The "cypress at2lp rc58" problem

Has your external hard drive stopped talking to you? Does your computer no longer even recognize it? Does it say it found a device by a producer called cypress, but could not find any driver for it? Which is all the more puzzling since most of us “knew” that our trusty old HD did not need any drivers at all?

Well. Usually this problem occurs as the so-called “cypress at2lp rc42” Problem, as wonderfully described here. I, using a Freecom Classic SL HD had the problem, but with the slight change that my “device” was a cypress at2lp rc58. The basic description on the linked page above is very good and helpful but in case you are looking for a …58 solution, here is your link to a different download. I urge you to read all the content on the first page first, however, even if the content on the 2nd page seems more palatable. It might answer some questions.

Now. It didn’t work quite as well for me as for the people using either of these two download pages. But rest assured, after some adjustments, these downlads came in very handy, so download them (well, the one that fits) anyway.

Now. On to my problem. (btw. This ‘enlarged’ solution here works for …42’s as well, I was assured.) Between step 5 or 6 in the MVIx USA solution, I had a problem, which I will now describe in the probably stupidest way possible: I could not get my computer to do, what it, according to the pretty screenshots, should be able to do. It did not, god damn it all, ‘know’ that cypress device for what it was. All the other parts of the issue suddenly were meaningless in the face of my obstinate Hardware Update Wizard.

Now. This wonderful link to cypress, provided me, after hours of useless and frustrating fiddling, with the help I needed. Download this, then find out which of the three drivers you find in that bulk of data you downloaded leads you to your goal (don’t worry, just try one after the other, I forgot which one it was, and I am fearful of checking, it might all come undone again, it’s obvious, when you’ve hit upon the right one.).

After having having helped your Hardware Update Wizard see the truth (don’t forget to boot at least once), just proceed as outlined in both of the two earlier links. Having done that, boot twice and be prepared to scream out in joy as your computer finds your External Hard Drive, looks for drivers and finds them. I was afraid to look at the files for fear that it was all just some cruel joke but it wasn’t, they were all there.

I hadn’t been that happy in ages. Hope this helps.

No Child Left Behind (on Doctorow’s Book of Daniel and Prison Break)

Whereas in Prison Break (see my 1st essay here) the escapee from the system has tattooed the system onto his body as a powerful trope of his inability to really escape it, the character of Paul Isaacson in E.L. Doctorow’s vivid novel The Book of Daniel has implanted the system into his thoughts: the belief in democracy assures his inability to understand what happens all around him. His son Daniel, who faithfully and thoroughly records his father’s failure, copies his bourgeois sexual morals and ‘improves’ upon them. However, as he gains insight in his father’s mental blocks, his own epistemological stability gives way, which accounts for the fractured narrative of Doctorow’s novel.

So how could either of them ever escape ‘the tyranny of what everyone knows’, to quote a BSF song? Were they to stage a violent revolution and destroy the system, would it not still cling to them? To a part of themselves they cannot access? [I will reread Marcuse and insert him later on, promise] Would Daniel’s both physical and mental abuse of his wife stop? Or, to cite an idea of Eske Bokelmann‘s which I have encountered only recently but which is certainly worth investigating, would he stop thinking in terms of value and evaluation? Would, for instance (and I am not suggesting that this is the correct way to go about it, it’s just an example), a rearrangement of the means of production have an effect like that?

There is, one could say, a certain development from The Book of Daniel to Prison Break. This development becomes obvious once we see the changed visibility of the mire these texts’ characters, hell, we all, are in. So how do we change that? Simplistic attitudes like Raymond Tallis‘ (I will review a preposterously stupid and disingenuous text of his when I return) don’t of course help, but skepticism of my sort doesn’t either. So what? Education? Sexual Education? Something like that. No Child Left Behind, that ill-conceived act of the Bush administration could nevertheless provide a slogan for the way one could go about it. But then again, how? What teachers? What schools?

In both texts there is an admirable honesty, one that I personally, with my limited reading, only know from Müller plays. The way, for example, a revolutionary in Zement tries to beat his wife into submission, or the cyclical, self-devouring vision of revolution in Mauser or Der Auftrag are kin to Michael Scofield’s tattoos or Paul Isaacson’s conversion to baseball in prison. In nuce, this is contained in one of the most famous statements by the probably most popular Founding Father, who demanded of each new generation to have its very own revolution. However what he probably meant wasn’t really revolution (for this, see Hannah Arendt’s enlightening essay On Revolution) in the sense that I (or Isaacson, for that matter) have been using it. With Jefferson, I get the impression, revolution is more like a catharsis or like a correcting instance. When I read that statement years ago, I was stunned by its cynicism. But of course it wasn’t cynicism. He probably thought it was a good thing. Maybe it is. Maybe this is the only reasonable way to look at it. It may well be the case that children get left behind, no matter how considerate a ‘complete’ revolution is carried out. But if we leave the children behind, and our minds are polluted with The Old, as Scofield’s body is, in what meaningful sense will the revoluted world be different from the Old?

Or maybe drowning is the only way to step out of the river. Maybe Paul Isaacson was lucky. Now that’s cynicism. And unjustified. Isaacson was tortured for having ideals. As a character in Doctorow’s novel says: revolution was harder in the old days. And it was. Will I get punished for writing such a whack essay as the present one? No. But maybe the development from the harder days to the easier, priviledged days of today is due to the fact that there isn’t any need to repress today’s mild revolutionaries as I am one. We, like Scofield, no longer have the same kind of distance to the system. It pervades every aspect of us. Yet didn’t Adorno teach us that all that the culture industry does is make these kind of bindings visible, bindings that were present all along?

Oh what a terrible essay this has been. More questions than answers and no structure to speak of. Yet that is my mind, currently. An ugly mess of ideas. I will rework this text when I’m back. Promise.

Albern II

Nachdem ich mich gestern geärgert habe über die Aufnahme der neuen Studie zu Muslimen, traf ich heute angenehm kühlköpfige blogeinträge an, etwa bei Entartetes Engagement

Im Auftrag des Schäuble-Ministeriums erstellten die Hamburger Forscher Katrin Brettfeld und Peter Wetzels die Studie “Muslime in Deutschland”, bei welcher in vier großstädtischen Regionen rund 1000 Muslime befragt wurden. Insgesamt sehen die Ergebnisse wie zu erwarten aus. Nur eine Minderheit der Muslime (5,5%) hält Gewalt zur Ausbreitung des Islams für gerechtfertigt. 90% der befragten Muslime halten Selbstmordanschläge für feige und eine ebenso große Anzahl an befragten Personen lehnt das Töten von Menschen im Namen der Religion ab. Jedoch fühlen sich 50% der Muslime von der Gesellschaft ausgegrenzt und 20% erlebten selbst in den vergangenen zwölf Monaten Ausländerfeindlichkeit.

Die Anzahl der Muslime, die antisemitische Voruteile mit sich tragen und demokratiefeindlich eingestellt sind, sind, so die Forscher, etwa mit den Zahlen aus der deutschen Bevölkerung zu vergleichen.

via classless

Killerspiele II

Och nö.

Das Bundeskabinett hat in seiner Sitzung am heutigen Mittwoch den umstrittenen Entwurf zur ersten Änderung des Jugendschutzgesetzes aus dem Haus von Bundesfamilienministerin Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) angenommen. Damit soll der Katalog der schwer jugendgefährdenden Computerspiele und anderer “Trägermedien”, die automatisch gesetzlich indiziert sind, trotz Protesten von Branchenverbänden deutlich ausgedehnt werden. Laut dem Papier werden Games mit “weit reichenden Abgabe-, Vertriebs- und Werbeverboten” belegt, die “besonders realistische, grausame und reißerische Gewaltdarstellungen und Tötungshandlungen beinhalten, die das mediale Geschehen selbstzweckhaft beherrschen”. Bisher sind allein Gewalt oder Krieg “verherrlichende” Computerspiele für Jugendliche automatisch verboten. Die Bundesregierung will so ihren Beitrag im Kampf gegen “Killerspiele” leisten.


