Saturday, December 29, 2007


gURL.comI took the "If You Were a Poet..." quiz on
I am...
Gertrude Stein

Do you have a thing for words? You're in good company. Gertrude Stein did too. Who else could write a line like, "A rose is a rose is a rose," and call it poetry? Read more...

Which poet are you?

The always awesome Ms. Crip Chick

A story about a disabled child in the Chicago Tribune launches a rain of ignorant comments and Ms. Crip Chick's response strikes a huge chord with me.

Confronted with such massive ignorance, it may seem as if all that hard work activists have done for disability rights has had no effect whatsoever. The truth is not that people aren't doing some kick ass organizing. The truth is a bit more disturbing:

"If it isn’t apparent to you yet with 2007 cases like Christe Reimer, Ruben Navarro, Katie Thorpe, Ashley X, (I’m too tired to link but go over to FRIDA’s website, Not Dead Yet’s, or Cilla’s), the truth is there are people that actually hate disabled people. Sorry to break the news but they literally want us gone. Dead. Locked in basements. Starved. Suffocated. Drowned. Overly medicated."

Sounds kinda depressing, eh? And it would be if she stopped there. Which she doesn't, of course:

"Prettying it up by saying we just need them to understand us better, quoting Dr. King over and over, and settling for what table scraps we’re given is not going to cut it. Awareness without systemic change never will never work and our people our suffering because of it.

"We have to RISE up. We have to take control of our movement and the direction it’s headed (let’s start by putting the focus on COMMUNITY and not promotion of the individual.) We have to make it our responsibility to tell our OWN people that to be a part of this community is a blessing, not a curse. We have to take power. There aren’t any options left."

Speak it!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

A book proposal and its consequences


Over at, there is a Call for submissions for a new book to be published by Seal Press.

Imagine a world where women enjoy sex on their own terms and aren't shamed for it. Imagine a world where men treat their sexual partners as collaborators, not conquests. Imagine a world where rape is rare and swiftly punished.

Welcome to the world of Yes Means Yes.

Yes Means Yes! will fly in the face of the conventional feminist wisdom that rape has nothing to do with sex. We are looking to collect sharp and insightful essays, from voices both established and new, that demonstrate how empowering female sexual pleasure is the key to dismantling rape culture.....

What follows is a series of bullet points suggesting topics to write about.

Make of it what you will. This could turn it to be a decent book. But what a narrow concept of rape!

One good thing, is the quality of the responses to this badly written cfp. Read and enjoy:





Fire fly

Black Amazon



I'm falling up

Elaine Vigneault

Responses from at least one of the editors, Jacklyn Friedman, have been exceptional in the lack of defensive I normally see when valid criticism arises:

Jacklyn's response to Tekanji

Jacklyn's respose to Firefly

Thursday, December 20, 2007

To assume or not to assume

I've recently been insulted by a blogger I will refer to as Ms. X. that I have considered a friend for quite a while. Here's her capper:

"That kind of stuff is worthy of Bill Clinton, no[t] you."

I'm not going to link to the post because it contains private e-mails from another blogger, Ms. Y, I also consider a friend that have been posted without her permission.

That crosses a line for me. If you have to make your point about a private conversation, find a creative way to do it. Posting someone's private e-mail and address is not only wrong, it's fucking lazy.

The issue is a private e-mail list. Ms. X's original post mentioned some private e-mail lists she'd heard of among feminists. Finding out there were private lists pissed Ms. X off. Ms. X infers that private e-mail lists are all about "posses". A posse is a group of supporters a blogger can count on to come to her defense whenever anyone dares to question her behavior. So for Ms. X, it seemed, participation in a private e-mail list was equivalent to fomenting posses. She asked her readers to offer reasons why they would participate in such a list.

There are all kinds of private mailing lists and I have been on several over the years. I offered reasons why I believe private conversations in a mailing list and out of the public eye are useful and healthy.

In Ms. X's next comment, she mentions a specific list and a specific list owner, Ms. Y, without naming the list itself. I happen to be on a mailing list owned by Ms. Y. The list I'm a member of is private.

Is Ms. X talking about the private mailing list I'm on or is she talking about another private mailing list owned by Ms. X? I don't know. I'd have to learn a lot more about the list before I can make that decision. Also, of course, I have pledged privacy to Ms. Y and I intend to uphold that pledge. But I don't feel as if I'm in danger of violating that privacy simply by interacting with Ms. X in a conversation about the usefulness of private mailing lists in general.

Next Ms. X claims that she was banned from a specific private mailing list owned by Ms. Y and that she is receiving traffic directly from that private mailing list. Understandably, this makes Ms. X feel bad. People are linking to her blog posts directly from this private list and Ms. X can see that in her blog statistics. Ms. X asks that members of the list from which she was banned either speak with Ms. X directly or copy and paste her posts to the mailing list, rather than linking.

This is also the post in which Ms. X starts revealing private discussions between herself and Ms. Y. She claims Ms. Y told her her presence on the mailing list would be unwelcome. This leads Ms. X to believe that Ms. Y is using this mailing list to say bad things about her behind her back. Combine that with the direct linking and you've got a recipe for paranoia.

Or not.

Here's a couple of reasons why paranoia might not be the first stop for that particular conclusion train.

First and foremost, there are lot of reasons why people on private mailing lists post links to other people's blogs. List members may be linking to posts they admire. List members may be linking to posts they don't understand, so that they ask for clarification from fellow list members. If you are a blogger that has posted about feminism consistently and for a long time, it is likely you will be linked by other feminists. Pretty cool.

Second, there is a fundamental misunderstanding of privacy that is going to be a trend in this story. Ms. Y happens to have a healthy respect for privacy and private conversation. I hadn't read Ms. Y revealing any private conversations. No mention of banning, no mention of unwelcome bloggers.

A commenter asks a question about why Ms. X was banned, and this prompts Ms. X to post a series of private e-mails between herself and Ms. Y.

Now a new story emerges. Rather than being banned, it is revealed the Ms. X wanted to JOIN the mailing list. Ms. Y replies that the list is in a rough period and the membership is currently frozen. Ms. Y assures Ms. X that there will be future opportunities to participate in private mailing lists together.

Do you see how things are shifting now? At first the argument is that mailing lists are bad. Now it is revealed that Ms. X wanted to join a list and was told she could not.

I responded in shock that Ms. X would post private e-mails. But I want to keep the discussion going. I point out that lots of people aren't comfortable with direct interaction. People say bad things behind our backs. The thing to remember is that I'm not going to change my opinion of Ms. X based on gossip (and remember, nobody has gossiped about Ms. X at this point). I pledged that I'd judge Ms. X by my own standards and that I'd expect she would do the same for me.

Alas, not true. Time for another side trip on the wayward conclusion train.

Ms. X now claims that horrible things are being said about her behind her back by someone who pretends to be a friend to her face. Next, she asserts that the mailing list she wanted to join is, in actuality, a list designed specifically to reject her and another blogger. She now returns to the argument that private mailing lists are always bad.

If you've read this far, and seen the twists and turns, I suppose you have figured out what a losing cause my further participation is. But I try to take Ms. X at her word. She claims that our friend, Ms. Y, has created a list whose purpose is to exclude her and talk about her behind her back. This obviously isn't the list I'm on, since Ms. X isn't a topic of discussion there.

But, maybe Ms. Y need to vent somewhere and has created the "I hate Ms. X" mailing list. Maybe she has recruited members from all over the internets. Perhaps they have badges, and cute little names and a theme song.

OK, maybe not.

Many comments ensue and eventually, the mailing list is named.

Yup. It's the one I'm on. Of course it's in completely unrecognizable form. I've got to wonder where Ms. X is getting these crazy ideas about the content of a list she isn't allowed to read. And now that she's revealed the name of the list, she feels free to reveal that I am a member of that list.

Remember what I said about privacy? I intended to keep my pledge to Ms. Y. But Ms. X didn't want to let that happen. So not only does Ms. Y's privacy get tossed to wind, but Ms. X chooses to throw mine along for the ride.

I suppose I should be angry.

