endless misc research
“When people ask me, ‘What do you do?’ I say, ‘I create crisis,'” Fithian told me. “Because crisis is the leading edge where change is possible.”
Andrew Breitbart ran nine stories on his website painting her as an anarchist bent on “the total annihilation of the American political and economic system.”
As Occupy marches on, perhaps its greatest internal tension is between the reformers—pragmatists with concrete goals—and the revolutionaries, idealists who feel that asking anything of a corrupt system only marginalizes the movement. “This isn’t a protest movement, because protest movements are to address issues that the power structure could conceivably be willing to give up,” a black-clad occupier named Max Bean told Fithian over lunch in early December. “We are asking to dissolve the power structure. And you can’t ask for that. You can’t protest for it. All you can do is grow until we are so big that we are everything.”
Fithian weighed her response carefully. “Movements build because people have some sense of hope and victory and accomplishment,” she replied, setting aside her plate of steamed kale. “We might win on the millionaires’ tax in the next six months. That’s gonna be fucking huge.” She smiled as Max gave her “twinkle fingers,” the Occupy hand signal for approval. “So it’s the balance between reforming and revolutionary things. And that’s why this movement is so beautiful, because it holds both.”
In the case of Trayvon Martin, here is how it unfolded:
The shooting occurred on February 26. The Orlando Sentinel had a brief report on February 29. The first major Florida newspaper that started reporting more key details was The Miami Heraldon March 8, which noted, “After getting few answers from police, Martin’s grieving family has hired an attorney and is publicizing his death on CNN, Good Morning America and other national media outlets.” The Orlando Sentinel and the Herald followed with more reports over the next few days.
The Christian Science Monitor began picking it up on March 16. The New York Times‘ first story appeared on March 17, which is also the same day columnist Charles Blow’s column on Martin garnered attention. The Washington Post reported on the Justice Department’s planned investigation on March 20. The Los Angeles Times picked up an Orlando Sentinelreport on the case on March 20 as well.
CBS’ This Morning had a report on the story on March 8, ABC’s Good Morning America on March 10, and CNN on March 12, according to a Nexis search.
That’s a textbook case of how a local story goes national, so let’s dispense with the “black victim of racism” angle and ask better questions.
Timoney now a top advisor to Bahrain authorities on security stated that “I, along with other Florida chiefs of police, said so in a letter to the Legislature in 2005 when we opposed the passage of a law that not only enshrined the doctrine of ‘your home is your castle’ but took this doctrine into the public square and added a new concept called “stand your ground.” Timoney points out that trained police officers and untrained civilians deal with potential shooting situations very differently.
Now, I believe, it’s out of control. The US is already in a truly major depression and on the edge of financial chaos and a currency meltdown. The sociopaths in government will react by redoubling the pace toward a police state domestically and starting a major war abroad. To me, this is completely predictable. It’s what sociopaths do.
New media is revolutionizing the stories our nation tells itself about sex. The biggest difference since the Internet’s information explosion is we can see that there’s not just one way to love, desire or bond. Alas, it’s not just white men who can fuck for fun as in the Victorian era when horny women were diagnosed as hysterical and men brought home syphilis to their wives during prostitution’s heyday.
This is just a drip of change’s color into nostalgia’s black-and-white bucket of yearning for the way we never were, starring the fifties’ Father Knows Best and Sandra Dee’s virginity. No matter that beneath Dee’s “good girl” gloss was an incest survivor, divorced at 22, and a lonely life of anorexia, alcoholism and depression. Times were simpler back in the good ol’ days of sexual purity when guys were predators, girls were gatekeepers, and anyone in between stayed in the closet.
The more things change, the more the fearful need to make things stay the same, to harness humanity’s most unpredictable, transformative force, sex—seemingly the only reachable target on modernity’s super highway. Just as corporations market sexual fear and insecurity to sell products, religious and political alliances package moral panics to fundraise and secure alliances, and traditional media plays off of both for ratings. Smut and Sanctimony pushes out all other sexual stories in the land of unfettered capitalism, Citizen United, tabloid media and celebrity fetish.
Pop culture competes by pumping out ever more shocking sleaze to even younger demos until you’re looking at toy stripper poles and pimp squad tees for the toddler set. The reactionary right points to commodified sexual sludge that oozes from their sacred free market and wails how liberals, feminists and homosexuals are the source of our toxic culture. And our infotainment media, driven by the fortune formula of conflict-generating cable news and character-assassinating talk radio, ramps up the binary between Republican righteousness and Democratic deviance.
It perfected a smut and sanctimony narrative as the soul of a team-building, policy-changing culture war. No news network played more slo-mo shots of Janet Jackson’s nipple shield ripped bare at the 2004 Super Bowl to expose how scary the liberal threat to real America, though an appeals court overturned the FCC indecency fine in Fall 2011. Or looped more outraged close-ups of Madonna kissing Britney Spears at MTV’s 2003 Video Music Awards to decry Hollywood’s assault on American values.
pitting traditionalists against secular progressives out to destroy America by squashing Judeo-Christian values. Amplifying the terroristic climate of “pro-life” radicals stalking abortion providers, a rabid O’Reilly repeatedly called Dr. George Tiller a baby killer until the beloved grandfather—whose credo was “trust women”—was gunned down when serving as an usher in his church.
Over 10 years of covering America’s sexual schizophrenia, I’ve noted how purity pundits, preachers and politicos sell a retro feel-good salve of simplicity for society’s complex modern ills. Like tax cuts for the economy and bombing for security, abstinence-only-unless-married is the conservative movement’s magic potion for social stability, the silver bullet to slay the sexual dragon we call freedom. We’re all casualties in a culture war that reduces our basest, most transcendent drive to extremes. Youth, women, queers, the poor, and ethnic minorities are left to flounder under the intensified hypocrisy and mixed messages of a nation that can’t move beyond sexuality’s marital ideal or commodified reality.
boldly stands against sexual freedom and the “dangers of contraception in this country.” Campaigning last fall, he made clear that contraception is “not okay because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be…. And all of a sudden, it becomes deconstructed to the point where it’s simply pleasure.” He explained that his anti-sex for pleasure stance translates into important public policy issues with a “profound impact on the health of our society.”
