Posted 2 years ago

Occupy..some thoughts on representation

imageimage

According to a portion of chapter 13 in “Intersections” one of the responsabilities of journalists is to ensure democracy and look out for the people.  Investigative journalists, also known as the “Watchdog Press” accomplish this by keeping an eye on the government and looking out for political wrongdoings which would then be made public knowledge.  However, thanks to media consolidation, a trend in which fewer and fewer individuals are owning more and more of the media outlets, and to the fact that most of these “individuals” are large corporations, I would argue that in general, journalists are no longer promoting democracy and protecting the people and instead are saving face for the political world and corporations.

A fine example can be seen in a comparison between the Occupy protests that are currently being held, and the 1968 Civil Rights protests.  First, in both situations it has been said that the protesters are all simply ”a bunch of whiny kids”, when really this is false on both accounts.  Today, the “99%” includes a variety of persons including students, the unemployed, racialized groups, feminists, etc.  In 1968, contrary to what the media would have you believe, in addition to American students the protesters included people from all over the world, many of which were workers and war veterans. Secondly, both movements have been considered to be disorganized and without specific goals by the media.  However, in 1968 there were demands for the end of the Vietnam war, cries against sexism and racism as well as pleas to the end of nuclear warfare.  Today, specific demands can be see in the sub-protesting group of Occupy Planet Earth, as an example, which argues that humans are the 1% and that we are destroying the rest of the planet (the 99%) with our greed.  One of their goals is to end the discriminatory funding that corporations give to oil-based energy and demand that the government fund alternative sources, and this is just one example of one demand/goal out of many.  Lastly, mainstream media outlets have labeled protesters in both groups as “violent and dangerous”, and really I think I can argue against that with the powerful evidence of the two above pictures.

In my opinion then, I think what arises out of my argument is the obvious need for alternative media sources and the importance of the internet.  I can honestly say that without my addiction to tumblr, where I follow many human rights blogs, I would have no idea of what is really happening with the Occupy protests today. Its a little scary how much mainstream media hides from us.. 

Posted 2 years ago

What makes us human?

This is going to look very similar to a post that I made previously as a lightbulb moment that I had during the first exam is the basis for my paper, but nonetheless here is a brief synopsis of what I wish to analyze in my term paper.

My essay will begin with a look at just how interconnected human beings and technological devices are in the postmodern western world.  From this examination it will then be quite easy to bring in the theories of Donna Haraway and suggest that perhaps human beings and technology have become meshed.  Here ideas of liminality and the Cyborg (the human-machine hybrid) will be discussed in a fair amount of detail.

Next I will look at some of the work conducted by Ray Kurzweil.  Although his written works are often disregarded since he presents them as “predictions for the future”, I believe he still has some very interesting ideas that are related to my topic.  For example, he discusses devices that aid the blind and hard-of-hearing, which become a crucial component of the individual, something that would be difficult, if not impossible to live without.  This is very much related to the Cyborg theory as stated above.  He then presents some interesting propositions about how perhaps eventually, tiny computers will be placed everywhere in our environment, thereby further meshing the human being and technology.

Finally after looking at these, and possibly other related theories, I will propose my questions, which are, “If human beings and technology are so interconnected in the postmodern world, what is the definition of a human being? Is it possible that the new way in which a human being is definined includes machines? If a person lives outside of the technological realm does that make them less human?” I do not plan on answering these questions, although I will propose a couple responses, what I am looking to do is have more of a discussion concerning the importance of living with technology to a human being, and just how deep this interconnection runs.

Should be interesting! This is one of the few papers that I can honestly say I am looking forward to writing!

Posted 2 years ago

itsallfabulous:

invisiblecrown:

jtotheizzoe:

Western black rhino declared extinct

A sad day, as it’s believed that no wild black rhinos remain. We have poachers and bush medicine to thank for this tragedy:

“You’ve got to imagine an animal walking around with a gold horn; that’s what you’re looking at, that’s the value and that’s why you need incredibly high security.”

(via BBC News)

Good one world.

This is tragic. I hate that I am part of a species that has such a low disregard for life. Fuck you humanity, just FUCK you.

Well congratulations world.  We have succeeded in killing off one of Africa’s most iconic species.  Lets all have one big hand for humanity shall we?

I think it is clear that this infuriates me to no end, and also that I find this news to be quite emotionally draining, however I believe that I can also take a step back and find a social explanation for how in the hell this occurred.

This subspecies of rhino was brought to extinction (and other subspecies are coming very close as well) solely due to extreme poaching and an inability to provide these creatures with adequate protection.  Now, it is fair to say, I think, that if there had not been a demand for the horns of these beings, that there would have been next to poaching as well, and thus, I think it is then also legitimate to argue that Globalization, and its component of speed of trade can be somewhat to blame here.

Let me explain further.  David Harvey explains Globalization as being a product of older modes of transportation and communication technologies merging with the incredible capacity of computers.  These computers can then transmit information from these older media forms extremely rapidly therefore allowing these transmissions to go increasingly greater distances. David Harvey talks about this connection between space and speed explicitly and states that the greater the speed of movement of an object, the less space becomes an obstacle in distributing that object.  Thus, speed and space exist in an inverse relationship. This is the backbone of Globalization which can be defined as the reorganization and coming together of the world’s economies.

