Sunday, February 28, 2010

Raw With Love, by Charles Bukowski

little dark girl with
kind eyes
when it comes time to
use the knife
I won't flinch and
I won't blame
as I drive along the shore alone
as the palms wave,
the ugly heavy palms,
as the living does not arrive
as the dead do not leave,
I won't blame you,
I will remember the kisses
our lips raw with love
and how you gave me
everything you had
and how I
offered you what was left of
and I will remember your small room
the feel of you
the light in the window
your records
your books
our morning coffee
our noons our nights
our bodies spilled together
the tiny flowing currents
immediate and forever
your leg my leg
your arm my arm
your smile and the warmth
of you
who made me laugh
little dark girl with kind eyes
you have no
knife. the knife is
mine and I won't use it

Saturday, February 27, 2010

"If you act, as you think, the missing link..."

"It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards, " the Queen remarked

-Alice in Wonderland

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Political Philosophy of Oscar Wilde by Wendy McElroy

February 25, 2010

The renowned playwright Oscar Wilde once said, “A man who can dominate a London dinner-table can dominate the world.” At the height of his career in 1895, Wilde dominated London dinner-tables, stages, and opinion. Two of his plays opened that year to rave reviews by both critics and the public. His epigrams and activities were repeated — often by him — in the best of homes while his philosophy of art and life were printed in newspapers of note. Wilde was intensely admired and intensely disliked because he was, among other things, a propagator of radical ideas.

Aesthetically, Wilde advocated art-for-art's-sake — the theory that art should be judged on its own merits rather than upon the morality or politics it expressed. Personally, he declared pleasure to be the purpose of life even though the Victorian era surrounding him assigned that role to “duty.” He was also homosexual. These aspects of Wilde have been documented in hundreds of books and essays but Oscar Wilde “the libertarian” and advocate of social reform has received comparatively little attention.

In the book Liberty and the Great Libertarians, Charles Sprading includes an excerpt from Wilde's essay “The Soul of Man Under Socialism.” This essay and the lengthy poem “The Ballad of Reading Gaol” — of which Benjamin Tucker published the first American book edition in 1899 — are Wilde's most important political works. Wilde was primarily a playwright, a poet, and a novelist who only occasionally strayed into political theory. His importance as a libertarian stems from the events and consequences of his life as much or more than from his political writing. This is particularly true in the area of penal reform.
Part of the reason Wilde's libertarianism is overlooked is because like many 19th-century libertarians, including Tucker himself, Wilde sometimes called himself a “socialist.” Just as the term “liberal” has evolved, however, the term “socialist” was often used in a different way than it is today.

“The Soul of Man under Socialism” is Wilde's most direct commentary on politics but the ideal of socialism expressed is confused and contradictory. For example, Wilde assumes socialism will create a society in which production problems are solved and machines perform all drudgery, leaving the individual free to express himself. Thus, self-expression or “individualism” is the goal of Wilde's socialist vision. Individualism is defined as the ability to pursue artistic goals without submitting to the “tyranny of want.” Wilde presents a paradox: namely, embracing “the collective” will not only result in individualism but also in artistic expression without social or state control. Thus, the essay does not argue for socialism on economic or moral grounds but on rather naive artistic ones.

Wilde's arguments against private property are equally vague, contradictory, and aesthetic.

Wilde believed private property had a “decaying” effect on man's soul. “It [private property] has made gain nor growth its aim,” he explained. “So that man thought that the important thing was to have, and did not know that the important thing was to be.”
What the essay consistently expresses without confusion is Wilde's rejection of state control over the individual. He writes,
What is needed is Individualism. If the Socialism is Authoritarian; if there are Governments armed with economic power as they are now with political power; if, in a word, we are to have Industrial Tyrannies, then the last state of man will be worse than the first.... I confess that many of the socialistic views that I have come across seem to me to be tainted with ideas of authority, if not of actual compulsion. Of course, authority and compulsion are out of the question. All association must be quite voluntary. It is only in voluntary associations that man is fine.
In its final form, Wilde's socialism closely resembles Tucker's libertarian anarchism. Wilde writes,
Individualism, then, is what through Socialism we are to attain to. As a natural result the State must give up all idea of government. It must give it up because, as a wise man once said many centuries before Christ, there is such a thing as leaving mankind alone; there is no such thing as governing mankind. All modes of government are failures. Despotism is unjust to everybody, including the despot, who was probably made for better things. Oligarchies are unjust to the many, and ochlocracies are unjust to the few. High hopes were once formed of democracy; but democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people.... The form of government that is most suitable to the artist is no government at all.
This essay is not considered important by the English Socialist movement, perhaps because its voluntaryism opposed the movement's dominant tendencies. But according to Wilde biographer Robert Sherard, the essay was popular with the public.“ [M]illions of copies were sold in Central and Eastern Europe.... In America large pirated editions were printed and sold by revolutionary groups. In England its most immediate result was to create feelings against Wilde among the influential and moneyed classes.”
Wilde's ideas created a backlash and his transparent homosexuality caused gossip. When the prominent father of one of Wilde's lovers decided to make a public stir, Wilde ignored the advice of friends. On April 3, 1895, he brought the Marquis of Queensberry to trial on charges of libel based on a note that Queensberry had written to Wilde, accusing him of posing as a “somdomite” [sic]. The trial was a disaster. Not only did Wilde lose his case but information from it made him liable for criminal prosecution.
On Friday, April 26, 1895, Wilde was tried under Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1895. The Act had come into effect four months prior with a clause that created the new offense of indecency between male persons in public or in private. Until this point, private acts had been outside the legal sphere. On the basis of private and consenting acts, Wilde was prosecuted twice and eventually sentenced to two years at hard labor. The last one-and-a-half years were spent in Reading Gaol.
The trials of Wilde were sensational. The best legal professionals of the day were brought into conflict over a notorious man being prosecuted under an unpopular law — the recent Act was nicknamed “the blackmailer's charter.” Although Wilde retained a tenuous foothold in the sophisticated society he had charmed, he was now thoroughly disliked by the general public.

The first prosecution (April 26, 1895) ended inconclusively with the jury unable to agree on some of the counts. The government could have dropped the case at this point. Nevertheless, on May 20, 1895, Wilde was tried again on similar but amended charges. He was found guilty.

The impact of the last case was immense. Considering the controversy it caused and the reform that followed, the ensuing imprisonment of Wilde was a mistake even from the government's point of view. “In view of the sensation which he had created,” the biographer Hesketh Pearson observed, “he should have been told to leave the country.”

Why did the matter continue? Sir Frank Lockwood, then Soliciter General, is reported as saying that he dared not drop the matter for “if I did so it would be said all over the world that we dropped the case owing to the names mentioned in the Marquis of Queensberry's letters.” These letters had been introduced by the marquis into the first trial and identified various members of “high society” as homosexuals. Among them was Lockwood's nephew by marriage.

Wilde did not receive a fair hearing in court or in public opinion. Newspaper coverage was so prejudiced that one editor risked being sent to jail for contempt of court by publishing the details of the jury's voting in the second of the three trials even though Wilde had not yet been convicted of any offense. The atmosphere of the court in the third trial was best expressed by Justice Willis who, in passing sentence declared it to be totally inadequate as the case had been the worst one he had ever tried. Presumably this included murder trials.

One of the few newspapers to strongly protest the prosecutions and imprisonment was Benjamin Tucker's Liberty. “[T]he imprisonment of Oscar Wilde,” Tucker wrote, “is an outrage that shows how thoroughly the doctrine of liberty is misconceived. An man who has done nothing in the least degree invasive of any one; a man whose entire life, so far as known or charged, as been one of strict conformity with the idea of equal liberty ... is condemned to spend two years in cruel imprisonment at hard labor... Men who imprison a man who has committed no crime are themselves criminals.”

Controversy continued during Wilde's imprisonment. Prison life was brutal. Hard-labor prisoners were confined to badly ventilated cells for twenty-three hours of every day, with only primitive sanitation. They slept on planks of wood. Letters in the London Daily Chronicle complained loudly about the miserable conditions in which Wilde lived and his resulting mental state. The controversy prompted R.B. Haldane, a Liberal M.P. and member of the Home Office Committee, to visit Wilde and investigate the claims.

Wilde was released from prison on May 19, 1897. That same month a letter from him was published in the Daily Chronicle under the heading “The Case of Warder Martin, Some Cruelties of Prison Life.” The letter described a small child who spent 23 hours a day in hideous conditions in solitary confinement for stealing food, an offense for which he was not convicted. When the child refused to eat the wretched prison food, Warder Martin tried to encourage him with a sweet biscuit; Martin was dismissed for doing so.

Most of this letter dealt with the treatment of children in prison. Children were subjected to the same brutality as adults but as Wilde observed: “a child can understand a punishment inflicted by an individual such as a parent or guardian, and bear it with a certain amount of acquiescence. What it cannot understand is a punishment inflicted by society. It cannot realize what society is.” The letter continues to describe individual children Wilde had seen during his imprisonment. “The child’s face was like a white wedge of sheer terror … the next morning I heard him breakfast-time crying and calling to be let out. His cry was for his parents…. Yet he was not even convicted of whatever little offense he has been charged with.” Wilde also described the plight of a retarded prisoner who was punished constantly for his harmless but strange behavior. The man went insane.

This letter attracted a great deal of attention and, according to Francis Winwar, it “succeeded in bringing prison reform.” Biographer Frank Harris credited the letter with bringing about improvement in the treatment of children in British prisons.

On March 24, 1898, Wilde published another controversial letter in the Chronicle. This letter, headed “Don’t Read This If You Want to Be Happy Today,” was prompted by the Home Secretary’s Prison Reform Bill which was then under debate in the House. The Bill suggested such reforms as increasing the number of inspectors and official visitors who had access to the prisons. Such reforms were “useless,” Wilde argued, and again pointed to the wretched conditions of prison life.
The misery and tortures that prisoners go through in consequence of the revolting sanitary arrangements are quite indescribable. And the foul air of the prison cells … is so sickening and unwholesome that it is no uncommon thing for warders, when they come in the morning out of fresh air and open and inspect each cell, to be violently sick.
The reform measures he suggested were: adequate food, improved sanitation, adequate reading material, visitors once a month, the right to send and receive a letter at least once a month, non-censorship of mail, and adequate medical care. The letter ends: “And the first and perhaps the most difficult task is to humanize the governors of prisons, to civilize the warders, and to Christianize the chaplains.” The letter was signed “the author of ‘The Ballad of Reading Gaol.’”

“The Ballad of Reading Gaol” is one of the most acclaimed poems of the English language. It is also a major piece of literature in penal reform. The Ballad deals with the hanging of a prisoner named C.T. Wooldridge that occurred while Wilde was imprisoned. It chronicles Wilde’s horror and despair.
Like two doomed ships that pass in storm
We had crossed each other's way:
But we made no sign, we said no word,
 We had no word to say;

In the Ballad, Wilde does not question the validity of any particular law, but deals with the cruelty and degradation caused by all Law:

I know not whether Laws be right,
Or whether Laws be wrong;
All that we know who lie in gaol
Is that the wall is strong;
And that each day is like a year,
A year whose days are long.
But this I know, that every Law
That men have made for Man,
Since first Man took his brother's life,
And the sad world began,
But straws the wheat and saves the chaff
With a most evil fan.

Because of Wilde’s notoriety, “The Ballad of Reading Gaol” was published under the pseudonym C.3.3. — the number assigned to Wilde at Reading Gaol — Block C, third cell on the third floor. The poem was immensely popular. The first edition of 800 copies (plus 30 copies on vellum) sold within the first week and was quickly followed by a second edition of 1000. Within three months there were six printings and translations appeared in almost every European language. It has remained one of the most published works in English.

