Progressive Calendar 03.02.09
From: David Shove (
Date: Mon, 2 Mar 2009 15:49:32 -0800 (PST)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    03.02.09

1. Peace walk       3.02  6pm RiverFalls WI
2. 3CD Green Party  3.02 6:30pm
3. Uhcan-mn         3.02 7pm
4. Gordon CAMpaign  3.02 7pm

5. RNC8 court       3.03 9/10am/1:30pm
6. Welfare/budget   3.03 9:15am
7. MN Leg outlook   3.03 1pm
8. Green scare/CTV  3.03 5pm
9. RNC court watch  3.03 6pm
10. Stark ungency   3.03 6:30pm
11. Salon/RNC       3.03 6:30pm
12. Single payer    3.03 7pm
13. Landscapes/film 3.03 7pm

14. Ignatius Donnelly - A nation on the verge of ruin.
15. McKibben/Berry    - Call for mass civil disobedience against coal
16. John Wilford      - Prints show a modern foot in prehumans
17. Dacher Keltneer   - Darwin 2C: the evolutionary logic of kindness
18. Christos Kefalis  - SF meets Marxism - John Carpenter's "They Live"

--------1 of 18--------

From: Nancy Holden <d.n.holden [at]>
Subject: Peace walk 3.02  6pm RiverFalls WI

River Falls Peace and Justice Walkers. We meet every Monday from 6-7 pm on
the UWRF campus at Cascade Ave. and 2nd Street, immediately across from
"Journey" House. We walk through the downtown of River Falls. Contact:
d.n.holden [at] Douglas H Holden 1004 Morgan Road River Falls,
Wisconsin 54022

--------2 of 18--------

From: 3rdCDGreenParty [at]
Subject: 3CD Green Party 3.02 6:30pm

3rd CD Green Party local meeting-Everyone Invited

The meeting will be held in the Edina Community Library on Monday March 2nd
at 6:30 PM.
Address 5280 Grandview Square just west of Hwy 100.  Take the 50th St. exit
and follow Vernon Ave. a quarter mile.  Library is on the left.

Agenda: Learn about the affects of the state budget and legislative issues
that are important to maintain our quality of life in this time of

Allan Hancock, Chair 3rd Congressional District, Green Party Minnesota

--------3 of 18--------

From: Joel Albers <joel [at]>
Subject: Uhcan-mn 3.02 7pm

Next UHCAN-MN mtg, monday March 2, 7PM, Walker Church (gallery in
basement), 3104 16th Ave S, Mpls (1 block from Lake Str and
Bloomington Ave).

-Intros, background
-Reportbacks; MN Health Plan tabled till next yr, Federal HC reform,
-new law student on board to start a legal arm in exposing HMOs
-new list serve for organizing multi-disciplinary HC practitioners
-action highlighting SP can solve both HC and economic crises: talking
Upcoming UHCAN-MN presentations

3/3 Wedge mtg,10:30AM (UHCAN-MN grantee for A Prairie Health
Companions Fund)

--------4 of 18--------

From: Cam Gordon <CamGordon333 [at]>
Subject: Gordon CAMpaign 3.02 7pm

We are meeting tomorrow evening from 7 - 9 at the Blue Moon Cafe on East
Lake Street and 39th Ave.  I maybe a few minutes late.

Our campaign team meeting schedule for the next two months is as follows:
Monday March 2, 7 - 9 pm
Monday April 6, 7 - 9 pm
Monday April 20, 7 - 9 pm

If you have agenda items for tomorrows meeting please send them along to
our group here.

I know we will need to discuss
1. Endorsments past and coming up (Take Action and Green)
2. The Recently printed Ward 2 Update and how to distribute it to areas
not delivered to already.
3. Finances
4.  Upcoming house parties (Katie and Ruth, Scott and Mary Alice?)
5. Upcoming caucus night and what follow up to do.
6.  March 11 Roundtable.
Finally - if you knowmore people who should be invited to join this email
list let me know and I can invite them.


--------5 of 18--------

From: info [at]
Subject: RNC8 court 3.03 9/10am/1:30pm

Because of the new judge, we have separate hearing this time around. We
still hope folks can make it to any or all of our dates. This will be our
first appearance in front of the new judge, and it is important to show
that we have support!

All hearings are at the Ramsey County Courthouse, 15 W. Kellogg Boulevard in
St. Paul, courtrooms TBA (you can always check the TV screens on the ground
floor for courtroom assignments).

Rob Czernik: Tuesday, March 3, 9:00am
Nathanael Secor: Tuesday, March 3, 10:00am
Garrett Fitzgerald: Tuesday, March 3, 1:30pm

--------6 of 18--------

From: Welfare Rights Committee <welfarerightsmn [at]>
Subject: Welfare/budget 3.03 9:15am

This Tues, March 3 at 9:45 am, the February Forecast will be given at the

Please join us for a picket and protest. We will have flyers and signs but
please bring more to raise our voices for a People's Bailout! Tax the
Rich. No cuts or layoffs.

We will be gathering at 9:15 am. Right now, I am not sure where the press
conference will be held. We will let folks know. If anyone finds out
where, please respond to the email, thanks.
Minnesota economic forecast expected Tuesday By Capitol Report staff
State lawmakers will get the final bad news on the budget Tuesday.

Minnesota Management & Budget (MMB) officials will deliver the February
economic forecast at 9:45 a.m., at the state Capitol. In December, MMB
officials reported a projected $4.8 billion general fund deficit for the
2010-2011 biennium. Gov. Tim Pawlenty has said he expects the shortfall to
get deeper in Tuesday announcement.

The forecast will be the final set of revenue and spending numbers that
lawmakers will use to base the state budget.