In regards to trade and consumerism, Globalization (because of its connection with speed and space) allows for manufacturers of a product to immediately process consumer demand and then deliver the products to various locations all around the Globe.  It is here that what has happened to the Black Rhino can be taken into account.  Globalization allowed for the demand of their horns to become one of Global proportions (due due the limitations of speed and space this would previously have been impossible), where the desire for this product became the want of many instead of few (relatively speaking).  Poachers then attempted to rise to these demands (with no regard to the environmental repercussions or the right to life that these creatures have, but I digress) and began killing the rhinos off at an increased speed until finally the consumer demand for these horns became so high, that the last rhino was destroyed.  Globalization and specifically its interconnection with technology was probably also at play here since the distribution of these horns was in fact illegal, for it is much more difficult to police trades that are occurring over the internet than it is to control criminal acts in the “real” world.

It seems then, quite easy to make the connection between what happened to the Black Rhino and Globalization.  If it were not for the pressures of Global demand then the rhino would not have been poached to this dramatic extent.

Yet another reason to fight against rising Globalization, am I right?

Posted 2 years ago

radicccal:

wow

(Source: staybrutalalex)

Posted 3 years ago

A Thought..

I had a thought today while writing the exam.  In trying to remember Donna Haraway’s Cyborg theory (of course I couldn’t remember her name then but can now..) I came up with this crazy question that now, I cannot get out of my head.

You will remember that her theory revolves around the myth of the division between human and machine, that perhaps there is no division at all.  She discusses liminality, the concept that the lines between human being and technology have become blurred, resulting in what she calls, a Cyborg.

This got me thinking then, of what it really means to be human in the postmodern world.  If the new human being really is a Cyborg, does that mean that those who live their lives outside of technology (say in third world countries) are somewhat less human? Or perhaps is it the case that a detached life is the only way that one can truly connect once again with natural humanity?

To summarize, my question is this:

In the postmodern world; what is the definition of “human”??

image

**yes I would like people to comment and throw in their own thoughts on this!!

Posted 3 years ago

Occupations and Outages…

ryesocprof:

As many of you have been blogging about, this week witnessed both a worldwide Blackberry outage and also the worldwide release of a new iPhone. It seemed to be an out-with-the-old, and in-with-the-new kind of situation… as if coincidences never happen, and the Canadian spin on it was “poor Blackberry, going South” in more ways than one. Not just the server-out hiccup, but the loss of the business to the American company, since much of the technologies and ideas behind the iPhone originate (sort of) with the Blackberry. 

But, I can’t help but connect the technology “going South” with the Occupy Wall Street movement “going North”, or rather, going Global, since the New York movement, began out of inspiration over the social movements and gatherings that began in the Middle East and North Africa earlier in the year. Again, the capacities of social networks seem indeed to be robust. I wonder how many new iPhone, or re-booted Blackberries were present yesterday, not just here in Toronto but around the world. What is key is that the use of centrality of social networking to get the “We Are the 99 Percent” message out is not the main point, because the gathering together in person is key. Human megaphones spread the word across the crowd — another form of remediation, in reverse, as spoken and voice culture takes on the self-conscious form of an electric loudspeaker.
Times of great change…

I’m going to take this in a slightly different, very frustrated direction.  This whole “blackberry outage” situation was, and is, absolutely ridiculous. I am a little too angry to make a critical, coherent statement about this but I just need to say that I find it appalling that this received so much media attention, was the topic of numerous social networking updates, and was actually taken seriously as a nation-wide problem, when the rates of global poverty, hunger, and famine are continuously on the rise. I find it deeply depressing that when someone’s BBM stops working it is seen as the end of the world and outrage ensues, when millions of people dying because they don’t have access to proper food or even clean drinking water isn’t.

Out of the 7 billion people on this planet it is estimated that about 1 billion of them are chronically malnourished.  That number is unimaginable, and unacceptable. If individuals and corporations would just use their resources a little more wisely then there would be more than enough food for the human population worldwide. One solution that is being proposed (and that I will touch upon because it is near and dear to my heart) is to try and get individuals to cut down on their weekly meat consumption.  This would allow more viable farmland to be used in the production of grains etc to feed people, instead of feeding farm animals that will then be fed to people.  It is literally cutting out the middle man, a very wasteful, environmentally unfriendly middle man..but I digress.  My point is that world hunger is a serious EPIDEMIC that is only continuing to grow, with many simple solutions that have been proposed to help solve it, but this receives little to no media attention.

WHY YOU ASK?

Because people are too busy crying over the loss of their BBM.

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/news/the-solution-to-world-hunger-eat-less-meat/

Posted 3 years ago

"Popular music is not only an example of sound media form, and a set of texts consummed for pleasure; it is also a conduit of customs, styles and historical knowledge that has an ability to organize social groups"

Let us look at Led Zeppelin in order to understand this exert, as they tie for my favourite band of all time.

