Monday, October 27, 2008
Excuse me Father,
I thought it was a common conservative belief that truth is black and white. There are no SIDES to truth, Father Johnson. If you and your platform Fox News actually believed that I think that real journalism would still exist. Just to introduce you to some new lingo, Liberals refer to these alleged ’sides of truth’ as ‘personal perspectives’ and we generally expect everyone to have their own.
The TRUTH that conservatives seem to be avoiding is that what is most consistent is not always the best choice. There is no one way to cure all of our problems at all times. We are in the middle of an economic crisis. Continuing to wait for the current system to correct itself has proved ineffective and now the problem is too grave to ignore. I’m not saying that I like what Obama wants to do, I’m saying that it’s the only plan that is any different than what is already going on. I’m willing to give it a shot. Living in a democracy requires a degree of flexibility that you sir seem to lack. If we have to drift towards what you call ’socialism’ for a few years where we rely more heavily on the government (as we did during the Great Depression) in order to survive the failings of our current president, then so be it. We’ll let the rich have their money back when the rest of the country can afford to put gas in their cars to get to work.
I keep hearing the argument from conservatives that rich people work hard for their money. So do poor people! And I would argue that poor people probably work even harder. Fiscal conservatives seem to think that everyone starts off on the same level of opportunity for success. The TRUTH is that we don’t. Some people are born on welfare and have to work twice as hard and twice as long to ever be presented with the same opportunities that the rich receive. Some of those people will NEVER get those opportunities for the same reason that some people will never vote for a candidate who is black or muslim. You may not believe me, but based on the upward numbers for Senator Obama in the polls right now, it seems to me that you and others who agree with you are becoming the minority in the this country. Though I may never be able to change your mind, Father Johnson, I hope someday that the voice of the hard working poor people out there will ring much louder than yours.
I hope that your ideals bring you peace of mind as mine do,
Monday, October 6, 2008
College students taking advantage of discount rate bus passes will also see a fare increase. U-pass holders at the University of Minnesota saw a twenty-dollar price increase for fall bus passes bringing the grand total up to eighty-four dollars for one semester.
There are several factors that caused this increase. The first one being the rise in fuel costs. “The rising cost of fuel affects transit in a couple of ways,” said Metro Transit Council Chair Peter Bell in an interview with Minnesota Daily in late June of this year. “It increases the cost of doing business. And it increases ridership, which is good for transit, but also increases our operating costs. We need to be able to respond in the shorter term as well as have the flexibility to adjust fares again next year in the event our costs continue to escalate.”
Another reason for the increase is a $15 million dollar Metro Transit budget deficit Associated Press reports. The Council hopes the increase will help offset the deficit caused by rising health care and labor costs.
The Associated Press also reports that there may be an additional 50 cent increase in fares early next year. Augsburg students can still take advantage of college-student discount passes and stored-value passes available in the Enrollment Center.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Yes I know that most people are skeptical on whether politics has ever been about policy, but now more than ever even the ordinary voters are slinging mud.
I was browsing my Facebook hompage today and I noticed a link to an article by Ann Coulter posted. Granted, Coulter is not known for hiding her biases, but biases are one thing, rage is something else entirely. Here is an excerpt:
"If Bush's only concern were about his approval ratings, like a certain impeached president I could name, he would not have fought for the Patriot Act and the war in Iraq. He would not have resisted the howling ninnies demanding that we withdraw from Iraq, year after year. By liberals' own standard, Bush's war on terrorism has been a smashing, unimaginable success."
(The rest of this article can be found at http://anncoulter.com/)
If you examine this closely, you will see the rage that I'm referring too. Coulter's blog is clearly a response to a claim that Bush should be concerned about his approval rating being low and that the Patriot Act and the War in Iraq are factors in his low approval rating. Coulter is off to a policy-driven start...but just when you think she's on her way to discussing policy, she instead moves straight to petty jabs at the Democrats. THIS IS NOT POLITICS! This is name-calling! And just so I don't come off as bias, let me assure you that I have seen these same tactics on the "howling ninny" end as well (Keith Olbermann, you're the figurehead for that one).
