November 29, 2011

Why the Economy Does Not Have to Be a Zero Sum Game

Who's saying it does? I've heard the claim attributed to Occupiers, but I personally haven't seen or heard any Occupiers make it.

In fact, I'd argue it's the 1% who've acted as if they believe the economy's a zero-sum game – and in so doing, have made it so.

Here are a couple of factors to think about (from my essay, Ten Things You Need to Know About the Infowar, which as far as I can tell no one has read, but they should, 'cuz as far as I can tell, it's still the case that hardly anyone else has put some of this stuff together):

8. Greater transparency maximizes efficiency and profits for a group as a whole, but individuals within the group profit most when they're not transparent while others in the group are.

There's a fascinating piece, "The Transparency Paradox," at colayer, regarding what I've called [Julian] Assange's theory of "the cost of tightened secrecy to organizational I.Q.," or as Volatility puts it more succinctly (more under Thing No. 9 below), his "secrecy tax." The author at colayer says studies show that, while greater transparency maximizes efficiency and profits for a group as a whole, individuals within the group profit most when they're not transparent while others in the group are.

General transparency means that everyone has more useful info to work with, and can work together efficiently to solve problems and create wealth for all; the group benefits from the "wisdom of the crowd," as James Surowiecki would put it, or as Assange might say, the computational power of the system as a whole is maximized.

(Image right from "The Transparency Paradox," at colayer.)

And, colayer points out, the internet and other technologies now available have greatly reduced the cost of transparency.

But when you're negotiating, you have an advantage if you know what cards the other parties are holding but they're ignorant of yours.

I'd like again to emphasize again the importance of the dimension of time, which Assange has also written about, in his 2006 essay for counterpunch, "Of Potholes and Foresight." To put part of his point in other words, a stitch in time often saves nine, and transparency makes that kind of foresight possible, which otherwise tends to give way to political pressures to allocate resources in more near-sighted ways. Recall Wikileaks' logo (an hourglass). Or as someone else said, making a related but somewhat different point, " . . . Napoleon . . . said that it wasn't necessary to completely suppress the news; it was sufficient to delay the news until it no longer mattered." (attributed by PRWatch to Martin A. Lee & Norman Solomon, Unreliable Sources: A Guide to Detecting Bias in News Media (New York: Lyle Stuart, 1991), P. xvii; I hope the internet adopts Assange's "scientific journalism" and becomes better sourced, as well as more complete, soon).

* * * * *

9. So long as a system as a whole remains mostly transparent, it's a more-than-zero-sum game; but where transparency has sufficiently deteriorated, the competition among "players" devolves into a race to see who can loot the most the fastest, even if valuable resources (including personnel) are wasted in the process.

Re- the big, "systems" picture, there's a great article at Volatility on "racketeering":

According to Joseph Tainter’s theory of imperial collapse, as societies become more complex, they must expend an ever greater portion of the energy they have available simply on maintaining their complexity. Although social and technological advances may achieve profitable returns for awhile, once a certain level of complexity is reached, diminishing returns set in. Eventually, at the late imperial stage, the complexity of the power structure, the military infrastructure, the bureaucracies, all the rents involved in maintaining an ever more bloated parasite class, their luxuries, the police state required to extract these rents and keep the productive people down, and the growing losses due to the response of the oppressed producers, everything from poor quality work to strikes to emigration or secession to rebellion, reaches a point where the system can only cannibalize itself and eventually collapse.

Julian Assange’s theory of the secrecy tax he’s trying to impose through Wikileaks is one example of these diminishing returns on imperial complexity. All the indications are that Wikileaks has been successful in this.

* * * * *
This is a welter of parasites battening on the same host. They’re in a zero sum game, not only against the people, but among themselves. Each has an interest in just exploiting the host, not killing it. But together they are killing it and therefore themselves. It’s clear none is capable of organizing or regulating the others. The federal government isn’t capable of doing it. If one big bank tried to do it, it would be subverted by the others. Each racket, from highest to lowest, is going to maximize its bloodsucking until there’s no blood left.

