Class Essays

Since people have been asking me to see these, the following essays are what some of my coursework encompasses.

  1. Describe the significance of physical, historical, and cultural geography relative to the current clash of Russian and U.S. interests in the Middle East. 

VanOtten stressed that military intelligence professionals working with foreign cultures need to truly comprehend the cultures they will be interacting with (2005). There are nuances in each culture that cannot be overlooked and some of the fundamental conflicts between a Western influence in the Middle East are due to an ideological difference inherent in how Americans think government should be run. Fieldman (2011) describes the existence of two states within the Middle East a “real country” that possess a long history and a sense of cultural identity and the artificial states that have boundaries created and then enforced by colonial powers that aren’t recognized by the tribes and sects that find themselves within them, “tribes with flags”. This lack of unified national identity could be confusing unless one examines the physical geography and some of the history that formed the region in comparison to Russia and the United States.

Kaplan (2013) explained that a harsh climate and a fear of the ravening hordes of nomadic warriors across the flatlands bordered by forests drove the people of Russia to seek ways to expand their national area of control outward as a unified people, to protect themselves. Bitter winters, low crop yields and the need to hunt in arctic conditions bred a harsh people that needed each other as a community to work together and make a little bit of food carry across the many mouths that needed to be fed (Kaplan, 2013).  Conversely, the United States in its founding was separated from its ruling nation by an ocean and with the assistance of the Native peoples, made the best of the mild climate and diverse environment to sustain life individually. There was a sense of community but individuals could strike out on their own through untamed wilderness and survive because the landscape had plenty of animal and plant life to sustain them.  The Middle East in contrast has an arid and hot environment supported by several rivers and full of mountain ranges and plains. With only limited regions of each country that is inhabitable, people clustered together around water sources or wandered to sustain themselves. These tribes were led by an elder male that kept the younger members of his tribe in line to protect the tribe (VanOtten, 2005).

The method by which the governments of the three areas were formed were all bred out of a type of need for security but the United States was formed out of a sense of national pride or community vice a singular family, gender or religion. The “tribe with a flag” possesses the singular goal of protecting its culture and only the rights of its people of worth (Miller, 2013). The mindset of the tribes and sects of the Middle East is “either my tribe or sect is in charge or we die” (Fieldman, 2011). Old regimes were kept from revolt under threat of violence, oppression and fear of a darker future (Miller, 2013). It has been the unfortunate circumstance of history that those that are violently oppressed will use violence to liberate themselves. The brutal lynching and execution of Gaddafi at the hands of Libyan rebels is a chilling example of what certain types of revolution will bring (McElroy, 2011).

Modernization of military technology has bred a change in the landscape of war especially within the Middle Eastern conflict which has shifted to what is described as “6th generation warfare” where long distance precision weapons take a prominent role in the execution of a military mission over troop movements on the ground (Gareev and Slipchenko, 2007). The United States and Russia both have troops involved in the conflict for stability within the Middle East but Russian soldiers have less of a sense of purpose in why they are there as opposed to the Americans. General Gareev in a 2005 lecture stated that “Bush flew to Iraq and tells his soldiers: ‘We are defending democracy throughout the world and US national interests.’ A soldier can understand that. What did Kasyanov say? ‘The main goal of all law enforcement agencies is to protect private property.’ I, for one, am not going to go protect private property, I need to have other goals. …. We need to determine where we are going and what our goals are” (Gareev and Slipchenko, 2007).  For the people of the Middle East, they are fighting to protect their families, sects, tribes and their way of life and regardless of how people from the rest of the world view it- it is for the protection of their ideals that they fight. The culmination of the history, culture and physical geography of the various countries involved in the Middle Eastern conflict has shaped the manner by which they are viewing the conflict and will continue to breed further conflict.

References

Ajami, Fouad. “The End of Pan-Arabism.” Foreign Affairs, Winter 1978/79.

Friedman, Thomas L. “Tribes with flags.” The New York Times. March 23, 2011. Accessed May 21, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/23/opinion/23friedman.html.

Gareev, Machmut A., and Vladimir N. Slipčenko. Future War. Fort Leavenworth, KS: Foreign Military Studies Office, 2007.

Kaplan, Robert D. The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us about Coming Conflicts and the Battle against Fate. New York, NY: Random House, 2013.

McElroy, Damien. “Gaddafi’s death: libya’s newr ‘stained’ by manner of his death, says Philip Hammond.” The Telegraph. October 23, 2011. Accessed May 21, 2018. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8844744/Gaddafis-death-Libyas-new-rulers-stained-by-manner-of-his-death-says-Philip-Hammond.html (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..

Miller, Aaron David. “Tribes with flags.” Foreign Policy. February 27, 2013. Accessed May 21, 2018. http://foreignpolicy.com/2013/02/27/tribes-with-flags/.

VanOtten, George. “Culture Matters.” Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin 31, no. 1 (January-March 2005): 30-37.

2)  Defend or refute the following statement:

“Those who believe that human economic activity causes global warming cannot provide unquestionable facts that support their position. In other words, they think human activity may be causing global warming, but they don’t actually know whether or not that is true. Therefore, the economically crippling environmental regulations they call for may do little to protect the environment, but if implemented will certainly further limit the ability of American industries to compete. For example, if coal use were less regulated, the United States would become self-sufficient in energy, and its products could be more competitive in the world market. China does not burden its manufacturers with superfluous environmental regulations because they know that such regulations would damage the Chinese economy. Energy self-sufficiency will allow the U.S. Government to stand up to, and ignore, the demands of the radical dictatorial regimes that now rule much of the Middle East. Finally, collective international efforts and agreements designed to restrict the use of fossil fuels are weighted against the economic interests of the United States. It is now time for American educators, scientists, and politicians to admit that they do not know whether or not global warming is caused by the use of fossil fuels or instead, is simply a natural cycle that humans cannot control in any case.”

I felt inspired by this week’s topic to re-watch an episode of Showtime’s Penn and Teller’s “BS” about “Environmental Hysteria”. The argument there was that the environmental movement has been hijacked by anti-corporate and anti-globalist activist groups that don’t care or know anything about the issues they are raising. The show is good for a laugh, the hosts are clear in their bias but it does foster a conversation about the validity of accepting certain issues and things at face value- a person must research the issues they are passionate about before placing their chips on one side or another. Maintaining objectivity is one of the hardest things to do as an analyst, we want to find information to formulate a feasible enemy course of action but we should look at all information available to us to make sure that we haven’t missed anything. There is a reason why there is a scientific process, research is conducted to determine if hypothesis is correct- it is unethical to force your research to support your forgone conclusion. Most of the arguments presented this week seem to support the idea that some of the global warming/climate change research has been manipulated to present whatever a group’s political agenda might be.

The question for the longest time has been “is global warming real?” but time and consensus has shifted the question to “is global warming a direct result of human industry?”.  From my reading for this discussion it sounds more like it is strongly, “maybe”.  The discussion began, “Those who believe that human economic activity causes global warming cannot provide unquestionable facts that support their position. In other words, they think human activity may be causing global warming, but they don’t actually know whether or not that is true.”