The only "journalists" I've observed who have the pull and the desire to drill the candidates for straight answers on policy are Chis Matthews and Bill O'Rielly. But both have some over-bearing traits that hurt their credibility despite their seemingly good intentions. If you haven't watched their shows, watch them. You'll see what I mean.
We have an economy that is falling apart. We have a war that is costing billions of dollars and an enemy of the U.S. who has been hiding in a cave somewhere for the past seven years. Why aren't the journalists asking SPECIFIC questions about that? We should be asking these kinds of questions CONSTANTLY until the president realizes that he IS suppose to answer to the American people (Ann Coulter).
Coulter, I'd like to know by which "liberal standard" you are judging this success. I'd like you list the major issues the American people disagree with Bush on that is causing such a low approval rating and explain why Bush does not need to be concerned with those issues. When you can make a valid argument on those opinions of yours, then I will listen. I'm just a lowly college blogger, but your influence, whether deserved or not is vast. Please use it to inform the people on the numbers, the events, the facts, the quotes on policy and not just some random words from Michael Moore taken out of context. I expect you to let the facts tell the story, not your name-calling.
In high school I got into competitive speech and debate for a while and one of the things that I really enjoyed about competitive debate is that I was forced to argue both sides. So even though I was entitled to my opinion, I was required to be well-informed on all sides of an issue. Furthermore, the more I debated an issue, the more I knew about it. If pundits, serrogates, journalists, and even candidates today were furthering my technical knowledge on a particular topic as we listened to their reporting and arguing, I think the American people would feel a lot more connected to their politics.
I hope you find a link to this note on your Facebook homepage today. I hope you read this all the way through. I hope you read the Ann Coulter article. Don't worry, I don't need you to agree with me. I don't need you to comment (though I do welcome them friendly or not) Just reading
my perspective and being aware of it when you make your next political decision is enough.
Friday, September 5, 2008
John McCain has just been officially nominated by the Republican Party for the 2008 presidential election. Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska, has been officially nominated as his running mate. Riots are breaking out in the streets. Protesters sneak incognito into the Excel Energy Center and are quickly removed by secret service. Republican deligates are shouting U-S-A over and over again. I'm sitting in my bedroom with my roommates shaking my head at it all.
I believe that for the past eight years, George W. Bush has silently pushed America over the edge on the most seminal element of being American, freedom of choice. More than the money he stole, more than the soldiers and homes that were lost, George Bush desicrated the foundation of our nation. In a society that had been gradually polarizing for almost two and a half centuries George W. Bush became the catalyst for the biggest partisan schism of the U.S. population since the civil war. His all-or-nothing mentality has infiltrated our society. The result of Bush's cummulative failure is an America that has forgotten the meaning of democracy.
It is with a heavy heart that I make this claim, but it is excrutiatingly evident in this year's presidential election. Citizens are enraged. The majority of this election's voters will not be voting based on issues, but on the basis of party loyalty or party distrust.
In his farewell address on September 19, 1796, George Washington warned about the dangers a two-party system. He said:
"The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism."
He saw the threat to democracy early on. He anticipated society edging toward a more pragmatic two-party method, if conducted the way it is currently, can provide. No one else anticipated a George W. Bush in 1796, but Washington did. Washington anticipated a president that would throw out the basic principles of a party and he also anticipated party loyalists that would be willing to take the hit in order to save the party. But why? Neither the United States Consitution, the Declaration of Independence nor the Pledge of Allegience mentions anything about party loyalty. Our democracy was not intended to be dependent on the political parties and has no obligation to them. In a democratic state, if a party is inefficient, what reason do the Amerian people have to put up with it? What makes them hesitate?
What makes them hesitate is tradition, duty, money, many things I suppose. But this is not the kind of open-minded ever-changing mentality that we need to make a democracy work. The two-party system was developed as a shortcut. It is a way to help a representative democracy work a little faster. The parties make it easier to raise money and support for a candidate, but over time they can give voters tunnel-vision type worldview. They promote stock issues, uniform ways of thinking, and cause voters to lose sight of their own individual experience as an American citizen. Yes this individual thinking can slow things down, but a large-scale democracy is a complex system that requires complex thinking and complex solutions most of the time. Again I ask, what makes us hesitate to reform the two-party system?