Yes, the thread is patently absurd.

MailingList/Bad, MailingList/Good, MailingList/Bad.

But, dammit, I respected this woman right up until that thread. I've learned from her. I've laughed with her. I want her to be healthy and ready to rock and roll. I want to read more of her wonderful thoughts and opinions and be able to follow along as her mind zips from one interesting subject to another.

She's not there now. She's in a bad place. I'm not what she needs right now.

I hope one day she'll be back blogging and making me laugh and cry and think and smile.

Activism 101 part two

The text version of the News Release:

News Alert

For Release: Friday, December 21, 2007

Protest and Vigil: Send an Anti-War Message
for the Holidays: Out of Iraq • End the War
Bring the Troops Home Now!
Friday, December 21, 2007 • 6:30–7:30 PM
Library Plaza, Hennepin & Lagoon Aves. in Minneapolis

Minneapolis event is part of national day of peace actions

Minnesota anti-war activists plan
Friday rally to mark “season of peace”

A Minneapolis antiwar vigil and rally to be held this Friday, December 21, will be one of 90 events planned across the country. The nationally coordinated day of local antiwar actions expresses opposition to the continued U.S. war and occupation of Iraq.

The Friday afternoon event in Minneapolis will begin at 6:30 pm on the Library Plaza at Hennepin and Lagoon Avenues in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis. The event is being organized under the call of: “Send an Anti-War Message for the Holidays – Out of Iraq – End the War – Bring the Troops Home Now.”

The event will include signs, banners and candles. Anti-war holiday carol singers, organized by the Counter Propaganda Coalition, will perform. Organizers expect to be a visible presence at one of the busiest intersections in Minneapolis at the beginning of the holiday weekend.

A statement issued by organizers says in part, “During the holiday season, these celebrations of peace are overshadowed by the continuing U.S. war in Iraq. On December 21, people across the country will gather in a variety of ways to call for an end to the war and to bring the troops home.”

The statement goes on to say, “The U.S. is an occupying power in Iraq. The Iraqi people want U.S. troops to leave and the majority of people in the U.S. want the troops brought home. While the Bush Administration says there is ‘progress in Iraq,’ the reality is that there will not be peace in Iraq as long as the occupation continues.”

A series of focus groups conducted for the U.S. military in Iraq last month found that “Iraqis of all sectarian and ethnic groups believe that the U.S. military invasion is the primary root of the violent differences among them, and see the departure of ‘occupying forces’ as the key to national reconciliation...” as reported in the Washington Post on December 19.

The December 21 event in Minneapolis is initiated by Iraq Peace Action Coalition and endorsed by Anti-War Committee, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out, Students for a Democratic Society, Twin Cities Peace Campaign–Focus on Iraq, Veterans for Peace, Women Against Military Madness and others.

The Iraq Moratorium Campaign, which was launched in September 2007, seeks to mark the third Friday of every month with antiwar activities. The Minneapolis event is one of 90 listed on the Iraq Moratorium website ( to be held this Friday. The Iraq Moratorium asks individuals to act alone or in groups on Moratorium Day to show their support for withdrawal of U.S. troops and to call for an end to the war in Iraq.

Activism 101: the News Release

If you want to get press coverage for your event, you need to alert the press that your event is happening. For years, Ravenhub and I have been writing news releases for events we support. We both were journalists in the distant past and have a familiarity with the lingo, plus the knowledge of what a working reporter needs to know in order to pitch and/or cover a story.

This piece will be going out in a couple of hours. I'm particularly proud of it for a number of reasons. It covers all the bases: who, what, when, where and why. It puts the event in context and it notes a recent news story that a reporter can cite if the editors allow more than a paragraph or photo of the event.

I've posting the images so you can see the standard set-up for a news release. I'll also post the text below. Feel free to use this and adapt it for your own events.

Once you write and produce the press release, you need to get it to the press. We create a pdf file that can be e-mailed as well as print copies that can be faxed. We have a list of media contacts we've built up over the years. These are both reporters that we've worked with in the past as well as the generic "city desk" address in news rooms for local media outlets.

Our fax machine is programmable, so we scan in the info, load up a bunch of contact numbers and let the thing go until it's done. When our kids lived at home, they were willing to do this part for us, for a small tip. Our land line is tied up for a while, but that just means a bit of peace and quiet.

In addition to the press release, we'll include a copy of the flyer we made for the event (posted earlier in the blog somewhere).

Please, let's not reinvent the wheel every time. Copy whatever you need and go forth into the life of presstitution!


News release front - Photo Hosted at Buzznet


News release back - Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Official Apology

Found via Presurfer. Send someone an Official Apology. I sent this one to a co-worker who is also addicted to LOLcats:

Apology - Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Top 10 Worst Logos


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Author event next month in Minneapolis

My first draft of a flyer for a visit by Antonia Juhasz:

Antonia Juhasz speaking in Minneapolis - Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Friday, December 14, 2007

A great man passes

Recently, the partner of one of the women in my book group, died after a long and difficult battle with cancer. I knew Peter only as a partner to Priscilla. We knew each other's names and could make pleasant conversation. But I can't say I ever spent more than 30 minutes in his presence.

I did know his work however, Peter was an ornithologist with a specialty. He could preserve birds as study skins or mounts for museums. The next time you see an exhibit that contains a preserved animal, you might notice something important: the people who do the work are not credited. Peter was one of those people.

The following is information I have discovered about Peter since his passing. I never knew what an amazing person he was.

Peter was a bird lover who was a walking encyclopedia on birds. He could mimic bird song and bird calls. He could describe the science and the behavior of hundreds of species of birds. The birds he used for exhibits were birds that had died from window strikes or vehicle strikes. He studied the bird's behavior and structure intensely so that he could arrange the mounts in realistic settings and positions. He was a scientist and a master craftsman.

Because I was Priscilla's friend, I had the opportunity to see many of Peter's birds in process. His craft involves tedious, patient practice that combines science and artistry. There are no taxidermy stores where you can pick up a few eagle eyes or falcon feathers to put together a bird. Peter began with a dead bird, but he would use anything and everything he could find to create a realistic looking model. He was self-taught and his amazing skill is lost with his passing.

He work is in the Smithsonian, in the museums across the world, and in DNR displays here in Minnesota. If you go to Lake Itasca, the birthplace of the Mississippi, you can see one of Peter's eagles.

So this is what I didn't know about the man I knew slightly and who has passed away recently.

His work was a passion and did not pay well. He had no insurance when he got sick and his care became Priscilla's full-time job. Because I did not know Peter well, I was not able to help as much as I would have liked. He did have many amazing friends and people who did what they could. The process of being ill and uninsured in the U.S. was a never-ending battle for the two of them. It was unbelievably frustrating and incredibly sad.

Priscilla has been forwarding eulogies from ornithologists expressing their memories and fondness for Peter and I am suprised to learn how widely respected and admired he was in his little corner of the universe. It seems I was in the presence of a genius and true artist, but I never knew it. Neither Peter nor Priscilla talked about his genuis or bragged about his accomplishments. To me, he was simply a nice guy, a good partner to my friend, and he had an unusual job.

This has reminded me that our fellow human beings can do amazing things, make awesome contributions to the world, and we may never know it. And, of course, it reminds me that capitalism sucks. Why should a man with his knowledge and skill be allowed to wither away without any real help? Why should his entire care be placed on the back of my friend, with no hope of relief?

I fucking hate cancer.

Edited to add:

I got together with Priscilla and a bunch of friends today. Apparently Peter was told there was nothing the doctors could do for him. He left the hospital and went into hospice care. Two weeks later, he passed.

I don't know what to say. I'm angry and I'm sad.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Don't miss it!

This awesome video is from the fabulous Sudy! Enjoy!

Not very bionic of me, eh?

See What You're Made Of - Visit The Official Site

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Collected Sayings

You know how, over time, you build up a vocabulary based on shared experiences? Here's some from my circle of friends:

To Burke, being Burked
Sample sentence: I can Burke you on that!
This is to one-up somebody who has just told you an anecdote. I had a co-worker who was a really nice guy and a good friend. But he also had a nasty habit of ALWAYS having a story worse than yours, no matter what story you relate. The word has been a part of my vocabulary for years, and I try to teach it to other people al the time. I have tons of friends who have never met the man who now use this term. It's pretty handy.

