Paul Ford posted a long, eloquent rant about the media's "he deserved it" reaction to the police shooting of Carlo, social change, and being radical.
What bugs me, though, is stupid, willful ignorance, which is what the globalization folks and the media seem to be making their their specialty. I'm stunned that the people in the IMF, or the WTO, or the police chiefs, or the TV anchorpeople and magazine columnists could be such amazing, amoral shitheads. We're talking about human-defined economic systems, not some God-given stone-inscribed systems of truth.
The constantly repeated myth is that the protesters are misinformed and the people in the WTO are well-informed, but I have yet to see evidence that the WTO's strategies are so scientifically valid as to be immune to outside criticism. And there is no reason that criticism should come only from academics and government wonks; people have every right in the world to cry "bullshit!" Except we don't actually seem to have that right, unless we want a good beatdown from cops, or tear gas Q-tipped onto our eyes.
I bought the recent CD's by Spearhead and Radiohead, and a friend sent me the new one from Vennaskond. It's interesting how each uses the web. Vennaskond lists urls of five different fan sites; Spearhead prominantly lists the urls www.mumia911.com, nodeathpenalty.org and indymedia.org; Radiohead's links to a bunch of sites. Just refreshing to see artists straying from the record-label run, cookie cutter site and the whole 'sticky site' ethic.
(The title of this actually a reference to the role of the woman who is romantically involved with a man who is some kind of genius, and supports/comforts/inspires him while he does his own thing. It's a common motif in movies, books, and contemporary mythology. It's also annoying and probably damaging.)
I'm in Washington (State) until wednesday. I'll probably show up in Seattle at some point. Email me if you want to get together.
I'm being lazy, reading, and visiting people, so updates will be slow for a bit.
An inside joke that may well be funny (strange anyway) for those that aren't in on it.
Jessamyn's links and brief thoughts on Genoa. Mostly for my future reference.
I chatted with the folks at Vilgilance (web page not working right now), an independent monthly bioregional/community-oriented newspaper. They do it in addition to their day jobs, but still manage to put out a pretty cool little paper. The energy around independent media these days is overwhelming; Indymedia has sprouted over 50 active collectives around the world in 20 months, and I'm starting to realize that Capital-I Indymedia is only part of a general trend of people making their own news, culture, and whatever else it is that media do. It's a good thing.
David Grenier has a great set of links about the Genoa protests. More than I have time to look through, but good ones. I too assumed that Giuliani had been attacking the cops with the fire extinguisher, and that the shooting might have been justified as self defense, had it not been lethal or with live ammunition. I guess I swallowed the (corporate) media's spin whole. Dang.
I went to a protest today at the Italian Consulate in NYC. People had big pictures of Giuliani, a guy sang a song, and a number of people spoke. Some were a little long winded. A brief skirmish happened when some socialist folks started ranting about revolution and a strong central government, and others were not really interested in hearing it. Chants and drums followed. It was more painful than anything, to see real, yet unnecessary 'consequences', and to take note of the indifference of the rest of the world, whom I encountered on the street as I walked away, on the subway, and while having a drink later that night.
Police Raid Activist Centre, Indymedia Centre in Genoa. Over 40 injured, some in critical condition. Aftermath (photo). More photos and reports.
I don't know what to say.
Just in case I start thinking that people use their own neurons... (this was sent to me in response to my essay, Shedding Democracy for Tears)
I, like you, think there should be a better way to control a violent crowd other than tear gas. I advocate the use of live ammunition by snipers. It is a cleaner, more precise, more effective use of force. I have been exposed to tear gas, and while not pleasant, it can be countered. So if the police would simply shoot to hit kneecaps and elbows, could stop the anarchists while saving innocent the discomfort caused by tear gas. Thank you for your time. Scott ForbesA number of people also contacted Monkeyfist to say that the young Italian who was shot twice and run over twice by police "deserved it". I wonder what kind of crack you have to smoke...
