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Ear to the Ground

Castro Edition

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Posted on Jan 27, 2010

Going nuclear in the Senate, the anthropology of “Avatar” and why Fidel Castro sent doctors instead of soldiers to Haiti. These stories and more on today’s list.

On a regular basis, Truthdig brings you the news items and odds and ends that found their way to Larry Gross, director of the USC Annenberg School for Communication. A specialist in media and culture, art and communication, visual communication and media portrayals of minorities, Gross helped found the field of gay and lesbian studies.

The links below open in a new window and newer ones are on top.


Going Nuclear: A Risky (but Justifiable) Path to Passing Health Care Reform
It is fundamentally absurd that the Democrats can’t pass health care reform (or much else of any importance) merely because their effective Senate majority, which includes two independents, dropped from 60 to 59.

Anthropologist on ‘Avatar’: A World All Their Own
Filmmakers are storytellers, but they are also architects and anthropologists. They must create whole worlds in which their stories can unfold.

Larry Lessig: Google, Copyright, and Our Future
In early 2002, the filmmaker Grace Guggenheim—the daughter of the late Charles Guggenheim, one of America’s greatest documentarians, and the sister of the filmmaker Davis Guggenheim, who made An Inconvenient Truth—decided to do something that might strike most of us as common sense. ...

Castro on Haiti: We Send Doctors, Not Soldiers
Hour after hour, day and night, the Cuban health professionals have started to work nonstop in the few facilities that were able to stand, in tents, and out in the parks or open-air spaces, since the population feared new aftershocks.

Plagiarism Prevention Without Fear
Could student plagiarism actually be reduced? And could it be reduced not through fear of being caught, but through ... education?

Hitting Pause on Class Videos
In the latest clash of copyright law and instructional technology, the University of California at Los Angeles has stopping allowing faculty members to post copyrighted videos on their course Web sites after coming under fire from an educational media trade group.

All-White Basketball League?
Census projections indicate that by the year 2050 white people will be a minority in the United States. ...

Computers Should Be More Like Toasters
My hope for the big Apple announcement: a tablet that’s as easy to use as an appliance.

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By Pauline Mott, January 27, 2010 at 11:29 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Have any of those American troops left the safety of the airport yet? Seems they were so afraid that there might, might be violence, after all we are talking about poor black people here and we know how scary they are, that they were holed up ,hugging their guns in the airport and holding up the the delivery of supplies to the injured and starving populace. Meanwhile troops, medical personnel and journalists from all over the rest of the world were moving freely throughout Haiti and encountering the the Haitian people, who by all reports, were remarkable for their dignity, compassion and co-operation in the face of unimaginable personal suffering. IMO, the reason the US sent so many troops is to look after their own interests, including preventing the return of Jean Baptiste Aristide, a man who might succeed in setting Haiti on the road to a better future in spite of the USA’s resistance to any measures that would bring real change and hope to the impoverished 80% of Haitians.

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By gerard, January 27, 2010 at 4:53 pm Link to this comment

Interesting phrase “the imprimature of authenticity.”  One of those vague, slightly esoteric phrases that “means what I want it to mean.”

The anthropoligist here was paid to give AVATAR a seeming-reality, a sanction based on her interpretation of what might be or seem “authentic” to her as a scholar of a “typical” remote civilization. 

The irony underlying this procedure is that in AVATAR and many other stories and situations we find ourselves today lost in a double or triple “virtual reality.” 

Because of being constantly bombarded with media presentations of “what is happening in the world” that are beyond our personal experience or ability to realize, a large part of the time we are only virtually living to start with, sometimes here, sometimes there, wherever that is. 

We then go to a movie and enter another world of the imagination, which is more or less “virtually” true-to-life in an imaginary world which is based on what is thought to be “true to life” in some remote, anthropologically studied world, thus another virtual life.  Our double exposure to virtuality, when presented in the film itself, shapes for us still a third virtuality.  How many pairs of glasses must we remove to “get back to” truly realizing our lives and to understand what is “really” happening both inside our own heads? And out there?  How much harder does it make the realization of “real” reality?

Could it be that one reason we find it increasingly difficult to “cope” is that a sense of virtuality and the accompanying questions of complexity and “alutneiticity” remove us from the actual prospect of knowing anything—or not knowing anything?

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By Nathan, January 27, 2010 at 4:26 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The Castro memo was interesting. It has two different
authors at least from what I can gather. Reading it
was easy yet the rhythm felt like it would stall at
times. Then change once again, overall very sloppy.
His argument does seem nice and neat. My feeling is
that the US Military has some of the best in the
fields of: Surgery, Communication, Rescue, and let us
not forget the vast amount of aircraft, people, and
machinery at their disposal. The US military
including the US Coast Guard are the first people I
would want looking/helping/securing me and my family.
In regard to the ineptness of the US Government in
regard to the response and preparation for Katrina
was just pathetic. Currently Local/State/Federal
levels of government in my fine country are filled
with corruption, greed, and an overall lack of moral
direction. We cannot even seem to elect people at the
federal level that care to actually do something
about these problems. The current administration is
failing just as miserably as the Clinton and Bush Jr.
Presidencies did. But that is for another time and
place.

The US should always send its Military. They are
trained by the best to do the best. If you hate war,
hate congress!

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By Tom, January 27, 2010 at 4:03 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Michael,
Apparently the Cuban doctors are getting by without U.S. troops.

rfidler,
I would imagine that the Cuban doctor’s can put up their own tents.

I’ve never been there (have you?) but people who have tell me that Cuba is far from a shithole.  It’s not real affluent but far from a shithole.

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rico, suave's avatar

By rico, suave, January 27, 2010 at 12:12 pm Link to this comment

Michael:

Right on.

The Cuban military is totally without experience when it comes to humanitarian relief work.

Who put up the tents for the Cuban doctors? How much medicine did they bring with them?

Fidel is a senile idiot. Cuba is still a shithole.

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By michael, January 27, 2010 at 10:04 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

On the Castro comment.  anybody who does not think security is a major concern in that situation is an idiot !!!!  I would like to see his doctors work while getting overrun by crowds.  also I pretty sure we have sent some doctors to.

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By Eric, January 27, 2010 at 3:59 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dear Mr Scheer:

You do great work as a journalist, however, I think what people need to do is realize that Obama was chosen because he had a good cover story, who was ambitious, would say what needed to be said to motivate the liberal/progressive wing of the Democratic party, so that he could then do what he was told by the real people who backed him and got him where is, Wall Street money and arch Zionist money and influence.

I knew he would continue the wars, because he never voted against the appropriations, while talking “peace”. There were lots of other clues, as well.

Hiring Rahm Emanuel, who actively worked to undermine Democratic peace candidates, was the final give away. Obama is controlled by these people, willingly I might add, because he picked them, knowing who they are.

We need to lose our innocence about how people who become president are put there.

Our country never had a chance, since the day JFK went down without a real accounting.
Followed by Vietnam, Iran Contra, BCCI, 911 and on and on. Obama is just another scam.

And now, to quote Reverend Wright, whom Obama abandoned,
“the chickens are coming home to roost” and I might add, America’s goose is getting cooked.

Just my opinion. But a useful hypothesis to consider.

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