The idiocy was conistered throughout your argument.
This is based on another co-worker. She was an excellent customer representative. People loved her and she was very efficient. But she couldn't spell. It led to hilarious results, and this is one of my favorites. She asked me to change the subheads to bold to keep the look conistered throughout. I assumed she meant consistent. But conistered has such a nice sound to it and it really should be a word, so I've been spreading that term around as well.

Delicate Little Flower
Nothing new about this one, but something I tend to call myself whenever I either don't want to do something or when I want someone to do something for me. Always said sarcastically.

Monday, December 10, 2007

A near-flattening experience

Today I got a treat. Ravenhub worked late so he decided to come downtown and pick me up for a ride home. Normally I take the bus. We agreed to meet around the corner from work, since the street in front of the building is full of people picking up, dropping off, plus all manner of buses. I thought I had it timed well so that I would be waiting for him when he arrived. But he got lucky and got there first. He was waiting in the driveway to a parking lot. I was happy to see him and rushed to the car. From the corner of my eye I something flying at me. It was a fucking huge honking SUV. Some woman had found a break in the traffic and had decided she should take a left turn through a break in the traffic and barrel into the parking lot. Not bothering to notice there was a pedestrian (moi), walking across the driveway at the exact same moment.

Quick thinking that I am, I put my hand out. Because my awesome hand is the most likely thing to stop 3,000 pounds of metal, right? That wasn't going to be enough, so I jumped back and still had to push off the car before the nitwit driver slammed on her breaks.

Next I was treated to something I have simply never before seen in my life. Ravenhub came barrelling out of our car and screamed at the woman who had very nearly hit me. You have to understand. Ravenhub is the sweet and well-behaved one. Ravenhub is the one who can control impulses. Ravenhub is always trying to tell me to control my urge to mouth off in public.

The woman is mortified. The woman is wondering what the fuck this strange man is doing screaming at her. Ravenhub is at full bore, but he uses his "social worker" language: "You have no idea of the consequences of your actions!" he screams. Now who the hell screams that?

I am just staring at this car in front of my face. And at the toddler buckled into a safety seat in SUV. This woman has got some extreme priority issues. Smashing my face in is one thing. But she could have seriously injured that child as well.

Meanwhile she is apologizing over and over. I climb into our waiting car and ask the still-fulminating Ravenhub to get in with me. SUV driving woman pulls up beside our car and rolls down her window. What, she thinks we want to have a chat over this?

I tell her to be careful from now on and we slowly drive away. Whew!

Friday, December 07, 2007


Ravenhub and I went to see Enchanted yesterday afternoon. It was a lot of fun. Took a lot of pot shots at Disney fairy tales in general. But the most amazing thing was the way Amy Adams pulled off being a beautiful and innocent princess plopped down in the middle of New York City.

Everything about the story was totally predictable, and some of the most fun were details that weren't even mentioned. Like the fact that the princess could whip together the most complicated costumes overnight by cutting a few holes in her host's curtains. James Marsden as the prince was a hoot. What a completely adorable and vain moron.

There was a sweetness to the entire movie. The princess would break into song at inappropriate moments and amazing things would happen regardless. Completely ludicrous events occurred, but they were played with such fun and delight that we just went along with them.

Definitely a great way to spend a couple of hours on a cold and snowy day.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Hanukkah Special

A store in New York City, of all places, screws up big time when it comes to multicultural knowledge:

New York store red faced over 'Hanukkah hams'

Dec 6 12:55 PM US/Eastern

A posh food store in New York's Greenwich Village has found itself red faced after offering hams for sale with the slogan "Delicious for Hanukkah," the current Jewish religious holiday.
The non-kosher labelling was spotted at the weekend by Manhattan novelist Nancy Kay Shapiro, 46, who decided instead of alerting management to take a picture of the unorthodox sign and post it on the Internet.

"I just thought it was funny," Shapiro, who described herself as an unobservant Jew, told the New York Post. "I wasn't offended in any way. I just thought, here's somebody who knows nothing about what Jews eat."

By the time Shapiro returned to the store on Tuesday, the first night of Hanukkah, the signs had vanished, the newspaper reported.

A manager at the Balducci's gourmet grocery store told the newspaper that the sign was a mistake and blamed it on a stock clerk.

Pork and shellfish are among the foods considered unclean under Jewish law.

Copyright AFP 2007, AFP stories and photos shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium

Monday, December 03, 2007

Crazy Frog Bros

This looks like its been around, but I haven't seen it before. Comrades, I give you the Crazy Frog Brothers video on You Tube.

I adore the enthusiasm of these guys!

But, wait, there's more:

Here are the same two kids 15 years later.

And someone put the two videos together here.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Veterans against the War

Mary Scully, a local activist and member of the Iraq Peace Action Coalition, gave a great talk at a meeting last month where veterans of the Iraq war and military families spoke about why they want the end to war. I asked Mary for a copy of the speech because I thought it was awesome. Here are some excerpts:

Of the many important participants in the antiwar movement---students, churches, women, Civil Rights groups, unions---there is one constituency with a towering moral authority no one disputes, and that is the veterans and active duty Gis. Their opposition to war cuts, like nothing else can, through the patriotic jingoism, racism and lies that justify war. That’s why the proponents of war are so relentless in trying to create antipathy between veterans and the antiwar movement. Everyone’s heard the story about Vietnam vets being met at airports by taunting and spitting protestors? This ugliest of slanders is intended to alienate people from the antiwar movement, in particular to isolate and demoralize veterans with misgivings or opposition to the war. It gives them no place to go for support.

In the early antiwar movement there was some confusion and discussion about the value of reaching out to veterans and Gis—but no one ever saw them as the enemies of peace; some doubted they could overcome the military brainwashing or stand up to the harassment they would certainly receive. That confusion decisively ended when hundreds and eventually thousands of vets and Gis began organizing against the war and made their opposition public with newspapers, petitions, and demonstrations and they approached the antiwar movement for collaboration and support.

Without the support of a mass civilian antiwar movement they were subject to intimidation, court martial, prison time, and often charges of mutiny or desertion in time of war, which carry a maximum penalty of death. You may not know that all of this was true in the first Iraq war in the early 90s. Black and Latino soldiers played a major part in this resistance because they were so outraged at the racism of the war against the Arab peoples.

As a result of our collaboration defense campaigns were waged and demonstrations held to keep Gis from being prosecuted and jailed. We marched with veterans reaching out to soldiers and to support those victimized for exercising their legal right to oppose the war.

The respect we have for these brothers and sisters in the antiwar movement is signified by the fact that even today all marches are led off by contingents of veteran’s and Gis because they are a direct rebuke to the demagogues calling racist wars a fight for freedom and democracy. Thousands have been inspired and persuaded to oppose the war by their public speeches and protests

Many of the veterans who have been involved in this work for now more than 40 years are here tonight. They’re probably too modest to stand up and identify themselves but I think we should tip our hats to them and express our respect and gratitude for the remarkable contributions they have made to advancing civil liberties, the causes of peace and antiracism, and to making this a suitable world for human beings to live and love in.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Help select the word of the year

Go to the Merriam-Webster site to help select the "Word of the Year". Here's the gems you get to vote on:

vanity sizing

I went for blamestorm, since it's a word I might actually use some day!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Book

I haven't blogged about this yet, but today seems like a good time. I took the day off from work to travel to the town where my mother lives. We participated in a book release party for the book that she researched and wrote and that I typeset and illustrated. The book is about our ancestors and the decisions they made as they moved from New England to the midwest in the 1800s. This book is based on letters and diaries that my mother discovered in the attic of the home where we both grew up. The letters describe the "frontier" experience for white settlers in the U.S.

My mother's academic specialty is the migration of people. What is it that motivates people to move from one part of the world to another? What decisions do they make in that process? Is the move gradual or sudden? What political, geographic and societal forces are most influential in those decisions?