This part of the statement is not untrue. Scientists cannot unquestioningly provide facts that state one way or another that human activity causes global warming. Part of the problem with providing findings is that the scientific community across disciplines has been unable to agree on what defines a “systematic trend” but biologists, in particular have been able to establish an impact on species as a result of climate change (Parmesan and Yohe, 2003). NASA (2018) published findings based from core ice testing and atmospheric testing regarding the content of carbon dioxide in parts per million within the ice, it showed that over the course of several hundred thousand years, that carbon dioxide levels have risen and fallen over time with a sharp and steady increase in level of carbon dioxide in the last several thousand years. The correlation is then, that the growing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is a direct result of the human industrial age which has changed the overall temperature of the atmosphere (NASA, 2018). There have been further studies that project that global warming could be accelerated due to human related carbon dioxide emissions that cannot be naturally absorbed by the environment (Cox, Betts, Jones, Spall, and Totterdell, 2000). For some scholars, this would be enough evidence of human activity causing global warming but it is not concrete enough for others.

The statement continues: “Therefore, the economically crippling environmental regulations they call for may do little to protect the environment, but if implemented will certainly further limit the ability of American industries to compete.”

In 2008, two months before the Beijing Olympics, the Chinese government removed approximately 1 million vehicles from the road and shut down polluting factories and then forced the remaining factories and power plants to reduce their emissions by 30 percent to specifically improve air quality and reduce the air pollution in Beijing during the Olympic games (Associated Press, 2008). This is a good example of how environmental regulations helped the environment, it a more direct correlation of implementing controls that yielded a positive effect, which would make the claim that environmental regulations would do little to protect the environment. The Chinese government burdened its manufacturers and adjusted power output months before a major international event that would only run for a few weeks (Yardley, 2008). Premier Li Keqiang in 2014 announced a war on pollution and pushed forward more efforts to promote the use of green and low carbon technology which resulted in a 2 percent decrease in the production of products such as steel and cement (Reuters, 2014). This does support some of the claim that environmental regulations do impact production. The Chinese government’s environmental regulations and President Xi’s continued focus on “ensuring harmony between humankind and nature” (de Boer, 2017) makes the statement of “China does not burden its manufacturers with superfluous environmental regulations because they know that such regulations would damage the Chinese economy” untrue

These new regulations have not crippled the Chinese economy so what is to say that following something similar would cripple ours? The development of new technology is fundamentally more expensive as it is developed. In recent years, we have seen the prices of things like solar panels become more affordable. A few years ago, I would have never seen a solar powered emergency charger for a laptop in a store, let alone a Walmart for $100.

References

  1. Associated Press. (2008). Beijing begins massive olympic shutdown. Retrieved on 28 May 2018 from http://www.nbcnews.com/id/25744299/ns/beijing_olympics/t/beijing-begins-massive-olympic-shutdown/#.Wwx2hUgvyUk
  2. Cox, Peter M., Betts, Richard A.,Jones, Chris D.,  Spall, Steven A., and Totterdell, Ian J. (2000). “Erratum: acceleration of global warming due to carbon-cycle feedbacks in a coupled climate model.” Nature 408, no. 6813 (2000): 750. doi:10.1038/35047138.
  3. De Boer, D. (2017). What does ‘Xi’s Thought’ mean for the environment? Retrieved on 28 May 2018 from https://www.chinadialogue.net/article/show/single/en/10235-Opinion-What-does-Xi-s-Thought-mean-for-the-environment-
  4. NASA. (2018). Global climate change: vital signs of the planet. Retrieved on 28 May 2018 from https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
  5. Parmesan, Camille, and Yohe, Gary . “A globally coherent fingerprint of climate change impacts across natural systems.” Nature 421, no. 6918 (2003): 37-42. doi:10.1038/nature01286.
  6. Reuters Staff. (2014). China to declare war on pollution, premier says. Retrieved on 28 May 2018 from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-parliament-pollution/china-to-declare-war-on-pollution-premier-says-idUSBREA2405W20140305 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
  7. Yardley, Jim. (2008). Cities near beijing close factories to improve air for olympics. Retrieved on 28 May 2018 from https://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/07/sports/olympics/07china.html

3) Develop an essay in which you provide a lucid discussion of the role of cultural geography relative to the dynamics of the current world geopolitical situation.  

Hartman (2016) wrote extensively of the importance of the United State’s cultural identity and how the desire to be recognized by one’s ethnicity has overcome the goal of American colonialism’s to make its citizens a singular culture. The quest of Americans to establish who they are has led to internal conflict and conversely led the to establishment of new rights and opportunities for everyone person to be equally represented. This mentality makes it interesting to examine a country like North Korea where its citizens hold no freedoms and are tightly controlled by their government with little knowledge of the outside world. North Korea holds a singular political party, a fixed economy system, and is a government focused around a regime of dictatorship that is a cult of personality set to worship the Kim family and its patriarchs, Kim Il-Sung, Kim Jong-Il and Kim Jong-Un, with religious fervor or else be punished for treason. North Korea is a young country at 70 years since its founding with only 3 rulers in its history. Today, President Donald Trump met in Singapore with Chairman Kim Jong-Un to discuss denuclearization. To better understand the importance of what happened it is vital to understand some of the history that has shaped this nation to the “hermit kingdom” we know it as today.

The Korean Peninsula was originally ruled by dynastic Korean kingdoms heavily influenced by the Chinese until 1905 when Japan occupied the Peninsula following their victory in the Russo-Japanese war (Pruitt, 2018). The Japanese government integrated themselves into the last Korean monarchy (Savada and Shaw, 1990) and following the annexation of Korean in 1910, started assimilating the native population into Japanese culture (Blackmore, 2018). The colonization efforts resulted in the Koreans being outlawed from speaking and reading their native language, worshiping their Gods, and being forced to become Japanese as the occupying government systematically destroyed Korean historical artifacts and documents (Savada and Shaw, 1990).   It is also important to note that while the Japanese forced the Japanese language and culture on the people of Korea, they also introduced Western language and artworks. Those that opposed Japanese rule protested, revolted and many fled to China, Manchuria and the USSR.  The Japanese conscripted all able bodies in fight in their various wars to include another Sino-Japan war and World War 2.

World War 2 ended the Japanese occupation with the assistance of the USSR and the United States and the two sides divided Korea into two occupation zones drawn at the 38th parallel with the North being controlled by the Soviets and the South being controlled by the Americans (Pruitt, 2018). In 1948, Kim Il-Sung, a Soviet trained anti-Japanese guerrilla fighter backed by the Soviets established as the leader of a worker lead North Korea under a communist model while South Korea established itself with anti-communist dictator Syngman Rhee at its head, backed by the United States (Blackmore, 2018). Kim Il-Sung established and trained his army using Soviet equipment and tactics and invaded South Korea in 1950 with the approvalof Stalin (Millet, 2018). The Korean War erupted as North Koreans came over the border and pressed south. The United States went on a bombing campaign that left over 50,000 North Koreans dead. The hostilities continued for three years before an armistice put a pause to the conflict in 1953 and firmly established the Demilitarized Zone at the 38thparallel.

