Wednesday, 16 December 2009

contemporary advert

I decided to use the comapany's, Abercrombie and Fitch advertisement as an example of an contemporary consumer item. The company originates in America and began in the 1980's. The reason i chose this company and this advert was to demonstrate the views that are held in america and the world today. This advert seems to put across the idea that model-like people should be wearing this clothing. The image of a young, atheltic male and female modelling the clothing gives the impression that people of similar shape and statute should be wearing the clothes. what isnt shown in the advert is how expensive the clothing is. As such the advert is appealing to the young, middle class, 'acceptable sized' people of america and europe.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Grand Theft Coke

I've decided to post a contemporary Coca-Cola commercial as since the 50s, Coke's advertising has significantly affected American culture. From humble beginnings incorporating I'd Like To Teach the World To Sing in the 50s and I am the Future of the World in the 80s, the inclusion of pop music has been a recurring theme in Coke commercials and it is notable that there are reflections in regards to the decades in which they were made. Another recurring theme is a worldly message coming across; the commercial I have chosen continues this theme in both respects but presents it in a unique way.

First aired during the 2007 Super Bowl, the commerical is entirely computer generated and is a carbon copy of a scene from the violent Grand Theft Auto video game series. However, when it appears as if the protagonist is going to attack innocent people, he gives them a bottle of Coca-Cola, stops thieves and spreads the all-round "happiness" of Coke around. The community all end up celebrating together to a male cover of "You Give a Little Love" taken from the film Bugsy Malone. This is almost a direct reference as at the end of the film the child gangsters stop fighting when Razmataz starts playing the piano and everyone sings together realising they could be friends. This theme continues the peace theme that recurs throughout Coca-Cola's advertising but with an edgy twist. While it is suggested that maybe this commercial was directed at a specifically male audience by being aired during the Super Bowl, I remember watching it during the advertisments before a film at the cinema and I personally found that a universal message came across.

Horatio Alger in contemporary websites

The use of the phrase "Horatio Alger" is used in a variety of contexts in contemporary websites. The website Asian Topics has an article that explores the "Horatio Alger Myth" in relation to Japan. It explains that in the United States the myth means that anybody from any background can become a successful businessman through hard work. In Japan, the myth is slightly more modest and means that through hard work a farm boy can become a bureaucrat for example. There is a difference between the Horatio Alger myth's meaning in both countries as becoming a bureaucrat is not considered as a way to become a great success in the United States yet it is considered to be a prestigious career in Japan.

In The Real Horatio Alger, the phrase "Horatio Alger Hero" is discussed. It has a similar meaning to the Horatio Alger myth as it is described as "referring to the person who achieves success by his own effort in the face of great obstacles". However, the article focuses on how despite the fact that some of today's successful businessmen refer to Alger as an inspiration, his books are difficult to find and he is described as "a cross between ancient history and amusing turn-of-the-century nostalgia".

Another website that discusses "Horatio Alger" is FishbowlIDC, a site that publishes interesting news stories. This article covers the 2009 Horatio Alger Assosiation Awards and explains that "the association was founded in 1947 to honor the achievements of outstanding individuals in our society who have succeeded in spite of adversity and of encouraging young people to pursue their dreams through higher education." It mentions that Hollywood star Denzel Washington was inducted into the association at this year's cermony.

After searching for websites featuring the phrase "Horatio Alger", there appears to be more negative implications of Alger as most of them refer to him in regards to a myth. In relation to Ragged Dick, this symbolises the demise in popularity of Alger and the concept of "rags to riches" in America. However, it is clear that the Horatio Alger success idea is still celebrated by some as exemplified in the awards ceremony in his name.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Healthcare Reform

This is my example of an opinion that is against the healthcare reform. Basically, it is by a guy who states that he has read the bill in full, and has 'translated' it down into layman terms for everyone to read. While this post is in direct opposition to the reform, I was more interested in the comments posted bellow the blog, and the battle the ensures between the gulible and the people that question the blogger's views.

If there was going to be a place where I could find a source that was in favour of the reform, it would be from the mouth of Obama himself. This is his speech from the White House that was broadcasted a few days ago. It outlines everything that the Bill will cover, and it basically sounds fantastic; whether it is all rhetoric and a 'Big Government' lie is yet to be seen.

YouTube - VOTE AGAINST HEALTH REFORM? Might Be Bad Politics...

YouTube - VOTE AGAINST HEALTH REFORM? Might Be Bad Politics... This TV ad provides a brief summary of some of the issues facing americans and why Americans United for Change support Obamas healthcare reforms. Americans United for Change is a group that formed in 2005 and aims to garner support for reforms that move America in what they believe to be a new and better direction. For them, they hate the influence that health insurers have over the healthcare industry and how money orientated it is, and feel that Obamas healthcare reforms would have a positive impact.


