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The Origins of Fascism and Contemporary Implications.

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Research and Technical Writing Guide for the Humanities, Introductory Level

Interns from Louisiana State University and Centenary college shadowed a number of tours given by Nita Cole at the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum during February of 2019. The museum draws tourists and travelers moving through the region, and also hosts educational tours given to student groups from the local community. Visitors find themselves strolling around a large, round path beset on all sides by bright and colorful dioramas which feature scenes from the region’s cultural, agricultural, and industrial heritage. Others attend scavenger hunts, plays, and special exhibits by local artists.

The Curator, Ms. Nita Cole, possesses an inexhaustible reservoir of knowledge which she shares with great enthusiasm. At each stop in the tour, she recalls countless personal anecdotes and memories of the craftsmen who contributed the works and props and artifacts, as well concise histories of the business interests being depicted. Her role as curator allows her to present the many facets of the…

The New Flying University: Education Outside the Classroom

[Dramatic Opening: For Public Presentation Only!]

Speaker: [softly] “What follows, briefly, is a work of fiction. Do not be alarmed.

[Loudly] “Attention faculty and fellow students! If I may have your attention please. In lue of the scheduled presentation, I have some rather grave news. What I have to say may alarm you, so I ask that you please remain calm and hold your questions. Today, at XX:YYam, our time, a Chinese submarine fired upon the USS John C Stennis as it was conducting routine training exercises near the South China Sea. The captain of the aircraft carrier, following defensive procedures, returned fire by dropping a series of depth charges, destroying the attacking vessel. China has publicly denied responsibility, calling the Stennis’s response unprovoked and declaring a state of war against the US. Our president has responded with a 140 character declaration of war and is presently convening an emergency joint-session of the House and Senate to ask Congress to authori…

Religion, Education, and the Species

Primacy and the Subordination of Man: Among all the various flavors of Christian teaching across the many cultures and languages which have embraced it, great differentiation is to be found, from nation to nation, city to city, and church to church, in the specific beliefs which adherents possess. This differentiation results from generational alterations to inherited forms, which themselves were more of the same, caused by innovative interpretations, incomplete inherited forms, omission in subsequent transmission of those forms, and structural changes related to language, region, dialect, usage, etc. Taken together, these many forms are like the proverbial coat of many colors, representing a rich living tapestry of concepts and traditions which provide insight into each contributor’s growth, understanding, disposition, and cultural outlook. Most of these forms are complementary, some are contradictory, but in hierarchical terms, they all share at least one common unifying principle: …

Review: The Black Side of Shreveport, by Willie Burton

Burton, Willie. The Black Side of Shreveport. Shreveport: Southern University of Louisiana, 1983, 159. Reviewed by Steven Harkness.

With the Emancipation Proclamation, Abraham Lincoln set a race of people free from the indignity of slavery. With the Union victory over the Confederate states, the government promised reform via Reconstruction. With the contentious election of Rutherford B. Hayes though, the political will to carry those reforms forward in earnest fell subordinate to the need for compromise and continuity. Within a generation, the cause of the black citizen passed from pipe dream to political controversy to conflagration to compromise to catharsis. The white man would not help, and would not keep his promises, and could not be counted on for meaningful change. All truth existed on a continuum, and this truth was more true in the south than in the north, more true in the cotton belt than in many other southern areas, and perhaps nowhere at all more…

Review: Legendary Locals of Shreveport, by Gary Joiner and Andrew Prime

Joiner, Gary and John Andrew Prime. Legendary Locals of Shreveport. Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2016, 126. Reviewed by Steven Harkness.
The most important criticism of Gary Joiner’s who’s-who of Shreveport history is that he isn’t in it. Joiner’s local street-cred as a man of letters is perhaps unmatched in the community. He has authored, co-authored, edited, introduced, collaborated, and consulted dozens of titles. His efforts to preserve and present the region’s cultural history are such that his own role in its development becomes inextricable from any study of the subject. Dr. Joiner has participated in legal contests and radio broadcasts and has aided and advanced the cause of thousands of students, researchers, and curious souls just trying to place themselves in the scheme of things. Gary Joiner is nearly ninety-seven years old and still lectures in the morning!
Legendary Locals of Shreveport is broken into five chapters, which cover much of the sociological spectrum. The…