Now I return to Bush. Bush's administration stressed compliance based on fear tactics. You all know this. I'm sure you were as scared as I was. But most importantly he promoted the idea that if you're not with us, you're against us. He started the first wave of McCarthyism in the twenty first century. Compliance or Guantanamo goes against the fundamental principles of democracy. Democracy does not work without opposing views coming together for compromise. Why would a democratic president (this is not a partisan label) want to instill these kinds of opinion limitations? To harbor more power than the founding fathers intended. Now I'm sure you know this too, but what I think goes unnoticed by most is that all these travesties against democracy worked. People made George Bush out to be a bit dull because his ideas were simple, but they were virtually fool-proof.
Bush's zealous, polarizing tactics are now evident in both parties. He was able to solicit the same type of behavior from the opposite party by insulting their intelligence. And instead of disregarding these provocations as catty banter the opponents allow their rage to build. He has done his own party a great diservice by leading them in a trivial direction. Right now the Republicans are so desperate to preserve a positive party image that they will cling to any paradigmatic arguement that will stick. Bush has also done the country a disservice by dumbing down the arguments of both parties.
It is important for me to mention, as my liberal biases tend to shine through at times, that I am not making a direct attack at a particular party. I have spoken with many Republicans who feel that Bush does not properly represent them or the fundamental ideals of the Republican Party. Because of his partisan ties, Bush has unavoidably done more damage on the right side, but the blood on his hands will plague the entire U.S. Government for years to come. He is not the enemy of Democrats or the Republicans, he is an enemy of the greater good.
I'll leave you with more from George Washington. This is what he predicted would happen in 1796 if one political party were to gain too much power:
"But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty. "Please remember your country in this next election before your party.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
I spent the majority of this fine August trapsing around Europe doing a bit of subtle communication research.
It just so happened last my last week of summer courses fell on the same week that two of my dear friends were getting married...in Slovakia. I wasted no time worrying about skipping out of finals. Finals happen every semester. An excuse to go to Slovakia only comes around...well, probably just this once. So as I traveled by bus, plane, train, car, and foot to the small town of Dolny Kubin, Slovakia. It took almost three whole days to journey there from Minneapolis and I had my nose in my Communications Theory book for most of the journey. We had been studying intercultural communication right before my departure, specifically uncertainty management theory.
Uncertainty management theory attempts to explain why and how people identify and adjust to different cultural surroundings and behavior. The theory claims that people will attempt to define their surroundings and if they are unable to do so, will possibly clam up and refuse to try to communicate at all.
I began to see this theory take shape as I finally landed (after eight and a half grueling hours in coach) in Stockholm, Sweden. I was greeted by "beware of pickpockets" signs with images of a masked bandit nabbing someone's wallet out of their back pocket. I wasn't sure how seriously I should take this threat. I had never been in this airport. Was someone going to rob me blind? I immediately began a mental inventory of all my valueables. Passport? Check. Wallet? Check. Camera? Nope, couldn't find it. Those pickpockets must have already worked their magic, I had decided. My heart rate immediatly increased when I noticed that my cell phone had no bars at all. No service. No communication to the US at all. I was officially, uncertain. My management of the situation was to completely freak out. I had never been so unearthed before. I was suddenly hyperaware of the lack of English being spoken and of my uncertainty about my bags and my ride from the next airport. What if they couldn't find me? What I was stuck in Vienna for a week?
My worries began to snowball into panic. I couldn't find my camera, I coudldn't find my phone and I was convinced that everyone was lying to me. This was surely uncertainty management failure. I was not able to isolate any of my worries or reason with my illogical fear. I compeletly shut down. Once I gave up on figuring out the payphone, I sat down at my gate for the full hour and a half layover without speaking to anyone.
