Feeling a bit overwhelmed.
There's so many things going on, projects and things I'm involved with. And now I'm sick, for no apparent reason other than the stress of all this stuff going on - I've been eating right, sleeping enough, etc. Hopefully I can kick it fast, I already feel better than yesterday, but who knows what'll happen. I need to take it a little easier, I guess.
recent things not mentioned on blog yet:
So I have this site, Phonophilia, which is all about field recordings and other sound. I want to keep adding to it and I want a better way to do that and manage what's there. So I've been looking for days for some kind of content-management system for audio. I basically want something that can look at a directory full of sound files and make a nice looking little index page, reading the ID3 tags of each mp3 file to get details... stuff like that.
I don't want just a podcasting tool, if I wanted just that I would just use LoudBlog, which seems pretty cool for that limited need. Though something that generates RSS for each page would be nice. the thing with podcasts and blogs is it's all about the NOW, the latest, not about managing content that's both old and new.
So, dear reader, do you know of anything like this? (I was spurred to asking you from reading José's blog where he just asked a couple real questions of his readers. And I had answers!)
Video geek alert. Yesterday I installed Final Cut Pro 5 and one really cool new feature is "multiclips." Basically you can link together multiple clips shot with different cameras of the same thing and then really easily make an edit, clicking back and forth between the different angles like a TV producer doing live Superbowl coverage. (you know: "ready camera 2... camera 2. Camera 3, find me a close up of a ref... ready camera 3... camera 3... ready camera 1.... camera 1...")
So I tested it out with some footage I already had captured of an Earth First demonstration. It was super cool. Something that would have taken a day to piece together took about about 30 minutes. The results are not perfect, and I purposely cut back and forth too often just to demonstrate how easy it is. But it works, and it's a fun little clip; about 5 minutes and 11 MB.
The thing about living in the desert is I almost always get at least a little dehydrated while I'm sleeping. If I also have a little bit to drink the night before, I get even more dehydrated, and wake up feeling hung over, more so than in wetter climes. Last night was a preview screening of a new film called Presente by another member of the Pan Left video collective, Jason Aragon. The film is about the Migrant Trail Walk, a yearly symbolic 7-day hike from the border to Tucson organized by border activists here. After the screening was an afterparty that was pretty fun. There were border activists and video people and it was at this house that's actually a small, sort of weird college, just a couple blocks from my house.
So after the party last night today I woke up feeling really worn, even though I think I only had like 3 beers. And tried to fix that by drinking coffee, more coffee than I should have, starting off a whole process for the day of too much coffee. After breakfast I started transcribing all the english in my Juarez film so that it can be translated into Spanish. I had to wrestle with software, looking for something that was just right, and I just couldn't find something to do what I really wanted the way I wanted. But Transana almost is sufficient. It's a cool program, but it's written by academics who want to analyze how people talk, I guess, rather than translate films. But really the only problem is it doesn't export to the kind of text file that DVD Studio Pro wants, STL, so i wrote a little filter in perl that converts. It's a actually the perfect sort of job for perl. I'm so glad I know perl.
Then I had a headache so I went and had a coffee while meeting with Daniela, someone else from Pan Left, and a high school teacher she's working with on a video production class. I'm going to be helping them out with a day or 2 of editing instruction. That should be interesting, teaching 15-year-olds how to use Final Cut.
Then I still had a headache so I had more coffee and worked on transcribing more. I guess I should have just taken a long bike ride or something relaxing to enjoy the beautiful day, but I really felt like getting more accomplished.
Well, now I feel okay and I'm going to go downstairs and make dinner. yay.
Diana Washington Valdez of the El Paso Times reports that yesterday afternoon in downtown Juarez a well-known lawyer was shot and killed. He was lawyer for one of the bus drivers who was falsely arrested and tortured for some of the murders of women there. He mentioned recently that if he is killed he would blame a local police official who'd been harrassing him. Journalists from Spain are in town to report on the murders and were scheduled to interview him soon.