It was widely and loudly received. Even the London Times devoted a lead article to praising it. Although the ballad was poetry, it was received as though it were a pamphlet on prison reform. The Daily Chronicle’s review was typical; the Chronicle devoted two-thirds of a column on the leader page and concentrated heavily on the horrors of prison life portrayed by the poem rather than the poem itself.

Liberty devoted a column to reviewing this (as Tucker put it) “incomparable poem.” He urged “every reader of Liberty … to help this book to a wide circulation by asking for it at the bookstores and newsstand in his vicinity.” One-quarter of the next issue’s space was used in reporting the response of other publications to the Ballad.

Shortly after its publication Wilde wrote to George Ives, a criminologist and leading figure in penal reform: “I have no doubt we shall win, but the road is long and red with monstrous martyrdoms. Nothing but the repeal of the Criminal Law Amendment Act would do any good.” Wilde planned another work on prison life but he died before it could be actualized.

The aftermath of prison killed Wilde, both psychologically and physically. During his imprisonment, his beloved mother died. His wife divorced him and Wilde never again saw the two sons for whom so much of his work had been written. He was bankrupt and deserted by friends. Upon release Wilde left England but even in France, where he initially settled, many hotels refused to house or feed him. Although money was a constant problem and inhibited his ability to write, he sent checks to prisoners he knew were being released. Other than “The Ballad of Reading Gaol,” Wilde produced no work of quality after his release.

 Physically, Wilde’s death was the result of an injury to his ear caused when he fainted one Sunday during compulsory religious services. Despite his complaints of great pain, Wilde was denied treatment for months. It was only through the pressure of Wilde’s friends and officials that he was eventually hospitalized for the injury. Unfortunately, it formed into an abscess.

Many people considered Wilde's social conscience to be a break with his past but Wilde had consistently opposed injustice. Years earlier in 1886, a bomb exploded in the Chicago Haymarket killing several policemen; a show trial resulted and ended in the hanging of a group of socialist anarchists who became known as the “Chicago Martyrs.” In England,

George Bernard Shaw assumed the thankless task of circulating a petition on their behalf. With one exception he was unable to obtain a single signature of note to protest the injustice. Shaw wrote that of all “heroic rebels and sceptics on paper, there was only one of them who had sufficiently the courage of his convictions to make a public gesture on behalf of the anarchists. This was Oscar Wilde.”

Wilde’s sympathy toward radicals was shown again when a young poet, John Barlas, felt impelled by social indignation to commit an act of “propaganda by deed.” It consisted of firing a revolver in the House of Commons. Although he and Barlas were not on good terms, Wilde went forward to bail him out and afterwards stood as his security when Barlas was bound over.

His sympathy toward penal reform can be traced back to “The Soul of Man” in which he wrote, “One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted; and a community is infinitely more brutalized by the habitual employment of punishment, than it is by the occasional occurrence of crime.”

Throughout his career, Wilde also spoke out against censorship. The rehearsals for his play “Salome” were in their third week when, in June 1892, a license necessary for public performance was denied on the grounds that the play introduced biblical characters onto the stage; this was prohibited by an ancient law whose original purpose was to suppress Catholic mystery plays. Wilde deplored this action in a lecture at the Author’s Club and in interviews. In more dramatic moments he declared intentions to renounce his British citizenship. Nevertheless, “Salome” was not produced in England until 13 years later, 5 years after Wilde’s death.

Today Wilde is remembered, and rightly so, on the merits of his later plays which satirized the moral/political/social customs and standards of his day. He was a brilliant man with a tragic life that — as Benjamin Tucker put it — was “one of strict conformity with the idea of equal liberty.”

Wendy McElroy is the author of The Reasonable Woman: A Guide to Intellectual Survival (Prometheus Books, 1998).

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Dolphins Clandestinely Killed In 'The Cove'

[Sam Seder already did a radio show about this so....that must mean that NPR is behind the Sam Seder curve...or something...]
February 24, 2010
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February 24, 2010
Every year, thousands of dolphins are secretly killed in the Japanese fishing town of Taiji.
National Geographic photographer-turned-filmmaker Louie Psihoyos and a covert team documented the slaughter for the film, The Cove.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Can Barbie's spiked heel help crack engineering's glass ceiling?

Mattel, Inc.
"Slide rule in your pocket? Or are you just happy to see me?"
Barbie has a new career as a computer engineer, and technical women are cheering the development as another way to help attract girls to careers in science, high-tech, biotech and the other occupations of the future.
Backers include the likes of IEEE Fellow Dr. Karen Panetta, director of the NerdGirls program that aims to break down the negative sterotypes of women engineers and help young female students translate their interest into degrees.

Leah Jamieson
, a past president of IEEE and Dean of the College of Engineering at Purdue University speaks regularly on the importance of encouraging women to pursue careers in technology.

These are important messages for young girls hoping to secure their futures and for our society as it tries to afford the widest opportunity to all.

But will a hunk of plastic help? Will the business end of Barbie's spiked-heel help break the glass ceiling -- stylishly?

Meanwhile, Mattel, Inc., owner of the brand, says computer engineering Barbie comes "dressed in a funky tee with binary code design . . . with Bluetooth headset, laptop bag, and pink laptop." Tattoos and body piercings optional, I suppose,?

Posted By: Tom Abate

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


by Sam Smith

Last Saturday I spent eight hours with three dozen other people in a basement conference room of a Washington hotel engaged in an extraordinary exercise of mind and hope.

The topic was, by itself, depressingly familiar: building an anti-war coalition. What made it so strikingly different was the nature of those at the table. They included progressives, conservatives, traditional liberals and libertarians. Some reached back to the Reagan years or to 1960s activism, some - including an SDS leader from the University of Maryland and several Young Americans for Liberty - were still in college.

In a time when politics is supposed to be hopelessly polarized along the lines proposed by Glenn Beck and Keith Olbermann, the most heated debate occurred not between left and right but over tactics between Ralph Nader and Bill Greider.

There was an economics professor from a naval war college and the executive director of Veterans for Peace; there was Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of the Nation, me from the Progressive Review, and editors from the American Conservative and Reason Magazine.

The session had been conceived by long time activist and current head of Voters for Peace, Kevin Zeese, along with artist George D. O'Neill, Jr. who had been chair of the Rockford Institute, a leading traditional conservative intellectual think tank in the 1980s, and who had worked on Pat Buchanan's 1992 presidential campaign.

What we shared was an antipathy towards war. It was not so much that we were anti-war as we were seeking a post-war world. Our approaches might differ but our goals were, at worst, next door.

As Zeese put it in an introduction the session, it was about "views from the right, left and radical center, views that reflect those of many Americans which are not represented in the political dialogue in Congress or the White House, or the mainstream media. Throughout American history there have been times when movements developed that were outside the limited political dialogue of the two major parties. . .

"Polling actually shows majorities often oppose war and escalation of war. But these views are not represented in government or the media. In addition, opposition to war is not limited to people on the left; it covers the American political spectrum and it always has. There is a long history of opposition to war among traditional conservatives. Their philosophy goes back to President Washington's Farewell Address where he urged America to avoid 'foreign entanglements.' It has showed itself throughout American history. The Anti-Imperialist League opposed the colonialism of the Philippines in the 1890s. The largest anti-war movement in history, the America First Committee, opposed World War II and had a strong middle America conservative foundation in its make-up. The strongest speech of an American president against militarism was President Eisenhower's 1961 final speech from the White House warning America against the growing military-industrial complex. In recent years the militarist neo-conservative movement has become dominate of conservatism in the United States. Perhaps none decry this more than traditional conservatives who oppose massive military budgets, militarism and the American empire.

"Of course, the left also has a long history of opposition to war from the Civil War to early imperialism in the Philippines, World Wars I and II through Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. It includes socialists, Quakers, social justice Catholics and progressives. Indeed, the opposition to entry into World War I was led by the left including socialists, trade unionists, pacifists including people like union leader and presidential candidate Eugene Debs, Nobel Peace Prize winner Jane Addams and author and political activist Helen Keller. . .

"Opposition to Vietnam brought together peace advocates with the civil rights movement, highlighted by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s outspoken opposition to the war. . . .

"What are the ingredients for a successful anti-war, pro-peace movement?

- The anti-war movement needs to be a reflection of not just the left but of Middle America and traditional conservatives who oppose war.

- A successful anti-war peace movement cannot give up the flag of patriotism. It needs to grab hold of America's patriotic impulses and show the United States can be the nation many imagine us to be-leading by positive example, helping in crisis, being a force for good, rather than propagating military dominance and hegemony.

- A successful anti-war movement needs to be a place where veterans, from grunts to generals, can openly participate, share their stories and explain the lessons they learned from American militarism.

- A well organized anti-war movement will have committees not only reaching out to military and business, but to academics, students, clergy, labor, nurses, doctors, teachers and a host of others.

- The 1960s tactics of big marches and congressional demonstrations have their role but they are not sufficient. The media and government have adjusted to them. We need to use tools like voter initiatives and referenda to break through and put our issues before the voters. And, we need to learn from around the world what has worked; for example, general strikes, whether of a few hours or few days, have shown unified opposition to government policy

- Make war relevant to Americans' day-to-day lives by constantly linking the cost of war to their communities, incomes, and bank accounts. People need to learn that Empire is not good for the U.S. economy.

- Both parties are dominated by pro-militarist elected officials. The anti-war movement needs to be strong in criticizing candidates who call for a larger military, escalation of war, or other militarist policies."

Clips from the bios of those at the session suggest the unusual cross-ideological and cross-cultural presence:

- A Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute. He also is the Robert A. Taft Fellow at the American Conservative Defense Alliance and served as a Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan.

- His leading work includes a biography of historian William A. Williams, the Encyclopedia of the American Left, five volumes on the lives and work of the Hollywood Blacklistees, . . . and eight volumes of nonfiction comic art (adaptations of Howard Zinn and Studs Terkel, graphic biographies of Isadora Duncan and Emma Goldman, The Beats, The Art of Harvey Kurtzman, etc).

- He has been a regular contributor to Rolling Stone, and currently covers national security for its National Affairs section. He is a contributing editor at The Nation, a contributing writer at Mother Jones, and a senior correspondent for The American Prospect.

- An associate professor of economics at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California and a Research Fellow with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. From 1982 to 1984, he was the senior economist for health policy, and from 1983 to 1984 he was the senior economist for energy policy, with President Reagan's Council of Economic Advisers.

- Founding member of the Washington chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists; executive board member of the National Alliance of Third World Journalists. . .

- Founding Managing Editor and current Executive Editor of The American Conservative. Research director of Pat Buchanan's 2000 campaign.

- Executive Director of Veterans For Peace. His volunteer social and economic justice activist work include membership in Military Families Speak Out, coordinating committee member for the Bring Them Home Now campaign against the U.S. occupation of Iraq and Co-Chair of United For Peace and Justice.

- Legislative aide for the armed services for Senator Robert Taft, Jr., of Ohio from 1973 through 1976 and held a similar position with Senator Gary Hart of Colorado from 1977 through 1986. An opponent of the Iraq War, has written for the Marine Corps Gazette, and Defense and the National Interest. . .

- For over four decades has exposed problems and organized millions of citizens into more than 100 public interest groups to advocate for solutions. . .

- Active within the Democratic, Republican, and Green parties at various times. As a boy, he supported George McGovern for president in 1972 partly because of the Democrat's anti-war stance. In the mid 1970s, he became a conservative who backed Ronald . . .

