MonthNovember 2011

Former Police Chief: Riot Cops Make Things Worse

Occupy Portland

Above: Pepper spray incident at Occupy Portland. Below: The now infamous UC Davis pepper spray abuse incident.

Occupy UC Davis pepper spray

Former Madison, WI police chief David Couper runs a blog about improving policing. A recent post covers how police can better handle crowds and large protests. Alex Pang sums it up the advise: “Milspec gear, tear gas- bad ideas unless you WANT a riot,” but those are Alex’s words, not Couper’s.

Couper cites some research in Britain on crowd control at football (soccer) games:

“’[L]arge-scale disorder tended to emerge and escalate because indiscriminate, heavy-handed policing generated a group mentality among large numbers of fans that was based on shared perceptions that the police action was illegitimate. This had the effect of drawing ordinary fans into conflict with the police’.

“The finding here is that when a crowd perceives the police as overreacting or being heavy-handed, crowd members have a tendency to stop observing and start taking action. To prevent this from happening, Stott advocates using what he calls a ‘softly, softly’ approach—a low-key approach in which officers mix with and relate to crowd members on the basis of their behavior, rather than their reputation. If police approach a crowd with the expectation that its members are going to make trouble, it often turns out that way. This will not be unfamiliar to Madison residents or their police.”

Couper offers various bits of practical advise for the police, including:

Be able to protect officers working with the crowd. If the situation warrants it, we have a tactical unit (with full protective equipment) on standby in a location near the demonstration but out of sight. They are available as an emergency response to protect or rescue officers in or others in danger of being harmed. Their mission is to protect people first and property second. Deploying the emergency response team is a last-ditch tactic and will indicate that we have not been effective in managing the crowd with softer methods.

Improving Police: Crowds, Protest and Police

The Afghanistan War’s Signature Wound

The Great War had shell shock. World War II had facial burns. Vietnam had amputations. Iraq, traumatic brain injuries. What’s Afghanistan’s “signature wound”? Penis mutilation as a result of homemade bombs that are detonated underfoot, injuring soldiers feet, legs and genitals. Their compensation? Fifty thousand dollars.

Men’s Health is selling a Kindle single on the subject. I read the feature in the print magazine, and it’s well worth your time and money.

Here’s a sidebar specifically on fertility: War is Hell (On Fertility)

The Case for Krampus as an Occupy Mascot

Political Krampus

While there are many good reasons for members of the Occupy movement to related to the rehabilitated image of Guy Fawkes/”V”, I am personally convinced that the image of Krampus could potentially be a much more effective iconic symbol of the Occupy movement, especially in the coming weeks leading up to Christmas which is arguably one of the biggest and most lucrative times of year for large banking institutions and corporations that have been shown to have connections to less-than-equitable business practices. Krampus represents responsibility and accountability for one’s actions while more than willing to punish those who engage in harmful practices – business and otherwise.

The author lists out five reasons that Krampus would be better than Fawkes:

-Encourages radical community involvement.
-Actually aims to punish wrong-doings.
-Horns are much scarier than a mask and pantaloons.
-Makes reasonable demands.
-Hasn’t been usurped by Time Warner and was never a Papist tool.

A Season for Krampus

(Thanks Bob Jones!)

Last year I participated in KrampusCon in Portland. It would be fun to connect this with Occupy. I don’t think Krampus necessarily has to replace any other mascot or symbol, but it sure would be fun to see a Krampus contingent!

5 Articles to Read to Get Ready for EsoZone

EsoZone Portland 2011 logo

EsoZone Portland 2011 starts tomorrow! Here’s some brainfood you might enjoy as you prepare for the event:

1. Technoccult Interview with Tom Henderson Prepare for Tom’s talk on Friday by getting up to speed on his ideas:

1) People use the average Joe’s poor mathematics as a way to control, exploit, and numerically fuck him over.

2) Mathematics is the subject in which, regardless of what the authorities tell you is true, you can verify every last iota of truth, with a minimum of equipment.

Therefore, if you are concerned with the empowerment of everyday people, and you believe that it’s probably a good idea to be skeptical of authority you could do worse than to develop your skills at being able to talk math in such a way that anyone can ask questions, can express curiosity, can imagine applying it in the most weird-ass off-the-wall ways possible.

