When the gods dance...

Monday, October 31, 2011

Steve Jobs last words

Steve Jobs last words were, 


“Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.”


A New Declaration of Independence - American Spring

A New Declaration of Independence

The weight of the 1 Percent has become intolerable. How can we take our country back? Here's a fresh draft

The following document is the result of the Salon staff's brainstorming; we're incredibly grateful to Alex Pareene for crafting it into a coherent piece. We hope you'll add your own thinking in the comments section below.

Here’s where we are in the course of human events right now: 14 million Americans are jobless and millions more are underemployed. Those still working have seen wages fall after 30 years of stagnation. The 1 Percent of top wage earners could buy and sell the rest of us without so much as a low balance warning on their checking account apps. The tenth-of-1 Percent earns millions more every year in barely taxed capital gains and derivatives while everyone else struggles to pay down trillions of dollars of debt. Massive, growing income inequality is now belatedly acknowledged by political and media elites, but many of them seem befuddled as to its cause and importance.

It is our belief that many of the problems facing Americans today can be directly connected to the unchecked power and complete unaccountability of the 1 Percent, a group that benefits from every unequal boom of the modern era and escapes each disastrous bust unscathed. The 1 Percent is insulated from the negative effects of its disastrous policies by its paid representatives in government. The elite 1 Percent ensures the slavish loyalty of its political handmaidens by flooding their campaign coffers with money squeezed from the 99 Percent as deposits, fees and interest.

Alex Pareene

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon. Email him at apareene@salon.com and follow him on Twitter @pareene  More Alex Pareene

I especially like the inclusion of a Debt Jubilee: immediate relief for the poor, who generally pay the highest interest rates; keep homeowners in their homes; provide genuine relief for students. Education should be free, for it is a wise investment in our future productivity. I'd like to see something like this emerge from Occupy Wall Street.


Brave New World

Mission Control
The New Yorker


by October 31, 2011

Vlad Teichberg

On the screen, a protester from Occupy Orlando was requesting in-kind donations. “We have plenty of deodorant,” he said, “but we could use soap.” A second protester, wearing a Guy Fawkes mask, entered the frame to announce breaking news: “We’re global! Seventeen hundred viewers right now!” The crowd outside the Orlando chamber of commerce cheered.

The video feed had been picked up by globalrevolution.tv, the switchboard for live coverage of the populist protests that began with Occupy Wall Street. The channel, hosted by Livestream.com, attracts between a thousand and twenty thousand viewers at any moment. “The revolution will not be televised,” the masked protester told the crowd. “It’ll be . . . on the Internet.”

The revolution is being streamed from a dilapidated second-story office in NoHo. The A. J. Muste Institute, a pacifist organization that bought the building in 1974, is leasing the space to Global Revolution, a nascent media collective, for around four hundred dollars per month. Last Tuesday night, a pensive young man in a T-shirt that read “I AM A REVOLTING CITIZEN” was at the controls, monitoring feeds from around the country. After Orlando, he cut to a video, from earlier in the week, of Naomi Klein, the critic of corporate globalization, addressing a rally in San Francisco: “Occupation is not a place—it is a state of mind.” While the Klein clip aired, someone entered the studio with footage of Naomi Wolf, the feminist writer, who had just been arrested in an evening dress. “Naomi who?” someone said. “Isn’t she on the feed right now?”

Global Revolution brands itself as non-hierarchical, but if anyone is in charge it is Vlad Teichberg, a thirty-nine-year-old former derivatives trader. “The building’s owners should have known this would happen when they invited us, but we have sort of occupied the space,” Teichberg said last week, as he lit a cigarette with an American-flag lighter.

For the first few weeks of the protest, Global Revolution operated from under a tarp in Zuccotti Park, using wireless hot spots. Two weeks ago, the group, frustrated with the amount of equipment they were losing to theft and rain, moved to NoHo. The studio is a riot of wires taped to walls, bins of battery chargers, and laptops everywhere. A to-do list on a whiteboard includes the items “Make info/tutorial primers about live streaming” and “Troubleshoot Teradeks.” In a corner of the whiteboard, someone has written, “These are good problems to have.”

Teichberg was born in Moscow, and moved with his parents to Queens when he was ten. He attended Princeton, where he wrote a thesis on number theory, then headed to Wall Street, where he worked for Deutsche Bank. “I thought globalization was going to create equality around the world,” he said. After 9/11, his views changed. “The politicization of it—using it to start wars, and the Patriot Act and everything—it was obvious we were heading down the wrong path.” He left finance, helped found a grassroots media collective, and poured his savings into the resistance.

The way Teichberg sees it, he is helping to fuel a global revolution that started on December 17th in Tunis. In February, he went to Madrid to put cameras into the hands of protesters there. Then he came back to New York to build what he calls “camera Kalashnikovs,” in preparation for the American occupation. He sees live video as a check against police brutality. “If everyone is watching, the state can’t just crush people. That’s what kept Tahrir Square from turning into Tiananmen—they knew people were paying attention.” Global Revolution subsists on a stream of small donations. Teichberg and his cohorts buy cheap used computers on the Internet, fix them up, and send them to occupations around the country.

