i will confess, i have been acculturated to believe in science. i start from a place of believing that my cell phone is doing what it is programmed to. My experience says somethings else is happening.
With my Android it was clearly the machine. It always replaced Abigail with Gail Black, the phone number was Abigail’s but the picture, name and email were all Gail’s. I would try to edit, the phone would toggle back. At one point it had some strange soft ring going on. It would not stop, i turned off everything, including the phone itself. The ringing continued. I unplugged the battery and it finally stopped. Simply there was a ghost in that machine.
So i have gone to the dark side. i got an iPhone. Actually the hammocks business got me an iPhone as an upgrade to the Droid so that i could use the iPhone credit card slider for fairs. Aubby cleverly (or perhaps obviously) got me a bumper car case for it, which has already saved my butt several times. And i am pained to admit it, but it is a better phone.
No doubt the Droid is more programmable, but the iPhone is simply better designed. If you are guessing how to operate it at any step, you are likely to guess right. i don’t want to have to learn how my phone works, i want it to be figuring out exactly what it is that i want it to be doing next.
And even the iPhone has some annoying bug including apps you cant turn off. i am told all these problems will be solved when i upgrade, except i’ve been locked out of my iTunes account.
We just seem to disagree on what smart is.
Some of the folks who come through the communities conference have incredible energy. Nicole was this year’s hard charger. Working principally through social media she is building up a network of representatives from the communities which she calls Hybrid RBE for Hybrid Resource Based Economy.
She drives her members through hooking people up and asking what she hopes are penetrating questions. She posted this recently:
Which would you rather have? A. Your current wage with no guarantee of it covering all your basic needs rather long being able to afford your wants. or B. Basic needs guaranteed to be covered, with the possibility of your wants being met as well, and no wage at all.
Most of her hybrid RBE folks think they want choice B. Some feel that this is just a government handout, which it certainly is not in our case (though we did get some Obama stimulus money at Twin Oaks to put up solar panels). Nicole wants me to explain what we do for money:
At Twin Oaks we currently have 7 business areas:
- Indexing Books
- Conferences, Gathering and Workshops
- Outside Work
- Wholesale non-GMO seeds
- Growing and selling organic seeds
Acorn has the retail seed business, which is larger than any single business of Twin Oaks.
These businesses are exceptional because they are run largely cooperatively, and with as little hierarchy as we can get away with (which is fairly little actually). They permit flexible labor forces to work in schedules which permit child care and other regular schedule shifts. These businesses all have stable customer bases and in many cases continue to grow with minimal marketing. [Most people who are interested in sales and marketing don't want to live in a rural commune.] All the “supervisors” in these businesses do line work as well, there is a strong training culture in most of our business ventures. Excellent parenting benefits. Full health and dental coverage. Post secondary education support for children, etc, etc.
But this is not what makes us really interesting. What makes us worthy of model value is that we have a tremendously powerful library system which dramatically reduces costs and shrinks our carbon footprint. Some of the libraries/insurances we have include:
- Commie Clothes
- Car Share
- Bike Share
- Cassette Tape/CDs/DVDs and now a huge digital media drive of TV, Movies and Music.
- Tool Library
- Catastrophic Health Insurance
So if we take just one important example, we have 17 cars. The average group of 100 US Americans (about our size) have 77 vehicles. Our vehicles drive about as much as each of the mainstream cars, only with many fewer miles per person served. We do clever collective shopping, don’t commute to work and carpool fiercely. And at the end of the day we are well over the needed 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that the UN IPCC is demanding.
We are successful business people who have a tiny carbon footprint and are living relatively low stress life, eating the food we grow in the buildings we build, surrounded by kids we are homeschooling. It is nothing less than a model which if scaled up would save the world.
But we probably won’t do it because we need to have our own stuff.
[Edited by Judy Youngquest]
There is one especially wonderful phrase that every busy organizer really wants to hear
“How can i help?”
Today it was Angie asking, and even from 500 miles away in the Amherst area, it brightens my entire morning. In part because distance is no impediment to her assistance, because she has super fast internet and an even faster brain.
