Saturday, 22 October 2011

Graeme Knowles washes his hands;

or Pontius Pilate rides again!
Up, Down, Appendices, Postscript.

(a short story)

Homo erectus,
Homo sapiens,
Homo grǽdum

          ... extinction.
   (or a long one)

Homo agapiens.

          You get to pick.

Keep Calm and Occupy London.Graeme Knowles' arguments do not wash.

He is the Dean of
St Paul's in London, England; whose response to the occupiers is to close the cathedral.

St. Paul's, London.Here you can watch him perform (or here); here you can read a transcript of his speech; and here you can read his open letter to the occupiers.

Oh, and here is the necessary and sufficient rebuttal by the occupiers. QED.

Graeme Knowles.Graeme Knowles.Graeme Knowles.Graeme Knowles.I imagine Pontius Pilate as quite a well fed man.

Nothing overly ambiguous in the applicable commandment (as stated by Matthew - 22-39):
"And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."
Nor in the behaviour as reported (also by Matthew - 27-24):
"When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it."
[This is no longer a question, see below] The management of St. James' in Toronto seem to be doing very much better, so far. So why should I doubt them? Why use 'seem' and 'so far'? I'm sorry. (This whole post is an apology, really.) Such thoughts are inevitable. One knows they are conflicted and one simply cannot be sure how the die will eventually roll.

Occupy Toronto.Just to report: as of Tuesday afternoon Occupy Toronto has re-adopted the People's Mic; since Sunday when I saw the bullhorns out. I met no one I knew who would talk to me and explain so I do not know how it came about.

There is an obvious deficit now in the learning curve. It seems easy but it's not. Like any technique it needs practice to make perfect - to compose your thoughts briefly & concisely and in phrases that are neither too short nor too long.

The stance of St. James' is (seems?) positive: an extension cord to the occupiers' kitchen plugged in somewhere, access to a water tap, and the church (apparently, reportedly) promising not to evict Occupy Toronto from the portion of the park they own.

Continuing rain is creating quagmire in places - I can't see any way around it, nothing to be done to fix it - so at some point in the future a repair & restoration will be needed. Who knows? Maybe it will be the mud that will tip the St. James' managers the other way. [Not likely, see below]

I spoke with the police there - talk about irony: it's easier to engage the police in conversation than the occupiers - and I resisted the impulse to just say, "Don't do again what you did during the G20!" Instead I congratulated them. So - I can exercise correctitude as well as the next eh? ...   Accentuate the positive.

I was told there would be cake.What I wanted was to follow through and understand the facts around St. James' vis-à-vis Occupy Toronto. But some clue tipped them off that I am a wild thing, feral, and uncontrolled; I don't know what it was that tipped them; and so, they told me clearly not to meddle, not to risk queering a sweet relationship. And it knocked me right off my horse. I brought them things I thought they needed, physical things: garbage bags, bowls ... and lots of money, well, more than I can afford.

You can't understand people who won't let you get next to them ... Can you? Can anyone? Or ... there is no understanding left anywhere at all now? Is that it?

And I won't meddle of course - but it becomes very difficult go back again. I am not one of those who "bends with the remover to remove," so I creep in, drop some cash in their basket, and slink away again. I'm sorry.

(Except to ask why these churches are not in the vanguard?)

A few poems by Leonard Cohen: Blue Butterfly, and, Sisters of Mercy.

And a computer joke: Back in the late 60's when I was learning to be a computer programmer - input was all punchcards at that time, there were still mechanical sort&collate machines on the floor at Sun Life, programmed with plug-in cables on a switchboard panel, and a vacuum-tube mainframe (no longer used) beside the latest IBMs - it came to me that here was the solution to all human shortcomings in the way of attention & communication. Nevermind that no one understood your questions or pretended not to, that there were no answers forthcoming in a world that was obviously and seriously off the rails; when you had the attention of the holy CPU there was attention and there was response. It was a comfort.

