Sunday, December 31, 2017

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Friday, December 29, 2017

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas is... Christmas In Hollis

My photo above, corny fun video below...


Thursday, December 21, 2017

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Why Run-DMC didn’t want to make ‘Christmas in Hollis’

from the New York Post:

By Hardeep Phull
Shopping for the holidays is stressful enough to send anyone reaching for the eggnog, but for Darryl McDaniels, a k a DMC of Run-DMC, it’s especially taxing.

“At this time of year, I can’t walk five steps at the mall without someone shouting the lyrics to ‘Christmas in Hollis’ at me,” he tells The Post. “Just yesterday, I was at the grocery store, and a lady said, ‘Guess what’s on my playlist right now?’ I said, ‘Christmas in Hollis.’ She said, ‘How did you know?!’ It’s a beautiful thing, but I got to expect that for the rest of my life!”

That didn’t seem likely when the song was first released 30 years ago. In 1987, Run-DMC was invited to contribute a holiday song to “A Very Special Christmas,” a charity compilation benefiting the Special Olympics. Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Whitney Houston and other artists recorded covers, but the New York rap trio went the extra mile and came up with the fun and funky “Christmas in Hollis.”

The song didn’t chart at the time, but over the years, it’s developed a cultural cachet as one of the few holiday songs that isn’t sappy. It’s also been featured in movies such as “Die Hard” (1988) and Seth Rogen’s 2015 comedy “The Night Before.” DMC’s just given it a 30th anniversary revamp to help promote the IFC network’s “Christmas in the ’80s” movie marathon over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

“We’re down with Christmas forever because of that record,” says the 53-year-old DMC, who recently released a four-track vinyl-only EP “Back From the Dead — The Legend Lives.”

“We’re part of the holidays, and I get paid a lot of money to do that song at parties this time of year.”

But the coolest Christmas song of all time almost didn’t happen. Kurtis Blow released the holiday track “Christmas Rappin’ ” in 1979, and the group worried about looking like copycats by releasing another. “In hip-hop culture, you can’t duplicate what’s already been done, so we weren’t sure about doing it,” says DMC.

But publicist Bill Adler convinced them otherwise. An avowed enthusiast and collector of lesser-heard Christmas music, Adler bought the group’s DJ Jam Master Jay (a k a Jason Mizell) a crate of festive records, hoping there would be something they could use to build a song. Eventually, Jay came across Clarence Carter’s 1968 R&B track “Back Door Santa,” and it immediately caught his ear.

“Run and DMC were in the next room and came in, as if they’d been drawn to the scent of a big Christmas pie or something,” Adler tells The Post. “They nodded at Jay, and everybody knew that was going to be the sample.”

Lyrically, the song followed Run-DMC’s established trope: writing about their native Queens. Joseph “Run” Simmons’ verse centers on spotting Santa Claus in Hollis, while DMC captures his own childhood Christmases, with his mom “cooking chicken and collard greens” at home.

“I ate that meal for 48 years before my mother passed away [in 2013], and I got tired of it,” says the rapper, who’s since left Queens for New Jersey.

“Now, I go out with my family on Christmas, because when you go to the city on Christmas, the whole city’s yours. You can get reservations in places you never would. The next Christmas song I do is gonna be about going out on Christmas to eat!”

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Interview with Al Jaffee at 95 years old
Podcast from WE EAT ART

As a kid of the 60's and 70's Mad magazine was a huge influence to me as well as entertainment.
Al Jaffee was one of it's masterminds, I found this interview really enjoyable and you probably will too.

In fact I just did an interview with these guys at WE EAT ART based on their dedication to the art they love. Give them a listen, and look out for my interview coming in the near future.

Al Jaffee has quite literaly been making cartoons longer than any artist in history. Unfortunately for everyone involved, he works at Mad Magazine.

Monday, December 18, 2017

School of Life Monday:
What Is the Sunday Evening Feeling?

Sunday evenings have a particular atmosphere, where nostalgia mixes with dread. A lot of the emotion is at heart about a background sense that we haven’t found the meaning of our lives – and that time is running out for us.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Sunday Sermon:
The Feminist Case For Single Payer

It's time to take health care away from the power of bosses and spouses.
In the spring of 1969, a dozen feminists gathered at a women’s conference in Boston and came to a sober conclusion: their encounters with the United States health-care system had been overwhelmingly negative. They felt unsettled by doctors, alienated from their bodies, grifted by fees, and altogether powerless to navigate an industry they believed objectified them just as popular culture did.

The conference launched a years-long project, with each participant delving into some aspect of anatomy, sexuality, or society related to women’s health. The result was a self-published volume of essays called Women and their Bodies, which the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective used to provide women with a resource produced from their own perspectives and experiences.

Within a few years, the landmark feminist booklet was re-dubbed Our Bodies, Ourselves, released by Simon and Schuester, and sold millions of copies. In 2012, the Library of Congress named it one of the most significant works in American history. In recent years, it has inspired Trans Bodies, Trans Selves, which similarly seeks to be a health-care guide “by and for” the transgender community.