Welfare Rights Committee PO Box 7266, Mpls MN 55407 pho: 612-822-8020 main
email: welfarerightsmn [at] alt email: welfarerights [at]

--------7 of 18--------

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at]>
Subject: MN Leg outlook 3.03 1pm

March 3: American Association of University Women, St. Paul Branch
Meeting. 10:15 AM: New Member Coffee and Chat. 10:45 AM: Meeting. 11 AM:
The Economic Status of Women in Minnesota with Amy Brenengen, Director of
the Office on the Economic Status of Women. 1 PM: What Problems Are the
Minnesota Legislature Facing This Year, and What are they doing about
Them? with Senator Ellen Anderson. 990 Summit, St. Paul.

--------8 of 18--------

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at]>
Subject: Green scare/CTV 3.03 5pm

Cunning St. Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN) viewers:
"Our World In Depth" cablecasts on SPNN Channel 15 on Tuesdays at 5pm,
midnight and Wednesday mornings at 10am, after DemocracyNow!  All
households with basic cable may watch.

Tues, 3/3, 5pm & midnight and Wed, 3/4, 10am
The Green Scare: Civil Liberties Post-9/11

What is the Green Scare?  Most everyone has heard of the Red Scare.  In a
talk given at the U of M, award-winning independent journalist Will Potter
makes the case that animal rights and environmental (green) activists are
the most recent targets of government repression via new "anti-terrorism"
laws.  Potter is an authority on the use of these new laws to silence
political activists post-9/11.  Potter's writing on the topic was
recognized by Project Censored as one of the top twenty censored stories
of 2008.  Part 1 of 2.

--------9 of 18--------

From: Do'ii <syncopatingrhythmsabyss [at]>
Subject: RNC court watch 3.03 6pm

RNC Court Watchers are in need of participants to help with organizing
court information, documentation and etc.  RNC Court Watchers Meetings are
every Tuesday, 6 P.M. at Caffeto's. Below is announcement for our

Preemptive raids, over 800 people arrested, police brutality on the
streets and torture in Ramsey County Jail. Police have indiscriminately
used rubber bullets, concussion grenades, tasers and chemical irritants to
disperse crowds and incapacitate peaceful, nonviolent protesters. The
RNC-8 and others are facing felonies and years in jail. We must fight this
intimidation, harassment and abuse!

Join the RNC Court Solidarity Meeting this coming Tuesday at Caffetto's to
find out how you can make a difference in the lives of many innocent

Caffetto's Coffeehouse and Gallery (612)872-0911 708 W 22nd Street,
Minneapolis, MN 55405
Every Tuesday @ 6:00 P.M to 7:00 P.M
participate and help organize RNC court solidarity.
For more information, please contact: rnccourtwatch [at]

--------10 of 18--------

From: Russ Stark <Russ.Stark [at]>
Subject: Stark ungency 3.03 6:30pm


Please join me for a conversation with your neighbors and fellow Ward 4
residents in a conversation about the status of the City and its
neighborhoods.  Tough times are upon the City of Saint Paul, leaving my
colleagues and me with the challenge of making responsible, difficult
budget decisions.  Please join the discussion to lend your knowledge and
creativity to the task of sustaining the City's livability despite the
challenges we face.

Tuesday, March 3, 6:30-8:30pm at Goodwill Easter Seals (553 Fairview Ave
N)-- enter off the corner of Fairview and Charles. (Goodwill/Easter Seals
is conveniently located on bus lines 16, 50, and 67. If you're driving, there is on-street parking and a
lot across Charles from the building.)

Due to the urgency of this gathering, we are unable to notice it in
community papers.  Please extend this invitation to neighbors and friends.

If you know questions in advance that you'd like answered at the Town Hall
meeting, please send them to Samantha Henningson
(samantha.henningson [at] so we can prepare for some questions
and have the most informed conversation possible.

Thank you for considering attending this conversation, and for passing the
invitation to others.

Best, Russ Stark

--------11 of 18--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
Subject: Salon/RNC 3.03 6:30pm

Pax Salon: Vernon Rodrigues on his RNC Experience

Tuesday, March 3 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Mad Hatter's Tea House, 943 West 7th,
St. Paul. Hear Vernon Rodrigues, who was arrested during the Republican
National Convention (RNC) on four felony counts. All charges were
dismissed in the end. Vernon will be speaking to put a human face to the
stories about the "violent anarchists" who were protesting during the RNC.
Salons are free but donations encouraged for program and treats. Endorsed
by: WAMM. FFI: Call 651-227-3228 or 651-227-2511.

--------12 of 18--------

From: Amy M. Johnston <amjohnston1001 [at]>
Subject: Single payer 3.03 7pm

Senator Jim Carlson (SD 38) invites you to an Educational Program &
Discussion about a Single Payer Health Care Plan for Minnesota

The Minnesota Health Plan
- Learn about the bill that would create the MHP (SF118/HF135)
- Learn why doctors support the MHP
- Learn why the MHP is good for business
- Learn the truth about Canada's system

Tuesday March 3, 2009
7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Eagan Community Center
1501 Central Parkway, Eagan, MN 55121

for directions:

Lisa Nilles MD, Minnesota Universal Health Care Coalition
David Mair MD, Physicians for a National Health Program-MN
Nancy Breymeier, Metropolitan Independent Business Alliance
Senator Mary Olson (SD 04)

With special guests:
Asst Majority Leader Sen. Tarryl Clark (SD 15)
Sen. John Marty (SD 54)
Sen. John Doll (SD 40)
Sen. Sharon Erickson-Ropes (SD 31)
Sen. Kenneth Kelash (SD 63)
Rep. David Bly (HD 25B)
Rep. Carolyn Laine (HD 50A)
Rep. Sandy Masin (HD 38A)
Rep. Mike Obermueller (HD 38B)

RSVP requested but not required. RSVP at or email
info [at]

For additional information contact Senator Jim Carlson at
sen.jim.carlson [at] or G-9 State Capitol, St.Paul, MN 55155 or
call Ellen Lafans at 651-688-7049.

