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Facebook’s Fumble

Social media is tremendously important and Facebook is an awful primary platform.  Friendster gave way to MySpace, MySpace lost dominance to Facebook and then …

Facebook Fail

i am quick to confess i want Facebook to fail.  Not just because of their terrible privacy policies, not just because they are mining personal data to sell to all manner of annoying corporations and government agencies, not just because Facebook uses it’s users are lab rats in social experiments, not just because it bans images of mothers breastfeeding but permits images of misogynist violence, not just because Facebook enables identity theft, though these things certainly encourage my upset and frustration with the giant of social media.

The reason i want Facebook to fail is that i want popular, powerful, alternative social networking solutions which will be institutionally supportive of efforts to use social media as a positive transformative technology, rather than just another capitalist cog.

You dont want to piss these gals off, trust me.

You dont want to piss these gals off, trust me.

So i was extra pleased when i saw that Facebook undid all the positive media it had earned by including 56 gender identifications after having had just two since it’s founding. It did this by deciding everyone on Facebook had to have profiles with their legal names on them.  And then taking complaints from people who saw FB users using fictitious names, FB has taken down hundreds of drag performers’ pages and has given them the option to change their profile name or lose their profile completely.

This policy has hit drag performers especially hard.  In part because many user names are obviously not birth names, in part because someone has apparently been reporting lots of drag performers,
Read More…

Was WTC 7 a False Flag Operation?

In their brilliant and important book, Manufacturing Consent, Edward Herman and Noah Chomsky distinguish sharply between their analysis of the mainstream media’s propaganda model (which selectively reports to advance the interest of the owners of the media) and a conspiracy theory.  On this distinction Herman would later write for Against All Reason:

Conspiracy theory. We explained in Manufacturing Consent that critical analyses like ours would inevitably elicit cries of conspiracy theory, and in a futile effort to prevent this we devoted several pages of the preface to an explicit rejection of conspiracy and an attempt to show that the propaganda model is best described as a ‘guided market system.’ Mainstream critics still made the charge, partly because they are too lazy to read a complex work, partly because they know that falsely accusing a radical critique of conspiracy theory won’t cost them anything, and partly because of their superficial assumption that, as the media comprise thousands of ‘independent’ journalists and companies, any finding that they follow a ‘party line’ that serves the state must rest on an assumed conspiracy. (In fact, it can result from a widespread gullible acceptance of official handouts, common internalized beliefs, common policies established from above within the organizations based on ideology and/or interests, and fear of reprisal for critical analyses from within the organization or from the outside.) The apologists can’t abide the notion that institutional factors can cause a ‘free’ media to act like lemmings in jointly disseminating false and even silly propaganda; such a charge must assume a conspiracy. 

What is being amplified?

What is being amplified?

Perhaps foolishly, i am generally dismissive of classical “conspiracy theories”. i don’t spend much time thinking about Area 51, the Illuminati or the Trilateral Commission.  I do spend a some time worrying about whether the Bush 2 administration attacked Iraq knowing it was not responsible for the 9/11 attacks and other better established “conspiracies”.

There is an exception to my “avoiding unpopular conspiracy theories” rule of thumb, which is World Trade Center 7.

WYC 7 was not hit by jet planes on the morning of Sept 11, though it was certainly effected by the twin towers collapse.  Fires started on several floors and the building burned for about 7 hours.  Then it collapsed.  The final official report by the National Institute for Standards and Technology according to wikipedia found:

NIST determined that diesel fuel did not play an important role, nor did the structural damage from the collapse of the Twin Towers, nor did the transfer elements (trusses, girders, and cantilever overhangs). The fires, fueled by office contents, along with the lack of water, were the key reasons for the collapse.[8]

The NIST report found no evidence supporting conspiracy theories that 7 World Trade Center was brought down by controlled demolition. Specifically, the window breakage pattern and blast sounds that would have resulted from the use of explosives were not observed.[8] The suggestion that an incendiary material such as thermite was used instead of explosives was considered unlikely by NIST because of observations of the fire and the building’s structural response to the fire, and because it is unlikely the necessary quantity of material could have been planted without discovery.[9]

The critics of this analysis (often called conspiracy theorists) make several interesting points:

1)  If fire caused Building 7 to collapse, it would be the first ever fire-induced collapse of a steel-frame high-rise.