What we discovered in this process is that, not surprisingly, the settlement of the "western" territories did not follow the plotlines we learned in school. Our ancestors bought midwestern land in the early 1800s but did not move there until years later. They hired other, less affluent, people to clear the land and establish the agriculture that became the basis of future wealth for our family. The family that cleared the land, built the barn, established the livestock and produced the crops was not our own. Once all the hard work was finished, my ancestors moved in and reaped the profits. The family that did the work is not longer mentioned. That's colonialism 101.

The release party was held at the retirement village in which my mother currently resides. 40 people attended, most of whom were residents of the building or friends of my mother.

This book is important because it dispels some myths and clarifies some truths. Colonialism is a messy, complicated affair. Families are affected in unpredictable ways by capitalism's need to expand and consolidate territory. The ground troops of colonialism are privileged in many ways, but they are subject also to unforgiving circumstances. Colonialism is bloody and messy and difficult. Even the so-called beneficiaries of capitalism often get a raw deal.

Carnival of Radical Action

Elle, Ph.D. and Vox ex Machina are hosting the next edition of the Carnival of Radical Action.

Here's the premise for #6:

Please get in your submissions for the Carnival of Radical Action.

...for the sixth edition of the Carnival of Radical Action, Vox and I want you to explore making radical history. How do we create and participate in radical history? And how do we chronicle it?

Some food for thought:
• How do radical activists incorporate history into their activism?
• What are the processes involved in forming radical, history-shaping movements in our day and age (i.e. how do we initiate, shape, translate into action our responses to injustice and violence against and within our communities)?
• How do we learn from the past and incorporate radical themes in our work?
Deadline for submissions is Thursday, November 29.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Moving ahead by light years

OK, I finally bought a new home computer. I've just gone from running a crippled old Imac running OS 8, to a fine and dandy new super powered Mac Pro. It's like going from riding a bicycled to warp drive. I am having me some real fun. And I can finally see other people's blogs in all their glory.

I r purring!

Friday, November 23, 2007

About that sound bite

In an opinion piece printed in yesterday's New York Times, this really jumped out at me:

That night, President Bush flew to the air base at Baghdad International Airport. We saw pictures of him later, serving Thanksgiving dinner to American soldiers, posing like a waiter with a great big Ali Sheesh on a tray. He never left the base. “You are defeating the terrorists here in Iraq,” he told the troops, “so we don’t have to face them in our own country.” An Iraqi friend once told me it was that line about fighting in Iraq to make America safer that turned his adoration of Mr. Bush into hatred.

Well, duh!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Protesters arrested following parade

Boston Vets - Photo Hosted at Buzznet
Photo by Angela Rowlings

By Laurel J. Sweet | Monday, November 12, 2007 | | Local Coverage

Eighteen members of Veterans for Peace, an outspoken fraternity of former servicemen opposed to the Iraq War, were arrested by Boston police for disturbing the Veterans Day ceremony on City Hall plaza yesterday, after they lined up across the speakers’ platform with gagged mouths.

The group was made to bring up the rear of the annual parade - for which hundreds of patriots lined Boylston and Tremont streets - and were even placed behind the street sweepers.

“They do not want to adhere to our rules of conduct,” James Lawler, commander of the American Legion in Suffolk County, told the Herald, suggesting the protesters’ time would be better spent in Washington, D.C., fighting for benefits and better VA hospitals.

“This is not a political parade,” said Lawler, an Air Force veteran of the Korean War and former Boston police officer, “it’s to show our veterans respect. It kills me that we have service veterans coming back maimed, but all we can do is help them.”

Veterans for Peace member Winston Warfield, a veteran of the Vietnam War, acknowledged Lawler was right about his organization’s political motives, but said, “We’re all servicemen. Some of us have wounds to prove it.”

Both sides were met with applause, whether by tots in strollers waving flags, Marines calling out “Semper Fi!” or modern-day hippies chanting for peace.

Cynthia Johnson-Smith, on behalf of 9,000 members of the Massachusetts American Legion Auxiliary, said the turnout alone “means that we appreciate our freedom at the price these veterans have paid.”

Brookline native Sue Gracey, 73, who calls herself “a raging granny,” chose to march with the war protesters, but said she still supports the troops.

“Our country’s in trouble,” Gracey said. “I love the flag, but it needs to be shown with humility.”

Kristine Galeota knew her kids’ thoughts were on hot chocolate after the parade, but before they left the ceremony there was so much more she wanted them to drink in.

“With children, you never really celebrate the holiday the way that it’s supposed to be,” Galeota of Townsend said, her daughter, 8, and son, 10, at her side, their cheeks stung pink by the cold.

“Whether you agree with the war or not, you should still support the veterans,” she said. “There are opposing sides. You need to deal with it. It’s the United States of America.”

Article URL:

Check out the Veterans for Peace Take Action page for ideas about how to help

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Radio Flyer

A flyer to promote the radio programs of two local activists.

KFAI FLYER - Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Holiday Vigil

Made another flyer. This one is for a holiday vigil against the war.

Holiday Vigil flyer against the war in Iraq - Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Friday, November 02, 2007

The History of LOLCats

by Historian Ben Burns - Watch more free videos

Monday, October 29, 2007

Opposing the War in Chicago

Chicago October 27 antiwar - Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Chicago Antiwar October 27 - Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Last Friday, after work, Ravenhub, myself and a good friend hopped in a rental car and drove east. We were headed for Chicago for the United for Peace and Justice antiwar march and rally in Chicago.

We drove across Wisconsin in the rain. It has been my experience that one must always drive in the rain when crossing through Wisconsin. It’s like that Pigpen character in Peanuts that always has a cloud over his head. Wisconsin also has a cloud that spews rain whenever I decide to drive across it.

Once we got a ways south, the weather turned clear and we got to see the beautiful fall colors again. We are well past peak color at our latitude, but they still have color further south. Very pretty!

Ravenhub is a train nut, so our intricate plans required making our way toward the windy city in a way that would require us to make use of as many trains as possible.

Our plan on the first day was to get to Waukegan so that we could ride the Metra into the city for the rally. We arrived around 2:30 a.m. and found out that Waukegan is a very small town without much in the way of hotels. The Ramada Inn was full, so we chose one of those crappy budget hotels. This one was apparently balanced on the 7th ring of Hell. I cannot explain how completely unpleasant this place was. But all we needed was a few hours of sleep and the price was very cheap. The bathroom was, ahem, filthy and the sink had this big blob of something hideous stuck to its side. Looked like something a horse might cough up. At around 7 a.m., work crews began slamming things around outside our window. We look out and see them tossing every thing, including the bathroom sink from the room next door out the window and into a metal (clang!) dumpster. Oy vey!

So we pack up our meager belongings and head downtown looking for a place to eat breakfast. However, Waukegan’s downtown does not open on Saturday morning. In fact, I believe they roll up the sidewalks overnight. We finally talked to a woman in the car next to us, and she directed us out towards the interstate.

We found a delightful little diner called "The Dog House" and ate a delicious breakfast while watching four of the hardest working people I have ever seen. There was barely enough space behind the counter to move around, and yet these four people managed to feed and wait on 30 or so people at a time. Just amazing. The food was delicious.

We get down to the train station, which is right along Lake Michigan. The train arrives and we get seats in the upper deck. A 30 minute ride through the northern, and ritzy, suburbs of Chicago was thoroughly enjoyable. Halfway there, a bunch of teenagers hope on. They are carrying antiwar signs and are all excited about the trip. They are also constantly changing seats and sharing iPods and cell phones. It was fascinating and a bit frightening. But they were supporting a good cause!

We land in downtown Chicago and wander around hopelessly looking for the el train. We didn’t really have a map that was worthwhile and wandered off in the wrong direction a few times. Fortunately, a Postal worker asked us if we were lost and pointed us in the right direction. Very nice man. We find the el and stop at a Starbucks directly underneath for some caffeinated fortification. Hop on the el and head down to Union Park for the opening rally.