I would argue that "complexity" is often associated with a lack of transparency. And I would argue that size matters greatly, since it's difficult for a large system to function without some kind of internal division of responsibilities, and that means complexity. One of the main respects in which both size and complexity matter has to do with the fact that they make it more difficult to keep track of what different individuals or agencies within the organization are doing and hold them accountable. In particular, those at the top of the hierarchy become less accountable to those along the bottom.

Again, theoretically, so long as the system as a whole remains mostly transparent, it's not a zero-sum game (or at least, its productivity growth would be subject only to such physical limits as peak oil or climate change), because problem-solving and general efficiency are maximized by pervasive info-sharing, plus everyone's equally incentivized. The system as a whole is greater than any one individual within it or even than the sum of its "parts."

(Still from Falls (2008).)

In contrast, where transparency has sufficiently deteriorated, workers become less productive, both because of reduced info-sharing and because they're disincentivized – i.e., those not sharing info are still incentivized to continue to exploit the others, but once those who are being exploited figure out what's going on, they're discouraged from sharing and working hard just to enrich the exploiters. At this point, the competition devolves from who can produce the most of the best, into who can loot the most the fastest. If anything, non-transparency should tend to result in something even worse than a zero-sum game, since not only are opportunities for growth wasted, but even resources already in existence may be at least partially wasted, since each actor is motivated to grab what it can even at the cost of spoiling portions of the remainder for possible use by others.
(As Julian Assange has observed, corrupt governments (and, I expect, other organizations) are inevitably secretive because their efforts to exploit people and interfere with their liberties tend to inspire resistance – see "State and Terrorist Conspiracies" and "Conspiracy as Governance" (2006) and Assange's post on his site,, "Sun 31 Dec 2006 : The non linear effects of leaks on unjust systems of governance".)

November 26, 2011

All Student General Strike Monday, November 28

November 28th – In solidarity with UC Davis, UC Berkeley, CUNY schools and all students who are defending their right to protest against rising tuition costs and out-of-control student debt. We ask you to STRIKE! No work, no school – please join together in a central area of your choosing and stand up against the VIOLENCE and SUPPRESSION that is happening in our schools.

Please abide by the Pledge of Non-Violence to participate in the student strike:

We are an open, participatory, democratic, horizontal, peaceful, and nonviolent movement.

We are not a leaderless movement, we are a movement of leaders.

As a nonviolent movement, we have agreed to refrain from violence against any person, from carrying weapons, and from destruction of property.

We reject violence, including property destruction, because we recognize that it undermines popular support and discourages the broadest possible participation among the 99%.

We believe nonviolence promotes unity, strength of message, and an environment in which everyone’s voice might be heard.

We affirm that it is the personal responsibility of every individual participant in our movement to promote and maintain nonviolent discipline and to intervene to prevent violent action by anyone in our movement.
Register your college here.

November 25, 2011

How to Stand Up for Your 1st Amendment Rights

Watch the video below to see how one videographer stood up to illegal intimidation by NYPD police:

Per Gizmodo, police in at least three states have taken the position that citizens have no right to record police without the latter's prior consent, based on laws that prohibit wire-tapping without the consent of all parties recorded.

I believe most legal scholars disagree. The ACLU has published an excellent summary of what it views as your Constitutional rights to videotape and photograph police in public places, here.

Know your rights, and use 'em or lose 'em.

November 24, 2011

Matt Taibbi on Principles and Pepperspray

Another brilliant piece by Taibbi in one of the last bastions of journalism still standing in the U.S., Rolling Stone; here's a taste:

[W]hen we abandoned our principles in order to use force against terrorists and drug dealers, the answer to the question, What are we defending? started to change.

The original answer, ostensibly, was, "We are defending the peaceful and law-abiding citizens of the United States, their principles, and everything America stands for."

Then after a while it became, "We’re defending the current population of the country, but we can’t defend the principles so much anymore, because they weigh us down in the fight against a ruthless enemy who must be stopped at all costs."