While Our Bodies, Ourselves is remembered for its role in the history of women’s health and culture, less attention is paid to its political context. In the 1970s, the small collective became one of the first feminist organizations to demand a single-payer health-care system: “Suffice it to say that capitalism is incapable of providing good health care, both curative and preventive, for all people,” one entry read. “Cost-benefit analysis trades off the benefit to the people of collective public health in favor of the cost to the people of private, patch-up medical care. The capitalist medical care system can be no more dedicated to improving the people’s health than can General Motors become dedicated to improving the people’s public transportation.” In a subsequent edition, they expounded: “We believe that health care is a human right and that a society should provide free health care for itself . . . Health care cannot be adequate as long as it is conceived of as insurance.”

If the book’s then-radical content has so permeated mainstream culture that it would strike readers as obvious today, the same is not the case for its authors’ critique of American health care. In fact, nearly fifty years after the collective articulated its vision for a universal system, “feminist” arguments against single-payer pepper politics and the media.

In June, Planned Parenthood of California refused to endorse a bill for a statewide single-payer system, contending that it was critical to focus on defending the Affordable Care Act (ACA) against GOP attacks instead. Vice cast it as a job-crusher for the mostly women of color who work in healthcare administration. In 2016, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton — whose campaign foregrounded her feminist credentials — famously declared single-payer would “never, ever come to pass.” More recently, Senator Bernie Sanders’s release of an expansive Medicare for All bill has been met with skepticism by media personalities who backed Clinton for her feminist credentials. At the very least, it seems clear that single-payer health care is rarely framed as a feminist issue.

Some mainstream feminists knock single payer as a distraction from the fight to defend the ACA. But while the Affordable Care Act undeniably improved some women’s lives, it could not dismantle gendered barriers to care.

Of all systems, single-payer is capable of going furthest to eliminate them. That’s the vision that Our Bodies, Ourselves adopted nearly half a century ago, and it must be taken up again today.

The Double Bind

One of the pervasive ways women are disadvantaged under the ACA is its reliance on employer-based coverage. In the United States, World War II–era wage freezes helped entrench a system of employer-provided health insurance, a perk meant to attract workers in a squeezed labor market.

Eventually, Medicare and Medicaid were devised as a safety net for those shut out of private plans, and the ACA expanded that safety net. Still, job-based plans remain the bedrock on which our insurance system is built.

Under this system, it’s harder for women to get health insurance in the first place. The strains of childrearing and elder care make women more likely to seek more flexible employment, like part-time, remote, or freelance work. These forms of employment tend not only to pay less, but are less likely to include health insurance benefits.

Divorce leaves some 65,000 women uninsured each year, with men being far more likely to maintain coverage after their marriages dissolve.

Those that do provide inferior ones: companies with majority-female workforces tend to offer less generous health-care coverage than those that are majority male. And less than one-third of low-income workers receive any health insurance through work. Jobs paying at or around the minimum wage are most often occupied by women, the majority of whom are women of color. Trans women face even higher levels of poverty than cis women, and are frequently saddled with impossibly high out of pocket costs.

Then there are the 25 percent of non-elderly adult women insured as dependents of a working spouse, which weakens their control over both their insurance coverage and their relationship. Health insurance has been found to be a common reason for getting married — and for staying married when one would rather not — especially among low-income people. Upon the loss of a spouse’s coverage, it’s difficult and expensive to continue receiving the same care. COBRA coverage — a program that allows people who lose employer-based insurance to remain on it, so long as they pony up the amount formerly contributed by employers — is often the only way to maintain provider networks, but it’s wildly expensive and eventually expires. Ultimately, divorce leaves some sixty-five thousand women uninsured each year, with men being far more likely to maintain coverage after their marriages dissolve.

Women’s unpaid domestic work puts further pressure on the contradictory demands of home, work, and the need to access coverage. Women disproportionately shoulder the responsibility of caring for others, putting them in an impossible situation when it comes to child and elder care: in order to maintain health insurance, they can’t take too much time off work. As a result, they’re forced to spend a significant portion of their wages on private care for the hours they’re on the job. For low-income women who don’t qualify for insurance through employers, the problem can be severe, made worse still by right-wing efforts to impose higher copays and out-of-home work requirements on Medicaid recipients, or to defund programs like CHIP that help parents pay for their children’s health insurance.

During particularly urgent health episodes, like childbirth or a relative’s protracted illness, women opt to take unpaid time off instead of risking their jobs. Notoriously, the United States is one of only a handful of countries that doesn’t guarantee paid maternity leave, exacerbating the financial stress of an already pricey phase of life. The Labor Department has found that nearly one-third of women who take unpaid time off for their own or dependents’ health issues fall into serious credit card debt.

Our Health, Our Selves

None of this is to say that the Affordable Care Act was a total wash for women. The ACA’s Medicaid expansion provided public health insurance to anyone with income below 137 percent of the federal poverty line, and federal subsidies (however inadequate) to anyone making below 400 percent. Because of the gendered wage gap, the effect was to extend insurance to more women than men. The law also took on health discrimination, by mandating that men and women pay equal premiums, ending gatekeeping based on preexisting conditions or the ability to become pregnant, and requiring that plans sold on state exchanges cover maternity care and birth control.