Of course everybody geeky enough and who cares enough about privacy concerns (related to both government and corporate breaches thereof) has been following the Google story of the feds asking for their logs. I've been in an extended discussion with a friend about that, about Google's ethics, and about what most people do or don't want from or know about or believe about Google and privacy and security.
He just pointed me to a blog that pointed to a story in the Register that reports that 77% of Google users don't know that Google "records personal data."
In this discourse i think a lot depends on the meaning of "personal data." To be fair, the quote above is from the headline, but the actual article, written by the every-snarky but tech-savvy Andrew Orlowski, uses the phrase "Google records and stores information that may identify them" (emphasis mine). Recording an ip address and a history of searches isn't neccesarily going to lead to a person, as in a name, and an address to send the stormtroopers to. you'd need the cooperation of someone's ISP to physically find them; and with dynamic IPs, which is how most people get online, i think, it might be hard for even an ISP to say which of their subscribers did what when.
Bad news for homeland security, better news for google and the datamining industry, who can say 'we don't really have data that's THAT personal.'
José and I got into this because he wants Google to get to know him better and help him buy stuff. To me, right now, that means targeted marketing based on past data of a user. But I don't know if that sort of thing will ever be smart enough to not be creepy and mostly wrong. at least not before we have AIs that will also go out and do our browsing for us and autofilter all ads if we so desire.
For instance when i go to Amazon and see their list of books i should be interested in based on everything i've bought and reviewed and searched on before, and it's just comical. Here's an hilarious example. because i once purchased "How to Read Donald Duck" by Ariel Dorfman from Amazon, they think I would want to also buy "Master the TOEFL 2006"!
Rather than datamining our past i'd rather have computers get better at guessing our present. I would rather see research go into better language-parsing and comprehension software for searching, so that the promise of that old site "Ask Jeeves" becomes realized. so we could type regular sentences into Google and it would find exactly what we want.
As for shopping - more and more i am reminded of something Guy Debord once said - I thought it was in "Comments on the Society of the Spectacle" but now I'm not sure, I can't find it - "Spectators [people living in the society of the spectacle] do not find what they desire: they desire what they find."
Our whole economy depends on a "push" rather than a "pull" - being told we need or want stuff we may have never even heard of before, instead of being empowered to really understand what we want and go out and find it. "Growth" depends on people thinking up new stuff to get people to buy that, for most cases, they did fine without for years, or in many cases thousands of years.
The Apple iPod is a perfect example that I've been thinking of for a long time. It's the scam of the decade, Apple selling 14 million iPods a year; somehow they pushed into people's heads that they need to spend $100-300 on what's basically a Walkman. Remember when everyone just had Walkman tape players that were about $25? Was the public clamoring for a way to carry around their entire music collection in their pocket all the time? Were they clamoring for a sleek, trendy design for such a device? No. And of course you can go further and further back but I won't go off the deep end right now.
So when will "growth" mean bringing truly needed things - like food, clothing, clean water and medicine - to people who don't have them? Is there a way to make our economy run on that, instead of on decadent luxuries?
The El Paso paper reports on the current situation with the murders in Ciudad Juarez. Basically there's some improvement, especially on the Chihuahua state level, and no new reports of tortured arrestees, but the murders continue, there were more in 2005 than in 2004, and locally the police and judges are still negligent and/or incompetent.
In June when I was there the count was over 427. It must be over 440 now. Yet I still see newspapers all over the world still using numbers like 300 or 350. Don't any of these writers ever think to themselves "hmm, ongoing problem, so maybe I should see if the number is higher."?
Since moving into the house where I live now, I've been reading the Wall Street Journal every morning, because my housemate, the MBA student, subscribes. A lot of people on the left have an irrational disrespect and scorn for the journal, but I've known the value of the WSJ ever since, 6 years ago, I started sharing an office with South to the Future, who made it their business to carefully study the style and format of the paper in order to write clever and very believable satires about current and possible developments in society.
