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OK Cupid Blues and Greens

[It turn out, as a novice user, i significantly over-simplified both the status and the politics of the polyamory identity/recognition struggle within OK Cupid in this post.  Fortunately, my new friend Tara has added a long comment to this this post which gives the background and history.  In this case you might want to read the comments to this post before the post itself.]

Some months back i joined a secret polyamory group on Facebook (which means it can only be seen by its members).  One of the interesting aspects of this group was that there was an internal list of links to people’s OK Cupid (OCK) profiles and a few other links.  Many dating sites and sex positive social network sites use pseudonyms to hide people’s identity, so this key inside the secret poly group was quite valuable in seeing who was in the group and how they present themselves.   Almost everyone had an OKC profile, so i thought i should get one as well. Once i put it up, Cassandra heavily edited it for me.

What should your partner be doing of a Friday Night?

What should your partner be doing of a Friday Night?

One of the problems with OKC is that it was not designed to match poly people very well.  Under relationship status you could be single or married or dating, but there was no “Open Relationship” option, which is quite important to dating sites.  OKC fixed that this week.  We will see if this leads to a different experience for me with the system.

okcupid triad

i must confess an odd relationship with the OKC system.  i want to be validated by having people who it seems i am good matches with, but i am not super interested in finding romantic partners this way, at least i don’t think i am.  It has been slightly frustrating to find people who are 95% matches who have no interest in polyamory, since i have answered a number of questions about this, it seems like there is something wrong with the OKC weighting algorithm (or perhaps everyone else is just dodging all the questions on poly).

OKCupid key words

OK Cupid does have a number of revealing and curious statistics about it’s own users.  For example if your desire is to get a lot of messages from OKC as a straight female user, then you are much better off with some people thinking you attractive and others thinking you are ugly, then you are with the same number of people finding you beautiful but many men finding you cute.

OKC paradox questions

OKC paradoxical answers

The service is free.  You can add your own questions and answer the ones you like.  It is in pretty wide use (which is important for network effects).  It does not discriminate against non-heterosexual users (as a surprising number of dating sites do).  And while it is not the only game in town, it is a good game.  If you want to be in this world at all.

Other Polyamory Blog Posts:

And the latest news from Scientific American:  Polyamory may be Good for You

 

 

 

 

 

 

Temelin 3 and 4 are Dead

It’s late, i should be in bed, but i just read some very good news and there are some people i need to thank.

In 1991, i moved to Brno in what was then Czechoslovakia.  I started working with an amazing group of young Czech radicals who worked for a “dark green” group called Hnuti Duha (the Rainbow Movement).  “How green were there?” you might be asking.  I walked up the 4 floors worth of stairs for 5 years with my Czech comrades before i even knew the building had an elevator.  American friends came to visit at once and tried to give out oranges they had bought.  Thirty people in this office, and they could not give away one orange.  Why?  Because oranges don’t grow in Czechoslovakia, which means they are not bioregional, so they were not part of our diet.  When we started working on the nuclear power plants Temelin 1 & 2, which had been started by the Soviets and were being taken over by the Westinghouse and the US Export Import Bank, public opinion was 80% in favor of building reactors in that country.

Honza and Jakub

Honza and Jakub

Honza Beranek was my boss.  He was 21, i was 34.  He was the best boss i ever had.  Soft spoken, hard thinking, deeply dedicated.  One of the people who could have made a fortune in the private sector, but it was never really an option.  After a stint as president of the Czech Green Party, he would move to Amsterdam with his family and work for Greenpeace, ultimately taking the job i always wanted, the head of the international anti-nuclear campaign.  He would be promoted again to running the entire Greenpeace Energy Campaign.

Jakub Patocka was only 19 when i came to work for Duha.  Charismatic, deeply political, sharply literary and also hella bright he was the hand on the rudder of this exotic environmental campaigning organization, which would ultimately become the Czech chapter of Friend of the Earth.  While Honza went off to do international work, Jakub stayed in the Czech Republic and was the editor for a couple of political magazines and ran political campaigns. There were dozens of environmental campaigns in the Czech Republic that these two extraordinary young activists could have chosen.  They selected one that they were almost certain to lose, because it was the right fight to be in.

