The hardest thing I was ever tasked with reading in a history course was Edward Said’s Orientalism. I dropped the course because it was totally over my head. That says a lot.
My major was twentieth-century European history, and my focus was on Germany, but specifically the rise of the Third Reich. I was interested in finding out why and how millions of people could justify a genocide. I was very, very focused on Germany and Russia; I didn’t want to study the United States at all, but my major required me to take courses in non-European and non-American history, so toward the end of my education, I took courses — grudgingly, at the time — on African and Southeast Asian colonial history. Eventually I also started taking courses on contemporary art history, where I was introduced to South American artists like Lygia Clark and Gabriel Orozco, and, of course, my art theoretical deity, the Cuban-born American artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres. That’s really all the background I have on South American culture. Keep reading »
I get it: you have kids and you love them so much you just want to give them the world, or whatever comes closest to it. But sometimes giving your kids whatever they want in life comes at a price. In the case of Virginia dad Jeremiah Heaton, that meant traveling halfway across the world to Egypt in search of an 800 sq. ft. plot of unclaimed land along the Sudanese border and decreeing it his own. Or, rather, his daughter Emily’s. That’s Princess Emily, to you. See, then six-year-old Emily really wanted to be a princess and instead of just buying her a princess costume or throwing her a princess-themed birthday party or, I dunno, telling her that being a princess is not all it’s cracked up to be, Heaton decided his little girl should not be denied her title. Heaton began with an online search of unclaimed lands around the world and then in June, he made the trek to Egypt where, with the permission of authorities, he visited the unclaimed parcel of land known to locals as Bir Tawil and (unofficially) declared it hers. On June 16, Emily’s 7th birthday, Heaton wrote on Facebook:
“Therefore, so be it proclaimed on June 16, 2014, Emily’s 7th birthday, that Bir Tawil shall be forever known as the Kingdom of North Sudan. The Kingdom is established as a sovereign monarchy with myself as the head of state; with Emily becoming an actual Princess. I kindly request that when you see Emily, to address her by official title, Princess Emily. Each time she hears this title she will be reminded of my love and the lengths I will go to fulfill her every wish. Thank you in advance for being a good sport in supporting my humble request of you.”
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Yesterday I posted a video from non-profit Invisible Children aimed at bringing Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony to justice. Titled “KONY 2012,” the 30-minute spot has become an unstoppable viral sensation this week. Seemingly out of nowhere, the video’s popped up everywhere, on tons of friends Facebook pages, on Twitter and on countless blogs. That’s the stated goal of Invisible Children co-founder Jason Russell, who made the film as a way to bring attention to the actions of Joseph Kony and hopefully help arrest and bring him to justice.
Admittedly, I posted the video yesterday without knowing much about Uganda, Kony or Invisible Children — and though I watched the video in its entirety, I can’t say I was a huge fan of it. Still, I thought, this is probably worth sharing. It’s 30 minutes out of people’s lives, and it’s worth it to spread the word about the plight of child soldiers in Uganda and the unjust, unnecessary war of terror Kony has been waging there.
But that was yesterday. Keep reading »