About 2 hours later, I finally landed in Vienna. My ride was of course waiting for me as planned and he got me to the correct train with no major problems to speak of. From that point on, I decided to pay attention to the pattern of my thoughts. I found myself trying to generalize every peculiarity I noticed as a general truth. For example, all people in Slovakia and skinny, all bathrooms in Slovakia are dirty, etc. I was totally aware that all the generalizations my mind was dishing out, but I was also consciously aware that they may not be true, but just a defense mechanism. It was like my conscious mind was ripped into two parts. The voluntary and the involuntary.
This became a major challenge throughout the trip. There was a constant battle between when to monitor myself so as not to seem rude and when to relax so I would not seem uncomfortable or uninteresting. The whole mental process was exhausting. I found solace in the cheap and always available alcohol.
The experience made me realize that I have severly underrecognized the significance of culture in the past, even on a small scale. I had not previously begun to fathom the depth of culture and it's fundamental role in respective realities.
After I returned home from the sixteen day soiree, I had to face some inevitable questions. How was your trip? How was Europe? What is it like in Slovakia? I struggled to answer. I humored them most of the time. Oh, the trip was great! Slovakia was beautiful! I want to go back next summer! But the truth is, it shoved me even further into this identity crisis that I've been struggling with. What's worse, it completely took me by surprise. I didn't expect it, nor do I fully realize how to interpret it to this day. I am still communicably stumped.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
A question that has plagued my restless mind lately is how to define passion? Followed shortly by so...does passion equal purpose? and who really needs a purpose anyway? Hell if I know. My mind is in a very maleable state these days. Envision your senior year of college. The vastness of what lies ahead is entirely too large to fathom or make sense of. How do you manage this day-by-day existence? How long can a person go through life avoiding thoughts of the future without loosing the ability to think altogether? Perhaps I'm being a bit dramatic. But this is one of those frustrating moments where advice will never suffice because it is just an experience everyone has to soldier through on their own. No two identity crises are the same. Gag me with a damn diploma.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Though some states have passed their own laws allowing such marriages they contain their progress within their own borders. Unfortunately, this leaves millions of other Americans powerless to proclaim legally that they are in fact wife and wife or husband and husband. Why has this been such a struggle? Why does our supposedly-secular government choose to drag on this war of morals? For what reason, other than religiously-based strongholds, could this basic right be denied to all Americans?
The fight is not a religious one. The morality of being of a supposed "alternative" sexual preference in no way effects the reality that two people of the same gender can and will have an equitable relationship together. Therefore, they should be able to take advantage of the same insurance, tax, and child custody benefits as any other couple in the eyes of the United States government.
The American people who are opposed to passing such laws are naive to think that policy against such practices of homosexuality will in anyway change the behavior of homosexuals. Not facing the reality, does not make the "problem" in their eyes go away. It simply creates more problems. Let me refer to a current practice in my home state of Oklahoma. Known for their extremely religious protestant Christian population, Oklahoma has a strict policy of teaching abstinence in public schools. However, among 15-19 year olds with abstinence lectures still fresh in their heads, the pregnancy rate exceeds the national average. Shouldn't these numbers be teaching the Oklahoma state legislature and the School Board a little bit about what type of progess these idealistic policies achieve?
It is time for the United States Supreme Court and the American poeple to face reality and provide the same types of marital benefits to all citizens. Those who oppose homosexuality are welcome to their opinions and are certainly welcome to control what happens in their own churches, but the United States Government is not a church and the United States Constitution states that it should not be opperated as one.
So to all those gay, straight, and otherwise who are out enjoying your food, fun, and free stuff at the Pride festival this weekend, rememeber that having pride in your lifestyle is great, but having respect and recognition from your government, takes more than a parade.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
First, I noticed that with the exception of a few concerned citizens, most of the attendees, including myself, were in some way closely tied to media/journalism itself. We, as the public/independent media community are aware of the attack on public media, but how do we reach the PUBLIC on this problem? With our distribution channels being compromised, how do we get this message out?
