Anthony Collins, Jr.: Athlete, scholar, musician, and gentleman

I find so much joy these days when I go out and watch my kids play sports–all three of them are involved in an array of sports—baseball, soccer, softball, rugby, football, basketball.

Here is a photo taken last week of my oldest son, Anthony Jr., who is a running back on the PVHS Varsity football team.  They played against Compton-Rancho Dominquez High.  Every time Anthony Jr. carried the ball he gained 20-30-40 yards!

Anthony is #2 and is carrying the football.  Watch out this week when PVHS plays Leuzinger High in our first intra-league game this year.

Alan Dershowitz: My hero, Alan Allen and Woody Dershowitz

This link has three interview clips with one of my heroes, Alan Dershowitz, a great thinker, scholar, and advocate for justice.

LINK:

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/newsmakers/legal-system-treats-celebs-differently–dershowitz-says.html

It is well worth the time to watch the interview(s).

–Woody Dershowitz?

–Alan Allen?

My fascination with Dershowitz is enhanced by the fact that Dershowitz’s voice reminds me so much of Woody Allen’s voice, plus there is a certain degree of resemblance in their looks.   I hope that Woody uses Alan in a film one day…

The resemblance gives Woody and air and undercurrent of scholarly brilliance in his humor and writing, and gives Dershowitz an edge and potential for being hysterically funny in the midst of a brilliant analysis.

The become a sort of a hydra-headed comic lawyer beast that overwhelms opponents with words and ideas–humorous and  true at the same time.

Guro Dan Inosanto: PE Teacher at Malaga Cove School

I was lucky as a young person at Malaga Cove intermediate school.

I was lucky because I had GURO Dan Inasanto was my PE teacher in grades 6, 7, and 8.

Guro Dan Insosanto’s website is: http://www.inosanto.com

As our teacher and role model, he was authentic and awe-inspiring.  I believe this could be said about all of us, even those who detested PE in all its forms.  This was in the late 1960s, during the high water years of the Vietnam war.  Long hair and rock&roll etc   It was a convergence of opposites–Dan was an ex-Marine (?) during the Korean War.  At Malaga Cove school in the 1960s, GURO Dan was coming face to face with the patty-cakes and smart-alicks from PVE.   Thankfully, that cosmic oddity happened.

Having Mr, I as my PE teacher was an excellent experience that I recall fondly, although not without memories of pain.  It became a ritual test of defiance again da’Man for few wisecrackers in each class to give Mr. I some lippy nonsense so that  you could get chased and popped, or just popped without the chase, stung badly by his bamboo baton.  He was incredibly strong and quick, and the stick was a cluster of long bamboo strips tied together by twine and encased within a canvas cover.  It hurt but the message was clear, “you little punk, you just came up against the force of righteousness and your butt now hurts.”  His use of the baton was presumably legal.  He used it liberally, but only when necessary, for disciplinary reconciliation…those were the days when it was OK to whack an unruly student in the butt, legs, arms, or backside and not get sued.

The boys at Malaga Cove in PE saw him as a mythological larger than life super-being–after all, he was in movies as a stuntman, he was a martial arts trailblazer on the Green Hornet TV series, he was a Kali champion and legend even in those days, and he had a good sense of humor–although we knew he was leading us to higher levels.  All of that meant he was a great teacher for us in those years.

 

 

Dan Inosanto (L) with Bruce Lee (R)

 

 

 

 

This is a poem composed by Inosanto-san that I found on his website.

We are all climbing different paths through the mountain of life,and we have all experienced much hardship and strife.

There are many paths through the mountain of life, and some climbs can be felt like the point of a knife.

Some paths are short and others are long, who can say which path is right or wrong?

The beauty of truth is that each path has its own song,

and if you listen closely you will find where you belong.

So climb your own path true and strong,

but respect all other truths for your way for them could be wrong. 

– Dan Inosanto

TO: Sven Herold (www.svenherold.com)

Dear Sven:

I know this is an unusual way to initiate contact, but I would like to work with you at Shell.  Not sure what more to do aside from applying online, but that means HR scrutiny.  It is my opinion that the job, Exec Producer/Creative Director is far away from the mainstream categories for employment at Shell.  HR analysts do not usually have the authority or knowledge to deal with and career trajectories have are unconventional pathways, like mine.  I could be highly effective in a role with Shell, as Exec Producer, Creative Director or both.  Please write to me so I can show you what I can bring to the table, for the benefit of Shell.

Thanks,

Anthony

anthonycollinsfilm@yahoo.com

The true test of a filmmaker–doing anything to get the best shot

I love this photo because it illustrates the unflagging willingness of a true filmmaker to do anything, including going eye to eye with the king of the forest, for the sake of a good shot.

Way to go, Tomislav Safundžić

This is Our Planet

This time-lapse video of a satellite journey flying around and around the earth is remarkable.  Very cool.

Make sure to fully upload the video file so it renders before you try to play it through–to preserve the effect of constant movement.