Yes, in a Republican America, sex is supposed to be only one way and that’s procreative. As the rest of the developed world—which by all societal indicators enjoys far greater sexual health—embraces sexual pleasure as a human right, as does the United Nations and World Health Organization, the United States legislates against it.
the best contraception is an aspirin between your knees, and how costly is that? Goes to show the retro right’s fixation on the womb isn’t about the fetus, but about making sure sluts are punished for enjoying sex. Making sure there’s no such thing as consequence-free sex is what unites theocons against both gay and reproductive rights, even masturbation, which the anti-choice American Life League calls the “gateway drug.” Must oppose any public health, education and rights policy that strengthens healthy sexuality for all in our free society—just too many other people having sex for fun.
How can you have freedom without sexual freedom? Our national stability and family honor doesn’t rest on hypocritical sexual traditions like enforcing a genital view of female virtue, or whose peg goes in which hole. And increasingly the civilized world is recognizing the right to pleasure for youth, elderly, the disabled, and transgendered. To reach humanity’s highest ideals, permission trumps repression.
Sex for pleasure breeds honesty, respect, and responsibility. Otherwise the ultimate fallout is simply not pleasurable. Culture warriors don’t stop sex, though they can make pleasure less attainable. America’s war on sex is really a war on conversation.
Waking up to a new breed of pleasure revolutionaries sick of gagging on the foie gras of smut and sanctimony being packaged and preached as the one and only true sex. Social media has opened the first ever intersection of sexuality scientists, educators, therapists, entrepreneurs; cross generational feminists, sex and gender queers, communities of color, sex workers, kinksters, faith leaders; youth, aging, disability, masculinity, reproductive health and human rights advocates to fight culture warriors against sexual pleasure for all.
Time to tell our own stories. We will not be silenced.
“We celebrate income disparity and we applaud the growing margins between the bottom 20% of American society and the upper 20% for it is evidence of what has made America a great country. It is the chance to have a huge income… to make something of one’s self; to begin a business and become a millionaire legally and on one’s own that separates the US from most other nations of the world. Do we feel bad for the growing gap between the rich and the poor in the US? Of course not; we celebrate it, for we were poor once and we are reasonably wealthy now. We did it on our own, by the sheet dint of will, tenacity, street smarts and the like. That is why immigrants come to the US: to join the disparate income earners at the upper levels of society and to leave poverty behind. Income inequality? Give us a break? God bless income disparity and those who have succeeded, and shame upon the OWS crowd who take us to task for our success and wallow in their own failure. Income disparity? Feh! What we despise is government that imposes rules that prohibit or make it difficult to make even more money; to employ even more people; to give even more sums to the charities of our choice. That is what we despise.”
According to most OWS protesters, this is precisely the problem: the American system is no longer free or fair (bankers win). The rules of the game no longer apply equally to all (lobbyists hired by the most powerful write the laws). The government’s umpire role is non-existent (Washington is staffed with former Goldman Sachs CEOs who bail out banks instead of helping “regular people”).
In other words, people grow happy as they grow richer. But things turn ugly when the rug is pulled out from under them, and the gap between expectations and reality widens. According to the theory, this phenomenon occurs whether you’re a peasant in China or a banker in Paris.
Here’s the rub: The world economy has just gone through its longest expansion since the end of World War II, driven in large part by China, India, Brazil, Russia and other emerging economies where masses of humanity have been transformed from poor, rural peasants to consumers.
Now the sudden economic downturn has hit rising expectations around the world and we are on the wrong side of the Davies J-curve.
On the dark side of pessimism, China could implode. Russia could devolve into an even more authoritarian place. India could witness the rise of a right-wing Hindu nationalist party, stressing the country’s 154 million Muslims and further complicating tense relations with nuclear-armed Pakistan. Widespread labor unrest could sweep through Europe, the Americas, Asia and elsewhere.
But whatever ill comes of this global downturn, it’s a safe bet that those countries with the strongest and most flexible political and economic institutions will be best prepared to weather the inevitable storm.
Can a country cope with rising poverty? Can it feed its masses? Can it provide adequate health care and housing? Does it have political systems that will allow for (relatively) peaceful protest and political change? Does it have a banking system that can be healed? Does it have regulatory agencies and judicial bodies to create and enforce fair rules?
What’s around the corner may be a curiosity to you or me, but it may mean the difference between life or death to soldiers.
Before, the only way to find out is to peek your head and see (unless you’re a physicist – those people are magicians). Until now:
What sounds like science fiction will become reality in the next year when Marines in Afghanistan test throwable robots in real-life combat situations. Small enough to fit in a backpack or a cargo pocket and durable enough to be thrown anywhere, these wheeled robots might come in handy for Marines caught in tight combat situations.
Weighing a little more than a pound, the Scout XT robot by Minneapolis-based ReconRobotics Inc. looks like a handle wedged between two wheels.
The tiny robot comes equipped with a camera that can relay live video back to a small screen that can be held by a Marine who might want to check out what’s behind a wall or around the corner. Darkness is no obstacle for the camera that also has infrared technology.
It’s time to put aside the traditional concepts of relationship and seriously consider the notion of a cosmic, spiritual partnership that will transcend those of the past. Not only is this new concept beginning to take hold and flourish, in the end it is going to prevail. And it’s going to prevail because ego will have no place in such a union. Spiritual partnership is based upon equality, balance between the male and female energies, the freedom and the strength to be one’s self while taking responsibility for one’s actions, sacred sexuality, open and truthful communication without fear of ridicule, honoring and respecting the other’s strengths and weaknesses, and the genuine recognition that your partner is truly your most intimate and all-embracing friend.
