social/cultural

Survellance as Speech

Good article by Naomi Klein is on Alternet about the SPP protests and authorities videotaping protesters supposedly so that the leaders being petitioned can see the protesters from a safe distance.

Like contestants on a reality TV show, protesters at the SPP were invited to vent into video cameras, their rants to be beamed to protest-trons inside the summit enclave. It was security state as infotainment

Photos from the Streets of Berlin

tacheles - 12
I'm still working on uploading all the good photos from my trip to Europe, but I'm getting closer. The other day I finally finished a set of photos of street art and other interesting street scenes in Berlin. That city is just full of amazing art and politics scrawled, sprayed, and glued all over walls and signs. So I definitely shot a lot of snaps of it. Enjoy...

A New Kind of Labor, A New Kind of Surplus Value, Same Old Exploitation

Via the Indymedia video listserv I just found a very interesting essay called "What the MySpace generation should know about working for free"

...labor has become performance, the act of being a speaker within communication systems. To paraphrase the old saying: The greatest trick that capital ever pulled was convincing the world that labor didn't exist. Labor today, is a 'casualized' and often distributed immaterial activity.

The mere presence of Tara and her friends on MySpace creates value. Surely, the generated monetary value varies; highly popular clips like the treadmill video on YouTube generated over ten million views, while others receive little attention. The quantity of small acts of labor makes YouTube profitable for Google.

Can a convincing teen-friendly version of this essay be concocted? What would kids say to this, even if it was in an easy to read, fun, non-academic tone? Would they just say "so what"? As the text goes on to say,

...I'd argue for the need of an awareness of servitude. This awareness has not been socialized among the most fervent participants of the sociable web: American teens. Despite misleading statistics, most 'MySpacesters' are young and live in the United States. Their upbringing did not instill an awareness of their embrace of market-based behavior [15] (5) . The fact that one person lives off another

Pay Attention, Worker, Be Efficient, More Productive, You're Costing Us $650 Billion a Year

NY Times article about how multitasking is not a very good idea, and you should avoid interruptions and distractions. (via philo's blog) It also says young people are actually worse at multitasking than older folks.

More Stupid Social Stereotype Reinforcement from Kayak.com

I've had it, I just unsubbed from their newsletter because of this. so dumb.

Men may be from Mars and women from Venus but who wants to vacation on either planet? According to Kayak travel data, women are from the beach and men are from the golf course, which can put a crook into planning the family getaway. Who says the sexes always have to agree? Sometimes you just gotta grab a few girls and go.

WTF??!!??

Reminds me of an interesting and sort of disturbing article I just read in Bust magazine about female sex tourism that seemed to be saying it was okay when the male variety is not. It made me realize again how far Bust and "post-feminism" have come. I remember when Bust was a pretty radical little Riotgrrlish zine, the first issue about 20 pages xeroxed and stapled in one corner and mailed to me for review in my little zine, Synergy, about 14 years ago. Now it's just more lifestyle porn.

sigh.

"You Guys Are in a Band, Right?"

A lot of people who are good friends tend to dress and coiff themselves the same. Amazing still to me, but it's just the way it is. Nevertheless, it's often really hilarious. Of course the most ridiculous and obvious example are the tourist couples that you see wearing matching tourist outfits, like identical "San Francisco" t-shirts and identical sweatpants. Or the bikenazi couples that wear the same flashy lycra biking bodysuits.

Another such phenomenon that I've been noticing a lot lately, maybe because a lot of them have been coming through town lately on the way to and from South by Southwest, is the group of guys that are obviously all in a band. It's so funny, I have never been wrong when I say the above question to a group of dudes walking into a cafe or something. I don't even neccesarily need to see them al piling out of rental van. Not like it's a uniform, per se, like the early Beatles or something, no. It's just, a look. And it's not to say that all musicians look the same - it's totally a function of what kind of band they're in. This morning I saw a group of tousle-haired, mopey-dopey dorkboys and I was like, yup, emo band from the northwest. Last night at Hotel Congress I ran into a few matching hippy-dreaded-tiedyed kids and it turned out they were in Icy Core of Jupiter, a band from Phoenix that plays sort of freaked-out Stoogesesque psychedelic punk-garage jams.

They were on their way to Dry River to play a show and I gave them directions. Saw them later at the show. Their appearance definitely matched each other and their music in some kind of metaphporical way, although when the bass player sprayed chocolate syrup all over his bare chest during one song, the other members did not follow suit. That would have been truly too much. :-)

twittering

I'm feeling really overwhelmed. million things i want to do, said i would do, or feel like i should be doing.

just found this thing called Twitter. it's like a tiny tiny mini micro nano blog. you just type one line describing what you're doing right now. people can follow that like a blog or follow all their friends.

it's kinda neat and maybe i'll keep using it, but i cant help thinking.... the easier it is to "twitter" (what a great name), isn't that just making it easier to not get anything REAL done? if i spend 5 seconds every 120 seconds submitting something to twitter, that adds up and means i dont have that time to do something more meaninful and longterm.... kind of like when you try to get work done while sitting in a cafe with a bunch of chatty friends. not gonna happen.

