Is the USA "an empire in denial?"
"The United States is a 'danger to the world' because of its denial that it is a military and economic empire, according to Niall Ferguson, historian and new-found darling of the American right."
posted by Blue Stone
on Jun 2, 2003 -
MS Chat and the US Army
Although a very interesting article on the logistics behind networking an entire battlefield - this bit worried me slightly:-
"What's funny about using Microsoft Chat," he adds with a sly smile, "is that everybody has to choosean icon to represent themselves. Some of these guys haven't bothered, so the program assigns them one. We'll be in the middle of a battle and a bunch of field artillery colonels will come online in the form of these big-breasted blondes. We've got a few space aliens, too."
posted by robzster1977
on May 21, 2003 -
The Shallowing of American Taste
First tastebuds and palates fall to McDonalds, now the eyes, ears, and minds fall to Wal-Mart, according to this NY Times article (free registration required)...
"The growing clout of Wal-Mart and the other big discount chains ? they now often account for more than 50 percent of the sales of a best-selling album, more than 40 percent for a best-selling book, and more than 60 percent for a best-selling DVD -- has bent American popular culture toward the tastes of their relatively traditionalist customers...But with the chains' power has come criticism from authors, musicians and civil liberties groups who argue that the stores are in effect censoring and homogenizing popular culture. The discounters and price clubs typically carry an assortment of fewer than a thousand books, videos and albums, and they are far more ruthless than specialized stores about returning goods if they fail to meet a minimum threshold of weekly sales."
Add in Clear Channel Radio and sanitized text books, and all I can say is that the internet has come along at the time it's needed. With the fingers of big commerce all over our culture, the web can serve to reverse an old mega-trend to "high-touch, high-tech." With Wal-Mart, et al, touching our minds, we need to resort to tech to add some depth and breath to their narrow and shallow offerings.
posted by fpatrick
on May 17, 2003 -
Well, you've got to figure they'll reject way more photos than they'll accept, but I for one am looking forward to the opportunity to be included in one of those fancy thick "A Day In The Life" coffee table books. The project starts on Monday and only lasts for seven days, so make sure to take some time out of MatrixWeek to look at the world around you -- in all it's mundane glory -- and click, click, click away.
posted by RKB
on May 7, 2003 -
- Does Frontier Psychology drive America in a direction that the rest of the world cannot comprehend? Roughly defined as "the effort on the part of Americans to come to grips with untamed elements of nature and, by taming them, to reorganize their society
" We see it everywhere, even in Buffy
. Europe appears to value stability over mobility and change, in opposition to America. Prof. Richard Slotkin
has written extensively about these concepts. An interiew with audio clips is here
Are America's recent domestic and international policy decisions attempts to tame "untamed elements" around it?
posted by Argyle
on Apr 30, 2003 -
Library of Congress celebrates its 202nd birthday
. Today, the Library of Congress celebrates its 202nd birthday. On April 24, 1800, President John Adams approved the appropriation of $5,000 for the purchase of "such books as may be necessary for the use of congress."
The books, the first purchased for the Library of Congress, were ordered from London and arrived in 1801. The collection of 740 volumes and three maps was stored in the U.S. Capitol, the Library's first home. President Thomas Jefferson approved the first legislation defining the role and functions of the new institution on January 26, 1802.
Check out, Jefferson's Legacy: A Brief History of the Library of Congress
and a Concordance of Images
posted by Blake
on Apr 24, 2003 -
I like it when Chinese pigs say "hu-lu hu-lu
," it's so exotic. Stupid American pigs just say oink. Also, horses in Thailand say "hee hee (with high tone)"!! How cool is it that, first, they even HAVE horses in Thailand, and second, that they sound like Betty Boop?
posted by luser
on Apr 22, 2003 -
U.S. loses faith in Canada
"We would be there for Canada, part of our family. And that is why so many in the United States are disappointed and upset that Canada is not fully supporting us now," says Paul Cellucci, U.S. ambassador to Canada. As pro-US sentiments from prominent Canadian figures are harshly criticized while blatant (and rather tasteless) anti-US remarks go more or less ignored by the government, has the relationship with our longtime friends up north been irreversibly soured?
posted by swank6
on Mar 30, 2003 -
with your pork
sir? as we head to war, here's some alarming data on america's own stash of undestroyed chemical weapons as well as the phenomenal return on investment for deep-pocket GOP campaign contributors.
posted by subpixel
on Mar 17, 2003 -
“Class warfare turns out to be alive,”
Center director Robert Greenstein commented. “It is a centerpiece of the Nussle budget, with deep budget cuts that could harshly affect the poor, the vulnerable, and many middle-class Americans, alongside lavish tax cuts for the nation’s richest individuals. With this budget, we would be marching down the path toward a new Gilded Age.”
