Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Octavia Butler R,I.P.

By GENE JOHNSON, Associated Press

SEATTLE - Octavia E. Butler, considered the first black woman to gain national prominence as a science fiction writer, has died . . . . She was 58.

Butler fell and struck her head on the cobbled walkway outside her home, said Leslie Howle, a longtime friend and employee at the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame in Seattle. . . . Butler's work wasn't preoccupied with robots and ray guns, Howle said, but used the genre's artistic freedom to explore race, poverty, politics, religion and human nature.

She received many awards, and in 1995 Butler was the first science fiction writer granted a "genius" award from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which paid $295,000 over five years.

Butler described herself as a happy hermit, and never married.

"Mostly she just loved sitting down and writing," Seattle-based science fiction writer Greg Bear said. "For being a black female growing up in Los Angeles in the '60s, she was attracted to science fiction for the same reasons I was: It liberated her. She had a far-ranging imagination, and she was a treasure in our community."
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see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Octavia_Butler for more about her works.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Halliburton Prisons for Martial Law

. . . in response to Hurricane Katrina in Sept. 2005, according to the Washington Post, White House senior adviser Karl Rove told the governor of Louisiana, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, that she should explore legal options to impose martial law "or as close as we can get." The White House tried vigorously, but ultimately failed, to compel Gov. Blanco to yield control of the state National Guard.

Halliburton Subsidiary Gets Contract to Add Temporary
Immigration Detention Centers

By Rachel L. Swarns, New York Times, Saturday,
February 4, 2006, National Desk, Late Edition - Final,
Section A, Page 7, Column 1, 741 words

The Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a contract
worth up to $385 million for building temporary
immigration detention centers to Kellogg Brown Root,
the Halliburton subsidiary that has been criticized
for overcharging the Pentagon for its work in Iraq…


Homeland Security Contracts for Vast New Detention

by Peter Dale Scott, February 6, 2006, Pacific News

A little-known $385 million contract for Halliburton
subsidiary KBR to build detention facilities for "an
emergency influx of immigrants" ,,,


Halliburton Detention Centers

By Margaret Kimberley, Freedom Rider, Black
Commentator, Issue 171 - February 16, 2006

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Thanks to C.B. for sending this in.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Here's a picture of me recently, still playing guitar.

More of Eric Drooker's artwork here ...

Monday, February 20, 2006

Poverty Worsening in U.S.

37 million poor hidden in the land of plenty

Americans have always believed that hard work will bring rewards, but vast numbers now cannot meet their bills even with two or three jobs. More than one in 10 citizens live below the poverty line, and the gap between the haves and have-nots is widening

Paul Harris in Kentucky
Sunday February 19, 2006
The Observer


A shocking 37 million Americans live in poverty. That is 12.7 per cent of the population - the highest percentage in the developed world. They are found from the hills of Kentucky to Detroit's streets, from the Deep South of Louisiana to the heartland of Oklahoma. Each year since 2001 their number has grown.

Under President George W Bush an extra 5.4 million have slipped below the poverty line. Yet they are not a story of the unemployed or the destitute. Most have jobs. Many have two. Amos Lumpkins has work and his children go to school. But the economy, stripped of worker benefits like healthcare, is having trouble providing good wages.

Even families with two working parents are often one slice of bad luck - a medical bill or factory closure - away from disaster. The minimum wage of $5.15 (£2.95) an hour has not risen since 1997 and, adjusted for inflation, is at its lowest since 1956.
. . . .

· There are 37 million Americans living below the poverty line. That figure has increased by five million since President George W. Bush came to power.

· The United States has 269 billionaires, the highest number in the world.

· Almost a quarter of all black Americans live below the poverty line; 22 per cent of Hispanics fall below it. But for whites the figure is just 8.6 per cent.

· There are 46 million Americans without health insurance.

· There are 82,000 homeless people in Los Angeles alone.