- Managing editor of Reason magazine, is the author of Rebels on the Air: An Alternative History of Radio in America.

Notably absent from the session were members of the extremist center, liberal professors seeking to prove their manhood by backing yet another war, legislators afraid to challenge the Pentagon, belligerent bullies and the cowardly complacent. And everyone in the room was trying something different.

Which, when you come to think of it, is just what happens when you make peace. People who have been shooting at each other sit down and find a way to share some space. One might expect that anti-war activists would understand this, but too often we all regard our political beliefs not as the product of imperfect and struggling minds but as our sacred identity, our justification and our privileged demographic. We reduce politics to the theology of the self-righteous rather than as an imperfect search for better times.

As I sat around that table, I tried to recall those few occasions when I had experienced something close to this - few, that is, since the days when I sat around the family table as the third child of six and learned about living with those different from oneself and more than willing to say so.

Some of the later times worked; some didn’t. One that worked was the anti-freeway coalition of the 1960s and 70s that kept Washington from becoming another Los Angeles. It was started by among the least likely activists - black and white middle class homeowners whose neighborhood was about to be ruined. It expanded to include those of us in the civil rights group SNCC as well as the all white Georgetown Citizens Association. I once wrote of the leader, "By all rights, Sammie Abbott should have been disqualified as a DC leader on at least three grounds: he was too white, he was too old, and he lived in the suburbs. Instead, this short man with a nail-file voice became the nemesis of public officials for years. Abbott, the grandson of Arab Christians who fled Turkish persecution in Syria, had been a labor organizer, a bricklayer and a World War II veteran with a Bronze Star."

There was only one qualification to join the anti-freeway movement: opposition to freeways. And the success of our effort - rare among such highway protests - left a mark on a city colony devoid of rights and helps to explain how - just two years after the riots - we were able to form a biracial third party that would hold seats on the city council and/or school board for 25 years.

I would come to think of it as existential politics - in which one defined one's existence by one's actions rather than by one's ethnicity, class, party registration or magazine subscriptions. And it was a sort of politics that would become increasingly rare.

But it didn't always work. In the mid sixties, I was editing a neighborhood newspaper in Washington's biracial Capitol East. Things were already well beyond the capacity of any one community to solve. America's cities were starting to burn and you could feel the heat even in Capitol East. In September 1967, anti-poverty activist Lola Singletary convinced the white businessmen of H Street to form a organization dedicated to involvement in community problems.

In late 1967 I came up with the idea of pulling together the various leaders of Capitol East into an informal leadership council with the possibility of forming a major neighborhood coalition. Fourteen people attended a meeting on January 31: 7 white and 7 black. Among our purposes:

- To share our group differences so we can increase our knowledge of one another's group positions, plans and needs.

- To increase opportunities to share our group concerns so that we can better support one another's group efforts.

- To unite in common action where we have agreement.

It was too late. A little more than two months later, the riots broke out and Capitol East had two of the four major riot strips, including H Street. Hope had burned up as well.

then in 1995, as part of the Green Politics Network, I joined a number of other Greens in hosting a conference of third party activists. Over a hundred showed up, ranging from one of the founders of the American Labor Party to Greens, Libertarians, Perot backers, Democratic Socialists of America, and followers of Lenora Fulani. It was a recklessly dangerous idea for a Washington weekend, but John Rensenbrink, Linda Martin, and Tony Affigne seemed to know what they were doing and I was happy to go along. We established two basic rules:

- We would only discuss issues on which we might find some agreement.

- We would reach that agreement by consensus.

I was one of the kickoff speakers and said:

"As a simple empirical matter you can say that one of the great characteristics of Americans is not merely opposition to a system of the moment but antipathy towards unnatural systems in general -- opposition to all systems that revoke, replace or restrain the natural rights of humans and the natural blessings of their habitats.

"This, I think, is why we are here today. If nothing else binds us it is an understanding of the damage that heartless, leaderless, mindless systems have done to the specifics of our existence. . .

"Further, in our distaste with the systems suffocating our lives, we are very much in the mainstream. These systems have done half our work for us, they have lost the people's faith. . .

"We must stake out a position with real programs for real people, with our enthusiasm on our sleeve and our ideology in our pocket, with small words and big hearts, and -- most of all -- with a clear vision of what a better future might look like. We must tackle what Chesterton called the "huge modern heresy of altering the human soul to fit its conditions, instead of altering human conditions to fit the human soul.". . .

"This then is our task. Let's embrace it not as sectarians or as prigs but as a happy fellow members of a new mainstream. Not as radicals permanently in exile but as moderates of an age that has not quite arrived. Let's laugh and make new friends and be gentle with one another. Let's remember Camus' dictum that the only sin we are not permitted is despair. . ."

Despite the wide range of views present, despite the near total absence of Robert's Rules of Order, the final document, with full consensus, called for nothing less than a major transformation. The group unanimously agreed to support proportional representation, campaign finance reform "to provide a level playing field in elections;" initiative, referendum and recall; better ballot access; the end of corporate welfare; strong environmental policies; sexual and reproductive freedom; an end to the war on drugs and treatment of addiction as a health matter rather than as a crime; a dramatic cut in military expenditures; workplace democracy and the maximum empowerment of people in their communities "consistent with fairness, social responsibilities and human rights."

Not bad for a meeting at which nobody yelled at anyone.

Interesting stories but how rare.

Now Kevin Zeese and George O'Neill have to try to build on the spirit in that basement last Saturday and turn it into something that all can see. Perhaps it will be a catalyst as was, say, the Seneca Falls conference was for women's rights. Perhaps it will be nothing but another nice try that didn't work out.

We may never know. After all, only two women who attended Seneca Falls conference lived long enough to vote.

We do know, however, that good futures are built on the efforts of those unafraid of failure. At a time when a majority of Americans consider their system broken, we can either consign ourselves to being victims or we can, as we did last Saturday, come together in new ways, with new ideas and new allies and start replacing a failed system with communities that work.

Kevin Zeese
George D. O'Neill Jr

Howard Zinn Tribute: Ralph Nader Part 1

Monday, February 22, 2010

Colin Ward, RIP

Colin Ward, 1924-2010

My favorite left-anarchist writer, Colin Ward, has passed away at age 85. Ward was the most practical radical I've ever read: Rather than sketching out utopian blueprints of a society without a state, he searched for empirical examples of everyday people organizing to solve their own problems. Once he started looking, he found that voluntary, non-authoritarian cooperation was everywhere. Utopia, he wrote in his 1973 book Anarchy in Action, is "already here, apart from a few little, local difficulties like exploitation, war, dictatorship and starvation."

Because he took his ideals seriously, Ward butted heads regularly with both the conventional left and the conventional right. In the '80s and early '90s, his column for New Statesman & Society was peppered with examples of the Tory government failing to live up to its rhetoric of liberty and decentralized power. At the same time, he was harshly critical of the social democratic left. In one of his most famous passages, he pointed out that
When we compare the Victorian antecedents of our public institutions with the organs of working-class mutual aid in the same period the very names speak volumes. On the one side the Workhouse, the Poor Law Infirmary, the National Society for the Education of the Poor in Accordance with the Principles of the Established Church; and, on the other, the Friendly Society, the Sick Club, the Cooperative Society, the Trade Union. One represents the tradition of fraternal and autonomous association springing up from below, the other that of authoritarian institutions directed from above.
As Stuart White notes in his tribute to Ward, the writer was
a formidible and dedicated opponent of what is often understood as the Fabian tradition. This comes across very clearly in his work on housing where he was always highly critical of state-heavy efforts, led by middle-class housing professionals, to provide housing for the working-classes. In this context, he argued for the alternative left tradition of cooperative self-help in the form of tenant cooperatives, self-build projects and squatting. He pointed repeatedly to the illogicality of local governments - often Labour-controlled - who would rather destroy unused council housing stock than allow it to be occupied by squatters.
These squatters, to be clear, were not self-righteous trustafarians seizing a private home while the owner took a holiday. They were ordinary families finding uses for resources the state had left fallow. Such self-organization was a longtime theme in Ward's work. Quoting White again: "Much to the consternation of the [postwar] Labour government, many thousands of working-class people responded to acute housing shortage by taking over and adapting disused military bases. While his comrades in the anarchist movement struggled to see the point, Colin saw this as an example of what he would later call 'anarchy in action': direct and cooperative self-help." Ward's interest in the institutions that people build from below took him to areas that radical writers rarely touched: He wrote appreciative histories and sociologies of holiday camps, allotment gardens, amateur music-making, even the street culture of urban children.

Ward had an eye for the creativity of ordinary people and the ways we use that inventive energy to transform our environments. He didn't have trouble imagining a society immersed in liberty and spontaneous order, because he knew that liberty and spontaneous order were what sustained society in the first place, even if they sometimes had to take a stunted form.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The 30 Most Important Cats of 2009

[Thanks for the link, Bibimimi]

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Frustrated Owner Bulldozes Home Ahead Of Foreclosure

Man Says Actions Intended To Send Message To Banks

POSTED: 10:42 am EST February 18, 2010
UPDATED: 6:36 pm EST February 19, 2010
Like many people, Terry Hoskins has had troubles with his bank. But his solution to foreclosure might be unique.Hoskins said he's been in a struggle with RiverHills Bank over his Clermont County home for nearly a decade, a struggle that was coming to an end as the bank began foreclosure proceedings on his $350,000 home."When I see I owe $160,000 on a home valued at $350,000, and someone decides they want to take it – no, I wasn't going to stand for that, so I took it down," Hoskins said.

View Slideshow

Hoskins said the Internal Revenue Service placed liens on his carpet store and commercial property on state Route 125 after his brother, a one-time business partner, sued him.
The bank claimed his home as collateral, Hoskins said, and went after both his residential and commercial properties."The average homeowner that can't afford an attorney or can fight as long as we have, they don't stand a chance," he said.Hoskins said he'd gotten a $170,000 offer from someone to pay off the house, but the bank refused, saying they could get more from selling it in foreclosure.Hoskins told News 5's Courtis Fuller that he issued the bank an ultimatum.

"I'll tear it down before I let you take it," Hoskins told them.And that's exactly what Hoskins did.

The Moscow man used a bulldozer two weeks ago to level the home he'd built, and the sprawling country home is now rubble, buried under a coating of snow."As far as what the bank is going to get, I plan on giving them back what was on this hill exactly (as) it was," Hoskins said. "I brought it out of the ground and I plan on putting it back in the ground."Hoskins' business in Amelia is scheduled to go up for auction on March 2, and he told Fuller he's considering leveling that building, too.RiverHills Bank declined to comment on the situation, but Hoskins said his actions were intended to send a message."Well, to probably make banks think twice before they try to take someone's home, and if they are going to take it wrongly, the end result will be them tearing their house down like I did mine," Hoskins said.

Hoskins said he's heard from people all over the country since his story first aired Thursday, and he said most have been supportive.He said he sought legal counsel before tearing down his home and understands the possible consequences, but he has never doubted his decision once he made it."When I knew I was going to lose it, I decided to take it down," Hoskins said.

Friday, February 19, 2010

1978 - Weston vs Calvello at Kezar Pavilion

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Creating Change Often Means Taking Risks: 6 American Revolutions to Inspire and Provoke

U.S. history contains more than one insurrection

By Mickey Z.
Astoria, NY, USA | Thu Feb 18, 2010
changes road sign
The road to revolution?