The key and the value of reading it is to know that the journal covers everything that is interesting or important to businesspeople. If one remembers that they have that angle then you can learn a lot - plus, they just have very intelligent and varied stories, and they are largely written in a way that doesn't assume stupidity on the part of the reader like most newspapers, sometimes to a fault - the daily news summary column on the center front page often refers to leaders and celebrities only by their last name, with no title or any other explanation. So if you don't know who 'Morales' or 'Mofaz' are, you're sort of out of luck, at least till you turn to the full article inside (if there is one).
It's unfortunate, and telling, that there's no freebie web version of the WSJ. So I can't link to the very interesting article in Saturday's issue about "The Penelopiad," Margaret Atwood's new book that tells the story of Homer's Odyssey from the point of view of Ulysses' wife. (But I can link to other coverage of the same.)
Nor can I link to the fascinating analysis of Europe's slow-growth economy in today's edition, which makes a comparison with the recovering U.S. economy and basically draws the conclusion (and pay attention here, this is important), that the EU economy is not growing as fast because Continental Europeans (unlike brits or yankees) do not like to go into debt, and in fact there are banking rules that make it harder to do so than in the U.S. So, in both places corporations are outsourcing to cheap labor in the 3rd world and hence not raising wages for workers, but in the U.S. workers got around that by simply borrowing more money, mainly via remortgaging their houses, so they could keep going to the mall and buying big-screen TVs and other shit. (Which begs the question, of course, how long can that last?)
Of course the WSJ phrases it a little differently, but it's definitely a source of some interesting information, especially when you keep reminding yourself, "ah, so this is what capitalists want to know about. I wonder what they'll do with this?"
I've been going through archives of old video work, trying to clear some space on some hard drives, and thinking about what I should upload to the website, since I can. I came across a piece that's still one of my favorites, from 2002, that was conveniently already encoded as an mpeg-1. It's about 10 minutes long and it's called American Business Adventures.
This is the first time I've put the whole thing online, I think, so if you haven't seen my DVD, "Videographist," or otherwise seen it in realspace, this will be new to you.
A new film about a war between the U.S. and China, with the EU trying to stop it, promises to be an incredible piece of cinema - if only it were real.
From an email I received today:
'United We Stand' is the title of the much-hyped spy/action movie wholly produced by Europe, a large-scale propagandistic stunt that has in the past few months stirred much controversy. Too bad the movie doesn't actually exist, but it is instead the latest insane provocation of the artists' couple Eva and Franco Mattes, better known as 0100101110101101.ORG. After Berlin, Brussels, Barcelona, New York and Bangalore, the gigantic performance has now landed in Austria and Bologna.
About 2 years ago the Portland Indymedia video collective made a really cool and funny little video about dumpster-diving. The group has made a lot of cool videos, but right now the only way to get them online is using bit torrent and other peer-to-peer technology, and though I have always liked these methods in principle and in theory, sometimes it's a pain. The good thing about them is that you can save on bandwidth, and users get a fast download, because the download gets split up amongst a bunch of people who have the file.
The bad news is that as time passes, less people are sharing the file, until there might be zero peers that have it, or maybe just 1, if you have a reliable tracker/seeder that keeps offering the file. So then you have real slow downloads. There ought to be alternatives. We should be making better use of resources like archive.org, and we should, after an initial wave of popularity for new stuff, be offering stuff as regular http downloads.
Right now on my hosting service I have more drive space and bandwidth than I know what to do with, so as an experiment I'm going to offer DIY Dumpstering 101 right now as a good ol' http download. We'll see how my bandwidth usage goes up and if it's not crazygonuts then maybe I'll procede with more of the old pdx stuff. I also want to gather and upload a bunch of my older stuff too.
note that the file is huge (about 100 megs) and it's in DIVX format. For more information about how to play such files, see the page on portland indymedia about that. Also see more about the video on the portland indymedia site.
Finally, Bechtel drops its suit against the Bolivian government for not letting them charge insanely high prices for water to poor people in Cochabamba. They go out swinging, though, their PR department trying to spin things and not getting very far. Jim Schultz of the Democracy Center counters with some free PR advice for them.
