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Famous for playing video games

Willow and Jonah in Al Jazeera

Willow and Jonah in Al Jazeera

i would be lying if i said i was surprised that Al Jazeera managed to catch a picture of my son playing video games.  He plays a fair few of them.  This was part of a slide show of pictures they took recently capturing community life, which is part of a larger article they did on the community, featuring Willows other dad, Sky Blue.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Anissa (who is part of the Star family and was part of Willow’s parenting collective at one point) is capturing a little media attention with her son, Jed about kids eating the food they grow.  And treated like the rock star she is the New Zealand Herald is tracking her get aways to the city.

anissa and jed

[This post has been approved by Anissa and Willow]

Thanks, but …

Over both of the last two nights Angelica and i have spent a couple of hours at Siesta Key Beach around midnight in Sarasota FL.  Sarasota is a town of 60K which my guess brushes up closer to 100K over the Thanksgiving holiday, with kids and grand kids coming to visit their less mobile older relatives.  Siesta Key is considered by many to be one of the most lovely beaches in the world, with fine white sands and good facilities.  There are literally thousands of condo and housing units within a few hundred yards of the beach for a very long stretch.  Unlike Virginia Beach, the water is warm enough to walk through it barefoot indefinitely during the night this time of year.

Both nights on the beach there was no one else there.

Siesta Key Beach

Siesta Key Beach

Sarasota does have an impressive array of shopping centers, malls and strip malls.  These are busy when ever they are open.  I find myself thankful i only visit here. At my big Thanksgiving meal today i sat across from someone who leads mountain climbing exhibitions around the world who said,

I like fracking, because it means I can take explosives through my airport security easily.

Apparently she uses explosives for avalanche control.

Apparently this is a thing, who knew.

Apparently this is a thing, who knew?

This holiday i am thankful for Ferguson.  Not the murder of Michael Brown or witness DeAndre Joshua, of course, nor the clearly contestable Grand Jury verdict.  What i am instead appreciating is  the explosion of media attention on the homicides by the police of unarmed people of color in the US.  Murder is the largest cause of death of black males between 15 and 34 at 40%.  White males of the same age range died at a 3.8% rate. And in response to the Grand Jury verdict there have been mixed race protests in at least 37 locations across the nation. ferguson-protests-map-2-638x478 And i am thankful for my inspirational allies, including Jeff Winder, who very nearly got arrested with us at the UVa anti-rape protest.  Jeff does what no one else seems to be able to do at the Wayside Center where he works, which is to do organizing both from the secular community and the spiritually based one, on the same issues.  And Wayside is able to build resistance movements with people of color and whites working together on the same issues.  I had hoped to spend my couple of hours in jail last week talking with him.  But i am confident there will be another chance to talk, likely when both of us are getting arrested at the same action or at a court hearing. Jeff’s rant below is not your classic holiday fluff.  But i appreciate the he puts it out and want to repost it.