--------13 of 18--------

From: Curt McNamara <mcnam025 [at]>
Subject: Landscapes/film 3.03 7pm

Sustainability Film Tues. Mar. 3rd!

Join us Tuesday, March 3, for the second screening in this semester's
Celebrate Sustainability Film Series:Manufactured Landscapes, which
examines the world and work of Edward Burtynksy, whose large-scale
photographs transform scrap yards, construction sites and dumping grounds
from around the world into landscapes that are at once staggeringly
beautiful and profoundly disturbing. The screening begins at 7 p.m. in the
College Center, located on the second floor of MCAD's Main Building, and
limited complimentary seating is available.

Minneapolis College of Art and Design 2501 Stevens Ave. Minneapolis, MN

--------14 of 18--------

From: Rhoda Gilman <rhodagilman [at]>
Subject: Ignatius Donnelly - A voice from the past

We meet in the midst of a nation brought to the verge of moral, political
and material ruin.  Corruption dominates the ballot box, the legislatures,
the Congress, and touches even the ermine of the bench.  The people are
demoralized. Many of the states have been compelled to isolate the voters
at the poling places in order to prevent universal intimidation or
bribery. The newspapers are subsidized or muzzled; public opinion
silenced; business prostrate, our homes covered with mortgages, labor
impoverished, and the land concentrating in the hands of capitalists.
The urban workers are denied the right of organization for
self-protection; imported pauperized labor beats down their wages .... The
fruits of the toil of millions are boldly stolen to build up colossal
fortunes, unprecedented in the history of the world, while their
possessors despise the republic and endanger liberty. ... A vast
conspiracy against mankind has been organized and is taking possession of
the world.  If not met and overthrown at once it forbodes terrible social
convulsions, the destruction of civilization, or the establishment of an
absolute despotism.

                     -- Minnesota Populist Ignatius Donnelly, speaking
at the national Peoples Party convention of 1892.

--------15 of 18--------

Call for Mass Civil Disobedience Against Coal
by Bill McKibben & Wendell Berry
Published on Friday, February 27, 2009 by YES! Magazine

Dear Friends,

There are moments in a nation's - and a planet's - history when it may be
necessary for some to break the law in order to bear witness to an evil,
bring it to wider attention, and push for its correction. We think such a
time has arrived, and we are writing to say that we hope some of you will
join us in Washington D.C. on Monday March 2 in order to take part in a
civil act of civil disobedience outside a coal-fired power plant near
Capitol Hill.

We will be there to make several points:

Coal-fired power is driving climate change. Our foremost climatologist,
NASA's James Hansen, has demonstrated that our only hope of getting our
atmosphere back to a safe level-below 350 parts per million co2-lies in
stopping the use of coal to generate electricity.

Even if climate change were not the urgent crisis that it is, we would
still be burning our fossil fuels too fast, wasting too much energy and
releasing too much poison into the air and water. We would still need to
slow down, and to restore thrift to its old place as an economic virtue.
Coal is filthy at its source. Much of the coal used in this country comes
from West Virginia and Kentucky, where companies engage in "mountaintop
removal" to get at the stuff; they leave behind a leveled wasteland, and
impoverished human communities. No technology better exemplifies the
out-of-control relationship between humans and the rest of creation.

Coal smoke makes children sick. Asthma rates in urban areas near
coal-fired power plants are high. Air pollution from burning coal is
harmful to the health of grown-ups too, and to the health of everything
that breathes, including forests.

The industry claim that there is something called "clean coal" is, put
simply, a lie. But it's a lie told with tens of millions of dollars, which
we do not have. We have our bodies, and we are willing to use them to make
our point. We don't come to such a step lightly. We have written and
testified and organized politically to make this point for many years, and
while in recent months there has been real progress against new coal-fired
power plants, the daily business of providing half our electricity from
coal continues unabated. It's time to make clear that we can't safely run
this planet on coal at all. So we feel the time has come to do more - we
hear President Barack Obama's call for a movement for change that
continues past election day, and we hear Nobel Laureate Al Gore's call for
creative non-violence outside coal plants. As part of the international
negotiations now underway on global warming, our nation will be asking
China, India, and others to limit their use of coal in the future to help
save the planet's atmosphere. This is a hard thing to ask, because it's
their cheapest fuel. Part of our witness in March will be to say that
we're willing to make some sacrifices ourselves, even if it's only a trip
to the jail.

With any luck, this will be the largest such protest yet, large enough
that it may provide a real spark. If you want to participate with us, you
need to go through a short course of non-violence training. This will be,
to the extent it depends on us, an entirely peaceful demonstration,
carried out in a spirit of hope and not rancor. We will be there in our
dress clothes, and ask the same of you. There will be young people, people
from faith communities, people from the coal fields of Appalachia, and
from the neighborhoods in Washington that get to breathe the smoke from
the plant.

We will cross the legal boundary of the power plant, and we expect to be
arrested. After that we have no certainty what will happen, but lawyers
and such will be on hand. Our goal is not to shut the plant down for the
day - it is but one of many, and anyway its operation for a day is not the
point. The worldwide daily reliance on coal is the danger; this is one
small step to raise awareness of that ruinous habit and hence help to
break it.