As I sifted through even the local twin cities news sites this weekend and watched the local evening news, I was not able to find a single mention of the conference this weekend. This weekend devoted itself to educating the media community, however it is the, shall I say, laypersons whom we are trying to reach. How will these laypersons recieve our message if there is no big media press coverage of our event? Again we have found ourselves at the base of a virtually immovable stronghold on information. It is nice to analyze the news with my future colleagues, but I would much rather hear that local social studies teachers are analyzing the news with their students. How do we effect the demand of the public to the ultimate end of no more big media conglomerates? How do we re-structure the people look at news so that the demand for reform is coming from their mouths? This is a mystery I have yet to solve.
So far what has been streaming from the mouths of Caroline Fredrickson of the ACLU and Phil Donahue former host on MSNBC are calls for more regulation by Congress and the FCC. However regulations are what have got the public media into this mess. Regulation does not only limit the private media, but also the public. And if regulations were to benefit one more than the other, that would go against the original goal of democracy in media. Ed Baker of the University of Pennsylvania reminded the heated crowd that the protection of Freedom of Speech is not something promised to us by big media, but is instead a promise from the United States Government. Big media has no obligation to uphold free speech. Technically these big media conglomerates should and are being treated as people under the law with right to convey whatever message, be it balanced or biased, that they see fit.
There is a sharp contrast between the goals of the public media and the private that seem to doom the misinformed populus. The public media community views information delivery as a public service. Like voting or donating blood, public media advocates view accessible, fair and accurate news as well as accessible educational resources as a civil obligation. However, private news firms are subject to a market economy. News is their product, not their goal. Like all private businesses, they must follow the most economically advantageous track.
We as the public, must lobby the private media. If reform is truly what we want, we must make these news producers aware of the demand, aka, the potential profit at stake. Regulation is not at the heart of democracy. People are at the heart of democracy. If the people can't win this battle, it can't be won. If the people don't want to win, we will no longer have a democracy.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Expanding their season by three shows each year with the help of their new Cargill space, CTC goers should expect a totally unique theater experience every time।
On September 20, Brosius appeared at Augsburg College as part of the Theater Arts Department’s Artist Series। He sat in an armchair next to his interviewer, Julie Bolton, in traditional black attire with tan cuffs and collar peeking out from the edges of his sweater. Each strand of hair was perfectly placed. He looked serene, collected, and heck, it looked like this might be a boring evening. However, in the near two hour discussion to follow, his eager hands could sit still no longer than his tongue in his excitement to tell a group of emerging thespians about his journey in the theater.
When asked about his favorite audition story, he sprang to his feet to act out an audition where an actor violently chopped up a raw fish in the room. As his arms were flailing and swinging at the imaginary tuna, approximately 150 bottoms scooted closer to the edge of their seats, The whole audience captivated by Brosius’s ability to engage impressionable minds.
Growing up in smog-filled Southern California, Brosius dabbled in Community Theater for years before heading to Berkeley to study Law. But it wasn’t long before Brosius lost interest in the legislature he says because he “wasn’t watching justice happen, [he] was watching deals happen."
It wasn’t until he took a long sabbatical in Europe that he came to the realization that if he wanted to enrich his life, he had to face the things he feared most. He had always leaned on language in the past, but after studying law, Brosius came to believe that "language [was] a lie."
In accordance with his new fearless outlook, Brosius began studying puppetry and dance at Hampshire College in Western Massachusetts. First, he mastered the wordless art forms. Then he started to add more elements, including text, to form the type of art that would eventually become the total theatrical experience one now expects from a Peter Brosius show.
He has worked with directing legends Anne Bogart, Zelda Fichandler, and Nobel-Prize-winning satirist Dario Fo. In accordance with his international interests, Brosius is greatly influenced by the aggressive German theater movement of the 1970’s. He told a particular story of a revolt by German educators against prohibiting children from seeing a show about sexuality. Brosius still advocates the same amount of discretion in his productions for young audiences. He doesn’t believe in “dumbing it down” for children.