The ACA’s overhaul of the individual insurance market has helped somewhat to delink insurance from employment. Before the ACA, reproductive-age women faced considerable difficulties getting coverage on the individual market, since insurers were free to charge sky-high premiums to hedge against the possibility of having to shell out for maternity care. But even if premiums are more highly regulated, increased cost-sharing still means that patients pay stiff prices simply for getting the care they need: reproductive-aged women still spend over 60 percent more than men do in out-of-pocket health-care costs.

At the same time, while state ACA exchanges offer an alternative to employer-provided plans, the exchange plans remain inferior. Both tiers of insurance are plagued by narrowing provider networks, and ever-rising out of pocket costs – leading millions to forego insurance because it’s too unaffordable, or find themselves stuck with plans they can’t even afford to use. And that’s with the ACA.

In short, the dynamics that make the American health-care system so hostile to women remain largely unscathed after the ACA: the pervasive commodification of healthcare and dependent care in the United States, coupled with employment-based gatekeeping, engineers an impossible bind for women: they face more challenges accessing the health-care system and pay more for their care when they do, out of lower incomes that are further squeezed by child and elder care costs.

By removing power over health care from employers and spouses, and replacing unequal tiers with one unified insurance pool, we could fund our health-care system with progressive taxes. That way, we could guarantee everyone the care they need, and make it free at the point of service. Ability to pay, pre-existing conditions, employment status, and gender would cease to be barriers. Building Medicare for All — with robust guarantees for tougher-to-access services like abortion and gender affirming care — would force American society as a whole to address the care disparities women face.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Jay Adams 1977 early back yard ramp skating
on my instagram

The Original One and Only JAY ADAMS on a somewhat primitive but well built back yard ramp circa 1977. This was just a one hit ramp, at the end of an L shaped drive way, you had maybe 60feet to push with a little down slope half way through then had to veer right hard and you had maybe 10 feet before you'd hit the ramp, it was awkward but it was rare and relatively smooth transition, the first ramp many of us had ever seen with a perfectly round cut transition in the base support structure, no one even built half pipes yet, and here's fuckin Jay Boy totally going off in more ways than one, just going for it, because that's just what he did. The ramp belonged to a friend of mine from school, Brett Adams (no relation to Jay). The ramp was up in Brentwood, just in between Paul Revere and Kenter. As you can see from this picture the ramp is actually leaning up against the roof of the house (note broomstick coping and no deck on top, oldschool kids!), a few weeks later they built its own free standing support and put the ramp at the straight end of the driveway, i made a bunch of great photos there with Alva, in particular, and several others, including one of Brett that made it into my Fuck You Too book and MY RULES the book. The frontside airs of Alva are classics, a backside tail-tap of T.A. ( @thetonyalva1957 ) made it onto the contents page in SkateBoarder Magazine. This photo appears in my co-authored (w/Stecyk) "DogTown - The Legend of The Z-Boys" still available at your local bookstore or Amazon... #jayadams #jayboy #jayboyadams #ZBOYS #Zflex #TrackerTrucks #backyardramp #1977 #DogTown #WLA #quarterpipe #inspiration #integrity #BadAss #Venice #OG #100% #100percentskateboarder #innovator #skateboarding #skating #knowYourHistory #rampskating #quarterpipe #getRadical #GNARLY #RAD #politicallyIncorrect #MyRules #surfculture #GetTheNewBook

A post shared by glen E. friedman Ⓥ (@glenefriedman) on

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Former Facebook exec says network is 'destroying how society works'

from Mashable:
"You don't get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies."

That was the tagline for The Social Network, the film about creating Facebook, and it's only become more relevant as the social network has grown to more than 2 billion people. Those "few enemies" are former Facebook executives, people who helped build the tech giant.

“The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we’ve created are destroying how society works," said Chamath Palihapitiya, who joined Facebook in 2007 and served as its vice president for user growth. He was referring to the iconic "like" button and other reactions we have while browsing News Feed.

The video, first surfaced by The Verge on Monday, is of Palihapitiya speaking at Stanford Graduate School of Business on Nov. 13. Four days prior, Facebook's founding president Sean Parker echoed similar concerns about Facebook "exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology."

Facebook has received a lot of attention for helping manipulate the 2016 presidential election via Russian trolls and propaganda, but Palihapitiya noted other bad events that have transpired over Facebook's networks. He described how a lynching in India occurred via hoax messages sent over WhatsApp.

"Imagine taking that to the extreme, where bad actors can now manipulate large swathes of people to do anything you want," Palihapitiya said.

Of course, it's not all bad. Facebook “overwhelmingly does good in the world," he said.

And, of course, Facebook helped make people like Palihapitiya rich. His net worth was rumored to be close to $1 billion, according to Business Insider in 2015. He spent some of his wealth on owning a part of Silicon Valley's favorite basketball team, the Golden State Warriors.

