Archive - Jan 2005

"Here comes the boss!"

From an article about the World Economic and Social Forums:

Sporting a red shirt embossed with a picture of the revolutionary Che Guevera, Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez received a hero's welcome Sunday at the World Social Forum, where activists greeted him with cries of "Here comes the boss!"

Sometimes the cult of Chavez disturbs me. "The boss?" It is great that latin america has a popular lleader that is actually doing things for the poor. I just hope his job doesn't become a for-life one, like with Castro.

overinvoking "isms"

A female comrade on IMC's internal mailing list just wrote this:

"I really wish people took sexism more seriously and didn't throw
such words around every time they get a little upset with somebody until
the words don't mean anything anymore..."

I so totally agree! I have seen so many times when not just sexism but any sort of identity politics issue gets grabbed up and used against people when the person doing so really just has a personal problem with someone that has nothing to do with the issue. Just because you get in an argument with someone, and they're a different race, sex, or whatever, doesn't mean it's racism, sexism, or whateverism.

This came up because our IMC is being attacked by a woman who has worked herself into a frenzy in the belief that the Portland site is "harboring sexual harrasers." It's complicated and I won't go into the details, but it's pretty crazy.

photo that makes portland look great

I have so many things to blog, but I will relax for the moment and just post this one nice photo.

morning on the williamette river, portland, or
It's a recent photo I took one morning as the fog was almost done getting burned off, biking over the river from downtown. This is my desktop background right now.

I uploaded this straight from iPhoto using a cool plug-in written by a flickr user.

computer building photos

Well even though the project is rapidly looking more like it may stall for months now, I might as well post the photos of our building the computers we want to send to Bolivia. We also go some good local TV coverage, which I'm going to digitise and post soon, i hope.

[I've been taking a lot of photos over the last month, since I got a new digital camera for xmas. ]

Sigh. I'm so much better at documenting things than actually doing things.

Well, to be fair to myself, I'm still waiting for more quotes from shipping companies, and trying to figure out what to do. I've been arranging to get palettes and boxes and warehouse space at freegeek, even though I don't know whether we should go ahead and palettize the computers and then let the palettes sit in the warehouse, or just leave everything on the shelves and hope it doesn't get stolen, or not even worry about it because it might be months before we ship anyway and by then we might as well make better computers from the better parts that may be available. Should these machines be given away to other causes closer to home till we can get our act together?

I dunno. it's just a big quandry.
thoughts, anybody?

Audio of Derek Jensen Talk in Oakland

On the A-Infos Radio Project site is a lot of interesting stuff, including these 2 mp3s of Derek Jensen talking about civilization and related problems. His talks are always so great. He talks in a really nonlinear way, and is very entertaining despite the fact that he's talking about dead serious stuff that is really disturbing, like details of how our culture is destroying the natural world.

Quote for the Day

"It is my judgement in these things that when you see something that is
technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do
about it only after you have had your technical success."
- J. Robert Openheimer, when asked about development of the H-bomb

(quoted in the new issue of Harper's, in an article about cloning)

What ever happened to Technology Solidarity?

Very belatedly, I have been, for the last hour or so, scanning through the archives of the indymedia tech solidarity mailing list, trying desparately to gain some wisdom from the past. From October 2002 to May 2004 there was lots of activity and several projects worked on, discussed, contemplated. Ecuador seems to have been a success, though mistakes were made. the Argentina shipment, I understand, ended up in Paraguay instead, for customs reasons (?). The Brazil one never happened, for customs reasons. Other projects that there were hints of: Guatemala, South Africa, Beirut.... ? then after May of last year, the list just fell silent. What happened? Actually March of 2004 is when things started tailing off. Did people just get so burned out or disillusioned by the Brazil and Argentina projects that they gave up on the whole concept, except for rabble with his Venezuela project?

Why did I ever commit to this Bolivia project without doing the research to find out how freaking hard it is? Why did I not look at the list archives before and realize that these other projects involved many many people all over the world cooperating and working hard together? And somehow I thought me and Kim and Luis were going to be able to do it all ourselves? I should have known in the beginning that without more people helping it was going to be doomed to failure.

I just feel like shit. Will this be yet another unfinished project in my life? I feel like there are so many things I never followed through on. A friend that became an employer and then became a non-friend, back in the disillusioning and disorienting dot-com era, once said that another friend of ours told him that I wasn't good at finishing things. Was he just making that up to try to goad me into doing more free coding for him, or did the other friend actually say that? I never asked him, and if I did, I don't know if he would ever admit to saying that about me.

I know that if I look back on my life there ARE important accomplishments that I HAVE completed. But the failures and incompletes are the ones that stick out. That's just human nature, to amplify the memories of pain over the pleasures. But I do feel like I need a completion soon to get my self-esteem boosted back up where it should be.... if, at least, some others would step in and say "hey yeah, don't worry, we'll help out and get it done WITH you," then I could feel good again. How does one inspire that in others? I can get people excited enough to throw 20 bucks in a hat, or maybe spend an afternoon screwing together computer parts, but beyond that, I don't think I know how to motivate people... I need people to spend hours on the phone with customs officials and freight fowarders, writing grants and talking to NGOs and lawyers... I need people to OWN this with me.... cuz I can't do this alone. I thought maybe I could be I can't. I just can't and I shouldn't have even tried. I'll go insane if I try any more.


Not Supposed to Go?

I'm not religious or a believer in fate, but it's definitely uncanny how 3 different things have come up that are making it difficult for me to leave Portland next week like I planned: 1) The Bolivia computer project has hit some snags regarding shipping - i was hoping they would be on their way by next Monday, but now I don't know; 2) a small health situation that makes it advisable for me to not do much heavy lifting for a few days, which makes it hard for me to pack all my stuff up (both what I'm taking with me to Tucson and also what I'm storing here); 3) I plan to take the train, but Amtrak has these rail repairs happening in California that mean I may not be able to even get to Tucson.

So, it's weird. Am I meant to stay in Portland a little longer?

At least the weather is kind of nice (knock on wood), so I'm not like miserable about that while wishing I could escape to the desert. Still, it's very frustrating.

Letter to the New Mayor about Cops

This open letter from local "hippie lawyer" Alan Graf to Tom Potter, the new mayor of Portland, about city police treatment of protesters, is really great. Graf is famous for defending protestors who've been wrongly arrested and abused by cops, and for suing the city for the same. His team won a $300,000 settlement a few months ago for a case dating back to the start of the Iraq War protests. Perhaps his successes, the new mayor, and the new police chief will all come together to make some noticeable difference around here.