Needless to say, we're not handling the logistics of this day. All the
credit goes to a variety of groups, especially EnergyAction (which is
bringing thousands of young people to Washington that weekend),
Greenpeace, the Ruckus Society, and Rainforest Action Network. For more

Thank you,
Wendell Berry, Bill McKibben

Bill McKibben is the author of many books, including his latest: Deep
Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future .  McKibben is a
scholar in residence at Middlebury College, and cofounder of
Wendell Berry, poet, philosopher, and conservationist, farms in Kentucky.

[After 3.02, the battle continues. -ed]

--------16 of 18--------

From: moderator [at] PORTSIDE.ORG
Subject: Prints Show A Modern Foot In Prehumans

Prints Show A Modern Foot In Prehumans
New York Times
Published: February 26, 2009

Footprints uncovered in Kenya show that as early as 1.5 million years ago
an ancestral species, almost certainly Homo erectus, had already evolved
the feet and walking gait of modern humans.

An international team of scientists, in a report on Friday in the journal
Science, said the well-defined prints in an eroding bluff east of Lake
Turkana "provided the oldest evidence of an essentially modern humanlike
foot anatomy." They said the find also added to evidence that painted a
picture of Homo erectus as the prehumans who took long evolutionary
strides - figuratively and, now it seems, also literally.

Where the individuals who made the tracks were going, or why, is beyond
knowing by the cleverest scientist. The variability of the separation
between some steps, researchers said, suggests that they were picking
their way over an uneven surface, muddy enough to leave a mark - an
unintended message from an extinct species for the contemplation of its

Until now, no footprint trails had ever been associated with early members
of our long-legged genus Homo. Preserved ancient footprints of any kind
are rare. The only earlier prints of a protohuman species were found in
1978 at Laetoli, in Tanzania. Dated at 3.7 million years ago, they were
made by Australopithecus afarensis, the diminutive species to which the
famous Lucy skeleton belonged. The prints showed that the species already
walked upright, but its short legs and long arms and its feet were in many
ways apelike.

Studying the more than a dozen prints, scientists determined that the
individuals had heels, insteps and toes almost identical to those in
humans, and that they walked with a long stride similar to human

The researchers who made the discovery, as well as independent specialists
in human origins, said the prints helped explain fossil and archaeological
evidence that erectus had adapted the ability for long-distance walking
and running. Erectus skeletons from East Asia revealed that the species,
or a branch of it, had migrated out of Africa as early as 1.8 million
years ago.

The lead author of the journal report, Matthew R. Bennett, a dean at
Bournemouth University in England, analyzed the prints with a new laser
technology for digitizing their precise depths and contours. The tracks
were excavated over the last three years by paleontologists and students
directed by John W. K. Harris of Rutgers University in collaboration with
the National Museums of Kenya.

Daniel E. Lieberman, a professor of biological anthropology at Harvard who
studies the evolution of human locomotion but was not a member of the
research group, said the prints established what experts had suspected for
some time. Erectus, he said, "probably looked much like us, both walking
and running over long distances."

Although the discoverers were cautious in attributing the prints to Homo
erectus, Dr. Lieberman and other experts said in interviews that it was
highly unlikely they could have been made by other known hominid
contemporaries. "The prints are what you would expect from the erectus
skeleton we have," said Leslie C. Aiello, president of the Wenner-Gren
Foundation for Anthropological Research, which supported the research.

William L. Junger, a paleoanthropologist at Stony Brook University in New
York, said the footprints were further evidence that erectus had
"undergone a major structural change in body plan, and it's much like our
own." One obvious exception: the erectus brain, which was more advanced
than those of previous ancestors, but was still much smaller than the Homo
sapiens brain.

No erectus foot bones have been found anywhere, but other well-preserved,
yet incomplete, skeletons showed the species to be taller and less robust
than earlier hominids. The strides of these footsteps suggest that the
individuals were an average of 5 feet, 7 inches tall; one, presumably a
child, was 3 feet tall.

The site of the discovery is about five miles east of Lake Turkana, near
the village of Ileret, in northern Kenya.

Dr. Harris of Rutgers said that excavations from 2005 through last year
yielded scores of animal tracks as well as the erectus footprints.
Geological evidence indicates that they were made on the muddy surface of
a floodplain in a time of nearby volcanic eruptions. Layers of volcanic
ash, mixed with silt deposits, were examined to date the finds.

The tracks were confined to two layers of sediment, vertically separated
by 15 feet and about 10,000 years. The upper layer contained three
footprint trails, two of two prints each and one of seven prints, as well
as several isolated prints. The lower layer preserved one trail of two
prints and a single isolated print.

Dr. Bennett joined the project in 2007 to make three- dimensional digital
records of the footprints. He also scanned the tracks of local people who
walked through soil from the excavations. He said their prints, like those
of other modern humans, were remarkably similar to the erectus prints.
Later, digital images of casts of the prints from Laetoli showed marked
differences in foot shapes.

Anatomists analyzing the Ileret prints said the heel, instep, balls of the
foot and short toes were considerably distinct from the prints discovered
in Tanzania and almost identical to modern humans. Most obviously, the big
toe is in line with the rest of the toes, not angling away from other
toes, as on an afarensis foot.

The footprints discovered in Kenya, researchers said, indicated that the
erectus foot functioned much as a human foot does: the heel contacts the
ground first; weight transfers along the arch to the ball of the foot; and
the push-off is applied by the forefoot. In apes and apparently earlier
hominids, this force comes from the midfoot.

The discovery is "even more explicit evidence," Dr. Harris said, that the
erectus species extended its range into more diversified habitats, camping
and discarding stone tools at sites far from the sources of the stone.

