Saturday, November 30, 2013
Plot Summary: "12 Years a Slave" is based on an incredible true story of one man's fight for survival and freedom. In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. Facing cruelty (personified by a malevolent slave owner, portrayed by Michael Fassbender), as well as unexpected kindnesses, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity. In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon's chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist (Brad Pitt) will forever alter his life.
The dungeons can still shock, two centuries after their last inmates were freed. Damp and fetid in the tropical air, immersed in virtual darkness, this is where slaves were kept, often for months at a time—before being led down a tunnel through the “door of no return” to ships riding in the surf, ready to begin their appalling voyage over the ocean.
Just one of the countless inmates left a written record. Having been sold to white traders for a gun, a piece of cloth and some lead, Quobna Ottobah Cugoano recalled waiting in the dungeon till his time arrived: “To conduct us away to the ship, it was a most horrible scene; there was nothing to be heard but rattling of chains, smacking of whips, and groans and cries of our fellow men. Some would not stir from the ground, when they were lashed and beaten in the most horrible manner.”
When the dungeons were excavated in the late 19th century, a mass of caked excrement was removed, together with the bones of birds and animals on which the slaves presumably fed. On such misery was founded a global trading system that in its heyday, in the mid-18th century, was taking about 85,000 Africans a year across the Atlantic to work on sugar and tobacco plantations that made Europe rich.
Friday, November 29, 2013
If you were 'made of' thought, constructed out of thought, defined and limited by thought, you would never be able to be aware of thought. You would never be able to say 'that's a thought'. The fact that you can notice thought, be aware of it, observe its appearance and disappearance without needing to think, shows that what you are is already beyond thought. You are the ever-present stillness in which all thought comes and goes like clouds, living and dying in the vast sky of you.
Shane is a REconomist, entrepreneur, environmentalist and dreamer. He left the UK at 17 to discover the world, without money, direction or date of return -- just a fascination for big questions like "is a better world possible?" 20 years later, his current work with the Transition Network's REconomy Project (http://www.reconomy.org) exposes him to the rise of the new economy and a possible answer. In his talk, Shane explores the rise of seemingly unrelated new economic trends that are global enough in scale and are evolving at such a rate that they could trigger a positive economic systemic shift. Cooperatives provide 100 million jobs worldwide, 20% more than multinational enterprises. Online collaboration techniques (open source and peer-to-peer systems) -- are spreading. Niche groups experimenting with cooperation-based economics are outperforming competition-based enterprises. At a time when mainstream confidence in the old economy is at a low Shane provides hope in a plausible and positive vision of the future based on present and credible economic trends.
Matt Damon, a lifelong friend of Howard Zinn and his family, read excerpts from a speech Howard Zinn gave in 1970 as part of a debate on civil disobedience.