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]

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Largest Vocabulary In Hip Hop

from The Pudding:
Rappers, ranked by the number of unique words used in their lyrics

By Matt Daniels

This project was originally published in 2014 and recently updated in January 2019 with newer lyrics data and 75 additional artists, including Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Yachty, Migos, and 21 Savage.

It compares the number of unique words used by some of the most famous artists in hip hop (that is, an example of a quantitive view of lyricism, once proposed by Tahir Hemphill). I used each artist’s first 35,000 lyrics. This way, prolific artists, such as Jay-Z, can be compared to newer artists, such as Drake.


35,000 words covers 3 to 5 studio albums and EPs. I included mixtapes if the artist was short of the 35,000 words. Quite a few rappers don’t have enough official material to be included (for example, Biggie, Chance the Rapper, Queen Latifah, and El-P).

Since the original release, there’s now a notable trend of fewer unique words among newer artists. This is easier to see in the following chart, where I highlighted each artist’s primary decade, based on album release dates for their vocabulary calculation (the first 35,000 lyrics).


Some of the newer artists wield a smaller vocabulary comparatively, but this is not because hip hop has “dumbed down.” The genre has evolved; it has moved away from complex lyricism toward elements traditionally associated with pop music: repetitive song structure and singing (Joe Carmanica recently wrote about this trend for the New York Times, arguing that it was led by Drake, who popularized the rapping-and-singing formula over the past decade).

A better benchmark for Lil Uzi Vert’s word count (2,556) might be those of pop artists, such as Beyonce (2,433 words), or even one his major influences: Marilyn Manson (2,466 words).

There are also genre-bending artists. If Childish Gambino’s Awaken, My Love! is less hip hop in the traditional ’90s boom-bap sense, is it fair to compare it to vocabulary-dense Wu-Tang albums? Genre matters in vocabulary calculations—check out the chart below, which takes 500 random samples of 35,000 words from rock, country, and hip hop.

# of Unique Words Used in 500 Random Samples of 35,000 Lyrics from Country, Rock, Hip Hop

In short, if artists depart from hip-hop song structure, we’d expect their vocabulary to go down in the number of unique words.

That said, the results are still directionally interesting. Of the 150 artists in the dataset, let’s take a look at who is on top.

#1 - Aesop Rock

When I first published this analysis, I excluded Aesop Rock, figuring he was too obscure. The Reddit hip-hop community was in an uproar, claiming that Aesop would absolutely be #1. Sure enough, Aesop Rock is well above every artist in the dataset, and I was obliged to add him to the chart.

#2 - Busdriver

For the most recent update, I pored over requests from readers, and Busdriver was most common on folks’ wishlists. He and Aesop Rock are the only rappers with more than 7,000 unique words in their first 35,000 lyrics.

#4, #5, #7, #10, #15, and #20 - Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing Ta F’ Wit

Wu-Tang Clan at #5 is impressive given that 10 members, with vastly different styles, equally contribute lyrics. Add the fact that GZA, Ghostface, Raekwon, and Method Man's solo works are also in the top 20 – notably, GZA is at #4.

#28, #54 - Outkast and E-40

Of course E-40 is in the top 20%; he’s considered to be the inventor of many slang terms. Just a few that he’s been responsible for coining or popularizing: “all good,” “pop ya collar,” “shizzle,” and “you feel me.”

Outkast’s expansive vocabulary is definitely a function of their style: frequent use of portmanteaus (for example, “ATLiens,” “Stankonia”), southern drawl (for example, “nahmsayin,” “ery’day”), and made-up slang (for example, “flawsky-wawsky”).

#49 and #59 - Busta Rhymes and Twista

Since both rappers are known for their speed, it’s nice to see that their verses are just as lyrically diverse as their peers’.