Mir mißfällt der Ton in dieser Debatte.
SPON tönt

Eine neue Studie zu Muslimen in Deutschland zeichnet ein düsteres Bild: 40 Prozent sind fundamental eingestellt, 6 Prozent gewaltbereit. Die Zahl der Rechtsstaatsgegner ist ähnlich hoch wie die von deutschen Nichtmuslimen. Politiker und Experten sind erschrocken, halten die Daten aber für realistisch.

Was daran düster ist, daß es genausoviele Muslime mit demokratiefeindlicher Einstellung gibt wie deutsche, etwas, das durchaus nicht von SPON unterschlagen, sondern hier ausgeführt wird

Der Kultur- und Sozialanthropologe Werner Schiffauer sagte dem Blatt, die Hamburger Studie komme auch zu dem Schluss, dass demokratiefeindliche Einstellungen bei nicht-muslimischen Deutschen etwa ebenso häufig anzutreffen seien. Daher könne nicht gesagt werden, dass der Islam Demokratiefeindlichkeit stärker fördere.

erschließt sich mir ehrlich gesagt nicht. Müssen Muslime ‘besser’ sein als nicht-muslimische Bürger, damit das Bild nicht mehr “erschreckend” ist? Die Rhetorik der beiden SPON Artikel finde ich, na, nicht erschreckend, eher erwartet, aber unangenehm. Diese Aufregung, wenn sie nicht u.U. höchst unangenehme politische Maßnahmen zeitigen könnte, wäre als albern zu bezeichnen. Siehe auch, was für die Studie unter “fundamental” fällt.

40 Prozent aller befragten Muslime in Deutschland sind “fundamental orientiert”. Hochgerechnet auf die Gesamtzahl der in Deutschland lebenden Muslime wären das 1,2 Millionen. Merkmale dafür sind: eine enge religiöse Bindung, hohe Alltagsrelevanz der Religion, die starke Ausrichtung an religiösen Regeln und Ritualen verbunden mit einer Tendenz, “Muslime die dem nicht folgen auszugrenzen sowie den Islam pauschal auf- und westliche, christlich geprägte Kulturen abzuwerten”. Die Zahl ist nach der Studie indes nicht gleichzusetzen mit dem Umfang des Potentials demokratieskeptischer, intoleranter oder gar islamismusaffiner Haltungen unter Muslimen.

Also? Inwiefern unterscheidet sich das gros dieser Ausführungen von den Forderungen des aktuellen Papstes? Oder weiter Teile der CDU/CSU? Die find ich erschreckend. Abstrus, das alles. Und, wie ich bereits sagte: das unangenehmste an dieser Studie ist ihre Darreichungsform. Düster? Erschreckend? Erschreckend sind auch teils die Autoren dieser Studie, die “problematische Einstellungsmuster” feststellen als ob es sich bei den Muslimen um ungehorsame Schüler handelte. Kopfschmerzen.

Today’s Quote (3)

Evidence, there was never enough evidence. He swam in it. That was it – physical training, it was the way he stayed in shape. That has to be it. You ate your heart out to keep the revolutionary tension. […] The implication of all the things he used to flaggelate himself was that American democracy wasn’t democratic enough. He continued to be astonished, insulted, outraged, that it wasn’t purer, freer, finer, more ideal. Finding proof of it over and over again […] like a guy looking for confirmation. How much confirmation did he need? Why did he expect so much of a system he knew by definition could never satisfy his standards of justice? […] And it was more than strategy […], it was passion.

E. L. Doctorow, The Book of Daniel

Marco W. und die junge Schlampe (Marco II)

Also. Ich habe ja hier schon ein paar Bemerkungen über Marco W. dahingeknurrt. Einen Aspekt habe ich vergessen, der auch in enormer Weise irritierend ist und von einem aktuellen SPON-Artikel gestützt wird

Ein Wort noch zur Familie des angeblichen Opfers, das mittlerweile traumatisiert sein soll – kein Wunder bei der aufgehetzten Stimmung in seiner Umgebung. Wer eine 13-Jährige unbeaufsichtigt in eine Discothek lässt und nicht darauf achtet, wann und mit wem das Kind zurückkehrt – Marco brach schließlich nicht gewaltsam in das Hotelzimmer des Mädchens ein, sondern wurde bereitwillig mitgenommen -, verletzt seine Aufsichtspflicht. Er oder sie, die Mutter, die im Türkei-Urlaub dabei war, darf sich dann nicht wundern, wenn Jugendliche eine solche Freiheit ausnützen.

Alle Schuld auf einen 17-Jährigen abzuwälzen, dem in der Aufregung vielleicht etwas passierte, was er gar nicht beabsichtigt hat, und die Medien dann mit einer Horror-Story zu füttern, um vom eigenen Versagen abzulenken – das ist unanständig.

Es ist ja gut, richtig und, äh, korrekt, die Täter- und Opferschaft der an einer möglichen Straftat Beteiligten zu klammern, solange gerichtlich nicht geklärt ist, ob eine Straftat vorliegt und welche Straftat genau. Aber faszinierend ist es doch, daß bei jeder Erwähnung von Marcos Anklage die “dünnen Beweise” betont werden, aber man ganz schnell dabei ist, von einem “angeblichen” Opfer zu reden. “Angeblich” geht auch als Ausdruck weit über den normalen Rahmen hinaus. “Angeblich” bedeutet eine Vorverurteilung des Opfers und tatsächlich folgt im zitierten Teil auch eine richtige Verurteilung der Eltern von Charlotte, die ich in den letzten Tagen tatsächlich häufig von den Guten Deutschen gehört habe. Faszinierend daran ist, daß nach meiner Kenntnis des türkischen Strafrechts auch Marco nicht in der Diskothek sich hätte befinden dürfen, mithin ein Rundumschlag gegen beide Eltern berechtigt gewesen wäre.
So wie es ist, findet die Diskussion gefährlich nahe an der “she was asking for it”-Grenze statt. Sie hat ihn doch angesprochen, sie war doch zu knapp bekleidet, sie war doch in der Disko, ihre Eltern haben doch ihr unsittliches Verhalten erlaubt, klagt die doch an. Irritierend. Irritierender aber ist, und dies läßt auch die ganze gegenwärtige Diskussion um Kinderrechte in einem etwas anderen Licht erscheinen, daß dort offenbar der sexuelle Mißbrauch von Kindern flugs umdefiniert wurde in: harmlose Handlungen mit einer ziemlich nuttigen jungen Frau. Deshalb griffen die ganzen alten Vergewaltigungsargumente wieder. Das kennen wir doch alle zur Genüge und eigentlich sollte uns allen davon schlecht sein. Es ist, vorsichtig gesagt, unangenehm, daß die sogenannte “Schlampen”-Verteidigung (wild aus dem Englischen paraphrasiert) immer noch greift. Das, mein lieber Spiegel, ist wirklich unanständig. Die faszinierende Mischung aus Frauenfeindlichkeit und Nationalismus, die hier die Umdeutung von Charlotte nicht als Tochter, sondern als Frau, die fast auch schon als Täterin durchgeht, ermöglicht. Siehe auch die Altersnivellierung im zitierten Abschnitt, in der Marco und harlotte kurzerhand zu jugendlichen vereinigt werden, wobei anderswo Marcos Jugendlichkeit eines der lautesten Argumente für die behauptete türkische Willkür ist, also etwas schützenswertes. Charlottes Kindlichkeit kann das nicht mehr sein, da sie in den Stand der Jugendlichkeit erhoben wurde. Dankeschön, kann ich da nur sagen.
Ich habe in den letzten Tagen im Internet eine Diskussion geführt, in der, in alter rassistischer Manier die ‘Nachteile des Islams’ aufgezählt wurden in einem Atemzug mit einer Verteidigung des armen armen Marco W. Interessant ist, daß es aber genau dieselben traurigen Gestalten waren, die im weiteren Diskussionsverlauf voll in die frauenfeindliche Bresche gesprungen sind. Traurig.