Then finally it became this: “We are defending ourselves, against the citizens who insist on keeping their rights and their principles.”
More here. (Image by √oхέƒx™).

UPDATE: Re- our eroded rights, Wired just posted 9 reasons for tinfoil millinery, including: warrantless wiretapping; warrantless GPS tracking; warrantless location tracking of your cell; fake cell interception towers; the 100-mi. wide, Constitution-free zone along US borders; the
"6 mos. and it's the Goverment's" rule; the ironically-named Patriot Act; Government malware; and the known unknowns about what else the gummint's doing (remember, "warrantless" means they do it whenever they like, for reasons good, non-existent, or bad). Details here.

The Difference Between the 2008 Bank Crisis & the S&L Crisis of the '80's

. . . as explained by William K. Black. You've got to see this.

November 23, 2011

Jobs Americans Aren't Willing to Do

(Thanks, Ben!) Don't miss the last segment starting ca. 5:30 min.

November 22, 2011

NYPD Rendition of "Wikileaks Truck"

The “WikiLeaks Top Secret Mobile Information Collection Unit” has no actual affiliation with Wikileaks; its owner, artist/activist/prankster Clark Stoeckley, just wanted to raise awareness about WL. But the truck had become something of an OWS mascot, when on Nov. 17, police impounded it – except the truck never made it to the pound.

Stoeckley was arrested for "Obstructing Governmental Administration" after he declined to allow them to search the truck without a warrant. All charges against him have now been dropped; but the truck is missing, and police say they have no record of it. More at Gawker and Animal.

In a recent interview, Stoeckler discoursed:

[W]hen the Secret Service pulled me over and searched the truck, they asked what would be the first thing they saw when we opened the back. I told them “records”. Their eyes lit up and they and they asked “What kind of records?” My reply was “Mostly classic rock, some R&B and folk.” The door goes up, and the first thing they saw was boxes of 33 rpm vinyl records. . . .

[Asked whether he'd been hit on because of his attractive vehicle,] It is not a Ferrari or a Porsche. I attract a lot of conspiracy theorists, but they are usually older men who need a bath, and they want to talk my ear off. Some of them actually think I work for Wikileaks and they wish they had something to leak. No I have not gotten hit on by anyone because of the truck. It is a former U-Haul truck with 200,000 miles. Luckily my girlfriend has a car.

More at

UPDATE: The Wikileaks Truck was recovered and is now for sale on e-bay – apparently Stoeckley needs funds (update via Gawker).

November 21, 2011

Citigroup's 2006 Declaration of "Plutonomy"

Per Bill Moyers (see vidi below), the term was coined by Citgroup in 2005 to refer to "an economic system where the privileged few make sure the rich get richer, with government on their side."

The following spring, Citigroup issued a memo to their wealthy investors in which they actually stated flat out that favorable treatment by governments had allowed the "plutonomists" to take an increasing share of income and wealth over the last 20 years and that the top 10%, esp. the top 1%, have benefitted disproportionately at the relative expense of labor. See for yourself :

(Thanks, Ben!)

November 20, 2011

A Useful Summary of Recent Police Violence Against Protesters in the US

. . . is available on Alternet (with visuals).

Great Signs from Today's Gov. Scott Walker Recall Rally in WI

More photos here.

Per the Brookfield Patch, 25,000 to 30,000 showed up at the rally, and organizers say they've collected more than 105,000 signatures on recall petitions.

The Day After the Pepper-Spraying at U.C. Davis

Another one I've got to re-blog. As Xeni Jardin at BoingBoing put it,

I thought I wouldn't see a more dramatic video than the ones yesterday of the pepper-spraying of students by police at UC Davis [see video of the spraying, here]. I was wrong.

In the video [below in this post] UC Davis students [silently] confront Chancellor Linda Katehi just one day after the incident. It's hard to tell exactly how many of them are present, but there they are, a huge crowd. They're seated in the same . . . position [on the ground, with crossed legs and linked arms] their fellow students were [in] yesterday just before Lt. John Pike pulled out a can of pepper-spray and pulled the trigger.

