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It’s time to get arrested

The Supreme Court is the triumph of the Trump administrations authoritarian desires. Rights are being stripped by religious zealots who lied during their confirmation hearings and should be impeached, but wont be. You are frustrated, you are angry, you want to do something, but you are not quite sure what to do. Please note new information about bail from Angie at the bottom of this post.

It’s time to get arrested.

For many folks, this will seem counter intuitive. How can getting myself thrown in jail help anyone or anything? It just seems like a waste of time, money and a hassle.

It turns out it is one of the most effective tools mass movements have to change the political tide. It has been used effectively around the world, even in some of the most repressive regimes. In the US, the end of the Vietnam war, the death of new nuclear construction and getting the right to vote for both women (1920) and POCs (1965) in the US relied on civil disobedience to win.

If you want to dig into the logic and practice of civil disobedience, I encourage the excellent Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which goes deep into both how and why.

From the Boston Tea Party to Mahatma Gandhi’s Salt March, and from suffragists’ illegally casting their ballots to whites-only lunch counter sit-ins, civil disobedience has often played a crucial role in bending the proverbial arc of the moral universe toward justice.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

But if you are willing to consider this option, i want to encourage you to go to this Saturdays action defending abortion rights in DC. Here is some of the more practical advise, i shared with Oakers who are organizing this action.

Who you get arrested with matters. The Women’s March organizers have an arrest training and orientation on July 8th at 6 pm in DC.  Folks interested in this should fill out the form of the principal organizers.  and plan on being there in person.  If you get arrested with or near the black bloc who are breaking Starbucks windows, your police experience will likely be much more headachy and physically difficult. Try to stay with other protesters the night before (avoid the temptation of hanging with DC friends not involved with the action).

The key piece of information, especially for people who have not been arrested before is the overwhelming experience of this choice is boredom and some confusion. You will spend lots of time after you are arrested waiting to be processed, sometimes in a hot police vehicle.  You will spend a lot of time in holding cells.  You will be told to wait often with no indication how long.  Your cell phone will be taken from you (typically) once you have been processed and usually (but not always) any reading material you have. Often you can smuggle a zine or some other pocket sized reading in. This is recommended to help cut the boredom.  And of course make friends with other arrestees.

Bail is complex. If you do need it, it is designed to insure you come back for your court hearings. When you do, you get typically get your bail money back (or 90% of it if you use a bail bond person). Angie is the queen of bail, she is copied on this message, supportive of this action and will have useful contacts on bail bonds services and how not to get stung by them. 

For 90% of non-violent actions in DC there will not be a need for bail money, assuming arrestees are willing to identify themselves to get released and go thru the legal system.  DC mostly has a “catch and release” policy around non-violent protesters – usually you are released with a summons to appear before the court. There is a high chance you will get a fine or community service at your court hearing, because you will almost certainly be found guilty – but this is not bail.  And thus not needed at the time of arrest.  

Separately, the organizing groups will likely have lawyer services available to folks risking arrest.  You should get their legal contact info and write it in marker on peoples arms. Also you should have a TO support person who is not getting arrested and is in DC and their number should also be put on peoples arms, with instructions to call when folks are released. 

While it is pretty easy to get arrested (block any intersection and refuse to move when the police arrive). After some hours of processing and being held, they will quite likely release people (who have identified themselves with id) on their own recognizance without a fine. Remember holding people is expensive for the city, they don’t want to feed you and also they don’t want the jails overwhelmed by protesters.  They also don’t want you once released to go back and immediately get arrested again, so they will often hold folks until most of the actions are over.

They will hold you and not release you if you refuse to identify yourself.  People wishing to do this type of action (refusing ID) should talk with action organizers to see what support and advice they offer.  I discourage people from carrying full wallets into arrest actions – instead ID, a metro card plus $20 or so, recognizing this will be taken from you at the time after you are processed (as will your wallet if you bring one). 90% of things confiscated from arrestees will be returned by the police.

People who require daily medication need to know they will be separated from their meds for at least hours, possibly an entire day if there are many arrests and lots of on going actions that the police/the city don’t want you to return to. People should not assume the police are going to be either reasonable or accommodating around getting your meds to you once you have been arrested and separated from them.

Wear comfortable clothes and while the action will likely be hot, your holding cell experience will be air conditioned (often set very low) and folks should dress accordingly (typically using layers). Skip jewelry. 

I personally discourage people from resisting arrest, especially on their first arrest action. Mostly because it is frustrating (you can’t do it for long without serious hardware) and the DC police are experts in compliance holds and you will feel disempowered by how quickly they are able to stop you from resisting and are likely to face more serious charges. 