Co-managing Acorn’s current problems after the arson requires a lot of critical path analysis. With 10 bedrooms displaced where do we put everyone? [3 Heartwood rooms were far enough from the blaze that they have been reoccupied after some cleaning.] Our short term solutions (often tents and treehouses) won’t work in a month when it gets really cold. We want to finish the new seed building so we don’t have to move the old office back into Heartwood, only to move it again when the new seed building is finished. But here our agendas are conflicting, because we have already stolen some construction crew away from that project to help with the clean-up after the fire. There is a large unfinished straw bale wall, which just lost its honcho.
But the longer i look at these problems, the more my analysis points back to getting the business running. The Southern Exposure website temporarily indicated we were not taking orders (immediately after the fire), then it indicated there would be a delay – but what we really don’t want is for income to start going down because of lost orders, so on top of everything, we picked seeds (locking ourselves in the picking room until we had everything done, to avoid letting smoke in) and then shipped everything except a few dozen allium orders.
And my particular piece of getting the business running is proposing seed price increases. Specifically, completing the comparison of our prices with our competitors and respecting the requests from our Twin Oaks and LEF growers that they need to be making a living wage all the while making an acceptable margin for Acorn to run both the community and the business.
So while others have been painting and cleaning endless soot covered objects or working with Strandbeest (the new straw bale honcha) or planning boards on the weekend with X-member Rob Jones, i have been tweaking giant spreadsheets and learning that pumpkins are part of the cucurbits family.
Angie can jump in and fill in the dozens of holes in this huge spreadsheet which have occurred for good and bad reasons. Using her fast internet and organizer’s mind (which will prevent her from either getting stuck or overworking problems), i will get a whole bunch of data in. She can rescue the lost 2008 price list which someone deleted rather than “hide” which is lost in one of the 200 versions of this spreadsheet.
And if Angie does this work in Amherst, we don’t have to have me, or some other communard, do it at Acorn, who can then focus on the many problems at hand. And thus she becomes a virtual clean-up worker.
If you saw this video, you might change your name to Strandbeest also.
[Edited by Judy Youngquest]
Some parts of this are a bit surreal.
I got a call from Jackson today, who is Nero the arsonist’s identical twin. He wanted to hear my version of what happened. He had read my posts on his brother’s action and was concerned. And he was in touch with his brother’s lawyer, who had another agenda.
As we talked, it was clear that he had done his research. He had established that since his arrest, Nero had confessed to the crime of setting Heartwood on fire, not just to us here at Acorn (which he did before the police showed up), but to the police who held him for questioning.
I relayed to him the disturbing story that when Nero was told that no one was hurt by his set fire, he replied:
“It does not matter, they are all holograms.”
Based on the confession Nero was charged, currently with one count of attempted murder and one count of 3rd degree arson. He is being held without bond, because he is considered a flight risk.
Jackson was not, at first, apologetic of his brother’s actions. i think either he wanted to hold open the possibility that his brother was innocent, or the lawyer told him to admit nothing, perhaps both. At this time Jackson would not respond to my questions about whether Nero had been hospitalized for mental health problems before or if there were meds he was supposed to be taking that he did not. As our conversation went on, it became clear that Nero’s lawyer wanted my blog post on the arson taken down. i was amused to hear that they thought it might affect jurors’ thinking. i have more readers in the Philippines than i do in Louisa County.
I was unwilling to pull the posts down, but i did change the name of the person who confessed to the arson. And i went through and toggled off all the comments which mentioned his name. It felt like something. When i called Jackson back he was appreciative of this gesture.
I did assure Jackson, which is my genuine belief, that the membership at Acorn does not hate his brother. Instead we see him as someone who had a mental health breakdown, was not responsible for his actions and did a tragic and awful thing. There is certainly anger, sadness and fear from this situation directed towards Nero. But we have not gone to hate, or at least i have not seen it. It is a world awash in hate, and it does almost no good anywhere. We need not add to it.