The DMZ originally had guard posts manned by either side were interspersed along the restricted area but an incident in 1976, nicknamed the Panmunjom axe murder incident almost led to a new conflict with North Korea. The incident was a routine trimming of a large poplar tree between two UN guard posts near the bridge of No Return and a North Korea guard post that quickly escalated when North Korean soldiers rushed the UN soldiers escorting the service personnel and murdered the two US officers with axes (Friedman, 2018). The response by the United States and the Republic of Korea forces three days following the incident to cut down the poplar tree, Operation Paul Bunyan, was a massive show of force. A team came to cut down the tree which consisted of: a convoy of 23 military vehicles; two 30 man security platoons from the Joint Security Force armed with pistols and axe handles; two Army teams that armed the charges on the bridge between the two nations and secured the area; a 64 man task force of South Korean Special Forces armed with clubs, M-16s and claymores; a US Infantry company deployed in 27 helicopters; with an aircraft carrier offshore and massive fighter and bomber presence providing air support (Probst, 1977).

Other incidents along the border have included South Korean soldiers killed by landmines; exchanges of artillery fire; and the capture of the USS Pueblo. But outside of the hostilities, North Korea and South Korea diverged from their mutual history as Kim Il-Sung kept his people isolated within the borders of North Korea and the country enjoyed good economic growth under the planned economy model until the collapse of the Soviet Union, which resulted in a steady economic decline (Bennett, 1999). South Korea slowly grew into a democracy that enjoyed trading ties with the United States and other Western countries. The geography of the Korean Peninsula is more favorable in the south for farming while the mountainous regions of the North are prone to annual droughts and flooding which heavily damages food production. With the North Korean economy in decline, it has bartered weapons to Iran and Syria for oil and has relied on fuel subsidies and food assistance from China and South Korea (Bennett). Building and maintaining a nuclear weapons program has held priority for the Kim regime and food aid has been historically used as leverage against the North in attempts to force compliance with UN nuclear sanctions (Faiola, 2006 and Bennett, 1999). A UN report in 2017 reported that 41 % of North Koreans were undernourished and one in five did not have access to clean water of adequate sanitation (Steinz, 2017). The damage caused by last year’s flooding and drought was severe enough that the Kim regime asked the international community for humanitarian assistance (Steinz).

The ongoing United Nations sanctions against North Korean limit energy trade and ban offshore transfers of goods but the North Koreans have been repeatedly caught violating these sanctions (Associated Press, 2018). After today’s summit, the North Korean press has reported that one of the things that President Trump has promised is the easing of sanctions against them (Reuters Staff, 2018).  The easing of these sanctions would be beneficial to the people of North Korea if the Kim led regime distributes the supplies to the areas that need them in lieu of hording them for the ruling elite and their military forces. The history of hostilities between the United States and North Korea is vast but President Trump and Chairman Kim have made a gesture today (June 12, 2018) that might lead to the complete denuclearization of North Korea, the possible removal of UN sanctions against North Korea (since the sanctions were in place because of North Korea’s nuclear weapons) and the reduction of future hostilities on the peninsula (Jones, Illmer, Chen, Lee, Cheung, and Spender, 2018).

The possibilities of this new future are vast and concerning. One of the pressing concerns from the South Koreans is what will happen to their economy if they were to reunify with North Korea; the South Korean public welfare system cannot accommodate the entirety of North Koreans that might flood south if the borders were completely opened. There is also concern of discrimination and exploitation against potentially vulnerable North Korea citizens that are seeking work outside of Korea. The best theory for creating stability would be to allow commercial companies to go into North Korea to set up the infrastructure and harvest the natural resources thereby employing the native population which would provide much needed stability to the country. With the massive indoctrination and isolation of the North Koreans, another concern would be how they would react to foreigners coming into their country when they have been taught from the beginning that the world is their enemy. What new cultural identity will emerge if the borders are opened?

Only through concessions and compromise can the peninsula, with all the various foreign powers vying for some measure of control, be able to achieve a state of regional stability. If there isn’t a threat of North Korean missiles, will Japan need to change their constitution to allow them to have a robust military once more? Without the threat of the North invading, there would be no need for a massive US presence in South Korea, which the President has already stated would be reduced in the future. The world’s politics in the Korean Peninsula will change regardless of what happens. The door has been opened for diplomatic solutions after many years of aggressive and provocative saber rattling.

References

  1. Associated Press. Japan says Chinese ship likely transferred fuel to North Korean tanker, violating UN sanctions. CBC. May 28, 2018. Accessed June 8, 2018 http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/japan-navy-china-ship-north-korea-tanker-sea-sanctions-1.4682030
  2. Bennett, Jon. “North Korea: The Politics of Food Aid”. March 1999. Accessed June 9, 2018 https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/A063E079DC3D5D72C12567BD004795E5-odi_dprk.pdf
  3. Blackmore, Eric. “How Japan Took Control of Korea.” (2018). Accessed https://www.history.com/news/japan-colonization-korea
  4. Faiola, Anthony. South Korea Suspends Food Aid to North. The Washington Post. July 14, 2006. Accessed June 9, 2018 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/13/AR2006071300751.html?noredirect=on
  5. Friedman, Uri. The ‘God Damn’ tree that nearly brought America and North Korea to War. Accessed June 8, 2018 https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/06/axe-murder-north-korea-1976/562028/
  6. Hartman, Andrew. A War for the soul of America. The University of Chicago Press, New York and London.
  7. History.com Staff. “Korean War.” History.com. 2009. Accessed June 10, 2018. https://www.history.com/topics/korean-war.
  8. Jones, Anna, Andreas Illmer, Heather Chen, Miniji Lee, Helier Cheung, and Tom Spender. “Kim Trump Summit: Agreement Signed after Landmark Meeting.” BBC News. June 12, 2018. Accessed June 12, 2018. https://www.bbc.com/news/live/world-asia-44411114.
  9. Millett, Allan R. “Korean War.” Encyclopedia Britannica. May 11, 2018. Accessed June 09, 2018. https://www.britannica.com/event/Korean-War.
  10. Probst, Reed R.). “Negotiating with the North Koreans: The U.S. Experience at Panmunjom.” May 16. 1977. https://web.archive.org/web/20051024105914/http:/www.nautilus.org/foia/NegotiatingwithNK.pdf
  11. Pruitt, Sarah. “Why are North and South Korea Divided?” The History Channel. (2018). Accessed June 9, 2018 https://www.history.com/news/north-south-korea-divided-reasons-facts
  12. Reuters Staff. “North Korea state media says Trump agreed to lift sanctions against North”. June 12, 2018. Accessed June 12, 2018 https://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-usa-sanctions/north-korea-state-media-says-trump-agreed-to-lift-sanctions-against-north-idUSKBN1J9022
  13. Savada, Andrea Matles., and William Shaw. South Korea a Country Study. Washington: Library of Congress, Federal Research Division, 1990. Accessed June 9, 2018 http://countrystudies.us/south-korea/
  14. Seitz, Martin. “North Korea’s Impending Perfect Storm.” August 25, 2017. Accessed June 8, 2018 https://thediplomat.com/2017/08/north-koreas-impending-perfect-storm/

4)  Present an analysis of the social, culture, and technological factors that make many Americans susceptible to the use of public media  by foreign powers such as the Russians who seek to influence elections, and exacerbate the divisiveness that now seems to characterize regional and national politics in the United States.