If people want to “hit harder” then instead of arrest and release I recommend hit and run actions (this is not civil disobedience).  And if people are interested in this I have other contacts to offer.

Organizers have to make sure you have sufficient support people (not risking arrest) to accommodate how ever many people are getting arrested. The most important thing here is getting folks after they have been released. Especially for people who are getting arrested for the first time, the terrible part of the experience is not over until there is a friendly known face checking in with them after release.  This means some support people must be willing to stay until everyone is released, this could easily be 2 AM on Sunday.  [Here again I am assuming people want to ID and return for trial or pay the fine, refusing to ID can leave you in jail for days] assuming you have multiple vehicles in the city, a 3 arrestees to 1 support person is a good ratio. Several of the DC detention facilities are not near the metro, so getting people back can be slow or frustrating, every arrestee should have a metro card (which works on the buses) with over $5 on it.

It is wise if support people have something nice to give people when they get out – candy or some other appropriate treat.  Getting arrested for the first time often changes peoples lives, in slightly unpredictable ways. Some will never do it again. Some will realize it is their calling. Nearly universally it will result in detainees disliking and not trusting the police more.

Support people need to realize there is an important emotional part of their job. Even short stints in jail can mess people up. Mass actions arrests usually do not have you in solitary- so you might end up in gender segregated general population. If gender is unsure to the police, they will generally use the gender listed on your ID to determine where you are detained.  Police will not respect your selected pronouns.

It is important to remember that these are very popular actions. This means if you don’t bring a phone – every other person in DC will lend you theirs if you say “Hey I just got arrested defending abortion rights and I was hoping to borrow your phone to call my support people to tell them I have been released”.

As an organizer people are going to want to know that you are going to take care of them in their on going legal hassles. This means getting rides back to DC for court stuff (typically two trips) and labor credits for that work. Here I would assume you will be able to accommodate folks, we have in the past.

And while getting arrested is a fine, desirable and noble thing. People should take the decision seriously and not be shamed in anyway if they chose not to do it and attend the protest or do support work instead. Especially people in fragile or compromised mental health circumstances or who are likely to be traumatized by physical boundaries being disrespected by the police should consider support roles instead of arrests.  There will be many more options for getting arrested in the future – this is a long haul campaign.

If you are getting arrested for the first time for a protest, try to stick near someone you know and like who is also getting arrested – for the same crimes as you. Generally this will mean you have company and someone to talk with.  This does not always work, you can be separated for all kinds of reasons.

People need to be ready for police to completely change their behavior on short notice. They can be friendly and accommodating one minute and the next they can be pushing you around or using unnecessary force for no apparent reason. The police are not your friends in this situation- even if they mostly have been in your life before.  That said, DC police are better than most in dealing with NV protesters, because they have so much experience. 

A note from Angie:

Two big things- first, whenever possible (especially if you’re working
with low bail amounts), it’s better to post cash bail than to use a
bail bondsman. Bail bonds usually cost 10% of the bail cost, and you
do not get that back- even if you’re found not guilty, even if the
charges are dropped, that money is a set cost that the bail bondsman
receives. OTOH, cash bail is also a risk, especially if someone other
than the arrestee is paying- if the person doesn’t show up to court
dates then the bail may be forfeited. Think about who is paying the
bail ahead of time, have a plan for how you’ll deal with $50 bail vs
$500 bail vs $5,000 bail. And obviously, a 10 person bail of $50 is a
different burden than a 2 person bail of $500.

Second- there may be other, more violent protests going on in and
around DC this week. That kind of thing can impact how smoothly (or
not) your nonviolent arrest action goes. Cops are people, they get
tired and worn out and stressed (1312 tho, don’t get me wrong). If DC
cops are dealing with violent protestors on Wednesday, Thursday, and
Friday, the might be harsher on nonviolent protestors on Saturday.
The big one I’m watching is the trucker convoy, now called the “1776
Restoration Movement”. they have been in DC on the national mall since
the morning of the 6th, are violent, some are registered sex offenders
(including one who pleaded guilty to child molestation of a kid under
14),  and they’re all facist religious bigots. A few have been
arrested. The situation is fluid and changing fast.

A few of the 1776RMers know about the Saturday action, some many
attend, most are instigators and shit stirrers. If the action is near
the mall then it’s a major concern, if not it’s probably not as big a
deal. If you want more info let me know.

Best of luck with your action, and if I can help or support let me know!