So then, the question is, why do people deny this? And why, might I add, do Republicans in particular deny this so strongly?
And if your answer to that question is, “oh, because they’re stupid” — well, you’re wrong. That’s what liberals want to think, but it doesn’t seem be correct. In fact, it seems to be precisely the opposite — smarter (or more educated) Republicans turn out to be worse science deniers on this topic.
That if you’re a Republican, then the higher your level of education, the less likely you are to accept scientific reality — which is, that global warming is human caused.
Conservatism is a Defensive Ideology, and Appeals to People Who Want Certainty and Resist Change.
Conservative “Morality” Impels Climate Denial — and in particular, conservative Individualism.
Fox News is the Key “Feedback Mechanism” — whereby people already inclined to believe false things get all the license and affirmation they need.
At the extreme of these traits, you see a group called authoritarians — those who are characterized by cognitive rigidity, seeing things in black and white ways — “in group/out group,” my way or the highway.
So in this case, if someone high on such traits latches on to a particular belief — in this case, “global warming is a hoax” — then more knowledge about it is not necessarily going to open their minds. More knowledge is just going to be used to argue what they already think.
And we see this in the Tea Party, where we have both the highest levels of global warming denial, but also this incredibly strong confidence that they know all they need to know about the issue, and they don’t want any more information, thank you very much.
So, conservatives tend to be “individualists”– meaning, essentially, that they prize a system in which government leaves you alone — and “hierarchs,” meaning, they are supportive of various types of inequality.
The individualist is threatened by global warming, deeply threatened, because it means that markets have failed and governments — including global governments — have to step in to fix the problem. And some individualists are so threatened by this reality that they even spin out conspiracy theories, arguing that all the world’s scientists are in a cabal with, like, the UN, to make up phony science so they can crash economies.
So if you’ve got Fox News, you’ve got a place to go to reaffirm your beliefs. And that serves this psychological need for certainty and security. So conservatives opt in, they get the misinformation, their beliefs are reaffirmed, and they’re set to argue, argue, argue about why they’re right and all the scientists of the world are wrong.
So in sum, we need a nature-nurture, or a combined psychological and environmental account of the conservative denial of global warming. And only then do we see why they are so doggedly espousing a set of beliefs that are so wildly dangerous to the planet.
Twelve Things You Were Not Taught in School About Creative Thinking –
Aspects of creative thinking that are not usually taught:
1. You are creative. The artist is not a special person, each one of us is a special kind of artist.
2. Creative thinking is work. You must have passion and the determination to immerse yourself in the process of creating new and different ideas.
3. You must go through the motions of being creative.
4. Your brain is not a computer. Your brain is a dynamic system that evolves its patterns of activity rather than computes them like a computer.
5. There is no one right answer. Reality is ambiguous.
6. Never stop with your first good idea. Always strive to find a better one and continue until you have one that is still better.
7. Expect the experts to be negative.
8. Trust your instincts. Don’t allow yourself to get discouraged.
9. There is no such thing as failure. Whenever you try to do something and do not succeed, you do not fail.
10. You do not see things as they are; you see them as you are.
11. Always approach a problem on its own terms. .
12. Learn to think unconventionally. Creative geniuses do not think analytically and logically.
13. Creativity is paradoxical. To create, a person must have knowledge but forget the knowledge, must see unexpected connections in things but not have a mental disorder, must work hard but spend time doing nothing as information incubates, must create many ideas yet most of them are useless, must look at the same thing as everyone else, yet see something different, must desire success but embrace failure, must be persistent but not stubborn, and must listen to experts but know how to disregard them.
Even though divorce and teen pregnancy rates are lower in more secular parts of the country, Bible believers see both as problems caused primarily by America’s loss of faith. To hear them tell it, from the time of America’s founding until the 1970s (when gays, atheists and bra-less women began tearing down the social order) this country prospered because we attended church and lived as God commanded, and our courts protected the righteous institution of biblical marriage.
But many who call themselves Bible believers are simply, congenitally conservative – meaning change-resistant. It is not the Bible they worship so much as the status quo, which they justify by invoking ancient texts. Gay marriage will come, as will reproductive rights, and these Bible believers will adapt to the change as they have others: reluctantly, slowly and with angry protests, but in the end accepting it, and perhaps even insisting that it was God’s will all along.
The aversion extended even to the brand that I had accidentally created: No Logo. From studying brands like Nike and Starbucks, I was well acquainted with the basic tenet of brand management: find your message, trademark and protect it, and repeat yourself ad nauseam through as many synergized platforms as possible. I set out to break these rules whenever the opportunity arose. The offers for No Logo spin-off projects (feature film, TV series, clothing line …) were rejected. So were the ones from the megabrands and cutting–edge advertising agencies that wanted to give me seminars on why they were so hated. (There was a career to be made, I was learning, in being a kind of anti-corporate dominatrix, making overpaid executives feel good by telling them what bad, bad brands they were.) And against all sensible advice, I stuck by the decision not to trademark the title (that means no royalties from a line of Italian No Logo Food Products, thought they did send me some lovely olive oil). Most important to my marketing detox program, I changed the subject. Less than a year after No Logo came out, I put a personal ban on all talk of corporate branding. In interviews and public appearances, I would steer discussion away from the latest innovation in viral marketing and Prada’s new superstore and toward the growing resistance movement against corporate rule, the one that had captured world attention with the militant protests against the World Trade Organization in Seattle. “But aren’t you your own brand?” clever interviewers would ask me endlessly. “Probably,” I responded. “But I try to be a really crap one.”
