Thursday, March 29, 2012

US-China relations could get worse
Here is a video i found that expresses the political conflict between the US and China. China has requested for Obama to not meet with the Dalai lama due to the liberation that China has over Tibet. China took over Tibet during the 1950s due to the cruelty of which the Dalai lama was inflicting on his people. People were mutilated and killed as punishment for crimes without Jury or trial, allegedly it got out of had. The video claims that it was less of a "shang gri la, and more like Hell on earth"recently Tibetan monks have been setting themselves alight in protest to the communist rule of china. With all this negative press in the news currently putting China in a bad light, China has requested that Obama doesn't meet with the Dalai lama
The news report tells us that US and China relations may drop if Obama meets with the Dalai Lama. the report tells the story as a political test of power by China to see if they have influence over the US . Obama is resisting against it and is going to see the Dalai Lama anyway like the presidents before him. This may decrease trade with China and inadvertibly effect the US economically.

America in Decline

The first issue addressed is the situation of Obama bowing to Hu Jintao on his visit to America. It appears he is succumbing to Chinese power over America. Reagan states that China is disrespecting America as Hu Jintao does not return the bow from Obama especially on American land. It appears many people feel that America shouldn’t welcome China onto American land due to a number of factors such as American debts, foreign policy and generally global power. The issue is what choice does America have not to welcome China when so much is owed to China through their borrowing and trade deficits especially if this is to continue. Global issues have also put a strain on the Chinese/ American relationship due to their actions pulling out of the UN decision on Syria. Reagan believes China have not paid the price for going against the United States. The issue of China constantly building their military force while America has to introduce cut backs also causes a rife in this relationship due to the fact that America feels threaten by another nation overtaking their control. It may also become an issue due to the fact that American and Chinese foreign policies greatly differ. For example China can begin to help countries such as Iran and Syria to build defence against the United States only adding to the problems of foreign issues such as terrorism.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Digital Idenitity - Keyboard Warriors (Anon)

My interpretation of the phrase "Digital Identity" is the identity you choose to belong to, whilst in the digital world. In today's highly digital society, things like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, MySpace, Blogger, Bebo and everything else are very common.
Every day, a huge number of us use a social networking site, and the best bit about it, is that we can choose what we want to broadcast - we can create our own personas online, because we can be who we want.
This obviously has its upsides and downsides.

Being Anon or Anonymous is a basic way of being online ergo has many pros and cons. For example People are a lot meaner when they know there are no consequences for their actions. Those who post anonymously are free to form malicious opinions, which can offend the writer of an article or another fellow commenter. The concept of being anonymous makes people more daring, and using websites such as ChatRoulette as an example, there is a familiar sight of men waving their genitalia at the camera, which most likely offends, but for some could be a positive aspect of anonymity if you are into that kind of thing…. However Anonymity also protects those who are in fear of persecution, which for me is something the internet provides freely. You are immune from physical attack and in most cases judicial power. This could mean that what you read online is the true nature of people away from social boundaries.

Many like to create personas to ‘troll’ other people, but offline are normal people. There are thoseof whom act the same offline and online, and those who create a scene and see posting on a forum as a game. Ultimately, the feeling of being anonymous gives users somewhat of a poetic licence to be outrageous, even if they are posting in a tight-knit community where people may know each other offline. I don’t think that being anonymous is a bad thing, as it is often hard to enforce any laws on the internet. As the internet is such a large place I think it will be hard to ever tame it, and I think that people will always want the right to be anonymous, not just online, but offline too. It promotes a freedom which we all have the right to and online groups such as Anonymous certainly prove this.

Digital Identities

Digital identities online in America are extremely prevlent in their society. Identities are paved and created firstly, through the utilisation of social networks. Social networking on sites such as Facebook, Tumblr, Myspace among others allow people to assert their identity to people that they already know or who have 'friended'. This is done through uploading photographs, setting status' and 'liking' pages, all of which can be seen by all the people in your friends list.

These identities that can be paved are not always concrete and can be created by the user (i.e. the identity that they show might not always be exactly who they are). For example, one can ommit their sexual preference or their nationality which can transgress from the idea of the hyphenated American.

These identites paved by social networking can be furthered by the mobility allowed through smartphones, wifi and 3G internet connection. This allows users to be able to connect to the internet, and thus their social networks, via their smartphones.

