Homeboy by Malcolm X

Homeboy—Malcolm X

I read Homeboy by Malcolm X and though I recognize this essay as part of his autobiography, it is a very compelling essay that stands on its own quite well. There are several aspects of this essay that gave it significance as both a commentary on the writer’s own frame of mind at this time and the community he was immersed in.

The first thing that struck me about the essay was the structure of the descriptions and the way the author superimposes his views on the situation in hindsight. This would be an entirely different essay if he had tried to be detached about the experiences. For instance, when he is describing his first conk, we see first how excited he was and the pride he felt at the time despite the painful procedure, “Going to lay on that first conk? The drugstore man asked me. I proudly told him, grinning, Right!” (p.189) Following this excited description, however, Malcolm reflects on how “ridiculous” and stupid he was and goes on to explain the rational behind the procedure as he saw it at the time of the writing. There is a very powerful juxtaposition between his description of buying the ingredients proudly and his final opinion on the conk, that it was his “first really big step towards self-degradation”. (p.191)

From his description of Boston from a country boy’s point of view, we get a compelling picture of his place in the world at that time. He shows the inner conflicts between the alluring and what might have been considered the proper place according to his aunt. The end of the essay brings his actions together with the shame he feels and by doing so creates a significant and powerful self reflection.

Tell Me what you think

This is an experiment…

1. Review the theoretical underpinnings of persuasive messages in relation to specific audiences, taking into account at least three of the following constructs: agenda setting, diffusion of innovation, central and peripheral processing, cognitive dissonance, source credibility, reasoned action, two-step flow, selectivity, expectancy-value and fear appeals.  As a writer/producer, which basic model would you use in developing political advertising for your candidate targeted at the general public.  Justify your selection.


2. The media landscape has certainly changed in the last few years. A dramatic example of this is the way non-fiction films are distributed.  Ten years ago there were only a few places where independent producers might sell their documentaries. Today there are many more outlets.  What are these new opportunities? Describe at least three case studies of non-fiction films that have profited from these new avenues of distribution.


3. Programming is what attracts audiences to television but advertising is the primary means of revenue generation for most networks and stations.  In a situation when 1) specific broadcast programming is attacked for containing too much “skin and sin” by traditional family values groups, 2) advertisers are inundated with thousands of email, letters and telephone calls to stop buying commercial time by concerned family group followers and 3) some advertisers withdraw, is this a triumph for the television audience, a chilling effect on broadcast TV creativity, or a step towards censorship and bland programming?   Assume each of these perspectives and cite evidence from previous program histories to explicate how these electronic media issues evolved, were resolved and continue to coexist.


4. In November 2007, the Writers Guild of America went on strike after its members and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers failed to negotiate a deal.  What are (were) the issues at stake in this conflict?  Trace the history of this conflict between these two groups and the consequent effects on television viewing audiences and new programming development.  How will this strike inform the future of new media and old media, and how will it affect you as someone who will be working in the industry as a) a writer, and b) a studio or network executive?


5.  In the coming years Cable TV will face very real competition from the telephone companies for customers. Give the competitive advantages of each industry and the efforts both have made in Congress and at the FCC to deal with perceived inequities in the competitive landscape.


6. The utilization of new and different media platforms — web streaming, mobiphones and the like — to deliver television programming has given rise to “anytime, anywhere, media measurement.” This system purports to track in-home and out-of-home viewing, Internet and phone TV usage, as well as traditional television viewing.  In addition, commercial ratings or audience viewership levels during the commercial breaks are now available to advertisers.

A)    What improvements does this system of audience measurement represent over the traditional ratings system?  

B)    How would producers, programmers and advertisers benefit from the new audience measurements?

C)    What are some of the concerns critics have raised and how can these be addressed?


7.  “American TV is dangerous to our children’s health.”   Scientific studies have shown that children who spend the most time with television are also those who are more likely to be overweight.  Children who watch television violence are more likely to behave in harmful ways towards others and become less empathetic.  You are testifying on behalf of television writers and producers before a congressional subcommittee intent on refining policy to protect the health of our nation’s children.  How would you address these findings in the face of existing legislation and offer solutions to parents, assurances to policy makers as well as a sound bite for the next news cycle?


8.  Screenwriter William Goldman, a two-time Academy Award winner, has long preached that “screenplays are structure.” What is he talking about? 

A) If he’s referring to a particular story-telling model, describe that in detail.

B) If there are multiple models, what are the most influential ones and how do they differ?

C) And how has story structure evolved through the centuries?

Use examples from the 2008 Oscar nominees to illustrate your points.


9.  Think about this: Today you can watch movies on your video iPod.  You can also watch TV on your cell phone.  Through global marketing you can catch the release of the latest big studio film in Shanghai, China the same day as in Syracuse, New York (probably a few days earlier).  The social media network, Facebook on which you used to post pictures for your friends is now valued at $15 billion. 


During your year at Newhouse, the media environment will continue to change dramatically. These changes may come from some new technology or an economic or policy shift. For example, if you’re reading the papers and the trades, you know that ABC News and Facebook have teamed up to develop a new tool to facilitate political debate coverage and interactivity on the social networking site;  the major TV networks continue to offer streaming video of their programs, and advertisers are using “skins,” “overlays” or “bugs” to promote their products and services online.