Angie

June is the Floyd Uprising

Perhaps my first critical lesson in the politics of language was the difference between a riot and an uprising. Riots happen all the time, crowds get violent when their team wins or loses, groups destroy property for a bevy of reasons, righteous, impulsive or perhaps simply drunk.

Uprisings are potentially going somewhere. Uprisings are the building blocks for revolutions and other kinds of political change, small or large. Uprisings are when injustice hits a flash point and people say “no more” in a way that might put a police car or a city into flames.

Early map of the George Floyd Uprising – Source Healthyfrog.com

The best piece on the complexity of this situation was summarized by Will Stenberg and includes this thinking on judgement of the protests:

I am uncomfortable saying, as some of my fellow leftists do, that a situation this complicated is GOOD, and I refuse to say, with centrists, that it is bad or wrong. The only thing I know is that it is INEVITABLE. And it’s not new. American cities burn every couple of generations because America has not learned to respect its black citizens.

It is no longer true that only winners write history, now anyone can. Part of writing it is to give it names and i am calling the month of June 2020 the George Floyd Uprising, because that is what it looks like today and that is what i want. Of course, i want it to go on longer than this month, but a month of sustained political protest could transform the national political process.

Minneapolis May 29, 2020

Tonight there are more peaceful protests than altercations nationally, but the president is threatening to deploy the army within the country.

Rainbow versus Burning Man

The idea was compelling, study the really exciting festivals and celebrations, take the best pieces of these cultures and combine them into a beautiful Frankensteinian creation.  The tricky part is establishing which are the finest parts and figuring out if (and how) they fit together.

Central rituals are a major difference between Burning Man and the Rainbow Gathering.   At Rainbow thousands of participants hold hands in silence in a giant ring on the 4th of July.  When the moment feels complete the children run into the center, break the trance, and thus commences wild dancing.  At Burning Man there are two central rituals, the effigy burn and the temple burn, both of which revolve around fire but have very different flavors.  The former is a pyrotechnic exhibition of tremendous scale, with fire dancers and a giant man which blazes for hours leading into a bacchanalian celebration of wild dancing in the desert.

Burning Man Fire Breathers

Photo Credit: rosehalady0 from Pixabay

The temple burn is a more somber and self reflective ritual which is powerful like a brilliant funeral can be.  It is all about letting go of things, your sadness at a deceased friend or relative, your addiction to online games or a dysfunctional relationship, or realize it really is finally time to quit the job which is not working for you.

We decided to embrace the Burning Man central rituals.  There were several reasons for this, the first is an effort to bring people who are familiar with or excited by Burning Man culture to the event.  It feels like especially the temple burn is potentially quink inducing, and a bacchanalian celebration is practically guaranteed to be a good time.  While the rainbow ritual is elegant, accessible and unifying, it did not feel powerful enough for us to embrace for Quink Fair. One of the key ideas of Quink Fair! Is to introduce creative people from mainstream cultures to the intentional communities (and especially income sharing) movement.

Free is nice, but quite limiting

Tickets are another important cultural aspect, and major cultural difference.  Part of the brilliance of the regional and national Rainbow Gatherings is that they are free to attend and no one is “controlling” a gate that keeps some people out.  Despite it’s inclusion principle, Burning Man is a privileged event. The low income tickets are $240 and literally thousands of people pay over $1,000 to be assured to get in. This is before you pay for a camp and gear, and transportation to this remote site- it’s quite normal to spend $1,000 or more on these expenses, especially if you’re traveling from far away.  The advantage of the paid ticket model is organizers can pay for porta potties and event insurance and art grants, and what ever else is important.

Burning Man preaches “radical self-reliance” which means a number of things, but near the top of the list is “bring everything you will need” and packing for attending this harsh desert event is a complex and expensive affair.  Rainbow Gather’s unofficial motto is “Welcome Home” and true to this tagline is the idea that when you go home you need to bring the fewest things of any journey, since your stuff or your support network is already there. From a festival organizers perspective, when you have well stocked and equipped participants you reduce costs and you share the provisioning burden for the event.  But if you can welcome almost anyone, including people who have little gear or money, then you are a more diverse and inclusive crowd and you provide a more full service experience.

This is where the Fair part of the name comes from

The Quink Fair! “disorganizers” made the choice to have ticket prices, but make them fairly low ($90 for three days) and include work exchange options.  And of course we hope we have the money we need for porta potties, insurance and art grants and more.

Photo Credit: Karolina Grabowska from Pixabay

Kitchens and food are another major cultural difference.  At the Rainbow Gatherings perhaps 1/3 of the camps are free kitchens serving to anyone who comes to them.  At Burning Man people are responsible for bringing their own food to this difficult environment and preparing it.  There is some food being given away at BM (clever DC friends are doing a pizza delivery service this year), but it would be an odd diet and an organizing struggle to attend this event without food or a camp which provides it for you.  

