the shadowy incessant dread

i’ve been staring the TPP in the face for so long, the details of its horrifying features fade away sometimes. numbed to the shock and anger, the thought of it morphs into a shadowy incessant dread. it’s hard to make it go away, even when i’m supposed to be relaxing.

the negotiations ended two weeks ago, then the Intellectual Property chapter leaked a few days after that. that bit is pretty much as bad as we’ve always thought it’d be. we haven’t even seen the other 29 chapters.

but the specifics don’t matter if the whole thing’s rotten.

At the National Lawyers’ Guild Convention where i spoke this morning, someone from the audience got up to say that with social and economic justice work, we’ve all been painting and fixing the roofing on the house when its entire foundation is caving in beneath our feet—that, the entire edifice of democracy based on common public interest (at least the hope of a universal, inclusive kind that many are trying to build) is crashing right before our eyes.

the TPP, and other trade deals TTIP and TISA, is representative of a longer trend of policymaking that’s based on myopic priorities of “economic growth” at the expense of ALL other considerations—be it human rights, economic/gender/racial equality, etc. it seems like we’re nailing ourselves into the coffin of neo-liberal, corporate-sovereignty-enhancing international regulations.

on the whole i’m optimistic that we’ve got a chance to kill this thing, and make room for a larger dialogue about how we ought to be making good, solid policymaking that’s not driven by an elite of private wealthy interests.

but sometimes, here and there, i let the immensity of it get to me and i just want to roll up in a ball and cry at the indifference, the greed, and the powerful toxic insecurity that drives it all. the insecurity of corporate execs who fear the diminishing growth of their companies and will do anything to curb it. the insecurity of U.S. officials about whatever threat BRICS countries poses to its current hegemony (and similarly for countries that take advantage of the United States’ current geopolitical standing ::cough:: japan ::cough:: australia ::cough::).

years of sending trade delegates back and forth across the world meeting at expensive luxury hotels to make a giant deal based on a screwed up agenda, with the guaranteed sugarcoating by officials who’ll do anything to make it all seem palatable to the common person…it’s so goddamn frustrating that we’re wasting so many resources doing this when we actually have real problems to solve.

i just want to take Obama by the shoulders and shake him and yell “WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS.” he, more than anyone else in this world, is in a position to pop this bubble of madness. he used to be critical of all this… at least he claimed to….

anyway. i’m exhausted. i feel somewhat better having dragged this rant out of me. tomorrow i have to wake up and think optimistically about all this or else i’ll never want to get out of bed.

 

stream of consciousness: aug 9 '15

Another stream of consciousness—wherein I write whatever comes to my head and I only go back to correct for grammar and formatting.

I just finished Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It’s a story about a Nigerian woman, Ifemelu, who comes to the U.S. as a student and becomes a blogger who comments on her racial experience as someone who “became” black only once she came to the States. There are about 20 of the character’s blog posts in the book, and it contains some of the best writing on the experience of intersectional racism/sexism of black women. The story that encases this commentary is a love story which isn’t bad as far as those go. Adichie’s writing is beautiful too, with just enough descriptive flare to suck you into certain moments in the story but not too much to be tiresome.

Anyway I definitely recommend it.

~

Very much into ibeyi right now. They’re twin sisters, 19 or 20, of French-Cuban descent and are the daughters of the percussionist from Buena Vista Social Club. Their music is just gorgeous and soulful and…Mmm!

>> Youtube video of their show at KEXP Seattle <<

~

Random thoughts about trade policy/innovation still swimming around in my head that I can’t nail down.

I’ve started three different long pieces trying to make sense of them and I keep scrapping them. Can’t tell if it’s just a bunch of obviousness, that I’m just saying something someone else has already said but then I know that if they had, I probably would have read it or known about it.

~

That’s it for now. bleh.

mood: intellectually, creatively constipated

 

 

 

stream of consciousness: march 2015

this is a stream of consciousness—i’m writing anything that comes to my mind.

On Friday I went to the dentist and they fixed a tooth that got chipped while I was eating a bowl of salad I made with Trader Joe’s fancy Red Quinoa. This particular tooth was already fucked up—a snaggler that jutted out taller than the others on the front bottom row of my mouth. In middle school, when my appearance became a sudden and painful new part of my every day consciousness, I was really embarrassed of it. I covered my mouth when I laughed to avoid people noticing it. But eventually I got over it and didn’t care anymore. Every time I changed dentists and they asked me if I wanted braces, I’d defend its right to stay. “It’s fine and it’s not gonna hurt me right?” But on Friday they changed it. They first added whatever gunk they put on it to account for the missing chip, then asked me if they should just file it down. “Uhhh…Yeah.” I nodded, while my mouth was held open. “Great! It’ll only take a second.” When they started, I realized that it’d lose it’s charm. My teeth would be boring now. I’d lose my ability to make weird bite marks on apples…! But it was too late. They had an electric filing device in my mouth filing that lil’ guy down…

~

Saxophones haven’t been cool for as long as I remember. It was at its pinnacle while John Coltrane and Charlie Parker ruled the jazz scene. But then who killed it? Kenny G might’ve been the first wave of uncooling, then was the sexy sax man the final nail in the coffin or was it just making fun of the complete utter deadness of its cool? Anyway, I think it’s creeping back into the mainstream. It’s in that Ariana Grande song, in Macklemore’s Thriftshop, and Big Gigantic does it electronica-styles.