CPR is a healthcare pressure group founded by Rick Scott, an healthcare industry executive, in the early part of this year. The group opposes president Obama's healthcare reforms mainly on economic terms, in that they feel that his reforms would result in them having to pay more, not less for their healthcare. One article on their website demonstrates their viewpoint well. Titled " Up is Down, Day is Night, and Obama care will lower your healthcare costs", the article clearly shows that the CPR dislike the reforms due to money issues, demonstrated by as such; " Yet the report from CMS, released Friday (thus, few people noticed), concludes that the $1.3 trillion government run public option health "reform" package recently passed in the house achieves exactly the opposite: the cost curve will indeed bend...upward. In fact, the report concludes that the total health care spending will actually increase by$239 billion under the legislation."

Obama And His Health Care

This is a Pro Obama blog that strongly supports the plans going through Congress about creating a system were all people can have at least some cover, outside of emergancy care. The website also breaks down what the main idea behind the Bill is, making it easy to understand how it will work.

"A centerpiece of Obama's health proposal would be a new government health insurance plan that would compete with private insurers. The administration says the public plan would help cut costs by introducing competition, and cover the uninsured. "

The website also holds on it a video that explains in four minutes what the programe is and who it will effect. It is obvious that the blogger is a pro Obama activist, but I think it shows the level some Americans will go to flood the media portals proclaiming there view to be the truth, weather its biased or not.

This is a short blog, yet it details how the Bill can be interpreted someone into being a very bad piece of legisitation., This article speaks with Bill Bennett, a nationally syndicated host on the Salem radio network, about how a petition that he started became so popular with health care professionals.

“We are seeing reckless spending, and I think the most important number of all, probably, is 83, and that was 83 percent of the American people like their health care. You don’t turn the whole system inside-out when 83 percent are satisfied.”

Monday, 23 November 2009

Obama Administration reforms

Health Reform is a website that promotes the Health Reform proposed by Barack Obama and aims to inform the public of its positive indications to gather support for it. The website explains "President Obama is committed to working with Congress to pass comprehensive health reform this year in order to control rising health care costs, guarantee choice of doctor, and assure high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans." This offers a bright look into the future and the potential for a fairer society in America. Some of the aims of the Health Reform outlined by the Obama Administration include:

* Protect families from debt because of health care costs
* Guarantee choice of doctors and health plans
* Invest in prevention and wellness

* Improve patient safety and quality of care

* Assure affordable, quality health coverage for all Americans

* Maintain coverage when you change or lose your job

Again, the reform appears to offer fairer future for all Americans and upon reading this plan it would be difficult to find criticisms.

Don't Vote For Obama, The Most Complete Anti Obama Website conveys the belief that the election of Barack Obama has marked "The End of America". The webisite strongly opposes the reforms proposed by the Obama Administration and this is explained in an article: "There has been a fine balance of power between the two parties, which will be ended by 12 million new voters who will favor the Democrats. That's because minorities and immigrants tend to like the big, benevolent, tax-and-spend governments that hand out welfare, benefits and cradle-to-grave security. Obama wants to include even illegal immigrants in his universal health-care system." This opinion appears to derive from a right wing stance, especially in the expicit hostility towards the prospect of higher taxes and a fairer health-care system expressed here. This strong opinion is continued: "our senior citizens will probably have to be turned down for the most expensive treatments and surgeries, taking a back seat to younger immigrants. Senior citizens don't fair well in a system applying rationing of medical care. Obama, by his tax plans, his socialistic schemes, and his new welfare programs, will destroy the health-care system and the economy in short order."

After reading both websites I lean more towards the Health Reform website and therefore am in favour of the reforms proposed by Obama's Administration. The anti-Obama website does not propose a strong case against the Health Reform, instead it just pushes a claim that senior people might not fair well in the new system. This opinion seems to be unrealistic however as the Obama Administration proposes fairer health care for all Americans. The only way to find out if the Health Reform will have positive implications is for it to be accepted so people can see the results for themselves.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Jon Stewart Vs CNN's 'Crossfire'

Jon Stewart is one of the funniest, most inteligent, pundits ever. The Daily Show is one of the best political satire show, only comparable to Bremner, Bird, and Fortune. This video is Stewart slating 'Crossfire' (which is one of the biggest political programmes in the US), but he doesn't just slate them; he explains on their actual show, what he doesn't like about the show. It is a fantastic watch...

Jon Stewart's political orientation is great; he really, REALLY, hates Glenn Beck. Although, he is not a Democrat. The Daily Show is fantastic, I really hope it is still on More Four at 6... please watch it.