I went to Webzine NY yesterday. Here are some fun quotes.
"I can't write salacious shit anymore, I've got advertisers." - Jason Calacanis, explaining why his Silicon Alley Reporter can't operate the same way as sites like Urban Expose, Fucked Company, or Dot Com Scoop, i.e. fast, irreverant, and often inaccurate.
"I get email 20 different times from 20 different people saying 'my boss just spent $10,000 of company money on hookers and crack', but I don't post it, though it would be a lot of fun if I did." -Phil Kaplan, of Fucked Company, explaining that he doesn't post stories that are explicitly personal.
"I ate that big mac because I wanted people to know that I was a flawed person." - Michael Moore, on why he ate at McDonald's in one of his films.
The Print vs. Web folks seemed to agree that print was much more engaging than the web, at least for longer or less time-sensitive content. Ok, that's obvious, I guess.
The "Investigative Zines" panel was the liveliest that I saw, but it was more a 'you had to be there' thing. It was interesting that almost everyone there agreed that the corporate media were about as far from "objective" as they could possibly be. Most of them had been misquoted repeatedly. They also agreed that journalists are generally lazy, so PR has a huge influence on what is reported. No suprises there, but it's good to hear that people other than left wing wackos like myself know that the media is Really Quite Messed. Cease and Desist letters were also mentioned. Ways of dealing with pissed off corporations ranged from deleting the offending page and asking them to prove it ever existed, to posting the cease and desist letters and linking them from the offending comments, to making factual corrections.
Lori Berenson's dad showed up and talked about the vile misrepresentation of his daughter's trial in Peru. She's been sentenced to 20 years in prison for doing what a human rights activist does, it seems.
The Free Speech panel was chock full of near-free speech absolutists, but there was some interesting (if familiar) talk of how corporations (or people with lots of money) can shut down speech by suing someone with little money who say things that they don't like. Even if the 'offender' in question wins the case, they end up being bankrupted by legal fees.
Michael Moore started out kind of mumbly and said "um" a lot, but soon found his groove, and gave an inspiring series of digressions, all somehow related to the theme of doing good work (in independent media) without losing your moral bearings and ideals. He talked about being published/broadcast by the folks who work for Rupert Murdoch, and how at some point, he would ask for outrageous things from the corporate types, like spending $250k on free screenings of movies in poor communities, and people would just say "ok". Compromising to get ahead, on the other hand, just builds the expectation that you can bend more. He also talked about/digressed into the idea that we're taught as soon as we get into school to fear failure, that it's punished, that it's bad, etc.. What we forget is that one person can make a big difference, if s/he doesn't feel the need to rely on a system or others to get there. If you want to make a zine/film/whatever, don't wait for a grant, or funding, or whatever, just make it happen, and go into debt if you have to, and learn from your mistakes. Another theme was how powerful the internet is as an organizing tool. Examples include organizing a nation-wide protest at Fox affiliates in a short amount of time, whereas before the net, organizing a nation-wide movement would take a year of hard work.
Jason Calacanis had some interesting things to say about the whole indy vs. commercial dichotomy. He said that cultural movements like internet publishing start out as labours of love, which generate lots of interesting stuff, but then people get greedy, and try to make money. Nothing I haven't heard before, but more interestingly, he argued that zines like Inside.com, and even Feed and Suck failed, and brought the content business down with them, because they tried to turn themselves into multi million dollar businesses, instead of regular old magazines. The harder they fall, I guess. He also stressed the need for alternatives to banner ads, including truly disruptive (to the extent that they are analagous to TV and Radio) interstitial ads. The porn industry, he noted, didn't have the option of advertising from day one, so they developed an industry wide way of paying for access to thousands of sites, which I guess is worth looking into. Keenspot is working on a similar "pay once, get access to a whole bunch of sites" model, though they do it by hosting all of the sites.
I'm off to New York City, until the 25th, when I'll head back home to Washington. Want to meet? Drop me an email, as always.
