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“The First Ammendment is a little more important than Traffic”

You almost certainly heard about the Climate March last weekend in NYC.  It was a big colorful event.


And while this was important (because it was large – 400K participants, because it was diverse, because it was timely – just before the UN meeting on climate disruption – which did have some accomplishments of its own), it was not as important in my mind as the much smaller protest in NYC on the same issue the next day.

When is 3K > 400K ?  When you close Wall Street

When is 3K > 400K ? When you close Wall Street

Flood Wall Street tried to mimic some of the simplicity of Occupy Wall Street – wear blue and come prepared to stay.  And then a funny thing happened.  The NYC police did not come in and beat up and disperse these street blocking protests.  It could not have hurt that newly elected NYC mayor Bill De Blasio instructing the police to back off the protest.

NYC Mayor De Blasio, some US political hack and the Sec Gen of the UN

NYC Mayor De Blasio, some US political hack and the Sec Gen of the UN – Sept 21

When asked about his participation in the action which blocked the streets around the nations most critical financial district,. De Blasio somewhat amazingly said “I think the First Amendment is a little more important than traffic.”

If you know the NYPD, you know they hate unpermitted persons taking over the street.  They will generally quickly disperse and often attack any unpermitted march or action, if they can.

The police apparently were not excited by the mayor’s orders to not beat up the civil disobedience actions.  Perhaps change is possible.












What is Tiny Living like?

I like to ask people what surprises them about their recent experience.  Partly, this seems to illicit more thoughtful responses than “What did you like/dislike?”.  It also leads to assumption checking on the interviewee’s part.  Causing the reflection “What did i think was going to happen that did not?”

As seen from outside

As seen from outside

When i asked Emily May what she was surprised by when she moved into her tiny house in Eugene, she thought for quite a while.  “When i first lived here, i was staying with my best friend and it made me think ‘Perhaps this would be too small to live in with a partner'”.

Emily May and blogger in dorm folding chair.

Emily May and blogger in dorm folding chair.

But besides this her reviews were quite positive.  She praised the design, the functionality of the stove, the ability for a single person to have all the room the needed in this 7.5′ by 18′ footprint.

Regardless of it's beauty, is small the future?

Regardless of it’s beauty, is small the future?

She also talked about the power of cleaning.  Because the space is so small, it is quick to clean, and the effect is pervasive.  It kept her materialistic desires in check, since there are not many places to put things.  She had acquired a collection of various sized pillows which replace classical living room furniture.  Over all she was quite pleased with her tiny house experience.

But what is the Tiny House Movement about?  I stole this text from the blog

What are Tiny Houses? The Tiny House Movement? Tiny Living?

Simply put it is a social movement where people are downsizing the space that they live in. The typical American home is around 2600 square feet, while the typical small or tiny house is around 100-400 square feet. Tiny Houses come in all shapes, sizes and forms but they focus on smaller spaces and simplified living.

People are joining this movement for many reasons, but the most popular reasons are because of environmental concerns, financial concerns and seeking more time and freedom.  For most Americans 1/3 to 1/2 of their income is dedicated to the roof over their heads; This translates to 15 years of working over your life time just to pay for it and because of it 76% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.







Sadly not Ello

i want a Facebook alternative.  i have been talking and writing about this for years.  Some folks pointed me towards Ello and asked if i thought it might fit the bill.  At first glance the propaganda seemed right, but the functionality was a bit thin.

Ello smile logo

Ello smile logo

Then it turns our that they have taken $425K in venture capital funding.  This is the kiss of death.  VCs need at least 20 to 1 return on investment for their successful projects and they usually get this by having tremendous control over the running of the start up.  The chances that the VCs will let this be an ad free/user driven social network are vanishingly small.

There is clearly a demand for an alternative to Facebook.  This is just not the answer.

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…

Eliptigo – go go

Abigail has a new kind of bike.  And the fans are going wild.

Abigail and Eliptigo

Abigail and her mango Elliptigo

She reports that as she rides around Eugene, almost everywhere she goes people are excited and want to play .  “Take us with you” scream the teen girls on the track as she cruises by, College students call out “Nice Ride”, cars pull up next to her to inquire about the quality of the ride, and toddlers to octogenarians turn their heads and cheer their approval. The bike has universal appeal.

A funologist wobbles forward

A funologist wobbles forward

Of all the Elliptigo videos we watched the best one was French

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.


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.

The Best Job in the World?

i often tease Abigail when she is upset about her work that she has the best job in the world.  Certainly, if i were working for a paycheck, i would want to be doing what she does.  She is the Director of Experiential Education and Prevention Initiatives at University of Oregon.  I have written about the incredible work she does with peer education and interactive theatre working on sexual assault.  What i have not bragged about recently is the work she is doing on other issues of oppression with the Rehearsals for Life Project at U of O, which she founded and directs.

Using a combination of Theatre of the Oppressed, Playback Theatre and other forms of applied and interactive theatre, the troupe engages with audiences across campus about the subtle and less subtle nature of oppression in academia. They create scenarios and give people opportunities to intervene to change the outcome. The role play in the above video about the teaching assistant’s frustration with the student with a stutter is a perfect example of how conversations need to change to respect people and have a more fair world.

Try to tell me you are having more fun while you are changing the world

Try to tell me you are having more fun while you are changing the world

In addition to workshops, Rehearsals for Life addresses the dynamics of inequity and complexities of social justice through personal storytelling. In this video they partenred with NPR’s Michele Norris and her “Race Card Project“. The project, invites anyone to comment in six words about the state of race in America today. In this performance RfL performs from Norris’ collection of six word stories and includes longer pieces of the actors true personal stories.

Abigail’s work with Rehearsals for Life and Sexual Wellness Advocacy Team (SWAT) is engaging and pulls the often dry and pedantic world of academia into the vibrant and memorable world of theatre. Not the stuffy theater of rehearsed lines, but the more immediate, reality based theatre of improvisation & personal narratives backed by a moral directive to make things better.

And this is fully 17% of why i love her.







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