16: A Month of Nows, Roots of Thens

November 27, 2014 | Posted in Uncategorized | By

Chapter Sixteen


It’s got the zhuzzhh!” says Amanda, about the web work. Man, has Jimbo got some yarns. Out the door from Amber’s little apartment in the big house overlooking the Hudson, a less sunny and even chillier day pends.

The train ride to Manhattan has become nearly a routine, though the $19.50 round trip tariff would never become old hat, so to say. The different personalities of the various North Metro Rail personnel—one very tubby White guy with glasses, a smile, and the psyche of a hopeful elf grown overweight; one focused Black woman of medium build, probably a graduate student; one less intense White woman of similar frame who seemed lost inside herself, and, three times, the same stout, fit thirty-something White fellow who seemed to be carrying on a longstanding inner dialog about issues of great moment to him, but which he wanted to dismiss as trivial at the same time—might merit a study were New York a fated venue for our couple.

Thanks heavens that such is not the case. Hence, quite plausibly the last arrival that Jimbo will ever make into Grand Central unfolded with the same bemusement by many who saw him, with his own orientation that of someone who now knows his way and, once exited, can therefore look up at the skyscrapers and notice the monumental architecture: the Public Library’s stolid square block embodiment of human brainpower and story; Grand Central’s imperial perkiness, like a massive ballerina who can still perform a pirouette flawlessly despite her gigantic footprint, as it were; building after building that could provide a chapter in a modern design dissertation; and the storefronts at street level, somehow making ends meet in New York, mostly of recent vintage but occasionally—like Ben’s Cafeteria, which posits, “Our corn-beef is home-cured; our chicken soup cures everything else”—of more or less venerable lineage.

En route to his appointed nexus, Jimbo examines it all with astonishment, even as his heart feels like a leaden weight in his chest. He’d as soon skip the whole affair, but he’ll show up nevertheless.

As our fellow passes the 42nd Street library entrance, out of nowhere emerges a diminutive golden gnome, an ageless monk who bows and presents him with a little card that guarantees ‘peace and light’ or something similar. Helplessly, Jimbo smiles at the gilded wrappings that flow round this figure who smoothly places a prayer bracelet on our heavy-hearted trade unionist’s right wrist.

The prelate’s English is weak, or he has taken a vow of silence perhaps. In any case, as Jimbo bows and prepares to continue on his way a little lighter in his center, the spry Buddhist holds up an admonishing finger, with which he then points into a tiny booklet filled with indicia of ‘donations’ for the card and the beads.

Happily, Jimbo digs into his pocket to find one of his remaining thirteen dollars. Unfortunately, though, this draws forth a dour grunt, almost dire in its implication. “Mmmmmmm,” with a falling intonation and a breath of warning at the end. He opens the book again and identifies the amounts that those who’ve benefited from this wanderer’s largesse have seen fit to chip in: $20; $10; $10; $50; $30; the book snaps shut.

Jimbo laughs. “It’s not a problem;” he removes the elastic string and hands back the golden, red, and silver benediction.

The monk then smiles too, for the first time. Shaking his head and wagging his finger, something like speech emerges. “No, no, for you,” though this may have been body language and breathy music rather than words.

Then a definite statement: “Five dollar.”

Jimbo’s repeated pantomime of removal and return precedes his honest statement. “I’m a poor man, like you. You can get full value from someone….”

No, no, no. For you!” As he prepares to put up his book, however, the astute golden robed shaman inquires, “Two dollars?”

And with a grin and a chuckle, Jimbo forks over a second dollar bill, thinking to himself that eleven dollars remaining is arguably luckier than a dozen. And onward to the West Side and further interactions he goes.

He’s early enough to claim his seat from the day before. Not so a pair of his comrades: “Well I’m here now,” states a nasal-voiced Chapter Chair from South of us.

Yes, but I was here yesterday, and I’m sitting here again today.” This came from an imposing and tough-minded Chapter Chair from the Midwest.

Who says we have to sit in the same place?”

Nobody said any such thing; but I’m sitting in the same spot that I sat in yesterday.”

Easy access to juice for a power supply is one issue. A place for the horse’s ass who dissed Jimbo yesterday is the other side of things.

Somehow, this minor scuffle lightens Jimbo’s burden further still. He has his computer today and will churn out some Day-in-History material and log-in to the web with his UAW-Guest pass. His e-book reader already has Upton Sinclair’s voice queued up for the time, which will come at some point, for Jimbo to make his final stand about everything.

The day is full of interaction and ideas worth noting. Resolutions in support of freedom of speech for incarcerated people—stemming from Mumia Al Jabal’s experience in Pennsylvania—and in solidarity with injured General Motors employees in Colombia are on tap. A report on the new website hardens Jimbo’s resolve even more.

It is a tame presentation; the At-Large URL is already doing much of what this new iteration hopes to achieve, and for tons less cash outlay too. Jimbo wants to ask a simple question, about the FaceBook tie and give some kudos, but the presenter, an all-too-typical ‘diversity-girl’ on parade, valley accent and “like, you know?” eye-rolls in tandem, literally calls on half a dozen other people three or four times, and several others twice, while skipping over our jolly roger.

In the end, he merely leaves his hand raised, so that people start to stare and shift uncomfortably at this display. Finally, with an eye-roll as prelude, she asks, “Yes?”

Then, Jimbo inquires about the FB feed and, when she dismisses him before he can finish, interrupts to make an additional point about engagement and virtuality and more, ideas that he had not intended to share but decided to in the context of her obvious, and mean-spirited, treatment.

The union’s NGO makes a pitch. Other odds and ends move from agenda to discussion. Before the penultimate spree—resolutions and such—the assembled group takes another look at the organizing process.

Several responses, combining snark and general critique, to Jimbo’s late night e-mail about Edward’s points rolled in prior to this direct exchange of views. He in turn replied equably, if sternly, to all and sundry.

To wit, to a Grievance & Contract Division Chair: “Thank you Barbara.  However, those are your words–“DECIDE anything for the union.”

On the other hand, my point is undeniable.  The committee did make the determination that I stated, for itself.

Solidarity Forever.

And to her apology for making ‘inferences:’ “Hey there!

No harm done.  Apologies accepted.

The Organizing Committee might change its conclusions or decision.  But we cannot do that at this meeting, except inasmuch as the Organizing Committee accedes to that change.

Solidarity Forever.

And to our treasurer: “Thank you Mitzi!

I am well aware of the organizational and legal responsibilities of the Chapter Chairs in relation to the NWU  bylaws.   I am also aware of the organizational and legal responsibilities of the NWU in relation to the United Auto Workers Constitution.

Thus, I repeat.  In the At-Large Chapter, our articulation of the NWU by-laws will be more open and inviting than what appears on National literature and so forth.  Such a choice matches perfectly the rights and responsibilities of sub-units according to the UAW Constitution.

Solidarity Forever.

The conversation about these points, almost miraculously, turns humorous, despite attempts to patronize and condescend to our fellow. He pokes fun at himself and others with the same pitchfork. The overall point is pretty simple: he understands that the reality of whom the union accepts contravenes the tone of the outreach language—which relentlessly calls for professional writers who have made a mark so to speak, but facts, not feelings, prove that this approach puts people off. “If that’s what y’all want, that’s y’all’s business; but the At-Large will approach things differently, thanks all the same.”

And then the focus switches to strategic conceptions as such. Kim wants, and assumes an acceptance of, a focus on social justice issues. Several people disagree, saying that we risk offending the apolitical and the Grand Old Party writers who, by some bizarre concatenation of miracle and interest, might join the union.

The UAW rep’s rejoinder to this is magnificent. “We caught flack for bailing MLK out of jail; but I defy anyone now to say that this was the wrong action then. We sat in solidarity with ANC actions in South Africa for years, and once more we got plenty of negative feedback; but I defy anyone now to say that this was the wrong action then. We’ve always been a social justice union. It’s how we’ve kept members and gotten new members.”

Jimbo had already chipped in about best practices and the way that, pretensions aside, little or no empirical basis exists for avoiding social outreach. Unions, scholars, and grassroots activists have uniformly affirmed this perspective’s validity.

The final sequence comes around again to Jimbo. He once more induces laughter. “I have never been a particularly social, or sociable, person.” And then he’s clear. “But I’ve also never much appreciated bullshit. Y’all know, like Harry Frankfort, political philosopher from Princeton says: ‘The most salient feature of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. We all contribute our share and we all feel rather confident of our ability to avoid its snares.’

Instead of living in a land where bullshit reigns supreme, I call for us to honor reason and fact. And that requires conversation. Personally, as a writer, what I want is to write, to be heard.”

A universal nod of agreement did accompany this statement. Jimbo nodded too and continued. “And that’s what all writers, without exception, want first and foremost. And the system that we have now is not delivering. This is our big opportunity, because we could grow the union in a way that would deliver the goods—a place to speak, a forum for hearing, and so on.

tw bkAnd that’s not all. Corporate media, again without any contravening cases, are corrupt and fraudulent. My perspective on this flows from rational interpretation of data, and plenty of others have reached similar conclusions. Upton Sinclair was one. His harsh critique of American journalism, The Brass Check, is little-read now; we should all read it, however, and we can listen now to a brief excerpt.

I believed, and still believe, that (the Associated Press) was a perfect case of news suppression(especially in relation to the Ludlow massacre and Rockefeller). Here was the closest approach yet to the social revolution in America; here was the class war, naked and undisguised—on the one side the lives of thirty or forty thousand wage slaves, on the other side a hundred million dollars of invested capital, controlling the government of an entire state, and using this control to suppress every legal and constitutional right of American citizens, and to drive them into armed revolt. To this conspiracy the Associated Press had lent itself; it was being used, precisely as the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency, precisely as the puppets of State government. The directors and managers of the Associated Press were as directly responsible for the subsequent starvation of these thousands of Colorado mine slaves as if they had taken them and strangled them with their naked fingers. If it had been such individual crimes of strangling, all society would have agreed on the need for publicity. I have made it my task in life to force the same kind of publicity for the economic crimes of predatory social classes.”

Soon after this, Jimbo was ready to exit. He assigned his proxy vote in favor of both resolutions to Larry, el Presidente. In the midst of the break that Jimbo used as a cover for his parting, Larry thrust a sandwich upon him and gave him an unexpected bear hug. Certainly, the whole process contained many interesting moments.

The return to Nyack was like returning to an earlier time. Salaam to Amber, shoes again on our feet—the Muslim custom of removing them had characterized the stay here—we left with smiles and hugs and promises of continued contact.

The Blue Man again offered guidance. Zooming around the New York metro interstates, who knows whether we dotted all our ‘i’s’ or crossed all our ‘t’s’ correctly? We were racing South to Winchester and waiting for Jersey’s and Pennsylvania’s cheap gas to fill Tina Toyota’s tank again.

When we stopped, in the bitter chill a few miles from the Keystone State line on I-78, we encountered the amazing benefit of having a designated gas-pumper, which both helped the local economy and guaranteed that no ‘topping-off-the-tank’ would increase the level of atmospheric carbon. Our attendant was a little fellow with a certain lilt to his accent.

After Alicia departed for her omnipresent ‘business’ needs, Jimbo inquired, “So where are you from originally?”

The dapper man paused in his routine, arching his eyebrows. “China” was his deadpan response.

Really! China?”

Yeah, sure, what’s wrong with dat?”

Hey man; nothing wrong, it’s just that you sound, I don’t know, like maybe you were from Romania or Hungary or something like that.”

He didn’t blink as he stared at Jimbo, almost a glower. Then he shrugged; almost sotto voce, he said. “I’m Ukrainian.”

Even as the reason for his reticence became absolutely clear, Jimbo was ebullient. “Ukraine? Really?”

Yeah. So what?”

I’ve written articles about Ukraine.”

You don’t say.”

Yeah, sure; two in the past month.”

You’re kidding, right?”


So what’d you write about?”

I talked about all the stuff that the bullshit on the media doesn’t mention. You’ve heard of Nikita Khrushchev, right?”

A nod ensues.

He was from Donbas.”


He was. And Leonid Brezhnev was from Sevastopol I think. And you know who Leon Trotsky was, don’t you?”

Yeah, sure, Trotsky, big revolutionary.”

Right, well his was seventh generation Cossack family from North of Kiev.”

You don’t say.”

It’s true.”

I’ll be damned.”

And Jimbo gives him a card, amazed to find out that he’s over fifty and that his two daughters still live there, near Lvov, hard up by the Polish border.

Through nearly frozen rain, mixed with sleet, Alicia and her mensch traverse Pennsylvania, bypassing TMI yet again, and well past dark cross the abbreviated neck of Maryland and the tiny stretch of West Virginia that lead them to Winchester. There, dear Monica and Kurt have arranged a Hampton Inn.

Checked in, showered, and set up for Internet radio, Jimbo manages a half hour’s nap, while Alicia does crunches and treadmills and free weight repetitions in the gym on the first floor. Their radio is disjointed but transpires without a hitch.

They disport like wanton teens in their big bed, firm and inviting, before they drift into dreamland without even the need for an alarm. Dreams of roadways and paths to perdition and heaven at once usher in their dreams.




15: A Month of Nows, Roots of Thens

November 26, 2014 | Posted in Uncategorized | By

Chapter Fifteen



At best, the almost universally touted notion of individual responsibility—with its implication that one can make of oneself what one will—lies somewhere between foolish and insane on any rational evaluative scale: this will ever remain so till some individual can manage to engender, gestate, and bear himself fully formed into the world, not to mention the task of rearing himself from helpless infancy to the fatuous fullness of self-regard that imagines his capacity as so awesome as to dispense with others’ inputs and assistance in creating a ‘self-made’ product.

Man, the shit is so cool of late. “It’s not a problem.” Thus, this novel of now and November continues, as the Ides of November pass by.

This iconoclastic text intentionally flavors its pages with documentation. Its characters center on Chilean Alicia and Appalachian Jimbo.

Its flow resembles a stream of consciousness that also consciously embodies a narrative. Its semblance of reality contains constructs wholly fabricated, emanating from fantasies and images that no more happened than Jimbo’s father bore this boy in daddy’s womb.

Yesterday, Alicia and Amber ambled around Manhattan in a visit to the Museum of Modern Art. Today will take them to the Guggenheim. The ways are legion that make New York City the epicenter of capitalist culture, and these two experiences are among those embodied bourgeois sensibilities.

Multi-billion dollar endowments, multi-billion dollar collections, exhibitions that have all the ‘credibility’ that multi-billion dollar capacities and producer buy-in can manifest, under such circumstances, the vortex of making markets and establishing standards inevitably circles around these institutions.

Their every move is news. Their very being is an expression of the voluntocracy, of the ‘not-for-profit’ funding and actualization model that both absolutely prohibits politics except as a fetish and induces individualist and narcissistic eventualities over and over and over again.

That said, these spaces and experiences are magnificent. They truly magnify what is soulful. They are spectacular, making of some spectacle a substitute for social engagment, wisdom, transformation. They do a difficult job well for ‘stakeholders’ who truly have everything at stake, since in aggregate they own all but small slices of the entire planet, including all of its ‘verifed’ cultural output and production.

And this is a perfect contextualization of Jimbo’s involvement from nine to five at the union headquarters atop the building on the West Side. The organization president weighs in, with a focus on a wider context that includes Palestine, Amazon, and poverty. The United Auto Workers chime in, with a call for solidarity and action.

Money_CashHowever, most of the morning’s discussion deals with money and dues, about which the general consensus is that, having negotiated a method-of-paying our UAW input that would leave us little worse off after the overall uppage than we were prior to it, NWU itself should raise its rates so as to close the still real $50,000 gap between income and outgo, in which dear Duna Norton’s advice from long ago and far away is still apt: “If your income don’t exceed your outgo, your upkeep’s a gonna be your downfall.”

Jimbo’s report from At-Large, that a general resistance to higher dues was prevalent, was neither here nor there in this regard. His prediction that a dues hike would lead to a falloff of plus-or-minus fifteen percent in membership elicited a wager with Mr. Larry, of twenty bucks, that the drop would be closer to fifteen than to five percent.

What do we do for people?” was a query that underlay much of this chatter. Press passes, and their implementation, contract and grievance advice and intervention, and a sense of solidarity were real enough. But what else we proffered was not at all clear to many people.

Jimbo suggested that insurance ought to be a priority, and that a venue for publication, a constant linking and job-referral function, a slough of classes and programming opportunities, as well as contests, list-servs, translation and digitization services, ought also to be part of what NWU regularly promotes for its writers and members.

He wrote about all this here. “Specific Opportunities for Growing Ourselves:

In regard to the appended ‘Strategic…Overview,’ here are a very few very specific actions and eventualities that we could and ought to do.

  • We ought to have a national platform, and encourage chapters to develop either connected or their own platforms, to which only members could contribute blogs or other commentary, writing, production, but which would be open to public view and participation.
  • We ought to have regular opportunities—some don’t like ‘contests,’ but certainly ‘opportunities’ might be possible that included both competition and some mix of collaboration and participation.
  • We ought to move toward publishing, producing, and distributing news, books, podcasts, video, radio, and film that are first and foremost—arguably exclusively—an option for our members to develop and share their work.
  • We ought to position ourselves to promote critical thinking and expression skills among the young, both in terms of encouraging teachers to join us and in terms of facilitating networks of schools and educators in which our members would participate, for pay, in inculcating writing and comprehension excellence among students, especially those who are the children of workers.
  • We ought to form a student Chapter of the NWU, or something similar.
  • We ought to call, or work with others to promulgate, a conference on the formation of a working-class conscious ‘labor’ political party.
  • We ought to begin exploring and operationalizing actions that employ the traditional economic weapons of labor—what I call “Quit Down Strikes” are one example; boycotts are another.
  • We ought to reach out to cultural workers in nations, particularly in the Western Hemisphere—Bolivia, Venezuela, Cuba, Argentina, Nicaragua, and more—whose policies are more socially democratic, with the goal of establishing an aggressive presence ourselves in support of workers’ cultural rights and the rights of cultural workers.
  • We ought to identify festivals and events that have particular resonance for writers—labor film festivals; social justice in fiction conferences; the possibilities are basically endless—and either prioritize attending such happenings or make sure that instances of such work are forthcoming.
  • In regard to work among Hispanic writers especially, we ought to create a ‘translation’ and cross-seeding process for both new and ‘iconic’ texts.
  • We ought to identify key statutory areas of concern for writers and create a Model Working-Writers Legislation program, or something similar: copyright, telecommunications, privacy, and journalistic shields are a few examples.
  • We ought to develop a project for identifying materials in the public domain—the La Follette Committee Hearings; the works of socially conscious authors such as Upton Sinclair and activists such as Eugene Debs; and the reports of various government agencies that are currently only occasionally accessible; background documents about social, political, and economic history, including many classics—that are not digitally easy to find or download, and begin making them available online.

Of course, one might continue. But this ought to suffice as a ‘primer.’”

In the back and forth about these matters, a variety of difficulties and possible pragmatic solutions came up. In the final analysis, the vote for a 25% dues surcharge recommendation from the National Executive Committee passed unanimously, except for Jimbo’s lone ‘Nay’ vote.

The afternoon session, after we ate very well indeed at lunch—from soup to nuts and all ‘food groups’ in between—focused on the organizing process, on the Newsletter, on the Who Pays Writer connection potential, and on a pair of successful wage-recovery campaigns that NWU orchestrated, both of which yielded not just money but significant bumps in our numbers and a big jump in activism among our adherents.

Most of the contention revolved around organizing. Tim Scipes insisted that we ponder why we’re not more popular, not only among potential recruits, but also among our own fucking ranks. Fernando delivered the general orientation. Discussions were lively and revealed many nuanced points of view.

Jimbo again won the ‘least-popular-trope’ award with his take. “We’re not willing to look far outside the electoral arena politically; we’re sticking to the Democratic Party like that organization really represents us; we’ve overwhelmingly oriented our work to adherence to the programs and plans of the United States Government, as if that apparatus is in our favor; we show no willingness to discuss alternatives to capital and private property as the organizing principles that govern our efforts at mediation, our work as writers. These are all profound strategic errors,” he contended.

He also recorded his ideas, as the following illustrates. “Strategic Organizing for Writers: An Overview

Everything here, with the exception of the premise and the two final outlined items, has appeared in one or more of the multiple documents that I have presented to folks, most of them offshoots or reconfigurations of work from the At-Large Steering Committee. I’ve made these points repeatedly in our interactions as a committee as well. Thus far, little or no discussion on these points has occurred; we’ve just agreed not to talk about them and accede to their ongoing interest to the At-Large Steering Committee.

We can continue to ignore these points. As the Zen aficionados express the upshot, “I am not attached.” But I do insist on advancing both these ideas and my belief that they are of critical import.

I could be wrong. However, if I am correct—and that has to be possible—then our proceeding without contextualizing these matters will lead to our failure, or our reliance on random outcomes for our success.

Furthermore, my opinions do stem from reasoning, an activity of considering facts and making arguments that I am capable of actualizing now and again. The following are some examples, which appear here and at the end.

First, except for the morning of August sixth, 1945, the world stands closer to a nuclear war than it ever has, with the attendant potential now for conflagration, annihilation, even extinction. Second, the government of the United States of America is promulgating in many instances explicitly fascist political solutions to socioeconomic problems that characterize its corporate empire. Third, working people everywhere, and in some ways especially our vaunted ‘freelancers,’ face crushing, even catastrophic near-term diminution in already straitened circumstances. Do such eventualities make a difference to our work? Should they? The answer to such queries is at a minimum an arguable affirmative.

These assertions bring me to the premise, and the massively abbreviated expression of these notions, for this particular iteration.

