Thursday, March 21, 2019

Boogie Down Productions - The Bridge is over

I believe I was at the show when this was filmed.


(The Club "Union Square" where the live segments were filmed, was located where "PetCo" is now on 17th st. & B'Way on the north west corner of Union Square park)

Monday, March 18, 2019

School of Life Monday:
First World Problems

Many issues are nowadays dismissed as mere 'first world problems'. But the problems of the first world are deeply important and need to get addressed - as the whole planet will eventually have them.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Ocasio-Cortez outrages Republicans
by refusing to respect their ignorance

from The Guardian:

The young congresswoman has turned the tables on the Wall Street Journal after it accused her of taking ‘pride in ignorance’

by Arwa Mahdawi
AOC is ignorant, ungrateful and coming for your meat
Large swaths of America appear to be suffering from a debilitating condition known as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Derangement Syndrome (AOCDS). Symptoms include bouts of extreme condescension, an inability to stop sputtering the word “socialist”, and overwhelming anger that a young woman of colour is unapologetically succeeding.

The latest conservative to succumb to AOCDS is Grace-Marie Turner, the president of a non-profit devoted to “counter[ing] the march towards toward government-controlled medicine”. (Can we just pause for a moment and contemplate what sort of person spends their life trying to ensure there will never be affordable healthcare in the United States?)

On Tuesday Turner ranted in the Wall Street Journal that Ocasio-Cortez “has little regard for the system that made it possible for her to be elected to Congress”. Turner also lamented that the congresswoman “leads a generation of young people to take pride in their ignorance – of the laws of nature, of history, of the Constitution, of the eternal battle for freedom – and still succeed”.

As you can imagine, the congresswoman had a few words to say in response to this, tweeting on Thursday that: “I guess WSJ Editorial Page takes pride in their ignorance of our nation’s history of slavery, Jim Crow, & mass incarceration; willful doubt on the decades of science on climate change; targeting of indigenous peoples, and the classist, punitive agenda targeting working families.”

Ocasio-Cortez hit the bigoted nail on the head with that. After all, what Turner was essentially saying in her op-ed was that minorities should respect a system that doesn’t respect them. That Ocasio-Cortez, who “doesn’t come from a rich and powerful family”, doesn’t have an Ivy League education, and has Puerto Rican heritage, should be grateful she is allowed to exist in America, let alone succeed. And that AOC certainly shouldn’t mess with the laws of nature and history that mean rich white men, and a few rich white women, are our leaders and superiors. Turner, and conservatives like her, are terrified by Ocasio-Cortez because she symbolizes a new generation who aren’t going to shut up and be grateful, but are intent on changing an unequal system.

If you need any more evidence of how panicked conservatives are about the young congresswoman, just take a look at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, which features heavy doses of Ocasio-Cortez scaremongering. Perhaps the most ridiculous examples of this was Sebastian Gorka, a former Trump official, announcing to the crowd that democratic socialists like Ocasio-Cortez “want to rebuild your home … [and] take away your hamburgers. This is what Stalin dreamt about but never achieved.” Republican men are clearly terrified AOC is coming for their meat.

Serena Williams says ‘Dream Crazier’
“Crazy” and “hysterical” are gendered insults that have been used to belittle women for centuries. A new Nike ad featuring Serena Williams takes on the C-word, with Williams saying: “If we show emotion, we’re called dramatic … if we dream of equal opportunity, we’re delusional … And if we get angry, we’re hysterical, irrational, or just being crazy.” It’s a powerful ad and Williams, who has been relentlessly vilified as an Angry Black Woman, is the perfect person to narrate it. However, before we start applauding Nike, it’s worth remembering that the company is currently in the middle of a class-action lawsuit accusing it of gender discrimination. So while it’s great that big companies are taking on important issues in their advertising, let’s not forget that it is much easier to make feelgood ads than it is actually walk the walk and implement equality in your workplace.

Female leaders warn women’s rights are being eroded
Dozens of female leaders have signed an open letter warning that populist movements around the world threaten gender equality. Susana Malcorra, the former Argentinian foreign minister, told the Guardian that women’s rights are particularly threatened in countries that have seen the rise of “a macho-type strongman”, such as Brazil, the Philippines and Italy.

Only six countries give men and women equal legal rights
According to a new report by the World Bank the only countries in the world where men and women have equal legal work rights are Belgium, Denmark, France, Latvia, Luxembourg and Sweden.