Teichberg lives in a squat in Bushwick with his wife, Nikki, who is expecting their first child. They were married seven weeks ago at Burning Man, with the Reverend Billy officiating. “She insists I sleep at home every night, which is causing some friction,” Teichberg said. On the second night of the Zuccotti Park occupation, the couple camped there in a tent. “I assume we conceived then, because the baby is due on June 17th,” Teichberg said. “It must have been then, because we haven’t really had time for that before or since.” Teichberg admitted that a squat is not an ideal home for a baby, but he has no long-term plan. Neither he nor his wife is working, and his savings are gone. “Maybe this video thing will take off,” he said. 

Anonymous Veracruz copia

Anon takes on the Mexican drug cartel.

He Asked About Misogyny in Street Fighter, and the Game's Caretakers Didn't Dodge


He Asked About Misogyny in Street Fighter, and the Game's Caretakers Didn't Dodge

At a New York University conference about game design this past weekend, a conversation about misogyny broke out.

Street Fighter brought it on, and the answers, some of them from one of the current caretakers of the series at Capcom, were frank. You might have expected defensive answers. People don't usually react well to being told they're involved in something someone sees as misogynist. What we got was more along the lines of "Capcom is not always pushing things in the helpful direction."

It wasn't just Capcom who were called out. It was the community of Street Fighter players. There, too, the answers were most unexpected.

NYU's Practice was in theory—and mostly was in, uh practice—a weekend conference about the the art and craft of game design. Social issues weren't on the agenda. Game design, programming philosophy and prototyping techniques were. But let fly the curveball that is a question from the audience. That's how Practice, briefly, became a forum about sexism in and around Street Fighter.

He Asked About Misogyny in Street Fighter, and the Game's Caretakers Didn't Dodge The question came near the conclusion of a panel called Designers, Players — Fight!. Two men who have worked on Street Fighter games, David Sirlin and Seth Killian, the latter of whom works at Capcom now as something of a fighting game czar, had talked about the design of fighting games. Their focus was on how they balanced the fighting games, a tricky art for games that are supposed to be playable for, according to Capcom's goals, a decade. After that, pro Street Fighter gamer Arturo Sanchez gave his perspective on how the developers balance their fighting games.

Then came the questions, including one from Matt Parker, a professor who wanted to talk about misogyny (his word) and Street Fighter. I missed jotting down the very start of the question, but, from memory, I recall him asking why the intro animation for Cammy in Street Fighter IV began with a focus on the female fighter's behind. He noted that there was no such animation focusing on male characters' crotches.

And then Parker went on, the rest of which I can relay to you pretty much verbatim. Here's Parker in the Q&A, addressing the panelists. He's just asked about the focused shot in Street Fighter IV on Cammy's butt and is now asking about the way people act in streaming web videos that broadcast competitive Street Fighter matches:

Matt Parker, game designer and teacher: "On the streams, I've heard, when a female player is competing things like 'I'd do her' and things like that on a stream. That's super-alienating to females. I like females. I like Street Fighter. I'd like them to like each other. I don't understand why this is there and I think it really does hurt the community, which otherwise is very embracing and very open."

Seth Killian, Capcom: "I'll take that one on the chin, and then [gesturing to Arturo] you can chime in. Japan's a very different place [laughter from the crowd] Set your cultural wayback dial to, like, maybe '50s?"

Parker: "But Street Fighter II didn't have that."

Killian: "Well, we didn't have the technology. [laughter from crowd] to zoom in on the buttocks."

"For better or worse, it's easy for me to get inured to that kind of thing. It's the same thing with violent games. When you've been playing them for a while you sort of don't see it. That doesn't make it not a reality.

"On the community side, I'm actually pretty encouraged, because, as you mentioned, outside of the gender lines it's probably the most inviting community in the world, and not just in games. It's all social classes, all races. Everything. Sexual preference. Every spot on the dial. But women have been sort of... I've seen it changing quite quickly in a more embracing direction toward women over the last few years. But it's sort of one of those tipping points—this is just my feeling, I don't have any numbers behind this—there are certainly a lot more women at fighting events now than there used to be. Probably 10 times as many? So it's getting there.

"And this is where I'm speaking personally. I think the last holdouts of the boy's club mentality are getting more vocal, because the neighborhood is starting to get mixed. That's why you start seeing the crosses on the lawn once in a while. But then you can push past that and get to the breaking point. I feel like we're on that breaking point now on the gender issue.

"But yeah, Capcom is not always pushing things in the helpful direction. Point fairly taken for sure."

Arturo Sanchez, Street Fighter pro gamer and tournament commentator: "I wanted to chime in on the gender issue and what you guys talked about the streams. Like Seth said, the gender roles of females in the fighting game community has definitely changed.

"Obviously until Street FIghter blew up recently it was kind of a man's world. But recently Street Fighter IV has gotten more popular there have been a lot of female players who have been playing Street Fighter IV and are embraced by the community pretty well. One of the most famous female players, her name is Choco Blanka in Japan… she is considered to be one of the better Street Fighter IV players with Blanka.

As far as polarizing commentary goes, when it comes to streams, for us as players, this is all very new two us. Even though the Street Fighter community has all cultural ethnic archetypes represented in the community, a lot of at the core of it was a lot of inner-city people playing at their local video store or bodega, so it definitely tends to be kind of a ghetto-fabulous mentality. When you combine that with streams, it's definitely changing, but there is some work to be done.