If you’re bright, flexible and entrepreneurial, you’ll find ways to make your career in any number of these future transformations. Even better, you should be smart enough to anticipate and take advantage of such changes before they (or you) are history. This is your chance to begin the birth of a future transformation that will bear your name.


Write a proposal for your new concept. What is it? What makes it unique? How does it take advantage of existing or new technologies, economies and/or policies? Specify what research you will do to determine if there is an audience and market. What legal and regulatory issues will you have to be aware of? Who are the people or institutions you need to convince this is the greatest thing since the iPod? Who are the people or institutions you don’t want to know about your idea until it’s a reality and why? Describe how this concept will ripple through the media environment or how it might have an impact on only a specialized niche.


An important part of your answer will be a personal inventory assessment: what talents, skills, knowledge, etc. that you possess make it possible for you to actuate this concept? Be realistic; if you’re not Steve Wozniak, recognize that and plan to hire him as a consultant. But if your idea is “television for housebound cats”, be-up front about your special understanding of the feline spirit.


10. In the book “The World is Flat” by Thomas Friedman, referring to a program called “Higglytown Heroes” being produced for the Disney Channel by Wild Brain, an animation studio in San Francisco, Wild Brain CEO Scott Hyten remarked about how the all-American show was being produced by an all-world supply chain —  The recording session is located near the artist, usually in New York or L.A., the design and direction is done in San Francisco, the writers network in from their homes (Florida, London, New York, Chicago, L.A., and San Francisco), and the animation of the characters is done in Bangalore 

(India).  These interactive recording/writing/animation sessions allow us to record an artist for an entire show in less than half a day, including unlimited takes and rewrites.

            Given the increasing trend in production toward on-line collaboration using work flow software, discuss the impact of such a trend on established television production methods and financing.








The answers will come after a time.


Voltaire’s Candide–2003

                                                                                                      Candide’s Travels to the New World



Voltaire’s view of America as expressed in Candide is a pessimistic one, but also one that shows a lot of potential.  The Americas are corrupted at this point by the European powers and their exploitative nature.  Despite this fact, America is shown as a place where there is great opportunity for both good and evil acts.  The descriptions of the various European inhabitants of America are derisive and show how a greedy and self righteous person could profit greatly from exploiting the land and the people who live on it.  The story of what happened to Candide in El Dorado is a comment not only on what the Americas were like before colonialism but what could be accomplished by a society regulated by enlightened thought.  Voltaire’s utopia is not a place that could exist but is the idea that great things could be done with America both for the inhabitants and new settlers if the right approach were made.  El Dorado could also be seen as an endorsement of the merchant system but is actually support for a simple egalitarian system. The other view Voltaire presents on the Americas is concerned with religion and the impact of the Jesuits in particular.  The Jesuits are seen in a terrible light throughout the book and their presence in the Americas is no exception.  He also tries to express the natives might have felt with the scene where the natives are clearly very excited to eat a Jesuit.(Voltaire p.74)  It is clear that the Catholics have done very well in America with regards to conversion and control, something Voltaire is extremely critical of.

            The first person we encounter in Buenos Aires is the pompous Dom Fernando d’Ibarra y Figueora etc. and seems to be an apt representative of the ruling class in the Americas.  His noble distain is even more pronounced than his European counterparts mainly due to his having so many names and is a jab at the nobles who inflate importance by the attachment of titles.  Although the lord is quite a buffoon, he seems to wield some power and is even described by the old woman as the “greatest lord in South America”.(Voltaire p. 66)  This view is the first glimpse of the Americas for Candide and the characteristics of the rulers is consistent with Voltaire’s view of Europeans in power.  This shows the kind of opportunity that any European of noble descent can have in America and the results are not looked upon favorably by Voltaire.

            An important theme in Candide is the general wisdom and loyalty of Cacambo because this is a common position of a “quarter-breed” in the Americas.  In other words, the kinds of opportunities presented to someone of even partial native heritage are very different than those presented to Europeans.  The natives are shown in greater detail later, but with the exception of the people of El Dorado, they are naïve and exploited.

            The power and authority wielded by the Jesuits is massive in America and show the kind of society than can be created by people motivated by conversion and control.  The padres are mocked throughout the book but only in America do they have temporal authority to match their religious authority.  Cacambo’s initial description of the priests in his native lands is somewhat contradictory because while praising them, he acknowledges that “the Padres have everything, the people nothing”. (Voltaire p. 68)  The praise for the catholic missionaries could be construed as extremely sarcastic, however, and their hypocrisy is exposed as well.  Cacambo comments that the priests kill people but send them to heaven so as not to feel bad about it.  The Jesuits take full advantage of every opportunity and their success is great, though a kind of success that Voltaire does not admire.  Voltaire expands on this distain by emphasizing the differences between the social standing of the priesthood and the standing of the native peoples. For example Candide is served from gold vessels while the natives eat “corn out of wooden bowls”. (Voltaire p. 69)  Catholicism is certainly very important and successful both in conversion and power maintained by war, but given Voltaire’s opinion of the Catholics, he is highly critical of those taking advantage of an opportunity to spread their religion.