Running while Muslim and female
Decathlon, a French sports retailer, has cancelled its plans to sell a runner’s hijab after backlash. The budget minister, Gérald Darmanin, was one of the many politicians who spoke out about the hijab: “I value women’s freedom more than commercial freedom,” he told French radio station Europe 1. Look, everyone’s entitled to their opinion on the hijab. But speaking out against a product that would lead to more Muslim women going out running because you “value women’s freedom” is disingenuous to say the least. Just say you’re Islamophobic and get it over with, mate.

‘Give women their names’
Tabitha King is an author and an autonomous human being – but is usually referred to in the media as “Stephen King’s wife”. King recently spoke out about being treated as an appendage in a series of messages shared on her husband’s Twitter account. “Wife is a relationship or status. It is not an identity,” she wrote. “You might consider the unconscious condescension in your style book, and give women their names.”

America celebrates Women’s History Month
Speaking of giving women their names, Happy Women’s History Month. Why not kick it off by reading about Shirley Chisholm, the first black congresswoman. Her campaign slogan was “unbought and unbossed” and one imagines Grace-Marie Turner would not have liked her at all.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Monday, March 11, 2019

School of Life Monday:
How to Improve Capitalism

Capitalism doesn't have to be overcome or destroyed. It could just be improved. Here's how.

Just an opinion.... interesting

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Marketers intentionally enrage social conservatives to promote brands

from Boing Boing:
Cottonelle and Walmart have both recently produced social media video commercials starring gay men. Predictably, social conservatives flipped out, calling for boycotts and for their god to mete out punishment against the evil doers. According to Curtis Sparrer, Bospar PR principal, this is exactly what Cottonelle and Walmart were counting on.
“It looks like the marketers of both Walmart and Cottonelle were counting on social conservatives’ outrage to drive their business objectives,” said Curtis Sparrer, Bospar PR principal. “Neither video was a traditional broadcast segment, but rather produced for social media. So conservatives didn’t simply stumble across these segments, but rather they were alerted to them, likely by the companies themselves.” 
"There’s a method behind the madness: marketers count on public reaction to their campaigns,” Sparrer continued. “Conservatives can be reliably counted on to provide an immediate reaction to any pro-LGBT storyline, creating a newsworthy controversy for a journalist to cover. That media coverage will not only feature both sides of the controversy but also provide top-of-mind brand recognition that research has found is more effective than traditional advertising. That means social conservatives have become useful tools for marketers and public relations. As a marketer myself I am loathe to reveal this tactic because social conservatives might get wise and not take the bait the next time a campaign features LGBT people. However since I’ve been gay longer than I’ve been in marketing I am eager for the day when LGBT people can be featured in media and people will simply react to the spot on the merits of its content.”

The American Family Association (AFA), which is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, issued the following statement about the Walmart commercial:
We've seen many large corporations reject that in their marketing, but I honestly never thought Walmart would join the cultural revolution and reject the beliefs of its customer base.
The ad is part of a campaign called "Love is in the aisle: A dating show at Walmart." Episode 2 features Pat and Andy, two homosexual men on a "blind date" as they meet at the store and shop together. Through this process they discover whether or not they are compatible.
It's clear that Walmart is on the path of elevating homosexual relationships to the same level as the male-female model of marriage. We have no choice but to ask our supporters to let the company know how they, the customers, feel about Walmart's shift away from neutrality on this controversial issue to full support for same sex relationships.

Friday, March 8, 2019

‘Punk’: Johnny Rotten, Marky Ramone Spar
at ‘Off the F–king Rails’ Documentary Event

interesting all the short clips around the internet took all this insanity out of context and made it so much worse than what it was.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Fox News was always partisan,
but now it is rudderless and "anti-democratic"

from Boing Boing:
Building on her excellent work in 2017's Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, Jane Mayer takes to The New Yorker with a deeply researched, lively and alarming 12,000-word longread on the radical shifts at Fox News that have taken place since the Trump election, as #MeToo has claimed the organization's senior leaders, leaving it rudderless and under the nominal command of an ailing Rupert Murdoch, whose main management contributions have consisted of purging the minor dissenting voices at Fox, leaving behind a kind of Hannity-and-Co version of Lord of the Flies.

Mayer traces the current state of Fox to the disgraced departure of Fox's top brass, starting with CEO Roger Ailes (who promptly dropped dead) and then Bill O'Reilly, both implicated in a string of grotesque, longrunning sexual abuse scandals that also claimed Bill Shine, abettor of these abuses, who quickly took over as Trump's communications director, where he serves while collecting millions of dollars from Fox.

The departures left Fox rudderless, for while Ailes was a monster who raped a female subordinate for decades (she was eventually paid off for $3.1 million) and kept a "Black Ops" department that performed oppo research on a long list of his enemies (including his biographer!), he also represented (incredibly) the voice of reason and balance at the company, punishing on-air talent who campaigned for and provided cover to Republican politicians.

