Saturday, November 30, 2019

Dialogic Cinephilia - November 30, 2019

Baker-White, Emily. "Police Attitudes in Plain View." Criminal Injustice #106 (September 3, 2019) ["Many people make their social media posts public. Everyone can see them, like a signed billboard visible anywhere in the world. So, what should we think when we learn that *some* police officers, in some departments, have been posting racist messages or memes endorsing violence, visible to anyone on the Internet? "]

Benton, Michael.
The Future of Another TimelineThe Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Daughters of Harriet (after anti-slavery abolitionist and political activist Harriet Tubman) are time-traveling scholars who are engaged in an edit-war (in which small edits in the timeline can change the direction of the future) with the reactionary, misogynistic Comstockers (after the odious, self-righteous, anti-vice activist Anthony Comstock) who seek the total subjugation or erasure of that which is different. A rip-roaring, fun read that literally spans the history of multiple timelines that is sure to provoke reflection on the nature of history, the importance of what we think & do as individuals, the power of collective action (and thought), and the reverberations of seemingly minor events.

View all my reviews

Estes, Nick. "Our History Is the Future: Lakota Historian Nick Estes on Thanksgiving & Indigenous Resistance." Democracy Now (November 28, 2019)

Harris, David A. "The Attack on Elected District Attorneys." Criminal Injustice (September 7, 2019) ["As reform-minded elected prosecutors gain power across the U.S., they’re increasingly coming under fire from their federal counterparts — most recently, an anti-democratic tirade by U.S. Attorney Bill Barr, who attacked progressive district attorneys for doing what voters elected them to do."]

---. "Progressive Prosecutors Slapped Again." Criminal Injustice (September 24, 2019) ["A crime summit held recently in St. Louis was a virtual who's-who of high ranking city and state government officials. Conspicuously absent from the gathering were the progressive, African American district attorneys of St. Louis and Kansas City, who were excluded despite having been elected to the top law enforcement post in Missouri's two largest cities. We look at the latest in a trend of anti-democratic attacks on reformist elected prosecutors."]

West, Stephen. "John Dewey and Walter Lippman on Democracy." Philosophize This #130 (May 23, 2019)

Zha, Carl, et al. "Hong Kong Protests (Where Colonialism meets Neoliberalism)." Best of the Left #1314 (October 25, 2019) ["Today we take a look at the complicated range of forces driving the protests in Hong Kong that span the ideological spectrum."]

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Dialogic Cinephilia - November 26, 2019

Adkins, Ashleigh. "The Joker: “When Laughter and Medicine Fail the Psyche." Letterboxd (October 25, 2019)

Antoon, Sinan. "Anti-Government Protests Have Led to “Reclaiming of Iraqi Identity.”" Democracy Now (November 26, 2019) ["In Iraq, more than 340 people have died since anti-government protests began in early October. More than 15,000 Iraqis have been injured. Tires were set on fire Monday and main roads and bridges were blocked in the cities of Basra and Nassiriya. Over the weekend, security forces opened fire on civilians in Baghdad and other cities. Demonstrators are protesting corruption and lack of jobs and basic services, including clean water and electricity. In Baghdad, many university students are taking part in the demonstrations. To talk more about the protests in Iraq we are joined by the Iraqi poet, novelist, translator, and scholar Sinan Antoon. He was born and raised in Baghdad and his most recent novel is titled, “The Book of Collateral Damage.” “What’s really important is the reclaiming of Iraqi identity and a new sense of Iraqi nationalism that transcends the sectarian discourse that was institutionalized by the United States in 2003,” Antoon says."]

Benton, Michael Dean. Around the World in 15 Films (11) Letterboxd (Future Film Course Plan)

Blackmon, Douglas A., et al. "Mass Incarceration." Throughline (August 15, 2019) ["The United States imprisons more people than any other country in the world, and a disproportionate number of those prisoners are Black. What are the origins of the U.S. criminal justice system and how did racism shape it? From the creation of the first penitentiaries in the 1800s, to the "tough-on-crime" prosecutors of the 1990s, how America created a culture of mass incarceration."]

