Monday, October 31, 2011
The weight of the 1 Percent has become intolerable. How can we take our country back? Here's a fresh draftTopics:American SpringThe 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.Close
What unites the outraged 99 Percent is that we have all “played by the rules,” only to learn belatedly that the game was rigged. Having been promised modest rewards for working within the system, by taking on debt or voting the party line, we find ourselves, bluntly, shit out of luck. Let the facts be submitted to a candid world:
For the young, higher education was said to be a ticket to class mobility, or at least a secure career. Instead, middle-class students have taken on billions of dollars of inescapable debt during a prolonged jobs crisis. Lower-income students are blatantly ripped off by usurious scam artists working for educationally dubious for-profit schools. Even those seeking to join the professional class, through medical school or law school, find themselves with mountains of debt and dwindling job prospects. The rapidly rising cost of higher education pushes bright students into lucrative but socially destructive fields, like finance. Prestigious universities are still largely the finishing schools of the elite, with the most common and pernicious form of affirmative action being that given to the children of the 1 Percent most likely to write schools the biggest checks.
For progressives, years of working within the political system to elect Democrats led to a congressional majority that was still more responsive to major corporate donors and powerful industry lobbies than to grass-roots liberal activists — or even organized labor, once the party’s most powerful and respected ally. The crimes of the Bush administration remain uninvestigated, the national security state remains unchecked in scope and size, the military-industrial complex ensures that Dwight Eisenhower’s prescient speech remains relevant 60 years later, and the useless tactics of triangulation and one-way bipartisanship remain inexplicably popular among the Democratic Party establishment.
For millions of middle-class and striving blue-collar American families, the promise of homeownership as the world’s safest investment became another money-making bubble for Wall Street that remains Main Street’s intractable mess. Those members of the middle class unfortunate enough to do as an industry of wise men counseled them and invest in the stock market and real estate have seen the fruits of a lifetime’s worth of labor evaporate in multiple busts and crashes that the wise men always escape from economically intact. The mere specter of limited relief for underwater homeowners inspired 1 Percenter rage so all-consuming that they bankrolled a “populist” movement to channel it. Minority homeowners defrauded by unscrupulous lenders are blamed for an international recession sparked by the venal and simply foolish behavior of megabanks.
The 1 Percent aims to exploit a fiscal crisis caused by its own reckless behavior by wiping out pensions earned (and paid into) by public employees and tearing up fairly negotiated union contracts. Meanwhile, they use their media outlets, political foundations and lobbying shops to foment resentment of unionized workers whose crime is benefiting from a system that corporations and conservatives worked to completely dismantle for private employees a generation ago.
The threat that our modest social welfare system for the elderly will be sacrificed to the gods of austerity has already led significant numbers of young people to assume that there will be no Social Security in place by the time they reach what used to be referred to as their retirement years. And that belief is tacitly encouraged by the “moderate” members of the austerity club, who seek to maintain a system of low taxation of the 1 Percent in the face of declining income for the 99 Percent by gradually phasing out the services government provides for the majority. The austerity sages are considered the most serious and wise in all of the nation by our corporate press, which defines “the center” of every national political debate as “whatever the elites want.”
The weight of the 1 Percent upon us has become unbearable and intolerable. We at Salon therefore respectfully submit our own Demands.
In Liberty Plaza in Lower Manhattan, in Oakland’s Oscar Grant Plaza, and at other parks and public squares across the nation (and the world), Occupiers are daily creating the more perfect democracy they’d like to see. As part of that process, groups and individuals and intellectuals and pundits have put forth proposed “demands,” to address the myriad problems laid out above. From Occupy Wall Street’s principles of solidarity to the General Assembly’s proposed New New Deal to Robert Reich’s list of essential progressive reforms to the Working Group of the 99 Percent’s Petition of Grievences, we’ve read the proposals and humbly offer our own, for ways to begin to make the richest nation on the planet fair for those of us who can’t afford a congressman.
Our list is meant to be the beginning of a conversation, not a final product.
1. Debt relief
Total household debt in America is $13.3 trillion — 114 percent of after-tax income. That millions of working Americans owe every penny they make to hugely profitable financial institutions is absurd and grotesque.
We demand immediate relief for the 99 Percent, particularly the poor and young students and college graduates. The Debt Jubilee is an ancient idea, and an attractive one in an era of growing economic feudalism, as the poor increasingly devote all their labor to repaying the rich. It is not in the national interest to force the impoverished to become wage slaves to pay off insurmountable debts owned to payday lenders and hugely profitable bankers.
Every other rich nation on earth heavily subsidizes higher education. We force mere kids to mortgage their futures, then ensure that the debt follows them the rest of their lives, regardless of their living circumstances. Student loan debt hurts not just the graduate but everyone else in society, too: The cost of healthcare would surely decrease, and the availability of primary care for disadvantaged populations increase, if new doctors were not regularly graduating school $200,000 in the red.
