I’ve Been Robbed


I learned last week through the WordPress pingback feature that?a substantial?number?of Brain Drain posts had been mentioned?on another site. As any blogger would probably agree, to see a pingback to what you’ve written?is an honor of sorts, a hat tip to your brilliance or at least a?mockery of?something quirky you’ve said. You smile,?feel full of yourself?for a minute (sometimes two)?and move on.?Instead, this?list of pingbacks aroused suspicion. This is a partial view:

  • literature linked here saying, “Silence Speaks Louder In response to Richard Barsa …”
  • literature linked here saying, “Anne Finch: Creating Her Own Space The poem ?The …”
  • literature linked here saying, “Quills: Voyeur as the Voice of Reason The Voyeur a …”
  • literature linked here saying, “Objectivity: A Question of Perspective In referenc …”

Although I’d like to think I’m that important, nobody is worthy of?being legitimately quoted?twelve times in a single day.

I followed the pings to?their source. There, a solid,?orange banner bore the photo of a young woman-child. She wore a skimpy, green silk halter and?cowboy hat. Her long, blonde highlights were?seductively fanned by some off-screen electronic device yet there was an innocence about her that threw me.?The small image was cocked to one side and framed as if it were a film negative but?that?didn’t produce the?negative feeling in my gut as much as the?title?”literature” in bold letters (with a?lower case?L and quotes included) under which were all my latest posts. Only one, Aisha in Rwanda: In Need of Humanity,?had been?offered up for redistribution, NOT?MY WHOLE DAMN BLOG.


My Intellectual Cosmos

Taking stock, a reflective exercise often assigned at the end of a class, is also a graduation requirement. This is my first draft. Tweaking to follow… although?references to?”navel gazing” and “mental masturbation” are definitely keepers.

The Collegiate Experience and My Intellectual Cosmos

Sigma Tau Delta Honor StoleThis reflective essay has been assigned to help connect my Senior Seminar experience, with its focus on pre-romantic poetry, to the greater Saint Rose experience and thus my intellectual cosmos. To be honest, I find this task rather difficult. My trouble stems from the Senior Seminar portion of this ponderance. Let me first say that I have thoroughly enjoyed the intellectual, in-depth conversation every class has offered and that I find significant value in the exploration of early literary theory and the ability to measure today?s ideas by comparison. Still, I struggle to kindle some sort of greater passion for the subject matter in a present-day application that brings new awareness to light.

In my ideal world, Senior Seminar should be more than an entertaining intellectual exercise. I had hoped for a topic that would engage my passion, inspire me to action in righting some contemporary wrong and raise my own awareness as well as the awareness of those who read what new discoveries my research has to offer. Instead, I am reminded time and again, as we jest about the many ways in which poets have continually pondered their navels, that the struggle of the human experience merely shifts at a snail?s pace. Looking to history offers little more than greater historical knowledge of humanity?s slowly morphing circumstances, faulty attempts at understanding through overly general categorization, and constant repetition of these mistakes. While history is a fantastic place to begin, traveling back in time is not necessarily the best place to finish, at least in the opinion of this Saint Rose senior.


Looking at Quills

Available on Amazon

Available on Amazon

Having selected Philip Kaufman’s Quills (2000) as my ?Writers in Motion? film of choice, I watched it twice, first to take in the entire story and again to take notes. For further insight, I watched the DVD extras on screenplay writer Doug Wright’s commentary, costuming, setting and casting, searched for the text of the screenplay to read for sheer literary value, and hit JSTOR for some scholarly direction. I also found accounts of the Marquis de Sade?s real life on the Time Warner True Crime site and discovered another devoted to PVC fetish wear designed in the Marquis? name. Before I knew it, I had shoved so much material into my feeble little brain that my ability to create a single thesis ground to a screeching halt. I screamed, ?TOO MUCH INFORMATION!? and took a break. This is how I roll.

Reading Barsam?s last chapter of Looking at Movies offers the perfect springboard for this paper I have yet to begin. With graduation looming just 15 days away, that?s what I call salvation in print. One method Barsam suggests is a tracing of dualisms or binary oppositions. In Quills, that could include things such as:

  • nature/culture
  • good/evil
  • freedom of speech/censorship


Jacobson’s Whiteness of a Different Color

Matthew Fry Jacobson Traces Racial Constructs in Whiteness of a Different Color

Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race

Available on Amazon*

As the white race is somewhat new to scholarly examination, it provides a useful tool in determining how race is assigned and used to regulate the body politic throughout history. Rather than studying oppressed minorities and the effects they have suffered, the white majority holds far more control having dictated who deserves white privilege and why. In Matthew Fry Jacobson?s historical survey, Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race, he effectively argues that race is a social construct rather than biological fact, particularly as he traces the shifting white privilege assigned or denied to the Irish as well as the interpretive operation of race upon Jews, and although he does little to address gender bias within racial categories or include immigrant source material and their own views of where they fit in, these shortcomings offer little dissuasion from his matter of point.


January 11: ACLU Guant?namo Protest

From the ACLU:

Close?Guant?namoThis Friday, you can join thousands of people across the country in marking a sad anniversary with an act of hope.

The first prisoners arrived at the U.S. prison at Guant?namo Bay on January 11, 2002. Guant?namo quickly became an international embarrassment. It has made a mockery of our laws and values for six long years. We won?t allow seven; this is the year we are going to end the national disgrace.

