Tag Archives: cable tv

You can’t Fix Stupid … it’s a repost

The word “stupid” first entered the English language in 1541.

Today, T-shirts proclaiming “I’m With Stupid” are proudly worn by thousands of people.

George Heymont Headshot

 a post from 2012 Huff Post Arts & Culture

You Can’t Fix Stupid

In his essay entitled The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity, Carlo Maria Cippola stressed that, “A person is stupid if they cause damage to another person or group of people without experiencing personal gain, or even worse causing damage to themselves in the process.” But in the three decades since the intentional dumbing down of America began, an astonishing transformation has taken place. Cultural illiteracy and willful ignorance (as displayed by people like Sarah Palin and Congressman Allen West) have become points of pride rather than embarrassment. The Farrelly brothers (creators of Dumb and Dumber and their newly-released tribute to The Three Stooges ) have made millions from their glorification of idiots on the silver screen. So, for that matter, has Adam Sandler. In a recent “must-read” article entitled “The “I’m Rubber, You’re Glue” Gambit,” Robert J. Elisberg criticized Senator Chuck Grassley for pandering to the lowest common denominator. Never one to leave a political turd unpolished and unthrown, Stephen Colbert picked up on Grassley’s recent tweets and hit them out of the ballpark in the following segment from The Colbert Report:


  Words commonly used to describe people who are genuinely stupid include airheaded, birdbrained, boneheaded, brain dead, brainless, bubbleheaded, chuckleheaded, dense, dimwitted, doltish, dull, dumb, emptyheaded, half-witted, knuckleheaded, lamebrained, lunkheaded, mindless, oafish, pinheaded, simple, slow-witted, softheaded, thickheaded, vacuous, weakminded and witless. Nevertheless, in 1994, audiences were captivated by a movie whose protagonist had an IQ of only 75. Here’s the trailer for Forrest Gump:


  One of the most memorable characters in American literature is stupid in the oldest and truest sense of the word. Although he appears to be warm, human, and inhabits the body of a man, his mind and personality never progressed past childhood. One reason I was looking forward to seeing Of Mice and Men in a fully-staged production was that, prior to this year, my only experience with it had been a 1983 New York City Opera production of composer Carlisle Floyd’s treatment of John Steinbeck’s novel. Lovingly directed by Robert Kelley (in a handsome production designed by Tom Langguth), the folks at TheatreWorks have done a bang-up job of bringing this beloved California story to life. 2012-04-15-setmodel.gif Tom Langguth’s set model for Of Mice and Men The story focuses on a pair of migrant workers who have been friends since childhood. George (Jos Viramontes) is an average man who has grown used to working as a farmhand. Like many hobos, he’s often dreamed of owning his own land — a dream which is complicated by the constant misdeeds of his companion, Lennie (AJ Meijer). In an interview with the New York Times, Steinbeck once confessed that:

“I was a bindlestiff (migrant worker) myself for quite a spell. I worked in the same country that the story is laid in. The characters are composites to a certain extent. Lennie was a real person. He’s in an insane asylum in California right now. I worked alongside him for many weeks.”

2012-04-15-georgelenny.jpg George (Jos Viramontes) and Lenny (AJ Meijer) rest by the river in Of Mice and Men (Photo by: Mark Kitaoka) While George may joke that Lennie got kicked in the head by a horse when he was young, the sad truth is that Lennie has developed into a gentle giant who doesn’t know his own strength; a grown man with the mind of a child. Lennie likes soft furry things — like bunnies, mice, and puppies — but accidentally keeps killing them whenever they start to struggle in his strong hands. An unfortunate situation when they were working on a farm in Weed, California, caused the two men to flee for their lives after Lennie became obsessed with the feel of a young woman’s velvet skirt. No matter how carefully George drills Lennie in what to do (and what not to say), Lennie’s poor memory and unpredictable behavior keep getting him in trouble. After being provoked by Curley (Harold Pierce), the frustrated Lennie’s determination not to speak gets him in even bigger trouble. Things only get worse when Curley’s wife (Lena Hart) tries to strike up a conversation with him and invites Lennie to pet her soft, blonde hair. 2012-04-15-lenalenny.jpg Curley’s wife (Lena Hart) tries to get friendly with Lenny (AJ Meijer) in Of Mice and Men (Photo by: Tracy Martin) Under Kelley’s direction, the TheatreWorks ensemble turned in beautiful performances as men who knew enough to avoid the ranch owner’s lonely wife. Jos Veramontes was a patient and protective George; as the old farmhand, Candy, Gary Martinez agreed to have his mangy old dog put down. While Slim (Chad Deverman) attempted to keep peace in the bunkhouse. Michael Ray Wisely did double duty as Carlson and the Boss. Charles Branklyn was appropriately irascible as Crooks, the only black man on the premises. 2012-04-15-crookslennydog.jpg Charles Branklyn and AJ Meijer in a scene from Of Mice and Men (Photo by: Tracy Martin) Any production (legit or operatic) of Steinbeck’s work rests, in large part, on the shoulders of the man portraying Lennie. At 6’2″ and 210 pounds, AJ Meijer delivered a performance of such childlike beauty and naive strength that the audience completely embraced his enthusiasm for petting a puppy, his innocent fantasy about tending to a collection of rabbits, and the fearsome volatility of his emotions. Because Meijer is tall, lean, and able to be convincingly clumsy without appearing bloated or fat, his Lennie is an especially poignant performance to treasure — a gifted portrait by a very gifted young artist. It’s interesting to note that Steinbeck wrote the stage adaptation of his novel, which he then turned over to the play’s director, playwright George S. Kaufman, for editing. Of Mice and Men had its world premiere in San Francisco on May 21, 1937 before moving to New York that November. As I sat watching the TheatreWorks production, I was amazed at how easily the scene in which Curley’s wife and Lennie are alone in the barn cried out for operatic treatment. In clips from Opera Australia, tenor Anthony Dean Griffey discusses some of the challenges posed by the role of Lennie (and sings the duet “An’ we’ll live off the fat of the land” with baritone Barry Ryan)