            As Candide and his valet escape into the American wilderness, they encounter a land that is pure and seemingly untouched by civilized hands, a clean slate to be written on for good or ill.  The natives have some strange customs but are not ill willed unless they encounter a Jesuit.  Voltaire goes even further when Candide remarks that the situation among the natives is the “pure state of nature”. The largest problem these native have is simply that they are a “people who have not been educated”. (Voltaire p. 73)  Since the natives have already been exposed to education by the Jesuits, it follows that the kind of education Voltaire is referring to is an enlightened one.  The priests have had an opportunity to educate and convert these natives but given the response, “lets eat Jesuit”, it is clear that a different kind of instruction is necessary.  It is not directly implied that Voltaire thought the revelations of the enlightenment would be suited to the minds of Native Americans, but the idea of an uneducated people would be very appealing to someone trying to spread their philosophy.  This is also supported by the fact that both Voltaire and the natives are not on the best terms with the Catholic Church.

            The journey to El Dorado is a testament to the diversity of the American landscape and the city itself is an exaggerated version of Voltaire’s utopian vision. What we first encounter in El Dorado is the capitalist utopia because everything is catered to facilitate trade.  There is no mention of what the currency in El Dorado might be, but free food and lodging to help trade and gold being as common as flies would make any merchant salivate.  Points are also made to support the idea of corruption by Europe when the king states that the Incas who tried to fight the Spanish all died and that El Dorado was a city “safe from the greed of European nations”. (Voltaire p. 79)  The Native Americans are clearly in different states of development but worse off than they were before the Europeans came to make money and converts.

             Most of the ideals the people of El Dorado live by are very much in tune with the ideals of the enlightenment.  It could be interpreted that the kingdom of El Dorado is a constitutional monarchy but the word consent could also mean that the king is just honoring the pact between monarch and the subjects, a reciprocal relationship supported by the enlightenment.  This is supported by the fact that Voltaire was a supporter of “enlightened absolutism” (Gordan p.7) as supposed to democracy.  The government of El Dorado is an example, albeit exaggerated for effect, of a society that is free of the conventional European oppression and is ruled according to principles that Voltaire agreed with.  This enlightened society is the only place in the world where everyone is happy all the time, and this is reflective of what could be done if enlightened thinkers took the opportunity the new world presented.  It is really the religion of El Dorado that most impresses Candide and is also the most significantly enlightened.  The idea that everyone is a priest and religion is actually participated in by all is an idea in stark contrast to the religious institutions found in the rest of the book.  This is most clearly seen in the astonished question by Candide, “you have no monks who lecture, debate, govern, conspire, and burn people who don’t believe in them?”, the king replying, “we would be crazy if we did”( Voltaire p. 79).  In this way the possibility of a society free from religious tyranny and hypocrisy is created.

            Throughout the book, we see the role of Europeans in America as exploitative while it is also shown that there are also great possibilities to do good in the new world.  Europeans used the opportunity presented to them by an uncivilized world to increase their own wealth and sense of self righteousness at the expense of the people living there as well as slaves brought for work.  Fortunately for America, there are still parts of the new world that are not corrupted by Europeans and could become influenced by revolutionary thought.  Voltaire presents the new world as a place where opportunities for advancement in most things are possible but up until this point has only been used with selfish motives.

















Works cited

Gordon, Danial ed. Candide by Voltaire. Bedford/ST. Martin’s. Boston, MA. 1999

Death Speaks

There was a merchant in Bagdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, Master, just now when I was in the market-place I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me.  She looked at me and made a threatening gesture; now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate.  I will go to Samarra and there Death will not find me.  The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in its flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went.  Then the merchant went down to the market-place and he saw me standing in the crowd and he came to me and said, Why did you make a threatening gesture to my servant when you saw him this morning?  That was not a threatening gesture, I said, it was only a start of surprise.  I was astonished to see him in Bagdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra. 

-W. Somerset Maugham

The subject of “Death Speaks” is fate and its relationship with death.  Fate is shown to be undetermined but inevitable and outside the exact knowledge of death.  The theme in this story is the inevitability of death and the fate that brings death to one’s door.  Death is detached from this notion of inevitability because she is not aware of the path leading to the servant’s death.  Death is even surprised by the path the servant follows to his.  The Servant, however, is unaware of death’s ignorance and can not avoid his fate.  The actions of Death and the servant at the marketplace point to the predestined nature of fate.  Death would have met the servant in Samarra in any event but the marketplace had to be a stop along the way.

                Looking at the concept of fate in this story raises some questions about weather fate is an active force or a passive one.  The immediate question is why does fate have such a complicated plan?  It would be a lot easier for death to come to the servant’s house instead of meeting him Samarra.  Fate determines the end result but is still subject to the greater force that is life.  The seemingly random collisions that make up our world propel these two characters towards each other, both unaware of the undercurrent that drives them.



