Don't Let Disney Teach You About History. A few facts about the Pearl Harbour attack.
The culture war is not just phony, but reactionary. It commodifies powerless groups to project a fearsome image of constantly escalating menace, suppresses discussion of real social inequalities, and promotes repressive government solutions. Youth are the most convenient population upon which to project damage, keeping the debate safely away from questioning adult values and pleasures that form the real influences on youths. In short, the culture war is not about changing genuine American social ills such as high rates of child poverty, domestic violence, and family disarray, but fomenting an endless series of moral panics that obstruct social change.
I recently decided to make a concerted effort to eat and cook healthier food, so I started with the Open Directory's soup recipes, and came across the Moosewood recipe for split pea soup, which turned out really well, and was a hit at the potluck that I brought it to. It's a vegan recipe, and it's yummy. I recommend it.
For the last two summers, I had a routine of cooking a large stack of crepes every Sunday morning, and inviting everyone I knew to drop in and partake, on the condition that they bring something to drink or something to put on/in the crepes. It made for some good conversation, but mostly just a chance to relax and talk to people who are usually really busy. Today, some of the regulars from last summer decided to pick up the tradition and serve crepes in their apartment; people brought all kind of decadent toppings, like stewed apples, rhubarb, pecan and peanut butter, cream cheese and rasberry, rhubarb, strawberry, and apple spreads/jams. A good degustation (sp.), and good conversation was had by all.
a few lemons
buttermilk (soy milk will probably work, but I haven't tried it)
Beat the eggs with a whisk, and gradually sift flour into the eggs, while mixing to avoid clumps as much as possible. Add flour until it's difficult to mix in any more. When a fairly consistant dough has been achieved, add some buttermilk, letting it soak in to the egg/flour mix without creating chunks. Once the mix is back to consistant, liquid form, grate the and juice the lemon(s), adding both to the mix, along with a few teaspoons of vanilla extract. Finally, add buttermilk until the batter is thin enough spread over a pan in a thin layer, but thick enough to stick together on a pan. (This is kind of tricky. When the batter starts to drip off the fork quickly, it's close, but it's probably wise to cook a few test crepes to get a sense of the desired consistancy.)
Cook the crepes in a pan over medium heat. Add a spot of cooking oil to the pan before each crepe (this is more important for the first few, as the pan tends to be sticky at first). To get thing crepes, tilt the heated, oiled pan at a 45 degree angle, and pour a small amount of batter at the top with a ladle and let it spread over the pan. Meanwhile, shake the pan back and forth to get the batter to cover the surface, while dripping batter from the ladle to patch up spots. Cook until the surface looks dry, then wait 15-30 seconds and flip. You can also use a crepe pan to make equally thin crepes, but it's not as much fun.
Weblogging as a New Form of Journalism, from Online Journalism Review.
Weblogs are a kind of formalized, broadcasted banter. Weblogs aren't journalism any more than hearing a friend summarize their views on a recent event is journalism. People who maintain good weblogs generally find diverse sources for a given topic, but they rarely talk to primary sources, much less interview a number of them so as to present a balanced account of the different perspectives on a given issue. Granted, newspaper and TV journalists don't do this well at all, but that's hardly a reason to call weblogs journalistic.
For me, weblogs (as well as emailed links and other ways of distributing pointers to interesting stuff) are useful because they create an infrastructure that lets readers' attention be directed to information not for the reason that some editor decides that it's important, but because people are interested in it. Such an infrastructure creates the possibility for internet users to bypass the corporate-controlled propaganda and focus their friends' and readers' on particular alternative coverage. Just as easily, it can be used to maintain the status quo; the majority of folk who maintain weblogs probably don't think twice when linking to a CNN story as a reliable account of a given event, and the same people probably think I'm some kind of crazed anarchist conspiracy theorist.
(If I sound like a paranoid conspiracy theorist when I refer to corporate propaganda, please read Manufacturing Consent by Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman before dismissing what I say :> It's available from fine bookstores everywhere.)
Journalism can change a lot (for the better) because of the net, but coverage in weblogs isn't how that will happen. An easy way for journalistic coverage to improve would be to recognize the lack of space constraints and take advantage of them. Right now, editors have to be selective about the amount of information that goes into a publication because space has to be used well. The result is a series of executive summaries of issues or events, written in the inverted pyramid style. Online news reports tend to be even more headline and summary driven -- more about condensing coverage to small newsbytes. The problem is, there tends to be no material lying beyond these super-compressed summaries. But why shouldn't there be? If a news story features a few select quotes from a news conference, why not provide and link to a transcript of the same news conference for the readers who want more than a summary? Similarly, why not provide links to relevant transcripts of interviews, primary documents, etc.? There is a place for summaries, but now that we can -- with a relatively small added cost -- the in depth information should be available as well.
Until the news organizations start doing it, weblogs provide a good way bring the summarized and in-depth material together.
A story of what can happen to ya if you get rich real fast. (Though I guess no one has to worry about that for a while, since the system seems to have gone back to channeling more money to the rich, instead of giving out the odd million to programmers in a semi-random way.)