These devices create a digital identity through the actual hardware itself. This is because of the value placed upon items such as the iPhone or Blackberry. By buying this hardware, an American is able to fit into a circle of people who own these products. For example, BBM for the blackberry or whatsapp (free SMS service for smartphones). Also, because of the price of these sorts of phones, it may also say something about ones social standing/ the American Dream. By default, due to the constitution and the declaration, Americans have quite a stark preoccupation with success and the ownership of flash, new and innovative technology would act as a 'signifier' that they have achieved middle class status.

The dangers of digital identity

Technology allows Americans to live a new American dream. One that doesn't demand hard labour. Be it from investing in technological buisness' or becoming a youtube sensation, the digital age produces profit. This financial freedom has created a new opportunity and a new level of wealth in America. Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are two of the wealthiest men in the world and they have created this wealth through technology and people's dependence upon it.

More than any other, digital identity is all about choice. To set up a profile on a social network all a person needs is an email address. They can essentially become whoever they want to be. Most people use social networks to connect with friends and organise events however, there are other uses for the sites. One aspect of facebook that is fast becoming a problem is trolling. Trolling is
when a person, normally using a fake name, posts antagonising slander on facebook pages. The most commonly talked about are the postings on memorial pages for children. In a recent trolling documentary a troll said that the reason he did it was for the kick he got when someone replied to the posts. This is one way that people use technology to express their identities without consequences. Another is cyber bullying. The Internet allows anonymity for criminals and those who wish to hurt people. The ever growing need to police the Internet is a worry in America. Issues of illegal file sharing and downloading are especially prominent in the news but they are far from the most harmful Internet crimes. The ability to create a digital identity is abused by many in the ways I have already described. However, surely the most sinister crime committed through the Internet is the ability to create a new identity in order to trap a child. This is a new fear that did not exist before the Internet. It is the only place that a parent can not watch out for their child. I think this growing abuse of the Internet is virtually impossible to police and will only become a greater concern to America and much of the world in the future.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Digital Identity

In a the modern world we live in we are more connected and closer than ever. This is due to the use of social networking, such as Facebook and Twitter. They more or less allow us to see what is going on with anyone and anything in the world. If i were to look up news in Istanbul that would not be much of an effort, whereas 20 years ago it wouldn't be worth the curiosity. Governments now must deal with this over exposure and as a result be more secretive. This can mean lying to the public by keeping a face up that is perceived as ethical. Facebook allows anyone to form an identity by editing their pages, showing their likes and interests, age, sexuality ect. Through this medium people can "know" people from just a click of the mouse. In theory this should make us closer but that isn't exactly true.
The interests someone might show on their page are just the interests they have that they wish to publicise, it may say that they like sport, but in reality the person might not be able to hold a 5 minute conversation about the topic, but they can if someone was to start talking about Star Wars. The chat feature on face book can be used to get to know people and the wall or timeline to show messages to a person for all. With all these easy and quick features it can be an effort for some to actually meet up in person. with the continuos development of easy to use networking the future will be a very different place. The side effects of the Internet and excessive use predicts a future of over stimulation from things the Internet can provide. When in truth that future is here already.
here is an article explaining that those who have easy access to the online community at a young age face dangers
health issues that come with constant screen use and Internet exposure include: obesity, eye damage, skin irritations, mental problems and bad posture .
Not only this but addiction is one of its biggest problems. Recent studies show the peoples need for dopamine is much higher and can only be obtained by hyper stimulation from things like online gaming and hardcore pornography. This is due to frequent use. studies show children (mainly boys) as Early as 12 seeing hardcore porn regularly. This can lead to impotence in later life as the need for more perverted material, can make there pleasure response numb, and disable them from having a functioning intimate relationships. Online gaming has got to the point were people have died due to excessive use. As games get more stimulating they become harder to not play, due to the intense levels of dopamine the brain delivers to the body from playing them. With the masses of money involved with online businesses the future is only going to lead to more exposure to dangerous materials. This creates a Distopian society that is not natural for humans, as we cannot evolve to this change quick enough, effectively making us cavemen living in a world we cannot function in, as our brains cannot support it.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Digital Identity

Digital identity has become ever more important in the modern day world. Technology will become even more important in years to come causing people to come even more reliant on the ease of technology. This is not always positive though.

Social networking sites such as Facebook have enabled people to be able to simply choose an identity. People can be selective to what they wish to disclose but also create a completely new identity. The freedom these social networks can give you tends to cause more negative than positive effects such as the many cases of bullying even leading to suicide in many circumstances. The negatives of this result in the many cases of mistaken digital identity. This has only added to the larger numbers of paedophiles creating a differing digital identity. Identity is no longer about appearance or personality but what we chose to indicate to people. Facebook is almost certainly an example of performance choosing how we want to be perceived rather than who they genuinely are.