With Ailes gone, Murdoch himself took over, purging the company of those dissenting voices who had kept things somewhat in check in Ailes absence. Then Murdoch, who is elderly and frail, was hospitalized with an injury that also necessitated a long convalescence.

Thus began the new Fox, where anything that protects Trump goes. Where once Glenn Beck was fired for spouting deranged conspiracy theories on-air, now Hannity can say pretty much anything he wants, so long as it's good for Trump.

And Trump has returned the favor: under Trump's rule, Fox and Murdoch have benefitted from regulatory decisions that permitted the Fox Studios' merger with Disney (which put billions into Murdoch's pockets), a block on the merger between Sinclair and Tribune (which would have created a national right-wing competitor for Fox), and a near-block on the Time-Warner/AT&T merger (Trump ordered that this be prevented, but his top aides secretly vetoed him because they didn't want the appearance that Trump was punishing Time-Warner for CNN's unflattering coverage).

With Shine acting as a conduit between Fox and the White House, Fox has been transformed into a kind of state media under presidential control, with power flowing in both directions: Fox enjoys near-exclusivity when it comes to interviewing Trump, while Trump can simply call the network and reverse their policies, for example, he got Ann Coulter reinstated to the network after she was blackballed for being an obnoxious troll.

And if Murdoch is absent from the daily operations of Fox, he remains solid in his role as kingmaker for far-right regimes, with reported daily phone calls between Kushner and Murdoch where Kushner seeks Murdoch's advice on how to run the country.

From its beginning, Fox was not exactly a "conservative" voice, rather, its business model was to build ratings through "fear-based, anger-based politics that has to do with class and race." But in the post-Ailes era, Fox's has a new role that it has never quite had before: running defense and interference on behalf of the White House.
As Murdoch’s relations with the White House have warmed, so has Fox’s coverage of Trump. During the Obama years, Fox’s attacks on the President could be seen as reflecting the adversarial role traditionally played by the press. With Trump’s election, the network’s hosts went from questioning power to defending it. Yochai Benkler, a Harvard Law School professor who co-directs the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, says, “Fox’s most important role since the election has been to keep Trump supporters in line.” The network has provided a non-stop counternarrative in which the only collusion is between Hillary Clinton and Russia; Robert Mueller, the special counsel, is perpetrating a “coup” by the “deep state”; Trump and his associates aren’t corrupt, but America’s law-enforcement officials and courts are; illegal immigration isn’t at a fifteen-year low, it’s “an invasion”; and news organizations that offer different perspectives are “enemies of the American people.”

Benkler’s assessment is based on an analysis of millions of American news stories that he and two co-authors, Robert Faris and Hal Roberts, undertook for their 2018 book, “Network Propaganda: Manipulation, Disinformation and Radicalization in American Politics.” Benkler told me that he and his co-authors had expected to find “symmetric polarization” in the left-leaning and the right-leaning media outlets. Instead, they discovered that the two poles of America’s media ecosystem function very differently. “It’s not the right versus the left,” Benkler says. “It’s the right versus the rest.”

The Making of the Fox News White House [Jane Mayer/The New Yorker]

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Donald Trump tells a fake American story.
We must tell the real one.
OpEd: Robert Reich

from The Guardian:

The Triumphant Individual, the Benevolent Community, the Mob at the Gates, the Rot at the Top. Four narratives define America – true Americans must define them
Donald Trump has perfected the art of telling a fake story about America. The only way to counter that is to tell the real story of America.

Trump’s story is by now familiar: he alone will rescue average Americans from powerful alien forces – immigrants, foreign traders, foreign politicians and their international agreements – that have undermined the wellbeing of Americans.

These forces have been successful largely because Democrats, liberals, cultural elites, the Washington establishment, the media and “deep state” bureaucrats have helped them, in order to enrich themselves and boost their power. Not surprisingly, according to Trump, these forces seek to remove him from office.

What makes Trump’s story powerful to some Americans despite its utter phoniness is that it echoes the four tales Americans have been telling ourselves since before the founding of the Republic.

To combat Trump’s fake story, we need a true story based on facts, logic and history. But in order for that true story to resonate with Americans, it must also echo the same four tales.

Donald Trump has perfected the art of telling a fake story about America. The only way to counter that is to tell the real story of America.

Abraham Lincoln, seen in November 1863.
Abraham Lincoln. Photograph: Alexander Gardner/AP
Trump’s story is by now familiar: he alone will rescue average Americans from powerful alien forces – immigrants, foreign traders, foreign politicians and their international agreements – that have undermined the wellbeing of Americans.