Andy Dean/Thinkstock

From grade school, we learn to swoon at the call of "Give me liberty or give me death." What we usually don't learn is how often this sentiment has been put to the test throughout American history. Many of the freedoms and rights we enjoy today were not just given to us, they were won by people like those described below. They are not presented as "heroes" but instead as our folk tales, our cave drawings, the episodes that can inspire us as we take on the essential challenge of rescuing our eco-system.

WATCH VIDEO: You Can Also Choose What Not To Do
George Orwell once said: "During times of universal deceit, telling the truth is revolutionary." Brace yourself for some much-needed truth-telling...

6 Lesser Known American Revolutions

1. Lowell Mill Girls Get Organized
Lowell, Massachusetts was named after the wealthy Lowell family. In the mid-1800s, they owned numerous textile mills, which attracted the unmarried daughters of New England farmers. These young girls worked in the mills and lived in supervised dormitories. On average, a Lowell Mill Girl worked for three years before leaving to marry. Living and working together often forged a camaraderie that would later find an unexpected outlet. In response to poor conditions, long hours, strict dress codes, lousy meals, and more, the Lowell mill workers (some as young as 11) did something revolutionary: the tight-knit group of girls and women organized a union. They marched and demonstrated against a 15% cut in their wages and for better conditions, including the institution of a ten-hour workday. They started newspapers. They proclaimed: "Union is power." They went on strike and their efforts spread.
Learn more about the Lowell Mill Girls

2. Jack Johnson Wins the Heavyweight Crown
Thirty-nine years years before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in major league baseball, Jack Johnson became the first black man to hold the world heavyweight boxing champ. Winning the title was the easy part for Johnson, easily the greatest boxer of his era and one of the most powerful counter-punchers ever to put on a pair of gloves. The hard part was getting white champions to fight him. When Tommy Burns was guaranteed $30,000 to fight Johnson on Dec. 26, 1908, the title changed hands. Racist America may not have been ready for an outspoken black man as their heavyweight champ, but Johnson lived as pleased and defeated all comers. That led authorities to find another way to knock him out: trumped up legal charges. Even so, Jack Johnson's athletic exploits, however, cannot fully reflect his impact on sport, culture, and society.
Learn more about Jack Johnson

3. Lizzie Jennings Gets on the Bus
On July 16, 1854, Elizabeth "Lizzie" Jennings, a 24-year-old schoolteacher setting out to fulfill her duties as organist at the First Colored Congregational Church on Sixth Street and Second Avenue, fatefully waited for the bus on the corner of Pearl and Chatham. This particular day, Lizzie opted for a bus without the "Colored Persons Allowed" sign. The New York Tribune described what happened next: "She got upon one of the Company's cars...on the Sabbath, to ride to church. The conductor undertook to get her off, first alleging the car was full; when that was shown to be false, he pretended the other passengers were displeased at her presence; but (when) she insisted on her rights, he took hold of her by force to expel her. She resisted." Like Rosa Parks, Jennings' behavior was no impetuous act of resistance. Jennings was making a statement that went as far as hiring a lawyer and winning a court case. Just one day after the verdict, the Third Avenue Railway Company issued an order to admit African-Americans onto their buses. By 1860, all of the city's street and rail cars were desegregated.
Learn more about Lizzie Jennings

4. Hugh Thompson Steps Into the Line of Fire
Hugh Thompson, Jr. arrived in Vietnam in late 1967 and quickly earned a reputation as an exceptional Navy pilot. In their book, Four Hours at My Lai, Michael Bilton and Kevin Sim also describe Hugh Thompson as a "very moral man. He was absolutely strict about opening fire only on clearly defined targets." On the morning of March 16, 1968, Thompson's sense of virtue would be put to the test. Flying in his H-23 observation chopper, the 25-year-old Thompson used green smoke to mark wounded people on the ground in and around My Lai. Upon returning a short while later after refueling, he found that the wounded he saw earlier were now dead. Thompson's gunner, Lawrence Colburn, averted his gaze from the gruesome sight. Unbeknownst to Thompson at that point, more than 560 Vietnamese had already been slaughtered by Lt. William Calley's Charlie Company. All Thompson knew for sure was that the U.S. troops he then saw pursuing civilians had to be stopped. Bravely landing his helicopter between the charging GIs and the fleeing villagers, Thompson ordered Colburn to turn his machine gun on the American soldiers if they tried to shoot the unarmed men, women, and children. Thompson then stepped out of the chopper into the combat zone and coaxed the frightened civilians from the bunker they were hiding in. With tears streaming down his face, he evacuated them to safety on his H-23.
Learn more about Hugh Thompson

5. Eugene Debs Runs for President From a Prison Cell
Debs was one of the most prominent labor organizers and political activists of his time. He was also nominated as the Socialist Party's candidate for president five times. His voting tallies over his first four campaigns effectively illustrate the remarkable growth of the party during that volatile time period:
  • 1900: 94,768

  • 1904: 402,400

  • 1908: 402,820

  • 1912: 897,011
America's entrance into World War I, however, provoked a tightening of civil liberties, culminating with the passage of the Espionage and Sedition Act in June 1917. One year after it was voted into law, Debs was in Canton, Ohio for a Socialist Party convention. He was arrested for making a speech deemed "anti-war" by the Canton district attorney, given a 10-year prison sentence and stripped of his U.S. citizenship. At his sentencing, Debs famously told the judge: "Your honor, years ago, I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free." While serving his sentence in the federal penitentiary, Debs was nominated for the fifth time, campaigned from his jail cell, and remarkably garnered 917,799 votes. Learn more about Eugene Debs

6. The Stonewall Riots
Like all oppressed groups, progress, and reform begins with taking a stand against discrimination. For the gay rights movement, that stand was symbolically taken on Friday evening, June 27, 1969 in what has become known as "Stonewall." Police raids on gay bars were not uncommon in the pre-Stonewall era. Patrons were subjected to fines for "indecency" and often found their names published in newspapers as a result. The revolutionary tenor of the 1960s helped change some of that, but New York City Mayor John Lindsay was in the middle of a difficult campaign run and the Stonewall Inn was operating without a liquor license and with alleged ties to organized crime. It seemed like a good place for a high-profile law-and-order photo op. At 1:20 AM, later than the usual raid—which obviously increased the chances of intoxicated patrons—eight officers from New York's First Precinct entered the bar. Only one of the cops was in uniform. Arrests were made but precisely how the riot began is still subject to debate. Whichever story you prefer, what happened next is not in doubt. Stonewall patrons said no. They attacked the eight cops, driving them back into the bar where they sought refuge. The angry throng laid siege to the bar as NYPD reinforcements arrived on the scene. In no time, a crowd, estimated at over 2000, was waging a pitched battle with more than 400 cops. The riot lasted all night and less massive skirmishes occurred for the following two nights. Arrests and injuries were numerous. Mayor Lindsay had his photo op...but it was not what he had bargained for.
Learn more about Stonewall

Radical Links
From Guantanamo Bay to the KKK: 6 Inspirational Stories of Personal Transformation
Doing the Right Thing Means Doing the Green Thing

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

On February 17, 1872...

Harper's Weekly featured a cartoon about the Free Love movement.

This Harper's Weekly cartoon by Thomas Nast warns against the allure of the Free Love movement advocated by Victoria Woodhull.

In 1872, Victoria Woodhull, the well-known advocate of Free Love and women’s rights, became the first woman to be nominated for president. She ran on the Equal Rights party ticket at a time when she and other women were not legally allowed to vote. She and her sister, Tennesse Claflin, published their own newspaper, The Woodhull & Claflin Weekly.

Clinical trials show medical benefits of pot

The first U.S. clinical trials in more than 20 years on the medical efficacy of marijuana found that pot helps relieve pain and muscle spasms associated with multiple sclerosis and certain neurological conditions, according to a report released Wednesday by a UC research center.

The results of five state-funded scientific clinical trials came 14 years after California voters passed a law approving marijuana for medical use and more than 10 years after the state Legislature passed a law that created the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at UC San Diego, which conducted the studies.

Dr. Igor Grant, a UC San Diego psychiatrist who directs the center, called the report "good evidence" that marijuana would be an effective front-line treatment for neuropathy, a condition that can cause tingling, numbness and pain.

"We focused on illnesses where current medical treatment does not provide adequate relief or coverage of symptoms," Grant said. "These findings provide a strong science-based context in which policymakers and the public can begin discussing the place of cannabis in medical care."

Despite California's passage in 1996 of Proposition 215, which allows patients with a valid doctor's recommendation to grow and possess marijuana for personal medical use, the federal government classifies marijuana as an illicit drug with no medical use and has closed pot clubs and prosecuted suppliers. Thirteen other states have passed similar measures legalizing medical marijuana.

Proponents of medical marijuana see Wednesday's news as the turning of the tide for what they hope would become federal acceptance of pot's therapeutic benefits.
A first step

"This is the first step in approaching the (U.S. Food and Drug Administration), which has invested absolutely nothing in providing scientific data to resolve the debate," said state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, who noted that marijuana showed benefits throughout the AIDS epidemic in helping people afflicted with neuropathy and other ailments.

Dale Gieringer, a Berkeley resident who is executive director of the California branch of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, agreed.

"This is finally the evidence that shows that the (U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration) stance that marijuana does not have medical use is just wrong," he said. "It's time for the Obama administration to act."

During the study, volunteers were randomly given marijuana or placebos.

The marijuana was obtained through the University of Mississippi, which has a contract with the federal government to provide the only pot that can be used for scientific research. Grant said the research required heavy federal oversight.
Long-term issues

He noted volunteers had the same amount of pain reduction with low doses of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, compared with high doses of THC. He also said evidence casts doubt on long-term negative impacts of marijuana use, while acknowledging there have not been formal studies on the question.

"There is not very strong evidence that marijuana, for example, produces emphysema or lung cancer or permanent brain damage," Grant said.

That doesn't mean marijuana is harmless, he said. "Anything you smoke in a combustible form has potential risks, but the safety profile seems to be better for it than some other drugs like tobacco," he said.

The Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research has approved 15 clinical studies, five of which were completed and reported Wednesday, and two are in progress. While researchers said more studies are needed, the future of the center is in doubt.

The center has spent all but $400,000 of the $8.9 million in research funding it started with in 1999. Leno said the state doesn't have the money to continue funding it.

"It may be close to the end of its life unless there's foundation money to continue the work," Leno said.
To read the report

The report by the University of California's Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research can be found at

Newsmaker of the Day...KVML

[While my local AM radio station, KVML, is chock full of the most vile right wing radio personalities, they do have this lovely segment called "Newsmaker of the Day" this newsmaker is my kick ass roller derby league called the Mountain Derby Girls...who will be bouting for the first time this coming Saturday...Mark Truppner is way cool and I thank him here for putting us on the radio today...However we will always disagree about the fairness of only playing right wing hate talk radio shows...there are not that many more Republicans than Democrats in the County so it's unfair representation, and there are no shows reflecting my own views...except Coast 2 Coast AM which is played from 10pm til 2 or 3am]

February 17, 2010 06:00 am
Mark Truppner, MML Reporter

A new sports team in Tuolumne County will host their first bout this Saturday night. Sweet Alyce was Thursday's KVML "Newsmaker of the Day".

Sweet Alyce is one of nearly thirty females who are a part of the Mountain Derby Girls - High Country Hellcats ladies roller derby team. The debut bout this Saturday night, will be against the Central California Derby - Atomic Assault Team. The evening kicks-off at 6:30 and the night will include bar-b-que tri tip sandwiches, a beer garden and music by local band, Wreckless. The official bout begins at 8pm. The Halftime show will feature belly dancing by the Raks Arabica belly dancers.