In order to understand Led Zeppelin as political and socially organizing, one has to understand both their roots, and the genre of music that came to be most identified with them (although the band steadfastly refused to label themselves under any genre).  Led Zeppelin very much began composing their music through their use of Blues Standards, that is, Blues songs that are widely known. This is important when one looks at the origin of Blues music.  Although it is still debated about what social events spurred Blues-style music, many historians agree that it was related to the newly acquired freedom of African Americans, so put very simply, Blues could be understood as the music of freedom.

As Led Zeppelin progressed as a band they began to be seen as a “Hard Rock” musical group. The Rock genre has always been closely tied to the political and is most commonly associated with peace, counterculture, and anti-government mentalities that existed during the 60s.  The Beatles are an example of a  Rock band, and John Lennon often included openly political statements about peace, such as in the song Imagine. It can be said then, that Led Zeppelin, through their association with the Rock genre is also political in this way, and indeed I often do get a political feel from their music, such as in the song “That’s The Way”. In this song, one lyric goes “and all the fish that lay in dirty water dying, had they got you hypnotized” and I have always viewed this as a metaphor for the floundering and hopelessness of society, as well as this idea that the government has got society in a sort of trance so as to prevent change and revolution, and that one therefore, must break free of this state in order to save human society.  Now that could be my over-analytic brain at work, but it seems likely that Led Zeppelin is making a statement about freedom in some way, given their connection with the Blues and Rock musical genres.

Music during the 60s and 70s therefore, was huge in creating and maintaining mentalities, and in bringing together like-minded individuals (in this case, youth).  Music was so crucial to youth anarchist culture in these decades, as can be seen through Woodstock, for example, and was a huge factor in bringing them together.

Now through this mini textual analysis that I have just done, I have come to develop another thought.  This thought is that perhaps we are seeing a return to this revolutionary youth culture today, in postmodern society.  Indeed there has certainly been a huge rebirth of music from the 60s and 70s in youth culture and there does seem to be (I am speaking from personal experience now) this pervasive idea among young people that the government as it stands, and capitalism, do not work, and a return to almost anarchist thinking, and I certainly do not see these two phenomenon as being unrelated.

image


Posted 3 years ago

Modern (versus Postmodern) Blackberry and Apple problems..

Posted 3 years ago
ryesocprof:

Sunday, Day before class…
Seeing ourselves as others see us… The self-pic is a new genre, allowed by the instantaneous, effortless, embedded camera in laptops and cellphones. Some artists, years ago, mounted projects of the droned-out faces of workers looking at their computer screens. That was meant to be critical social commentary, but now somehow that aimless look is the way many of us elect, choose, and deliberately share our image with others… (On the other hand, I should next write a post about the always perfect digital-smile.) 

I would like to add that perhaps this is yet another form of technology that attempts to concur space.  By placing these pictures on the internet, of our appearance as we engage in social networking, perhaps it is a way of trying to bring our online peers together, a way of making it seem as if we are almost in the same room.  It also allows for a window into the mundane of our everyday lives, and perhaps seeing pictures of people with plain expressions on their faces, in their comfy clothes, is seen as a more intimate way of connecting via the internet.  Perhaps in this day and age we are so accustomed to our privacy being invaded that we almost long for it, and thus post pictures of ourselves online that show our true at-home selves.
Just some thoughts…I may have rambled a little.

ryesocprof:

Sunday, Day before class…

Seeing ourselves as others see us… The self-pic is a new genre, allowed by the instantaneous, effortless, embedded camera in laptops and cellphones. Some artists, years ago, mounted projects of the droned-out faces of workers looking at their computer screens. That was meant to be critical social commentary, but now somehow that aimless look is the way many of us elect, choose, and deliberately share our image with others… (On the other hand, I should next write a post about the always perfect digital-smile.) 

I would like to add that perhaps this is yet another form of technology that attempts to concur space.  By placing these pictures on the internet, of our appearance as we engage in social networking, perhaps it is a way of trying to bring our online peers together, a way of making it seem as if we are almost in the same room.  It also allows for a window into the mundane of our everyday lives, and perhaps seeing pictures of people with plain expressions on their faces, in their comfy clothes, is seen as a more intimate way of connecting via the internet.  Perhaps in this day and age we are so accustomed to our privacy being invaded that we almost long for it, and thus post pictures of ourselves online that show our true at-home selves.

Just some thoughts…I may have rambled a little.

Posted 3 years ago

Touch Screen Phones

Advertising would leave you to believe that this touch-screen application allows for faster communication.  This relates to the efficiency myth of communication which concerns itself with the myth of new technology working towards overcoming the notion of time.  This myth becomes exposed as a falsehood, however, once one owns a touch-screen phone and it is realized that they can actually be quite difficult to use and that, really, one is still just pushing buttons, although now they have become virtual (I am speaking from personal experience). In this way, touch-screen phones may be even less efficient than the old media version (as instead of simply pushing buttons, you are now playing with a finicky screen image OF buttons), but the media, through advertising and promising, misleading slogans, would have you believe otherwise.

This to me is a really great example of technology /= progress.