From lhfang86, the guy who shot the video:
A press conference, scheduled for 2:00pm between the UC Davis Chancellor and police on campus, did not end at 2:30. Instead, a mass of Occupy Davis students and sympathizers mobilized outside, demanding to have their voice heard. After some initial confusion, UC Chancellor Linda Katehi refused to leave the building, attempting to give the media the impression that the students were somehow holding her hostage. A group of highly organized students formed large gap for the chancellor to leave. They chanted “we are peaceful” and “just walk home,” but nothing changed for several hours. Eventually student representatives convinced the chancellor to leave after telling their fellow students to sit down and lock arms.

November 19, 2011

As Ye Reap . . .

From the Yes Men:

Massive 24-hour DRUM CIRCLE and JAM SESSION party starting tomorrow, Sunday at 2pm, outside Mayor Bloomberg's personal townhouse: 17 East 79th Street.

Tie-dye, didgeridoo, hackeysack welcome! No shirt, no shoes, no problem! And if you don't have talent, don't worry: FREE DRUM LESSONS offered! Also on offer: collaborative drumming with the police!

Even though this is a 24-hour drum circle, don't be late! The mayor loves evictions. Who knows what'll happen? In any case, there'll be an afterparty in world-famous Central Park right afterwards.

Please spread this announcement ( as far and fast as you can!

I.M.H.O. (re- OWS & Wikileaks),

. . . Wikileaks has played a key role in drawing the veil from people's eyes around the world about what their governments have been doing to them at the behest of the 1%.

I think a lot of people knew in their hearts that things weren't right; but in country after country, WL disclosed the indisputable proof: what authorities themselves were telling each other about what they were doing.

I believe Assange escalated disclosure at the time and in the manner he did because the 1% is progressing rapidly in their efforts to gain effective control over the internet. If he'd waited much longer, it might have been too late.

(Image upper right from Al Jazeera via, shot in Tahrir Square; image right from OregonLive, shot on N17 in Portland. For more re- Assange's and others' thinking about the infowar, see Ten Things You Need to Know About the Infowar.)

FOIA Request for Info on Nationwide Crackdown on OWS

One observer has suggested that the real reason for the crackdown on the Occupy camps was that "[t]he camps were the beginnings of a community . . . the community needed for a culture of resistance." Highly ironic if, as seems likely (see, e.g., here and here), the Obama's administration was instrumental in coordinating the crackdown.

Civil liberties groups have filed a FOIA request for info: "'The severe crackdown on the occupation movement appears to be part of a national strategy to crush the movement,' said Mara Veheyden-Hilliard, Executive Director of the Partnership for Civil Justice and the co-chair of the National Lawyers Guild’s National Mass Defense Committee. 'This multi-jurisdictional coordination shows that the crackdown is supremely political.'" More at Common Dreams.

What Happened to the OWS-er's Property

When the NYPD evicted the OWS-er's camp from Liberty Square (f.k.a. Zuccotti Park), the property was reportedly tossed into garbage trucks and dump trucks; but the reality may be worse. Motherboard suggests the laptops look like they were attacked with a baseball bat (but not, one imagines, before their contents had been downloaded; note the label scrawled on the blue laptop). (More info and pics at Motherboard.)

(Yes, any deliberate destruction of property or unreasonable search of the laptops would be, like the NYPD's defiance of the court order to allow the OWS-er's back into the park, against the law.)

Fairey's ReMixed "Hope"; Occuprint

Click on the image for a larger version, or go to Fairey's site.

In related news, here's a site for posters re- the OWS movement.

"Pepper Spray" Video

I usually avoid re-blogging what's been on other popular sites, but this remarkable document is not to be missed (by terrydatiger) – it's worth watching the whole thing, though events unfold gradually. The incident occurred in connection with the eviction of OWS campers at UC Davis.

One of the students sprayed was still coughing up blood 45 min. later (see Bicycle Barricade). It's been speculated that the unnecessary spraying was done in an effort to incite a riot.

UPDATE: Excellent interview with one of the pepper-sprayed students on BoingBoing.