This was the era when corporate epiphanies were striking CEOs like lightning bolts from the heavens: Nike isn’t a running shoe company, it is about the idea of transcendence through sports; Starbucks isn’t a coffee shop chain, it’s about the idea of community. Down on earth, these epiphanies meant that many companies that had manufactured their products in their own factories, and had maintained large, stable workforces, embraced the now ubiquitous Nike model: close your factories, produce your products through an intricate web of contractors and subcontractors, and pour your resources into the design and marketing required to fully project your big idea. Or they went for the Microsoft model: maintain a tight control center of shareholder-employees who perform the company’s “core competency,” and outsource everything else to temps, from running the mailroom to writing code. Some called these restructured companies “hollow corporations” because their goal seemed to transcend the corporeal world of things so they could be an utterly unencumbered brand. As corporate guru Tom Peters put it: “You are a damn fool if you own it!”
The frantic corporate quest to get out of the product business and into the ideas business explained several trends at once. Companies were constantly on the lookout for new meaningful ideas, as well as pristine spaces on which to project them, because creating meaning was their new act of production. And of course jobs were getting crummier: these companies no longer saw producing things as their “core” business.
There are many acts of destruction for which the Bush years are rightly reviled—the illegal invasions, the defiant defenses of torture, the tanking of the global economy. But the administration’s most lasting legacy may well be the way it systematically did to the U.S. government what branding-mad CEOs did to their companies a decade earlier: it hollowed it out, handing over to the private sector many of the most essential functions of government, from protecting borders to responding to disasters to collecting intelligence. This hollowing-out was not a side project of the Bush years; it was a central mission, reaching into every field of governance. And through the Bush clan was often ridiculed for its incompetence, the process of auctioning off the state, leaving behind only a shell—or a brand—was approached with tremendous focus and precision. They were good at this. Explaining his administration’s mission, budget director Mitch Daniels said, “The general idea that the business of government is not to provide services, but to make sure that they are provided seems self-evident to me.” He entered the Defense Department not with the posture of a public servant but, rather, as a change agent channeling a celebrity CEO—the guy with the guts to downsize and offshore and, most of all, to rebrand. For Rumsfeld, his department’s brand identity was clear: global dominance. The core competency was combat. For everything else, he said, sounding very much like Bill Gates, “we should seek suppliers who can provide these non-core activities efficiently and effectively.” From the start, Rumsfeld planned the troop deployment like a Wal-Mart vice president looking to shave a few more hours from the payroll. The generals wanted 500,000 troops; he would give them 200,000, with contractors and reservists filling the gaps as needed—a-just-in-time invasion. In practice, this strategy meant that as Iraq spiraled out of control, an ever-more elaborate privatized war industry took shape to prop up the bare-bones army. Blackwater, whose original contract was to provide bodyguards for U.S. envoy Paul Bremer, soon took on other functions, including engaging in combat with the Mahdi Army in 2004. And as the war moved into the jails, with tens and thousands of Iraqis rounded up by U.S. soldiers, private contractors even performed prisoner interrogations, with some later facing accusations of torture.
The sprawling Green Zone, meanwhile, was run as a corporate city-state, with everything from food to entertainment to pest control handled by Halliburton. Just as companies like Nike and Microsoft had pioneered the hallow corporation, this was, in many ways, a hollow war. And when one of the contractors screwed up—Blackwater operatives opening fire in Baghdad’s Nisour Square in 2007, for instance, killing 17 people, or Halliburton allegedly supplying contaminated water to soldiers—the Bush administration, like so many hollow brands before, was free to deny responsibility: These were independent contractors, they could argue, and there was nothing the government could do but review the contract. Blackwater, which had prided itself on being the Disney of mercenary companies, complete with a line of branded clothing and Blackwater teddy bears, responded to the scandals by—what else?—rebranding. Its new name is Xe. The dream of a hollow state was realized in its purest form at the Department of Homeland Security, a branch of government that, because it was brand new, could be built as an empty shell from the outset. A powerful imperialist country is not like a hamburger or a running shoe. You can’t get the whole world to change its opinion of it just by getting “out there [to] tell our story,” as Charlotte Beers put it. America didn’t have a branding problem; surely it had a product problem.
I used to think that, but I have since reconsidered. When Barack Obama was sworn in as president, the American brand could scarcely have been more battered—Bush was to his country what New Coke was to Coca-Cola, what cyanide in the bottles had been to Tylenol. Yet Obama, in what was perhaps the most successful rebranding campaign of all time, managed to turn things around. “The election and nomination process is the brand relaunch of the year,” Fifteen years ago, Nike appropriated the imagery of civil rights movement and the icons of Sixties counterculture to inspire cult-like devotion to running shoes. Obama has used our faded memories of those same movements to revive interest in actual politics; Though it’s too soon to issue a verdict on the Obama presidency, we do know this: he favors the grand symbolic gesture over deep structural change every time. So he will make a dramatic announcement about closing the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison—while going ahead with an expansion of the lower-profile but frighteningly lawless Bagram prison in Afghanistan, and opposing efforts to hold Bush officials who authorized torture accountable. He will boldly nominate the first Latina to the Supreme Court, while intensifying Bush-era enforcement measures in a new immigration crackdown. He will make investments in green energy while championing the fantasy of “clean coal” and refusing to tax emissions, the only sure way to substantially reduce the burning of fossil fuels. Similarly, he will slam the unacceptable greed of banking executives, even as he hands the reigns of economy to consummate Wall Street insiders Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers, who have predictably rewarded the speculators and failed to break up the banks. And most importantly, he will claim to be ending the war in Iraq, and will retire the oafish “War on Terror” phrase—even as the conflicts guided by that fatal logic escalate in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In his preference for symbols over substance and his unwillingness to stick to a morally clear if unpopular course, Obama decisively parts ways with the transformative political movements from which he has borrowed so much (his Pop Art posters from Che, his cadence from King, his Yes We Can! slogan from the migrant farmworkers’ Si, Se Puede!). These movements made unequivocal demands of existing power structures: for land distribution, higher wages, ambitious social programs. Because of those high-cost demands, these movements had not only committed followers but also serious enemies. Obama, in sharp contrast not just to social movements but to transformative presidents like FDR, follows the logic of marketing: Create an appealing canvas on which all are invited to project their deepest desires, but stay vague enough not to lose anyone but the committed wingnuts (who, granted, constitute a not-inconsequential demographic in the U.S.) Another way of putting it is that Obama played the anti-war, anti-Wall Street party crasher to his grassroots base, which imagined itself leading an insurgency against the two-party monopoly through dogged organization and donations gathered from lemonade stands and loose change found in the crevices of the couch. Meanwhile, he took more money from Wall Street than any other presidential candidate, swallowed the Democratic Party establishment in one gulp after defeating Hillary Clinton, then pursued “bipartisanship” with crazed Republicans once in the white house. Yet rereading No Logo after 10 years provides many reminders that success in branding can be fleeting, and that nothing is more fleeting than the quality of being cool. Many of the superbrands and branded celebrities that looked untouchable not so long ago have either faded or are in deep crisis today. Some overstretched. For others, their actual products began to feel rather disappointing next to the thrill of their marketing. (A black woman breastfeeding a white child to sell … Benetton sweater sets? Really?) And sometimes it was precisely their claims of political enlightenment that led activists to contrast their marketing image with their labor practices, with disastrous results for the brands.