And I made a joke of it which some of my colleagues would smile at knowingly over beers. There was a mad woman there, even then; a FORTRAN/COBOL-E programmer who spent her days writing words on tiny pieces of paper which she slipped under her blotter when anyone came that way (which was not often). She worked for me for a while; not a problem to write a program to translate her work from COBOL-E to the latest version whatever it was (since she adamantly refused to change). I slipped in one evening late, after she was gone, and on the tiny scraps were lists of words, alphabetically arranged in tiny script, almost, but not quite, too small to be legible.

It took me a long time to understand what 'passive-aggressive' means. The phrase didn't make sense to me as it stood, I had never seen the phenomenon (I guess?); but eventually I understand.

What are great perversions? I am thinking of certain lines in Bob Dylan: "Preacher was talkin’, there’s a sermon he gave; he said every man’s conscience is vile and depraved. You cannot depend on it to be your guide when it’s you who must keep it satisfied." Maybe even, "There’s nothing in here moving, an’ anyway I’m not alone."

There is a track that goes from Reading Goal - "Each man kills the thing he loves ... ," through the Rolling Stones and "Just as every cop is a criminal and all the sinners saints ... ," and back to Bob again: "I and I, in creation where one’s nature neither honors nor forgives. I and I. One says to the other, no man sees my face and lives."

So ... Jiminy Cricket's "Always let your conscience be your guide" don't wash neither huh? Uh oh.

Paul's coals (Romans 12-20) are certainly a great perversion ... I have asked politely so often and no one has even understood the question. What's wrong with that? I imagine a huge steel bar, square in cross-section, and twisted, by what unimaginable force, into a knot.

My friends have been unregenerate, reprobates, praeterite. Some are dead now - not very many of 'em anyway:
Having a swallow of single malt with one a few months before he died, when his liver was so enlarged he could no longer drive.

The smile I got from another when I confused his youngest son as he todddled about the room, for a grandson or nephew. His kidneys failed after years of using some copper-based chemical to cure the wood he used more quickly. I remember him curled in his bed like a question mark.

My father, when I ran to a church in a crisis (which had nothing to do with him), saying to me after, "What did you go there for?" (Good question Dad.) And died not too long after that of simple neglect, mine included.
Not a good exercise, counting dead friends.

And these days so desperate for any human connection that I indulge in constant dissembling and pretence. Ready to interpret any nonsense as meaning - had to go see the quack again, infection, walk-in, and so pleased simply not to be pissed on that I groveled like a dog. I think he was too busy to notice.

Girls at a dance party in Abidjan."I can't go wrong 'til I get right," said our Neil; but this is really more like it: Neil Young & Crazy Horse with Hey Hey, My My.

This is me, washing my hands ... too, under the dispassionate gazes of my muses, imaginary friends who sometimes offered simple kindness.

There is humour, there are occasional points of light in the murk. Despair dominates but does not rule. But for me, this blogging nonsense has got to stop gentle reader. I'm sorry.

Go well.

Joyce Vincent.Postscript:

Joyce Carol Vincent, 38 years old, died in her bed-sit in London in 2003 and was only discovered, by a meter man, almost three years later in 2006.

Someone is making a film (and here).

They will not eat TIPNIS!TIPNIS: Territorio Indígena y Parque Nacional Isiboro Secure / Isiboro Sécure National Park and Indigenous Territory:, roughly here, and some pictures.

'Tipnis' might sound like the plural of some Amazonian tribe you have not heard of. There are enough links here to get a better idea than that. Not a waste of time to do so.

They walked 375 miles in 65 days from Trinidad to La Paz. They faced the police - using tear gas and intimidation. They faced the unaccustomed cold - as you go from Trinidad to La Paz you go up considerably in elevation. They received a hero's welcome in La Paz. Evo Morales blinked, but probably has not permanently changed his mind.

In Chaparina near Yucumo, Bolivia, Sept. 20 2011.In Chaparina near Yucumo, Bolivia, Sept. 21 2011.Fernando Vargas.