Review: Shreveport: The Beginnings, by Holice H. Henrici

Henrici, Holice H. Shreveport: The Beginnings. Lafayette: University of Southwestern Louisiana, 1985, 89. Reviewed by Steven Harkness.
When one speaks of “the founders,” one often speaks with reverence and idealized gratitude, as if speaking of noble and worthy men whose steadfast examples of virtue and ethics are the very stuff upon which the roads were laid and the schools were built. It is as though their lives transcend the individual human experience and become models for the conduct and development of the community as a whole. Their words and deeds become mythologized into symbols and philosophies of cohesion and cultural identity. Shreveport was not founded by such men, however. Shreveport was greedy, vicious, and corrupt from day one. To get a taste the ruthless depravity with which a handful of men set about staking out their own claims on the American Dream, it is necessary to look no further than Shreveport: The Beginnings, by Holice H. Henrici,
In broad form, the book te…

Shots Fired, Souls Forgotten: Gun Crime in Shreveport

On the 9th of October, KSLA News 12 reported that “Police found 20 year old Que’Lexus Hunter and a 1-year old girl, each with a gunshot wound to the leg.” Neither the nation, the state, or the city ground to a halt in disbelief or protest or outrage. According to another source, “Detectives learned that shots were fired into the residence from outside of the home, hitting Hunter and her baby.” Toward the end of these articles, and countless dozens of others, if not hundred just like it, the reporter will inform the public that any information they can provide to law enforcement regarding the crime or the perpetrators is appreciated. For Hunter, and hundreds just like her, and many hundreds more who were less fortunate, that is where the story ends. The assailants appear and disappear as suddenly, as if apparitions in some Hollywood movie, presumably to live on with naught but the guilt of their actions and a vague fear of punishment as consequence. The KLFY news station website repor…

Packaging the Pentathlete: Leadership, Language, and the Liberal Arts

“I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news for me, and some good news for you…” said the raspy voice at the rostrum. “Somebody slipped me some bad whiskey last night, so I’m not gonna be able to make my speech.” (AUSA, 2004) That was Four-Star General and Army Chief of Staff Peter. J Schoomaker, addressing the Association of the United States Army in October of 2004. In an essay entitled “Regional Knowledge Systems,” (Siska/Hummel) Dr. Peter Siska refers to a term he attributes to Schoomaker. Siska uses the term “Pentathlete,” and credits the reference in the notes to Major Kareem P. Montague, who submitted an essay to the General Douglas MacArthur Military Leadership Writing Competition (and, incidentally, received second place). In this essay, Montague attributes the term to Schoomaker as well, asserting that Schoomaker first used the term in an interview with James Kitfield on 29 October, 2018. (Montague) This is true, and it is not true. Just three days prior to that interview with the …

Review: NATO and the United States: An Enduring Alliance

Kaplan, Lawrence. NATO and the United States: The Enduring Alliance (Boston: Twaine Publishers, 1988), 237 pages.

The only thing better suited to sell a book than talent is timing. For Lawrence Kaplan, of the Lyman L. Lemnitzer Center for NATO Studies at Kent State University, these two conditions collided in a perfectly-placed accretion of historical experience and perspective in 1988. His examination of The Enduring Alliance in no way anticipated the climactic fall of the Soviet Union, but was in fact the freshest and most authoritative account of NATO history in print when it collapsed. Did Kaplan have it wrong? Did he miss something? And how does the organization which emerged compare (or contrast) with the NATO Kaplan knew, let alone the one he envisioned? Better reasons than these to read his book include his very detailed narrative fluidity, which transports the reader into the sinews of decades of intricate diplomatic exchange whose causal nuances can not be translated into s…