Al Gore + Thinking for himself = ? (Linguistics)

Yes, well. I may be one of the more ignorant people as far as climate change is concerned, and I am not happy about it. I tend to agree with the Pascalian wager as it is extended to environmental concerns nowadays, though. However, I firmly dislike Al Gore. Apart from several other reasons, I dislike him because he takes a topic that he and lots of others around the world, especially here in Europe, consider serious and presents it in a way that clearly presupposes that all who listen to him tell it are idiots. Very stupid idiots, too. Virtually no argument in that odious movie of his survives logical scrutiny. He’s bullshitting his audience to a degree that comes close to lying, except that I am not judging facts, and lying is, mostly, about facts, so technically…but that’s neither here nor there.
I found a nice post on language log last week, wherein Al Gore is disapprovingly quoted as saying

In the Kanji characters used in both Chinese and Japanese, “crisis” is written with two symbols, the first meaning “danger,” the second “opportunity.” By facing and removing the danger of the climate crisis, we have the opportunity to gain the moral authority and vision to vastly increase our own capacity to solve other crises that have been too long ignored.

Apparently he said that on many occasions. He might have said that in that crap movie as well, I don’t know, I tried to get it out of my head as quickly as possible. The point, and the reason for the log’s disapproval is that this, too, is wrong, as is explained at length at I’ll quote the salient bit here:

Thus, a wēijī is indeed a genuine crisis, a dangerous moment, a time when things start to go awry. A wēijī indicates a perilous situation when one should be especially wary. It is not a juncture when one goes looking for advantages and benefits. In a crisis, one wants above all to save one’s skin and neck! Any would-be guru who advocates opportunism in the face of crisis should be run out of town on a rail, for his / her advice will only compound the danger of the crisis.

For those who have staked their hopes and careers on the CRISIS = DANGER + OPPORTUNITY formula and are loath to abandon their fervent belief in jī as signifying “opportunity,” it is essential to list some of the primary meanings of the graph in question. Aside from the notion of “incipient moment” or “crucial point” discussed above, the graph for jī by itself indicates “quick-witted(ness); resourceful(ness)” and “machine; device.” In combination with other graphs, however, jī can acquire hundreds of secondary meanings. It is absolutely crucial to observe that jī possesses these secondary meanings only in the multisyllabic terms into which it enters. To be specific in the matter under investigation, jī added to huì (“occasion”) creates the Mandarin word for “opportunity” (jīhuì), but by itself jī does not mean “opportunity.”

A wēijī in Chinese is every bit as fearsome as a crisis in English. A jīhuì in Chinese is just as welcome as an opportunity to most folks in America. To confuse a wēijī with a jīhuì is as foolish as to insist that a crisis is the best time to go looking for benefits.

There you go. And even though I can’t verify this, being no speaker or reader of mandarin (sad as this is), after hearing him talk and watching that movie, I am convinced they are right, because I believe that Al Gore doesn’t take too much time to think. He appears to be on some sort of autopilot since the 70s or 80s. Since those decades he’s just refining his rhetorical strategies, which did result in one really great TV moment (at that moment, for some minutes, I liked the man) at a MTV award show. He came onstage and said (and yes I wish I could provide a link for that clip but I could not find one): “I actually was not planning on being here tonight but then MTV explained to me that Justin Timberlake is bringing sexy back, so here I am.”

Education III (Pink Floyd vs. The IT Crowd)

After having compared Pink Floyd and Dead Prez, and having then compared those two to the Wu-Tang Clan, there’s a third, and possibly final entry, in this quite nonsensical discussion of the merits and uses of education: the IT crowd.
In the opening lines of the episode The Red Door (s1e4) the following dialogue unfurls:

Roy (sings): …we don’t need no education…

Moss: Yes, you do. You’ve just used a double negative.

That sounds a lot like the final word on the issue, although we’ve now lost the revolutionary potential of the discussion to a good laugh. Which, come to think of it, is totally Kulturindustrie, eh? Great note to end this on. I’m going to get drunk now. Have a nice sunday.

Marco W. ist frei und die guten Deutschen freuen sich

SPON schreibt

Den meisten Uelzenern ist es gleich, wann Marco in seine Heimatstadt zurückkehrt. “Hauptsache, er ist dort weg”, sagt ein Mädchen von seiner Schule. “Sein Leben hat einen totalen Knick bekommen, den kann man nur ganz schwer wieder ausbügeln.” […] Der Ort zelebriert die Nachricht mit einem Autocorso und einem Hupkonzert wie zu Zeiten der Fußball-Weltmeisterschaft. Doch als der Gottesdienst beginnt, verstummt das Gebrüll. “Da legen wir nach, wenn Marco wirklich hier angekommen ist”, sagen drei Halbstarke mit Stadion-Trompeten an der Eislaufbahn in der Stadtmitte.

Die Solidarität und das Mitgefühl in der niedersächsischen Kleinstadt sind ungebrochen. Jeden Mittwochabend gab es seit Marcos Inhaftierung eine gut besuchte Andacht in der St. Petri-Kirche, die entgegen der üblichen Öffnungszeiten jeden Tag von acht Uhr morgens bis halb neun abends ihre Tore öffnete.

Jubelnde Massen von Deutschen, die sich freuen daß er “dort” weg ist. Das hat mehr als nur ein Geschmäckle. Es hat ein bißchen was vom Friedmann-Fall, sowie verschiedenen Übergriffen Israels auf seien Nachbarn, die wochenlang Antisemitismus als normales Diskurselement wieder eingeführt hatten. Der Fall Marco hat ähnliches für Islamophobie und ganz gewöhnlichen Rassismus geschafft. Solange Marco noch eingesperrt war, konnte man seinen Rassismus hinter pseudogutmenschlichem ‘Engagement’ verbergen. Das war besonders angenehm für solche, die sich für keine Rassisten hielten und halten, da konnten sie mal gut vom Leder ziehen, ohne daß ihnen mulmig wurde. Das ist die alte “Ich hab nichts gegen Ausländer, aber…”-Fraktion. Bezeichnend ist diese Passage, in diesem sonst mäßig geschriebenen SPON-Artikel:

Am meisten freuen sich die Deutschtürken über Marcos Heimkehr. “Ich wurde hier in der Firma täglich von deutschen Kollegen wegen Marco angemacht”, erzählt ein Türke aus Duisburg dem Hürriyet-Forum im Internet erleichtert. “Wenn noch einmal so etwas passiert, bitte schickt den Beschuldigten sofort zurück in seine Heimat. Die Leidtragenden sind zum Schluss doch nur wir und unser Land.”

Immer lesenswert auch classless’ schlaue Kolumnen wie dem Ökonomischen Gottesdienst.

