, but on the world as a whole.

Henry Giroux and Grace Pollock explore this relationship between consumer and industry in their book "The Mouse that Roared: Disney and the End of Innocence."

Cuddly cartoon animals and whimsical fairy-tale stories are merely Disney's public face. The expansive conglomerate is not limited to Disney film and theme parks. It also owns six motion picture studios, ABC television network and its 226 affiliated stations, multiple cable television networks, 227 radio stations, four music companies, three cruise lines, theatrical production companies, publishing houses, 15 magazine titles and five video game development studios. This media and culture monopoly goes unnoticed by most Americans, who just want to indulge their childhood fantasies as Disney so deftly enables with its movies, theme parks and merchandise.

Giroux and Pollock's peerless scholarship exposes Disney through essential, hard-hitting information that America needs to face. The authors' dedication to thorough research and the book's trove of facts and statistics make this an indispensable reference work, as well as a passionately engaged and engaging investigation of Disney and its place in consumerist America. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Tuesday, August 23 @ 22:23:13 EDT (623 reads)
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 Reviews: Can Out-of-Control Local News Kill People?

The Newsby: Jason Leopold, Truthout | Book Review

Determined to trump its closest competitor in the ratings game, a local Philadelphia television news station produces an "exclusive" segment that shows surveillance video of a 19-year-old college student exiting a subway station and later being led into a police precinct to be questioned about the slaying of a gang leader.

"SUSPECT NABBED," read the screaming graphic that popped up on the television screens of channel seven news viewers, moments before the segment concluded.

Hours later, Anthony Perez, who was picked up in a case of mistaken identity and swiftly released by police along with an apology, was found dead behind a university building with a bullet wound to his chest, the suspects believed to be members of the deceased gang leader's posse.

So, who bears the ultimate responsibility for the young man's murder? ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, August 18 @ 17:09:56 EDT (533 reads)
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 Reviews: Three Cups of a Flawed Hero: The Limits of Greg Mortenson's Model of Change

OpinionBy Paul Loeb

It’s tempting to expect perfection from those we admire, but we romanticize lone heroes at our peril. A few years before one-time supporter Jon Krakauer challenged the truthfulness of Greg Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea, a professor asked me my thoughts on using the book as a reading for first-year students, to encourage them to become more engaged with global issues. I hesitated. Mortenson was doing valuable work, I said. The book was a great read. I admired his creativity and courage, and the leap of faith he took to begin building his schools without the slightest guarantee of success. I admired how he persisted through seemingly endless obstacles to sow seeds of hope. His approach seemed a powerful rebuke to Bush administration assumptions that if the US just bombed enough of the bad guys, the region’s problems would disappear. Mortenson also appeared to respect local Pakistani and Afghan culture in a way that seemed to offer key lessons for America’s broader relationship with the world.

But even before the Krakauer revelations, I was wary of heralding Three Cups as a prime model for engagement. The same story of unimaginable individual heroism and sacrifice that drew people in could also leave them feeling insignificant in comparison. “Three Cups is an inspirational story,” readers would tell me. “But I can't climb Himalayan mountains. I can't go into an Afghan village and build a school from scratch. I can't raise millions of dollars for projects halfway around the world. It would be great if I could be Greg Mortenson, but I'm not and can't be, so the best I can do is support his good work.”

Three Cups still presents an infinitely more hopeful message than that of detached cynicism. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Wednesday, April 27 @ 22:20:42 EDT (650 reads)
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 Reviews: "Banned in Vermont" by Rosemarie Jackowski (Shires Press, 2010)

VermontReviewed by Lea Newman

Contrary to the old adage "You can’t tell a book from its cover" Rosemarie Jackowski’s new book "Banned in Vermont" boasts a cover that is as straight-forward and clear as the book itself. The four words that appear immediately below the author’s name on its cover succinctly describe its method:

" unedited . uncensored . unpretentious . unabashed."

The peace sign that is stamped just below has the book’s title branded across it, and the international Morse code signal for SOS is repeated below the image. Both announce the book’s content and urgency. The visual impact presages the verbal power of the pages that follow.