At the park, we are immediately accosted by group after group from the political fringe. Being fairly fringe-y myself, this is heaven. We picked up copies of all the latest left wing press, including the groups that spend all their time attacking each other. There were a ton of campaign workers trying to get their candidates onto the Illinois ballot. After a while, whenever we were approached, we just said, "Not an Illinois voter!" and the zombie-like creatures moved on to the next person.

I ran into this couple from the "Billionaires for Bush" group. They were spot on with their condescension. Made me laugh!

Billionaires for bush - Photo Hosted at Buzznet

At rallies, I always take the opportunity to pet as many dogs as possible and this was no exception. There were quite a few pit bulls, some goldens and a bunch of tiny little "kick-me" dogs of unknown origin.

Several groups had made signs and we’re asking for donations from people who wanted to carry them. That’s a new way to drum up money, but what the heck. It does take effort to put them together, so more power to them.

I ran into a couple of long-time Chicago friends and even four or five Twin Cities activists who had made the trip down there. I was talking to my friend, J, a local union activist when someone from the Bill Richardson campaign came by. We neglected to tell him that we were among the people who had run Richardson out of town several years ago when he tried he was a UN representative defending U.S. foreign policy. It seemed the polite thing to do!

The march began, and we placed ourselves in a group of people who liked to chant. We managed to insert our political line of thought (heh!), into a group that started chanting, "What do we want? Peace! When do we want it? Now!" by changing the call to "What do we want? Troops out! When do we want it? Now!" I mean, seriously, peace the U.S. government way would mean total occupation of Iraq. Not the sort of thing I’m in favor of.

There was a fun guy with a megaphone who started a chant like this:

"When I say Bush, you say, ‘Liar!’ Bush!"

The crowd yells, "Liar!"

Him: "Bush"

Crowd: "Liar"

"When I say Cheney, you say ‘Duck!" Cheney!"

The crowd yells, "Duck!" and everybody ducks down.

Him" "Cheney"

Crowd: "Duck" as we all crouch down.

This chant pleased the cops no end.

Speaking of cops, the presence was intense. Along the march there were at least 3 or 4 Chicago police on each side of every single block. They were friendly enough, dressed in regular gear and standing at ease. When we got downtown and passed the Illinois state building, the state patrol was lined up in their brown shirts (seriously!) with their riot helmets and their clubs held across their bodies in both hands. Sheesh what a waste!

When we walked across the Chicago River, we encountered a group passing out fliers for the local Chicago antiwar coalition. I looked down at the flyer and saw the graphic I made of the odometer showing Iraq, with the q rolling off to be replaced by the n from Iran.

Iraq Iran Peace Antiwar Odometer Sign - Photo Hosted at Buzznet

I asked the guy, "Hey, where did you get this graphic?"

"Stole it off the web!" was the reply.

"I made that graphic!" I told him.

"You did? That’s great!"

I love it when I see my art being used on other people’s fliers!

Right after crossing the Chicago River, we passed a wedding party and their photographer. They decided they needed wedding pictures with the antiwar march in the background. As soon as we saw this, we started chanting "Make love, not war!" The wedding party smiled and waved in response. Cute!

Downtown at the federal building we saw more Illinois cops in riot gear, plus the Chicago mounted police lined up side by side. Lots of overtime got paid that day.

The rally was at the federal building. It was pretty hard to hear. I managed to snag the edge of a cement flower pot, so I got off my feet for a while. There was a great speaker from Iraq who explained how Sunni and Shi’ia Arabs had intermingled for hundreds of years and how the news was wrong in characterizing them as completely separate communities. He said, "I don’t need anyone travelling 10,000 miles to help me talk to my cousin."

We stayed through most of the speeches and then headed back to the train station. Got lost again trying to find the damn thing and once again a friendly stranger sent us in the right direction. We made the train in time, but it was delayed for 45 minutes due to the derailment of an earlier train.

Our ride back was like being in a David Lynch film. The train passes by the Great Lakes Naval Base, so there were a lot of sailors in uniform heading back for the night. They were so damned young and acted like frat boys, throwing stuff back and forth at each other and giggling. A few stops into the trip and a group of teenage girls got on the train. They were prepping for a Halloween party so they spent the trip putting on make up and screaming at each other. Between the hyped up sailors and the screaming teenager girls it was surreal.

Waukegan, once again dead as a doornail, was soon to be placed in our rear view mirror. We headed north. Our plan had been to drive all the way home Saturday night. But I convinced Ravenhub that it was just too much for us oldsters and that we needed to get a good night’s rest after the fiasco of the night before.

So we got a room in a Hampton Inn on the west side of Milwaukee. Ah, paradise! Lovely room, lovely amenities. There was a business center with free computer and internet access so we got caught up on our e-mail. Breakfast was free and healthy. We grabbed some coffee from a local Starbucks and drove for the next 6 hours. We made it home around 2:30 p.m.

At 4 p.m. I decided to take a nap, but never really got up again until 6 a.m. this morning!

Meanwhile, in Minneapolis, the local demonstration turned out almost 500 people and was reported to be a lot of fun and widely supported by the people driving by.

Pictures will be added later.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Are you a good German?

Stolen from bint alshamsa!

Your Score: The Expatriate

Achtung! You are 30% brainwashworthy, 27% antitolerant, and 19% blindly patriotic

Congratulations! You are not susceptible to brainwashing, your values and cares extend beyond the borders of your own country, and your Blind Patriotism does not reach unhealthy levels. If you had been German in the 30s, you would've left the country.

One bad scenario -- as I hypothetically project you back in time -- is that you just wouldn't have cared one way or the other about Nazism. Maybe politics don't interest you enough. But the fact that you took this test means they probably do. I'm gonna give you the benefit of the doubt.

Did you know that many of the smartest Germans departed prior to the beginning of World War II, because they knew some evil shit was brewing? Brain Drain. Many of them were scientists. It is very possible you could have been one of them.

Conclusion: born and raised in Germany in the early 1930's, you would not have been a Nazi.

The Would You Have Been A Nazi? Test

- it rules -

Link: The Would You Have Been a Nazi Test written by jason_bateman on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Monday, October 22, 2007

Fact Sheet for Iraq demo

We're printing this on the back of the November flyer to handout at our next demo. We needed something that explained our position.

Why we say Out Now! - Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Build Your Wild Self

Found via Presurfer, you can create your own image in wildlife at the New York Zoos and Aquarium website. Here's yours truly:

Build your wild self desktop - Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Farewell, Wabun Inini

Today I learned of a great loss to activists. Vernon Bellecourt, a leader of the American Indian Movement and one of the most devoted on-the-ground activists I've ever met, died this weekend.

Vernon was one of the most committed anti-intervention activists alive. He spoke at many an anti-war demonstration, forum, conference, meeting, group, etc. He always made the connections between U.S. imperialism abroad and the war against Native people's at home.

He traveled around the world, connecting with indigenous organizations of all continents to defend and demand their human rights.

He could do everything: he could rile up a crowd with a provocative speech, he could sit down at a table and provide facts and figures in a calm cool discussion. He could talk with the press and come up with the quotes the media wanted to print. On a regular basis he would visit local prisons to help incarcerated native americans develop their spiritual lives.

He always combined public speaking and visible activism with direct aid to people in need all over the world.

He had boundless energy and enthusiasm and hope. He was harassed and jailed and surveiled and tailed and just plain picked on by authorities at every turn. And it didn't phase him a bit.

He went by his mission-supplied name, Vernon Bellecourt, but would often talk about his true name, before the Indian schools made him change it. In Anishinabe, his name, Wabun Inini, means Man of Dawn.

He will be missed.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Reading Lessing

I believe the first book I read by Doris Lessing was The Golden Notebook. At the time, I was living with a man who was so familiar to me because he managed to match the abuse and self-centeredness that I had experienced with my father. And that looked like true love at the time. Or it made me feel valuable at a time when I wasn’t valuing myself.

So I don’t remember much about the book, but I have a memory of myself sprawled on the lawn and reading, reading, reading. Reading was my escape at the time and I reveled in it. I was going through another one of my many untreated clinical depressions. I remember I was quite underweight. It wasn’t because of diet and control issues that arise with eating disorders. I was thin because I simply forgot to eat. I forgot to eat for a day or two at a time. I drank and I smoked. But I didn’t eat. I wasn’t hungry.