  • Reason, as in Tom Paine’s famous Appeal, can make a difference. However, it is only possible if the voices of those who are part of a process—and the discourse that they ‘appeal’ for folks to consider—receive a hearing that includes at least a thorough joining of the issues; put most plainly, we have to talk about what Fernando is asking, what Tim Scipes is suggesting, and what I am requesting, as thoroughly and as urgently as we need to agree on some overall or general ‘statement’ to give to members. In fact, any such statement to members, without such inclusive conversations, will likely mean ineffective, or even disastrous, outcomes.
  • In any sort of successful discovery of knowledge and the strategy and planning that depend on understanding, presumption is an absolute death sentence for any result other than a hope or chance, arbitrary and lucky, of succeeding. Anyone who has ever played a skill game knows that this statement is indisputable. Our work evinces two absolutely obvious assumptions that we have not dealt with, except to gloss them over and insist that we’ll move forward anyway.
  • The first such assumed element concerns our work as an organization in relation to writers, citizens, and action for improving our lives and the world’s prospects.
  1. We assume, or our orientation and programs reflect an assumption, that our target audience should primarily focus on so-called ‘published authors.’
  2. We assume, or our orientation and programs reflect an assumption, that the options that we encourage in relation to that group should center-around established forms and institutions.
  3. We assume, or our orientation and programs reflect an assumption, that our organization has no place leading the way toward alternatives to these SOP mechanisms.
  4. We assume, or our orientation and programs reflect an assumption, that socioeconomic action and political-economic analysis have no core place in our labors; they are at best ancillary, ad-hoc, after the fact.
  5. We assume, or our orientation and programs reflect an assumption, that even the standard tools of labor unions—strikes and other direct actions to attack those who crush us—are off-limits to us, because of ‘laws’ or other protocols that, more than anything else, are social constructs of oppression and injustice.
  • The second such presumed component is in relation to our organization as a union, a member of the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations, in regard to which we more or less completely embody several approaches to our work in the current sociopolitical and political economic context.
  1. In this regard, four presumptions are particularly troubling. First, we presume, or our programs and orientation reflect a presumption, that the realm of politics first and foremost includes electoral matters, along with attendant lobbying, lawsuits, and related administrative and legislative work.
  2. Second, in relation to this first accepted truism, we presume, or our programs and orientation reflect a presumption, that the National Democratic Party is our party, not only the default choice but also, practically, a rational selection for benefiting workers’ organizations and workers themselves.
  3. Third, we presume, or our programs and orientation reflect a presumption, that the United States Government is both an eternal, even omnipotent force that we have no choice but to accept, and in fact an ally with whom we can and must collaborate.
  4. Fourth, and perhaps most insidious and pervasive, we presume, or our programs and orientation reflect a presumption, that capitalism is, along with its primary contemporary expression in the aforementioned U.S. imperial phalanx, ineluctable, and that ‘realistic’ and pragmatic efforts in our own regard must accept such omnipresent and ongoing omnipotence with at most a sigh and a shrug.
  • As I note here once more, having called attention to it again and again, we have not discussed this NWU twofold presumptuous organizational character. If we don’t discuss this, and then make conclusions and take action in relation to this that are the consequence of our discussions, then our initiatives will fail. Just in case anyone didn’t notice this is a testable prediction or hypothesis.
  • One response to this entire course of intervention, which I have been attempting since I and the At-Large Steering Committee played a key part in getting this organizing project underway, is to ignore them or dismiss them. Such a preference has thus far been characteristic—“This is neither the time nor the place;” ‘This will never be the time, nor will we ever provide a place:—to which my response has been a uniform and respectful, “I disagree.” We owe it to ourselves to make the time and place here and now, and moving forward from here and now.
  • In fact, I state unequivocally that the most radical and revolutionary sorts of ideas need to be part of our intercourse in this matter, radical not only in terms of political and social agendas, but also in terms of how we conceive of our organizational work and attempts to expand; revolutionary not only in terms of social and political transformation of the most profound sorts, but also in terms of how we actually expand and specify the National Writers Union.
  • Finally, we are living in scary times. First, except for the morning of August sixth, 1945, the world stands closer to a nuclear war than it ever has, with the attendant potential now for conflagration, annihilation, even extinction. Second, the government of the United States of America is promulgating in many instances explicitly fascist political solutions to socioeconomic problems that characterize its corporate empire. Third, working people everywhere, and in some ways especially our vaunted ‘freelancers,’ face catastrophic, even crushing near-term diminution in already straitened circumstances. Do such eventualities make a difference to our work? Should they? The answer to such queries is at a minimum an arguable affirmative.”

In the event, most of the afternoon, up till New York’s twelfth story dusk was well underway, dealt with other matters than what Jimbo suggested. Some of all of that, coming from Fernando primarily, considered closely related issues—figuring out how to organize more inclusively, how to position ourselves so as to be able to manifest some of the weapons of struggle that unions have typically embodied, and more. Yet even adding such points, the lion’s share of the time from 1:00 to 5:00 cogitated other matters altogether.

What will the upshot of these exchanges be? A novel-of-November will be unlikely to reveal an answer to such inquiry. But time will tell, one way or another.

Before the final bell, in any case, a half-day interloper by the name of Susan Davis had wandered in. She said various things, stentorian and pointed in her tone. Much of what she articulated seemed strong and worthwhile.

At one point, Jimbo, agreeing with an idea that she promoted, which had ended with a question about who would do this work, stated, “So now you have to be the one to carry this forward, the price of having such a dandy concept.”

And she turned on dear Jimbo like a rabid cur. “NO! I’m sick, I’ve got a pacemaker for God’s sake, and people like you, with your pushiness, make me especially sick and tired! I’ll do nothing of the kind.”

Somehow or other, despite feeling wounded by her intentional viciousness, Jimbo said little more than that he hoped she’d get better. He did, however, develop a strong inclination to avoid socializing with a crowd that would provide her a special place at their table, as things had transpired directly adjacent to our erstwhile ‘hero.’

Here’s another little something that Jimbo wrote to the crowd at NWU. He delivered it after spending an evening at Panera Bread in suburban Tarrytown, amazed at a clerk’s sweetness to two seemingly grassroots police officers on their overnight lunch hour.

He had elected, after sober reflection, to forego a trek to a museum and a dinner with this generally ‘hostile audience,’ so to speak. He found some lovely flavored coffee and read more of Upton Sinclair’s Brass Check, where every other page delivered a rousing affirmation of Jimbo’s thinking.

Hey all!

This country boy got all turned round.  I am so sorry I missed the lovely dinner and apologize for any worry that I might have caused.

I just got access to a computer again, so I wanted to write to let everyone know that I’m swell.  I did manage to find Grand Central Station.

I also wanted to make a couple of points about what Edward said today concerning publishing.  He spoke powerfully and passionately about our responsibility to educate people about copyright and that therefore we should not change our wording in relation to a ‘requirement’ either that our members have ‘publishing credits’ or that they are ‘seeking publication.’

Despite his articulate persuasiveness, I beg to differ.  We might stipulate that one useful service or benefit of NWU could be to provide insights about things like copyright.  However, even if we made that stipulation, and I would insist on a very different contextualization of our duty in that regard, as it were, in relation to copyright issues and so on, his conclusion does not follow from the premise.

The Organizing Committee discussed this at length–overall a minimum of an hour and a half over a couple of meetings.  I made the point, heatedly disputed by many, that the wording of the current language could be–and in identifiable instances of my experience–had been offputting.  Thus, whatever duty that we might have to educate the ‘ignorant’ about matters that some of us assume that we all agree about, we would never have the chance to do this supposedly necessary inculcation if my contentions about alienating language were correct.

In this context, Terri Lapinski made an interesting point.  She didn’t join the NWU for a period of months, or even years–I forget the exact length of time, but we could find out, eh?–precisely because she read our language of ‘engagement,’ and she said, “Oh, I don’t qualify.”

The conversation took a turn then.  We did agree to change that language. 

Now Edward’s opinions are passionate and articulate, and he is a powerfully persuasive speaker.  Nonetheless, we cannot change the fact that the Organizing Committee process decided differently.  I just wanted to point that out.  The organizing committee decided otherwise.

In any event, the At-Large website is going to continue contextualizing this in a very inclusive way indeed. 

If you use words in your work or otherwise to do your job or improve your prospects, you’re a writer; please join us—you are welcome!

If you use words to facilitate greater social justice or democracy, you’re a writer; please join us—you are welcome!

If you use words to improve human understanding or contribute to knowledge, you’re a writer; please join us—you are welcome!

And the North Metro train did indeed operate to deliver JImbo from evil. He tarried not at all in Tarrytown, but after a certain degree of due diligence, he did manage to find a lovely spot to hang out till Alicia and Amber made their way to environs close at hand.

Ultimately, he ended up ensconced under his coat near the homestead’s driveway, where sweet Alicia found him a bit after 10:30. Again, he and his love and her friend, taking many sojourns down metaphorical pathways about media and work and connection, spoke for hours about the day that had typified an obscure union office in Midtown Manhattan.

Then, finally, a shower and a hard floor beckoned once more, in anticipation of a final round of conversation on Sunday.




14: A Month of Nows, Roots of Thens

November 25, 2014 | Posted in Uncategorized | By

Chapter Fourteen

Despite an unforgiving floor, given the extent of the push that has transpired over the past twenty-four hours or so, Jimbo crashed to some deep place where plus-or-minus five hours of sleep on Amber’s carpet restores something like equanimity and reality orientation.

Snow stories, weekend expectations, Serbian encounters at Starbucks and tons more in the way of meetings and recollections are worth noting. A lanky athlete was hunkering down over his keyboard while Jimbo settled in at a Palisades perch.

The only outlet in the little triangle of caffeine and sugar and cream cheese and half-and-half required that Jimbo stretch a wire through this strapping lad’s stool in order to couple plug with juice. “Excuse me. Could I just….”

Oh sure.” That accent sent a shiver.

I don’t want to trip you up.”

It’s not a problem.” The rumbled swallowing of the pronoun, the particular music of the enunciation, resonated like an old song.

As Jimbo stood from joining power to device, he asked, “You’re not Serbian, are you?”

Bug-eyed stares are such a delight; especially when they last a few beats. “I ammm!!”

Jimbo’s nodding chuckle reveals his joyful affirmation.

But how did you know dat?”

I wasn’t sure, but the way you said, ‘T’s nut eeh prewblem’ reminded me of a friend. She said the same thing. She was the craziest woman I’ve ever met and every inch a Serbian.”

We exchanged a bit more about the current context of a ravaged land. Then we worked. He gave me a bottle of wine when he left; he took Jimbo’s GRE-wizard card. And that was that.

A suburban New York mall thus yields yet one more chance evolution of the cosmic yum’s whispered hello. For Spindoctor’s purposes, though, the materials in regard to the get-together in Manhattan this evening, and over the remainder of the weekend, take precedence.

They’ll represent an integral part of the ‘fictionalization’ of the day. After a two day period of deconstitutionalized constipation, Jimbo’s bowels return to their normal prolific form, less convenient in a crowded mall, but the work goes forward, and he lugs everything across the atrium to the toilet as necessary.

He also completes all of the necessary documentation that he wants to share, first of all an overview of how to conceive of ‘writers’ and their ‘payment’ in terms that contemplate a different ‘marketplace’ than what now holds sway. “Another world is possible,” insists Jimbo.

Alternate ‘Pay the Writer’ Modalities: Initial Ideas

By Jim Hickey, Current At-Large Chapter Chair

Just as, in the past, unions owned radio stations where members could speak and make music and offer dramas and more for listeners, until the Radio Act of 1927 and the imposition of advertising-supported models took hold completely; just as, in the past, unions operated newspapers and magazines and publishing outlets where workers and members had a forum to communicate with each other and the world, until the monopoly-media model so powerfully demonstrated by Ben Bagdikian and William McChesney and others achieved almost total hegemony; just as in the coming to pass of the present, entire societies have assumed control of their own media—before which the imposition of these same sorts of ‘business models’ had predominated—in such a way as to make the hiring and engagement of working scribes and cultural operatives a matter of social rather than ‘private’ concern, so too here and now and with the efforts of our modest National Writers Union we might imagine growing to such an extent that we also could proffer chances for our members to publish, to produce, to create, to participate, to collaborate, and to distribute—for decent pay—media of all forms and types; in fact, insuring that such opportunities transpired could become a substantial contributing factor to the process of growth on which the financial capacity to compensate people depends.

In the event, after leaving the mall’s standardized environment, he sallies forth to Tarrytown, where he has just read in Upton Sinclair’s evisceration of American Journalism, The Brass Check, that Rockefeller maintained a household when he was busy orchestrating the murder of miners and their families in Ludlow, Colorado. There on this chilly November afternoon exactly a century later, figuring out the logistical and statutory basis for leaving a car takes an hour, and induces the purchase of some dandy pizza to garner the change for the parking meter.

The trek to Manhattan is like a journey back and forward in time simultaneously. Jimbo’s attention rivets on the untrammeled brutality that Kissinger and others were visiting on Chile at precisely the point that Jimbo’s first trek to New York unfolded.

At the same time that memory was carrying him back to these youthful forays, and odd bits of Chinese-marketed opiated wine yarns—from U-Haul returns that then turned into backgammon interludes—also traipsed across the mental screen, however, his thoughts cast forward in time, to an all-too-likely fusing annihilation of this agglomeration of humanity, a sacrifice to the gods of war and the inadequacies of capital in this current context of anything-but-growth. One never knows, either about a receding pass or an onrushing tomorrow, but echoes about the former and lightning flashes regarding the latter do present themselves.

Extricating himself from Grand Central Station and wending his way a mile or so to West 38th Street proves much easier than he feared. But after walking through the canyons of New York, he certainly doesn’t want to walk up twelve flights, especially given that he’s late.

Nevertheless, he lets himself in to a room with plus or minus forty people following a panel that consists of a heartfelt trust-fund girl who has come up with a genius concept—Who Pays the Writer, a young journalistic wizard, and a union aficionado who feeds them questions. The conversation centers around the need for standards in relation to asking for more money and support from corporate thugs.

Jimbo manages to read all but the final sentence from above, before a designated hit-girl—the Newsletter editor, no less—cuts him off. Everyone who ventures away from accommodating capital receives similar treatment too. Before she hushes the group after she has spit out a ‘cease-and-desist’ to our Jimbo, a spontaneous burst of applause almost uncranks itself when he quits talking.

He also introduces a “point of information” about Contributoria and has at least half-a-dozen brief chats with various of his fellow travelers before he meets the person who could only be Larry G. and the person who somehow does not fit the form that he had created for Ms. Mitzi.

The following document is also one that he sent on to his colleagues. “A Specific Strategic Necessity: Health Insurance

No other development has so hamstrung our ability to attract and retain the authors who represent our default audience—whether such a choice is apt is another matter—than has the loss of a national health insurance option. Under such circumstances, only one move is possible, if we intend to strengthen our capacity to become larger and stronger, especially among those potential members whose work and interests are our primary orientation.


We must find a national health insurance option that works for all—or at least all our United States—members. No excuse or difficulty in this regard is acceptable. It is a sine qua non, moreover, that all manner of evidence suggests that we can in fact successfully address.


A single item from the At-Large websites Daily Links follows in this regard. It is one of several over the past couple of months that has dealt with this issue.



http://www.springboardexchange.org/features/everyartistinsured.aspx?utm_source=VerticalResponse&utm_medium=Email&utm_term=Every+Artist+Insured+-+A+Goal+and+an+Opportunity&utm_content={Email_Address}&utm_campaign=Declassifying+the+Classics    A definitely useful and arguably critical opportunity for scrappy scribes and their organization, in regard to assuring that every artist–which could include every writer–receives a chance to obtain affordable insurance coverage, though without much acknowledgment of the vicious situation that Southerners face in these matters: ‘There are real financial protections as well.  Insurers can no longer impose annual or lifetime dollar limits on medical benefits.  And plans must limit an enrollee’s out-of-pocket expenses (including the deductible) to $6,600 for an individual or $13,200 for a family (2015 amounts). The social significance of this cannot be exaggerated – it ends the era of ruinous medical debt, with bills of 100K or more sending afflicted families into bankruptcy. At the heart of the ACA, the feature that makes health insurance affordable for low and middle income artists, are the premium subsidies (tax credits) and other cost reductions.  The amount of the subsidy depends on actual income and family size, and works on a sliding scale.’”

The city-that-never-sleeps wraps around his psyche for a trek up the Hudson. He and Amber and Alicia talk about writing and art and life deep into the night. The rugged bedding again embraces him, once he finishes a barely warm shower and a few questions for his fellow laborers.

Moreover, as always, the world offers up a daily display.


A Thought for the Day

Unlike the cycles of the wild, which instruct us in the paradoxical and dialectical necessity of light and dark, hot and cold, venture and return, and similar forms of revolution, on the contrary the harsh strictures of management and its myriad forms of imperial imprimatur, which ever insist on uniformity and consistency as prerequisite to existence, inculcate enslavement of ourselves and profiteering for the plutocracy as the eternal, unchanging, given order of the Earth: thus, nature’s is the school of life, whereas the empire’s tutelage enrolls its minions in academies of annihilation.


Quote of the Day

“I took upon myself to enact the part of a poor unfortunate crazy girl, and felt it my duty not to shirk any of the disagreeable results that should follow. …I always made a point of telling the doctors I was sane, and asking to be released, but the more I endeavored to assure them of my sanity, the more they doubted it.”  Nellie Bly, about her investigative sojourn at a mental ‘asylum’: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/n/nellie_bly.html.


This Day in History

Noting another widespread killer, medical authorities have designated today as World Diabetes Day; two hundred ninety-eight years ago, more or less to the day, the philosopher and mathematician Gottfried Leibniz died; one hundred eighty-three years gone by, revered and studied philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel passed away; three decades later, to the day, in 1861, a baby boy was born who matured as historian and writer Frederick Jackson Turner, promulgator of the Frontier Thesis in American History; a century and a quarter back exactly, a pathbreaking woman journalist, Nellie Bly, initiated a trek around the world, to be completed within eighty days, which she in fact finished up seventy-two days later; a plane successfully took off from the deck of a naval vessel a hundred four years ago in Hampton Roads, Virginia; just one year less than a century back, famed Black leader and promoter of improvement-through-business Booker T. Washington breathed his last; one year later, economics innovator and writer Henry George died; the Communist Party of Spain formed ninety three years before the here-and-now; a year later, the British Broadcasting System began its radio programming in England on a regular schedule; sixty-seven years back, the baby boy who developed the razor wit and writing precision of P.J. O’Rourke came into the world; an American physicist forty-seven years prior to the present pass received the first patent for a laser; forty-five years ago, the second Apollo Mission to land on the moon launched from Florida, under the auspices of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; two years hence, NASA’s Mariner 9 craft entered a stable orbit around Mars; thirty-nine years ago, Spain foreswore all claims on its former colony in the Western Sahara; four years later, in 1979, Jimmy Carter issued an executive order that froze all Iranian assets in the U.S. part of the administration’s actions against the Iranian rebels’ seizure and holding of hostages from the American embassy; thirty-two years ago, Soviets released Solidarity leader Lech Walesa from internment near the Russian border; six years prior to this day, the first G-20 summit began in Washington, simultaneously as the world economy appeared on the verge of meltdown; four years later, in 2012, Israeli Defense Forces launched Operation Pillar of Defense against Hamas forces in the Gaza Strip.

“standard operating procedure” OR “dominant ideology” resistance OR critique OR rebellion history analysis “political economy” OR radical OR marxist = 292,000 Citations.



http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2014/11/12/3591240/ferguson-grand-jury-ruling-prep/?elq=~~eloqua..type–emailfield..syntax–recipientid~~&elqCampaignId=~~eloqua..type–campaign..campaignid–0..fieldname–id~~       An update that ought to act as a warning, from Think Progress, about a social explosion of such intensity that its extent will be almost unbelievable, if not in Ferguson, Missouri, then in one of the next places where the ‘forces of order’ wantonly murder some hapless citizen and then tell those who protest to sit down, shut up, go away: “Meanwhile, Brown’s parents, Michael Brown Sr. and Lesley McSpadden, spoke before the U.N. Committee Against Torture on Tuesday, calling for global intervention in America’s policing tactics.  The couple asked a panel to recommend that ‘racial profiling and racially-biased police harassment across the jurisdictions surrounding Ferguson’ stops, and for the Department of Justice to ‘conduct a nationwide investigation of systematic police brutality and harassment in black and brown communities, and youth in particular,’ adding that the ‘methodology and findings of this investigation must be made publicly available.'”




Sojourns Cause Slowdowns, but Check Back Next Week!


Sojourns Cause Slowdowns, but Check Back Next Week!

Sojourns Cause Slowdowns, but Check Back Next Week!

Sojourns Cause Slowdowns, but Check Back Next Week!

Sojourns Cause Slowdowns, but Check Back Next Week!





13: A Month of Nows, Roots of Thens

November 24, 2014 | Posted in Uncategorized | By

Chapter Thirteen


IMG_0194Tally ho! Clare Conaston’s and Maggie McGhee’s responses to our Contributoria outreach, to put the matter mildly, irritate Jimbo to the point of nausea. He can imagine corresponding with them in decidedly unfriendly fashion.

I’m so sorry, my dear, that you are so swamped that you can’t take five minutes from your life to join a platform, for free, and give a stalwart laborer in the vineyards of the struggle, so to speak, a meager reward that costs you nada. The outlay is so trivial that your refusal indicates either a blithe detestation of a fellow traveler or a mistrust that has no basis in fact other than your own lack of belief in your own trustworthiness.”

Now, of course, such an assessment might or might not be true. The main thing against it would be in the ‘burning-bridges’ department. If we ever do leave the country, folks may well imagine that the Spindoctor will delight in torching a few causeways, or perhaps a few more than a few.

That travel is transformative cannot be something that people doubt or traduce; and so things prove again today. Even a modicum of detail would fill a volume.

Despite staying up till three or so, finishing up everything from packing to yummy orgasmic frenzy, along with various texts, of course, our loving couple roust themselves from Morpheus’ grip and are on the road a little before eight. The sky’s leaden gray cast and threats of polar vortex notwithstanding, the winding trail to Mars Hill and the Interstate to New York reel Jimbo and Alicia along like fishes on a stringer.

Our pair’s adventures begin when they pick up an even odder couple than they represent, as Feral White Man and Wild Woman Wonder. He stands well over six and a half feet tall, gray beard’s trailing down his chest past his belt, substantially more extensive than is the case with Jimbo.

She is as lithe as a fence post, as dour as a duck that doubts its hunter’s intentions are anything other than a search for roast dinner. Her head nestles into his armpit as the Toyota decelerates a mile past the Tennessee line.

While Russell discourses merrily about his web-hosting legerdemain, she stares unblinkingly at the passing landscape, which is leaking its last Autumnal glory for its threadbare Winter’s coat. Their destination, further into Cumberland Gap where a Rainbow Gathering apparently as secretive as Davy Crockett’s mission to Texas, only permits the briefest introduction of these four randomly arranged cousins.

Russell preaches and codes his way from coast to coast; Maria follows as an angel might stick to a troubadour whom the deity has promised protection—unenthusiastic but stalwart. Alicia and Jimbo communicate with their eyes that such a start to their ventures might pop up unbidden, with the two travelers shoehorned among soft luggage and nested technology in Tabby Toyota’s back seat.

Boston City FlowUpon their discharge, Jimbo accedes to Ms. Alicia’s insistence to allow her to drive a while. He sleeps into Virginia, dreams of bits and bytes flashing behind his eyelids like sun-dappled minnows in a stream.

He wakes just in time to rescue his lover’s bladder, which always chooses journeys to show its capacity for hyperactivity. What might have been a relatively tame three hundred mile run along a Dominion’s highways turned crazy again and again. Each instance of honoring a Chilean urinary fury led to a ‘no-return-access’ moment.

Broken cabins lined potholed roads the first time, missing windows indicative of missing occupants, while black plastic associated with smoke that poured from cracked chimneys like a molten miasma of slowly leaking phlegm. Miles hence, a place to piddle presented itself, in the bushes adjacent to a ruined church, past which a lively stream icily cavorted.

Swim!!” shouted Jimbo.

Let’s GOOO!!!” intoned Alicia as she hiked up her drawers.

How they returned to I-81, neither of them could say.

Their next turnoff led them past a plodding wagon, drawn on by a horse as stout as a tractor. Again, neither the hoped for ‘services’ nor the assumed capacity to keep going were immediately present, though with switching back and forth, they finally found themselves near Blacksburg, where the crazy and hypermedicated Korean a decade ago shot up a few dozen matriculants.

Alicia recalled a focus-group gig that Blacksburg statistical wizards had orchestrated: “Would you rather swim here?” Opposite belched a paper mill. “Or would you prefer to fish here?” Nearby feeder streams promised falling waters close at hand.