So what's all this mean?

io9 writer Robert Gonzalez blew my mind with this point, “On the Black Album track 'Moment of Clarity,' Jay-Z contrasts his lyricism with that of Common and Talib Kweli” (both of whom rank higher than him, when it comes to the diversity of their vocabulary):
I dumbed down for my audience to double my dollars
They criticized me for it, yet they all yell “holla”
If skills sold, truth be told, I’d probably be
Lyrically Talib Kweli
Truthfully I wanna rhyme like Common Sense
But I did 5 mil - I ain’t been rhyming like Common since

I used a research methodology called token analysis to determine each artist’s vocabulary. Each word is counted once, so pimps, pimp, pimping, and pimpin are four unique words. To avoid issues with apostrophes (e.g., pimpin’ vs. pimpin), they’re removed from the dataset. It still isn’t perfect. Hip hop is full of slang that is hard to transcribe (e.g., shorty vs. shawty), compound words (e.g., king shit), featured vocalists, and repetitive choruses.

If you’re looking for more quantitative analysis of hip hop, check out Tahir Hemphill’s many foundational projects (and whose work initially inspired this analysis) and Martin Conner’s Rap Analysis.

Vocabulary count data is available here.

Notable artists currently excluded, under the 35,000 threshold: Cardi B, Dej Loaf, Princess Nokia, Rae Sremmurd, Dreezy, Remy Ma, Dej Loaf, Da Brat, Princess Nokia, Queen Latifah, Azealia Banks, Nav, Dreezy, Earl Sweatshirt, Eyedea, Jay Electronica, Pharoahe Monch, Pusha T, Saba, Waka Floka Flame, XXXTentacion.

The Pudding is a digital publication that explains ideas debated in culture with visual essays.

Monday, February 18, 2019

School of Life Monday:
Who are you to say that?

Getting agreement on big questions has become ever harder because we either put our trust in science or insist that everyone’s opinion is equal to everyone else’s. That might not be quite true

Saturday, February 16, 2019


I've seen you in the mirror when the story began
And I fell in love with you I love your mortal sin
Your brains are locked away but I love your company
I only ever leave you when you got no money
I got no emotions for anybody else
You better understand I'm in love with myself,
Myself, my beautiful self

A no feelings
A no feelings
A no feelings
For anybody else

Hello and goodbye in a run around sue
You follow me around like a pretty pot of glue
I kick you in the head you got nothing to say
Get out of the way 'cause I gotta get away
You never realize I take the piss out of you
You come up and see me and I'll beat you black and blue
One day I'll send you away

I got no feelings
A no feelings
A no feelings
For anybody else
Except for myself, my beautiful selfish

There ain't no moonlight after midnight
I see you silly people out looking for delight
Well I'm so happy I'm feeling so fine
I'm watching all the rubbish, you're wasting my time
I look around your house, you got nothing to steal
I kick you in the brains when you get down to kneel
And pray, you pray to your god

No feelings
A no feelings
A no feelings
For anybody else
A no feelings
A no feelings
A no feelings
For anybody else
Except for myself
Your daddy's gone away
Be back another day
See his picture hanging on your wall

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Undertones - Teenage Kicks

from the YouTuber who posted this classic:
John Peel's favourite ever song and not hard to understand why. Timeless teenage frustration in 2 and a half minutes of raucous pop punk heaven. Play it loud and feel free to pogo -- you know you want to.

Download their album Teenage Kicks on iTunes :
Buy their album Teenage Kicks on Amazon :
Listen to Teenage Kicks on Spotify :

Monday, February 11, 2019

School of Life Monday:
What Comes After Religion

The debate between believers and atheists usually goes nowhere. The real issue is: what should fill the gaps created by the end of widespread belief? What should fill the God-shaped hole?

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Sunday Sermon:
AOC Is Making C-SPAN Fun

from Jacobin:
The internal workings of American politics are usually boring as hell. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is making them compulsively watchable — and going after billionaires’ control of our political system in the process.

What might politics look like if elected officials — instead of being what too often seems like a collection of dead-eyed, factory-made automatons who speak from the same snooze-inducing, flavorless script — actually appeared passionate, engaged, and interested in looking after the interests of the people they represent?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez may be showing us.

One of the refreshing things about Ocasio-Cortez’s time in the national spotlight has been not just the fact that she talks about the issues facing the US in a direct, easy to understand, even entertaining way, but that she does it in the service of taking on the rigid power structures that control people’s lives.