Fahrenheit WWII 2002

Fahrenheit WWII                                        






















   There is no construction without destruction—Chairman Mao


The elements that can provide a satisfactory explanation of the actions exhibited by the police force in Ordinary Men and those of the Red Guards are strong deeply rooted motivations.  It is important to understand both the mindset of these killers as well as the process by which they acquired what we might call extreme moral flexibility, followed by the most extreme violent actions.  Through propaganda, appealing ideals, and force, Hitler and Mao made themselves into subjects of worship.  These cults of personality[1], accompanied by legitimate promises of economic prosperity were one of the most important aspects of the eventually large-scale brainwashing success.  The historical legacy of the two countries is also significant because the history and cultural myths of China and Germany were used very efficiently to influence the people who would follow the causes.  Going even deeper into the possible explanations for the actions that to most seem inexplicable, the most primal instincts of human beings cannot be discounted.  In terms of human evolution, it is only recently that man has evolved from the hunter.  This is to say that not long ago humans had to kill animals in order to eat and in order to protect themselves.  Most people to not have qualms about killing an animal if it serves a purpose and so by dehumanizing the Jews or presenting nationalists in China as a life threatening force, Hitler and Mao were playing on some of the most basic human instincts.  Germany and China created a receptive audience and using propaganda and force; controlled this audience, but more importantly controlled people by using their almost subconscious desires and fears to create a group of people who were capable and in most cases willing to commit genocide.

          There were two main ideological differences in the propaganda put out by Germany and China.  Germany romanticized the past in order to create a sense of unity among the Christian Germans and to put the blame for present problems on the impurity represented most clearly by the Jews.  China took the opposite position by presenting the old world as corrupt and unequal while presenting the revolution as the solution to the problems caused by this old system.

          China used highly effective propaganda in the form of “Big Character” posters and “Quotations from Mao” to give impressionable students a goal they could believe in and fight for.  The first important and even sensible idiom is that everyone must have faith in the Party in order for the revolution to succeed.[2]  This is a normal expectation as a component of success in any government, that the party in power should have the people’s support.  The rhetoric that follows this stipulation, however, leaves no room for dissent.  Mao states that “Classes struggle, some classes triumph, others are Eliminated” and it is also made clear that people who do not support the party are the class to be eliminated.  This no doubt instilled a great fear in many people but for those who would become Red Guards, it was a rallying call.

          The most significant part of the Chinese brainwashing program was the “cult of personality” created by and around Chairman Mao himself. An important step in creating the cult of personality was the destruction of religion because there were idols that could compete with Mao.  The chairmen wanted the people of China to worship him so as to have complete control over mind and body without any interference.  This image of Mao as the great leader and even savior was carefully created and was not restrained by any dissenting realities.  Chairman Mao wanted to be the inspiration and the leader, more like Lenin than Stalin.[3]  Like President Bush’s town meetings, the Audiences for events where Mao appeared was carefully chosen so that the most enthusiastic crowd possible could be shown to the rest of the country.

          The appearance more than the actions of the chairman was used to demonstrate his devout following. Like President Bush’s town meetings, the audiences for events where Mao appeared were carefully chosen so that the most enthusiastic crowd possible could be shown to the rest of the country. As the most impressionable demographic was indoctrinated, a threat to the party was a threat to Mao which was in essence a threat to one’s survival. Mao became, in the eyes of the Red Guards, so important, that for him or the party to fail would be like the death of the nation created in part by these Red Guards.  If the revolution failed then the class to which the Red Guards belonged would be the one eliminated.  This perceived threat, along with the support for the Red Guards, created a group that projected their fears and even petty resentments on others with little provocation[4].

          Examining the motivations behind the police in Ordinary Men is much more difficult for three main reasons; the atrocities were carried out during wartime, there is little exposure of anti Jewish propaganda and the police being interrogated do not give many clues as to their mindset.  Nonetheless it is clear that for centuries in Europe there was an open and widespread hatred of the Jews.  Hitler and his propaganda crew capitalized on this existing animosity by presenting the Jews as not only as the enemy in the war but also as subhuman beings.

No one should believe that the large majority of Battalion 101 was simply following orders in wartime, that they were “political and moral Eunuchs”[5] and had no personal philosophies regarding the extermination of Jewish civilians.  Using more direct methods than the Chinese, the German government complimented military training with “Ideological Education” which reinforced the necessity of the extermination and the Jews’ status as subhuman.[6]  These ideas however dully presented (opinion Browning), were repeated every week and seemed to be aimed at destroying any mercy on the part of the enforcers.  Words like “soulless” were used to describe the Jews in the course of education and it was also made clear that they had started the war with Germany and so put them ideologically on the level of a pack of scavenging dogs.[7]

When the time to kill came around, Battalion 101 used their education by further dehumanizing their victims.  The Jews were shaved and stripped so their appearance could more conform to the picture painted by such informative lectures like “Maintaining the purity of German blood”.[8]  These measure were an unconscious effort on the part of the Germans to ease the moral strain that one might expect when murdering large numbers of innocent people.  The Jewish populations were transformed from normal Europeans into a uniform, naked enemy, so that looking at them would prevent the Battalion from identifying with their victims and thus being unable to carry out their orders.  This idea of aesthetic brainwashing is shown clearly in many of the cases where the police refuse to kill as ordered.  A member of Battalion 101 might not kill, at least personally, someone who came from the same hometown or who had worked for the policeman.

