How to be a Fox News Anchor, Part Deux

Today a goodish part of the school began the University for Peace Model United Nations Conference, or UPMUNC.  I’ve always thought these things would have to be pretty lame, like the UN, or models, or conferences.

They are not.  Our media team worked our asses off and had a blast, thank god for the slave driving Rosie and editorialastic-bombastic-fantastic Katelyn to keep everything going.  I got to make a fool of myself for most of the day, and subsequently meet the British ambassador and a fellow Post-Westphalian Optimist (though… I don’t know if I got her name… or the ambassador’s name for that matter.  I’ll just call them Mabel and Gussy, for now.)

You can read the script for the intro video in the preceding post… playing Cogney T. D’Sonans I think I understand a small part of how Heath Ledger felt playing the joker, and have a new found appreciation for Stephen Colbert.  Channeling that much ignorance, arrogance and idiocy… it’s extremely exhausting.  I nearly broke into tears when I took my first gulp of Guinness upon arriving home, seriously.

Here are a few excerpts from the interviews today, paraphrased for brevity; everything we did today was 99% improvised.

———-

Cogney, regarding accusations of human rights violations by the Honduran interim government of Michelletti: Yeah, but allegedly the ousted president, Zelaya, was trying to become president for life.  Do you think he wouldn’t have committed human rights abuses?

Dora, the interviewee, responds by completely decimating and disproving my weak and misinformed argument, using a lot of sophisticated logic and complex language.

Me, blinking: there you have it folks, the accused perpetrators of human rights violations saved Honduras from a nightmarish communist takeover.

————-

Cogney, to the Australian delegate on the UN Environmental Programme, regarding action on climate change: “Climate change… great lie?  Or GREATEST lie?”
————
Cogney, writing for Chrysti for an interview with the delegate from the Maldives, a country which is about to sink into the ocean as a direct result from global warming…
“Okay, so hypothetically assuming that climate change could be real… why would you guys live in such a dangerous place??”
———–

It’s a little disturbing, but some part of me is actually looking forward to becoming Cogney again tomorrow.  I imagine it’s the same way Charles Manson felt before attempting to start a worldwide race-war, or that Niccolo Machiavelli felt every time he resumed writing the Prince.  I’m just lucky to have so many incredible friends who won’t let me give into those demons of ignorance, arrogance, and complete detachment from reality.

Love in Neil Kavuto.  Pura vida.

Published in: on 24 February 2010 at 8:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

UPMUNC Fox Intro Script

Voice of Robby: Your voice, fair and balanced: THIS is Fox News.

Katelyn: I’m Chrysti Kirsty, and with me as always is Cogney T. D’Sonans.  Bringing you up to date fair and balanced coverage of this meeting of the global community.  (How’re you doing this evening Cogney?  >> Dandy fine as always, Chrysti.)

Jared: That’s right; we’re filming live from the United Nations conference in El Rodeo Costa Rica, to see if this time they will actually get something done.  (What do you think the chances of that are, Chrysti?  >> Slim to none, Cogney.)

This conference will discuss an investigation into human rights violations in the wake of the June 28th Honduran coup and the violent and divisive aftermath, this conference will discuss an investigation into human rights violations.  We’ll find out what’s happening, and tell you what this might mean for America.  (Thank God we don’t have human rights violations in America, hey Chrysti?  >> It’s a terrible situation, I thank God every day we don’t have this kind of thing here Cogney.  >>  Well, we are above it.)

Katelyn: Then, the international spotlight will move to the situation of migrant workers worldwide, and their “exploitation”.  Will this crusade for the freedoms of invasive workers from the South be a major blow in the fight against illegal immigrants?  We’ll get to the bottom of this issue, and what it means for you.

Jared: Finally, the socialist climate change conspiracy gets back on the global stage.  Following the Copenhagen summit last December, alarmist rhetoric of crisis and catastrophe rings loudly in the air.

Katelyn: What does this mean for America?  Taxes, taxes, taxes.  If this conference results in real action you can expect the recession crunch to tighten further still.  We’ll investigate the ins and outs of this issue and what it means for you and your family.

Jared: We’ll be back soon with extensive, fair and balanced coverage of this United Nations conference.

Published in: on 24 February 2010 at 7:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

How to Be a Fox News Anchor

I’ve been convinced to join the model UN conference programme at UPeace, and have signed on as a Fox News anchor named Cogney T. D’Sonans (hee hee) to report on it.

