Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pen World Voices Festival of Internationall Literature 2009

PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature
April 27–May 3, 2009
A week-long celebration of world literature featuring 160 writers from 40 countries for 60 events in New York City.

Also check out the 2009 Pen Online Translation Slam

Friday, March 13, 2009

Student Cam Winners

C- Span's Student Cam 2009 winners

Click here to view all 75 winning videos in C-SPAN's 2009 StudentCam competition.

Congratulations to all of the winning students who participated in this year's competition. This year C-Span received 921 videos from almost 2,000 students, representing 41 states, Washington D.C., Guam, and Egypt.

This Year's StudentCam Topic:

A message to the new President:
What is the most urgent issue for the new president to address after taking office, and why?

Students are asked to create a short (between 5 and 8 minutes) video documentary that explores an issue of national significance that they believe is in need of urgent attention from the new president of the United States.

Come On People by Bill Cosby and Alvin Poussaint

Come on People: From Victim to Victor
Bill Cosby and Alvin Poussaint

Here's a review

Thursday, March 12, 2009

When I Came Home

When I Came Home
Directed by Dan Lohaus
Winner 2006 Tribeca Film Festival

When I came Home is such a painful film I simply could not finish watching it. Yeah, I know. I'm always watching painful films I can't finish.

Here's the trailer:

I swear! It's not as if I'm a revolutionary or something but it does annoy the heck outta me to see Christians getting all worked up over certain issues yet totally ignoring others. Where, oh where, is the Christian extreme Biblical left?

This film is about homeless veterans...and the horror they return to when they get home. No medical care, intense bills on medical care, disabled, homelessness, losing their kids, their homes, etc. And honestly, when I think of all the Christian friends I knew who were all for the war, I am tempted to ask, "Okay, now that these destroyed soldiers are coming home, why don't you care about them?"

Here's the blurb:

Director’s note: When I Came Home is a documentary which follows the lives and struggles of several homeless veterans, including those who have recently returned home from the war in Iraq. The film examines the factors which led over 150,000 Vietnam veterans from the battlefield to the street and asks the question: Will what happened to Vietnam veterans happen to a new generation of soldiers? The film also focuses on the veteran-led movement which is fighting to end this national disgrace.

When I Came Home is a work-in-progress. Follow the making of the film on director Dan Lohaus’ GNN blog

Links you might be interested in:

Black Veterans for social justice

Iraq Veterans Against the War

National Coalition for Homeless Veterans

Operation Dignity

I swear I just want to cry.

Good Read: The Student Loan Scam

The Student Loan Scam: The Most Oppressive Debt in U.S. History - and How We Can Fight Back
by Alan Michael Collinge, Founder of StudentLoanJustice.Org,
167 pages
Beacon Press (February 1, 2009)
Here's the blurb:
An in-depth exploration and exposé of the predatory nature of the student loan industry Alan Collinge never imagined he would become a student loan justice activist. He planned to land a solid job after college, repay his student loan debt, and then simply forget the loans ever existed. Like millions of Americans, however, in spite of working hard, Collinge fell behind on payments and entered a labyrinthine student loan nightmare. High school graduates can no longer put themselves through college for a few thousand dollars in loan debt. Today, the average undergraduate borrower leaves school with more than $20,000 in student loans, and for graduate students the average is a whopping $42,000. For the past twenty years, college tuition has increased at more than double the rate of inflation, with the cost largely shifting to student debt. The Student Loan Scam is an exposé of the predatory nature of the $85-billion student loan industry. In this in-depth exploration, Collinge argues that student loans have become the most profitable, uncompetitive, and oppressive type of debt in American history. This has occurred in large part due to federal legislation passed since the mid-1990s that removed standard consumer protections from student loans-and allowed for massive penalties and draconian wealth-extraction mechanisms to collect this inflated debt. Collinge covers the history of student loans, the rise of Sallie Mae, and how universities have profited at the expense of students. The book includes candid and compelling stories from people across the country about how both nonprofit and for-profit student loan companies, aided by poor legislation, have shattered their lives-and livelihoods. With nearly 5 million defaulted loans, this crisis is growing to epic proportions. The Student Loan Scam takes an unflinching look at this unprecedented and pressing problem, while exposing the powerful organizations and individuals who caused it to happen. Ultimately, Collinge argues for the return of standard consumer protections for student loans, among other pragmatic solutions, in this clarion call for social action.