I just wanted to ask if they were on campus when it happened.”

But that would be so rude.”


Not to mention crude, and socially awkward.”


No, ….you.”


Yes. Smootchie on your cootchie!”

The Barnes & Noble close to Virginia Tech’s ivied halls fed Alicia’s fiendish longing for Pumpkin-spice crack. Jimbo rifled through an entire stand of atlases so as to see on paper what New York’s upcoming morass would present.

In the event, the blue man and Alicia’s nonorganic hotspot led them along precisely the correct pathway to Westchester County. But first, they had to pass the hulking husk of Three Mile Island, and shake their heads at the prospecet of purchasing forty-thousand dollar row houses in Harrisburg that were, to this day, up to half the time bathing in wafting irradiated breezes.

And what might we note about passing briefly through the venue from which Jimbo emerged sixty-one years back? Or the even briefer passage through Maryland?

In the event, Pennsylvania soon enough gave way to New Jersey, in the Pocono regions of both of which great fat flakes of snow cascaded down from on high. At the last gas station in the Keystone State, Jimbo encountered graffiti that suggested such deep-seated social pathology that he immediately thought of the suburbs of Paris in 1788.

Obama’s negritude and purported ‘communistic’ tendencies stood for one side of the dialog scratched with nails into the black-painted stall. The other tendency vacillated from tired vomitus, directed at ‘tea-baggers,’ to nihilistic threats to nuke all and sundry in order to cleanse our planetary home of the human vermin that “obviously” inhabit it.

After he copied a few pages from this dark chapbook, he emerged to already drifting snow. This elicited yarns about the various frosty occasions that might have eliminated his input from the genetic dance that is unfolding all round.

The sliding bus in Aspen still lives. The owner’s imprecation after Jimbo drove into a snowbank rather than risk careening down a hundred foot embankment remains a fresh imprint. “You’re a goddamned fool!”

This, back in 1974, drew forth from young Jimbo a disgusted retort. “I didn’t do it to save your pathetic neck, or even everybody else along for this stupid ride. I did it to save my own ass, which I’ve done, you’ll notice.”

The New York State Throughway blizzard in 1998, more or less; the mad dash from Sacramento to Reno through a maelstrom of sleet and slush in order to play backgammon; the drug-fueled run along a snow-lashed section of Interstate 10 outside El Paso; these were just a few of the occasions that Jimbo and Alicia considered as their little Tina Toyota came out of the frozen precipitation into the thirty-six degree drizzle of Metropolitan New York.

And Ms. Amber awaited them as promised. Her bare domicile was so spare that the bedrolls that Alicia had prepared furnished the place. But the carpet was just thick enough to prevent backbreaking slumber; a couple of abandoned boxes served as a platform for computational interaction.

And lovely Nyack bedded our partners down for the first of three nights.



A Thought for the Day

Allegiance to national flags amounts to little more than honoring certain forms of chauvinism
Quote of the Day

“A widely heralded view holds that nuclear power is experiencing a dramatic worldwide revival and vibrant growth, because it’s competitive, necessary, reliable, secure, and vital for fuel security and climate protection.  That’s all false.  In fact, nuclear power is continuing its decades-long collapse in the global marketplace because it’s grossly uncompetitive, unneeded, and obsolete—so hopelessly uneconomic that one needn’t debate whether it’s clean and safe; it weakens electric reliability and national security; and it worsens climate change compared with devoting the same money and time to more effective options.”  Amory Lovins; The Nuclear Illusion: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Amory_Lovins.


This Day in History

An ever-apt celebration, today is World Kindness Day; a hundred seventy-three years ago, James Braid, based on a presentation that purports to show animal magnetism, came up with the idea that he developed into the discipline of hypnotism; a male baby one hundred sixty-four years ago was born, destined to grow up to be iconic poet and writer Robert Louis Stevenson; one hundred six years back, an infant male came into the world who grew up as C. Vann Woodward, distinguished historian and social thinker; just two years later, another baby came into this realm, later to become the journalist and writer William Bradford Huie; a century before the current day, Berber indigenous fighters mauled a force of French soldiers in Morocco; two years later, the Australian Labor Party expelled its leader, Australia’s Prime Minister, who supported conscription policies that would result in the mass slaughter of working class soldiers; seventy-four years ago, Walt Disney’s animators released Fantasia for its premier in New York; seven years hence, in 1947, Soviet arms makers developed the first version of the world’s first—and still arguably foremost—assault rifle, the AK-47, and the baby boy who became environmental activist and author Amory Lovins was born; the U.S. Supreme Court fifty-eight years back effectively ended the Montgomery bus boycott when it decided that segregated conveyances were illegal; forty-five years ago, protesters staged a large March Against Death to register their opposition to the continuation of U.S. intervention and war in Southeast Asia; one year later, union activist and radiation victim Karen Silkwood died in a mysterious one car accident that happened in the midst of her whistleblowing against the Kerr-McGhee company; twelve years afterward, in 1982, veterans in Washington marched to the site of the Vietnam War Memorial for its unveiling; thirteen years ago, George W. Bush signed an Executive Order that permitted military tribunals to conduct trials against anyone who was considering ‘terrorism’ against the United States, effectively suspending Fourth Amendment or other criminal procedural protections of anyone suspected or accused of crimes.

energy productivity automation OR mechanization “economic history” necessity OR inevitability history analysis “political economy” = 167,000 Results.



https://www.techdirt.com/blog/netneutrality/articles/20141110/17372829099/anti-net-neutrality-crowd-reaches-deep-craziest-possible-response-to-president-obamas-call-real-net-neutrality-rules.shtml    A brilliant, in-depth examination from TechDirt of the reactionary blowback against Barack Obama’s very modest call for utility-style Internet regulation as a way of preserving Net Neutrality, causing an ‘extension of time’ plea from the FCC(http://www.computerworld.com/article/2845148/fcc-to-take-more-time-on-net-neutrality-following-obamas-position.html), plus all sorts(http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2014/11/10/obamas-gone-old-school-net-neutrality-a-tim-wu-qa/) of SOP media(http://thehill.com/policy/technology/223496-obama-reclassify-internet-to-avoid-fast-lanes) statements, the upshot of all of which is the President’s own proposal(http://www.whitehouse.gov/net-neutrality) in favor of net neutrality, which is at least reasonably progressive(https://gigaom.com/2014/11/10/obama-tells-the-fcc-to-implement-real-net-neutrality-and-hes-serious/) and could conceivably survive(http://www.commondreams.org/news/2014/11/10/response-unprecedented-public-outcry-obama-goes-big-net-neutrality) court challenges, massive undermining(http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/237966/obamas-net-neutrality-stance-baffles-internet-s.html#reply?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=comment&utm_campaign=77767) etc., at the same time that–like every bourgeois reform–it will likely lead to monopoly’s more complete control of everything: “And if that wasn’t crazy enough, let’s take it up another notch.  We got an unsolicited ‘statement of Roslyn Layton’ in response to President Obama’s proposal.  I have no idea who ‘Roslyn Layton’ is and, frankly, have no interest in doing the Google search to find out, but I know plenty from the fact that she’s actually claiming that this new plan to make sure that the internet is open and free from unfair blocking for all is somehow a victory for the Russians, Chinese and Iranians… .Except that’s the opposite of fact.  A plan that specifically calls for ‘no blocking, no throttling, increased transparency and no paid prioritization.’  Does that really sound like a plan from China, Iran and Russia?  Does Layton think anyone thinks that statement is even within the same area code as the truth?  While some others are making similar statements, they at least admit that those countries will use “any action” by the US government as a supposed defense for seeking to regulate the internet.”





Sojourns Cause Slowdowns, but Check Back Next Week!

Sojourns Cause Slowdowns, but Check Back Next Week!

Sojourns Cause Slowdowns, but Check Back Next Week!
Sojourns Cause Slowdowns, but Check Back Next Week!

Sojourns Cause Slowdowns, but Check Back Next Week!




12: A Month of Nows, Roots of Thens

November 23, 2014 | Posted in Uncategorized | By

Chapter Twelve



My, oh my! Things are cooking. Further dreams, in which orderly expressions of reform and transformation happened, instructed Jimbo’s sleep.

Despite her insistence that her consort and playmate roust her from the chaos of blankets and layered clothing and burrowed warmth that typified her bedded nest, Alicia has remained nestled in, though a trek of many hundreds of miles is less than a single solar cycle distant, if things go even slightly according to plan. The reader can listen.

Honey Bunny!!” The third adoring call to rise emanates from Jimbo.

Coming.” Again, the promise is vague and choked with sleep.

Mmm hmmm!” Judgment from the Spindoctor.

Measures are sometimes necessary, despite their inevitably harsh appearance and shouted pleas for mercy; measures of solicitation and mirth, admittedly, but measures nonetheless.

No, no! I’m getting up, I’m getting up.”

Mmm hmmm!!”

No. Please. Please! AHHHHH,” insane laughter courses through the nest. “Please stop. I have to pee; I have to pee”

Jimbo relents. Yet measures are sometimes necessary. “Just get me up when you get up,” he says in Booish singsong.

I don’t know why I’m so sleepy. It took me an hour to go to sleep again,” Alicia states matter of factly about their relatively early entrance to their marital chamber, a little before four.

Hmmm!” Jimbo has no insight about all of this.

Wait, wait. Help me make the bed.” And so the day begins, shared little chores en route again to the production vortex, where both of these striving actors hope for a pipeline that gushes brilliance and success, or at the least saleable products and income.

In truth, as more and more words pour out of Jimbo’s mind and fingers, he has serious doubts that he’ll ever be much more than a second-rate hack, or maybe a third-rate poser. If this were not the case, wouldn’t more people be reading? And they’re most assuredly not doing that, so far as he can tell, though he’s in touch with a lot of people at least occasionally.

In addition to communicating with the Black petty bourgeois of East Texas and the minor landed gentry of the Appalachian South, Jimbo has another ‘assignment.’ His friend, Mike McDonough, he of the complex sexuality and manipulative toddler and Hungarian wife who believes that she’s gotten fat—which is all too plausible, at least to an extent, as in heavier, given her stress-related uptake of more and more sugar—wants a narrative statement of a relationship formula that he wants to try with Ivana.

No doubt this format results from some off-the-shelf marital-help rubric; Jimbo feels a powerful critical response to this general sort of template, but that’s neither here nor there in the assignment as such. What follows attempts to incorporate what Mike has provided, beginning with an e-mail to contextualize everything.

Hey man!

I’ve attached the narrative that I’ve interlocuted—or if you prefer that I’ve articulated in your stead. I would have a lot to add were I to come up with something like this. You know, the whole realm of politics and society is altogether absent.

Still, this incorporates what you’ve given me and some things that I’ve gleaned from our interaction. It does not, quite consciously, try to cover the whole rubric that you sent me. To try to do too much, when what you must do, before anything else, is engage your lover and wife, would lead to disaster in my estimation.

At the same time, I allude to what is not present here, as the basis for an ongoing series of conversations. And we might intend that in a ‘biblical sense,’ as in interludes of discourse and intercourse of every sort. Yay and yum.

To deviate course a little bit: in regard to Contributoria, whenever possible, offer your account points to the new project as well as your wife’s fifty. If that’s already the case, thank you, thank you, thank you.

Call me to let me know that you got this. Love and Solidarity.

Anybody with eyes open can see we’re in trouble as a couple. Nevertheless, I start with a simple affirmation.


I love you as a woman; I adore your body; I treasure your spirit; I profoundly respect your mind and work and the way that you use your imagination. I’ve felt that way since that first day, really, in BOOGLIE-BOOGLIE, when we were making Fango-Dango together.

I want us to have another marriage ceremony, like a second wedding almost. Even if it were pretty small, the two most important people there—you and I—would learn anew how much we care for each other.

These feelings have persisted through thick and thin. I’m praying that they will help us understand where we’ve ended up, where these powerful emotions of love and friendship don’t seem to have any room to grow.


I consciously am not trying to cover everything that we both probably want to discuss: money, work, social life, health and wellness, and more are not part of the discussion here. To start with, and maybe for a while, we need to wrestle with our relationship as a man and a woman, who have a marriage that we want to work because we know how crucial that is to both ourselves and our son.

When we feel as if we’ve solidified our love affair, our deep connection as male and female, our partnership as spiritual animals really, then we’ll really be ready to deal with everything else. At least, that’s what makes sense to me as I think about all of this.

Therefore, I’ve decided to focus on five areas that we can start to improve right now, that we must choose to make better starting this second. Here goes.


I’m basically not religious, but I think Buddhists have a lot of cool and important things to say. One of these is that treating people with kindness is the supreme value that characterizes a good life.

I know that I have sometimes failed in this regard. I ask for your forgiveness. I commit to being gentle and decent and ask that you seek to be kind to me as well.

Part of this is about attitude. But even when the demons in our heads are screaming, we don’t have to act with rage and cruelty. We can help each other with chores. We can touch with loving-kindness. We can ask if we can do anything for each other. We can think about what we both need and want instead of just responding to what fears and anger that we might individually feel now and then.


The way that we started was as colleagues who liked each other. From the start, we really wanted to hang out together. We wanted and valued each other’s ideas and opinions.

This flows naturally from kindness, but it includes a lot more. We can be nice and decent to drunk homeless people, but we don’t necessarily hope to befriend them. A hundred things might be useful to think about when we think about how our marriage can have friendship at its core.

  • For sure, however, we need to have regular conversations, deep and real and honest. That is what friends do.
  • Other times, one of us will need mostly just to listen. We have to be available if one of us wants to unburden a heavy heart. That is what friends do.
  • We need to make time to play together, just to hang out, to have fun and check in. A minimum of once a week—that’s fifty-two times a year, at least—we need to have a ‘date’ where we just do something wonderful and joyous. That is what friends do.
  • We need to notice what the other wants, even craves. Little gifts can help to show this sort of consideration; sometimes, the greatest gift is just paying attention. That is what friends do.
  • We need to notice when one of us is floundering. We can be present at those times; we can offer assistance; we can just show that we care. That is what friends do

Like I said, I could offer a lot more here. I’d like to hear your thoughts first. So ‘hit me with your best shot.’


The world is so complicated and scary that anyone who tries to make it alone is likely both to fail and to be lonely and frightened in the attempt to go it alone. We both know this firsthand: no one person can ever make a movie worth a damn.

Partnership is an ancient concept. It has endured because it has served our foremothers and forefathers. Our ancestors absolutely depended on their mates’ mainly honoring such connections; otherwise we’d all have been toast. As with friendship, almost countless specific examples of how we can be better partners to each other are possible to enumerate. At the least, the following make sense.

  • We’re a team, so even—or maybe especially—in our home we should have regular projects and plans that we’re working on to make things better, brighter, easier, etc.
  • Like partners in business, we should meet a minimum of weekly to discuss our plans—moving to Atlanta, developing creative projects together, supporting each others goals and objectives, checking out finances, exactly in the way that folks in a company partnership would do.
  • Each of us should develop something that at least resembles a plan every year: “Here is what my hopes and goals are between now and 365 days from now.” We could even do something like this on your birthday and my birthday, so that we’d meet twice every year, and make the point that nothing that we give to each other is more important than the way that we willingly and enthusiastically share our minds and hearts.
  • When we buy things, they should—more than anything else—support our partnership: SOMETHING ABOUT HER WORK THAT MAKES SENSE; similarly, for me, we might look at equipment and courses that would make me more likely to do better and better, and more and more lucrative, production as a director.

Just as I said above, I want to hear your ideas too. We can really build something awesome together. We’ve been a team before; it’s a real strength of ours.


I’ve been reading an important book. It’s called The Sex Contract, and the author is a pretty amazing woman scientist, an anthropologist whose whole career has been about studying how love really works. I’d like to share, briefly, some of what she says at the beginning of her story.

(T)he game of love matters. So much, in fact, that it has influenced the entire course of human evolution and mades us the remarkably sexy creatures we are today.

But why did we come down from the trees, evolve big breasts and penises, learn to bond and to raise families as ‘man and wife?’ Why do humans feel sexual guilt and jealousy? Why are we promiscuous? Why do we lie? Why do we smile? Why are we the only animals that cry tears? Why do human beings (have language and) call someone aunt or cousin, fear incest, follow rules of whom to marry? …Why do we theorize about life, prepare for death, make love and war?

(I) enjoy working on the maze of human roots and have (identified) the role of sex (as) the spark that I believe ignited all human social life.”

If Dr. Helen Fisher is correct, and she’s studied all of this as much as anyone ever has, then clearly sex is a huge deal. We let it slip away, we sigh and accept its absence, we shrug off its disappearance at the peril of our health and our very lives.

So here is what I propose. It’s a start, at least.

  • We should kiss and hug every single day that we spend even a few seconds together. I want to embrace life’s possibilities by embracing you.
  • We should set aside a few hours, at the absolute minimum at least once every week, when we can be together, with candles and scented oils and massages, naked as the day that we were born, where we play and make love with each other.
  • As well, you should have each week an absolute minimum of one or two ‘duty-calls!’ chances to corral me and have your way with me; the same goes for me—I should also receive ‘ravishing-rights’ to take you aside for loving play at least once or twice a week, spontaneously and passionately.
  • We should have at least one ‘sexy-chat’ a week where we talk to each other about what gives us pleasure, what sex means to us, what we’ve learned about sex and human nature, all kinds of stuff.

Just like what I wrote above, about friendship and partnership, I want to know your thoughts. This is just a set of suggestions, a few ideas that seem pretty good to start.


Through our connection, we made Alex. We both love him more than we do ourselves. In some ways, dealing with how this has become an issue that divides us should be absolutely simple and easy.

What is in his best interest? If we just keep in mind that the answer to this question is our only reasonable guideline, if we can put our own fears and judgments aside and focus on his needs and growth, how can we go wrong?


I know in my soul that we can manage this work together. If we can just address these issues in a way that honors how we started and the real feelings that we still have for each other, we will in the process both give each other immense pleasure and have all the room in our lives for freedom and joy that we so want to have.

I’m not naïve. I know that this won’t happen overnight. But let’s begin.

When this part of our life settles into a way of relating that is kind and loving and hot and sweet, whatever the inevitable difficulties, then I hope that we’ll make time for further discussion. There’s so much to consider.

We can talk about our financial goals. We can think about our friendships with other people whom we want to include in our life together. We can see how we can help each other to stay healthy, to grow as human beings, to achieve the various hopes and possibilities that I know that we both have—I want to play the guitar like a pro; you want TO LEARN CALCULUS.

But before we turn our attention to anything like all of that, let’s turn to each other. Let’s hold each other tight. Let’s come together to that place where we both overflow with each other. We’ve been there, and that place will be ours to share again.

I love you, dear heart.”

And that, as the saying goes, is that. Will such a spate of words save a marriage? By themselves, the answer would have to be, “Certainly not.” But if he can back them with apropos inention and action, they may serve. They may just serve.


A Thought for the Day

To travel, with roots in both travail and Latin forms of work, is to labor toward the unknown with the hope that–fair weather or foul, friendly reception or dour–something useful or at least interesting will turn up down the road.


Quote of the Day

When I talked to audiences about the epidemic of eating disorders, for instance, or about the dangers of silicone breast implants, I was often given a response straight out of Plato’s Symposium, the famous dialogue about eternal and unchanging ideals: something like, ‘Women have always suffered for beauty.’  In short, it was not commonly understood at that time that ideals didn’t simply descend from heaven, that they actually came from somewhere and that they served a purpose. That purpose, as I would then explain, was often a financial one, namely to increase the profits of those advertisers whose ad dollars actually drove the media that, in turn, created the ideals. The ideal, I argued, also served a political end.  The stronger women were becoming politically, the heavier the ideals of beauty would bear down upon them, mostly in order to distract their energy and undermine their progress.”  Naomi Wolf–The Beauty Myth: http://tissasasnida.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/The-Beauty-Myth-Naomi-Wolf.pdf.


