The Wall Street Apocalypse: An Unnatural Account

The Wall Street Apocalypse: An Unnatural Account

Animation by: Gary Leib

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The End of an American Icon: Coney Island at Night

The End of an American Icon: Coney Island at Night

This classic Edison short, featuring revolutionary night photography of Coney Island around the turn of the century, was shot by the Edison Studio filmmaker Edwin S. Porter on June 25th, 1905. His camera caressed the lit-up amusement center with long sweeping movements, producing an eerie beauty. The smooth pans and tilts were a remarkable technical accomplishment at the time, given the fact that night scenes required longer exposures.

Coney Island at Night: The Edison Film Studio (1905)

Yes We Can: American Stories of Hope

Yes We Can: American Stories of Hope

Qasim Basir is a young filmmaker living in New York City who has been inspired by Barack Obama. In an article on The Huffington Post, Qasim wrote that, “He has inspired me, a usually self-motivated individual, to try to be a better person overall. I sometimes find myself in situations where I have a choice to do my best or just get by. And something in me refers back to something Obama may have said about making this country better. Then I realize that if I can do better in all of my endeavors and we all do the same as a collective nation, this place can actually get better.”

As a filmmaker, Qasim wanted to do something in support of the man that he so admired. By chance, one of his filmmaker friends in Los Angeles, Mike Lynch, was thinking along the same lines. Late one night, Qasim received a call from Lynch in his small Manhattan studio. Lynch said, “Qasim, we need to do something to support Obama.” That call sparked a flame in Qasim that inspired him to stay up all night and draft some ideas for a short film series. He wanted the series of short films to capture the quality that he most admired about Barack Obama.

It was by no means easy for Qasim to achieve his vision. It took everything that he and Lynch had to pull together enough resources to be able to finish the series of films. Along the way, they received free assistance from some usually highly paid professionals and raised most of the financial support for the film series through friends’ donations. Qasim feels that, “That’s why what we did here is so significant. We took a page out of Obama’s book and were successful at it. Almost like a prototype, test, or a living example of how his plan for this country can really work. A grass roots effort, people pulling together with a common purpose, even without all the necessary means, can make something positive and significant happen. I like to say that we accomplished this with nothing but Hope.”

Entitled The Inspiration of Barack: “Yes We Can” Film Series, Qasim refers to them as “Seven American Stories of Hope.” Each of the short films is about different people who, in the face of suffering and hardships in their lives, were inspired by Obama to confront their hardships and take an essential step forward. Each of the titles begins with Yes We Can, which is followed by College, Economy, Family, Housing, Immigration, Vote and War.

A screening of The Inspiration of Barack: “Yes We Can” Film Series, along with a “behind the scenes” video, is scheduled to place at 7 p.m. on Friday, September 12th at Tribeca Cinemas (54 Varick St., New York City).

Yes We Can: College

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Live-Blogging Day-Two of the 2008 DNC: The Hillary Kerfuffle

Live-Blogging Day-Two of the 2008 DNC: The Hillary Kerfuffle

Comments On Michelle Obama’s Speech Last Night: So That’s What Brave Looks Like….

A reader wrote to Andrew Sullivan at The Atlantic Magazine:

“I am a 36 year old African American woman. I have two girls ages 10 and 8. The country does not get the full import of this moment. My daughters and I sat together along with my husband to watch Michelle Obama tonight. Mr. Sullivan, we were all in tears. This is a day that cannot be fully described. This country has systematically oppressed Black women for centuries. My ancestors were slaves and my great, great, great, grandmothers raped and treated as property. My daughters have very few Black women to look up to in popular culture as role models. They do not feel seen, they are not held up as the standards of American beauty. We shed tears tonight as a family because Michelle (with her elegance and grace) is holding all of us up with her. You don’t understand the burden that she bears.”