High Country Sports Arena, just off Tuolumne Road in Sonora, is the home for the team. The inaugural season runs through August. $10 adult tickets are available in advance or $12 at the door. For more information call (209) 588-0776. More information can also be found at The "Newsmaker of the Day" is heard each weekday morning at 6;47, 7:47 and 8:47am on AM 1450 KVML.
Written by

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Creative political protest done right, by Allison Killkenny

It’s difficult to grab the public’s attention during a political protest because most such gatherings are uninspired. Oftentimes, participants hoist cardboard signs. There may be a chant or two. Penned inside city-approved cages, citizens rarely slow their gait when passing such a non-spectacle.
Then, there are the times protesters use brilliant displays of creativity and passion– not just to make a point in that moment — but to take a stand for all time and become legends.
I have not seen Avatar, but here’s at least one thing to thank James Cameron for:

Protesters against Israel’s policies in the West Bank have added a colorful twist to demonstrations, painting themselves blue and posing as characters from the movie Avatar.
Pro-Palestinian participants in weekly demonstrators against the route of the separation fence in the village of Bil’in, and the takeover of Arab homes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, have also donned long hair and loincloths to resemble the 10-foot blue-skinned Na’vi of Avatar.
The demonstrators compare the Palestinians to the Na’vi – an indigenous people on the moon Pandora who find themselves up against militarily superior foreign invaders who seek to oust them from their homes.
Last year, European dairy farmers who were angry over falling milk prices took to the streets…and squirted police with…you guessed it:

Georges Gobet/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Fighting hatred with humor
When the Westboro Baptist Church brought their hate circus to San Francisco, they were greeted by a counter-protest — not of enraged citizens, but with something more powerful: an amused, laughing crowd that didn’t take the monster, Fred Phelps, seriously enough to shout.
Westboro is infamous for carrying inflammatory signs like “God Hates Fags,” so the counter-protesters carried their own:
Getting creative for Mother Earth
Bill McKibben, founder of, an environmental campaign aimed at holding atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations below 350 parts-per-million, organized a global day of protest, and the response was overwhelming.
Activists not only took to the streets, they expressed their passion in breathtaking ways that captured the imaginations of the public.
On the shores of the dwindling Dead Sea, Israeli activists will make a giant human “3″ on their beach, Palestinians a huge “5″ on their shore and Jordanians a “0″ on theirs.
In the coup-ridden capital of Honduras, parishioners of the Amor, Fe, y Vida church will host a neighborhood tree-planting while across town activists plan a 5-kilometer march.
Up in Canada’s Yukon Territory, a Whitehorse youth group is planning a group hug – 350 people strong – of the territorial legislature.
With a nod to folk singer Pete Seeger, Brookline, Mass.’ Amandla Chorus has reworked the lyrics to Beethoven’s classic Ode to Joy and will perform their version at the town 350 Day festival.
An energy group is throwing a black-tie gala in Shanghai; in Beijing a few hundred students intend to cycle through downtown; way out in Western China a handful of students plans to hike to a melting glacier.
“Stop the Church”
Sometimes, the creative part of the protest is the selected location.
In 1989, thousands of protestors arrived at St. Patrick’s Cathedral during Mass in a demonstration directed toward the Roman Catholic Archdiocese’s stand against AIDS education, condom distribution, and opposition to abortion. To visually demonstrate their mantra “Silence=Death,” Act Up members laid down “dead” on the church floor, forcing police to drag them out on stretchers. In total, 111 protesters were arrested.
I should stress that these are only a handful of the most creative modern protests, but I guess I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout-out to THE creative political protest: the original tea party. You know, the activists protesting unfair taxation, and not the ones angry that blacks, Mexicans, feminists, and liberals are taking over the country.

Image via Wikipedia
Disguises. Illegal Trespassing. Destruction of His Majesty’s Property. The participants of the Boston Tea Party would be tried as domestic terrorists these days as I explained in a parody, “Boston Tea Party 2008.”
Sam Adams and John Hancock, the shrill, unreasonable activists sneak toward the ship and are confronted by Captain Roach and the royal governor of Massachusetts, Thomas Hutchinson.
Hutchinson: Where’s your permit?
Adams: Our what?
Hutchinson: Your permit. You need a permit to protest here.
Hancock: Well, we didn’t have time to apply for one. Drastic times call for drastic measures, you know.
Adams: Anyway, there’s really no permit available for what we want to do…
Hutchinson: Which is what?

: Dump the East Tea Company’s tea.
Roach: Good heavens! That’s positively Revolutionary!
Adams: That’s sort of the idea, yeah…
Hutchinson: You don’t really intend to break the law, do you?
Adams: Indeed.
Roach: Jesus H. Christ! The absolute Gall!
Hutchinson: No go. Sorry.
Hancock: Oh, C’mon!

: Nope. No.
Hancock: C’moooooon!
Hutchinson: Tell you what: You can throw one tea bag into the harbor, but only one of you can go onto the ship. And you can’t make any noise. And take off those silly costumes. And the other one of you has to wait in a little pen I will construct out of wood and some mud. And did I mention you mustn’t raise your voice, or I will fine you a week’s wages?
(Enter stage left): A man appears from the shadows, scribbling furiously on parchment.
Man: Thomas Paine: citizen journalist! Are you repressing their right to freedom of expression?!
Hutchinson: (Tasers Paine)
Roach: That freedom doesn’t exist yet, punk. (Kicks Paine in the kidney)
Paine: (Cries in pain)
Adams: Holy crap!
Hutchinson: So what were you boys saying?
Adams and Hancock: Nothing! Nothing….
Adams and Hancock back away, hands held up in surrender before they turn and run away.

Lazy Jane, by Shel Silverstein

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Flower Unfolds (channeled poetry of the Goddess Kwan Yin)

A Flower Unfolds (channeled poetry of the Goddess Kwan Yin)

by Craig Howell & Marjorie Musacchio

Sunday, February 14, 2010


Royal Belly Rub by Mattjin

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I second his suggestions...

Nation needs strong third party It has become painfully obvious that the politicians in Washington are nothing but shameless shills for the four powerful banks left standing. Even Democrats like Charles Schumer and Christopher Dodd have taken millions in campaign contributions from Bank of America, et. al.

The Republicans have become the party of Rasputin and the Democrats have become the party of Curly, of the Three Stooges.

If you need any confirmation of this, look at the charts and graphics in the most recent issue of "Mother Jones" magazine. So, therefore, I would suggest that we go against the advice of George Washington, and go against the two main parties. I myself am joining the Green party and hope to run on their ticket one day for something. Mr. Crall says I couldn't get elected dog catcher and he's probably right.

Consider joining whatever third party you want -- Ralph Nader's party, Pat Buchanan's party, whatever, Ross Perot. This is what is needed. I'm tired of the Democrats weeping and sobbing about the Republicans when they have a filibuster-proof majority.

Thomas G. Nicholson, attorney Bucyrus

Why You Share

A team of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania spent a good six months studying The New York Times list of most-e-mailed articles, hoping to figure out what articles get shared, and why. And here’s what they essentially found:
People preferred e-mailing articles with positive rather than negative themes, and they liked to send long articles on intellectually challenging topics… Perhaps most of all, readers wanted to share articles that inspired awe, an emotion that the researchers investigated after noticing how many science articles made the list.
This goes a long way toward explaining why 3.4 million people have watched The Known Universe since mid December. And, as Bill Rankin rightly suggested to me, it says something good about online culture, and what makes Open Culture work as a site. Each day, we try to give you a little awe and challenge. And for our next post: 10,000 Galaxies in 3D.

Debra Pearce, drummer

Ya gotta read the comments to understand the mystery of Debra Pearce..trippy.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The 2010 Havana Book Fair, expression of a socialist society

Raúl and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attend inauguration at La Cabaña fortress
Pedro de la Hoz
PRESIDENT Raúl Castro Ruz inaugurated the XIX International Book Fair at the La Cabaña Fortress, east of the capital, on Thursday night.
The publication of approximately 1,000 titles and the availability of seven million copies at the 19th International Book Fair is explained by the priority that a socialist revolution gives to culture in a country blockaded by imperialism for 50 years.
That idea was contained in the speech prepared by Zuleica Romay, president of the Cuban Book Institute who, because of a throat condition, was unable to read it, and it was read by Rafael Bernal, first deputy minister of culture. Her speech highlighted the enormous efforts made to satisfy the demands of readers who, for 10 days in Havana and two more weeks in 15 other cities, will be at the center of this event.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke in the name of his country, the fair’s guest of honor, expressing thanks for the event. Others attending the inauguration, in addition to Cuban Party and government leaders, were Salvadoran Vice President Salvador Sánchez; Ticio Escobar, Paraguayan minister of culture; and Nobel Literature laureate Nadine Gordimer of South Africa.
The quality of Cuba’s arts education was demonstrated with performances of difficult pieces by Dmitri Shostakovich and Pyotr Tchaikovsky by the Youth Symphonic Orchestra of the Amadeo Roldán Conservatory. The contribution from the sizeable Russian cultural delegation at the event came from saxophonist Igor Butman and his jazz quintet.
Translated by Granma International

Afghan protesters condemn US-led civilian killings

[I'm so proud to be an American...It is now as it's always been, more civilians, women, children, etc. die in wars than "the enemy" - (you know them, the people in other places that we're supposed to hate because our government and media tells us to? Sooooo....Fuck you Obama, Fuck you Bush, Fuck you Clinton, Fuck you other Bush and back on up the and all your minions make this particular civilian sick....!]

Afghan protesters have taken to the streets to voice their anger at the foreign forces' brutal killing of civilians in their homes.

The protesters took to the streets of Gardez, the capital of Paktia Province on Friday — a day after US Special Forces killed two senior government officials and three women in the city.

The demonstrators were carrying the bodies of victims and were chanting anti-occupation and anti-American slogans, a Press TV correspondent reported.

Gholam Dastgir Rostamyar, Paktia's deputy police chief told reporters that the US Special Forces had carried out the military operation Thursday night on a residence in a village seven kilometers (4 miles) east of Gardez city.

He added that among the dead were a government prosecutor named Dhaher Khan, local intelligence officer and his brother Dawood Khan as well as three women related to them.

The raid took place as the victims were celebrating the birthday of Dawood's infant son.

The angry locals said the killings had been "deliberate" and called for the legal action against the perpetrators. At one point, they began throwing stones at a convoy of the US-led troops.

The foreign forces have confirmed the incident but described the attack as a counterinsurgency one and claimed in a statement that "several insurgents engaged the joint force in a fire fight and were killed," read a statement by the US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

The provincial governor's spokesman said the incident was under investigation.

However, CNN later quoted ISAF as saying that the bodies of two men and two women had been found southeast of Afghanistan, and cited an unnamed senior US military official's claim that they victims had been shot "execution-style."

Since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, there have been plenty of fatalities and casualties among the Afghan people.