Douglas A. Blackmon: Journalist/History/Slavery/Mass Incarceration Dialogic Cinephilia (Ongoing Archive)

Gino, Francesca. "You 2.0: Rebel with a Cause." Hidden Brain (August 9, 2019) ["This week, we'll follow Gino on her mission to understand the minds of successful rule breakers. What are their secrets? And how can we discover our own rebel talent? "I think we really need to shift our thinking," says Gino. "Rebels are people who break rules that should be broken. They break rules that hold them and others back, and their way of rule breaking is constructive rather than destructive. It creates positive change.""]

Grandin, Greg. "The Border Patrol Has Been a Cult of Brutality Since 1924." The Intercept (January 12, 2019)

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Dialogic Cinephilia - November 20, 2019

Benton, Michael Dean. Even the Rain / También la lluvia directed by Icíar Bollaín." #Crucial21DbW (August 7, 2019)

Berryhill, Katarina. "Normality is a Modern Fallacy." Dialogic Cinephilia (November 18, 2019)

Estes, Nick. "Standing Rock and the History of Indigenous Resistance in America." BackStory (September 6, 2019) ["In 2016, protests broke out at Standing Rock – a reservation in North and South Dakota – to block the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Indigenous peoples and other activists opposed the pipeline because they believed it violated sacred sites and threatened to contaminate the Missouri River, a major source of drinking water in the region. Taking social media by storm, the #noDAPL movement quickly became an international headline. On this episode, Nathan sits down with historian and activist Nick Estes to talk about his experience at Standing Rock, the history of Indigenous resistance, and the current state of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Estes’ new book is called Our History is the Future: Standing Rock versus the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Long Tradition of Indigenous Resistance."]

Frank, Justin. "Dr. Justin Frank Explains the Real Reason that Donald Trump Hates the Ukraine Scandal Whistleblower." The Chauncey DeVega Show #254 (October 2, 2019) ["Dr. Justin Frank is a former clinical professor of psychiatry at the George Washington University Medical Center and a physician with more than 40 years of experience in psychoanalysis. He is the author of the bestselling books Bush on the Couch and Obama on the Couch. His newest book is Trump on the Couch. Dr. Frank's work has appeared in Time magazine and the Daily Beast and he has appeared as an expert commentator and guest on MSNBC, CNN, PBS and other outlets. Dr. Justin Frank explains what does Donald Trump's behavior in response to the Ukraine Scandal and his likely impeachment reveal about the president's core character and psyche? He also explores if there are any limits on what Donald Trump could potentially do in response to his feeling threatened and afraid by the House Democrats' impeachment investigation and the possibility that -- however slim -- he may be removed from office by the United States Senate? And what are the real reasons why Donald Trump hates and wants to destroy the Ukraine whistleblower?"]

Serwer, Adam. "Trump's White Nationalist Vanguard." The Atlantic (November 18, 2019) ["The emails of a key presidential aide show an extremist ideology influencing policy in the White House."]

"Access to healthcare is a spiritual issue, deeply rooted in a compassionate world view. Currently, in America, more than 40 million people are uninsured and millions more have insurance with such a high deductible that they cannot afford to use it. It is estimated that 22,000 Americans die prematurely every year because of a lack of access to healthcare. Why can't we cover everyone? Why do we spend twice as much as every other western democracy while getting less than France, Belgium, England, etc.? Why are politicians on both sides of the political spectrum seemingly in the pocket of healthcare insurance and pharmaceutical companies . . . and why are most churches silent about this travesty?"

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Katarina Berryhill: Normality is a Modern Fallacy

Katarina Berryhill
Professor Michael Benton
English 102
16 October 2019

Normality is a Modern Fallacy

“...if you are not like everybody else, then you are abnormal, if you are abnormal, then you are sick. These three categories, not being like everybody else, not being normal and being sick are in fact very different but have been reduced to the same thing”
― Michel Foucault

