Well I finally made it to mainland China. The train trip was long, about 23 hours, but mostly enjoyable. Sadly the initial arrival in Beijing left a lot to be desired, as we arrived to a grey and wet Beijing with no hostel or clue where to go. For the record, the Beijing West train station is amazingly confusing and terrible for someone with absol...[more]
So we have come to our final day here in Hong Kong. After the better part of a week exploring and traveling around here, I’m just beginning to get acclimated–and now it’s time to leave. Such is the nature of short travels, I guess. But I can definitely say that I have enjoyed my time here, and definitely will come back again. Afte...[more]
On Tuesday, my first full day here, I had some siu mai (燒賣) in a cup with chili sauce poured over and a red bean bun. The siu mai was pretty good, and it’s always fun eating food with a skewer out of a cup! Apparently this is a dish that varies a lot by region and taste, but is basically a pork or prawn steamed dumpling. It is also a common p...[more]
So I finally made it into Hong Kong this morning, somewhere about 6AM local time. So far the trip has been far less scary than I had imagined, mostly because I’m a very timid traveler. For being a loner in general, I did sorta wish I had some traveling companions. Fortunately I will soon.
Here are some of the pictures from my Cathay Pacific f...[more]
This Friday I had the chance to help facilitate a workshop with the New York City Nutrition Education Network, better known as NYCNEN. Held at The New School, the workshop was part of their May General Meeting. The overarching theme for the meeting was “Developing Partnerships for a Healthier NYC: A Workshop Exploring Resource Mapping and Cu...[more]
I’m Not Mad at You in Particular, Just Everyone in General
It’s been one of those weeks,
in the middle of the month
when you just want to scream
and break something beautiful
like those drones in the halls
playing pretend scholars
on blood money and silenced ghosts
You don’t change things by asking ...[more]
Earlier this week the FBI announced that they were elevating Black Liberation Army (BLA) and Black Panther Party (BPP) activist Assata Shakur (formerly Joanne Chesimard) to their ‘Most Wanted Terrorist’ list of domestic suspects, making her the only woman in history to have such a designation, and the second US citizen ever to be added ...[more]
In other news, Politix reports on a recent incident where students were allegedly forced to listen to a Christian fundamentalism sermons disguised as a student assembly, this time in a Mississippi public school in Rankin County.
“A Mississippi public high school has caused a furore by forcing students to attend Christian assemblies, students ...[more]
So after a day of marching, rallies, speakers and events here in NYC, what did the May 1 General Strike change? That’s the question that’s been on my mind since I went to bed last night, and is still with me now. And to be honest, I don’t think anything is changed. OWS has shown it can still turn out a sizeable crowd for a major day of action, but it also shows that much of OWS has run out of creative political steam. But most fundamentally, it has exposed two key problems:
Organized labor is not committed to a radical transformation of society along the lines that many in OWS have discussed and pushed for, yet the movement continue to pretend that unions are a make or break alliance
The tactics of OWS have grown stale, predictable and ineffective to the point of almost being comical
So I ran into one of those ironies of ironies this evening while working on a project. I pose this to my readers as a question: what would you do?
So here’s the background to the story. I’ve been working for several months with a group of people to bring Grace Lee Boggs, the 96 yr old Detroit activist, intellectual and philosopher, to the New School. After much work we were finally able to secure two events, one event planned as an activist workshop, and the other a public talk. In the lead up to that, I was also working on a possible promo video, after a suggestion from some of the planners. The idea was to have a 2-3 minute promo video to announce the event, and connect the two themes of the event: Grace Lee Boggs and her latest ideas from The Next American Revolution, which she recently published, and the remarks of Martin Luther King Jr. from his 1967 talk ‘Where Do We Go From Here,’ at the 11th Annual SCLC Convention in Georgia. So I put together a clip from a talk she did with Bill Moyers on PBS talking about the changes she was seeing (mind you this is pre-OWS), and a clip of the audio from MLK Jr.’s talk, illustrated with images from OWS and contemporary socio-political issues. Read More
“Ford, we are twelve; oh make us one, Like drops within the Social River; Oh, make us now together run As swiftly as thy shining Flivver. Come, Greater Being, Social Friend, Annihilating Twelve-in-One! We long to die, for when we end, Our larger life has but begun.”
