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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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dolphin Effect on Homelessness

One of the most surprising evolutionary tales for me was the one of dolphins.  Our best story tellers claim that cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) evolved from the seas into land mammals and then evolved back to aquatic based life.  This is either a tremendous re-adaptation to the changing climate of the seas or a fantastic U turn in habitat of preference.

sometimes it is best to beat a strategic retreat

sometimes it is best to beat a strategic retreat

Back in August we hung out with traveler kids in Tompkins Square Park in Manhattan. Point A folks helped a risk reduction outreach volunteer give out clean needles, anti-overdose medicine naloxone and clean socks.  And we heard stories.

The most striking stories were of this dolphin effect, how these kids (which is used as a diminutive, rather than some indication of age) came to their traveler lifestyle.  Usually some catastrophic event threw them into poverty, homelessness and addiction (typically alcohol, heroin or both).   After a while, pressure from outside friends, family and often they themselves got them to “clean up”.  They quit substance use and returned to a more conventional life style.  Working a straight job (some even doing outreach work with traveler kids) and living in a house or an apartment.

Then something funny happened.  They decided that they were happier as travels and living on little to nothing, but being with their friends and animals.  Now from a place of choice, rather than catastrophe they returned to this life style.

Rayenbo Acorn and Kat Traveler in Tompkins Square Park NYC

Rayenbo Acorn and Kat Traveler in Tompkins Square Park NYC

i have plans and fantasies about the traveling kids.  One of the interesting consciousnesses about this community (and it is deeply a community, where they share most of what they have with each other) is that housing is a burden.  If you have a house or flat you have to pay for it, and this generally requires a job.  So for most of the year the traveler kids are content to sleep outside, in parks when they can.  Under scaffolding when it is raining.  But in the winter, they continue the noble tradition of squatting.

My hope is we can continue working with them, introduce transparency tools to strengthen connections and hopefully learn about contemporary squatting from them.

The kid of comments i am uninterested in for this post is all the risks and warnings folks have about traveler kids.  i’ve heard them, thanks anyway.

What does NYC have for Kids?

I’ve lived in a bunch of cities: San Francisco, Washington DC, Sydney, Honolulu, Arnhem, Amsterdam, Brno, Vienna, Ljubljana.  In some ways it is strange that I have been living in a rural environment for so long, because I self identify as an urban rat.

Ljubljana is the Capital of tiny Slovenia, the richest part of former Yugoslavia.  This canal city boasts the highest education level in the world.  I fought the Krsko reactor here in 1995.

Ljubljana is the Capital of tiny Slovenia, the richest part of former Yugoslavia. This canal city boasts the highest education level in the world. I fought the Krsko reactor here with locals for much of 1995.

The Point A project is about starting communities inside large urban centers, and the way the project has worked out I have a significant responsibility for NYC.  Which is nice for me, big complex city, which in other blog posts I have likened to crack.  But despite having been there 6 times in the last 6 months, I am just really starting to know the city.

 

Google sez this is NYC i don't recognize it.

I am coming back up in a few days on my way to a craft fair (TarryTown link) and I am bringing Willow and his young friend and fellow communard Evan, ages 12 and 14.  We have a day together in NYC and I want to show them around.  The trouble is I dont really know the city very well from an exciting to a young person perspective.  So I am asking for help from my lovely comrades who are familiar with New York City.

 

If you had a single day in the city with a couple of high energy boys, what would you show off?  Anywhere in or near the 5 boroughs with an emphasis on Staten Island.  Links are fantastic.  You can comment inside this blog, or on Facebook where I have linked this post or to me via email if you prefer.

 

Shouldn’t this already be a fingerbook?

 

I am especially looking forward to the suggestions from Prof James, Lex, Elena, Diana, Teagan/Arrow and Aurora.

 

Thanks in advance.

The Best Present for a Kid

If you have a Dutch parent, you qualify for the rights of a Dutch citizen.  Every 5 years Willow and Hawina and i go to the Dutch Embassy in Death City and get Willow’s passport renewed.  Willow is a US citizen, with a US passport, but the Dutch are completely happy to issue an EU one, if the parents apply.  This is a no brainer.

The Dutch passport is actually a Schengen Treaty enabled EU passport.  You can travel between all the blue areas on the map below by just flashing an EU passport.