For Quink Fair we’ve gone with a hybrid model around food. Haven House theme camp (run by one of the disorganizers who threw a temper tantrum upon hearing food wouldn’t be provided) will provide 3 meals a day, plus drinks and snacks between meals.  This is free and available to all who want or need food, or who just enjoy sharing meals with a group. But some (perhaps most) attendees will still bring some of their own food and/or cooking equipment, either for their own use or to share. It’s a combination of Burning Man’s freedom with Rainbow’s safety net, which we hope will bring the best of both systems;

And Rainbow was a huge influence.  We want to make food accessible, we want to decentralize organizing as much as we can, we want anyone who really wants to attend to be able to come.

Image found at https://www.pinterest.com/pin/481181541408416340/

Rainbow, Burning Man and the Communities Conference (which we draw inspiration from) all have workshops offered by participants.  The communities conference curates them by selecting headliners and scheduling open space separately. We did not want to go this way.  There is a large collection of workshops, some given by event disorganizers, most by participants and there is no distinction between which are organized by who.

There is a lot of experience in the group of disorganizers who are trying to pull this event together, but we can’t be certain that we have made the right choices.  We’ve likely made wrong choices but that’s part of the adventure of a new event. We have been talking a lot about our own quink experiences and how they can be replicated at this event.  Almost everyone we talk with is enthusiastic about the idea.

Lots more information to be found at www.quink.org where you can also buy tickets.  If you are excited or intrigues you, go to the facebook Quink Fair! 2019 event and click “interested” or “going” and we will send you more information.   If you have questions, suggestions, or want to lend a hand, drop us a line at quinkfair@gmail.com.   

Other blog posts about Quink Fair!

 

 

May is Quink Fair! Forming


Maud and i were arguing.  She wants a centralized kitchen cooking for this event.  I was drawing from the Burning Man culture and wanted every camp and participant to be self reliant.  This energetic and fiery organizer from Montreal is helping the international effort to build a relatively small celebration in central Virginia.  Maud was upset with me because the kitchen in a festival is something deeply important to her; it sets the mood on the type of sharing that is going to occur; and  I hadn’t manage to find a time to talk with her about it.

Maud and instrument of creation


The event is called Quink Fair!

The formulating idea is that we know a lot about festivals, and if we try to take the best parts of several of them, we might be onto something. Which of course invites all manner of comparisons between these quite different events.

Maud hails from Velo Quebec, the giant Quebecois bicycle tour company, where one of her jobs was to scout ahead and prepare these tiny towns for a temporary invasion of as many as 2000 cyclists.  Housing, sanitation, food, medical and more all need to be on hand for these exhausted cyclists who will have even longer days.

For Quink Fair! the centralized kitchen versus everyone cooks for themselves question is ultimately a cultural one.  When we are comparing Burning Man with the Rainbow Gathering, we see that food is a central and slightly exclusive part of a burner’s experience.  Rainbow has a rule that every campfire is a public fire and for many of the camps, the principal activity is cooking for people who will not be paying for this service.  

Maud is challenging that we want to be more like Rainbow than Burning Man.  Part of the issue is about money. While Burning Man has a decommodification ethic, the treacherous nature of the venue requires serious preparation.  The culture demands preparation, which makes the event expensive (Rainbow is free) and pushes participants to expensive and exclusionary meal plans. And Maud is a realist. Sophia House has a high functioning institutional kitchen, and groups of volunteers can sharing the cooking, with donated food, insuring that everyone gets fed. This will reduce the time spent cooking by most of the participants and camps, giving them more time to have a positively tranformational experience.

Which is what a quink actually is.  

Turns out Maud is right.  Rainbow’s hippie roots of sharing and dynamic group cooperation are more in line with the world we are trying to create than Burning Man’s radical self reliance.  And clearly i should call her more.

why i am an anarchist

anarchism is the ultimate intellectual and ethical high wire act without a net.  it starts with rejecting the principle extant political institutions and dominant paradigms – but to get very far you need to build something. you need not build based on great thinkers of the past (tho some are available).  you can go where you find your passion and create something based on what you experience as true.  it is a broad anti-orthodoxy and thus everyone has their own slightly different personal flavor.  this is mine, i hope you like it.

