Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"Oh god....."

At least our culture tells us to react that way...
I'd like to consider this video a visual reiteration of the point of this course:

Sunday, July 15, 2012


I know class is over but I just found out my dorm neighbor is a member of The Ancient Order of Hibernians. He was the one playing the bagpipes at the talent show. He claims they are no longer a terrorist organization. Anyway, here is their website.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Just for laughs!


(I hope this does not offend anyone...)

Thursday, July 12, 2012


This is too cute, so I thought I would share it with you guys and it somewhat relates to lecture and discussion today.

Environmental Documentaries

Hi class,

Here is a dissertation I found which relates to the lectures we had in class today entitled
It is called "Environmental Documentary Film: A Contemporary Tool for Social Movement" by Rachel Elizabeth Gregg. ( )

As I was reading the introduction, one sentence stood out to me:
"Environmental documentary film has the ability to dramatize the reality of environmental issues and empower audiences to become an active part of the change necessary to address environmental crises."

I thought that this sentence truly illustrates the effect documentaries have / aim to have, and this is the secret to their success.
The music, the well-chosen and well set-up clips, the narration, they all contribute to the film's dramatic effect. Environmental docus are notorious for showing graphic scenes and hi-lighting (without actually stating) the most extreme of situations. For example, in the seal video that we watched today, there is at least a minute dedicated to the scene of the shot and confused seal. This is obviously meant to target our deepest emotions and compassion and the whole clip seems as if it's a common occurrence. In reality, it probably is not.

Secondly, documentaries make us feel as if we can be and are a a part of something big, something revolutionary. That inspires people to act towards the cause.
Take for example, the KONY 2012 wave the past year. The 25-min or so film evoked sympathetic reactions from millions and millions of people all over the world. In just hours, kids, teens, adults were all purchasing "KONY kits" and plastering posters in the streets. Most of these people knew very little - only the information from the video - about the movement, yet, they still had significant reactions. I find it a common thread in documentaries to inflict guilt onto the viewers, then to make the viewers feel special, in a way that they can make a difference.

Unfortunately, this is quite a lengthy essay and I do not have the time to read all of it. It is, however, a very eye-opening essay that really exposes the different tactics documentaries use to attract the viewers. Maybe this will make a great suggested reading in the future.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Yearling: Nature in Human Life

Today's discussion reminded me of a book that I read a little over a year ago. 
The Yearling was written in 1938 by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1939. This fictional novel focuses on a young boy named Jody, who lives in Florida during the late 1800's. The title of the piece derives its name from the fawn that Jody adopts and attempts to domesticate. There are several subplots that involve Jody's adventures and hunts in both the forests and the city. He is eventually forced to make difficult decisions that reflect many of the concepts we have recently discussed in class. 

According to: 
Source: Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults, ©1999 Gale Cengage. 

The relationship of people and animals to one another and to the land is one of the basic themes of The Yearling. Issues of loyalty and betrayal, survival, death, and loneliness are raised repeatedly as the characters interact with nature. The central question is whether humanity must necessarily be in conflict with nature, or whether the beauty of nature can be reconciled with the cruelty of life. The Yearling shows that life is hard, that suffering and sacrifice are to be expected and accepted, and that the loss of innocence is an inevitable part of growing up.

This is a fairly long book, but I highly suggest reading it. Though on the surface it is about a boy and his pet deer, there are countless deeper meanings and "pesky philosophical questions" it raises. 


As we talked about today, deer populations in Pennsylvania are a problem. Yet that is not the only place that we have a deer problem... welcome to my back yard
There is a very large deer problem in my town. The way that they take care of this is that they have an annual deer hunt in the reservation that is near my town, yet it clearly does not seem to work. the deer are constantly eating the plants, and causing car accidents because of swerving etc. i am not trying to say that we should get rid of all of the deer, but I am wondering if maybe my town took over their habitat and that we should be the ones to blame... Just a thought .. anyway please enjoy what i found one day when i got home from school.

Coyotes Immigrants Hurt Native Deer

South Carolina's Department of Natural Resources wants to save the deer, but with less coyotes around who will control the deer population?
"Coyotes were illegally imported into South Carolina for hound running. SCDNR and Federal law enforcement has and will continue to prosecute for this activity."
Another instance where non-native species are disrupting the balance of nature.