The Obama brand could very well suffer a similar fate. Of course, many people supported Obama for straightforward strategic reasons: they rightly wanted the Republicans out, and he was the best candidate. But what will happen when the throngs of Obama faithful realize they gave their hearts not to a movement that shared their deepest values but to a devoutly corporatist political party, one that puts the profits of drug companies before the need for affordable health care, and Wall Street’s addiction to financial bubbles before the needs of millions of people whose homes and jobs could have been saved with a better bailout?
it mattered little which political party happened to be in power in our respective countries. We were focused squarely on the rules of the game, and how they had been distorted to serve the narrow interests of corporations at every level of governance—from international free trade agreements to local water privatization deals.
Looking back on this period, what I liked most was the unapologetic wonkery of it all. In the two years after No Logo came out, I went to dozens of teach-ins and conferences, some of them attended by thousands of people (tens of thousands in the case of the World Social Forum), which were exclusively devoted to popular education about the inner workings of global finance and trade. No topic was too arcane: the science of genetically modified foods, trade-related intellectual property rights, the fine print of bilateral trade deals, the patenting of seeds, the truth about carbon sinks. I sensed in these rooms a hunger for knowledge that I had never witnessed in any university class. It was as if people understood, all at once, that gathering this knowledge was crucial to the survival not just of democracy but of the planet. Yes, this was complicated, but we embraced that complexity because we were looking at systems, not just symbols.
In some parts of the world, particularly Latin America, that wave of resistance only spread and strengthened. In some countries, social movements grew strong enough to join with political parties, winning national elections and beginning to forge a new regional fair trade regime. But elsewhere, September 11 pretty much blasted the movement out of existence. In the United States, progressive politics rallied around a single cause: “taking back” the White House (as if “we” ever had it in the first place), while outside America, the coalitions that had been focused on a global economic model now trained their attention on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, on a resurgent “U.S. empire,” and on resisting increasingly aggressive attacks on immigrants. What we knew about the sophistication of global corporatism—that all the world’s injustice could not be blamed on one right-wing political party, or on one nation, no matter how powerful—seemed to disappear.
One benefit of the international failure to regulate the financial sector even after its catastrophic collapse is that the economic model that dominates around the world has revealed itself not as “free market,” but as crony capitalist—politicians handing over public wealth to private players in exchange for political support. What used to be politely hidden is all out in the open now. Correspondingly, public rage at corporate greed is at its highest point in decades. Many of the points that supposedly marginal activists were making in the streets 10 years ago are now accepted wisdom of cable news talk shows and mainstream op-ed pages.
And yet missing from this populist moment is what was beginning to emerge a decade ago: a movement that did not just respond to individual outrages but had a set of concrete demands for a more just and sustainable economic model. Thus in the United States and many parts of Europe, far-right parties are now giving the loudest voice to anti-corporatist rage.
What the election and the global embrace of Obama’s brand proved decisively is that there is a tremendous appetite for progressive change—that many, many people do not want markets opened at gunpoint, are repelled by torture, believe passionately in civil liberties, want corporations out of politics, see global warming as the fight of our time, and very much want to be part of a political project larger than themselves.
Before she became one of the most visible opponents of Mississippi’s Personhood ballot initiative, putting her name on the lawsuit to take it off the ballot and starring in commercials urging residents to vote no, Cristen Hemmins hadn’t been involved much in politics. But since it was defeated in last November’s election, she and her fellow newly minted activists are keeping close watch on the statehouse and keeping close touch on Facebook. “Ninety-five percent of us never really paid attention to the [state] house and Senate before this,” she said. “It’s definitely activated part of the population.” On their own initiative, they’ve been rallying in the capital and badgering their representatives to back down.
Hemmins has been surprised how few people it takes to get legislators’ attention, and recalled a conversation with her own representative about a proposed abortion ban that had no exception for rape or incest. “He thought that there was an exception but then he called me the next day and told me that he reversed his vote,” she said. “He even admitted that he hadn’t read the entire thing.”
how to work in profit and capitalism? Republicans also want to push their religious beliefs into public school, a sector that they don’t pay any taxes towards. Republicans have tried relentlessly to cut education funding for public schools with the hopes that the United States can move towards a majority in the private school sector where they can manipulate the curriculum to fit their ideology. The Republican party has also waged a war on science, in particular dealing with evolution and global warming. While 97% of all scientists accept evolution as the factual origin of life, Republicans want to side with the 3% minority that supports creationism and have it taught in public schools. Creationism is the Christian belief that the earth was created by God a few thousand years ago, and that woman was created by a man’s rib. Scientists reject this theory and have enormous evidence to prove it false. The war on science doesn’t stop with evolution, as the radicals have also attacked global warming. Following their love of de-regulation and less government in the private sector, conservatives have pushed back all evidence for global warming and environmental restrictions because it makes things harder for businesses to make a profit when they are dealing with safety standards. By coming out with false information to fight back against scientists, Republicans do what they can to keep regulations to a minimum, putting the environment at risk for the sake of making a bigger profit.
