The Discipline of Vicinity: On Visiting Walden Pond

Christina Davis
September 26, 2013

“I have come to it as if I could have been ‘away.’”
—Robert Duncan

I.

I came before I ever read Walden. I came during my reading of Walden, and after my reading of it. I understood that no degree was required and none conferred. I recognized it as a place in which to have the Thought of That Place.

I thought of the author as the-one-ahead.

I acknowledged the being-there-before-me of others. I understood that’s what Humanities means—the being here before, and after me, of others.

At first I treated the gone-cabin as destination: promenade to its halfwayness around the Pond. I noticed the different nouns for what had stood there: “Hut.” “Cabin.” “Site.”

And where the non-agreement of these terms converged stood a cairn, commenced by Alcott. I heard my thrown stone make the abacus sound. I heard the sound of my amounting: a“finger among fingers.”1

I called the other fingers, “tourists.”
I called the other fingers, “fieldtrips.”

How many wildernesses are entered mentioning the one man—and that one person not be discoverer of anything, or founder of anything, and that one person not be victor of anything? A sometime poet and pencil-maker. A tax-evader and walk-taker. A Harvard grad and a handyman.

Henry, said as if known.

Read more at the Boston Review

Koch: 1996 marks beginning of national efforts

To see the political evolution of Charles and David Koch, start in 1996. President Bill Clinton was fighting Bob Dole to stay in the White House, and Republicans were struggling to keep control of the House of Representatives after winning a majority there for the first time in 42 years.

The election would mark the first Republican victory linked publicly to Koch money and established the brothers’ pattern of influencing elections through tax-exempt groups.

The Kansas brothers kept a low profile in the months leading up to the 1996 election. Koch Industries gave $320,800 to congressional candidates that year — about a fifth of the $1.6 million the company would later give in 2012, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Yet Senate campaign finance investigators suspected the brothers funneled millions of dollars in the final months through secretive groups to run attack ads that helped Republicans win seats in Congress. The massive ad campaigns likely changed the outcome of close congressional races, investigators said, including four races in the Kochs’ home state of Kansas.

Read more at Investigative Reporting Workshop

Exploiting Egypt’s Rape Culture for Political Gain | The Nation

In Egypt, as well as in the West, outrage over rampant sexual assault has too often been about political agendas rather than concern for the actual victims.

Women shout slogans against Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and members of the Muslim Brotherhood during a march against sexual harassment and violence against women in Cairo February 6, 2013. (Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

by Anna Lekas Miller August 8, 2013

Since the most recent wave of protests began in Tahrir Square on June 30, there have been 186 recorded sexual assaults—including eighty the night that former President Mohamed Morsi was overthrown. Many of these attacks are mob-style sexual assaults, often involving between fifty and 100 assailants, in which a woman is surrounded, stripped, groped and in some cases beaten and gang-raped until she needs medical attention. And in some recent cases, women were attacked and penetrated with knives and other weapons.

In Egypt, they call this the “Circle of Hell.”

Since the Egyptian Revolution began more than two and a half years ago, hundreds of thousands of women have been sexually assaulted in Tahrir Square. And over the past two and a half years, not a single assailant of the thousands who participated in hundreds of attacks has been prosecuted.

“These men attack women because they know they can get away with it,” said Yasmine, an Egyptian activist who doesn’t wish to give her last name.

Many of the women surveyed agree that sexual violence has gotten worse since former President Hosni Mubarak was overthrown. Up until the most recent wave of protests, during which the Muslim Brotherhood pointed to sexual assaults in Tahrir Square in an attempt delegitimize anti-government opposition, the rampant attacks that happened under President Morsi’s leadership have gone largely ignored.

According to a recent survey from UN Women, 99.3 percent of all Egyptian women report being sexually harassed, and 91.5 percent have experienced unwelcome physical contact. The country has three laws in the penal code that address sexual harassment, assault and rape—and though the punishments range from fines to imprisonment, including life sentences and the death penalty, these laws are rarely enforced. Instead, most women are discouraged from reporting their sexual assaults to the authorities. For most, the high risk of shame and humiliation in publicly outing oneself as a sexual assault survivor—and the assumption that one is tainted or, if unmarried, now unfit for marriage—far exceeds the likelihood that the assailant will be held accountable.

Like in the West, women’s attire is often blamed for attacks, particularly Western-style clothing that many conservative Egyptians claim attracts assailants and in some cases even justifies rape. According to a 2008 survey with the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights, 53 percent of all men believe that a woman invites harassment through what she is wearing. Many of the women surveyed agree.

Despite these stereotypes, a woman’s clothing doesn’t have much bearing on the likelihood of an attack. One of the most famous photographs of the recorded history of Egypt’s sexual assault epidemic is of a woman sprawled on the floor in only her blue bra, her traditional niqab veil ripped and shredded next to her after her attack.

Read more @ The Nation