These forces have been successful largely because Democrats, liberals, cultural elites, the Washington establishment, the media and “deep state” bureaucrats have helped them, in order to enrich themselves and boost their power. Not surprisingly, according to Trump, these forces seek to remove him from office.

What makes Trump’s story powerful to some Americans despite its utter phoniness is that it echoes the four tales Americans have been telling ourselves since before the founding of the Republic.

To combat Trump’s fake story, we need a true story based on facts, logic and history. But in order for that true story to resonate with Americans, it must also echo the same four tales.

Trump’s fake benevolent community is a nationalism that requires no sacrifice from anyone. But today’s real benevolent community necessitates all of us doing our parts for the common good. The most fortunate among us, for example, must pay their fair share of taxes so that everyone can have what’s needed to triumph. A rising tide of productivity and wealth will lift all Americans.

The third tale is the Mob at the Gates – threatening forces beyond our borders. Daniel Boone fought Indians, described then in racist terms as savages. Davy Crockett battled Mexicans. Much the same tale gave force to cold war tales during the 50s of international communist plots to undermine American democracy. The moral: we must be vigilant against external threats.

As with the other tales, this one has an important element of truth. America battled Hitler and other fascists in the second world war. The Soviet danger was real.

But Trump wants Americans to believe that today’s Mob at the Gates consists of immigrants, foreign traders and democratically elected governments that have been our allies for decades or more.

Wrong. These days the real Mob at our gates are thugs like Vladimir Putin and other tyrants around the world who are antagonistic toward democratic institutions, intolerant of ethnic minorities, hostile toward the free press and eager to use government to benefit themselves and those who support them.

The fourth and final tale is The Rot at the Top. It’s about the malevolence of powerful elites – their corruption and irresponsibility, and tendency to conspire against the rest of us.

This tale has given force to the populist movements of American history, from William Jennings Bryan’s prairie populism of the 1890s through Bernie Sanders’ progressive populist campaign in 2016, as well as Trump’s authoritarian version.

Trump wants us to believe that today’s Rot at the Top are cultural elites, the media and “deep state” bureaucrats.

But the real Rot at the Top consists of concentrated wealth and power to a degree this nation hasn’t witnessed since the late 19th century. Billionaires, powerful corporations, and Wall Street have gained control over much of our economy and political system, padding their nests with special tax breaks and corporate welfare while holding down the wages of average workers.

In this, the rich have been helped by Republicans in Congress and the White House whose guiding ideology seems less capitalism than cronyism, as shown time and again through legislative and regulatory gifts to big pharma, Wall Street, big oil and coal, big agriculture and giant military contractors.

America’s true story shouldn’t end with Trump’s authoritarianism and nativism. An end that’s far truer to America’s ideals is a reinvigorated democracy. This will require a benevolent community free from the crony capitalists who have corrupted America.

The next chapter is up to us.

Monday, March 4, 2019

School of Life Monday:
What's Education For?

The greatest problem of the modern education system is that it doesn't focus on systematically preparing students for many aspects of the real challenge out there: Life itself.

Friday, March 1, 2019

From Parkland to Sunrise:
A Year of Extraordinary Youth Activism

from the New Yorker:
By Emily Witt
This Valentine’s Day marks a year since seventeen people were killed in a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida. On February 14th, the Web site and social-media feeds of the March for Our Lives, the youth-led gun-control movement that began in the aftermath of the shooting, will go dark. The founders of the movement will not give interviews or make any public comments.

“It’s about recognizing that we need to take time for ourselves because we’ve been going so strongly for the past year without a breather,” Jaclyn Corin, a senior at Stoneman Douglas and one of the co-founders of the movement, told me in a recent phone call. “We’re giving ourselves that time to be with our friends and our family.”

Last year, on February 15th, I travelled to Parkland to cover the tragedy and was surprised to find myself also documenting the rise of a political movement. Along with the rest of the country, I watched as Sarah Chadwick, Cameron Kasky, Delaney Tarr, David Hogg, and their classmates addressed the media and lawmakers with a controlled fury and eloquence made more potent by their youth. Three days later, I attended a rally organized by the Broward County school board in nearby Fort Lauderdale, where a Parkland senior named Emma González made what seems to be the first speech with national resonance by a member of her generation.

Her concluding refrain, “We Call B.S.,” has been printed on buttons and painted on signs. It’s easy to forget how spontaneous it was, written from a place of raw emotion and delivered with urgency by someone with a preternatural rhetorical talent. It was also informed by being a member of a generation that has had to train for school shootings for years. As González said that day, “The students at this school have been having debates on guns for what feels like our entire lives.”