Here's the link if you're interested:

Sea Shepherds

this is a link to the sea shepherrds website:

not only do they work to save baby seals, but they also have campaigns to save sharks, but most notably they have a show on animal planet called whale wars. this show is seeing the Japanese harpooning ships killing whales and the sea shepherds trying to stop them. Some of the things that they do go against international la, but they feel that it is their duty to protect the animals. Also what is interesting is like what we talked about in class with if animals feel pain, the way that they kill these animals (with first a modern harpoon, and if it struggles then a rifle) seems inhumane to me. Also, they follow pods, so in essence they will wipe out an entire family of whales just because whale meat is very profitable. Just another interesting side into the animal conservation debate
Nature is sublime.  Bear with me, watch it until the end.  It's worth it.

A baby seal with a message!

Silent Film Clay-mation today

In an attempt to kill two birds with one stone, here is a link of some clay-mation I found to be rather interesting.  First of all, it's similar to the clay films we saw from Edison.  Second of all, it deals with the 'thing' we as humans have causing us to be attracted to violence and blood/gore by human nature.  As Jim Tantillo explained, we as humans would rather watch films with action rather than watching a scenic view because they begin to bore us after a while.  Fair warning, there is some clay 'blood' and organs depicted in the link done quite well; not to spoil any bit of the video, but I advise you only watch the first few seconds of the clay-mation if you get sick easily by the sight of clay people vomiting out blood and their organs.

No thumbnail provided for the sake of the squeamish.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Marielle Ravosa---Modern Photos of The Biltmore Estate

Here are current photos of the Biltmore Estate that I was able to find:

In this photo, the forest in the background of the painting looks very realistic. I now understand why people did not associate Olmsted's artificial cultivation with this "wild-looking" forests.

Likewise, the forest shown here in the background reveals a mix of different trees. Because there are many different types of vegetation it looks like an untouched forest.

The pond shown here is meant the give the estate a more natural vibe with its floating leaves and murky water.

----Marielle Ravosa

Marielle Ravosa-- Interesting Niagara Fall Facts/Pictures

After learning about Niagara Falls in class today, I decided to do more research on the topic. I found out some interesting things that I thought would be beneficial to share!

Today, someone mentioned in class that at night spotlights illuminated Niagara Falls. Here, intense spotlights bathe the falls with different shades of color.

Also, during the winter, the falling water and mist creates ice formations along the banks of the falls and river. Chunks of ice as thick as fifty feet form. If the winter is especially cold, the ice will completely stretch across it and form an ice bridge. Until 1912,visitors were allowed to actually walk out on the ice bridge and view the Falls from below.

---Marielle Ravosa

Mother Nature and margarine

I was going to research the exploitation of mother nature in history but changed my mind and researched some things about the topic just for the fun of it. This is the link to the famous margarine commercial that Professor Tantillo told us about:

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Great Ape Project: Projecting Culture onto Nature

Although this article from BBC News doesn't exactly mesh with our most recent lecture topics about the Hudson River School art movement or the Ecological Indian, I believe this subject is relevant to the overarching theme of this class.

The article presents two sides of a debate: should Great Apes have human rights?  Some argue yes, based on genetic closeness (we share roughly 99% of our genes with chimps) and the belief that great apes are sentient and intelligent we should extend our human rights onto our dearest cousins.  Others argue that genetic closeness is no argument at all, and "human rights are a construct that can't be imposed on animals."

So how does this relate to our class?  Well, besides the fact that the terms "nature" and "culture" can be found in the article, I thought it posed an interesting question, and one that we have been wrestling with in class.  What distinguishes culture from nature and vice versa?  This article begs us to look at the relationship between culture and nature through a new lens and investigate the overlap.   Given our close "relationship" with the great apes where do we draw the line?  If chimps are 99% human is it that 1% that determines all our human lovin?  Are species farther away on the tree of life relegated to the chaos of nature, and not worthy of our protection?

The Great Ape Project is asking us to wield our culture (our greatest tool and weapon) in a more ethical way.  Whether you agree with their goals or not the subject is a great thought experiment for this class.  After reading this, where do you draw the line between nature and culture?  Can they overlap or are they mutually exclusive?

Should apes have human rights?

"Constructing Nature" in other parks

After reading the "Constructing Nature" essay and discovering that Niagara Falls is actually altered very much by humans (i.e. the diversion of water in order to make the falls seem more majestic), I found myself wondering how humans shaped other supposedly "natural" national parks.  In my research, I found articles about the purposeful and periodic flooding of the Grand Canyon, which is said to build up sandbars that assist the ecosystems.  Here's one article about it:

Friday, July 6, 2012

Marielle Ravosa---Chicago In Regards to Nature's Metropolis

After reading Cronon's Nature's Metropolis, I was curious to see what Chicago looked like during an ordinary work day. Here are some fascinating images that I found in my search:
Here is a crowded stockyard where animals were kept.

