The decadent glamor and glitz of the roaring ’20s is back. The fashion and film world is sticking a few jazz hands up in the face of this age of austerity and we can’t get enough of it. The catwalks of Gucci and Prada were awash with art deco motifs. The silent film “The Artist” showed the sheer elegance and sophistication of the golden era and the release of Baz Lurhman’s “The Great Gatsby” is set to cement the
Archive for January 29th, 2012
The following story first appeared in the November/December 2010 issue of AFAR.
When I stepped into the grand lobby of Qubec’s Le Chteau Montebello, I felt like I was entering Paul Bunyan’s living room. Giant timbers braced a three-story-high ceiling, and a massive fireplace in the center radiated warmth in all directions. After checking in, I joined the guests gathered around the six-sided hearth and sank into a leather club
Occupy! — the 2011 Word of the Year according to the American Dialect Society — confirms Ralph Waldo Emerson’s insight that “Words are also actions, and actions are a kind of words.” Language maven Ben Zimmer, who chaired the organization’s selection committee, said it was “remarkable how the word itself contributed to the movement’s success.”
I’ve been tracking the rise and fall of words since grade school, when presidential candidates JFK (my hero) and Richard Nixon went to the mat over the fate of Quemoy and Matsu, two obscure islands on the other side of the globe. For a few weeks, these strange names seemed critical to the future of our planet. After the election, the words vanished from public consciousness, and the islands could have sunk into the Taiwan Strait without much fanfare.
The importance of Occupy! as a signifier of serious activism was underscored by two ADS runners up: The 99 percent(ers), “those held to be at a financial or political disadvantage to the top moneymakers, the one-percenters; and job creator, which the Society defined as “a member of the top one-percent of moneymakers.” (Actually job creator is a bogus Republican talking point, which may explain why it also took the prize as Most Euphemistic.)
In 2010, by contrast, app was the Society’s “word that best sums up the country’s preoccupation.” Given some of that year’s other top contenders, our quest for a “Don’t worry, be ‘appy” outlook was aided by such paeans to frivolity as Cookie Monster’s nom, nom, nom, nom, junk (as in “don’t touch my junk”) and trend (as in “burst of online buzz”).
Other austere bodies were all over the map with their 2011
Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney are crisscrossing Florida as the clock runs out before Tuesday’s crucial primary. They’re meeting with almost every key constituency from Cubans to Jews to Tea Partiers.
As the leading GOP candidates for the highest office endowed by our Constitution, they should come to Orlando to meet with another key audience: the largest gathering of professional constitutional advocates in the nation.
This weekend, the ACLU will host more than 500 advocates and attorneys from ACLU offices across the nation at our annual staff conference in Orlando. We are convening from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
Throughout the primary season, we have consistently heard the candidates invoke the Constitution and “civil liberties.” Those words have too often rung hollow: they are fodder for soundbites rather than part of a substantive discussion about vital issues facing our nation.
That’s why we invited all seven presidential candidates to our staff conference: so they could engage in a conversation with us about their views on key constitutional issues as well as their scores in our ACLU Liberty Watch 2012 Candidate Report Card.
That’s where Gingrich and Romney come into play. They may be the frontrunners headed into Tuesday’s primary, but they’re at the bottom of the pack when it comes to civil liberties
As a staunch supporter of Barack Obama and an ELCA pastor, I wonder with the height of the elections about to surface would Martin Luther vote for this man who I believe is a champion for those who are struggling to recover from the recession. He has recently unveiled his campaign slogan — “we can’t wait” and has allowed homeowners who presently are in negative equity to refinance their mortgages at lower interest rates. He is making strides to address the crisis of mounting foreclosures and getting people back to work while attacking the greedy corporate systems that give rise to such realities.
From the lectures on Romans in the early 1520s, Luther consistently interprets the biblical affirmation that God is no respecter of persons within a socio-economic framework. Luther repeatedly condemns the preferential treatment which even Christians give to the rich and powerful by critiquing emerging capitalism and its misuse of justice by doing “good works,” which I equate with
Ah, you thought this was about race, didn’t you? But while I have your attention, let’s talk about another kind of darkness.
Generally speaking, no one likes to be in the dark — literally or figuratively.
If you’re the last person to know something (a.k.a. being left in the dark), you don’t like it. You feel weird, left out, ostracized.