–Brave New World
Pariser's information control robot
“Have you ever thought about what information you are not seeing on the internet every day?” That’s the question the Telegraph’s Digital Media Writer Emma Barnett asked recently, in her investigation of the electronic iron curtain behind sites like Google and Facebook. From ongoing concerns over electronic privacy and recent news about social media employer asking for perspective employee passwords to ongoing concerns about what Facebook advertising and Google + mean for the future of social media networking, the public is growing increasingly more concerned, and increasingly more powerless, to deal with these new threats. Read More
The latest scandal involving the NYPD, which seems to have an unlimited ability to do whatever they want with no accountability and total immunity, was reported over the weekend by the Village Voice. So what’s the scandal this time? Forced iris scans of OWS protesters. As the Voice reported this week here and here, NY Criminal Court judges now appear to be forcing protesters to submit to iris scans–a totally illegal and unconstitutional requirement–or else face bail requirements, or possible continued detainment, until they comply. Read More
So I was recently asked to share some thoughts on the rise of the B Corporation–or benefit corporation–and their role in relation both to Occupy Wall Street and possible shifts in economic thinking and ideas more generally. What follows is a quick first pass to answer these questions.
In a nutshell, a B corporation is a fairly new classification which is for businesses which are for profit, but have a primary interest in providing social and environmental goods through their business operations, as opposed to a purely bottom-line profit incentive of a traditional corporation. In essence, think of it as a hybrid between do-gooder non-profits and green capitalism with an emphasis on social, environmental and governance issues–what are commonly referred to in the socially responsible investing world as “SEG criteria.” The idea is that B corporations are creating a new business climate that does not prioritizes profit over doing good, but rather highlights companies that are both responsible and profitable. Read More
Is that a great line or what! I just happened to stumble upon that the other day, no idea why or how. I was searching for something not even vaguely related, so who knows. I can’t even claim I stumbled it…
And who doesn’t love a Cephalopod Tea Party call for publications with a name like this: Suction Cup Dreams: An Octopus Anthology!
”We are looking for short fiction between 1000-7500 words…which either showcase or are inspired by the octopus as a central theme.”
Sounds pretty cool to me! That’s right, I got to this place when I was looking up a questionable environmental pollsters I am writing about, and somehow stumbled upon the octopi art. And that then led me to Mother Jones and the Vulgar Army, where this image to the right came from.
This isn’t really really related to octopus at all, but also came across this post and had to laugh, mostly cause I love the Popeye reference.
And speaking of Popeye, I Am What I Am and That’s All That I Am. I’m Popeye the sailor man..toot toot.
That’s almost as good as this little ditty, except that the remake with Robin Williams is awful!
In an unrelated note, I also ran across this really interesting site, Fractal Ontology, which has a really great mixture of political theory and philosophical musings, as well as a cool site design. Love the snowflakes–I think they are snowflakes anyway. Definitely check out the Download page for some of the topics of past blogs, like Nietzsche, Corruption, Exhaustion or Culture, Language, and Multiplicity or my favorite one: Warning, Hive Meltdown Imminent!
Then there’s the new launch of Tidal: Occupy Theory, Occupy Strategy, which is a smallish magazine about OWS which was just launched and which I saw a copy of over the weekend. Pieces from Judith Butler, Guyatri Spivak and others. The NYCGA announcement for the launch describes it like this:
“The journal provides a multidisciplinary exposition of the fundamental challenges posed to institutions of the status quo by the organized chaos of human beings relating to each other democratically and authentically.”
I’ll admit, I’m a bit skeptical of a journal on theory and strategy coming from Butler and Spivak, even if they are good writers. After all, if even a political theory PhD student has trouble understanding Butler at times, how is she going to speak to the 99%? Hummm… But since I haven’t been able to track downa copy, and there is nothing digital yet that I can find, all I can do is speculate at this point. If anyone finds a link to a pdf or text, please let me know and I will add it here.
And in other news, although I couldn’t make it, there was an amazing event over the weekend with farmers and ows folks marching in NYC, a seed swap and more actions in support of food, gardens and communities. Great stuff, and exactly what #OWS needs to really spread and grow as a movement. You can find some photos from screenprinting done in support of the event here. I’m really bummed I wasn’t able to make it, but will definitely be following this and #occupyfood in the coming months!
