I just installed an MT plugin for blocking spam, MT-Blacklist, yesterday, and already 5 attempted commentspams have been blocked. Right on.
I really look forward to this film. Perfect timing, too.
i love how the site graphic is ambiguous about the film's position. Leftwing, irony-enabled folks can see immediately what an excellent critique of US policy this will be. but i can imagine rightwing nutjobs seeing it and not realizing ("aw yeah!!" they shout, raising a fist). i hope they maintain that ambiguity somewhat in their further marketing. otherwise, it willl just be more preaching to the converted....
update: I'm at Penguin Day, as discussed in my previous entry, and just wanted to mention a cool thing that is happening:
live updating to the wiki for the event.
There are tons of laptops here, a temporary wireless access point, and people are taking notes and pasting them into the Wiki as we speak.
You can hear snatches of biz-speak and investoresque jargon as you circulate around.... This is the kind of conference that you would expect to be at a Hyatt Regency out by the airport or downtown, but it's at Freegeek, which
has always had more of a "loading dock chic" kind of look to it. There are no microphones, and bascially one big room, tho
breakout sessions have spread into the little meeting room next door. But, it seems like a lot of good will come of this.
And yet I still just don't know what I personally want from it. My heart is just, in general, not in computers anymore. sigh.
On one level I am excited, on another I have a sense of foreboding. For some time now I have
been frustrated with a life centered around computers. Lately I have been thinking more and more about this. It's great to do IT work for non-profits and other worthy causes, when compared to doing it for evil, money-hungry corporations. But, it's still computer work. It's still sitting in front of a screen for hours and hours and hours, when what I really want is.... something else. I'm not sure what or how.
Ever since a discussion at an indymedia media meeting last week about how to teach computer stuff to people who don't learn in standard, geekboy ways, I've been thinking about computers and just how much they cost in social and personal terms. That is, what someone has to give up in order to be proficient with computers, in one way or another. It's such a shame that computers require humans to change themselves, to adapt to the computer and how it functions, rather than the other way around, the computer adapting to the human.
I think about all the hours I have spent in my life learning or trying to learn some arcane thing to do with some bit of software or hardware, and all the hours I continue to spend doing that. And all the hours spent by all people all around the world. Everytime someone spends a moment trying to make a computer do something, that is a moment that person could be spending doing something else: having a conversation, taking a hike, swimming, reading a book, making love, going on a bike ride, tending a garden....
This is all obvious, and of course every activity is done at the expense of something else. I just feel like using a computer is one of the most soul-sucking, de-humanizing, unnatural ways to spend time. So far, I have used computers mostly because they allow me to do things I otherwise could not do, like make the kind of music or videos that I make. Maybe I need to keep that criterion more in mind as I decide what to do with my time.
All day I've been trying to get this article from IMC Bolivia about the Bolivian referendum made into a feature on the global Indymedia site. I didn't understand the process so I wasted lots of time this morning, and then this afternoon, waiting. Now I finally know the process and realize that it's rather involved.
But I'm nearly there, and then i'll send it in as a real proposal to the feature group.
I'm doing this while sitting in my backyard again, the superhot portland summer is cooling with the coming of twilight. I'm drinking yerba mate from the gourd I bought in Montevideo. A copy of today's New York Times is sitting under my laptop, open to their page 6 story about the referendum, which basically just says that Mesa won, there's hard times ahead, how's he going to implement it, he's in a hard spot. Which is all true. I bet very few people envy Carlos Mesa's position right now, he is between Scylla and Charybdis.
But the NYT article, typically, doesn't talk to anybody on the street, except for one poll worker. That's why I like Jennifer's article, it is direct eyewitness reporting, talking to real people out there. it's biased, of course. everyone is.
UPDATE: Clara fron IMC Netherlands, who is on the features group, just featurized it, depsite my not having finished my formal proposal. yay! i have asked her to add one of the photos i found. there are quite a lot of good photos coming out of Bolivia IMC over the last couple days:
I've been devoting most of my time in the last couple of days to Bolivia, in one way or another. Either I've been scouring the web for news from there as the referendum Sunday, today, has approached, or I've been preparing for our screening on Bolivia that we're doing Tuesday. Yesterday I made a DVD of our 4 videos that looks pretty great. Today I made the cover for it, and distributed flyers for the show around to other portland imcistas who agreed to help post them around town.
Meanwhile I wait and wonder if in a few hours the object of all our effort, that country that has been screwed over so much in the last 500 years, will blow up in more violence and bloodshed like last October. I'm ready to help funnel news of this to northern indymedias, but other than that I feel like a helpless spectator, so far, far away.
I've been reading Eduardo Galeano's Open Veins of Latin America and really have learned a ton about the history of that part of the world. It's sort of a People's History of The United States for Latin America. Much more disturbing, though, because the opression is so much worse.