JanH and Adela

JanH and Adela

Jan Haverkamp and i started working together in 1990 at Ecotopia in Hungary.  He pretended to be a Westinghouse representative presenting the benefits of nuclear power to the environmental activists at the camp.  He was fantastically compelling and crazy frustrating to the young activists who knew he was manipulating them, but did not know their material well enough to counter his arguments.  Jan had the other job i coveted, he traveled across Europe helping small local groups defeat reactors.  He was at every Temelin action i was at for years.  He was instrumental in stopping the Belene Reactor complex in Bulgaria.  The last time i was in Prague, i expressed concern to my Czech wife Adela about the proposed new Temelin reactor blocks 3 & 4.  Adela, who is the mother of Jan’s daughter Bara, said “Jan will stop them.”

Crashing the gates at Temelin in 1996

Crashing the gates at Temelin in 1996

And indeed he has (with the help of many others).  News just arrived today that construction of Temelin 3 & 4 will not be started.  Unable to get the huge government subsidies and guarantees that the UK recently agreed to at Hinckley C, the Czech electric utility had to fold this completely uneconomical proposal.  In late 2013, Jakub joined the Czech Social Democratic Party, in early 2014 this party would cancel the government subsidies for Temelin 3 & 4, and the project would die.  I don’t think this is a coincidence.

Europe rests easier tonight knowing this ill-conceived reactor project will never be completed (and CEZ’s stock went up 3.1% on the announcement).  And to these heroes and teachers of mine, thank you for your tireless work and this tremendous success.

PS: Jakub tells me that the new minister of Industry and Trade Minister Jan Mladek refused to provide state subsidies for the reactor, which was central to the deal collapsing.  And while there is talk of a new tender, perhaps using the new wholly government controlled energy entity (unlike the utility CEZ which is 30% traded on the open market and the rest government owned), without state funding there is no future for new nuclear construction in the Czech Republic.  

 

 

Cultural Third Rails

Éric is from Québec.  He was very excited about income sharing community as an alternative to the previous IT jobs he had had in the main stream.  Hard working, handy and politically progressive the early money was on Acorn enthusiastically accepting him as a member.  Turns out that would have been a losing bet.

Some signals don't translate well.

Some signals don’t translate well.

It started with touching.  In Montréal and other parts of Québec people put their hands lightly on other peoples shoulders when they talk to them.  Acorn is clear in our information to visitors that there is a very strong consent culture here and you can’t just touch people without asking them first, even in this seemingly simple and harmless way.  We are supposed to stress this in our introductory tour of the community as well, but it appears Éric never got this tour.

So as he did in his country, Éric held peoples shoulders when he was talking to them, until someone told him that he needed to stop this.  At first he did not understand why, this is quite different from where he comes from, and he even made a couple of mistakes after being told.  But when one member got really upset with him for this, he realized that he needed to change his behavior to match our cultural agreements.

Room privacy is sacred

Room privacy is paramount

Then there was the issue of rooms.  Éric was helping with the electrical repairs connected to the arson recovery.  We were just about to buy the final supplies to complete the electrical in Heartwood.  Éric asked if he could go into one members room and they replied “Fuliano is sleeping in there, don’t waked them up.”  He thought this meant he should avoid waking the person in the room and gather the timely information in a very quiet way.  Only to walk in on someone very surprised about his presence there.

Éric appreciates the strong culture of trust.  What he missed is that part of creating this culture here is that there is rigid cultural zoning.  You can’t go into someone’s room unless they give permission explicitly.  He thought he was being helpful.  Here again it took a couple of mistakes before he realized that this was actually quite a big deal to people here.

It is not as dense as Hong Kong, but there are similarities

It is not as dense as Hong Kong, but there are similarities

Commune life is dense.  Even in a relatively small place like Acorn (with 30 members and a dozen guests and interns) there are people in public space almost all the time.   I am oft surprised at the 5 AM rush hour which takes place in Heartwood, with some folks getting up for morning chores, others going to bed after a long night of partying and still other sleep anarchists who might be in the middle of their temporally shifted day.

One of the most frequently cited reasons for leaving community is wanting to have more privacy and more independent control of your things.  We try to accommodate these needs by having exclusive norms around people’s rooms.  Mala tells a story of playing tag with a bunch of small Twin Oaks kids.  It was quite a lively game with running around everywhere and yelling.  Mala ran into her room to escape being tagged and every kid ran and then stopped abruptly at the threshold to her room.  They each asks “Can i come in?”