About a week ago I read a piece on Rhino Records' site that I found via Philo's blog. The piece is about MySpace and how addictive it is, and its title is "Confessions of a Validation Junkie." The author doesn't go far toward explaining the title explicitly. He mostly just talks about the ridiculous time sink that MySpace is, and proving he's hip and knows lots of current youth slang, he's not about explaining why people do it; but they obviously do it for validation, if not for the slim chance that they'll hook up with their next significant other or favorite band, I guess. (my favorite part of the article is when he mentions the bands that have hundreds of "friends" on myspace, but no one comes to their shows because they're all... on myspace! heh.) It seems people relish keeping score, having an actual numerical measurement of their supposed social worth they can look up any time and work on, relatively risk-free.
Anyway, I have realized that there's another extreme example of validation addiction on Flickr. More and more I've been noticing people who post a photo (or all their photos) to literally dozens of pools. It's insane. Why do they do this? Obviously to get as much notice as possible. Flickr has become an eyeball market of high intensity.
It's weird, because for me, Flickr is just an easy place to upload photos and share them with friends and family, and maybe interact with a few select other people who share some narrowly focused interest that I have. I belong to about 12 groups, like "Indymedia" and "Talking Back to Ads" and "Public Space and Its Discontents." But some people post to more groups than I've ever even looked at, much less joined. And it takes TIME to post to that many groups!
It's remarkable to me that so many people crave the attention of strangers so badly - and for so little. I mean, don't get me wrong, I'd love for every single human on the earth to see my film about Juarez, but I really don't see the worth of posting a photo of your cat, or yet another sunset, to 39 Flickr groups, other than to stroke your own ego.
There are some damaged, needy people out there. Is the Internet helping?
Better wait to buy those new Intel-based hotrod Macs. Apple has bilked the world again. I just read that ALL software has to be rewritten to run on the new Intel CPUs. Apple has created a new "translator" layer of software called Rosetta that allows you to run the old programs, but it doesn't work on everything, and it slows stuff down. The review I read said that this slowing seems to have pretty much cancelled out the speed gains due to the new processor. In about a year they'll have most everything rewritten, but right now it seems a waste to buy one of these new machines. Makes me mad that this was not more clear sooner, but I'm not surprised.
The second novel by Leslie Marmon Silko, published in 1991, Almanac of the Dead has become one of my favorite fiction books ever. It's similar, in a general way, to The Fountain at the Center of the World, which I read and mentioned almost 2 years ago, in that both are touching personal stories set against a backdrop of sweeping historical and geopolitical forces and changes.
This is a book that's been sort of circulating and getting recommended amongst friends of mine here in Tucson, and everyone that's read it loves it. One reason for this is that much of the book takes place in Tucson and the surrounding area and has lots of local lore, but it also is chock-full of ideas that my progressive friends and I are already aware of and really interested in. These include such diverse issues as environmental destruction, water scarcity, sprawl, war profiteering, the homeless, indigenous land rights, racism, the border, corruption, colonialism, and just the general spiritual bankruptcy of european/western culture.
The novel is a big sprawling read (740 pages) that contains many different characters, plot threads, and places. Some of the threads intersect directly, some only refer to each other, and some never come together, or are just historical background. Some major characters/situations are: Lecha and Zeta, 2 Yaqui Indian twin sisters who live on a ranch on the outskirts of Tucson. In their youth Lecha was given by her grandmother a bundle of ancient notebooks called The Almanac of the Dead that have been handed down through many generations of indigenous people in Mexico. The Almanac tells the story of these people, who fled from the south of mexico centuries ago to escape "the destroyers," sorcerers who practiced blood sacrifice and became the Aztec rulers. The Almanac is also a history of the arrival of the europeans in the new world and a prophecy foretelling their departure from it, and the events of the prophecy seem to be starting to play out.