This Day in History

Today is World Pneumonia Day, recognizing the carnage inflicted by this common affliction; four hundred fifty-nine years ago, England’s parliament briefly reestablished Catholicism as the imperial religion; a single year shy of two centuries ago, the baby girl came into the world who would grow into activist and feminist firebrand Elizabeth Cady Stanton; one hundred seventy-four years before this day, the baby boy was born who created all the marvels of Pierre Auguste Rodin; a century and a quarter back, the baby boy who became DeWitt Wallace was born, later to cofound the Readers Digest magazine and publishing company; a British diplomat and representatives of Afghan rebels established the border between what has become Pakistan and Afghanistan one hundred twenty-one years back; ninety-nine years ago, the infant male who grew into critic and writer and philosopher Roland Barthes came onto the scene in France; eighty-seven years before the here-and-now, Josef Stalin successfully orchestrated Leon Trotsky’s expulsion from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, leaving Stalin—a likely British agent—in undisputed control of the Russians; three years after that, the Irish child came into the world who would produce the incredible novels of John McGahern; Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov arrived in Berlin seventy-four years ago to discuss a short-lived alliance between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia; five years afterwards, the baby boy was born who would pen copious popular lyrics as songwriter Neil Young; in Japan sixty-six years back, seven defendants, including General of the Army Tojo, faced death sentences as a result of an international war-crimes tribunal in Tokyo; as the Suez crisis unfolded fifty-eight years ago, Palestinian refugees died in droves in a slaughter instigated by Israel Defense Forces at Rafah, Palestine; fifty-two years ago, the infant girl who grew up to become radical writer Naomi Wolf drew her first breath; a mere year later, the baby was born that turned out to be outing activist and blogger Michael Rogers; forty-five years prior to the present pass, Vietnamese villagers died in carnage conducted by U.S. troops, what we have come to call the My Lai Massacre; a decade afterwards, Jimmy Carter cut off oil imports from Iran in the middle of the so-called hostage crisis that followed the overthrow of mass-murderer and U.S. puppet Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi; one year later, a National Aeronautics and Space Administration Voyager interplanetary mission passed close to Saturn and sent back pictures of the massive planet’s rings; only ten years subsequently, Tim Berners-Lee proffered his monumental proposal for the creation of a World Wide Web on the basis of sites along the lines that the architecture of the Internet permitted.

travel danger OR risk exchange OR profit history analysis geography “political economy” = 8,360,000 Hits.



http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/aaron_swartz_day_a_vital_legacy_lives_on_20141108     A call from TruthDig for a commemoration of Aaron Swartz and continued action for the web-justice for which he ended up dying: “Swartz would have been 28 years this week, on Nov. 8.  To celebrate his life and legacy, communities across the globe will observe Aaron Swartz Day on his birthday.  He fought for an open and thriving Internet but also for causes like ending corruption and government secrecy, and the day in his honor will mark the full range of his accomplishments and his battles, which remain alive today.”





http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2015/nsf15015/nsf15015.jsp?WT.mc_id=USNSF_25&WT.mc_ev=click    A National Science Foundation ‘Dear Colleague’ letter that calls for a collaboration among urban scholars, city-planners, and more: “The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) launched the Global City Teams Challenge (GCTC; see http://www.nist.gov/cps) with a kickoff meeting on September 29-30, 2014, in Gaithersburg, MD. This meeting brought together city planners and representatives from technology companies, academic institutions and non-profits with the aim of fostering teams that will contribute to a vision for “smart cities” that takes advantage of networked technologies to better manage resources and improve quality of life.”


http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2015/nsf15514/nsf15514.htm?WT.mc_id=USNSF_25&WT.mc_ev=click   An update and announcement from the National Science Foundation of its Law and Social Sciences Program for proffering postdoctoral research and teaching grants, with deadlines just after the first of the year and again in August.



http://kernelmag.dailydot.com/issue-sections/features-issue-sections/10789/twilight-fandom-publishing-motu/    Even if submissive female sex is not one’s ‘cup-of-tea,’ even if profiteering is not one’s reason for existence, lessons from writers who dig such scenes about how to build a publishing shtick: “The Twilight fandom publishing houses were born in controversy, and they have been mired in it ever since.  For decades, fanfiction was everyone’s dirty little secret.  Fans often lived in fear of the discovery of their hobby and frequently saw their work pulled or deleted off the Internet at the request of the original copyright holder.  Out of this culture of shame and secrecy arose fandom’s most binding ethical code: As long as fanfiction, or fic for short, remains strictly not for profit, it can reasonably be deemed fair use under the protection of current U.S. copyright law.   Fanfiction’s free, just-for-fun status is its biggest protection against claims of copyright infringement, and it also helps create a unique and thriving gift-based fandom economy.  Anything that breaks that code is met with scathing criticism from both fans and professionals, as was the case when Fifty Shades’ fanfiction roots were made widely known.”


https://www.contributoria.com/about     An introduction to Guardian Media’s new Contributoria platform, here in the form of an overview and portals to more information, an interesting and perhaps astounding set of possibilities for publication, payment, audience, and more, about which ‘full disclosure’ requires an admission of being a member myself: “Contributoria is an independent journalism community.  The platform enables journalists and writers to collaborate on all aspects of the writing process, including commissioning, editing and publication.”


http://whowhatwhy.com/2014/11/04/double-government-secret-gets/    A ‘hold-your-breath-and-hope’ kind of piece from WhoWhatWhy, that examines a recent monograph about the nature of contemporary governance–nothing to do with elections or democracy, very little of it benign or oriented toward social justice or mutuality–in terms of increasing levels and capacities of control and diverging elite and public agendas, not altogether a happy set of congruences: “One of the Globe’s pieces was a highly favorable review of Dr. Glennon’s book by former Republican Congressman Mickey Edwards.  Edwards, a co-founder of the staunchly conservative Heritage Foundation, has over the years become more and more of a maverick—and more outspokenly alarmed by the path America has taken.  The other piece, which appeared in the Globe the same day,was a Q&A with Glennon. The astonishing headline was: Vote all you want.  The secret government won’t change.  The sub-headline wasn’t much tamer: The people we elect aren’t the ones calling the shots, says Tufts University’s Michael Glennon.  The genesis of the book was a question that confounded Glennon about President Obama: How did a man who won election pledging to change the national security policies of his predecessor effect so little of that?”


http://www.weforum.org/news/world-economic-forum-launches-new-think-tank-community     An “Organizational Links & Networking” entry not because scrappy scribes can realistically expect to build relationships with these power brokers at the World Economic Forum and so on, but because these interconnections constitute a nervous system for how the world is going to be operating, something that we need to comprehend if we are to operate in relation to these dynamics: “‘With globalization seemingly in retreat, the world’s 7.2 billion people urgently need not only new ideas, but also new ways to build consensus that involve all stakeholders in moving the best ideas from theory to practice,’ said Martina Larkin, Senior Director and Head of the Global Knowledge.  ‘None of the many issues identified in the recently released Outlook on the Global Agenda 2015 report can be addressed effectively without thorough and continuing consultation across the spectrum of stakeholders.’  A number of events are planned to coincide with the launch of the community at the Summit on the Global Agenda 2014 in Dubai, including a discussion of the main trends coming out of the 2015 Outlook publication, with emphasis on crafting workable responses to pressing issues. The community will also contribute to the Forum’s various events, initiatives and knowledge products, while engaging with various Forum communities to enhance their effectiveness as an important policy formulation group.”


http://theconversation.com/how-activist-groups-became-a-force-in-workplace-relations-33869?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest+from+The+Conversation+for+10+November+2014+-+2073&utm_content=Latest+from+The+Conversation+for+10+November+2014+-+2073+CID_a4177533a7716a2b516046d7ae52eec3&utm_source=campaign_monitor_uk&utm_term=How%20activist%20groups%20became%20a%20force%20in%20workplace%20relations     A sobering or even chilling research portal from The Conversation, in which ‘civil society’ organizations are replacing unions in seeking benefits in the lives of working people, which comes down to a replacement of the potential to contend for power with the equivalent of begging for alms: “In a similar vein, campaigning by community network Citizens UK has helped bring to prominence the notion of the living wage – a wage calculated to provide a minimum decent standard of living to workers who receive it. The latter’s sister organisation, the Living Wage Foundation, operates a procedure through which more than 1000 employing organisations have been accredited as living wage employers.  Both are examples of civil society organisations’ growing role in employment relations.  According to our research, there are now about 400 such organisations trying to influence domestic employment in the UK.  They usually rely on charitable donations and grants and sometimes also contracts with government to provide services to fund their activities.”


http://www.govexec.com/state-local/2014/10/knight-cities-challenge/95543/?oref=state_and_local_nl    For twenty-five urban areas, a real chance to gain funding, attention, support, from GovExec, about the Knight Challenge’s most recent urban funding portal: note–due Friday: “What’s your best idea to make cities more successful?  The first-ever Knight Cities Challenge opens today calling on innovators of all types to answer this question.  The national challenge, which seeks new ideas to make the 26 communities where Knight invests more vibrant places to live and work, is an initiative of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.”


http://www.techpolicydaily.com/internet/caused-web-slow-down-comcast-twc-verizon/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=paramount&utm_campaign=cict     A ‘let’s-blame-Netflix’ trope, here, biased toward the largest monopolies instead of the next-to-largest, but just because such a tilt is not surprising from the American Enterprise Institute does not make its conclusions false on their face: “Everyone knew the disputes between Netflix and Comcast/Verizon/AT&T and others affected consumer speeds.  I wrote about the controversy here, here, and here, and my “How the Net Works” report offered broader context.  The M-Lab study, “ISP Interconnection and Its Impact on Consumer Internet Performance,” however, does have some good new data.  Although M-Lab says it doesn’t know who was ‘at fault,’ advocates seized on the report as evidence of broadband provider mischief at big interconnection points.  But the M-Lab data actually show just the opposite.  As you can see in the three graphs below, Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon, and to a lesser extent AT&T all show sharp drops in performance in May of 2013 at the three monitoring points in New York, Dallas, and Los Angeles.  Then, performance of all four networks all show sudden improvements in March of 2014.”


http://en.blog.wordpress.com/2014/11/10/blogging-writing-ebooks/    E-books for writers from WordPress, with many back entries from the platform’s dozens of Writing 101 and Writing 201 classes over the years: “Our recent Writing 101 and Writing 201 Blogging U. courses were a huge success — so we thought you should be able to enjoy them even if your schedule didn’t allow you to take them in real time.  We’re happy to announce that both courses are now offered as free ebooks, available for download in .pdf, .mobi (Kindle), and .epub (iBooks) formats.  While conceived with nonfiction writers in mind, fiction writers (we know you’re out there, NaNoWriMo participants!) could find both courses just as useful.”


http://www.citylab.com/work/2014/11/the-rise-of-invisible-unemployment/382554/    A richly contextualized offering from CityLab, which details the many ways that current employment and, especially, unemployment figures are untrustworthy, almost delusional, in regard to the actual experience among workers: “In 2002, official unemployment swamped invisible unemployment.  The official unemployment rate was an accurate description of the labor force.  But the spread between invisible and official unemployment is shrinking.  In the last 20 years, the six months with the smallest gaps between official and invisible unemployment were all in 2014.  That means the official unemployment rate is getting worse and worse at describing the real conditions facing American workers.  Invisible unemployment is hurting the participation rate even more than economists predicted with an aging work force.  The entire developed world is getting older.  But U.S. participation fell faster in the years after the recession that just about any other country.”


www.mediapost.com/publications/article/237865/these-15-hottest-naked-celebrity-diets-for-getting.html#reply?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=comment&utm_campaign=77744    A MediaPost regular columnist’s provocative and useful analysis of what ‘clickbait’ is, with a lot of unanswered questions about how and why it functions as it does: “Fed Eyes Wage Growth as it Stands Pat on Interest Rates.  Okay, maybe that last one wasn’t on the page, because it doesn’t quite qualify as clickbait.  It’s news.  It affects everyone.  It is slightly technical.  It has no cleavage.  Therefore it holds no allure for the hoi polloi.  Clickbane, I guess you’d call it.  But this exercise got me wondering.  1)Why does the clickbait feature so many bikini-clad women and other boobage, as opposed to beefcake?  Half the audience is female.  Is the soft-porn that passes for ‘content’ of that much interest to women? (I fear for the answer to this).  And are bare male celebrity chests and butts unenticing to women?  It just seems like if you’re going to be in a sleazy online race to the bottom, you should be an equal-opportunity sleaze.  Aren’t some ill-gotten clicks being left on the table?”



http://boingboing.net/2014/11/04/molly-crabapples-rules-for-c.html    From Boing Boing a way above average list, in terms of utility and thoughtfulness, about the aspects of succeeding in such creative endeavors as scrappy scribing: “My success would not have been possible without the (I)nternet.   I’ve used every platform, from Craigslist and Suicide Girls to Livejournal, Myspace, Kickstarter, Tumblr and Twitter.  I’m both sick of social media and addicted to it.  What nourishes you destroys you, and all that.  The internet is getting increasingly corporate and centralized, and I don’t know that the future isn’t just going back to big money platforms.  I hope its not. …15. Be massively idealistic about your art, dream big, open your heart and let the blood pour forth.  Be utterly cynical about the business around your art.”


http://pressthink.org/2014/11/how-to-be-literate-in-whats-changing-journalism/    A listing of eighteen key conceptual orientations, with links, that a prize winning journalism professor believes his students should know by the end of their first year.


http://www.techrepublic.com/pictures/five-apps-tools-for-recovering-your-data/?tag=nl.e101&s_cid=e101&ttag=e101&ftag=TRE684d531    A data recovery melange from Tech Republic, which also(http://www.techrepublic.com/article/two-quick-graphic-tricks-that-return-big-results-in-a-word-document/?tag=nl.e101&s_cid=e101&ttag=e101&ftag=TRE684d531) offers snappy graphic tools for MSW users: “Murphy’s law dictates that the data that you’re most likely to lose is the data that has not yet been backed up.  Fortunately, a number of data recovery tools are available.  Here are five excellent choices.”



http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2014/nov/20/creepy-new-wave-internet/    In some ways just a wacky look at the growing intensification of internetification as an instance of quantity shifting into quality, and not necessarily in altogether pleasant or even benign fashion, with the possibilities for everything from absolute control to arbitrary culling ‘right around the corner:’ “For years, a cohort of technologists, most notably Ray Kurzweil, the writer, inventor, and director of engineering at Google, have been predicting the day when computer intelligence surpasses human intelligence and merges with it in what they call the Singularity.  We are not there yet, but a kind of singularity is already upon us as we swallow pills embedded with microscopic computer chips, activated by stomach acids, that will be able to report compliance with our doctor’s orders (or not) directly to our electronic medical records.   Then there is the singularity that occurs when we outfit our bodies with ‘wearable technology’ that sends data about our physical activity, heart rate, respiration, and sleep patterns to a database in the cloud as well as to our mobile phones and computers (and to Facebook and our insurance company and our employer).  Cisco Systems, for instance, which is already deep into wearable technology, is working on a platform called ‘the Connected Athlete’ that ‘turns the athlete’s body into a distributed system of sensors and network intelligence…[so] the athlete becomes more than just a competitor—he or she becomes a Wireless Body Area Network, or WBAN.’  Wearable technology, which generated $800 million in 2013, is expected to make nearly twice that this year.  These are numbers that not only represent sales, but the public’s acceptance of, and habituation to, becoming one of the things connected to and through the Internet.”


http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/10/technology/in-rural-america-challenging-a-roadblock-to-high-speed-internet.html?emc=edit_ee_20141110&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=66212615    An assessment from The Times from before President Obama’s pro-net-neutrality speech, which indicates at least some institutional commitment to the possibility of a strongly-supportive-of-local-access-rights Federal Communications Commission over a significant time period: “But Tom Wheeler, the Federal Communications Commission chairman, says providing access to broadband Internet is in the public interest.  And for that reason, he says, the commission can override those state laws — setting off a heated debate about the federal commission’s authority over states and about whether local governments or private companies should provide the service.  Mark Cooper, research director of Consumer Federation of America, said he expected ‘a long and vicious fight.  There is a felt need for a higher quality of service at a more reliable price.  There’s a perception of market failure.  If consumers were not upset, they wouldn’t be asking for it.’  At the center of the debate are Chattanooga, Tenn., and Wilson.  The two cities have petitioned the commission to invalidate their state laws.  A ruling from the F.C.C. is expected next year.”



http://davidstockmanscontracorner.com/even-kissinger-gets-it-america-has-no-dog-in-the-ukrainian-hunt/?utm_source=wysija&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Mailing+List+Sunday+10+AM     A typically level-headed and thorough take about Russia and Putin from Contra Corner, starting off with the recognition that Henry K. himself sees present policy as madness–an excuse for not having a strategy–and then proceeding to provide a comprehensive ‘literature review’ of the weak and fatuous and simply ludicrous perspectives of contemporary ‘authorities’ on these matters, at the center of all of which sits a default strategy for fascism in Ukraine and World War Three as the upshot: “Like lots of people I’ve been trying to figure out Vladimir Putin, our latest foreign devil. I doubt if many of our born-again Russian experts could pass a simple test evaluating and explaining the possible impact of Russia’s history – imperial and communist – on Russia’s present direction under Putin? …My guess is that few can.  Who cares about Russian history anyway?  Instead, our media chatter is about a revived economic, military and political cordon sanitaire or encirclement of the Moscow fiends.  Meanwhile, the Crimean coup is viewed superficially here as an attack on ‘freedom’ and self-determination, at times evoking an image of the Nazi’s 1938 Anschluss of Austria.  Comments about Putin have been almost universally hostile — he worked for the KGB, ignoring that Bush The Elder ran the CIA.  A more reasonable comment came from Fiona Hill, who once worked in the Bush The Lesser administration and co-wrote Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin.  ‘He’s not delusional,’ she wisely concluded, ‘but he inhabits a Russia of the past, a version of the past that he has created.  His present is defined by it and there is no coherent vision of the future.'”


http://www.sanders.senate.gov/democracyday    A practical step toward something more resembling a functioning democracy, a bill from Bernie Sanders to make any National election a Federal holiday: “Nationwide, preliminary indications are that the total turnout for the 2014 elections was only 36.6 percent, according to the United States Elections Project at the University of Florida.  In America, we should be celebrating our democracy and doing everything possible to make it easier for people to participate in the political process.  Election Day should be a national holiday so that everyone has the time and opportunity to vote.”



http://www.cchrint.org/pdfs/the-link-between-psychiatric-drugs-and-senseless-violence.pdf     Just one of hundreds of evidence-driven sources that call into question the corporate model for labeling emotion as ‘disorder’ so as to medicate it for a price, here in particular looking at side effects that suggest violent ideation and action as a regular concomitant of these prescriptions: “There is overwhelming evidence that psychiatric drugs cause violence: 22 international drug regulatory warnings cite violence, mania, hostility, aggression, psychosis and even homicidal ideation.  Individuals under the influence of such drugs and committing these acts of senseless violence are not limited to using guns and are not limited to just schools.  Recent examples of individuals under the influence of such drugs include Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis and Fort Hood shooter Ivan Lopez.”


http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/11/10/aigs-n10.html    A nasty shock to anyone who hasn’t seen the specifics of how people and workers were the targeted victims of the government response to bailing out the rich after 2008, an examination from World Socialist Website that makes crystal clear that the same–and worse–is in store if our future remains driven by empire and operated by capitalists, for capitalists, and of capitalists: “The Obama administration, after a few rhetorical protests for public consumption, came out in support of the $450 million executive bonus package.  Lawrence Summers, chairman of the White House National Economic Council at the time, told ABC in an interview in 2009, ‘We are a country of law.  These are contracts.  The government cannot just abrogate contracts.’  For the Obama Administration, of course, this maxim does not apply to the municipal workers and retirees of Detroit, whose constitutionally-protected pension benefits are being cut with the administration’s support as part of the Detroit bankruptcy.  Nor did it apply to autoworkers at GM and Chrysler, who had their contractual obligations to health benefits and wages slashed at the White House’s insistence in the 2009 auto restructuring.”



11: A Month of Nows, Roots of Thens

November 21, 2014 | Posted in Uncategorized | By

Chapter Eleven



We’re all veterans, of course. Jimbo has been thinking obsessively, as when he couldn’t sleep for two hours at four—having the chance, praise be, to take a little antihistamine gelcap to save the day—about what to say to his colleagues at NWU, who basically ignore, distort, and otherwise mistreat his work and input. Maybe the only thing to say is some variant of either ‘good bye’ or ‘good luck with that.’

Charlie Chandler for a time talked obsessively about the problem that any writer confronts—his song-writing or Jimbo’s(almost said my; in fact did write that but then caught the incongruity)—with point-of-view. He contended that no other issue would end up so thorny once one advanced beyond the most rudimentary basics of style and usage and such.

So here the Spindoctor sits again, churning out what he spurns to delete. Morpheus played with him like a beach ball, sending him cavorting and spinning away from all sorts of wild situations in which he had to choose one policy path or another, in cases where each such decision represented both disaster and necessity. The dream focused on humorous aspects as often as not, a nightmare of irony and wry consideration of the concatenations of social contradiction and solidarity.

Does that phrasing mean anything? Yes, it does. It is purposefully vague and multifaceted, just like the interludes from which Jimbo awoke.

In relation to NWU, a few things seem apt.

  • Premise of the possibility of reason’s impact.
  • Avoiding all presumption of acceptance of certain policies or precepts.
  • Recognition that currently we DO presume, to wit: reliance on corporate publishers; reliance on the U.S. Government and its empire; reliance on electoral politics to the detriment of other democratic forms; reliance on the Democratic Party within the previous item.
  • Insistence on real conversation about alternatives.
  • Willingness to acknowledge radical, even revolutionary, aspects of the discussion and make explicit room for them in the dialog.

Will these points win favor? Probably not. Is the trek to New York hopeless and lame? As Grandma Fox would say, “Where there’s life, there’s hope.”

In any event, the sheer volume of words that are spilling forth from these fingers every day daunt all but the most urgent need to produce further. After NaNoWriMo wraps up, who knows? Maybe a massively productive December would be plausible.

Strangely enough, the members and leaders of this union—with the exception of Fernando and, do not seem to have many roots in or even congruence with working class thinking or behavior. In fact, even the ones—Karen, for example, whose Mother taught school and whose Dad delivered mail—whose background remains solidly ‘proletarian’ have apparently adopted a highly ‘middle-class’ sensibility.

No matter what Jimbo tries, he just cannot force himself to believe that such consciousness is likely to deliver anything but shoddy goods and misleading practices, and that would be if things worked out pretty well in general. In a pinch, these false sets of views would prove disastrous.

One task that the Spindoctor will complete forthwith, more or less, is the new Contributoria essay on the Passive Voice. Jimbo will not let readers view it here, even though its content works well with the other little portals to the worlds of reality and fiction that burgeon from these pages like schools of mutually dependent and predatory fish. To ‘publish’ it might jeopardize its presence on Contributoria.

Meanwhile, Kasey Baker gave the Spindoctor a stern lecture about rambling, length, getting to the point, short sentences, writing to sell, and cutting way back or even eliminating the vocabulary usage, likening it to didactic and verbose nonsense essentially. And clearly he’s got a point. Perhaps if he were the only one to have conveyed that criticism, then holy mother of God, Jimbo could shrug it off.

But one might think of the matter as a counterfactual exercise. Clearly the aggregate millions of words of distorted bullshit from CNN and Fox News are what, in many ways, one must fight against. Thus, cutting way back and thereby reducing the evidentiary base for the argument against the repetitive distortions and lies of monopoly media, as well as inhibiting laying the conceptual groundwork, would almost certainly hurt the chances of persuading even people who cared. And this would mean that people would say, “Oh that lacks facts! Those arguments are half-formed.”

Jimbo recalls having been through this all before, back in the anti-nuclear struggle in Atlanta. As a pampleteer and propagandist way back in the day, the brief items were always easy for folks to dismiss. So if one is going to fail to win audience or to persuade anyway, then one might as well at least present a thorough and compelling case objectively, and that means—from the point of view of the present moment—an unconscionably wordy document.

As to the variety of multisyllabic words, Jimbo has already vowed to limit the number per page to some reasonable total—maybe five or so. We’ll see, and in the event here is a note to dear Kasey: “Dude!

Here’s one response to your lovely willingness to give some guidance.  “All right.  I’ll do my best to take all that’s useful there and put it into practice.”  Whatever deity governs the cosmos knows that you make some powerful points. 

But I can’t help myself.  I’m a debater, for Christ’s sake.  So I’ll say more, to wit:


The proposals are like my chance to compress a big subject.  That’s easiest to do with bullet points.  I tend to do it with big words and long sentences that pack a lot of meat into a relatively small body.  I vomit them out and clean up the mess as best I can later.


That said, I totally get what you’re getting at.  It still applies to the finished pieces, though to a lesser extent, especially in terms of the volume of cool vocabulary.  Will I ‘change my behavior?’  That’s another issue.  I know that I’ll cling to at least a few big words; I fuckin’ like ’em.  These words that I adore, who knows?


I could cut back, that’s for sure, but like Faulkner, I’m not afraid of sending people to their dictionaries–or of accepting that readers who don’t really like words much will turn away.  The way that I think about it is like this: every human on Earth arguably needs to grapple with these arguments, but because of their abstruse and arcane elements, and the way that they go against the established grain, of course, at best a tiny fraction of the planet’s readers would ever ‘grok’ my stuff. 


But here’s what that could mean.  Of the plus or minus two billion people on our fair home who read, or struggle to imbibe English, if one out of a hundred thousand gave my writing a careful look, that would amount to an audience of twenty-thousand readers.  That would be so glorious that I think it might drive me berserk.  The question is how to find them.  And, you know, since the easy and ignorant approach is not working out all that well, you never fucking know.  I might manage one in ten thousand; now we’d be in ‘best seller territory.’


The titles should be as easy as walking a fun dog.  I’ll definitely vow that no further execrable(whoops, I meant shitty!) titles will trouble the troops.


The rambling is also a sin to which I admit: I’m fucking guilty.  So I appreciate your bringing this to the fore, so to speak.  To an extent, that would be easier to improve if I had more time and better pay, but it also stems–or so I would maintain–from a need to examine things thoroughly.  To an extent, I ‘bury the lead’ because the main idea really does depend on a huge boatload of background, to coin a phrase.