But I read. I was starved for intelligence and a world different from my own. I remember living in that book and thriving in that book, even though I cannot remember a single passage. I don’t remember plot. I don’t remember characters. I remember holding on to the book as if it was a lifeline.

Years later, I read The Good Terrorist for my women’s book group. I remember this one a bit better. I remember recognizing in my soul the activists who messed things up and left it to the women to provide all the cleaning. It was all too familiar to me.

I tried to read the science fiction, because I adore feminist science fiction. But I couldn’t get into Lessings sci fi world for some reason.

I do remember a woman I respected raving about Martha Quest. And so, this year, when I was doing a shift at a local used book store, I purchased a well-used copy of the novel.

And it captured me. Martha Quest is about a woman growing up in colonial Africa. It is about the impression made by the land and its people. It is about the understanding of privilege and the hatred of inequality. It is about the believe that individual actions can make a difference and need to be attempted.

I found myself adoring the way Lessing could display the contemptible privilege of the colonialists and the way they backed each other up in their self-assurance.

I’ve read a bit about Lessing and the thing I admire most is her scepticism. She distrusts dogma of all kinds. She rejects the claims of feminism and the claims of communism and the claims of anti-racism. At the same time, she is tireless in her efforts to provide direct assistance to the people of her homeland. She lives a simple, but happy existence in a small town. It is said that she spends every day feeding the birds of Hamstead Heath.

I am astonished that such a woman can receive accolades these days. Perhaps the world is not hopeless after all.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Come and sit a spell

Doris Lessing wins Nobel Prize for Literature - Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Yesterday it was announced that Doris Lessing had won the Nobel Prize for literature. She was on her way home from shopping and was met by a hoard of journalists on her front porch. So she sat down and answered questions. What an awesome 87-year-old!

I've spent time this year re-reading her books, this time in order. I've read the first two books of the "Children of Violence" series: Martha Quest and A Proper Marriage. Many times I found myself quoting passages out loud to Ravenhub because she does such a wonderful job of popping the overinflated egos of the colonists in Africa.

Here's some quotes form her encounter with the press yesterday:

"I was coming back from the hospital with my son Peter who was sick. I stepped out of a taxi and there were all these cameras, a whole posse of photographers. As this street is very good for that kind of thing, I thought they were shooting a soap or an episode of Morse or something. But it was me. So I first heard that I had won the Nobel prize for literature from the reporters."

"It is the most glamorous prize, and naturally it has got a lot of prestige, which none of the other prizes have, so it's the icing on the cake. At one point, sometime in the 70s, they [the Nobel academy] didn't like me - they said they didn't - but they seem to have changed their minds. Committees are like that. Of course I didn't expect to get it. I've been on the shortlist for 40 years. It is good to be the 11th woman on the list, I'm only sorry that one of the first or fourth or the fifth wasn't Virginia Woolf. But I don't think it is helpful to talk about writers in terms of male and female. A lot of British writers have won it, which is good. We produce a lot of good writers. I've been talking non-stop all day. I've spoken to my publisher and agent and old friends who rang me up, which was very good. There were lots of people who have wanted me to have it for a long time, so it is very nice that I have. I'm exhausted. To celebrate I'd have to go and buy champagne. I'm going to bed."

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Please come, don't come, no please come!

Let tutu speak - Photo Hosted at Buzznet

I haven't had time to blog about this until now. Recently, Rev. Dennis Dease, president of a local Catholic university, St. Thomas in St. Paul, decided to disinvite Desmond Tutu from speaking at an event on campus because he was accused of being an anti-Semite. The accusation was a result of this speech Tutu gave in Boston on April 13, 2002.

An article about this trend of disinviting speakers is here. Here's a quote:

The escalating controversy reflects a tension at colleges nationwide, one pitting free speech and academic freedom against views some find objectionable.

Last month, Columbia University's decision to allow Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak drew protesters. Speakers with strong political opinions regularly draw ire on campuses. Many religious-affiliated universities have taken heat for speakers who hold positions that, some say, go against particular doctrines.

What has changed of late has been the reaction of some colleges and universities. There is a growing trend, according to the American Association of University Professors, of schools inviting speakers and then un-inviting them after opposition groups turn up the heat.

The local activist community responded quickly and decisively, sending thousands of faxes and sparking news stories from around the world.

Yesterday, Dease reversed his decision. Way to go activists!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Update to the October 27 flyer

Changes: needed to add bus information.

iraq flyer update - Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Monday, October 08, 2007

Ireland & Palestine

"In Ireland, a government was elected that was the political equivalent of a coalition between the Likud and Hamas."

Tonight I went to a speech by Ali Abunimah, co-founder of the Electronic Intifada, and author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse.

Abunimah has been studying both South Africa and Ireland to learn what he can about how seemingly intractable enemies can find a way to work together and attempt to make a better world.

I took notes and I hope to have time to transcribe them here. Simply put, it was fascinating and positive and, surprise or surprises, hopeful.

This is good.


I'm addicted to LOL Cats, but this one really got me going! Found via Reddit.

LOL senator - Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The vets get a chance to speak

I whipped up this flyer for an event coming up in November. There was so much copy, I had little chance to use any art.

November antiwar event - Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Jena 6 flyer

I found this amazing image by doing a search for Jena 6 in flickr. The art is by Gilbert Vallian.

Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Friday, September 28, 2007


From Reddit, I found THIS videoclip of a seagull stealing chips from a convenience store.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Women of Color bloggers want you to know

The amazing turnout for Jena 6 and the fact that it finally hit the mainstream media after months of work by WOC bloggers, reminds us that there are more issues out there that are just as worthy of attention. And if Jena tells us anything, the way to get the real truth is to avoid the nonsense put forth by money-making enterprises like cable news, and go straight to the grassroots.

FIERCE (Fabulous Independent Educated Radicals for Community Empowerment) in New York City, is just such an organization. They are leading the struggle to highlight the cause of four lesbian and black women who are imprisoned after confronting a sexist homophobic thug in the West Village of New York.

Imani Henry has written a terrific summary of the events leading to their prosecution that bfp posted in June here:

Lesbians sentenced for self-defense
All-white jury convicts Black women

By Imani Henry
New York
Published Jun 21, 2007 2:58 AM

On June 14, four African-American women—Venice Brown (19), Terrain Dandridge (20), Patreese Johnson (20) and Renata Hill (24)—received sentences ranging from three-and-a-half to 11 years in prison. None of them had previous criminal records. Two of them are parents of small children.

Their crime? Defending themselves from a physical attack by a man who held them down and choked them, ripped hair from their scalps, spat on them, and threatened to sexually assault them—all because they are lesbians.

Read the entire article.

Beautiful, Also, Are The Souls of My Black Sisters has a beautiful call to action:

That these women could not go to this area of town as if they had no right to be there (per the district attorney who prosecuted their case) reeks of society’s desire to segregate and suffocate these women for what they are. Lesbians.

That these women who sought to harm no one, but, instead, were vilified and castigated because of their attacker’s hatred, while he still walks free, and they languish in prison, is unconscionable. Deemed a so-called “hate crime” against this straight male, every possible racist, anti-woman, anti-LGBT and anti-youth tactic was hurled against these women by the state of New York, and that they lived in a working-class black-majority city of Newark, N.J., and their gender expressions and body structures, was dehumanized, and demonized, in the eyes of the public, and ultimately, the jury that decided against them, is concrete proof that LGBT people have rights that no heterosexual is bound to respect.

The organization, FIERCE!, ( ) is fighting a campaign to free these women who have been unjustly imprisoned for having the temerity to be themselves in a lesbian, homosexual-hating society.

Please do not forget the Newark Women.

Contact FIRECE! to lend your help for these unjustly accused women in their fight for justice.

Give them your solidarity, your support, and let them know that they are not forgotten. Let them know that respect and dignity are the rights of all people: black, white, male, female, heterosexual—and lesbian and homosexual.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Making another flyer

Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Also sign up for the virtual march

See the awesome example from Black Amazon. She rocks my world.