Lecha hires another main character, Seese, a coke addict from San Diego, to help her transcribe the Almanac into a computer, because Lecha is getting old. Seese has come to Tucson to find Lecha, because Lecha has psychic powers that allow her to find murder victims, and Seese wants to find out if her kidnapped baby has died. Meanwhile Zeta and Farro, Lecha's son, are arms and drug smugglers along with some other local Yaquis.
Down in Chiapas another subplot involves a corrupt general and his business partner who are getting guns from the U.S. They are worried about a recent upsurge of indigenous restlessness in the region. La Escapia is a Mayan woman who is part of a secret army of poor villagers all over Chiapas preparing for an armed rebellion. (remember, this was written at least 3 years before the Zapatista uprising!) She goes to Mexico City to attend a secret Cuban "freedom school" that teaches about Marxism in exchange for providing arms and weapons for insurgents around Latin America. The mayans don't care about Cuba or Marx, but they pretend they do just to get weapons. All they care about is taking back their land. The ideology is just bullshit to them.
Meanwhile back in Tucson an East Coast mafia family is starting to move in on Zeta's smuggling operation. They work with a corrupt senator and a clandestine agent from the CIA to smuggle arms into southern Mexico and Central America in exchange for cocaine. They're also involved in shady real estate development and building huge water-sucking suburbs, buying off judges to head off the environmental lawsuits filed against them. A lover of the wife has a "biomaterial" business that secretly harvests organs and plasma from homeless people and Indians, but 2 of his employees are organizing a Homeless Army in Tucson and around the country, waiting for the right time to rise up.
Yet another meanwhile, Seese's ex-boyfriend, an artist named David, is in with some rich racist drug and porn dealers from Argentina and Columbia named Beaufrey and Serlo. David kidnaps his and Seese's baby and heads down to Serlo's ranch in Columbia with Beaufrey, but Beaufrey gets jealous and has the baby kidnapped from David and makes it look like Seese did it. During all this Serlo is working on a crazy post-apocalypse eugenics scheme to preserve the "sangre pura" master race in sealed biospheres at his ranch.
You start to see how complex the web that Silko weaves is. It's really addictive reading, infused with a dark ambiance, great historical anecdotes and references to the injustices of the past, as well as tons of moral ambiguity - virtually every major character, with maybe 2 or 3 exceptions, is either a loser, a depraved asshole, or some kind of greedy conartist or corrupt official. The narrative hops around the Western hemisphere and over the last 500 years, and my one big criticism is that it doesn't seem to tie stuff together quite well enough at the end - it could have gone on for another 200 pages and I would have been even happier.
At any rate, I highly recommend this book to anybody who is interested in sort of a people's history of Tucson, interested in any of the issues I've mentioned, or if you just want a rollicking adventure story full of drugs, guns, sex, blood, and politics. I guess you could say it's sort of a hybrid of William S. Burroughs or Pynchon, and Howard Zinn or Eduardo Galleano, with a touch of DeLillo and a dash of Edward Abbey. What more could one ask for?
My housemate just brought up the point that the Iraq War has now used up more money than the value of all the oil in Iraq, even if you don't count the cost of extracting the oil. He had his numbers
off a little way off, but the point is still interesting to think about.
Let's see, under the sands of Iraq there's about $5.6 trillion worth of oil (figuring about $50/barrel). And the Cost of the Iraq War so far: $234 billion. How much more will the U.S. spend? How expensive will the oil be to extract? What will the price of oil do, and whose oil is it? These are all things that will effect the final result of the equation, but it's looking like
even from just a business perspective, the "Blood for Oil" may not end up being is still well worth it. (In other words, my housemate was totally wrong. I did the math wrong at first so i thought he was only wrong by about a factor of 2, but he's actually wrong by a factor of 20, hence the crossed-out sections.)
But one final thing to point out: you could buy about 11 million Toyota Prius hybrid cars with the money the Iraq War has cost us. Not quite enough for every car-driving Unitedstatesian, as my housemate claimed, but maybe the government could get a bulk discount....
(and isn't it amazing that in about 5 minutes I can go to the web and check a statistical factoid that someone tells me and come up with how true or false it really is? Things haven't always been this way...)
