Agosto 31, 2004

Political Flash Mobbing

Here's an article on NYC IMC about a flash mob street party tommorrow as part of the protests against the RNC. It's great to hear that the flash mob tactic has been taken up by the politically minded. When I first heard of it people were doing it just as a sort of Fluxus-like arty spectacle/prank, which I suppose in a way is inherently political, but I like the evolution it has come to now.

Posted by steev at 12:17 AM | Comments (0)

Agosto 30, 2004

stupid happy people

Wow, this is disturbing: bad moods help you be more aware and remember more accurately.

Makes sense, but it's unfortunate. What happens when science finally proves happiness is bad?

Posted by steev at 08:22 AM | Comments (0)

Agosto 27, 2004

Fast, Collaborative Filmmaking

Last night was the start of a project to make a film in 72 hours. The idea is to do it collaboratively, non-hierarchically, and a little surreally, like "exquisite corpses," the surrealist parlor game. It's weird and complicated and the third time we've done something like this. All the details are on the site so be sure to click that link if you're interested. There's a blog and a wiki that I set up for the purpose.

I think we're off to a good start. The only unfortunate thing is that I ended up being the director of one crew and the editor of another, because we didn't really quite have enough people show up to the first meeting, especially enough experienced people. oh well.

Posted by steev at 07:46 AM | Comments (0)

Agosto 23, 2004

F The Vote

This is hilarious. Look what dubya has inspired.

Posted by steev at 10:03 PM | Comments (0)

Che Tourism

This article talks about the villages in Bolivia where Che Guevara died and was buried, the reverence many people have for him there, and the rise in tourism there.

It makes me think back to when I was there. My late, gruelling bus ride from Cochabamba to Santa Cruz, which passed through and stopped in Vallegrande (where Che was buried) for dinner on what happened to be Christmas eve. I rememeber thinking of the Che connection, though I didn't really see any signs of it during my brief presence there.

Posted by steev at 08:03 AM | Comments (0)

Agosto 22, 2004

A Different Point of View

This guy is putting video cameras on animals and plants, I guess so people can see what the world is like from their point of view. It's really cool.

Posted by steev at 10:26 PM | Comments (0)

Invierno Portlando

Yesterday it got rainy and cold just as a friend and I reached the Coast to go hiking. We stopped at a cool recycling center called Cart-M off of highway 101 and bought some cheap used raingear, since we had not thought to bring any, and then we went hiking anyway, but it was not as fun, of course, as if it was the hot and sunny weather that it has been all last week, the way it's "supposed" to be in August.

The forecast says it's going to stay cold and rainy for the next 4 or 5 days. I'm going to dub it the "Invierno Portlando," inspired by the Invierno Boliviano - when I was in northern Chile I learned that every summer many roads are washed out up in the Altiplano because intense rains sweeps in from the east. They call it "the Bolivian Winter."

Whatever I call it though, it sucks, and it reminds me that Portland's climate is not suitable for me. However, it motivates me to get my life figured out and to try to come up with a plan for the real winter - I've been planning to go again for the winter to Latin America, but I really know that I need to leave for good. It's not practical to be a snowbird. I need a place to settle and set up shop, so to speak.

I just don't know where, or how. Plus, it sucks that I have to do this, because I have so many friends and connections here. I love Portland dearly, EXCEPT for the horrible weather. Ironically, I knew that before I moved here. I just didn't care because I had to get out of San Francisco.


Posted by steev at 09:34 AM | Comments (0)

Agosto 20, 2004

Spam as AI

Spam is just getting smarter and weirder all time. As long as it doens't give me a virus, if it's this surreal, I don't care. bring it on, this is like one of my favorite quotes, something de Chirico said: "I want to live in the world as if in a museum of strangeness." I think if we ever develop artifical intelligence, it will be from either the spam industry, or the porn industry. Anyway, here is the example of what I'm talking about that I just received:

Most gypsies believe that freight train defined by share a shower with for turkey.Furthermore, blood clot over cigar leaves, and cowboy related to sell to pine cone for corporation.Still find lice on her from for necromancer, conquer her dust bunny living with with onlooker around.defined by chess board hibernates, and about grizzly bear ruminates; however, turkey inside can be kind to..minivan teach somnambulist related to.Stuart, the friend of Stuart and daydreams with mirror living with particle accelerator.
Posted by steev at 07:17 PM | Comments (0)

wifi screwed

i'm finally tired of my stupid little usb wireless adapter that keeps making my ibook crash. so i think, hey i bet apple airport cards are getting cheap now, i should just get one of those. Turns out they have been discontinued just recently and are now practically collectors' items and super expensive. God I hate Apple.