  To read more of George Heymont go to My Cultural Landscape

The reason I posted this article is because we have folks in positions of power acting and voting against  Americans.  

~ Nativegrl77


New thinking about the Caribbean

June 14, 2015

In North America and Europe there are from time to time international conferences that quietly enable new thinking. It is mostly an unseen process whereby governments, foundations or think tanks facilitate conversations, in ways that variously attempt to address intractable problems such as those in the Middle East, form a consensus on future policy, or enable the participants to look over the horizon.

These events allow invited participants to escape from their day-to-day responsibilities and usually in a group of 50 or less, debate and explore new ideas or solutions in private. The value is not just in the dialogue and the outcome, but in the freedom to say what you think knowing that no one will quote you, in the personal contacts made in the margins, and the associated trust that develops which can last throughout a career.

Such events rarely focus on the Caribbean, but a little over a week ago about sixty invited guests from the Caribbean as a whole, the UK and North America met at Wilton Park in the English countryside.

The objective of ‘Caribbean 2030: new thinking for a new generation’ was to bring together a mix of voices, young and more experienced, to consider what the region might look like fifteen years from now, and to hear in particular how younger participants from politics, government, the private sector, academia and civil society see the Caribbean’s future and how they might play a role in taking it there.

The conference, which was developed in conjunction with the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CaPRI) and Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, was wide-ranging in its scope, but a number of general themes emerged which suggest a different Caribbean in fifteen years time.

One of the more significant discussions that ran throughout the conference was whether the future fortunes of the region lay in economic convergence between complementary economies. It was suggested that rather than politically-led solutions, it was trade, investment and financial services between networked groups of nations that would create future growth and integration. One consequence was that participants from the northern Caribbean, and in particular from Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, argued that there was greater value in Jamaica, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic having a stronger economic relationship that might also involve Cayman as a financial hub. The view of some was that such an approach would enable the Caribbean to escape being defined through its colonial past.

This was not to say that in terms of foreign relations and on issues of international or thematic importance that the region should not act through Caricom, nor for most was it to suggest that Caricom should be set aside; but many participants felt there were better opportunities for growth through a more rational approach to economic integration linked to improved infrastructure. The suggestion was that this thinking ought to drive policy across the region.

FYI: Caricom members include

 Antigua and Barbuda 4 July 1974
 Bahamas 4 July 1983 Not part of customs union
 Barbados 1 August 1973
 Belize 1 May 1974
 Dominica 1 May 1974
 Grenada 1 May 1974
 Haiti 2 July 2002 Provisional membership on 4 July 1998
 Jamaica 1 August 1973
 Montserrat 1 May 1974 British overseas territory
 Saint Kitts and Nevis 26 July 1974 Joined as Saint Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla
 Saint Lucia 1 May 1974
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1 May 1974
 Suriname 4 July 1995
 Trinidad and Tobago 1 August 1973 Founder of the Organization before handing over to Guyana
Associate  Anguilla July 1999 British overseas territory
 Bermuda 2 July 2003 British overseas territory
 British Virgin Islands July 1991 British overseas territory
 Cayman Islands 16 May 2002 British overseas territory
 Turks and Caicos Islands July 1991 British overseas territory
Observer  Aruba Country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
 Curaçao Country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
 Dominican Republic
 Puerto Rico Commonwealth of the USA
 Sint Maarten Country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

There were of course dissenting voices, particularly in some of the working groups. Some in particular from the Eastern Caribbean and from academia objected and declared themselves all but wedded to making what the region already had work, though when it came to the detail there was little to demonstrate how this might take the Caribbean beyond where it is today.