 

 

Red-back black widow spiders in Sharjah (UAE) and in Palos Verdes Estates, California (USA)

I will dedicate an entire section area to the category of spiders.  This is the first entry, in the category of spiders but it is not day #1 of the story.  I will write more on this topic.  I intend to write many stories about spiders and myself, the relationship of spiders with me and vice versa.  Stories that are emerging from my memory.

Tonight, I am thinking of the Red-back black widow spiders in Sharjah and in Palos Verdes Estates.

Today, at lunchtime, my daughter and I found one in the kitchen cupboard.  The one we found was identical in appearance with those shown below in these photographs, at least to my laymen’s eye:

In these photos, one of the three specimens is a female.  The female in one of these photos is a unique female variety because it does not have the red dot(s).  The other two specimens are male.  I applaud your scholarship if you figure out the differences in some visual way, if there any-I am not informed about spiders from any scientific way, and I am not a spider expert in any sense, but I recall that the female bite is much worse for humans than the male bite- Does the male bite?

This is the second one we have found recently, but the first one that was inside our house.  The main point is that we found one of these critters in a popular place in our kitchen where we definitely can not tolerate lethal spiders.  I’ll try to deconstruct my apparent pathological anxiety about poisonous forms of life that co-exist in my midst at some other time.

We found the spider in the cupboard above the sink.  This area is in constant use by the whole family all day and night. My daughter, Kacie, was the first to encounter it as she put cups away in the cupboard.  She screamed and jumped backwards.  I can not figure what this male would be seeking in our cupboard.  Solace? Alone time?  A bachelor pad? Hunting grounds for ?, how did it reach the cupboard—of course this is combined with all the rest of the concern about my youngest son, or my other family members, getting popped by one on the fingertip.  It’s says something about my inherent limits as a embracing tolerator of all forms of life, but the lethal spider expunges my hospitality.  Yes, I am larger than most spiders, probably all spiders, so what do I have to fear, but…well you know what I mean, they are deadly spiders.  More later…

Ernst Hess: A Jew like no other

This story oozes with potential as a dramatic feature film, Hollywood-style.  Maybe structured like the film, “Amadeus,” with Hess reminiscing and storytelling, covering the emotional, psychological, and historical gamut?

http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/07/world/europe/germany-hitler-reprieve/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

 

Poetry and fragrances in ol’ Araby and in all the lands of Islam

POETRY OF THE TALIBAN

I know that the Taliban are not necessarily Arabs, nor are they known for their poetic works, but this article sounds promising about a new book about the Poetry of the Taliban.

Read about the book, Poetry of the Taliban,  HERE

An interesting and important read. Salam

Verses of the Holy Q’uran are supremely poetic, but is it credible to argue that the  common Taliban warriors can express themselves in a poetic way?  hmm, maybe.  Sounds like an unlikely project, although its real.  I argue it’s also very important to acknowledge the humanity, creativity and potential good of our purported enemies.

I’ll let other scholars debate the research and the artistic value of poetic writings by Taliban warriors, but I do like the courage and creativity that was required for those scholars and journalists who are pursuing this kind of project—in this case, living and working in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

I recall so many instances of poetry in Arabic and the high value placed upon oratorical skill, but my sense memory of life in Islamic world also extends to fragrances.

Recalling the fragrances and olfactory dimension of life in the Islamic world—I recall with profound sensorial affection that flowers, wood, and saps–the sources of the wonderful fragrances, particularly in the Arab-Islamic world, and throughout many other parts of Asia–were the prize of my life in those years and in those places where I lived and worked.

ROSE OIL                                                                                                                   FRAGRANCE VENDOR in Dubai, or maybe it was Cairo.

I am particularly fond of the fragrant smoke and oils from wood chips.  This is a great article that provides an overview for understanding about “aoud.”

Read about auod here

 

Poetry and fragrances? am I crazy, what’s the connection?

Well, there is so much that is beautiful, timelessly universal, and worthy of attention–yet unrecognized or demonized or unknown in the West—residing in the sinewy fibre of Islamic culture(s), throughout its massive geographical spread.

Unfortunately, it seems that so many American folks (the untravelled majority in the USA) do not know much about actual people and their daily life in the Islamic world.

Poetry and fragrances are good tools for the West to use in the effort of humanizing and attaching greater empirical significance to the intrinsic wealth within the Islamic world’s vast area, with its ecological and cultural diversity, social complexity, and rich histories.   It is not a shocking secret or a newsworthy headline, but it is a fact, at least in qualitative terms that Americans know or care little about the rest of the world, particularly those uppity foreign zones of conflict.

Would you agree that a majority of Americans are pridefully myopic about world geography, history, and sociology?  There might not be overt or articulated acknowledgement that this is a fact, so all I can do is postulate here that the possibility is true.

The mainstream mantra that can easily be heard might be, “Why should I care about X (any place away from the center) when I am in the best place in the world right here (some vague notion of America)?!”  That would be the most common mantra by a member of the US public.  The “other” lives far away from me and us is strange and foreign and bad–that is the tautology and logic that I observe.