On Moderate Islam

Eboo Patel’s Washington Post Online post of today is nice. It resonates with some things I was thinking about since reading that odious article by Mr. Broder weeks ago and it, while replete with strange and invalid assumptions, makes an important point. I will quote the bulk of it here, just to raise the chances of it being read by those too lazy to follow up on the links

My wife was at a dinner party last week and someone asked about the English woman in the Sudan […] My wife’s friend asked: “Does Islam really say that she should be punished?” “I don’t want to talk about it,” my wife responded.
[…] But her friend still wanted an answer to her question. And if my wife wasn’t going to provide one, then she would have to find someone who would. In this case, it was Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who wrote an OpEd in The New York Times effectively stating that Islam requires Muslims to severely punish teachers who name teddy bears Muhammad (Sudan), rape victims who are accused of being in the presence of a man who is not a family member (Saudi Arabia) and female writers who criticize Islam (India).
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is right on two important points. The first is that all of these punishments are appalling and brutal. The second is that moderate Muslims should be louder about these matters. There are some things that are true even if Ayaan Hirsi Ali believes them.
[…] Hirsi Ali and people like her are widely-read because they offer a theory of the problem: they tell the world a convincing story of why Muslims keep popping up on the front pages of newspapers in negative articles. Hirsi Ali’s theory, and the theory of other Islamophobes, is that Muslims have dirty laundry because the body and soul of Islam are dirty. […]
A lesson for mainstream Muslims: Whenever you don’t offer a theory of the problem, someone else will. When there is a vacuum of information about a hot topic and you don’t fill it, other people will aggressively move in.
Too many mainstream Muslims believe they have only two options in the face of the current discourse on Islam: angry indignation or stony silence.
I believe there is a third way. It is what University of Michigan Professor Sherman Jackson, one of America’s leading scholars of Islam, calls ‘Islamic literacy’.
Here is how someone literate in Islam, Muslim or not, might have responded to Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s contention that Islam and compassionate conscience are mutually exclusive. First, by saying that there should be no excuses made for those who sought the punishments in any of the three cases she named. They were indeed brutal, and as such, were in conflict with the core ethos of Islam – compassion and mercy, which are enshrined both in the Muslim tradition and in the human conscience.
Compassion and mercy are the two most repeated qualities of God in Islam, best illustrated by the most common Muslim prayer, “Bismillah Ar-Rahman Ar-Rahim” – In the name of God, the Most Compassionate, the most Merciful. As they are qualities of God, they are attributes that Muslims are required to emulate.
Compassion and mercy are also enshrined in the first lesson that classical Muslim scholars would teach their students, what came to be known as the Tradition of Primacy in Islam: “If you are merciful to those on Earth, then He who is in Heaven will be merciful to you.”
Islam, like other traditions, has internal contradictions. The Qur’an and Muslim law say different things in different places. That is precisely why compassion and mercy play such an important role in Muslim interpretation and practice. When in doubt about how to deal with a particular situation, a Muslim should always be guided by compassion and mercy. […]
Khaled Abou El Fadl, one of America’s most important scholars of Islamic thought and law, believes that people are required to bring their God-given compassion to the reading of the text of the Qur’an. “The text will morally enrich the reader, but only if the reader will morally enrich the text.,” he writes in a remarkable essay called The Place of Tolerance in Islam.
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, the most prominent Muslim scholar and preacher in the West, wrote in a piece for this website, “Unfortunately, millions of Muslims all over the globe are humiliated and betrayed by the ignorance and lack of basic humanity that a small minority of Muslims too often exhibits.” […]

Terry Pratchett has Alzheimer’s

Oh God not him. One of the best writers alive, the great Terry Pratchett, has Alzheimer’s.

Author Terry Pratchett is suffering from a rare form of early Alzheimer’s disease, it has been revealed.

In a letter published on the website of artist Paul Kidby, the writer said the condition was behind a “phantom stroke” he had earlier this year.

Pratchett said his statement should be interpreted as “I am not dead” and that he had taken the news “philosophically” and “possibly with a mild optimism”.

He himself assures us that more books are probable (whew!) and further:

I would just like to draw attention to everyone reading the above that this should
be interpreted as ‘I am not dead’. I will, of course, be dead at some future point, as
will everybody else. For me, this maybe further off than you think – it’s too soon to tell.
I know it’s a very human thing to say “Is there anything I can do”, but in this case I
would only entertain offers from very high-end experts in brain chemistry.

Homosexual no more!

Ah, I can just hear the disgusting advertising slogan. Homosexual no more! A scenario like this anticipated by an episode of ReGenesis, and a prettier one, anticipated by such writers as Samuel R. Delany in one of his last SF novels, Triton, is peeking over the horizon, as Tierneylab writes

To their surprise, neurobiologists have discovered that homosexuality can be turned on or off in fruit flies. They’d known that sexual orientation can be genetically programmed, but they didn’t realize it could also be altered by giving a drug that changes the way the flies’ sensory circuits react to pheromones.

For John Tierney, and not just for him, this raises pressing questions

Would some people, gay or straight, who weren’t having luck attracting one gender decide to switch to the other? Would some people casually switch back and forth?
Would some social conservatives […], who normally object to biologists “playing god” and pharmacologists altering “human nature,” change their minds and urge the use of biotechnology to promote heterosexuality?

Hmmm. I wonder what is the most troubling aspect of this…maybe the aspect which is downplayed by Tierney by presenting it as one aspect of many, but whose importance he demonstrates nevertheless by starting his brief introductory passage with

I don’t think of homosexuality or heterosexuality as an “illness” to be “cured,” but

You know, for me this sounds awfully like the sentence that I’ve heard way too often: “I don’t have anything against foreigners, but…” Ok, to be fair, his ‘but’ has a different function. Still. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it.

Verfassungsgericht, übernehmen Sie!

Triumphierend verkündet die Welt heute

Das Kopftuchverbot in Hessen bleibt. Nicht nur Lehrerinnen, keine Beamtin darf in Hessen ein Kopftuch tragen. So entschied der hessische Staatsgerichtshof, der damit eine Klage der Landesanwältin Ute Sacksofsky zurückwies. Sacksofsky, eine Frankfurter Rechtsprofessorin, die vom Landtag gewählt wurde, hatte argumentiert, das Gesetz benachteilige den Islam und die Frauen und sei deshalb nicht verfassungsgemäß. Wörtlich fordert das Gesetz: „Beamte haben sich im Dienst politisch, weltanschaulich und religiös neutral zu verhalten.“ Ausdrücklich heißt es: „Insbesondere dürfen sie Kleidungsstücke, Symbole und andere Merkmale nicht tragen oder verwenden, die geeignet sind, den politischen, religiösen oder weltanschaulichen Frieden zu gefährden.“ Umgekehrt werden Merkmale der christlich-abendländischen Tradition Hessens ausdrücklich begrüßt.

Mann. Ist das zum Kotzen.

Der hessische Ministerpräsident Roland Koch (CDU) zeigte sich im Gespräch mit WELT ONLINE sehr zufrieden mit dem Urteil. „Die Kopftuchentscheidung des hessischen Staatsgerichtshofs hat über den konkreten Fall hinaus erhebliche Bedeutung und stellt bundesweit ein Signal für die christlich und humanistisch geprägte abendländische Tradition unseres Landes dar.“ Diese Tradition umfasse die Grundwerte der westlichen Welt wie Gleichheit von Mann und Frau, Religionsfreiheit, Toleranz und individuelle Freiheit.

„Wir haben es in Deutschland in den letzten Jahrzehnten versäumt“, so der Ministerpräsident, „deutlicher darüber zu sprechen, welche Regeln für das Zusammenleben in unserer Gesellschaft erforderlich sind und wo auch klare Grenzen gezogen werden müssen.“ Koch kritisierte, für Integration werde zu wenig Gegenleistung verlangt. „Wir in Deutschland sind offen für andere Kulturen und nehmen diejenigen, die zu uns kommen, mit offenen Armen auf“, meinte der Ministerpräsident. „Aber deren Integration in unsere Gesellschaft kann keine Einbahnstraße sein. Und so können wir Respekt vor der dieses Land prägenden Religion erwarten, ohne dass darin ein Angriff auf andere Religionen gesehen wird.“

Ich will auswandern. Nur wohin?

Reading Prison Break (1)

(I have tried to keep this simple reading of Prison Break at a simple level. We all know which philosophies and theories one could reference and insert at every other line, I find particularly the connection between Agamben’s homo sacer and Prison Break’s characters a delicious one but this is not a academic paper. I might write of this again but not today. I have not seen season 3 either, this reading encompasses seasons 1 & 2)

As with a whole lot of other shows in the last couple of years, Prison Break, too, is, on the surface level, about conspiracies. The main conspiracy is a variation on the typical idea of a consortium of powerful companies and politicians ruling the world, an old image that has resurfaced in ugly ways, as in ideas of a Jewish World Conspiracy.