We filmed our introductory segment yesterday with my co-anchor Chrysti Kirsty, after tying my hair back and powdering it white with flour (along with my mustache and goatee) to disguise my hippie appearance, I’ll post the transcript after it’s been shown at Upeace.

Love in Steve Ducey.  Pura vida.

Published in: on 23 February 2010 at 7:54 am  Leave a Comment  

Of Race and Racism

Earlier tonight a Upeace student performed a series of monologues on campus which she has been doing for a few years, called “Mixed”.

Here is a link to a segment of it, for context.

It’s about the external ascription and self assertion of race and ethnicity from the perspective of people who blur labeling and bend stereotypical ideas.  First I want to comment that it was extremely informative, enriching and entertaining (I completely lost it at the use of the antiquated and ridiculous term “quadroon”).

My interpretation of the piece’s central theme was the irrelevance and the imaginary nature of an idea of “race”, and it’s inspired me to write down my thoughts and arguments about race as they have been for many years.

Pre Factum Qualification

Obviously ethnicity has physiological implications.  Our immediate genetic derivations of course have impacts on our physical appearances, vis-a-vis complexion, countenance, et cetera.  And of course our cultural surroundings have profound impacts on our attitudes, beliefs and understandings.  But culture and ethnicity are entirely different from “race”, which is what I want to talk about, or “racism”, the prejudicial ideas some people draw based on perceptions of ethnicity and culture.  Distinctions of ethnicity and culture are relevant  and important for diversity, but they have absolutely no bearing on conceptual divisiveness within the one human race or homo sapiens sapiens.

Ideas of “race” really don’t trace back very far.  As far as my research has yielded, these notions of biological “othering” and division within an idea of one human race do not appear in antiquity whatsoever, not in Egyptian, Greek, Roman or medieval texts.  Even in primary sources regarding the Crusades, I have never encountered a reference to the concept.

The word itself comes from the Italian word “razza”, first used to differentiate between flavours of wine.  It was not applied to people in a divisive sense until 1774, with ideas of “racialness” only appearing in 1862.  To the best of my understanding, the reason for the construction of the idea that some groups of people are so fundamentally different from others that they are a different species or race, is due to the imperative of dehumanization or “othering” to facilitate colonial genocide in the context of democratic and humanist contradictions.  Compulsions for wealth and power are all well and good for ruling elites, but when these things don’t benefit armies and general populations, you need to find alternative justifications for sending them to massacre the defenseless.

In this short video, Edward James Olmos articulates the point I’m trying to make pretty concisely.

The evidence is overwhelming that ethnicity and culture have absolutely no bearing whatsoever on things like intelligence, personality or disposition, yet I think it’s safe to say that majorities in most territories and nations still cling to these antiquated ideas.  And to some extent it’s forgivable; we’ve only been committing efforts and resources to understand and debunk these centuries-old myths through anthropology, sociology, psychology and sociobiology for a few decades, and we’re talking about ideas which have been sunk into our collective consciousness for many generations.

Similarly, when Cristobal Colon (or whatever his real name really was, he had like 700 of them) empirically disproved the ruling paradigm that the world was flat, it took a while for the idea to really sink in, for people to understand it.  And that was a very simple myth, with a very simple and entirely incontestable rebuttal.  With the idea of race we have a relatively complicated myth with a relatively complicated but no less entirely incontestable rebuttal.  Even today the Flat Earth Society continues to argue that the world is flat, and even today billions of people continue to think in racial terms.  Forgivable, but not acceptable.

That there is roughly equal evidence supporting the theory that the earth is flat as there is supporting the theory that ethnicity is a meaningful determinant of any kind, should bring us to a logical and obvious conclusion.  We need to start treating  attitudes which fathom the idea of race the same as we would attitudes which fathom the idea of a flat earth.  If you can read this, you are almost certainly a homo sapiens sapiens, or Cro Magnus human.  As such, you and I and everyone else falling under this classification come from Africa, specifically the Afrar/Great Rift region of Ethiopia, as far as modern science has been able to determine, with a relatively tiny number of generations in between which have played a role in our physiological and cultural development.