Jeff at Work

Jeff at Work

Ruminations of a white guy drinking alone on a fucked up excuse for a holiday Happy Thanksgiv . . . no! I won’t say it. Because now that I know the truth that just sounds like “Fuck You” to indigenous people, to descendants of enslaved peoples, to people forced to immigrate across lands that are ancestrally theirs. I can’t bring myself to celebrate a holiday that encourages us to gorge ourselves on more food than we need while we celebrate a lie – a lie that makes us forget our homes, our country, our lives, our jobs, everything that we have is built on genocide and slavery.
No shade on people who gather under another name, who do what they need to do to get through another celebration of this awful, depressing, soul-sucking lie. But I can’t do it this time.
This year I can’t sit comfortably and be grateful for the loved ones in my life, because I know the presence of these loved ones in my life is an unearned privilege. I will not insult the family of Sage Smith, the family of Michael Brown, the families of all the people gunned down by cops, locked up in private prisons or immigrant detention centers ripped apart from their families when this capitalist system could make more money by doing so than by exploiting their labor here by posting a facebook status about how grateful I am for my loved ones because that would not be a revolutionary subversion of this capitalist, revisionist, violent holiday but rather a celebration that I have by unearned privilege what should be a basic right for all.
captured alive
This week I heard firsthand, up close and personal when the father of Sage Smith told a community gathered in support that the cville police department did a half-assed job on the search for his black transgender working class loved one while putting all resources and concern into the search for cis, white university students. This week I was almost arrested for shouting “burn it down” on the steps of a frat house that was exposed as the site of a pattern of gang rapes that the university covered up. Upper class “concerned” people tried to shut me down for saying it and had the gall to tell rape survivors to stuff their anger because “anger never solves anything.” This week, instead of joining trusted comrades in the streets to rage, to rise up, to stand in solidarity with people in Ferguson who have the courage to rebel when the system says it is ok for cops to gun down unarmed black men in their community . . . Instead, I stayed home and held my teenage son in my arms as he sobbed uncontrollably. . . his depression a byproduct of this fucked up culture that we are all supposed to celebrate.
So fuck thanksgiving and christmas and easter and any other holiday that is engineered to make me forget, to let it be ok just for one day . . . because we know better – deep down inside all of us do. And the things that we have to do to make ourselves believe the lies are the causes of most of the alcoholism and drug abuse and “mental illness” and domestic abuse that exists in white culture. I mean really, what kind of a fucked up person could be well-adjusted to a world like this?
honor shotting
I wonder what it was like to gather together for holidays and celebrations to mark the passing of the seasons when we actually had a culture . . .to console ourselves at the end of the warmth and the approach of winter by gathering with beloved community to share the abundance of the season we are shedding. What was it like to comfort ourselves as the days got shorter and greyer and colder by pulling close with loved ones around a fire to share warmth and music and stories that sustained us? What was it like before every holiday had been coopted, twisted, turned into an occasion to whitewash and sanitize the demented history and bloody current reality our livelihoods are built on? To make us forget, prop up the denial that we spend our precious life energy maintaining, to sugar coat the deal with the devil so that we can continue to believe that we have what we have because we worked hard and we deserve it?
When will we realize that this is no way to live? If basic compassion and human decency is not enough, when will we realize that to rise up and rebel is not an act of generosity but the only hope of survival for ourselves, too?
Jeff Winder In the post above, where I talk about not joining trusted comrades to rage in the streets in the wake I Ferguson, that wasn’t the honest way to describe that. I should have said “instead of showing up to offer support to organized efforts by people of color who took to the streets locally to rage, to rise up, to stand in solidarity with people in Ferguson.’ Because that is the truth. And since we live in a white supremacist culture, for me to not explicitly acknowledge that is to make their organizing in defense of their own community invisible. I will post this everywhere that this status was re-posted in hopes that it will be seen. Probably too little too late. Unlearning white supremacy is an ongoing process for me and I still fuck up all the time. My apologies and much respect to Operation Social Equality, the UVA Black Student Association and the Anarchist People of Color Collective, the groups who quickly organized an incredibly powerful response to the verdict.

Akashic Record: Sonnets Division

One of the best parts about the Point A project is the lovely people who are in fairly close orbit to it.    The DC Point A group includes Connor who i barely knew before the project but i have grown a deep affection for.  This last evenings meeting was at his group house in Death City which he shares with his sister and several other charming housemates.

Connor on Base after the Point A DC mtg

Connor on Base after the Point A DC mtg

There was a lovely, chaotically structured pot luck dinner type thing which happened just before the Point A meeting.  Part of which was the creation of homemade donuts.  They were in a word, epic donuts.

1604473_10154826253625263_804765325456669567_n

There were originally many more. Sonnets are remembering them fondly

 

The Akashic Record is a quasi mythical place in which all history of all things is being recorded in real time, using a complex combination of high speed digital technology, ancient hand scribing arts and indecipherable magic.  This is not some giant flat bureaucracy.  The Akashic record has a number of different divisions to help users figure out which the most important events are and how it is they are best represented.