Since leaving Facebook, Palihapitiya entered the venture capital industry in 2011. He runs his own VC firm called Social Capital that focuses on investing in technology, healthcare, and education. Social Capital is also an investor in Slack, a platform that causes anxiety like Facebook.

Palihapitiya critiqued not only Facebook and social networks but also the state of venture capital in Silicon Valley.

“Everybody’s bullshitting,” he said of the venture capital community. "Over time you get one of the 20 [successful investments] and you look like a genius."

He's an interesting guy, but can't say I agree with all of his philosophies and tactics discussed in the interview below... but some interesting stuff...

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

MUST WATCH: If Milk Commercials Were Honest
If you still drink Cows Milk or have a good sense of humor

Milk, dairy, cheese and lactose commercials are great and all but no one's ever actually looked into how much our consumption of mammal udder juice contributes to growing up big and strong, but we just roll with it anyway.

Monday, December 11, 2017

School of Life Monday:
Are Intelligent People More Lonely?

It sounds like a hugely arrogant and self-serving suggestion to imply that cleverness might lead you to loneliness. But if you define cleverness in a selective (and modest) way, there may truly be an aspect whereby it can lead to a certain isolation.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Sunday X-Mas advice:
(Virtually) No one should ever own an Echo
or any other "voice assistant" product

from Boing Boing:
If you buy one of those intrinsically insecure, always-on "smart speakers" from Google, Amazon, Apple or other players, you're installing a constantly listening presence in your home that by design listens to every word you say, and which is very likely to suffer at least one catastrophic breach that allows hackers (possibly low-level dum-dums like the ransomware creeps who took whole hospitals hostage this year, then asked for a mere $300 to give them back because they were such penny-ante grifters) to gain access to millions of these gadgets, along with machine-learning-trained models that will help them pluck blackmail material, credit card numbers, and humiliating disclosures out of the stream of speech they're capturing.

I don't own one of these and I've turned off the "voice assistant" on my mobile devices.

Writing in Gizmodo, Adam Clark Estes explains what a fantastically dumb fad these gadgets represent, and how they normalize surveillance.

One use-case I've heard of sounds like it justifies all these risks: helping people with dementia by serving as an infinitely patient interlocutor who can answer questions like "what day is it?" and "where am I" over and over again without losing its temper.
Which brings us back to security and surveillance. I’m not here to be Tin Foil Hat Man and convince you that companies like Amazon are spying on your every move and compiling data sets based on your activity so that they can more effectively serve you ads or sell you products. I am here to say that smart speakers like the Echo do contain microphones that are always on, and every time you say something to the speaker, it sends data back to the server farm. (By the way: If you enabled an always-listening assistant on your smartphone, now’s a good time to consider the implications.) For now, the companies that sell smart speakers say that those microphones only send recordings to the servers when you use the wake word. The same companies are less explicit about what they’re doing with all that data. They’re also vague about whether they might share voice recordings with developers in the future. Amazon, at least, seems open to the idea.

We do know that Amazon will hand over your Echo data if the gadget becomes involved in a homicide investigation. That very thing happened earlier this year, and while Amazon had previously refused to hand over customer data, the company didn’t argue with a subpoena in a murder case. It remains unclear how government agencies like the FBI, CIA, and NSA are treating smart speakers, too. The FBI, for one, would neither confirm nor deny wiretapping Amazon Echo devices when Gizmodo asked the agency about it last year.

Sinister ambitions of governments and multinational corporations aside, you should also worry about the threat of bugs and hackers going after smart speakers. Anything that’s connected to the internet is potentially vulnerable to intrusions, but as a new category of devices, smart speakers are simply untested in the security arena. We haven’t yet experienced a major hack of smart speakers, although there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that they’re hardly bulletproof. Not long after its launch, the Google Home Mini experienced a bug that led to the device recording everything happening in a technology reporter’s house for dozens of hours. You can chalk that up to a very bad screw up on Google’s part, but it’s a tear in the fabric of trust that should encase these kinds of gadgets.

Don't Buy Anyone an Echo [Adam Clark Estes/Gizmodo]

Friday, December 8, 2017

for your friday:
Lust for life - Iggy Pop documentary 1987

Documentary directed by Bram van Splunteren for VPRO TV. Doc contains footage of Iggy Pop live in Vredenburg Utrecht, The Netherlands (november 1986), Iggy being interviewed in New York City ('87), and the late great Ron Asheton, guitarist of Iggy & the Stooges, filmed in his hometown Ann Arbor in 1987, playing old Stooges riffs in his mother's basement, the place where the band did their first rehearsals.

