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I love living in Oakland, CA. Cultural nexus, permanent underdog, historical lefty hotbed and all-around awesome town.

I was in NYC last month, just overnight, in the first week of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Unfortunately I didn't have the opportunity to stop by before I left, and I felt like I'd really missed out on participating in history. So imagine my delight when the movement caught on, and spread to, among other places, Oakland.

Today, the Occupy Oakland movement sent a letter to the city explaining how Oakland can communicate with the assembled camp: It can show up and participate. Follow me below the fold for more information.

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As an artist and musician, I tend to be political in a somewhat roundabout way. Not that I avoid political issues, but for me, creating art is my focus; I spend a good deal of time reflecting on the delicate human ecology of which politics is part, and crafting those ideas into forms that have emotional impact. Politics, by my reckoning, is the art of acquiring and maintaining power over others, whether the scale be interpersonal or international.

But making a statement about political issue is itself a political act, and I'm fine with jumping into the fray as a gadfly. When my band decided we would take on organized religion through the ages, we didn't want to pull any punches. So we went to a good friend of ours: Jamie Dewolf: poet, filmmaker, and the great grandson of Scientology's founder, L.Ron Hubbard. He was the perfect choice to direct our music video "Sweet Shit of Christ". I hope it makes you laugh, think, or both. Feel free to share it with friends, or the hypocritical demagogue in your neighborhood.

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Wed Nov 25, 2009 at 03:27 PM PST

The War on Limbs continues

by Alfred E Qaeda

I'm a big fan of Tom Lehrer, the Harvard professor and political satirist who skewered everyone in the 50s and 60s with WASP-y little piano ditties about nuclear war, racism, and pollution.

He also famously remarked that "political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize." And perhaps he's right. Certainly, it seemed during the Bush years that the Worst Administration Ever was one step ahead of both political satire and dystopian fiction.

Things are different now, right? We don't just have a president who makes better speeches. We have a president who does things that make us proud to be Americans again, right? He even tells the occasional joke, and he's pretty funny. Though maybe sometimes he's deadpanning and it's going over our heads.

But if someone doesn't tell me the punchline to this I may start screaming.


Obama administration will not sign land mine ban

Follow me below the fold if this horrifies and angers you.

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Today's Guardian UK had an interesting article about Parliament. At least, I think it would be interesting. But it's hard to tell, since they placed a gag order on the Britain's most respected newspaper:

Today's published Commons order papers contain a question to be answered by a minister later this week. The Guardian is prevented from identifying the MP who has asked the question, what the question is, which minister might answer it, or where the question is to be found.

The Guardian is also forbidden from telling its readers why the paper is prevented – for the first time in memory – from reporting parliament. Legal obstacles, which cannot be identified, involve proceedings, which cannot be mentioned, on behalf of a client who must remain secret.

Care to join me below the fold?

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Neil Postman, who passed away in 2003, was an author and pioneering media ecologist, studying the effects of technology on society. He wrote Amusing Ourselves to Death, The Death of Childhood and Technopoly, among others.
Postman's son is likewise a writer and student of media (not just communications media but all technologies). He posted a link yesterday to a video he created about John McCain. All I can say is, ouch! Every Republican needs to see this video. Follow me below the fold...

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In case you missed it, yesterday's NY Times printed a great op-ed by Gen. Wesley Clark and Kal Raustiala(?). It sure would've been nice if this argument had gotten more traction in 2001. Lamentably, I think I will file it under "too little, too late". Or perhaps "bad president, bad naked power grab by neo-feudal corporatist hegemons".

Follow me below the fold for some tidbits and stumbling analysis...

Poll

Who really calls the shots?

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| 188 votes | Vote | Results

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So whether you support the war or not, you have to admit that there are a lot of geeks in the military right now.  There must be, or their commanders wouldn't allow a roleplaying game convention in the middle of a warzone:

When President Bush ordered troops to Iraq, he probably never imagined that he would be ultimately be responsible for what very well could be the very first D&D convention/game day ever held in a war zone. Ziggurat Con, being held June 9 from 1200 to 2100 hours at Camp Adder/Tallil Airbase, is open to all allied military personnel and civilian contractors in Iraq.

More below the fold:

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This is rather big (from Time.com):

<<Just days after his resignation, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is about to face more repercussions for his involvement in the troubled wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. New legal documents, to be filed next week with Germany's top prosecutor, will seek a criminal investigation and prosecution of Rumsfeld, along with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, former CIA director George Tenet and other senior U.S. civilian and military officers, for their alleged roles in abuses committed at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison and at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.>>

Follow me below the fold for more justice and mirth:

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So we've all heard by now about the aptly-named Rev. Haggard, outed by his jilted he-ho. What I'm finding difficult to fathom (and therefore exponentially more amusing) is the utter lack of ability to just confess. The jig is up, buddy. Your crank supply dried up, and if you want to have homo sex you'll have to do it without the fiery halo of homophobic intolerance. Unless, you know, that's what you're into.

Follow, follow, follow, follow
Follow me below the fold...

Poll

Can Haggard be Forgiven?

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| 63 votes | Vote | Results

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Those of you who know me are aware that I am a voracious book nerd. Not so good with technology, math or physics. Not that kind of nerd, I'm afraid. Books, though...

Like perhaps many of you, reading has formed the backbone of my self-education, and the foundations of my thinking can be traced largely to the influence of great books. And when I go to someone's house, the first place I look is the person's bookshelf. It's like peeking inside their brain.

But I've been so busy lately, I haven't had much time to read (except for work). As I prepare to quit my newspaper job to be a full-time student, I'm trying to catch up on my summer reading. My question is, what are YOU reading, and WHERE do you keep it?

Poll

All that keeps me going is______

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| 37 votes | Vote | Results

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For the last five years, I've been listening to this crap about the 'War on Terror'. I am absolutely sick of hearing about it.

Yes, there are terrorists, and yes, many of them have ideologies completely counter to American values. But the very idea of defeating terrorism seems foolish to me, a largely self-educated American who has never traveled outside the Empire (I don't think a weekend in Vancouver counts).

It is becoming increasingly clear to me that this so-called strategy upon which Bush and Co. have based their power-grab, is a stage play, something to fill up the TV screens while deeper, more mundane evils are committed.

Poll

What are we at war with?

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| 19 votes | Vote | Results

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Here is an old agitprop essay I wrote in 2002. Was I completely off base? I never got any feedback, as I was just leaving it on buses and trains and church bathrooms.

Anyhow, I'd like to believe it's just a bit of fanciful sci-fi rambling, but perhaps not. Follow me below the fold, if you will, and pick it apart as you deem necessary.

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