After more 20 years of residence, travel, and work in various parts of the Arabian peninsula and East Africa, and after 20 years of living and experiencing the cultures on the island of Mindanao, Philippines (where Arabic can be heard), and of careful and patient travel in other parts of south and southeast Asia—in contrast to my life and experiences in the USA–I observe  a mindset clouded by arrogant disregard, misunderstanding, and non-awareness, on both sides.

Sadly, the truth might be that a more defiant and intentional barrier exists here in the West, more so than in the East, presumably constructed to protect the OTHER from becoming human, logical, coherent, and near.

         

FRAGRANT FOREST

The poetic inclinations of the Arabic language, and in the other ancient languages found in the western half of Asia such as Pashtun, Urdu, Darii, and so many others are an unrecognized “good” not usually mentioned or cared about by folks in the West.  Also, to my ears the passion of chants in Binukid and the mountain peoples throughout Australasia sure do sound and present themselves to me as a aural reminder of ancient Vedic/Aryan epics.

Today, I am sure the gaps, ignorances, arrogance, and the rest of the bad things are equitably distributed to the fault of both sides; but the underlying and intentional poetic heard high and low throughout the Arabian peninsula and across much of south and southeast Asia, in many ancient languages, resonates for me like a lingering and valiant siren in my ears and memory.

I believe that research and the book about poetry by “Taliban” is a great starting point for mutual understanding, more meaningful dialogue, and peace.

Why are Job-creating Republicans so upset about Obamacare?

I have been trying to figure out, with some precision and specificity—Why so many Republican-Conservative-“job-creators” are so bug-eyed and frothing at the mouth about Affordable Health Care?  The months and years of simmering disdain have spiked upwards to a boiling point in the last 24 hours, exacerbated by the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that upheld the ACA’s constitutionality—but, what is the root of the anger against it?

I notice a lot of the outrage is rooted in the short-sighted notion that the government does not (and should not) have a moral, legal, or ethical duty to help common less-fortunate folks who cannot afford health insurance (or any other kinds of support?).  The logic of this position goes something like this–the government doesn’t help me (or you) to purchase a new laptop, a health club membership, or a trip to Palm Springs so why should the government be involved in helping folks to get medical coverage?   The job-creator believes that he/she worked his/her butt off to get what he/she have, so why should he/she help you, I, or anyone else?  Why should anyone care whether or not you or I have health insurance, or why should you care whether or not that I do or don’t?   It’s every man for himself in this cruel world, and to hell with this liberal mush of helping others–in their view.

I remember walking down a street late one night in the city of Copenhagen, Denmark.  It was probably in the late 1980s or early 1990s.  The storefronts were closed, it was cold, and the rain was falling.  I noticed many individuals and small groups of people huddled together under the storefront awnings as I walked down the street.  I suspected that many of these folks were homeless, using drugs, drinking out of a bottle, and were generally not doing so well.  I started worrying for my safety, reminded of similar places in New York City, LA, and elsewhere back home.  I imagined that some addict would approach me, try to rob me, and then slice me in the face.  I could see myself as some EU headline, “Lost and dumb American gets head thumped by heroin addicts.”  I darted into a small liquor store, escaping the rain, coldness, and my fear.  I asked the shopkeeper—“I notice a lot of homeless folks on the street and I wonder about my safety walking around here?”  He told me, “sure, those are drug addict lunatics but they are all registered as such with the government.  They get all the drugs they want and so they don’t need or want to rob you to get your $5.  They are content and will leave you alone.”  This was an eye-opening moment for me as I compared the reasonable fear and true level of terror that one can feel on some streets back home in similar situations, and the ramifications of social responsibility (or conversely, social irresponsibility).

From that walk on the street in Denmark, I recognized and integrated the facts that

1) taxes are high in Denmark

2) Danes get what they pay for because they get to walk the streets and not be in constant fear

3) In the USA, if one doesn’t want to pay for this benefit (taxes and other “help”) then your hometown is at risk of descending into lower depths, because we get what we pay for (or vice versa).

The theoretical commodification of health insurance extends to the point, articulated by Ronald Reagan, that poor people are poor because they don’t work hard enough to be rich; and conversely, rich people are rich because they work harder than those who are poor.  If poor folks can’t afford a commodity, any commodity–in this case, the commodity of health insurance–then they shouldn’t get it, period.  Worse yet, the government should NEVER be involved in the free market, in their view, so the compulsion by the government that folks be insured is immoral and horrible.  This is yet-another tautological quagmire that seems to pervade the job-creator’s mindset.  In this view, the market should decide how all commodities fare in the marketplace, including the commodity of health insurance.   If you can’t afford health insurance or don’t want it, then one should not be forced to buy it.  The folks that spout that position are likely to be well-protected with their own health insurance coverage and probably have never been without health insurance coverage for one day in their life, plus they apparently don’t see the systemic implications that are emerging in our society because the have-nots have much less than the haves and the haves don’t notice or care.  It’s a clear case of “I’m in the boat so let’s get going, Jack” and to hell with those who are not as fortunate as others who are fortunate.