"The community as a whole is new to it and we're definitely trying to adapt to be able to be appealing to a wider audience. I know, for example, at Evolution 2011, it had about 2.2 million viewers watching the stream throughout the weekend. That took more of a professional approach to the commentary… but you have other grassroots tournaments that are just as big but they are community-run and more chaotic… You have people running around. You might have some players on commentary. You might have some people on the mic talking crap. It's still hype and amazing, anyway. People want to see that real stuff, but they also want to keep it professional. It's kind of hard to balance the line. I definitely think we're getting better at it as we grow."

That could have been the whole thing. Sexy-looking Street Fighter characters. Provocative question. Thoughtful replies from developer and pro gamer. That's the whole thing, right?


The moderator had a curveball of his own:

Charles Pratt, Practice panel moderator: "It's also worth nothing, though that this there is the same problem in StarCraft, which is guys in big metal suits versus gold aliens versus space bugs. And there's still this weird misogyny and weird divide. I definitely think imagery has something to do with it but it also has something to do with the communities themselves, the policing and those communities growing."

And then the talk went back to game-balancing.

After the panel session ended, I talked to Parker. He lamented to me that even at Sarah Lawrence University, which is 70% female, he hasn't been able to get even five women to sign up for a gaming class he was teaching. He's worried about women feeling alienated from gaming. Based on the thoughtful responses he got at Practice, he's not alone.

You can contact Stephen Totilo, the author of this post, at stephentotilo@kotaku.com. You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook, and lurking around our #tips page.




Sunday, October 30, 2011

Why Zombies Never Die


Halloween is a popular time for zombie activity, but even when the pumpkins are gone and the witch costumes are put away, the zombies will keep on marching.

That's because the living dead are a year-round affair these days, and not just in movies. Around the world, a growing number of people are dressing up as zombies for parties, festivals, walks and pub-crawls in every season.

To explain the undying boom in all things zombie, experts point to the versatility of zombies as a metaphor. Compared to vampires or werewolves, zombies can symbolize everything people are afraid of and anything that seems to be tearing society apart. Over the decades, the undead have addressed race relations, class wars, diseases, mindless consumerism and more.

"Part of what I really like about zombies is that they don't always represent the same thing," said Brendan Riley, a media scholar at Columbia College Chicago. "They're a really flexible storytelling tool for describing all sorts of different cultural and societal problems."

NEWS: Did Zombies Roam Medieval Ireland?

First-generation zombies emerged from voodoo culture in Haiti more than 100 years ago, argue some academics, including Nick Pearce, a sociologist and anthropologist at the University in Durham in the United Kingdom. Surrounded by a variety of merging African cultures and religions, Haitians believed that sorcerers could put curses on dead people, bringing them partially back to life for use as slaves.

Zombie sightings were documented in Haiti, and although there are possible medical and pharmacological explanations for what was happening, plenty of Haitians were convinced that zombification was indeed possible. No one was actually afraid of zombies themselves, Pearce said. Instead, they were afraid of being turned into zombies.

Not long after the United States began to occupy Haiti, a 1929 novel called The Magic Island introduced the concept of zombies to Americans, and Hollywood immediately jumped on the image. The first zombie film, called White Zombie, came out in 1932.

At first, American zombie films echoed Haitian themes. The movies took place in tropical settings. And there was always an evil character that, much like a voodoo sorcerer, controlled the zombies as they did terrible things.

Those earliest zombies, Riley said, were clearly a metaphor for the fear that a minority of whites had of an uprising by poor blacks, who made up the vast majority of Haiti. By the 1960s, though, zombies started to address other concerns. With race riots, the Vietnam War and protests going on, zombies could represent fears that the world was being irrevocably ripped apart.

Not all zombie aficionados agree that today's zombies emerged from the Haitian versions.

"From a factual, anthropological, religious, or historic standpoint, there is no connection between the voodoo zombie and the modern zombie," said Matt Mogk, founder and head researcher at the Zombie Research Society. "Academics who view the topic from their narrow field of expertise often make the mistake of combining the two."

PHOTOS: 13 Ghoulish Gadgets for Halloween

Regardless of their true origins, the premier of "The Night of the Living Dead" in 1968 marked a turning point for zombies. Not only was the cult film subversively critical of government, race and societal norms, it took zombies out of their usual setting. Instead of the tropics, the ghoulish characters were now walking around central Pennsylvania.

Even more significant, the zombies were no longer being controlled by an evil leader, said Pearce, who will be giving a talk on Wednesday about what zombies can reveal about society at the Economic and Social Research Council's Festival of Social Science.

In a succession of horror films, zombies evolved into scary figures independent of a larger power. So today, we may still fear becoming a modern form of mindless zombie, glued to our smart phones as we walk through shopping malls. But we are also afraid of what other zombies will do to us.

"Today, the idea is not that we are being controlled by a menace, but that everyone everywhere is a mindless zombie, and there is no one target to actually blame anymore," Pearce said. "Maybe zombies should occupy Wall Street."

DISCOVERNATOR: Amazing Facts Served Up Hot

Despite their gruesome looks and frightening symbolism, zombies have also become a form of fun. More than 6,400 people "like" the Zombie Pub Crawl Facebook page, which organizes thousands of people in a drinking, dancing event through the streets of Minneapolis for one night each October. The event, which is the largest out of a list of dozens like it around the world, has grown exponentially since 150 people showed up for the first one in 2005.