Trying to define normal or normality, may seem a simple enough task. The Webster dictionary defines normal as “conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern” or “according with, constituting, or not deviating from a norm, rule, or principle” (“Normal”). However, upon further inspection of the word, it becomes clear just how vague this definition really is. That’s just speaking in terms of the dictionary definition of normal, but society also has a definition of what normal is. Picture the ideal American life; heterosexuality, college education, a neurotypical mind, able-bodied, marriage, Judeo Christianity, kids, a nine to five job, and most likely being white is thrown in there as well. Seems like this is the most often portrayal of normal, as proposed by the media and society at least. Then where does that leave everyone else, everyone else who for one reason or another doesn’t tick the box on one or maybe even all of these societal concepts of normal. In fact, the argument could be made that the vast majority of Americans, don’t fit this model of normal at all. Thus, causing the majority of people to be considered, in some way at least, abnormal. By that ideology then, what society presses as normal is actually abnormal, or so it would seem. To better understand normal though, it’s important to look at and understand where the concept itself truly comes from and how American society has come to perceive normal as it now does. In Peter Cryle and Elizabeth Stephens book Normality: A Critical Genealogy, the authors do just that, by exploring the origin of the term normal and its transformation from its initial emergence in society as a scientific term to what the modern-day conception of the term means and how it has come to be used. It is also important to understand just how harmful the idea of normal can be to the modern-day person. By examining where the term normal comes from, understanding that normal means something different for everyone, addressing the outdated use of the term normal and its negative effects on people, realizing that most people aren’t normal by society's standards, and showcasing that if people did not deviate from the norm we wouldn’t have a progression of society, then one can deduce how the concept of normality is a modern-day fallacy.

The history of the term normal, although not a very long history, is an interesting one. Though this is not the focus of the argument being presented, it is important to take a look at and to understand where exactly this term normal comes from. The origins of the term normal and it’s first emergence can be found in the mid-eighteenth century as a mathematical term used solely in geometry (Cryle and Stephens 3). It is important to remember, that this use of the word normal, has no connection to how the term is used in the modern-day. Even at this point, the term normal was only used as a not so common alternative expression for a perpendicular line (Cryle and Stephens 3). Somewhere around a hundred years after its initial emergence, the term normal begins to surface again, but this time in the world of science. This next place of emergence is seen around 1820 in French anatomy, around this time the term normal somewhat begins to take on its more modern-day meaning (Cryle and Stephens 3). Roughly ten years later the term normal begins to emerge in the field of physiology as well, and we see the use of the term normal state (Cryle and Stephens 26). It’s important to understand that, although the term normal is coming into use during this time, it is still not considered a commonplace term, it’s usage is very much confined to the scientific fields and not until 1848 is the term normal even added to the Oxford English Dictionary (Cryle and Stephens 4). As Cryle and Stephens further explore the history surrounding the term normal through the fields of science, a change begins to occur in how the term is used and its commonality. There comes an important moment in the history of normal where the shift from the use of normal, or normality, as a specifically scientific term makes its way into the social world. Francis Galton, the founder of the study of eugenics, used his statistical findings to apply the idea of normal, not only to the biological but also to the social (Mooney). This shift gave way to the more modern-day concept we have of what it means to be normal, as this, more socially focused concept of what it means to be normal came about in the twentieth century. Now that a brief history of where society even got its concept of normal has been touched on, the focus can now turn to the effects it has had on society.

Even as society began to cultivate its ideas about what it meant to be normal, there was still evidence that even those who may be perceived as normal, weren’t as normal as they seemed. As studies of human sexuality began to emerge and hold a place in society, it became very apparent that sexual deviance was more commonplace than many may have been willing to admit. Sigmund Freud highlighted this point in his research on sexology and even himself pointed out that it really wasn’t possible for anyone to be completely normal (Cryle and Stephens 275). “The Typical American: Male and Female” created by the artist Henry Kitson and Theodora Ruggles in 1893, based on taking the average measurements of physical dimensions from the general population thus generating this “ideal” male and female form (Cryle and Stephens 294). These statues which were meant to exemplify what the ideal human body should be wasn’t even universally accepted as ideal. Not to mention, these figures presented the ideal as a white male and female, excluding the very real and present demographic of Americans that were not white. This idea of excluding nonwhite Americans from the studies of what was normal isn’t a radical proposition and in fact, something that many twentieth-century cultural researchers purposefully excluded, as many researchers felt including nonwhite Americans would muddy the outcomes of their findings (Cryle and Stephens 306). It is apparent that even in its early stages of conceptual development, that the idea of normal can be argued against. There is no possible way that a society can hold an idea of normal for its population when the idea itself isn’t even achievable. When normality became the “ideal”, whether that be for the physical, mental, or social standard people were being held to, it seems society forgot that the ideal wasn’t anything humans were capable of achieving. These ideas of normal that began to sink their teeth into everyday life and arguably began to have lasting negative effects on those who did not conform to its ideals.