From the beginning, what made the March for Our Lives students seem different was the simple fact that they believed that the worsening epidemic of gun violence in this country could actually be fixed. Only days after the shooting, they directly lobbied representatives in the Florida state capital of Tallahassee and in Washington, D.C. On March 14, 2018, to commemorate a month since the event and to advocate for stricter gun laws, they led more than a million students to walk out of schools across the country. On March 24th, hundreds of thousands of people rallied outside the Capitol for the March for Our Lives, the largest youth protest in Washington since the Vietnam War. Another walkout followed, on April 20th, the nineteenth anniversary of the shooting at Columbine High School, in Littleton, Colorado.

The protest phase of the movement mostly ended there, but the young activists continued their work. They organized two bus tours to encourage young people to vote, one in Florida and one that toured nationwide, and registered thousands of young voters over the summer. They held public meetings and formed alliances with other local youth gun-control activists—Good Kids Mad City and the Peace Warriors—and survivors of mass shootings in Santa Fe, Texas; Aurora, Colorado; and the Red Lake Indian Reservation, in Northern Minnesota, among many other places. They showed their commitment not only to ending mass shootings but to educating the public on the ways that guns increase the likelihood of fatality in acts of suicide, domestic violence, and gang strife. During a fall college tour, they continued their voter-registration push, partnering with Rock the Vote and the N.A.A.C.P.

Previously, mass shootings had been met with collective mourning followed by inaction. The students condemned the inertia. They perfected the art of puncturing the N.R.A.’s attacks on proposals like universal background checks and banning assault rifles. They encouraged voters to see gun violence not as some kind of natural disaster but as rooted in policy decisions made by elected officials who should be held responsible. Fixing the problem would require the will of the people with power. The students asked, rightly: Where was the will? Why were adults so inept at protecting their children?

The March for Our Lives students marked the beginning of a year of youth activism, but it would be a mistake to say that they ignited it. Youth activism had been growing for several years: United We Dream, the youth-led immigrant organization that advocated for the dream act and occupied the halls of Congress last spring, was founded in 2008; the anti-racism and anti-police-violence movement Black Lives Matter, which has since grown into the Movement for Black Lives, started in 2013. Young people who worked for Bernie Sanders’s 2016 Presidential campaign went on to revive the Democratic Socialists of America as a political force and, in some cases, ran for office themselves. The Sunrise Movement, the youth-led climate-change-advocacy group that has helped put the proposal for a Green New Deal on the Democratic policy agenda, started in late 2017. And, as the Parkland students discovered when they began their work, there was already a network of youth activists working to end the epidemic of gun violence.

A lot of this work coalesced in the 2018 midterms, which were seen even by nonpartisan organizations like March for Our Lives as an opportunity to question the complacency of Congress, where the reëlection rate has traditionally been about ninety per cent. Young former Bernie Sanders staffers started the political-action committee Brand New Congress with the intention of reviving a primary election cycle that in many districts was merely symbolic. Brand New Congress recruited a dozen candidates. One actually won her election: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. By that time, the group had merged with Justice Democrats, a political-action committee that supported the candidacies of Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib. All of these groups emphasized youth-voter turnout—and an estimated thirty-one per cent of eligible voters between the ages of nineteen and twenty-nine turned out in the 2018 elections. The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement, out of Tufts University, reported that that number, as low as it is, represented the highest youth turnout in a midterm election since 1982.

The Green New Deal, gun control, and Medicare for All are now seen as central issues in the 2020 Presidential primaries, but March for Our Lives has chosen to advocate for issues rather than individual candidates. Along with groups like Moms Demand Action and Everytown for Gun Safety, March for Our Lives can claim credit for changing laws. In 2018, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, sixty-seven gun-safety bills were signed into law in twenty-six states and Washington, D.C. On February 6th, March for Our Lives founders joined the parents of slain Stoneman Douglas students at the first House hearings on gun violence in eight years.

As the Parkland students and others from their generation have shown, there is much political momentum to be gained simply by describing what is wrong with greater urgency: a broken health-insurance system; several generations who collectively owe more than one and a half trillion dollars in student loans; the existential threats of climate change, gun violence, police violence, stagnant wages, and widening inequality. But, unlike previous generations of youth activists, the ones today are eager to work within the existing political processes. Asked if a year of close scrutiny of electoral politics had left him disillusioned, Matt Deitsch, one of the March for Our Lives co-founders, told me that it had not. “It’s not about being disillusioned, it’s about being upset.” He quoted Marjory Stoneman Douglas, the namesake of his alma mater, who was an advocate for the preservation of the Everglades: “Be a nuisance when it counts.”