Looks like a fabulous turnout:

Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Friday, September 14, 2007

Two Days of Driving to D.C.

It's a long haul from Minneapolis to D.C., but we made it in two days. Stopped the first day in Baraboo Wisconsin to visit the International Crane Museum. Saw 15 species of cranes in one place and heard the amazing story of the restoration of these magnificent birds.

Then it was drive, drive, drive, drive, drive, drive, drive.

Tomorrow we participate in the ANSWER Coalition protest against the War in Iraq. I'll post more when we get back to The Cities.

I'll scream for you, too!

Two Days of Driving to D.C.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Minnesota Daily Supports Teach-In

Awesome. The student newspaper for the Zooniversity encourages students to attend the teach in!

Teach-in for AFSCME

Faculty and students should support striking workers Sept. 11 and 12.

as the University workers' strike continues into its second week, the University's academic community needs to stand with AFSCME employees. This Tuesday and Wednesday from 10:00 a.m. to noon and 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., University faculty, students and AFSCME workers are asked to meet at the Oak Street Cinema near the corner of Washington Avenue and Oak Street in Stadium Village in support of the current workers' strike. The Teach-in, as the event is called, is intended to take the place of regularly scheduled classes in protest of both President Bob Bruininks and the University administration's wage increase offer to University workers, and as a learning opportunity in labor history.

The morning session will include AFSCME members, faculty, graduate students, labor educators and student activists discussing the importance of labor movements and the purpose of unions. A film and panel discussion of the 2003 AFSCME strike will take place in the afternoon. Following the morning session at noon on both days, students and faculty are encouraged to join striking workers on the picket line to show solidarity - the University administration must see they represent only the interests of the minority on campus and are supported by few.

Some faculty and students have already taken steps to oppose the University administration. professors and graduate students have moved classes off campus and students, this past Friday, protested a Board of Regents meeting. To those weary of politics, the University workers strike is not a political issue. The state Legislature already approved a 3.25 percent plus wage increase to state workers. It is the University administration that intentionally lowered the pay increase to 2.25 percent for technical and clerical workers and 2.5 percent for health-care workers. Bob Bruininks has devalued the worth of these women and men.

"The students are a bulwark of liberty," the writer José Martí said near the turn of the 20th century, "and its strongest army." University students and their teachers have an opportunity on Sept. 11 and 12 to amplify the voices of the striking technical, clerical and health-care workers. Please support the University workers on Tuesday and Wednesday and show them their worth.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Banner for Saturday's Protest

Put this together this weekend as well.

One of the IPAC members is going to have this blown up into a 3 ft. high banner to be carried in Saturday's antiwar protest!

Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Teach In flyer

The teachers of the U of M who support the AFSCME strike decided to put together a teach in. I worked on the flyer(s) this weekend. This should be a great chance for people to catch up on strike doings and to learn more about the labor movement.

Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Here's a 4-up version to hand on the picket lines.

Photo Hosted at Buzznet

This morning, Ravenhub and I got up before dawn to meet on the picket lines from 6 to 7 a.m. This was to stop the delivery trucks that come in with food and materials at the dorms. We turned back one truck, but we also got to meet three women strikers who were just awesome.

Updated flyer

Guess who forgot to put the TIME in the first draft of this flyer? Duh!

Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Friday, September 07, 2007

The awesome power of a strike

AFSCME workers at the University of Minnesota went on strike Wednesday, and it has been awesome to behold. The University has been steadily moving away from the mission of educating the populace and into a role as leader in research and elitist training of the twit children of the middle class. Oops. That's not exactly the language used in the recruiting material.

So, along with the elitist goals, it should come as no suprise that the U of M feels it can treat its lowest paid workers, the clerics, the techs, the dental assistants, the parking lot workers, the sign language interpreters, the child care workers -- like the peons they wish for in their fuedlistic dreams.

Given that, it is just awesome when the workers say, "No!".

I've had the opportunity to participate in the Labor and Community Strike Support Committee and the events of the last few days have simply rocked my world.

On Wednesday, more than 1,500 workers and their supporters rallied on the U of M mall and I was totally fired up by so many of the speeches. Elizabeth Edwards, stopped by during a campaign swing through the state to say she and her husband were walking the picket lines in spirit. Union leaders from the UTU Transit Workers Union and the Northwest Airlines Mechanics Unions, whose strikes received support from AFSCME workers and the community, were there to pay back the support and more.

Today, about 150 of us marched into the Board of Regents meeting to demand the workers' be given a fair wage increase.

This was followed by a rally of 500 plus people who have been walking the picket lines for three days now and who are still standing strong and backing each other up.

It is impossible to be cynical or demoralized when days like today occur.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Ads for the local press

This one is going into the Minnesota Daily, the University of Minnesota student newspaper.

Photo Hosted at Buzznet

This smaller one is for the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, the oldest African-American newspaper in town.

Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Another flyer for the fall

Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Thursday, August 30, 2007

We Support U of M Workers

Yesterday about 50 of us showed up at one of the major intersections of the University of Minnesota campus to hold up signs in support of the clerical and technical workers who will be going out on strike next week.

It was a lovely sunny day and traffic was extremely heavy. With the 35W bridge collapse, much of the downtown traffic is diverted to the Washington Avenue bridge over the Mississippi which leads right through the middle of the West Bank and East Bank campuses of the Uni.

I've done a lot of "bannering" -- holding up signs for a particular cause -- on street corners over the years, and this one was fairly successful. I hold the sign up high and try to make contact with people driving by. Some are confused, many wave, honk or give a thumbs up. Only two shook their heads negatively. They were white men in fancy cars. Fuck 'em.

There is an on-line petition I urge you to sign here.

We call on the University Administration to avert a strike by the clerical, technical and healthcare workers, represented by AFSCME. The University can stop a strike by offering a wage increase that puts real money on the table, and stops the downward slide in standard of living for the University's lowest-paid workers.

Money was allocated from the state legislature to pay for staff and employee wage increases. Other employee groups have gotten their raises, all of them bigger than what has been offered to AFSCME workers. Now is the time to extend a real wage offer to these workers, before a strike leaves the University to start the new school year understaffed and in a climate of labor unrest.

Moreover, we urge the University to stop attempts to eliminate the value of annual step increases by giving smaller and smaller across-the-board increases. Step increases are compensation for accumulated skills and long-term commitment to University jobs. Employees wait years to reach the tops of their pay scales, which represent the true value of their work. Given turnover among employees, and the number of employees at the top of their step ranges, there is no significant cost to the University for step increases.

Leave steps out of the discussion, and offer University AFSCME employees a general wage increase that maintains a quality standard of living, catching up and keeping up with inflation.

Again, if you care about low-wage workers, please sign the petition.

For information about the community strike support group, read more here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

If it works, does it still suck?

Today I witnessed a plea to help fund aid to victims of domestic abuse that really rubbed me the wrong way. The woman, I’ll call her Ms. Precious, spoke without notes from a memorized speech. She smiled a lot and made sure to make eye contact with all parts of the room. She had poise, was well-groomed, was the perfect little speaker.

She talked about her first job, making malts at a drive-in. Ms Precious learned her job from an older woman who also worked there. I’ll call this woman Ruby. Ruby was very kind. The more they worked together, the more supportive Ruby became and Ms. Precious began to see her as a mentor. When Ms. Precious finished a five-mile race by remembering how much Ruby supported her and hearing Ruby’s voice in her head telling her she could finish, she couldn’t wait to see Ruby again.

But when she got back to work, Ruby did not show up. So Ms. Precious figured she’d see her next time she worked or the time after that. But a few days went by, and still Ruby did not show up.

Finally, Ms. Precious was told the reason Ruby had not come to work. Ruby had been murdered by her abusive husband.

Ms. Precious attended the funeral and looked into the casket. Ms. Precious said, "That’s not Ruby!" She said this not only because she didn’t want to believe Ruby was gone, but also because Ruby’s face was so bruised and swollen that she was unrecognizable. Ms. Precious cried and cried at the loss of her friend and mentor. Ms. Precious looked at Ruby’s swollen eyes and realized Ruby had seen the horror that eyes should never have to see.