I guess that's the kind of mood i'm in...

other stuff: an "unconference" in san diego that protests O'Reilly's insanely expensive conferences; a film about Michale Moore and hard it was to make a movie about him and how inaccessibile he is; I lost a great essay I wrote about 5 years ago about "Freebles", it's digital dust now, i guess...; i really should blog about a bunch of Juarez-related links and news but i don't have time.... or do i? argh.

Supreme Court Gives Gore's Oscar to Bush

Just kidding!
Amazingly, this was the subject line of a piece of spam I recieved today. I've been marvelling at how one could almost take up reading spam folder subject lines instead of reading headlines and get a decent overview of the news, since this is a side effect of recent spammer strategy, it seems. Now you can also get your Onion-esque fake news from spam too.

Like cowbird eggs placed in the nests of other birds, there are many other examples of this kind of simulacra that seem to fulfill a function in life but are really largely just taking up space and fooling us. Writing software can seem like creativity, going to meetings can seem like a social life, but these are empty calories. There's no time like the present to keep remembering that.

Every Possible Niche

This is an entry about capitalism. But, I have to provide some background: So, I've been really into this great travel website called Kayak for the last couple months. It's basically a super-search engine for airfares. you put in where you want to go & when and it searches hundreds of airlines and other travel sites to find the best fares. And the best feature is the email alerts where it sends a message every day or week with the best fares under your certain price for your certain date range. Really useful.

However, this is about something really unuseful, unless you count relieving consumers of their cash useful. Which I guess it is if we want to keep the ol' economy pumpin', eh? So, ok, nevermind.

Just kidding. What I'm talking about is how capitalists, or 'the market', are constantly seeping into every possible crevice and nook of life, like vomit that gets into the cracks between tiles in your bathroom when you puke and miss the toilet. The example I have today is an email from Kayak, exhorting everyone to go on a trip: for chocolate. They proceed to provide a list of exotic or not-so-exotic destinations with no reasons listed to go other than their relation to chocolate: Belgium, New York, Hershey Pennsylvania, Oaxaca... ("No discussion of chocolate is complete without mentioning a trip to Mexico where it all began. ")
...Ignoring of course the brutal colonial history of Belgium's chocolate supremacy or the current human rights abuses taking place in Oaxaca, and other such bothersome facts, and I will skip over the details of these too for now, because what I'm talking about is how ridiculous it is to try to sell someone a flight to Oaxaca or Pennsylvania or Brussels for chocolate. But hey, it's Valentine's Day coming up and you're supposed to eat chocolate and why not be really cool and buy an $800 plane ticket instead of an $8 box of chocolate? Every little excuse will be tried by marketeers, because as Dennis the Menace once said, "All I need is one sucker." (image: Dennis behind a lemonade stand, sign announcing: lemonade, $10 a glass)

While the greenhouse gases choke the planet to death we're being told to blow our "disposable income" to jet around the globe with no more excuse for it than looking for cacao products and their traces, in the form of museums and theme parks. And meanwhile there are hundreds of millions who will never, ever, ever be able to afford to set foot on a plane, who in fact will never leave the tiny circle of land around the village they were born in, unless it's to migrate (rather than starve), to the nearest metropolis to work in a factory assembling plastic gadgets for gringos to buy at Wal-Mart...

thanx but no thanx, Kayak.com.

In the society of the spectacle, "Spectators do not find what they desire: they desire what they find." - Guy Debord

(Don't get me wrong, since this is the first time in a few years that I've been seeing someone at this time of year, I will probably ask that someone to do something special with me in honor of the fabricated holiday. But we won't be flying to Brussels.)

When Have You Stood Aside Enough To Leave?

So, I won't name names but I'm in this local consensus-based collective and I don't know if I should be in it anymore. Just about every week, at every weekly meeting, we have some argument about one thing or another and I'm pretty much always on the one side and everyone else is on the other and I always end up saying "well, I still disagree but I stand aside." I do this because it's never something important enough to block, and yet I always feel like I've given up on some matter of minor principle. Minor, but still a principle, something I firmly believe. And so, the question is, if this keeps happening week after week, does that mean I should leave the collective? I can't leave right away because we're in the middle of doing a lot of work on a big project. And I don't want to leave at all because it's really a subject that is important to me and the collective is responding to the subject in ways I believe in. But it just feels really bothersome and lonely to always always be alone on the other side of a debate every single week. Maybe it's not a sign that the collective is wrong for me but is just my problem and I should talk to my therapist about it. I dunno.
Sigh.

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