Posts Tagged “power”
Posted by Brian Bassingthwaighte in Auto/Biography, Cultural, Feel Good, Gay, Nonfiction, Political, tags: culture, dysfuntional family, Gay, non-fiction, power, teenager
Edited by DAN SAVAGE, TERRY MILLER
Savage and Miller are the married couple (they got married in Canada) who started the IT GETS BETTER video campaign on You Tube as a result of a slate of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered teens who committed suicide due to bullying. They were hoping for one hundred, maybe two hundred at best, after they publish their video on You Tube. With in a week there were over one thousand videos. These vignettes are taken from the videos. They are all sad tales when they describe the bullying but all uplifting as writer after writer talks about finding his or her acceptance with friends and family. The first message in the book is from President Obama.
Now the videos will have their own web site so that young people who need to hear these messages in five, ten or twenty years will be able to. Power to the people. Good on Dan and Terry.
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What a culture shock. A Canadian Mennonite girl living in Mexico becomes involved in a feature film production that is happening next door. She is 18 and married to a mexican man who only comes around once and awhile. Her husband seems to be flitting on the edges of narcotic production and uses Irma’s shed to store boxes. Her father has shunned her for marrying a Mexican but keeps her next door so she can continue to work for him. Irma is a bright but naive young woman. She has never seen a photo of her self. Her Mennonite up bring has been extremely strict.
Since she speaks Plattdeutsch (low German), Spanish and English, Irma is hired to help translate the director’s instructions to his actors (one of these is a German woman who seems a bit lost) and to cook and clean for the crew. The filming proceeds intermittently; Irma’s father and some of the other Mennonites resist, incompetence reigns and the weather is unco-operative. Irma conceives an affection for a member of the film crew, and she enjoys her exposure to these artistic outsiders. Irma’s sister Aggie also gets involved with the strangers so Irma tries to shelter her. She knows the kind of trouble she could get into at home.
I travelled to Mexico and Belize last winter and saw Mennonites. This book brought back a lot of memories.
Well worth reading.
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At over 400 pages this book is for danceophiles, if there is such a word. d’Amboise started dancing in the ’40′s and never looked back. He learned with the School of American Ballet and then joined the prestigious New York City Ballet. He became George Balanchine’s “the supreme Ballet Master’s” protege. “You must practice, practice, practice. Onstage, forget everything! Just listen to the music and dance.” I love that thought of dancers.
I enjoyed it even though there were many areas that I skimmed. Again, not for every one.
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Witches can have anything they want. Anything. But witches need thirteen to work their will. How better to achieve this than to lure back a banished daughter and her child. By making the mother sick they get the young mother to return and bring her daughter as a sacrifice. Black humour at its best.
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P D JAMES
When Venetia Aldridge, QC, defended Garry Ashe of murdering his prostitute aunt, she never thought that her daughter would later fall in love Ashe once she got him acquitted. Four weeks later Aldridge is found dead in her office; she was wearing a court wig and her head was covered in blood. Ashe is immediately considered to be a suspect as is anyone who had keys to the law offices. As often happens in murder mysteries one murder leads to several others. And of course Adam Dalgliesh and his team are called in to solve them.
I liked the ending to this book. Not everything is wrapped up neat and clean as in most mysteries. A good read.
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Quite an amazing graphic novel, The Listener intertwines the story of a Canadian artist, Louise, haunted by the death of a man called to action and protest by her sculpture and the story of Hitler’s rise to power which led to the second world war. Louise does a tour of Europe trying to comprehend what has happened in her life and to her art. Among the most important people that Louise meets is an elderly couple named Marie and Rudolph. They tell her a little-known tale of an election in the small German state of Lippe (only about 100,000 inhabitants) in January of 1933. At the time, while the Nazis were the largest political party in Germany, being the largest party in a plurality does not necessarily mean much if you can’t do anything with your power. While they remained the largest party, the Nazis had begun to lose seats and their momentum was beginning to wane (and as you all know, a large part of Hitler’s power was harnessing forward momentum). So when Lippe held a parliamentary election in 1933, the Nazis through everything they had into winning the election to keep up their momentum. Marie and Rudolph tell the story of the underhanded spin-doctoring that was used to secure that election for Hitler and therefore solidifying their power in Germany.