Wow. Misnomer got its first mindless, hostile post yesterday. I've removed it from the front page, but the text has been archived for documentary purposes.
Spoke and Axle. Distributed bandwidth for people who need it.
Wireless Freenets. Free internet access for a small area for people who have wireless cards.
Nader sues AOL for blocking campaign emails.
I'll most likely be heading to webzine next weekend, seeing as it takes place the day after I arrive in New York. Anyone ever been to, or heard good things about it the webzine conference?
Shedding Democracy for Tears, a look at the effects of tear gas on humans and democratic society. (written by me)
Keep your Typewriter, but Don't Forget Use of Pen
PENMANSHIP will not become a lost art--at least for many generations--in the opinion of local educationists. T.A. Brough, assistant municipal inspector of schools, and W.K. Beech, principal of the High School of Commerce, were inclined to disagree with a statement of Talcott Williams, formerly of Columbia university, who has declared that:
"The prime deficiency in the whole teaching of children in our schools is that they are allowed to use te [sic] pen when they ought to begin with the typewriter."
HARD ON STARVING POETS
"I don't agree with that at all" said Mr. Brough. "We have not all typewriters. Many people cannot afford to buy one and in any case they are too heavy to carry around."
Authors and poets would be under a severe handicap if typewriting should displace hand-writing entirely, pointed out Mr. Brough.
"Many writers dictate their books, but persons with the poetic temperament are likely to be siezed with a desire to write when they are far from the nearest typewriter. They would be at a loss if they had never learned to use pen or pencil. Typewriters will have to be practically pocket-size before they can take the place of penmanship."
STILL HAS ITS USES
"I think that man is talking through his hat," continued Mr. Brough. "The art of penmanship will never be lost altogether."
Mr. Beech went right to the heart of the question when asked his opinion regarding the Talcott Williams pronouncement.
"If you went out to interview someone, you would hardly take a typewriter with you; would you?" he asked.
"Penmanship still has its uses."
"The typewriter is indispensable in office work, but the pen is still used to a large extent," said Mr. Beech. "Indeed, we find that more emphasis is placed on good penmanship than ever. To prove this it is only necessary to point to the way in which business firms, in seeking office help from among students, insist that they should apply in their own handwriting."
MODERN SYSTEM BEST
"The modern system is better than the old," he continued. "The muscular movement is of great assistance in the learning of shorthand. The psychological effect of combining the teaching of penmanship and shorthand leads to a better result. A great deal of the world's work is done with the pen yet," he concluded.
(from the Vancouver Sun, April 22, 1923. Thanks to Amanda making me a photocopy.)
you have to give Bill Gates and the Microsoft crew credit for chutzpah. The DC Court of Appeals declares Microsoft an illegal monopoly, affirms that they have coerced, threatened, and lied to maintain their operating system monopoly - and the Redmond boys declare it a victory.
Naomi Klein on GM foods. "The idea, quite simply, is to pollute faster than countries can legislate - then change the laws to fit the contamination."
Tim Wise: School Shootings and White Denial.
...the FBI insist there is no "profile" of a school shooter. Come again? White boy after white boy after white boy, with very few exceptions to that rule (and none in the mass shooting category), decides to use their classmates for target practice, and yet there is no profile? Imagine if all these killers had been black: would we still hesitate to put a racial face on the perpetrators? Doubtful.
white high school students are seven times more likely than blacks to have used cocaine; eight times more likely to have smoked crack; ten times more likely to have used LSD and seven times more likely to have used heroin. In fact, there are more white high school students who have used crystal methamphetamine (the most addictive drug on the streets) than there are black students who smoke cigarettes.
I think the trend towards computing applications that do everything for you is misguided. Some people expect to have tools that will "automatically" garner information, build connections and do other tasks---I prefer to believe the opposite, that new tools will emerge that will depend upon our resourcefulness and creativity and that will enable us to build upon our accumulated knowledge (and to pass it on) in completely new ways.