Throughout the history of the term normal and its eventual presence in modern culture, the negative effects it has had on people can be seen. As previously, discussed the erasure of nonwhite groups from cultural studies and presenting an ideal body that wasn’t even achievable are just a few instances of the ways these present ideas have harmed people. To understand that more, it’s necessary to look at the rise of Galton’s study of eugenics, of which the goal is to eradicate any abnormalities within the human race and ultimately create the ideal person. These ideas were targeted at anyone who was not mentally, physically or ethically sound by the standards of those who believed they knew what normal or the ideal really was (Cryle and Stephens 312). Now, this point is not meant to say that every person who believes in the idea of normality wants to do away with anyone who doesn’t fit this ideal person, but it is important to understand how it plays a role in what society believes to be normal. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, NIH, roughly 4.6 million adults in America lived with a form of mental illness in the year 2017 (“Mental Health”). That isn’t even factoring in the number of Americans that live with some form of a physical disability, which according to The United States Census Bureau, roughly 56.7 million people suffered from some form of disability in 2010 (US Census Bureau). That then brings up the idea of what it means to be ethically sound, or morally sound, in the context of eugenics this would most likely refer to an old belief that criminal traits are inherently biological and can be passed down genetically from parents to children (Cryle and Stephens 312). Roughly 2.3 million Americans are currently incarcerated in the United States and about 3.6 million are on probation according to Prison Policy (Sawyer and Wagner). When you add all the numbers up of the people who are mentally ill, physically disabled, and have "deviant" criminal behaviors that gives you roughly 67.2 million Americans that according to eugenics, are unfit for society and in a sense should be eradicated. It’s easy to see how damaging this idea of normal, as proposed by eugenics, has affected American society as a whole. In order to create the ideal race, people must be done away with or hidden in the shadows out of the public eye. In fact, it was in the 1920’s that the Supreme Court ruled to allow people to forcibly be sterilized against their will if they had been deemed unfit by either their caregivers or the institution they were held at, a ruling which to this day has not been overturned by the Supreme Court (Kielty et al). The argument can be made that some people do not have the capacity to take care of themselves and therefore do not have the capacity to take care of a child, and that argument has some standing in truth, however, what a slippery slope it is, because for some their fear isn’t that people are incapable, rather, it is a fear that if they procreate, it will bring more people like them into the world. It becomes clear how the introduction of eugenics into society has helped shape the idea of what we consider to be normal, and just how damaging and harmful that idea can be for the people who for one reason or another do not fit into the concept of normal.

While many eugenicists took their inspiration from Charles Darwin, who was Francis Galton’s cousin, it seems many of them missed one of Darwin’s major points in his "theory of evolution." That the beauty of humanity and human evolution lies within the variation of the species (Kielty et al). When society attempts to put everyone into a small confined box and exclude the people it doesn’t deem good enough, it begins eliminating the idea of variation. Imagine life if everyone you met was the exact same, no differentiation in physical appearance between male and female, all from the exact same background, no difference in sexuality and no difference in opinion or world view. Society at that point would be at a standstill, there would be no moving forward and no emergence of new ideas or thought processes. What a miserable existence that would be. Societal ideas of normality, even from their beginnings have been outdated and aren’t applicable to what humanity is truly made of.