She did this before she was even sworn in to Congress, famously tweeting about the way she and other freshmen are marched around during their orientation to be lectured by lobbyists and CEOs. What was apparently an unseemly but accepted norm in Washington’s political culture was suddenly outed to the rest of us because someone in the political class finally realized how creepy the whole thing was.

Ocasio-Cortez appears to be doing something similar with her newly won position on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which yesterday held a hearing on H.R.1, the House Democrats’ expansive anti-corruption and voting rights package. Watch this clip from yesterday’s session, in which Ocasio-Cortez plays a “lightning-round game” with the witnesses, in which she pretends to be a “bad guy” (“which I’m sure half the room would agree with anyway,” she adds with a smile) who’s trying to “get away with as much bad things as possible, ideally to enrich myself and advance my interests.”

In less than five minutes, and with the witnesses replying with barely more than a “yes” or “no,” Ocasio-Cortez gets across to the viewer:

- just how openly corrupt the current political system is (“you’re going to help me legally get away with all of this”);

- the lack of meaningful safeguards against corporate capture (“Is there any hard limit that I have in terms of what legislation I’m allowed to touch … based on the special interest funds that I accepted?” “There’s no limits”)

- how vulnerable the office of the president is in particular to moneyed influence (“Every person in this body is being held to a higher ethical standard than the president of the United States”)

- and that the very people serving with her on this august committee are most probably compromised by these interests too (“We have these influences existing in this body, which means that these influences are here in this committee shaping the questions that being asked of you all”)

That she does it all through the medium of a classroom game and with a sense of fun makes the whole thing even more remarkable to watch.

There are many reasons behind today’s widespread political disengagement, not least the suspicion that most of the people the public votes for aren’t really fighting for them. But even when politicians genuinely are fighting for their voters’ interests, they do so in the same, deathly boring, “serious” fashion that one can appreciate in the abstract, but few would willingly subject themselves to. Televising congressional proceedings was an important democratizing victory, but it was undercut by the fact that, short of salacious events like the Kavanaugh hearings, no one really wants to watch most of these people do their jobs. There’s a reason the public has gravitated to figures like Trump, despite the terrible goods they sell; meanwhile, even a charismatic figure like Obama was dull as chalk when he wasn’t giving a major speech.

Ocasio-Cortez has shown she can bring the style that’s made her a force of nature on social media to a committee hearing and, more importantly, do it in a way that makes clear to the public just how easy it is for the rich — or “bad guys,” to use her words — to control the political system. Here’s hoping someday she’ll get a chance to do the same on an issue like climate change, too.


Saturday, February 9, 2019

S A T U R D A Y . N I G H T

One of the most corny Saturday night songs ever made:

One of the most classic Saturday Night 70's rock songs ever:

One of the coolest most funky hip hop records of all time:

Kinda Gotta put this here:

Friday, February 8, 2019

A Huge Climate Change Movement Led By Teenage Girls Is Sweeping Europe. And It’s Coming To The US Next.

from Buzzfeed:
Students are going on strike around the world to demand action on climate change, in a movement led almost entirely by teenage girls.

LONDON — A huge student protest movement led almost exclusively by teenage girls and young women is sweeping Europe, and it's on the brink of breaking through in the US.

So far this year, tens of thousands of high school–age students in Belgium, Germany, and Sweden have boycotted class and protested against climate change. The loose movement’s inspiration, a 16-year-old girl who began a solitary picket last year outside the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm, has compared the protests to the March for Our Lives movement organized by the Parkland teens in the wake of a shooting at their school that left 17 dead.

In the latest mass climate strikes, large crowds took to the streets in The Hague on Thursday, in the largest such protest in the Netherlands so far. The teens leading the climate strike across the border in Belgium were in Leuven, the country’s eighth-largest city, where they told BuzzFeed News they had 12,000 people on the streets in one of many actions across the country.

A climate march last weekend in the Belgian capital, Brussels, drew more than 100,000 people, and one of the country’s environment ministers resigned this week after falsely claiming intelligence services had told her the protests were a plot against her.