Earlier this week, I accompanied a group of Sunrise Movement activists as they visited the Los Angeles office of Dianne Feinstein, a senator from California, hoping to encourage her to support the resolution for a Green New Deal. Like the youth gun-control activists, they describe the issues they face as not abstract but genuine fears.

“People who are in their sixties right now don’t need to worry about these things nearly as much as we do,” a Sunrise volunteer and third-year student at U.C.L.A. named Natalie Rotstein said. “I’m surrounded by friends who don’t want to have kids because they don’t feel like they can in good conscience put children into the imminent apocalypse that looks like our future right now. It’s such an everyday, grinding kind of acceptance that there’s probably going to be an apocalypse within our lifetime, and nobody is really doing anything to stop it, so it’s the young people who feel the need to save our own futures because no one else is doing it.”

The group of twenty or so activists proceeded across Santa Monica Boulevard into the glossy lobby of a building where Feinstein’s office is on an upper floor. Security would not let them upstairs. When two of Feinstein’s staffers descended from an elevator to meet with the activists, they found them sitting in a circle on the floor, listening to a song about the recent California wildfires performed by a seventeen-year-old singer-songwriter and high-school student named Arielle Martinez Cohen. The activists were then relocated to an atrium between the office building and the parking deck. Peter Muller, Feinstein’s deputy state director, received their complaints under the decorative plant walls there. Asked why Feinstein had not yet endorsed the proposal, Muller replied that the senator is a very deliberative person who reviews things very closely. At this the crowd erupted with anxiety: “We don’t have a lot of time!” “There is no time!”

“She’s been my representative my entire life, and these issues have existed since I was born!” a twenty-five-year-old Sunrise volunteer named Ruby Dutcher said. Muller agreed to meet with a smaller group of activists in the office upstairs. In a scene I had watched play out many times in the past year, beginning with the lukewarm reception of lawmakers in Tallahassee to their visitors from Parkland, a staffer promised once again to relay the views of the young people to the person in power, as the young people made clear that the time for deliberation had passed.

Please go to the original article for further documentation via links/illustrations etc.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Green zone: the US soldiers fighting for vegan food

from The Guardian:

The US military doesn’t provide plant-based meals, often leaving vegan service members to rely on snacks – but some are seeing a rise in like-minded comrades

John, a specialist in the US army, went vegan in 2018 while deployed in the Middle East after he started practicing Buddhism.

“I’m living in a world of violence by being in the military but trying to live the most peaceful lifestyle that I can,” John says. “Choosing not to be violent in my everyday life when I don’t have to be is something I wholeheartedly say falls in line with my religious beliefs and military values.”

The military will accommodate a kosher, halal and vegetarian diet for troops, but no meals ready to eat (MREs) – which deployed soldiers rely on for breakfast, lunch and dinner – are totally plant-based. Like other vegan soldiers, John often has to rely on snacks. He once spent a month eating just bread, crackers, peanut butter and canned vegetables.

“It was just a miserable time,” he says. “We were in the field and had one meal a day. I went four days straight eating exclusively green beans.” He was fatigued, an obvious problem for soldiers in combat. “You want soldiers to be at their most capable and their most mentally and physically prepared for any action,” he says.

John prefers not to use his real name because he is worried about further ostracizing himself.

He says he is often told he’s not a man if he doesn’t eat meat. “Someone told me that being vegan is against God and being vegan makes me weak,” he recalls of an exchange while standing in line for a physical. Because the man who said it outranked him, John didn’t argue.

“Part of being vegan in the military is learning that there are some conversations that aren’t even worth having with people,” he says with a sigh. “I get a lot of shit for it.”

While the number of vegans in the military has never been officially determined, John isn’t alone. Anecdotally, vegan service members I spoke with report a rise in like-minded comrades, one that reflects a larger social trend: in 2017, there were five times as many vegans in America as in 2014. Part of the problem in making the case for vegan MREs as well as more plant-based options in military dining facilities is that no hard data on the number of vegans soldiers exists. Both the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and the army public affairs office declined to comment on whether they have plans to evaluate how many service members either require or are interested in plant-based options.

The DLA, a federal agency that decides what goes in MREs, confirmed that currently no MREs are vegan but declined to explain why or say whether the military would consider changing this. “There may have been a vegetarian entree that was also vegan. To date, there has been no military service requirement for vegan MREs,” the DLA commented via email which also verified that four of the 24 MRE options are vegetarian.

A couple of weeks ago, a dining hall in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, became the first to offer a plant-based entree at every meal, thanks to the ongoing advocacy of one vegan soldier.

