Propaganda as Pump Handle (2006)
Communications / History / Society / Technology

Propaganda as Pump Handle (2006)

Simply saying propaganda is neutral and we only need to use it for good fails because much of what constitutes the “good” is contingent upon any number of factors – preconceptions and ideology, social class, education, political and economic power – that must be examined in order to understand propaganda as a social force actualized in the real world. Propaganda is embedded with value and largely becomes, due to unequal social relations which exist, a tool for the powerful, who are the principle operators and owners of the channels of mass communications, if not the primary influencers of them. The value-neutral approach overlooks this social (mal)distribution of power and, in doing so, helps to reinforce and reproduce this reality of inequality. Continue reading

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Three Englishmen in Mecca (2002)
History / Islam / Religion

Three Englishmen in Mecca (2002)

In the following examination, I will relate the stories of three Englishmen, each from different historical eras, who made the annual pilgrimage, forbidden to all non-Muslims, and entered the city of Mecca in the heart of the Hijaz. This pilgrimage is known in Arabic as the Hajj, and the travels of the men, separated by two hundred and fifty years, reflect an evolving and interconnecting relationship taking place between England and Arabia in particular, and Europe and its developing notions of the Orient in general. Continue reading

Donald Trump, Steve Bannon and the Crisis of Capitalism
Atheism / Christianity / History / Politics / Religion / Society

Donald Trump, Steve Bannon and the Crisis of Capitalism

Stephen K. Bannon is a public figure shrouded in mystery. He’s arguably the person most responsible for the Trump presidency. He is to Donald Trump what Karl Rove was to Bush’s brain. Being the executive chairman of Breitbart News and soon-to-be Counselor to the President, his impact upon our culture is undeniable. Continue reading

History / Music

Indian Island Massacre of 1860

Here’s a new song I produced for The Georgia Handshakers. It’s written by my friend Mike Bynum. He’s providing vocals and playing rhythm electric guitar. All other instrumentation is me.

The song is about a horrible and infamous moment in Humboldt County history: the Indian Island Massacre of 1860. Here’s how Joan Crandell describes the event:

In the pre-dawn hours of February 26, 1860 a small group of white men, using axes and knives, massacred over 50 women and children of Tuluwat, the Wiyot village that had existed on Indian Island (Gunther Island) for over one thousand years. Concurrent attacks took place at other Wiyot settlements around the bay, resulting in the death of over 150 people, mainly women and children. Bret Harte, serving as editor of the local paper in his employer’s absence, wrote a scathing editorial decrying the massacre. His resulting expulsion from Humboldt County within the month was reported to be in response to threats from civilians who supported the murderers. A number of editorials that followed denounced the crime and hinted at guilty men, but refused to name them outright, perhaps for fear of retribution. A grand jury was called in April 1860 to investigate the matter but no one was named and the crime went unpunished.

Everything was produced on Kxstudio, a Linux audio production distribution. I used Ardour as my workstation, Calf creative suite plugins, and the fantastic epicVerb VST plugin from Variety of Sound. For drum programming I used Hydrogen Drum Machine.

Please excuse the mix quality. I don’t have even the most basic setup for home monitoring and mixing. I mix using a pair of cheap Sony headphones. It’s a bit of trial-and-error; I tweak a few things, finalize everything, then check it on my Cowon J3 and in my car. Then repeat.

Listen & Download:
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Christianity / History / Religion

Historical Jesus Files: The Rationalistic View of Biblical History

Nearly 180 years ago David Friedrich Strauss analyzed what he called the rationalistic doctrine of historical Jesus studies.  It is here where the biblical scholar peels back the layer upon layer of myth and legend associated with the Jesus story in order to arrive at the true kernel of some past individual from which the entire … Continue reading

Christianity / History / Religion

The Great Commission: How can anyone take the New Testament seriously?

Here is the famous closing to Matthew, describing what the post-resurrection Jesus said to his disciples (and all subsequent believers):

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”

Matthew 28:16-20 (RSV)

Here’s Paul talking about his calling from God: Continue reading