“The Nussle budget serves one very useful purpose.” Greenstein added. “It shows that these large tax cuts aren’t free, and that at bottom, the issue is one of national priorities. This ought to trigger a national debate. Are tax cuts averaging $90,000 a year for millionaires so high a priority that we should cut health care programs, increase the ranks of the uninsured, reduce the cost or limit the availability of student loans, and increase hardship among the disabled, poor children, and others to free up room for massive tax cuts?”
Possible Other Titles
Why is this rain yellow? or Hey, GWBush, self-appointed one of God, WWJD?
posted by nofundy
on Mar 13, 2003 -
Intellectual Dishonesty Intellectual dishonesty is pure poison to the enterprise of the law. Yet countless examples show intellectual dishonesty has now become a routine, expected part of American discourse. The most obvious half-truths and hypocrisies are greeted with shrugged shoulders and a grunt of "what did you expect?"
Is the ultimate goal more important than truth, honesty, integrity and "playing by the rules?" Or, put another way, does the end satisfy the means? "Restoring honor and integrity" would indicate not.
posted by nofundy
on Mar 6, 2003 -
America and England: Separated By Humor?
"This laughter gulf between two otherwise co-dependent cultures should not be thought surprising. The two most fundamental aspects of comedy are observation and speech rhythms and these are necessarily subject to local variation. The point has often been made that British jokes derive most often from class and puns, while US humour is rooted in gags." While talk show host Ruby Wax claims
"If your language consists of little more than guttural grunts and cherry pie, you can't be blamed for not getting it." Is it any wonder her little show
tanked so fast?
posted by owillis
on Feb 25, 2003 -
anyone been to safer america
to stock up on tin foil hats or mustard gas spit shields?
is it strange to capitalize on paranoia like this, or to open flag shops after sept. 11th?
joking aside, any reports from the store from new yawkers?
posted by asparagus_berlin
on Feb 20, 2003 -
to what some anti-war protesters had to say this weekend about possible war with Iraq. Quicktime required.
posted by Ron
on Feb 19, 2003 -
America, America: I too love jeans and jazz and Treasure Island.
A poem from Saadi Youssef, published in this Saturday's Guardian (scroll down past Seamus Heaney):
Take what you do not have
and give us what we have.
Take the stripes of your flag
and give us the stars.
Take the Afghani Mujahideen beard
and give us Walt Whitman's beard filled with
Take Saddam Hussein
and give us Abraham Lincoln
or give us no one.
was born in 1934 near Basra, Iraq. He is considered to be among the greatest living Arab poets. Youssef has published 25 volumes of poetry, a book of short stories, a novel, four volumes of essays, a memoir, and numerous translations. In addition to being imprisoned for his poetry and politics, he has won numerous literary awards and recognitions. He now lives in London. [more inside]
posted by jokeefe
on Feb 14, 2003 -
Decoding Anti-Europeanism In America:
Although European anti-Americanism focuses on one country, with one government and one foreign policy (the U.S.), growing American (i.e. U.S.) anti-Europeanism seems to conflate dozens of separate and disparate countries, governments and foreign policies into one abstract entity, "Europe", which doesn't really exist as such. Or exists just as much as "America", North and South, Central and Carribean does. So what the hell is up? What terrible confusion of categories is clogging up Western political communications? [More inside.
posted by MiguelCardoso
on Jan 29, 2003 -
I'm mo' "meta" than you!
This USA Today puff piece is claiming that "meta" is the new "cool." What are your thoughts on this? Do any of you use "meta" in conversation or writing without a noun following it? (when you're not referring to the abbreviation for MetaTalk, obviously...)
posted by popvulture
on Jan 28, 2003 -
From a European Perspective
"President Bush recently declared that the U.S. was "the single surviving model of human progress." Maybe some Americans think this self-evident, but the rest of us see it as a clumsy arrogance born of ignorance. "
Is this something many Americans need to hear but don't want to listen? Personally I appreciated Mr. Eno's honest and candid observations. And no, I don't think he hates America.
posted by nofundy
on Jan 23, 2003 -
American Peace Homepage.