FURTHER UPDATE: Peter Kim has created an excellent graphic showing just how dangerous pepperspray is, here.

Learning Curve (Egyptians Respond to OWS Offer of Election Monitors)

"Why . . . should our elections be any cause for celebration, when even in the best of all possible worlds they will be just another supposedly 'representative' body ruling in the interest of the 1% over the remaining 99% of us? This new Egyptian parliament will have effectively no powers whatsoever, and—as many of us see it—its election is just a means of legitimating the ruling junta’s seizure of the revolutionary process. Is this something you wish to monitor?

"We have, all of us around the world, been learning new ways to represent ourselves, to speak, to live our politics directly and immediately, and in Egypt we did not set out to the streets in revolution simply to gain a parliament. Our struggle—which we think we share with you—is greater and grander than a neatly functioning parliamentary democracy; we demanded the fall of the regime, we demanded dignity, freedom and social justice, and we are still fighting for these goals. We do not see elections of a puppet parliament as the means to achieve them.

"But even though the idea of election monitoring doesn’t really do it for us, we want your solidarity, we want your support and your visits. We want to know you, talk with you, learn one another’s lessons, compare strategies and share plans for the future. . . . "

More at (thanks, Noah!)

November 18, 2011

And now for something really important:

Now I know where Minnie Mouse got her fashion sense.

Occupy London Takes Over Empty Bank; Occupy Dallas Evicted

Per their website:

Occupy London has taken over a huge abandoned office block in the borough of Hackney belonging to the investment bank UBS, in a move it describes as a "public repossession."

* * * * *
The multimillion pound complex, which has been empty for several years, is the group’s third space and its first building, adding to its two camps at St Paul’s Courtyard – near the London Stock Exchange in the heart of the City – and at Finsbury Square . . . .

The group say the space will be reopened on Saturday morning as the "Bank of Ideas." . . . An events programme is being lined up, including talks from Palestinian activists, comedy from Josie Long and a session led by trader Alessio Rastani, who sent shockwaves through the media following a provocative interview on the Eurozone crisis. . . .

Sarah Layler of Occupy London added: "The Bank of Ideas will host a full events programme where people will be able to trade in creativity rather than cash. We will also make space available for those that have lost their nurseries, community centres and youth clubs to savage Government spending cuts."
More at the link; see also The Guardian.

Meanwhile, notwithstanding that Dallas Occupiers had allegedly reached an agreement with City officials that their camp could remain behind City Hall until mid-December, a force including a SWAT team and mounted police evicted them at 11:45PM Wed. night on 15 minutes' notice, apparently on orders by the City Manager. (Photo by Justin Terveen, from The Dallas Observer.)

The eviction was allegedly based on escalating problems in the camp; but I visited the camp twice and found it clean and orderly, and no actual crime has been cited other than an assault that took place during a scuffle between two camp members at another location, the perpetrator of which vanished some time ago. More here.

November 17, 2011

Occupy California Circumvents Prohibition Against Raising Tents

. . . by floating them. (Image from @abc7newsBayArea.)

A Murmuration of Starlings

Context for the emerging OWS movement.

Homeland Security Coordinated 18-City Crackdown on OWS Camps

Per Washington's Blog, quoting Wonkette:

Remember when people were freaking out over the Patriot Act and Homeland Security and all this other conveniently ready-to-go post-9/11 police state stuff, because it would obviously be just a matter of time before the whole apparatus was turned against non-Muslim Americans when they started getting complain-y about the social injustice and economic injustice and income inequality and endless recession and permanent unemployment? That day is now . . . .
Additional info and sources at Washington's Blog.

UPDATE: Glenn Greenwald agrees, "the U.S. has para-militarized its police forces is precisely to control this type of domestic unrest" (at

Another N17 Projection, Visible from Brooklyn Bridge:

Photo from This Is The Right One (thanks!) (Click on the image for a larger version.) Per the UK Guardian:

A massive projection is being displayed on the Verizon building . . . . In a series of shots it reads, "We are the 99%, Look around, you are a part of a global uprising...We are unstoppable, another world is possible...We are a cry from the heart of the world...It is the beginning of the beginning." The projection then goes on to display the names of occupations around the country in rapid-fire succession with the final name reading, "Occupy Earth." With a chorus of honking cars in the background, the crowd erupts in cheers and reads the display in unison as they pass."
UPDATE: Good interview with creator of the projection here.

