OK, a number of you have sent me suggestions over the past few weeks and, well, I've been rilly rilly busy so I haven't had a chance to check them out and/or write about them. So you can sort them out! For your perusal, with the pitch I was given:
* "Not that I would ever tell the bloggers of Unfogged what to do, but I'm just noting that we were all very encouraging about NickS's music blog, but never threw him a link."
This point comparing the litigation costs from the NYC and St. Paul RNC arrests seems worth flagging:
Those suits -- brought by people who contend that they were wrongly arrested at or near protests -- have already cost the city $8.2 million, officials said Friday, a figure that is certain to increase since only a fraction of the claims have been settled.
The taxpayers in Minnesota, however, won't face the same kinds of legal costs as those in New York. Before the 2008 convention, officials in St. Paul insisted that the Republican host committee use its own funds to purchase an insurance policy that would pay up to $10 million in damages for civil rights violations, said John Choi, the city attorney for St. Paul. "When the convention was awarded to St. Paul, we looked at what happened in other cities after everyone had left, especially New York," Mr. Choi said. [my emphasis]
So, the going rate for a week's worth of civil rights violations in a US city is $10 million? Useful information, I guess, for would-be civil rights violators.
Whose translation of Rilke's "Eranna an Sappho" renders the opening lines "O you fierce far-flinging hurler / Like a spear among domestic things / I lay among my kin"? Googling select phrases has proven unhelpful. It's not this one or this one.
I suppose it is possible that it is Smolken's own.
You didn't have anything to say about Sarah Palin at all.
In case you hadn't heard, Spencer's en route to Afghanistan, where he'll be reporting for the Washington Independent for the next couple of weeks. I'm sure you all join me in wishing him a safe trip and eagerly waiting to hear his on-the-ground take from over there.
My roommates and I have spent a good part of the afternoon trying to come up with zany conspiracy theories that are still plausible. The formula is X does Y because of Z, where Z is the hard part to come up with, since it has to be simultaneously believable and surprising.
The whole thing started from my declaration, Fox-news-style, that the American Postal Workers Union subsidizes junk mail, because it ensures their members' postal routes and continued employ*.
We seem unable to come up with other ones, but it seems your sort of game. Knecht, in particular, comes to mind as someone good at this sort of thing (not to put you on the spot or anything).
*WHICH IS OF COURSE SILLY; APWU! WOO!
Coates has a nice post on what counts as ghetto for white people.
I think a lot of black folks probably think Palin has a wierd accent, and that the story for naming her kid "Track" is stupid. But it's not like we have room to talk--I mean, some of us name our kids after alcoholic drinks (Alize, anyone?). Dumb names, if there are such a thing, are a truly multicutural--and multiclass--phenomena. Still, I had no idea that "Willow" was a "blue-collar white" name. I didn't know that having five kids was a marker of being lower-class--especially when all the kids are from the same pairing, and their being well cared for. Now, you can take that for what it's worth, given that I have six brothers and sisters by four mother (all, except me, college grads though!) so maybe I'm a bad judge. But in general, I feel like one of two things is happening. Either this idea of class-criticism is just strawmanship, or I'm blind to the intricate folkways of white people. I, frankly, suspect that it's both. If only I had a white spokesperson to defer to...
One thing I've found hilarious over the last few years is the trend in twee names in my college's (wealthy, white) demographic-- especially since before that the trend was for wealthy white people to roll their eyes at what they took to be nonstandard black names.
Ideally, no such thing should be necessary. But a whole bunch of people got arrested in Minneapolis/St. Paul this week, and without legal representation their other options are unclear.
To that end, the Coldsnap Legal Collective has been and will be representing arrested protestors. Friend of the blog Frowner has worked with them and vouches for their competence and effectiveness, as does Emerson, and notes that they could use some money. Donations can be made at this link, or if you're uncomfortable donating through PayPal, email me and I'll give you Frowner's address for a more anonymous donation.
Or something. Anyway, Boston area party at the Ruprecht's at 6pm Saturday, guests of honor Blume and Sifu. Email Knecht for location and directions, at knecht underscore ruprecht at yahoo.com .
I'm feeling lousy about myself these days, but if there's one thing that cheers me up it's watching the NRO crowd react to Sarah Palin. Just great stuff all around-- here's my favorite.
I don't usually engage in these scenarios, but I'll do it here. If the Obamas had a 17 year-old daughter who was unmarried and pregnant by a tough-talking black kid, my guess is if that they all appeared onstage at a Democratic convention and the delegates were cheering wildly, a number of conservatives might be discussing the issue of dysfunctional black families.
No, that can't be right. Andy McCarthy:
I don't know, Byron. I think, in your comparison scenario, if the tough-talking black kid was there because he was going to be a man, marry the daughter and raise his child, that would be seen as a great credit to Barack and Michelle Obama -- and the influence of the functional black family, which they represent.
That is exactly how it would go down. Title from VDH. Don't ask.
Last week, I received the following email from a respected member of the Unfoggedariat:
Look, I'm going to come off prescriptive, and I hate that. But I don't feel like I have any choice. I think everyone should give up an hour/week of commenting at unfogged and phonebank for Obama instead. In fact, people can phone bank from home, so there could be a thread in which people could call and comment at the same time. Whatever. We have to win this time. Have. To. Win. Everything else -- who was more racist or sexist, how good or not good a speech was or wasn't, etcetera -- is secondary. Start a trend. Get the blogosphere to be part of the ground game. Please.
If I'm out of line, I apologize.
No, it's not out of line. I've been meaning to do some real volunteering for a while now but kept putting it off until after my deadline/until after my vacation/until after the convention, etc. Starting a new routine and giving up some of my evenings sucks but this is important and I realize that I need to approach this like going to the gym: put it in my calendar and make myself go because it needs to be done and don't let excuses get in the way.