Navigating the commune culture can be tricky

Navigating the commune culture can be tricky

There were other small problems with Éric which ultimately derailed his application.  Acorn uses the selection algorithm “If it is not a clear ‘yes’, then it is not a ‘yes’”.  Most people were confident that Eric would learn from these mistakes and not repeat them.  But the collection of them combined with other discomforts made him joining not a clear yes.  Some members were frustrated, because they felt like we were not clear enough.  But in the end it was Éric‘s choice to leave, he did not want anyone to feel uncomfortable about him being there.  Most people would not have seen this and pushed for what they wanted.  It is another thing i appreciate about Eric.

Acorn for it’s part is putting together a list of these cultural third rails (as in “you touch, you die’), so that others can learn from both ours and Éric‘s mistakes.

Building trust is very tricky work.  Strong agreements around receiving consent for any type of touching and clearly defined personal space are part of feeling safe in a dense place without locks.  Adding to this confusion is that we are a very physical group with people touching each other all the time and breezing into each others rooms.  What Éric (and others before him) could not see is that these behaviors had been negotiated before he arrived, they can’t be presumed.

Eric and Audrey painting Heartwood at Acorn after the fire - Circa 2013

Eric and Audrey painting Heartwood at Acorn after the fire – Circa 2013

Originally, i changed the name and country of origin in this story, but when i sent it to Éric, he said he would prefer the story be told with his name and his land (not Poland which i had selected since it has similar casual touching as a cultural norm).

My favorite Billionaire

About 20 year ago i got a call from Teddy Goldsmith.  The British publisher, author and philosopher who was actually calling for his billionaire brother Jimmy Goldsmith.  Jimmy wanted to assemble the worlds top anti-nuclear experts and campaigners and fund their best projects.   I was happy to help organize the event, and despite not being experienced or important enough, Teddy asked me to come to the event which was hosted in Jimmy’s castle in France.

My favorite Billionaire and his wife Lady Annebell

My favorite Billionaire and his wife Lady Annebel – before his death in 1997

Sir Jimmy was hardly a progressive.  We disagreed on immigration and a host of other issues.  This was a classic case of political rap around, where the anti-government conservatives agree with the anarchists.  

It was an eclectic, high powered gathering.  There was a Russian nuclear scientist who had jumped to the anti-nuclear resistance after the wall came down.   The head of Greenpeace International’s nuclear campaign was there.  A US energy efficiency expert who would later be selected by Clinton as an under secretary of DOE.  An expert in nuclear weapons non-proliferation attended.  We tried to get Amory Lovins to the event, who was friendly with both Teddy and Jimmy, but his schedule did not permit it.

Jimmy asked the grilled the group with smart questions.  In the end he said he wanted proposals from each of us for what we thought would be the most effective anti-nuclear projects.  i was doing a fair amount of grant writing at the time and asked how long the proposals should be.  He replied, “Just one page.  If you can’t convince me in a page, you won’t convince me in more.”  Various Goldsmith grants would fund anti-nuclear activities i was involved with for the following 7 years i was in Europe, mostly projects in eastern Europe.

One of the biggest projects Jimmy would support (not just in the field of anti-nuclear efforts) was his brothers environmental magazine, The Ecologist.  Which recently put out a brilliant analysis as to why the so called Nuclear Renaissance was dead.  The rest of this post is inspired and stolen from this article.

Globally, nuclear power is in decline.  In 1993 it produced 17% of the global electricity supply, in 2013 it was 10%.  Nuclear power suffered its biggest ever one-year fall in 2012 – nuclear generation fell 7% from the 2011 figure. And while most of this was from closed reactors in Japan, nuclear generation fell in no less than 17 countries, including all of the top five nuclear-generating countries.  Almost half of the worlds operating reactors have been doing so for 30 years, yet the average life of reactors which started operations is 23 years.

In the US in 2009 there were 31 applications for the construction of new reactors.  Only four of these applications turned into actual construction.  All for of these reactors are in states which permit utilities to bill customers for construction costs far before the reactor is finished, and even if the reactor is never finished.  At the same time, for the first time in 15 years, this year US utilities announced the closing of 5 rectors  which will put the US below 100 reactors for the first time in decades.

