Saturday, August 20, 2005

I bought this great Robert Frank book a few years ago that contained all the postcards that had been sent to him by friends and admirers over the years. I loaned it out and haven't seen it since, but this is almost as good.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

"...the men who go to war and live are spared for the single purpose of spreading bad news when they return, the bad news about the way war is fought and why, and by whom and for whom, and the more men who survive the war, the higher the number of men who might speak.
Unfortunately, many of the men who live through the war don't understand why they were spared. They think they are still alive in order to return home and make money and fuck their wife and get drunk and wave the flag.
These men spread what they call good news, the good news about war and warriors. Some of the men who spread good news have never fought--so what could they have to say about the purity of war and warriors? These men are liars and cheats and they gamble with your freedom and your life and the lives of your sons and daughters and the reputation of your country."

-Anthony Swofford, "Jarhead, a Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles."

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is still having trouble imagining how U.S. boys and girls could have done all those horrible things at Abu Gharib.
This article is hard to read. It's hard to take. But for americans, it's probably the last sentence that will hit the hardest.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

As Steve Martin said in The Three Amigos: "Uh, this is real."
“The kind of intolerance of faith that I am advocating in my book is not the intolerance that gave us the gulag. It is conversational intolerance. When people make outlandish claims, without evidence, we stop listening to them–except on matters of faith. I am arguing that we can no longer afford to give faith a pass in this way. Bad beliefs should be criticized wherever they appear in our discourse–in physics, in medicine, and on matters of ethics and spirituality as well. The President of the United States has claimed, on more than one occasion, to be in dialogue with God. Now, if he said that he was talking to God through his hairdryer, this would precipitate a national emergency. I fail to see how the addition of a hairdryer makes the claim more ludicrous or more offensive.”

-Sam Harris

Saturday, August 13, 2005

"4x4 advertising is dedicated to manipulating landscapes into generic forms. All that it requires of a landscape is that it evoke the idea of challenge - something resistant to be conquered, something natural to be tamed. A river is valued for its difficulty of fording. A mountain for its dramatic and nameless escarpments. No landscape can be only itself: it must represent an obstacle of some sort.

The hypocrisies of 4x4 marketing are dark, multiple and pernicious. Everything about the product urges us to the wrong relationship with our environment. The vehicles themselves are the gargoyle of a rampant and acrid form of individualism: gated communities of one. They bespeak the urge to dominate and crush which is at the root of what Ivan Illich called "the 500-year war on sustainability". They expound a vision of an unspoiled and untroubled land, even as they market the tools of its further wreckage."

-Robert Macfarlane. The rest here.