Archive for the 'Anti-war activism' Category

Duchenne smile

What does a smile say?  Are you truly happy?  Are you uncomfortable?  Did a photographer tell you to say cheese?

In his book BlinkMalcolm Gladwell refers to research done by Paul Ekman, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of California, San Francisco. Ekman is an expert on facial expressions and has written many books, including “Emotions Revealed, Unmasking the Face” and “Telling Lies.

(Oliver Sacks wrote, “No one in the world has studied facial expressions as deeply as Paul Ekman. In ‘Emotions Revealed’ he presents — clearly, vividly, and in the most accessible way — his fascinating observations about the covert expressions of emotions we all encounter hundreds of times daily, but so often misunderstand or fail to see. There has not been a book of such range and insight since Darwin’s famous ‘Expression of the Emotions’ more than a century ago.”)

(Copyright Paul Ekman 2003, “Emotions Revealed,” Owl Books, 2007.)

A Duchenne smile contracts the zygomatic muscles of the cheek and eye, forming crow’s feet. The crow’s feet indicate that the smile is genuine and that the smiler is truly happy. It was discovered by and is named after Guillaume Duchenne.

What got me started on this?  A fascinating blog post by Errol Morris, a documentary filmmaker, whose movie The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons From the Life of Robert S. McNamara won the Academy Award for best documentary feature in 2004 and the recently released Standard Operating Procedure, a documentary about the Abu Ghraib scandal.

What do the smiles on the faces of Lyndie England and Sabrina Harman mean?  How do you explain the smile? Not only are they smiling, they’re smiling with their thumbs-up – with tortured men and over a dead body. The photograph on the right suggests that Harman may have killed the guy, and she looks proud of it. She looks happy.   But, it’s not a Duchenne smile – there is much more to the story.  Keep reading.


Get clean for Gene

mccarthycampaign_large.jpgAudio recordings of Eugene McCarthy’s historic run for president in 1968 have been re-discovered at the University of Minnesota’s Elmer L. Andersen Library.    and highlighted similarities between 1968 and today.

“And at some point you make a prudential judgment that whatever good you can get out of the war, or what good is going to come from it, is not proportionate to the destruction of life and property and the draining away of moral energy, which goes along with the pursuit of the war in a way in which we are now pursuing it.”

In the 1968 Democratic primary, McCarthy (not to be confused with red baiter Joseph McCarthy, Senator from Wisconsin – no relation) stunned Lyndon Johnson with a strong showing in New Hampshire.  Four days later, Robert Kennedy entered the race for the Democratic nomination only to be assassinated in June.  Ultimately, Hubert H. Humphrey, Johnson’s VP and former Minnesota Senator himself, beat McCarthy for the nomination and lost the general election to Nixon. 

I just wish politicians today could summon the same courage McCarthy did to challenge to a sitting President of his own party based on moral outrage against the war.


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