The FJG works to strengthen, empower and promote bioregional solidarity within the OWS movement by 1. Promoting and Supporting local-farm to kitchen relationships. 2. Encouraging and facilitating dialogue, education and direct action on the issues of sustainable food production, food justice, food sovereignty and corporate control in our local, regional, national and global food systems 3. Incorporating the principles of food justice and self-sufficiency into the everyday practices of the Occupy Wall Street encampment and the occupiers.
Enter the OWS Occucopter
And then, as if all this wasn’t enough, there’s news about the possible launch of an OWS Occucopter!
AR Parrot Drone (with custom paint job)
This technology is actually something I’m been pondering for a while, even before the amazing Polish footage of the copter in action there, as it offers a way to bypass street blockades. (Other folks have used robots to do similar tactical guerrilla media interventions, in particular check out the Institute for Applied Autonomy) And the Parrot AR Drone, from all that I’ve seen (I haven’t been able to test fly one yet), may just be the coup de grace to finally bypass police cordons and media blackouts like when Zuccotti was raided. If you’re not familiar, you can check out more details here, but basically this is an advanced RC helicopter with 4 props for stability and more in-flight stability. You can pick one up for around $300 at Brookstone here in NYC. How these might shift some small amount of power is unclear, and whether they will be successful if deployed remains to be seen–after all, with a limited range (about 150 ft.) and fly time (12-14 min battery life), it’s unclear how effective this might be as a strategy. But the thought of bypassing police cordons with these, and maybe even doing banner actions directly over the cops, is amazing and worth the experiments in and of themselves.
What follows is a response to the folks over at the Sacred Conspiracy, who were kind enough to respond to my “magnum opus” on the lessons from the recently ended 90 5th student occupation at the New School, and the issues I saw with a particular form of political expression manifest there.
Is there anything that can be said in response to a document that seeks to paint a broad coalition of political views with one brush in order to spread the fear of “insurrectionism” that to be honest is no less fear mongering than [Glenn Beck's rant about The Coming Insurrection].
It is worth reminding readers that my critique was quite clear on this point. What began as a broad coalition of political views disintegrated throughout the week until the dominant voice was a small group advocating insurrectionary politics. The writing on the walls in the final “days of rage,” and some of the political statement manifested there, makes this quite clear. The same goes for copies of Call and other Invisible Committee related manifestos circulated in the occupation. So it’s disingenuous to suggest that I painted everyone in the occupation as calling for insurrection. My point was precisely the opposite–that this language marginalized the majority of the occupation and ultimately lost it wider support. And as far as fear mongering, my critique had nothing to do with being afraid of the insurrectionary politics on display there. Rather, I find it all a bit confusing and out of touch with reality. These major distinction are absent in the above comments. Read More
Following the disastrous Tuesday night GA the President and Provost appeared Wednesday afternoon around noon and presented their proposal to have the occupation leave forthwith. In exchange, they would open the Kellen Gallery in 2 W 13th and allow students to use that space until December 21st as an alternate organizing space. The restrictions were no smoking or drinking, no sleeping, and no painting on the walls. We would have to deal with security in the building still in order to keep it open 24 hours, and we couldn’t block the windows completely. Given these restrictions, it was clear the occupation would not be able to continue in the from it had presently taken. The offer was seen as a tasteless compromise by the hardliners, going against the very insurrectionary “propaganda of the deed” action which the occupation represented. As they wrote on the eve of Thanks-taking over at the Sacred Conspiracy blog:
Walking by the location offered by the New School administration, 2 West 13th Street, we saw the results of the most superficial expression of participatory democracy: a list of rules, and an empty space waiting for its subjects. Read More
A third problem which led to the internal collapse of the occupation was the large student mobilization which occurred on the afternoon of Tuesday Nov. 22nd in Kellen Auditorium hosted by the President and Provost. The meeting which grew so large that the Bark Room in the lobby across in 2 W 13th had to be opened with a second live camera feed, and even then there were still people in the lobby unable to fit into the room. The meeting was largely the airing of a whole list of grievances against the occupation, interspersed with some mixed support for the occupation. But the overall message was clear–a lot of students were not happy with what was going on and the disruption of the space. The challenge, which I think we all collectively failed in at that movement, was to really hear those concerns and attempt to constructively respond before things had got to this point on campus.
The outpouring from this earlier meeting was then channeled into the occupation General Assembly that evening at 8pm, in which I would estimate close to 150 people attended. When I arrived there with a few people following a meeting of the Politics student union, we found the hallway completely filled with people, and a crowd of around 30 people was gathered there, unable to enter. Read More