Ultimately, this idea of normality that has become so commonplace in the day to day lives of many people in American society, isn’t even an idea that has much foundation to stand upon. From its initial conception in the realm of geometry to its progression into the realms of science and later into society, the concept of normal has been questioned and argued against. Being normal isn’t something humans were meant to be and its not even a thing we can achieve. By adopting these ideas of normal and accepting them as gospel truths, society starts out casting and alienating people from the one thing every human belongs to, humanity. Variety and abnormality are what gives people their humanness, and to presume that these are inherently wrong traits based on an essential made-up concept, does nothing to promote human evolution and growth. Maybe some people do fit into this idea, and that isn’t inherently wrong, but society must rewire the way it sees normality and begin to understand that there truly is no such thing as a normal person, even if someone may appear so on the outside. All of these points help to conclude that the idea of normality, is, in fact, a modern-day fallacy.

Works Cited

Cryle, Peter Maxwell, et al. Normality: A Critical Genealogy. The University of Chicago Press, 2017

Foucault, Michel, (2004) 'Je suis un artificier'. In Roger-Pol Droit (ed.), Michel Foucault, entretiens. Paris: Odile Jacob, p. 95. (Interview conducted in 1975. This passage trans. Clare O'Farrell).

Kielty, Matt, et al. “Radiolab.” Radiolab, WNYC Studios, 17 July 2019,

“Mental Illness.” National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,

Mooney, Jonathan. “How, Exactly, Did We Come Up with What Counts As 'Normal'?” Literary Hub, 12 Aug. 2019,
“Normal.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster,

Sawyer, Wendy, and Peter Wagner. “Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2019.” Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2019 | Prison Policy Initiative, 19 Mar. 2019,

US Census Bureau Public Information Office. “Nearly 1 in 5 People Have a Disability in the U.S." U.S. Census Bureau, 19 May 2016:

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Dialogic Cinephilia - November 13, 2019

Anania, Billy. "The Cop-Attacking Chilean Dog Who Became a Worldwide Symbol of Protest." Hyperallergic (November 5, 2019) ["The recent uprising in Chile is full of references to the beloved Negro Matapacos, who accompanied protestors for many years. As his legend spreads, so too do images of the good boy."]

Gibson, Bradley. "Snowflake." Film Threat (January 24, 2019)

Howard, Ted and Marjorie Kelly.  "The Making of a Democratic Economy." Building Bridges (October 1, 2019) ["The Making of a Democratic Economy with Ted Howard, co-founder of the Democracy Collaborative, and Marjorie Kelly, author of The Divine Right of Capital, and Owning our Future have teamed up to co-author The Making of a Democratic Economy, a clarion call for a movement ready to get serious about transforming our economic system. The authors illuminate the principles of a democratic economy through the stories of on-the-ground community wealth builders and their unlikely accomplices in the halls of institutional power. Their book is a must read for everyone concerned with how we win the fight for an economy that’s equitable, not extractive."]

Teachout, Zephyr. "America's Lost Anti-Corruption History." On the Media (April 26, 2019) ["This week, the Treasury Department missed a second deadline to hand over the president’s tax returns to House Democrats. The White House directed its former head of personnel security to not adhere to a congressional subpoena to answer questions about the administration’s handling of security clearances. And on Monday the commander-in-chief sued his own accounting firm and Elijah Cummings, the Democratic chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, to block the committee from accessing his past financial records. As the Washington Post reported earlier this week, the lawsuit “amounts to Trump — the leader of the executive branch of government — asking the judicial branch to stop the legislative branch from investigating his past.” But so much lies in Trump’s past, and the nation’s. According to Zephyr Teachout, author of Corruption in America, this was never what America's founders envisioned when they set out to fight corruption. In 2017, a few weeks after the inauguration, Brooke spoke with Teachout about the overwhelming passion for anti-corruption present at the founding of the nation, the "bright line" rules it inspired, and how we have drifted so far from our original understanding of the concept."]

"We Need to Talk About Rape." Language: A Feminist Guide (October 25, 2019)

West, Stephen. "Dewey and Lippman on Democracy. Philosophize This #130 (May 23, 2019)

Wildridge, Cam. "The Dangers of Categorizing Trans Desire." Lady Science (September 25, 2019)

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Slurring Bee #29

Also need 15 absurd/quirky warm up questions

1st Round: warm-up question followed by a word
2nd Round: 3 words in succession for each contestant
3rd Round: Round-robin until we have a winner (keep track of last three - the order they come in)
3 mispelled words and a contestant is out

Pronouncer Information 1. Read carefully the Judges, Recorders, Spellers and Audiences information that is included in the Scripps pronouncers’ guide. 2. Familiarize yourself with all words on the confidential word list. Pronunciation is important. A meeting with the judges to insure pronunciation of words and procedures will be scheduled prior to the Bee beginning. 3. Speak clearly for contestants, judges and audience alike. Grant all requests to repeat a word until the judges agree that the word has been made reasonably clear to the speller. You may request the speller to speak more clearly or louder. 4. “Pace” yourself. You need time to focus attention on the pronunciation of the new word and the judges need a few moments between each contestant to do their tasks.