One night a few weeks ago I was under-the-influence wandering around the Internet and I found this Tiny Desk Concert session with Moon Hooch. They sounded nothing like anything I’ve heard before, despite being just three white dudes who looked like they just got plucked out of Humboldt County. I was hypnotized by their performance, recorded in that awkward little NPR studio. So I immediately bought tickets to see them when I saw that they were coming to SF.

The show was on Friday and it was pretty amazing. As Andrew said they were a mix between being really talented musicians and being strangely comedic in their performance. I feel the same way, but I wonder if it’s just because I still can’t shake the thing about saxes being the butt-of-the-joke instrument. But that actually made me enjoy the show MORE. I feel like I mostly see the same instruments being played on stage, and while I appreciate talent with those, they’re just something extra eventful about seeing that kind of artfulness with instruments you don’t usually enjoy. So yeah, it was good.

~

In the bathroom I found this sticker on the stall door. This is how I feel about writing/painting/reading:

FullSizeRender

– fin –

what's the point of modern trade policy?

At my job, a major project has been the fight against the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. Specifically, I organize EFF members to oppose the many digital policies that would impact how signatory countries implement laws—the underlying problem being that the negotiating texts are kept secret from the public while it’s overwhelmingly influenced by major corporate interests. So I spend a significant amount of time reading, and watching the politics behind US trade policy, in order to identify opportunities and targets for direct action.

Over the last 3 years or so that I’ve been watching these TPP talks unfold, one of the things that confound me is how proponents—mostly the White House and some Congress members—defend this and other secretly negotiated agreements. The primary argument is that enabling “free trade” and breaking down protectionist barriers will mean job creation and economic growth. Job creation and economic growth…they both sound like wonderful motives, but the implication that this means that more people, in the US, would live more prosperous, stable lives seems to be extremely dubious.

What we should be asking is, what kind of jobs would this lead to? And at what cost? For example, one of the big arguments I hear for the XL Keystone Pipeline is that it would lead to employment of thousands of workers. But first, how permanent are those jobs, will they be paid well, and what are they actually doing to promote a sustainable future? The jobs that project would create are those that would be paying individuals to literally help shove poison into the earth, and into our water. You can’t think about public policy in such a narrow, irrelevant frame as “job creation”, especially if that means nothing more than putting people at work at a task that doesn’t pay well enough for people to live healthy, decent lives.

When I hear that justification for a policy, what it sounds like to me is a more twisted version of trickle down economics. By helping mega-corporations to make more profit (even if it means infringing on people’s rights, even if it means putting peoples’ lives at risk) they can hire more people and spread that wealth all around. That’s just not how this happens though—companies aren’t incentivized to hire more people for the hell of it, because they can. They’ll only do it if it means yielding more or better product, so they can capture even more profit…

Now’s not the time to flesh this out as much as I’d like, but the point I want to get to is the huge deception of modern trade policy. What they, trade delegates, allege is being negotiated for the benefit of their nation, is actually only for the benefit of the wealthy, influential figures in that given nation. That’s why each country is willing to give up flexibilities on other policies as long as the dominant industry gets its deal. For instance, Vietnam may be willing to cave in to worse copyright rules, insisted by mainly Hollywood companies, as long as it gets better access to US’ textile/clothing markets. That isn’t a reflection of what the people of Vietnam want or need, it’s just that of the powerful textile manufacturing industry.