"While most people, including most Americans, tend to believe that the United States has largely been a peaceful country until recently, in reality nothing could be further from the truth. Actually, the United States has been engaged in military operations for most of this country's history. Of all the things the United States can claim, it certainly has no claim to being a 'peace loving' country. [Visit this site to see] a table containing every year, from 1776 to the present - all of US history. Just click on the year to see who US troops were killing, or threatening to kill, in that year."
posted by Joey Michaels
on Jan 16, 2003 -
Is Gavin Menzies
the Stephen Wolfram of history? That's the question today's New York Times
, pw: mabuse
) suggests in a Menzies profile. Menzies has a new book out, 1421
, which claims that the Chinese discovered America seven decades before Columbus did. Some people
have made similarly precise claims about this planet's developments. Others
have seen their amateur claims initially mocked and later proven to be correct. Is Menzies onto something or is he a crank? And how do we place the passionate amateur within the realm of scholarly pursuits?
posted by ed
on Jan 5, 2003 -
UN warns food aid to N Korea is drying up
7 million North Koreans face starvation. You are the American president. What do you suggest be done? (note: America was the biggest supplier of food till recently.)
Do you tell them No food till you give up nukes or do you feed them what you can and try to negotiate? Or do you sit back and say: not my problem.
posted by Postroad
on Jan 4, 2003 -
Will 2003 Be The Year Of Real Espresso In America?
With the wealth of good machines
, fresh coffee beans
and online knowledge
, not to mention tempting offers like Illy's subscription
(though the pods turn out expensive in the end, it allows absolute beginners to make acceptable espresso) it's surprising Starbucks-style coffee (big, milky, watery and sweet) hasn't yet been dethroned by the pleasure of straight espresso (tiny, thick, creamy and intense), preferably restretto
. I should add that, despite many efforts over the years, I've never had a decent cup of espresso in America. In fact, outside Southern Europe. What gives?
posted by MiguelCardoso
on Dec 23, 2002 -
On PBS last week,
Senator Bob Graham said that there is "evidence that there were foreign governments
involved in facilitating the activities of at least some of the terrorists in the United States," but that "It will become public at some point when it's turned over to the archives, but that's 20 or 30 years from now. And, we need to have this information now because it's relevant to the threat that the people of the United States are facing today." Do you trust the government to keep the right informatin classified, or do we need to know?
posted by cell divide
on Dec 19, 2002 -
U.S. Writers Do Cultural Battle Around the Globe
(NYTimes, reg. req'd). So many questions spring to mind... Is it productive for the government to do this, or should it be the role of civil society? Should such efforts attempt to portray an appealing version of the U.S., or an accurate one? Where would you direct people who, in good faith, want to gain insight into the "American mind" through the written word, or others forms of art?
posted by stonerose
on Dec 7, 2002 -
Wal-Mart's Female Trouble
With shopping on many people's minds these days, here's a story detailing charges of worker discrimination practiced at that store everyone knows (it's also America's largest private employer).
An informed consumer is a responsible consumer. Know where your money goes.
posted by mapalm
on Dec 4, 2002 -
Take a peek at this military timeline.
And let's figure that the time from when Johnny, sergeant, age 25, gets home from fighting the war and tells 5 year old Junior about the experience to when Junior, Major/Lt.Col, grows up and wants to CAUSE a war, averages 30 years.
Now let's do some math...starting with the French and Indian War, 1754-1763. Add 30-ish years (21). American Revolution, 1775-1783. Add 30-ish years (38). War of 1812, 1812-1814. Add 30-ish years, numerous Indian wars. Add 30-ish years. American Civil War, 1861-1865. Add 30-ish years (37). Spanish-American War, 1898. Add 30-ish years (19). America in World War I, 1917-1918. Add 30-ish years (25). America in World War II, 1942-1945. Add 30-ish years (20). Vietnam War, 1964-1973. Add 30-ish years, and it's the turn of the millenium....it's now.
We haven't learned from 250 years of this cycle, and there's no reason to think we've learned anything since. I didn't count the Gulf War cause it wasn't much of anything, and I know the numbers are a bit forced...but I think this trend is worth discussing.
posted by taumeson
on Dec 3, 2002 -
War With Iraq - As Predictable As Chess
There is still a good chance we can avoid war with Iraq. Saddam Hussein has never won a war, and his military forces surely foresee their own destruction. Numerous assassination attempts by them (some involving the Republican Guard) have failed. They are likely trying again, even now. Therein lies our best hope.