[George Bush's toes have been found to be pointing backward, a mark of
regressive devolution. Presumably his ancestors were at least as smart as
pond scum, but that was long long ago and in another country. Forward they
cannot, backward they must, in blind rearward leaps. Let's give George a
free trip to the Grand Canyon. -ed]

--------17 of 18--------

From: moderator [at] PORTSIDE.ORG
Subject: Darwin 2C: The Evolutionary Logic of Kindness

Forget Survival of the Fittest: It Is Kindness that Counts

     A psychologist probes how altruism, Darwinism and neurobiology mean
     that we can succeed by not being cutthroat.

Dacher Keltneer
February 26, 2009

Why do people do good things? Is kindness hard-wired into the brain, or
does this tendency arise via experience? Or is goodness some combination
of nature and nurture?

Dacher Keltner, director of the Berkeley Social Interaction Laboratory,
investigates these questions from multiple angles, and often generates
results that are both surprising and challenging. In his new book, Born to
Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life, Keltner weaves together
scientific findings with personal narrative to uncover the innate power of
human emotion to connect people with each other, which he argues is the
path to living the good life. Keltner was kind enough to take some time
out to discuss altruism, Darwinism, neurobiology and practical
applications of his findings with David DiSalvo.

DISALVO: You have a book that was just released called Born to Be Good:
The Science of a Meaningful Life. What in a nutshell does the term "born
to be good" mean to you, and what are you hoping people learn from reading
the book?

KELTNER: "Born to be good" for me means that our mammalian and hominid
evolution have crafted a species- us - with remarkable tendencies toward
kindness, play, generosity, reverence and self-sacrifice, which are vital
to the classic tasks of evolution-survival, gene replication and smooth
functioning groups. These tendencies are felt in the wonderful realm of
emotion - emotions such as compassion, gratitude, awe, embarrassment and
mirth. These emotions were of interest to Darwin, and Darwin-inspired
studies have revealed that our capacity for caring, for play, for
reverence and modesty are built into our brains, bodies, genes and social
practices. My hopes for potential readers are numerous. I hope they learn
about the remarkable wisdom of Darwin and the wonders of the study of
emotion. I hope they come to look at human nature in a new light, one that
is more hopeful and sanguine. I hope they may see the profoundly
cooperative nature of much of our daily social living.

DISALVO: You've said that one of the inspirations for your work was
Charles Darwin's insights into human goodness. Because most people equate
his name with "survival of the fittest," it'll probably be surprising to
many that Darwin focused on goodness at all. What were a few of your take
aways from Darwin's work that really inspired you?

KELTNER: What an important question. We so often assume both in the
scientific community, and in our culture at large, that Darwin thought
humans were violent and competitive and self-interested in their natural
state. That is a misrepresentation of what Darwin actually believed, and
where the evolutionary study of human goodness is going.

My take aways from Darwin are twofold, and as you suggest above, I was
surprised as well in arriving at an understanding of Darwin's view of
human nature. The first take away is found in Descent of Man, where Darwin
argues that we are a profoundly social and caring species. This idea is
reflected in the two quotes below, where Darwin argues that our tendencies
toward sympathy are instinctual and evolved (and not some cultural
construct as so many have assumed), and even stronger (or perhaps more
ethical - see his observation about the "timid man" below) than the
instinct for self-preservation:

"For firstly, the social instincts lead an animal to take pleasure in the
society of his fellows, to feel a certain amount of sympathy with them,
and to perform various services for them.  . Such actions as the above
appear to be the simple result of the greater strength of the social or
maternal instincts than that of any other instinct or motive; for they are
performed too instantaneously for reflection, or for pleasure or even
misery might be felt.  In a timid man, on the other hand, the instinct of
self-preservation might be so strong, that he would be unable to force
himself to run any such risk, perhaps not even for his own child."

The second take away comes from close study of Darwin's Expression of
Emotion in Man and Animals, published one year after Descent of Man.
There, Darwin details descriptions of emotions such as reverence, love,
tenderness, laughter, embarrassment and the conceptual tools to document
the evolutionary origins of these emotions. That led me to my own work on
the physiology and display of these remarkable emotions, and to the
science-based conclusion that these emotions lie at the core of our
capacities for virtue and cooperation.

DISALVO: You recently wrote an article with the provocative title "In
Defense of Teasing." Because we're ostensibly a society set against
teasing in any form (school, workplace, and so on), what do you think
teasing has to offer that we might be missing?

KELTNER: Teasing is the art of playful provocation, of using our playful
voices and bodies to provoke others to avoid inappropriate behaviors. Marc
Bekoff, a biologist at the University of Colorado, Boulder, has found in
remarkable work with coyotes that they sort out leaders from aggressive
types in their rough-and- tumble biting. The coyotes that bite too hard in
such provocative play are relegated to low status positions. We likewise
accomplish so much with the right kind of teasing.

Teasing (in the right way, which is what most people do) offers so much.
It is a way to play and express affection. It is a way of negotiating
conflicts at work and in the family. Teasing exchanges teach children how
to use their voices in innumerable ways - such an important medium of
communication. In teasing, children learn boundaries between harm and
play. And children learn empathy in teasing, and how to appreciate others'
feelings (for example, in going too far). And in teasing we have fun. All
of this benefit is accomplished in this remarkable modality of play.

DISALVO: Your team at U.C. Berkley has done a lot of interesting research
on the vagus nerve and its association with altruistic feelings. Tell us a
bit about this research and its implications for better understanding the
nature of altruism.

KELTNER: The vagus nerve is part of the parasympathetic autonomic nervous
system.  It is a bundle of nerves that originates in the top of the spinal
cord, it activates different organs throughout the body (heart, lungs,
liver, digestive organs). When active, it is likely to produce that
feeling of warm expansion in the chest, for example when we are moved by
someone's goodness or when we appreciate a beautiful piece of music.
University of Illinois, Chicago, psychiatrist Steve Porges long ago argued
that the vagus nerve is a care-taking organ in the body (of course, it
serves many other functions as well). Several reasons justify this claim.
The vagus nerve is thought to stimulate certain muscles in the vocal
chamber, enabling communication. It reduces heart rate. Very new science
suggests that it may be closely connected to oxytocin receptor networks.
And it is unique to mammals.

