"Fire is motion / Work is repetition / This is my document / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all defenses."

- Cap'N Jazz, "Oh Messy Life," Analphabetapolothology

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Letter to The Occupy Movement

To my compatriots and comrades in the Occupy Movements Everywhere:

I am writing this out of urgency, and a desperate desire for the 99% to succeed in bringing about the changes our world needs. I've been following the growth of the movement with great interest and enthusiasm, although I must admit my frustration is growing with each passing day. I do not agree with the detractors who say The Movement needs a solid list of demands or a "clear" message, because the issues and problems which the Occupy Movement illuminates are too numerous and varied to pinpoint, and besides, I am glad the Occupy Movement has refused to be limited in its scope and wanting.

I am writing today, not to request any clarity or focus in message, but in action. I believe The Occupy Movement has the power and potential to transform our society, if we put our collective weight behind decisive action. And now is the crucial time.

The Occupation Movement is about to come up against two of the greatest momentum-killers: 1) institutional recess and 2) desensitization. Both of these are issues of time.
The first is a problem familiar to student organizers: you've worked so hard to build your movement and mount pressure on your target, only to find yourself with only a few days or weeks before Spring Break/Winter Break/Summer vacation. Often, in these cases, administrations just have to play a waiting game before the student organizers all go home and the rest of the student population forgets what happened. When the students return from vacation, they have to start all over, trying to build enough momentum to push through their demands before the next vacation hits. It's the same with congressional recesses and politics, too. There is always a built-in timeline, whether institutionally situated or not, that dictates the rhythm of actions. In the case of the Occupy Wall Street movement, we have about 2-3 weeks, at most, before the harsh New York winter hits. At that point, what happens to The Movement? Even if OWS decides to continue camping in Zuccotti Park, there is a question of purpose. Is the point of the Occupy Movement to camp together in public spaces indefinitely? What does it achieve in doing so?

That brings us to the next problem, which is desensitization. Right now, the Occupy Movement has newness and the spectacular as advantages. A social movement of this size and diversity has never been seen, possibly, since the beginning of modern society. The Movement has the media and people around the world in rapt attention because it's new, it's exciting, and it's all of us (we are the 99%). But how long will this last? My guess is: not very long. Unfortunately, we live in a society that is extremely short of attention span. And one that is easily bored and desensitized. Which is to say that the longer this goes on, the smaller our window of opportunity for change becomes. We cannot afford to let something of such importance be forgotten or dismissed as a fad. We must harness the power and potential of this movement, while public interest and opinion still remain strong are still growing, to make something daringly transformative happen.

Malcolm Gladwell touches on the importance of swift action in his article for the New Yorker, "How David Beats Goliath" (May 11, 2009):
“And it happened as the Philistine arose and was drawing near David that David hastened and ran out from the lines toward the Philistine,” the Bible says. “And he reached his hand into the pouch and took from there a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine in his forehead.” The second sentence—the slingshot part—is what made David famous. But the first sentence matters just as much. David broke the rhythm of the encounter. He speeded it up. “The sudden astonishment when David sprints forward must have frozen Goliath, making him a better target,” the poet and critic Robert Pinsky writes in “The Life of David.” Pinsky calls David a “point guard ready to flick the basketball here or there.” David pressed. That’s what Davids do when they want to beat Goliaths. [emphases mine]
If we want to win, if the Occupation Movement is going to amount to some everlasting change, we need to act quickly.

The greatest advantage The Occupy Movement has in its arsenal is the power of the people. The Movement has been exercising this power (as in the frequent use of The People's Mic), but rarely applying it. We are the 99%, are we not? What we lack in material and economic wealth we make up for in human capital. We can overwhelm and overpower the 1% if we remember to act in unison. The 1% needs the 99%, not the other way around. And that is the source of our power.

I propose that we start direct actions targeted at the 1%. For example, what if the Occupy Movements decided to unanimously boycott companies owned or affiliated with the 1%? The misconception has always been that the 1% determines the health and strength of our economy. The truth, however, as we all know, is that it's the individual consumer and taxpayer who actually contributes to society, that it's our money that goes towards bailouts, and it's our money that goes into the stock market. I propose that Occupy Wall Street make a large banner, "Boycott of the Week! This Week, the 99% Boycotts: _____________" and fly it in Zuccotti Park, and that other Occupy sites do the same, and then watch as the 99% proceed to withdraw their money from said bank, or stop buying said brand, or sell said stock. Imagine the dips the market will take, and the blows to the fat cats' pocket books! If the 1% was mostly ignoring us before, we will force them to listen to us now.

We must continue to push and build pressure on our targets and find a way to win our government and economy back.

We are too big to fail, and this is too important to be ignored.

Onward, the 99%!


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Occupy Wall Street newcomers

"...and then, there were Ben Kuebrich and Stephanie Lee."

ben and i made the local NBC NYC news*, for showing up last friday to check out the amazing happenings at the Occupy Wall Street movement. more on that soon!

View more videos at: http://nbcnewyork.com.