2) 1,700+ architects and engineers have signed a petition calling for a new investigation into the destruction of Building 7, specifying that it should include a full inquiry into the possible use of explosives.

3) WTC 7 collapsed on it’s own footprint, a signature characteristic of intentionally demolished buildings.

Just a coincidence that it collapsed exactly like a demolition?

Just a coincidence that it collapsed exactly like a demolition?

4) The first official report on the WTC 7 collapse by FEMA, held the circumstances as mysterious.

The FEMA report, in fact, increased the mystery, thanks to an appendix written by three professors at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. This appendix reported that a piece of steel from WTC 7 had melted so severely that it had gaping holes in it, making it look like a piece of Swiss cheese. [6] James Glanz, pointing out that the fires in the building could not have been hot enough to melt steel, referred to this discovery as “the deepest mystery uncovered in the investigation.”[7]

5) The NIST which wrote the final WTC 7 report (which was years delayed) was part of the Bush-Cheney administration, which regularly manipulated scientific process for political ends.

During the years it was writing its World Trade Center reports NIST was an agency of the Bush-Cheney administration. In 2004, the Union of Concerned Scientists put out a document charging this administration with “distortion of scientific knowledge for partisan political ends.” By the end of the Bush administration, this document had been signed by over 15,000 scientists, including 52 Nobel Laureates and 63 recipients of the National Medal of Science. [10]

6) When reviewing the video of the WTC 7 falling, a significant fraction of the collapse of the building happens at the rate of “free fall”. NIST admits this on page 607 of it’s final report.

Dividing the building’s descent into three stages, the NIST describes the second phase as “a freefall descent over approximately eight stories at gravitational acceleration for approximately 2.25 s[econds]. “Gravitational acceleration” is a synonym for free fall acceleration.

[B]y the principles of physics, the upper portion of Building 7 could have come down in free fall only if something had removed all the steel and concrete in the lower part of the building, which would have otherwise provided resistance, and only explosives of some sort could have removed them.

Both of the above quotes are from “The Mysterious Collapse of WTC 7: Why NIST’s Final 9/11 Report is Unscientific and False”

Here is the recent video which got me thinking again about WTC 7 and inspired this post.

What does all this mean?  Frankly, i don’t know precisely.  The motive for collapsing this building remains murky in my mind.   Some claim that the building was destroyed to eliminate millions of SEC documents which were investigating myriad Wall Street crimes.

Others, like the fire fighter interviewed in the above video, postulate it was part of a false flag operation.

FALSE FLAG CHALK BOARD

The US has a history of False Flag operations including the Tonkin Gulf incident to start the Vietnam War,  Iranians working for the C.I.A. in the 1950’s posed as Communists and staged bombings in Iran in order to turn the country against its democratically-elected president.  These CIA operations would lead to the military coup which put the Shah into power in Iran.

This is the best short history i have found of False Flag Operations internationally, from WantToKnow.Info

Was WTC 7 a false flag operation?  We may never know.

A Mountain of Pillows

The Tarrytown NY spring craft fair is one of our best shows.  Hawina and i have been doing it for quite some years now and the commune does handsomely selling to affluent NYC suburban customers.  It is an extended family affair.  Willow comes with us, as does Corb and some years Angie and other years Feonix.  The Stars and Corb split to cost of the extra hotel room and food, so the commune is not paying for this giant entourage.

Willow and Evan in Time Square

Willow and Evan in Time Square

We decided to take a bit of a chance and try the fall craft show at Tarrytown.  This is risky because most people wont buy hammocks this late in the year.  On this trip we brought Evan from Twin Oaks with us.  We spent a day in NYC doing touristy things before the fair.  Time Square, Staten Island Ferry and based on Aurora’s suggestion the Society of Illustrators compelling Spectrum exhibit

"Morning Walk" from Spectrum Exhibition

“Morning Walk” from Spectrum Exhibition

Not far from the Society of Illustrators is my favorite part of Central Park.

Alice, Willow and Paxus in Central Park

Alice, Willow, Paxus and a neuro-atypical hatter in Central Park

When we are at the Tarrytown fair we stay at the Marriott hotel which has fancy elevators and is near to the fair site.    Like most hotels, the Marriott has room service.  In the first couple of hours we used it to get a refrigerator and fix the television.  From a young persons perspective, room service is like magic.  You pick up the phone, you describe a problem and shortly there after the right person comes to fix it and then politely vanishes.