Thanks to Alex at Flaming Pablum

Thursday, December 7, 2017

How Socialism Can Replace Mass Death
as a Tool for Leveling Inequality

By Eve Ottenberg, Truthout | News Analysis

The world is run by an oligarchy of billionaires, as Bernie Sanders recently observed. To take power away from that oligarchy, it is necessary to take some of their wealth, through means like progressive taxation, a maximum income for all citizens, a guaranteed basic income for everyone, stronger unions, slashing the military budget and strengthening the welfare state, meaning free higher education, student debt forgiveness, Medicare for all and other measures. Would these approaches mitigate inequality? They could help, suggest Canadian professors and contributors to Socialist Register 2017 Leo Panitch and Bryan Palmer. Peter Edelman, a former adviser to Robert Kennedy and Bill Clinton, also indicates the potential of some social welfare policies to eradicate inequality in his book, So Rich, So Poor. However, Stanford professor Walter Scheidel, in his recent book The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality, expresses much less optimism about the potential of social programs to end inequities. Scheidel argues that over thousands of years of human history, the only thing that has ever succeeded at truly equalizing wealth, or that has even led to the large-scale adoption of social welfare policies, is mass death. In particular, he points to the Black Death in the late Middle Ages, history's various violently failed states, Stalin's terror, purges and gulags, the violence of Mao's revolution and two world wars. Scheidel argues that the "only" cure for inequality -- mass death -- is worse than the disease.

But the disease is pretty awful, and there are those who think that socialism, not mass death, might cure it. Scheidel notes that in the early 21st century, the 62 richest people on Earth own as much wealth as the poorer half of humanity, more than 3.5 billion people. And a lot of that poorer half is outright destitute. Scheidel speculates that the creation of predatory, wealth-stealing elites might be hard-wired into our species. So, like Thomas Piketty does in his writings on inequality in Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Scheidel notes that the world wars countered inequality, but he takes the observation much further, into a pessimism that implicitly concludes that since only mass death can effectively create equality, we have to give up on equality. (Incidentally, Scheidel argues that many wars only serve to increase inequality. Not all death equalizes -- only, he says, mass death in certain very specific circumstances.)

However, as Trent University professor Bryan Palmer pointed out in a recent interview with Truthout, the idea that inequality has only ever effectively been lessened "by mass death is indeed pessimistic and highly worrying -- not to mention contentious."

Indeed, so far, the most likely next producer of mass death -- climate change -- will probably be a powerful driver of inequality, with the world's poorer populations being hardest hit. The world is already facing the horrors of pestilence (think cholera in Yemen) and climate-induced calamity, and these conditions will only intensify. "A strong case can be made that inequality will be enhanced by catastrophes of various kinds," Palmer said, "since the truly rich ... can insulate themselves somewhat."

According to Scheidel, after the Black Death wiped out much of the population of medieval Europe, a labor scarcity enabled workers to demand and receive higher wages. State collapse, the modern version of which we have seen in Somalia, has also had equalizing effects, according to Scheidel. In the 20th century, two new violent ways of equalizing elite wealth emerged -- "total war," namely World War I and II, and communist revolutions, particularly in Stalin's Russia and Mao's China, though much of what occurred in both places could better be termed counterrevolution. "Key mechanisms of equalization, such as unionization," Scheidel writes, "public intervention in private wage setting and highly progressive taxation of income and wealth, all first rose to prominence in the context of global war..." and in the context of a communist threat.

However, trade unionism had been growing for decades before global war descended in 1914, and so had socialism. They may have gained ground with the unique conditions of two world wars and a major depression, but they preexisted them, too. "You have to look at the previous activity of socialists, trade unionists and mass suffrage," said York University professor Leo Panitch in a recent interview with Truthout. "You had to mobilize wealth -- in the context of class struggle, and you can't leave that out.... After World War II, you see the accommodation of social democratic governments and the Democratic Party, making the welfare state fit with capital accumulation -- and that couldn't be maintained. If the social democrats had gone further to control capital's escape of wealth taxation -- socialists want to take capital away from capitalists to take away their power -- they might have succeeded."

As for capitalism today, Panitch paraphrases German philosopher Max Horkheimer, to the effect that anyone who speaks of capitalism and not fascism should remain silent. In other words, the one entails the other. For instance, domestic repression and refugee policies are two ferociously brutal features of contemporary capitalist regimes, from Duterte's Philippines to Sheriff Joe Arpaio's "concentration camps" for immigrants in Arizona, to name but two examples. Given capitalism's tilt toward total control and readiness to resort to fascistic, police state methods, Panitch sees "a very bloody future, a Blade Runner future."

Scheidel's mass death thesis is bolstered by massive research into tax and other records spanning millennia. His conclusion, that we're in for growing inequality over the long haul and there's little to be done about it, is, however, undercut by some of his own observations. Even by the author's estimation, inequality is not inevitable. Scheidel allows that three peaceful mechanisms of controlling inequality have been somewhat effective: land reform, debt forgiveness and powerful unions. He also notes the "anomaly" in Latin America in the early 2000s of inequality being significantly and peacefully reduced. This development looks less anomalous when correlated with the region's left-tide-inspired social welfare gains.