          The men of Battalion 101 and the youths of the Red Guards did what they consciously believed was their duty. There were so many strong and approved justifications for the atrocities they committed so as to virtually eliminate dissention even without punishment.  The German police were not disciplined for refusal to take part in genocide and the youths of China did not have to join the militant Red Guards.  Peer pressure no doubt played a part in the execution of these acts but is in reality a background motivation because in the end the actions of others can not erase one’s own moral standing.  Using different but both highly effective methods of indoctrination, Nazi Germany and Communist China influenced certain people to the extent that they abandoned original thought with regards to the humanity of their fellow man.

Word count 1417


















[1] Cheek p.206

[2] Cheek p.173

[3] Cheek p.206

[4] Cheek p.210

[5] Browning p.150

[6] Browning p.177

[7] Browning p.179

[8] Browning p.177

Empire and Nationhood by Heiss–2003

Empire and Nationhood                       


The sources used by Mary Ann Heiss in Empire and Nationhood are successful in providing credible background for her statements regarding  British and American sentiments during the Iranian Oil dispute. The lack of sources from Iran means that it is a largely a two, instead of three sided account of the events.  She creates a detailed picture of the negotiations from a western viewpoint using largely the correspondences of Great Britain and the United States while the viewpoint of the Iranians is pieced together from secondary sources and public announcements.  The cultural bias of the western representatives is commented on, so although there is a record of Iranian negotiations, they are biased and often indignant descriptions by diplomats.

          The overview of the Anglo-Iranian Oil crisis draws on many secondary works and a few books or articles written by people involved or living in Iran at the time.  The secondary works are for the most part written by western historians whose titles do not suggest an evenly balanced perspective.  For example the official history of the British Petroleum Company is cited a few times and many of the books are primarily concerned with the cold war.  Iran was certainly important in the cold war but focusing on it might tend to show the perspectives of those fighting the war rather than that of Iran, which was a chess piece in the games being played between the US and the USSR.

          The sources that contribute to the descriptions of the strained relations leading up to the rise of the nationalization movement and the rise of Mossadeq are a mix of British and American correspondences and books concerning the rise of Mossadeq and the political situation in Iran before him.  This chapter, “too little too late” shows the greatest balance between eastern and western sources used.  The difference is that the sources from the Middle Eastern perspective are written long after the events took place while correspondence on the part of the western diplomats give a more accurate sense of the feeling at the time.  Authors whose names indicate Middle Eastern heritage are significant because they are referenced sparingly once Mossadeq is prime minister.  This may have something to do with the secrecy Mossadeq afforded himself once in office.  Also, the remainder of the book is largely an account of the negotiations between Mossadeq and representatives of England and the US.  This means that presently we can look at the negotiations because there is a record of the internal consultations on the western end but we do not know the full extent of the pressure and constraints put on Mossadeq by political entities and public opinion.  A dispatch from the state department to someone involved with debating Mossadeq on a key point shows the reasoning behind the American position while the reasoning behind the Iranian posture can only be guessed at.

          Another reason for the one sidedness of the documentation is that for the most part, it was a Prime Minister talking to a diplomat who is already biased against the PM. Mossadeq had the power to make concessions so the political motivations behind his actions have to be derived from the situation in Iran.  We have such a good record of the western motivations because American and British agents were constantly conferring with each other and their respective governments.  It is unlikely that Mossadeq communicated with his advisors in writing and probably kept the details of his situation secret.

          An important factor with regard to documentation that is not discussed in the book is the fact the Tehran at this time was chock full of spies.  Channels of communication are never one hundred percent secure so information that was considered sensitive would be unlikely to be sent by telegraph for example.  The author demonstrates the general fears of the US with regard to soviet interactions in Iran, but the specific threats, real or perceived, are not revealed.  The author mentions documents relating to the MI-6 and CIA inspired coup that are withheld but only touches upon why the US thought the USSR would automatically take power in Iran if the economy were to fail.  There is certainly logic behind the containment policy in Iran but because there is little mention of popular Iranian sentiment regarding communism aside from the actions of the Tudeh party, the policy seems to stem mainly from American paranoia.

          The only primary sources that voice the position of Iran are the Correspondences between his/her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom and the Persian government, and related documents (concerning the oil Industry in Persia, February 1951 to September 1951) (Concerning the joint Anglo-American proposal for a settlement of the oil dispute, August 1952 to October 1952)  The problem with these sources is that they were most likely documents that could be made public and were, if it suited a political aim.  Most of the negotiations were done without the public knowledge or proposals were made informally at first with the reaction often eliminating the need to present them formally.  What we can see in these formal documents are the last ditch efforts by Briton to save face by standing behind proposals they knew would be rejected.

          It is clear that the United States was integral in the dispute between the Iranian Government, the AIOC and the British Government but the records taken from the national Archives verses the ones taken from the Public Record Office show that the available American records are more concise and therefore less accurate.  The documents from the Public Record Office in England include minutes, memorandums and other immediate sources.  These kinds of sources, if unaltered, are likely to be the most accurate and the most revealing.  The record of the Secretary of Defense should in contrast be far less revealing and is certainly not cited as frequently as the Foreign Office correspondence.  These American sources are not likely to contain information that could be considered inflammatory.  That is to say that the United States would not be likely to make information public that could add to the hatred of the US by Iran.