In western Europe there are only two reactors currently under construction.  The estimated construction cost  in Finland has ballooned from $4.5 billion to $12 billion. The estimated cost for the new reactor in France has ballooned from $5 billion to $12.8 billion.  Neither of these reactors are finished, there are expensive lawsuits which will add to the costs and further delays and cost overruns are nearly certain.  The proposed new reactors in the UK at Hinkley Point are estimated at a staggering $29 billion, making them the most expensive reactor construction project ever proposed and at a cost over twice what the UK is paying for power, even if it comes in on time and budget.

We can make better choices

We can make better choices

Nuclear power has always been a con game.  With efforts from billionaires and anarchists and the wake up call of a terrible accident, we might actually get to the other side of this terrible game.

Acorn Land Day Photos

Even the goats dress up for the party

Even the goats dress up for the party.

Samantha dresses up just for parties

Samantha dresses up just for parties.

We built a lovely stage

We built a lovely stage.

And build a huge fire in front of it

And built a huge fire in front of it.

Some costumes were exotic

Some costumes were exotic.

Dragon and Luna

Dragon and Luna

Grace guest fees a goat

Grace Guest feeds a goat.

 

Calf checking out party lights

Calf checking out party lights.

Ca[f spooked by lights flees

Calf spooked by lights flees.

[Edited by Judy Youngquest]

Oakers at TPP Protest

I like it when our kids go to protests.  Willow has been at a number of protests and has helped bail me out of jail.   Yesterday an intrepid group of Oakers, including Edmund, Sapphyre, Christian, Tomato and Kaya went to the US Capitol in Washington DC to protest the Trans-Pacific Partnership affectionately referred to as TPP.

Kaya in Congress

Kaya in Congress

What is it like to sit next to your mom and have her tell you that there is some chance she might get arrested?  Fortunately, things did not go that way at the most recent protest of the TPP.

The TPP is barely a trade agreement.  It is being called a trade agreement, because the business media likes these, corporations can justify lobbying for “free trade” and because what it really is is so ugly that it would be politically impractical to ask for it.  It is a transfer of power away from governments and citizens to corporations.

It’s about corporations being able to sue countries for passing laws or making court rulings that might impact their future profits. It’s about Monsanto wanting a back door way to block labeling of GMO food in all the TPP countries. It’s about a hugely profitable pharmaceutical industry that wants to make sure that people in Vietnam can’t access affordable generic medicine.  And no, this is not going to create good jobs in the US. TPP makes it even easier for corporations to move production to countries with unbelievably low wages and bad working conditions.

Here are a couple of the better propaganda pieces on it.

TPP threatens food

These trade agreement laws are such favorites of big business, that they can not avoid filling them with all manner of poor, unconstitutional, and corrupt structures.  Just as the progressive movement helped push back the WTO negotiations in Seattle in 1999, now activists must rally to block this far less attractive “free trade” agreement.  And TPP is in trouble. Many of the countries involved are not agreeing to the extreme US proposals in the negotiations. And there is a lot of opposition in the US Congress to passing TPP and to passing Fast Track Trade Authority (which hands over control of trade treaties to the executive branch). Without fast track, TPP itself is unlikely to pass in Congress.

It does not stop with conventional trade.

It does not stop with conventional trade.

Our folks did one of the few things you can do about this situation – they went and spoke truth to power.  Now power was only willing to put up with a tiny amount of the truth.  But the protesters danced nimbly between rules of the congressional committees and their rights to free speech.

The shirts were about North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA. TPP is an expanded version of NAFTA that includes more countries. Michael Froman (the US Trade Rep who was testifying at the House hearing we went to) was talking a few days ago about how great NAFTA has been, and he said that NAFTA created big trade surplus for the US. This is just plain false. The annual trade deficit with Mexico and Canada has increased by $155 Billion.

The rules for protests inside the capitol are well defined.  You cant stand

The rules for protests inside the capitol are well defined. You can’t stand.

 

But you can sit, with a giant nose and a blaring yellow shirt

But you can sit, with a giant nose and a blaring yellow shirt.

[Edited by Judy Youngquest]

The Tanks are Rolling Out …

It is one of my oft told life stories.