And real and widespread relief for homeowners in crisis is urgent. Even millions of homeowners who “did everything right” find themselves underwater, or illegally foreclosed upon by banks running roughshod over the rights of homeowners by robo-signing fraudulent foreclosure documents by the thousands. Banks servicing mortgages are (rightfully) more worried about getting sued by the owners of securities made up of Americans’ debt than they are about getting in any sort of trouble for bullying or illegally seizing the homes of regular people. Everyone should get a shot at a renegotiation of their mortgage, at fair rates, and with support from the government.
2. A substantial jobs program
Most American cities are filled with beautiful old buildings and monuments and parks dating back to the recovery programs of the New Deal, as well as increasingly decrepit bridges and roads and structures that have been neglected by the last couple of decades of shrinking infrastructure investment. A real, direct jobs program, done in the WPA style, would rebuild our cities and towns in addition to putting thousands of people back to work.
3. A healthcare public option
Medicare is probably the single most popular government program in the country, which is no surprise, because government-subsidized healthcare tends to be the most popular government program in every nation that has implemented it.
If a true single-payer system would be too disruptive, we can put the building blocks in place by giving people a public option. Expanding the pool of Medicare recipients to include healthy younger people paying into it would instantly improve the program’s fiscal outlook. Nationalizing the underfunded Medicaid system would instantly reduce the deplorable inequity of our healthcare system, too. If this new Medicare could negotiate drug prices — like the Veterans Administration, our wonderful, totally socialized healthcare program for one group of Americans — it would save even more. (Hey, why not combine the proposal with debt relief for young doctors?)
4. Reregulate Wall Street
Taking the “unsophisticated” broad view, it seems painfully obvious that Wall Street deregulation undid the stabilizing effects of 1930s-era Wall Street regulation. We’re on a boom-and-bust cycle, and a shrinking number of growing megabanks now regularly threaten the entire world economy. It’s hard to imagine that we wouldn’t be better off with a worldwide network of small, independent credit unions than massive financial institutions daily innovating new and more arcane methods of shifting vast sums of imaginary capital around, but in lieu of smashing the banks with brickbats why not just reinstate the rules that effectively limited their behavior for 40 years or so? Bring back Glass-Steagall. Pass the Volcker rule, too. Ban banks from trading derivatives. Limit their behavior and tax their earnings.
5. End the Global War on Terror and rein in the defense budget
Brown University estimates that our wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan have cost 236,000 lives and $4 trillion. Millions more people are displaced refugees. If 10 years of war have weakened al-Qaida, we should draw down. If it hasn’t, we should seriously rethink our tactics. Regardless, there’s no way the world’s sole remaining superpower can justify spending more than every other country on Earth combined on its military. There’s no coherent reason why the Pentagon’s budget should be rising inexorably every year, while the rest of the country grows shabbier and poorer. Spending more on defense now than we did at the height of the Cold War is insane.
The billions spent yearly to rain death on faceless strangers thousands of miles away should be the first program on the chopping block if we’re serious about tackling the deficit. That money could better be put to use both here at home and abroad. USAID and the State Department could surely do more to defeat those Who Hate Us For Our Freedom with that money than the Defense Department has so far managed to.
6. Repeal the Patriot Act
Speaking of expensive wastes of resources that are also in direct violation of the nation’s founding principles, let’s dismantle the expansive domestic surveillance state, hurriedly established at a panicky period of national crisis and then enshrined as permanent without a word of serious debate.
The extra-constitutional “delayed-notice search warrants” given to law enforcement by the Patriot Act have been used far more for fighting the war on drugs than the war on terror, which is to be expected from a law that was essentially a massive laundry list of tools and privileges that prosecutors and FBI agents had wanted for years that had thus far been denied to them by pesky constitutional checks on their powers. The government even has its own secret legal readings of the act, allowing it to do secret things we can know nothing about.
The government now has vast powers to track and spy on us for whatever reasons it chooses, and both parties are mostly fine with that. When the NSA was found to be engaging in illegal domestic wiretapping and data mining, Congress responded by granting them more domestic wiretapping and data mining powers. As we’ve moved further from those panicky days that birthed the Patriot Act, the law and its associated unaccountable domestic surveillance state have, perversely, become more normalized. Those in favor of limited government should be the most alarmed at this.
7. Tackle climate change
We may be rapidly approaching the catastrophic point of no return when it comes to preventing major, devastating climate change. To keep warming below “dangerous levels,” one recent study says, we’d need to “reverse the rise in emissions immediately and follow through with steep reductions through the century.” Immediately — like now.
