How a National Monument Was Stolen Away, and How it Faded from Memory

The Heist: How Visitors Stole a National Monument | PACIFIC STANDARD

This spot in the Black Hills used to be known as Fossil Cycad National Monument. Now just an unremarkable collection of sloping meadows dotted with ponderosa, juniper, and cactus, it once harbored one of the world’s greatest collections of fossilized cycadeoids. The 120-million-year-old fossils, also known as bennettitaleans, had curious flower-like structures that scientists believed held clues to the origin of blooming plants.

Hundreds of petrified logs and pineapple-shaped fossils littered these 320 acres, many preserved at a near cellular level. But by 1957, only 35 years after Fossil Cycad National Monument was established, they all had disappeared, stolen by visitors. So Congress stripped the area of its protected status as a national monument—a rare demotion—and it faded from public memory.


The Story of the Missing Fossil Park | National Parks Service



American Indian Motion Picture Awards | Live for the First Time

The American Indian Film Festival is the world’s longest running exposition of films by and about Native people.This year, the pilot telecast of our Awards Show will be broadcast in several markets, including Seattle, SF-Bay Area, San Diego, Phoenix and Fort Lauderdale-Miami. The American Indian Motion Picture Awards Show will be taped in front of a LIVE audience on Sunday, November 9 at the historic Palace of Fine Arts. Then, a 90-minute show will be broadcast on Saturday, November 29, 2014.

Samuel Weber in European Graduate School | June 2014 | Franz Kafka’s “Hunter Gracchus”

Afghani US Military Translators | An Exquisite Exercise on Derrida’s Diffe’rance

Read the full article here | PBS NewsHour

It is hard to overstate the importance of Afghan employees, particularly translators, to the US war effort. Translators accompany military and special forces in everything they do, from night raids and helicopter insertions to route clearance, and they are often unarmed. They’re also critical to the work done by the State Department, the US Agency for International Development and US government-supported NGOs.

All that mean they are also targets. Taliban checkpoints are often set up expressly for the purpose of catching such men. Translators casually swap stories of Afghan employees of the US military who have had limbs or heads cut off by insurgents.

Now, with the US scheduled to largely withdraw from Afghanistan later this year, Afghans still waiting on visa applications fear their time is running out. Critics describe the process of applying for a visa as opaque, prohibitively complicated and painfully slow, putting the applicant’s lives at risk with each passing month that their visas aren’t approved.

“It has been a disastrous program,” said one former USAID official.” It’s embarrassing.”

But the State Department says they’ve implemented a set of changes to revitalize the process.

Jacques Derrida writes in Of Grammatology:

Spacing as writing is the becoming-absent and the becoming-unconscious of the subject. By the movement of its drift/derivation [dérive] the emancipation of the sign constitutes in return the desire of presence. That becoming-or that drift/derivation-does not befall the subject which would choose it or would passively let itself be drawn along by it. As the subject’s relationship with its own death, this becoming is the constitution of subjectivity. On all levels of life’s organisation, that is to say, of the economy of death. All graphemes are of a testamentary essence. And the original absence of the subject of writing is also the absence of the thing or the referent. [The Outside is the Inside]

Thus, the years of waiting to receive a US visa while the Taliban threaten the local linguists, kidnap their relatives, while, occasionally, they cut a head or two. “Absence”,  translator as the referent, as the subject’s relationship with its/his own death. An excellent intellectual exercise on diffe’rance, for the rest of us.


Three Kiva Ruin | Ancestral Pueblo | Utah, USA

@2014 Styliani Giannitsi Photography

@2014 Styliani Giannitsi Photography

Chinn Lake | Colorado, USA


Rooted | @2014 Styliani Giannitsi Photography

Plato and Contemporary BioEthics

As Plato rightly reminds us, professional and other endeavors transpire and gain their traction from their socio-political milieu: we belong first to human communities, with professions’ meaning and broader purposes rooted in that milieu. The guiding values and priorities of this human setting must be transparent and vigorously discussed by professionals and non-professionals alike, whose ability to weigh in is, as the Laws suggests, far more substantive than intra-professional standpoints usually acknowledge. This same line of thought, combined with Plato’s account of universal human fallibility, bears on the matter of medicine’s continued self-policing.
AMA Code of Medical Ethics