In scary movies, it’s the darkest of dark places that add the greatest fear and suspense for what’s coming around the corner. Directors intentionally make the portions of movies intended to scare, dimly lit or even pitch black to evoke the feeling of
Over the past couple of weeks my sister was in town and, along with my mom, we spent a good deal of time in shopping malls, taking advantage of discounts during a seasonal sale. Having lost a few pounds in the past couple of months and after starting a new job in December, I had no qualms about treating myself to some new clothes, shoes and accessories. Like many women, I find buying new items quite gratifying.
This is especially so because in the past two to three years, I managed to work toward having financial freedom for the first time. I can now afford to buy nice things for myself and my loved ones while sustaining a comfortable standard of living, building my rainy-day savings and giving charity more generously than I used to.
Reaching this stage took a great deal of hard work and
This is part of our monthly series ‘Mission: Accepted,’ in partnership with Minds Matter, which chronicles the lives of three students as they apply for college in their senior year.
Have you ever listened to the cover of Busta Rhyme’s “Look at Me Now” by Karmin (aka the best YouTube band ever)? There is one line that directly relates to this post: “I’m done… No, really though, I’m not done.” Common app and CUNY and Rutgers apps? Done and sent. SAT scores? Sent. Teacher recommendations? Written and
This week, while in Davos for the World Economic Forum, I watched President Obama deliver what was a great State of the Union speech… for 2009. Proposing the establishment of a financial crimes unit in January 2012 is like waiting three years before sending firemen to the scene of an inferno.
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“Blogger Karen Dalton-Beninato sent me this beautiful picture of the project Brad Pitt is working on…”
Five years ago, Arianna Huffington posted my husband’s photo of pink tents in a planned green community in New Orleans. That was two years post Hurricane Katrina levee failures, and it often felt like New Orleans was stuck in neutral.
It was 2007 and the 9th Ward still looked like an overgrown prairie strewn with concrete slabs, all that was left of most houses near the Industrial Canal. Residents were coming back to FEMA trailers, if they could get one, and gutted out
As I landed in South Carolina last night, I couldn’t help but to think that I am in a state where I will be able to practice law. I began to wonder how the invisible barrier of a state line can have such a dramatic impact on fundamental principles such as civil rights and voting, how the lives of identical people in two different states could be so vastly different. It reminded me of the time when slaves would have to escape slavery by crossing state lines. How while they were slaves in one state, if they could just get to a neighboring state, they would be free men.
In Florida, my home state, I am forced to endure a lifetime ban of my civil rights because I have been convicted of a
How many of you who peruse newspapers and websites like this one regularly have concluded that this will be the Chinese century — a Pax Sinica, which supplants the Pax Americana of the last six decades? If the answer is yes, you’re not alone. Indeed, your assessment is reasonable, for we’re deluged by details documenting China’s triumphs.
Sure, there’s bad news about China: pollution, corruption, the hounding and jailing of dissidents, etc. But overshadowing such reportage is the grander theme of a China on the move and on the make, poised to reshape the world.
Since 1978, the Chinese economy has grown by an average of nine percent annually, and the result (apart from smog) is that it is projected to surpass America’s by
Last night, I got a PTA alert about a software application that allows users to block access to email and websites such as Facebook, while retaining use of the larger web for self-selected time periods. Parents and educators alike are buzzing about this new cure for our distracted, multitasking children.
The name of the app? SelfControl.
Certainly, children are inundated with info-streams, enticing video playgrounds and constant opportunities to visit the virtual party of Facebook. The average 8- to 18-year-old devotes more than seven hours and 38 minutes to entertainment media on a typical day, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. About half of young people use media most or some of the time they’re doing homework.
At the same time, young children and even teens often don’t yet have the cognitive capability to say no to
WhenGoogle launched Google+ in June, 2010, it was for adults only. Now it’s open to anyone 13 or older. The reason Google kept teens off the service at first is not because the social network was ever about what weeuphemisticallycall “adult content,” but because Google wanted to take extra time to get it right before opening the doors to people under 18.