Rabbit and Paxus

Prof Rabbit and his unreliable student

In the late fall of 1989, i was in Hawaii and i got a call from Rabbit, who said

They have just had revolutions throughout Eastern Europe.  We need to go, as soon as possible, we need to talk with the revolutionaries and find out what really happened.  Because soon they will write the history books, and once they are written, the truth will be lost forever.

So, in the summer of 1990, Rabbit and i went to Eastern Europe and talked to revolutionaries and discovered some precious pieces which would never make it to the history books.

I tell this story often when introducing myself.  It is one of my life stories which helps move the characters along.  Gets me from being an affluent ocean engineer living in a condo on Oahu to an oft homeless anti-nuclear activist in then Czechoslovakia.  Just one problem, the story’s not true.

Oh, parts of it are true; Rabbit and i did go to Europe.  We talked a bunch about the political changes in the world and the fall of communism, especially.  But we went to Southern Europe, Italy, Greece, and Turkey, which we had planned for months before the revolutions of 1989.  We had a wonderful thought-provoking adventure, it just was not to the east.   The urgent invitation conversation never happened, but it should have.  And thus the story.

Rabbit would spin off and head home to San Francisco, and i would do Eastern Europe by myself, because i was just figuring out what to do with my life.  And i would soon fall in love with Czechoslovakia.

I arrived in Prague on a hot August night.  I slept in Hlavni Nadrazi (the main railroad station) which is normally not possible, but because it was the day before the big Rolling Stones concert, the station was packed all night and the police had bigger fish to fry.

The next day i walked around the city where i knew no one.  Had you told me at the time i would spend most of the next eight years in orbit of this place i would have been curiously surprised and delighted.  When i walked through the central city, i found a curious thing.  It was a pink tank.

not quite my pink tank

not quite my pink tank

It was on its side, having been flipped by the locals when the Russians had tried to maintain control eight months earlier.  Once the protesters had uprighted the tank, the artists came in and had at it.

oink tank with grafitti

I timed my visit to see the inexpensive Rolling Stones concert.  It was being held in Strahov Stadium, which was (and technically still is) the highest capacity stadium in the world, seating between 220K and 250K people.  When it was an active sports arena it could house seven simultaneous soccer games.  Trouble is there are not many times you want the capacity to hold seven parallel soccer games or 220K people.

The first Rolling Stones concert in a recently liberated country, however, is exactly one of the times you need a stadium that size.

Strahov Empty

Strahov Empty

The posters for the concert read “The Tanks are Rolling Out, the Stones are Rolling In.”

More exotic Czech political art

More exotic Czech political art circa 2012

[Edited by Judy Youngquest]

Clearness versus Feedback

I am quite sensitive about comparing Twin Oaks to Acorn.  It is perhaps like trying to compare great books.  There is so much done right, does it really make sense to focus on the downsides?  And i firmly believe that propagandists (like myself) should be vocal critics, trying to make the ideas and experiments they are advancing be better.

So it is with some trepidation that i compare the different systems my two  communities use for dealing with problems between members or between a member and the rest of the community.  In theory, both approaches look quite reasonable.

At Twin Oaks, one part of the system we use is a technique called the Feedback system.  Someone does something outside our agreements (they don’t make their labor quota for a long time,  they spend more money than the community provides – creating a debt to the community, or they have other problematic behaviors) and they get a feedback called on them.  If someone is in a conflict with another member, there are a number of things which are supposed to be done before a feedback is called, including mediated face-to-face conversations between the people who are in conflict.  If this mediation goes poorly, a member can call a feedback on another member and if 10 members agree it is appropriate (by signing the proposal to call a feedback) then the feedback is launched.  If things are really bad, the feedback can be the entry way to an expulsion process.  But this is quite rare actually, perhaps happening less than every couple of years.

Twin Oaks Feedbacks are one person speaking before the rest of the community

Twin Oaks Feedbacks are one person speaking to the rest of the community

When a feedback is called, a date for the community to meet with the individual is set.  A facilitator is selected, if the focus person wants they can also have an advocate.  The facilitator of the feedback is clear that we are trying to create a safe space for people to express their views and concerns.  Usually, there is some mix of appreciation and critique of the person who has had the feedback called on them.  Their friends and supporters will often come to make sure they know that their are positive voices in the course of the community.  Usually the conversation is dominated by different members perceptions about what the problems with the focus person are and in some cases constructive feedback on how to address them.