This does not entirely mesh well with the actual practice of learning mathematics, because that is mostly time spent alone or in small groups being very very confused almost all the time, but it’s still the bullseye I keep in mind.

2. The Rise of Digital Hipsterism by Eric Schiller. Eric’s going to be talking about this idea and delving into some particular examples:

Digital hipsterism is purely anti-intellectual. Depth of research and well reasoned arguments are not valued, but merely the appearance of depth is regarded as the ideal. Criticism is dismissed by way of suggesting that the criticizer is ‘just being negative,’ that they should go and do something else ‘useful’ by creating a movement of their own, or that they simply aren’t sophisticated enough to understand the new paradigm being created.

3. In TED We Trust. I like to think of EsoZone as the anti-TED:

Any critique of TED that focuses exclusively on the conferences’ guest lists has the grating tendency to veer off into the sweat-damp world of Alex Jones-style conspiracy theories. TED doesn’t represent a looming plot to establish any sort of menacing “New World Order.” It represents the world order as it exists now, one on the wane. With TED, an assortment of “Davos men”—a term coined by the late Samuel Huntington, referring to the handful of hyper-wealthy men who transcend national boundaries and see things like governments as scalable nuisances—have shifted the popular image of the elite from that of privileged, authoritarian “masters of mankind” to that of kindly wise men (and women) who just want to share their alchemistic “ideas worth spreading,” ideas that could turn our gloomy world of lead into a shimmering gold planet.

There’s something irritating, if not infuriating, about listening to exhortations to “do something” from people who are or were in the position to do exactly that. Perhaps, though, we should feel lucky that the TED class is so apparently lazy or incompetent. The problem of TED isn’t with who presents the talks or that the proposals found therein are seemingly, tragically beyond our grasp; the problem is the ideas themselves.

Taken individually, there’s nothing particularly dangerous or upsetting found in most TED Talks, certainly nothing that would warrant a mass run for the hills. Please, don’t lose sleep worrying that a speech on AIDS activism by Annie Lennox is going to kick-start a putsch. And please, do listen to Ken Robinson’s incredibly moving TED Talk on education reform—I dare you not to tear up a little. However, the numerous presentations seen and heard at TED are informed by the same larger vision: that scientific and technological advancements can fundamentally overturn the human condition, and for the better. History books are littered with human wreckage strewn in the wake of similar utopian thinking.

See also: The Liberal Communists of Porto Davos

4. An Invocation Against the Inevitable. That said, it can’t be all doom and gloom:

Skilluminati Research has been a very cynical project…until now. Change of policy: there are no sufficient excuses for inaction. There is no point to all this research if I’m not capable of using it for something real. What interests me now is Synthesis. How can we build a politics that takes all of this horrible shit for granted and still provides a master plan?

In 2011, Hope and Change are hollow brand names and representative Democracy itself is hollowed out, broken for decades. Distrust of government has gone from a fringe position to a bipartisan consensus. If you think all that adds up to a “Now is the Time” pep talk, you’re not hearing me at all. We are more fucked than ever. The situation is not “ripe,” it is fundamentally out of control and irreversible. …so what then?

5. Occupy to Self Manage. The “General Assembly” format employed by Occupy and the concept of the Unconference feel related, and it’s impossible not to feel like the Occupy movement is on the precipice of something. What can the Unconference learn from Occupy and vice versa? I don’t know, but this is a good starting point:

Greek and Spanish activists said that at assemblies initially people spoke with incredible passion of their plights and desires. Their voices often broke. Their hands shook. Each time someone rose to speak, something real, passionate, and persistent happened. It was enchanting and exciting. People were learning not only new facts and interpretations – and, indeed, that kind of learning was relatively modest – they were also learning new confidence and new modes of engaging with others. But after days and then weeks, the flavor of the talks shifted. From being new folks speaking passionately and recounting their reasons for being present and their hopes for their future by delivering deeply felt and quite unique stories, the speakers shifted toward being more seasoned or habituated folks, who lectured attendees with prepackaged views. The lines of speakers became overwhelmingly male. Their deliveries became overwhelmingly rehearsed. Listening to robotic repetition and frequent predictable and almost text-like ranting got boring and alienating. Sometimes it was even demeaning.

At the same time, new people, who were still far more prevalent, didn’t know what to do while they were occupying. We could assemble, they reported. We could talk and engage with each other. We could listen to others and sometimes debate a bit – the Greek and Spanish Assemblers reported – but, how long could we do that and feel it was worth the time we had to spend away from our families, friends, and jobs, not to mention from rooms with a roof?