When Jackson did apologize, i told him (predictably for those who know me) that we were not interested in an apology, but rather we would like help in the significant construction efforts going on at Acorn right now. Which he said he would consider and potentially organize. But it instantly became clear that bringing Nero’s identical twin to help with the cleanup was not going to work at all for people who were feeling traumatized by the fire.
[Edited by Judy Youngquest]
My dear friends at Greenpeace have done a good job at alerting the world to the fate of the Arctic 30 who have had their boat seized and are being held for months awaiting trial for crimes they clearly have not committed. But my dear friend Lucifer (aka Vladimir Sliviak) wants to remind those willing to listen, that for indigenous activists in Russia, things are far worse. Below is a recent message from him, which i want to share.
Since Western media are not reporting that much anymore on repression against non-governmental groups in Russia (except for the case with jailed Greenpeace activists), i will put some update on this crackdown going on presently. Feel free to send around.
Greenpeace case is getting a lot of coverage in Russia and governmental media broadcasts a lot of bullshit to make sure Russians hate environmental activists of all kinds.
Ugly thing happened in the South of Russia, Krasnodar city, close to the site of 2014 Winter Olympic Games just a few days ago. Local police together with FSB (exKGB) tried to catch environmental activist Rudomakha. They came to the office of the local political party threatening to storm it because they thought an activist was inside. But he left earlier. Police gave no explanation, but local people think it is because of the Olympics. Rudomakha spent a lot of time criticizing the destruction of local nature related to Olympics preparations. Fortunately, the activist has still not been arrested.
The case is not getting much coverage presently – situation with environmental group “Muravievsky park” in the Far East, charged on the basis of “foreign agent” law last summer. Just to remind you – “foreign agent” law is targeting Russian activists who get money from foreign sources and practicing “political activities”. Actually, the group in the Far East is very far from any political activities; they were just protecting cranes. Group went to the court last week, to prove that they are not “foreign agents”. And they failed. Judge said, once this group collected signatures under petition to local governor (about protection of local nature after big fires) – this is political activity and they are “foreign agents”.
Local prosecutor said something similar to Ecodefense in Kaliningrad – we should not interfere with the work of government of any level, we should not make petitions or influence decision makers in any way. Otherwise, it will be treated as “political activities” with fines/closure, etc. (read the testimony below).
Actually, getting such compliment from Russian authorities is nice, defenitely makes us proud, but we do not want to leave the party yet. Since we were warned, we did a couple of “interferences” and have been lucky so far, getting no serious punishment. Our main “interference” thing is still alive:
We await our urgent case over “foreign agent” law in Russia to be considered by the European Court on Human Rights in 2013. Last winter Ecodefense and 10 human rights groups applied to the ECHR, starting procedure against Russian government over this law. We asked European Court to order Russian government to reverse the law because it violates the Convention on Human Rights. I attach here our latest testimony sent to the ECHR, giving some explanation about the threat. (this is quick translation, a little shorter than original testimony in Russian).
Testimony for the European Court on Human Rights
from Ecodefense, Russia
July 19, 2013
In April 2013, our organization was checked by governmental prosecutors who requested a large number of official documents putting unrealistic deadlines. We were informed at 6 pm of April 25 that we should bring documents to the prosecutor by 11 am of April 26. We could not follow this order because for some documents we need several days to request and obtain it from the bank and registration chamber…
Checking of our organization resulted in official warning – local prosecutor declared that political activity is mentioned in our statute and warned that we should not violate the law on non-commercial organizations. Prosecutor also told us that we should not interact with governments of any level. Otherwise, it will be identified as “political activity” and our organization will be held responsible as “foreign agent”.
From our point of view, we are not involved in political activity – we do not take part in elections or any other activity aimed at political power. Also, we are not involved in any effort of other people or organizations aimed to obtain political power. Our organization was distanced from political activities since it was established in 1989…
Our goals in the area of environmental protection cannot be achieved without interaction with governments of various levels. At the same time, both – our strong criticism over policies of Russian government and specific political situation in Russia – are reasons which make it almost impossible to obtain funds from Russian sources. That brings us to unpleasant choice – register as “foreign agent” or close down.