By dressing up and acting like zombies together in events like these, people may gain strength as they acknowledge their powerlessness, Pearce said. Or, as Mogk argued, they might just enjoy belonging to a group that doesn't reject anyone.

"At zombies walks, you see University professors walking next to young families with kids walking next to a tattooed punk rocker with a mohawk who they would usually cross the street to avoid," Mogk said. "Zombies are your friends in low places. Everybody is welcome to join their club."

NYAF: Print is dead, Shonen Jump Alpha going online

Everyone talks about how print media (also known as "dead trees editions," if you're a terrible person) is on its way out, and while the claim may still be contested, it seems that Shonen JUMP is throwing in the towel, at least in the US. Viz Media's Brian Piech announced at NYAF today that the print version fo Shonen JUMP will be gone from shelves by April 2012. Instead, the magazine will transition completely to Shonen JUMP Alpha, a digital equivalent available on Viz Manga website and on Viz Manga's iOS apps (and more channels in the future).  

Non-Luddites will, potentially, have much to gain from the transition. Freed from the strictures of paper and the overhead associated with it, Alpha will be releasing new chapters at a near-simultaneous rate with the Japanese originals, starting with powerhouses like One Piece, Naruto, Bleach, Bakuman, Toriko, and Nura. To make up for the existing difference between Nippon and the US, Viz will be initiation what they call a "warp", releasing chapters digitally at a rapid pace and ensuring that readers will be completely caught up by launch day.

Shonen Jump Alpha will launch on January 30th, 2012, and come out weekly from then on. Being a magazine, it does cost a nominal amount of money, though. Yearly subscriptions are available at $25.99 (same as print costs today), but readers can opt for a "trial" subscription, where players can "rent" an issue for four weeks at a mere 99 cents per. The latter option is good for folks who aren't interested in all that "archiving" junk and just want to keep up with their favorite manga as it comes out.

Some significant stuff is afoot in the industry. First the formation of Funico, and now Shonen JUMP Alpha? A lot of the things otaku have been claiming as justifications for not using legally-licensed channels are being provided. Are you prepared to join the fold?

The Confident “Zombie Boy”

Rick Genest (5)

If you are wondering about the tattoos, they are real! Rick Genest (a.k.a. “Zombie Boy”) has eighty percent of his body covered, “[...] including intricate designs of an entire skeleton (skull included) and is thematically, the depiction of a body decomposing—complete with flesh eating insects. To date Genest has spent over $17,000.00 on tattooing his body and will continue until his tapestry is finished.” [1]

Dermablend commissioned Genest to do ad campaign for their body and leg cover makeup, and in the video you see “Zombie Boy” as he used to be with no tats. It is pretty impressive the transformation.

Notes about Genest (from bio published on his website):

Twenty-Six year old Rick Genest will challenge your sensibilities about what you believe to be beautiful. At his core he is a chiaroscuro of both light and dark—part gentle warrior, part anti-establishment artful dodger, and he has serendipitously become the ‘it’ muse for anyone who believes in a brave new world without judgment. His tattoos have equally intrigued and inspired a cult following—more than 30,000 followers on Twitter and 65 groups/ pages to him on Facebook. He has sparked a revolution with fans who see beyond the visceral and want to know everything they can about the mysterious performer, model and muse known as ‘Zombie Boy.’ [2]

Rick Genest (2)

Rick Genest (3)

Rick Genest (4)

Rick Genest (8)

1/2. "My Story." rickgenest.com. Retrieved on October 30th, 2011. Photos © Dermablend Link via Jannike Viveka

Wondering... Whither Occupy Wall Street | by Bruce LaBruce


Whither Occupy Wall Street? No, not “wither,” as in “shrivel and die.” You’d be an idiot to wish that, considering that, as far as anti-establishment rebellions in America (and parts of Canada) go, it’s currently the only game in town. Whither, as in “to what place or state,” where is it headed? Will it become a full-blown insurrection (implying a violent uprising of some sort), or will it remain a shambolic, undisciplined, hippie-dippy free-for-all, distinguished by neither intent nor style?

Angela Davis argued in the 60s, in terms of the black struggle, that a society that embraces a philosophy of non-violence is a society that embraces the philosophy of suicide. She argued that if your baby is in a burning house, you do not snatch that baby from the fire gradually. You do not snatch that baby from the fire moderately. You fucking snatch that baby. She was a brilliant and persuasive rhetorical speaker (something that has been noticeably lacking among the Occupy Wall Streeters), and perhaps she had a point: OWS, at this stage, anyway, is definitely made up of a bunch of moderate baby-snatchers.

Now I’m not advocating violent revolution (necessarily), and I’m certainly not saying that violent revolution is sexy. But so far, OWS is definitely not the sexiest revolution I can think of. It’s a grass roots, populist protest (more like a complaint, really, which is never sexy) made up of all kinds of people, from laid-off autoworkers to irate grandmas who can’t afford their medication to debt-ridden students with no prospects for the future. But this is hardly the stuff of hardcore militancy that brings down fraudulent governments or blood-sucking financial institutions. It may be a little late in the game to be playing the “We Are the World” card. The people in the financial sector – the Wall Street bankers and hedge fund managers and the corporate media barons - who have forced out the 99 percent have demonstrated themselves over and over again to be textbook sociopaths, and they’re not about to give up power and privilege so easily. And the political system that they have so thoroughly influenced and corrupted for their own nefarious purposes is not going to be changed from the bottom up by a motley crew of well-intentioned liberals.