The amygdaloid complex is located in the medial temporal lobe just in front of the hippocampal region. Studies in recent decades show that the amygdala has a network of connections, both inward and outward, with many parts of the brain, beyond its traditionally recognised connections with the hypothalamus and the brain stem. Its nuclei can influence diverse regions including the spinal cord, frontal, cingulate, temporal and occipital cortices. Projections to the amygdala from the frontal lobes come mainly from the orbitofrontal and parts of the media prefrontal. These areas are related to social activity. The amygdala has substantial connections with the temporal lobe, and reciprocal connections with a variety of subcortical regions. The lateral nucleus of the amygdala, occupies a larger proportion of the total amygdala in primates including human than in other mammals. This is related to this nucleus receiving many inputs from the neocortex. The upper parts of the lateral nucleus receive inputs from the sensory cortex. The primate amygdala is involved with all types of sensory information, but is most heavily influenced by the visual. The largest proportion of visual input comes from the ventral ‘What?’ pathway indicating that the amygdala is to a good extent a danger detector that can orchestrate a whole body response. Damage to the amygdala produces changes in fear reactivity, feeding and sexual behaviour. The amygdala is also implicated in reward learning, motivation and drug addiction. It has been implicated in aggressive, maternal, sexual and eating/drinking behaviour. It is also involved in the modulation of various cognitive functions such as attention, perception and memory.
The amygdala has extensive connectivity with areas of the brain involved in cognitive functions. Once the amygdala has detected an emotional stimulus, it can also influence the processing of that stimulus. The amygdala also projects to association areas in the temporal lobe. Cognitive functions are able to influence the amygdala, and prefrontal executive areas have some influence. Cognitive activity such as reappraisal can alter activity in the amygdala. The amygdala can also influence cortical functions indirectly. When the amygdala detects something emotionally significant, it directs the release of neuromodulators, such as noradrenaline, dopamine and serotonin that influence cognitive processing in cortical areas. Amygdala activity also releases hormones into the bloodstream that later feed back from the body to the brain. Activity in the basal amygdala influences hippocampal processing of memory.
Many nuclei with distinct chemical signatures in the thalamus, midbrain and pons must function for a subject to be in a sufficient state of brain arousal to experience anything at all. These nuclei therefore belong to the enabling factors for consciousness. Conversely it is likely that the specific content of any particular conscious sensation is mediated by particular neurons in cortex and their associated satellite structures, including the amygdala, thalamus, claustrum and the basal ganglia. Conversely, conscious perception is believed to require more sustained, reverberatory neural activity, most likely via global feedback from frontal regions of neocortex back to sensory cortical areas that builds up over time until it exceeds a critical threshold. At this point, the sustained neural activity rapidly propagates to parietal, prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortical regions, thalamus, claustrum and related structures that support short-term memory, multi-modality integration, planning, speech, and other processes intimately related to consciousness. Competition prevents more than one or a very small number of percepts to be simultaneously and actively represented. This is the core hypothesis of the global workspace theory of consciousness.
Penrose/Hameroff Orchestrated Object Reduction (Orch OR) theory of quantum consciousness. In a nutshell, the theory suggests that inside each nerve cell, spindle-like microtubules (very tiny ropes of protein) exhibit quantum mechanical properties – dual wave/particle characteristics – holding two positions or configurations at the same time. These microtubules are able to dance in unison with thousands of others in a coherent network. Finally, the hybrid states collapse from their uncertainty of quantum entanglement into a singular, “classical” position, in the process forming conscious thought. Some thinkers, including the Boston-based professor of philosophy at Tufts University, Daniel Dennett, have argued that the brain processes inputs like a Darwinian computer, by selectively sorting perceived information, and that a separate consciousness outside the matrix of events and sensations of life is an idle construct. “Subtract them, and nothing is left beyond a weird conviction [in some people] that there is some ineffable residue of ‘qualitative content’ bereft of all powers to move us, delight us, annoy us, remind us of anything,” Dennett says. Is a person’s experience of life more than the sum total of sensory perceptions?
Greenfield, a neuro-pharmacologist, has moved from labelling brain regions and prefers to describe the walnut-shaped brain, with its cauliflower-appendage of cerebellum, as operating more like New York City. The brain’s 100 billion neurons could be divided into boroughs, districts and blocks. A room in a building on a block is like a neuron, which communicates with other rooms in the city via messengers – transmitters that are received by receptor chemicals – and inside each room are desk-bound synapses and ion channel cupboards, with pumps for movement of electrical impulses which deliver the required end responses.
The brain’s ability to self-repair – for example, after a mild stroke – indicates it has plasticity way beyond the earlier categorisations. Far from being on the genetic determinist side of the nature/nurture debate, Greenfield considers the mind as “the seething morass of cell circuitry that has been configured by personal experiences and is constantly being updated as we live out each moment”. Emotions, Greenfield argues, are the building blocks of consciousness, which emerges as a series of waves of neuron networks that rise and fall according to the degree of awareness or stimulation.
“One thing is clear: the brain doesn’t work like a digital computer. It is swirling patterns of electrical activity. It has to do with patterns and complexity,” says Paul Davies.