Our research and that of other scientists suggests that the vagus nerve
may be a physiological system that supports caretaking and altruism. We
have found that activation of the vagus nerve is associated with feelings
of compassion and the ethical intuition that humans from different social
groups (even adversarial ones) share a common humanity.  People who have
high vagus nerve activation in a resting state, we have found, are prone
to feeling emotions that promote altruism-compassion, gratitude, love,
happiness. Arizona State University psychologist Nancy Eisenberg has found
that children with elevated vagal tone (high baseline vagus nerve
activity) are more cooperative and likely to give. This area of study is
the beginning of a fascinating new argument about altruism - that a branch
of our nervous system evolved to support such behavior.

DISALVO: Oftentimes we learn about intriguing academic work being done on
emotions, morality and related areas, but are left asking, "OK, but how do
we do any of this? Is there anything we can make actual use of here?"
Looking down the road, what do you want the impact of your work to be out
in the world?

KELTNER: I have always felt that our science is only as good as the
truthful rendition of reality that it provides and the good that it brings
to our species. In summarizing the new science of emotion in Born To Be
Good, I was struck by how useful this science is. The ancient approaches
to ethics and virtue - for example, found in Aristotle or Confucius -
privileged things such as compassion, gratitude and reverence.  A new
science of virtue and morality is suggesting that our capacities for
virtue and cooperation and our moral sense are old in evolutionary terms,
and found in emotions that I write about in Born To Be Good.

And a new science of happiness is finding that these emotions can be
readily cultivated in familiar ways, bringing out the good in others and
in oneself. Here are some recent empirical examples:

Meditating on a compassionate approach to others shifts resting brain
activation to the left hemisphere, a region associated with happiness, and
boosts immune functions.

Talking about areas of gratitude, in classrooms, at the dinner table or in
the diary, boosts happiness and social well-being and health.

Experiences of reverence in nature or around morally inspiring others
improves people's sense of connection to others and sense of purpose.

Laughing and playing in the face of trauma gives the person perspective
upon life's inevitable difficulties, and improves resilience and

Devoting resources to others, rather than indulging a materialist desire,
brings about lasting well being.

This kind of science gives me many hopes for the future. At the broadest
level, I hope that our culture shifts from a consumption-based,
materialist culture to one that privileges the social joys (play, caring,
touch, mirth) that are our older (in the evolutionary sense) sources of
the good life. In more specific terms, I see this new science informing
practices in almost every realm of life. Here again are some well-founded
examples. Medical doctors are now receiving training in the tools of
compassion - empathetic listening, warm touch - that almost certainly
improve basic health outcomes. Teachers now regularly teach the tools of
empathy and respect. Executives are learning the wisdom around the country
of emotional intelligence - respect, building trust - that there is more
to a company's thriving than profit or the bottom line. In prisons and
juvenile detention centers, meditation is being taught.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S) David DiSalvo is the science, technology and culture
writer behind the blog Neuronarrative.

[The above is profoundly anti-capitalist. No wonder our capitalist masters
spend billions to make us believe that the capitalist anti-ethic of
sociopathy is rooted at the base of human nature. We're all supposed to
believe the individual is all, society nothing; selfishness natural,
altruism impossible; capitalism natural, socialism impossible; class
necessary, equality impossible. And, followed out but left unstated,
because unpalatable: class rule necessary, democracy impossible. What we
have been fed is the capitalist Big Lie. Perhaps we could find places for
our ruling-class bullies in homes for the socially challenged.  -ed]

--------18 of 18--------

When Science Fiction Meets Marxism
John Carpenter's "They Live.
by Christos Kefalis
February 21st, 2009

Science fiction has been frequently utilized in embellishing the
capitalist system. Suffice it to mention movies like Superman and
Exterminator, which, under a seemingly innocent story, cover a barely
hidden apology of its dominant values. In the history of the seventh art
there exist, however, opposing examples where the symbolism of the
imaginary is used for aims of social criticism. One of the most
outstanding is undoubtedly offered by Johns Carpenter's They Live.
Although it appeared about 20 years ago, in 1988, the movie remains timely
and relevant as one of the most devastating and sharp criticisms of
American imperialism ever made. And it also reads as prophesy of what
later crystallized to be the embodiment of its most brutal features, the
corrupt and cynical Bush administration, now leaving the scene.

The symbolic dimension is indeed central in science fiction. Moreover, its
symbolism does not draw from the past, as in the case of myth, but turns
to the future, which it attempts to predict and foreshadow. Yet, while in
apologetic movies symbolism is realized in an irrational way, covering or
distorting social contradictions in order to foist biased and fallacious
conclusions on the spectator, in progressive creations it fulfills a
realistic function of revealing and emphasizing contradictions, which
elevates to a sense of the totality and awakens consciousness.

Following this second road, Carpenter, a talented, independent director
who has given us a number of significant films, is able in "They live" to
represent in exemplary fashion the process of neo-conservative
barbarization in American society as well as the dynamic of its
revolutionary overthrow. And while he possesses an element of conscious
approach - he himself has compared his strange aliens to republicans - his
sharp intuition results in lending the movie a much deeper problematic
than his conscious intentions.

Virtual reality

Nada, Carpenter's hero, is a simple worker, a builder immersed in the
American dream. His words in one of the first scenes, "I believe in
America and follow the rules. I'm waiting for my chance", sum up the
illusions of the majority of American workers. What he ignores is that the
yuppies and "successful" people he encounters in the streets are not what
they seem. In fact, they are aliens who have come from a distant world and
are plotting to gain control of our planet. The road of success is thus
open only to those humans that are recruited by them and consent to become
their docile organs.