The power of room service

The power of room service

Willow loves pillows.  And the hotel is pretty generous with them.  But none-the-less he called room service and asked them to bring 3 more for him.  Now he has 6.  Life is good.

[This post has been approved by Evan and Willow.]

PS We did acceptably well at the fair, about $5K total, we might come back next year.

How long can you keep a secret?

[This is an old post. When i wrote it i showed it to the planners and was told that i could run it if i wanted, but one planner asked me to hold off til the issue was no longer topical, which i did.]

One of the myths in community is you can’t keep a secret here.  In fact, this place (i am thinking Twin Oaks, but to a lessor extent Acorn as well) holds a tremendous number of secrets.  What you can’t do is keep a secret when a lot of people know about it and other members know there is a secret being kept.

That is what is happening tonight.  The planners and the membership team had an unusual evening urgent meeting to talk about something.  There are 3 planners and 6 members of the membership team and there were a number of other people at this meeting as well.  The most plausible guess is that it is some expulsion level situation, the news for which has not broken to the membership.  You may well never know what is happening, but i and a half dozen other communards i spoke with this evening certainly will and probably soon.

secrets are heavy, especially when held by many

secrets are heavy, especially when held by many

The math goes terribly against secret keeping in this kind of circumstance.  In part because many of the people on these teams have romantic partners, who they want to tell about it and then need to be sworn to secrecy.  Yet with every leak to an intimate, a general leak becomes more likely.  As soon as a bit leaks out generally the rest can often be teased out, because people who know will feel the need to correct the inevitable rumors.

Also, it is only a question of time before the secret will have to be released because of the pressure associated with the existence of the secret being known.  For the people who know it, especially the planners, there will be pressure to release it to folks who are curious or concerned and there will be pressure to set a soon deadline as to when the informant will be put out in a mailbox, from members only to read.

What everyone does not know, will likely soon be revealed

What everyone does not know, will likely soon be revealed

By the following morning the commune was buzzing and the people who were at the meeting were doing a heroic job of trying to maintain the secret, but simply by looking at who was inside the loop and who was outside and by lots of members asking lots of questions, before noon a likely scenario was established.  But as i said, you may never know – because in fact the commune can keep some secrets, just necessarily from itself.

Tell no one.  Death keeps it's secrets

Tell no one. Death keeps it’s secrets

[It turns out the secret was soon revealed and was mostly about a controversial person who wanted to come to visit and was ultimately asked not to.  This secret is old and largely forgotten news now.]

The Dolphin Effect on Homelessness

One of the most surprising evolutionary tales for me was the one of dolphins.  Our best story tellers claim that cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) evolved from the seas into land mammals and then evolved back to aquatic based life.  This is either a tremendous re-adaptation to the changing climate of the seas or a fantastic U turn in habitat of preference.

sometimes it is best to beat a strategic retreat

sometimes it is best to beat a strategic retreat

Back in August we hung out with traveler kids in Tompkins Square Park in Manhattan. Point A folks helped a risk reduction outreach volunteer give out clean needles, anti-overdose medicine naloxone and clean socks.  And we heard stories.

The most striking stories were of this dolphin effect, how these kids (which is used as a diminutive, rather than some indication of age) came to their traveler lifestyle.  Usually some catastrophic event threw them into poverty, homelessness and addiction (typically alcohol, heroin or both).   After a while, pressure from outside friends, family and often they themselves got them to “clean up”.  They quit substance use and returned to a more conventional life style.  Working a straight job (some even doing outreach work with traveler kids) and living in a house or an apartment.

Then something funny happened.  They decided that they were happier as travels and living on little to nothing, but being with their friends and animals.  Now from a place of choice, rather than catastrophe they returned to this life style.

Rayenbo Acorn and Kat Traveler in Tompkins Square Park NYC

Rayenbo Acorn and Kat Traveler in Tompkins Square Park NYC

i have plans and fantasies about the traveling kids.  One of the interesting consciousnesses about this community (and it is deeply a community, where they share most of what they have with each other) is that housing is a burden.  If you have a house or flat you have to pay for it, and this generally requires a job.  So for most of the year the traveler kids are content to sleep outside, in parks when they can.  Under scaffolding when it is raining.  But in the winter, they continue the noble tradition of squatting.

My hope is we can continue working with them, introduce transparency tools to strengthen connections and hopefully learn about contemporary squatting from them.