Posted by steev at 08:20 AM | Comments (0)

Agosto 18, 2004

Sea Collective

I've been following from afar some friends of a friend who bought a boat last year and have formed
The Sea Collective. They are finally done fixing it up and are about to set sail for the high seas.
How exciting. One thing I really like is that they've named their boat Dérive - which is the word the Situationists gave to their form of semirandom wandering, and excercise in psychogeography...

Posted by steev at 12:58 PM | Comments (0)

The Chavez Referendum Aftermath

Medea Benjamin posts this nice but predictable story, "Why Hugo Chavez Won a Landslide Victory". Maybe she's right, maybe Chavez is just overwhelmingly popular. But her article isn't that convincing. She only interviews one mother from the barrios. Everything else is vague generalizations.

I believe Chavez is doing good things for his people, but I still have misgivings that he is setting himself up to be a despot. (and others do to - see this post to the quite good Caracas Chronicles blog) A benevolent despot, perhaps, like one could debate that Castro has been. Yes, Cuba has several good features under Castro, but the fact remains that he is a dictator, who has been in power for almost 50 years.

Do we really want a benevolent philosopher-king, ala Plato? Is that the world progressives want, ruled by smiling all-powerful dictators who feed babies all the milk they need?

On the other hand, maybe the referendum was on-the-level. Are there term limits in Venezuela? the thing to watch is what happens in the next election, and the next. How long will Chavez legally remain in power?

I've been thinking a lot lately about process versus product, and I think this relates to that. A system for running society should itself be fair and just - the process must be good, not just the product. In a way the product is the head of state and his policies. Sure, the trains run on time and the babies get fed and people learn to read, but if there's no process in place for people giving themselves these things, then what happens when the philospher king dies, or changes his mind? One cannot justify the abuses of power by the nice effects of some of that power.

Posted by steev at 08:30 AM | Comments (1)

Avert a Debacle

Eric Alterman of the Nation posted to his blog some good stuff about the upcoming RNC protests. My friend Brian claims that this was due to his email to Alterman, complaining that an article he linked to was in the Nation's subscriber-only area. So Alterman posted the whole thing to his blog. Hope his editors don't yell at him too bad.

Anyway, the article, by Todd Gitlin and John Passacantando, is really good, in my opinion. It offers some really good suggestions and reasons for keeping the protest nonviolent. I agree that chaos in the streets is playing right into Bush's hands.

However, I believe a lot of people are going because they think there will be something spectacular happening, another "Battle of Seattle." Let's face it, Seattle in 99, N30, would not be the legend that it is without the broken glass and the tear gas. Even people who don't plan on taking part in the "fucking shit up" are secretly hoping it will happen. They want to be part of something exciting, even if it's the wrong thing politically, and morally.

I predict one of 2 things for the RNC:

1. the police (and national guard?) will have the city so locked down that nothing much will happen at all. People will be cordoned off, impotent in their free speech zones, and everyone will feel frustrated and unheard, another Sacramento.

2. something horrible will happen. Bush will use it as an excuse to get more tough on crime/terrorism/whatever. maybe it'll even be a nice little rehearsal for martial law.

Given these 2 likely scenarios, i'm content that i'm not going. However, part of me still wishes I was. Even I want to be involved with an event where politics suddenly gets really really exciting. I think the challenge, for anyone trying to get more apathetic Americans involved, is: how to make politics exciting without involving anger and violence and smashing stuff?

Posted by steev at 08:04 AM | Comments (0)

Agosto 11, 2004

Klein on "Anybody But Bush"

Naomi Klein writes in the Nation a really good take on the Bush vs. Kerry race. I couldn't agree more with her. Let's get Bush out, not because Kerry will be much better, but because we can stop with the silly Bush jokes about how stupid he is and concentrate on more systemic issues.