Reserved Stacks at the Akashic Records

Reserved Stacks at the Akashic Records

One of the special forces groups of the Akashic Record is the Sonnets Division.  For powerful historical events, when they need something really compelling and rich to capture the importance of an event, they call in the Sonnets Division.

The latest self-scribing technology/magic.

The latest self-scribing technology/magic.

Tonight, for these donuts, the Sonnets Division is working overtime.

 

 

Acorn brings the Party

The sign of a culturally rich community is that there are more things happening than there is time to do them all.  This often happens around evening events and parties at Acorn and Twin Oaks.  And tonight there was a transparency group at Acorn, while there was also a dance party at Twin Oaks.

KeithHaringDanceParty5I

We tried to get out of the transparency group early – but there were all these interesting new people and early became after 9:30 PM.  But a bunch of people still wanted to go, so we hopped into a minivan and a Dharma Bum‘s car.  And walked in and only the DJ was dancing and the dance floor was nearly empty.

Dharma Bums band comes out of the Omega Institute in NY

Dharma Bums band comes out of the Omega Institute in NY

But we brought 13 people and started a bit of dancing.  Half an hour later, Twin Oaks visitors disappointed by the early ending of the original party came back and started dancing, as well as some members who heard rumor of the party restarting.   We had a crowded dance floor and the party was reborn.  Half an hour later the first shuttle went home. By midnight everyone was heading back to Acorn. Report backs were all positive, glad they went, got what they were looking for.

ilovedance

The funological principal here is if you have a dozen of the right/enthusiastic  people that you are adding to an event (even a near dead one), you can control the health of a party.

 

“There is nothing we can do about it”

There is a news story which is breaking over several media recently.  Wired did a feature on it a bit over a week ago called “The Laborers Who Keep Dick Pics and Beheadings Out of Your Facebook Feed”.  This article quotes in-the-know sources who say there are “well over 100K people” working on content moderation world wide, mostly in countries like the Philippines.  The Philippines has cultural ties to the US, has a strong English second language culture and can pay people to do this work between $300 and $500 a month – a tiny fraction of doing the same work in the US.

Pressing this too often can give PTSD like symptoms

Pressing this too often can give PTSD like symptoms

This army cleaning the internet for first worlders is suffering pretty serious casualties.  Understandably, people watching sex all day become desensitized to it.  Most of these workers quit this job between 3 to 5 months after starting.  And the visions haunt many content moderators long after they leave the job.  People using kittens as bait for sharks, people setting animals on fire, child abuse and abusive and violent sex literally flood into various social media platforms, often being posted by proud perpetrators.

But what is disturbing about most of the many recent articles on this topic is that the commentators simply throw up their hands and say there is no other solution than this growing suffering army.  The NPR story especially ended with this hopeless approach. [With the recent Slate article as a notable exception to this trend.]

If verified, they ought to do something more than just pull the image.

If verified, they ought to do something more than just pull the image.

In fact, there are numerous fixes.  Slate recommends law enforcement be called in, but i think there is a better way.  You could simply track the number of flagged posts someone has on their Facebook or other social media site, if they get over 3 deemed inappropriate posts you write them a “Cease and Desist” letter, if they don’t you ban them.

We have a created a system where a misplaced value has been placed “freedom of speech” in the form of you can put up what ever you like.  But then we will review it and pull it down if we don’t like it.  But don’t worry we will not make you in any way responsible for their depraved content you post.  I find this particularly messed up, if you consider that a month back Facebook was demanding members use their birth names.  But it is unwilling to say “you can’t post beheading video’s on this family friendly site”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Death of the Diamond Album

“The music industry is in free fall” my pop star brother said to me after the last show of his i saw.  And by a collection of measures this appears true.