Great and quick read.
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DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH
“My daughters are dead! They killed my daughters. We need help.” These words haunt me to this day. I heard them through Abuelaish’s tears, pain, and wailing. AnIsraeli rocket tore into his daughters’ bedroom and exploded killing three daughters and a niece and wounding and mutilating others. Abuelaish called his journalist friend for help and support because he knew the journalist could get him access to Israeli hospitals and medical care. The journalist took his call live on TV news so all of Israel heard his pain, suffering and loss. All that he has been through and he can say “I shall not hate.” The book tells Abuelasish’s story of growing up in Gaza, not having enough to eat, of the pain and humiliation of Israeli boarder check points, of living with constant fear.
This is a book everyone should read.
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In some ways 1983 seems late for peace and anti-nuclear activism; we tend to think of protests being in the late 60′s and early 70′s, Vietnam War era. Falling is about a group of young people in 1984 who were peace activists protesting nuclear proliferation. Its several years before the end of the cold war. The narrator Jane meets this group of activists when she takes a room in their shared accommodation house in Kitsilano, Vancouver. Despite the fact that they are aiming for peace they fight amongst themselves and treat each other quite callously. This story rang true for me for at this time my sister was living with an anti-nuke peace activist. He was an artist and would paint pictures of famous places such as Disneyland and the Egyptian pyramids with nuclear bombs exploding. He was an asshole just like one of the characters in the novel.
A good read.
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Personnel freedom is explore trough the Berglund famly. At the beginning Patty is a “sunny carrier of sociological pollen, an affable bee” buzzing at the back door “with a plate of cookies or a card or some lilies of the valleys in a little thrift-store vase that she told you not to bother returning”; her husband, Walter, is a lawyer of such adamant decency that his employer, 3M, has parked him in “outreach and philanthropy, a corporate cul-de-sac where niceness was an asset” and where, commuting by bicycle each day, he nurtures his commitment to the environmentalist causes he will eventually pursue with mis placed fervour. Their son Joey rebels by leaving home early to live next door to live with the boorish, tree cutting family so that he can have sex with their beautiful daughter. Like any rebellious child of left wing parents he swing to the far right. Franzen is a great story teller but tends to repeat himself. The book would have been better at 355 pages rather than 555 pages.
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Sara lives in the Blood of the Lamb polygamous sect in rural Utah. Though she’s only fifteen, she’s past the age where most girls in the community have been married. The only thing that’s keeping her unmarried is the fact that her older sister, Rachel, is also unmarried. Rachel is exceptionally beautiful, and as a result, many men have received testimony from God in order to marry her especially older powerful men. The younger men are sent away to leave the young girls for the old lechers. Opps moral judgment showing. When the Prophet reveals who Sara will marry, it horrifies her. She begins to question her upbringing and the community she was raised in, hoping that one day she’ll be able to escape. When she sees her former best friend who was married to her cousin deliver a deformed child who was left to die because the cult was afraid of the authority her faith was questioned on a deeper level.
The novel is actually a bit of a page turner. A must read.
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When Ben Tomlin’s mother comes home with an eight day old chimpanzee his father tells him it is his baby half brother. At first Ben is resistant; he doesn’t want a brother, especially not a chimp! But quite quickly he falls in love with this little baby. Mom and Dad are both academics. Dad a respected PhD is doing a research project on teaching a chimpanzee language using American Sign Language because chimps don’t have the vocal folds for speech. The novel is set in 1974 when research on communication with apes was in its infancy. Mom plans to use the experiment to write her thesis for her doctorate. The university has provided the family a home with an attached home for the chimp. Research assistances are hire to play with and care take Zan. Ben got to name him. Meanwhile Ben choose to go to private school because of a crush on one of the girls. As the experiment goes on unforeseen problems arise.
Brother is well worth the read even though it is not Oppel’s best work. For his best read his AIRBORN Series.
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It’s the story of Claire, who is raising her boy and grieving the death of her aunt, an author of field guides for mushrooms (well, actually Claire wrote them for her – the first deception in the book) and Liv, the carpenter she hires to re-do her aunt’s house. Liv has a tendency to haunt the bars looking for young and willing girls to bang, but it’s more out of diversion than actual desire. She is tired of the one-night-stands but doesn’t want the vulnerability of commitment. Of course, they end up together. But there are complications –one of whom is Bailey, Liv’s best friend who is also in love with her.
