Archive | Propaganda RSS for this section

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.






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.

9/11 mistakes and missing apologies

The day before the 9/11 anniversary Willow, Evan and i were in the Staten Island Ferry.  The threat level was it’s lowest level.  A yellow 1.  It does not go lower.  Yet when we got on the ferry there were perhaps a dozen Coast Guard agents in full combat gear, including machine guns.

photo (18)

At what price freedom?

It is a 30 minute ride and since there did not seem to be any imminent threats, i approached one of these exotically dressed coast guard sailors and asked if i could ask him questions.  He agreed.

“The threat level is the lowest possible.  Is it still necessary to have sailors with machine guns on board?”  I asked, trying to be courteous.

“This is what we do before and after 9/11.  It does not matter what you think.” He replied flatly.

TerrorThreat sign SI ferry

It seemed unnecessary to bother him anymore with questions.

But it got me considering the 9/11 anniversary and how it has affected this country.  I have written about my personal experience of the anti-globalization movement which was derailed by post 9/11 mock patriotism.

The following internet “meme” got me thinking about the origins of the second Iraq war.  It is well documented that even before 9/11, key Bush administration figures (including Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz) wanted to invade Iraq as a means for the U.S. to “play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security…”[20]

911 misfire

Internal communications indicate Defense Secretary Rumsfeld was happy to use Sept 11 attacks as an excuse to invade Iraq, independent of the evidence.   Wikipedia says:

On September 11, Rumsfeld asked for: “best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit Saddam Hussein at same time. Not only Osama bin Laden.” The notes also quote him as saying, “Go massive”, and “Sweep it all up. Things related and not.”[22]

Good thing we did not play into the hands of the terrorists

Good thing we did not play into the hands of the terrorists

Rumsfeld was clear that we were back calculating the rationale for attacking Iraq.

Excerpt from Nov 2001 Rumsfeld memo on how to justify invasion of Iraq

Excerpt from Nov 2001 Rumsfeld memo on how to justify invasion of Iraq

Later, in his February 2003 speech to the U.N. Security Council, Powell alleged that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction from inspectors and refusing to disarm. However, after the U.S. had invaded Iraq and overthrown Saddam Hussein, no weapons of mass destruction were found.  Powell would later confess on the Daily Show  “I, of course, regret the U.N. speech that I gave,” and “Of course I regret that a lot of it turned out be wrong,”

The mainstream media was also complicate in the run up to the invasion.  Again from wikipedia:

A study coauthored by the Center for Public Integrity found that in the two years after September 11, 2001 the president and top administration officials had made 935 false statements, in an orchestrated public relations campaign to galvanize public opinion for the war, and that the press was largely complicit in its uncritical coverage of the reasons adduced for going to war.[66][67] PBS commentator Bill Moyers had made similar points throughout the run up to the Iraq War, and prior to a national press conference on the Iraq War[28] Moyers correctly predicted “at least a dozen times during this press conference he [the President] will invoke 9/11 and Al Qaeda to justify a preemptive attack on a country that has not attacked America. But the White House press corps will ask no hard questions tonight about those claims.”[68][69]

These rationale for the war having been proved false, the Bush administration moved on to the reliable “We are installing democracy in Iraq” justification.  Which has not worked terribly well.

So why does any of this matter?  What bothers me most is that a relatively small number of US Americans died and then we went off and killed literally millions of the wrong people because of it.  And we still think that the big problem with 9/11 is the US got hurt.  The country generally has no shame or remorse about this tremendous mistake we made.

And because we refuse to learn from history, we appear about to make the same mistake again with ISIS.  We are looking to return to Iraq and now Syria to start another war, because a tiny number of US Americans have died. In this war we will kill tens to hundreds of thousands of the innocent people (and some militant extremists). This is what ISIS clearly wants, for the US to attack them so ISIS can capture the regional anger and frustration with the US’s dysfunctional foreign policy, so they can recruit more and grow their movement.

Here is another cute text running around the interwebs:

Are you confused by what is going on in the Middle East?
If so, please let me explain it for you in clear terms:
We support the Iraqi government in the fight against ISIS.
We don’t like ISIS, but ISIS is supported by Saudi Arabia who we do like.
We don’t like Assad in Syria. We support the fight against him, but ISIS is also fighting against him.
We don’t like Iran, but Iran supports the Iraqi government in its fight against ISIS.
So some of our friends support our enemies, some enemies are now our friends,
and some of our enemies are fighting against our other enemies, who we want to lose,
but we don’t want our enemies who are fighting our enemies to win.
If the people we want to defeat are defeated, they could be replaced by people we like even less.
And all this was started by us invading a country to drive out terrorists
who were not actually there until we went in to drive them out.
It’s quite simple, really.
Do you understand now?









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.]

Corporate Art

Between Point A and speaking at schools and selling hammocks i am traveling a bunch these days.  This week i am in Tarrytown NY for an unusual fall craft show for the hammocks business (usually people dont buy hammocks in the fall, but this is a good fair for us generally so we thought we would try it).  We are staying in a Marriott.

There are several nearly identical pieces like this o the ground floor

There are several nearly identical pieces like this on the ground floor

I wonder about this piece.  Is it an effort to get folks in the hotel comfortable with the idea of endless clearcuts (there are about 6 of these installations in a row on one long halfway)?  Some manager decided that instead of having live plants in the same locations in large planters, they could save money on watering by going with this faux natural look?

i would the first to admit that i have minimal aesthetic sensibility. But it strikes me that there is something wrong here.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,647 other followers