YouTube - Glenn Beck: Global Warming greatest scam in history

YouTube - Glenn Beck: Global Warming greatest scam in history: "Glenn Beck: Global Warming greatest scam in history"

In this clip Glenn Beck talks about the first chapter from his book, "The Inconvenient Book", which focuses on global warming and why its actually nothing to be worried about. He uses information provided by the founder of the weather channel to attempt to discredit the issues surrounding global warming, instead suggesting that it is a 'manufactured crisis' and that the scientists who support it have a environmental and political agenda. He even goes so far as to question whether we are on the cusp of global socialism due to this alleged deal between global warming scietntists. He seems to completely ignore any of the research avaliable that contradicts his opinion.

Glenn Beck: "Scary Capitalism"

In this video popular political pundit of Fox News Glenn Beck argues about teachers showing pupils the Story of Stuff, a 20-minute video which offers a look at American production and consumption patterns and aims to expose the connections between environmental and social issues in order to convince people to create a more sustainable and just world.

Being pro-captialist, Beck strongly disagrees with the video as he believes it to be anti-capitalist.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

American groups outside the mainstream

Established in Chicago in 1924, The Society for Human Rights was an American homosexual rights organization. It was the first recognized gay rights organization in the United States, however, the group were ceased a few months after forming after the arrest of several of the Society's members. Despite its short existance, the Society is recognized as preceeding the modern Gay Liberation movement. The goals and purposes of the Society was outlined as "To promote and protect the interests of people who by reasons of mental and physical abnormalities are abused and hindered in the legal pursuit of happiness which is guaranteed them by the Declaration of Independence and to combat the public prejudices against them by dissemination of factors according to modern science among intellectuals of mature age. The Society stands only for law and order; it is in harmony with any and all general laws insofar as they protect the rights of others, and does in no manner recommend any acts in violation of present laws nor advocate any manner inimical to the public welfare." The aims outlined here have now become a reality but the "mental and physical abnormalities" reference to homosexuality would be an unacceptable descrption today as attitudes to homosexuality have become more accepting.

A more contemporary American group outside the mainstream is Feminists for Life. Established in 1972, the group describes itself as "shaped by the core feminist values of justice, nondiscrimination, and nonviolence." For a modern group, FFL attitudes are within a minority but the some of the issues including abortion are strongly condemned and protested about not only by their group but many others too. However, the group is met by much opposition, especially from pro-choice activists mainly due to the group lacking compassion for modern female rights such as birth control. The FFL and its old-fashioned beliefs remain in a minority and will not ever be likely to shift attitudes on a major scale.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Gun control argument

For the argument of pro-gun control, I have chosen a website for gun owners, Keep and Bear Arms. This website serves as a forum for gun owners to express their support for the Second Amendment and their right to maintain their ability to protect themselves from anyone that would do them harm by owning a gun. Their point of view is understandable, especially when applying the American principles of freedom and personal liberty to their belief. The website aims to justify their ownership of guns to the anti-firearm media and educate people about every American's right to Second Amendment freedoms.

For the argument of anti-gun control I have selected the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence website. This campaign strives to stop potential killers from obtaining guns in the first place. To do this, the campaign aims to pass laws such as requiring Brady criminal background checks on all gun sales. The problem with gun sales in America is that anybody can go into a shop or go on the internet and buy weapons from unlicenced sellers, no questions asked. This is a fair argument and does not condemn the ownership of guns completely, it rather ensures that the law is applied over every gun sale in America thereby preventing gun killing by convicted felons and the mentally ill on a large scale.

I believe that both websites offer a valid argument and the values of the Brady Campaign can work harmoniously with those who maintain their right to keep and bear arms. Considering the vastness of America, implementing strict gun control laws would be difficult to prove effective. However, the Brady Law aims to stop the mentally disturbed from obtaining guns in the first place and therefore if this law passed, the majority of gun owners would own guns for no other purpose than protection, a justified point of view in an American context.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Pro And Anti-Gun Groups

This link is the website of The Violence Policy Centre, an organisation that describes itself as "
a national tax-exempt ... non-profit organization based in Washington, DC, works to stop this annual toll of death and injury through research, advocacy, and education." They take the notion that all arms sales should be limited under health and safety regulations, like any other product. They are described by the National Rifle Association as "the most effective...anti-gun rabble rouser in Washington." They Quote that 30,000 Americans are killed every year due to accidental firearms use, partly due to the ease of purchase of the weapons. The group choose to control the health and safety of firearms by congress and legal angles.