Certainly there is a huge global effort to find the bit where it happens, the NCC – the neural correlate of consciousness. Davies says mapping ways in which neural processes correlate to conscious outcomes is a reasonable approach. “But you are still stuck with the problem of what is it about a particular complex electrical pattern that has thoughts or sensation attached to it, let alone specific ones like love or a sense of greenness. What distinguishes those from the swirling electrical patterns in the Victorian electricity grid, which presumably doesn’t have thoughts and sensations attached to it? That is what a physicist would like to know. So it still seems to me, as a physicist, deeply mysterious, the problem of consciousness.”
“Time is on our side. The classical approaches are going nowhere, they are flailing in terms of explaining consciousness,” he says. “It is all more of the same hand waving, emergence arguments, more ultra-reductionism – this part of the brain is important, that part is not – with no attempt to deal with the enigmatic issues. Nobody has a clue about the hard problem except to say that it emerges like a rabbit out of a hat … we have testable predictions and the classical people don’t.”
Davies concludes that if Penrose and Hameroff are right, and there are microtubules in the brain that allow quantum coherence to be maintained through many cycles of information processing in a hot environment (the brain), “then that is exactly what the quantum computing people would need to make a functioning quantum computer, and that would be a revolution as great as the invention of the computer in the first place.
When we allow debt to be the sole driving force of our economy, we create a situation where one person may toil only so that he can support his lender. And, when a person’s payment for debts reaches a point that is more than their income can handle, they become slaves to that debt. In other words, even though they may work really hard, they will have nothing for it. And, they may find themselves in a position, where they cannot advance any further in life, because they no longer have the resources to make the improvements that are necessary; they would not have the money for education, transportation, and they may collapse under this weight and become disheveled like many of us have. Eventually, they may come to see that their lives will never improve, and that their labor is not being rewarded, but has become a form of servitude with severe consequences should they cease to contribute. And, if they are given away to the pools of the unemployed, they may never be given the opportunity to redeem themselves or to recover. When it is pure capitalism, all wealth is drawn up to a privileged few and the majority will become increasingly impoverished until they have been devastated, and without a revolt, the masses will begin to die off and a once mighty civilization will begin to shrink. The labor force, who would once have held up the wealthy, and who are the pillars of society, will begin to crack, fail, or leave under pressure and a need for survival. And, as the rug is pulled out from them, the wealthy will tumble. By Timothy Woodward II
A deliberate, phased approach to instigating change;
The offering of local solutions for local planning challenges;
Short-term commitment and realistic expectations;
Low-risks, with a possibly a high reward; and
The development of social capital between citizens and the building of organizational capacity between public-private institutions, non-profits, and their constituents.
The Walk Raleigh project represents part of a new paradigm in cities today, in that individuals are often demanding much more from the places wherein they live. The generation of today no longer sees cities simply shells that house our needs, but as living organisms alive in and of themselves – intended to inspire us and to fuel our creativity.
Arising out of funding challenges brought on by the recession, frustrations with the drawn-out approvals process, the organizational opportunities provided by the internet and social media, emerging technologies, and courageous designers, tactical urbanist projects are often defined by their low-cost temporary nature and require little or no approvals or environmental studies (or go without them anyway).
rather than being asked to contribute to incrementalchange at the neighbohood or block level, residents areasked to react to proposals that are often conceived forinterests disconnected from their own, and at a scalefor which they have little control. In the pursuit of resil-ient neighborhoods, cities, and metropolitican regions,surmounting the challenges inherent to this “public”process continues to prove difcult. Fortunately, alter-native tactics are available and ready for deployment.
if the public is able to physicallyparticipate in the improvement of the city, no matterhow small the effort, there is an increased likelihoodof gaining public support for larger scale change later. Additionally, involving the public in the physical testingof ideas can yield unique insights into the expectationsof future users and the types of design features forwhich they yearn; truly participatory planning must gobeyond drawing on ip charts and maps
Local artists, musicians and potential businessowners joined together to temporarily program vacantstorefronts and reclaim public space. Food vendors andsidewalk cafe tables were added and became places tocongregate. “New York style” cycle tracks were paintedalong the curb, pushing cars outward to reduce thenumber of travel lanes. Finally, native landscaping andstreet furniture helped improve the block’s sense ofplace. A key element of the Build a Better Block projectwas engaging existing vacant retail space. Workingwith property owners, temporary “pop-up” shopsdemonstrated the presence of an unmet retail marketdemand in the neighborhood
Chair placement begins by retrieving discarded materi-als, such as shipping pallets from dumpsters, construc-tion sites, or other locations where solid waste is found.DoTank: Brooklyn, an interdisciplinary collective com-prised of neighborhood activists turn pallets into Ad-irondack chairs, which are then placed in public spac-es. In the past year the group has placed chairs in sixlocations throughout northern Brooklyn.The entire process of building and placing the chairsrequires attention to the design and construction, butalso a thoughtful approach as to where they are neededmost, and where they would be able to support exist-ing social activity, or serve as a catalyst for communitygathering.Whether to rest, socialize, or to simply watch the worldgo by, increasing the supply of seating almost alwaysmakes a street, and by extension, a neighborhood,more livable.
guerrilla gardening is the act of gardeningon public or private land without permission. Typically,the sites chosen are vacant or underutilized propertiesin urban areas. The direct re-purposing of the land isoften intended to raise awareness for a myriad of socialand environmental lissues, including sustainable foodsystems, improving neighborhood aesthetics, and thepower of short-term, collaborative local action.When applied to contested land, guerilla gardeners of-ten take action under the cover of night, where veg-etables may be sowed, or ower gardens planted andcared for without running the risk of being caught.Guerilla gardening is an exellent tactic for instantly im-prove an urban neighborhood. Often times, gardens arecared for years after they are rst created, illegally.