For me and for us, Hooray for Affordable Health Care!

James Carville

In the past I didn’t understand Carville’s approach or persona; but in the last few years I have grown to greatly respect and enjoy his writing and sense of humor.  It’s a good read.

http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/14/opinion/carville-middle-class/index.html

The USA has formed a dangerously inequitable gap between the haves and the have nots, where the have nots are beginning to blame and attack each other instead of seeing the real problems and their causes.

Bela Bartok: Romanian Dances

There are many great and near-great performances of Bartok’s Romanian Dances, usually performed on violin or viola or cello with piano, or for piano solo too.  There is an orchestral version too.

I love this music and have played the viola and the violin versions myself with a lot of pleasure and some degree of success.

I have heard my friend, John Walz, the great cellist in Los Angeles, perform this piece on cello with guitarist, James Smith, in a 1983 recording.

However, I found this recording recently and found it unique in its stylistic approach–Gilles Apap on the violin with a small ensemble of Spanish guitar and upright bass.  Apap really bends the tempo and adds a country-load of glissandos and other effects, but all in all it’s a nice peformance.  I think that the upright bass really adds so much to this music and the ensemble’s performance.  Makes me want to wander the Romanian woods as a gypsy, looking for old world village life, ferocious and delirious music, and good yogurt.  Enjoy!

While you are in the mood for some old-world dance music from eastern Europe, try this one too (a short documentary about the music and musicians of Romania):

Alan Dershowitz: The antidote to circular logic

I am a big admirer of Alan Dershowitz, the renowned Harvard Professor, legal scholar, and advocate for justice.  F. Lee Bailey is right up there near the top of the list for the best, but Prof. Dershowitz gets my vote for #1.

Through the years he has (for me) represented the highest levels of critical thinking.  He has profound abilities to articulate  deep analysis of ideas, legal concepts, and notions of fairness.  Sure, I admit that I am a contrarian, deconstructionist, bleeding heart for the accused and the downtrodden, a lifelong liberal by nature, and a lover of the promise for due process under the law, but Prof. Dershowitz is for me a scholar and advocate that has opened my eyes, ears, and mind up to the less-than-obvious–but supremely important sides–to what might seem to be slam-dunk conclusion in many cases.  I recognize that he has riled up the feathers of many, some of whom threaten, castigate, and demean his character–but no one can credibly deny that he is a brilliant thinker with an important voice to be heard.   My opinion is that his critics are pale in the light of his genius, and so they shrink to name-calling, illogic, and mean-spirited threats.

I was reading about and watching a recent CNN interview with Prof. Dershowitz about the Sandusky case.

http://rss.cnn.com/~r/rss/cnn_freevideo/~3/XE4FOUFTPrs/

He described Sandusky’s defense team as “inept.”  I would really like to know the details of what he thinks could be (or could have been) done differently (and better?) by the Sandusky defense.  In my cursory following of the case, there is something seems fishy about the undercurrent of the investigation, the testimony, and the trial process.  I keep thinking of the McMartin case and how the accusers/prosecution ended up in a tautological quagmire and defeat.

I don’t want to defend Sandusky, especially after his guilty verdict last night (June 22),  but I do trust the skepticism of Prof. Dershowitz to at least question what has been going on.  If there is an appeal by Sandusky, I hope that Dershowitz will step in although I don’t know if that is in the cards.

Later, I found some other articles about the Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin case, especially the absurd threats by Prosecutor Corey to “sue” Dershowitz, Harvard, and anyone else who questions her approach and tactics.  Unlike the Sandusky example, his thoughts about the Corey-Zimmerman-Martin-Harvard exchange are crystal clear, right, and proper–as expressed in the link below-provided.   He writes clearly and succinctly.  Long live Dershowitz!

PS  It is amazing to me how he resembles Woody Allen, in a good way.  I hope that Woody uses Allen some day in a film.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alan-dershowitz/prosecutor-angela-corey-r_b_1571942.html

Our dangerous world: WWIII in Asia and Africa?

Please consider the following website:  http://www.foreignpolicy.com/failed_states_index_2012_interactive

I recall walking around the dusty villages of eastern/coastal Kenya in 1994.  I recall being in Bahrain, Kuwait, UAE, Oman, and being anchored off the coast of Somalia in 1994.  Back then, I sensed a tension, an underlying layer of dissent, fear, and anger in local communities.  During my work and visits over the subsequent 20 years to other places such as the Philippines, Thailand, India, Pakistan, Egypt, and others I can easily imagine and sense a clear potential for class conflict, civil war, and a possible descent into anarchy.  This statement applies in many of the Gulf and Indian Ocean (Africa and Asia) states that I was entering at that time and it remains true today.  These were places that were simmering and seemed ready to pop in 1994, comparable to what I imagine Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and other parts of SE Asia were like in the 1950s—and we all know what happened there a few years later.