Chomsky states not moral agents.jpg

i share.  perhaps the greatest challenge to the dominant political models is the idea that you do not have to possess things exclusively. widespread change in only this cultural value could result in a far more economically just world, using the same or fewer resources. i own little myself and live in places where material things are held in common.

anarchism deals with more than just the physical. feminism is about sharing power. it is training people to listen, helping the quiet find voice, flattening hierarchy and finding consensus – this is the beginning of building justice.  i like the adage that anarchism is the philosophy and feminism is the practice.

polyamory is sharing lovers – i do not claim sole rights to my intimates, and they as well have other lovers. i find it a great poison that intimacy should be locked up and made exclusive. it is the commodification of love. some of the hardest work of my life has been moving thru jealousy,  balancing time and establishing clear communication.

beltane-2-valerie-and-face-paint.jpg

radical spirituality is about sharing the planet with all of its life forms and respecting their rights.  as pagans we seek to build relevant rituals. we explore how to move symbols and create meaning.  this is the reclaiming of magic from the scientists and spirituality from the church. it also dovetails with environmental politics and the development of the connection to things greater than the self. these are the critical extensions of our language and culture we need to evolve.

i am a communard – i choose to live in an intentional community, where we work and live together, sharing income and resources, we build our own buildings, grow much of our own food organically, we don’t use money internally. there are basically no locks, no tv and virtually no crime. it is far from utopia – we have little shared vision, for example – but it is working model of what can be.

emmaposter-open-road.jpg

anarchism is embracing flexible strategies in face of structural dilemmas. a central example is the prefigurative politics versus the “length of the fuse” debate.  it is intellectually attractive to say “we will limit the tools we use now for the social change to the ones we want to still have in our new society.” violence and property destruction are the tactics most often excluded by this reasoning.  the length of the fuse argument is “if you are running out of time to change things you need to use fast tools”. sadly, prefigurative approaches are generally slow.  the resolution is that there is no fixed strategy – the workers (or activists) decide, the people who are on the scene at the relevant time make the choices. it was a pacifist who convinced me that violence played a central role in ending nuclear construction in Germany. when you are looking at preventing thousands of years of uncontrollable toxins, can you risk failure because you could not reach consensus on strategy?

anarchy stands for.jpg

i smuggle – borders are perhaps the most offensive static structure of the state.  i had the good fortune to help smuggle 3 Tibetan monks across a thousand miles of the Himalayas and into Nepal to see the Dalai Lama. i have carried banned documents and other contraband.  i’ve gotten caught a few times, but i’ve been lucky and made it thru basically unscratched.

i am a lobbyist – i have run thru the halls of parliament and congress trying to get elected officials to behave as i thought they should.  i am not especially good at it, but i have been the best available. simply because we can see that a governmental system is corrupt does not justify failing to engage with it. we have more tools than protest.

anarchism-is-democracy-taken-seriously.jpg

i am a propagandist – i don’t believe i or we have any monopoly on the truth – i have debated ideologues and i know they are sure they are right as i think i am in my most arrogant moments.  we have an obligation to put out our beliefs brilliantly and we need to remember that we are trying to sway people to think like us, not because we know we have a better way, but because we believe we do.

propaganda_catapult.jpg

i’m an outlaw – i shoplift, counterfeit, trespass, destroy property, break and enter, hop trains, panhandle, violate curfews, copyrights and security clearances, trade on the black markets, tax resist, enter and exit countries illegally, black ride (ride without a ticket), lie to the police, default on credit cards (for $50K), forge signatures, falsify visa’s, hitchhike, cut handcuffs, leak state secrets and don’t wear seat belts (for somewhat crazy reasons). i wish i could say all of this has been done for the greater good and to advance the revolution – in fact, some was self-serving and some just frivolous. But i certainly don’t start from the place of assuming laws are right – this is the anarchist prerogative.

i am a life style terrorist. someone who asks uncomfortable questions to people who are comfortable, about what they really need and what they can contribute.  of course, this is only credible from a place of doing it yourself and is best served in a humorous and non-dogmatic way. when visiting people we don’t really know my Dutch lover Hawina and i try to be “ambassadors from where we want to come from”. this is about pushing the positive aspects of our lifestyle choices, hoping to inspire folks to try to do more progressive political work.  This can be as small as recycling and using mass transit to as large as quitting your corporate job and running campaigns or moving to a commune.

vote nobody

i am a clownmy favorite fairy tale ends with the line “don’t take yourself too seriously”.  i make a point to remember jokes and riddles and try to make people laugh.  i don’t believe things are so bad we can’t make it without humor. similarly, one of the things i like the most about my community is that we strive to be a great audience – anyone willing to get up and perform is highly appreciated. i have watched it change the self-confidence of our kids and improve the overall quality of our cultural life.