We live in the information age therefore, geography no longer limits how we can communicate. On any given day, I can log into Discord (a popular online chatroom server hosting program for gaming) to text or voice chat in real time with people all over the United States as well as, foreigners in countries like Malaysia, Australia, or Sweden. The internet also provides a layer of anonymity if a person wanted to be another gender they could simply not use voice chat, change the pitch of their voice or use a voice altering program. If the person wished to be from somewhere else, with the proper amount of research and a VPN, they could be from anywhere in the world that simply speaks English. A prevailing stereotype with online chatrooms and video gaming communities is that there are no real females online, only unattractive, overweight men living in their mother’s basements (1) drinking Mountain dew (2) and eating Cheetos (3) as they pretend to be women. The example provided is oddly specific but imparts several revelations about the nature of communication on the internet.

1) The nature of the internet is subjective. People can and will perpetuate misinformation on the internet. There may not be malicious intent, the reasoning may be out of humor or that they are simply unaware that the information is wrong.

People are more willing to believe information that confirms their biases despite if it might be false. Social networking sites have made it incredibly easy to pass along information, posts, links, pictures, etc. with a simple click of a “share” button.  Increasingly popular is the use of pictures with random facts on them, called “information graphics” or a picture with some funny saying on them called, “memes”. These graphics tend to quickly circulate the internet through social networking sites or chatrooms without much thought or research. Most casual internet users will not attempt to validate the information as correct or think much of it beyond sharing it. Bandwagoning is also common. One just needs to consider the number of people that are consultants for Herbalife, or Pampered Chef without any true knowledge about the restaurant or fitness industries.

2) Advertising and corporate branding is prevalent within demographics of web users.

Continuing with the gaming community example, corporations have integrated entertainment with advertising to directly target their intended consumers. Pepsi-Cola tied the release of the Mountain Dew flavor, “Game Fuel” with Microsoft’s release of the popular video game, Halo 3 (4) and Pizza Hut worked with Sony Entertainment to provide an in-game prompt in Everquest 2 that enabled the ordering of pizza, “/pizza” (5). In a broader sense, companies can use social media to more specifically target a consumer through partnerships with the various social networking sites. As more sites move towards integrations with a single log-in for the convenience of the consumer it’ll make it easier for third parties to gain access to demographics information for targeted advertising. Facebook specifically uses a mix of tracking cookies to identify browser history as well as key words in posts that their users “like” in order to provide specific advertising. For example, I liked an upcoming reunion planning post on Facebook for the 3rd Battalion 8th Marines Weapons Company and was suddenly seeing t-shirts with the 3/8 Weapons company logo on my Facebook ads.

This leads to the next point:

3) Social Media permeates everything and is the primary method by which many now communicate with friends and family. People also use the internet as a method of finding new professional and personal contacts.

Last November, Mark Zuckerberg admitted that 270 million accounts on Facebook were either fake or duplicate accounts (6). This number was staggering but people have long complained about fake accounts on social media sites more geared towards dating or have complained about the number of spam advertising emails they might receive on a given day. The anonymity of the internet allows people to become someone else. In operational security training, sailors, soldiers and Marines are warned about the dangers of adding strangers to their social media out of concern of foreign intelligence collectors using the service member’s account for gathering potentially damaging information. But the revelation that a foreign government was using information gathered on social media to influence an election or to inflame the anger of American citizens isn’t really that shocking. These types of operations have occurred for years so it’s the methodology and technology that have evolved.  During the first World War, German high command sent a cable to the Mexican government to join the fight against the United States to reclaim their lost land (7). Also during the war were propaganda broadcasters, Tokio Rose (Japanese hired broadcaster) and Axis Sally (German hired broadcaster) that encouraged soldiers to put down their arms and go home. Spies have also been known to make friends with some even developing sexual relationships with people that might enable them access to sensitive information in a technique called “honeypoting”.

With this sort of information in mind, and seeing how divided Americans are, it isn’t too difficult to start circulating memes or ideas that might widen the fissure or inflame the American public against the government. During the 2016 election, the Americans were so embittered that it was claimed that 11,000 voters wrote Harambe in as a presidential candidate (8). This piece of information has proven to be untrue and is another example of how misinformation taints the view of the public that are generally accepting of information or unwilling to do the research to validate information they are presented. One should consider the influence that the various news agencies have on the American public- all news media is biased in some way in how they present the news. The BBC probably had as much influence on swaying the hearts and minds of the American public during the presidential election as Russia did.

References

1) “Basement-dwellers no more: gamers shed the stereotype nerd image.” NBCNews.com. July 10, 2014. Accessed June 18, 2018. https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/video-games/basement-dwellers-no-more-gamers-shed-stereotype-nerd-image-n149931.

2) Feldman, Brian. “How mountain dew became the internet’s signature drink.” New York Magazine. November 2, 2015. Accessed June 17, 2018. http://nymag.com/selectall/2015/11/how-mountain-dew-became-the-internets-soda.html.

3) Hernandez, Patricia. “F*ck cheetos.” Kotaku. April 26, 2013. Accessed June 18, 2018. https://kotaku.com/f-ck-cheetos-481537557.

4) Pepsico. “Mountain dew game fuel lights up the beverage aisle.” Pepsico. August 13, 2007. http://www.pepsico.com/live/pressrelease/mountain-dew-game-fuel-lights-up-the-beverage-aisle08132007

5) Associated Press. “Hungry? Everquest now offers pizza.” NBCnews. February 23, 2005. Accessed June 18, 2018. http://www.nbcnews.com/id/7020132/ns/technology_and_science-games/t/hungry-everquest-now-offers-pizza/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

6) Titcomb, James. “Facebook admits up to 270m users are fake and duplicate accounts.” The Telegraph. November 02, 2017. Accessed June 17, 2018. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2017/11/02/facebook-admits-270m-users-fake-duplicate-accounts/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..

7) Van Otten, George. “Part II- American cultures: conflict and war.” Accessed June 17, 2018. https://www.e-education.psu.edu/geog571/node/286 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

8) Criss, Doug. “No, Harambe didn’t get 11,000 votes for president.” CNN. November 10, 2016. Accessed June 19, 2018. https://www.cnn.com/2016/11/10/us/harambe-votes-trnd/index.html.

5) Given what you have learned about the U.S./Mexican border region, present a logical analysis/synthesis of the probable long-term geopolitical outcomes of the current U.S plan to build a massive border wall designed to keep illegal immigrants from crossing into the United States, and current American enhanced efforts to deport undocumented immigrants.