And Dahlia Lithwick wrote in Salon:

“I loved best about Michelle Obama’s speech tonight was that it was fearless, but in a very different way from the fearlessness modeled by Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi. Here is a woman with a degree from Harvard Law School, who could have talked about law and policy and poverty, and yet she talked about her kids, her husband, and her family. And she didn’t do that merely to show us that smart women are soft and cuddly on the inside. She did what everyone else in this campaign is terrified to do: She risked looking sappy and credulous and optimistic when almost everyone has abandoned “hope” and “change” for coughing up hairballs of outrage. Every Democrat in America seems to be of the view that optimism is so totally last February; that now’s the time to hunker down and panic real hard. Good for Michelle for reminding us that to “strive for the world as it should be” is still cool, and for being so passionate about that fact that she looked to be near tears. Good for her for speaking from the heart when everyone else seems to be speaking from the root cellar. And if that doesn’t persuade you the woman is a warrior, let me just add that true bravery is letting your 7-year-old turn the first night of the Democratic Convention into open-mic night with the big screen and the party frock. Think any man alive would have done that? Me neither.”

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Celebrity Music Video: Yes We Can

Live-Blogging Day-Two of the 2008 DNC: The Hillary Kerfuffle

Hillary Clinton: To Damn Obama with Faint Praise

The Clintons are masters in the dramatic art of pointing at themselves and saying “attention must be paid to us!” Tuesday night, Hillary Clinton put on a good show of supporting Obama, but it was expressed as having been left with little recourse but to convey support for him, or else having to deal with something even worse, McCain and the Republicans. Watching her gave me the freaky chills, made feel glad that I’m still free enough from any obsession with the Clintons to still be able to peek under their rocks and see what kind of bugs are creeping around underneath.

In Hillary’s speech at the Democratic Convention on Tuesday night, she gave the appearance of momentarily overcoming the narcissistic conviction of personal and political entitlement that has been a long-time congenital characteristic of both Clintons. Feigning to say the right things, Clinton made an “intellectual” case for supporting Obama. Strategically aware that her own short-term political future is inextricably bound to his, she explained in somewhat clinical terms why she supports him, and indicated to her diehard supporters that they should also do so (for the time being).

But Clinton obviously still wants to be president. Hillary’s speech hardly concealed the clear subtext that it is really she who should be giving the major convention speech on Thursday night. Clinton’s performance on the podium Tuesday evening was a calculated theatrical work that directed America to look at what has been lost by her not being the Democratic nominee.

Further, it continues to be clear that Hillary obviously doesn’t like Barack Obama, and that she’s plainly not eager about the prospect of him being elected president. After all the time that she spent during her speech tracing the course of women’s suffrage and talking about what a world-historical figure she was, she failed to make any mention about Obama being a similarly important figure of history.

As a plausible, but much less noteworthy approach, she might have attempted to say something, just anything, about a specifically admirable individual characteristic that Obama might display. Even here, Clinton’s reservations were obvious. While she had open personal praise for Joe Biden and John McCain, she could not bring herself to say anything positive about Obama as a person.

The reasons that Hillary gave for supporting Obama were all ways of saying that Obama is a Democrat. She managed to say some nice “words” about Obama in her speech (she was proud to support him), but subsequently she immediately launched into a litany of the many important issues for which she’d fought and sang out with a paean to all the people who had placed their faith in her.

In the end, it came down to being all about her.

Hillary Clinton: Well, It’s Mostly About Me

Music Audio: Josh Groban/You Lift Me Up


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The 2008 Denver National Democratic Convention: Live Blogging


Dave Stewart: American Prayer

The Democratic National Convention: Live Blogging

Michelle Obama Addresses the Democratic National Convention

Michelle Obama presented the first major address at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver on Monday evening. Speaking to the delegates, Michelle described herself as a daughter, sister, wife and mother, no different from many other women. She told an exuberant crowd in the convention center that she and her husband feel an obligation to “fight for the world as it should be” to assure the promise of a better life both for their own daughters and for all children.

Michelle Obama talked about tucking her daughters Malia and Sasha into bed at night. “I think about how one day, they’ll have families of their own. And one day, they, and your own sons and daughters, will tell their own children about what we did together in this election. They’ll tell them how this time, we listened to our hopes, instead of our fears. How this time, we decided to stop doubting and to start dreaming,” she said.