Estimated 36,000 OWS-er's Converge in New York

The November 17 march began at Liberty Square (f.k.a. Zuccotti Park); proceeded to Union Square where it picked up striking NYU and other students; and then to Foley Square, where it picked up the unions. From there, they proceeded to Brooklyn Bridge.

The police presence has been massive, but they seem to have limited themselves mainly to trying to split up and divert the marchers.

Bloomberg reportedly stated he only expected 1,000 people. Maybe he just meant cops.

Best coverage today has been via TheOther99 on ustream – that's their Channel 1 (w/ Tim Pool); Channel 2 is here (w/ Henry James Ferry {sp?}) – two guys with cell phones, leaving the corp. media in the dust. (Support TheOther99 here!)

The first two window grabs are from the stream from Union Square earlier today.

The third is from near Brooklyn Bridge, at 7:04PM Eastern time; projected onto the building wall is, "99%." The fourth is from the pedestrian way on the bridge (where the cars below were honking their support).

Today was the second monthly anniversary of the beginning of OWS.

PS: Tim Pool has a documentary project, "The Occumentary," that will probably be worth checking out.

PPS: More, "real" photos here.

Came across a nice gif today:

From Agent 23, who explains, "I copied it from an NYPD chat forum. This is the sort of thing some police officers dream of doing to 'protesters,' apparently."

November 15, 2011

OWS New York Evicted; NYPD in Contempt of Court

At 1AM last night, police cleared Zuccotti Park, allegedly violently – again, after clearing out the media ("for their own safety"). Reports are that the occupiers' computers and other hardware, as well as their tents, were dumped into garbage trucks and hauled off.

At 7-something this morning, a NY court issued an injunction ordering that the protesters must be allowed back into the park pending a fuller hearing at 11:30AM today. Mayor Bloomberg was reportedly informed, and the protesters have one or more copies of the court order, which they showed to the NYPD.

The protesters then returned to Zuccotti, to find it still barricaded.

All times stated in this post are Eastern time.

UPDATE: Per CNN and HuffPo as of 3:33PM: the NY S. Ct. has ruled in favor of OWS.

Further update: That report proved false, at least in part. The ruling was that the protesters should be re-admitted to the park but would no longer be allowed to camp there in violation of rules imposed after the occupation began.

It would be interesting to know the source of the earlier report. {It turns out the confusion arose when CNN belatedly reported the issuance of the TRO some 6 hrs. after it issued and 1.5 hrs. after the subsequent hearing was to have begun, and OWS-er's assumed that this was the decision based on the hearing.}

To fill in a few more details: After the eviction, a temporary restraining order was issued by Judge Lucy Billings holding that OWS must be allowed back into Zuccotti pending the results of a hearing to be held later in the day. This order was issued at 6:30AM and, one source says, was served on Mayor Bloomberg by 7:50AM. The protesters returned to the park to re-occupy the park, but police had blockaded it off and refused to let them in notwithstanding the court order. For reasons as yet unclear, prior to the scheduled hearing, the case was transferred to Judge Michael Stallman. That judge held in favor of the City at approximately 4:30PM.

So for nearly nine hours, Mayor Bloomberg and the police – all of whom had no doubt sworn to uphold the Constitution and laws – were in contempt of court.

Further FURTHER update: The Guardian reports that not only did NYC authorities clear the media from the park grounds before commencing the eviction . . .

. . . the city closed airspace in lower Manhattan to prevent news helicopters taking aerial shots of the scene. Vans were used to obscure views of the park and a police cordon effectively blocked accredited media from reaching the site. Some of those members of the press who were in the park or were able to get there say they were arrested, pepper sprayed or treated aggressively.