Here it is on amazon

Here's the book's facebook page

Here's a great article on student loan debt from us news

and another from NY times

and another from L A Times

and another in the Wall Street Journal

Also check out

No Sucker Left Behind: Avoiding the Great College Rip-off
by Marc Scheer

352 pages
Common Courage Press (May 15, 2008)
ISBN-10: 1567513786
ISBN-13: 978-1567513783
7.6 x 5 x 1 inches

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Friday, March 6, 2009

Chinese Whispers by Jan Wong

Chinese Whispers Searching for Forgiveness in Beijing
by Jan Wong
ISBN 13: 9781843549741 | ISBN 10: 184354974

Here's the blurb:
In 1972, Jan Wong became one of only two Westerners admitted to Beijing University at the height of the Cultural Revolution.
One day a student, Yin Luoyi, sought Jan's assistance in going to the United States. Wong, then a starry-eyed Maoist from Montreal, was that most dangerous combination in the young - ignorant, innocent and idealistic - and she reported Yin to the authorities. Wong knew nothing of what ensued. Indeed, she completely forgot about her brief encounter with the young stranger until many years later.

Now, thirty-three years on, Wong returns to Beijing to search for the woman who has haunted her conscience. She hopes to apologise, perhaps somehow to make ammends. At the very least, she wants to find out whether Yin has survived.
Preoccupied by the past, fascinated by China's present and future, Jan Wong searches out old friends, foes and comrades in this half-familiar city, finally uncovering the truth about the woman she wronged.

Chinese Whispers tells a unique and unforgettable story of communism and capitalism, of guilt and attonement, of remembering and forgetting.

Here's a review

Monday, March 2, 2009

Yuki Yukite Shingun

Yuki Yukite shingun

The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On is about Kenzo Okuzai, a former WWII soldier who was stationed in New Guinea in the war.

Talk about pissed and righteous. Basically, he's a one man guilt machine. And he sees it as his divine purpose to go around and let his fellow comrades in the war understand their evil. He declares that nation, family, etc are all against divine law because we use them to separate us from people. He even talks to an old friend dying in a hospitalization and says, "Of course you must die this way. The divine law will not allow you to die peacefully because of all the atrocities we did in New Guinea." Wow! I wonder if we Christians could link cancers to certain sins if we would have the nerve to tell the sufferer it's caused by some sin. I mean, Kenzo offers no excuse, no place for anyone -- especially the emperor-- to hide from sin. He gets arrested for driving his guiltmobile through town with slogans all over it.

He's especially pissed at Sargeant Yamada who it appears was totally evil to his own soldiers and to enemy.

Then there's the mystery of what exactly happened to Private Yoshizawa. Was he murdered (and by who) and cannibalized because he was against the cannibalization his fellow soldiers had to practice because they were starving? What is the cover-up? His sister says God has told her her brother was killed because he was honorable. (I know many Chinese and Japanese folks supposedly don't believe in a Creator God but honestly, I've seen so many Asian movies that I'm totally convinced they do. In small gods, and in divine law or God.)

The weird thing is how folks react to him. The reserved Japanese cops are very calm when he speaks over his loudspeaker --while they're trying to arrest him-- that they work for money and not for divine law. The Japanese reserve is pretty strong and even when our hero -- who has serious post-traumatic issues but that really doesn't matter-- even attacks them physically in their houses. Yamada is tough but you kinda see his sneer crumbling. The spiritual folks accept their guilt and trust to divine law for mercy.

What a great documentary! I totally loved it. I love guys like this. We really don't have any Christian spiritual person like this in the west who makes himself/herself hated for the sake of some divine purpose. I mean even if you have someone in the US who is anti-abortion or something, that person would be pro-war. Totally fun! IF you like holy troublemakers who try to turn the world upside down: this is the film.

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