This is the website for the National Rifle Association of the USA, a non-profit organisation that looks to preserve the second amendment right of the United States constitution, that being "the right of the people to keep and bear arms..." The association challenges all laws and opinions that go against their view that all citizens of the United States should be able to carry a weapon.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Republicans Win Virginia And New Jersey Elections In Blow For Barack Obama

" American voters have delivered a sharp rebuke to Barack Obama by rejecting his allies in Virginia, the swing state that helped deliver him the White House almost exactly a year ago, and the Democratic stronghold of New Jersey. "

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Outside the Norm

I've chosen as my 'Historical' choice, the Quakers! After initially ariving in America in 1680, they formed the colony of Pennsylvania, I prosume named after its founder William Penn. The quakers have never been percieved in the USA with the highest of the of esteem. It could almost be said they fled to America due to them being persecuted in almost every country in Europe. Quaker (or the Religious Society of Friends) beleif comes derrives from Christianity, but they don't practically follow the Bible, members of the faith are allowed to percieve their own intepretations of God, and what he/she believed in. This, obviously, didn't go down too well with 17th century Europe, being highly ran, almost dominated by the motives of both the Protestant and Catholic Church, so they came to America to 'start again'.

While they've lived in America for centuries, they are still persecuted for the same reasons... being 'un-goddly'.

For my 'contemporary' choice, Trekkies, or the representation of 'Geek-dom' everywhere. First really coming about when the fandom of the TV programme Star Trek first aired, in 1966. 'Geeks' have always been viewed in social culture with a highly negative opinion. Prone to bullying and detrmental treatment all together, they are shunned for their image of being 'accidentaly weird', yet, the stereotype goes that they have an impressive intellect, but awefull social skills.

While 'Geeks' aren't the most pressing of minorities in American life, they do count as an 'Other' in the overal culture.
Gay and Lesbian advocates and defenders (GLAD) are an American gay and lesbian civil rights group that was founded in response to a sting operation carried out by Boston police surrounding the Boston public library. Police targeted gay patrons and had arrested over 100 people by the end of their 2 weeks of entrapment. Since then the organisation has campaigned for changes in the law to end discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity/expression and HIV status. At present only 6 out of the 50 states in America perform same sex marriages, with a few more legally recognising them, demonstrating the scale of the discrimination a large number of Americans experience due to their sexuality. GLAD believes that the way to tackle this discrimination is to go through the legal routes, of which they have experienced a fair amount of success, just recently achieving a victory regarding marriage equality in Maine.

The National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) were a grassroots civil rights group that started in 1909 in response to the awful treatment and discrimination experienced by the blacks in America. The organisations principal objective is to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of minority group citizens of United States and eliminate race prejudice. Membership grew rapidly over the years, with it at an all time high during Americas civil rights era of the 50's and 60's. The NAACP believed in using non violent action to achieve their means, primarily fighting racism through the law courts but also on the streets in the form of marches and demonstrations. Even after desegregation the group continued to campaign and still does so today, although now it focuses on disparities in economics, health care, education, voter empowerment and the criminal justice system as well as civil rights.

The Nation of Islam is an organisation that beleives the afican-americans in the United States should have more independance, and that they were mearly brought to america. There former leader Elijah Muhammad is quoted as in saying

"The Blackman is the original man. From him came all brown, yellow, red, and white people. By using a special method of birth control law, the Blackman was able to produce the white race. This method of birth control was developed by a Black scientist known as Yakub, who envisioned making and teaching a nation of people who would be diametrically opposed to the Original People. A Race of people who would one day rule the original people and the earth for a period of 6,000 years."
The group was a religous organisation, yet still had a large voice when speakers like Malcome X (El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz) were acting as the public face. It seems to have given some black communities the leadership they felt they were not getting, along with a god that have there persifict interests in mind. After the civil rights movement the Nation Of Islam declined, but is
now seeing a rise in populaity again under the leadership of Khadijah Farrakhan.

This is an article explaining how the Latino populatioon in the United States are becoming the dominate force in American religion. It is interesting to note that Hispanics are now the largest minority in the United States, after White, putting the black community in a difficult situation.

"Instead of screaming out, 'The British are coming!' " Moreno Garcia says some people are screaming, " 'The Hispanics are coming! The Hispanics are coming! Run, run.....' "
"When I come to Mass at noon, the Anglos leave, and [Latinos] go in and we don't even say 'hi' to each other, not even 'hi,'" says Garcia. "Sometimes I think there is a wall, but that wall exists only because we don't have enough faith."

Monday, 2 November 2009

Evolution of home entertainment

American consumers are notoriously known for wanting the latest gadgets and technology. I have chosen this website to represent the idea of America as "new" and "exceptional" as it highlights how home entertainment is constantly evolving to the point that affordable cinema istallataions in the home are rapidly becoming a realistic prospect.

The most recent article on the website covers the "Installation of the Year Awards 2009" and features innovative home theaters. They are presented a way in which appeals to a wider market than just affluent people. Similar to how video technology has advanced from VHS to DVD and now Blu-Ray, televisions are constantly adapting too and the cinematic experience at home is becoming ever more authentic.