Here, the evildoers are called The Company and they are not just your shady powerful politicians, they really are in control of the world, though to what extent is never clarified, at least not in the first two seasons of the show. It starts off with a mistake: the weakest link in the conspiracy has snapped, a death has to be faked and an innocent man, a small time criminal, has to take the rap. The first season of the show narrates the story of that innocent man’s younger brother who fakes a bank robbery in order to get thrown into the same prison where his brother is awaiting the death penalty and to break his brother out.

Here’s where the show gets interesting. While gradually the conspiracy to kill Lincoln Burrows (the innocent man) is unveiled, Michael Scofield‘s (his brother) plans how to break Lincoln out are also unveiled. And Michael, being a bona fide genius, has assembled a complex plan of not only how to break out of prison but also how to escape afterwards. He’s planned alternative routes, complex schemes, involving inmates, mexican drug lords, graves, water pipes, all that shit. He is at the center of a highly complex conspiracy himself, which is absolutely necessary in order to prevail, because The Company has incredible resources.

This sort of genre always involves an opposition that indulges in a little counter conspiracy. However, contrary to what one might think upon reading these lines, Michael is not the stereotypical opposition to The Company, although the existence of such a stereotypical structure is playfully suggested by lines such as “let him be your Oswald”. There is a second enemy to The Company, another organization, wherein rebelling Senators, former members of the Company and all kinds of former agents combine their resources in order to bring The Company down.

Contrary to them, Michael represents the ‘human’ element. Well, he and his fellow escapees. The fact that its about humanism is driven home by an episode with Sucre, which is basically a 20th century take on the famous scene from Les Misérables where Jean Valjean steals the Bishop’s silver. This scene is strongly coupled with social criticism on the one hand and a theme of guilt and redemption.

Michael Scofield has helpers, but they don’t know all the details, they are just pawns in his ingenuous escape plan, which is quite literally written upon his body. The plans are tattooed on his beautiful body. He and his plans merge. Escaping becomes an integral part of himself, it is part of his body. There’s a second interesting thing about the tattoos: even if they represent his way to freedom, they also re-present the system. They depict water pipes, names, locations etc. which belong to the world which, in turn, is ruled by The Company. There are even times, when the system manages to read what Michael’s written on his body and it punishes him for it. And yes, I am carefully avoiding to shout Foucault! at this point. But even though the opposition to the system is inscribed on his body, he appears to be thinking, throughout season 2, that he’s only trying to escape the small conspiracy that has sent his brother to jail, not any larger one. He is content with being left alone. To this end he flees the country, but he has misunderstood the magnitude of the system. The discordian stepping out of the river is shown to be an illusion, because, it appears, everything is the river, and what appear to be banks are just temporary snags. I have not seen season 3 yet ( is down) but I suspect that Michael’s way of not attacking the system but trying to evade it will not work. He will have to confront The Company in order to find closure. He can’t possibly destroy it.

Prison Break, especially season 2, has been compared to The Fugitive, that hit show, where Dr. Kimble races across the country, trying to elude the police and find out who really committed the crime he was accused of. However, while looking similar on the surface, Prison Break provides a deeper level. It’s not about this country, nor about Lincoln Burrows, its about the fundamental question of what actions have to be taken once you recognize where you live, what system you live under, how deeply it has inscribed itself onto your body and how dangerous, in the end, it can be. Not for me maybe (white middle-class male) but for my friends, children, neighbors maybe who will have to be sacrificed in order to keep the system running smooth.

Well, still, you might point out to me, what about the mysterious boss and the faking of records and the wag-the-dog-style creation of news and misinforming the public and killing witnesses and convening in shadowy rooms or on boats blablabla. There’s a conspiracy, plainly, and while the fight against the system thing is nice, this fits in with most conspiracy thrillers, only those conspiracy shows who are really down with the system, such as Alias, don’t do that storyline.

The point is, on the one hand, you can’t separate the nation, country, take what you want, from the ‘conspiracy’ here. The conspiracy is total. You can pin it to certain people such as the current president of the US but ultimately, even she (yes) has to answer to The Company. Which makes it less a conspiracy but a total system fucking with all of us. Equally. If world and secret rule are inseparable, the distinction outlives its usefulness. As a journalist wrote recently: nobody rules the world. On the other hand, you they never tell you about the company’s deeds, even after 2 seasons the audience has not the slightest inkling of what the company does. Nobody’s interested in the big conspiracy, the only part of The Company’s misbehaving that concerns the company’s main protagonists is the mistake that put Lincoln Burrows in prison.

So, deep down, it’s not about conspiracies, it’s about freedom. At least the first 2 seasons were. You’ll never know what a show will turn out like after some seasons, after content has been adjusted to the ratings but for now it’s a great show.
Or am I overinterpreting?

Subversive brilliance

The language log has pointed to yet another instance of subversive brilliance in the daily comic strip Get Fuzzy. See the link to log for the 5 strips in question.

The creator of “Get Fuzzy,” Darby Conley, has become a master of obliqueness, since even indirect references to obscenity, drugs, or other “adult content” can get the strip banned from newspapers around the country. Most recently, “Get Fuzzy” was censored in September by the Tribune for a strip featuring a double entendre on the phrase “nut crunch.” And last January the Washington Post and other papers pulled a series of strips in which Bucky came up with campaign slogans inadvertently referring to marijuana use. Conley obviously enjoys using wordplay to test the boundaries of what is considered acceptable in “family” newspapers, so the blending gambit looks like his latest attempt to toy with the sensibilities of local editors. In Chicago, at least, suggestive blends have been deemed off-limits, a decision I would consider rather Satchel + Bucky.

Killerspiele (updated)

Und hier ist die Reaktion von Frontal 21. Schließlich noch eine typische (etwas ältere) Stellungnahme eines Politikers, der “die Gewalt und Sexismus demonstrativ ächten” will. Von mir aus kann er das gerne machen, aber er wird der erste sein, der überrascht ist, was das im detail bedeutet. MIt Killerspielen hat das dann aber eher weniger zu tun. *g

Education II (Pink Floyd vs. Dead Prez vs. the Wu)

After having been my usual clever self and having contrasted portions of songs by Pink Floyd and Dead Prez here , I found this bit at the end of the Wu Tang Clan’s phenomenal Bells of War today:

I was telling Shorty like —
Yo Shorty, you don’t even gotta go to summer school
Pick up the Wu-Tang double CD
And you’ll get all the education you need this year
(Their poisoned minds can’t comprehend this shit)
Word man, it’s Wu-Tang Forever God
Niggaz can’t fuck with these lyrics God
YouknowhatI’msayin? Knahmean?

McEwan doesn’t get it (not quite)

In such a short interview with the NYTimes that one is tempted to invent a different term for it, McEwan says the following

Your fellow novelist Martin Amis is being shredded in the British press after criticizing various aspects of Islam. He was attacked in The Guardian, in a shrill manner. All religions make very big claims about the world, and it should be possible in an open society to dispute them. It should be possible to say, “I find some ideas in Islam questionable” without being called a racist.

Which ideas do you mean? Well, the idea that any apostate should be punished is revolting. This is completely hostile to the notion of free thought and everything we hope to stand for. I think Martin has suffered terribly at the hands of The Guardian.

Yes Ian. Veeery smart. One is tempted to describe this with a sentence of his own, from just before, in the same interview:

You were probably already a nonbeliever. No, I was just beginning to see through it all, but not quite.

Not quite. Well, if that isn’t a nice way to put it.

Legale Entführungen

Heute interessanter Artikel im SPON

Das amerikanische Recht erlaube die Entführung von Ausländern, solange diese von einem US-Gericht gesucht würden, sagte er laut einem Bericht der Zeitung “The Sunday Times”. Der oberste Gerichtshof der USA, der Supreme Court, habe das Kidnapping Gesuchter aus anderen Ländern ausdrücklich erlaubt.