Michelle Obama: We Listen to Our Hopes and Dreams

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy: Hope Rises Again, the Dream Lives On

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, struggling with brain cancer, arrived at the Democratic National Convention on Monday night in a triumphant appearance that evoked 50 years of party history. No was sure until the very last moment whether Senator Kennedy actually would be able to make a personal appearance at the convention, given the severity of his illness. Kennedy arrived at the convention site shortly before darkness fell, accompanied by a large group of family members. He walked a few halting steps to a waiting golf cart, which drove him into the arena.

After a speech was given by his niece Caroline Kennedy and a video tribute to him was shown, Senator Kennedy walked slowly to the lectern, limping slightly, with his wife, Victoria, who kissed him and left him there. The crowd gave him a standing ovation and many people were seen wiping tears from their eyes; they cheered for almost two minutes until he settled them down.

My fellow Democrats, my fellow Americans, it is so wonderful to be here,” said Senator Kennedy, his voice booming across the hall. “And nothing–nothing–is going to keep me away from this special gathering tonight.” A stool that had been slipped behind him went unused during his 10-minute speech. And while Kennedy spoke slowly and at times haltingly, his voice was firm and he was in command of this moment, gesturing and sounding very much like the man who enraptured the party’s convention 28 years ago.

There is a new wave of change all around us,” he said, “and if we set our compass true, we will reach our destination–not merely victory for our party, but renewal for our nation. And this November, the torch will be passed again to a new generation of Americans. So with Barack Obama, and for you and for me, our country will be committed to his cause.”

Invoking his parting remarks to the 1980 Democratic National Convention as he ceded the presidential nomination to Jimmy Carter, he promised that “the dream will never die. The work begins anew, the hope rises again, and the dream lives on.”

Sen. Edward Kennedy: Hope Rises Again, the Dream Lives On

Music Audio: We Are The World


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MIT’s Technology Review Selects 2008 “Young Innovators Under 35”

MIT’s Technology Review Selects 2008 “Young Innovators Under 35”

M.I.T.’s Technology Review has just announced the selection of its TR35, the annual listing of leading young innovators. The editors of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology magazine have created this list every year since 1999 to honor young innovators whose inventions and research the editors find to be the “most exciting” in fields such as medicine, electronics and nanotechnology, among others. The selection of the 35 men and women this year, all under the age of 35, was made from a pool of more than 300 young persons who were nominated on the basis of the remarkable technologies they’ve invented and the discoveries that they’ve made so early in their careers. The selection of this year’s TR35 was made on the basis of their accomplishments as researchers, inventors or entrepreneurs.

This year’s group of young innovators is transforming everything from the cars we drive to the way we use computers, treat heart attacks, and manage e-mail. Several of them are working on ways to conserve and more efficiently produce energy, others to help us collaborate and connect; still others are taking advantage of the body’s capacity to heal itself. As they fight disease, global warming, and the complexity of life in the 21st century, the TR35 innovators aspire to truly improve the world.

Click here for a complete list of the 2008 TR35.

MIT’s Technology Review Honors 35 Young Innovators

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A Glittering Ceremony Opens The 2008 Beijing Olympics

A Glittering Ceremony Opens The 2008 Beijing Olympics

The eyes of the world were on Beijing as a glittering opening ceremony heralded the start of the Games. An audience of 91,000, which included many of the world’s heads of state, were in the Bird’s Nest Stadium for the ceremony. Before the night’s festivities even began, performers from 28 different Chinese ethnic groups danced during the pre-show entertainment. Then, the ceremony opened with a drumbeat that turned into 1000 and roared across the Olympic Green and through the nation.

The opening ceremony was dazzling and the Olympic Park was revealed to the world as a showcase of modern architecture that will define the Chinese capital well into the century. An estimated four billion people around the world watched as China re-introduced itself to the world.

The Opening Ceremony: Lighting of the Olympic Torch

The 2008 Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony

The Opening Ceremony Fireworks Display

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