In 2012, nearly twenty years after my trip to east Africa, south Asia, and southeast Asia when I look at the interactive map and do some reading in the news I am increasingly worried that the simmer has turned to a boil and that the whole of Asia and Africa could implode and spew, followed close behind by North America, South America, and Europe.   Obviously, I don’t sit around on my couch and fret about this every minute, but the underlying sense of inevitable doom seems more and more palpable these days.

On the website above-linked, the interactive map and list reveals to no one’s surprise that our world is in a precarious state, with lots of dangers and so many zones of conflict.  There are no big surprises on the map, except that one could note that almost all of Asia (with the exception of a few states like Japan, South Korea, and UAE are indicated as stable) and a small area of Africa are categorized as “borderline” (S Africa), while the rest of that continent is listed as in danger or already gone into the abyss.  Wouldn’t that vast area constitute 2/3 of the world’s population?  2/3 of the world’s population living in a state of danger or worse?

Of course, there are always pockets of tranquility and bastions of logic, peace, and good will no matter where one goes…even in the “red” zones…but I wonder if this map is foretelling a major meltdown conflict in Asia’s and Africa’s future…an Indian Ocean-based Asia-Africa WWIII?

Lawsuit against LAUSD could shake up how CA evaluates teachers

Poor test results by students?  Blame the teacher!  This is an increasingly common presumption and accusation.  But, blaming the teacher for the ills and failures in student test scores is a fallacy.  To blame teachers when parents are remiss or entirely absent from the quotient is shameful.

SEE: http://capoliticalnews.com/2012/01/20/lawsuit-against-lausd-could-shake-up-how-ca-evaluates-teachers/#comment-66829

I agree that student success with the various tests is an important concern.  But it is overly-simplistic to dump all the blame for poor test results on teachers.  As the previous comment mentions, there is a long term legacy of problems in k-12 education that feed into poor test results, and this blame doesn’t only rest with bad teachers (however “bad” may be construed). Where are parents in this quagmire? In my view, many or perhaps most parents are missing in action–then voicing blame upon teachers for what parents are unable to provide for their own children.

As a teacher, I see parents who are nearly or fully disengaged with student learning at school, expecting the school/teacher to be an all-inclusive magic making problem-solver and baby sitter.  I see parents who think their end of the bargain in free public education can be assigned to someone else and goes no further than dropping the child off at school and then driving away.

Many parents pay lip service to the importance of education and test results but do very little ensure that success can happen.  They have little engagement with the daily work of children, at school or in the daily homework–and certainly not in test preparations.  Learning for children should be a holistic activity with parents, teachers, the school itself and the child involved as one. The problem of poor test results is the also the result of insufficient parental involvement–this is at least as much of an explanation as poor teaching.

Parents—get more involved in the daily work of your child and you will surely see improved test results in the classroom!

A Romney-Palin ticket? Tell me it’s true!

A Romney-Palin ticket in ’12?  Sarah Palin for VP?  I couldn’t stop laughing, in between my gasps for air, when I read this article.  Yeah baby, bring ’em on.

 

 

http://news.yahoo.com/sarah-palin-vice-president-again-205900862.html

 

I am all for a Romney-Palin ticket because it is the best and surest possible way to ensure an Obama victory.  It would be mayhem and torture to the mind as the illogic and inanity of both of ’em would be hitting the fan on an hourly basis.  Those two would be sticking their feet into each other’s mouths over and over again and all Obama would have to do is pull up a chair and watch it play out.  This can’t be good for the country, having such duplicitous air-heads vying for supreme leadership, but it’s true.   I can’t believe that Romney could possibly be so dumb as to accept take the bait and bring Palin on board, or could he?

Is a work of Art (and/or the process of making Art by an Artist) a form of scholarship and scholarly research?

The short response to the question is “yes, sometimes.”  When an artist is able to reflect, articulate, and contextualize their art work, then “yes, work in Art is a a form of scholarship and scholarly research.”  However, wait, not so fast.  It’s not that easy.  The question is either hotly debated or flippantly dismissed.

The depth, scope, and nature of work being done by artists, including those artists who are teaching in academic settings, compel the question to be repeated, albeit somewhat differently and more generally, “what constitutes scholarship and scholarly research?”  Myself, as a teacher, filmmaker, and writer, I advocate for a new paradigm about the scope and nature of scholarship and scholarly research.  In my blog, I plan to explore this question and many other questions concerning creativity, teaching, paradigmatic issues affecting teachers, alternative approaches to learning and expression, and other matters of theoretical and practical importance that are relevant to teachers, artists, students, and academic administrators. It is my intention to write and facilitate a first step in a process of critical analysis, dialogue, and change, not to pontificate with singular, final answers that attempt to end the debate.