So if other countries agree to more extreme digital policies, it may harm future opportunities for the tech industry to thrive there. The US, in having the most flexible copyright rules, might be the country where starting certain tech businesses might be more conducive, while it forces other countries to worse rules that would prevent such industries to thrive there. Is this the point of trade agreements? I know for sure that they’re now solely there for the purposes of propping up private industry, but is part of the goal, the point, to have countries become more specialized producers for certain products?

burning man: a pilgrimage to transience

I’m back.
I survived.

months and months of anticipation, frustration, and “goddammit this better be fucking worth it”

first morning,
waking up to the melody of Cake.
I crawl out of my yurt into the blinding heat

out there, on the Playa, the Sun is the Star. The main character of that stage, where both its presence and absence is the most blatant fact.

at night,
the neon lights
pulsating geometric jewels cut across the blackest black horizon

clusters of pulsating bodies released bodies releasing the raw sexual carnal energies that we’re trained to ball up collect suppress hold in default life

the young eager successful warm friendly helpful uptight,
letting go…

seeing the restraints of gender norms and expectations of “norms” dissolve in this environment
a land of shakers makers risk takers
in a suspended reality, everything can be called into question.

flavors, temperatures, feelings
anything but the heat and dryness feeling like a complete sensory miracle.

at night,
crescent moon floating by
scrap octopus spewing flames from its eight

then,
the sweet grapefruit hazy sunrise
a naive response

it’s a constant shiver down your spine.
it’s a vacuum of spirituality but full of new cohesive meaning

it’s just as much about the building, as it is about the destruction.

leaving, your blood is thickened into mud.
by the sun, the inhaled dust.

here, we get to define our fun, our pleasure, and create it if we don’t see it.
the only rules that exist exist because existence of this world relies on it.

/ streamofconsciousness

I have a way longer, more essay-like piece comin’…

state of mind, aug 2014 (stream of consciousness)

A stream of consciousness:

The word I’d use to describe how I’ve been feeling is “overflowing”
in the sense that I’m being affected by so much right now often I can hardly contain the enormity of it all.

First off, shit is hitting the fan. I know that’s been this way, for god knows how long, and whether it’s worst now than before is arguable…but it’s now manifested in such a violent, visible way that it’s become fucking hard to ignore it. Gaza. Ferguson. Obama’s shit show of a “Liberal” presidency and his crackdown on truth and justice. The whole god damn institutional economic societal mess. It’s just too much sometimes. I’ve been following the Ferguson situation, and before that, what was happening in Gaza. It’s all terrifying, it’s incomprehensibly horrible and I hate that I feel like it’s too much to fix.

Maybe the worst part about it is that now we KNOW that things are broken. At least more and more people do. And we’re better at talking about it, sharing stories taking photos and videos of it. But what are we supposed to do? Where do we go from here? It’s almost like the ~powers that be~ aren’t even ashamed or sheepish about the fact that the current whack composition of power in our world, in this country, in our states, and down to our cities are leading to people getting murdered, left to die, and even being oppressed for talking about it.

We’re being targeted for telling the truth. For exposing the lies, money-laundering, murders, torturing, that is done in our name, paid for by us, justified for the ineffectual self-serving purpose of “national security” — which is of course completely undermined by these acts of violence and corruption. These things are what breed insecurity.

Security comes from making people feel healthy and stable in their lives. Trust. Sustainability. Awareness. The right to know what is happening when they trust others with the power to make decisions over their society. The right to have laws that reflect common interests. The right to have access to knowledge and resources that create both autonomy and stable co-dependence…

Soo….

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
― R. Buckminster Fuller

and

“The movement of change is much the builder as the destroyer.”
– Alan Watts

These quotes to me represent what I imagine a revolution to be. Not a violent overthrow, but a slow, coordinated construction that enables and builds security in its very edifice. I have some vague ideas about what this would mean in practice but I’m still gathering information and experience to figure out what and how this could be done in practice. A significant part is the cooperative model. As I’ve said before, I feel that a well-run cooperative is a building block for a better democracy. Cooperatives enables both autonomy and co-dependence from its members/owners/workers (which can all be one in the same).

I need to learn more and experiment more to identify better possible solutions.
It’s too heavy for me to pay too close of attention to what happens sometimes, in the areas outside the bullshit that I’m fighting in my realm. I force myself to it every morning, every day following activists on the ground on twitter and listening to alternative news. I want to feel like I’m doing something. Talking about how awful it is and reporting about it can’t be my role because I’m not fit for it. It’s too exhausting for me.

The people who do do it deserve all the respect in the world. Brave investigative journalists have one of the hardest jobs imaginable: looking for and staring hard at the ugliest side of humanity. People need to know about the ugly because we’ve become so good at hiding it and ignoring it. Their job is to make us see it and know it.

The question is, for those of us who are willing to acknowledge the brokenness, what we are going to do about it. Being angry, ashamed, and depressed about it won’t get us anywhere.

What the fuck are we gonna do about it.

Tokyo to Detroit

A stream of consciousness.

I’m sitting in Vancouver airport about to head off to join my mom and sister in Japan. My grandpa invited us and urged us to come as soon as possible. Given that this is the first time in close to 8 years that he’s officially invited us and since he’s 88 and we don’t know how much longer he may have, we scrambled and got flights to go see him. Thankfully, I’ve organized a few meetings to go to while I’m there, including meeting up with the Japanese digital rights group, MIAU, and hopefully can even meet a professor there who’s been super vocal about how the TPP impacts digital rights, named Fukui Kensaku, who I’ve been admiring from afar.