*the only reason we found out was because we met a guy on the way home who stopped us to chat and said "hey! you're the ones from the 6 o'clock news!" 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

rabbit habits

my roommate found a domestic rabbit the other day, and has been keeping it outside under a laundry hamper with a phone book on top. i didn't find out about it until this morning, but i'm concerned for its health and safety - there are stray cats in our neighborhood - and i'm wondering if its quality of life isn't what it should be.

the moment i heard she had found, and was keeping, a rabbit, i got scared, remembering the wild baby birds my brother and i used to find as kids and try to keep as pets - tried to "save" - only to have them die within a a night or two. i suspect wild animals, or any animal for that matter, knows when it's being held captive in an unnatural state. i think domestic animals are less aware, though, because of their upbringing and ways of life and force of habit. habits are something we impose on our animals that would be against their nature and better interests, for habits are something that are evolutionarily disadvantaging. (habits make us comfortable in otherwise potentially adverse situations and give us the illusion of control over situations, they dull our awareness to changes in our environment and make us assume constancy in our lives that doesn't exist.) i even suspect that animals can get depressed and will themselves to die when they find themselves in such situations of captivity. when my brother and i tried to rescue a baby robin that had fallen out of its nest, we gave it a large box with a cloth and dry grass bed, and lots of water and birdseed, but it died the next day. i remember feeling sick to my stomach when my parents explained it needed its mom, and thinking that maybe if we'd left it outside, the mom wouldn't have been scared away and returned for her baby. i was maybe 6 or 7 at the time, but i remember thinking to myself that i'd learned an important lesson, that i think still influences me to this day: that nature can take care of itself, if humans can prevent themselves from interfering. basically, i think the world and all its animals would be better off if humans had never made efforts to control and dominate and use it, and endeavored instead to coexist in it.

so i'm conflicted. this little rabbit is trapped and i don't know how to free her. what does freedom mean for a domestic rabbit? while i can't just let her go in the woods - i suspect she'd be eaten by coyotes or an owl within a few days - i can't just let her stay in what can only be called a death trap, waiting for a flood or a carbon monoxide leak (my roommate wants to keep her in the garage!) or a stray cat to come and kill her. i want her to have the best quality of life possible, but i don't know how to give that to her, and what that means.

furthermore, it's really distressing to me because of the symbolic importance i've placed on this rabbit in the last few hours. i think about all the wild animals killed by human (in)action and interference (the animals i see everyday on the roads, the beautiful red fox i saw the other day, the first red fox i'd ever seen in my life so close, its tail blowing up in the wind, for a moment it looked like it could have just been sleeping, i had to pull my car over and call ben to cry, i was so upset), and think about the animals i've tried to save without success (the baby birds, the mauled chipmunk i should have just let die by the paws of a menacing neighbor's cat), and i think to myself, if i could just save this one animal, just this one, i could make it all better. i could stop having nightmares and feel some relief.

also, i sympathize with her. living in cramped quarters, with little view of the outside world, and in vulnerability of predators is a shitty way to live. my life has felt that way lately, like a trap, and i think that, deep down, i'd like to save this rabbit so i can feel a little saved myself.

UPDATE: and then, of course, this had to happen today in Ohio. (some idiot who had been keeping 50 exotic animals in his yard, decided to set them loose before committing suicide. local law enforcement decided it was the "right thing to do" to hunt them all down, and kill them. freakin' ridiculous. fyi, i believe in cosmic justice, and i hope that every human who hunts animals for sport spends their afterlife as a factory chicken. have i mentioned i'm unwaveringly pro-fauna?)

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

RIP, Steve Jobs

here in Silicon Valley, the news of Steve Jobs's passing hit us all like an earthquake. ripples and jolts of shock and dismay. the news of his death coming only a few weeks after the shock of his resignation as CEO, due to his ailing health.

i know very little of what Steve Jobs was like as a man, but i know he changed our world and the way we lived in it with the power of his ideas. there are traces of his influence all around us, whether we like it or not, and his presence in so many aspects of our modern world make it impossible to not feel impacted by the fact that even such a brilliant and valuable man did not receive the care he needed to overcome cancer. with all that Jobs and his team were able to do and accomplish with him at the helm, it's viciously cruel that he would die so young (only 56) from cancer. whether you're a Mac or PC, it's terribly sad.

just think: as the news is breaking, thousands upon thousands of internet users are taking to their smart phones, their iPads, their Macs (and all the derivative devices thereof), and tweeting, video conferencing, posting to facebook, blogging, etc. all of those actions were touched, influenced, and forever changed by this man and his ideas.

RIP, Steve. and thanks for everything.

Steve Jobs, "How to live before you die."

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

what a bunch of boobs

this is from the TSA's 3-1-1 policy regarding liquids on a plane (click image to make large):

"To ensure the health and welfare of certain air travelers... the following liquids... are permitted through the security checkpoint: ... Items used to augment the body for medical or cosmetic reasons such as ... prosthetic breasts, bras or shells containing gels, saline solution, or other liquids..."
so lemme get this straight: i can't pack a bottle of sunscreen in my suitcase, nor can i bring a bottle of water aboard a plane, but if i stuffed it in my bra for "cosmetic" augmentation of my body, then it's ok? am i alone in thinking that is utterly ridiculous and extremely insulting?

furthermore, if i do decide to bring such breast-enhancing, liquid-enabled technology on my flight, i have to submit myself to thorough inspection and screening.

this is why i'm becoming gradually less inclined to travel.