More than 1,500 civilians were killed in the first half of 2009, which shows a 24 percent increase compared with the same period last year, according to the latest UN report.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Colorful Cats of Andy Warhol


On yesterday’s post about the 2010 cat calendar from Animals in Color, there were several reader comments comparing Sebastiano’s colorful cats to the work of pop artist Andy Warhol. Well, did you know that Warhol was a huge cat lover? He and his mother, Julia Warhola, both loved cats and had several of their own, all named Sam except for one called Hester.
In the 1950s, before Warhol became famous for his pop art, he worked as an advertising illustrator and graphic artist. During this time he created numerous whimsical drawings of cats. He even created a limited edition artist’s book 25 Cats Name Sam and One Blue Pussy (that’s not a typo, the d was originally left off “Name” in error, but Warhol liked it and kept the mistake.) Apparently the cats in this book were based on the images of the famous cat photographer Walter Chandoha, not Warhol’s own cats. The original copies of 25 Cats Name Sam and One Blue Pussy were given by Warhol as gifts to clients and friends (an original sold in May 2006 for $35,000), but it has been republished and used copies can sometimes be found on Amazon.
Reproductions of all the cat images can be found at Allposters.comfor as little as $7.49 US.
Warhol continued to be inspired by cats, creating this cat portraitin the 1970s using his signature Pop Art style.
Warhol’s cats continue to appear on various merchandise, including this 2010 Mini Wall Calendarfeaturing the drawings in a colorful layout, as well as in the book Cats, Cats, Catspublished in 1994 featuring 19 black and white and 20 color illustrations accompanied by playful quotes from Warhol’s books and diaries.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Evolution of the Book

The Evolution of the Book

The Case Against Corporate Speech

From: Wall Street Journal


Last month, by a vote of 5 to 4, the U.S. Supreme Court gave carte blanche to the world's largest corporations to spend unlimited sums of money to support or oppose candidates for elected office. Big Business domination of Washington and state capitals will now intensify.

The case of Citizens United portends dire consequences for the nation's constitutional premise of "we the people," not we the corporations. Our constitution, at its origins and through all of its amendments, makes no mention of corporate entities, only human beings and their government.

For 120 years, it was not Congress but the Supreme Court that expanded the definition of "persons" to include for-profit corporations for the purposes of applying constitutional protections. For 30 years, the court has granted First Amendment speech protections to corporations as "artificial persons."

But not until last month has the court declared that the First Amendment gives corporations the right to spend unlimited money to influence elections. The court majority, self-styled believers in precedent and judicial restraint, overturned two major Supreme Court decisions and reversed decades of campaign-finance laws aimed at preventing corporations from having undo influence over local, state and national elections.

Granted, existing campaign-finance rules have been inadequate. Regular news reports document how corporate spending debases elections and elected officials. But that doesn't mean things can't get worse. The court has challenged whatever social mores are left that view no-holds-barred corporate cash register politics as unseemly.

The disparities between individual contributions and available corporate dollars mock any pretense of equal justice under the law. A total of $5.2 billion from all sources was spent in the 2008 federal election cycle (which includes 2007 and 2008), according to the Center for Responsive Politics. For the same two-year period, ExxonMobil's profits were $85 billion. The top-selling drug, Pfizer's Lipitor, grossed $27 billion in sales during that time.

Such disparities invite corporations to spend whatever they believe necessary to further entrench the corporate state. The money they now spend will be used to reward friends and punish opponents.

Corporations know that money makes a big difference when it comes to blocking protections for workers, consumers and the environment. Wall Street, health insurance and drug companies, fossil fuel and nuclear power companies, and defense corporations have been hard at work defeating common-sense reforms that would make them more accountable.

Do we want more elected officials to believe that to challenge corporate agendas is to risk their career?

There is every reason to expect that there will be much more direct corporate electoral funding in the wake of Citizens United. Funneled without limit through trade associations and shadowy front groups able to run vicious attack ads without identifying their corporate patrons, such lucre will deter good candidates from running for office because they won't want to have anything to do with such dirty politics.

What can be done about this accelerating drift into the muck?

In the absence of a future court overturning Citizens United, the fundamental response should be a constitutional amendment. We must exclude all commercial corporations and other artificial commercial entities from participating in political activities. Such constitutional rights should be reserved for real people, including, of course, company employees, to enhance a government of, by and for the people.

Corporations are not humans. They do not vote. They should not be accorded a constitutional right to influence elections or public policies, especially given their enormous embedded privileges and immunities compared to real people.

While the arduous amendment process is underway, the progressive response to Citizens United rests with several legislative and administrative initiatives.

First, the Fair Elections Now Act in the House and Senate would provide candidates a base of funding to run viable campaigns without being indentured to corporate money. But these bills would not prevent corporations from overwhelming the public funding.

Second, a strong shareholder-protection policy should limit corporate political spending. This would require executives to get support from an absolute majority of their shareholders before spending any money on politics.

Third, as the nation's largest customer, the government could refuse, by statute or executive order, to contract with or provide subsidies, handouts and bailouts to any company that spends money directly in the electoral arena. This would help avoid corruption. No longer would Citigroup or General Motors, which were saved by taxpayers and are wards of Washington, be able to lobby as if they were stalwarts of sink-or-swim free enterprise.

As Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the minority in Citizens United, demonstrated, the Framers did not intend for the First Amendment to confer protections on businesses beyond freedom of the press. The robust guarantees of the First Amendment are vital for real, live human beings, to ensure their expressive and democratic participative rights are protected. There can be no level playing field between the giant multinational corporations and individual citizens without such differential rights.

It is worth recalling that representative democracy is rule by the people. Corporations, first chartered into existence over 200 years ago by the states, were meant to be our servants, not our masters. Especially in the aftermath of Citizens United, it is time to right this relationship.

Mr. Nader is a consumer advocate. Mr. Weissman is president of Public Citizen.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Have Love Will Travel, mp3


The Sonics: Have Love Will Travel
From Here Are the Sonics (Etiquette, 1965)

One of my favorite songs to DJ with over the last year or so has been the Lefties Soul Connection's cover of "Have Love Will Travel." The song was originally recorded by Richard Berry in 1959 but like several of Berry's influential compositions ("Louie Louie" being the most obvious), it would actually be later artists who'd record the more definitive version. In the case of "Have Love Will Travel," the version the Lefties are riffing on isn't Berry's original but the 1965 cover by the garage rockers, The Sonics. With the fuzzed out guitar and screaming intro, their version rocks in a way that Berry's never really did and it's easy to see why it's been such a compelling cover to cover since then. Check out Thee Headcoat(ees) cover for the femme makeover.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Where has the anti-war movement gone?

Mon, Feb 08th 2010
During the Bush administration, millions of anti-war protestors voiced their passionate dissent over the massive cost, in blood and treasure, of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.  Largely composed of disaffected Democrats, the anti-war movement vigorously challenged the Bush-Cheney war policies through hundreds of well-orchestrated rallies across the nation.  But suddenly, the movement has gone strangely silent despite President Obama's intensification of the war effort.

While President Obama campaigned as the more diplomatic, pro-peace candidate, a significant number of his policies have undermined his credibility in this arena.  Here's an abridged list:

He just signed a record $708 billion military budget, bigger than President Bush's largest defense budget. 
He allocated over $100 billion in supplemental funding for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The CIA has carried out a record number of Predator Drone attacks on targets in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other nations, attacks which led to the deaths of over 700 Pakistani civilians last year.

He instituted two new troop surges in Afghanistan, which added an additional 50,000 troops.

His two troop surges led to 2009 being the bloodiest year for American & NATO soldiers in Afghanistan.

A record number of private war contractors, approximately over 200,000, now operate in Afghanistan and Iraq under Obama's command.

U.S. soldiers, mainly special forces, are now operating in Pakistan and Yemen.

Over 100,000 soldiers are still on the ground in Iraq, despite campaign pledges to commence a fairly rapid drawdown.  In addition, a significant spike in sectarian violence has occured in Iraq over the last six months, arousing new worries of yet another delay.

Guantanamo Bay is still open, despite Obama's pledge to close it in a year's time.

In his proposal for a three-year federal spending freeze, the military budget was completely exempted.

Under Obama, annual war spending now surpasses healthcare, education, welfare, and safety spending by all fifty state governments combined.

So, despite the flowery rhetoric and promises of "change", in many ways, President Obama has instituted a more hawkish and more expensive war policy than President Bush.  Yet, notwithstanding a strong rebuke by Michael Moore and a few rallies by Cindy Sheehan & Co., the anti-war movement has offered very little resistance to the Obama administration and the Democratic-led Congress. Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, and other liberal network personalities do not seem to be putting up much of a fight, either, compared to their complaints during the Bush-Cheney years.

Is this just a clear-cut case of partisan hypocrisy, then?

As it stands now, the most consistent anti-war opposition continues to originate from the likes of Cindy Sheehan, Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Independent Progressive Ralph Nader, Republican Congressman Ron Paul,  Democratic congressional candidate Marcy Winogard, and

Much like Republicans lost a tremendous amount of credibility on fiscal issues by exploding the national debt, Democrats are rapidly in danger of losing their credibility on war policy.  Record war spending, multiple troop surges, an explosive rise in Drone attacks, higher casualties, and the status quo on Guantanamo Bay are some of the stains on a Democratic party that was supposed to overturn many of the previous administration's "warmongering" policies.

If the anti-war movement wants to regain its credibility, it will need to start holding President Obama accountable, just as it did President Bush.

On Seth * Frameworks 1 and 2, by Carol Leigh Rice


The Seth Series: In the coming weeks I will be posting a series on Jane Roberts, the channel of Seth, including Jane’s birth chart and my analysis, along with some less common perspectives on Jane, her life, and the Seth Material…

Mass Death and Other Group Events
In my previous post, I talked of “Mass Death” that I have foreseen in coming times, and of death as a release and open door for individual human beings. Each of us benefits from time spent contemplating death from various points of view. With practice, one gradually learns how to do that, and to prepare, without fear.

But what about when death comes to dozens, hundreds, thousands, even millions, in a single time-place event? Indeed, what about other mass disasters or group transformations such as migration, war, famine, the collapse of a civilization? Mass death comes in many forms and, according to Seth, these events are no more random or accidental, much less meaningless, than is the death of a single individual.

Here is Seth, discussing the origin and purpose of mass events such as death:

“We will call the world, as you physically experience it, Framework 1. In Framework 1, you watch television programs, for example. You have your choice of many channels….You follow certain scenes or actors….You watch all of these dramas, hardly understanding how it is that they appear on your screen to begin with ….Even the actors themselves, taking part in such sagas, have but the remotest idea of the events that are involved in order that their own images will appear on your television screen….Now somewhere there is a program director, who must take care of the entire programming…Let us imagine that physical events occur in the same fashion — that you choose those which flash upon the screen of your experience…..As you do not know what happens in the television studio before you observe a program…so you do not know what happens in the creative framework of reality before you experience physical events. We will call that vast unconscious mental and universal studio Framework 2…

“Actors visit casting agencies so that they know what plays need their services. In your dreams you visit casting agencies. You are aware of the various plays being considered for physical production. In the dream state, then, often you familiarize yourself with dramas that are of a probable nature. If enough interest is shown, if enough actors apply, if enough resources are accumulated, the play will go on. When you are in other than your normally conscious state, you visit that creative inner agency in which all physical productions must have their beginning. You meet with others, who for their own reasons are interested in the same kind of drama. Following our analogy, the technicians, the actors, the writers all assemble — only in this case the result will be a live event rather than a televised one. There are disaster films being planned, educational programs, religious dramas. All of these will be encountered in full-blown physical reality. Such events occur as a result of individual beliefs, desires, and intents.
There is no such thing as a chance encounter. No death occurs by chance, nor any birth.

“In the creative atmosphere of Framework 2, intents are known. In a manner of speaking, no act is private. Your communication systems bring to your living room notices of events that occur throughout the world. Yet that larger inner system of communications is far more powerful in scope, and each mental act is imprinted in the multidimensional screen of Framework 2. That screen is available to All, and in other levels of consciousness, particularly sleep and dreaming stages, the events of that inner reality are ever-present and easily accessible as physical events when you are awake.

