You are browsing the archive for 2014 November 28.

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What People Abroad Really Think of Americans

November 28, 2014 in Blogs

By Bess Rattray, Salon

Living in a small Canadian town taught me the near-obsession of outsiders' scorn. Finally, I'm ready to push back.

We litter. We are loud. We are fat. We eat standing up. We drive aggressively. We don’t make eye contact. We don’t open doors for people. We rush. We are rude to wait staff in restaurants. We are prone to domestic violence. We are spoiling for a fight. We put our nose into others’ business. We are sanctimonious. We think we won the War of 1812. We manufacture bad cars, brew bad beer and eat flavorless potato chips. We won’t stop waving the flag. We are bad sports, especially during the Olympics. We think we are the center of the universe, and that money entitles us to everything. But the worst of our sins? We brag—nonstop.

These are just a few of the charms of Americans, according to my friends and neighbors just north of the border. It’s been five years since I married a boat builder and moved from New York City to a tiny, briny town on Nova Scotia’s lobster coast, and for five years I have gritted my teeth and smothered my indignation.

I hear these kinds of extempore critiques constantly—in jests and jibes, in casual conversations at the hair salon, the bookstore, the coffee shop, the day-care walkathon. My Nova Scotian friends and neighbors are not at all shy about sharing their observations and opinions with me, even though they know perfectly well that I am the devil that lives among them. They seem to enjoy it, in fact. They get a twinkle in their eye.

A few weeks ago, at a bachelorette party, I asked a few of my fellow townsfolk to share any further attributes they don’t like about Americans—“Come on! Don’t be shy”—and they were only too delighted to lengthen the list: Our schools are no good; we don’t know how to dress for cold weather; we are incapable of laughing at ourselves; our smiles look fake …

This is the boondocks—proudly so—and in the boondocks, if you want to know what’s on everyone’s mind, you go on …read more


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DON JON (a libertarian take on sex addiction and the media)

November 28, 2014 in Blogs

By Political Zach Foster

Troubled actor tells “Dazed” magazine, a woman whipped, stripped and raped him.

The actor Shia LaBeouf has claimed a woman raped him during the performance of his one-man art piece #IAMSORRY earlier this year.

Speaking to Dazed magazine in an email interview, he wrote: “One woman who came with her boyfriend, who was outside the door when this happened, whipped my legs for 10 minutes and then stripped my clothing and proceeded to rape me.”

#IAMSORRY consisted of LaBeouf sitting silently with a paper bag on his head, bearing the legend “I am not famous anymore” – members of the public queued to be able to sit in front of him in the one-on-one piece. It ran for five days in February at a Los Angeles gallery.

LaBeouf said that news of the incident “travelled through the line” of people waiting, and reached LaBeouf’s girlfriend. “When she came in she asked for an explanation, and I couldn’t speak, so we both sat with this unexplained trauma silently. It was painful.”

The piece was part of a wider series of performance art events by the actor, triggered by what he calls a “genuine existential crisis” after he was accused of plagiarism when he lifted portions of a Daniel Clowes short story for a film he was working on. LaBeouf wrote streams of bizarre tweets, quoting notorious apologies from famous individuals, and hired a skywriting plane to etch an apology across the Los Angeles sky. He also wore a paper bag to the Berlin premiere of Lars Von Trier’s film Nymphomaniac, and said he would be retiring from all public life.

In the Dazed interview, LaBeouf seems to regret some of these responses, saying: “I am a deeply ironic, cynical person. I was raised on The Simpsons and South Park, it’s my default setting… [our generation] want to change things, we want to have hope, we just don’t know how or where to look.”

Of the assertion he would withdraw from public …read more


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Watch a Home-Schooler Mom Go Through a Science Museum and Destroy Evolution

November 28, 2014 in Blogs

By David Ferguson, Raw Story

At one point, she argues that evidence of the existence of dragons exists, but that liberals and scientists are covering it up.

In the video embedded below, fundamentalist Christian home-school mom and conservative cultural critic Megan Fox — no relation to “Transformers” actress Megan Fox — visits the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago and purports to “audit” the museum for its “liberal bias.”

In the description of the 30 minute video she uploaded to YouTube to document the visit, Fox wrote, “In November 2014, Megan Fox toured the Field Museum’s ‘Evolving Earth’ exhibit to audit it for bias. She found many examples of inconsistencies and the Field Museum’s insistence that people support opinion as fact without proof. The Field Museum pushes certain theories as if they are absolute proven law when that is not how the scientific method works.”

Dangerous Minds wrote, “(S)he’s an idiot, she homeschools her kids and she’s a fucking dingbat with her own YouTube channel so she can inflict her low IQ buffoonery on everyone else.”

In the video’s opening moments, Fox is reading a display regarding the evolution of eukaryotes — which she has to ask her camera operator how to pronounce — simple, microscopic animals that first evolved as single-cell life forms, but which became multicellular, beginning the diversification that would lead to complex life forms.

“‘At first, many eukaryotes were single-celled, and many still are today,’” Fox reads from the display before scoffing. “What? If many still are today, then that would support the theory that they have never changed, that they have always been as they are today, not that they started someplace else and then are here, but they were always this and still are today.”

Regarding what paleontologists have said about the first animals to make the transition from life in the water to life on land, Fox says this is impossible. God made the creatures of the water to live in the water and the creatures of the land to live in the land, which is why fish have fins and people have feet.

“It’s not like their fins fell off …read more


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Following Death Threat, Students Defend Food Stand that Celebrates Palestinian Culture

November 28, 2014 in Blogs

By Mary Hansen, YES! Magazine

Conflict Kitchen serves up food from countries in conflict with the United States.

In front of the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning, students gather around metal tables and chairs next to a small, brightly colored building. It houses Conflict Kitchen, an unusual restaurant that features food from conflict zones. Employees in scrubs from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center hustle by its counter to get lunch before rushing back to the hospital just blocks away.

Conflict Kitchen offers a rotating menu of traditional foods from countries the United States is in conflict with. The goal, says Jon Rubin, co-director of the takeout restaurant, is to encourage a different kind of dialogue about places like Iran, Venezuela, and Afghanistan, one that counters negative depictions of those places and their people.

“Food is the easiest way to enter into understanding, or look into another culture,” Rubin said. “Food has all the stories of a region, a people, a culture embedded in it. You are tasting these things before you even think about these things.”

That message seems to be getting through to the restaurant’s customers.

“When I first came to Pitt last year, they were serving Cuban food,” says University of Pittsburgh senior Hadeel Salameh. “I thought it was a really unique way to portray dialogue and coexistence on campus, and let people know about the ongoing struggles of others around the world, or people that we perceive as others.”

Salameh is the president of the University of Pittsburgh’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. When Conflict Kitchen started planning a Palestinian menu, she and other members of the group offered to support the effort in any way they could.

They served as taste testers, volunteered to be interviewed about Palestinian food, culture, and politics and to be featured on the food wrappers, and attended a couple of events hosted by Conflict Kitchen with others from Pittsburgh’s Palestinian community.

“For me, as a Palestinian, it has been a home away from home,” Salameh said. “It tastes like Palestine.”

So, when on November 7 Conflict Kitchen announced on its Facebook page that it was closing temporarily due …read more