After several months of testing, Google thinks it’s reached a good
A conceit, an ironic barb, wit can be searing and funny. In the case of Margaret Edson’s Wit, the Tony-winning play now in a Manhattan Theatre Club revival at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre under the fine direction of Lynne Meadow, Wit follows the journey of Vivian Bearing, a name that loosely translates to “enduring life,” a college professor specializing in 17th century metaphysical poetry, in the verse of John Donne to be specific, author of Death Be Not Proud. As performed by Sex & the City’s Cynthia Nixon, she is a brainy Everyman/woman, precious in what she knows and does, vital in knowledge, commitment, and contribution to life, devastating to
ABU DHABI, UAE: I’ve just finished teaching a three-week January term course at New York University’s Abu Dhabi campus (NYUAD). I’ve had the great fortune to teach before at some wonderful schools across the U.S. But this, for me, was a special experience, the result of the unique mix of students who had been brought together in this one place.
The course I had been invited to teach was called “Bridging the Divide between the Arab World and the West.” It was to be an examination of how the West and Arabs have interacted with each other in the past century, their mutual misconceptions, and the resultant and often tragic problems that have ensued, putting both sides at risk.
In the lead up to the start of the course, I had planned my lectures and prepared class exercises. The students would create, conduct, and analyze their own polls of
Note: Do not read on if you have not seen Episode 4 of Lifetime’s “Project Runway All Stars.”
Faced with a “wagon wheel coffee table” in “When Harry Met Sally,” Carrie Fisher’s character Marie famously quips, “Everybody thinks they have good taste and a sense of humor, but they couldn’t possibly all have good taste.”
Truer words were never spoken, at least when it comes to this week’s episode of “Project Runway All Stars.” The challenge is supposedly “all about taste” on many levels, but everyone seem most concerned with the pun.
Angela Lindvall announces that the designers are to “create a tasteful outfit inspired by the colors and flavors of a seriously tasty dessert: gelato!” Really? It seems to me that there are more inspiring sweets, but what the heck?
On the runway, they feature a cart bearing the brand “L’Arte del Gelato” and ask the designers to pick flavors. Michael chooses grapefruit, Mondo picks cantaloupe, Rami — who, for some reason, expects to be picked last because the designers choose their own order a la teams in gym class — gets his beloved kiwi anyway.
That’s when they roll out the big guns: Diane von Furstenberg. Yup. She’s a guest judge this week and, while I’m still trying to figure out what she has to do with gelato, she announces that this is “the fastest challenge in ‘Project Runway’ history.”
[Note: I may suggest that you turn this episode into a drinking game, taking a shot every time they repeat that phrase over the course of the hour.]
Anyway, the designers have only six hours in which to complete their ice cream-inspired
In the desert of Southern Tunisia, a group of renewable energy entrepreneurs, NUR Energie Ltd, (www.nurenergie.com) and their Tunisian joint venture partner (www.topoilfieldservices.com), Top Oilfield Services, are creating what may just be the most ambitious solar power renewable energy project to date. Along with the endorsement of the Desertec Foundation (www.desertec.com), NUR Energie has launched the TuNur project to export solar energy from North Africa to Europe, linking Tunisia to Italy via a High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) Cable and into the Italian electricity grid in order to supply a constant 2,000 MW of electricity. When completed, TuNur is set to be the world’s largest solar energy project. And with the menacing reality of climate change, limited traditional energy reserves and memories of recent nuclear and oil disasters, renewable energy is no longer the choice of idealists, but a simple
In the year 2012
The much assailed electorate
Decided that it wanted
A charlatan for president.
Grown weary and suspicious of
The man who dreamed and dared,
It threw its weight instead behind
A man of craven cares.
A man who studied history
Yet didn’t know a thing
Who deep down in his heart of hearts
Wanted to be king.
Who’d have guessed America
Would go for such a thing?
And in the person of a righteous fraud
Who’d worn three wedding rings?
A speaker who, when last in power,
Was forced to resign in disgrace.
And though he rails against the Capital
Can’t seem to leave the place.
And what is his grand idea?
As far I can tell, it’s to take
A troubled but still prosperous land
And make of it a kind of Hell.
To pry the crevice between rich and poor
Into a yawning chasm
Ruled over by a petty tyrant’s
Arbitrary fits and spasms
With every resource sacrificed
To feed the corporate maw
And judges sent to prison
If they dared enforce the law
Meanwhile this so-called “futurist”
Would abolish EPA
And when the earth became a wasteland
Forsake it for a lunar colony
Lunacy’s the word all right
For the success of such a clown –
This tottering human weeble
With painted smirk and tarnished crown
‘Twould be an empire’s last avenging act
Of self-destruction and despair.
