Posts concerning anarchism

The Boston Marathon Bombings

21:28 21 Apr 2013

The aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings made clear just how much the media—and apparently a substantial portion of the population—want to promote the notion that the “War on Terror” is a real war, that there’s a real and highly dangerous enemy, and that the US is engaged in a struggle where the nation itself is under threat.

Prior to the identification of the suspects, it seemed like many media figures were thinking, “please let it be Al Qaeda”—and that if if it had turned out to be some disgruntled middle-aged guy protesting IRS policies, they and a chunk of their audience would lose a lot of interest.

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Marriage, Same-Sex and Other

23:17 13 May 2012

Same-sex marriage has been a major news topic this week, because of the passage of North Carolina’s Amendment One and Barack Obama’s statement that he thinks same-sex couples should be able to marry. A good time, then, to explore the subject.

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Corruption: Ireland’s Mahon Tribunal

23:34 01 Apr 2012

Dublin has grown a great deal over the last 30 years, and in so doing has become a case study in how not to manage urban/suburban development, planning, or transit policy[1].

The urban planning process for Dublin County in that period was endemically corrupt, which was common knowledge at the time but has been made extremely clear by the final report, released 22 March 2012, of the Mahon Tribunal, a body set up in 1997 to investigate such matters. It seems unlikely in the extreme that the corruption and the terrible urban sprawl aren’t connected.

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NYPD Notes

23:59 30 Oct 2011

I don’t recall any interactions with the police when I lived in New York, but over the years my accumulated impression has been that it’s a very corrupt organization. That’s not necessarily unusual—I suspect that most of the police forces in major American cities would be just as bad (and nothing I’ve heard about, say, the Los Angeles or Chicago police has made me think otherwise). At the moment, though, the NYPD seem to be at the forefront.

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Expression, Pseudonymity, Google+

23:06 21 Aug 2011. Updated: 18:19 17 Sep 2011

Google+ has come under fire recently for banning users who don’t have usernames conforming to the service’s rules about what usernames should be like. Google’s policies on the matter are wrong, and the reasons why they’re wrong, as well as the potential implications of their policy, are important.

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The Rorschach Riots

23:28 14 Aug 2011. Updated: 18:19 17 Sep 2011

I mean the various incidents of unrest in England earlier this week. The reference is not to the Watchmen character, but to the blots, because from what I can tell every commentator (I include myself here) is seeing in the events a confirmation of their already-existing political beliefs. That’s not unique to this particular issue, but it strikes me as a particularly egregious example of the phenomenon.

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On the Death of Osama bin Laden

23:30 02 May 2011

I was surprised when I heard the news—via SMS from Twitter from my brother—that US forces had apparently killed bin Laden. Surprised, but not particularly affected. No glee, no sadness, no sense that as an event it was important in itself (rather than for its symbolic value).

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My Reaction to “40 Things People Need to Stop Saying”

23:18 28 Apr 2011. Updated: 18:16 29 Apr 2011

In my Twitter feed yesterday I found a link to “Privileged Musings: 40 Things People Need to Stop Saying”, an article at Womanist Musings. The intent of the piece is narrower than the title suggests, in that it’s primarily concerned with discussion in that community rather than more generally, but I was interested in it anyway since it concerns regulation of expression.

Overall the list is concerned with statements defending or perpetuating prejudice, arguments that have been addressed numerous times before (or are just inane). However, it doesn’t explain what’s wrong with them, even briefly, which is a mistake for two reasons: one, it would make the list much more useful and effective; two, writing such explanations would have made clear which things on the list were questionable, as some of them certainly are.

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Justice Aphorism

18:51 27 Dec 2010. Updated: 02:24 28 Dec 2010

“The story is told of a Chinese law professor, who was listening to a British lawyer explain that Britons were so enlightened, they believed it was better that ninety-nine guilty men go free than that one innocent man be executed. The Chinese professor thought for a second and asked, ‘Better for whom?’”

I came across this in Eugene Alexander Volokh’s “n Guilty Men”, which I was reading as a result of a longer post I was writing about the problems of dealing with allegations of rape; the question that the apocryphal Chinese professor is disingenuously raising (i.e. whether it’s really better for a society to err on the side of innocence in such matters) is quite central to issues arising out of trying to deal with rape, in evidentiary terms. I bit off a little too much in that post, which is why you’re not seeing it now.

There’s also the question of whether any kind of enforcement mechanism solves more problems than it causes, but rather than ponder that right now I’m instead pondering the injustice of my having to get up in the morning to play Twilight Imperium.

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A Brief WikiLeaks Comment

18:25 05 Dec 2010

I’ve been following the situation with WikiLeaks’ release of diplomatic cables fairly closely, and find it rather interesting as an effective use of the internet to fight government control of information. In that sense, it’s a hopeful sign, a demonstration that a relatively small group of people can still resist the forces of the powerful.