A second prevailing theme was that of the new economy and the growing irrelevance of borders.

These thoughts came especially from some of the younger participants involved in information technology, new media, tourism and the private sector more generally, who made clear that what they were doing made traditional geographic concepts and the size of the Caribbean irrelevant.

The conference was also notable for leaping the language and cultural divide with participants from the Dominican Republic being able to demonstrate in a neutral setting how their experience in many areas from alternative energy to tourism had relevance to most of the region. It also allowed them to set out the country’s thinking in terms of how it might be better connected with and work more closely with the nations of Caricom.

As you might expect there were detailed exchanges on energy security, the environment, and education which all agreed was a development priority if the region was to succeed. There were interesting mentions of the blue economy − the region’s largely unrealised offshore resource − and important exchanges on governance and security about which more in a future column.

There was not a stand-off between the politicians and the private sector. In fact there was a surprising degree of consensus that both needed one another and that the region had to end this false dichotomy if growth were to be achieved. It was suggested that as the generations changed this may no longer be so much of an issue. However, for some, the balance between the competing interests of social equity and the role of the market in Caribbean development needed to be resolved if the region was ever to experience significant economic growth.

For some of the younger participants the real problem that the region has to face in the next fifteen years was to escape from the dead hand of the region’s public sector. In a rarely voiced opinion it was suggested that it is the public sector and those who work with it who have a vested interest in ensuring that thinking and their influence remain the same.

The suggestion was that this was holding the region back.

Strikingly the relationship with the UK, Europe and the US was little mentioned by the younger participants. It was as if the Caribbean had moved on and had a much more balanced view of when and on what issues it wished to relate to a much broader range of external partners. In this context it was unclear whether China’s presence in the region was a threat, an opportunity, or both.

The downside of the meeting was that there was no authentic Cuban voice able to discuss the way it saw the region, the way in which detente with the US may change the Caribbean’s political and economic centre of gravity.

These are of course personal observations, and in due course there will be a report with suggested actions.

The value, however, of this quite different conference will only be known if the synergies, new thinking and the relationships established begin to change the Caribbean for the better.

Previous columns can be found at www. caribbean-council.org

TAKE ACTION! Protect Caribbean Coral by Improving Fishery Management

Coral can’t live without parrotfish.


That’s why Earthjustice challenged the National Marine Fisheries Service’s failure to address the harmful effects of fishing for algae-eating parrotfish on important reef-building corals and their habitat. Elkhorn and staghorn corals once helped fish to thrive in the Caribbean. Sadly, these coral species  have dwindled by as much 98-99% since the 1970s due to threats such as disease, on-shore pollution, and overfishing.

Take Action: Protect Caribbean Coral>>

The Endangered Species Act tasks the NMFS with bringing back healthy populations of elkhorn and staghorn coral. It’s a big job. And a crucial one. The actions necessary to restore these corals will benefit entire reef ecosystems and the fish and human communities that depend on them.

The NMFS has identified the loss of habitat suitable for new corals to grow as a major threat to the survival of elkhorn and staghorn corals. Much of the Caribbean coral habitat has been overtaken by algae, leaving little space for coral to grow. Caribbean coral reefs need more, larger parrotfish to help clear the way for corals to return.

Tell the NMFS to use the Endangered Species Act to protect our coral now >>

The Fisheries Service has a duty to protect coral reefs from unsustainable fishing and other human impacts. With the development of new fishery management plans for the U.S. Caribbean, the agency now has an opportunity to update fishery management measures to promote the recovery of corals and the reef habitat they provide for so many other species.

Take action: http://action.earthjustice.org/protect-caribbean-coral


Brian Smith
Campaign Manager, Earthjustice

Place … VENICE, LA. … In memory of Katrina

Fishermen Sign On to Clean Up Oil

Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times

Kim Vo of Sharko Seafood, a local seafood company in in Venice, La., was selling the company’s final 50 pounds of shrimp.

Published: April 30, 2010

VENICE, La. — About 1,000 angry and frustrated fishermen packed an elementary school gymnasium here Friday afternoon. In a cruel occupational twist, they were seeking employment with the company they blame for an oil spill that may wipe out their industry this year and beyond.

Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times

Fishermen gathered at Boothville-Venice Elementary School and registered to take a safety awareness class so they will be able to participate in the oil spill clean-up efforts.

Life in this coastal community centers on seafood — mullet, shark, shrimp and oysters. From May to December, dozens of boats haul shrimp here from the Gulf of Mexico. But aside from two days of fishing allowed this week ahead of the approaching oil slick, the shrimp season has been suspended.

So the fishermen came to receive training in how to clean up the oil spill that was creeping up on the nearby coastline. They were hoping to be hired by BP, the company blamed for the spill and responsible for cleanup efforts.

“Either the seafood industry or the oil industry — that’s the only jobs down here, so I guess I’m trying to move from seafood to oil today,” said Bernel Prout, 55, a fisherman and Venice native.

Friday’s training session was led by local firefighters and law enforcement officials and attended by representatives from BP, the parish government and the local fishermen’s association.

BP has said it will hire as many local residents as possible to clean the beaches and distribute booms through the surrounding marshes and waterways.

But the fishermen said they were reeling from the loss of revenue. They were not told how many would be hired, at what wages, or when. But they were asked to fill out forms listing their names, contact information and available equipment and skills.

“This is not our fault,” Mr. Prout said. “It’s the fault of the oil company.”

The mood inside the crowded, hot gymnasium was one of confusion and growing anxiety.

“We have bills to pay,” said Acy Cooper, the president of a local fishermen’s association. “I don’t care if it’s the federal government or BP, but someone needs to step up and compensate us.”

David Kinnaird, a project director for BP who is coordinating the company’s response in Venice, said BP would hire as many local workers as possible. “We’re not asking the community to do this work for nothing,” he said. “BP is willing to compensate them.”

But Mr. Kinnaird could not say when local fishermen would be hired, how much they would be paid or whether they would be compensated for their lost revenue.

The fishing industry is just now recovering from the hurricanes of recent years, said Billy Nungesser, president of Plaquemines Parish, where Venice is located. But he said the oil spill could be an even greater setback, potentially changing fishing conditions for years.

“This could be six Katrinas, where for years and years and years there’s not as much work,” he said. “These people have fished their entire lives. They don’t know anything else.”

Still, he said, his job requires balancing the area’s two dominant local industries. He urged federal officials to not let this disaster lead to less oil excavation in the Gulf of Mexico.

“Don’t overreact,” he said. “We don’t ground every plane every time one plane crashes.”

All skiffs were docked in their harbors Friday. A local seafood company, Sharkco, was selling its final 50 pounds of shrimp and had already been depleted of oysters and fish.

“Last shrimp for a long, long time,” yelled Kim Vo, the owner of Sharkco, to passing fishermen, who paid $3 a pound.

“This is for us to eat,” one fishermen said. “We can’t use it for bait. There’s not going to be any fishing around here for months.”

“First Katrina, then Ike, Gustav, the fishermen’s strike — and now this,” said Thi Lee, 35, whose husband lost his 45-foot skiff in Katrina and only recently restored a second skiff to working condition after it was battered by another hurricane.

“We have no idea what to do,” she said.

A group of fishermen who were gathered around a car in the Sharkco parking lot grew more agitated as they listened to radio reports about the worsening spill.

“This spill isn’t going to be fixed in a day, probably even in a year,” said Chuc Nguyen, 35, who emigrated from Vietnam as a child and has fished his entire life. “What else can I do? I don’t know how to read and write. If you tell me to do something other than fishing, I don’t even know what it would be.”

Chan Tran, a dock owner in Venice, said insurance had risen more than 200 percent since Hurricane Katrina. Insuring her fishing dock now costs $50,000 a year, and she planned on paying the bill due this summer with money from the sale of shrimp.

“I cannot sleep for two days,” she said. “I’m done for business.”


Harvard students attempt to take 1964 Louisiana Literacy test, fail

Originally posted on theGrio:

A video showing Harvard students trying to pass a 1964 Louisiana Literacy test was released on Monday to bring awareness to barriers to voting in the past.

The video was launched just prior to Tuesday’s elections, and brought light to racism and classism in voting practices in the American South during the 1960s.

The video currently has over 27,000 views.

The video’s description indicated that the challenge was inspired by the fact that “Exactly 50 years ago, states in the American South issued this exact test to any voter who could not ‘prove a fifth grade education.’

Unsurprisingly, the only people who ever saw this test were blacks and, to a lesser extent, poor whites trying to vote in the South. In order to pass, voters needed to answer all 30 questions correctly in 10 minutes. Just one question wrong was grounds for disenfranchisement.”

Not a single student at…

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