In LETTER III of Letters From an American farmer, J. Hector St. John Crevecouer describes "natural genius" and "traces in their works the embryos of all the arts, sciences and ingenuity" in reference to American settlers in 1782. These quotes push the point across that settlers in America were modern thinkers, always progressing and thinking about the future with hope and ambition in mind. This idea can certainly be applied to designers within the technology industry today, but rather than products being made out of just technical innovation, their production are mostly driven by the consumer's desire for wanting more advanced products.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

“So Must We Be One... Otherwise We Shall Be All Gone Shortly”

This account was written by Lion Gardiner, an English military engineer who monitored the construction of a fort in Connecticut in 1635 and settled in Long Island in 1639.

In the Pequot War of 1637, Connecticut settlers massacred the Pequot Indians and Gardiner, who had advised against engaging with the Pequots, left Connecticut in 1639 and settled in Long Island. There he lived on Gardiner's Island, which he brought from his friend Wyandanch, the chief of the Montaukett tribe. Miantonomi, the chief of the Narragasett tribe who were rival of the Montauketts, came to Long Island in the early 1640s to create an alliance with the Montauketts against the English. After contacting the leaders of Connecticut for help, Gardiner and Wyandanch succeeded in stopping the plan and Miantonomi was captured and executed.

Gardiner explains "And now I am old, I would fain die a antural death, or like a soldier in the field, with honor and not to have a sharp stake set in the ground, and thrust into my fundament, and to have my skin flayed off by piece-metal, and cut in pieces and bits, and my flesh roasted and thrust down my throat, as these people have done, and I know will be done to the chiefest in the country by hundreds, if God should deliver usinto their hands, as justly he may for our sins". Not surprisingly he negatively refers to the Indians as barbaric here yet he admits that he deserves to be brutally killed as that would be God's punishment for his "sins". This is likely to be a reference to when he and his fellow Connecticut settlers massacred the Pequot Indians. He again alludes to God when he states "if the Lord be not more merciful to us for our extreme pride and base security". By aiding the massacre of the Indians for selfish reasons, Gardiner knew he had sinned and in documenting this he was effectively asking for mercy and forgiveness from God.

Gardiner then begins to convey a sense of unity between he and the tribes: "calling them bretheren and friends, for so we are we all Indians as the English are, and say brother to one another; so must we be one as they are, otherwise we shall be all gone shortly". He is not judgemental of the Indians and respects their mild manner away from battle. His admiration for their land is apparent when he describes it in a fairer light than England's: "our fathers had plenty of deer and skins, our plains were full of deer, as also our woods, and of turkies, and our coves full of fish and fowl. But these Enlgish having gotten our land, they with scythes cut down the grass, and with axes fell the trees; their cows and horses eat the grass, and their hogs spoil our clam banks, and we shall all be starved". Ultimately, Gardiner cherished the land he settled in but is remourseful about how he achieved it.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

The 'New You' America

"If you take advantage of everything America has to offer, there’s nothing you can’t accomplish", is a quote by Geraldine Ferraro and tells something of the mindset of Americans even today. The idea that a person can go and be anything has led to the vast over use of plastic surgery, and the normality of the procedures, even for youngsters.
Women had 92 percent of cosmetic procedures (2006), the number of surgery's performed on women was over 10.5 million, showing the want for a better body or younger face that people feel they so desperately need.

American celebratory is a very fickle friend, being the top billed star to a 'nobody' is a common situation. The American media, as well as all media, enjoy the fall of any famous person, so often they are led to 'reinvent' themselves with promises of looking 20 years younger. The youth then see this as the way to get people to like them, your to change something that does not need changing. There is nothing wrong with improving your look, its this combined with American excess that leads to tragedy.

Monday, 26 October 2009

New America!

When I think of a 'new' or 'exceptional' America, I first thought of the 2008 Presidential election.

This is when in America, and the rest of the world; a great drive appears, as if every four years the country is divided into seperate pools where each 'swimmer' shares a common cause or feeling towards a certain subject. Surely, this is the same with every country when a general election comes around, but, with the USA's mighty media industry, the whole process is excelled.

However, if there has ever been a reason to be overly excited for an election, it would to be that of 2008. This election was driven by powerful keywords, such as: 'Hope' and 'Change'; a hope for a new, brighter, accepting, America; and a change from the days of Bush's right-wing.