          The author does a satisfactory job of filling in the blanks created by the lack of Iranian primary sources.  She gives a reasonable assessment of the political situation in Iran based on western perceptions that were probably fairly accurate because of the strategic concerns in Iran.  The memoirs of Mossadeq may have helped to explain some of the pressures he faced in Iran but even a person’s memory of their own actions cannot be trusted as fact.  While the author does not attempt to analyze individual Iranian sentiment for lack of material, it would seems possible to find a primary source written by an Iranian who was not Mossadeq or the Shah.  She does a good job showing the shift from British to American domination of the Iranian oil as well as their reactions to the nationalist movement.










Review Bibiography


International History Review v. 21 no. 4 (Dec. 1999). Mejcher, Helmut, reviewerhttp://metaquest.bc.edu:4000/sfx_local?sid=HWW:ACIT&genre=article&pid=%3Can%3E199901501686015%3C%2Fan%3E&aulast=Amuzegar&aufirst=Jahangir&issn=0026-3141&title=The+Middle+East+Journal&stitle=Middle+East+J&atitle=Empire+and+nationhood+(Book+Review)&volume=53&issue=1&spage=138&epage=140&date=1999&ssn=winter—There was an error with the Factiva server when I tried to print this review before class but I had read it with the paper.

Diplomatic History v. 23 no. 3 (Summ 1999). Hoffman, Elizabeth Cobbs, reviewer. http://www.blackwellsynergy.com/openurl?genre=article&issn=0145-2096&date=1999&volume=23&issue=3&spage=559





                                      Hurl My Soul From Heaven



Heaven and Hell, along with words that represent one or both of them are used frequently throughout the play and have significance  because of their connection to the state of mind of the person who uses them.  Some important instances come from both Othello and Iago.  Iago uses contrasts like heaven and hell to push for his goals while Othello uses them to describe his own state of confusion.  Iago makes convincing arguments to several different people all to the ultimate end that is the destruction of Othello.  Othello himself often feels torn and confused by the suspicion planted by Iago and as his conflict grows, so does the way he expresses it.

 References to light and dark as representations of heaven and hell come up when a dark act is happening presently or has just passed.  Iago uses the light and dark, the base and noble to incite the greatest possible misery and to further his plans. The lines where he is telling Brabantio about his daughter and Othello again show his skill in pulling people’s emotions in the ways he wishes (p.13).  These lines are very carefully crafted to incite the greatest possible anger in Brabantio. The contrast between black and white gives Brabantio the struggle between heaven and hell and Iago also tells him that his daughter is in the process of losing the battle to the dark side.  Referring to Othello and Desdemona as animals expose the vulgarity and baseness of what they are doing, two things that would make any father angry if his daughter were involved.  This is not to say that all fathers are angry at the thought of their married daughters having sex, but the way Iago tells it, “An old Black ram is tupping your white ewe” brings a vulgarity that would not be there had Iago not wanted the phrase to have a shock value for Brabantio.[1] The lines are also meant to make Brabantio angry because they are insulting to his daughter as well as making her a victim.  Even though she is “white” and thus somewhat good, she is still referred to as a common dirty animal.  Judgment of Desdemona is implied in these lines and it is a hard judgment of someone who would copulate with an “old Black ram”.  Iago paints a picture of Desdemona that any father would be ashamed of, but since these acts are happening right now, he also gives Brabantio hope that he can stop his daughter.[2]

          Heaven and hell as metaphors are closely connected with the concept of baseness, which Iago also uses to aid his plans. Iago exemplifies this technique as he tries to break up Othello’s Marriage. p.127, act 3 sc 3 Ln. 150 Although he appears to be attempting to dismiss Othello’s inquiries, Iago’s language reveals he is actually trying to further Othello’s curiosity.[3]  Iago is warning Othello about the danger that may come if he does express his “vile and false”  thoughts. Ln.159. Calling the place where these thoughts don’t go a “palace” seems to be an effort to convince Othello not to listen.  He does not imply that such a “Palace” exists, but contends that not talking about such matters would be more pleasant.[4]  Iago compares the torment Othello would have to sitting in court where the “vile thoughts” of Iago would continuously run though his head.  However, Iago is actually making sure that Othello will hear him and be interested because with each assertion of the ideas’ foulness, Othello will only want to hear them more.