Bruce sent in an old forward about the windows/cars analogy. Since this entry is so huge already, I've removed it and put a link to it instead.
Bob the Angry Flower is quite well-done comic strip done by some guy in Alberta. Every strip ever done is on the web. Some of my favourites, from going through the back issues (and wasting a lot of time doing it): 1, 2, 3, 4.
Salon has an interesting feature on Priit Pärn, an Estonian animator.
Pärn completed "Hotel E," a bitter critique of the hypocrisy of both the East and the West. While the East represses art and language, he contends, the West, for all its freedom, lacks art and language and, with that, individuality. Playing with stereotypes, Pärn paints the East as a dark, gray world while filling the West with bright colors and friendly, smiling faces. Beneath this pop-art sugarcoating, he seems to be saying, the West is a culture of sterility and illusion. No one does anything, no ones says anything, yet everything is "just great."
NYTimes Op/Ed: "The administration is studiously ignoring that finding."
My article, Getting Paid for Content: from micropayments to shareware models got posted to the front page over at Kuro5hin.
Google's Zeitgeist page is interesting.
The Ten Worst Transformers Of All Time! Sometime last summer, some friends and I decided that it would be a good idea to take another look at that old toy commercial that took up untold hours of our youth. What we found was a truly bizarre, borderline incomprehensible mash of pop-culture and watered down literary references that no kid would have any grasp of at the age of 8 or so. Some scenes were simply generic bits of "jim, I'm a doctor, not an..." lifted directly from Star Trek, and big words like "impervious" were dropped in without explanation. "Pastiche" came to mind as an appropriate adjective. And I always remembered the animation as being infinitely more vivid than it actually was. That, and the fact that the plot made little or no sense except as some kind of pomo art project made me realize just how much writers and animators can rely on kids' imaginations to fill in the (abundant) blanks. That, or an underdeveloped ability to detect incoherence.(link via David Grenier)
I bought some books.
Commodify Your Dissent: Salvos from the Baffler, various authors.
The Religion of Technology: The Divinity of Man and the Spirit of Invention, by David Noble.
America by Design: Science, Technology and the Rise of Corporate Capitalism, by David Noble.
Looking at the Overlooked: 4 Essays on Still Life Painting, by Norman Bryson.
I've also been reading these (among others, in no particular order):
Moby Dick, by Herman Melville.
Mediated Politics : Communication in the Future of Democracy, various authors.
The Politics of Reality: Essays in Feminist Theory, by Marilyn Frye.
Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, by Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman.
Media Ethics & Accountability Systems, by Claude-Jean Bertrand.
The Art of Art Works, by Cyril Welch.
Democracy in the Digital Age: Challenges to Political Life in Cyberspace, by Anthony G. Wilhelm.
That's enough for now..
Salon: One Big Happy Channel?
But suddenly, without the FCC's input or any public hearings, the kind of sweeping deregulation that most broadcasters hadn't even fantasized about two years earlier was ushered in overnight.
One 25-year radio veteran, and current Clear Channel station executive, estimates the Telecom Act has eliminated nearly 10,000 radio-related jobs.
Bitch Magazine. "A feminist response to pop-culture." Beautiful layout, intelligent (not business focussed) writing, and not enough funding. I picked up a copy and ended up reading it cover to cover like I used to do with Wired. Since Wired (and Shift) seem to only focus on money (any coverage of interesting ideas is usually also framed in terms of how much money will be made), and Utne seems just a little too much on the byte-size side of things, there has been a need for an interesting magazine that is as critical as it is unpretentious. Bitch is just that (the issue I just read, anyway).
I also watched American History X for the second time. A fine, even amazing film... but what makes me a bit nervous is that it frames racism as a belief that is explicitly espoused, rather than a privilege that is exercised unconsciously on a daily basis. I guess I'd feel a lot more comfortable recommending this film if there was another film that examined white privilege as effectively. It's telling that there isn't. Actually, there probably is, except it's obscure enough that I haven't heard of it. That's telling.