In response to the initial question that I have posed–is work in Art a form of scholarship and scholarly research?—I imagine there are scientists and other advocates of convention and status quo in academic settings who are shuddering in horror at the thought that a work of Art could be considered as a form of scholarship and/or scholarly research.  The conventional view considers Art and works of Art as residing in opposition to the priorities of science and scientific research, and in direct contradiction to the scientific method.  The conventional view is that Art and works of Art are emergent from personal, inherently ambiguous, and relatively unscientific roots; and are situated outside and in contrast (in opposition?) to conventional forms of scholarship and scholarly research. The conventional paradigm that dominates higher education settings narrowly insists upon text publication and the verification of results as the only measures of what constitutes scholarship and scholarly research.  Meaningful discussion about Art and works of Art being considered as a form of scholarship will be met with resistance by advocates of convention and the status quo.

Art and works of Art involve the theoretical study and practical application of skills and knowledge in painting, drawing, filmmaking, musicology and musicianship, photography, theater, sculpture, architecture, digital media, printmaking, creative writing in many forms, and many other areas of creative scholarship.  Works of Art that emerge from those areas can reasonably be described as a form of praxis, an integration of theory and practice.

An artistic work is distinct from conventional forms of scholarship and scholarly work (for example, in the sciences) because it does not necessarily follow a pre-determined process nor does it necessarily adhere to expectations about final output.  A work of Art is also not dependant upon verification as a measure of its value.  Art and works of Art will usually prioritize self, in contrast to scholarship and scholarly work that follows the conventions of scientism.  There will inevitably be some folks who may like or understand or value a particular work of Art, and there will certainly be some who may not.

Consensus of opinion and verifiability of the final result are not necessarily prioritized in Art or in work by artists.  A work of Art does emerge from some form of personal inquiry by the artist, and is mostly concerned with the creative application and integration of techniques, self-reflection, and personal knowledge.

Work output in the Arts is done in the pursuit of creative and innovative expression of ideas, emotions, and intentions that cannot be conveyed through conventional or everyday language.

Critical thought and new conceptual notions about alternative forms scholarship and scholarly research are emerging worldwide, throughout many corners of academe, and this action will revitalize, inform, and contribute to greater knowledge and understanding in all fields of study.

If a diverse research environment and holistic paradigm will be encouraged throughout institutions of higher learning, then conventional researchers in the sciences could find themselves to be inspired, informed, and empowered to work more creatively, and perhaps collaboratively, in the pursuit of alternative paths. In this way, innovative or alternative forms of scholarship and scholarly research could emerge and resonate meaningfully, as new works of knowledge.  The initial goal is to establish a confident, respected place for Art and Art-based knowing alongside conventional notions of scholarship and scholarly research, with the inclusion of Art and the making of Art by teachers and other colleagues who co-exist in the ivory towers of academic institutions.

Beautiful Kabul, with snow

Kabul and Afghanistan, in general, are very beautiful places to visually SEE and experience, although it is true that its aesthetic beauty is trumped by a dark reality of death and suffering.

There a lot of ways to die in Afghanistan and this fact is present everywhere, all around you.

With this photo of Kabul I can see a tantalizing snippet of what it must look like there in the wintertime.  I am sure it is a bitter cold, day and night, one that poses an even greater challenge to daily life of common folks.  But there must also be a quiet calm and a sense of possible renewal underneath that carpet of iciness.  I wonder what common folks use for heating their mud-walled abodes?  I doubt it is wood, certainly not for the poorest folks, and charcoal would have to be trucked in from afar—dung?  One thing is true–nothing in this life comes easy for Afghanis in today’s Afghanistan.

I have only been to Kabul on one occasion, during Fall 2007 (on a project with Roots of Peace, a California-based NGO that does great work worldwide—http://www.rootsofpeace.org).  Although things did not turn out as we hoped on that trip, at least that trip gave me some great memories and some great HDV footage that has yet to be properly used or edited.

There are vast areas of waving green flags.  These flags are more like limp strips of cloth, but one sees them all over Kabul and Afghanistan.  As it was told to me, those flags represent the place where someone had been killed or somehow met death.  It is an eery sight, particularly with the sunlight glistening on the golden hills in the background.  In my mind, ensconced somewhere in my heart, is my recall that Kabul and its surrounding valley areas are blessed places with California-like hills.

I recall villages and simple homes with mud walls, people with ancient faces, and a sense that life there was beginning, or at least re-emerging from ancient days, not ending in the mayhem of the present day.

In some cases the only evidence of 20th century modernity in the rural areas would be a glass window, otherwise the house and walled compound could have been similar to what I imagine housing structures might have been ike in centuries long past.

In the city of Kabul, I recall submerged and retreating examples of architecture from its glorious colonial past, illuminated brilliantly by an absolutely exceptional quality of sunlight.  I saw communities of impoverished yet sturdy individuals struggling to survive under the harshest of conditions, living amongst unknown, sad pastures of death–there were land mines planted in the burial grounds, in cherry tree orchards, at the river banks where families receive their water.