When we coach people on how to handle feedbacks, it is generally about how to manage their defensiveness.  When someone gives you a critical observation, almost all of us jump to what is wrong about the critique.  This is exactly the wrong way to respond at a feedback.  Instead, you start by validating the part of the expressed concern which feels genuinely true to you.  You reflect back, ideally summarizing and using different language, so that the person with concerns feels heard.  And it is important to say how you disagree (if you do) but not in a charged and defensive way.

After listening to the concerns, there is a “Next Steps” portion of the feedback, in which the community investigates if there is something which needs to happen next.  Are we done with this issue?  Do we need a behavior contract with consequences if the problematic behavior repeats?  Do we think the problem is so big that we need to start the process of expelling this person?

At first glance this seems complete reasonable, especially in a one-on-one conflict there is lots of mediated conversation before the problem comes to the entire group.  And this is another one of those cases where completely reasonable is not quite as it appears.

Alternatively,  Acorn uses our clearness process to deal with these types of problems.  One important difference is that the clearness process is not an extraordinary process, it is the same process which is used by every member at least twice every year.  The other central difference between a clearness and a feedback is that the clearness requires one on one conversations with every member of the community.   After these conversations are finished there is a group clearness, which appears at first glance would be of the same form as the Twin Oaks feedback, but it is not really.  Typically, in the Acorn approach the inner personal heavy lifting is done during these one on one conversations and the group event is summarizing the set of (generally successful) conversations so everyone can get an overview of concerns and solutions.  It is important to note that this format is much more accessible at Acorn (which has a population of 30) than at Twin Oaks with it’s 93 adult members.

clarity

This process can also be used in an emergency, as with me recently where i was inviting guests in a way that made people feel run over.  Plus i had the misfortune of co-hosting Nero who set Acorn at fire.  It was not time for me to do one of my regular clearnesses, so we put together one that was principally focused on this particular problem.  I talked with everyone and other issues came up and even before we had the group clearness at the end, i was already feeling quite good about the groups response to my mistakes and feeling like the resolutions we were coming to would work for everyone.

all this and more

all this and more

From my perspective there are three critical differences here, all of which make the Acorn system generally preferable.  The first is that these clearnesses are part of regular life and membership at Acorn.  You don’t need to be messed up to have a clearness, though if you do mess up, it is a familiar tool for helping to decode that.  The second is that everyone is involved in a one-on-one conversation before the big group meeting. These can be facilitated, work i have done and enjoyed at Acorn.  Finally, the consensus underpinning of the Acorn system means members are seeking solutions which work for everyone.

We could have a rad bromance

I’m looking for a bromance.

I can’t seem to find one?

Does anyone want to be my bro and go to hockey games with me?

Image

I realize what I am lacking in my life is radical heteronormativity. I’m sure there are some poly dudes I can relate to who are into chugging beer, anarcho-communism, beer pong, protesting nukes, hockey, and twerking on consenting (of course!) blonde babes . I feel there is a dark hole inside of me that is missing someone to converse about this with.

Could I use Okcupid?

Does anyone know anyone who would be my bro?

[This guest post was written by Belladonna Took - in the spirit of my son, she said "if you are going to leave your wordpress account open on computers all over Acorn i am going to write posts in it"]

 

We are a hot internet meme

My story, which i completely made up, is that during the time Occupy was raging across the land, millions of protest pictures went up on line.  Including this one:

sabrina occupy

 

Now a few years later, people are going back and looking through those images and finding ones which they think are compelling and reposting them.

And while it did not garner much attention when it was first posted, when Evolvefest reposted this image on March 28th, the interwebs got pretty excited about it.  It has been shared over 8,000 times in the last 5 days.  Twin Oaks is also getting people asking to join visitor periods because of it.

Though i am nominally in the transformational festival business, i had not heard of Evolvefest.  Which is an annual event in NJ (not northern Nova Scotia as originally reported).  Their Facebook page throws up literally dozens of images every day, but it is rare for their 90K FB friends to get as excited about an image as they did about this one.

For me what is important here is that effects of the Occupy movement are still lingering, largely invisible to the mainstream media which has moved on to the next hot topic.

 

 

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