Occupy Wall Street, of course, started not in America in the fall, but in the Middle East with the Arab Spring, followed by the Greek and Spanish summer, where tent cities sprung up in cities such as Barcelona as early as May. (Leave it to New York to take all the credit.) Now the Arab Spring seems to be on permanent summer vacation, with power being shuffled from one neo-liberal entity or entrenched military institution to another, and the spontaneous complaints choirs of southern Europe seem to be languishing a bit too, probably owing to protest fatigue.

The real, heavy-duty occupations that, strangely, no one in America seems to be talking about, took place in France in 2009 when unions started to occupy factories and hold oblivious corporate bosses hostage in order to have their demands met in scenarios straight out of Godard’s labor liberation epic, Tout Va Bien. In fact, there were much bigger and more violent worldwide demonstrations than OWS, many of them labor-oriented, after the economic collapse of 2008, but they were largely ignored by the mainstream media so you probably didn’t notice. All I’m saying is you’re going to have to ramp it up, people. Rome wasn’t burnt down in a day. The impending general strike in Greece protesting the severe austerity measures that threaten to shut down the country is certainly a step in the right direction. General strikes are always sexy.

Charismatic leaders might help, and so might a bit of attention paid to styles of radical will. (Sorry to cite Sontag, but you must admit she did have good titles.) It’s easy to dismiss a bunch of unwashed, directionless ragamuffins chanting time-worn protest slogans like “the whole world is watching” (that is, if they’re not watching Hollywood real estate porn or Real Housewife franchises) or “shame on you” (which sounds a bit too much like a disappointed mother, especially when directed toward a cop in full fascist attire violently macing a clueless co-ed). It’s a bit more difficult to dismiss someone who has a fistful of brilliant manifestoes and a manifestly militant, stylish posture.

I was roundly pooh-poohed when I tweeted this week that style is an essential component of any revolution. I said it with a certain amount of flippancy, but deep down I believe it to be true. One only has to look as far as the Red Army Faction or the Black Panthers to understand the power of style. (And I’m not talking about fashion, because as we all know, fashion is counterrevolutionary.) Of course the former was an extreme left-wing terrorist group that blew up buildings and killed people, and the latter a militant, insurrectionary, black nationalist Marxist organization that armed themselves with Colt .45s and shotguns, but let’s not split hairs. Actually, when you look at the political platforms of both the RAF and the Panthers, they really weren’t that far from what the OWSers are asking for: a more equal distribution of wealth, support for disenfranchised minorities, and an end to the corporate control of the government and media. The difference is they believed they were at war, and that their aims had to be obtained by any means necessary. Plus, they were more stylish.

Previously - Why Beyonce Doesn't Matter

November 6: More than Just the Climate Movement?

November 6: More than Just the Climate Movement?

October 29, 2011
 By Ted Glick

Ted Glick's ZSpace Page / ZSpace

November 6 at the White House is a big day and an important place. That afternoon, one year before the 2012 elections, thousands of people from around the country will be doing something that has never been done before. We will be surrounding the White House, a mile or more in circumference, in a Circle of Hope.

We will call upon President Obama to reject the dirty-oil, Keystone XL pipeline Big Oil wants built across the middle of the USA, from the Canadian tar sands in Alberta province to the Texas Gulf Coast refineries (

We will be doing this carrying banners and signs with some of then-candidate Obama’s words during his 2008 Presidential campaign. Words like:

  • “We can be the generation that finally frees America from the tyranny of oil.”
  • “The next generation will not be held hostage to energy sources from the last century. We are not going to move backwards. We are going to move forward."
  • “We understand the gravity of the climate threat. We are determined to act. And we will meet our responsibility to future generations."
  • "The threat from climate change is serious, it is urgent, and it is growing.”


Many thousands of climate, environmental and environmental justice activists will be there on November 6. What about activists from the broader progressive movement?

I know that there will be some from the Occupy movement, which is very important. As a primarily young people’s movement, it is young people, as well as low-income, Indigenous and other people of color, who will be most impacted as our earth gets hotter and hotter.

Beyond that I wonder. And I wonder based on seven years of attempting to spread the word about the urgency of the climate crisis and the need for more people to speak up and take action on it NOW.

There is no question but that there is much more consciousness about this issue among progressives and among the US American people than was true back then. In large part this is because of the droughts, rain and wind storms, flooding, tornadoes and other extreme weather events that we have been experiencing. Anyone who is not in climate denial and is willing to deal with reality knows on some level that our climate has been disrupted. And it is being disrupted in the ways predicted years ago by scientists who have been studying the climate for a long time, more rapidly and extensively, however, than they had expected.

The climate issue has to become an issue that the 99% take up as their own. People are going to continue to work on the other issues that they see as most important, but all of us, all of us who want to preserve the earth as a viable home for us and other life forms must also prioritize slowing, stopping and reversing global heating.

And the White House on November 6 is an absolutely essential way to do so. James Hansen, this nation’s leading climate scientist, has said that if the tar sands are fully exploited, it is “game over” for any hope of avoiding worldwide climate catastrophe.