This ties into the rationale for having ten-to-twenty-thousand word mini-monographs.  The length and complexity, in this view, are generic to understanding(see, that’s one of those great words, generic–should I fucking killthis perfect expression so as to pander–oh my God, there I go again!–to a certain sensibility?).  Part of what is the fucking problem in the world is that citizens want their meanings to be simple when they’re not.  They want their choices to be easy when they’re not.  They want the boundaries that separate ‘good’ from ‘evil’ to be safe to notice, and they’re sure as fucking shit not.


Now I could go on.  But the upshot of what I’m saying is that, in the lingo(I almost said parlance)of the granny moralist, “It takes two to tango.”  I’m not selling a thing.  I’m inviting people to learn.  And I’ll take a very small proportion of the whole sample and shout “Praise Be to God in the Highest” for that.  But that small coterie of readers has to want to ‘get to the bottom of things;’ you know what I’m saying.  I’m so uninterested in half-assed or in any way superficial assessments.


Just for example, could someone compress either of the two pieces that I’ve produced on Contributoria–one fifteen-thousand plus words, the other twenty-thousand plus words–into five thousand word pieces?  I’d have to challenge that assertion, my friend.  In fact, I’d bet a big sum–for me, you know, a hundred bucks–that do do so would do a huge violence to the real chance for understanding that comes from knowledge of the questions that I’m addressing.  I say this in no small part because I left out so much that I wanted to put in but cut; you can see that in the Clever Trick article–twenty-thousand words.  I totally glossed over more than half of what I’d hoped to cover.


Now the easy path forward from such a conclusion is to create shorter pieces that consider a topic serially.  I’ve certainly thought of that.  And, given a venue where I felt as if I had some sort of tenure, that’s what I would do constantly.  I’d have eight or ten topics going, and then I’d produce twenty to a fucking hundred chapters of a thousand words or so apiece about each issue; then we’re getting deep, which is where we need to go, in my estimation–way beneath the surface.


At this juncture, a moment or two from getting a bit of a Social Security check, in a sense I could give a shit.  But I’ll continue to make the point, even after I have even less economic motive to do so.  Folks are going to have to dig, probe, and otherwise delve deeply into all manner of complex shit if they don’t want to end up slaves or corpses.


One thing is certain.  ‘This dance ain’t for everybody.’  But I’m hoping to take what is useful from folks like you and increase accessibility, while I persist in insisting that readers as a rule are going to have to up their games if they want to survive.  As grandma Fox used to say: ‘It takes two to tango, doesn’t it?’


That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.  Definitely keep the notes coming, whenever you feel like it.


Solidarity for fucking ever.

Well, that was certainly fun. Whether Sir Baker will turn up his nose at further support remains for us to discover. Jimbo certainly pulled a few punches, but he did not just ‘grin and bear it.’

Anyhow, we’ve come to that point again. The world’s context for this story insists on a hearing.


A Thought for the Day

Human society has persisted because repeated agitation from below has contested ruling hierarchies’ universally mandating murder and mayhem to forestall all basic social reformulation; as the capacity to crush or control upheaval for change has become just about irresistible, continued human viability hinges on grassroots organizing for participatory democracy, despite the apparent impossibility of such a necessity.
Quote of the Day

The world has never yet seen a truly great and virtuous nation because in the degradation of woman the very fountains of life are poisoned at their source.”   Lucretia Mott: http://creativequotations.com/one/1053.htm.


This Day in History

Various English-speaking nations celebrate a commemoration of the culmination of World War One today, and Poland marks its independence from this moment; seven hundred ninety-nine years back, after a two year organizing process, the better part of a thousand prelates—metropolitan bishops, bishops, and priests—gathered to approve Pope Innocent III’s political economic and social-control agendas for both the Eastern and Western Catholic empires, one aspect of which was the approbation proffered to the idea of matter’s transubstantiation, turning bread and wine into the body and blood of the Nazarene; in Massachusetts Bay three hundred ninety-four years ago, in the vicinity of Cape Cod, the Mayflower’s passengers signed a compact which became the basis for their governance as a Puritan commonwealth; fourteen years later, pressure from an Anglican Bishop caused the Irish House of Commons to declare ‘Buggery’ a crime; three hundred forty-one years prior to the present pass, a Polish-Lithuanian army defeated an Ottoman army near Khotyn, Ukraine, for the first time deploying rocketry in their attack against the Turkish forces; precisely two years afterwards, in a mathematical coup critical for successfully utilizing artillery and projectiles, Gottfried Leibniz illustrates for the first time how to calculate the area underneath the graphing of a function, y= f(x); riots exploded in Lhasa two hundred sixty-four years ago, after assassins killed the Tibetan Regent, and, on the other side of the planet, the first fraternity formed in Williamsburg, Virginia, meeting at a pub to form the Flat Hat Society; in an entirely different and yet intimately related vein, after leading an uprising that skilled several score Whites, Nat Turner faced the noose one hundred eighty-three years back near Jerusalem, Virginia, and five thousand miles away, the philosopher and scribe Fyodor Dostoyevsky drew his first breath as an infant; the baby boy who became writer and thinker Soren Kierkegaard entered the world one hundred fifty-five years back; a century and a half ago exactly, William Sherman’s troops began to raze and burn the city of Atlanta in preparation for a ‘March to the Sea,’ and the infant across the Atlantic was born who would grow up to become the 1911 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, Alfred H. Fried; five years later, another English offshoot declared its indigenous population inferior, in Australia, under the auspices of the apartheid-methods of the so-called Aboriginal Protection Act; a baby girl was born a hundred thirty-four years back who grew up to become passionate reformer Lucretia Mott; in a typical travesty of justice in regard to those who stood up for workers, four anarchists died by hanging for ‘crimes’ that they never committed a hundred twenty-seven years ago, which were likely in fact the result of agents-provocateurs of railroad and other capitalist agents, during the Haymarket ‘riots’ of the previous year; a century-and-a quarter prior to the present pass, Washington became a State; one hundred and three years back, many Midwestern U.S. locations experience record high and low temperatures on the same day as a storm system barrels through; a century before today to the day, the child came into the world who would create the novels and screenplays of Howard Fast; the decision to seize hostilities between the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente ends World War One and permits a unified front against Bolshevism; a single year later, proto-fascist German anti-communist gangs in Latvia, called Freikorps, suffered defeat in that country’s war for independence, connected with the civil war in the early Soviet Union, and the Centralia Massacre occurred, resulting in the deaths of International Workers of the World and American Legion members and the lynching of an I.W.W. organizer; ninety-two years back, the male infant emerged from his mother who would write under the name Kurt Vonnegut, much to the delight of his readers; eighty-eight years before the here-and-now, presaging the predominance of automotive impacts on U.S. culture, the nation first adopted a uniform Highway Numbering System for its growing network of roads; two years subsequently, the child was born who matured into the brilliant Mexican novelist and essayist, Carlos Fuentes; an unexpected blizzard seventy-four years precisely before this day killed almost 150 people in the Midwestern United States; Rhodesia’s White minority government declared a reactionary ‘independence’ for its apartheid-style regime forty-nine years ago; two years later, Viet Cong forces in Cambodia released three U.S. soldiers from the area, where ‘zero American forces are operational,’ to activist Tom Hayden of California; thirty-nine years ago, Angola emerged from a generation of civil war to declare independence in spite of continuing conflicts; twenty-two years back, the Church of England finally permitted women to attain the priesthood; a year later, the United States unveiled its Vietnam Women’s War Memorial in the District of Columbia; fifteen years back, Argentinian journalist and critic Jacobo Timmerman died; a decade before this day, Yasser Arafat inexplicably died and, just a few minutes hence, Mahmoud Abbas became the Palestinian Liberation Organization leader-in-chief.

war carnage OR decimation OR “mass murder” OR mayhem “ruling class” OR plutocracy profiteering OR plunder history analysis “political economy” OR radical OR marxist = 182,000 Hits.



http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-cia-and-drugs-inc-a-covert-history/5412759       : “Documented cases abound, like the Opium Scandal of 1927, in which a “former” US Attorney in Shanghai provided a Chinese warlord with 6500 Mausers in exchange for $500,000 worth of opium.  Two years later, US Customs inspectors found a huge quantity of opium, heroin, and morphine in the luggage of Mrs. Kao, the wife of a Nationalist Chinese official in San Francisco.  At which point Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson hustled Chiang Kai-shek’s ring of drug dealing diplomats out of the country.  The State Department likewise protected a ring of drug smugglers in 1934, and thus allowed heroin to pour into New Orleans.  Two historians said about the Honduran Drugs-For-Guns case: ‘the defense of the Western hemisphere against the Axis powers…reduced to insignificance clandestine attempts to link the managerial personnel of a major cargo airline to smuggling.’  As it was in the beginning, it is now and ever shall be: the ruling class’s power resides in its control of the criminal underworld; and since 1947, it has been the CIA’s job to advance and protect the conspiracy.”







An essay from Naked Capitalism that shows the ‘debacle’ on Tuesday for what it is, in all ways that matter a planned event that reflects the deepest soul of the Democratic Party in the modern period, which is to say from the 1970’s on, to a significant degree as a result of the input of a single pro-corporate strategist: “Everything is put on the table, except the main coursepolicy.  Did the Democrats run the government well?  Are the lives of voters better?  Are you as a political party credible when you say you’ll do something?  This question is never asked, because Democratic elitesensconced in the law firms, foundations, banks, and media executive suites where the real decisions are madebasically agree with each other about organizing governance around the needs of high technology and high finance.  The only time the question even comes up now is in an inverted corroded form, when a liberal activist gnashes his or her teeth and wonderswhy can’t Democrats run elections around populist themes and policies?  This is still the wrong question, because it assumes the wrong causality.  Parties don’t poll for good ideas, run races on them, and then govern.  They have ideas, poll to find out how to sell those ideas, and run races and recruit candidates based on the polling.  It’s ideas first, then the sales pitch.  If the sales pitch is bad, it’s often the best of what can be made of an unpopular stew of ideas. …So (the ‘guru,’ Al) From has done us all a favor by writing his memoirs.  Unlike most political biopics, which are often of the ‘kiss and tell’ variety and designed to sell books and settle scores, this book seems written by a man who cares more about ideas than personalities.  He doesn’t pull punches, because he’s not a particularly high-profile figure.  I spent some time with From, and while he still has strong feelings towards the Democratic Party, he seems to have no particular interest in the current President.  In other words, the story he tells is believable.  So if you want to know why America is governed the way it is, this story matters.”


http://www.truthdig.com/avbooth/item/we_need_a_new_word_for_revolution_parts_6_7_and_8_20141107    A podcast about the process of thinking and action so as to bring about radical reform, with an overview, all of which centers on ideas about languaging necessary commitment to revolutionary change: “I think the contemporary condition—as I’m sure Marx would have been the first to acknowledge—is quite without precedent in terms of the concentration of capitalist power and of the relationship between capitalism and the state.  It’s always been there.  But now we’re talking about aggregates of power the like of which the world has never seen, and a world that we have now come to see is in the throes of being integrated by those powers.  So I think we really have to know when we’re being trapped by our own language and need to at crucial points hold up that language for scrutiny and say, maybe it needs to be rethought in a different direction or needs to be modified in a serious way, so that we’re really making contact with what the world actually is.”


http://kernelmag.dailydot.com/issue-sections/features-issue-sections/10795/me-irl-gail-simone-interview/    A brief introduction to, and interview with, Gail Simone, whose life’s purpose has always included both figuring out how to create powerful female characters and helping to create actual networks in support of women artists: “But aside from her work—she’s currently writing Red Sonja, rebooting Secret Six in December, and launching Clean Room next year—she’s also one of the most visible women in comics online. She (along with Captain Marvel writer Kelly Sue DeConnick) have often taken to Twitter to push discussion about women in comics and women reading comics to an active and passionate fanbase, often with the use of witty hashtags.  Female fans don’t exist?  Of course they do, and they always have.  Finding it difficult to find a support system while getting started in the comic book industry?  She started one.”


http://www.thedailybell.com/trends-and-sector-reports/35812/Cannabis-Trend-Report-Anti-prohibition-Successes-and-Schizophrenic-Policies/     An overview of citizen drug-legalization and anti-war-on-drug initiatives from last week’s electoral arena, all put together with loads of useful information from the ideological opponents of scrappy scribes at The Daily Bell: “The big news this week was US election day, November 4th, with more than 60 cannabis-related questions on ballots across the States. In Alaska, Oregon and Washington DC marijuana use by adults was legalized and will be regulated like alcohol. In the US territory of Guam, medical marijuana will now be legal. The amendment to Florida’s constitution that would have legalized medical marijuana for patients with “debilitating medical conditions” narrowly lost. While 60% support is required to pass an amendment, the final tally showed 57.6% approval.”


http://davidstockmanscontracorner.com/12-charts-which-torch-the-wall-streetwashington-good-times-narrative/?utm_source=wysija&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Mailing+List+Sunday+10+AM     : “They say a picture is worth one thousand words.  And so here’s a twelve thousand word equivalent essay that quite clearly depicts how the policies of the new millennium are shaping the new world order.  The powers that be have looked at these same charts, understand their implications and yet continue on the current path.  The objective then is clear.  The death of the working class.  With almost 100% of ‘savings’ having been forced into the stock market we are getting ever closer to what will be described as an epic collapse of wealth.  However, the more fitting description will be an epic and final transfer of wealth from the working class to the burgeoning aristocracy as assets are picked up for pennies on the dollar.”


http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Oliver-Stone-Wants-to-Make-a-Documentary-on-Putin-20141106-0051.html     A briefing from TeleSur about Oliver Stone’s chance encounter with Vladimir Putin at a Moscow film screening, where Stone announced an interest in interviewing Russia’s leader: “‘We had no plans to make a movie on Putin.  I would love to do an interview with him because he represents a different point of view that Americans don’t hear,’ he said in an interview with RIA Novosti.  Many of Stone’s films and documentaries have offered a critique of the foreign policy of his home country, the United States.  His back catalogue includes documentaries about very important political figures such as Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro, and John F. Kennedy.  He is working on a film about Edward Snowden.”


http://forward.com/articles/208897/venezuela-to-give–palestinians-free-universit/   For 1,000 students, a  : “The president of the Republic of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, welcomed 119 Palestinian students who will be trained in the field of medicine through the new Yasser Arafat Scholarship Program, and announced the expansion of the program.  ‘We will train at least 1,000 doctors, quickly, now.   It is a hard goal but we can’t fail on this, we have no excuses.  It will be difficult but we will train at least 1,000 Palestinian students.  I just ordered the Ministry of Education to expand the program not just in medicine, we also will enable them to study engineering, architecture and every field of knowledge,’ Maduro announced, in an address Thursday in front of the newly arrived Palestinian student delegation to Caracas, the Venezuelan capital.”


http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/27305-playing-the-long-game     From longstanding investigator, organizer, analyst, and chronicler Gar Alperowitz, via TruthOut, an analytical essay about the sorts of commitments, actions, and explications that can yield citizen empowerment and class solidarity as people move forward into a future in which practically speaking all the standard levers of power are in monopoly corporate hands: “In a much larger sense, … we no longer face a political problem that can be solved by electing the right people in the next local, state or national election.  The deeper trends indicate that we face systemic problems – problems that can be solved only by building a movement that embraces a long-term vision of alternative systemic arrangements in addition to achievable short-term goals.  Importantly – and precisely because of the stagnation and stalemate now endemic to the system – we are beginning to see the emergence of elements that begin to suggest such a long-term vision. …Some cities, for instance, are beginning to look beyond traditional progressive policies to experiment with ways to democratize wealth and ownership in order to help stabilize the local economy.  Recently, Santa Fe mayor Javier Gonzales announced that the city was moving forward with a study on how to create a public bank, explaining that the city’s existing provider of financial services, Wells Fargo, ‘take[s] city revenues, taxpayer dollars, and [uses] those dollars as part of a loan portfolio for folks outside of Santa Fe and New Mexico.'”


http://chieforganizer.org/2014/11/09/ban-the-box-and-linkedin-prescreening-job-obstacles/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ChieforganizerBlog+%28Chief+Organizer+Blog%29     An absolutely critical posting from the Chief Organizers Blog via Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, which deconstructs the fascist notion that a falsely levied ‘felony’ should ever stand in the way of employment–of critical import when up to four in five ‘felons’ have that status as a result of corrupt and venal ‘drug crimes’ and other victimless charges–along with a rejection of the use of ‘social media’ crap further to week out ‘inappropriate’ employees, all of which fits perfectly with the general idea(http://www.truth-out.org/progressivepicks/item/27290-prison-destroys-families-and-communities-at-society-s-expense) that the ‘justice system’ now is in fact an injustice that harms or even eviscerates individual lives and even entire communities: “A lawsuit by a woman named Sweet in Suwanee, Georgia may topple prescreening utilizing LinkedIn on the white shoe side of the fence as well.  Ms. Sweet applied for a job with a hotel chain and didn’t get the gig.  She later found that the hotel company, like many other employers it seems, subscribed to LinkedIn’s so-called premium service which allowed them to search for connections between Sweet and others who claimed to have known her or worked with her, frequently in only the most random and coincidental ways.  Nonetheless, they could message these people directly for information and/or references on Sweet and in so doing block her from employment.  Sweet got a lawyer and sued under the Fair Credit Reporting Act saying this was prescreening.”


http://truth-out.org/news/item/27328-truthout-interviews-victoria-collier-and-ben-zion-ptashnik-on-voting-and-election-integrity     A precis and video from TruthOut about the inherent scam that much of voting has become, with policies that prescreen working class candidates from participation and encourage technologies that are, to say the least, prone to gaming for the process of voting itself: “(W)hat happened in this recent election was also part of a GOP agenda to suppress the vote of groups who tend to support progressive policies.  Through voter ID laws specifically targeted at progressive voters, vote rigging of computerized voting systems, and gerrymandering districts to favor GOP candidates, the right and Republicans have created barriers for democratic participation aimed at shutting out progressives, liberals, Democrats, and those who generally favor a left-leaning political point of view.”



http://www.brainpickings.org/2014/11/04/pablo-neruda-poet-of-the-people-book/     An essay at once about Pablo Neruda’s life and literary process and about a children’s book that presents these matters for youngsters, encased in observations and contemplation about what sourcesprings can well up the creativity that scrappy scribes crave: “The story begins with the poet’s birth in Chile in 1904 with the given name of Ricardo Eliecer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto — to evade his father’s disapproval of his poetry, he came up with the pen name ‘Pablo Neruda’ at the age of sixteen when he first began publishing his work — and traces his evolution as a writer, his political awakening as an activist, his deep love of people and language and the luminosity of life.”


http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/another-country-sam-hunt-maps-out-nashvilles-bold-new-future/2014/11/04/bd37cf86-643d-11e4-bb14-4cfea1e742d5_story.html?wpisrc=nl-opt      : “Sticking with that metaphor, Hunt’s music also qualifies as fine fusion cuisine — and it has arrived at a time when Nashville’s other leading men are busy slapping country and rap together like pickles on peanut butter.  Flip your radio on, and you’ll hear them flirting with hip-hop in mysterious, superficial and increasingly horrific ways.  It’s a trend that seems more heavily influenced by focus groups than by Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. …Hunt’s background is as unique as his music.  He learned how to make stadiums scream not as a stage performer, but as a quarterback at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.  ‘I’ve always craved winning,’ Hunt says.  ‘It’s just easier in sports, because there’s a scoreboard.’  Billboard’s country singles chart is the closest thing Nashville has to a scoreboard, and this week, Hunt’s name is at the top of it.”


http://www.forum-avignon.org/sites/default/files/editeur/Global_report_on_digital_media_2014.pdf     From a corporate, upper-echelon advertising and public relations outfit, a set of guidelines and analysis that will be critical for scrappy scribes to understand as those who already own everything follow a definite strategic line in order to achieve continuing chokeholds on publishing, information, distribution, and so on, all of which fits in seamlessly with data aggregations(http://www.internetworldstats.com/newsletter1.htm)that are widely available(https://www.budde.com.au/Research/Global-Telecoms-The-Big-Picture-Key-Industry-Statistics.html?r=51) from think-tanks(http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm) allied with such firms as the authors here: “Beyond this next digital transformation, growth and value creation will hinge on the media industry’s ability to capture its next billon consumers, mostly in emerging markets.  To successfully engage those media consumers, we believe the industry will need to focus efforts in three areas.

Invest in native digital formats.

Innovate in third-wave media, tap into high-growth models and gather data to inform content creation and monetization.

Rethink the monetization playbook.

Go beyond the traditional choice between advertising and consumer purchases or subscriptions to develop a more nuanced palette of audience monetization options, with data as the core asset.

Strengthen the alliance between content and communications networks.

Set the right balance for content publishers, platforms and telcos to invest in and profit from the content experiences consumers will value.


http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/11/08/lenz-n08.html    An article from World Socialist Website that at once braces and uplifts the reader, an obituary about a prominent German scribe’s life and work and how the networking and collaboration among writers made in-depth literature and criticism possible, despite the horror that such mutuality caused political elites: “With the proceeds from the book he travelled to Kenya.  In his short story, ‘Lukas, sanftmütiger Knecht’ (Lucas, Gentle Servant), he used experiences gained in Africa to write about the Mau Mau rebellion against colonial rule.  A year later, he joined Group 47, an association of German writers and journalists who met to read from their works and offer each other criticism.  Among others, the group included Grass, Böll, Walter Jens, Ilse Aichinger, Erich Fried, Alfred Andersch and Ingeborg Bachmann.  Later, they were joined by leading literary critic Marcel Reich-Ranicki. The group considered itself to be, in the broadest sense, a kind of literary avant-garde.  Many of the texts read and discussed dealt with Nazism and the ways in which official Germany sought to suppress discussion of this history, as well as the reactionary features of the postwar years under Chancellor Konrad Adenauer (1949-1963).  Accordingly, group members were violently attacked by representatives of the Adenauer elite.”


http://www.commondreams.org/news/2014/11/04/big-winner-2014-elections-corporate-television     : “Cable news stations have nearly doubled their sales in political ads since the last midterm elections in 2010, according to figures from Kanta Media ad tracking firm, which were provided to Reuters.   TV stations across the U.S. will bring in approximately $2.4 billion from local, state, and federal elections ads, they report.  These numbers are just slightly behind the 2012 presidential election, which saw $2.9 billion spent on TV ads.  A recent Pew Research poll finds that, for local TV stations—which remain one of the sources people in the U.S. depend on most for their political news—the 2014 elections could turn out to be one of the most profitable ever.  According to Cecilia Kang and Matea Gold writing for the Washington Post: ‘This year’s deluge of political ads is being driven largely by super PACs and other independent groups seeking to shape the hard-fought battle over control of the U.S. Senate.'”



http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2014/11/08/ferguson-has-happened-again/?utm_source=Tikkun+Daily+Daily+Digest&utm_campaign=883e448e3a-DAILY_DIGEST_EMAIL&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_19adec7513-883e448e3a-106980657     : “Law enforcement claimed afterward that their lives were in danger, and that they fired warning shots before shooting the Arab youth.  However, CCTV video footage shows none of these claims to be true.  Instead, officers broke protocol by by emerging from the van, their lives not in danger, and immediately shooting al-Hamdan, who was backing away and fleeing when he was shot in the back several times.  Officers then drug al-Hamdan’s body to the police van rather than calling for medical personnel to treat the victim at the scene.”


http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local/aps-judge-bars-media-from-publishing-story/nh4Dj/     : “The order, by Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter, prohibits publication of ‘a certain news story.’  Baxter signed the order Friday in response to a request from District Attorney Paul Howard, who asked the court to ensure that ‘the jurors are not exposed to this news story.’  The AJC has confirmed the story in question, which was first developed last week by Fox 5, but it has decided to withhold publication of the story in light of the judge’s order.  The newspaper’s attorney will ask the judge Monday morning to lift the order.  Subscribers may read our full report on our premium website at MyAJC.com.”



http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/11/gaius-publius-bipartisan-corporate-establishment-turns-back-challengers-strengthens-hold-congress.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NakedCapitalism+%28naked+capitalism%29       : “1. DC insiders and corporatists have increased their hold over the House and the Senate. It took a joint, bipartisan effort, but the effort paid off on election day. Bad for corporate Democrats, who sacrificed their numbers for the cause, but good for the Corporate Congressional Coalition (hereby the “CCC”) as a whole.
In the Senate, conservative Democrats Hagan, Pryor and Begich have lost or will likely lose to conservative Republicans. (Begich is good on Social Security, but not on much else.) Conservative Republicans Perdue and McConnell (he who kissed the Koch Bros ring) fended off challenges from DSCC-sponsored conservative Democrats Nunn and Grimes. Economic conservative incumbent Mark Udall lost to extreme conservative Cory Gardner and right-wing Democrat Mark Pryor lost to extremist ideologue Tom Cotton.”


https://lareviewofbooks.org/review/king-dead-heideggers-black-notebooks     : “Those students included many who would go on to become influential thinkers in their own right.  Ironically, many of them were Jews, such as Leo Strauss, Herbert Marcuse, Karl Löwith, Emmanuel Levinas, Hans Jonas, and Hannah Arendt herself, who was also Heidegger’s lover for a time in the 1920s.  Whatever Heidegger’s anti-Semitism was then, he must have kept it quite private.  He was clearly adept at wearing a mask for years, even decades.  Heidegger’s kingdom extended beyond Jewish students, too, of course.  For example, among the Germans, there was Hans-Georg Gadamer, who made important contributions to hermeneutics, the study of meaning and interpretation, and Jürgen Habermas, an avid reader of Heidegger, was one of the few to criticize him openly after the war.  Most such students and admirers were shocked when he came out in support of the Nazis, and he managed to convince most of his followers after the war that this episode was merely a brief, clumsy attempt to protect the university until his resignation as its head in 1934.”