The news that Romney has met with Gingrich is puzzling, though it makes a weird sort of sense if you take into account the Massachusetts governor’s complete lack of interpersonal skills. He may simply not realize that Newt hates him. And Newt’s vindictiveness could make the meeting appealing in terms of grist for coldblooded derision – I’m thinking maybe even to Romney’s face.
“What do you think about the trees around here, Mitt?” he would deadpan. “I’m thinking they’re on the short side, but you’re the expert.”
Santorum is less calculatingly cruel. He attacks with a butcher knife, not a stiletto. He has a history of vainglorious tetchiness; in the Senate, he was known as “Senator Slash” – based on his cutting attitude toward colleagues, not budgets. This surly narcissism has, under the hot lights of national scrutiny, blossomed into a lopsided feud.
Emotional appeals and their attendant buzz are the life-support of the Santorum campaign, and their success at keeping Santorum’s head above polling water may explain why he and his supporters believe in the long-shot strategy of convincing unattached delegates to swing their way at the Republican convention. And, more to the point, what does he have to lose? Says the Republican consultant:
“You talk to people who worked for him in the Senate, and he never got this kind of attention. He is thriving on it.”
He may lose, and it may be a loss all the more devastating because of the emotional investment. But, “as humiliating as the process is, there is no downside.”
Not if your goal isn’t winning, but simply revenge.
The first thing I thought was the shackles have been broken,” Carlos says, casting his mind back to how he felt in that moment. “And they won’t ever be able to put shackles on John Carlos again. Because what had been done couldn’t be taken back. Materially, some of us in the incarceration system are still literally in shackles. The greatest problem is we are afraid to offend our oppressors.
“I had a moral obligation to step up. Morality was a far greater force than the rules and regulations they had. God told the angels that day, ‘Take a step back – I’m gonna have to do this myself.'”
the human sense of emotional turmoil and individual resolve that made it possible, or the collective, global gasp in response to its audacity. In his book, The John Carlos Story, in the seconds between mounting the podium and the anthem playing, Carlos writes that his mind raced from the personal to the political and back again. Among other things, he reflected on his father’s pained explanation for why he couldn’t become an Olympic swimmer, the segregation and consequent impoverishment of Harlem, the exhortations of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X to “be true to yourself even when it hurts”, and his family. The final thought before the band started playing was, “Damn, when this thing is done, it can’t be taken back.
“I know that sounds like a lot of thoughts for just a few moments standing on a podium,” he writes. “But honestly this was all zigzagging through my brain like lightning bolts.”
“The fire was all around me,” Carlos recalls. The IOC president ordered Smith and Carlos to be suspended from the US team and the Olympic village. Time magazine showed the Olympic logo with the words Angrier, Nastier, Uglier, instead of Faster, Higher, Stronger. The LA Times accused them of engaging in a “Nazi-like salute”.
Beyond the establishment, the resonance of the image could not be overstated. It was 1968; the black power movement had provided a post-civil rights rallying cry and the anti-Vietnam protests were gaining pace. That year, students throughout Europe, east and west, had been in revolt against war, tyranny and capitalism.
Martin Luther King had been assassinated and the US had been plunged into yet another year of race riots in its urban centres. Just a few months earlier, the Democratic party convention had been disrupted by a huge police riot against Vietnam protesters. A few weeks before the Games, scores of students and activists had been gunned down by authorities in Mexico City itself.
The sight of two black athletes in open rebellion on the international stage sent a message to both America and the world. At home, this brazen disdain for the tropes of American patriotism – flag and anthem – shifted dissidence from the periphery of American life to primetime television in a single gesture,
Globally, it was understood as an act of solidarity with all those fighting for greater equality, justice and human rights.
As Carlos explains in his book, their gesture was supposed, among other things, to say: “Hey, world, the United States is not like you might think it is for blacks and other people of colour. Just because we have USA on our chest does not mean everything is peachy keen and we are living large.”
Carlos understood, before he raised his fist that day, that once done, his act could not be taken back. What he could not have anticipated, at the age of 23, was what it would mean for his future. “I had no idea the moment on the medal stand would be frozen for all time. I had no idea what we’d face. I didn’t know or appreciate, at that precise moment, that the entire trajectory of our young lives had just irrevocably changed.”
At one point he had to chop up his furniture so he could heat his house. The pressure started to bear down on his family. “When there’s a lack of money, it brings contempt into the family,” he says. Moreover, his wife was facing constant harassment from the press and his children were being told at school that their father was a traitor. The marriage collapsed.
Did he worry, as the picture for which he was famous started to adorn T-shirts and posters, that his readmission into the Olympic world meant his radicalism was being co-opted and sanitised?
It’s not the responsibility of the oppressor to educate us. We have to educate ourselves and our own. That’s the difference between Muhammad Ali and Michael Jordan. Muhammad Ali will never die. He used his skill to say something about the social ills of society. Of course, he was an excellent boxer, but he got up and spoke on the issues. And because he spoke on the issues, he will never die. There will be someone else at some time who can do what Jordan could do. And then his name will just be pushed down in the mud. But they’ll still be talking about Ali.”
Eight years earlier, during a different phase of anti-racist activism in the US, a 17-year-old student, Franklin McCain, had gained his place in the history books when he sat at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, with three friends and refused to move until they were served. Many years later, McCain was philosophical about how that experience had affected him. “On the day that I sat at that counter, I had the most tremendous feeling of elation and celebration,” he told me. “Nothing has ever come close. Not the birth of my first son, nor my marriage. And it was a cruel hoax, because people go through their whole lives and they don’t get that to happen to them. And here it was being visited upon me as a 17-year-old. It was wonderful, and it was sad also, because I know that I will never have that again. I’m just sorry it was when I was 17.”
Carlos has no such regrets. He’s just glad he could be where he was to do what he felt he had to do. “I don’t have any misgivings about it being frozen in time. It’s a beacon for a lot of people around the world. So many people find inspiration in that portrait. That’s what I was born for.”