I hope that this has been quite clear in how ideas, ideologies and attitudes about race are founded in cognitive dissonance and ignorance, carry-overs from an epoch of deliberate misinformation.  Race exists in the world exclusively as an imaginary idea, and ideas hold only the power we give them.

Would you dignify an argument for a flat earth by engaging it?

My prescription is to pay the same heed to racists as you would to flat earthists: smile, nod, and walk away.

Post Factum Qualification

There are many, many situations and circumstances wherein the arguments I’m making would probably seem heartless, or even blindly naïve.  In genocidal situations, for example, such as in the cases of Rwanda, Israel/Lebanon/Palestine, the Holocaust, Guatemala, et cetera and other cases where leaders and policy makers use racial ideas to mobilize armies such as in the cases of East Timor or Bosnia, it’s a bitter pill to swallow that the victims of these blind campaigns of racially-facilitated violence could or should simply ignore the ideas, ideologies and attitudes that are driving machetes and bullets toward them and their families.

But consider this: ideas about race are almost never factors in the motivations of these leaders and policy makers; they are frameworks used to control and justify populations.  It’s obvious that the defenseless person being set upon by a hate-fueled mob is a victim of violence, and it’s important for us to understand this.  I would argue however that it is even more important for us to understand that the hate-fueled mobs are victims of coercion and manipulation.

In parts of the world where racial ideas, ideologies and attitudes are still used as justifications and facilitating frameworks for violence, which by the way are diminishing in number and not increasing, obviously education and campaigns for awareness are important.  What I’m talking about here is the most appropriate and useful position to take on these attitudes and ideas in a broader, global context.

Love in MLK.  Pura vida.

Published in: on 19 February 2010 at 8:56 pm  Comments (1)  

Catching Up: Academe in Sum

In the interest of being conscientiously able to write current news and events here, I’m going to bring to summation my academic endeavours here, from last November to now.

The first class in question was Women and New Media in the Arab World, taught by the sanguine Mona Eltahawy of O’Reilly Factor fame, and tremendous literary success in general.  An Egyptian-cum-Brit-cum-Yank journalist, blogger and editorialist, Mona was a delight to listen to and learn from, and I enjoyed many a lively discussion, debate and argument with her especially under the topic of passionate subjectivity vs. detached objectivity in media (and very especially under the influences of quite a lot of wine).

The content of this course interested me in three major areas, these being that I still new very little about the nature of media in conflict, especially the “new media”, that I knew very little about feminism and gender issues in general, and that I was relatively unaware of how these issues factored into areas of study in the Arab world (in which we also included Israel and Iran).

Writing this now about to finish the seventh course in the UPeace Media MA programme, I can comfortably conclude that this has been the best class thus far.

After Women and New Media in the Arab World with Mona Eltahawy, we undertook The Role of Media in the Rwandan Genocide with Gerald Caplan.  Professor Caplan is a Canadian genocide scholar and activist, and though having specialized in the case of Rwanda for over a decade he provided for us a globally cognitive perspective.

This class was less interesting for me as it was about 95% review and refresh, and because a lot of the discussion was emotionally charged, which inevitably engenders a roadblock in reasonable academic discussion, which inevitably engenders boredom.  This said however, from a perspective where the information and ideas we studied would have been new, I can imagine a much different response.

What I enjoyed most about The Role of Media in the Rwandan Genocide was the opportunity it afforded me to write a paper about something I’ve long considered- the argument for the Bretton Woods Trio and other members of the transnational class as genocidaires, which I wrote over the winter break.  I guess I’ll elaborate on that terminology later.

Having arrived back at UPeace from an icy vacation home to Saskatchewan, I joined my friends, peers, colleagues and classmates as we began our elective courses.  Due to logistical nonsense, I had to forgo a couple of options that I would have liked to take, and went with Peace, Conflict and Development– a course sure to be a nice, easy coast into the new year given the intertwining of development and conflict in International Studies at USask.

So it was a review, but happily an intense one.  Professor Tony Karbo (Karbs), an acclaimed scholar from Ethiopia, brought us through the leviathan content involved in studying international development in the context of conflict with healthy doses of realism and humour.  I could be comfortable with calling the topic of international development with most depressing and hopeless area of study in the world, and Professor Karbo’s lecturing style helped a lot of us keep our heads above the murky water.