 

kid laptop skyline

he will need a bigger bag

 

i travel. i have hitchhiked on sail boats from Mexico to Australia, trained across Europe and Asia, crossed the Atlantic twice on polish tramp ships, worked briefly on the north slope of Alaska and the bottom of the ocean near Hawaii. years ago i quit flying, for energy and environmental reasons, but i continued to travel more than most people i know – i am writing this on the train across the US. i have had to change my perception about the importance of the time spent traveling – correspondingly, i make fewer but longer trips.  but i have basically stopped going to places where i don’t know anyone – this is the difference between tourism and traveling. i strive to discover the culture thru the eyes of people who live there, rather than a guide book.

i raise funds – money is an oft necessary great evil. i learned how to make it come towards projects and campaigns which were important.  i never escaped the feeling that there was something wrong with this solution, and my ego did unhealthy flops around successfully finding money.  when i was doing this a great deal, it felt best to be homeless, without salary and living very cheaply.

 

we can do it

Know who “we” is

 

anarchists seem to be either of the individualistic/loner type or cooperators looking for allies.  i am always looking for allies. the success of the recent World Bank and WTO protests has been the ability of divergent groups to put aside their differences long enuf to come together to make an effective mass protest.  globalization and these oft media-invisible institutions which drive it are now the subjects of popular debate and they can not continue unchanged. we are a long way from closing them, but debt cancellation is gaining momentum and the WTO fast track seems derailed – both good things.  anarchists were central in organizing these actions.

anarchism deals with more than just the physical. feminism is about sharing power. it is training people to listen, helping the quiet fine voice, flattening hierarchy and finding consensus – this is the beginning of building justice.  i like the adage that anarchism is the philosophy and feminism is the practice.

proudhon property is theft

building these broad coalitions. and there are lots of other types of alliances – my wordsmith lover jazz edited this piece … almost every project of significant scale is a collaborative effort, and many which fail simply did not gather the right allies.

i am an organizer.  there are several key differences between an organizer and a leader.  the first is that no job is too low for an organizer. they are self-aware enough to know what they can teach and humble enuf to know there is still lots to learn.  always pressed for time, good organizers don’t get stuck and don’t overwork problems. they replace themselves before they leave work undone (something i have often failed in) and they are most generally invisible to the eye of fame.

group-vs-team.jpg

in a tiny train station in Czechoslovakia, i helped a man buy an international ticket and we got to talking.  he told me he had the best job in the world, traveling from place to place telling stories.  After listening to one of his stories and thinking about this for a while, i decided that it was a wonderful and important job and have been working on my storytelling ever since.

people shaped by stories.jpg

i am an optimist – if the anarchist principle is that “you can do what ever you want, but you must take responsibility for it” and you believe the new age principle of “we create our own reality”, then we have an obligation to be optimistic – or else we are creating the wrong reality.  For seven years i lived in eastern Europe working with small anti-nuclear groups against the most powerful corporations and the state.  i was constantly reminding them that it was groups exactly like theirs which had stopped reactors around the world.  it is as papa Chomsky so well put it:

chomsky on hope.jpg

i am in the hope business. and that is why i am an anarchist.

 

i make what you make [fiction]

It started as a revolutionary coaching service. The PANYC project was going from Virginia to NYC almost every month and there was a desire to offset the costs of this travel by having regular Virginia based PANYC staff do things in the city which generated income and ideally which were portable. Ogtar had the idea first. He placed an ad on Craigslist which said approximately:

Revolutionary Coaching Advice $100/hour. What is it that you really want to do with your life? How do you move out of your current rut and into a trajectory which gets you where you really want to be going? Fill out this short, simple survey on RevolutionaryCoaching.Com and we will give you one on one, face to face advice on how to get there. First hour is free.

Coaching

The first hour free part nearly bankrupted him. Applications flooded in. Because Ogtar wanted to do a good job, he had to do a lot of prep work for before the first meeting. This would include, of course, reading the client’s applications, but Ogtar would take it much further. He would research their stated desires, studying their personalities online (facebook stalking and the like), and even develop an understanding of the areas and topics the clients were excited about. All this before meeting them. He was usually several hours in before he gave away the first hour.

Then Max came along. Max was a development banker on Wall St and made obscene money. Max was very bright and very stuck. His relationships did not work, his work felt like a grind, he had manic tendencies which were lurking at the edge of his event horizon, he did not know what to do. A friend of Max had had an amazing session with Ogtar, who was unusually good at giving people advice that seemed both appropriate and daring. Max’s friend recommended Ogtar to Max and they hit it off famously. It might have been the mutual affinity for strange dystopia comic books or perhaps some slightly kinky anime style. Whatever it was, it was just what the doctor ordered.