We can win this battle! Ever since the late August/early September actions at the White House where over 1250 people were arrested, the no-pipeline movement has been growing and getting stronger. Just this week, at two events where Obama was speaking, no-pipeline activists were able to put this issue directly to him. At almost every place where Obama has spoken around the country over the last month and a half, he has been met with visible protests on this issue. This is on top of editorials against the pipeline from the New York Times, LA Times and other newspapers and a wide variety of other positive developments (check out http://tarsandsaction.org for more info).

Let’s win one for our wounded Mother Earth and its people. Let’s have a massive turnout on November 6th. Let’s keep building the momentum of our Autumn Awakening. All out to the White House on November 6th!

Ted Glick is the National Policy Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. Past writings and other information can be found at ! http://www.tedglick.com.


What video game remakes can teach Hollywood

What video game remakes can teach Hollywood

Posted: 29 Oct 2011 09:00 AM PDT

EDITOR’S NOTE: Each week, VentureBeat’s Dean Takahashi writes a column on videogames called The DeanBeat, while executive editor Dylan Tweney is writing a technology and business column called Dylan’s Desk. They are available tonewsletter subscribers a whole day before they appear on the VentureBeat website. This week, senior editor Devindra Hardawar is taking over for a flu-ridden Dean.

Remakes of older games are becoming increasingly more common, and for gamers who missed out on a particular title the first time around, or just want to relive the experience, they’ve become delicious treats to keep busy with between big-budget game releases.

I also watch plenty of movies, and let’s just say Hollywood remakes typically don’t elicit the same sort of excitement from moviegoers (especially fans of the original films), nor are they generally well-liked by critics. (Yes, there are exceptions — this summer’s Fright Night remake was admittedly awesome and well-received.)

It’s clear to me that there’s something video game remakes are doing right that movie remakes are missing out on. Let’s take a look at a few of the differences.

Game remakes give consumers something they want

Most of the titles currently in my gaming queue are remakes of games that I’ve already played, and loved, years ago. On my iPhone, there’s Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions (a port of the PSP version, which itself was a port of the original PlayStation game) just a swipe away; on my PlayStation 3, I’m replaying both Shadow of the Colossus and Ico, available now as a high-definition collection; and on my Xbox 360 there are too many to name (Guardian Heroes, Beyond Good and Evil, and more).

The impetus behind game remakes is generally to open titles up to new audiences, while also including plenty of goodies to appease existing fans. With movie remakes, on the other hand, the goal generally seems to be getting enough butts into seats to make the project profitable. Not all film remakes fail (I’m a big fan of John Carpenter’s version of The Thing, The Fly, and plenty others), but they’re rarely impressive.

Of course, this may be an unfair comparison. Movie remakes are entirely new productions that often rehash the plot of an earlier film, while we’re seeing game remakes now that range from simple ports, to high-definition upgrades, to full-scale reproductions (see the upcoming Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary). Still, it’s worth comparing how these two industries approach the notion of remaking past titles.

Game remakes are cheaper than new titles

One of the most compelling things about game remakes is that they’re just so darn cheap. The Shadow of the Colossus and Ico collection costs just $39.99, while typical PS3 titles are $59.99. For titles distributed digitally, the savings are even greater, with most selling for between $10 and $15. Occasionally digital titles creep towards $20, but they’re still a bargain compared to new game prices.

It’s hard to fault Hollywood for charging full price for remakes, but as a discerning consumer, I definitely feel annoyed when it costs the same to watch “yet another horror remake” as something truly original. For titles that get re-released into theaters, something that’s happening more for IMAX titles due to the limited amount of screens available, it seems even more egregious to charge full price. (Recently, AMC theaters experimented with bringing back a few blockbuster titles like Star Trek to IMAX screens for just $7, a model that I hope is replicated in the future.)

Soon we’ll see 3D film re-released in theaters (James Cameron is working on Titanic 3D, and 3D versions of all the Star Wars films are in the works as well), and you can bet they’ll be priced the same as new 3D films.

Game remakes typically don’t repackage old ideas as something new

Perhaps what’s so refreshing about game remakes is that they aren’t trying to be something they’re not. When you’re getting an HD port of Ico, you know exactly what you’re in for — it’s not just another game pretending to be Ico. Film remakes, which usually involve new directors, actors, and often even a different setting, have a harder time recapturing the magic of the original source material.

Ultimately, this may not be a lesson that Hollywood can repeat. It’s far easier to port and polish a game for a new console, than it is to produce a new film based on a previously used idea.

And to be clear, it’s not as if I’m against all remakes. One of the films I’m most looking forward to this year is David Fincher’s version of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, an adaptation of the popular novel that was already made into a successful Swedish film. But at the same time, I’ve seen enough useless remakes in my time to be wary.

Perhaps at some point, Hollywood can learn something from the way the gaming world treats classic titles.


Cool Halloween costumes

Fun - Bizarre Friday, 28 October 2011 09:42  Odd Halloween costumes16

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Fantasia - Night on Bald Mountain

To me the essence o Halloween!!!!