The current landscape of the United States is turbulent on the issue of immigration. Everyone seems to agree that reform needs to happen, it’s just a matter of how it should happen that has become the point of contention. There are parties protesting the detention of illegal immigrants in holding centers with the loudest opposition regarding children being separated by Border Patrol from their parents (Andone, 2018). The other side feels justified in separating children from parents since the parents are making their first action into the United States a crime and making their children a party to it (Scanlan, 2018). As Mark has already pointed out, there is already a precedent for separating children from their parents who break the law, in fact, in 2016 there were approximately 1.5 million adults incarcerated in the US prison system for various offenses (Carson, 2018) and none of them get to spend time with their families on a full-time basis and there is no major push, to release many of them for the well-being of their families.

The immigration issue is being muddled with photographs being taken out of context for the actual events (Schmidt and Phillips, 2018) that have occurred and people making arguments that the US shouldn’t enforce its borders and should instead open them (Raviv, 2013). But the notion that the US should build a wall to secure its Southern Border is not new. Nor is the blocking of the granting US citizenship to people that were brought into the country illegally when they were under 15 years old (Naylor, 2007).

Securing the US / Mexican border has always been a national security issue. During the Indian Wars in the late 1800s, Apache would evade US troops by retreating over the Mexican border and hiding in the mountains before coming back over the border again to do more raiding (Van Otten, 2018).  A porous border has the benefit of allowing more trade to occur between citizens but also brings with it the problem of allowing the criminal element an easier way to avoid prosecution for their crime. In modern times, the concern over the criminal element remains but adds another dimension of the fear of terrorists sneaking in through an unsecured border. President Trump has been quoted as saying that a large quantity of illegal immigrants have perpetrated violent crimes against American citizens (Klein, 2018) but other groups have countered that this isn’t true and argue that illegal immigrants are less likely to commit crimes but that information is further caveated that illegal immigrants are more likely to live in impoverished conditions and be more susceptible to exploited and victimized since they have no protections (Ingraham, 2018).

This information is slightly contrary because while the state of Texas documents legal status of citizen in its reporting, the Uniform Crime Reporting run by the Federal Bureau of Investigation does not identify the citizenship of victims or offenders, nor does it identify undocumented immigrants from documented immigrants making determinations for the alleged 12 million illegal immigrants residing difficult to aggregate. Interestingly enough, the Census Bureau does identify that 20% of foreign born non-citizens live in poverty, twice that of foreign born citizens but it does not specify the legality of the residency of that population (Semega, Fontenot, & Kollar,  2017) Most crime studies identify that an impoverish population is more likely to turn to crime than a non-impoverished population (Nikulina, Widom, & Czaja, 2010) just as terrorism studies identify that repressed populations are more likely to foster domestic terrorism than non-repressed populations (Piazza, 2011).

The question then turns to how to secure the border. A fence has been the solution for years, but chain-link and barb wire can be cut, lifted and there is about 2,000 miles of border to patrol with a variety of desert terrain to navigate. In the 1990s, barriers were constructed as part of security operations to taper the transportation of illegal drugs into the United States and later, a bill was passed by Congress and signed by President Bush in 2006 as the Secure Fence Act (Jacobo and Marshall, 2017). Further complications to the construction of the fence are the fragility of the arid region, where wagon tracks left in the desert in the 1800s are still visible (Van Otten, 2018) and the water table might not be able to support a boon in population if people cluster on either side of the border wall. Currently, about 700 miles of border wall already exist in varying forms and the US Border patrol also has what is called a digital border that is monitored by various aircraft and terrestrial monitoring systems. Simply approving the act to build the wall now does not necessarily mean that it will be completed by the end of the incumbent president’s term or that the costs will remain the same. The cost of building the wall has dramatically increased over time from market inflation, cost of living increases and a shift from military engineers to private contractors. The cost per mile to build the wall in the 90s was 2 million per mile but it is estimated to cost 12 million per mile to build. A physical barrier of that size not only has to be built, it must be maintained and patrolled to be effective. There are stories of smugglers lifting fences for people to sneak under.

The long-term implications of a completed wall invokes images of modern dystopian literature. Beyond the wall is no man’s land, only within these walls is safety. It does not necessarily fix the current issues with the immigration policy but it does become a barrier to flow down the tide of people that seek entry into the United States through the southern border. There was some reported success when the San Diego Wall was built in the early 2000s (Robbins, 2006) but more recent figures from Border Patrol show that the numbers have fluctuated with an increase in apprehensions between 2015 and 2016 but are lower than in 2014 and 2014 (CBP, 2016).  For instance, BBC (2018) recently reported on a raid in Ohio which appeals to another part of the immigration problem, illegal immigrant workers that had been living and working in the US for years forming a large community were raided by ICE and detained/deported, causing some outcry from activists (Bachega, 2018). The migrant workers knew they were violating the law but felt they should not be punished. They claimed that no American wants to do the low wage farm work. There are working visa programs for migrant workers but many businesses prefer to work under the table, which is illegal. Solutions starting with these businesses need to also be pursued, they are facilitating the illegal immigration and need to be punished for it. So long as these businesses can continue illegal practices without consequences, they will continue doing them.

The long term implications is that unless the United States can get a firmer control of its borders and who is inside the country, there will continue to be a strain on the country’s infrastructure. Increased initiatives and corporation with the Mexican and other South American governments for pre-vetting of possible migrant workers and immigrants would send a better signal to the international community than building a wall. If the wall is built, it is likely to continue to a point of contention within the US population as costs increase with the cost of living, and by our South American neighbors because it shows an unwillingness to find another compromise to the border immigration issue than trying to keep everyone out. Walls can be broken, tunnels can be built and the determination of the human spirit to overcome obstacles for what is perceived to be a better life cannot be under-estimated.

References

Andone, D. Coast to coast protests denounce trump immigration policies. CNN. June 30, 2018. https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/30/us/june-30-immigration-protests/index.html (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Scanlan, Q. Not necessary to justify separating kids, parents at border, ‘it’s zero tolerance’: bannon. ABC news. June 17, 2018. https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/justify-separating-kids-parents-border-tolerance-bannon/story?id=55946718

Carson, E. Prisoners in 2016. Bureau of Justice Statistics. January 10, 2018. https://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=6187 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Schmidt, S and Phillips, K. The crying Honduran girl on the cover of Time was not separated from her mother. The Washington Post. June 22, 2018. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2018/06/22/the-crying-honduran-girl-on-the-cover-of-time-was-not-separated-from-her-mother-father-says/?utm_term=.e1a982745644 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Raviv, S. If people could immigrate anywhere, would poverty be eliminated? The Atlantic. April 26, 2013. https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/04/if-people-could-immigrate-anywhere-would-poverty-be-eliminated/275332/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Naylor, B. Bill giving children path to citizenship blocked. October 24, 2007. https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=15604139 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Van Otten, G. Civil security and the u.s./mexico border region. 2018. https://www.e-education.psu.edu/geog571/node/165 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Klein, B. Trump hosts citizens ‘permanently separated’ from loved ones. CNN. June 22, 2018. https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/22/politics/donald-trump-immigration-angel-families/index.html (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Ingraham, C. Two charts demolish the notion that immigrants here illegally commit more crime. The Washington Post. June 19, 2018. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2018/06/19/two-charts-demolish-the-notion-that-immigrants-here-illegally-commit-more-crime/?utm_term=.8e859f5b40df (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Semega, J., Fontenot, K., & Kollar, M. Income and poverty in the united states: 2016. United States Census Bureau. September 12, 2017. https://www.census.gov/library/publications/2017/demo/p60-259.html (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Nikulina, V., Widom, C.S. & Czaja, S. “The role of childhood neglect and childhood poverty in predicting mental health, academic achievement and crime in adulthood.” American Journal of Community Psychology (2011) 48: 309. (November 30, 2011) https://doi.org/10.1007/s10464-010-9385-y (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Piazza, James A. “Poverty, Minority Economic Discrimination, and Domestic Terrorism.” Journal of Peace Research 48, no. 3 (March 28, 2011): 339-53. doi:10.1177/0022343310397404.