Nada will become aware of this when he is hired in a construction plant
and gets in touch with the rebel forces fighting the aliens. After an
attack of the police, he will accidentally discover in a garbage heap the
special glasses only with the help of which it is possible to perceive the
ugly aliens. These creatures seem completely alike ordinary humans when
one looks at them with a bare eye. However, when observed with the
glasses, they transform to zombies, with a hideous, black face, just as in
fact they inwardly are.

Yet the glasses have another, still more important function. Thanks to
them, the multicolored virtual reality around us becomes white-black and
the process of subjugation and brain washing, through which the aliens
keep humans in ignorance and obedience, is revealed. When the hero puts
them on, he is thunderstruck to see "Come to the Caribbean", with the much
promising, seductive top models, turn into a two-colored bill,
"Reproduce". "We are creating a transparent computing environment" becomes
"Submit". He is encircled with commands from all sides: "No independent
thought", "Consume", "Watch TV", "Buy", "Stay asleep", "Do not question
authority". As for dollar, it is a white paper with a black stamp
imprinted on it: "This is your God".

With this extremely clever trick, Carpenter is able to bring to light the
true nature of the ruling elite, which is symbolically presented as a clan
of aliens. Besides the rulers and politicians . almost never appearing in
the scene, except for a brief but significant snapshot, when the hero sees
a politician delivering a TV speech and then, wearing the glasses, the man
turns to an alien appearing under the signboard .Obey. . the zombies
include businessmen, policemen, bored petty-bourgeois and people of the
star system. Even more cleverly, their headquarters is placed at Channel
54 (an allusion perhaps to the infamous Studio 54, the well known
Manhattan yuppie disco of the eighties), a typical mass media corporation,
through the antenna of which they come to earth and return to their far
away planet, a clear hint at the role played by the media in general brain

The role of the media

The channel controls heavily the information allowed to the people.
Sporadically, the illegal channel of the rebels appears on the screen,
only to be lost in the noise interfered by the aliens. The speaker, an
orator with a somewhat fanatic look, zealously castigates the devilish
rulers: "The poor and the underclass are growing. Racial justice and human
rights are nonexistent. They have created a repressive society and we are
their unwitting accomplices. They have made us indifferent, to ourselves,
to others, we are focused only on our own gain. That is their primary
method of survival. Keep us asleep, keep us selfish, keep us sedated. More
and more people are becoming poor. We are their cattle. We are being bred
for slavery".

Through a number of such epigrammatic phrases, a bit schematic but
illuminating as well, the creator depicts the essence of the social
conditions. Yet, apart from its direct message, the movie unfolds in a
second, deeper level, developing the dynamics of the struggle between the
oppressors and the rebels.

When Nada realizes what is really happening, he decides to take law into
his hands. He rushes into a bank and starts shooting the zombies. The
aliens locate him soon, but he manages to escape and finds refuge in
Holly's house, who proves to be a highly standing executive of Channel 54.
Ignorant of what is really happening, she violently defenestrates him when
she finds a chance, and Nada returns in terrible plight to his workplace.
There he meets Frank, his Negro friend, and attempts to enlighten him
about the reasons of his strange behavior, which has resulted in him being
presented by the media as a criminal and his persecution by the
authorities. However, although eager to help him with some hardly saved
money, Frank resists and declines his exhortations to wear the glasses.
Their conversation is very revealing:

Frank: "I don't want to see anything. I have a family and children".

Nada: "I'm trying to save you, you and your family".

Frank: "You did not save your own".

Nada: "Put on the glasses. I do not want to fight with you".

Frank: "I do not want to get in trouble".

In the overall symbolism of the work, the heroes are not so much acting as
individuals, but rather as embodiments of social groups. If Nada
represents the conscious vanguard, Frank is the backward, still naive
worker, who tries to hold himself aloof, in the hope that he will avoid
all problems:

Nada: "You are a worker. Come to see the revolution".

Frank: "Give it up, friend. This does not concern you or me. I want to
keep my job. Do the same".

Nada: "The white line is in the middle of the road. You are in danger".

There follows a long scene of tough beating, when Nada reaches the point
of almost killing his friend in order to force him wear the glasses. A
scene with a deep meaning: the vanguard must show an iron will, in order
to make the whole class accept the truth, after a process that will be
both difficult and painful. Bleeding heavily, the two friends make up and
fraternize again when Frank sees the deeper reality through the glasses.
"They came here for profits. Many people sell themselves and get
promotions. New houses. Money." Nada explains.

The ascent of the aliens is ably depicted. In all places, banks, police,
mass media, we see normal humans and aliens - honest people and scoundrels
- coexisting, without the last being perceived by the first. Yet the
aliens are methodically advancing and strengthening their domination and

Finally, the two heroes, using a special device of the zombies, will
penetrate their headquarters and find themselves in front of a gathering
of the newly rich. "In a few years", the speaker prophesies, "the whole
planet will be under our domination. Profits are huge. The capital of all
us present here increased last year by 39%. The terrorist network was
obliterated. (this last remark refers to the extermination of most rebels
after a police attack in their refuge).

When Nada and Frank start shooting the guards in order to get inside the
forbidden area of Channel 54, one of the rascals attempts to dissuade
them: "Believe me, they know what they are doing. You are making a big
mistake. It is only business. There are no countries any more. The planet
belongs to them. Is profit bad? They will give us money. We sell ourselves
every day. I will go with the winners". They are ready to shoot him as
well, but he manages to escape by using a special watch-like device,
permitting the aliens to disappear.