But at all other dining halls, service members have to put in requests for a plant-based option, though there’s no requirement for those requests to be fulfilled. Junior service members may not know it’s within their rights to make such a request in the first place. If they do know, they may not want to further differentiate themselves by making a special request, instead choosing to get by the occasional plant-based entree or sides of vegetables – though vegan service members say those are often cooked in butter – or the salad bar, if they’re lucky enough to have one.

“Two years ago, if you were to say the word ‘vegan’ to me, I would’ve told you to not bother talking to me about it,” Chief Petty Officer Thomas Shearin, a mechanic in the US Coast Guard stationed in Miami, says. “You weren’t going to recruit me. I didn’t climb to the top of the food chain to eat rabbit food.

“Growing up in Texas, if you ate tofu instead of barbecue chicken, you definitely didn’t grow up playing football,” Shearin says. Now, he no longer equates meat with masculinity and proudly makes his own seitan at home. Most significantly, and to his own surprise, his veganism has become about more than addressing his lack of energy, high blood pressure and fear of reaching the military’s maximum weight limit. In less than two years, he says it has also become an ethical stance for the environment and animals.

Shearin went vegan while stationed in Saudi Arabia, where he met Master Chief Petty Officer Eric Gibson, who has been vegan for more than five years – initially to appease his animal rights-minded wife before going “full vegan” to manage his health.

While both Shearin and Gibson say the transition has been doable for them in the Coast Guard, they note that their high rank and not being deployed helps. Unlike John, they don’t have to rely on MREs for food and rank high enough to feel comfortable asking dining facilities to provide a vegan option. They are more likely to be accommodated because of their rank.

Interestingly, the military already has prepackaged vegan meals; they’re just not for soldiers. A DLA spokesperson confirmed that while some meals distributed as humanitarian aid to civilians are not classified as vegan, “these meals contain no animal products or by-products, except that minimal amounts of dairy products are permitted.” Having vegan meals as humanitarian aid makes sense – plant-based food is more easily made halal, can be less perishable and may be less expensive.

Indeed, in California, where a new law gave incarcerated people the right to request plant-based meals, legislative analysis found that the vegan options might be cheaper than traditional prison food, saving the state money in the long term. Although the law is new, it means that California inmates, whether they identify as vegan or not, now have more access to plant-based food than US service members.

Financial incentives may be at play in the military as well. Gibson says he thinks a lot of the military’s decisions are linked to industries the government subsidizes, like dairy and meat. This is just one more hurdle, but it seems soldiers continue to look for plant-based alternatives. John says fellow service members now frequently tell him they met another vegan soldier that day – something he almost never heard four years ago.

Shearin has experienced this change too: “It seems like every unit that I go to and visit, I come across people that are vegan, or who want to go vegan and they’re just not sure how to do it.” He encourages them to try a one-month vegan challenge and tells them if he can go plant-based, anyone can.

“My view has changed,” Shearin says. “We have a responsibility to the planet we’re on right now. I tell people if they’re vegan three days a week, that’s three days a week that they’re helping the planet. I would call that a win for them and for me.”

Thanks Eric!

Monday, February 25, 2019

School of Life Monday:
The Problem of Fame

It sounds so nice to be famous - from afar. But from closer up, there might be a range of problems that make anonymity preferable. This is a film for recovering fame addicts (there are quite a few of us out there...).

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Sunday Sermon: May He Rest In Peace ...
Skip Groff (November 20, 1948 - February 18, 2019)

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Skip Groff (November 20, 1948 - February 18, 2019) To say that that Dischord Records wouldn’t exist had it not been for Skip Groff isn’t really a stretch. It was Skip that took The Teen Idles to Inner Ear Studio back in 1980 to record what would become Dischord #1 and it was Skip, having gone through the process with his own Limp Record label, that walked us through the steps of getting a record pressed. The very fact that he had his own label was a huge inspiration to a bunch of DC kids who had no idea how the music industry worked or that the ability to create records would be within our reach. And it was Skip’s record shop, Yesterday and Today, that first sold our records and it was Skip’s trust in us and belief in the label that led him to lend us money to press records when we were completely broke. Making the trip to his shop became an instant ritual for young punk rockers like those of us who were discovering a new universe of music and culture in the late 70s and early 80s. Y&T blew our minds. The breadth of Skip’s knowledge about music, especially music from the 60s, was staggering and to this day I’ve never met any other person who, given a song title, was more able to name the artist, composer, producer, label, and year of release. He used to say that, while impressive, this talent didn’t really have much of a practical application outside of the record shop (for instance, try putting a fire out with that sort of information), but I don’t think it was merely a party trick. In my mind it something akin to proof of a higher power. Skip clearly sought and found joy in music and it was through the vernacular of music that he empowered so many to experience the same. Skip, we love you! - Ian, Jeff, and Dischord Records