           For much of the play, Heaven and hell are invoked to push someone towards one or the other, but as Othello becomes more and more distraught about his suspicions, he brings the two extremes together to show the growing conflict in his mind. P.149.”All my fond love thus do I blow to heavan”Ln.505  Othello’s anger here is extreme as he shows the change in his heart from love to blind violent rage and puts this change on a much larger scale by giving up his old love to heaven and finding his new emotions in hell. He relinquishes his love to heaven and follows only with “Tis gone”. The statement is powerful because it stands alone in the stanza as a two word line in the middle of more regular ones[5] and also because it is such a simple statement and thus has a strong sense of finality to it.[6]  Othello then commands “Black Vengeance to take over his heart and rule it with “tyrannous rage”.  He commands these things to come out of “hollow hell” and because he has given up his heavenly love, this shows an about face from the light to the dark.  In the end Othello reveals that the plague has become a real poison overloading his “bosom” and heart. This contrasts with what he has been doing in the rest of the passage, where he has been almost actively trying to get his love out and the poison in.  This shows that he still wishes to be allied with heaven as supposed to hell, but is unable to do so because of the circumstances.  Othello’s change of heart is dramatic and although he has an active role in the change, he is still confused by the battle between his former heavenly love and the poison that is destroying it.

          Iago uses these two extremes very effectively to accomplish his goals while Othello’s references seem only to further confuse him.  Iago succeeds in getting Brabantio to rush furiously at Othello and also turns Othello on his own wife with the use of heaven and hell as tools for making an argument.  Othello talks about heaven and hell at first to describe his conflicting emotions about his wife’s suspected infidelity, but is still confused even after he has killed Desdemona. Looking at her dead body “this look of thine will hurl my soul from heaven”p.259, Othello is still unsure about his place in the cosmos as a result of the act he has just committed.  He is even further conflicted as his grief overflows with “O Desdemon! Dead, Desdemon! Dead! O, O!”p.259.  In the end, Othello’s descriptions of oscillating between the good end and the bad end reflect his madness very well because who could be sane moving from one extreme to another? 


[1] Catherine Brewster

[2] Catherine Brewster

[3] Ethna Riley

[4] Catherine Brewster

[5] Catherine Brewster

[6] Catherine Brewster

Freedom in Faith–1996

                                      Freedom in Faith


The version of freedom given by the Bhagavad Gita is based on the idea that true freedom can only come with hard work, sacrifice and prayer.  Learning to be disciplined is one of the most important steps in freeing oneself from the bonds of attachment.  To be disciplined, one must choose understanding over action, for “pitiful are the men drawn by fruits of action”.   “Disciplined by understanding”, one can attain the freedom that is escaping from the cycle of rebirth and “reaching a place beyond decay”.  Understanding as supposed to action is only one of the things that will lead to eternal freedom and must be combined with other ways of acting.

          To make one’s thoughts sure, they must get rid of desire and become indifferent to the urges that everyone else is controlled by.  When someone has given up attraction to pleasure, they can become “a sage whose thought is sure”.  The reason destroying cravings and attachment is so important is because “brooding about sensuous objects makes attachment to them grow; from attachment desire arises, from desire anger is born”.  Therefore, relinquishing attachment not only frees the mind from its worldly bond but also prevent anger and the loss of understanding that comes with it.  An important exercise in freeing oneself from desire is to deprive oneself of food. Approaching the world without desire and with discipline leads to serenity and eventually inner peace, something that seems akin to complete freedom of the mind.

          To become a man of discipline involves self-deprivation and perhaps even more importantly, meditation and devotion to Krishna.  “Perfect joy comes to the man of discipline” because he sees and loves his self and has his mind free of attachment and full of devotion to Krishna.  People are not free because the self is not free and is still attached to objects in the world.  Fortunately there is a method outlined in the Gita that can free the self from the bonds of worldly attachment that cause so much misery and false understanding.

          Jesus chooses man’s complete freedom over his eternal happiness because he values faith over blind obedience.  The Inquisitor, however, believes that men are “like sheep” and has “vanquished freedom and have done so to make men happy”.  The inquisitor makes the argument that the church is giving men what they want and need, something that Jesus denied them when Satan tempted him. Jesus is offered miracle, mystery, and authority by which to command the faith of man but he refuses all three in order to maintain freedom of faith.  Jesus could have fed all the people in the world but then they would have followed him only for the sake of food. He could have shown himself to be the Son of God by falling from a cliff and surviving, but then man would have followed him with blind faith based on a miracle.  He could have also ruled all the kingdoms of earth but would have had to bow to Satan.

          The inquisitor contests that Jesus is only offering salvation to the few and the multitude of weak people will never find salvation in heaven. He claims that people do not understand the freedom being given them and would be much better off with bread or being unified under a leader.  The inquisitor intends to take that which the devil offered Jesus and make the church rule the world and feed the people.  He is doing this because “nothing has ever been more insupportable for a man and human society than freedom”.  The inquisitor states that man, in his freedom, is not happy and still desires bread, something to worship, and a ruler.  The church aims to give man all three in return for the worship and power given to the church.

          Jesus and the Gita are similar in that both attachment great importance to the freedom of faith.  The Gita telling one to abstain from food in order to become disciplined is akin to Jesus refusing to feed all the people of the earth in order to make them stronger and free. The inquisitor, on the other hand, is more concerned with the happiness of man on earth, because only a handful will actually gain access to heaven.


