Archive - 2008

Bizarro World

Did I wake up in an alternative Universe? I see this morning in my inbox a message to 20-some indymedia lists from one Elijah Gatewood, supposedly a "contributing journalist at IMC affiliates for five years." This Mr. Gatewood is proposing that the Independent Media Center endorse Michael Bloomberg for president.

What?! How could Elijah Gatewood have any familiarity with Indymedia and somehow think it would be conceivable that we would want to endorse Bloomberg, or for that matter ANYONE for the office of President? This guy is a clueless moron, or else I have rolled over in bed through a rift in space-time and woken up in Bizarro World.

It never ceases to amaze me how many crazy wingnuts are out there....

When Is it Justified?

I'm way behind on my book reviews - I wanted to blog about the last few books I've read, and the list keeps growing.

I'll start with a quite large book that is itself the abridged version of a 7-volume set authored by William T. Vollman. It's called "Rising Up and Rising Down", a project Vollman worked on for 23 years, and it's all about violence, and when it's okay or not okay to use it.

Vollman is one of my favorite fiction writers, having a gritty style similar to Pynchon, Burroughs, Vonnegut, that sort of thing, with a focus usually on the dark underbelly of society, such as prostitutes, guerillas, drug addicts, war zones, and the like. But Vollman is also a journalist, and he's been to some of the most dangerous places on earth, like Kosovo, Colombia, Somalia, etc. All these experiences have been research opportunities for "Rising Up and Rising Down".

His task was to figure out every category of violent act and then explain whether the actor was justified doing it, and why. The centerpiece of the book is what he calls the Moral Calculus, a long, exacting outline-format explication of all the different reasons and excuses people might have for using force: everything from defense of class to defense of land to defense of the earth. It's pretty complete, and it would be worthwhile to make a small booklet out of just this part, which takes up about 60 pages.

On either side of this section is basically case studies - first, historical ones, based on research, like the case of Trotsky and the Russian Revolution, or Lincoln and the Civil War. At the end of the book is more personal, anecdotal case studies, from Vollman's own experience.

As I read this I realized, and not for the first time, that I'm someone that spends a lot of time thinking about what is right and what is wrong. What is the ethical and moral way to behave? Can one defend how one behaves? And I think it's important for people to think about this. I spend quite a bit of time, in turn, marvelling at how many humans don't seem to think much about it. They don't give a fuck about doing the right thing.

For instance, just today I brought up, very seriously, some of my objections to using MySpace (not to argue that one absolutely shouldn't, but just that one should be aware that using it is a compromise, and you should only use it in a limited way, and in the most subversive manner possible), to a certain local organization I'm part of that is all about media democracy and media literacy and providing the tools of media production to those who wouldn't normally have them. After a couple responsible replies from a couple others, one person just made a joke about how yes, she did use myspace and she also sometimes forgot to cut up plastic 6-pack holders, and a list of other "bad" things she did. Very flippant, very cocky. Well, fuck you.

Doing the right thing and being serious about how you behave in the world DOES matter, and if you're going to live like every other American fuckwad and yet talk like you don't, then you're even worse than those clueless dipshits. Put your money where your mouth is or get the fuck out of my way.

So, I'm going off on a tangent a little but I mention it because that's why books like Vollman's are important - there's so much cognitive dissonance out there, so many people who aren't squarely looking at what they do and what they object to and why, that anything that can help make it clearer is a great service to the world.

It's very easy for someone to rationalise doing something that they really know deep down is not good, but not all rationalizations are created equal.

Oh and speaking of books, I'm really getting into GoodReads, lately.

Coming up next, another book about another journalist who visits horrible places...

Latest News From Ciudad Juarez

The brutal murder of young women and girls continues in Juarez. Here is a message from there about the last month of violence:

Please help publicize the disappearance of 15 year old Adriana Sarmiento Enriquez. She is a friend of one of our Amigos. She disappeared on her way home from school on Friday, January 18th. She is fifteen, 55 kilos, 155 cm, has hazel eyes and long brown hair. She was last seen by her friend when they departed from a bus stop on their way home from eating after school. Adriana disappeared sometime on her walk from the bus stop to her home.
Her mother, Tina Enriquez can be contacted in Juarez at 0115265666327463. She has a daughter, Veronica, who lives in El Paso and can be contacted at 915-564-5206.

Most recent murders
The level of violence in Juarez has escalated Since January 1, 2008, there have been 29 murders in Cuidad Juarez. Three of these were women. The latest murders are:

Jan. 18th, Maria Guadalupe Esparza Zavala died of stab wound to the heart. Her 12 year old daughter told police she and her stepfather had been arguing.

Jan. 20th, Mirna Yeremia Munoz Ledo Marin was found nude inside her house, stabbed several times.

Jan. 21st, Ericka Sonora Trejo, 38 and 8 months pregnant was found in the bathroom of her house. Police said her father-in-law allegedly bludgeoned her with an axe.