In the first part of the book Jackowski tells the story of her arrest as one of the twelve defendants whose protest on March 20, 2003, against the United States’ bombing of children in Iraq, temporarily blocked traffic in Bennington, Vermont. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, March 31 @ 22:28:12 EDT (1829 reads)
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 Reviews: "The Streets Still Matter"

Artby: Eleanor J. Bader, t r u t h o u t | Book Review

Celebrate People's History: The Poster Book of Resistance and Revolution
Edited by Josh MacPhee, Foreword by Rebecca Solnit
The Feminist Press New York, 2010

The truism has it right. If you're not depressed or angry about the state of the world, you're not paying attention. A quick glance at the daily headlines is enough to have many of us wringing our hands in despair. Countless wars seem like they'll never end; social welfare programs are being slashed; the Tea Party is on the rise; ultraconservatives have picked up the mantle of feminism; and schoolyard bullies have pushed an escalating number of LGBTQ youth to commit suicide, to name just a few of the atrocities presently hitting home. Scary times, we tell each other as we try to muster the wherewithal for a meaningful fightback.

Enter Celebrate People's History, a stunning look at street art - usually in the form of two-color posters - that recognizes the countless men and women who, since time immemorial, have participated in political actions to challenge the status quo. Meant to be displayed publicly rather than in galleries, museums, or in private collections, the posters were created by an ad hoc group of more than 90 artists. For more than 12 years, these creative agitators have surreptitiously taken buckets of wheat paste and cheaply made drawings and affixed them to walls throughout the US. Along the way, they've educated viewers about dozens of rebellions, from the 1600s to the present. The posters - many of them visually spectacular – inspire a question: how can we use the audacious examples Celebrate People's History presents to kick-start a present-day movement that favors human needs over exploitation?...

Posted by Blue1moon on Monday, January 10 @ 13:25:50 EST (1220 reads)
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 Reviews: How Affirmative Action Brought Willie Mays to the New York Giants

History / CultureBy Sherwood Ross

Willie Mays, thought by many baseball writers to be the greatest player who ever wore spikes, was passed up by three major league clubs due to outright racial prejudice or to quota systems that limited them to just one Negro star. Perhaps there is no better example anywhere of how affirmative action paid off for the New York Giants, the club that grabbed Mays, because manager Leo Durocher cared only about getting the best talent, irrespective of skin color. By contrast, Tom Yawkey, the owner of the Boston Red Sox, passed on Mays because he would not hire a Negro, period. And the Boston Braves and Pittsburgh Pirates passed on Mays because of their racial quota systems. (Imagine: the Braves might have an outfield with Henry Aaron and Willie Mays playing side by side for two decades! Imagine: the Pirates might have had an outfield starring Roberto Clemente and Mays!) Mays was batting a sensational .477 playing for the Triple-A minor league franchise Minneapolis Millers in 1951 when Durocher phoned him and said he wanted him immediately. Mays modestly told Durocher he didn't think he was ready for the majors but the profane Durocher wasn't going to take no for an answer, and so replied, “Do you think you can hit two blankety-blank seven in the major leagues?” The 20-year-old Mays was on the plane that night to appear in a game next day against the Philadelphia Phillies. In his rookie year for the Giants Mays batted .274, socked 20 homers and drove in 68 runs in 121 games. Even before starting for the Minneapolis franchise, Mays played briefly for the Chattanooga Choo-Choos and for the Birmingham Black Barons, where he demonstrated he could hit the toughest of pitchers. At age 18 he faced the great Satchel Paige of the Kansas City Monarchs and smacked a double his first time at the plate. Paige was so enraged the next time Mays came to bat he walked up to him and said, “Boy, I'm going to throw three fast balls and you're going to sit back down”---which is exactly what happened. Shortly thereafter, Paige was signed by the Cleveland Indians and three years later Mays was signed by the Giants, so, in that era before inter-league play, the two never faced each other again. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Wednesday, November 10 @ 18:56:51 EST (851 reads)
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 Reviews: "Not Written in Stone: Learning and Unlearning American History ...

History / Cultureby: Eleanor J. Bader, t r u t h o u t | Book Review

"Not Written in Stone: Learning and Unlearning American History
Through 200 Years of Textbooks"

By Kyle Ward, The New Press, 304 pages, $22.50 paperback.

It's a hot summer evening and a group of friends and family members are sitting around shooting the breeze. The talk turns reminiscent when someone brings up "the time when ..." Slowly, each person adds a bit to the narrative. "No," one says, "that's not what happened." Others chime in, offering their recollections of the who, what, when and why of the particular incident. Despite lots of laughter and good cheer, an uninvolved observer would be perplexed, confused about what actually transpired.