Jacobo, J., and Marshall, S. Nearly 700 miles of fencing at the us-mexico border already exist. ABC News. January 26, 2017. https://abcnews.go.com/US/700-miles-fencing-us-mexico-border-exist/story?id=45045054 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Robbins, T. San Diego fence provides lessons in border control. National Public Radio. April 6, 2006. https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5323928 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Cbp border security report: fiscal year 2016. December 30, 2016. https://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/assets/documents/2016-Dec/CBP-fy2016-border-security-report.pdf (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Bachega, H. Trump immigration: the effects of a raid on one tiny town. BBC News. July 2, 2018. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-44447701

The Lavenders and Surrender return!

Just a quick update between homework assignments: two of the projects I contributed script work to have resumed! Both of these are considered NSFW with graphic violence, nudity and sexual content.

http://www.starshipmoonhawk.com/comic1/cosmic-feline-surrender/ <- Cosmic Feline: “Surrender” – Recounts the tale of Ael Delenaria during the Chotan War. It highlights PTSD and the lasting effects of war on a person’s psyche. Trigger warnings for this story with depictions of graphic violence and torture.

http://www.lavendercomic.com/ <- “The Lavenders” – Is a super natural drama following half-vampire, Darlene Lavender and her vampire mother, Rose, as they deal with a serial killer targeting vampires and stalking Darlene. A touch of high school drama, procedural cop drama, and coming of age story as Darlene must learn how to control her budding vampiric powers amongst the chaos of Neo San Diego where humans are being pitted against the supernatural species that live among them.

 

The Dream of Rood and Christ as a Hero

Early Anglo-Saxon religion had heavy Norse influences with an emphasis on a warrior culture. When Christianity was first introduced with Jesus Christ depicted as the Savior of mankind- he must have paled in comparison to the native Norse gods such as Thor, the god of thunder or Balder, the Sun god who were beloved and accomplished warriors. The dreamer in “The Dream of the Rood” describes Christ as “The Hero young begirt Himself, Almighty God was He”. (“The Dream”, 38) But how is “hero” defined?

“Definition of Hero:
b : an illustrious warrior ;
c : a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities;
d : one who shows great courage” (Merriam-Webster)

“…Then saw I mankind’s Lord/Hasten with mickle might, for He would sty upon me” (“The Dream”, 32-33). This quiet resolve is truly a courageous deed and that he did so to redeem mankind is noble. Norse heroes charged into battle with weapons raised high but this Christian hero sacrificed himself.

Sacrifice to a god was quite common in pagan religious practices in order to bring about various good effects, such as a fertile harvest. The most common sacrifices were animals and it was only on rare occasions that a human being was killed.  It was unheard of to hear of Gods willing to sacrifice themselves for mankind.

“…which Almighty God suffered upon/for all mankind’s manifold sins/and for the ancient ill-deeds of Adam./Death he tasted there, yet God rose again/by his great might, a help unto men.” (“The Dream”, 98-102)

The sacrifice of Jesus, presents to us an unspoken spiritual battle against the sins of mankind and mankind’s desire for repentance personified by the reversal of goodness and sin, with Christ’s body as the manifestation of mankind’s sin and the actions of his torturers as repentance.  With the death of Christ (mankind’s sin) and his subsequent rebirth (mankind’s salvation) the battle was won. This sort of battle is typical of Christian symbolism since it is not a physical one but a metaphysical one.

There is more symbolism that was originated in paganism but has been incorporated into Christian mythology. An example of a pagan belief adopted by Christianity was the narration by the tree. This personification was common in paganism in which the trees were thought to be the slumbering spirits of the forest unless their knowledge was sought out. Legend has it that the dogwood tree was once able to grow large and tall like an oak but it was appalled for having been used as the cross that killed Christ and now bears the markings of the crucifixion and no longer allows itself to grow that large again.

Queen Elizabeth and Elizabethan Era Literature

  1. Queen Elizabeth was considered an icon of her era, glorified as the “Virgin Queen” since she ruled in a patriarchal society without a king or prince ruling beside her and without a serious commitment to marriage. In her own writings and speeches, she spoke about the subject of her gender and lack of a partner as a way to inspire her subjects.

    “I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm; to which rather than any dishonour shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms, I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field.” (Elizabeth I, Speech to the Troops at Tilbury)

    As a queen, she tried her best to be fair and listen to her councilors, even to the point of not marrying a man that she loved against the wishes of her parliament. (Crofton, 148-149) Elizabeth never married and this sort of romantic ideal of refusing to marry if she could not marry the man she loved seems to be echoed in the literature of the era. The best example of this in her own words would be in her poem, “On Monsieur’s Departure”, “Let me or float or sink, be high or low;/Or let me live with some more sweet content,/Or die, and so forget what love e’er meant.” (16-18)

    2. Literature within the Elizabethan era was full of religious allegory intermingled with the mysticism of the old Gods. Edmund Spenser’s “Faerie Queene” was a prime example of the intermingling of religious iconography with the added benefit of making reference to Queen Elizabeth within the epic poem. “And cursed heauen, and spake reprochfull shame/Of highest God, the Lord of life and light;/A bold bad man, that dar’d to call by name/Great Gorgon, Prince of darkness and dead night,/At which Cocytus quakes, and Stya is put to flight.” (Book I, Canto I)

    The transition from the medieval displacement of troubles to devils to the blame upon the people themselves is more evident in Shakepeare’s “King Lear” where the ill luck that falls upon the King are the folly of his own mislaid trust. It is a sharp contrast to the mischief caused by magic and faeries in Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream”.

    3. Shakespeare’s humor and love of honesty shines through in Sonnet 130 “I grant I never saw a goddess go;/My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:/ And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare/As any she belied with false compare.” And again in “King Lear” with the lovely Coredlia’s statement of plain love for her father, “I love your Majesty./According to my bond, no more nor less.” Shakespeare writes a create variety of characters in all of his plays but it seems that he favors words of wisdom coming from unexpected places, such as from the Fool in “King Lear”. “I marvel what kin thou and thy daughters are. They’ll have me whipped for speaking true; thou’lt have me whipped for lying; and sometimes I am whipped for holding my peace.” (Act 1 Scene 4, 186-189) To have the foolish speak wisdom and the wise speak foolishly it says to me that Shakespeare feels that the real wisdom comes from whom you least expect. He also seems to make t plain that often times the truth is a plain thing that cannot be concealed in falsehoods.