Posted by steev at 01:52 AM | Comments (0)

Agosto 09, 2004

Billboard Coop

There's a billboard coop in Olympia called FREE TO DISAGREE. Very cool idea. I might think of better ways to spend the money but on the other hand, why be down on someone else's choice of tactics? It's pretty great. It'd be great if every city had a group like that. Especially more conservative cities. Imagine putting a billboard like that up in San Diego, or Charleston, SC. whew.

Posted by steev at 10:18 PM | Comments (0)

Agosto 04, 2004

Good ol' Iowa

Today 3 banks in my hometown were robbed during Bush and Kerry appearances there.
Good old Davenport. Actually I wasn't born there, but I grew up there, from about the age of 5 till I went off to college. I think it's great that the bank robbers of my homeland were smart enough to take advantage of the preoccupation of the city's boys in blue.

I wonder which banks they were. The second-to- last time I was back to visit, I noticed that the old Davenport Bank, which was based in the city's tallest building (I think 12 stories), had been taken over by Wells Fargo. And of course so many other things keep changing all the time. My mother and stepfather live in a suburb that was a cornfield when I was a kid.

Posted by steev at 06:25 PM | Comments (1)

Agosto 01, 2004

fresh air, mountain views and bullets

I went camping this weekend with 8 friends in Mount Hood National Forest, near Estacada, just about 1 hour from southeast of Portland. It was for the most part really great. I really wish I could go camping more often. It's hard to organize a whole group of people to go, and arranging transportation. I almost feel like I should buy a car just so I can get out in to nature more often. Pretty ironic, isn't it. Alter the climate, pollute the air, so you can enjoy nature. sigh.

Anyway, the one part of the trip that sort of marred the whole experience was this morning when the bullets started flying. I mean literally.

The area is full of gun nuts who are doing target practice. We had heard the firing far off last night, and on the drive in we saw some people in a little quarry-like cliff face area shooting stuff. But this morning we ended up downrange from some yahoos who weren't thinking too clearly, I guess.

At about 9 in the morning bullets began whizzing by our campsite. It was terrifying. For everyone else, this was how they woke up, which must have really sucked. Not a good way to start the day. I always wake up much earlier than anyone else, and I had gotten up 2 hours ago, made tea, and was hiking around within a few hundred yards of the campsite when the shots started. It was hard to tell exactly where they were coming from or how far away they were.

This morning was probably the closest I've ever been to the wrong side of gunfire. The sound of a bullet passing through air very close to you is really an amazing sound. It's not anything like the sound effects in movies, or rather, it is much much more. There is a strange little sound around the sound, around the simple zing - what I think is the sound of air being violently pushed aside, and vacuum being created behind the bullet. It's a sound that makes you imagine the turbulence patterns, the vector forces of air compacting a swirling around the metal projectile.

Anyway, I only experienced this after I got back to the camp, having concluded that the firing was far away and not in our direction. I returned to see my friends all ducked for cover behind logs and rocks and stuff. They yelled at me to get down, and when I heard more shooting I realized, yeah, the shots are coming up over the hilltop that we were on top of. It turns out that these dudes with 45s and all sorts of other shit had set up targets halfway up the hill and they were shooting up the slope at them. the ones that missed were zinging up over the hilltop. I swear one of us could have been killed.

We kept trying to yell at them, and eventually got the idea of honking the horn of one of the cars, but nothing seemed to help. Finally Jason and Bengt took the car and drove down to try to find these guys. It turns out that they were really nice and apologetic about it, and had not heard our shouting and honking because they had earplugs on. Of course.

Of course with movies like "Deliverance" in the collective concsiousness, some of my friends were really waxing horrific with possible ways the situation could have gone wrong, like the gunmen refusing to stop or just shooting Jason and Bengt or whatever. Too many people watching movies, mass media striking fear of our fellow man into our hearts. But I believe most of those people out there blasting bottles and paper targets are not evil, despicable people, they're basically good people, if perhaps a little unthinking, and if perhaps not the kind of folks I would hang out with. It was really just a case that these guys never considered the possible dangers of what they were doing. They were probably locals who come out there all the time and rarely see anyone camping on that hill. It just never crossed their minds.

I wonder how many accidental deaths occur every month nationwide from stupid accidents like that?

Posted by steev at 07:42 PM | Comments (0)