incoming (2006-04)

Skinned Architecture

Unsustainable Suburbia

Listening In

What the Press Left Out: A Pastiche

Skinned Architecture

It would not surprise me, though I doubt it will be in my lifetime, that one day someone will realize what was done to the Crystal Building and decide to restore it. The ugly skin will be stripped off and everything will be put right again. Remember the hideous skin on the Miller Building and how appalled everyone was that some of the original ornamentation had been callously broken off to accommodate the glass skin? Well, BankEast is breaking off the entire facade of the building. Imagine the fits the future public will have about such ignorance!

Mark Hill

Unsustainable Suburbia

The closer we gravitate towards the sterility, predictability, convenience, and supposed security of modernity—and the further we are disconnected from the outdoors—the more we feel compelled to assuage the inner conflict by fooling ourselves into thinking that the conflict doesn’t exist. We do this by putting an outdoorsy “face” on a culture that is anything but! This phenomenon is ubiquitous—marketing departments everywhere indiscriminately paste a “natural” veneer to a whole slew of tangible and intangible goods. The worst transgression in this nationwide cover-up is our addiction to gas-guzzling SUVs. Besides the obvious point that the wasted energy of these monsters serves to destroy the very environment they claim to love, an SUV is designed to access parts of nature that are otherwise inaccessible—and SUV advertisements implore us to do just that. But knowing that we’ve bought a product that has those associations built-in is enough for us, for we let the talking of the images do the walking for us. Apparently in today’s world, a pretense counts as the real thing. Direct experience has not only been commodified, but also mediated. But passive consumption fuels the (unsustainable?) economy and thus we encourage it.

Even if you subscribe to postmodern theories on the elusiveness, and possible uselessness, of “authenticity,” should we not still consider the myriad ill consequences brought on by this top-down, simulated way of living rather than a more grassroots and organic way of living?

Matt Jordan

Listening In

Furthermore, not wishing to be accused of being intellectually lazy, I took the advice of Mr. Hendrix and read the U.S. Constitution. What I found was that under Article II, the president has the authority to defend the United States. Seems only logical that if a president (Republican or Democrat) can authorize the bombing of our nation’s enemies overseas without a court’s approval, he certainly can listen to their telephone conversations.

J. Mark Broussard

What the Press Left Out: A Pastiche

The upcoming phase of “diplomatic judgment of Iran” (a phrase attributed to an anonymous American official) precedes the widespread vilification common throughout respectable commentary in the United States, as statesman, politicians and commentators fall over themselves to condemn Iran, with editors conveniently ignoring or forgetting anything that doesn’t fit this very narrow view.

A New York Times article noted that “Iran had insulted [IAEA head] Mohamed ElBaradei... by removing the seals itself and not waiting for the agency to do it.” The quotes are from an IAEA statement released the day before. Reading it, we learn that on Jan. 7, “Iran requested that the Agency remove, before 9 January 2006, specified seals at Natanz, Pars Trash and Farayand Technique”—facts ignored by Times editors.

“With IAEA inspectors looking on” (Knight Ridder), Iran removed the seals themselves, an action transmuted into an “insult” ( Times editors) and a “very, very ominous move” (German Foreign Minister Franz-Walter Steinmeier), resulting in a situation in which “The onus is on Iran to give the international community confidence” (British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw).

With so much emphasis on “official” assertions, it’s easy to forget buried, yet helpful explanations in the press describing the “intrusive, voluntary international inspections of [Iranian] facilities” at issue here, which Iran might end, “although it pledged to continue to allow regular inspections under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty” ( New York Times ).

Similarly, discussions that allow for at least some legitimacy of Iranian claims are carefully excluded from respectable opinion, or, if included, dismissed as uninformed or irrelevant. Only at the margins would someone encounter truly dissenting, informed views on international affairs printed by a responsible press—views such as a recent remark by Middle East/Iranian expert Professor Ervand Abrahamian, who felt that “from the people in Tehran, their perspective is, ‘Look, North Korea has the bomb, and the U.S. is negotiating with it. Saddam Hussein didn’t have the bomb and look what happened to him.’” That weapons of mass destruction serve as the most effective deterrent to invasion and interference from the world’s sole superpower (U.S.) or the regional superpower (Israel), is dismissed as absurdity and disappears from respectable opinion.

Seeing through the filter, we can ignore scare tactics, leaving the elite commentators to spout their dire warnings of “an Iran hell-bent on nuclear-arms capability” (Frederick Kempe), earning its place in the fabricated “Axis of Evil” so eloquently constructed by George Bush and his handlers. In determining what one thinks of Iran’s nuclear intentions, it’s crucial to take that first step; only then we can begin to come to our own conclusions rather than accepting judgments constructed for us.

Dane Baker

Guidelines for Incoming Mail

© 2006 MetroPulse. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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