The protests are injecting a new urgency into the debate around climate change, and calling attention to a lack of action by governments. They are also a sign of the new political power of young women, especially in Europe. Climate strikes have also been organized by students in Australia, and US organizers are planning to participate in an international day of action on March 15.

Jamie Margolin, the 17-year-old founder and executive director of Zero Hour, a group working on the March 15 protest in the US, told BuzzFeed News that climate activism has given young women like her a chance to be heard.

“There aren’t very many spaces that I can be in charge of, and what I’m going to say is going to be heard,” Margolin said. Her group is led largely by young women of color, which she said should come as no surprise, because people who are already vulnerable are going to be disproportionately hit by climate change. A 2014 report by the World Health Organization outlined that women are more likely to be harmed in the kinds of natural disasters made more likely by global warming, bear greater responsibility for getting access to water, energy, and other basics of domestic life, and often are shut out of opportunities when resources decline.

“If you’re a victim of a system of oppression, you’re more affected by the climate crisis — that goes for women,” she said. “Nobody is going to hand us this. We have to step up and raise our voices.”

Some of the most dramatic protests have come in Belgium. For the past four Thursdays, mass walkouts by students have taken place, and at the heart of those actions is a 17-year-old called Anuna De Wever.

De Wever and her best friend, Kyra Gantois, filmed a video and posted it online; they called on students to protest in early January. They expected only a handful of people to turn up, but were stunned to find a crowd of around 3,000. The protests have now grown as large as 30,000 on Thursdays across the country, with even larger protests on the weekend.

“When we started it, Kyra and me, we thought it would be just 20 people,” De Wever said in a phone interview with BuzzFeed News from her home in Antwerp. “I’m so thankful to my generation that they really care about it.”

De Wever was inspired to act after seeing the video of another teenager, Greta Thunberg from Sweden.

Thunberg was 15 when she launched a solitary protest last September by boycotting school every Friday and picketing in front of the Swedish Parliament to demand the country meet obligations under the Paris climate accords.

Thunberg, who has Asperger's syndrome, has become a celebrity since. She addressed global climate talks last December, the World Economic Forum in Davos in January, and has given her own TED Talk. She has an Instagram with more than 250,000 followers where she posts pictures of world leaders, protests, and her dog. From the very beginning, she called for young people to follow her example.

“We are on a school strike for the climate. … We urge everyone to do the same wherever you are,” she said in the video about her climate strike that first popularized the protests in September. “Sit outside your Parliament or local government building until your nation is on a safe pathway to a below two-degree warming target.”

De Wever told BuzzFeed News that as well as Thunberg’s video, two things happened this winter that made her feel like she had to take action: The first was Belgium’s decision not to embrace ambitious steps to cut carbon emissions in December. The second was the realization that she would not be 18 before the spring elections in both Belgium and for the Parliament of the European Union. By the time an election came where she would actually have a say, the chance to rein in climate change could be almost gone forever.

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, released last October, said the world would see catastrophic impacts from climate change, such as rising seas and coral reefs dying, even if countries managed to limit warming to just 1.5 degrees Celsius, which is the most ambitious target under the existing climate accords. The report also said countries needed to act even faster than they’ve previous agreed to.

This seems basically impossible especially as the US, one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases, is actually increasing its emissions. President Donald Trump has rolled back many climate directives and policies, as well as vowed to withdraw the US from the Paris agreement.

It’s shocking, De Wever said, that adults should have to be reminded by high school students that they’re making decisions that will shape their entire lives.

“Your political games, they’re very funny and all, but you’re the influences of our future,” she told BuzzFeed News. She said the protests, now in their fifth week and drawing tens of thousands in cities across Belgium, have given her a voice that’s “better than voting.”

Her protests have met a considerable backlash; there have been death threats online now being investigated by police, her mother told BuzzFeed News. (In a lengthy Facebook post, Thunberg wrote this month that she had seen “enormous amounts of hate” about her.)

One of Belgium’s environment ministers, Joke Schauvliege, claimed the country's intelligence service had told her the protests were a “setup” and not “spontaneous actions of solidarity with our climate.” Schauvliege later resigned after admitting that the security services told her no such thing.