Later, Ms. Precious began to volunteer at a shelter for women escaping abuse. Ms. Precious learned a lot more about the horrible reality that is domestic violence. Ms. Precious became a spokesperson for the shelter and began speaking and raising money for the shelter. During one stop she met a little girl, I’ll call her Stacey, and really made a connection. They exchanged addresses and agreed to keep in touch.

Then one day Ms. Precious heard some horrible news. Stacey’s father had come home with a gun. He had shot Stacey’s mother and then shot himself. Stacey was lying in the same bed as her mother when this happened. You see, Stacey’s eyes had seen the horror that eyes should never have to see.

Ms. Precious mentioned a few statistics and gave a pitch for more funds. And she ended hoping that we could one day be a world in which no eyes would ever have to see such horror.

It was a pretty little speech, I suppose, and perhaps it had a good effect on some of the people in the crowd. Maybe they opened their checkbooks a little more and dug a little deeper. Maybe it will raise enough money for one more bed for one more woman escaping violence. If so, that’s a good thing, right?

I’m certainly not going to talk about this to other people who were at the same meeting. Maybe I should just ignore the way her talk made me feel. But, you know, fuck that.

First thing, Ms. Fucking Precious, what kind of friend were you to Ruby? It took you several days to find out why she didn’t come to work? I suppose that’s because you never exchanged phone numbers. You never visited her house. You used her as a mentor and a help to fulfill your own goals, but you never once tried to be a friend to her?

Survivors of abuse are some of the nicest and kindest people in the world. We get trained to be that way by our abusers. We get trained to never think for ourselves and to never focus on our own needs. We get taught to give and give and give and never take. We get taught to read the signals and to know when you want attention and when you want to be left alone. We read your moods intensely and constantly. We respond to your needs immediately.

And you didn’t see that. No, Ms. Precious, you are not an abuser and you are not to blame.

But you should have wondered to yourself why Ruby was being so very kind to you and asking absolutely nothing in return. Why did she know you were running a race, that you needed encouragement, that certain words would help you accomplish your goal? But you didn’t have a clue why she wasn’t at work and it took days to find the answer.

And that pretty little world where nobody ever sees violence? Are you really so fucking unaware what a small percentage of people in the world can aspire to that? Do you not understand that most of us see violence all the time and we don’t have a fucking choice?

So rather than hoping for a stupid blind world that does not see any violence, perhaps you should work for a world that does see violence and develops ways to respond effectively. Maybe you can learn something from the Rubys and the Staceys of this world who have seen violence and have not let that kill their amazing spirits.

And Ms. Fucking Precious, with your sick smile and your clueless pipe dreams, perhaps seeing victims of domestic violence as clubbed and helpless baby seals is not exactly respectful. Maybe you could talk about how so many of us have fought back and worked like hell to build a better world.

But maybe not.

Perhaps someone today will open her checkbook and make a bigger contribution because of what you did and said today. And that’s a good thing. One more bed. One more safe space. We need that.

I don’t like your tactics, but I don’t have to. I’m already fighting. You don’t have to convince me.

Plus, I’m probably not going to be effective in speaking to the people who would listen and respond to the message you gave.

So, forgive me, Ms. Precious, for my anger. At least you are trying. Which is more than others might do. Yeah, I’m conflicted. But, you know, you go girl!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Getting ready for a strike

Went to my second Strike Support committee meeting on Saturday and agreed to help put together a rally next Wednesday.

Photo Hosted at Buzznet

If you want a good reason to support the workers, look at this lovely graph comparing salary increases over various job categories at the University:

Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Seem a little unfair to you? I thought so!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Go, Rocky!

An Associated Press photostory on the San Francisco Gate web site. Here's the caption:

[Wagging tail in agreement]: The Atlanta Humane Society is now accepting Michael Vick t-shirts and jerseys. They'll be used as bedding, chew toys and rags for cleaning up dog doo. Which is only appropriate, right, Rocky?

Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Not to the dogs

This is from the Best of Craigslist website. Enjoy.

Originally Posted: Thu, 16 Aug 13:43 CDT

Note to the dogs

Dear Dogs of Mine,

It seems that lately things have gotten a smidge slack around here. I feel it is time to remind you of the rules that heretofore we have operated under. You are both cute dogs, but your continued cuteness in no way negates our previous agreement. Let me remind you of a few details of this agreement.

1. In exchange for room and board, you are to guard the kingdom. That would be guarding the kingdom from any and all bad guys, robbers, serial killers, etc. Feel free to bark maniacally at any of those that should appear in the yard. Guarding the kingdom does NOT include barking maniacally at bunnies, squirrels, cows, sheep and invisible things that only you can see, especially between the hours of 5am (when I stumble out of bed to let you out) and 8am (when I actually have to be out of bed to get to work). (And let me take a moment here to remind you that the pizza guy is a potential bad guy. He is not your friend. Just because he comes bearing food does not allow him free and easy access to the kingdom. He is potentially way more dangerous than the bunnies that you threaten to tear limb from limb.)

2. All of the stuff that lives in the toy basket is yours. Everything else is mine. Yours includes squeaky balls, random bones, partially unstuffed stuffed animals and chew ropes. Mine includes any and all shoes on the floor (especially the expensive leather ones), underwear that missed the hamper, bras, socks, dishtowels, the remote, the cell phone, the legs of my grandmother's antique chair and the vacuum. Did I mention shoes? ALL the shoes are mine. They come in pairs, not quads, for a reason.

3. The cat gets to sleep on the bed. You do not. You each weigh 50 pounds. The cat weighs 12. You sleep smack dab in the middle of the bed with all four feet spread out covering approximately 12 square feet apiece. The cat sleeps in a neat little ball covering about 2 square feet. The cat does not bring fleas into the house. You do. You, dogs, will never be allowed to sleep on the bed. Quit sneaking up when you think I'm not looking. Your 50 pounds of dogginess negates your stealth superpowers. I know you are up there!!

4. Speaking of the cat- when he hunkers down into that little mound, lays his ears back, squints his eyes and growls way back in his chest, HE IS NOT A HAPPY KITTY. Leave him alone. He does not want to play with you. What he wants to do is poke your eyes out and shread the skin around your face. He can do that, you know. Five of his 6 ends are really sharp and pointy. He has previously shown very little restraint. Clearly he enjoys smacking you upside the head with a paw full of claws. Do not aggrevate him. When he takes your head off after you have cornered him, I will let him. You have been forewarned.

5. The cat is mean. He will lead you down a path to destruction. He likes to tear around the house winding you up. He does this knowingly and intentionally. When you chase him, I will only yell at you for careening into walls and furniture. He knows this. Quit falling for it.

6. If you find something in the garbage can, assume that I intend for it to be there. Platic tampon shells are not chew toys. Don't eat them.

7. Also not for doggy consumption- anything you find in the litter box. This is why you no longer get to kiss me.

8. You are allowed to sleep on the furniture. You are not allowed to eat the furniture.

9. Yes, I have to leave every day to go to work. No, you cannot go with me. That's why there are two of you, so you can entertain each other. The cat gets to stay in the house. You both have to stay outside while I'm gone. The cat does not chew things up. You do. Quit whining about it. Your porch is air-conditioned. It's just like inside the house minus the sofa. If you'd quit chewing up dog beds, it would be just like inside the house. You have made your own proverbial bed by destroying two very expensive dog cushions.

10. I have opposable thumbs. This is why I get to be in charge. I can open cans, doors, and bags of treats. I am the only one in the house that can operate the hose sprayer. I'm also the only one with a driver's license and a car. I win. Being cute is no match for opposable thumbs.

While I in no way wish to suppress your rightful dogginess, I feel that these very simple guidelines will allow us to continue to co-exist in peaceful harmony. Please know though, that should you choose to continue in willful violation of these rules, I WILL PUT THE CAT IN CHARGE. He has just been itching for a position in management.

Much thanks,
The Human

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