De Crevecouer asked what this 'new man' was, and I hope that it is a man that can spurr the world forward, forge new alliances, and correct the wrongs of the recent years.

new america

The website i found that demonstrates the idea of America as new is a self improvement and personal evolution website. The idea that a person can completely reinvent themselves and become anything they want seems to be part of the american psyche that has evolved over time. Even in De Crevecouer's letters, he talks about how a person can come to America and succeed and prosper. He uses the metaphor of a plant to put across his ideals; "Every thing has tended to regenerate them: new laws, a new mode of living, a new social system; here they become men: in Europe they were as so many useless plants, wanting vegitative mould, and refreshing showers; they withered, and were mowed down by want, hunger, and war; but now by the power of transplantation, like all other plants they have taken root and flourished!". The modern day equivalent of this is shown in the numerous different self improvement books, groups and websites like this one that exist in america, which all talk of new beginnings.

Letter from Casco, Maine, During King Philip's war

The account I found was written by a English settler in maine in 1676, during King Philips war. King Philips war was fought in new England, primarily on the maine frontier, between English colonists and native Americas and is considered to be one of the worst wars of its time due to numbers that lost their lives. The author of the letter talks about the number of colonists that are killed and how the distance between dwellings makes protecting themselves and sharing information difficult. This is demonstrated by the following quote; “On Friday last in the morning your own son with your two sons in Law Anthony and Thomas Bracket and their whole families were killed and taken by the Indians, we know no how, tis certainly known by us that Thomas is slain and his wife and children carried away captiue, and of Anthony and his family we haue no tidings and therefore think that thay might be captivated the night before because of the remoteness of their habitation from neighborhood,” Whats particularly interesting about the account is how the native Americans are portrayed and was is omitted. Whilst they did kill a number of colonists, the natives themselves suffered much heavier losses as a result of the conflict.

Cuba Denounces US Radio and Television Aggression

This news article covers the story that aggressive information against Cuba was broadcasted from US radio and television before the Fourth Commission of the UN General Assembly. It is taken from the Cuban News Agency, ACN.

The article explains that out of 23 stations which broadcast to Cuba from the US, 18 belong to organisations that are linked to terrorists that operate in US territory with the approval of US federal authorities. According to the article US Congress supports these broadcasts by annually spending more than 30 million dollars on them for the purpose of promoting subversion and encouraging hatred in Cuba.

I chose this article as I find it disturbing that US Congress actively supports illegal aggressive radio and television broadcasts against Cuba. The lack of objectivity and balance in these broadcasts are concerning and reminiscent of propaganda. Expanding this point on a wider scale, it is difficult to trust the media in general. The public depend on the news to inform them of events but it is hard to know whether news is being presented fairly, especially with the knowledge that news can easily be controlled and edited to fit an agenda.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

New York Considered And Improved 1695

This is an account by reverend John Miller in 1695 on how to improve New York City, as well as mention other issues he felt were of a concern. I decided to choose this article because it tells something of the way people were thinking in those times. What is the most interesting is not that he lists the problems out, but then goes about writing how to solve them. He breaks the problems down into
1. the wickedness & irreligion of the inhabitants
2. want [lack] of ministers
3. difference of opinions in religion
4. a civil dissension
5. the heathenism of the Indians
6. the neighborhood of Canada

He later refers to the Indians and how "the Heathenism of the natural Indians who here in the very heart of a Christian country practice their barbarous & devilish customs & modes of worship...," I find it interesting how he can believe it is their wrong for practicing a belief in their own country, let alone calling it devilish. Anther point that interests him greatly is his plan for the resettlement of Canada by the British, going into detail about how that invasion might play out.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Map of the USA

The map I have chosen is named America-The Mall. What i think the artist of this map was attempting to show, was how cloned certain aspects of American life have become, with everyone going to the same chain stores, in the same type of malls, but not really caring as they meet their consumer needs. For me this map seems to sum up completely the consumerist nature that seems to prevail in the US, with people placing too much emphasise on material possessions. It also signifies in my opinion, looking at and recognizing some of the shops named such as Starbucks and McDonalds, the global reach that some companies have achieved.

Who will benefit from the end of the Cold War?

This article is taken from the Russian news agency RiaNovosti, and tells of how the Russians still mistrust America, 20 years after the cold war ended.

"Many people responsible for political decisions in Russia do not believe in the possibility of honest and practical cooperation with America even in the traditional areas of collaboration, mentioned when they need to project a positive tone, like the fight against terrorism, nuclear non-proliferation, poverty, or global warming. There is always rivalry in these spheres, and it always dominates cooperation. As for other areas of potential cooperation, prejudice and mistrust do not even allow for the launching of a constructive dialog."

I thought it was an interesting article after reading this section, and it tells a lot of how Russia still sees itself as a major power alongside America. It goes on to say that Russia is not yet ready to open up investment and business to the United States, as well as the western powers, and this only hurts Russian trade. The Russian people are being told that all things American are wrong and should be avoided, yet it is the same people that are suffering from this policy.