“It is as if Framework 2 contains an infinite information service, that instantly puts you in contact with whatever knowledge you require, that sets up circuits between you and others, that computes probabilities with blinding speed. Not with the impersonality of a computer, however, but with a loving intent that has your best purposes in mind—yours and also those of each other individual. You cannot gain what you want at someone else’s detriment, then. You cannot use Framework 2 to force an event upon another person. Certain prerequisites must be met, you see, before a desired end can become physically experienced….

“…Framework 2 represents the inner sphere of reality, the inner dimensions of existence, that gives your world its own characteristics. The energy and power that keeps you alive, that fuels your thoughts — and also the energy that lights your cities — all have their origins in Framework 2. The same energy that leaps into practical use when you turn on your television sets also allows you to tune into the daily experienced events of your lives….

“The origin of your universe is nonphysical, and each event, however grand or minute, has its birth in the Framework 2 environment. Your physical universe arose from that inner framework, then, and continues to do so. The power that fuels your thoughts has the same source. In a manner of speaking the universe as you understand it, with All the events that it includes, functions “automatically” in its important processes, as your body does. Your individual desires and intents direct that activity of your body’s spontaneous processes….Your intents have a great effect upon your body’s health. In the same fashion, jointly, all the people alive at any given time “direct” the events of the universe to behave in a certain fashion, even though the processes must happen by themselves, or automatically. Other species have a hand in this also, however, and in one way or another all of you direct the activity of the physical body of the world in much the same way that you (each) direct your own bodily behavior.

“You were born with the impetus toward growth built in — automatically provided with the inner blueprints that would lead to a developed adult form. Not only the cells, but the atoms and the molecules that compose them contained a positive intent to cooperate in a bodily formation, to fulfill themselves, and they were then predisposed not only toward survival, but with an idealization leading toward the best possible development and maturity. All of these characteristics have their sources in Framework 2, for the psychological medium in Framework 2 is automatically conducive to creativity. It is not simply a neutral dimension, therefore, but contains within itself an automatic predisposition toward the fulfillment of all patterns inherent in it….It is automatically predisposed, again, toward the creation of “good” events. I put the word “good” in quotes for now, because of your misconceptions about the nature of good and evil….”

From Jane Roberts/Seth, The Individual and the Nature of Mass Events

Seth, as channelled by Jane Roberts,

Sunday, February 07, 2010

The Physics of a Quarterback’s Pass


February 7th, 2010

A lighter piece for Super Bowl Sunday. Yes, this clip isn’t exactly heady. And, yes, it botches some facts (archers apparently shoot from 70 meters, not 20 yards). But, nonetheless, it gives you the basic physics of Drew Brees’ passing game. Brees will be playing QB for the New Orleans Saints tonight, and, as you’ll see, his accuracy is remarkable. Hat tip to Mike.
via Discover Magazine’s Cosmic Variance blog

by Dan Colman

Saturday, February 06, 2010

A War Veteran Speaks

Our real enemies are not those living in a distant land whose names or policies we don't understand; The real enemy is a system that wages war when it's profitable, the CEOs who lay us off our jobs when it's profitable, the Insurance Companies who deny us Health care when it's profitable, the Banks who take away our homes when it's profitable. Our enemies are not several hundred thousands away. They are right here in front of us
- Mike Prysner

Please share with your friends, family and acquaintances. Every little effort counts in the long run.

Please Support the Veterans at:

Also visit

Friday, February 05, 2010

Cosmetics Database

A safety guide to cosmetics and personal care products brought to you by researchers at the Environmental Working Group.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

The Ecstasy - John Donne (1572-1631)

Where, like a pillow on a bed
A pregnant bank swell'd up to rest
The violet's reclining head,
Sat we two, one another's best.
Our hands were firmly cemented
With a fast balm, which thence did spring;
Our eye-beams twisted, and did thread
Our eyes upon one double string;
So to'intergraft our hands, as yet
Was all the means to make us one,
And pictures in our eyes to get
Was all our propagation.
As 'twixt two equal armies fate
Suspends uncertain victory,
Our souls (which to advance their state
Were gone out) hung 'twixt her and me.
And whilst our souls negotiate there,
We like sepulchral statues lay;
All day, the same our postures were,
And we said nothing, all the day.
If any, so by love refin'd
That he soul's language understood,
And by good love were grown all mind,
Within convenient distance stood,
He (though he knew not which soul spake,
Because both meant, both spake the same)
Might thence a new concoction take
And part far purer than he came.
This ecstasy doth unperplex,
We said, and tell us what we love;
We see by this it was not sex,
We see we saw not what did move;
But as all several souls contain
Mixture of things, they know not what,
Love these mix'd souls doth mix again
And makes both one, each this and that.
A single violet transplant,
The strength, the colour, and the size,
(All which before was poor and scant)
Redoubles still, and multiplies.
When love with one another so
Interinanimates two souls,
That abler soul, which thence doth flow,
Defects of loneliness controls.
We then, who are this new soul, know
Of what we are compos'd and made,
For th' atomies of which we grow
Are souls. whom no change can invade.
But oh alas, so long, so far,
Our bodies why do we forbear?
They'are ours, though they'are not we; we are
The intelligences, they the spheres.
We owe them thanks, because they thus
Did us, to us, at first convey,
Yielded their senses' force to us,
Nor are dross to us, but allay.
On man heaven's influence works not so,
But that it first imprints the air;
So soul into the soul may flow,
Though it to body first repair.
As our blood labors to beget
Spirits, as like souls as it can,
Because such fingers need to knit
That subtle knot which makes us man,
So must pure lovers' souls descend
T' affections, and to faculties,
Which sense may reach and apprehend,
Else a great prince in prison lies.
To'our bodies turn we then, that so
Weak men on love reveal'd may look;
Love's mysteries in souls do grow,
But yet the body is his book.
And if some lover, such as we,
Have heard this dialogue of one,
Let him still mark us, he shall see
Small change, when we'are to bodies gone.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The late Howard Zinn gives Marx his humanity back, warts and all.


The following is reprinted from The Zinn Reader (1997, Seven Stories Press, pp 574-578) and with the permission of the author.
HowardZinn(c)RobinHollandFOR A LONG TIME I thought that there were important and useful ideas in Marxist philosophy and political economy that should be protected from the self-righteous cries on the right that “Marxism is dead”.
Not long ago, someone referred to me publicly as a “Marxist professor.” In fact, two people did. One was a spokesman for “Accuracy in Academia,” worried that there were “five thousand Marxist faculty members” in the United States (which diminished my importance, but also my loneliness). The other was a former student I encountered on a shuttle to New York, a fellow traveller. I felt a bit honoured. A “Marxist” means a tough guy (making up for the pillowy connotation of the “professor”), a person of formidable politics, someone not to be trifled with, someone who knows the difference between absolute and relative surplus value, and what is commodity fetishism, and refuses to buy it.
I was also a bit taken aback (a position which yoga practitioners understand well, and which is good for you about once a day). Did
“Marxist” suggest that I kept a tiny stature of Lenin in my drawer and rubbed his head to discover what policy to follow to intensify the contradictions o the imperialist camp, or what songs to sing if we were sent away to such a camp?
Also, I remembered that famous statement of Marx: “Je ne suis pas Marxiste.” I always wondered why Marx, an English-speaking German who had studied Greek for his doctoral dissertation, would make such an important statement in French. But I am confident that he did make it, and I think I know what brought it on. After Marx and his wife Jenny had moved to London, where they lost three of their six children to illness and lived in squalor for many years, they were often visited by a young German refugee named Pieper. This guy was a total “noodnik” (there are “noodniks” all along the political spectrum stationed ten feet apart, but there is a special Left Noodnik, hired by the police, to drive revolutionaries batty). Pieper (I swear, I did not make him up) hovered around Marx gasping with admiration, once offered to translate Das Kapital into English, which he could barely speak, and kept organising Karl Marx Clubs, exasperating Marx more and more by insisting that every word Marx uttered was holy. And one day Marx caused Pieper to have a severe abdominal cramp when he said to him: “Thanks for inviting me to speak at your Karl Marx Club. But I can’t. I’m not a Marxist.”
That was a high point in Marx’s life, and also a good starting point for considering Marx’s ideas seriously without becoming a Pieper (or a
Stalin, or Kim Il Sung, or any born-again Marxist who argues that every word in Volume One, Two and Three, and especially in the Grundrisse, is unquestionably true). Because it seems to me (risking that this may lead to my inclusion in the second edition of Norman Podhoretz’s Register of Marxists, Living or Dead), Marx had some very useful thoughts.
For instance, we find in Marx’s short but powerful Theses on Feuerbach the idea that philosophers, who always considered their job was to
interpret the world, should now set about changing it, in their writings, and in their lives. Marx set a good example himself. While history has treated him as a secondary scholar, spending all his time in the library of the British Museum, Marx was a tireless activist all his life. He was expelled from Germany, from Belgium, from France, was arrested and put on trial in Cologne.
Exiled to London, he kept his ties with revolutionary movements all over the world. The poverty-ridden flats that he and Jenny Marx and their children occupied became busy centres of political activity, gathering places for political refugees from the continent.
True, many of his writings were impossibly abstract (especially those on political economy; my poor head at the age of nineteen swam, or
rather drowned, with ground rent and differential rent, the falling rate of profit and the organic composition of capital). But he departed from that constantly to confront the events of 1848, the Paris Commune, rebellion in India, the Civil War in the United States.
The manuscripts he wrote at the age of twenty-five while an exile in Paris (where he hung out in cafes with Engels, Proudhon, Bakunin, Heine, Stirner), often dismissed by hard-line fundamentalists as “immature”, contain some of the most profound ideas. His critique of capitalism in those Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts did not need any mathematical proofs of “surplus value.” It simply stated (but did not state it simply) that the capitalist system violates whatever it means to be a human. The industrial system Marx saw developing in Europe not only robbed them of the products of their work, it estranged working people from their own creative responsibilities, from one another as human beings, from the beauties of nature, from their own true selves.
The manuscripts he wrote at the age of twenty-five while an exile in Paris (where he hung out in cafes with Engels, Proudhon, Bakunin, Heine, Stirner), often dismissed by hard-line fundamentalists as “immature”, contain some of the most profound ideas. His critique of capitalism in those Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts did not need any mathematical proofs of “surplus value.” It simply stated (but did not state it simply) that the capitalist system violates whatever it means to be a human. The industrial system Marx saw developing in Europe not only robbed them of the products of their work, it estranged working people from their own creative responsibilities, from one another as human beings, from the beauties of nature, from their own true selves. They lived out their lives not according to their own inner needs, but according to the necessities of survival.
This estrangement from self and others, this alienation from all that was human, could not be overcome by an intellectual effort, by something in the mind. What was needed was a fundamental, revolutionary change in society, to create the conditions – a short workday, a rational use of the earth’s natural wealth and people’s natural talents, a just distribution of the fruits of human labour, a new social consciousness – for the flowering of human potential, for a leap into freedom as it had never been experienced in history.
Marx understood how difficult it was to achieve this, because, no matter how “revolutionary” we are, the weight of tradition, habit, the accumulated mis-education of generations, “weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living.”
Marx understood politics. He saw that behind political conflicts were questions of class: who gets what. Behind benign bubbles of togetherness (We the people…our country…national security), the powerful and the wealthy would legislate on their own behalf. He noted (in The Eighteenth Brumaire, a biting, brilliant, analysis of the Napoleonic seizure of power after the 1848 Revolution in France) how a modern constitution could proclaim absolute rights, which were then limited by marginal notes (he might have been predicting the tortured constructions of the First Amendment in our own Constitution), reflecting the reality of domination by one class over another regardless of the written word.
He saw religion, not just negatively as “the opium of the people,” but positively as the “sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, the soul of soulless conditions.” This helps us understand the mass appeal of the religious charlatans of the television screen, as well as the work of Liberation Theology in joining the soulfulness of religion to the energy of revolutionary movements in miserably poor countries.
Marx was often wrong, often dogmatic, often a “Marxist.” He was sometimes too accepting of imperial domination as “progressive,” a way of bringing capitalism faster to the third world, and therefore hastening, he thought, the road to socialism. (But he staunchly supported the rebellions of the Irish, the Poles, the Indians, the Chinese, against colonial control.)
He was too insistent that the industrial working class must be the agent of revolution, and that this must happen first in the advanced capitalist countries. He was unnecessarily dense in his economic analysis (too much education in German universities, maybe) when his clear, simple insight into exploitation was enough: that no matter how valuable were the things workers produced, those who controlled the economy could pay them as little as they liked, and enrich themselves with the difference.
Personally, Marx was sometimes charming, generous, self-sacrificing; at other times arrogant, obnoxious, abusive. He loved his wife and children, and they clearly adored him, but he also may have fathered the son of their German housekeeper, Lenchen.
The anarchist, Bakunin, his rival in the International Workingmen’s Association, said of Marx: “I very much admired him for his knowledge and for his passionate and earnest devotion to the cause of the proletariat. But…our temperaments did not harmonize. He called me a sentimental idealist, and he was right. I called him vain, treacherous, and morose, and I was right.” Marx’s daughter Eleanor, on the other hand, called her father “…the cheeriest, gayest soul that ever breathed, a man brimming over with humour”.
He epitomised his own warning, that people, however advanced in their thinking, were weighted down by the limitations of their time. Still, Marx gave us acute insights, inspiring visions. I can’t imagine Marx being pleased with the “socialism” of the Soviet Union. He would have been a dissident in Moscow, I like to think. His idea of the “dictatorship of the proletariat” was the Paris Commune of 1871, where endless arguments in the streets and halls of the city gave it the vitality of a grass roots democracy, where overbearing officials could be immediately booted out of office by popular vote, where the wages of government leaders could not exceed that of ordinary workers, where the guillotine was destroyed as a symbol of capital punishment. Marx once wrote in the New York Times that he did not see how capital punishment could be justified “in a society glorifying in its civilisation.”
Perhaps the most precious heritage of Marx’s thought is his internationalism, his hostility to the nation state, his insistence that ordinary people have no nation they must obey and give their lives for in war, that we are all linked to one another across the globe as human beings. This is not only a direct challenge to modern capitalist nationalism, with its ugly evocations of hatred for “the enemy” abroad, and its false creation of a common interest for all within certain artificial borders. It is also a rejection of the narrow nationalism of contemporary “Marxist” states, whether the Soviet Union, or China, or any of the others.
Marx had something important to say not only as a critic of capitalism, but as a warning to revolutionaries, who, he wrote in The German Ideology, had better revolutionise themselves if they intend to do that to society. He offered an antidote to the dogmatists, the hard-liners, the Piepers, the Stalins, the commissars, the “Marxists.” He said: “Nothing human is alien to me.”
That seems a good beginning for changing the world.
—Howard Zinn