Frustratingly, even half-measures have found no support in Congress, where the industries doing the polluting have far more clout than mere scientists or human beings who’ll be alive in a future period of mass extinctions, hunger, flooding and drought. At the very least — and this is literally the very least the government should be doing right now to combat climate change — a price should be put on carbon emissions, either in the form of a direct tax or as part of a cap-and-trade scheme. This is a policy so self-evidently beneficial to the vast majority of mankind — it taxes a bad thing, so that corporations do less of the bad thing, while also giving the government revenue to spend on good things — that cap-and-trade’s defeat in Congress says just about all there is to say about the corrupting power of industry money on the government process.
8. Stop locking everyone up for everything and end the drug war
The American incarceration rate dwarfs that of our closest competitor, Russia, at 743 per 100,000 residents. A full quarter of the world’s prison inmates are American prison inmates. One in 100 American adults are behind bars. These staggering numbers have been repeated over and over again for years by activists, reporters, academics and even the very rare courageous politician, but the prison system just keeps growing, and growing, and growing.
The problem is that there is no political will to do anything about it. In fact, locking people up tends to be a popular campaign platform. In some locales, felons are both denied voting rights and also counted as residents of their prisons for the purposes of congressional apportionment, causing a perverse incentive to lock up more inmates. Tens of thousands of inmates are in long-term solitary confinement, which is essentially torture by another name.
As violent crime rates have fallen, the prison population has continued to grow, because of longer terms and mandatory sentencing and denial of parole. The U.S. holds its prisoners longer than any other nation in the world, and because rehabilitation comes a distant second to punishment in our prisons, recidivism is common. (It doesn’t help that, across the nation, ex-felons can’t qualify for welfare or subsidized housing or find work.) We’re actively creating a massive, mostly black and Hispanic underclass of permanent prisoners and future prisoners. America desperately needs more juvenile diversion programs and well-funded rehabilitation and education programs for those currently in the system.
A major contributor to our mass incarceration state is the “War on Drugs,” which after years of waging we’ve yet to win.
Full legalization of marijuana would lead to many fewer people being jailed for victimless crimes and immediately destroy a critical income stream for gangs and increasingly violent drug cartels. Legalizing marijuana would also give states and cities a desperately needed infusion of tax revenue. (Legalization or decriminalization of other drugs would be similarly beneficial, but a good deal more controversial.) Those who commit nonviolent drug offenses should never be sent to prisons for years. Those currently in prison for nonviolent drug offenses should be freed and rehabilitated into society.
9. Full equality for the queer community
Gay marriage is a no-brainer — rights granted to a majority are being denied to a minority based on arguments founded solely on bigotry — and should be recognized nationwide.
Let’s not forget, too, that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Americans are denied other rights, including, in most states, protection from workplace discrimination and housing discrimination. I suspect lots of Americans don’t even know the LGBT community lacks those basic protections, and that is itself an outrage.
10. Fix the tax system
There are a million ways the tax code could be made fairer, simpler and more progressive, and most of those ways are opposed by powerful entrenched interests. But it is an inescapable fact that for most of the 20th century, federal income tax rates were very high on the wealthy — very, very high, in fact — and most of that period also happened to be a time of widespread prosperity for rich and middle-class Americans alike. The experiment in slashing taxes on the rich seems to have failed everyone but the rich.
The system as it currently stands forces states to fund essential services with the most regressive taxes possible, mainly sales taxes, in order not to scare businesses elsewhere. The current system allows hugely profitable transnational corporations to get away without paying anything, to make killings “overseas” while operating at imaginary losses domestically. Warren Buffett, as we all know, is paying less than his secretary.
So let’s create a millionaire’s tax bracket, and a financial transactions tax. Let’s close the carried interest tax loophole and raise the estate tax and taxes on capital gains. Let’s get the highest marginal tax rate back up to, at the least, Reagan-era levels. Let’s stop all being held hostage, as a nation, to the fanatical anti-tax doctrine of the 1 Percent.
This is only a draft: Put your suggestions, feedback, advice in the comments section below, so we can continue to evolve this document.
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
by Andrew Marantz October 31, 2011
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. ♦
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.
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.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
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."
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."
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."
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."
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?
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.” 
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.’ 
1/2. "My Story." rickgenest.com. Retrieved on October 30th, 2011. Photos © Dermablend Link via Jannike Viveka
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?
- “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.”
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.
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
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.
- Cornel West Is Arrested During Protest at U.S. Supreme Court Building
- Slide Show: Scenes From a ProtestEnlarge Image
Cornel West of the Center for African American Studies at Princeton U. addressed protesters at Occupy Boston, an offshoot of the Wall Street demonstration.
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
Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia U., met protesters at Zuccotti Park in Manhattan.
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."
♦ ♦ ♦
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."
DO WE WANT ACADEMICS RUNNING THIS COMMUNITY? ANARCHISTS? WE HAVE ONE ACADEMIC IN OFFICE NOW. FAIL.