Another digital identity available to Americans is simply the make and types of technology people rely on. For example there is a strict divide between those who have a Blackberry or Iphone, it is now seen as a status symbol and can also relate to symbolise your identity through displaying class divides. These devices can further create someones digital identity through apps such as Blackberry messenger or Whatsapp whereby profile pictures and statuses can display anything and everything you wish to tell your digital “world” about you at that certain moment. For example your mood, your relationship status and even your whereabouts which can create a friendship through nothing but what you wish to reveal. It can also result in criminal activity, there is examples of cases whereby people have posted on the internet the time they are on holiday only to return to find their houses have been burgled.

The number of digital identities available to Americans will only seek to increase as more and more examples of media and technology. Americans will end up relying on technology for every daily task causing them to lose even more of their identity and relying on their digital identity.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Class Struggle

The site above belongs to a group named the social alternatives, of whom are described as a ‘national organization fighting in our workplaces, communities, and campuses against the exploitation and injustices people face every day.’ Their slogan ‘Bail Out Workers, Not Wall Street’ highlights their attitude towards the US government, ‘We believe the Republicans and Democrats are both parties of big business.’ In contrast they campaign ‘to build an independent, alternative party of workers and young people to fight for the interests of the millions, not the millionaires.’

The aims of the Social Alternative include some of the following, ‘Raise the federal minimum wage to $12.50/hour, adjusted annually for cost of living increases and regional differences, as a step towards a living wage for all.’ Free healthcare, and a personal favourite being to shorten the work week ‘with no loss in pay and benefits - share out the work with the unemployed and create new jobs.’

Two other points worth mentioning, was the attitude towards the Tea Party movement - something they call an 'incredible phenomenon' with 'ludicrous and crazed ideas and leadership,' that only garnered support because they took advantage of the political vacuum created by an absence of any left-wing challenge to Obama. And also, their feelings towards the lack of unionisation in America - something they feel strongly attributes towards 'increased class polarisation' and helps the popularity of Occupy America, as it provides an important catalyst.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The 99%, The 1% and Class Struggle

The 99%, The 1% and Class Struggle is an article that I had found on the website The article was written by Alejandro Reuss in September 2011.

In this article, he points out the main focus of the idea of the 99% and the 1% and the movement '#occupywallstreet' and what they are trying to achieve. Occupy Wallstreet are a movement against the unequal distribution of wealth in the United States and how the economy, although in crisis, favours capitilism and the few people that are on top.

The article highlights that the classlines are evidently clear and describes these class inequalities as a 'losing streak at the hands of employers'. In other words, the people 'on top' are in utter control and in order to create maximum profit, creates a class struggle.

The above picture is included in the article written by Reuss and demonstrates the unfair treatment of the '99%'. It shows that the workers are putting in more work than what they are paid for, which can obviously lead to a class struggle. This is because they are putting in way too many man-hours for what they are being paid and are ultimately wasting time. This can lead to problems such as child-care and makes it more difficult for people in the 'poor' class, or what is known as the 'working class', to have a properly functioning family life.

It was also said by Reuss that: "...workers’ share of total income has fallen, and capitalists’ share has increased." Meaning that the top 1% riches are furthered by this.

Class: the big divide

The website I have found is a page from the New York Times. A team of reporters spent a year investigating class and the page contains their results. They are expressed in bar graphs, pie charts and personal accounts. In the personal accounts they ask for the person's self described class. They go on to talk about the person's job and background. It is interesting in that it allows the people to define their class themselves. It also has a section called 'where do you fit in?' in which you choose your occupation, education, income and wealth and tells you which percentile each aspect is and overall. This means it can calculate the percentage of the population who earn the same as you or lower. There is a section on how class works which allows you to see the wealth distribution in certain professions. The final section is an opinion poll on how Americans see class and how they fit into the class system. This section asks questions such as 'how likely is it that you will ever become wealthy' and 'compared with their social class growing up people said their class was' this section again is interesting because it is based on opinion.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Class System

The article looks at myths that surround social mobility in America. The idea that the American Dream no longer exist “If your daddy was rich, you’re gonna stay rich, and if your daddy was poor, you’re gonna stay poor” in reality the class you’re born into is the one you will remain with for the entirety for your life. The idea of hard work ensuring social mobility no longer exists. This is however difficult for many Americans to believe as the basis of American lifestyle and promise is that you can achieve anything you wish “the only limits are your own limits.” It is believed among many poverty stricken Americans that their poverty however is not permanent and that they will be saved by the American Dream especially once the economic downturn is over, although this opinion is becoming less apparent within these communities.