De Wever told BuzzFeed News that her concern about climate change grew directly out of gender advocacy. De Wever, who was assigned female at birth, identified as a boy throughout primary school, and now identifies as gender-fluid and prefers female pronouns. This experience made her comfortable challenging basic assumptions about the world that older people often treat as unchangeable, which she said is also true of the feeling that the steps to stop climate change are out of reach.

“Being gender-fluid by a young age ... how I see the world is a bit different,” she said. “I don’t look at the mainstream and what they think. I start to have my own values, own principles, and I think about what’s not going right in this world and what can I do and improve it instead of just closing my eyes to it — that really scares me.”

De Wever became passionate about climate change while attending a youth conference associated with the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in 2016. There she learned that women often suffer disproportionately during natural disasters compared to men, and so were likely to be hurt the worst by climate change.

De Wever’s mother, Katrien Van der Heyden, told her about Thunberg’s video in their kitchen one evening last December. She watched it that night, and then announced the following morning she would make a video of her own with her best friend.

“I have to be very honest about this — at this point in time I didn’t think it would amount to anything,” said Van der Heyden, who now acts as her daughter’s de facto press secretary. “I thought, It’s a nice little project. She’s going to be making that little movie with her friends; it’s educational, much better that just staying at home watching Netflix — I underestimated my daughter.”

Van der Heyden, a 51-year-old sociologist who specializes in gender equity, said she also underestimated the whole young generation.

As far as she could recall, she said, “It’s the very first time in Belgium that a [mass movement was] started by two women and not about feminist rights.” When the protests drew tens of thousands, Van der Heyden said, she was stunned to see as many boys as girls in the crowds, and yet no one ever challenged the leadership of the female organizers.

“We, as women leaders, have been pushed aside by men. We were told we can only be leaders [on women’s issues],” she said. Van der Heyden said that when she sees boys in the crowd shouting her daughter’s name at the rallies, “Every time I’m moved to tears.”

“The whole mansplaining mechanism has really disappeared in that generation,” she said.

But the decision-makers on climate remain overwhelmingly men. When the UN touted a new focus on gender in the Polish climate talks last year, the best it could come up with was that “more than half” of the working groups hammering out the accord had “female representation of 38 per cent or more.”

These protests have been a shot in the arm to well-established environmental protests, said Luisa Neubauer, a 22-year-old from Berlin who led the call for the climate strike in Germany. She’d already been active in Germany’s pitched battle over coal mining, which recently has involved environmental activists occupying sites slated for coal mining in the ancient Hambach Forest.

Neubauer — whose Twitter bio reads, “not a German Greta. We are tens of Thousands” — said that the Thunberg’s example was inspiring to get more women to speak up in the German movement. Though Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, is one of the world’s longest serving and most powerful political leaders, Germany actually lags behind many other European countries in gender equality.

“I’ve been raised in a world where the people leading were men,” Neubauer said. “And if you wanted to make it as a woman, then you had to either look like Angela Merkel or participate in Germany’s Next Top Model.”

Nike Mahlhaus, a 25-year-old activist with the German environmental group Ende Gelände (Land’s End), said her organization had battled for years to get women’s voices into the environmental discussion. It made a deliberate decision to make women spokespeople because media outlets constantly gravitated toward male activists. So often online, she said, she finds herself facing off online with older men whose views get accepted as common sense while she has to defend herself from attacks of being radical or unhinged.

“The men who comment there are the white middle-aged men who keep this system running by thinking that there is no other option,” Mahlhaus said. “It hurts to realize that they have the power to define what is radical and what is reasonable, what is appropriate and what is insane, who we have to respect and who not.”

In many places, these young women’s protests have been treated with outright scorn. Some of the ugliest came from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his cabinet — which has just five women out of 21 ministers — after a climate strike in November.

“Kids should go to school. … We do not support our schools being turned into parliaments,” Morrison spat during a speech in the House of Commons. Resource Minister Matt Canavan said kids who care about climate should focus on science class during an appearance on 2GB radio, adding, “The best thing you’ll learn about going to a protest is how to join the dole queue.”