I just went to get groceries. Recently whenever I go food shopping I'm just filled with dread and despair, because I'm sort of caught in a dilemma: On one hand, I'm not much of a cook. I've never been really into food, or cooking food (at least not in commparison to a lot of friends of mine) though it can be fun to cook with and for others. On the other hand, although that lack of interest in cooking leads me toward easy-to-prepare "instant" sort of meals, it lately has just disgusted me on so many levels that so much food is so processed. Even something as benign as tofu or rice milk is an incredible manufactured result of industrial society. A lot of it has to do with my travelling in the developing world and seeing people eat really simple food that they've prepared themselves. Like limonada homemade from real limes right in the kitchen instead of buying some can of frozen concentrate or whatever.
Ideally I should just get more into cooking and gardening and permaculture and stuff, and prepare more of my own food and eat less frozen/instant junk. It's pretty hard though. It's just one of many lifestyle things that's really difficult to change. In some ways I can look at how I live and feel good, like that I don't own and drive a car. But there's still so much improvement to do, and so much juggling of priorities. Like, how can one spend 6 hours a day editing progressive advocacy videos, and also have time to grow one's own soybeans and make one's own tofu from it?
This Volkswagon commercial is really fucked up - making light of terrorist suicide bombing to sell cars is just not acceptable, in my opinion.
The ad looks like it's intended for European audiences, given that I don't think the specific model (the Polo) is available in the U.S., and that the setting is obviously a European city. I wonder what reactions to it have been, and I wonder how they would differ in the States.
This also brings up a shortcoming with Google video. The interface is confusing, and there's very little information about where this thing came from. Who uploaded it? There's a "more from this user" link, but who's the user? How can we contact him? Why can't I leave comments? I'd prefer it be more like Flickr with tags, comments, messages, etc., rather than just some totally anonymous and under-described repository of media.
UPDATE: After being informed that Google Video doesn't offer playback for non-U.S. users, I downloaded the file and put it up on my own site here:
But note that it's a DIVX file so you may have to install that codec if you don't have it already. Though I find that VLC plays it fine.
I love this image that I found on the "site not here yet" page of some webhosting ISP when I was looking for someone's new website:
The picture envisions a limitless bland cyberspace filled with frustration, isolated inhabitants and floating symbols. So great.
A lot of the first half of this week I spent in the county and federal courthouses, for work. I'm going to be subsituting for a friend who writes for Courthouse News Service. They have correspondents all over the country writing up little summaries of every case that might be interesting to subscribers. What's supposed to be "interesting" is defined basically as follows: if it involves lots of money, someone famous, and/or a corporation, cover it. hmm. Well, that will only be for about 10 days, so, whatever.
Yesterday I spent all day working on a video about the sandhill crane hunt and the Earth First! campaign to stop it here in southern arizona. I have a rough cut done, and the plan was that that would get taken to Wings Over Wilcox this weekend. Wings Over Wilcox is a big annual event for birdwatchers that takes place in the nearby town of Wilcox. Lots of birders come from all over to see sandhill cranes here, and many don't know they're being hunted for sport, so the Chuk'shon EF! plan is to go to the event and try to educate people about this. The only thing is, after doing that last year the organizers have barred "political" groups from the event. I guess it's supposed to be for guides and equipment makers to sell tours and binoculars to birders, not to actually inform anyone about the truth.
Last night Walt, Jeff, Jessica and I had an Indymedia meeting and we talked about what we're going to do at Local To Global, an annual gathering of activists in Tempe with workshops and tabling and speakers and stuff. We're going to do a few indymedia workshops. I want to do one about videoactivism or video advocacy.
To round out a busy week, today I'm going to help Christian author a DVD of a film about Venezuelan oil called "Nuestra Petroleo y Otras Cuentas." It's a film made by a team of Italians and Germans this year, and he and Sonya have translated and subtitled it in English. They want to take the DVD to Caracas for the World Social Forum. Then tonight I will be heading out to the Dry River Collective retreat, which will be all weekend at the home of one of our members who lives out on the western outskirts of town. Should be fun and productive for the group, I think. We're going to have concensus and facilitation training and talk about the goals and vision for the collective, and stuff like that.