There, all caught up.  We’re nearing now the end of Media and Ethno-Cultural Conflict with professor Clyde Sanger, a brilliant Canadian journalist and academic whose level of experience should astonish most.  His lecturing style has been more encumbered by anecdote and conjecture than would be my preference, but it’s undeniably interesting if not cognitively engaging.

The next class will be something about Media and Terrorism with professor Victoria Fontan, compacted into two weeks with four or so hours each day, happily resulting in a three-week Easter Break.

Love in Socrates.  Pura vida.

Published in: on 18 February 2010 at 10:32 am  Leave a Comment  

Today’s Post Brought to You by the Consonent S and the Vowel A

Sagacity……1540s, from M.Fr. sagacité, from L. sagacitatem (nom. sagacitas) “quality of being acute,” from sagax (gen. sagacis) “of quick perception,” related to sagus “prophetic,” sagire “perceive keenly,” from PIE base *sag- “to track down, trace, seek” (cf. O.E. secan “to seek;” see seek). Also used 17c.-18c. of animals, meaning “acute sense of smell.”

Savvy……1785, as a noun, “practical sense, intelligence;” also a verb, “to know, to understand;” W. Indies pidgin borrowing of Fr. savez(-vous)? “do you know?” or Sp. sabe (usted) “you know,” both from V.L. *sapere, from L. sapere “be wise, be knowing” (see sapient). The adj. is first recorded 1905, from the noun.

Salient……1562, “leaping,” a heraldic term, from L. salientem (nom. saliens), prp. of salire “to leap,” from PIE base *sel- “to jump” (cf. Gk. hallesthai “to leap,” M.Ir. saltraim “I trample,” and probably Skt. ucchalati “rises quickly”). The meaning “pointing outward” (preserved in military usage) is from 1687; that of “prominent, striking” first recorded 1840, from salient point (1672), which refers to the heart of an embryo, which seems to leap, and translates L. punctum saliens, going back to Aristotle’s writings. Hence, the “starting point” of anything.

Sanguine……1319, “type of red cloth,” from O.Fr. sanguin (fem. sanguine), from L. sanguineus “of blood,” also “bloody, bloodthirsty,” from sanguis (gen. sanguinis) “blood” (see sanguinary). Meaning “blood-red” is recorded from 1382. Meaning “cheerful, hopeful, confident” first attested 1509, since these qualities were thought in medieval physiology to spring from an excess of blood as one of the four humors.

Sarcasm……1579, from L.L. sarcasmos, from Gk. sarkasmos “a sneer, jest, taunt, mockery,” from sarkazein “to speak bitterly, sneer,” lit. “to strip off the flesh,” from sarx (gen. sarkos) “flesh,” prop. “piece of meat,” from PIE base *twerk- “to cut” (cf. Avestan thwares “to cut”). Sarcastic is from 1695. For nuances of usage, see humor.

Sardonic……1630s, from Fr. sardonique (16c.), from L. sardonius (but as if from L. *sardonicus) in Sardonius risus, loan-translation of Gk. sardonios (gelos) “of bitter or scornful (laughter),” altered from Homeric sardanios (of uncertain origin) by influence of Sardonios “Sardinian,” because the Greeks believed that eating a certain plant they called sardonion (lit. “plant from Sardinia,” see Sardinia) caused facial convulsions resembling those of sardonic laughter, usually followed by death. For nuances of usage, see humor. Related: Sardonically.

Sadism……”love of cruelty,” 1888, from Fr. sadisme, from Count Donatien A.F. de Sade (1740-1815). Not a marquis, though usually now called one, he was notorious for cruel sexual practices he described in his novels.

Published in: on 18 February 2010 at 9:35 am  Leave a Comment  

Catching Up: Orosi Valley

Recalling last (early) November;

I joined a number of friends en route to mi amigo Diego’s mountain house for the weekend, which proved to be a superbly fun holiday.  We made the trip up in a couple of very packed cars through some very brutal traffic, and arrived in the Orosi Valley in Northern-Central Costa Rica, the Cartago province.  Perhaps unfortunately, the memories are a bit substance-hazy, but I’ll do my best to recollect.

A drinking vacation, we spent the first day and night there merry-making.  Setting up the hookah we realized that I’d forgotten the tongs… so we made due with a pair of forks, used chop-sticks-esque.  It ended up being only sub-catastrophic.  The weekend’s anthem was “The Wine Song” by the Cat Empire.  Many bottles and glasses were smashed together in jubilation; amazingly, none broke.  Take a minute or two to listen, and get a sense of the atmosphere involved.