american eagle

The cynical views of the fate of many working class and lower class citizens is seen within this image symbolising America as a place of no hope and chance contradicting how America was seen up until late 20th century and early 21st century whereby poverty has increased. It is no longer a place for many in Europe to escape for freedom and prosperity. It also addresses that in many ways the issue of class struggle has overtaken the issues of race and discrimination in America. For example the struggles of African American communities they believe are no longer based on the issue of race but rather the economics issues that have. This image groups everyone together whatever race, gender or religion you are as they all are under the control of a “no chance” society.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Christian Science.
Christian Science is about love. Founded in 1879, by Mary Barker Eddy it addresses major issues about God, life and death, sacrament, good and evil, salvation and many more. It teaches from the Bible, encouraging people to see things from a Spiritual perspective as Jesus taught.

Today there are members in 130 countries and democratically run churches in 75 countries. From these numbers it is seemingly popular religion; however it is often confused with Scientology, faith healing, New Age practices, and Eastern religions. It has also been called un-Christian or labeled a cult. The site claims the inspiration it offers runs deeper than positive thinking. Christian Science teaches that it’s never God's will for anyone to suffer, be sick, or die. Instead, it shows how God is entirely good, and therefore ‘His will for each of us is only health and life.’

A particular area of interest on the site would be the relationship held between the Religion and Western Medicine. ‘ What do prayer, unconditional love, forgiveness, life's meaning and purpose, and spiritual practice have in common? They are five Spiritual Concepts Western Medicine Must Embrace. ’ The site clearly indicates that prayer, overall should be the main option regarding healthcare for Christian Scientists. Although, the website does state that members are allowed to choose the healthcare plan that they feel is right from them, there is a strong indication that mainstream healthcare is not preferred. Christian Science therefore can be seen to be a way out of this mainstream, capitalist system, especially for those on a low income who cannot afford healthcare. The group allows these people to feel as if something is being done about their problems without the worry of money.

Christian Science main focus is on positive thinking, love and progression. Positive thinking is something that is key to the American lifestyle; therefore it can form a link into the American Identity and ergo into the minds of Americans.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Westboro Baptist Church
The Westboro Baptist Church, also known as the most hated family in America, is an independent baptist church and is located in Topeka, Kansas. With around 40 members, the churches harmful and destructive views are not widespread and stay contained within the confines of a family and a few members that have chosen to enter into the church from outside the Phelps family.

This church gained wide media attention when the picketing of soldiers funerals and holding derogatory signs became more prominent. They have appeared on talk shows such as the Tyra Banks Show and even made it's way across the water the Jeremy Kyle Show, in which they were now allowed to enter the UK and had to make their appearence via a linked video camera.

The way in which their website shows their American Idenity is blurred in many ways. This website concentrates on one element of their belief system (that God hates gays and anyone that can live in a society where gays are out are called 'fag enablers'.) They do seem to concentrate, on this main website on soldiers and gays. Almost putting them together on one website. On here, they use excerpts from the bible in order to 'back up' their claims about how God feels about these two types of American. This church, however, has many different websites that they aim at many different parts of the world.

The fact that they say that God hates the world, America and Barack Obama shows that the Westboro Baptist Church pretty much rejects their American Identity. They do not celebrate their culture, their history or seem to do anything constructive within the community. All of which are quite strong American ethos'.

Westboro Baptist Church
The Westboro Baptist Church are an extremist church. The Church was founded in 1955. It is headed by the minister Fred Phelps and his family. Phelps was born in Mississippi and is a disbarred lawyer and a former civil rights activist. While studying at John Muir College he would preach against "sins committed on campus by students and teachers." During his time as a lawyer he fought many cases in favour of race equality. However Fred Phelps does not believe that everyone is equal. Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church are strongly opposed to Homosexuality. The website itself is called 'God Hates Fags', the WBC often picket the funerals of American military personal and claim that god hates America because of homosexuality. Their website contains schedules for picketing, anti-gay propaganda and bible quotes that they claim are anti-gay. I think the WBC define American faith because America has so many religions and denominations and the WBC represents how these facets of a religion can become extremist.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Polish Catholic Church of Massachusetts
This is the American faith group i found. It interested me because it is so niche. Its a Church for Polish speaking Americans that are Catholic. I then did some research into why there a market (for lack of a better word) for a Catholic polish church in Massachusetts. It turns out Polish settlers arrived 12 years before the pilgrims and established a community. upon arrival the settlers flourished and formed the first Bi Lingual school in America, teaching both English and polish. Today Polish is still taught and remains a part of the community and the Church celebrates polish tradition. This close comunity of Imagrents defines the American Identity as it shows that it is made up of lots of existing sub cultures and that their is space and acceptance for them to exist.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