An excellent finish

The last scene sums up the meaning of the movie. The two friends ascend to
the sundeck of the building, aiming to destroy the antenna making the
aliens appear as ordinary human beings. Holly, who meanwhile has learned
the truth about the aliens and met once the hero in the underground
movement leads them, yet events prove that, while she is not one of the
aliens (when seen with the glasses, she appears human), she in fact
belongs psychically to them. She shoots Frank and threatens Nada from
behind with her gun, precisely when he is ready to destroy the machine.
"Do not do it. You can not win". Initially he is taken by surprise, but
manages to draw a gun from the back of his trousers and shoots her dead.
In the end the hero is himself killed by guardsmen in a security
helicopter flying over the roof, but only after he succeeds in destroying
the antenna. In this way the aliens become uncovered. In the comic
epilogue we watch the Oscar winners as zombies now being interviewed
without knowing they have been revealed ("all this sex, all this violence"
one of them protests hypocritically) and a zombie-yuppie wondering in
front of his girlfriend staring at him with disgust: "What is the problem,

The expressive and attractive Holly is in fact the embodiment of the
American dream, of the hero's illusions that he can satisfy his human
needs within the capitalist system. Only after killing her, thus
liberating himself from illusion, he will therefore be able to accomplish
his mission. And his loss immediately after this displays a tough but
authentic realism. The vanguard sacrifices itself, bearing the
difficulties of the struggle, but due to its efforts and self-sacrifice it
becomes possible to open the eyes of the people.

With this scene "We live" is elevated from the level of an acute polemic
to that of a masterpiece. If instead Carpenter had given a different
solution - making his heroes triumph in a happy end or even allowing them
to be killed by the aliens only and not Holly, the artistic result would
be significantly inferior. For Holly does not only personify Nada's
illusions, but also his inward uncertainty. Her phrase, "You cannot win",
sums up the essence of dominant ideology, its ability to create confusion
and passivity, by continually corrupting human minds and consciences. Had
this moment been ignored, the work would lose in strength and
persuasiveness, because the most crucial question would remain unanswered:
is the working class able to overcome this pernicious influence?

The truly amazing thing is that while other symbolisms, like the
comparison of the aliens with republicans, are made consciously by the
creator, the peak of the movie comes intuitively, without a clear
comprehension of its meaning. Thus, Carpenter himself in his interviews
failed to give the above interpretation, moving in the circle of Christian
sacrifice ideas and other metaphysical notions with which he is
preoccupied in other movies.

Reactionary and misconceived criticisms

Needless to say, reactionary commentators, sensing the significance of the
movie as a devastating critique of their beloved capitalist system, have
made every attempt to bury and discredit it. Making it worse, even
progressive commentators have sometimes failed to appreciate the meaning
of critical scenes and details.

Limiting ourselves to just a few examples, Mike Clark of USA Today is of
the opinion "They live dies around the time Carpenter allows 10 minutes of
gratuitous Piper-David eye-gouging, an apparent bone to wrestling fans.
Forget the amusing premise; a full crate of magic glasses couldn't make
this a bearable movie". A similar view is echoed by Peter Stack of San
Francisco Chronicle: "Typical of some of the absurd moments in this film
is a long drawn-out fist fight between the hero and Frank, who almost kill
each other because Frank is too proud to try on the magic dark glasses. It
is completely stupid".

Even more hostile is Richard Harrington of the Washington Post: "Even for
sci-fi, the creatures-walk-among-us plot of 'They Live' is so old it ought
to be carbon-dated. Oh, sure, director John Carpenter trots out the heavy
artillery of sociological context and political implication, but you don't
have to get deep down to realize he hasn't a clue what to do with it, or
the talent to bring it to life. The plot for They Live is full of black
holes, the acting is wretched, the effects are second-rate. In fact, the
whole thing is so preposterous it makes "V" look like "Masterpiece

These unjust and scornful remarks are easily understandable. Their motives
lie in the reactionary commentators' sense that they themselves are the
zombies so acutely exposed and satirized in the movie. It is this feeling
of those who not only do not understand, but do not wish to understand
that stirs their indignant contempt and not any concern to show some real
shortcomings of the film, which, if existent, are definitely of secondary

Passing to a more objective critic, G. MacReady, praising the critique of
capitalism, also considers that from the moment Nada takes law into his
hands "Carpenter fails to make much of the movie. Meg Foster's character
is almost totally irrelevant and extraneous. She serves no purpose. The
prolonged fight scene between Nada and Frank is supposed to be funny, but
simply isn't. It just feels odd". Similar complaints have been expressed
by others, finding Nada's character too rough and his remarks, like the
one in the bank shooting scene - "I have come here to chew bubblegum and
kick ass and I'm all out of bubblegum" - excessively crude (in fact Roddy
Piper, whom Carpenter appropriately selected for Nada's role, is a
wrestler and no actor at all).

In fact, these are the vital innovations introduced by Carpenter, who
based himself on Roy Nelson's small novel Eight o'Clock in the Morning.
Such innovations, having a deep, if hidden, meaning, are feasible only to
a great, inspired creator, and Carpenter depicts the workers in a
realistic way, as they truly are in capitalist society, which prevents
them from acquiring any kind of subtle taste.

Asked if his approach is somehow related with Marxism, Carpenter answered
in the negative. Nevertheless, They Live does not cease to be perhaps the
Marxist movie par excellence in the history of the seventh art. Even if it
appeared 20 years ago, it does not cease to be topical and will remain so
until the social evils it so graphically and skillfully depicts will be
removed through social transformation.

Christos Kefalis writes in the left Greek press, mainly on politics and
epistemology, and also, secondly, on art. He can be reached at:
chrkefal [at]


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