10: A Month of Nows, Roots of Thens

November 12, 2014 | Posted in Uncategorized | By

Chapter Ten


What should Jimbo say? He finally managed to pull himself out of the deeper regions of fatigue and doubt, and to produce some of the text that he so desperately needs to create over the next few days.

What Upton Sinclair wrote in The Brass Check, his autobiographical demonstration project—sort of investigative memoir—about the vicious, libelous, bigoted, hateful, and hidebound media of the United States, is apt as hell for Jimbo. He can relate to the notion of feeling compelled to work himself almost to dire straits indeed.

The world looms so huge, its problems outsize in their weight and insistent in their immediacy. How can one not push. Yet, unless the day comes that support and assistance are forthcoming, one is constantly at risk of typing one’s fingers off and finding one’s brain more or less fried from constant thoughts and intrigues and hopes and schemes that—unnetworked—are unlikely to yield much fruit.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAlicia has sent out solicitations to the media that we support to crosspost or at least link somehow to the Contributoria work. If nothing is forthcoming, then these places will receive no further largesse from us. The work that they do is often dandy, almost always okay, only occasionally nasty and politically backward.

But our work ‘measures up,’ so to speak, whatever its lengthy and rambling and vocabulary-ridden sentences and paragraphs and pages. Or so the spindoctor maintains.

He rereads the materials every now and again with a ‘fresh eye,’ and more often than not the efforts that we’re producing range from quite good to just fucking outstanding. So, that the whoever-they-are scribes of TruthOut or Information Clearinghouse or CounterPunch or what have you receive the go-ahead while we languish may or may not be reasonable and just. But it will absolutely not occur at the same time as a failure to link to us in some tangible way.

The amazing element of this whole life of sublime intellectual and artistic drudgery is how much love Jimbo and Alicia continue to share. They have bonded at some almost extraterrestrial level, yet at any hour of the night or day this ethereal adoration plummets to Earth and mixes them together in a stewpot of longing and desire so fierce and full that both of their heads seem likely to explode with the insane and joyous release of their delight in each other’s fleshly essences.

And then they play. They play naughty child and stern parent. They always play the “No You!” game. Alicia will rush up to Jimbo with a wild smile. “Youuuuu!!!”

What does this reference? Where is the connecting point? It doesn’t matter. It says, “We have the energy of fusion inside us, and everything wild and crazy about you is a reasonable basis for me to identify that mad feral strength as worthy of notice.”

No You!”

And, mainly because of Alicia’s commitment to healthy living, in which a Chilean je ne sais quoi cuisine emerges from her genius Boo brain, this pair eats well. Were it not for their exertions together, the diet would certainly be too rich. Alicia walks the hills here regularly, tramping amid horses and cows and fields that just this instant are donning their threadbare and chilly Winter’s coat

But Jimbo feels the creak of aged bones. Gravity’s inexorable pull is often palpable. But what choice does he have? For the forty-first year in a row, he has little leeway other than to accept the muse and try to honor her wiles with enough of a wit to deliver some smiles: or something like that anyway.

Picture 3


A Thought for the Day

Even as the universe’s smorgasbord of experience and incident covers multiple concurrent infinities of fascination, simultaneously horror and delight, one’s best hope is to have a few score years of more or less conscious intelligence with which to observe, contemplate, hypothesize about, and act upon life’s limitless exigencies: thus, on the one hand, figuring where and how to focus challenges the brain with an insoluble puzzle, and, on the other hand getting rest enough to rejuvenate one’s capacity represents a constant difficulty, because the whole process is so damned interesting that sleep is often out of the question.
Quote of the Day

“All European tradition, Marxism included, has conspired to defy the natural order of all things.  Mother Earth has been abused, the powers have been abused, and this cannot go on forever.  No theory can alter that simple fact.  Mother Earth will retaliate, the whole environment will retaliate, and the abusers will be eliminated.  Things come full circle, back to where they started.  That’s revolution.”   Russell Means–Native American activist and ecologist: http://blog.gaiam.com/quotes/authors/russell-means.


This Day in History

Via the United Nations, today is World Science Day for Peace and Development; this is true despite the fact—of which thousands of similar empirical bits and pieces exist for every hour of every day—that eight hundred twelve years ago, the third Pope Innocent futilely forbade participants in the Fourth Crusade from besieging and conquering a Catholic city that now bears the name Zadar, in Croatia; two hundred forty-two years subsequently, in 1444, a Polish-Hungarian proto-crusader and his army engaged a force of Ottoman Turks at Varna, where Sultan Murad’s soldiers decimated the Christians and killed Vladislaus himself; five hundred thirty-one years before now, the baby boy took his first breath on the way to becoming radical reformer Martin Luther; illustrating that peaceable Scandinavia was not always—or ever—so mellow as its promoters might propound, four hundred ninety-four years back, a Danish invader of Sweden instigated the Stockholm Bloodbath, executing scores of victims of his victory; sixty years later, to the day, in 1580, England’s armies concluded a three day siege in Ireland by beheading over six hundred combatants and civilians; Rene Descartes had vivid dreams three hundred ninety-five years ago, laying the basis for Meditations on First Philosophy; precisely three hundred forty years prior to the present pass, the Netherlands ceded to England what was to become New York, part of the settlement package, so to speak, of the Anglo-Dutch War; two hundred eight-six years ago, meanwhile the boy child was born who developed into notable playwright and writer Oliver Goldsmith; a baby male entered the world in the usual fashion two hundred fifty-five years ago, en route to becoming monumental German poet, Friedrich Schiller; New Jersey’s final colonial governor two hundred forty-eight years ago signed into law the creation of Queen’s College, now named Rutgers; as foreign as the notion is in this age of the elevation of irrationality to the heights of logos, two hundred twenty-one years back, the French Convention proclaimed a Goddess of Reason; a hundred ninety-three years prior to this day, in a reverse move of what transpired at the beginning of the nineteenth century, Panama declared its independence from Spain and joined Colombia; the commandant of the Andersonville prisoner of war facility in Georgia dropped through the gallows floor a hundred forty-nine years ago, the only soldier who died for war crimes during the Civil War; one hundred thirty-five years prior to this day, the child who grew into poet Vachel Lindsay was born; a hundred twenty-three years back, the controversial and brilliant poet Arthur Rimbaud breathed his last; one hundred sixteen years before the here and now, citizens of the City of Wilmington, on North Carolina’s coast, rose up and overthrew the municipal government in the only such insurrection so far in U.S. history, almost socialist or communistic in its orientation and goals; the first annual convention of the American Legion took place ninety-five years back, ending a few days hence on the day following the previous year’s armistice in World War One; seventy-five years back, an infant male was born who grew up to become author and Native American activist Russell Means, who faced imprisonment for his efforts; with the inception of the North American Numbering Plan sixty-three years before this time, transcontinental direct dialing became regularly available in the United States; a baby boy came into the world fifty-four years ago, to mature into the popular author, illustrator, and fabulist Neil Gaiman; forty-five years ago, National Educational Television—PBS’s predecessor—introduced Sesame Street for the first time; thirty-nine years back, inspiring a song full of loss and longing, the huge ore ship Edmund Fitzgerald sunk on Lake Superior, and the United Nations issued a resolution, later withdrawn, that condemned Zionism as a form of racism; eight years later, in 1983, Bill Gates and his programmers issued the first iteration of the ubiquitous operating software, Windows I; a quarter century before this moment exactly, German citizens began dismantling the Berlin wall; six years hence, Nigeria hung playwright and author Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other activists for the ‘crime’ of advocating for ethnic Ogoni people’s rights; thirteen years prior to just now, the merry-prankster and scribe Ken Kesey died; just seven years ago, ‘tough-customer’ wordsmith Normal Mailer died, on the same day that King Juan Carlos, upset at Hugo Chavez’s forceful interruptions of speeches on political grounds, insulted the Venezuelan leader at a conference in Chile, “Por que no te callas?”


“human survival” ecology overload OR “negative impact” OR “out of balance” OR abuse OR defiance impact OR consequence OR harm analysis history modernity consciousness hope = 19,800 Articles



www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Cuba-Seeks-to-Enhance-Renewable-Energy-Capabilities–20141108-0004.html    : “The Caribbean nation’s current renewable energy output accounts for only 4.3 percent of its total electricity production but the government aims to boost investment by USD$3.5 billion over the next 15 years in order to develop the sector, the Communist Party daily Granma reported Friday.  During this week’s 32nd Havana International Fair, the government presented 246 potential foreign investment projects to strengthen and modernize the island’s renewable energy capacity, which would need foreign financing valued at around $9 billion.”


sno hor


The National Executive Committee/National Executive Board confabulation is upcoming in New York; members might want to send along comments and ideas if they feel inclined to have their voices heard.



http://www.commondreams.org/views/2014/11/07/democrats-not-knowing-what-they-stand-lose      A posting from tough-customer Ralph Nader : “Getting Senator Mark Pryor to support a minimum wage increase took many months.  By the time he saw the popularity of a statewide citizen-driven initiative on the ballot and switched, he appeared more as an opportunist than a leader.  Shortly after, his Republican successor, Congressman Tom Cotton switched as well.  All four initiatives to raise the minimum wage won in conservative ‘red states.’  Many defeated senators tried to localize the election by dumping on Obama and the national Democratic Party.  They avoided siding with the people on matters such as strong law and order for corporate crimes against consumers, patients, workers, community and environmental health.  They avoided talking about revising both the failed war on drugs and the failed war on terror that have resulted in more drugs in our country and created more anti-American groups around the world.”


http://investigativenewsnetwork.org/2014/10/innovation-fund-round-2-winners-announced/     : “‘This second round of INNovation grant winners reflects our continued emphasis on business experimentation in the nonprofit and public media space that is both replicable and scalable in the future,’ says Kevin Davis, CEO & Executive Director of the Investigative News Network.  ‘Whether its a speaker’s bureau, a film festival or a social network for content syndication, each of these new projects has the potential to generate impact and benefit for the entire nonprofit news sector.'”


http://blogs.loc.gov/now-see-hear/2014/11/the-mishaps-of-musty-suffer/     : “Kleine was a pioneer motion picture producer and distributor who’s not well known today but was an important part of the early American film industry.  He was the “K” in Kalem (named for Kleine, Samuel Long, and Frank J. Marion), imported and released European films under the Cines and Eclipse brands, and was also involved in the patents wars as part of the Motion Pictures Patents Company.  When the start of World War I cut off his supply of imported European pictures, he produced and released his own independent productions, a mix of dramas and comedies made primarily in the northeast (his offices were in New York City), and many of which utilized performers from the ‘legitimate’ and vaudeville stages.”


http://www.vice.com/read/willy-wonka-nazis-harry-harris-322?curator=MediaREDEF     A lovely bit from Vice in the U.K., proffered by MediaREDEF, nominally a review essay about Willy Wonka and transformation and fascism, ultimately an exploration of the uses and potential of literature in regard to youngsters: “Kids films need this depth, these narrative challenges, because if they don’t, they will just switch off.  Whether it’s The Brothers Grimm leading children to witches’ coven, to Studio Ghibli dealing with attempts to survive World War Two in Grave Of The Fireflies, to Pixar’s Toy Story trilogy focusing on a child growing up without a father, looking for role models in two strong male archetypes.  More recently, ParaNorman—for my money the best animated movie of recent memory—dealt with legitimately one of the ugliest events in American history, the Salem Witch Trials, as a real, brutal thing that involved the murder of small children.  It was perhaps the only piece of storytelling since Arthur Miller’s The Crucible to do that, and Arthur Miller’s The Crucible didn’t have Primary school kids in the audience.  And then there’s Wonka, which exists with this huge contextual shadow looming large over it, and shadow that reflects on a world trying to come to terms with one of the most horrific events of the 20th century, and a nation trying to re-establish some semblance of national identity.”


http://www.insidephilanthropy.com/home/2014/11/3/how-300-wealthy-progressives-connect-to-make-green-grants.html     : “The Threshold Foundation is a donor network of progressive philanthropists administered by the Tides Foundation and making grants to two programs — justice and the environment.  The group started in 1981 in the mountains of Colorado with a new-agey spiritual gathering that led to the formation of something called the Doughnuts.  The group was convened by wealthy heir Josh Mailman, who would go on to also be a leader in impact investing and venture capital.”


http://www.sanders.senate.gov/democracyday      A bill in the Senate, from Bernie Sanders, a no-brainer sine qua non for those who even imagine that elections can play a role in people power, majority rule, or other actual manifestations of democracy: “In America, we should be celebrating our democracy and doing everything possible to make it easier for people to participate in the political process.  Election Day should be a national holiday so that everyone has the time and opportunity to vote.  While this would not be a cure-all, it would indicate a national commitment to create a more vibrant democracy.”


http://theconversation.com/from-electric-ink-to-aromapoetry-the-physical-book-is-not-dead-its-about-to-be-reborn-31186?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=The+Weekend+Conversation+-+2068&utm_content=The+Weekend+Conversation+-+2068+CID_893d58003c8c497bf9a2e24af3e92f11&utm_source=campaign_monitor_uk&utm_term=From%20electric%20ink%20to%20aromapoetry%20%20the%20physical%20book%20is%20not%20dead%20its%20about%20to%20be%20reborn    : “Analogue is old; digital new.  Paper has always been the epitome of the analogue: a physical medium which can receive, present and preserve information but otherwise remains static and fixed.  It’s our entrenched understanding of these polarities that are to blame for the well-worn idea that the physical book is dying.  This is simply not the case – ‘analogue’ technologies such as ink and paper are now being developed in ways that can and in all likelihood will revolutionise the material, printed book.”


http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2011/12/if-everyone-else-is-such-an-idiot-how-come-youre-not-rich/249430/?utm_source=a16z+newsletter&utm_campaign=146341e202-weekly_11_07_14&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_6da14709cd-146341e202-130582297     : “But how do we get from ‘that was a bad idea’ to ‘Reed Hastings doesn’t understand what business he’s in?’  When internet commentators see odd behavior that they don’t understand, why do they assume that the most parsimonious explanation is that management must be a bunch of drooling morons?  I mean, Reed Hastings did manage to build this rather large and successful business that killed off one of the most successful retail operations of its day.  It’s possible that he just sort of did this by accident.  But is this really the most likely explanation?  That he didn’t understand the first thing about how people watched movies, or how to run a business?”


http://chieforganizer.org/2014/11/08/small-employers-and-nonprofits-caught-in-healthcare-bind/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ChieforganizerBlog+%28Chief+Organizer+Blog%29      : “Did I mention already that talking to small employers about SHOP and the Affordable Health Care is confusing and a slog already?  Yes, I guess I did, and the more conversations we have with some of them, it becomes hard to tell if the marketplace is embracing them as employers or moving them to let their workers do their best with Affordable Care.  Mid-November when the marketplace opens again is going to provide some real headaches and gnashing of teeth for lots of people and employers making decisions about what’s best, even those that want to do right.”


http://www.brainpickings.org/2014/11/03/bruce-springsteen-reading-list-favorite-books/      From Brain Pickings, an essay on reading and the transformative power of writing, with a focus on Bruce Springsteen’s ‘top-28’ reading list: “It is also, perhaps, a seed planted in another’s garden of consciousness.  It is no coincidence that most highly creative people are voracious readers — books, after all, enable us to live multiple lives in one by giving us access to emotions and experiences impossible to compress into a single lifetime, and creativity is the combinatorial product of all the ideas and experiences floating around our minds.”



http://www.vice.com/read/why-is-the-internet-so-damn-slow-115     : “For example, the internet in Los Angeles is half the speed of the internet in Seoul, and yet we pay ten times as much for it.  The only cities in America that can even hold a candle to places like Seoul are Kansas City and Chattanooga, Tennessee, where the internet is fast but still twice as expensive.  So the internet sucks—but why?  Broadband , like modern art, is one of those things that I understand on a theoretical level but don’t really ‘get,’ so I reached out to Chris Mitchell, who heads the nonprofit Community Broadband Networks Initiative, to learn about why my internet is so damn slow.”


http://ijnet.org/en/blog/15-tools-help-journalists-navigate-social-media    : “Journalists are used to promoting their work on social media.  But there’s also lots of scope for journalists to use social media as a reporting tool — to find stories, for newsgathering, research, finding interviewees and more.  But where to start?  At a recent presentation I gave in Italy, I included a slide on this, and noted a lot of furious scribbling.  There’s clearly appetite for this.  So here’s a list of tips and tools that I find useful.”


http://www.salon.com/2014/11/06/cory_doctorow_were_all_sharecroppers_in_googles_fields_for_the_rest_of_eternity/    : “The novelist and journalist Cory Doctorow, a longtime critic of zealous copyright protection, advocates a middle way, which may come as a surprise to those only superficially acquainted with his writings on technology. …In Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free, Doctorow challenges a few common artist gripes — by, for example, claiming that the royalties musicians get from streaming music services are so paltry because record companies take a huge cut upfront.  He describes six methods artists use to get paid for their work and he breaks down the players in the arts economy into creators (musicians, painters, writers), investors (publishers, record companies, movie studios), intermediaries (retailers and distributors, like Amazon or Netflix) and the audience.  Disturbingly, he also warns that DRM, which requires our devices to perform operations their owners can neither see nor control, represents the thin end of the wedge in possible government and corporate intrusion into our privacy.”



http://www.govexec.com/state-local/2014/11/opengov-foundation-knight-foundation/98393/?oref=state_and_local_nl     : “The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced on Thursday that it was awarding the Washington, D.C.-based OpenGov Foundation with a two-year $750,000 grant to continue its efforts to help governments build better digital homes for their legal codes and get the public to more effectively engage in the lawmaking process through the ongoing development of OpenGov’s America Decoded and Madison projects.  The new funding comes on top of $200,000 of an earlier Knight Foundation grant awarded to the OpenGov Foundation in 2013.”


https://files.nyu.edu/pba220/public/barbera-polarization-social-media.pdf       : “To test this hypothesis, I develop a new method to estimate dynamic ideal points for social media users. I apply this method to measure the ideological positions of millions of individuals in Germany, Spain, and the United States over time, as well as the ideological composition of their personal networks.  Results from this panel design show that most social media users are embedded in ideologically diverse networks, and that exposure to political diversity has a positive effect on political moderation.  This result is robust to the inclusion of covariates measuring offline political behavior, obtained by matching Twitter user profiles with publicly available voter files in several U.S. states.  I also provide evidence from survey data in these three countries that bolsters these findings.  Contrary to conventional wisdom, my analysis provides evidence that social media usage reduces mass political polarization.



http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/international/223272-a-pro-western-victory-looking-at-parliamentary-elections-in     : “On Oct. 27, Ukrains’ka Pravda — a muckraking news outlet — published a detailed analysis of two instances of voting irregularity in the 182nd district in southern Khersons’ka province.  Based on the account, thugs (titushki) tried to kick out election observers and candidates from the electoral commission while the ballots were being counted.  Only a few hundred votes separated the two front-runners in the district race — Yuryi Odarchenko from former prime minister Yuliia Tymoshenko’s Fatherland Party, and Oleksandr Spivakovs’kyi from the Petro Poroshenko Bloc.  In the end, Spivakovs’kyi narrowly won the district, with the help of the inmates of prisons No. 61 and 90, 70 percent of whose ballots were suspiciously cast for the candidate from the president’s party.  Much attention has been paid to the victory of ‘pro-Western parties.’  We believe that the ‘pro-Western’ label is misleading.  First, the label creates the false impression that Ukrainian voters were voting primarily on foreign policy.  Despite the ongoing conflict with Russia, domestic concerns were more likely to have influenced their vote.  Second, Ukrainian political parties are generally not ideological, but leader-driven.  The Petro Poroshenko Bloc is the new pro-presidential party in parliament, replacing Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions.  The People’s Front ran on the leadership record of the incumbent prime minister, Arsenyi Yatseniuk.  Self-Help (Samopomich) is very different in this sense, as it brings together civil-society leaders and activists from the Euromaidan demonstrations.  We’ll have to see if these novice politicians survive the rough and tumble game of Ukrainian politics.”


http://www.ajc.com/news/news/east-point-to-pay-to-settle-taser-lawsuit/nh2xD/    : “The city of East Point has agreed to pay to settle a lawsuit brought on behalf of the young son of a 24-year-old man who died after two former police officers repeatedly used Tasers on him while he was handcuffed.  The attorney for the family of Gregory Lewis Towns Jr. did not disclose Thursday how much money will be awarded Towns’ baby son, who was 7 months when his father died in April, but said the family was getting the maximum amount allowed by the city’s insurance carrier.  Beyond confirming that the maximum payment the city’s insurance policy allows is $1 million, officials declined to comment.”



http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/08/world/europe/viktor-orban-steers-hungary-toward-russia-25-years-after-fall-of-the-berlin-wall.html?emc=edit_ee_20141108&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=66212615&_r=0     A nuanced, in-depth, arguably brilliant news-analysis from The Times about the present leadership of Hungary, which, though it led the flight from the Soviet Union in 1989, has now come round to a strong partnership with Russia, based on energy ties but also on ideological and analytical sympathies that view ‘Western’ approaches as uncertain at best, more likely as unfortunate or worse: “Mr. Orban has laid out a philosophical vision and justification for his authoritarian-leaning approach that suggests a long-term commitment to turning Hungary into something quite different from what the West anticipated when the Iron Curtain collapsed and the Berlin Wall came down.  In a speech this summer, Mr. Orban declared liberal democracy to be in decline and praised authoritarian ‘illiberal democracies’ in Turkey, China, Singapore, and Russia.  He traced his views to what he portrayed as the failures of Western governments to anticipate and deal adequately with the financial crisis that started in 2008 and the ensuing deep recession.  He called that period the fourth great shock of the past century — the others being World War I, World War II, and the end of the Cold War — and the impetus for what he called today’s key struggle: ‘a race to invent a state that is most capable of making a nation successful.'”


http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/11/08/cali-n08.html     : “Napolitano’s announcement is part of a larger move by big business and government officials, nationally and worldwide, to cut social services and increase the cost of accessing essential services such as education.  According to US News, in 1988, public higher education institutions on average relied on student tuition for 23.8 percent of their funding.  In 2013, such institutions relied on tuition for 47.4 percent of their funding.  In addition to directly increasing the cost of tuition, Napolitano announced that the Student Services Fee, which all UC students pay, will also increase by 5 percent in the coming year.  Also, the ‘professional degree supplemental tuition (PDST)’ would increase by 5 percent for five years.  In addition to those increases, there would also be a one-time 20 percent increase’ to the PDST for nursing students for the next academic year and the implementation of a new PDST for five professional degree programs: ‘Teacher Education, Educational Leadership, and Journalism at UC Berkeley; Public Policy at Riverside; and Technology Management at Santa Barbara.'”