Far from being a book about simple relationships – because there are no such things – A Field Guide to Deception has an incredible sense of dread. You really root for these women to make a go of it, yet everything they say and do dooms them from the start. As Liv says at one point, “We suck at this.” And they do. But so do many other couples, and they manage to stay together. Do Claire and Liv stand a chance? It’d be mean of me to tell.
Malone underwrites and underplays the drama beautifully, sketching her characters with languid surety until they’re fully formed. This book is less about plot than it is about human nature, so genre readers may find this slow going, but I found the people here so genuine that the paucity of plot points didn’t bother me in the least. But the last twenty or thirty pages, which contain a startling event the ending turns on, move the story firmly and clearly to conclusion.
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EVERYONE SHOULD READ THIS BOOK
In the fall of 1963, US ally and Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem indicated he might negotiate with the communist insurgents in his country. President John F. Kennedy gathered senior foreign policy advisors for a final meeting to consider overthrowing Diem. Anxious about growing chaos in Vietnam, the advisors expressed doubts, and Kennedy never announced a clear decision. Three days later, Diem was murdered.
With “Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq,” Stephen Kinzer, a former New York Times foreign correspondent, analyzes the consequences of the US overthrowing regimes in 14 nations since 1893. The events typically warrant a page or less in average American history textbooks, but by exploring motives and settings, Kinzer turns each into an engaging short story. All but one of these tales have tragic endings.
Kinzer doesn’t come out and say it, but when policymakers disagree, leaders tend toward action. Leadership, as perceived in the US, depends less on patience than action. Presidents want to be seen as doing something, anything, to look good for the next election. Interventions and coups are often launched not because of decisive leadership, but, according to Kinzer, because the US is “so vulnerable to herd mentality.”
Juxtaposing vivid details, Kinzer reveals patterns behind the overthrow of governments in Hawaii, Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Nicaragua, Honduras, South Vietnam, Iran, Guatemala, Chile, Grenada, Panama and Afghanistan: The US targets are small nations, some with democratic governments. The quests for power are impulsive, even frantic. Corporate interests spur interventions, and the supporters squash any doubters as weak and lacking in patriotism. Too often, the US provides training and arms to dictators or insurgents who eventually become fierce US enemies a generation or so later. Ultimately, the US loses interest in the target countries, allowing corruption or terrorism to flourish.
These patterns have converged with the current war in Iraq, and from the first page, Kinzer points out that the Iraq invasion is hardly an isolated episode in US history.
In “Overthrow” Kinzer allows the instigators to speak for themselves, blunt comments that reveal ambition, greed or ignorance. Often, US officials simply don’t comprehend why developing nations want to control their own natural resources. A Chilean foreign minister once accused Henry Kissinger of knowing nothing about the Southern Hemisphere, and the US statesman responded: “Nothing important can come from the South. History has never been produced in the South.”
With each overthrow, the US government repeatedly pursued short-term gains, never contemplating the tragic consequences that might develop decades later. Kinzer astutely highlights the interlocking events that followed regime changes in the Middle East: In 1953, the CIA overthrew Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh for the British, installing a dictator who had no qualms about welcoming foreign oil firms. That operation galvanized radical fundamentalists, who, led by Ayatollah Khomeini, orchestrated the 1978 revolt, and “their example inspired Muslim fanatics around the world.” Today’s Hezbollah guerillas in Lebanon are the spiritual heirs of the Ayatollah and protégés of the radical Iranian clerics.
Kinzer details how five US presidents nurtured the Taliban in Afghanistan, initially trying to thwart the Soviets and later to secure an oil-pipeline route. On paper, each overthrow plan is brazen or shaky, but Kinzer demonstrates how organizers of such operations, once intent on their final goal, lose any long-term sense of financial accountability or national security. Throughout the 1980s, as the Soviets occupied Afghanistan, the US funneled money to insurgents through Pakistan and “never played or even sought to play a role in deciding who received its gifts.” As a result, the Pakistanis used the money to build up the Taliban and destroy leftist, nationalist or secular movements. One Afghan warned, “For God’s sake, you’re financing your own assassins.”