This is unacceptable for us to be registered as “foreign agent”. We are not “agents” for any foreign person, organization or government. We make decisions by ourselves only, and do not take into account interests of any third party.
Continuation of our activities leads us to giant fines under “foreign agents” law and also to shut down because we will not be able to pay such fines.
[Edited by Judy Youngquest]
- compelling real-life examples of people doing cool inspiring stuff
- theoretical memetics - what ideas are powerful and self-reinforcing
- applied memetics – in which trends are sweeping and manifesting
- colorful and amusing stories (of any truth value)
- stuff that draws strong emotional response, excluding fear
- theoretical and applied funology.
[Edited by Judy Youngquest]
I was driving around in highly conservative North Carolina on a hammocks sales trip and i kept hearing Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ haunting song “Same Love.”
This is basically a protest song demanding the right for gay and lesbian couples to get married. It is being played on every pop station in North Carolina. It is a beautiful song, it is also quite a radical song to get airtime in this state which is on the forefront of blocking same sex marriage. The popularity of the song reminded me of the influence of popular media on the minds of especially young people in eastern Europe in the years after the Berlin Wall fell.
In pre-revolutionary Europe the communists had done an excellent job poisoning people’s tolerance and acceptance of gay and lesbian couples. Even after the wall came down, many of these heterosexual biases persisted. But communist memes would turn out to be no match for the western pop culture-induced cultural constructs.
In an unusually wise way, the senior management of MTV would play a central role in disentangling this prejudice. MTV and CNN both decided after the wall came down they would broadcast there for pay subscription service into Eastern Europe for free (only in English). MTV in the early 90s had a significant number of romance shows in it. And these shows were crafted adhering to the MTV policy that young adult romance shows would show healthy gay and lesbian relationships as part of their portfolio of depicted romantic relationships.
The vilification of homosexual lifestyles in eastern Europe was swiftly replaced by the interesting role models of the sexy slightly geeky guy with his dreamboat lover in some gritty filmed reality show. And so the hate in North Carolina gets melted away by the song of solidarity expressed by this straight white guy and the lovely refrain singer.
[Edited by Judy Youngquest]
Recent polls show 91% of the country thinks the US should not bomb Syria. Sadly it seems the other 9% have control over the bombs.
So where is the error in my thinking here?
Before the congressional approval process is complete, Iran threatens retaliation against Israel if the US bombs Syria. After the proposed US bombing raid in Syria, Iran is likely to strike at Israel. Israel will respond by using superior force, possibly nuclear weapons against Iran. Russia and China will face off against a US-backed Israel and we get a full-on World War III.
Perhaps, a 5% chance. Certainly, the situation in Syria is not trivial. Chemical weapons use matters. Obama said it was a red line, this means something for the deterrent credibility. But the problems with the US “going alone” with only France as a significant ally in the attack are serious as well. It matters to some, that only the UN Security Council can permit such strikes short of an attack on the US.
Obama’s plan will violate international law and it is quite unlikely to change much in the Syrian conflict, unless we are unlucky like the disaster forecast above.
The good news is that 189 countries have signed the chemical weapons treaty. (Syria is not a signatory). That as of Jan 2013 over 78% of the world’s stockpiles of chemical weapons had been destroyed. And that chemical weapons degrade with time and you cannot effectively stockpile them for long periods. Thus if a US strike could actually hit them, they might be destroyed and be somewhat hard to replace.
But in the end it is not going to be US airstrikes that stop chemical weapons use, either in Syria or other countries. To attain this globally sought goal, there will have to be wide spread understanding, rather than a solo global policeman with ineffective tools.
[Edited by Judy Youngquest]
This is an article i wrote for the online hitching magazine Random Roads.
In 1989/90 I sailed across the Pacific Ocean from Los Angeles to Sydney. Hitching on sailboats is easier than it sounds. I took 10 different boats, mostly on the west coast of the Americas.
Ten different captains and ten slightly different agreements for passage. Mostly, it was berth space, food and passage in exchange for some work around the boat and especially steering and adjusting sales.
