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February 09, 2012

This is what a Black Bloc is

I didn't know this. I had assumed--foolishly--that the Black Bloc-ers had a central tenet or belief that gave them their unity. But really it's a clever tactic. n 1: Concerning the Violent Peace-Police
1. Black Bloc is a tactic, not a group. It is a tactic where activists don masks and black clothing (originally leather jackets in Germany, later, hoodies in America), as a gesture of anonymity, solidarity, and to indicate to others that they are prepared, if the situation calls for it, for militant action. The very nature of the tactic belies the accusation that they are trying to hijack a movement and endanger others. One of the ideas of having a Black Bloc is that everyone who comes to a protest should know where the people likely to engage in militant action are, and thus easily be able to avoid it if that’s what they wish to do. 2. Black Blocs do not represent any specific ideological, or for that matter anti-ideological position. Black Blocs have tended in the past to be made up primarily of anarchists but most contain participants whose politics vary from Maoism to Social Democracy. They are not united by ideology, or lack of ideology, but merely a common feeling that creating a bloc of people with explicitly revolutionary politics and ready to confront the forces of the order through more militant tactics if required, is, on the particular occasion when they assemble, a useful thing to do. It follows one can no more speak of “Black Bloc Anarchists,” as a group with an identifiable ideology, than one can speak of “Sign-Carrying Anarchists” or “Mic-Checking Anarchists.” . . .

January 31, 2012

The history of the cruise ship is actually interesting

BBC - Adam Curtis Blog: WE'RE ALL IN THE SAME BOAT - AREN'T WE?
I want to tell the story of the rise of the modern cruise ship industry from its beginning in the 1960s - how it promised to make a world of aristocratic luxury available to everyone in the west, but also the hidden story of how that promise was achieved. In many cruise ships there are hundreds of workers from some of the poorest countries on earth who are paid minute amounts of actual wages - sometimes less than two dollars a day - to attend to the passengers' needs. Many of the ships' workers can only get a living wage on the whim of the thousands of passengers above them - on the tips they choose to give them. And in the strange fun-world of the superliners the waiters, the cabin staff, the cooks and everyone else who serves, live in a state of continual vulnerability - unprotected by most of the employment laws that apply on land. Meanwhile many of the companies that own the vast ships pay practically no tax at all. But it wasn't always supposed to be like that. The biggest company in the cruising world is the Carnival Corporation, based in Miami (the Costa Concordia is owned by one of their subsidiaries). Carnival has its roots in a small company set up in the 1960s which had a utopian vision that cruise liners could transform the world. One of its founders believed that the giant ships were machines that could help bring about a new era of world peace. The liners would, he was convinced, unite the rich westerners and the poor from the "third world' by bringing tourists to new and remote destinations. This would foster a new enlightened understanding of each other that would bring about equality and justice throughout the world. But it didn't turn out like that. And this is the story of what happened - and how the very opposite resulted. . . .

January 28, 2012

Awesome Photo: FDR's 52nd birthday party

Yeah. It's a fricking toga party. FDR’s 52nd Birthday Party : Lawyers, Guns & Money

January 24, 2012

Ta-Nehisi Coates on Ron Paul's disgusting Civil War revisionism

Seriously, read the whole thing. Compensation - Ta-Nehisi Coates - Politics - The Atlantic
History is identity. When we erase the painful portions, we lose texture, color and we are reduced. Patriotism, in my eyes, has always been about the strength of seeing those rough spots, of considering your home at its worse, and remaining enthralled, nonetheless. That is how we love our daughters, our husbands, our mothers. That is how we make family. I have come to a fairly recent regard for Lincoln. He rose from utter frontier poverty, through self-education and hard work, to the presidency and the upper reaches of American letters. His path was harsh. His wife was mentally ill. His son died in office. He was derided in newspapers as ugly, stupid, a gorilla and white trash. For his patience, endurance, temperance and industry in the face of so many troubles, Lincoln was awarded a shot to the head. Now in some sectors of the country for which Lincoln died, patriotism means waving the flag of his murderer. The party he founded supports this odious flag-waving and now gives us a candidate who would stand before that same flag and peddle comfortable fictions. What hope is there when those who talk of patriotism brandish the talisman of bloody treason? The matter falls to you. Don't conned. Don't be a mark. Live uncomfortable.

January 20, 2012

Handy Factoids for the Climate-Collapse Deniers in Your Life

2011 Was the 9th Hottest Year On Record - Slashdot...