Howard Zinn: The People’s Historian, by Amy Goodman

Posted on Feb 2, 2010

By Amy Goodman

Howard Zinn, legendary historian, author and activist, died last week at the age of 87. His most famous book is “A People’s History of the United States.” Zinn told me last May, “The idea of ‘A People’s History’ is to go beyond what people have learned in school ... history through the eyes of the presidents and the generals in the battles fought in the Civil War, [to] the voices of ordinary people, of rebels, of dissidents, of women, of black people, of Asian-Americans, of immigrants, of socialists and anarchists and troublemakers of all kinds.”

It is fitting to write of Zinn’s life at the start of Black History Month. Although he was white, he wrote eloquently of the civil rights struggle and was a part of that movement as well. Fifty years ago, on Feb. 1, 1960, four black students entered the F.W. Woolworth store in Greensboro, N.C., and sat down at the “whites only” lunch counter. They were refused service, and returned day after day. Each day, more and more people came with them. The lunch-counter desegregation movement spread to other Southern cities. By July, the Greensboro Woolworth lunch counter was desegregated. This week, the International Civil Rights Center and Museum opened at the site of that original lunch-counter protest.

At the time of the sit-ins, Zinn was a professor at Spelman College, a historically black women’s college in Atlanta. He told me why, after seven years there, he was fired: “The students at Spelman College rose up out of that very tranquil and controlled atmosphere at the college during the sit-ins and went into town, got arrested, they came back fired up and determined to change the conditions of their lives on campus. ... I supported them in their rebellion, and I was too much for the administration of the college.” Zinn wrote in the afterword of “A People’s History”: “It was not until I joined the faculty of Spelman College ... that I began to read the African-American historians who never appeared in my reading lists in graduate school. Nowhere in my history education had I learned about the massacres of black people that took place again and again, amid the silence of a national government pledged, by the Constitution, to protect equal rights for all.”

One of his students at Spelman was Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker. Soon after she learned of Zinn’s death, Walker explained: “He was thrown out because he loved us, and he showed that love by just being with us. He loved his students. He didn’t see why we should be second-class citizens.” Just a few years ago, Zinn was invited back to Spelman to give the commencement address and receive an honorary degree.

World-renowned linguist and dissident Noam Chomsky, a longtime friend of Zinn’s, reflected on Zinn’s “reverence for and his detailed study of what he called ‘the countless small actions of unknown people’ that lead to those great moments that enter the historical record.” Zinn co-wrote, with Anthony Arnove, “Voices of a People’s History of the United States,” with speeches, letters and other original source material from those “unknown people” who have shaped this country. It was made into a star-studded documentary, which premiered on the History Channel just weeks before Zinn died. Matt Damon, its executive producer, gave “A People’s History” enormous popular exposure in the hit movie “Good Will Hunting” when his character Will recommended the book to his psychiatrist. Damon was Zinn’s neighbor in Newton, Mass., and knew him since he was 10 years old.

Last May, when I interviewed Zinn, he reflected on Barack Obama’s first months in office: “I wish President Obama would listen carefully to Martin Luther King. I’m sure he pays verbal homage, as everyone does, to Martin Luther King, but he ought to think before he sends missiles over Pakistan, before he agrees to this bloated military budget, before he sends troops to Afghanistan, before he opposes the single-payer system.

“He ought to ask: ‘What would Martin Luther King do? And what would Martin Luther King say?’ And if he only listened to King, he would be a very different president than he’s turning out to be so far. I think we ought to hold Obama to his promise to be different and bold and to make change. So far, he hasn’t come through on that promise.”

Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.

Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 800 stations in North America. She is the author of “Breaking the Sound Barrier,” recently released in paperback and now a New York Times best-seller.

© 2010 Amy Goodman

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Build privacy into national broadband policy says CDT

rural-electrification.jpgThe Center for Democracy and Technology filed two sets of comments (1, 2) to the Federal Communications Commission regarding privacy concerns and expectations that will come along with a national broadband policy that they are currently stumbling towards.
The FCC says that policies "...must promote technological neutrality, competition, investment, and innovation to ensure that broadband service providers have sufficient incentive to develop and offer such products and services."
The CDT thinks we need to go much further than that "[F]ully protecting consumer privacy interests online requires a rigorous mix of self-regulation, enforcement of existing law, development of technical tools and standards, and enactment of new legislation."
Here is their list of six recommendations to help create and maintain a thriving Internet.
1) The National Broadband Plan should release an updated version of FIPs to guide privacy practices by the federal government and industry.
2) The National Broadband Plan should recommend enactment of a federal baseline consumer privacy law.
3) The National Broadband Plan should recommend updates to the Privacy Act of 1974.
4) The National Broadband Plan should promote the incorporation of Privacy by Design principles into both innovation and business and government practices.
5) Encourage a marketplace of privacy protective, user-centric decentralized identity providers.
6) The National Broadband Plan should encourage innovation and consumer protection in third-party applications.
Meanwhile, with 49 days until the National Broadband Plan, it's unclear what the plan has in store for rural, tribal and disabled segments of the US population. Schools and libraries receiving federal Universal Service Fund money are still on the hook to install filters and censor internet traffic. Reading the comments on the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program is terribly poignant. My local nearly-bankrupt telco explains why providing broadband to rural New England is so difficult.

Guestblogger Jessamyn West is a moderator at MetaFilter and a library technologist in Central Vermont who blogs at

Monday, February 01, 2010

For social justice in the face of permanent aggression

Interview with Venezuelan-American researcher and lawyer Eva Golinger

Olga Díaz Ruiz and Geisy Guía (Journalism student)

THE Havana Book Fair has accustomed us to good, interesting publications. Its 19th edition brings us Eva Golinger, the Venezuelan-American writer and lawyer, for the launch of her book, USAID, NED and the CIA: Permanent Aggression, an ambitious compilation and analysis of current situations, written by Golinger and Jean-Guy Allard, a Canadian journalist resident in Cuba.

Eva GolingerOn this occasion, the perspicacity of Golinger, who is participating in the international fair for the second time, impelled her to expose the constant onslaught of U.S. imperialism in Latin America, "which, to date, we have been unable to halt," after studying the cases of Cuba, Bolivia, Honduras and Venezuela.

"This is a visit of exposé, to achieve maximum impact and, in one way, a pretext to outline that message and to prompt reflection on the constant imperial acts of aggression and their various manifestations." Moreover, it lays out "all the marvelous things that we have achieved" in the subcontinent, she affirmed in an interview with Granma.

Golinger proposes to take up this selection of political, economic, cultural and social events that are evidence of Washington’s tactics and strategies in 2009, maintaining its interference in the region, as "a weapon in the defense of our revolutions."

At this point in the conversation, she stops to observe that the coup d’état in Honduras last June "has taught us the need to take care of our spaces, to recognize that the enemy is everywhere," adding that the book is to be published in Honduras this year.

Likewise the author of The Chávez Code (2005) and Bush vs. Chávez: Washington’s War on Venezuela, the writer believes that the strengthening of Latin American integration, fundamentally through the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) has prompted an increase in U.S. right-wing aggression, "Because we constitute a threat to its domination in the region."

Integration that has expanded its borders to the rest of the world, and that "seeks to lift up our countries without exploitation, or competition, through the principles of solidarity, integration and cooperation," she notes, commenting that Cuba and Venezuela constitute the vanguard of this South-South union.

Despite the fact that she was born and raised in the United States and "talks like a gringo" – as she reproaches herself – Golinger directs all her energy and passion into fighting for social justice, and emphasizes that cooperation among ALBA countries "is perceived outside of our bloc with much hope, because we are constructing a more just social model."

She gives the example of the Bolivarian Revolution, which has transformed all sectors of Venezuelan society, as well as making an impact at international level on account of that nation’s significance to the world, with the figure of Chávez. "We are constructing a country that was in ruins, despite its natural resources. Then this president comes along, without experience in politics, moreover, and look what he’s done!" 

In this struggle against constant aggression, the writer notes the leading role of the alternative media: "Telesur has had a fundamental role in dismantling the received opinions of the international media and in promoting another class of journalism, which consists of going into and bearing witness to the facts."

At the same time, she expresses her enthusiasm at one of the first printed copies of the only Venezuelan English-language newspaper, Correo de Orinoco International. "It is the first time that there is information in English from a Venezuelan perspective, from the Venezuelan revolution," she affirms with pride.

Golinger told us that she intends to continue exposing the principal maneuvers of the powerful in Latin America and in that proposition, she says, she can count on her friend and colleague Jean-Guy Allard.
Translated by Granma International

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