This is scary and annoying. This company has a service called The Viral Chart where marketing and advertising videos distributed on the internet for "viral marketing" purposes have a little "sprite" embedded in them that "phones home" over the network, even if you're just watching the file locally on your computer, and tells them whenever you play the file. (So they can track how well the campaign is working, see?)
Ok, so, from now on whenever you watch something on your computer, ipod, whatever, discconnect it from the internet, or else open up the file with quicktime pro or whatever and strip out the little virus.
Or just learn to stop worrying and love the bomb, I guess.
I'm a day behind, but I still consider what I'm talking about to be last night. Sunday night. Anyway, I went with some others out to the desert, to the foothills of the Rincon Mountains east of town, for a little memorial vigil for Bill, who took his own life a couple weeks ago in a Flagstaff jail after being arrested by federal agents in Prescott, allegedly for arson in Washington State, about 8 years ago. Anyway, it was a nice time, sitting under the stars while people shared stories of Bill, and sung songs.
When we all decided it was time to go, we walked back to the road where we'd parked, about a mile through the hilly desert, over rocks and through washes. I thought it would be dangerous in the dark, but it was really plenty light out with the half-moon blazing down at us, and it was like I was gliding through an alien dream world. Especially because Christian was playing guitar the entire way a few feet back down the trail behind me. night hike with soundtrack. It was really a new and marvelous experience, even though the original occasion for it was so sad.
So after I get back from Michigan to Tucson I have to basically run right over to Dry River and set up for a film screening. After the screening a musician who goes by the name Totally Michael plays, and he's totally hilarious. Sort of like a disco/funk/hipster PeeWee Herman.
Anyway, after that I head home, enjoying biking through the warm night air, glad I'm back in Tucson. Up by 5th Ave and 4th Street I see a cop car go by shining its spotlight all over. Even though I don't really know what I'm doing (I keep meaning to learn more about copwatching) I decide to stop and see what they're up to. They stop at a house and shine the light on it for a long time, then a cop gets out and knocks. No answer. He goes back to car. I start biking on, turn onto University Street like I normally would. I notice a "ghetto bird" - as I've heard it called here, a cop helicopter commonly used to harass parties and surveil people in the lower income and student areas of town - flying by. Suddenly 2 cop cars are behind me flashing their lights, so I pull over. Cop gets out, says they're looking for somebody that "looks sort of like" me, but he obviously doesn't really think I'm who they want. he asks for my name and birthdate and scribbles it on a piece of paper. He says in sort of weary tone, "somebody was at some house, I guess ----ing his girlfriend." The word I thought he said was "plugging", but then I wasn't sure - maybe it was "mugging" or "bugging"? Whatever it was, he was cynical and flippant about it. He's just going through the motions. It's like they can't just admit that they pulled over someone not remotely who they're looking for, so they have to pretend I might be useful to whatever they're doing. He says, okay, that's all he needs have a good night. whatever.
I have about 12 more hours in cold, wet, grey, Michigan and then I head back to Tucson. While you wait eagerly for more news from Project Steev, listen to
this radio show about Bolivia, Evo Morales, and the new leftist wave in Latin America, and also read the interesting comments thread for the show. Here's what one thoughtful listener/reader said:
Angela Merkel grew up under socialism in East Germany, but she embraces the more capitalist ways of West Germany (especially as she is pushing for more dramatic labor policy changes than the Social Democrats are to help improve her country's economy). On the other hand, Gerhard Schroeder grew up in poverty in capitalist West Germany, and he has chosen to embrace socialism. Each wants what they did not have growing up. Why is this? Unfortunately, I would argue that Latin Americans have not had the opportunity to fully experience capitalism like Schroeder did. This does not give them the proper perspective to truly understand capitalism. Thus, their push for socialism is done half-blind, at least.