By invading Iraq in 2003, the US came full circle in the Middle East, once more boosting the influence of Islamic fundamentalists in Iran and throughout the region.
The goal of covering a century of policy and intrigue constrains Kinzer, but surprisingly, the book’s tone is more relaxed than terse. Informed readers will appreciate Kinzer’s fast pace and many ironies. He begins most of his overthrow tales with local details, followed by policy analysis and misjudgments of the administration in power. However, that format, a close-up followed by the wide-angle view of several events, can at times become repetitive.
Unfortunately, he only minimally tackles the US public’s disinterest in foreign affairs. Americans support policies that bring suffering to foreign lands, he argues, for two reasons: “American control of faraway places came to be seen as vital to the material prosperity of the United States” and the “deep-seated belief of most Americans that their country is a force for good in the world.” US citizens sometimes recognize the intervention as bullying tactics, yet continue to rationalize that people of foreign lands will eventually benefit from American-style democracy and capitalism, repeatedly puzzled about the repression and anti-Americanism that emerges.
Only briefly does Kinzer touch upon the US citizens who questioned government tactics in foreign lands. Like the politicians who ignored their critics, Kinzer largely neglects the stories of US opposition. Of course, such critics failed to end the meddling ways of the US, but it might be helpful to know more about those failures and Kinzer’s claim about a short US attention span shaping its approach to the world.
So in the end, Kinzer’s thesis – “A century of American ‘regime change’ operations have shown that the United States is singularly unsuited to ruling foreign lands” – is a useful reminder and yet unsatisfying as a future guide to action.
He expects his readers to detest these policies. So his historical analysis that covers the rising power of corporations and a century of miscalculations by presidents cries out for a final chapter that offers recommendations for government leaders or citizens who feel likewise. As Kinzer suggests at one point, “The rise of nationalism in the developing world was a complex phenomenon…for Americans to devise a sophisticated, long-term strategy for dealing with it would have been challenging and difficult.”
Unfortunately, leaders – describing their motivation as benevolence and a desire to liberate the oppressed – have learned how to win popular support for even the most outrageous regime change, and US citizens repeatedly fall for the bait.
With the ambiguity of post-modernist fiction, Kinzer declines to offer clues on ending the US patterns of overthrow – and that is the most troubling part of this otherwise compelling book.
Review borrowed from: http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/about/overthrow.jsp
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Set in 2001, In Search of Mercy seamlessly moves between events in the past and the present, and blends scenes from all time periods into surreal dreams for Dexter that seem more fact than fiction, more real than not. Ayoob writes well. Dexter is working two dead-end jobs when he’s approached by Lou, a bum who inexplicably throws around $100 bills when the mood suits him, to find his long lost love, an actress named Agnes Zagbroski, who took the stage name of Mercy Carnahan when she was “discovered” by Hollywood in the 1940s. Dexter thinks Lou is crazy — and he probably is — but he’s intrigued nonetheless. Kidnapped and tortured by four men eight years ago, Dexter is still trying to straighten out his life.
Mercy is not so much a mystery but a character study. A good read.
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A burnt-out political aide quits just before an election — but is forced to run a hopeless campaign on the way out. The seat is that of the very popular fiance minister who is a shoe in. The point is to field a candidate even if he is sure to loose. He makes a deal with a crusty old Scot, Angus McLintock — an engineering professor who will do anything, anything, to avoid teaching English to engineers — to let his name stand in the election. No need to campaign, certain to lose.
A great political satire of Canadian politics.
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“My whole experience was clouded over there, we were in a dream. It was so vivid, I thought it wasn’t real. But it was. Truer than anything here.”
The life and loves of a photojournalist during the Vietnam War. Helen learns her craft from Pulitzer prize winning Sam Darrow. He gives her his assistant, Linh, to protect her and take care of her. Soli explores the issues of the war through her characters’ experiences. “The war doesn’t ever have to end for us.”
A good read especially if you are interest in that period of history.