The US NATO Debate: A Review

Magnus Peterson is at once a historian, a political scientist, and a sociologist. If he added to these the role of autobiographer, he would surely tabulate these former positions for the convenience of the reader. In a threadbare analysis of speeches and policy statements by NATO officials, the Obama Administration, Congress, and the so-called ‘media/think-tank environment’ concerning the role of American leadership during the period in NATO’s history as bookended by the Libyan War (2011) and the Ukrainian Crisis (2012), Peterson attempts to make the claim that there is (was) a debate being waged on this subject, though by his own admission, no one with whom he consulted on this matter seems to agree with him. What Peterson describes instead is a sort of soft dissonance in the views and statements originating from the three major headings under which he has organized his sources. Therefore, the truth, which may be summed up in just a half dozen words or so (there is and was no debate…

Permanent Alliance: The NATO Debate from Libya to Ukraine, A Review

Reviewed: Sloan, Stanley R. Permanent Alliance: NATO and the TransAtlantic Bargain from Truman to Obama. (New York: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2010) 317 pages.

When in 2016 the Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump, suggested walking away from NATO, perhaps it wasn’t Trump that was letting the nation down, but the nation failing itself. Historians will lament, whichever way the tide crashes, that at this moment America did not immediately halt in mid-mechination for a sober and conscious reflection on A) the merits and mandates of the NATO construct, B) the quids and quos of American hegemony within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and C) the present pulse of the nation’s sentimentality in matters of interventionism, collectivism, and so forth. For those frenzied, scrutinizing souls clawing in the dark for some comprehension of these and other critical concerns, sans any hope for a productive or even informative national discourse, there is refuge in S…

Review: NATO, In Search of a Vision.

Reviewed: Aybet, Gulnar, and Rebecca M. Moore. Eds. NATO: In Search of a Vision, (Washington DC: Georgetown University Press. 2010) 272 pages.

Helen Keller said that the most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight, but no vision. Gandhi said that an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. Somewhere in the continuum between these two ideological axioms, we struggle to understand one of the most critical and powerful socio-political-military institutions in all of human history. The North-Atlantic Treaty Organization is at once predicated upon the failed-concept of retaliation as deterrent, and bound by the inestimable limitations of human patience and understanding. As such, it would be dangerous if it lacked the viscosity which otherwise prevents it from being volatile. In practise, its potency at any given time is inversely proportional to its capacity for bureaucratic complexity. While it lords a hostile array of nuclear armaments over any and everyone it perceiv…

Review: A Military History of the Cold War 1944-1962

House, Jonathan M. A Military History of the Cold War 1944-1962, Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2012. 546 pages.


There is something kind of nefarious about NATO. But whatever that something is can be as elusive as the benevolently proverbial white rabbit himself. How does one (beholden and domestic to the modern western security apparatus) begin to articulate the faintest criticism or concern with an organization credited with “keeping the peace” (at least by its own self, that is) for nearly seventy years? Should such an argument even be made? Perhaps. But one must concede that such an argument must be a kind of tertiary one, neither mainstream or counter-cultural. It must be built upon a foundation which itself is laid upon bedrock. Such bedrock is rarely seen, jutting up at the sky and at Time itself, through the dense and deep sediment and topsoil that is the modern military historicity. Jonathan House offers just such a cornerstone work in this herculean survey of two of …

Consumerism and the Social Institutions

The post-industrial world is the world of the consumer. In the main, consumerism marks the demise and extinction of the hunter/gatherer society, even as the basic habits and structures of the latter are preserved in the former. The process of consumption is not visibly different from hunting and gathering in the sense that one still leaves the shelter setting, interacts with the environment, searches for resources, acquires them, and returns. It is also similar to the next order of society, which is horticulture. Simply put, modern consumption allows for the gathering and cultivation of resources to produce new resources. In this mode, consumption even invites the lay-consumer toward the replication of even higher social orders of agrarianism and industry. One can buy tractors, land, seeds, professionals, and laborers and live a life not altogether different in character from ones's predecessors in former centuries. In essence, consumption represents not only a departure from the…