Das Kidnappen von Verdächtigen ist allerdings keine neue Praxis, die erst nach den Anschlägen vom 11. September begann. Im April 1990 hatten US-Agenten den Arzt Humberto Alvarez Machain aus Mexiko entführt. Ihm wurde vorgeworfen, an der Folterung und Ermordung eines Agenten der US-Drogenbehörde DEA im Jahr 1985 beteiligt gewesen zu sein. Die Entführung in Cowboy-Manier war selbst in den USA umstritten – im Mexiko sorgte sie für Empörung. Diese wurde noch vergrößert durch ein Urteil des Obersten Gerichtshofs im Jahr 1992. Das Gericht stufte die Aktion als legal ein und bestätigte das Prinzip der “Exterritorialität” für amerikanische Agenten.

Über den Fall Tollman gibt es hier einen NYTimes Artikel und hier einen anderen.

Education I (Pink Floyd vs. Dead Prez)

Two discussions of the same concept, two very similar gripes, two solutions. No need to explain. Dunno why but this just occured to me this night. I listened to both songs and it just struck me. Good stuff. If you noticed before, excuse my stupidity. This is Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall

We don’t need no education
We dont need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave them kids alone
Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!
All in all it’s just another brick in the wall.
All in all you’re just another brick in the wall.

and this is They Schools by the incomparable Dead Prez.

They schools cant teach us shit
My people need freedom, we tryin to get all we can get
All my high school teachers can suck my dick
Tellin me white man lies straight bullshit (echoes)
They schools aint teachin us, what we need to know to survive
(say what, say what)
They schools dont educate, all they teach the people is lies

Keller (deutsch)

wir schrieben geschichten in die feuchtweichen ziegel
der kellerwand des hauses das wir drei jahre lang
auf unseren schultern trugen

sie warf uns einen sack pro woche herab
mit belegten brötchen
und schokoriegeln
und einer packung brot
und einer verschweißte packung schmelzkäse
und vierzehn flaschen wasser

das reichte für eine woche
wenn sie oben die möbel verrückten
donnerte es bei uns

so daß wir nur schlafen konnten
wenn sie schliefen
und das haus auf unseren schultern ruhte

Election and Feminism

Lately, what with a woman running, and Oprah making a pitch for Obama and discussions of Clinton’s male behaviour in the discussions, the gender asoect has become sort of intriguing. I will write (mostly quote) more about this in the following days. See for instance, today’s NY Times:

The politics are complex; even as rival campaigns seek to peel away women’s votes from Mrs. Clinton, they are often careful to acknowledge and pay tribute to the broader significance of her candidacy. “Women, I think, should take pride that Senator Clinton is running, the historic nature of her race,” Mr. Obama, of Illinois, said in an interview Thursday. “That’s a genuine sign of progress.” He said he tried to convey to his two daughters every day “that you’ve got the same opportunities and shots as everybody else.”

But he quickly moved on to make the case that the candidate’s sex is not, and should not, be the deciding factor. Women, he said, “can look at a whole series of issues and know, ‘You know what? This guy’s going to fight for us, partly due to biography.’ Because I know what it’s like to be raised by a single mom who’s trying to work and go to school and raise two kids at the same time, doesn’t have any support from the father. These are issues I’m passionate about.”

Moreover, he argued, his leadership offers the best prospects for delivering on that agenda.

The gender factor is rarely addressed head-on by Mrs. Clinton’s rivals.

More tomorrow when I’m more sober.

Saving Terri Schiavo

[One of only two CDA papers I ever wrote. This is the first one, it’s about 3 years old. I cut all the graphs and most of the technical stuff from it and reworked some parts. I hope it’s readable. I kept the “(graph x)” as a reference, but there is IMO no need to include the graphs themselves as their content is revealed in the text, I think. I will post two of the appendices as well as the bibliography as “comments” to this post, so they will not clog up blog space. You don’t need to read them. But by all means, read the essay. It’s kinda interesting, I think, as far as Linguistic essays go.]

In the second half of the 20th century, Halliday (1978) and Fowler et al. (1979) uncovered the ideologies hidden in newspapers that supposedly strove for objectivity. Correcting the misapprehension of journalistic objectivity has been the subject of Critical Discourse Analysis (henceforth CDA) research, which showed that news is a social construct and that different representations of the same issue through distinctive expressions carry different ideologies (cf. Fowler 1991: 10).

Lately, new focus has been placed on the process of framing, whereby “journalists get to pick and choose from the frames offered by the political elites” (Callaghan/Schnell 2005: 11), meaning that the selection of facts by the jounalists is restricted by politicians and their staff. Reading about highly controversial news items, one has to wonder, though, whether the newspapers are really that powerless and whether they do not “generate their own frames” (11), a question that becomes all the more urgent considering the possibility “that most Americans, on most issues, do not really possess opinions” (Kinder/Nelson 2005: 117).

This would give newspapers enormous power: shaping the public’s opinion to their liking. This invites questions: how do newspapers treat controversial news? Do they have their own agenda? What hand do they play? Do they try to apply their influence? Do newspapers differ in the frames and ideologies that they spread? In review the reasearchers found that the particular subject of different yet similar frames was never properly treated in CDA research and consequently went for an analysis in that specific area of research.

The particular news topic that is used as a vehicle for this paper’s analysis is the case of the late Terri Schiavo, a brain-damaged woman from Florida (cf. Appendix 1). On March 18, 2005, her husband had her hospice withdraw her feeding tube, which right to do so he won after years of legal disputes with her parents. On March 31, she died from dehydration. In the two weeks between the withdrawal of the feeding tube and her death, a conflict was waged in American politics and American courts, as her parents, religious leaders, most of the Republican Party, Florida governor Jeb Bush, but also a select few Democrats, tried to have the tube reinserted but ultimately failed because of the insistence of both state and federal courts (cf. Appendix 2).

In the struggle for opinion leadership all analysed newspapers, as this paper will demonstrate, pursued their own agendas. In order to show this the researchers opted for a comparison of four of the largest daily American newspapers, the Washington Times, the Washington Post, the New York Times and the Boston Globe. This analysis is centered around actor analysis as explicated by Van Leeuwen (1996) and analysis of lexical items as undertaken by van Dijk (1988a) and Fowler and Kress (1979). Also, in the discussion of the results we will be drawing heavily from the discussion about media bias in American Jounalism as expounded in the works of Kuypers, Alterman and Brock.

The basis for this analysis is obtained in van Dijk’s notion about the relation of discourse structures, such as lexical items and grammatical structures, to societal structures, which, van Dijk argues, is to be found in social actors and their minds (cf. Garrett and Bell 1998: 6ff.). News, van Dijk says, is “a particular form of social […] practice” (Van Dijk 1988a: 176).

The researchers have decided on treating ‘news’ not as a homogenous force, not as one social actor, but as a set of actors who compete with each other for opinion leadership. Instead, it was agreed on treating the readers as a homogenous mass, which might be influenced either way, especially since even the most clearly opinionated paper in our selection, The Washington Times, has repeatedly been classed a “relevant read” (Freedman 1995), read by both sides of the political spectrum.

Three of the newspapers in this paper’s selection, however, have been severely criticized for being biased and suppressing conservative opinions, a criticism that has been so pervasive in American discussions, that “[t]oday people pronounce ‘media bias’ as if it were a single word” (Nunberg 2003). Especially conservative media reviewers such as L. Brent Bozell claim that the American press “sets itself up as an independend advocate for particular political ends” (Kuypers 2002: 12), “presents a consistent left-wing point of view among news stories [and] shuts out information that contradicts its point of view, thus acting to limit information” (235f.) This alleged bias is commonly called ‘liberal bias’.