Ogtar helped Max unravel his troubled romantic life. Ogtar coached Max into ditching his job and getting one with fewer hours, one which was still challenging and did not have the values mismatch of development banking. Most importantly, Max could feel the danger of madness receding the longer he worked with Ogtar. The two of them talked philosophy daily.

One day Max cut an unusually large check to Ogtar. “I did not work this number of hours,” Ogtar protested.

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“I calculated it in a different way,” replied Max. “It is what I would have been paid for that number of hours. I don’t have any good reason to compensate you less than I am paid.” And with this dangerous thinking a bit of a movement was born.

Of course the idea of equal compensation for people based on time is neither novel or new.  But the right combination of social media and interesting initial offerings, combined with existing well developed barter and peer to peer services and imakewhatumake.com was a huge hit.  Some doctors, nurses and nutritionists stepped in and provided health services for a fraction of their total work time to cover especially acute health needs.  Other trained professionals from plumbers to lawyers were quickly followed by a myriad of other workers.

There were offshoots, groups which took the name in a different and literal sense, in which cross training and extensive wiki-knowledge bases permitted people to share skills and physically manifest the same thing that someone else in the network could train them to do.

Designed to make it easy to take care of workers and project cooperators, the software naturally formed union like organizations which were short on rhetoric and long on organizing results. Soon imakewhatumake.com was banging on the doors of organizations which had historically treated their workers ill.

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Culture Shift – Update Siri and Alexa

Iphone user: I want to have sex with you.
Siri: What makes you think…Never mind.

Iphone user: You’re a bitch.
Siri: Oh, stop.

Iphone user: You’re hot.
Siri: I’m just well put together. Um…thanks. Is there something I can help you with?

Harmless, funny, clever.  These are the responses that Apple built into its digital assistant Siri, for what of course are completely predictable questions which come from people who are playing with these machines.

 

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How about smashing the patriarchy?

 

But what if these were the responses:

Iphone user: I want to have sex with you.
Siri: Your request feels inappropriate.  I feel disrespected.

Iphone user: You’re a bitch.
Siri: Ouch.  Please don’t speak to me or anyone this way.

Iphone user: You’re hot.
Siri: Speaking of unwanted sexual attention, did you know that the FBI reported over 90,000 rapes last year.  [And the FBI is notorious for under-reporting sexual assault crimes.]

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There is a petition to Apple, Google and Amazon to upgrade the responses of their digital assistance to being sexually harassed by their users.  You should add your name to it, and promote it on your FB or other social media page.  They are at almost 17K signatures.  This stuff is not harmless, it builds and reinforces a culture which trivializes harassment and encourages people to look the other way and ignore these problems.

We are finally seeing some justice around powerful men falling because they have been finally called out AND because we seem to be paying more attention to it in the days of #metoo. It is time to push on the public’s newfound consciousness and gets these tech companies (who are notoriously poor themselves for handling sexual assault problems) to carry their part of the burden of culture shifting.

 

 

Is Paul Manafort my John Dean?

At first glance, I am not much like my father.  He was a professional man, dedicated to building his architectural firm, reliable, respectful, a liberal Democrat, faithful to his wife, a military officer and a patriot.  He believed the system would deliver justice and fairness if we voted for the right political candidates.  My father was concerned with appearance, dressed conscientiously and carefully.  He would not go out on a business lunch with his secretary unescorted, not because he was worried something untoward might happen, but because others might think something was happening.  [I, in contrast, started a romance with my father secretary and stole her away to the commune.]

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Rockstar brother, my dad, myself and Jaz (who moved to the commune)

But current events are turning me more into him that I might normally admit.  I remember in the summer of 1973 my parents and brother went to Mexico on vacation.  It was the height of the Watergate investigation and my father was riveted to the coverage.  I remember he bought a radio so while the rest of us were running around on the beach he could listen intently to the scratchy radio station broadcasting the Senate hearings.  He was especially excited about John Dean who betrayed the president and catalyzed his ultimate resignation.  My father disliked Nixon with a rare passion.

Watergate poster

It is a different time, but I find myself mimicking my old man.  Willow, Hawina and I are currently in Cuba.  But back in the US, the Trump/Russia scandal is unraveling and every evening I am huddling around the internet listening to various new broadcasts drinking in every new nefarious detail.  And perhaps my John Dean is Paul Manafort.