9: A Month of Nows, Roots of Thens

November 11, 2014 | Posted in Uncategorized | By

Chapter Nine


More dreams of a bureaucratic and institutional bent, essentially about power and performance, characterized Jimbo’s night. He gave himself plenty of permission to sleep in, despite the productivity sink of the past several days. But after plus-or-minus five hours, the insistent siren of the world’s unfolding crises called him forth, despite the fact, in the words of a wise nurse whom once I knew well, that “Jimbo is always trying to worry the world into existence.”


Photograph by Rama, Wikimedia Commons

Photograph by Rama, Wikimedia Commons

A call from papi starts Alicia’s day. Spindoctor’s up-and-at-‘em was an hour or so old at that juncture. His English expression is close-to-perfect, but the Spindoctor can tell that his comprehension—especially in the presence of an idiomatic statement or some sophisticated vocabulary—suffers a bit in the translation, as it were.

Alicia half rises from the mire of blankets that enfold her, an expression on her face like a ruminant stunned with a maul, her hair a cascade of ringlets and tangles. “It’s your dad!”

She exits with greater alacrity than is her normal wont, without spouting “You!!” or anything similar, and Arturo Numero Cuatro and Jimbo continue to banter. Even when she pours a huge cup of coffee, so that Jimbo whispers, “Fiend,” she just fends him off and willingly enough takes the line that connects five thousand miles South to Santiago.

The upshot is that Arturo number 4 indeed has some things to say about Victor Jara. He’ll be writing some responses to our questions. And we may get some leads for further conversations.

In addition, Alicia’s great-uncle, who escaped a dire fate at the hands of Pinochet’s thugs when he hoisted himself over the high walls of the Italian embassy and broke his leg, will probably be in communication even though he is now blind. The story of how the Italians smuggled him out of the country, by taking advantage of his cast and then ‘casting’ him as an Italian national injured in the brouhaha of the coup, ought to be a film.

Not to mention that Uncle Jorge’s personal life is a bizarre compilation that seems at once polymorphous perverse and perhaps just a bit of Mormonism or Islam overlaying the general debauchery. But all of that can wait.

One of today’s drop-deadlines is an outreach about the “Heroin to Ritalin” article that we’ve slated for January. We’re keeping our fingers crossed and otherwise praying for continued Contributoria forebearance and all that, of course. Here’s to a hopeful continuation into 2015.

And, moreover, here is a draft note. “Hey Ron!

I surely, purely do appreciate your help with this whole writing process. I wanted to update you about last month’s work, though you’ve probably already received links to that already.

Election_MG_3455One article concerned electoral politics: https://www.contributoria.com/issue/2014-11/5407d583296471cc7a000035. It’s long as hell, but fairly easy to break into pieces and digest in that fashion.

The other dealt with grammar issues, hopefully in a way that both interests and informs readers more usefully than would just using nerdy jargon and so forth:

https://www.contributoria.com/issue/2014-11/540bff132f02a8e23400000b. I love this stuff and believe in the transformative power of grammar, so to speak.

I also hoped to introduce the proposal that is at the center of the work that we want to do in January. It is another in-depth investigation, one of many that I intend to complete in the realm of the political economy of drugs, pharmaceuticals, and the human predilection for altering consciousness—wine, cigarettes, coffee, pot: I mean, come on!

Here’s that link: https://www.contributoria.com/issue/2015-01/54559901083e5e7b1a0000b5/proposal. And here’s the most important request in this little note.

  • Please, please, please throw your points my way. This is easy to do with the above link and lets us keep producing up here.

I know that I can ‘run on,’ obviously. But I’d love to hear any feedback about the work that we’ve done. Or maybe you have a ‘special request.’

Take a look at this, Jimbo!” In the fullness of time, any such request will become our monthly priority, sooner or later.

As well, something which I’ve also probably noted repeatedly, I’d very much appreciate hearing what your take about or insight into the news is. I’m a fiend for ‘current events’ and recognize that everybody has his favorite portal; each of us ‘scoops’ others using her special powers of observation now and again.

We’re staying very busy up here in the hills. The six inches of snow on November 1 was just wacky. I’ll send pictures at some point, if I remember to do so.

Don’t be a stranger.

Picture 3

Solidarity Forever.”

Most of the day, allowing out time for errands and love-trysts and decisions about Solidarity Forever Radio, focuses on preparing the Daily Links and other regular features of the week’s work in the context of our leaving on Thursday. Completing the Day-in-History materials for the five days of the span really helps, and as always, the confrontation with the wonders and woes of the present pass makes Jimbo cackle and then weep in tandem: murdered youth in Kentucky and Jersusalem, globe-trotting police impunity, defrauded pensions in Detroit while the sanctity of contracts for billionaires is unassailable, lecherous plutocrats who pander to the wiles of prostitutes on multiple continents, and on and on, from the sublime to the ludicrous.

One might string out twelve-hundred pages per day about the odd congruencies, the random inanity, the poignant pathos and blundering bathos that emerge from the thousands of mediated streams that pass through our fingers every single cycle of the sun. But that would be a different project, a novel from a day instead of a novel-in-a-month.

Sandra’s also been in touch. She seems to want to take a flyer for her birthday, soon to pass. The context for such an eventuality would amount to nothing other than pleasant chatter except that the trek—possibly to Las Vegas—could conceivably involve organizational resources, a concept that Jimbo has doubts about, not least of all the overall viability of the idea of building any ‘progress’ via the vaunted ‘ad nauseum’ of social media.

Hey Sandra!

Almost the birthday girl, eh?  Many happy returns, and many, many more!!

The cost of this event in Vegas, not taking into account hotel, food, transportation, and such, comes to an absolute minimum charge of $600 for ‘Boot Camp’ with no workshops or general access, up to $2,600 for all access plus workshops.

That means that the absolute drop dead minimum overall cost would be something like fifteen hundred bucks, plus or minus.  And that’s for a bare bones package for a two day ‘immersion experience.’

Is a venture like this something that we could sell to National?  Or, looked at another way, would this be a rational expenditure of Chapter resources?

Let’s talk about this, voice to voice at some point.  I’ve got some semi-informed opinions about this topic, especially having done the Daily Linking thing for nearly a year now.

Your friend, Ms. Washington, surely has done a magnificent job of packaging her abilities.  She’s doing very well for herself indeed.

Is her approach how we will build NWU?  Again, let’s talk.

In any event, you can totally turn yourself into our Social Marketing Superstar.  That would require both a proof-of-performance–your setting goals and attaining them, basically–and a proof of concept–showing that the performance yielded results, i.e., members, networking and outreach opportunities, and so on and so forth.

If such a step seems doable at your end, the Steering Committee all along has said, ‘You Go!’  And I’m in total agreement. 

I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Solidarity Forever.

Our radio ventures repeated the musical elements from week one in this, our eighth installment. The patter from Jimbo was what it was, but Alicia had sent out an all-points requesting callers.

And when the spindoctor noted that the next articulation in our queue dealt with the arc of policy and political economy, “from Heroin to Ritalin,” Danielle actually called in. However, rather than sharing some of her own horrific experiences with psychotropic ‘medicine,’ she began to point out the gargantuan death toll currently afflicting St. Louis as a result of ‘smack.’

Since this conceptualization guarantees, practically speaking, incorrect assessment and the favoring of fascist policies, Jimbo let her speak briefly and then insisted on an adequate contextualization. This consisted of demonstrating the facts about supplies of opium poppies, which have uniformly followed the path of empire, of particular note the rise of the Southeast Asian trade during the Vietnam conflict and the current ascendancy of poppies and their products from Afghanistan.

Alicia and her fellow stayed up many hours more. The conversations were lovely and loving. We had promises of travel money on the morrow.

Yet sleep was not easy in coming, when finally dawn’s light beckoned. Jimbo fears for his life and health. Times are certainly tough all over.



8: A Month of Nows, Roots of Thens

November 11, 2014 | Posted in Uncategorized | By

Chapter Eight


roomMy oh my! What dreams may come. Jimbo was young and lithe and strong again as he slept the sleep of spindoctor. Somehow or other, though, he had come to reside in an institutional setting, where he was more or less comfortable and accepting of his fate, even as his was in the nature of an involuntary commitment of some sort, for something that he’d done or something that he’d said or something along these lines.

In the course of a typical tussle of some kind with an orderly—or perhaps something like an ‘Activity Therapist’—he ended up down on the floor, where his overseer took advantage of by giving Jimbo a crotch buss with his face. Spindoctor was wearing jeans, but the genital grope was still pretty obvious.

This meant that he received a ‘Get-Out-of-Jail-Free’ pass, or something similar, and soon enough was walking along the walkway toward the gate, where he met up with either Monica or his mother, who warned against trying to escape. He told her that he had gotten a release of some sort, and she wanted to know why.

He was trying to figure out how to explain the situation delicately—his son or a very young Alicia, perhaps both, accompanied us—when we were standing overlooking a wild gorge, either the East Fork of the Pigeon River or Little River Canyon. Suddenly, a car that had sidled up near us gunned its engine and smashed into all of us. Monica/Mom and the two young ones went toppling through the fence, where the auto hung up, dangling over the fifteen foot drop into the wild water. 

Somehow or other, Jimbo must have leapt aside, because he was able to scoot down to everyone and determine that, miraculously, they were all okay despite the impact and fall.  At that juncture, more or less, he awoke.


Photograph by Rama via Wikimedia Commons

Photograph by Rama via Wikimedia Commons

Struggling through the morass of technical suboptimality defines the day. Even in gamboling around downtown in search of a pen—to endorse the check that Jimbo’s mensch of a mother sent—or encountering the overwhelming presence of Danielle Steele on the library’s shelves—this dynamic held sway. The closed coffee shop on the bypass—once more, further demonstrated this.

The upshot was a horribly unproductive day, full of computerized backgammon and utter dread about completing anything. The sweet keyboard that coddles the spindoctor’s fingers now make this terror seem a distant chimera.

But man! Yesterday was obscene. The upstairs neighbors—six people in that space just slightly larger than a one-bedroom apartment, with the drafty shed for the boys’ molten dreams—have obtained their cable connection, just in time for us to speed up our own efforts.

Michael called from California yesterday. He’s commandeered a capsulization from the Spindoctor of what he wants from his marriage—a true partnership, a commitment to Eros, kindness, and more—and, during the course of an hour or so on the Magic Jack, Jimbo listens to the unfolding unraveling of things out there.

193px-Film_stripThe New Mexico gig will pay him for his week of prep, yet the financing—a somewhat typical ‘trustfunder’s parental arrangement’—seems tenuous at best, which means that the stars and starlets who supposedly really did have an interest have all gone on to realer engagements. A film without a cast is like a baseball team without pitchers—at best a joke when the time arrives to perform.

Yet this is typical of the industry now, and the reason that St. Mike’s last few projects have included a couple of simple meltdowns. More about the film industry is forthcoming, but today’s talk centers on the family affairs of the threesome—Mike, his Hungarian wife, Ivana, and their highly successful manipulator progeny, the toddler Daniel.

She can’t stand to hear him cry. So he whines and wheedles to get ‘mak,’ what he calls milk, every fucking night.”

So what’s the problem there?”

He doesn’t sleep is the problem. And I’m trying to work twelve, sixteen hours a day on something useful, so sleep is important.”

Oy yoy yoy!”

Yeah, so I was with him last night, and almost every time I’ve tried to make some move to put us in charge, which means no milk, for one thing, she’s come to his rescue. But last night, when he said, ‘Daddy, me want some ‘mak,’ I told him, and explained why, he wasn’t getting any this time. And he cried and cajoled for a few minutes and then went to sleep.”

So great, right?”

Yeah. Except he wakes up an hour later—Ivana and I take turns sleeping with him, since we don’t sleep with each other any more, so I was there by myself, sending some e-mails and shit—and asks again: ‘Mak, daddy?’ And I told him why the answer was still no.”

Oh oh.”

And he went ballistic. ‘Mommy, mommy, help me! Help me! Mommy, please, please, please Mommy, PLEASEEE!!! for like fifteen minutes. And he keeps looking at the door, little fucker.”

Mike laughs. “I mean, he knows. But by some miracle, Ivana doesn’t intervene, and eventually he goes under and sleeps all fucking night.”

Cardboard-500x375But that’s great!”

Right, except when I come out to check on Ivana, she says she want a divorce and that I’m a cruel and unusual father and all of this total horseshit, that she can’t stand it, etc., etc., etc.”

Fucking A.”


And for the next forty-five minutes, Mike and the Spindoctor hash out what the options are about this imbroglio. The first thing that Jimbo does is eliminate even the vaguest fantasy that Mike can assert his will that “There’s no way that she’s taking my son out of the country.”

Listen, Michael. Unless you are willing to kidnap the child and live underground, or commit a triple homicide, you’re not in the driver’s seat in this situation. Even if we believe the court’s desire to assert the ‘best interest of the child,’ unless Ivana has the most idiotic lawyer in history, or no lawyer, she’s got to be a favorite to get primary custody.” And this doesn’t bring up what Mike has to know, that some of the shit that Ivana knows about him would practically guarantee that her caretaking, and not his priorities, would be what any court in the U.S. would validate.

Yeah, this all started, you know, after we first met.”

No, you’ve never told me.”

I thought I had. We were on that first Hungarian shoot I did; rock god A.D., remember?”

Yeah, a feather for sure.”

Uh huh. And we started going at it, and unlike every other fucking time I’ve ever gotten involved with a woman, the sex was constantly terrific, for like forty, fifty, eighty times, for months.”

That’s why she married you. Duh.”

Yeah, except right before the wedding, after her step dad had vetted me, and her real mom had shown me Ivana’s version of childhood hell, she read my journals.”


Yup. Everything. And, you know me, I had it all in there. The porn, the fantasies, the hook-ups, the doubts about me and women. All of it.”

She still married you.”

Yeah. I told her I loved her. She didn’t want to disappoint her step-dad.”

And here you are.”

So now, Jimbo has an assignment—to write up a spousal agreement that will save this sinking marriage from breaking up on the rocks that life always places in front of any safe harbor. He and Mike will keep talking. The background here is astounding, to say the least.

And Alicia, weirded out by the incredibly frank conversations about desire, orgasm, pleasuring, and more that typified the conversation between her fucking husband and this strange man who is in many ways Jimbo’s best friend, needs consolation in the way that has ever been the basis for human conjunction—the lovely and delicious sex contract that is also the reason that we’re all here.

And round and round it goes.



7: A Month of Nows, Roots of Thens

November 9, 2014 | Posted in Uncategorized | By

Chapter Seven

Picture 1Once again, wild dreams define the hours that Jimbo sleeps, crazy both because they are replete with creatures—a talking wolf, rats that sleep in body cavities, and more—as well as events that are extraordinary and as a result of occurrences in which the uncanny meets the serendipitous repeatedly. No spindoctor memory of the narrative thread is just now accessible, but that would have required a different relationship with the process of rising and shining, so to say.

Our trek to Ford yesterday, in addition to multiple cases of craziness in our seeking to induce elegant efficiency, started with the kindhearted gentleman who checked us in having the decency to ask, “Oh, what do you write?” when he discovered that our art sales had trailed off of late, before he frankly acknowledged that he’d registered not a word about Ukraine and little more about the elections. He seemed at once apologetic and almost defiant in a bitter sort of way that he knew nothing of and had little-to-no interest in any realm of being that concerns politics.

After the disappointment of our ventures on Thursday, we heard just after Jimbo rose, via e-mail that Charlotte Street both had accepted delivery of a sweet MacBook Pro and could not reach us by phone. The pull was too strong, so into Asheville we traipsed again, meaning that most of another day went down the tubes, what with driving, stopping at GreenLife to make sure that all was in order inside the box, and so forth. Connecting in this fashion with China remains almost spectacular in its impact, that this device came to pass in part as a result of ‘consumer choice’ and the miracle of modern communication.

LakeImagingOne upshot of our lives at the moment is a longing for nature—and to an extent some whimsical feelings for art and color—that this present textualization of things does not permit, even as we drive by the colors and ponder the shapes and forms of water, rock, wood, moss, and man, as it were. Jimbo basically prays for the good fortune to stay healthy enough, long enough, to have more occasions when ‘Winter’s Kiss to Autumn Goodbye’ can show up in our lives, so that various iterations of nature and beauty are once more ours to countenance and consider.

Fucking Douglas wrote yesterday. He’s been galavanting around Europe; hence his lack of communication and support and so on. He really likes what is happening there but decries having gotten so sick that, apparently without his sweet mistress, he had to return to Florida where he promised to call today but, predictably, did not. The comrades of yore are out there making waves, perhaps, but they’ve got barely the time of day for us.

Later on, Herr Tell again reaches out to the spindoctor. He’s back inside a house, though the mortgage remains problematic. The donkeys found a home, and at a price that yielded a gain. He’s found buyers for other animals as well and fancies a potential for consistent income from such a nexus of flesh and cash. He obtained some castrated goats, ready for fattening and gyros, but he believes that they sensed a TGTBT energy up on the hill—portending a knife and an end—and therefore ran off into the woods, where dogs and coyotes might make an end of them, but they won’t suffer the indignity of a public execution.

Elina continues to press her charges. He ‘can’t believe it,’ if only to advance the notion of his innocence. Meanwhile, his second wife—whom he says never stopped having wild hots for his sweet touch, and such as that—has been flirting with him.

She’s even acceded to their reuniting if he’ll “admit that he’s a shit” and otherwise own up to all his naughtiness and maladaptive ways. He’s also cruising the Craigslist listings in search of light and heat and touches so sweet. He’s making loads of KimChi and inviting us to visit, as much as anything else to relieve his loneliness, which rises from the paragraphs of his communiqué like the miasma of stink from the Waste Treatment Center on a warm, still day.


"Love Coffee" by Ahmed Rabea from Manama, Bahrain - Love Coffee. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

“Love Coffee” by Ahmed Rabea from Manama, Bahrain – Love Coffee. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Spindoctor wrote to him. In the background, after he’s accused his love quite accurately of fiendish ways in regard to coffee, the refrain rise and falls like an Arab ululation: “You!! No, you!!!! You.”

Hey man!

Jesus!  When the logistical snafus pile up, every little turn means cascading delays.  And then I have my ‘stupid phases’ on top of everything.  But I’m hopeful that the idiocy will end, and then I can get back on track.

Thanks for the offer of food anyway.  Of course, you’re an incredible cook.  Maybe after we return from New York we can schedule something.  Meeting your once and future ex, or however we might phrase it, would be swell.

Monsieur-le-Tell-the-stockbroker, making money the old-fashioned way, off of four hooves: it has a certain resonance.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed that everything works out in the end to be amicable with Ms. Illyana, or at least reasonable. 

In regard to other difficulties, whom God would humble, He must first raise up, so maybe great things are in store.  Alicia was ecstatic that the donkeys found a happy home.  We’ll look forward to meeting all the new fuzzies.

I’ll be sending out a request for some points for a new Contributoria piece in a day or two.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed. 

I’m also working on a spec-item about Upton Sinclair’s run for Governor of California in 1934.  What a story that was.  It illustrates perfectly the pattern of fantasy-and-then-futility that characterizes our current electoral process.  We need a movement that doesn’t depend on such modalities, or we will continue to face grotesque consequences, more and more, with the mandate ever more ubiquitous: ‘Shut up and do as you’re told!…If you’re lucky, we’ll dispense Vaseline.’

Once again, then, a dose of the day’s incoming mediation seems apropos.



A Thought for the Day

What networks do remains hidden behind a screen of individual performances until one or another member of a functioning team fails to deliver, for any reason or randomly occurring glitch whatsoever, in which case the entire façade of personal responsibility collapses, the sort of eventuality that ought perhaps to inform contemplation about any one actor’s ‘ownership’ of an apparently discrete item of ‘intellectual property.’
Quote of the Day

“Among the worker, soldier and peasant masses, however, there was a stubborn feeling that the ‘first act’ (of the revolution) was not yet played out. On the front the Army Committees were always running foul of officers who could not get used to treating their men like human beings; in the rear the Land Committees elected by the peasants were being jailed for trying to carry out Government regulations concerning the land; and the workmen https://www.marxists.org/archive/reed/1919/10days/10days/ch1.htm – 2nin the factories were fighting black-lists and lockouts. …To the multiform discontent of the people the ‘moderate’ Socialists had one answer: Wait for the Constituent Assembly, which is to meet in December.  But the masses were not satisfied with that. …The Constituent Assembly had been postponed and postponed–would probably be postponed again, until the people were calm enough–perhaps to modify their demands!  At any rate, here were eight months of the Revolution gone, and little enough to show for it… Meanwhile the soldiers began to solve the peace question by simply deserting, the peasants burned manor-houses and took over the great estates, the workers sabotaged and struck–.  Of course, as was natural, manufacturers, land-owners, and army officers exerted all their influence against any democratic compromise.”   John Reed–Ten Days That Shook the World: https://www.marxists.org/archive/reed/1919/10days/10days/ch1.htm.