The Monty Hall Trap is a real mind-bender.
David Gelernter's latest project is Scopeware, which appears to be fairly similar to Lifestreams (which is apparently dead). Essentially, a time-based view of computer tasks, which makes a lot of sense in a certain respect. I don't see why some kind of rudimentary time-based view of work couldn't be built into traditional systems; e.g. in addition to having a list of directories, why not also have a parallel list of files, organized by date and time. I wrote an article about this back in high school, called Liquid File System. While that article needs an update, bad, I think it has a lot of relevant points. Here's an illustration of how I imagined alternate hierarchies of information being displayed back then:
Having auto-generated views of web directories based on data like dates or categories would be pretty useful, too. What I didn't know then is that there's a word for this: intertwingle. All that means is that things can be connected not only by category, but by size, date of creation, keyword, author, or any other information that one might have (stored in a computer). Jamie Zawinski explains intertwingularity fairly well in this proposal for organizing email.
A shocking account by a volunteer medic who was in Quebec City.
The cops advanced down Cote D'Abraham, shooting tear gas like crazy and shooting rubber bullets down alleys and driveways. When they reached the clinic they marched everyone who was in the alley (the decontamination space) out at gunpoint. This included many medics and their patients, even seriously injured ones. The cops forcibly removed all the protective gear from everyone, including gas masks, vinegar bandannas and any goggles, saying "No more protection for you guys!".I was in the CMAQ centre when this happened, and heard the same story from a number of people who were there. The medics had to set up in the lobby of the CMAQ building as a result.
Kendall Clark: Technology and Social Change, Or: Three Myths of XML.
While computer technology might be used to aid radical social change... it's always already embedded in very particular social and historical contexts, most often ones in which radical social change is unlikely. After all, technology doesn't fall, as if a gift of the gods, from the sky. Except in extraordinary circumstances, computer technology is developed and deployed by corporations, i.e., institutions fundamentally opposed to radical social change and, so, fundamentally committed to maintaining the status quo (or to changing it only to benefit their entrenchment and aggrandizement).
The best stuff on the indymedia newswire this week, according to Marco. Indymedia sites generally let anyone post anything to their newswires (within a few broad guidelines), which leads to a lot of chaos, and a need for filtering.
Strawman's revenge, an e-zine of media analysis, takes a close look at mainstream editorial coverage of recent protests. Links like that one are probably the best way for anyone to learn about the protest movement, at least initially.
I think media analysis is vastly underrated as a method for getting the word out. Instead of having the protesters in one corner and the corporate media in the other corner, each shouting out their own version of reality and making the people in the middle confused and cynical, you have direct proof of exactly how the corporate media is blatantly misleading. That makes things a lot more clear for the folks listening, and gets them on the way to looking for or creating alternatives that focus a little closer on reality.
As an update to a rather simple article that I wrote about paying for content online and the importance of not restricting access to content, I've been working on an extensive overview of methods of exacting payment for writing, music and art online. The article describes a number of non-advertising business models for independent artists, writers, and musicians.
This is the first bit of work that I'm doing for this grant I recieved that is paying for me to do independent research all summer. I'll be looking mostly at how institutions and social forms shift from one set of media (tangible productions like books, CD's, prints..) to another (digital distribution). The original plan was to look to the transition from oral traditions to literate traditions in the days of yore to inform the study of the present transition; I think that will still play a part, but I'm unsure how significant it will be.
A petition to stop TV infotainment programs calling themselves "News". Broadcasters are granted part of the spectrum by the government (read: the public) on the condition that they provide programs that serve the public interest. While the above petition can be seen as a joke, it's pretty much spot on. Even in the framework of the (completely skewed) existing laws, most broadcasters are well below any reasonable standard.
Tear Gas: Harassing Agent or Toxic Chemical Weapon?
This tirade against Scott McCloud could probably be summed up in a few sentences: "Scott McCloud's optimistic view of the future 'level playing field' of digital content distribution should be framed in a larger context of corporate power and influence over the internet and information distribution in general." There is, however, little need to attack McCloud's rhetorical, even hyperbolic style, unless you're trying to attract attention to yourself.
I would add that there are still reasons to get excited about the possibilities of digital distribution. When distribution is diminished as point of control and extortion, then more attention can be focussed on the artist and the work itself. However, with fewer limits to distribution comes a greater emphasis on promotion. This is why in the long run, it's crucial to not let Microsoft (or whoever) to control the way we look for information on the net, just as it is crucial not to let commercial radio stations have monopolies on what is broadcast over the air.
Both Microsoft (and Yahoo, Excite, etc.) and commercial radio stations are focussed on one thing: profit. This means that, for example, the record industy's chokehold on distribution can be transferred to a chokehold on the ways people find out about tunes, by dictating what is played on the radio (which they do now), by dictating what options show up when you use the RealAudio or Quicktime player (which they also do now), or by gaining greater influence over what content is featured prominently on popular web sites like Yahoo, MSN, AOL, and Excite (which happens to a large extent on MSN and more on AOL, and slightly less on the likes of Yahoo and Excite). There's always the Open Directory and Google, which are in many ways vastly superior to their more commercialized counterparts.