Cathedrals of Consumption: A review of the proposed federal budget for 2017

Reviewed: The President's Budget for Fiscal Year 2017, https://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget

When George Ritzer (2010) explored modernity in commercial settings, he observed what he dubbed “Cathedrals of Consumption,” or the massive super-structures like Disneyland and the Bellagio and Walmart, where the material needs and wants of entire communities are daily served by highly rationalized, but often curiously attractive and satisfying corporate labor and distribution systems. While Ritzer listed many kinds of these cathedrals, from franchises like Mcdonalds to cruise ships and casino-hotels, he neglected the mother-ship! For economic scope and scale, as well as mystery and methodology, neither Walt Disney, Sam Walton, nor Ray Kroc could hold a candle to the Federal Government of the United States! As evidence, consider budget for 2017, as submitted by President Barrack Obama. Here, almost all of Ritzer's principles converge in one spectacular display of fiscal-phantasmagoria…

Opposing the Oppositional Culture Theory and its Opposition

Reviewed: Downey, Douglas B., “Black/White Differences in School performance: The Oppositional Culture Explanation,” Annual Review of Sociology, (9 April, 2008)


Vol. 34:107-1-6.


In the twenty-first century, the terms majority and minority have become hyper-sensitive trigger words whose very utterance resonate deeply emotional and personal tones among all the octaves of society. It has become impossible to elude or evade the consequences and implications of inequality, whether the roots of it be structurally natural and organic or socially imposed and artificial. One of these consequences is the emerging tendency to view natural outcomes through the lens of conspiracy, assuming ill intentions and malevolent traditions are the principle causes of this adversity. Another consequence is the damaging influence of good intentions on the natural order. Douglas Downey's (2008) reproof of John Ogbu's Oppositional Culture Theory is an example of just such a consequence. Downey makes a c…

Effort and Achievement: the Merits of Traditional Methodology

Educational achievement is an elusive concept. Everyone seems to agree that it is a valuable commodity and as such, more is better. From there, however, opinions and approaches are as divergent as can be. Do we want more people to graduate? Do we want higher test scores? To both, a resounding 'sure, why not.' but do we want more school? Do we want harder classes? From most quarters, a hushed and hesitant 'meh...' The easy answer is that we can have more of the first group at the expense of the second group, and common sense suggests that more of the second group will adversely affect the first group. A functional relationship emerges like a brick wall for us to bang our heads against. Higher test scores and better rates of attrition would certainly follow if we made the classes easier and less frequent. Conversely, lower test scores and less graduates would seem to follow making the tests harder and the classes longer. The only real proven way to increase educational …

Micro-consumerism and the looming cultural paradox

So we all understand money is fake, right? It's just paper with no intrinsic value beyond our ubiquitous acceptance of its role as currency. So what happens when our goods and services finally assume that same, immaterial quality that money possesses? Well strap in folks, because we are almost there, and the implications are terrifying (or foggy, at least).

Challenging the Assumptions: Application of Standardized Tests and Technology in Education

In Caddo parish, there are less than ten thousand educators serving over forty thousand students. (Goree, 2015) This ratio may seem high by proportion, but readers are reminded that the number includes teachers, their assistants, administrators, cafeteria and janitorial service, bus drivers, and numerous other support-roles provided by occupations which don't come to mind when thinking of education. In fact, according to one source, actual teachers only occupy about 2500, or a little over a quarter of the whole pie. This brings the literal teacher/student ratio to about 16:1 average. If the widely criticized achievement gap still exists after a certain period under these conditions, it becomes necessary to look beyond reducing class sizes for solutions. In so doing, educators should look to successful systems for new strategies, because differentiation is always occurring, but evolution requires adaption and replication of those successful strategies in order to function. However…