United Nations and EU meetings
Some members of Amigos [de Mujeres de Juarez] will accompany members of Justicia para Nuestras Hijas and Centro de Derechos Humanos de Mujeres de Chihuahua to Mexico City and meet with delegations from the UN and EU. Both groups have been involved in a bringing the continued injustices to the attention of these international bodies.

On The Edge podcast continues

The podcast of my documentary about the Juarez femicide continues, with the 3rd installment posted yesterday. I'm getting quite a few hits on it, and a link from Narco News, and other good reaction, which is great to see. The podcast is really turning out to be a great way to encourage a "long tail" to a project, in addition to a "leading edge buzz" for a project in-progress.

Learn to Pick Up The Phone!

The Arizona Indymedia website was badly broken for like, 17 days - since the new year - links to individual newswire stories were broken. As users discovered this, they stopped posting stories. The site was dying. This problem was noticed pretty quickly by somebody else on the editorial collective. I honestly hardly ever look at the site, much less the newswire, so I hadn't noticed. But immediately, I was the one people went to and asked about it.

Okay, so, often people that know me pigeonhole me as a "geek", as a "computer person" or "techie" - but the AZ IMC site is not in my power to fix. It's administered by ubergeeks in the bay area and belgium and pittsburgh, or god knows where else, and even if i knew how to futz with sf-active i don't have admin permissions on the machine.

So usually all I do when something goes wrong is go on the indymedia chat system, irc:// - and get on the sf-active channel there, and ask for help. And usually within a few hours someone sees my question and fixes it.

WHY can't someone else do that, ever? IRC is not rocket surgery. It's just not that hard.

So the site stayed broken for a couple weeks because, frankly, i was busy and, well, i wanted to see if anyone else would step up and do it. I refuse to be "the tech guy", when all that really entails in this case is knowing how to ask the real tech guys a question. I refuse.

I guess it's kind of like arriving at a burning building and sitting there watching it burn down while the other residents sit there next to a phone, because nobody wants to learn how to pick up the phone and call the fire department. eventually you can't sit there anymore and watch, but at the same time you're just going, WTF, why didn't someone call before? Why? And is it worth having that building if every time anything goes wrong with it I'm the only one that will bother to call the rescue crew?

Misogyny Alive and Well

The New York Times has a great op-ed about treatment of women and how little attention presidential candidates give to it.

If there was ever a story that deserved more coverage by the news media, it

Stupid Dreamhost

Dreamhost, the company that hosts practically all of my websites and email and stuff, made a HUGE mistake yesterday and accidentally billed about, well, ALL of their customers, most of whom who didn't owe anything, including myself, totalling about 7.5 MILLION dollars.

Yeah. Wow. They explain how it happened, a combination of software operator and software design error, on their blog, which, while apologizing profusely, also takes a really flippant, humorous tone that has pissed off many many of their patrons, including myself. This humorous tone is typical for them, and usually it's fun and entertaining, in their newsletters and documentation, but when you're talking about hundreds of dollars disappearing mistakenly from your bank account it's not the time to get some comedy act in response.

I'm going to start trying to figure out who I could switch to and how hard it would be to switch, because this is pretty damn not acceptable. Luckily I did have the money in my account to cover the mistake, just barely, so I wasn't charged by my bank for overdrafts, but it could have been different, and I'm sure for many it has been a nightmare. So just out of the principle of the thing I kind of feel like it's my duty to take my business elsewhere.

I even feel sort of guilty for all the friends who I've referred to Dreamhost over the years and probably also got screwed on this. yikes.

new podcast of my juarez film

I posted and announced this on Monday but i figure i should put it on here too.

My film "On The Edge: The Femicide in Ciudad Juarez", will become available, in sections, online over the next several weeks. I'm starting a podcast, so that every Monday, beginning this week, another of the 10 different sections of the film will be posted for anyone to watch and download.

The first section of the film, the 7-minute introduction, is available now, at

The podcast page is here:

And to subscribe to the podcast with iTunes or another podcast-viewing application, use this address:

you can also watch it in-browser right here:

Get the Flash Player to see this player.

Esteban Caliente interviews Steev Hise

It's been over a week since I uploaded this to the Pan Left video blog, but I forgot to mention it here. It's an interview between my alter ego and me, another humorous Esteban Caliente piece that I started at the G8 in Germany back in June and never finished editing. So I decided to complete it on the last couple days of 2007. It's a bit of retrospection and introspection, a look back at a week of marches and rallies and yelling and chanting, and questioning of progressive activist tactics and strategies as well as my own place in them.

Your browser is not able to display this multimedia content.

it's downloadable too.

This is Where It's The Worst

There's an extensive cover story in the current issue of the Phoenix New Times about Sherrif Joe Arpaio and the Maricopa County Attorney who are "teaching the rest of the nation how to terrorize illegal immigrants." I'd been hearing about Sheriff Joe's career of opressive and racist "policing" (a better word would be persecution) since I moved to Arizona, and in special detail lately from the excellent blog of a fellow Arizona Indymedia volunteer in Phoenix. But this article should be a great primer for anyone from out of state and/or is not familiar with what's going on in Maricopa county, and Arizona in general....