Others, most prominently Eric Alterman, say that these claims present a “myth [that] empowers conservatives to control debate in the United States” (Alterman 2003: 3). It is further asserted that “the most important sectors of the political media […] are powerful propaganda organs of the Republican Party.” (Brock 2004: 2)

Proof, either way, has been scarce. Media bias research (where it is not just anecdotal, as, for instance the work of Alterman (2003) and Conason (2003) is) as undertaken for example by Groseclose and Milyo (2003) has mainly been trying to use mathematical formulas to prove assertions of bias and has thoroughly been criticized for both method and execution (cf. Nunberg 2004). Linguistic studies are conspicuously absent.

In assembling the corpus for this analysis the researchers decided on four important daily nationwide American newspapers: the Washington Times, the Washington Post, the New York Times and the Boston Globe. It was taken care to use newspapers that were all located on the east coast, close to each other, so that they could be said to compete for opinion leadership locally as well as nationwide. Thus, of the major nationwide daily newspapers, only the Christian Science Monitor and the Los Angeles Times are missing.

In each newspaper the one article was taken wherein track is kept of new developments in the Schiavo case, most of which articles wherelocated on the first two pages. All newspapers also carried stories about certain actors such as the Schiavo family or about certain topics such as euthanasia but those were ignored, to keep the corpus focused upon the news.

Finally, the frame of time the articles were picked from begins with March 18, the day that Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube was withdrawn and ends with March 31, the day that she died. These dates were selected because that was the time when the struggle for Terri Schiavo’s life was the most heated. On the first day, her death seemed imminent and on the last day, she died.

It was tried to adjust the amount of articles so that the total amount of words per newspaper was comparable. This explains certain gaps between the dates, which was inevitable, as the quantity of coverage of the events was unevenly spread. This of course presents a weakness of this paper’s analysis, but the researchers are confident that the analysis was performed systematically enough to make up and still be convincing.

As most of the studies pertaining to this paper’s topic examine a very small corpus, such as one (Kitis and Milapides 1997) or two (Choi 2002) articles or just the headlines (Schrabback 2000) of the articles, the researchers could not do an analysis as thorough as theirs on each article.

Instead it was deemed preferable to focus on a few choice aspects, such as the treatment of the person of Terri Schiavo with the linguistic strategies of nomination/categorization, collocation and transitivity, the removal of the feeding tube with strategies of nominalization, transitivity and lexical choice and, as a final aspect, the rhetoric structure of each newspaper.

Each newspaper reflected the debate rhetorically by quoting and citing experts, politicians and various parts of the involves families, the Schindlers and the Schiavos. In doing so, an argumentative pattern noticeably evolved in each newspaper, marked by the words ‘but’ and ‘yet’, which had the advantage of being countable. The occurences of ‘but’ and ‘yet’ were split in three groups. The first presented arguments and circumstances for Michael Schiavo’s and/or the position of the Democratic Party, such as
(1) House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) said in a statement: “It’s unconscionable that Senate Democrats . . . would not allow a vote to move forward on critical legislation the House passed last night to save and protect Terri Schiavo’s life.” But key GOP senators […] defended their democratic collegues […] (Wash. Post, 18-03-05)

the second presented arguments and circumstances for the Schindler’s and/or the position of the Republican Party, such as
(2) Rep. Barney Frank, Massachusetts Democrat, said the caption for the House floor debate should be “We’re not doctors. We just play them on C-SPAN.” He said that “ideology is driving this” legislation. But Mr. Bush came back to Washington last night from his ranch in Texas expressly to sign the measure into law immediately upon the House giving its approval. (Wash. Times, 21-03-05)

the third presented neutral occurrences, such as
(3) But House members adjourned before the bills could be reconciled. (Wash. Post, 18-03-05)


Categorization means the representation of social actors “in terms of identities or functions they share with others” (Van Leeuwen 1996: 52), whereas nomination simply refers to the naming of social actors. Terri Schiavo is not always referred to by both her names, first and last. She is referred to as ‘Terri’, ‘Terri Schiavo’, ‘Ms. Schiavo’ and ‘Mrs. Schiavo’. It should be noted that each newspaper uses either ‘Ms. Schiavo’ or ‘Mrs. Schiavo’. There is no overlapping. Also, it should be said that all seven mentions of ‘Mrs. Schiavo’ in the Boston Globe occur within quotations. In all of the analysed newspapers, Ms. Terri Schiavo, apart from being referred to by her first and/or last name, is talked about also as ‘wife’ (of Michael Schiavo ) or as ‘daughter’ (of Robert and Mary Schindler). It is worth mentioning that nomination and categorisation may occur together, the two categories of referring to Terri Schiavo are not mutually exclusive, but the combination of the two categories provided no useful patterns whatsoever. Also, not all references to Terri Schiavo were collected thus, as she is being talked about in still more ways, which, however, were found to be of little interest.

On surveying (table 1) there are two distinctive numbers that are fascinating: the number of times the NY Times and the Washington Times referred to Terri Schiavo by ‘Ms. Schiavo’ and ‘Mrs. Schiavo’ respectively. The exclusiveness of use of one or the other form may be attributable to house style, which means that might be customary in the NY Times to use ‘Ms.’ instead of ‘Mrs.’ at all times, a form that, interestingly, “can be used when you do not want to state whether she is married or not” (Wehmeier 2000).

The Washington Times, on the other hand, seems to be particularly appealed by the married status of Terri Schiavo, using such a unique form in such disproportionate amounts. Where the NY Time’s interest lies, is hard to ascertain from just that one form. Certainly, the way it uses Terri’s first name far less than all the other newspapers and the formal adress far mor often , seems to indicate a kind of distancing.

Not distancing at all seems to be the Globe’s attitude, as he uses Terri’s first name by far the most times, just as he heads the list in (table 2) when it comes to referring to her as the Schinder’s daughter, a category which the Washington Times mentioned the fewest times.

This is another attention-grabbing table as far as the Washington Times is concerned, for whereas the Times holds back with the category of ‘daughter’, it can boast the most occurrances by far of the category of ‘wife’. This is consistent with (table 1), which already suggested an effort by the Washington Times to link Terri Schiavo to her marriage. How striking this attitude is becomes clearer once it is noted in how balanced an quantity the two categories are mentioned in the other three papers, which divide Terri Schiavo evenly between those two roles.


Collocation may be defined as “the habitual co-occurrence of individual lexical items” (Abdel-Hafiz 110) such as, in this case: “the brain-damaged woman”. Careful study of the selected newspapers revealed that certain collocations were occurring persistently in the vicinity of references to Terri Schiavo, the most remarkable ones being the words ‘brain-damaged’, ‘helpless’ and ‘incapacitated’, as in the following sentences:

(4) Terri Schiavo, who has been incapacitated since suffering a temporary heart
stoppage in 1990, has had her feeding tube removed twice previously, including
for a six-day stretch in 2003. (Boston Globe, 22-03-05)

(5) ”This decision is at odds with both the clear intent of Congress and the
constitutional rights of a helpless young woman,” DeLay said. (Boston Globe,

(6) The Supreme Court rejected an appeal, and a Florida judge ruled that the
governor lacks the authority to order the state to take custody of the severely
brain-damaged woman. (Boston Globe, 25-03-05)

Having said that Terri Schiavo in the analyzed newspapers is divided evenly between being ‘daughter’ and being ‘wife’, the data in (table 3) insinuates that through collocation, i.e. linking of Terri Schiavo with words emphasizing her passivity, she is to be given a subordinate position, she is to remain in that pattern, being somebody’s wife, somebody’s daughter. The most appealing fact about this data is the consistency, as this time the rifts between the newspapers disappear or become negligeable, it seems that the newspapers are all of one mind in this respect.


Transitivity is one of “the deeper semantic features of a text” (Fowler and Kress 198), highlighting actions (predicates) and both those who act (agents) and those who are being acted upon (patients). Analysis of transitivity enables the analyst to take into account syntactical transformations such as passivation and nominalization, the latter of which refers to the conversion of verbs to nouns.