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Raised by a single mother with no father in the picture, seeking a father’s love, the fear that everyone will abandon you as he did, and a selfish and emotionally-distant mother to boot. Tessa’s mother is totally self-absorbed. She dragged fourteen year old Tessa an ashram. Once there her mom enters the guru’s inner circle. She is so in love with Guru that she abandons her daughter. Nessa is put on a grounds crew and there meets Colin, a twenty year old mechanic who is hired from outside to work on the ashram’s vehicles. They fall into love and lust but why a twenty year old is infatuated with a fifteen year old child makes no sense to me. The young adult novel is actually quite a page turner. Interesting insights into Ashram life and drugs.
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A must read! It isn’t a perfect novel. In many ways the narrator seemed older than five. I’m not adding any plot details. I wish that I had come to this book not knowing what was happening. Go get the book now.
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Peter is an art dealer; he is in love with beauty. He buys and sells because he is hunting the beautiful. Peter’s wife, Rebecca, has a 23-year-old brother, Ethan, known as Mizzy. Mizzy is gorgeous, unreliable, a former drug addict, a Yale drop-out, “one of those smart drifty young people who seems to imagine that youth and brains and willingness will simply summon an occupation, the precise and perfect nature of which will reveal itself in its own time.” Rebecca dotes on her little brother, even to the point of giving him money, money that may be used for drugs. Peter sees his brother-in-law as a Rodin sculpture: a living sculpture. Coming home, Peter hears the shower running. He walks into the bathroom and, through the steam, there’s his wife as she was two decades earlier: taut, youthful, sexy. He is taken aback, moved, aroused. But of course it is Mizzy. Gradually Peter is seduced by Mizzy’s youthful beautify and his charm.
Great ending. Very good read.
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Posted by Brian Bassingthwaighte in Canadian, Comedy, Cultural, tags: Canadian, crime, culture, dysfuntional family, power, prostitution, sexuality, teenager
The Canadian Michael Turner has a knack for titles. Just as children’s books with the word “chocolate” in the title sell unusually well, Turner’s three novels seduce you with their promise of grown-up delights: alcohol, debauchery, sex. Hard Core Logo , his experimental novel about a punk band of the same name, is now a movie, a radio play and a comic book; American Whiskey Bar was picked up for television; and now The Pornographer’s Poem has won him huge critical acclaim and an award in British Columbia.
Happily, the book justifies its hype: it’s more generous with the porn than with the poems. Turner himself has called it “The Catcher in the Rye with a strap-on”, and the Salinger bit is important, for the novel is at heart a coming-of-age story. It is 1978 and the nameless narrator is 16 when an unorthodox teacher introduces him to the techniques of Super-8 film. Disillusioned and frustrated by what he sees as almost universal hypocrisy, our boy keeps only one of his projects: a blurry home movie of his swinging neighbours having sex with their dog. The short is a hit on the Vancouver underground scene and he drifts into semiprofessional porn.
We’re given the pornographer’s story as he tells it, complete with exaggerations, half-truths and justifications. Turner’s hero will not tolerate hypocrisy, in himself or in others, yet he does things our society considers morally unjustifiable: underage porn, hard drugs, abandoning friends. How would such a man justify himself? This is the fascinating riddle that weaves in and out of the narrative. Turner sets up a vague authority figure to interrogate the narrator about his misspent life; there’s no process of judgment, just questions and statements. It is up to us, and our prejudices, to work out whether this is a life worth living.
The novel is pornographic in more ways than one. The erotic scenes are offered up to us without passion: we watch from a distance, as though through a camera lens. When The Pornographer’s Poem is made into a film – as it almost certainly will be – it will be closer to that other unrelenting portrait of 1970s suburban sleaze, The Ice Storm, than to Boogie Nights. Like both films, though, it has its moments of humour. Turner has an especially good time with the narrator’s early adolescence, when sex is still an escape, an exploration – something to be marvelled at.
A masturbatory photo found in a neighbour’s drawer provides a brilliant passage on the feelings of a child forced to acknowledge and accommodate the fact of sexuality. “I remember the moment so well,” recalls the narrator, “if only because of the way the photo seemed to animate that garbage, how each item – the Vaseline, the beer sausage, the tissues, the magazines – came to life, leapt from the page, how they danced about my neighbour like something from Fantasia.” Disturbing, but, like the rest of this excellent novel, somehow disturbingly true.
This review borrowed from The Guardian, Saturday 2 December 2000.
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