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Saturday, February 23, 2019

NEIL BLENDER circa 1982 at the original combi-Pool at the Pipeline Skatepark in Upland California is a prime example

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This photograph of NEIL BLENDER circa 1982 at the original combi-Pool at the Pipeline Skatepark in Upland California is a prime example of the beauty we can find in the architecture, athleticism and ART in skateboarding and its culture. The image appeared for the first time in my book THE IDEALIST “In My Eyes 25 Years” you can read in my previous seven posts to find out what this book is all about, or on line search the title of the book. . . The link in my bio will take you directly to amazon page where it’s on sale, although it may be temporarily out of stock, take advantage of the low sale price while you can, because more books are being shipped to them as we speak (or search and find it anywhere you can for as little as you can). . . Although there are several skateboarding images and PUNK and Hip Hop photos, this book is an ART book with a political bend as well, with several essays scattered throughout, as i tend to do, from Ian MacKaye to Ralph Nader. From Cornel West to Ian F. Svenonius. And more. . . . This is one of my all time favorites. For the real art and photography buffs out there. 👊🏽✌🏽✊🏽 #FILM #Inspiration #Integrity #35mm #ART #Photography #International #TheIdealist #PUNK #Landscapes #skateboarding #LoudFastRules #sadlands #upland #pipeline #combipool #Beauty #HipHop #Composition #character #book 1976 -2001

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Thursday, February 21, 2019

Study suggests that Flat Eartherism spread via Youtube

from BoingBoing:

The rise in a belief that the Earth is flat is bizarre and somewhat frightening, a repudiation of one of the most basic elements of scientific consensus. Texas Tech University psych researcher Asheley R. Landrum attended a 2017 flat earth convention and interviewed 30 attendees to trace the origins of their belief in a flat earth, finding that Youtube videos were key to their journey into conspiracy theories; her findings were bolstered by a survey of more than 500 participants.

Landrum presented her research at an AAAS meeting a year ago, and it paints a compelling picture of the role Youtube plays in spreading conspiracy theories.

I think that a good model for understanding the spread of these theories needs to also take account of the breakdown of epistemological consensus about how we know things are true.

This breakdown has at least two contributing factors: the first is a decades-long, deliberate campaign to undermine the consensus about how we know things are true, from the denial of the link between cancer and smoking to climate denial. The denial playbook starts with undermining the idea that science produces reliable outcomes, or that a scientific consensus can be trusted.

But denialism is greatly augmented by a legitimate perception of corruption in both expert circles and regulators. The anti-vax movement, for example, relies on two true facts to suggest an untrue conclusion:

* the pharma industry is corrupt and willing to endanger people for profit; and

* regulators are captured by pharma and willing to let them get away with it; therefore

* vaccines can't be trusted.

In a democracy that values free expression, it's hard to imagine how we'll get people to stop saying untrue things (though of course we can tweak our suggestion algorithms to stop prioritizing "engagement," which ends up promoting untrue things).

But we can (and indeed, must) address the legitimate concerns of conspiracy theorists: the ability fo self-dealing, powerful companies to get away with bad acts, and the willingness of regulators to let them.

If you want to learn more about Flat Eartherism, I strongly recommend this interview with Mark Sargent, a notorious Flat Earther, who talked with the skeptical podcast Oh No Ross and Carrie in late 2017. Sargent's frank discussion of his conspiracy theory mindset provides really important insight into an extremely frightening breakdown in reason in our society.

“Believing the Earth is flat in of itself is not necessarily harmful, but it comes packaged with a distrust in institutions and authority more generally,” she added. “We want people to be critical consumers of the information they are given, but there is a balance to be had.”

Landrum called on scientists and others to create their own YouTube videos to combat the proliferation of conspiracy videos. “We don’t want YouTube to be full of videos saying here are all these reasons the Earth is flat. We need other videos saying here’s why those reasons aren’t real and here’s a bunch of ways you can research it for yourself.”

But she conceded that some Flat Earthers may not be swayed by a scientists’ words. When the US astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson explained how small sections of large curved surfaces will always appear flat to the little creatures that crawl upon it, his message was seen by some Flat Earthers as patronising and dismissive, Landrum said.

Believing in A Flat Earth [Asheley Landrum/AAAS] (slides)
Study blames YouTube for rise in number of Flat Earthers [Ian Sample/The Guardian]