As is to be expected of a woman in a persistent vegetative state, in most constructions where Terri Schiavo is involved, she occupies the role of patient. Still, there are a few sentences, wherein she is activated. Appendix 4 contains a list which includes all essential variations; it does not, however, include multiple mentions of the same or a similar construction, even if they happen to be in different newspapers; these multiple mentions are not included because it is of no importance which phrase appeared in which newspaper how often, as no pattern emerged.

This is not the only aspect where the newspapers seem to have a similar agenda. The sentences, of which examples are collected in Appendix 4, are equally distributed over all four newspapers. They share one characteristic: except for sentence (8), the activation is unidirectionally taking place in phrases that detail Terri Schiavo’s will to live. Examples of sentence (8) occur once in each newspaper, which obviously puts the sentences detailing Terri’s possible will to die in the minority, not even proponents of euthanasia were cited anywhere, thus neatly fitting the pattern established by (table 2) and (table 3), a pattern which could be called “selektive Diskursrepräsentation” (Pollak 2001: 151).


This next part of the analysis ressembles the last part closely in that both are centered around Terri Schiavo’s death, although, this time around, Terri Schiavo is no direct participant as all the sentences and phrases analysed for this part focus on the circumstances of the removal of Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube. The sentences that are analyzed are all concerned with the removal of the feeding tube. Agents are Michael Schiavo, on whose behalf it was removed, the judiciary, who granted the removal and refused the appeals and finally the doctors, who manually removed the tube. All mentions of the judiciary in the agent position, such as ‘Judge Greer’, ‘Judge Whittemore’, ‘the court’ etc., were merged into one item for clarifying purposes. Nonetheless it is not without significance, how exactly the judiciary was referred to.

At first glance, (table 4) does not appear to be fraught with interesting data, as most of the differences seem slight enough to be attributable to either the choice of articles or the variations in the quantity of analyzed material. The only three assertions that can safely be made from this data are, for one thing, the complete omission of the doctors both in the NY Times and in the Washington Times.

For another thing, the Washington Times mentions more often agents than the other newspapers, a difference that is of course partly originates in the higher number of sentences or phrases concerned with the removal of the tube. Another reason for this difference will be explained in the next section.

The third point to be made about the data in (table 4) is that both the Boston Globe and the Washington Post seem to be trying to balance the agents responsible for removing Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube fairly, a point which will be elaborated, too, in later paragraphs.

Meanwhile, the higher amount of agents in the Washington Times and, thus, of blame that can be apportioned, is striking, all the more so when (graph 1) is taken into account. Whereas the other newspapers do not prefer one judge over the other, the Washington Times’ preferences are clear. If blame is to be apportioned, (graph 1) shows, to whom it is due, at least to which judge.


After having done a transitivity analysis on the sentences in question, it was noticed that the strategy of nominalization recurred frequently, with the verb ‘(to) remove’ as object of the transformation.

Not the apportioning of blame but instead the averting of said blame is a possible effect of nominalization, according to Fowler and Kress, a result of “the rendering of a process as an object” (1979: 208). In the case of ‘removal’, the data is conclusive, as the differences between the occurrences are considerable.

It is hardly surprising that the Washington Times, who has been made out as wanting to lay blame on Michael Schiavo and the Judiciary’s doorstep, does not employ nominalization, as this would obviously be contradictory. Neither is it unexpected that the NY Times, who has a tendency to be formal, as (table 1) showed as well as a tendency to be balanced, as both (table 2) and (table 4) indicated, would sidestep the temptation to blame someone straightaway when the possiblity to be more formal and balanced via nominalization exists.

It is worthwhile, however, to discuss the data concerning the Globe. There is a consistency, too, even if it is not that apparent. It should not be startling that the newspaper who called Terri Schiavo most often by her first name, something that suggests a more intimate relationship, would not shy away from treating the process that would lead to her death, like a regular process, with agents and a patient, all the while staying balanced as far as the agents are concerned; this (table 4) and (Graph 1) demonstrated convincingly.

The depiction of the removal of the feeding tube did not only yield insights into stategies such as nominalization and agent analysis, it also demonstrated significant differences in the choice of lexical items to describe the process and its consequences. Of special interest proved to be the verb ‘(to) starve’ and the noun ‘starvation’.

With most of the newspapers settled into their characteristic profiles, the data collected in (table 6) does not shake things up, but instead fits into the data that has already been collected. Especially the Washington Times’ profile keeps sharpening. Not only is the use of the verb ‘(to) starve’ in collocations such as “starve her to death” in sentences (18), (19), (20) and (23), severely misleading, as Terri Schiavo, as physicians kept saying all along, died not of starvation but of dehydration. Also, sentences as (18) not only blame Michael Schiavo, but it could almost be said that these sentences attack him or his integrity. Writing that a judge enabled someone to starve his wife to death is an argument in itself against both the judge and the person doing the starving without even taking the pain to actually argue rhetorically, a technique, to which the words “enhanced persuasion” (Van Dijk 1988b: 16) fit perfectly.


Without a doubt, arguments do not need to be formally argument-like, as the Washington Time’s use of ‘(to) starve’ formidably demonstrated. Nonetheless, argumentation is part of any news text and it works on many levels. On the most basic level, through the use of markers such as ‘but’ and ‘yet’. Having counted and divided them into three groups as described in section 3.2, the findings, collected in (table 7), were astonishing.

Not only the fact that the proportions appear to be nearly identical, but also the clarity of the data astonished the researchers. Having worked hard to piece together the four newspaper’s agendas, the final bit came quite easily.
Yet this data, that indicates a strong tendency of the Washington Times to the cause of the Schindlers and the Republican Party and a strong tendency of the remaining newspapers to side with Michael Schiavo and those Democrats who supported his cause, does not preclude the present analysis.



It should be admitted that dividing the whole struggle in two opposed parties, as the researchers did, could be called pushing the envelope slightly. None of the Democrats who because of this division were said to ‘side’ with Michael Schiavo, did actually issue a statement to that effect in the news material that was analyzed. The struggle between Democrats and Republicans was a dispute over the merits of the seperation of powers.

It was shown, that each newspaper has a characteristic profile, and as far as the Washington Times and the Boston Globe go, they also have a characteristic agenda. Both have generated a frame of their own: the Globe’s agenda could be said to be centered around defending Michael Schiavo and the Judiciary not by neutralizing the anguish caused by Terri Schiavo’s situation (as the NY Times attempted to do) but by being intimate and balanced at the same time, an agenda of conservation, whereas the Washington Times’s agenda promotes change, as the statement by Robert Schindler, Terri’s father, suggests: “We can change laws, but we cannot change them today” (Washington Times, 03-29-05)

It has been attempted in the present paper to show how newspaper coverage of a controversial event such as the Terri Schiavo case not only exhibits certain patterns, but that newspapers take equal part in that struggle and develop an agenda of their own. Even newspapers as similar to each other as the New York Times and the Boston Globe, who is even owned by the New York Times, have distinct agendas and promote different frames, even if, globally speaking, they are similar.

So why go do all that work if the results, globally, are not different from the results of other studies, that did not split ‘news’ into more than two newspapers? If the researchers’ claim in section 5.4. that the newspaper’s struggle closely mirrors the political struggle which takes place simultaneously can be accepted, the consequences are obvious.

Early on in the discussion a certain unidirectionality was noted, that did not seriously take into account that Terri Schiavo would maybe actively have wanted to die. A whole branch of possible debate was not included at all, i.e. proponents of euthanasia.
As newspaper agendas mirror political, this analysis allows for a critique of the political habits, of the exclusion that is perpetrated by political frames.

The limitations of the present study are obvious, the most weighty being the big scope of what it attempts to show and the small-scale demonstrations that it succeeded in mounting. Also, as nearly everything was chosen out of a pool with many alternatives: the newspapers, the articles, the linguistic instruments, the passages with which to use these instruments, it cannot be denied, that possibly personal bias distorted this study.

A comprehensive study of different newspapers reporting on controversial events remains to be done, it might possibly be hoped that this paper proved the need for such a study.