At CTC, Brosius embarks on a mission to "create extraordinary theatre experiences that will educate, challenge and inspire young people।" His operative word, of course, is challenge. He wants his productions to challenge everyone involved. When he commissions playwrights for his company he demands that they "write the best work of [their lives]” and he holds a strong commitment to presenting work that is "as smart as the audience.” Brosius aims to bring people together for an experience that resonates with audiences of 8 to 85 year-olds.
A common tactic Brosius uses to engage all-age audiences is to base his stories on younger characters, but use conflicts and themes that are relevant to all ages. Some examples from last season are Antigone and The Lost Boys of Sudan, both containing plots that traveled alongside youthful protagonists forced to make grave decisions about survival and honor.
Brosius and his creative team can now explore their possibilities even further with the help of their new totally adjustable Cargill Space (which debuted in the 05-06 season). The Cargill differs from the Main Hall in that it has no stationary seating. Brosius set a goal to never repeat the same set-up for a show in this space and so far he has stayed true to that mission.
Right now in the Cargill space you can enjoy Fashion 47, an interactive mystery show where the audience is in on the scandal. For more information on CTC’s staff, season, and mission go to www.childrenstheatre.org.
"Whatever you missed, we missed too." This repeated line poked out at my brain several times during my viewing of Fishtank at Theater de la Jeune Lune last Sunday evening. I couldn’t help but feel that I was missing something from this choreographed sit-com of nada. I was irked threefold by this potentially existential line. Could it be that they were repeating the line as a joke and in fact there was nothing to miss? Or was it that I was missing something and they were rubbing my nose in it? Or perhaps the third and most irritating option is true: maybe there was something going on, but neither the creators nor the viewers could tap into it. What if, both of us were missing an unperceivable, but potentially profound message and the message itself was making fun of us! It’s exhausting to contemplate really. All this mind-wrestling action put a new spin on the term ‘drama.’
This lack of story revolves around an unorthodox airport terminal in which three Darjeelingites whose names are interchangeable(Dominique Serrand, Nathan Keepers, and Steven Epp, also co-writers) cause mischief with a quirky, soft-spoken airport attendant named Coco (Jennifer Baldwin Peden). Their journey begins with a vending machine, makes a right at a gigantic fish tank, hangs a left at an old-school projection "interactive" TV, and loops through some mysterious tunnels with no apparent final destination or motivation. The show is complete with dancing flowers, a taste of nudity, and the characteristic "Jeune Lune" ending of an isolated dramatic musical number.
The creators utilize blocking and sound effects to construct most of the piece. The text is not intended to advance a story or develop stakes. Instead, the words are mostly instructional, intensifying or explanatory to the actions taking place. Most notably, they are void of any sort of emotion or contextual cues. The success of this tactic is difficult to determine. It reads as neutral. It just is. The creators are successful, however, at making the text almost irrelevant. At times I found myself ignoring what was being said because my brain established that the actions were most important. Was I correct? Heck, I still don’t know.
The text relies heavily on the actions taking place and repetition for its humorous context. The menacing line, "Whatever you missed, we missed too," is used at the beginning of the show when Keepers announces there will be no intermission. Keepers encourages the audience to still get up during the show to get a drink, smoke a cigarette, or go to the restroom if need be during the show. Then, he assures the audience not to worry, "whatever [we] missed, [they] missed too." Later on the line’s humor emerges when the actors repeatedly exit and enter the scene through tunnels on stage. When Keepers returns from one of the tunnels after a prolonged period of time, Baldwin Peden (Coco) assures him that it’s ok because "whatever [he] missed, [they] missed too."
During this same section of the play, the text takes some more obvious existential turns. There are several lines thrown out about being in one situation, but then "conversely" being on the other side of the same situation, for example, being on one side of the wall, but then being on the other and the difference between the two perspectives, etc. There are too many "conversely" statements to count.
This production proves that when language is vague or ambiguous, its significance is demoted to the level of mannerism. Also, engaging drama is possible through neutral dialogue; however, not without putting extreme pressure on the actors and the director to keep the show afloat. Unfortunately, under pressure of this type, there were several points in which this company did, in fact, tank.