Running from America: 40 Years Later


Painting by F. Kulon
more of his paintings at http://coolon.net/

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

China's Enviro-Insurgecy

When Red Goes Green
A burgeoning Chinese environmental movement tries to stem the devastation wrought by the country's massive economic transformation.
By Jehangir Pocha


China's economic "miracle will end soon because the environment can no longer keep pace," Pan Yue, China's deputy minister for the environment, said in a recent interview with Der Spiegel magazine. "Acid rain is falling on one third of China's territory, half of the water in our seven largest rivers is completely useless. ... One third of the urban population is breathing polluted air ... [and] because the air and water are polluted we are losing between 8 and 15 percent of our gross domestic product."

{... interesting article from In These Times at link above

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

2005 Academic Awards

Time again for the annual Academic Awards for the most analyzable films of the year. This year, unlike last year, we have selected films that were neglected, sadly, by other award-giving institutions, despite the film's artistic excellence. And we have expanded the number of awards to include new categories. Nevertheless, like last year, all of this year's winners are invited to have a cup of green tea in Taipei.

Best Auteur
Manderlay directed by Lars von Trier. Part 2 of his trilogy which began with Dogville and is improving.

This film continues to explore the hidden historical roots of that sickness named America. If you're not sure what that is, then this is why the film was made for you. Enjoy!

Best Foreign Picture
Mountain Patrol or, Keke Xili is a powerful drama based on a true story of Tibetan peasant defense of wild herds of antelope -- the sustainability of which their traditional livelihood depends. The self-organized patrol is life or death defense against poor Chinese poachers who come in with machine guns and slaughter everything standing. Most of the cast members were local Tibetan people. Original Chinese news reporter's expose in the 1990's led to the successful creation of a national park protected zone there more recently. The setting is not merely "background scenery", but rather a major aspect of the story, the cinematography, and the visceral feeling experienced in such a dangerous yet beautiful wilderness.

Best Documentary
The Yes Men.
Witty pranks played by two political activists against the global corporate mentality. Unbelievably amazing results recorded cinéma vérité.
Low budget, DIY stuff here, released to alternative theaters slowly, so hard to catch. Now on DVD, in French & English here.
This documentary must be memorized.

Best Postmodern Existential Zen Comedy

I Heart Huckabees
Directed by David O. Russell. So far has won almost nothing. Perhaps the most unusual film of the year from America. Some rarely heard speeches against WASP middle-class hypocrisy, especially around the dinner table in the suburbs. But more to the point, an interesting synthesis of some postmod physics and Buddhism and "existential detectives". Plot pits a bohemian poet vs corporate executive for control over a natural area in town. The DVD version, by the way, also contains a wonderfully original talk show with Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin still in character as hosts, the original musician for the score, and the intellectual inspiration in person: the father of Uma Thurman, who is a professor of eastern religion in New York. Some very silly-serious stuff here.

A lot of supposedly middlebrow people out there wrote in to say that they didn't get it, so therefore it must be stupid nonsense. Think about that!

Best Remake for the Post-Cold War

The Manchurian Candidate
Directed by Jonathan Demme. This remake of the old Cold War thriller film is a wildly new and improved version, updated for our new era of corporate control over "democracy" and its endless wars on this wars on that wars on everything so long as behind the scene the capitalist keep the profits flowing in the Right direction. (Coming soon: "The War On Warming"-- you heard it here first). Presents an especially heartwarming slam of the oligarchy and the Cheney-ish Vice President. This film is a good illustration of how pop culture can be more radical than the high culture pablum spoonfed in academia.

Best First-Time Newcomer
Me & You & Everyone We Know
Directed by Miranda July. A quirky story filmed in Portland, Oregon. Incorporates video art inside the film about a young artist struggling for recognition and love -- and along the way a number of themes regarding desire, e.g., even between persons of different generations -- from very young to very old. Yet this intrinsically explosive subject is handled sweetly with gentle outcomes. Many viewers hated this film for its supposed "sex scene" which only demonstrates again how the average mind cannot distinguish between porn and art, yet rejects both. Make no mistake, this is art.