Despite the huge scale of recent environmental protests in many countries, they have not produced anywhere near the levels of political attention of smaller protests dominated by older people. The Yellow Vest protests in France, a movement dominated by middle-aged activists who rallied in opposition to a hike in the tax on gasoline, are still driving French politics.

A French minister skipped out on the December climate talks in Poland because of the protests, and French President Emmanuel Macron announced he would reverse the tax, which was introduced to combat global warming. But an environmental protest last week drew more than 80,000 people to the streets of Paris alone, larger than the latest Yellow Vest protest. But it received little attention in French media.

“We really need to do something — the younger generation understand it more,” De Wever told BuzzFeed News. “We are called young and naive, but maybe being naive is what we need right now. We can look at the planet without being locked in the system.”

“This system is just wrong,” she said. “It discriminates against people. We’re not taking care of this planet.”

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Minor Threat
rarely if ever seen image from The Idealist

one option to get "the idealist" book is HERE.

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This photograph of IAN MACKAYE on stage at CBGBs c. 1981/82 with his band MINOR THREAT appears only in my book THE IDEALIST “In My Eyes - 25 Years” you can read in my previous posts 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 still available (or if you can find it anywhere at all go for it). . . MINOR THREAT and Ian could not have been much more inspiration then they have been in the last decades since they first released a record. This photo is pretty heavy, Ian encircled on the ground still yelling his lyrics with such overwhelming enthusiasm around him, it almost looks as though they are fighting him. . . 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, Cornel West, and Ian F. Svenonius to Ralph Nader. . . 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 #harDCore #MinorThreat #SingAlong #IanMacKaye #LoudFastRules #CBGB #Beauty #HipHop #Skateboarding #Politics #Composition #character #book 1976 -2001

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Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Dean Delray - Let There Be Talk podcast
with Glen E. Friedman

Did this a couple of weeks ago...
If you wanna here me talk the usual and a bit more, check it out.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Baby Paul Cullen from THE IDEALIST

one option to get "the idealist" book is HERE.

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This classic photograph of “BABY PAUL” CULLEN appears only in my book THE IDEALIST “In My Eyes - 25 Years” you can read in my previous post 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 still available (and with a discount as of this posting). this photo made in 1976 of Baby Paul is at Kenter Canyon Elementary school in the Brentwood section of West Los Angeles. One of the most fabled embanked schoolyard playgrounds where all the Original West Side skaters made the sport what it is today, from Danny Bearer in the 1960’s to the Zephyr Team in the 70’s. This was my local hang. I was 14 years old when i made this photo and a few others in the Idealist including from my very first roll of color slide film that my first published photo came from, of Jay Adams. And 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. 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 #BabyPaul #Zephyr #ZBoys #STYLE #Beauty #HipHop #Composition #character #book 1976 -2001

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Saturday, February 2, 2019

The Idealist - In My Eyes 25 Years

one option to get "the idealist" book is HERE.

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This beautiful book is still available ! An aesthetic treatise, the 25 year edition (visual favorites from 1976-2001) of how i look and see beauty in the world, in the things i love, that are vital, or that just interest my eye. That is this great book of photographs. A classic, landscapes, scenery, politics, punk, compositions, HipHop, SkateBoarding are all running through my veins and through this art book and political statement. #Photography #art #aesthetic #COMPOSITION #CHARACTER #COLOR #DETAIL #RECOGNIZE #inspiration #integrity #theIdealist yes, this is the second edition, the previous was twenty years, this one has an additional dozen pages and at least a dozen and a half new images... A family favorite for life. #DigIt with words on IDEALISM from #IanMacKaye #CornelWest #IanFSvenonius #RevAlSharpton #RalphNader #I❤️this Book #music #skateboarding #politics #architecture #landscapes #GetThisOne This one is hard to find these days, but still stocks it, so i will put the link below in the comments or go through my website in my bio to get the direct link if you have problems searching for it yourself 🙏🏽✌🏽 The next THREE or six photographs i post will all be from THE IDEALIST!!!

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