Also contradicting this pessimism is the existence of Kerala State in India, home to 35 million people, who have been voting a communist government into power regularly since 1957. Literacy there, according to a recent Washington Post article, is over 95 percent. Communism has peacefully done away with the caste system and, in Kerala, a street sweeper can have major surgery practically for free. With free education and health care, Marxist Kerala has been producing excellent doctors, engineers and scientists for decades. Many immigrate to the Persian Gulf states for higher wages, but many of those migrants eventually return to Kerala. This is only one example, but it and countries that have peacefully attained socialist features, like Bolivia and Ecuador, would seem to undercut the defeatist conclusion that we have to accept inequality and abandon economic freedom because the only alternative is mass death.

Closer to home, we have 103 million poor and near poor people in the US -- including 6 million with no income other than food stamps, as Peter Edelman reported in So Rich, So Poor a few years ago. Meanwhile, billionaires and corporations are now poised to reap tax break bonanzas from a dreadful tax bill put forth by a reactionary, Republican-controlled and donor-owned Congress. Inequality is rampant in the US. Benefits of a modest welfare state are in tatters, and unions have been ravaged. Only truly radical measures -- like a cap on income and wealth and a basic guaranteed income, as has been adopted in Finland, Ontario, Canada, and many European cities -- can wrench around our backward drift. As Edelman's book observed, currently welfare has 4 million participants. Before President Clinton slashed it (whereupon Edelman quit the Clinton administration), it had 14 million.

Given the violent and determined nature of elite predation, how realistic is socialism as a peaceful force for equality? "We should be very modest about the likelihood of achieving socialism," Panitch said. However, he qualified this: "Socialism may be unrealistic, but history is contingent. Wars and revolutions are not chosen, they brew out of decades ... Bolshevik demands in 1917 were not socialism, but bread, land and peace. They weren't proposing to bring down the then liberal government at first."

For Palmer, "socialism is the only alternative." He argues that Scheidel's recognition that progressive reforms were often implemented in contexts of crisis, especially war, and to stave off the threat of communism, only establishes that creating socialism with its insistence on overcoming inequality might actually be easier and less traumatic than in circumstances of constraint. According to Palmer, globalization and advancing conditions in the developing world, as well as technological innovation mean that the possibilities for socialism are now greater than at any time previously. He argues that more and more of the global economy is open to rational, planned development. He observes that, of course, elites will resist. "Yet the [Russian Revolution] was relatively peaceful, and it was a popular, mass supported revolution," which Palmer clearly distinguishes from "the terror of a new ruling caste" under Stalin.

In Latin America, Panitch noted, "reaction is undermining the left tide." But additionally, none of Latin America's current or recent left governments were truly socialist. "Even Chavez made no moves outside of the oil industry to take capital away from the Venezuelan ruling class," Panitch said. "He did nothing to build a more balanced, internally oriented economy. The state was never reformed and remained corrupt. What happened in Bolivia and Ecuador was not a break with capitalism."

Meanwhile inequality in China has soared. "The billionaire class is all the Communist Party members," Panitch observed, adding that even if they want to return to socialism, they're billionaires, and they can't be the force for undoing their own wealth. But Panitch asks whether there are left-wing elements in China who would want real socialism. He observes that the Chinese working class engages in a phenomenal number of strikes, 100,000 ever year, and wonders if it could become a left-wing Solidarność movement. Panitch notes that what is missing from Piketty's book is the issue of inequality of power on the job. Who gives orders and takes them? "Socialism was all about democratizing the workplace, increasing workers' power," he noted. "If we got more equality in World War II, it was because of those working-class, socialist and communist subcultures, not just the war."

If socialism is a real alternative to mass death and to the inequality of mass dispossession, what would it look like? Could the three peaceful programs Scheidel sees as having mitigated inequality in the past function as three legs for socialism to stand on -- land reform, debt forgiveness and powerful trade unionism?

"No, not enough," Panitch said. "Socialism would have to stand on turning finance into a public utility.... A viable socialism would need the building of mass socialist organizations again."

Palmer agrees that simply instating the three "peaceful programs" would not be sufficient, since it would not actually transform capitalism. He noted that, "The problem with [authors] like Piketty and Scheidel, is that they approach inequality as an island unto itself," without recognizing that inequality "is situated within capitalism." Palmer also says that land reform in the Global South will never suffice as a solvent of poverty and destitution. To secure debt forgiveness, he thinks we need a revolutionary challenge to the current global political economy. Regarding trade unions, he says that what is needed is a class struggle unionism, against dispossession across borders. Palmer observes that trade unionism is under assault everywhere in the world. But it is now strongest where wages are lowest, conditions at their worst, and the politics of opposition most acute -- in the Global South. He sums up with the point that socialism requires new organizations. For Palmer, ending capitalism now "is imperative. We're faced with socialism or barbarism ... as Marx once said, commenting on India, human progress must 'cease to resemble that hideous pagan idol, who would not drink the nectar but from the skulls of the slain.'"

Panitch agrees: "Given how ugly and chaotic capitalism is in the world, there will be socialist movements and revolutions in the coming decades."