I know that's not exactly an inspiring rallying speech about being the change we want to see in the world or whatever but the fact is that a lot of the volunteering that needs to be done isn't warm and fuzzy making: it's tedious and sometimes boring but that's the most important work that needs to be done. It may be more fun to sit around and bullshit and argue about policy but knocking on doors to make sure GOTV rosters are up-to-date is what wins elections.
To set a good example, I'm making the sacrifice tomorrow of missing McCain's speech so I can do swing state phonebanking. I'm kind of dreading it a bit -- it's my first time so I have to find the place and figure out where to park and won't know how anything works and UGH -- but by next week, I hope it will just be part of my routine.
I won't make the disastrous mistake of setting up a new color for post titles but I do plan on putting up a post once a week or so where people can talk about what they've done, their experiences volunteering, and how to get involved. I hope it will be a way to share what people have seen and polite peer pressure. Those of you in big cities might want to compare notes about different groups or coordinate a meetup to volunteer together. It might even be interesting to keep a tally of the number of hours volunteered by Unfogged.
Oh man. Watching the RNC was a bad idea. I think I need the Wrath wine glass. Bonus points: it would appear to funnel the drunk right down your gullet.
I'd be kind of worried that the interviewer had watched the same clip, but according to this guy's thinking, that would only "sync" you more and make you the likely hire. I went ahead and put the video after the break, because I'm just like all of you, and I care deeply about the things you care about.
*It should be noted that I suck at interviewing for anything and once balked for like a minute on the "who's your hero" question before offering some half-hearted endorsement of Abe Lincoln. (I did not get that scholarship.)
Making fun of all things emo is old-hat at this point, but Emo Guide Service had me chuckling. Possibly because the whole idea of an angst-ridden fly-fishing guide is just so odd. But more probably it's the guy's profile image, which I find eminently giggle-inspiring for some reason.
A Labor Day project for everyone: What are the Bush administration innovations in government that an Obama administration could and should roll back instantly, in the first week or two, without needing to maneuver through Congress? We need to build, and communicate, expectations now.
1: "Free speech zones"? Have to go. There is no excuse for any restriction on where people may speak and assemble to protest our government, beyond the bare minimum needed to protect the physical safety of the President and other public officials. No more wire cages to put the protestors in.
2: This one's not a Bush administration innovation, but we know about it now. "Extraordinary rendition" has to stop. If we detain someone, we're responsible for their treatment, and we don't hand them over to any other government without legal process. I suppose I want an immediate Executive Order on this one.
3: No more detention camps outside the US legal system, Gitmo or otherwise. Here, I'm not sure of what the process has to be to shut it all down, but the intention can be stated immediately.
4: VA reform. There's a whole bunch of stuff to be done here, but what I think could be done day one would be an order that applications for disability benefits would be presumptively granted on application; audits for fraud can be done after the fact rather than delaying benefits for years.
This list is off the top of my head after about three minutes of thought -- you're all clever, so come up with stuff that Obama could and should do by presidential fiat before the end of February.
Emerson's got a post collecting information on preemptive policing attempts to quash protests at the RNC, and Frowner reports from the ground:
Greetings and salutations! Where I am we're okay but it's pretty nuts in general.
For those of you who haven't been following too much: on Friday the activist convergance space in St Paul for "fire code violations". It was reopened after calls to the City Council and a reinspection, but the cops seized all the protest guides that had been printed up and stored there, as well as laptops, wallets, cell phones, etc from the people who were there. Those things have not been returned as far as I know. The most visible organizers of the protests are either in jail (four left in jail now) or staying at an undisclosed location so they won't get caught up in a sweep.
At the moment, the convergence center is surrounded by cops. We're afraid there's going to be a second raid, although seriously they've really screwed it up. They've intimidated people but they haven't stopped us. Communication and solidarity have been awesome here (Twitter!) and it's too late for them barring mass sweeps through the city during the night. And even our sharply mediocre City Council people have had our backs as far as keeping stuff open.
You're all aware, no doubt, that they raided four houses where activists lived and also broke into someone's garage and searched her papers. One of the Communities United Against Police Brutality organizers has been stopped by the cops on a near daily basis in the past few weeks too.
It's unpleasant and aggressive (and it's been terribly hard for some of my friends who are caught up in the more violent stuff--honestly, I have friends who were held at gunpoint, hit, called terrorists, etc plus losing money and possessions) but the cops aren't winning. Honestly the raids have been badly planned and executed, and I almost wonder whether sending in the fibbies and Homeland Security was a mistake on the government's part--not only do regular cops not like being pre-empted but we're a democratic town and (as much as we have an unusually brutal police force, don't get me wrong) the popular response to the house raids has been shock and anger.
I'm working at the bookstore where I volunteer--we have extended hours and are doing what we can to facilitate information sharing.
The trials will be a huge PITA though--there are conspiracy charges, it sounds like. They'll be dropped or people will be found innocent but it will take a lot of time and energy.
Do you know what our glorious, glorious UMN has done? Sent an email to all the students saying that if they're arrested off campus for anything involving property damage (or anything more serious) they will also be up before the student conduct board. Which will be absolutely fucking hilarious when they discipline someone and then he/she gets his charges dropped and sues everyone in sight. And that's what will happen, mark my words.
The RNC Welcoming Committee has done an absolutely amazing job here. It's been a privilege to work with them. If anyone is actually in MPLS and wants to meet up to march tomorrow with the Immigrants' Rights group, they should email, That's where I'll be--the other stuff we'd planned (none of which was illegal) won't work because the main coordinator is in hiding.
Here's a thread for anyone with more information about what's happening to pass it on, or to ask for help if there's anything people not in Minneapolis/St. Paul can do.