ACLU day of protest to close?Guant?namoNationwide, the ACLU has set January 11th as a day of protest, declaring that it?s long past time that we put an end to illegality and close down Guant?namo. The ACLU and organizations across the country are asking people of conscience to wear orange to protest Guant?namo. I hope you will consider standing in solidarity by wearing orange on Friday as well.

Guant?namo is a reminder that fundamental values of justice and fairness can sometimes be violated by the very government entrusted with upholding them. That?s why we hope you will get involved in one of the following ways:

Pledge to stand up for American ideals and values. Sign the Pledge. And ask your friends to get involved.

Throughout this week, there will be events across the country- protests, prayer vigils, marches, and more – to bring focus to the injustices being perpetrated at Guant?namo.

Check out the materials available online: you can print out a poster and fact sheet, download a blog badge and get a toolkit with tools and tips on how to get further involved on January 11th.We?re running online ads on over 100 blogs to raise awareness and ignite further activism in new audiences. If you have a blog, please consider downloading and posting a badge, and blog about closing Guant?namo this week. Let us know about your blog and we?ll keep you on the inside track with updates, interviews and additional resources.

Guant?namo has become a stain on our nation?s honor. That is why it is so important you join the hundreds of thousands of Americans who are demanding the closure of the prison at Guant?namo on January 11th.

Thank you for standing with people of conscience to demand the US government close Guant?namo once and for all.

Thank you,
Anthony D. Romero, ACLU
Anthony D. Romero
Executive Director ACLU

P.S. There is so much more we can do to spread the word and encourage others to join in this protest. Check here for more ways to get involved.

? ACLU, 125 Broad Street, 18th Floor New York, NY 10004

Kenya Riots

Reposted from my Kenya blog, Alfajiri:

Kenya Riots - A woman begs a policeman to escort her home as a mob attacked people and set houses and businesses on fire in the slum of Mathare after inter-ethnic conflict erupted overnight and into the morning in Nairobi, Kenya on 02 January, 2008. At least 260 people have been killed across the country in political and enter-ethnic violence after the election result was announced on 30 December 2007, according to the Red Cross, though the numbers are expected to rise as the violence continues. Both sides accuse each other of ethnic violence as tens of thousands flee their homes after Kenya's disputed polls. EPA/BONIFACE MWANGIFor days I have been able to do nothing more than hold my breath and watch the atrocities unfolding in Kenya as violent objections continue in response to the disputed election of President Mwai Kibaki. When it comes to news coverage, I want less of the dramatic “still smoking” violence and descriptions of how this looks at an international level and more about non-rioting families and what it means for them to be ?displaced.? The truth is, I have no clue as to what it entails, not on a level of daily survival. Where is the human interest? Why is it always the last detail to get covered? I despise the media’s limitations and, at the same time, am drawn to the stories like a moth to flame.

Yesterday I read “Kenya’s crisis spreads gloom over Africa,” a Reuters article in which journalist Barry Moody opened with:

Kenya’s sudden spiral into chaos after years as a regional anchor has badly set back Africa’s democratic progress and will strike a heavy blow against the economies of a wide swathe of neighbouring nations.

What troubles me most is that this statement pertains to Africa as a whole, as if an entire continent can ever be affected in one particular way by a single event. Skimming through Google or surfing a feed aggregate will reveal only a seriously flawed and over generalized assumption while missing the nuances involved. Sadly, these are the impressions that stick with people.

Interestingly, Moody ‘s argument lies in direct opposition to what his content suggests. Perhaps this is to create a sense of tension in his piece. Instead, it creates a great deal of tension toward the article for me. Although one quote backs his opening statement, the two most poignant quotes refute it by saying:

“The politics of every country in Africa are very, very separate. African politics are all local and all personal … I don’t think it has any wider implications at all,” said Richard Dowden, director of the Royal African Society.

Control Risks senior Africa analyst Chris Melville agreed: “While Kenya is at the heart of an unstable region, we do not consider that the current situation will significantly contribute to regional instability in the short-term.”

What I question is how a region so troubled could have been influenced by Kenya’s democratic process to begin with, particularly since this is not the first time that tribal issues have arisen over an election. Does Moody truly believe this? While I understand that Kenya’s economy is taking a serious tumble and that supplies and tourism are at a standstill at the moment, I tend to agree with Dowden and Melville. Politics and tribal relations have borders and, short term, economic factors will not likely create regional unrest. I suspect that the effects will have a broader reach only if the violence and turmoil continue for any great length of time. Obviously, the possibility exists – but we’re not there yet.

Aside from my concern, the current political situation has my family and friends understandably taking notice. Something happening half a world away seems surreal until you know someone with a connection, no matter how remote that connection is. All I can say is that I’m glad people are paying attention, regardless of the reason. Sadly, my greatest fear is that accounts of “uncivilized” people will tarnish some already suspect perceptions of those people worried for my safety. Must we always fall back on these words? These are a people in turmoil due to serious complications within their government. To call them uncivilized is too easy and has too many dire implications.

This is not to say that I’m not wondering what the violence means for both the country and for my trip. My first thought was that, although I?m standing by on purchasing airfare to Nairobi, ideally things will settle down before I travel and I can be of some help in restoring the daily functions within the already impoverished Kenyan villages of Kiminini and Kitaleto. Surely help will be needed there now more than ever. I have just learned that the NGOs affiliated with Village Volunteers have not gone unscathed by the violence and the effects of displacement. I hope against all hope that this isn?t so for the sake of Kenya and Village Volunteers, but if significant danger continues to exist over the next few months, my focus will have to shift to Ghana. Either way, I plan to go to Africa.