On the other hand, the reaction to the release, particularly in the mainstream press here, has been an appalling if unsurprising demonstration of the servility of our political culture.

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This Kind of Thing is Why Catch-22 Rings so True to Life

23:20 05 Nov 2010

A New York City police officer blocks a bike lane in order to then issue tickets to cyclists for not using the bike lane.

Lots of food for anarchist thought in that scenario. I doubt many of my readers would try to justify the cop’s actions, but some of you might try to defend the state here, and more of you would likely defend the concept of the state.

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Let’s Tell Our Neighbors What to Do

23:56 02 Nov 2010

The failure of Proposition 19, the attempt to legalize marijuana in California, isn’t quite as depressing to me as 2008’s passage of anti-gay-marriage Proposition 8. Mainly because I wasn’t that hopeful that 19 would pass—the sentiments behind the prevailing anti-19 vote are as repugnant as those behind the pro-8 vote.

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The First of May

22:40 01 May 2009

It irritates me, every year, that May Day isn’t an official holiday here. It irritates me further that US Labor day is tucked far away at the other end of the year. It just seems petty. And today I discovered that, indeed, the US Labor Day was a deliberate attempt to gain distance from the “radical left”.

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Authority Sickness

22:44 18 Sep 2007. Updated: 00:36 10 Oct 2012

The story about a University of Florida student being tasered by campus police at a John Kerry speech is all over the net at this point. It’s fairly grotesque, although I think the UCLA campus library incident from last year was even worse. As then, however, one of the most disturbing things about it are the commenters who emerge to justify the violence perpetrated by the authorities.

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Driving, Cellphones, Teenagers

19:53 13 Sep 2007

This is all anecdotal, and hence statistically useless, but I’ve noticed far more bad driving correlated with cellphone use recently. Some of it was in Dublin, where I think cellphone use is still higher per capita, but I’ve seen a lot of it around San Francisco also. I think every case of notably bad driving that I’ve encountered in the last month turned out to involve a driver using a cellphone.

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Datsik Style

23:45 24 Aug 2007. Updated: 23:28 03 Nov 2010

Mixed Martial Arts fighting, in the US especially the United Fighting Championship, has been gaining a lot of popularity recently. Presented here for your edification is an argument against its taking itself too seriously… Viacheslav Datsik

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Vivoleum is People

23:38 15 Jun 2007

At the Gas and Oil Exposition in Calgary, representatives of the US-based National Petroleum Council and ExxonMobil gave a presentation on how to make gasoline from human remains, projected to be much easier to acquire as climate change kills an increasing number of people.

This turned out to be a hoax perpetrated by The Yes Men, who do specialize in this kind of thing.

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Political Turmoil in Legotown

21:59 10 Apr 2007. Updated: 12:46 21 May 2009

This article about Lego, power, and property in an elementary school was completely fascinating to me. It recounts the experiences in a clearly “alternative” school when the teachers and children attempted to unravel what was causing conflict over the resources of “Legotown”.

If you have any interest in politics, equality, children, education, or the nature of property, read the article.

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Robert Anton Wilson, RIP

23:14 16 Jan 2007. Updated: 08:07 17 Jan 2007

He died last week, after a long illness. His work has been a big influence on my life, so I wanted to mark his passing.

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Socio-political Limitations

22:25 12 Nov 2006. Updated: 07:18 08 Jan 2007

A scenario I’ve held in my mind for most of my life involves questions of principle, practicality, and transgression. Or, to put it another way, questions about the extent to which your society (which, for these purposes, includes the state) punishes you for stepping outside its bounds.

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Robert Anton Wilson in need

16:00 02 Oct 2006. Updated: 07:19 08 Jan 2007

Not sure how many fans of his read my blog, but he’s dying and is apparently in need of cash. If you appreciated his work, you can donate money via PayPal (details can be found at that link). He’s certainly added a lot to the richness of my life through his work, and I wish him all the best.

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Tadhg’s definition of anarchism

23:06 07 Feb 2006. Updated: 18:46 22 Jan 2010

The Tadhg O’Higgins definition of anarchism:

The elimination of power as a factor in human relationships.

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23:53 06 Feb 2006. Updated: 07:21 08 Jan 2007

This evening Seth and I finally restarted our reading project, and began *Essays in Existentialism*, a collection of Sartre essays. We did the first section, “The Humanism of Existentialism”. I’ve read it before, a long time ago, probably 1993. I recall that my initial reaction to it was one of recognition. This time, I had the same feeling, or a stronger version of the same feeling. Many of the fundamental tenets of existentialism as laid out by Sartre are and were bedrock beliefs of mine. “Man is nothing but what he makes of himself.”—check. “There is no reality except in action.”—check. Fundamental personal responsibility—check.

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