It will be up to those movements and revolutions to prevent the other types of mass death, those we could be staring in the face any day -- the ones associated with climate change, fascism and nuclear war.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The full BLACK FLAG Target video

I own a copy of this half hour on 3/4" tape somewhere... The Dez clips are incredible... as are the live Henry clips, but he was still kinda new at the time, not 100% settled in yet. Gotta love this live stuff . . .

Yeah that's me in the embarrassing "TV Party" video that Dukowski and I wrote the story line to on the way up to SF.

it get's better after that clip...

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Oddsmakers in the UK say Trump has a 50/50 shot
of being impeached in the next 12 months

from Boing Boing:

In light of the recent news about Michael Flynn becoming a stool pigeon, UK bookmakers are adjusting the odds on the likelihood that Trump will be impeached.

“In the wake of the bombshell news that Michael Flynn is pleading guilty to making false statements to the FBI during their Russia investigations, President Trump has hit his shortest price yet to leave office before the end of his term," Naomi Totten, spokeswoman for Betfair, told The Independent.

“Trading at a low of 1.7 or 4/6, which equates to a 59 per cent implied chance, punters are increasingly confident that this is one mess Trump will not be able to tweet his way out of.”

"Paddy Power now bet 4/7 that Donald Trump will be impeached. That’s an implied probability of 63 per cent," said Joe Lee, Paddy Power's Head of Trump Betting.

"Those odds sat at 11/10 yesterday which would have been a 47 per cent probability," he continued. "Our punters are also very interested in the year of impeachment with 2018 now sitting at even money - making it a 50/50 shot it happens in the next 12 months."

Monday, December 4, 2017

School of Life Monday:
How to Start a Business

We’re often encouraged to think that the secret to starting is a business is to have a bold and entirely original idea. But the suggestion here is that all we really need is to LOVE something a little more than most other people do: that will be enough to help us stand out from the competition.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Democrats Don’t Need "Dump" Supporters to Win Elections

from The Nation:

The 2017 elections made clear that the Obama coalition is the majority.
The evidence is in from the 2017 elections, and the verdict is clear—the constituencies that twice voted to put a black man in the White House remain the majority in this country. Democrats spent a year wailing and navel gazing as they tried to figure out how to woo Trump supporters, but it turns out that the way to win is to mobilize the New American Majority—people of color and progressive whites.

In the elections on November 7, Democrats carried the day in contests across the country. From Virginia and New Jersey to Montana to California—and myriad races in between—Democratic candidates swept to victory. What was the secret to all this success? Inspiring and mobilizing those people who are with us rather than trying to persuade those who support Trump that they made a mistake. In Virginia, 91 percent of those who approve of Trump’s performance voted Republican, but Ralph Northam nonetheless trounced his Republican opponent, Ed Gillespie. In New Jersey, 87 percent of Trump supporters stuck with the Republicans, but Democrat Phil Murphy cruised to a landslide victory.

In Virginia and New Jersey, it was the “Obama coalition” of people of color and progressive whites—what I call the New American Majority—that propelled Democrats to victory. In both of those states, the Democratic candidates for governor lost the white vote but won the election because 80 percent of people of color supported them, providing the same kind of cornerstone that Obama enjoyed.

Despite 12 months of worried think pieces, high-profile initiatives, and expensive, poll-driven campaigns designed to appeal to the white working class, the levels of support for Democrats from that constituency barely budged. In Virginia, Northam received 26 percent of the white working-class vote, as compared to the 24 percent Hillary Clinton received in 2016. It is worth noting that Northam and Murphy both received a higher percentage of the white college-educated vote than Clinton did last year, but that could just be a statistical quirk reflecting a higher number of white Democrats turning out to vote than white Republicans. If that uptick is real, it was nonetheless among college-educated whites; in other words, not from the constituency that Democrats have obsessively focused on. The ceiling with the white working class is what it is.

The ability to win without picking up significant additional support from Trump supporters lays bare the fundamental fallacy underlying most Democratic and progressive strategy—the notion that Trump won and enjoys majority support. He didn’t, and he doesn’t. What happened in 2016 was not a mass defection of Democratic voters to Trump. What happened was a dramatic decline in black voter turnout (because of voter suppression, grossly insufficient investment, and overall lack of inspiration from the all-white Democratic ticket), combined with a splintering of the Obama coalition that saw statistically significant numbers of Democratic voters defect to the third- and fourth-party candidacies of Gary Johnson and Jill Stein. Not only did Trump lose the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes; he also failed to garner a majority of the vote in the states that tipped the Electoral College vote—Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.

What does all of this mean for 2018? It means that by inspiring and investing in the core components of the Obama coalition, namely people of color and progressive whites, Democrats can capture control of the House of Representatives and replace Republican governors in key states such as Georgia, Florida, Arizona, Maryland, Illinois, Ohio, and Massachusetts.