In Afghanistan, I had   the MOST delicious pomegranate berries imaginable.  I also enjoyed an abundance of grapes and other fruits, but the pomegranates were by far the best I have ever tasted in my entire life-I gobbled those rosy-red berries as if my body yearned and found its missing nutritional benefit for years.  Being landlocked and mired in mayhem it is difficult to see how those fruits can find a way to distant markets in Mumbai or Dubai or Riyadh or even Singapore, but I pray that somehow prosperity can return to Afghanistan.  Iran and Pakistan have good quality fruits and vegetables too and those are making it outside to regional markets in the Gulf and beyond, but the fruits I had in Afghanistan were magically great–and those countries have seaports!

But, back to the initial point, the radiant sunlight and the astonishing magic hours that I saw in Kabul were very close in scope and nature to some of the best magic hour moments I have savored in California–natural marigold light and long shadows.  Luckily, I was there with camera in hand and I still have the HDV footage that went unwanted by the client who sent me there.

Joni Mitchell, “The Circle Game”

 

I admit it—I have always been in love with Joni Mitchell.  Of course, I have never met her but I know I would love her more if I ever did.  I do know that I love so many of the songs she has written and recorded, and the way she plays and tunes the acoustic steel-string guitar, and the sound of her voice.  Of course, I also love her beauty–and wow! Oh YEAH, and her paintings too!  What a woman!

I was searching for a very nice live performance combo of “The Circle Game”  and found this combo video of “Both Sides Now” and “The Circle Game.”  I thought it was useful from a guitar-player’s POV so i could see the chords, fingerings, and presumed tunings she used.

I have always dreamed that she and Richie Havens would perform together and make a music video of The Circle Game.  Sounds like my next project as a Producer—-Music for TV.

Enjoy:

 

This link is good too:

“Harvest” by Neil Young

Harvest—-A most enchanting song, “Harvest” by Neil Young.  It keeps circling around in my head and heart.  Sure, it’s not the only song that does that to me, but it is one of the best ones lately.

Find the song here:

I encourage to listen to the audio, sing out loud while reading the lyrics (below), and enjoy the feeling that follows. 

“Harvest” (Neil Young)

Did I see you down in a young girl’s town

With your mother in so much pain?

I was almost there at the top of the stairs

With her screamin’ in the rain.

Did she wake you up to tell you that

It was only a change of plan?

Dream up, dream up, let me fill your cup

With the promise of a man.

Did I see you walking with the boys

Though it was not hand in hand?

And was some black face in a lonely place

When you could understand?

Did she wake you up to tell you that

It was only a change of plan?

Dream up, dream up, let me fill your cup

With the promise of a man.

Will I see you give more than I can take?

Will I only harvest some?

As the days fly past will we lose our grasp

Or fuse it in the sun?

Did she wake you up to tell you that

It was only a change of plan?

Dream up, dream up, let me fill your cup

With the promise of a man.

English as the “official language” in the USA? WTF?!

Those who ignore history and doomed to repeat that history.

In this case, the repeat is more like deja vu all over again—The hydra-headed beast that is called the 2012 Republican candidates (I can’t seem to distinguish that group with the GOP moniker) is forcing the world around them to relive the sufferingly old debate about English as the official language in the USA>  This is like a rerun screening of a very bad film in a  dilapidated drive-in with the smoke-belching engine running and running.  This is a group that pretends to “know,” but in fact seem to know nothing about lessons from the past.

Submitted: EVIDENCE of research problem (Old and tired and dismissed argumentation about English as an official language is making a comeback, like a flu that didn’t go away…

Perry supports English as official language in US

By Philip Elliott

http://www.boston.com/news/politics/articles/2011/12/30/perry_supports_english_as_official_language_in_us/

I am not sure why I was inclined to insert an image of Churchill here, but it’s probably because I believe this quote is attributed to him and it seems appropriate support for my counter-argument—-those who ignore history and doomed to repeat that history (Churchill?)

In my view, English as an official language relies upon a tired, nauseatingly arrogant, and tediously-myopic assumption that an “official language” is somehow needed in this country, and that the official language needs to be ENGLISH.  The possibilities are frightening, yet laughable.  It is goofy and a waste of time that this debate is making a comeback.

Obama’s triggers for bombing Iran

A military skirmish or war would be a horrid turn of events, in my view.

The US (its government and the general majority of its population) is truly ignorant and arrogant about Iran and most of what Iran represents.  In this sense I am referring to the cultural history of Iran, and Islamic belief as practiced in Iran.  The militarization and subsequent marginalization of the Islamic Republic in Iran by the “West” is troubling no matter how one is positioned.  But–With troops out of Iraq and a proposed decrease of troop presence in Afghanistan then will the voracious war beast advocates in the USA will be able to satisfy their blood lust in Iran?

I hope that all of the story (link below) is proven to be moot and not a true picture of the future.  For me, it is worth noting what are the “red lines” fro the US POV (I do not know what are the Israeli’s red lines, if any) and watching and hoping that there are no perceived Iranian “breaches” of any kind.  The bad news is that it seems that minds in Washington are already made up and the decision has been made.  They are just waiting for the line to be crossed.