The Codmans of Charlestown and Brookline, 1637-1929

codman-pointI read an excerpt from the book “The Codmans of Charlestown and Brookline, 1637-1929” by Cora Codman Wolcott. This essay was in a small bound book called “On the One Hundredth Anniversary of Codman Point”  This is not accomplished through any direct line of reasoning or persuasion but her remarks about visitors to the summer estate gives the reader very clear insights as to the perspective of my family at the time.
Recalling her experiences as a young adult in 1860, when the family started to settle the land that would later become know as Codman’s point allows the reader to get a more complete view of the family and their perspective because the author does not have strong opinions at that age. She lets the action of her relatives reveal their motivations. “It was quite a sight to see the president fishing off the point in a little dinghy while our schooner nearly toppled his tiny craft”. The reader understands without ever being told directly, the status of the family and their influence as well as the manner in which they view others. The tone of the piece is almost offhand as she describes things that seem absurd to a person reading in 2006. “Going to the point was always an adventure, we brought only one butler and one nanny and we had to reuse our napkins on occasion.” The author was most effective at being subtle while still getting a message across, a recognized talent of any Boston blue blood.

Forces of Habit: Drugs and the making of the modern world

                                                             In Forces of Habit, the author examines the historical evidence of known drug use in order to establish how each drug found its place in society.  David Courtwright does not differentiate between legal and illegal drugs in looking at the effects of the drug.  This is important because the licit/illicit label is really just a matter of timing.  The status of a particular drug, both legally and culturally, changes as societies develop better ways to administer and distribute a drug as well as advances allowing people to see the side effects.  The most significant point in the book is that there is usually a correlation between a drug’s legal status, the politics of the major distributors, and the evidence of misuse and health problems.            In discussing the prevention techniques, it is first important to realize that there is a balance producing societies must adhere to.  This is the balance between the perceived harmful effects of a drugs and the income derived from its distribution.  This balance has to be maintained both for illicit drugs and prevention and licit drugs and taxation.  The prevention policies should reflect the relative harm the drug does to a person or society as a whole.  At the other end if a widespread legal drug is taxed too heavily, the black market will respond as it does with banned drugs.            Drugs could not come into popular use unless there are people making a lot of money as producers or distributors. Even drugs that can be created or found by the consumer, it requires large economies of scale to make a drug efficient and affordable for the full spectrum of society.  The first parts of Forces of Habit examine how some of the most common drugs were discovered and distributed.  With the exception of alcohol, these drugs such as tea and opium were local plants that were introduced sparingly to other cultures through warfare or trading.  Once the positive effects of the drugs were known, merchants began capitalizing on what was a delicacy at first.  They became cash crops because the markets grew very rapidly and had a seemingly inexhaustible demand.  Without education as to the harms of a drug or treatment available, a drug market is constantly growing because of tolerance and addiction.  The big three, Alcohol, tobacco and caffeine became extremely widespread because of the demand Europeans developed for them and the plantation system, which lowered the price to the workingman’s level while still yielding huge profits for the importers and the government through taxes.  Courtwright makes the point that it was this selective distribution by Europeans that led to the unalterable position these substances occupy in western societies today.            The puzzle of distribution deals with how to most effectively get a drug into the consumer’s body.  The refining process and the developments of global commerce made the distribution of certain drugs economically feasible.  A refined product such as cocaine vs. coca leaves or spirits vs. wine not only has a much longer shelf life but is more quickly absorbed, intensifying the effects and experience of the user.  The problem with trying to identify how certain drugs were chosen to be mass produced by Europeans is that they associated many drugs with the cultures in which they were found and so many drugs were viewed as evil, or in league with godless societies.            With the rise of the scientific process and advances in medicine, the harmful effects of many drugs became provable and more evident and so the drugs for pleasure market took a backseat to the drugs as medicine market. The irony is that the use of these drugs was not as widespread before they came in medicinal form.  Drugs like opium have always been seen as having some curative properties but the disguise and miraculous claims by doctors prompted an epidemic of patent medicines that were just as harmful as their illegal counterparts.  People trusted their doctors and certainly enjoyed the medicine, but when the abuses in the patent medicine industries were exposed and some very widely distributed drugs were outlawed a great many people were already addicted.            The most useful thing Courtwright gives us in regards to prevention is the knowledge of why people use drugs.  Drugs are poisons and the continuing consumption of poison seemingly contradicts the law of natural selection. (p.91)  The authors looks at several different theories about why people would wants to alter their consciousness but the bottom line is that most people in the world constantly do things they do not want to do and an escape from this unpleasant reality is embraced.  This escape could be taken after something unpleasant to change mindset or during to offset the reality of the task itself.  It is also important to note that most drugs operate on the pleasure center of the brain and in general, particularly if the effects are not well known, people will do what makes them feel good.             Ultimately it would seem that education is the most powerful tool in preventing the use of harmful drugs.  This education should not only be about the effects of a particular drug but also about who is using them and why.  People who are poor are more likely to be depressed and people who are depressed are more likely to abuse drugs.  We are also bombarded from the right and the left by statement of opinions with very few discernable facts being shown.  Apparently some drugs are good and some drugs are bad but how is the public supposed to know which are which when you turn on the TV and are told that marijuana will make you run down a group of schoolchildren while Propecia will give a man an erection but may cause explosive diarrhea.  Attacking the roots of production has historically been a failure while attacking the roots of abuse has had some success, perhaps a war on poverty instead of a war on drugs might be more effective.