American Baptist Churches USA

The first aspect that caught my eye when accessing the American Baptist Churches USA website was an article from Rev. Don Ng of the first Chinese Baptist church in America. This shows the diversity of the religion and its growing ethnic acceptance. This follows their belief “make disciples of all nations” which is highly relevant to America today with its large numbers of immigrants from many different nations. It can be seen as one of the more popular religions in America today with 1.3 million members and 5,500 congregations. They appear to be a very modern and future driven community stating “American Baptists seek renewal and revitalization. Informed by their history and tradition, motivated by contemporary needs and challenges” which I believe is refreshing within a religious group, especially with the aspect of integrating everyone and anyone into their society “we are in the forefront of creating a community of faith where people of every race, nationality and culture gather as one in worship, service and work” it is therefore seen as the “most racially inclusive Protestant body.” Martin Luther King is one of many famous Baptists recognised within the community and therefore symbolises their involvement in the African Americans community as well as in the civil rights movement as well as many others causes such as the promoting women’s independence. Their home page features an article on Black History Month reiterating their belief in equality.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

True Blood: AIDS Burger

When thinking of how to find a good representation of a gay/lesbian citizen in the United States today, I thought it would be good to look at an example which is mirrored in the views of another part of American Society. In True Blood, which is set in La (a Southern State) and the views towards homosexuality may not be as liberal as say CA or NY.

The main character of this particular scene (Season 1, Episode 5 - When Sparks Fly Out), Lafayette, is an openly gay African-American man who has the stereotypical femininity associated with a gay men. However, the build of this character diffuses the femininity. He is visably muscular and well built. In this particular scene, Lafayette transgresses this stereotype of the feminine gay and his approach to the comments from the 'rednecks' (which is how the waitress Arlene described them) in 'manly' and 'butch' manner.

The language used by the principal character in this scene can lend some idea as to the identity of gays in contemporary America. Like African-Americans, this scene uses the reappropriation of words. 'Faggots been breeding your cows, raising your chickens and brewing your beer long before I walked my sexy ass up in this motherfucker, everything on your goddamn table got AIDS.' The ownership of the word loosens the power that it holds in discrimination. The altercation ends in a fight, in which Lafayette ends up beating up the 'rednecks', also transgressing from the stereotype and lending some credence to the idea that gay men can also be masculine.

The 'rednecks' attitude towards Lafayette is shows typical characteristics of homophobia. The fact that they believed that they termed the burger as an 'AIDS' burger mirrors the idea that people believed that AIDS is a disease that can be caught from mere touch. Something which was believed at the time when it was highly publicised in the news. 'I'm an American and I have a say in who makes my food' indicates that these people don't believe that he is an American and that his sexuality sets him apart from everybody else in the bar. A view which would be all too common in the Southern states of America.
I found a video on YouTube that is a montage of people expressing homophobia. It makes the point of saying that homosexual behavior is damaging to society as well as the individuals that engage in that behavior. The video shows some of the more extremely ignorant views of Americans. These views however are still broadcasted on a massive level, as its news reports , campaign adverts, and interviews that are televised and expressing the view. Passive audience members would take what they are being told on and accept what is being said. What I can take from this is that the USA currently has conflict caused by a huge spectrum of views on homosexuality and is making a political scale problem. This video however is made in favour of the LGBT and points out the ignorant views of spokes people against the gay community


The video I have chosen is a clip from the American TV program The Chew. It shows same sex couple Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka take part in a Mr and Mrs type game called Chewlyweds. Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka began dating in 2004 and claim to have proposed to each other in 2005, although they kept this quiet until same sex marriage was made legal in New York. They have twins via a surrogate mother that were born in 2010. I think they are an excellent representation of a modern American same sex couple with children. Neil Patrick Harris is a very successful actor and magician. David Burtka is also an actor as well as a chef. They both have successful careers and manage to raise two children. This clip is especially interesting because the game they play is designed for married couples and would have been originally devised for same sex couples. The game is very similar to the popular TV show Mr and Mrs which, as indicated by the title, was a game show aimed at same sex married couples. Mr and Mrs first aired in Canada in 1963. At this time gay marriage was far from legal in the United States. For a modern same sex couple to partake in a game based on this clearly heterosexual show is a huge step and an achievement. The fact that this is done nonchalantly and without a second glance shows how far acceptance of gay identity has come in The United States.