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Americas (South & North)

Alfie Kohn and Rewards... and parecon

So, rather than getting into Alice Miller right away I decided to deal with Alfie Kohn today. I started with his book, "Punished by Rewards", which discusses why rewards (grades, gold stars, salary bonuses or any other kind of bribes) are not good things - not in workplaces, not in families, and not in schools. Why? Five reasons, Alfie says:

1. Rewards are the flip side of punishment - we agree that we don't like punishment, but rewards are just as controlling.

Frontiers and Ghettos (James Ron) and a little more on Coloroso

So, today as promised a little discussion of James Ron's book, "Frontiers and Ghettos". The book is a comparison of state violence by Serbia in the 1990s and Israel in the 1980s. His argument is that the institutional context (whether the area is a 'frontier', where state authority is less intense or disputed, or a 'ghetto', where states have uncontested and intense control over people's lives, what he calls 'infrastructural control') has an influence over the intensity of violence states wield.

Bullies, Bystanders, Barbara Coloroso... and blind spots

I've been reading a fair bit that isn't directly relevant to current events or the kind of politics that I am usually involved in - namely, psychology and alternative education stuff. One important author I want to talk about a bit here is Alice Miller. Another is Alfie Kohn. I've done a few waves of this sort of reading. I find it really depends on the timing, how insightful or useful I find the stuff. Anyway I think Miller and Kohn both deserve more in-depth reviews.

Sicko, China Mieville...

So, my relationship to the world continues to be one that doesn't seem to involve much blogging, or much writing, these days. Still, I thought I would check in after watching Michael Moore's very very good movie, Sicko. I actually thought it was superb. Funny, rich, important, heart-rending.

Back from the road

Why I was gone for most of June. First I was at the Z Media Institute, which was a really great experience this year, one I was very proud to be part of and which was really rejuvenating. I taught on International Solidarity, Middle East Politics, and Race/Culture Vision (polyculturalism). But I also got to hear Ezequiel Adamovsky on politics and ethics, who I always find to be very original, and Cynthia Peters, who is working on very original and interesting things in the "kinship sphere", Marie Trigona on video production.

Cindy Sheehan

Since I haven't really followed her work over the past few years, I was a bit annoyed when I heard she had "quit". Who is she to "quit", and to do so so publicly, I wondered? War, empire, are filthy, despicable, genocidal affairs. Opposing them is not like a job that one can "quit", is it? Opposing them, in my view, doesn't even mean one is deserving of special praise. But then I read her exit note, and found it some of the best and most refreshing reading I have seen in some time.

Climate Politics: an answer to Cockburn, Rancourt, Noble

I just published this answer to Cockburn, Rancourt, and Noble on ZNet. I hope it helps some people think about these things and sift the useful contributions from these writers from the very poor things they are doing in their writing on climate.

Climate change denial, in thin leftist wrapping paper

I just read (briefly) an interview with Denis Rancourt, a professor at the University of Ottawa who claims climate change is not happening and that talk of climate change serves oil companies. My quick reaction is that this is like Michael Deibert on Haiti or Irshad Manji on Israel/Palestine and terror - reactionary politics wrapped up in some thin progressive language to either dupe or confuse leftists who would otherwise be the most solid advocates of progress (or decent survival).

Two more books (with good titles)

"American Fascists" by Chris Hedges. A couple of little things annoyed me - like his tossing Hamas in with other fascist groups. But overall a very good and very scary book, whose title is descriptive. A good sequel to "what's the matter with kansas" by Thomas Frank, and things have advanced since then. The main thing that I like is that he doesn't advocate dialogue and recognizes that these people have to be fought. They have contempt for us, and there's nothing to be gained by tolerating them.

The Thermopylae Psyop

First, I admit I loved the movie. Compelling characters, spectacular visuals, impressive choreography, good dialogue - including lots from the historical record. But it's the kind of movie where the better the movie, the worse it is. But this isn't a review of the movie 300. It's not a take on its historical inaccuracies, which was beautifully done by a classics professor at the University of Toronto - with a very clever title ("Sparta? No. This is madness")

Ephraim Lytle notes the following, worth reproducing in detail:

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