See also: Occupy Wall Street – New Maps for Shifting Terrain

Alejandro Jodorowsky Interviewed by Richard Metzger on Dangerous Minds

Occupy Your Mind: An Interview with Alejandro Jodorowsky from DANGEROUS MINDS on Vimeo.

Richard talks to Jodorowsky about Occupy Wall Street, why revolutions fail but mutation succeeds, the magical side of reality, the search for gurus and wisdom and why Twitter is the haiku of this century.

Dangerous Minds: An Interview with Alejandro Jodorowsky

Generation Make

Urban Farm Store by maggiekate

William Deresiewicz tries his hand pinpointing what defines the Millennial Generation:

Today’s ideal social form is not the commune or the movement or even the individual creator as such; it’s the small business. Every artistic or moral aspiration — music, food, good works, what have you — is expressed in those terms.

Call it Generation Sell.

Bands are still bands, but now they’re little businesses, as well: self-produced, self-published, self-managed. When I hear from young people who want to get off the careerist treadmill and do something meaningful, they talk, most often, about opening a restaurant. Nonprofits are still hip, but students don’t dream about joining one, they dream about starting one. In any case, what’s really hip is social entrepreneurship — companies that try to make money responsibly, then give it all away.

My take is that it’s perhaps not as much about selling stuff – though working in marketing and advertising has become sort of glorified – as it is about making stuff. We’ve seen a big rise in maker culture, crafting, urban farming, food carts (called food trucks outside of Portland), steampunk, a resurgence in print magazines (Coilhouse, Dodgem Logic) etc. A lot of the excitement is about making physical things, but making apps, websites and events is popular as well.

It is noteworthy thought that modern counter cultures seem to have business models built right in. As I’ve written before, bike culture is big business and a cottage industry of books and DVDs sprung up around the 9/11 Truth movement (I think these things have become more coopted than they were when I wrote that column in 2007, but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post).

Deresiewicz only just touches on one important thing: the tendency he identified isn’t actually limited to millennials – it’s infected culture as a whole, at least in middle class North America (I’m reminded of this commentary by Gustavo Arellano who points out that none of this is actually new for Latin families living in the U.S). As I keep saying, this seems to be more of a broad cultural shift rather than a generational difference.

Update: Looks like TechCrunch has a similar take.

(Photo by maggiekate)

To Do in LA: Extreme Futurist Festival

Extreme Futurist Festival

This sounds like a great event:

Picture an event where the bridge between the counterculture and academia is finally crossed. From live tech demonstrations to futuristic presentations to provocative performance art to live music we will take you off the grid as we explore a new kaleidoscopic wonderland. If the original Burning Man was to meet the Singularity Summit, you would have Extreme Futurist Fest 2011.

Extreme Futurist Festival

Here’s an interview with organizer Rachel Haywire on Acceler8or

Help Keep EsoZone Free – Donate Today!

This year’s EsoZone Portland was fairly cheap to operate, but there were a couple significant costs. Rent came to $1,000 – a tremendous value for the quality and location of the space. All the rent money goes back into p:ear programs, so it’s a great cause. A double win. We also had to shell out for event insurance, to the tune of nearly $400. We’re hoping to recoup as much of this as possible from your donations.

Your donations keep EsoZone a free and open event.

Click here to lend your support to: EsoZone Portland 2011 and make a donation at !

EsoZone Schedule Announced

You can check out the full schedule. There’s still a few holes – we’ll hopefully announce the DJ(s) and performers soon.

Biopic Screenwriter Dustin Lance Black Working on Barefoot Bandit Film

Colton Harris-Moore

Biopic screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, writer of Milk and the forthcoming J. Edgar, is working on the Barefoot Bandit film about Colton Harris-Moore. Black told Collider:

I’m finishing up The Barefoot Bandit, which is the feature on Colton Harris-Moore. So I’ve been spending a lot of time in Seattle. That’s almost done. And what an amazing kid. There’s so much that people don’t know about him yet. It’s heartbreaking and inspiring. It’s been a very emotional journey for me.

Collider: Screenwriter Dustin Lance Black Talks J. EDGAR, THE BAREFOOT BANDIT, and Ron Howard’s UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN

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