In one case a skipper asked me to pay 1/4 of the diesel fuel bill for the passage, so I would sail as much as possible. We sailed a lot, even with very little wind and when we arrived in Panama he declined my offer to pay my agreed share, saying he just wanted to cut fuel expenses which we did.
Most sailboats are owned by persons of affluent background and they want to sail with their friends. Often their friends think it is a good idea and agree to come along and then find out that sailing is not their cup of tea (too dirty, bumpy, boring, cramped – any number of reasons). Thus crews are constantly unexpectedly reforming. This is your opportunity for a ride.
In all the ports I visited in Central America and the South Pacific including Australia at 8 AM local time all the boats in the harbor talk with each other over radio on channel 19. They talk about all kinds of things they need, like where to get the bottoms of boats scraped and where is a good place to buy diesel fuel that is not watered down. At the end of this broadcast I gave my name and said: “I am looking for a ride to the Marquesas and I can navigate.”
The four capabilities that boat captains are most often looking for are
- people with the capacity to repair diesel engines
- people with medical skills, especially emergency medical skills
I mostly choose navigation, since I am good with math and dangerous with cooking. Learning navigation is relatively accessible, by going to a course or getting a book.
The navigator also turns out to be one of the easiest jobs, because almost all sailboats going long distance have satellite navigation systems which make directing the boat relatively easy. Navigators, like medical folks, are to be able to deal with emergencies, specifically lightning hitting the boat.
i am part of a secret Facebook polyamory group. Some of the people, for lots of different legitimate, (though often sad), reasons can not be public with their sexual identity. The other day a new person was added to the group and the way they were introduced is with a link to their OKCupid profile. i clicked thru to look at the profile and was told that i could not see it, because i did not have a profile on OKCupid myself. i had been thinking about making a profile for a while, not because i need more romantic relationships, but because i believe the platform is extremely powerful and i wanted to understand it better. So this restriction set me to crafting one for myself.
i have lots of profiles. i have a Facebook one, a LinkedIn one, i have both the official one on wikipedia and the banned one (which is much better). So i did not think it would be a big deal to craft one for OKC (as it is often abbreviated). i was, once again, completely wrong.
The first thing that happened was OKC matched me up with a gal from Twin Oaks, who while i quite like her, would be a terrible romantic partner and both of us knew this instantly. And she is not polyamorous.
OKcupid had a lot of trouble matching me to anyone else. i thought at first this was because of my age, and being married, and being poly and being located out in the middle of no where. But again i was wrong.
Cassandra looked at my profile and started to tell me all the things that were wrong with it. i realized that i had done it poorly and she offered to help fix it, including answering questions for me to filter out non-poly people from finding high matches with me. Unsurprisingly, after she answered a bunch of questions for me hers and my profiles matched much better. She also added a bunch of pictures and edited my bio and other identity questions.
And then once Cassandra made these enhancements i started to get more people responding to my profile, despite the basic information still being the same. i did not even see that Cassandra had put in this beautiful picture (which she took) of Mac and i kissing.
One of the women responding to my profile asked if including this image actually helped me find new intimates. When she asked i was unaware the picture was on my profile, but i assure her that it did work effectively as a filter for people who have jealousy problems – which would be a total deal breaker for someone thinking of getting involved with me.
So now that i have worked with OKCupid for a while, i have a less rarefied attitude towards it. Many of the questions are weak, it has been bought out by Match.com, so there are endless ads on it. And while i am not actually looking for a new girlfriend it is a bit depressing to see myself so poorly matched.
But i am going on a double date with Mac and Cassandra and her partner tomorrow. It turns out Cassandra and i have a high match.
- Community Slide Show – Heroes and Unicorns
- Top Ten Government Successes
- Seasons Greetings
- Green Light Consent
- Impossible Moments – Thailand
- December is Point A Revealed
- Coffee Politics
- His name was banned
- The only time we believe the nuclear industry
- My First Day at Twin Oaks
- My cell and i dont agree on what is smart
- Stop Shaming Black Friday Shoppers
- Instant Adventure
- Thankful for
- The World Bank Says “no” to nukes. Again