    Work Cited:
    Crofton, Ian. The Kings and Queens of England. New York: Metro Books, 2006. Print.

    Shakespeare, William. King Lear. New York: Signet Classic, 1998. Print.

    Spenser, Edmund. The Faerie Queene. The Norton Anthology. Ed. Steven Greenblatt. Norton & Company, 2006. Print.

    Queen Elizabeth I. “On Monsieur’s Departure.” The Northon Anthology. Ed. Steven Greenblatt. Norton & Company, 2006. Print.

    Queen Elizabeth I. “Speech to the Troops at Tilbury.” The Norton Anthology. Ed. Steven Greenblatt. Norton & Company, 2006. Print

Paradise Lost as an epic

John Milton’s Paradise Lost is an epic according to the Webster’s New Dictionary definition of epic as “a long narrative poem in a dignified style about the deeds of a hero or heroes” (p. 219).  To classify Paradise Lost as an epic forces the reader to take into consideration the subject matters of the fall of Lucifer from Heaven; the fall of mankind from the Garden of Eden; and, if a reader can classify the actions of Adam, Eve or even Lucifer during these events as “heroic”.   Taking into consideration that a hero is defined as “any person, esp. a man, admired for courage, nobility” (Webster’s New Dictionary, p. 303), I can think about what actions I might personally consider noble or courageous.  Some of the things that I consider courageous are accepting responsibility for one’s one actions; speaking out for the greater good when it is unfavorable; or fighting against overwhelming odds to accomplish a goal.

In Milton’s poem, both Adam and Lucifer acted in ways that I consider courageous, albeit a little foolish but courageous nevertheless the fact that they faced death or banishment for their actions.  Surprisingly, the actions of Lucifer are the ones that stand out as the more heroic despite the notion that he is generally perceived as the source of evil and hatred in the world.  Lucifer’s plans to pervert all that is “good” to “evil” becomes heroic when the reasoning for his evil actions becomes what appears to be the desire to be free from life of servitude rather than jealousy.  “…but rather seek / Our own good from ourselves, though in this vast recess, / Free, and to none accountable, preferring/ Hard Liberty before the easy yoke / Of servile Pomp.” (Milton, 252-257)  It becomes harder to consider Lucifer a villain when he is the main focus of many of the twelve books of Paradise Lost.  The reader does follow Adam as well but Adam’s actions when compared to Lucifer’s appear more consequential.  Adam only accepts responsibility for disobeying God after initially denying all blame and then tries to repent for his actions.

Works Cited

“Epic.” Webster’s Fourth New World Dictionary. 2003. Print.

“Hero.” Webster’s Fourth New World Dictionary. 2003. Print.

Milton, John. Paradise Lost.  New York: Signet Classics, 2010. Print

Lucifer the antihero

My favorite character in John Milton’s “Paradise Lost” happens to be Lucifer.  I preferred Milton’s depiction of Lucifer as an antihero against the typical notion of a hero because I find it easier to relate to a character that has their flaws but makes up for their shortcomings with commitment to action despite overwhelming odds.  I found many of Lucifer’s speeches in Book I inspiring as he tells his followers to not give up hope but to make the best of their situation.

“…Here at least

We shall be free; th’ Almighty hath not built

Here for his envy, will not drive us hence:

Here we may reign secure, and in my choice

To reign is worth ambition though in Hell:

Better to reign in Hell, than to serve in Heav’n.” (Milton, Book I, line 259-263)

Lucifer’s portrayal as a leader of the fallen angels seeking their freedom of the oppressive forces of heaven in the poem is an intriguing juxtaposition to the archetypical portrayal of him as an angry defiler who seeks to destroy things for the sake of destruction.  One such villainous depiction of Lucifer in the King James Version of the Bible is in the First Book of Peter, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” (5:8)

It is hard to hate a person for desiring to live free, though I found Lucifer’s resolve in the later Cantos of “Paradise Lost” to seek vengeance instead of victory on his battle for freedom disheartening.  “Which if not Victory is yet revenge.” (Milton, Book II, line 105). I think it was the transition from the desire to live free to cause harm that transforms Lucifer from the realm of antihero to tragic hero because despite all of his inspiring words and noble ambitions he becomes corrupted by hate and despair and abandons his dreams.  I truly enjoyed reading about Lucifer and his schemes throughout Milton’s work even though I knew how the story would end because I wanted to see how this interpretation of Lucifer would handle things differently than the devil I learned about in Sunday school.

Works Cited

Milton, John. Paradise Lost, Book 1. The Northon Anthology. Ed. Steven Greenblatt. Norton & Company, 2006. 1831-1850. Print.

The Holy Bible, King James Version. New York: American Bible Society: 1999; Bartleby.com, 2000.

Loyalty Honored but Betrayal Repaid: Betrayal and Loyalty in “King Lear”

Shakespeare’s tragedy “King Lear” has the main theme of betrayal but also about loyalty.  “King Lear” is a play about King Lear who is so blinded by vanity and madness that he casts out the people who are most genuine and loyal to him to elevate flatterers who ultimately betray him.  The play opens with King Lear asking his daughters to tell him how much they love him and it is from that point it is presented to the audience that the truth is sometimes an ugly, plain thing and that a man would rather succumb to the beautiful allure of a falsehood than to allow himself to hear what might be a bitter ugly truth.  It also seems that the most unexpected betrayals come from those who are closest to us and if we are patient, those who would betray us will receive justice in one way or another.

Betrayal comes in many forms in within “King Lear” from simple lies; to usurpation of power; to infidelity; to murder.  The first betrayal of the play was the most blatant and surprising because it was the condemnation of King Lear’s youngest daughter, Cordelia, for refusing to lie about how much she loved her father. “Why have my sisters husbands if they say/ They love you all? Haply, when I wed,/ That lord whose hand must take my plight, shall carry half my love with him, half my care and duty./ Suce I shall never marry like my sisters,/ To love my father all,” (Shakespeare, Act 1 Scene 1, 101-106). King Lear was upset by the fact that his favorite daughter told him the truth of her feelings, that she could never love a husband if she loved only her father and he betrays her by disowning her.  But it is from this first betrayal that the seeds of rebellion are planted in the minds of King Lear’s other daughters, Regan and Goneril, and he soon finds himself stripped of his power and authority.  If King Lear cannot be trusted nor can he trust his family, it brings to mind the question of who is actually loyal.

There are a few acts of loyalty within “King Lear”.  One of the most notable and visible was Kent with his unwavering desire to serve his king despite being banished by that same king for telling him he was wrong to disown Cordelia.  Then there was Edgar of Gloucester who also remained loyal to his father despite being hunted for unwarranted accusations of treachery and guided his blinded father out of Gloucester to safety. And lastly there was Cordelia who remained loyal to her father despite being betrayed and took an army to war against her sisters over the mistreatment of King Lear.  But how was this loyalty repaid?

“Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides,/ Who covered faults, at last shame them derides (…)” (Shakespeare, Act 1 Scene 1, 282-283).  Sadly, loyalty does not get to reap its fullest rewards within the play but there is some measure of justice for those who suffered from betrayal.  Each betrayer is punished in some way, the daughters die after betraying their father; the Duke of Gloucester and each other; Edmund dies after instigating the mutilation of his father and the banishment of his brother; and King Lear dies of heartbreak after realizing that he betrayed Cordelia and that his actions led to her death.  The true moral of “King Lear” is that if you betray those around you and surround yourself with flatterers that you yourself will end up betrayed.

 

Works Cited

Shakespeare, William. King Lear. New York: Signet Classic, 1998. Print.

King Arthur and Christianity

King Arthur has been honored through the ages as being a noble, fair and chivalrous king as well as being a brilliant soldier.  He is the epitome of British nobility and chivalry and for centuries, kings of England have claimed to have ties to his noble linage.  Arthur’s story begins in magic and miracles but ends in the gritty reality of blood and tragedy. The death of King Arthur is symbolic as it ushers in the end of two eras, of Camelot and of magic, where the old Pagan religion has been swept away and replaced by Christianity.

King Arthur’s true beginning is in a magical deception of the Duke of Cornwall’s wife, Igraine by King Uther Pendragon.  Merlin cast a spell called a “glamour” upon Pendragon that gave him the physical appearance of the absent Duke that enabled Pendragon and Igraine to conceive Arthur without the duchess knowing the truth of Pendragon’s identity. (Malory, 3)  Magical transformations are a reoccurring theme in Pagan mythology as a method for the gods to woo and bed beautiful mortal women that are resistant to their regular charms.  The children born from these god/mortal unions grew up to be great heroes and in this way, Arthur was predestined by the magical nature of his birth to become a hero as well. The overwriting destiny that Arthur came into was the kingship of England by means of the Christian ordained miracle of the sword in the stone on Christmas.

“(…) that Jesus, that was born on that night, that he would of his great mercy show some miracle, as he was come to be king of mankind, for to show some miracle who should be rightwise king of this realm,” (Malory, 7).  The act of pulling the sword from the stone was considered a miracle by the people but the nobles were resistant to the idea of a squire becoming their king until Merlin informed them of Arthur’s royal linage.  The notion of God ordaining a man to be king over another man was not a new concept introduced by the Arthurian legend but a concept used by monarchial lines for ages; for example, in Egypt kings were almost considered on the same level as Gods themselves for their right to rule was granted by the Gods.  Once Arthur had been established as king he went about the earthly duties of being king and waged wars to win many territories in the surrounding are to include Ireland and some of Wales.  It was on the battlefield he confirmed his strength and through these victories he was able to prove his prowess as a warrior and as all kings do, he finally took a wife.

It was on the matter of love that Arthur was weakest, he so loved his wife, Guinevere and his knight, Lancelot that he refused to believe the stories of their affair from his son, Mordred.  But the infidelity was foreseen by Merlin and he tried to subtly warn Arthur that Guinevere would be loved by and fall in love with Lancelot if she became queen.  (Malory, 79-80)  Since Arthur’s weakness was his love of Guinevere, it was this that Mordred exploited to divide the loyalty of the knights of the table but it wasn’t by any sort of magical means- it was done by regular gossip and entrapment.  Like Judas, Mordred was trusted by his fellows so the treachery was unexpected and this led to Arthur’s and Mordred’s mutual deaths at each other’s hands.

In Arthur’s dying moments, he had one of his surviving knights return his magical sword, Excalibur to the mystic Lady of the Lake by casting the blade into the waters of the Lake.  It was only after the sword was returned that Arthur himself died.  As a consequence for all the bloodshed caused by the affair, both Guinevere and Lancelot turned to God for penance and respectively became a nun and a priest. (Malory, 922-931) These actions are very telling of the additions of Christian values into the Arthurian mythos but still keeping with the original story.  The inclusion of both magic and repentance are elements that were important to help ease the populace into the notion of Christianity.  It is with Arthur’s death that the reality that the age of magic and Camelot are gone- almost all of the Knights of the Round Table are dead and Excalibur has been returned to the Lady of the Lake. In the end, the pagan beliefs were lost to Christianity.

Works Cited
Hamiliton, Edith. Mythology. New York: Hachette Book Group, 2011. Print.

Malory, Sir Thomas. Le Morte D’Arthur. New York: The Modern Library, 1994. Print.

Chaucer’s Miller’s Tale

Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales” contains a series of short stories collected from a group of pilgrims holding a storytelling contest as they stop at an inn on their way to the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. I consider many of the stories from the pilgrims to be parables and “The Miller’s Tale” is no different, telling the dangers of getting too clever in mischief, coveting another man’s wife and believing in false prophecy. There is a great lightheartedness in the tale of the Miller, Robin, and despite the baseness of Robin’s humor, I feel that this humor is effective in relaying the moral of the story without being too heavy handed in its delivery.

Overall, Chaucer uses satire within “The Miller’s Tale” in the traditional Middle Age’s manner of vulgarity. Some of the irony seems to best absorbed by the nature of how the story is related- it is collected from people on a Holy Pilgrimage and Robin, the storyteller in this particular tale is anything but what we would perceive as a pious man on his way to find religious enlightenment. He is described as “…very drunk and rather pale, / was straddled on his horse half-on half-off/ And in no mood for manners or to doff.” (14-16)

Robin shares his bawdy tale following the Knight’s tale which was described as “…a noble story/ Worthy to be remembered for its glory,” (3-4) and is such a definitive contrast in the manner of speech that Chaucer felt the need to apologize before fully retelling the story and implores the reader to “Just turn the page and choose another sort” (69) promising “…Many historical, that will profess/ Morality, good breeding, saintliness,” (71-72). But as we all know, human beings are curious creatures that like to hear about the things they are told that they should avoid.

There are many great examples of Robin’s humor but I felt the morale of this tawdry tale of adultery and comeuppance best sums up the nature of the whole tale, “And so the carpenter’s wife was truly poked,/ As if his jealousy to justify,/ And Absalon has kissed her nether eye/ And Nicholas is branded on the bum.” (742-745) The wife though originally faithful lives up to her husband’s jealous nature by having an affair with the student, Nicholas; the foolish suitor and parish clerk, Absalon is humiliated by the lovers; and Nicholas the instigator of the whole affair, will forever bear the scars of his indecency with Alison. The carpenter in the whole scheme of things is punished for his jealously and believing Nicholas’s “prophecy” about a flood by losing his credibility and his wife’s affections.

Works Cited

Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales. Trans. Neville Coghill. New York: Penguin Classis, 2003. Print.

 

HEY! I helped make a thing!

Many years ago, I met this guy, Michael Prokop through the Lounge webcomic forums and I got involved with his project, Starship Moonhawk.  We later started a forum roleplay based off the Starship Moonhawk setting and my Mercadian Marine, Karma got pulled into Starship Moonhawk canon. FAST forward to today, Karma is in the webcomic and I was asked to voice her in the motion comic. =) Check it out, give it a like, donate to the Starship Moonhawk Patreon if you want to see more!

Formerly Studio Peregrine.