Speller’s Information 1. Each speller needs to focus on the Pronouncer, to aid his or her hearing and understanding of the context of the word. A speller may ask for the word to be repeated, for its use in a sentence, for a definition, for the part of speech, and for the language of origin. 2. Each speller should pronounce the word before and after spelling it. If the speller fails to pronounce the word after spelling it, the judge may ask if they are finished. If they say yes, the judge will remind the speller to remember to repeat the word the next time. (No speller will be eliminated for failing to pronounce a word.) 3. When a speller is at the podium spelling, the next speller should be standing at a marked location ready to proceed to the podium.

609) gelato

610) undulate

611)  fraught

612)  aphorism

613)  oligarchy

614)  algorithm

615) morass

616)  conspicuous

617)  locus


Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Dialogic Cinephilia - November 6, 2019

Gatnarek, Heather and Zach Heiden. "Abortion Rights: A Tale of Two States." At Liberty #69 (October 17, 2019) ["While abortion restrictions have left six states with only a single clinic standing, other states are finding ways to expand access. We speak with Heather Gatnarek, a staff attorney at the ACLU of Kentucky, who is helping fend off sustained attacks on what remains of reproductive care in that state. And we hear from Zach Heiden, legal director of the ACLU of Maine, where abortion was just made more affordable and accessible."]

Gladstone, Mariah. "Decades after forced sterilization, Native American women in the US still face rejection and retraumatization in healthcare." At Liberty (September 2019) ["Across the entire country, an estimated 25 percent of Native women of childbearing age were sterilized by 1976. While sterilization procedures should only have been presented as one of many contraceptive options, Native women were often coerced into signing forms or given incorrect information about their options. In one case, two 15-year-old Native girls on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in Montana were admitted to the local clinic for tonsillectomies and released with tubal ligations. Another woman in Los Angeles was told her hysterectomy would be reversible, only to find out six years later that she had been lied to. Others still were given forms to sign for painkillers or appendectomies, finding out later that they had relinquished their ability to bear children. Unfortunately, the history of forced sterilizations in the US extends far beyond Native women. In 1973, African American sisters Minnie and Mary Relf, 12 and 14 years old at the time, were secretly sterilized by a federally funded clinic under the premise of giving the girls birth-control shots. Mexicans and their US-born descendants were described as “immigrants of an undesirable type,” and thousands of women were forcibly sterilized in California institutions from 1920 to 1950. The US is responsible for tens of thousands of state-sponsored non-consensual sterilization procedures, all done to control populations of people deemed inferior."]

Lazic, Manuela. "Alice Rohrwacher: ‘We imagine that a good man does good, but it’s an illusion'" Little White Lies #79 (March/April 2019) ["Happy as Lazzaro is an ethereal take on modern slavery and what it means to be happy. We meet its maker."]

Murray, Melissa. "Marriage as a Tool of White Supremacy." At Liberty #71 (October 31, 2019) ["The Supreme Court struck down bans on interracial marriage in Loving v. Virginia, the landmark ACLU case decided in 1967. But the government‘s regulation of marriage and sex didn’t start with anti-miscegenation laws or end with Loving. Melissa Murray — an expert in family law, constitutional law, and reproductive rights and justice at the New York University School of Law — discusses why the institution looms so large in America's past and present. This episode was recorded live at the Brooklyn Public Library, as part of “‘Til Victory is Won,” an evening commemorating the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans to America’s shores."]

Srihari, Prahlad. "The Report and Cinema's Changing Attitude to On-Screen Torture."  Little White Lies (October 27, 2019)