The people above are immigrants arriving to Chicago in hope of finding work.
Here is a bustling market.
Here you see loads of timber being transported into Chicago.

Marielle Ravosa---Molly MacGuires

After watching the movie about Molly Maguires today in class, I found an intersting link which really helps to summarize the movie we watched, as well as to provide more specific insight about the secret organization.

Here is another warning sign from one of the Molly Maguires:

---Marielle Ravosa

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Photos of Grain Elevators

Here are some photos (and artworks) of the grain elevators of Chicago, c. 1860s.
I found it very difficult to visualize the scene and how "grand" this whole system was. These pictures somewhat grasped the immensity of the system.

(this photograph is a nice layout of what the elevators are actually like)

(this photograph is composed mostly of lumbers and I believe there are grain elevators in the background)

(an artist named B. J. O. Nordfeldt etched some interesting images of Chicago from the mid-1920s [so, they are more recent than the other photographs]. His style and composition is really quite different from all the paintings we have seen, but he provides an interesting new view of what Chicago was like back then)

More of Nordfeldt's etches can be found here:

-- Ihna

More on Gifford Pinchot

Hi guys,

We have encountered Gifford Pinchot several times throughout this class -- through readings and today's lecture. Here is a short video that quickly summarizes his life/political career and talks about the environmental-labor movement that he spearheaded.

-- Ihna

Desperate Coal Companies

I thought that learning about the coal industries and how they related to American history was very interesting. Ironically, while looking at Facebook this afternoon, I discovered this post relating to the modern history and usage of coal. Although it was once the main source of energy, or "stored sunshine", times are changing to reflect new attitudes.

Marielle Ravosa---Lewis Hines Photography

For those of you that were interested in seeing more of Lewis Hines's photos , here are a few really interesting shots that I found:

----Marielle Ravosa

Marielle Ravosa---Really Interesting Facts About Phoebe Snow

After learning about the origins of railroad advertising in class, I wanted to learn more about Phoebe Snow and how advertising increased railroad sales.

According to Wikipedia, Phoebe Snow was one of the United States' most recognized advertising mascots. The advertisements featuring Phoebe had been built upon the nursery rhyme, The House That Jack Built.

"Phoebe Snow" was the only name ever used in railroad ads. Moreover, original artwork for advertisements was painted by Henry Benton who worked from a series of images of a model, Mrs. Murray, who was photographed in a variety of actual railroad activities. Gowned in white and standing in for the fancily dressed Phoebe, Mrs. Murray was one of the first models to be used in advertising.

However, during WWI, anthracite was needed for the war effort, and its use on railroads was prohibited, thus ending Mrs. Murray's modeling career as Phoebe Snow.

Here were the popular jingles associated with Phoebe Snow:

Says Phoebe Snow
about to go
upon a trip to Buffalo
"My gown stays white
from morn till night
Upon the Road of Anthracite"
Now Phoebe may
by night or day
enjoy her book upon the way
Electric light
dispels the night
Upon the Road of Anthracite

Miss Phoebe's trip
without a slip
is almost o'er
Her trunk and grip
are right and tight
without a slight
"Good bye, old Road of Anthracite!"

---Marielle Ravosa

Centralia Fire

Hey guys! So I've been looking for the article that I was talking about today in class about the Centralia fire. I found this NY Times piece:
It is from 2002, so the one I read may have been a reprinting of it. I'll keep looking, but this one is interesting to read if you want to know more.
-Alyssa Posklensky
Here is a website that helps you understand Romanticism and Nature:

Toile wallpaper

In class we were speaking about pastoral landscapes and how they were painted by the hudson river school. As we were doing this I remembered that I had seen this type of illustration before, in wallpaper out of all places. the wallpaper that I have seen this idea on is called toile. toile is "Toile de Jouy, sometimes abbreviated to simply "toile", is a type of decorating pattern consisting of a usually white or off-white background on which a repeated pattern depicting a fairly complex scene, generally of a pastoral theme such as a couple having a picnic by a lake or an arrangement of flowers" (wikipedia) this type of paper was very popular during the year 2000 to use in the house, but it was also a fad in the 1970's where people wore it on shirts. here is the url to museum site if anyone is interested "">

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Marielle Ravosa--- Great Summary of the Hudson River School

After focusing on some of Hudson River School's paintings yesterday, I found an article from PBS that summarizes many of the paintings and artists. It helped reinforce my understanding of the artists and artistic movements that we have studied.