I’ll wait.

Throughout the night, my Korean friend Soontae would imbibe or otherwise intake too much of some substance or another, and temporarily retire to a random bed for twenty or thirty minutes.  Next to my bed I had a brilliant setup of advil, pepto bismol, a carton of carrot-orange juice and a couple of litres of water, so I made sure he knew his repose there would not be permanent!

At three o’ clock, he bolted out of the frilly-pink master bedroom as though possessed, and shrieking “WHO LIKES FRENCH TOAST” proceeded to absorb the entirety of the next morning’s breakfast into a maelstrom of eggy-starches, which we all devoured unquestioningly.  I had to acquisition a few of them right out of Diego’s snatching digits for the girls who were getting ready to crash.

Around five o’ clock, as I was fading into oblivion myself, Diego picks up some philosophical treaty on astro-physics and a centuries-old blunderbuss of some kind, and proceeds to march up and down the hall reciting the text for us at a generous volume, eventually ending up in Soontae’s room where he kept the poor little guy up for like half an hour.  Jesus fuck.

The next morning, unbelievably, we were all without hangovers.  I started off the day with a dip in the roaring river in front of the house.  The girls had essays to complete for Monday, but we men were free of such obligations, and so we undertook an ambitious mountain/river trek up a stream that apparently hadn’t been endeavoured in at least a decade, if not much longer.  Fifteen or twenty minutes into it, I was leading and clearing out a large spiderweb for Diego who is terrified of arachnids, and as I did so a massive and murderous swarm of stinging insects hammered into my face, attacking my lips, nose and eyes, trying to find entry through some orifice. I realized that we would be devoured by them, that we either had to boogie forward or hightail it back to the cabin, so I yelled “GO GO GO FUCK SHIT GO” and pressed on ahead; I learned soon after that the guys thought either a jaguar or a flash-flood was headed straight for us.  Good times.

Shortly after that we decided to leave a few non-essentials behind to be picked up on the way back, including a couple of cumbersome hats, and rubber boots for those who brought them and realized they would have an easier time barefoot or sockfoot.  We weren’t twenty feet ahead when Diego looked back and saw Soontae trying to carry it all, boots in his arms, hats stacked on hats upon his head, apparently under the impression that we meant for him to do so.  “You’re so fucking ASIAN“, Diego cried.

Now shortly after that, we came to some rocks that required a lot of reaching and stretching to summit, and in the process of doing so my $5 swimtrunks ripped.  Over the next half-hour, the rip spread and I had to tie parts of it together with vine and twist it around very uncomfortably, and very, very embarassingly.  I just thought I would share that with you, for a goodish chuckle at my expense.

Finally, after fifty or sixty minutes we arrived at a tall impasse that we could have climbed over, but we saw that the going got much harder and we didn’t want to get caught in the dark.  So we took a smoke break, gloried in our small victories over nature, and turned back.  (This is where the picture of me as “the bobcat in the woods” was taken).  A number of pictures from the journey are floating around somewhere on the facebook.

Apart from these adventures it was a low-key day of cleaning up, drinking more, and eventually heading home.  And that about does it.

Love in Bobcats.  Pura vida.

Published in: on 17 February 2010 at 11:21 pm  Comments (1)  

Well

I haven’t written here in a while.  Things are good.

The winter break was very restful, and very, very inebriative.  I think that I just made that word up, I like it.

Saskatchewan was very cold, a delight at first that wore out its welcome after a couple of weeks.  Still, it was an immense comfort to (need to) wrap myself up in a great quilt to keep warm, especially with such good company (and beer).  It surprises me how much I already miss such a simple thing.

I got back to UPeace on the 9th of January, glad to be “home” but with an acute melancholy that lingered for about a week.  Not surprisingly, when I arrived home to Saskatchewan I missed deeply my friends at UPeace, and when I arrived home to Upeace I missed deeply my friends in Saskatchewan.

My case of reverse-ennui (get cracking on a word for that, Frenchies!) was cured, and I don’t feel its grips in me yet again, but I’ll keep a watchful mind’s eye out for it.

Well, that’s all for this post.

Love in Lao Tzu.  Pura vida.

Published in: on 17 February 2010 at 10:59 pm  Leave a Comment