The kid of comments i am uninterested in for this post is all the risks and warnings folks have about traveler kids.  i’ve heard them, thanks anyway.

Building Consent Culture Acorn

“… i will personally escort you off the property”  Belladonna is serious about consent. And if you don’t embrace how it is done at Acorn, your visit might be cut short.

She created this workshop (one of the very few visitor orientations) in response to a real need in community.  Perhaps one quarter of the visitors rejected for membership by Acorn over the last two years are due to failures to understand our consent culture.

Typically, these were not gross sexual assaults, but rather were mistakes by basically fine people who were not familiar with or paying attention to our culture.  Sometimes they were intoxicated, sometimes part of the problem is they come from a culture where people don’t ask others before they touch, sometimes guests misinterpret non-verbal signals,  sometimes they were fooled by parties where the consent rules appeared to be relaxed.

It looks simple, but there is a lot going on.

It looks simple at first, but there is a lot going on.

Don’t be fooled, the rules are never relaxed. The purpose of the workshop is to insure that the community is a safe place for members and guests alike and that these recent mistakes become a thing of the past.

While the topic is heavy, the form of the workshop is accessible.  Belladonna and Rejoice do short skits to demonstrate both problems and proper approaches.  There is more laughing than lecturing.

New concepts are introduced to many of the participants.  You can’t ask for Green Light Consent, it has to be offered.  Green Light means you have a prior agreement with someone about permissible physical or sexual interactions and it is delineated. “You can always hug me” someone offers.

clear messages - these might not work in the dark

clear messages – these might not work in the dark

 

A visitor asks about how shaking hands as an introduction fits into the culture, but then quickly figures out themselves that there is an effective non-verbal communication built into this ritual.  You would never grab a hand which was not offered back.

Sometimes failures are well meaning.  At the communities conference there was a blind participant who was occasionally asking for help in her process of mentally mapping the site.  A helpful person lightly turned her in the right direction, this was not what she wanted at all, because the “helpful” contact was not explicitly requested nor approved.

There is an introduction to toplessness.  Acorn tries to be a liberated zone and when it is hot, both men and women can choose to go without shirts.  This is novel to many visitors and rather than being surprised by it, this workshop both warns of it’s likelihood and encourages people to not stare nor presume there is a sexual message where there is not one.

And there is compassion for the stranger to our culture.  If you are uneasy conversing with someone who is topless, better to say something and take space than to act strangely pretending that nothing is wrong when you are uncomfortable.

i walk away from this gathering proud of us, knowing that this is the way things get better and we are building the place we want to live.

Careful language,

Careful language when understanding the state. Don’t consent to search.

What does NYC have for Kids?

I’ve lived in a bunch of cities: San Francisco, Washington DC, Sydney, Honolulu, Arnhem, Amsterdam, Brno, Vienna, Ljubljana.  In some ways it is strange that I have been living in a rural environment for so long, because I self identify as an urban rat.

Ljubljana is the Capital of tiny Slovenia, the richest part of former Yugoslavia.  This canal city boasts the highest education level in the world.  I fought the Krsko reactor here in 1995.

Ljubljana is the Capital of tiny Slovenia, the richest part of former Yugoslavia. This canal city boasts the highest education level in the world. I fought the Krsko reactor here with locals for much of 1995.

The Point A project is about starting communities inside large urban centers, and the way the project has worked out I have a significant responsibility for NYC.  Which is nice for me, big complex city, which in other blog posts I have likened to crack.  But despite having been there 6 times in the last 6 months, I am just really starting to know the city.

 

Google sez this is NYC i don't recognize it.

I am coming back up in a few days on my way to a craft fair (TarryTown link) and I am bringing Willow and his young friend and fellow communard Evan, ages 12 and 14.  We have a day together in NYC and I want to show them around.  The trouble is I dont really know the city very well from an exciting to a young person perspective.  So I am asking for help from my lovely comrades who are familiar with New York City.

 

If you had a single day in the city with a couple of high energy boys, what would you show off?  Anywhere in or near the 5 boroughs with an emphasis on Staten Island.  Links are fantastic.  You can comment inside this blog, or on Facebook where I have linked this post or to me via email if you prefer.

 

Shouldn’t this already be a fingerbook?

 

I am especially looking forward to the suggestions from Prof James, Lex, Elena, Diana, Teagan/Arrow and Aurora.

 

Thanks in advance.

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