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Intellectual Roots of Wall Street Protest Lie in Academe - Faculty - The Chronicle of Higher Education

October 16, 2011

Intellectual Roots of Wall St. Protest Lie in Academe

Movement's principles arise from scholarship on anarchy

Intellectual Roots of 'Occupy Wall Street' Lie in Academe 1

Yunghi Kim for The Chronicle

Occupy Wall Street protesters have been demonstrating in Zuccotti Park since mid-September. The movement has an academic heritage that spans political science, economics, and literature, but its organizing principles owe a debt to an ethnography of Madagascar.

By Dan Berrett

Academics have become frequent visitors to Zuccotti Park, the 33,000-square-foot pedestrian plaza in the heart of New York City's financial district that is now the site of a nearly monthlong protest, Occupy Wall Street.

Famous scholars like Cornel West, Slavoj Zizek, and Frances Fox Piven have spoken to the crowd, with their remarks dispersed, word-for-word, from one cluster of people to the next through a "human megaphone." Many others, such as Lawrence Lessig, have lent their support from farther away, as the demonstrations have spread to cities and college campuses nationwide.

The movement has repeatedly been described as too diffuse and decentralized to accomplish real change, and some observers have seen the appearances by academic luminaries as an attempt to lend the protest intellectual heft and direction. Certainly, its intellectual underpinnings and signature method of operating are easier to identify than its goals.

Economists whose recent works have decried income inequality have informed the movement's critiques of capitalism. Critical theorists like Michael Hardt, professor of literature at Duke University, and Antonio Negri, former professor of political science at the University of Padua, have anticipated some of the central issues raised by the protests. Most recently, they linked the actions in New York and other American cities to previous demonstrations in Spain, Cairo's Tahrir Square, and in Athens, among other places.

Related Content

Enlarge Image Intellectual Roots of 'Occupy Wall Street' Lie in Academe 2

Scott Brauer

Cornel West of the Center for African American Studies at Princeton U. addressed protesters at Occupy Boston, an offshoot of the Wall Street demonstration.

close Intellectual Roots of 'Occupy Wall Street' Lie in Academe 2

Scott Brauer

Cornel West of the Center for African American Studies at Princeton U. addressed protesters at Occupy Boston, an offshoot of the Wall Street demonstration.

Enlarge Image Intellectual Roots of 'Occupy Wall Street' Lie in Academe 3


Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia U., met protesters at Zuccotti Park in Manhattan.

close Intellectual Roots of 'Occupy Wall Street' Lie in Academe 3


Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia U., met protesters at Zuccotti Park in Manhattan.

But Occupy Wall Street's most defining characteristics—its decentralized nature and its intensive process of participatory, consensus-based decision-making—are rooted in other precincts of academe and activism: in the scholarship of anarchism and, specifically, in an ethnography of central Madagascar.

It was on this island nation off the coast of Africa that David Graeber, one of the movement's early organizers, who has been called one of its main intellectual sources, spent 20 months between 1989 and 1991. He studied the people of Betafo, a community of descendants of nobles and of slaves, for his 2007 book, Lost People.

Betafo was "a place where the state picked up stakes and left," says Mr. Graeber, an ethnographer, anarchist, and reader in anthropology at the University of London's Goldsmiths campus.

In Betafo he observed what he called "consensus decision-making," where residents made choices in a direct, decentralized way, not through the apparatus of the state. "Basically, people were managing their own affairs autonomously," he says.

The process is what scholars of anarchism call "direct action." For example, instead of petitioning the government to build a well, members of a community might simply build it themselves. It is an example of anarchism's philosophy, or what Mr. Graeber describes as "democracy without a government."

He transplanted the lessons he learned in Madagascar to the globalism protests in the late 1990s in which he participated, and which some scholars say are the clearest antecedent, in spirit, to Occupy Wall Street.

Soon after the magazine Adbusters published an appeal to set up a "peaceful barricade" on Wall Street, Mr. Graeber spent six weeks in New York helping to plan the demonstrations before an initial march by protesters on September 17, which culminated in the occupation.

It is far from clear, of course, how attuned the protesters are to the scholarship of Mr. Graeber, other critical theorists, or academics who study anarchism. A growing collection of fiction and nonfiction books, however, has a post-office box to which supporters are invited to send books. "The People's Library" in New York City, which has been copied at other Occupy protest sites, houses nearly 1,200 books in cardboard boxes that are protected against the elements by clear plastic sheeting.

"I really am amazed for the respect they have for the word," Eric Seligson, the librarian at the protest site on Wall Street, told Esquire. "There's a real reverence for what has been written that has surprised me, since they eschew whatever came before, all the thought that came before."

The defining aspect of Occupy Wall Street, its emphasis on direct action and leaderless, consensus-based decision-making, is most clearly embodied by its General Assembly, in which participants in the protest make group decisions both large and small, like adopting principles of solidarity and deciding how best to stay warm at night.

This intensive and egalitarian process is important both procedurally and substantively, Mr. Graeber says. "One of the things that revolutionaries have learned over the course of the 20th century is that the idea of the ends justifying the means is deeply problematic," he says. "You can't create a just society through violence, or freedom through a tight revolutionary cadre. You can't establish a big state and hope it will go away. The means and ends have to be the same."

When 2,000 people make a decision jointly, it is an example of direct action, or direct democracy, Mr. Graeber says. "It makes you feel different to go to a meeting where your opinions are really respected." Or, as an editorial in the protest's house publication, Occupied Wall Street Journal, put it, "This occupation is first about participation."