So it is with history: Tales of what actually happened vary depending on who is doing the telling and why they're talking. What's more, race, class, gender and personal identity impact the thing we call history. In the end, what one person chooses to emphasize will be deemed insignificant, or even irrelevant, by someone else.

Kyle Ward, director of social studies education at Minnesota's St. Cloud University, concludes, "every person involved in a historical event, from the original actors to the historians who have written about it, have been influenced by their own society/culture, no matter what era they wrote and did their research in." ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Tuesday, August 24 @ 17:55:07 EDT (1958 reads)
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 Reviews: The Case for Socialism

Opinionby: Eleanor J. Bader, t r u t h o u t | Book Review

Alan Maass’ The Case for Socialism
"Afterword" by Howard Zinn
Haymarket Books
$12.00, 173 pages

It’s obvious that if you repeat something often enough, in an authoritative voice, listeners will begin to believe what you say. That’s the theory behind both advertising and conservative media.

The oft-repeated barrage of verbal assaults lobbed at Barack Obama - that he’s a commie/foreigner/infidel/Nazi - confirm this. Indeed, an April 2010 CBS/NY Times poll found that 52 percent of Americans believe that the president is moving the US toward socialism, something they clearly regard as bad, and maybe even dangerous, for the US and its people. What’s more, The Huffington Post reported in February that 78 percent of Republican leaders consider the Commander in Chief to be a full-blown pinko.

That these assertions are insane - and more than a little frightening - goes without saying. But they also reveal a profound lack of knowledge about socialism, the class struggle, and theories of governance. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Wednesday, May 26 @ 20:53:47 EDT (574 reads)
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 Reviews: ‘Soul Of A Citizen’ Excerpt: Taking Money Out Of Politics

PoliticsA Grassroots Effort For Clean Elections

By Paul Loeb, Author of Soul of a Citizen

Nothing makes us feel more powerless than the corruption of our democracy by money. It undermines progress on every issue we face. If America is ever to deal with our critical problems, we're going to need to sever the links between wealth and politics, a task made more challenging by the recent Supreme Court decision that overturned a hundred years of precedent to increase still further the influence of companies like Exxon, United Health and Goldman Sachs. The Maine Clean Elections model offers a powerful alternative model, one achievable even within the parameters of the ghastly Supreme Court decision. The story of how activist Alison Smith helped it pass also exemplifies how individuals can proceed into social involvement step by step:

* * *

While Alison Smith was raising her kids in a rural Connecticut town, a developer arrived one Thanksgiving weekend, when no one was around, and cut a canal to drain the water from a large marsh that adjoined her backyard. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Tuesday, March 23 @ 17:18:32 EDT (637 reads)
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 Reviews: Banks Gave $64 Million To Whom?

The Newsby Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff

Banks gave $64 million to whom? You'll find the answer to this and other puzzling social and political issues in the new book, Censored 2010, researched this year by faculty and students at nine colleges and universities. The work includes the annual selection of the 25 most important news stories not covered by the U.S. corporate media. Here are the top 10.

1. Congress Sells Out to Wall Street —Federal lawmakers responsible for overseeing the economy and approving more than $700 billion in bailout funds have received millions of dollars from Wall Street firms. Since 2001, eight of the most troubled firms have donated $64.2 million to congressional and presidential candidates. The donors include investment banks Bear Stearns, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, insurer American International Group, and mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

2. U.S. Schools More Segregated Today than in 1950s —Millions of non-white students are locked into “dropout factory” high schools, where huge percentages don’t graduate, and few are well prepared for college or a future in the U.S. economy.

3. Toxic Waste Behind Somali Pirates—The international community has come out in force to condemn and declare war on the Somali fishermen pirates, while discreetly protecting the illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fleets from around the world that have been poaching and dumping toxic waste in Somali waters since the fall of the government there 18 years ago. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Wednesday, October 14 @ 21:50:21 EDT (661 reads)
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 Reviews: Remembering a “Very Human Life” Cut Short by Hatred

History / Cultureby: Deb Price, t r u t h o u t | Perspective

On a cold night 11 years ago, a 21-year-old University of Wyoming student was lured into a pickup truck and driven to the outskirts of Laramie, where as he begged for mercy, he was tied to a fence, kicked and pistol whipped so brutally that he lapsed into a coma. He later died.

He was a victim of hatred. He was also his mother's treasure. And Matthew Shepard's horrible death forced much of our nation to look at how anti-gay prejudice can explode into violence.