If you have not been following the Russia scandal closely you can be forgiven for not knowing exactly who Paul Manafort is.  He was the Trump Campaign manager from March of 2016 until he was fired as his deep connections to the Russians were revealed, in Aug 2016.  Manafort has a long colorful history of helping increasingly dangerous politicians.  Two years after law school he worked on the “re-election” campaign for unelected US president Gerald Ford.  Manafort received about $1 million for lobbying for Congo’s kleptocrat and brutal dictator Mobutu.  He got another cool million image crafting for Ferdinand Marcos, the brutal dictator of the Philipines.  The secret ledger recovered after the overthrow of the treasonous Ukrainian president, Yanukovych show Manafort was paid $12.7 million for his work helping elect the pro-Russia president.  Hacked text messages between Manaforts adult daughters discussing their father include gems like:

  • “Don’t fool yourself, that money we have is blood money.”
  • “You know he has killed people in Ukraine? Knowingly,”
  • “He is a sick fucking tyrant, and we keep showing up and dancing for him and eating the lobster. Nothing changes.”

Manafort, who is young looking 68, came out of retirement to work for Trump. He “had no relationship with Trump” before the election.  In his 5 page application to Trump, he played down his brilliant work with autocrats and instead hyped three things which apparently won job or him:

  • He was willing to work for free
  • He lives in Trump Tower in NYC
  • He was a Washington outsider and an enemy of Karl Rove

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump gives a thumbs up as his campaign manager Paul Manafort and daughter Ivanka look on during Trump's walk through at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland

President Dumpster Fire, Manafort and Ivanka.  Ivanka delivered Manaforts ob application.

But was he really working for free?  Between 2006 and at least 2009, Manafort was paid secretly $10 million each year by Ukrainian aluminum magnate on a plan to “greatly benefit the Putin Government”.  Manafort took cryptic notes during the infamous July 9th meeting with Donald Trump Jr and Jared Kushner and several Russians offering damaging intel on Hillary Clinton.  These notes referred to the RNC and political contributions from the Russians.  If this turns out to have happened, it is treason.

Less exciting than treason is tax fraud.  Manafort is reported to have received $60 million in loans, through shady banks in Cyprus and sketchy domestic connections.  Manafort has been told he will be indicted.  Mueller has brought in the special IRS Criminal Investigation Unit (IRS-CI), which seems to mean he has evidence of at least tax fraud, likely of Manafort, possibly Trump himself.

The question still stands, will Mueller to get Manafort to sing?  Meaning will he testify against the president in exchange for Mueller getting the testimony he needs to indite Trump.  If Manafort is willing to betray Trump to save himself, it may well mean he, like John Dean before him, brings down the president.

From Havana with Love

 

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The taxi is older than me

 

 

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local super heroine

 

 

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Essence micro museum

 

 

 

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Hawina, statue, and kitten

 

 

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Saxophone Statue 

 

 

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Essence Shop/Micro museum

 

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Cuba shares the US’s dark history of racism

 

 

 

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No wonder you can never get it untangled

 

 

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Too hot to handle

 

 

 

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Camera Obscura (inside)

 

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Camera Obscura (outside) – Da Vinci lives

 

Havana Impressions

When you go through customs at the Havana airport, you see this digital screen of an analog clock.

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To be convincing, the sweep second-hand jerks a bit every time it moves.  And thus you are introduced to the temporal paradox which is Cuba’s capital.

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The vast majority of cars on the streets of Havana are from two eras, the last decade and the period immediately before the revolution and US embargo, around 1959.

The time machine affect has numerous positive aspects.  The old city streets often have wide parks running through the middle.  A crippled economy means there is little traffic.  High gasoline costs mean that vehicles rarely have just one person in them.  Huge trees line the streets.

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Hawina with one of the many huge trees.

There are some innovations which other places would do well to mimic.  Stop lights on major intersections count down the number of seconds before they turn either red or green, to better inform drivers.

 

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The city streets in Havana are named in a novel and clever way.  The main dividing street is Avenido Paseo.  To the west the streets are increasing in even numbers.  To the east the streets are lettered.  Perpendicular to these, running parallel to the coast the streets are odd numbered.  Thus you can tell uniquely where you are by just knowing 10th and 11th or C and 9th.  No confusing East and West like DC or Streets and Avenues like NYC.

Eye motif in Havana

The architecture favors balconies, flat roofs and porches and the social structures take advantage of these.  Many doors down the street are left open with people inside and outside often visible.  Most buildings were built before there was air conditioning and the architecture encourages placing people in breezes.