Strange or not so strange coincidence: I also have been reading Derrick Jensen's excellent A Language Older Than Words, and in it he mentions naming his new dog "Tupac Amaru." Just a day earlier I had read in Galeano's book about who Tupac Amaru was: an indigenous leader of a rebellion in colonial Peru. Very weird, and I never would have gotten Jensen's allusion if I hadn't also been reading Open Veins.
Of course it makes perfect sense that he would be aware of Tupac Amaru. In a way his book is a sort of superset of all the horrible exploitations described by Galeano. One can read of the genocides and enslavements and then turn to Jensen's book and read exactly what is behind our culture, this culture that hosts these atrocities and why it does.
I just read this great interview with the author of a book about agriculture and how it screwed up civilization. Lots of ideas that are very compatible with Daniel Quinn's, whose work is really really important, and one of the most inspiring writers i've ever read.
Mankind screwed up when we started farming, and we're starting to really suffer 11 thousand years later. That's the basic idea.
This is exciting. I just received the new video that Indymedia Bolivia just finished, "Aunque se caiga el cielo" ("Even if the sky falls"). They have been showing it around Bolivia, but I think we might have the North American premiere here in Portland. We have our big Bolivia video screening next Tuesday.
I'm afraid that we don't really have time to transcribe, translate, and subtitle the film in just a week's time. But we could do it with a live interpreter or something. It's exciting that we have something new to show, in addition to the 4 older pieces. I'm excited to be able to help spread it far and wide here in the States, too.
I'm going to run down to the studio and start capturing it to hard disk in a few minutes...
Techdirt reports that Venezuela is going to use untested electronic voting machines in the August 15 recall vote. Sounds familiar...
Article about liquefied natural gas import schemes to the U.S. West Coast. Very intersesting in light of what's been going on in Bolivia. There we have people fighting over the right to benefit from natural gas exports, and a huge market for that may not even exist. I'm sure there are other markets that Bolivia could sell to, but the plan back in October was specifically to ship to California....
The lastest in the saga of the FBI's bungling case against Critical Art Ensemble member Steven Kurtz is here.
Absolutely ridiculous that this is still going on. One could look at it as similar to other larger bungles by the Bush executive branch, like Iraq. Here is something the government wants to do, and so it keeps making up different claims to try to justify it. Doesn't matter what it is, just keep making up more and more excuses, as one fails to pan out, make up another one.
It's the word I kept thinking. "cowboy". First I would think "yee-ha," as I rode around through Portland, on my way home from my fourth BBQ/Party of the day, as blasts of firecrackers, bottlerockets, and roman candles punctuated my journey, my otherwise silent and swift ride though the dark streets. Little pockets of boys playing with fire served as gauntlets for me to pass, and as I passed I would quietly shout "yee-ha!" as the rockets red-glare drowned out the LEDs of my blinking bike lights, and right after saying that I would think "cowboy," and murmer it to myself, emulating the voice in the old Ministry song that I can't really remember, I don't know which one it was, or maybe it was some other Al Jorgensen related industrial music project, but all I remember is the voice in the sample they used saying the single word, "cowboy" calmly and deadpan.
And speaking of music now I am back home and I rushed to my CDs as soon as I got back looking for the most unamerican thing I could play on the stereo and I was looking for "Afraid of Enduring Freedom: A 'War on Terrorism'", by the Australian experimental group B'O'K', a really excellent sample-based CD, but I couldn't find it, I must have mis-filed it in my collection, so my second choice was what I'm listening to now, a Muslimgauze CD called "Zul'm", which I think means "tyranny" in Arabic. The album is dedicated to all the unknown Palestinians buried in a certain cemetary in Kuwait City. It's really fucking great music, lots of really great Arabic and Indian percussion. I think out of all the albums I own it's the music that is furthest from celebrating the United States of America, other than the previously mentioned one I was looking for and could not find, hidden in the depths of my music collection.
Today my first thought was to do absolutely nothing out of the ordinary, to just do what I would normally do and completely not acknowledge this 228th birthday of my fucked-up country. but a lot of friends were having parties and barbecues and it was a beautiful day and after all i don't really have a "normal" thing I do on sunday. So I went to 4 different BBQs. At the last one I burned myself firing off bottlerockets from a stupid little PVC tube contraption that my friend Reverend Phil made. Then I rode home through throngs of people sitting and watching the stupid city of Portland fireworks.
What was much more interesting is all the people having their own decentralized firework rituals, rather than just consuming the centralized downtown on the river fireworks. But still, this whole pyromaniac glee was pretty pathological, pretty american, and I just kept thinking of that word, "cowboy."
As I wound my way through all the pickups and SUVs that people had DRIVEN in order to get to the river and see shit blowing up, I rode by one truck with some people in the back and one woman shouted to me, "happy fireworks!" And I just marvelled at how that is what this day has become. It's not Independance Day. It's not even the Fourth of July. It's just "Fireworks." All the meaning leached out of it, nothing to it other than the ritual lighting of fuses and watching of the resultant explosions and loud bangs in the clear night sky. Wow.