Here is the link:

----Marielle Ravosa

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Marielle Ravosa---Anti-Pollution Advertisements

Much like the commercial we saw today in class, the following images are highly effective advertisements against pollution. Each image qualified for the "11 Most Powerful Environmental Messages" poster competition sponsored by "".

----Marielle Ravosa
Here I post some part of the lyrics of a song which I believe have to do a lot with the relationship of humans with nature:

"For thousands of years, humans have been enjoying the greatest gift the gods gave no living thing ever: the breeze, the wind, Brother Sun and Sister Moon, fields and meadows where to see our children grow, sunrises bathed with the perfume of flowers in spring sneezing, sunsets, still decorated with dreams to achieve and, oddly enough, intelligence. But the white man disdained the treasure, and as life was smiling, he answered him kicking the destination.
If someone reads this letter, remember that the end of this civilization was due to selfishness, greed and ignorance of the human race. The men are not mammals, humans did not become a predator, the human race are just a virus, we kill, we grow and multiply.
So we extinguish, so the water swallowed our civilization: the true Atlantis we were. And so I leave this note written for intelligent life forms to come.
When men spit on the floor ...
... They spit upon themselves. "
Hey guys,

We talked a lot yesterday about Native Americans killing buffalo in Krech's The Ecological Indian. I just wanted everyone to know that the animal that lives in the United States that we all refer to as a buffalo is actually a bison. Real buffalo live in Asia and Africa. The two animals are from a different genus and species.


Crysis Landscape

Island scenery in Crysis.
Does this screen capture from Crysis remind you of any paintings we've seen this week?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Marielle Ravosa---Much Better Scan

Here is a better scan of one of Thomas Cole's "The Course of the Empire" paintings.

----Marielle Ravosa

Marielle Ravosa---Thomas Cole Exhibition

Today in class, Mr. Tantillo mentioned that "The Course of The Empire" paintings by Thomas Cole were previously on display in Albany. I did some research and found out that in 2003 the New-York Historical Society chose to exhibit the paintings at the New York State Museum on August 23rd.

The following link briefly describes Thomas Cole, as well as the New York State Museum's exhibition of the paintings:

Boosters in Nature's Metropolis

While I was reading Nature's Metropolis today, I was confused about the exact definition of the "boosters" that he mentions so frequently in the first chapter. Although there's not much information on the web, I found an excerpt from a book called Doing the Town: The Rise of Urban Tourism in the United States, 1850-1910 that says that they were people who advocated for the land speculation in a specific town. People of all walks of life promoted the economic advancement of their hometowns.
-Alyssa Posklensky

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Marielle Ravosa--- Media and The Ecological Indian

While reading Shepard Kretch’s The Ecological Indian, I found myself astonished by the sizable role that the media plays in our perception of the past. During the initial chapters of the book, Kretch explains how Indians were broadcasted to the general public. Images of a tearful Indian spread the message that “Pollution: [is] a crying shame” (1). Because the Indian denotes that pollution is a disgrace, he indisputably implies that white people, not Indians, started pollution. Due to this widespread idea, children are generally taught in school that Indians did nothing to contaminate the environment and reused and recycled their belongings. However, the former is not always the case; the “body of evidence suggests that the Indians also wasted animals killed at communal hunting sights” (143).  When the Indians hunted bison, they “butchered [only] three of every four…or left untouched one of every four” (144). Hence, we see here that the Indians could be wasteful—this subsequently proves that Indians were not the flawless environmentalists we esteem them to be.

Furthermore, we learned that Indians set fires. While these fires did sometimes help forests and grasslands, they were not always beneficial. When they were “too frequent or too hot, when moisture [was] low, or when heavy rains follow[ed] fires and cause[d] erosion, plants may not [have] easily recover[ed]” (116). Fires also “sometimes destroyed horses and other property and even occasionally torched men and women” (121). Thus, while it is seems that the Indians knew how to properly deal with the environment, they essentially were not perfect and did not always do the best things for nature.

Because Indians were portrayed as seamless environmentalists, many people think that they were superior to the polluters present today. However, we must learn to look at the media with a more watchful eye. Advertisements should be read with a grain of salt, as they are meant to persuade people of a certain cause, and not necessarily of the truth.

----Marielle Ravosa