In order to prevail, however, Democrats must celebrate and embrace the diversity of the progressive coalition in all its multicultural, multiracial splendor. It is time to reject the conventional wisdom that electoral success requires muting our identities for fear of further alienating those who are already so afraid of the country’s changing population that they put a hate-mongerer like Trump in the Oval Office. A proud turban-wearing Sikh man, Ravi Bhalla, was elected mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey. Two out transgender candidates—Danica Roem in Virginia and Andrea Jenkins in Minneapolis, Minnesota—won their races for state legislature and city council, respectively. The voters of Seattle elected out lesbian Jenny Durkan as mayor. Vi Lyles and LaToya Cantrell became the first African-American female mayors of Charlotte, North Carolina, and New Orleans, Louisiana, this year. And despite the relentless demonization of immigrants of color over the past two years, Wilmot Collings, an African refugee, was elected as mayor of Helena, Montana (yes, Montana).

Celebrating the fullness of our nation’s radiant rainbow inspires people to participate and leads to the kinds of wins we saw on November 7. Apologizing for “identity politics” precipitates an electoral death spiral, because it doesn’t work to woo Trump voters, who will always opt for the real racist, and it also depresses the enthusiasm of the very voters we need to win.

Inspiring and investing in progressive Democratic turnout is the winning strategy, even in the 10 Senate races where Democrats are running for reelection in 2018 in states that Trump won. In seven of those states, more people voted for Clinton in 2016 than voted for the Republican nominee for the Senate in the last mid-term election. That means that focusing on getting out the Democratic vote is a far more promising course of action than striking a moderate pose. And in the other three—Missouri, North Dakota, and West Virginia—the Democratic incumbents enjoyed solid support long before Trump entered the political arena.

Especially in the states Trump won handily, the decision to vote for Clinton was a statement. Offering voters a vehicle to make that statement again is what’s required.

Lastly, winning elections isn’t just about inspirational words and impressive candidates. It’s also about the basic, expensive, and labor-intensive blocking and tackling involved in helping busy people overcome the many barriers to participation in the political process. Ample empirical evidence has proven that the best way to increase voter turnout is to work with trusted messengers to engage their friends and neighbors. That means putting money into organizations with credibility in communities of color and a track record of conducting effective electoral work.

One of the unsung heroes of the Virginia election is New Virginia Majority. Its co-director Tram Nguyen spent years coordinating a coalition of community-based organizations, and that work paid off decisively as people of color turned out to vote in record numbers this year. In 2018, millions of dollars should be showered on groups like New Virginia Majority—groups like One Arizona, which registered 150,000 Latino voters in 2016 in a state that represents one of the few Democratic senatorial pickup opportunities; New Georgia Project, which recorded the largest black voter-registration numbers in the history of the state; and New Florida Majority, which has organizers across the state communicating with hundreds of thousands of voters. There are similar over-performing but underfunded leaders in key states across the country (my organization, Democracy in Color, listed several such organizations, which we call Frontline Freedom Fighter groups, earlier this year in our report, “Return of the Majority”).

Perhaps the single most important takeaway from the 2017 elections is that we must carry ourselves with the confidence that we are the majority of people in this country. We should spent less time going hat in hand to try to understand the motivations of people who want to expel and ban Mexicans and Muslims from this country, incarcerate African Americans, restrict fundamental rights for women, and discriminate against the LGBTQIA community. As Democrats and progressives, we can govern in the interests of those people (that is, those who voted for Trump) by preserving affordable health care, access to higher education, and raising the minimum wage, but seeking their votes is a waste of time and energy, time and energy that’s required to get our voters—our majority—to the polls.

We must have less apology and more outrage. This monster in the White House and his enablers in Congress are destroying the country and the world. The appropriate response is outrage, anger, and, most important, action. Action to move our friends and neighbors to the polls so that we can take our country back. We’ve made a good start in 2017, and the results confirm the soundness of the strategy. Now is the time to redouble those efforts.

Steve PhillipsTWITTERSteve Phillips is a national political leader, civil-rights lawyer, author, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, and the founder and editor in chief of Democracy in Color, a multimedia platform on race and politics. He is the author of the New York Times best seller, Brown Is the New White: How a Demographic Revolution Has Created a New American Majority (New Press). He is a regular contributor to The Nation.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Cards Against Humanity purchases border territory to stop Trump's wall, gets legal advice and builds trebuchet, to make it stick

from Boing Boing:

This year's Cards Against Humanity secret Xmas surprise has begun, and on day one, they've delighted buyers (I'm one!) by sending us a share certificate for an infinitesimal fraction of a stretch of US/Mexican borderlands, along with details of their plans to keep the land secure from Trump's attempts to seize it and build a stupid wall on it.

The first line of defense is a pack of rabid attack lawyers from the firm of Graves, Dougherty, Hearon, & Moody, who've penned a letter vowing to fight any eminent domain seizure with everything they have, running out the clock on the Trump administration before any wall can be built.

The second line of defense is much more direct: Cards Against Humanity have built a 30' trebuchet, a medieval siege engine used to knock down walls since the 12th century, as an object lesson in just how far behind the times Donald Trump's mentality is. The have paid 300 gold to increase its attack damage, so it’s very powerful.

Today's package also included an awesome Dungeons and Dragons style map of the USA and Mexico, a cover letter and some Trumpwall-themed expansion cards for CAH. I can't wait for day two!