The largest federation in the world

The largest national federation in the world

There are multiple reasons for having a couple of passports, beyond the above listed convenience. The one most people are familiar with is traveling between hostile or warring countries.  Donning a Cuba passport stamp in a US passport can result in a visit from the FBI.  Should you wish to travel regularly between the Arab world and Israel, a second passport (even from the same country, which you can get by claiming you lost one) is advised.

Who says where you can go?

Who says where you can go?

But the real reason i want Willow to have a second passport is that if his life is at all like mine, there will be a moment when it is extremely useful.  This moment will be when he is traveling and some agent of the state thinks that they control him, because they have taken his passport.  Annoyingly confidently they will be leading him off to some undesired destination.  Having a second passport gives you the chance to look for an opportunity to depart from the foreign state agent and make a break for it.

Part of our home schooling is learning for when you can successfully make a break for it.

[Edited by Judy Youngquest]

Best.Kid.Present.Ever.

Some years back political cartoonist Stephanie McMillian did a visitor period at Twin Oaks and I had fantasies of one of the communities new industries being radical humor.  She is a clever, quirky, cartoonist with an impossible message to deliver and just the right tool to do it.  Her latest salvo in this on-going public education and activation campaign is on target and at exactly the right price.

Your kids deserve this book

Your kids deserve this book

I discovered Stephanie’s work while I was staying at an amazing squat in Barcelona called Can Masdeu.  The squats library had a copy of the book she illustrated, As the Word Burns: 50 simple things you can do to stay in denial.  Which is a quick read, if it does not cause your brain to explode.

Uncomfortable reading for liberals

Uncomfortable reading for liberals

Her  impossible message is that all of the individual efforts to make things better (recycling, getting off grid, even sharing with your friends) don’t make any difference if you don’t take on the structural problems of capitalism. This is the acid test for radicalism.  Either you believe that you need to step out of your comfort zone and fight for systemic change against quite impressive monsters or you think personal positive actions are enough.  [If you think things are just fine as they are, you have somehow stumbled onto this blog by mistake.]

Just who do you believe?

Just who do you believe?

Stephanie is hardly a one trick pony.  Using satire and the powerfully accessible format of cartoons, she lures you into a critique of the status quo which is inescapably tight in it’s reasoning while still amusing.

And she writes on my issues also

And she writes on my issues also

Like most good propagandists, Stephanie is prolific.  With an impressive list of books and serialized cartoons.  Above are a couple from her Code Green series which focuses on the ecological issues and how corporate media twist perceptions.  Below is an image from her upbeat activist daily affirmations cartoon series.

Mcmillan evidence over dogma

And because I am confident that you have read to here, because the cartoons keep drawing you farther down this post.  Here is the link so that you can get Stephanie’s latest coloring book for kids, priced at what ever you can afford – I paid $25.  Or if you are looking for the longer, more adult version of the story (without coloring), you can order the full length hold-in-your-hands physical book here.  Or for those who are fully digital these days, you can get the adult version of the eBook here, again at the price you choose.

I want my son Willow to understand this stuff, and the only thing more important than that, is that we adults act on this knowledge now.

One of the pictures from Capitalism Must Die Coloring Book - this one is already colored in

One of the pictures from Capitalism Must Die Coloring Book – this one is already colored in

 

 

 

Fitting the Profile

For quite some years perhaps 50% of the time I would fly by myself, I would be sent through secondary inspection by airport security. I had long hair, often less than stylish clothes and with some regularity was donning a protest shirt or button. I fit the profile, though they assure us there is no profile.

I can relate to grandma

I can relate to grandma

My mother was awarded an honorary doctorate and she asked me to come up to see her graduate. I had cut my hair already for another event where I had to fain respectability. I wore nicer clothes, because it makes my mother happy and when I got to the airport I now apparently fit a different profile. With my greying hair and business outfit, I did not go thru regular security but some other line, basically by myself, where I did not have to take my shoes off, nor remove my laptop from my bag. Nor did they seem to care that I accidentally had more than three ounces of fluid in my tiny bag.

No waiting, minimal inspection

No waiting, minimal inspection

While all the other passengers were being herded around and jumping through TSA hoops, I breezed through. Apparently now having graduated (at least temporarily) to the class of travelers which don’t need to be inspected.

Frankly, I am more comfortable with the profile that has viewed me as a possible threat than the likes of the white collar criminals who have this, and almost all the other systems, stacked in their favor.  For over all the years of secondary inspection I was never inconvenienced by more than a few minutes, never had an invasive cavity search, never was interrogated by intimidating TSA officers.  For that treatment is saved for people who fit another profile that they claim they don’t have.

racial profiling

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