What if they fail again? Then invasion by the U.S. is inevitable.
posted by daHIFI
on Nov 22, 2002 -
In the late 18th or early 19th century a group of runaway slaves and serfs fled from Kentucky into the Ohio Territory, where they inter-married with Natives and formed a tribe - red, white & black - called the Ben Ishmael tribe. The Ishmaels (who seem to have been Islamically inclined) followed an annual nomadic route through the territory, hunting & fishing, and finding work as tinkers and minstrels. They were polygamists, and drank no alcohol. Every winter they returned to their original settlement, where a village had grown.
But eventually the US Govt. opened the Territory to settlement, and the ~official~ pioneers arrived. Around the Ishmael village a town began to spring up, called Cincinnati. Soon it was a big city. But Ishmael village was still there, engulfed & surrounded by "civilization." Now it was a ~slum~.
, Jackson Whites
, the Moors of Delaware
, the Ben Ishmaels--hat tip to Footnotes of History on that
Red Bones, Brass Ankles, Turks, Lumbees, Croatans
and other lost tribes
and rebel slave communities
The questions raised are what is race, tribe and family ...among others.
Included by extension are Hakim Bey
, The Moorish Orthodox Church
, various tribes of Black Indians
, Jukes, Kallikaks, Margaret Sanger, The Bell Curve
and Heather Locklear. (Step within the tent for the latter's interpetive dance)
posted by y2karl
on Nov 15, 2002 -
Lord Timothy Dexter (1747-1806)
was one of the most colorful characters of early American history, described here as, among other things, an "Eccentric 18th Century Merchant - Investor with a Midas Touch - Impresario - Patron of the Arts, founding the 'World Mouserum of Grate Wonder and Gret Caricters' - progressive 'Libperel' - Self Appointed 'Consler of Trouth.'" This site includes a complete transcription of Dexter's punctuation-free magnum opus, A Pickle for the Knowing Ones
featuring his famous Addenda
posted by Joey Michaels
on Nov 14, 2002 -
(November 5, 1781 - November 3, 1782), Elias Boudinot
(November 4, 1782 - November 2, 1783), Thomas Mifflin
(November 3, 1783 - June 3, 1784), Richard Henry Lee
(November 30, 1784 - November 22, 1785), John Hancock
(November 23, 1785 - June 5, 1786), Nathaniel Gorham
(June 1786 until January 1787), Arthur St. Clair
(February 2 , 1787 - January 21, 1788), and Cyrus Griffin
(January 22, 1788 – April 29, 1789)--under The Articles of the Confederation
Everything you know is wrong--George Washington was the 9th President
--or 8th, depending on how you call it on John Hancock's term
. [More inside]
posted by y2karl
on Nov 7, 2002 -
How the world sees Americans.
"They readily distinguish between the official face of the American government (who they tend to disagree with and fear) and American people, pop culture and values (which they tend to adore and emulate)." "It's the world's superpower ... that has a childlike understanding of everyone else."
Journalist Mark Hertsgaard travelled the globe gathering opinions about the U.S. He talks about the surprising results.
posted by gazingus
on Nov 6, 2002 -
Am I the only one who doesn't think this
is news? This story also showed up here
a few days ago. (more inside)
posted by kate_fairfax
on Nov 4, 2002 -
"You will have heard, Dr Sir I doubt not long before this can have reached you that Sir W. Howe is gone from hence. The Rebels imagine that he is gone to the Eastward. By this time however he has filled Chesapeak bay with surprize and terror." - Sir Henry ClintonSpy Letters of the American Revolution
is an excellent site offering such gems as a captured letter written from Rachel Revere to husband Paul, a message from a colonial scientist written in invisible ink, and Benedict Arnold's encrypted message to the British offering to surrender West Point for £20,000. The site includes photos of the documents, back-stories on each letter, profiles of the people involved, and descriptions of methodology, as well as a timeline and route map.
posted by taz
on Oct 31, 2002 -
The First Measured Century
contains quite a bit of information about American society; population, work, education, religion, health, money, politics, crime and more. Everything from the median marriage age to the percentage of Americans who believe it is wrong to go to the movies on Sundays (13%).
posted by edlundart
on Oct 23, 2002 -