This Day in History

Today, unofficially or semi-officially, is October Revolution Day in Russia; five hundred eighty-eight years ago, Vietnamese rebels fought off Ming forces in Hanoi and fomented the Lam Son uprising; the world’s oldest continuously published journal, the London Gazette began operation three hundred forty-nine years back; exactly one hundred ten years later, the Royal Governor of Virginia issued a 1775 proclamation that promised slaves freedom who joined the British to fight the colonials, a offer than thousands of Blacks accepted; one hundred forty years ago, cartoonist Thomas Nast first depicted the National Republican Party with the symbol of the elephant; five years later, the infant male whose name was Leon Trotsky was born into a life of tumult and revolutionary activism; Canada’s first transcontinental railroad was ready to run a hundred twenty-nine years prior to the present pass; the women of Colorado won the right to vote one hundred twenty-one years back; a hundred six years ago, reputedly, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid died in a hail of gunfire in San Vicente, Bolivia; two years after that momentous event, the Wright Brothers undertook to deliver the first air freight package from Dayton to Columbus, in Ohio; three years subsequently, the baby boy whom his parents named Albert Camus came into the world, maturing into a brilliant writer who won the Nobel laureates in literature; a century ago, the New Republic began publication; two years hence, Jeanette Rankin became the first woman to gain a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives; one more year down the road, Bolsheviks overran the Winter Palace, and the Russian Revolution began in earnest; ninety-five years back, Attorney General Mitchell Palmer initiated infamous attacks on and arrests of suspected radicals, the so-called ‘Palmer Raids,’ that on this occasion jailed over ten thousand people in well over a hundred U.S. cities; New York’s Museum of Modern Art opened on this day eighty-five years ago; two years hence, on the anniversary of the October Revolution, the Chinese Soviet formed; seven decades ago, Franklin Roosevelt cruised to a record fourth term as President; fifty-eight years back, the United Nations General Assembly called on England, France, and Israel to withdraw their soldiers from Egypt; just a year after that, the Gaither Report recommended a missile build-up and fallout shelter program on the part of the United States; forty-seven years ago, Lyndon Johnson signed the Public Broadcasting Act, forming the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; six years later, Congress overrode Richard Nixon’s veto of the War Powers Act, which restricted the capacity of a Chief Executive to wage war without Congressional approval; historian and popular philosopher Will Durant died thirty three years back, two days after his ninety-sixth birthday; brilliant writer Lawrence Durrell died twenty-four years ago; in Chapel Hill, North Carolina two decades back, Station WXYC broadcast the first radio show on Earth over the Internet; The National Aeronautics and Space Administration two years later launched the Mars Global Explorer on its nearly year long journey; fourteen years ago, the Drug Enforcement Administration discovered one of the largest LSD manufacturing labs in history inside of an abandoned nuclear weapons silo in Kansas.

revolution OR “revolutionary change” necessity OR inevitability “civil war” OR “violent upheaval” OR insurrection OR uprising capitalism “working class” “class consciousness” history analysis “political economy” =51,900 Results.



http://www.loc.gov/today/cyberlc/feature_wdesc.php?rec=6482    A video from LOC that features the author of In Bed With Wall Street, in an hour long presentation by this former operative in the securities industry about our “historic and challenging times,” put into an often chilling and infuriating context.



CONTRIBUTORIA LINK    An article by a member about the underpinnings of and background for the present focus on the midterms, as if that were the end-all and be-all of what democracy is all about, a point-of-view that the author disputes, with a detailed historical and analytical presentation.




http://justsecurity.org/17208/security-hiring-communications-director/   As a Just Security Communications Director, an amazing opportunity to shape a progressive and empirically driven agenda about the meaning and contextualization of national security.



http://www.pen.org/ferguson       A PEN Center report about the impact of repressive acts and official malfeasance toward media and reportage in relation to Ferguson, the upshot of which is a powerful contextualization of the present pass regarding both civil rights and police viciousness, as well as the mediation of these matters: “The issue of press freedom in Ferguson deserves attention not at the expense of, but in addition to, much-needed investigations into civil rights violations by local police in the St. Louis area.  The media play a valuable role in documenting abuses and disseminating information about them to the public, thereby supporting citizens’ efforts to demand accountability for violations of constitutional and human rights. …(T)he media’s presence at a public protest may act to deter law enforcement officers from violating protestors’ rights.  Put another way, as shocking as the police response to the Ferguson protests was, it might have been even worse if the media had not been present.  Several of the journalists interviewed for this report recounted protestors asking them to stay with the crowd, and expressing fear of what the police would do if the media left.

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http://www.opednews.com/articles/The-Fatal-Flaw-With-Democr-by-Thom-Hartmann-Billionaires_Elections_Flaws_Political-141106-266.html    A crossposting from Thom Hartmann in OpEdNews about the fantasy that the ‘Founding Fathers’ did not intend the sort of situation that citizens now confront in terms of electoral politics, that the problem is one of not following everything that the Constitutional Convention and the Federalist Papers explicitly established and that has all come to fruition as planned and anticipated, which is akin to saying that the problem with Wall Street is that we haven’t had a free enough market when the operations of this ‘freedom’ produced precisely the meltdowns that were inevitable in that context, none of which reduces how interesting the material is or how some of the information could be important or useful and all of that: “As USA Today pointed out recently, 42 of the country’s richest people accounted for one-third of all Super PAC spending this election cycle.  That’s right, 42 people!  What we did with prisons, with voting machines, and with the surveillance state are all things that we’ve now done with our election system: we’ve privatized, outsourced, and corporatized it, with similarly disastrous results.”


http://rabble.ca/columnists/2014/11/minimum-wage-movement-shows-people-are-force-more-powerful-money    A reposting of a Democracy Now! analysis from Rabble.ca, an article that contextualizes the present electoral morass as more nuanced and potentially powerful than the moaners and haters so far have done: “One movement that shined through the electoral morass demanded an increased minimum wage.  It prevailed, even in some of the reddest of states. Going against partisan trends, voters in Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota approved ballot initiatives to raise the minimum wage, as they did in San Francisco and Oakland, Calif.  In Illinois and several Wisconsin counties, both states that elected Republican governors, significant majorities passed nonbinding ballot proposals to increase the minimum wage.”


http://www.southernstudies.org/2014/11/ballot-proposals-across-the-south-the-good-the-bad.html   An examination from the Facing South bloggers at the Institute for Southern Studies of the national trend(http://mashable.com/2014/11/06/americans-vote-weed-minimum-wage/?utm_cid=mash-prod-email-topstories&utm_emailalert=daily&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=daily) toward direct democracy as it manifested below the Mason-Dixon line–less robust in the South, but not moribund–a refreshing development despite the real risks of reactionary ideas’ popularity, in any case in this go-round eliciting plus-or-minus half of the ballot decisions as truly progressive, while overall participation dipped ever-closer to zero(http://www.southernstudies.org/2014/11/midterm-voter-turnout-drops-in-the-south.html): “(W)hile Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, D.C. all approved proposals this week to legalize recreational marijuana, Florida’s Amendment 2 allowing for the cultivation, purchase, possession, and use of medical cannabis to treat certain medical conditions when recommended by a licensed physician did not get the 60 percent of the vote needed to pass.  However, the proposal — one of the most expensive ballot measures in the country this year — did get a majority of the vote at 58 percent.  It also may have brought more young people out to vote, according to preliminary exit poll data.  Medical marijuana supporters say they will continue the fight in the state legislature.”


http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/11/06/in-los-angeles-unions-show-signs-of-life/?emc=edit_ty_20141107&nl=opinion&nlid=66212615&_r=0      A Times opinion piece that examines the situation of living wages and union struggles in Southern California as a case-study of the massive gains in human rights and economic benefits for wage earners that take place in a pro-labor, unionized environment: “Ochoa can do these things because in 2006, the City Council passed a law mandating a $10.64 hourly wage and health benefits for hotel workers on Century Boulevard, the corridor of 13 large hotels just outside the entrance to LAX.  After legal squabbles, it went into effect in 2008.  Ochoa’s salary has gone up to $12.16 an hour, plus tips shared by the waiters.  The living-wage law, however, isn’t as important to that increase as unionization has been.  Last year, Unite Here Local 11, a union of hotel, restaurant and airport workers with about 20,000 members, unionized the Holiday Inn.  Now she also has a guaranteed 40-hour workweek and health insurance for her family.”


http://nymag.com/thecut/2014/11/why-the-midterms-were-bad-news-for-women.html    Analysis and data from New York magazine about the plausibly horrifying consequences of the recent election for women’s rights advocates, without noting, of course, how horrible things were among those who appear as the alternatives for Tuesday’s winners: “Why so little improvement?  Here’s the hard truth: This election, women didn’t vote.  Well, not enough women voted. Women were a smaller percentage of the electorate than they were in 2012 or in 2010.  The low turnout among women favored Republicans and hurt Democrats, especially those who focused their campaigns on women voters.  Mark Udall — disparagingly nicknamed ‘Mark Uterus’ by the GOP for his vocal support of women’s rights — lost his Senate race in Colorado, where turnout among women was the lowest it’s been since 1992, according to exit polls.  It was demoralizing to watch some truly pro-woman candidates like Wendy Davis lose on Election Day as other candidates win by ignoring or outright disparaging the very feminist values that enabled them to become politicians in the first place.”


http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/cities-are-now/how-gondolas-and-hip-hop-transformed-the-worlds-most-dangerous-city?utm_source=YTW&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=20141107     A riveting and nuanced urban renewal reality check about Medellin, from Yes! magazine, mandatory reading for those who want to believe in the potential for bottom-up empowerment and social transformation, in this case dealing with the incredible improvements that have taken place in Medellin, even as a vast gulf still separates the lives of the poor there from what those people themselves want and envision as attainable, despite, in other words, the continued presence of impunity and mayhem, persistent optimism about community-based and led change: “While gunfights between right-wing paramilitaries and left-wing guerrillas raged on, things began to improve with a new Colombian constitution that gave city governments new autonomy to base urban planning on citizens’ needs.  Aspiring to rebuild as a ‘City for Life,’ Medellín began its celebrated urbanismo social (social urbanism) agenda, aiming for genuine civic engagement, participatory democracy, and solidarity.  The Integrated Slum Upgrading Program of Medellín (PRIMED) in 1993 was a radical departure from traditional forms of city planning in that it drew on full community participation.  In addition to building schools, incorporating and upgrading existing houses, installing street lights, and expanding public services, PRIMED led to the construction of a system of paths with railings that dramatically improved residents’ mobility.  Colombia’s first metro system, launched in 1995, soon connected downtown Medellín with San Javier in the heart of Comuna 13.  The government also began investing in cultural and social programs for youth.  By the late 1990s, the city started participatory budgeting, a process by which 5 percent of the city’s budget is allocated by residents of each neighborhood, often in support of local health, education, or art projects.  Perhaps most significantly, before any of these public-works projects were established, the city’s marginalized communities were remaking themselves.  Comuna 13 in particular, ground zero of gang wars to this day, has produced a long line of hip-hop and graffiti artists who protest the militarization of their neighborhood with messages of civic participation, social justice, and peace.”


http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article40159.htm     A brilliant deconstruction, via Information Clearinghouse, through the good offices of World Beyond War, of the seven countries where U.S. or any other students can obtain collegiate education for free, all of which differ–between significantly and massively–with the United States in terms of their expenditures on war and empire, one way of thinking about which, whether one likes or detests empire, is that such a choice is necessary to note as an aspect of policy-making and governance, not as some sort of deux ex machina: “(L)et’s compare military spending per capita:

*United States $2,057
*Norway $1,455 or 71% of U.S.
*France $733 or 35% of U.S.
*Finland $683 or 33% of U.S.
*Sweden $636 or 31% of U.S.
*Germany $496 or 24% of U.S.
*Slovenia $284 or 14% of U.S.
*Brazil $177 or 9% of U.S.

Not only does the United States pay the most in dollars, but it generates the most hatred, kills the most people, does the most damage to the natural environment, and loses the most freedoms in the process.  Either way, the point is that these other countries have chosen education, while the United States has chosen a project that perhaps a well-educated populace would support, but we don’t have any way to test that theory, and it doesn’t look like we’re going to any time soon.  We have a choice before us: free college or more war?



http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/27299-why-did-fort-lauderdale-police-arrest-an-old-man-for-feeding-homeless-people    An unblinking and infuriating article from TruthOut that details the facts of Fort Lauderdale’s imprisoning a ninety-year-old good samaritan for the crime of feeding the poor–which encourages their remaining on the street, bad for profit hungry developers–and shows the reality of profiteering real-estate deals that underlie such vile and cruel choices: “‘Providing [the homeless] with a meal and keeping them in that cycle on the street,’ (the mayor) declared to the Sun Sentinel, ‘is not productive,’ sounding like conservatives who say the poor are poor because they’re spoiled by welfare.  But the mayor’s jousting over morality is a distraction.  The rationale for Fort Lauderdale’s ordinance has to do with land and money.  In August, Fort Lauderdale hired property advisor CBRE to guide its real estate policy, which centers around the redevelopment of its downtown.  The centrally-located Flagler Village has recently seen new office space, restaurants, and apartments crop up where warehouses and other older buildings once dominated.  Following the gentrification script to a T, many working-class blacks who once lived in the area have been pushed out so that the Brooklyn of Fort Lauderdale can blossom in milquetoasty peace.  It’s just the kind of superficial transformation that impresses people like the judges who hand out the All American Cities awards every year.  Fort Lauderdale was named one of ten ‘All American Cities’ in June, after completing the rigorous process of filling out a five-page application and talking to a panel for 10 minutes.”


http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/625773/?sc=dwhn    From NewsWise, a notice from the Georgia State University Law School and campus Reserve Officers Training Corps about a new program to offer veterans legal services on campus, where over 700 former service members are matriculating: “‘The veterans clinic illustrates how a law school can provide a valuable community service,’ said Steven J. Kaminshine, dean and professor of law.  ‘Offering legal assistance to all Georgia State student veterans, the clinic will allow our students to work with experienced volunteer lawyers and receive pro bono credit.’  ‘In addition to the Law Volunteer Clinic for Veterans, Georgia State offers the opportunity for fellowship through the Georgia State chapter of the Student Veterans Association, support and assistance through the Military Outreach Center and a host of other programs and services designed to make veterans successful during and after their time in school,’ said Army Lt. Col. Josh Brooks, chair of the Department of Military Science and Leadership. ”



http://rabble.ca/podcasts/shows/write-along-radio/2014/11/why-writers-podcast   A primarily audio presentation, perfectly apropos given the topic, from Write Along Radio, crossposted at Rabble.ca, on the topic of Why Writers Podcast, arguably a must-listen for scrappy scribes: “This special episode of Ottawa Writes was recorded before a live audience at the Conference on Canadian Content in Speculative Arts and Literature in Ottawa.  We talk behind the scenes of podcasting, how we started ours, and podcast chatter in general.”


http://www.poynter.org/mediawire/top-stories/276003/wikiwash-wants-to-help-users-see-what-our-defacto-archive-is-up-to/     A powerful contextualiztion from Poynter.org’s MediaWire blog, about a recent Consortium of Investigative Journalists project(http://www.techraking.org/) in collaboration with Wikipedia that lets users see, in real time, how competing ‘editions’ of articles, including so-called ‘edit wars,’ are unfolding on the Wiki site, an amazing possibility of perceiving, on the one hand the social and competing agendas in the construction of knowledge, and on the other hand to intuit where in this morass of conflict reality rises up: “The result, after Metro’s pitch was picked and the team worked with product developers from The Working Group, is something that does just that, in beta for now — WikiWash.  It’s pretty simple, too.  Plug in a Wikipedia URL on a topic, then hit ‘wash.’  You’ll see edits as they happen, the 50 most recent edits, plus you can click on the usernames of those editors and see what else they’ve been up to.  And as of Thursday, WikiWash is now open source, meaning the code is available for people to customize and improve it.  ‘We learned that whilst there were lots of tools available for surfacing different types of stories, most had a steep learning curve and focussed on analyzing historical activity rather than surfacing data in real time,’ said Holly Knowlman with The Working Group, in an email.  ‘It is this real time component that makes WikiWash different, giving users the ability to track Wikipedia edits as they occur, following breaking stories as they are written.'”


http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/625791/?sc=dwhn     Another richly detailed and extremely useful portal from NewsWise, in this case an examination of how scientists–often in their roles as communicators–are turning to social media to spread the word, increase the extent of networks, and prod funders for further support, and more, one of thousands of such pitches to take social media as a beneficent given, which promotional passes especially emanate from interested parties(http://www.businessinsider.com/mark-zuckerberg-wants-to-build-a-perfect-personalized-newspaper-2014-11), of course: “This fall, the group published a study in the journal Journalism & Mass Communications Quarterly showing a connection between ‘h-index’ — a measure of the quality of a researcher’s work and influence — and whether the scientists interact with reporters and get mentioned on Twitter.  Doctoral student Xuan Liang served as first author on the paper.  Attention from reporters is good news for h-index, but couple that with attention on Twitter, Brossard says, and you see a more pronounced spike in reputation.  ‘If you talk to reporters and you tweet about your research, your work is more likely to be cited than people who do one or the other,’ she says.  As many as 30 percent of the members of the faculty at UW–Madison are using social media at least three times per week to find news and insights about science, according to a survey that supplied evidential heft to a piece penned by collaborator Sara Yeo, an assistant professor of communication at the University of Utah and a recent graduate of the UW-Madison Life Sciences Communication Ph.D. program, for the October issue of The Scientist.”



http://www.editorandpublisher.com/Newsletter/Columns/Shoptalk–What-Role-Do-Social-Media-Companies-Have-in-Stopping-Speech-     As decent a critique of imperious impunity by the likes of Twitter, in its arbitrary and highhanded decisions about whom to censor and what to attack, as one will ever get from a liberal practitioner of the same monopoly-mediated position as Twitter, FaceBook, et al. are abusing: “Someone at Twitter, which had an Olympic partnership with the network, told NBC about it and encouraged the network to report the tweet as a violation of Twitter’s terms of service.  NBC reported the tweet, and Twitter suspended Adams’ account.  Under pressure from the media and the masses on its own platform, Twitter later reinstated him.   These examples draw into question the role social media companies play in stopping speech.  The world increasingly discusses issues and draws attention to the persecuted through social media, and it’s clear that the young, large corporations that run these platforms are struggling with their newfound and important roles as publishers.  If Google, Facebook and Twitter decide something shouldn’t be seen, then for all intents and purposes, it does not exist.  With that kind of power, it’s crucial that these companies be transparent and consistent in their editorial judgments and lean on the side of free speech, even when the speech is horrific.”


https://source.opennews.org/en-US/articles/pulp-press/   Whoa!  A chance to use professional graphics and production software–and open source gift from Al Jazeera–to tell or otherwise contextualize all manner of complex, multilayered stories, something that AJA has been doing for a couple of years now: “The other element we needed to tackle was hyperlinks.  Because we were first and foremost producing a work of journalism, we didn’t want to sacrifice any ability to properly source material because of novelties in the medium.  We experimented with having the comic’s text be a web font but that approach was too unreliable at different widths.  We also experimented with adding an underline and a clickable box for hyperlinked text but it didn’t look very good and was awkward if a word or sentence straddled two lines.  Keeping our main design principle in mind—keep the reading experience first—we ended up putting numbered endnotes in the text and including the hyperlinks in a drawer that the reader can open at any point in the story.”



http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/europe/63030628/ukraine-says-up-to-200-rebels-killed-in-donetsk-airport-fighting.html    A report from New Zealand Stuff about the recent upsurge in violence in Eastern Ukraine–a story in the context of continuing revelations about the Ukrainian military’s likely involvement with the destruction of MH-17(http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/roger-annis/2014/11/ukrainian-air-force-jet-shot-down-malaysian-airliner)–in which Kiev’s military forces indicate hundreds of deaths over the past week or so among guerrilla fighters near Donetsk Airport: “The death toll, which couldn’t be independently confirmed, is the biggest reported number of troops or fighters killed since the start of a September 5 truce.  Earlier, the Ukrainian government said it had suffered more than 100 killed and about 600 wounded since the cease-fire came into force.  As tensions between the former Soviet republics threatened to escalate into open war, Ukraine’s army is preparing ‘for an adequate reaction,’ military spokesman Andriy Lysenko told reporters in Kiev today.  He said pro-Russian rebel shelling of government troops with grad missiles, mortars and artillery had killed five soldiers and wounded 16 in the last 24 hours.”


http://www.southernstudies.org/2014/11/north-carolina-tells-charter-school-chain-it-cant-.html    A powerful assessment from the Institute for Southern Studies Facing South blog, about a North Carolina charter-school program’s refusal to disclose administrative salaries, essentially advancing the argument that super profits at public expense are dandy without any right of public oversight or even awareness: “Charter schools, which are privately run but government-funded, often outsource back-office functions to private companies.  At issue between North Carolina and Mitchell’s charter-school chain is the extent to which regulators can demand to know what happens to public dollars once they move into the coffers of a private company.  State officials say they have the right to ask for information related to the schools’ activities and programs — and that includes salaries of any employees assigned to work at them.  Other charter schools in North Carolina have complied and turned over this information.  Mitchell’s schools are the only ones that have not.”

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http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article40162.htm    A deeply reported and open-sourced investigation from Information Clearinghouse’s ‘investigative historian’ about the real reasons for U.S. detestation of a neutral or Russia-aligned Syria–it’s literally ‘in the way’ of the pipelines that U.S. imperialists want for Saudi Arabia–about the basis for attacks on Ukraine; about the need to isolate Iran; about the backing of reactionary regimes in the Arabian Gulf; and much more, all interconnected via the desire to continue the dollar’s role as a reserve currency and the elevated status accorded to U.S. ‘interests’ and perspectives: “The Saudis are actually doing the most of all to defeat Russia, by driving oil prices down so low as to upset Russia’s economic plans, which have been based upon minimum $100/barrel projections.  We’re already around 10% below that.  As Imonti writes, ‘The Saudis can sustain these lower prices for seven or eight years while drawing on their foreign reserves to cover the deficits.  They could very well be trying to break the fracking business in the U.S. that has high production costs.  [Of course, America’s gas aristocrats won’t like that, but Obama has to balance multiple sub-constituencies, including Qatar’s royals.]  They might also be directing the target towards Russia that supports Assad and Iran.  They could be doing all of the above with one action.’  If the Sauds keep this up ‘for seven or eight years,’ then Russia will be hit a lot harder than Russia is being hit, or is likely to be hit, by any economic sanctions.”


http://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_summ.jsp?cntn_id=133293&WT.mc_id=USNSF_1    One of those Discoveries blogs from the National Science Foundation that takes the breath away, both because it reveals a fascinating, important, but little understood area of knowledge–in this case the processes that underlie the speciation of trees, with Hawaii as the ‘laboratory,’ and because it casts light on how scientists learn about events that take place over millions of years, collaborating and speculating until something like a reasonable theory for development comes to the fore: “Her project uses molecular genetic methods to ‘try to unravel the very shrouded evolutionary history of Metrosideros in Hawaii,’ she says.  ‘We’re experimenting with novel molecular markers–previously inaccessible genes and gene regions–to get a clearer picture of how the forms of Metrosideros are related, both within and across islands.’  Uncovering the evolutionary relationships among closely related trees is especially difficult because of their tendency to hybridize, and thus share the same genetic material, she adds. …(E)xperiments in the field and in the greenhouse with seedlings of various forms, exposing them to different stresses to compare their differences. … ‘are revealing insights into how long-term exposure of tree populations to Hawaii’s famous environmental gradients can lead to diversification, and they reveal which specific environmental factors, for example, water, light and wind are most important for causing the differences among the forms of the tree.'”