One of the few reporters on the scene when the police moved in was Josh Harkinson, a writer for Mother Jones magazine. As police used tear gas to remove the last protesters from the park Harkinson identified himself as a member of the media and was physically dragged out of the park. He was told that reporters had to stay in a "press pen".

Reporters tweeted their frustration using the hashtag #mediablackout and said police were ignoring and even confiscating press passes.

A New York Post reporter was "roughed up" according to the New York Times' Brian Stelter. Lindsey Christ, of local cable-news channel NY1, said on-air this morning that "the police took over, they kept everybody out and they wouldn't let media in. It was very planned."

(Emphasis supplied.)

November 13, 2011

Timelapse of Earth

Time lapse sequences of photographs taken with a special low-light 4K-camera by the crew of expedition 28 & 29 onboard the International Space Station, 2011. Edited by Michael König; more details here. (Thanks, Robin!)

Occupy Portland Supporters "Too Big to Jail"

Watching Occupy Portland livestream. The mayor had decreed the eviction of the camp tonite, but 7,000 Portlanders came out in support of the occupiers. Police are overwhelmed (so far).

(Image thanks to Occupy Portland livestream.)

UPDATE: Observers report that at one point, the crowd chanted to police, "You're sexy, you're cute. Take off your riot suit!"

FURTHER UPDATE: AS OF 4PM the next day (Sun.), the police are back, determined to clear park; media have been evicted; police have announced they WILL use gas and projectiles if necessary.

Further FURTHER UPDATE: (9PM Sun.) The park has been cleared, but protesters are holding a General Assembly nearby to discuss where to reconvene, etc.

Occupy Dallas: Artists for Teachers, Teachers for Arts March

Maybe 50 protesters, not bad for Dallas, considering the camp conducts marches daily, so there's probably a certain burn-out rate.

It's hard to imagine any actual crime occurring in or near the camp, as alleged, given that our march was surveilled by at least eight cops in or on 5 vehicles, wielding still and video cameras – nearly one cop per each half-doz. protesters! If only they watched the bankers so well.

By the way, the camp was (again) immaculate.

Photos by Ben Britt (thanks, Ben!)

November 12, 2011

The Art Guys Strike Back

Received today:

“No Show”

a non-exhibition featuring nothing at all by Seth Mittag


icetsuoH Contemporary Museum of Modern (iCMM)

This non-exhibition will not open on Tuesday, November 15, 2001, 7-11 p.m.

Said The Art Guys, icetsuoH Curators of Modern and Contemporary Activities, “Well, Seth was going to do a show but then he got too busy and had to cancel so we thought that rather than canceling the show, which sounds so, like negative, you know, we decided that we should press forward and go ahead and do this non-show.”

Said Seth Mittag, “I have nothing to do with this.”

For less information, contact icetsuoH Contemporary Museum of Modern


November 11, 2011

Artists for Teachers to March with Occupy Dallas

"Occupy Dallas . . . together with Creative Factory Occupy Dallas . . . will be hosting a peaceful march on November 12th . . . .

"The march will serve the purpose of [raising] awareness [of] the effects [of] Texas budget cuts . . . on Dallas area teachers and also [on] the arts programs that our children attend. . . . We stand in support of artists and teachers who have helped fill the gaps in education that our government has created.

"The public is welcome to join us at City Hall Park [that's behind City Hall] on November 12th [tomorrow!] at 10:00am. The march will begin at 11:00 am. We will proceed to the Arts District, march along Flora Street and return to City Hall Park where local musicians and visual artists will share their gifts with us from 1pm-4pm."

(Thanks, Lizzy! Edited for length.) Starts behind City Hall. Be there!

Three Points About the Alleged Problems at Occupy Camps:

1. Re- allegations that the camps have become breeding grounds for unsanitary conditions, vagrancy, crime, etc.,* one point I haven't seen made elsewhere is that even if the camps were broken up, any criminals, vagrants, or the like that may have been drawn to the camps aren't just going to vaporize; they're going to disperse right back into the rest of the city. And without being unduly pessimistic, they're probably going to be doing more or less the same things there that they were doing at the camps.