Three days after the protests began, Mr. Graeber left. Since then, he has kept a low profile because he wants to avoid what he calls an "intellectual vanguard model" of leadership. "We don't want to create a leadership structure," he says. "The fact I was being promoted as a celebrity is a danger. It's the kids who made this happen."

Animated by Anger

Those kids include college students, who have been animated by anger over mounting student-loan debt and declining job prospects, and have become visible participants in the protests. Several Occupy Colleges demonstrations took place last week.

The concerns of the protesters are primarily economic, and scholars of that discipline have had much to say about economic fairness that has resonated with the demonstrations.

In a Vanity Fair article in May, Joseph E. Stiglitz, the Nobel laureate and professor at Columbia University framed income inequality as a matter of a wealthy 1 percent versus the remaining 99 percent—a trope that the movement has championed.

Critics of the movement, including David Brooks, have faulted this line of thinking because "almost no problem can be productively conceived in this way."

Mr. Stiglitz visited the protests this month, where he said the financial markets, which are supposed to allocate capital and manage risks, have instead misallocated capital and created risk. "We are bearing the cost of their misdeeds," he told the demonstrators.

Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia, also visited the demonstrations and spoke to them this month. He says his primary goal in attending was to show his support for the demonstrators' efforts. He also wanted to share ideas, many of which he stakes out in a recent book, The Price of Civilization, which one commentator has urged the protesters to read, though it is not yet in the collection of the People's Library.

As a macroeconomist and fiscal expert, Mr. Sachs says he sees the nation's priorities most clearly expressed in the budget of the federal government, and he has come to believe that the market and government must both play a large role in assuring fairness, productivity, and environmental sustainability. "I was trying to explain that we arrived at a fiscal crisis in the country," he says of his remarks to the demonstrators. "Either our government is going to become completely shrunken and dysfunctional, or we're going to start paying for civilization again."

Other scholars have embraced the movement, either in person or from afar. The American Association of University Professors issued a position statement this month, and more than 200 faculty members at Columbia signed a petition pledging support. The presumption that academics favor the aims of the occupation has become so widespread that Paul Krugman recently felt compelled to explain that the ethical guidelines of The New York Times forbade him from visiting Zuccotti Park.

But visits like these are little more than a celebrity academic "walk by," says Todd Gitlin, professor of journalism and sociology at Columbia University, who has written about the protests for The Chronicle. And other observers have pointed out that the student-loan burden imparted by universities makes these institutions an ambiguous force, at best, in the demonstrations.

Of greater influence than any particular thinker or group of thinkers are the recent demonstrations in other countries, and the knowledge that protesters have been gaining there, says Evan Calder Williams, a doctoral candidate in literature at the University of California at Santa Cruz and a Fulbright fellow at the University of Naples-L'Orientale. Protesters in Egypt, Greece, and Spain, among other sites, have been creating a growing record of their experiences, through blogs and social media, which other protesters are reading and commenting upon.

"This isn't anti-intellectualism: It is simply to say that the relevant theory is that which will be developed from struggling to grasp the obscure shape of the past few years," Mr. Williams said in an e-mail. "It's safe to say that Syntagma Square, the many-month occupation of a Chilean girls' school by its students, and Occupy the Hood are—and deserve to be—of far greater intellectual import than any contemporary theorist will be."

The idea that intellectual ferment is coming from the streets rather than academe is evidence that anarchism is witnessing something of a resurgence of interest among both activists and academics, says Nathan J. Jun, assistant professor of philosophy at Midwestern State University, in Texas, and author of the forthcoming Anarchism and Political Modernity.

While some students in the movement might be passingly familiar with anarchist studies, Mr. Jun says, they have probably not read much of the scholarship. It is much more likely that anarchism itself has had the greater influence on Occupy Wall Street because, he says, many activists there "regard anarchy as an ideal to be realized."

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Scholars Visit Occupy Wall Street

David Graeber, of the U. of London's Goldsmiths campus: "You can't create a just society through violence, or freedom through a tight revolutionary cadre. You can't establish a big state and hope it will go away. The means and ends have to be the same."

Michael Hardt, of Duke U. (writing with Antonio Negri): "Indignation against corporate greed and economic inequality is real and deep. But at least equally important is the protest against the lack, or failure, of political representation."

Jeffrey D. Sachs, of Columbia U.: "Either our government is going to become completely shrunken and dysfunctional, or we're going to start paying for civilization again."

Slavoj Zizek, of the European Graduate School: "Don't fall in love with yourselves, with the nice time we are having here. Carnivals come cheap—the true test of their worth is what remains the day after, how our normal daily life will be changed."

Cornel West, of Prince­ton U.: "It's impossible to translate the issue of the greed of Wall Street into one demand or two demands. We're talking about a democratic awakening."

Joseph E. Stiglitz, of Columbia U.: "We are bearing the cost of their misdeeds. There's a system where we've socialized losses and privatized gains. That's not capitalism; that's not a market economy. That's a distorted economy."

Lawrence Lessig, of Harvard U.: "The arrest of hundreds of tired and unwashed kids, denied the freedom of a bullhorn and the right to protest on public streets, may well be the first real green-shoots of this, the American spring. And if nurtured right, it could well begin real change."