You have likely heard of gold and platinum records, representing 500K and 1 million albums sold respectively.  But not many people have heard of diamond albums, which represent 10 platinum records or 10 million albums sold.  And you are not likely to hear much about them, because they are almost extinct.

One of my personal favorite diamond album winners.

One of my personal favorite diamond album winners.

In it’s endless listing of things, Wikipedia lists the 115 or so diamond albums of all times.  It reads a bit like a classic rock who’s who.  The Beatles and Led Zepplin and Garth Brooks does quite well. Madonna, Pink Floyd, Billy Joel and the Backstreet Boys all have a couple each.  But the partial proof of my brothers claim is that there is only one diamond album in the last decade, it is Adele’s 21 and it is dead last on the list.

The last diamond album ever?

The last diamond album ever?

But don’t lose a lot of sleep worrying about the income of rock stars.  Capitalism takes care of it’s own.  In an article called “Digital music sales are in free fall, as Spotify does to iTunes what iTunes did to CDs”   The article notes:

Good news: The switch from downloading to streaming likely won’t devastate industry revenues like the shift from physical albums to digital downloads did. Despite the accelerating rise of streaming over the past few years, annual US music revenues have held steady at around $7 billion since 2009. That year, traditional purchasing made up 95 percent of total US revenue, compared to only 79 percent last year.

Of course, stopping the bleeding is cold comfort to artists and other industry stakeholders faced with low royalty payments from streaming music services. But while it’s true that the revenue generated from one stream is far lower than the revenue generated by a digital download, that may not matter. Many believe the market for paid music subscriptions is set to explode, particularly on a global scale.

What is really going on here is that services like Spotify and Pandora (and even YouTube) are making it easier to get the music you want by either listening to/viewing ads (which pay artists) or paying the service (which also pay artists) than trying to figure out how to steal it from the labyrinth tubes of the interwebs.

spotify

And while  it is far from played out which type of service will dominate (with social networking solutions like SoundCloud representing a different type of solution) i tend to agree with the upbeat conclusion of the earlier sited article.

So from this perspective, the death of downloads, despite the fact that their payout is higher per-unit than streaming, may not kill the music industry at all. On the contrary, it may resurrect it for the first time in over a decade.

 

 

The Other Way to Play

The game of Dominion is fairly popular at the commune.  It is a dynamic card game, and a sister of Magic in that you build decks and the rules are changing all the time.  These kinds of game are pretty complex and they are part of our informal home schooling curriculum.  The fact that our kids want to play, because our adults are playing and because if they play well they can be peers to the adults, are big pluses.

Don't worry if you can't understand it.

Don’t worry if you can’t understand it.

When i first started playing Dominion with Sami he was not yet 5.  Despite being involved in his home school efforts, i dont keep track of where kids are in the educational process by what age they are at.  It is just not something i think about.

One evening Sami and some older kids wanted to play Dominion.  We each choose some of the perhaps 200 different card types we have in the various expansions so we could create a game.  Sami choose a couple of card types he liked as did everyone else.  There was a bit of negotiating to get some better game dynamics on the board.  All friendly negotiations.

Sami at Unicorns Today

Sami at Unicorns School Today

Sami played well, i barely beat him and i was the overall winner.  He got more points than several other kids and adults.

I was talking with Ezra, Sami’s dad, the following day (who Sami had recently beaten) and complimenting his clever kid.  “Yeah, it is pretty impressive.” Confessed Ez.  “Given that he can’t read the cards.”

“What?” i said

“He can’t read yet.  But he really wanted to play.  So he memorized all the cards so he could play.”  Ez explained.

“But there are like 200 different cards, and some are crazy complicated.” i was amazed.

“Like i said, he really wanted to play.”

Ezra, Sami and Zadek and NYC skyline - Circa 2014

Ezra, Sami and Zadek and NYC skyline – Circa 2014

 

 

 

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