"At the same time, infighting for kickbacks from corruption prevents the development of predictable and understandable rules . . . Russia has no such rules, and everything here depends on the current political climate, the official who holds this or that post, his/her plans for a business, and God only knows what else."

Maps of the USA

I chose the map named 'Homeland Is Where the Heart Is'.

When I first saw the image, I thought of American patriotism. This prosumption was then reinforced by the inclusion of three little words under the title of the map; "We The People", which is the preamble to the Constitution of the United States. The reference to such a powerful and well respected document in US culture surely cements its patriotic values, yet, on further inspection of the site that the image derrived from; the reviewer doesn't mention anything like this. Instead, the reviewer argues that is to do with geopolitics, which I think simply means he/she took the image at face value.

You can find the original post for this 'map' here:

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Positive and Negative images of America

For me, a unique aspect of American culture is its peoples reverence for the ‘American Dream’ and in my opinion nothing captures that ideal like the Statue of Liberty. The fact that the statue was built as a monument celebrating America’s signing of the declaration of independence, signifies for me the Americans prevailing sense of optimism, that people are entitled to liberty and freedom, as well as a prosperous life. I find the concept of the American dream and the fact that so many people believe in it a hugely positive part of American culture. The fact that it empowers people so much that they believe that anybody is capable of succeeding in life is uplifting!

In my opinion one of the most negative aspects of American culture is its stance on weapon ownership and availability. To me it seems backward to still allow people the ‘right to bear arms’ as is written in the bill of rights. Guns cause so many problems and misery in today’s America which could be greatly reduced if America were to rethink its standpoint on firearms. To me, the iconic image of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold in the cafeteria of columbine school where they shot dead over a dozen people before killing themselves really captures the extent of the issue and the pain that is caused. Whats worst is that anti gun legislation still didn’t make it through government even immediately after the tragedy, which brings you to wonder how many more people are going to have to suffer before anything changes?

McDonald's America

The map I have chosen from Strange Maps is The McFarthest Place: 145 Mi to the Nearest Big Mac. Created by Spephen Von Worley, the map contains McDonald's locations throughout the United States and displays the distance between them. Interestingly, the coast is scattered with McDonalds restaurants and this visually creates an almost perfect border of the US.

Von Worley found that "The McFarthest Spot" is in South Dakota, 145 miles away from the nearest McDonalds. This is not surprsing considering South Dakota's rural roots. Other "McSparse" areas of the US include Oregon, Nevada and Idaho. These are states known for either their forests, rivers, mountains or vast deserts.

Predictably, the densely populated east coast is saturated with McDonald's restaurants, closely followed by the west coast. Conclusively, Big Mac addicts are not advised to venture out into rural areas of the US.

Since watching Morgan Spulock's documentary film Super Size Me I have been fascinated by McDonald's popularity not only in America but also the fast food chain's globalization across the world. Despite an obesity "epidemic" and clear evidence that fast food can damage physical and psychological well-being, the principles of fast food dominate many sectors of American society as well as the rest of the world. This is undoubtably because of convenience among other factors. The chain's worldwide popularity can perhaps be explained by the "Americanisation" of many countries, especially in regards to corporate influence. Spulock's film certainly impacted the fast food industry as marketing strategy for McDonald's and their competitor Burger King has significantly changed since. That being said fast food still remains popular as ever.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Positive and Negative Images of America

My possitive image is of the Capitol
Building, where Congress is housed. The two chambers of the US Congress are the Senate and the House of Representatives.

I chose this as a positive image b
ecause I believe that the USA has an almost sound poltical system. While this may not seem as a truly amazing thing, such as the USA's natural beauty or the inspiring image of the moon landing in 1969; without Congress's backing, niether of these could be achieved.

Congress, and the Federal Government, have ownership over the US's many nature preserves and only recently passed legislation to fund research into hydrogen-powered transport. They have also begun to debate a brand new climate change policy, The United States is "now ready to lead" on climate change, said President Obama when news of this new bill came about in April this year.

Without Congress, the moon US moon landing may not have taken place as early as 1969. After the Soviet Union flipped off the US with the launching of Sputnik in 1957 House Committee on Science and Technology which would go on to spend federal funds on the creation of a cosmonaught programme.

My negative picture represents the US's wasteful nature. While it may be all very well that Congress is trying to pass bills on climate change and tackling bio-fuels; but in the end, it is American culture that will have to change. It is this wastefullness of their own resources, that leads them to selfishness and conflicts with other countries over soverignty of resources out of the USA's jurisdiction.

(sorry about the misjointed layout, for some reason the blog decided to disobey me.....)

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Does It Matter If The World Loves The US ?

This is an interesting take on our theme for week 3, taken from a blog on The New Republic dated October 5. To read the comments on it, click on the link below.

Does It Matter If the World Loves Us?