Here is a very interesting article that speculates about future scenarios where the US is bombing Iran:

http://news.yahoo.com/obamas-triggers-bombing-iran-094500919.html

Banks and Business license fees in Torrance

Why are banks allowed an exemption from paying a business license fee in the city of Torrance, California?  As I have pursued an answer to this question I have learned that banks are also exempt from business license fees in many cities throughout Los Angeles county, and probably beyond.  Why?  I have not found any clear, logical, or acceptable explanation so far.  I welcome an explanation that makes sense, no matter how egregiously unfair.  The problem is that no one seems to really know when this cozy deal was made, why it was made, or why it is continuing.  I suppose it has to do with some broken promise about banks equating with prosperity and easier access to credit for small businesses and homeowners.  But, by the looks of today’s news and the dismal economic situation for the majority, including those in the city of Torrance, any promise by Banks that a good deal will follow from such an exemption is a lie.

I ask for any reasonable explanation for this glaringly suspicious deal that benefits banks but no others—especially now when municipalities are crying and cutting because they complain about empty coffers.  Further, how many other mega-corporate “job creators” are enjoying cozy yet unspoken deals with cities, counties, states, or the federal government?

Inequality and unfairness in higher education salaries

I am probably opening a can of worms for myself by writing about matters that require a revolution before real change can occur–but I feel compelled and clear that I want and need to write.

I have been in the process of seeking and applying for gainful employment in the Los Angeles area.  I feel capable of meeting greater challenges as a professional in my field(s) of expertise but also feel under-employed at this time.  I am not ashamed to write this but I am stunned by the reality of what I face in this journey.

One area of professional experience that I have is in teaching, mostly in higher education settings although I have also worked as a teacher in high schools and middle schools too.  When I peruse the relatively few jobs that are available in my field (film/digital media production, mass communications, etc) I notice that the pay scales range from about $50K per annum to $80K (or less) per annum. The jobs have rigorous expectations in the application process and for the scope and nature of professional, creative and other experience for each applicant.  That part is OK with me, and I feel that my experience and education exceed the published expectations for a teaching job.  However, when I go to job openings at the same institutions in administration (deans, associate deans, others) I notice that the pay range that is indicated is significantly higher–starting around 70K and ranging up to the mid $100s, sometimes as high as $170,000 per annum.  Why is there such a discrepancy in the pay scale between faculty and administration?  Are administrators smarter?  Do they do a much more difficult job?  Do they deserve an extra $100,000 for their job, in comparison with a faculty member?  I think not and I think this is yet one more indication of rampant inequity, unfairness, and near-exploitation in the workplace.

Revolution, or at least the obvious need for revolution is necessary but I fear that Americans and others have forgotten the importance and role of dissent in a democracy.  The dissenting voice has been marginalized by hegemonic forces in the mainstream, with oppressed masses trudging through the much while hypnotized to believe that dissent is wrong.

Six Waltons have more wealth than bottom 30%

I recently read with great interest an online Forbes article titled, “Six Waltons have more wealth than bottom 30%.”

Sadly, I found this article to be a typical example of “blame the victim” although the victim is the 30% and not the Waltons.  As you probably know, the Waltons are the ultra-rich founding family of the retail behemoth, Wal-Mart.

I had hoped that the author, Tim Worstall, would have taken a much different POV in this article.  He seems to avoid, dismiss, or ignore the most blatantly obvious point that was never made— income inequality and the disproportionate wealth enjoyed by a tiny few has reached a hideously and dangerously unfair level.  Period.

This story, and so many more like, tells us about 6 folks who are ridiculously rich while a huge number of people (their customers?) suffer on a daily basis.  The Waltons, just like any other member of the elite 1% use the political and legal mechanisms of police protection, inheritance, and lobbying to insulate massive amounts of wealth for themselves.  These folks have more “wealth” than 90-100 million folks.  This is not a word game, nor is it something to be abstractly obfuscated.  This is only one story of many, yet it is one more example of the absurd injustice that occurs daily in the USA.  Folks are in pain, in fear, and with no hope.  That is the fact, while others have nearly all of the wealth and the power to keep and horde that wealth.  The writer of this article seems to whitewash the problem of wealth and income disparity entirely, only to take the ultra-conservative (most common to talk-radio) approach by questioning whether or not the poor folks on the wrong end of this equation are really suffering or really poor at all.  Skewing the discussion in a way that casts doubt on the poor, on the unemployed, or the ex-middle class who now find themselves to be welfare recipients (those tricky rascals!) is a shrewd move to deflect our attention from the real issue —that we are oppressed by a system of economic and social injustice in the USA.  To blame the victim is a typical tactic that protects the oligarch and the tyrant from accountability.  The working poor or the poor of any kind or description are not the problem.  The problem rests entirely within a system that protects the few while marginalizing the majority.  Opportunities are scare or bleak at best, contrary to the Reaganite mythology that we are fed by the mainstream media.  Stay in line, shut up, and like it is the mantra that is expected of workers in this society.  It is amazing to me how docile and blank we are in the face of such a lopsided and unfair deal.

The article can be accessed at: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/six-waltons-more-wealth-bottom-172819426.html

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