In this sense, the "revolution" of online distribution isn't likely to be as clear cut as we might like, since powerful (read: moneyed) interests aren't interested in losing control. If they have money, and AOL and Microsoft want money, then it's only a matter of degree to which the "revolution" is marginalized by selling control of "eyeballs" to the highest bidder.
This is not to say that things won't change for the better with online distribution. To what degree they change, or are revolutionized, is dependent on the alternatives that are built. And that's up to me, and you.
The first issue of the Argosy with my name at the top o' the masthead is online now. Despite having less than a third of the usual number of staff, I think it turned out quite well; a testament to the quality of the folks who helped out, I think.
I wrote an editorial based on some of the reflections on Quebec which I posted on this page.
A random Photoshop doodle:
Two editorials (1, 2) look at the Myths of the Vietnam war. For the most thorough look at the Vietnam war, however, I can't recommend Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman's Manufacturing Consent enough. The section on Vietnam looks at the facts of the war, and how they were consistantly selected and distorted by the media. The rest of the book is more or less essential for anyone who reads newspapers or watches TV news, too.
Michael Moore: Why Don't We All Just Cut the Crap Right Now?
For eight long years, Clinton/Gore resisted all efforts and recommendations to reduce the carbon dioxide in the air and the arsenic in the water. Just last October, Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle and sixteen other Democrats successfully led the way to STOP any reduction of arsenic in the water. Why? Because Clinton and the Democrats were beholden to the very industries who had financed their campaigns --- and who were responsible for high levels of arsenic in the water.
It doesn't stop there.
The question that comes up over and over again [is] "It's terrible, awful, getting worse. What do we do? Tell me the answer." The trouble is, there has not in history ever been any answer other than, "Get to work on it."
James Madison, one of the most influential of the framers at the Constitutional Convention, who explained and insisted and stressed that the primary responsibility of government, in his words, is to "protect the minority of the opulent against the majority." Therefore, democracy is a threat. We must make sure that the wealthy are in charge, what he called the "most capable class of men", and that the rest of the population is marginalized, fragmented, and dispersed. Well, a lot of people didn't like that, and there were plenty a conflict about it, but that's the constitutional system.
Only two people showed up to the Argosy meeting on Saturday evening, so I spent most of Sunday tracking down volunteers, and got a decent turnout for the make-up meeting. (Traditionally, the newly-elected Argosy Editor-in-Chief is responsible for putting out the last issue of the year. Since most of the staff are out of town, and not obligated to show up, I have to round up a whole bunch of volunteers.) In any case, it looks like it will be a decent paper.
The Globe and Mail, which I must note for its disproportionate share of morons, has an interesting article on Jaggi Singh, an activist who has become a martyr of sorts after he was kidnapped by police. He came to Mount Allison and spoke about the FTAA a few months ago; he was smart and articulate, but made it clear that he and his colleagues were there to inform, not to lead. It's ironic, then, that he makes headlines on a regular basis now that he's in jail for no other apparent reason than the fact that he disagrees (strongly) with the police and government, and is willing to do something about it. Really ironic.
Mr. Singh argued that the government was using the People's Summit as a way to co-opt the opposition and marginalize certain groups and ideas. It all came down to the ultimate choice between accepting to sit-down with the leaders or to fight them from the outside. Mr. Singh choice was unequivocal.Too bad the Globe's copy editing staff is asleep at the wheel. The article is decent, though it (like everything else in the mainstream media) avoids looking too closely at, much less understanding, the ideas involved.
"To what extent can you convince a tiger to become a vegetarian," he said in making his case for a direct confrontation rather than siding with the more mainstream left-wing groups.
Hi, I'm in moving hell. No wait, I'm between houses. My roommate said I could sublet her room for the summer but forgot to ask the landlady if that was ok. Now, the landlady is telling me that subletting is prohibited by the lease. So I have to ask the landlady if I can (pretty please) move into her house for the summer, even though no one contacted her, she makes no money from the deal, and my moving in is technically precluded in the lease. I would go on about how much work I (still) have to do, but for my desire to keep the ranting to a minimum.
update: I've been denied straight out by the landlady, who said it was "too much trouble" for her (where too much trouble means making a few phone calls). However, I found a new place that is positively huge, and pretty darned perfect in every way, so now I guess I'm just in moving purgatory, or something. /me knocks on wood.
Some thoughts on the Holocaust by Paul Ford, who is in Israel.
David Grenier talks a bit about mutual aid, which is (I think) sometimes called anarchism, and the creation of free societies. Always a good topic.
On a related, but diametrically opposed note, I'm getting sick of seeing the moronic commentators in the media constantly refer to concensus and direct democracy as unfeasible or even fascistic. Argh. Journalists either misrepresent the truth purposefully, or simply aren't doing their job. Or maybe they don't do they job in order to misrepresent the truth more comfortably. Judging by how little journalists actually talked to the protesters in Quebec (as opposed to talking amongst themselves or chattering away in front of a camera), I'd say the latter is the case.
Oh my, I'm ranting again.