To elect this roly-poly miscreant
With darting eyes and blow-dried hair.
My country, o my country!
Hang your head in shame
Your future leader bears a tinfoil heart
And a lizard’s name.
This Blogger’s Books from
The McSweeney’s Joke Book of Book Jokes (Vintage)
Stumbling And Raging: More Politically Inspired Fiction
by Stephen Elliott
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ABU DHABI, UAE: I’ve just finished teaching a three week January term course at New York University’s Abu Dhabi campus (NYUAD). I’ve had the great fortune to teach before at some wonderful schools across the U.S. But this, for me, was a special experience, the result of the unique mix of students who had been brought together in this one place.
The course I had been invited to teach was called “Bridging the Divide between the Arab World and the West”. It was to be an examination of how the West and Arabs have interacted with each other in the past century, their mutual misperceptions, and the resultant and often tragic problems that have ensued, putting both sides at risk.
In the lead up to the start of the course, I had planned my lectures and prepared class
“G’Day Possums” (as Dame Edna would say).
Even though I’m in Australia at the moment, events in America and elsewhere have obliged me to put-down my surfboard and pick-up my typewriter, in order to express my bemusement at the PR disaster of Capitol Hill’s proposed — and now suspended — anti-piracy laws and, moreover, the melodramatic response to these measures by “free love” stalwarts such as Wikipedia and Google, followed in turn by the “trophy” site closure of Megaupload by the Feds and the further retaliations by the hacktastic “Anonymous” group… as the Aussies would say, “Streuth” — leave the classroom for five minutes and all hell breaks loose!
“Now don’t get me wrong ladies and gentlemen — Puleeze!!” (in the words of Australian, cultural icon Sir Les Patterson — usually accompanied by extreme drooling, nicotine stained fingers and the outline of a worryingly python-like “proboscis” within his left trouser-leg), if the United States government sees fit to introduce hanging for mass uploaders, who am I to complain — it’ll just make Web Sheriff’s job all-the-easier… but something causes me to stir as I drink my pint of Fosters on Bondi beach and contemplate the way in which the presentation of this legislation perpetuates the “us-and-them” mentality that has almost (correction — definitely) been the undoing of the music and movie industries in the 20 years or so since the advent of the internet.
Whilst much of the current protest against SOPA (or the Stop Online Piracy Act — and it’s related PIPA or, Protect IP Act, consists of bleating-on-principle — often misguidedly so, with Google’s black “armband” being melodrama writ large and with Wiki’s equally theatrical blackout nevertheless resulting in over 160, 000,000 page impressions in a day — the allegedly unrelated closure of Megaupload and other file-locker sites is a prime example of the folly of some of those who purport to govern the creative industries. Megaupload is (sorry — was, as the site has now been seized by the FBI) one of the most compliant “file-locker” sites on the
DAVOS, Switzerland — They came, they feasted on smoked sturgeon and black truffle risotto, drank liquor paid for by global banks, endured dozens of security checks, and tried not to fall down in the snow. They talked about the perilous state of the global economy and the future of capitalism. Then, they headed back to their home countries — many in chauffeured limousines, some by private jet.
But as the people who run much of the planet wrapped up the annual festival of influence known as the World Economic Forum on Saturday, any sense of achievement was hard to discern. The participants arrived amid elevated unemployment in many economies, worries about government budget deficits, and fears that contagion from a financial crisis in Europe could infect the rest of the
2012 will come down to a handful of votes in key races swayed by voter suppression and voter depression. To win, progressives must overcome both. This will require courage in calling out the acts of our opponents and in changing our own patterns of advocacy in order to succeed.
Voter suppression is catalogued by many voting rights groups such as Rock the Vote, the Democratic National Committee’s Voting Rights Institute and the Brennan Center for Justice election codes to limit the voting rights of students and movers, reduce early voting days, and restrict voter registration and “get-out-the-vote” mobilization efforts that all told could restrict voting rights of 5 million Americans in 2012 and disability rights advocates.
When it comes to voter depression, the challenges are external and internal to the progressive