After that, I’ll finally get to go to Detroit for the Allied Media Conference, a big collaboratively-designed, alternative media, grassroots activism extravaganza. I’ve been somewhat obsessed with Detroit for a while. I’ve seen a couple documentaries about its rise and fall through the 20th century, and have heard about how it’s become a petri dish for artists, educators, and small businesses. It seems like a sort of ground-zero for the U.S. economy…a city that blew up with the rise of the automobile and had ever since become a place vulnerable to the whims and volatility of the consumer market. From what I’ve heard, there’s been a resurgent movement to build up the city again, this time towards making a strong, proud community invested in creating its own unique identity.

Anyway, I can’t wait to be there. I’ll be leading session called “Language for Effective Online Advocacy” for activists to workshop their writin’ skillz. It’s gonna be a ton of fun.

Gotta jump on my plane. See you on the other side.

We're fam

Another stream of conscious [afternote: this post turned out much more personal than I expected but it is what it is].

Today I went to Berkeley to see a friend from high school whom I hadn’t seen for 3 years. We’d seen each other sporadically throughout college but we’ve mostly lost touch. We used to be so close way back when. We were each others’ muses for our art projects, modeling for and critiquing each others’ work. I spent 5 hours once trying to dread all of their straight, jet black hair. As mutual lefties, we made each other learn how to write backwards so we could write lengthy letters and poetry to each other throughout the day.

As cheesy as it sounds, as soon as we met up it was like no time had passed at all. We giggled and teased as we cooked a massive brunch and ate it on a warm sunny porch.

Our worlds aren’t parallel in the same way any more. Which is normal. There were times today when we talked about our lives when I felt that obvious rift.  Still, when I saw them today I remembered that feeling I had felt when we first became friends, that I had finally found someone who was my kind. I was so relieved that they existed. After a few years of hazing at my middle school and the resulting resentfulness towards everyone around me, the relief was huge.

I was a bit nervous before seeing them because I thought we’d both changed too much for us to be recognizable. Maybe we spent enough time during such a sensitive and formative period that we might forever recognize that imprint in each other when we meet. Whatever it is, it was so great to see them.

~

Afterwards, I went to my aunt at the Oakland Museum to get a sneak peek of her environmental habitat exhibition that is opening up next month. She’s been working on it for the past few years and it’s gonna be so cool.

Anyway, the entire museum is incredible including the current exhibit of Hung Liu’s lifetime work. A separate display had a series of portraits all displayed very close together in a big mass and you could draw your own face at a booth next to it, and it would display it on one of the frames. This is the one I did very hurriedly and with not much control:

image

Three-Step, Thom, Inspired and the Sleep.

Here goes another stream of consciousness.

It’s 12:45 AM.

This week seemed to zip, slide, and blow past as they seem to do these days. I must be having fun.

On Thursday I spoke to a law school class for the first time. It was on international intellectual property law. I admit I was bit nervous but I somewhat successfully channeled the stray energy into speaking very animatedly about the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement and its effects on the Internet and access to knowledge issues (which I can always do), as well as very briefly cover the history of fair use in international law. There’s this really obscure concept called the “three-step test” which essentially is used in international IP agreements to restrict the kinds of exceptions to copyright protections countries can make to their laws. Not gonna go further than that here, for everyone’s sake.

Mmm change of subject.

I just found out about the new music video by Atoms for Peace, a side/parallel project of Radiohead. The entire thing is just awesome— the song, choreography, color palette, costumes…and god damn will Thom Yorke ever stop getting cooler? Here just watch it (full screen is better):

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpVfF4U75B8&hl=en_US&version=3]

 

ALSO, I had to do work on something extremely tedious tonight and decided to listen to music while doing it. I’m following several accounts on Soundcloud but one of my favorites (besides the Reverberation mixes) is this self-described DIY record label called Bad Panda Records that releases songs every Monday under CC-licenses. I was going through listening to their song feed when I stumbled upon this band Inspired and the Sleep.

Holy man it’s so good! It’s like a mix between Tune-Yards, Kishi Bashi, and the Unicorns (Afternote: I’m aware this sounds music-snobby. Oh well.). I haven’t been this excited about a band for a long ass time. I bought their album through Bandcamp and have already listened to it 4 times. My favorite songs must be “Snow Den” and “Running”:

>> The Snow Den by Inspired and the Sleep

>> Running by Inspired and the Sleep

Alright its 1:15 AM. Going in and adding links to this and passing out. I gotta publish something at 7am tomorrow.

Jya-ne.