Isaac Chotiner

In The New York Times on Saturday, the conservative writer and politician John R. Miller made a more-or-less convincing case that America's standing in the world is more-or-less irrelevant when it comes to conducting a successful foreign policy. Today, on Foreign Policy's website, two scholars summarize an American Political Science Association report on the same topic. The report's conclusion is the opposite of the one reached by Miller, and is broader in its argument. The authors claim that Obama's election has not yet solved America's image problems, for example, and they describe what they see as increasing post-cold war partisanship on foreign policy issues. The summary's central claim, however, is muddled. The idea that America's standing in the world is unimportant is called "dead wrong" by the authors, who begin their section on this issue by writing:

During the Cold War, the United States was anxious that its reputation for protecting its allies, especially those in Europe, be seen as credible by both Soviet leaders and Europeans. As Lyndon Johnson explained to Martin Luther King, Jr. in early 1965, "If I pulled out [of Vietnam] ... I think the Germans would be scared to death that our commitment to them was no good, and God knows what we'd have in other places in the world."

The fact that this story is cited as evidence of the importance of America's standing is bizarre, and the notion that we stayed in Vietnam to reassure our allies is nauseating.

More recently, the Bush Doctrine was reversed in Bush's second term in part due to falling support abroad -- involving both credibility and esteem -- that made it harder for the United States to get what it wanted.

It was always confusing when people who thought that 90% of Bush's foreign policy was wrongheaded also wanted the Bush administration to have more credibility (and thus, presumably, more room to operate). Regardless, the authors never specify what Bush's lack of credibility prevented him from accomplishing.

Of course, many other factors affect foreign-policy success and we should not delude ourselves that standing is the critical factor. Moreover, standing should never be the sole consideration behind U.S. foreign policy. There will inevitably be trade-offs between other pressing interests in particular situations; for example, the United States may need to act to protect itself from an imminent threat, and this action may diminish its standing among some audiences.

It is important, however, to acknowledge more explicitly the costs and benefits of maintaining standing in policymaking. For decision makers under pressure, it is tempting to focus only on what is concrete and immediate and has short-term impact. But just as it is dangerous for business leaders to focus only on quarterly profits and ignore their firm's long-term health, so too must U.S. leaders consider the nation's stock of credibility and esteem.

Credibility, esteem, interests, threats, standing, etc etc. The authors cite no specifics, and speak only in the broadest generalities. After a few more paragraphs of this, they conclude by adding:

Finally we need better data and analysis on U.S. standing. The United States supports periodic National Election Surveys at home; questions about standing should be added to the survey and public funds for other indicators -- such as foreign media analysis -- are needed. The dynamics of U.S. standing are complex, and we grasp only imperfectly the sources and impact of U.S. credibility and esteem in the world. Yet standing matters for U.S. foreign policy, and American leaders must pay attention to it or face real-world consequences.

The first three sentences here almost completely nullify the final sentence. Maybe America's standing in the world has real importance, but this piece does not shine any light on the subject.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Images Of America

For me, nothing signifies America more than their huge sense of optimism, and this image represents it well. It is a image of the first moon landings in 1969, something that many people thought would be impossible. It is because the American people truly believe that anything can be achieved, and it should be the Americans that show the rest of the world this.
It was spurred on by the Cold War with the Soviet Union which made it even more important to step out into the unknown. The same can be said for the ’America Dream’, it is this notion that anything is possible that keeps all Americans convinced that there will be better times ahead.

This image depicts a village being burnt to the ground during the Vietnam war, and for me shows the dark side American thought, that they should spread democracy and freedom all over the world by military means if necessary. As in the case of Vietnam, It lead to around 58,000 soldiers loosing their life's, trying to force American and Western ideology on a distant land. As the case is now in Iraq and Afghanistan, America has gone in to change a country for the better, but has become bogged down against militants, and like the Vietnam War, with no clear exit strategy.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Positive and negative images of America

This image signifies my positive view of America. It may just be a desert road but this simple photograph represents to me how America is essentially a vast and majestic land, a blank canvas that invites a rich mixture of religions, races and cultures to begin their journey. Founded on the basis of freedom for all, America thrives on diversity.

This iconic image signifies my negative view of America. The 9/11 attacks are widely believed to have changed the world. However, when I see this image, I do not just remember the catastrophic disaster as several other images are also struck in my mind. I think of George W. Bush's presidency consumed with lies. I think of Fox News presenting these lies as truth. And I think of the media silencing those who believe otherwise. This image reminds me to look beyond the evidence that we see and question the evidence we do not see.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Welcome to the blog for AM1111

How to blog

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When done, click "publish post." It is really easy - and if you get it wrong, you can always edit the post - just click on the little pencil you see underneath the published post to edit.