The meaning of Matthew Shepard's life and death is the subject of a moving book by his mother, Judy Shepard.

"Matt's murder wasn't horrific because it ended an angelic life but because it ended a very human life riddled with all the complexities and contradictions each of us face," she writes in "The Meaning of Matthew."

Details of that "very human life" will feel familiar to many gay readers:

We watch Matt come out to his mom, who'd early on figured out her sensitive oldest son was gay. We see him wrestle with depression and drinking too much, then begin to blossom into a self-respecting gay man as he joins his college's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Alliance, and pitches in for Gay Awareness Week. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, October 01 @ 23:35:34 EDT (693 reads)
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 Reviews: Enough Already Of WWII Violence

Artby Bryan Farrell

In one of the most memorable scenes from Quentin Tarantino's new movie Inglourious Basterds, Brad Pitt's character gives his army of Jewish soldiers a pep talk so rousing that audiences can't resist whooping with excitement after he says, “We're in the killin’ Nazi business. And cousin, business is a-boomin'."

Such vengeful emotion feeds into the "revenge fantasy" label many critics have given the film. Tarantino, however, has been more reserved about his intentions, saying, "I like that it's the power of the cinema that fights the Nazis."

He's clearly not the only one in the film industry so imbued. Over the past year Hollywood has treated us to an assassination attempt on Hitler and an armed Jewish uprising in Poland.

Movies, arguably more than any medium, reinforce the belief that superior violence was the only way to take down Hitler. For instance, the Hitler in Tarantino's film becomes a confounded and frustrated mess when he hears of the Basterds’ brutal exploits. In reality, however, Nazis were actually relieved when the resistance turned to violence because it gave them an excuse to use more drastic and suppressive measures.

According to military historian Basil Lidell Hart, who had the unique opportunity to interview German generals imprisoned in Great Britain after the war, "other forms of resistance baffled them" because "they were experts in violence, and had been trained to deal with opponents who used that method." ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Friday, September 18 @ 23:36:33 EDT (1317 reads)
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 Reviews: The Vision Revolution: Eyes Are the Source of Human “Superpowers"

ScienceNew book challenges conventional wisdom on why human vision, brains have evolved to perform extraordinary feats

News Release: RPI.edu

For Mark Changizi, it’s all in the eyes.

About half of the human brain is used for vision, and sight is the best understood and most thoroughly investigated of the five senses. This is why Changizi, a neurobiology expert and assistant professor in the Department of Cognitive Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has spent the past several years researching, writing, and challenging some of the most basic scientific assumptions about human vision.

Reaching beyond “how,” and instead inquiring “why” vision evolved as it has over millions of years, Changizi made a startling discovery: human beings do, indeed, have superpowers. And it turns out that these superpowers, all related to vision, have been instrumental in shaping the way we interact with and see the world. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Wednesday, June 24 @ 21:03:02 EDT (906 reads)
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 Reviews: Mike Ruppert’s “A Presidential Energy Policy”

OpinionReview by Carolyn Baker

American culture and consumption has become Public Enemy Number One in the global growth paradigm. People are realizing that the American Dream is murder....Unless a fundamental change is made-and quickly-the only available option is collapse and implosion; the bursting of the human population bubble; or, as people in the Peak Oil movement call it-the Dieoff. The sole purpose of this book (and my life) is to prevent that, or as much of that death and misery, as is humanly possible. ~Michael C. Ruppert~

This is probably the most important book review I've ever written because A Presidential Energy Policy is unquestionably the most crucial book for anyone aware of the collapse of civilization, which is well underway, to read and understand. It is second only to Mike's first masterpiece, Crossing The Rubicon: The Decline of The American Empire at The End of The Age of Oil (2004).

I could have said, "Ruppert's first masterpiece", but Mike is my friend, yet that does not in any way deter my objectivity when assessing the inestimable value of what this book offers the world.

I do have a small quibble with one concept near the book's end on which I will comment later, but first, we need to acknowledge what Mike establishes in the first pages: "...oil price spikes in June and July of 2008 broke the backs of over-extended consumers who could no longer meet their (sub-prime) mortgage payments and that this-and this alone-triggered the great economic crash which began in September and October. Energy and money are inextricably connected in very profound ways...." Furthermore he notes, "The current economic implosion will and can only result in the greatest-and longest lasting-economic depression in human history-a new Dark Age, especially if some fundamental sea changes are not made immediately." ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, May 07 @ 21:20:18 EDT (684 reads)
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