If the camps are in fact drawing more trouble-makers into a central location, they should generally be easier to find and police there, not harder. What's happening is probably not so much that the camps are creating problems as that they are making more visible the failures of the police and society at large to cope with trouble-makers – or poverty and the like in general.

2. The second point is just a reminder that incidents of violence almost certainly come not from bona fide Occupy protesters but from agents provocateurs, criminals, or anarchists et al. trying to exploit the situation for their own ends.

3. In ALL cases, the solution is NOT to restrict the First Amendment rights of bona fide protesters. The solution is to police the trouble-makers and help the poor.

(Alternatively, since it's the protesters who are the main victims of the alleged crimes or problems, why not let them decide which they'd prefer, to suffer the problems or to have their rights curtailed? Since we're so keen on deregulation and letting individuals suffer the consequences of their own choices . . . . )

*Here are a couple of recent photos of one of these alleged breeding grounds (the Dallas camp; and when I was there, I did not see the least sign of trash or disorder), as well as some links to documented instances of the use of agents provocateurs by agencies in the U.S.

(And P.S.: If Dallas officials think the Occupy camp is a problem, they should have shut down the Texas State Fair decades ago!)

November 9, 2011

Now Online:

A piece I wrote that was published in the hard copy journal of true stories, Fray magazine, here. Illustration by Mal Jones (see more by Mal in his Flickerstream).

The piece is excerpted from a longer work-in-progress, Diary of the Dead.*

As fellow-contributor Jarrett Liotta put it, "I'm happy to get my Fray copies, which have a retail value of $60. (That's a lot of money in the Sudan.)"

Contributors other than me have written for The New York Times, Wired, Salon, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, Esquire, Bust, et al., so I felt honored to be included. The quarterly zine is edited by JPG co-founder Derek Powazek.

* I picked that title long ago and wasn't going to give it up just because a cr&ppy movie came along and used it later.

November 4, 2011

Report on Occupy Dallas

I dropped by unannounced day before yesterday, before the cold weather blew in. There were more protesters than I'd expected, they were peaceful and in good spirits, and everything seemed in good order. (Click on the images for larger versions.)

Someone had donated tents, and the Hari Krishnas (think Kalachandji's) have been providing much of their food. The camp has internet, though slow; they expected to get faster service soon.

They have a snacks tent and a first-aid tent. They have a library – they'd appreciate donations of more political books, of all persuasions.

Let's see, what else would they like more of . . . . oh yeah, US!

UPDATE: 90.1 FM (Dallas public radio) aired a story on Nov. 4 in which Dallas Occupiers condemned violence attributed to Oakland Occupiers. I hope everyone is at least aware of the possible use of agents provocateurs, as well as that protests often attract anarchist groups that are not committed to nonviolence, as 99% of the Occupiers are. See, e.g., the UK Guardian (assistant editor of conservative magazine admitted posing as a protester and rushing police in an effort to undermine the protest); and provocateurs have also been strongly implicated in Occupier protests in Denver and Minneapolis, as well as at the 2010 G8-G20 protest (see Wikipedia for less recent, well-documented examples).

November 2, 2011

Assange Loses Swedish Extradition Appeal

Details here.

The Swedish extradition effort is based on allegations of sexual misconduct by two women who do not want to press charges and after the first Swedish investigation concluded that the case should be dropped.

It's generally believed that Sweden will hand Assange over to the U.S.

Neither Assange nor Wikileaks has yet been charged with violating any law of any nation. Assange is being extradited for "questioning" by Swedish authorities.

Before leaving Sweden for London, he'd lingered in Sweden for two months in case they wanted to talk with him further. After arriving in London, he offered repeatedly to speak to Swedish authorities there.

Wikileaks has ceased operations due to financial strangulation by Bank of America, Mastercard, PayPal, and other companies, which have been refusing to process donations to WL (more here).

Meanwhile, Bradly Manning has now been jailed for 525 days (see Bradley Manning Support Network), with no trial in sight.