Some recent news coverage:
       Bolivia Amazon road dispute dents Evo Morales' support, 3rd,
       Bolivia's TIPNIS Conflict Moves to La Paz, 14th,
       Bolivia's Long March Against Evo Morales, 17th,
       Bolivia's Morales offers talks as marchers reach La Paz, 19th,
       Bolivian crowds greet road protesters in La Paz, 19th, and,
       Bolivia’s Morales yields to Amazon Indian protests, 22nd.

And a quick News Search Link in case you want it: sorted by date.

Some NGOs & blogs:
       TIPNIS (there is an 'English' button there on the lower right).
       Defendamos el TIPNIS / We defend TIPNIS, Spanish blog.
       Somos Sur / We are the south, Spanish alternative news site.
       Fundación Tierra.
       TIPNIS en Resistenci, Spanish blog.

There are some pitfalls, some assumptions & false distinctions which may waylay you. Be aware.

Because I am a girl ...While the dipshit left-libs go about spreading the vilest ideological nonsense.

(... a pause for reflection ...)

A-and (saving the best for last) some good news:

US Senator for Rhode Island, Sheldon Whitehouse, speaking to Barack Obama on climate change (25 minutes) - found here, and,

Andasol-3 solar thermal plant up and running in Spain, 50 Mw - found here, and,

Noam Chomsky, old and frail, speaking at Occupy Boston on October 22nd.


1. Open Letter from the Dean of St Paul's Cathedral, Graeme Knowles, 21 October 2011.
2. Statement from the Dean of St Paul's, Graeme Knowles, 21 October 2011.
3. Statement from OccupyLSX, 21 October 2011.
4. An Official Statement from The Cathedral Church of St. James, Douglas Stoute, 23 October 2011.

Open Letter from the Dean of St Paul's Cathedral, Graeme Knowles, 21 October 2011.

It seems a very long time since you arrived here last weekend. I am very grateful indeed to you for the peaceful nature of your protest. You know that many people around the world, including many Christians, identify with the injustices and inequalities which you believe our financial systems perpetuate and support. Your peaceful protests have been significant in voicing the problem.

With a heavy heart I have to tell you that St Paul’s Cathedral has to be closed today until further notice, because of the legal requirements placed upon us by fire, health and safety issues. I know you will appreciate that in taking on the burden of responsibility for the care and well being of people entering our building, we must also be able to ensure everyone’s safety and, according to those who are expert in this regard, we cannot do so at the moment. I wanted to inform you of this necessary decision before I announced it to the Press.

I am therefore appealing to you directly to recognise that a great deal had been achieved by your presence here outside St Paul’s but that, in order that we might re-open the Cathedral as speedily as possible, we ask you to withdraw peacefully. We are concerned about public safety in terms of evacuation and fire hazards and the consequent knock-on effects which this has with regards to visitors.

St Paul’s, through its Institute and place in the City, will continue to encourage debate on many of the issues you are concerned about. In the meantime, by withdrawing peacefully, you will enable us to re-open the Cathedral for people to use for prayer, worship and reflection as soon as we possibly can.

With my thanks, Graeme Knowles.

Statement from the Dean of St Paul's, Graeme Knowles, 21 October 2011.

It seems a very long time since the protesters arrived around the Cathedral last weekend and I want to stress at the outset that we have listened to them and indeed developed a conversation with them.

We are delighted that the London protests have been peaceful and indeed there has been a good atmosphere generally between Cathedral staff and those dwelling in the tents around St Paul’s.

There is something profound about protest being made and heard in front of this most holy place: a gathering together of those concerned about poverty and inequality facing the great Dome of this Cathedral Church.

You actually have to be here to witness it for yourself because the extent of feeling and protest is not easily translated via media in that sense.

But it is about the practical and safety issues which this peaceful protest has raised which I need to address with you today.

It should be obvious to anyone approaching the Cathedral that the size of the camp and the consequent compliance issues which it inevitably raises, has increasingly put us in a difficult position.

Last night, I met with members of the Chapter to discuss some of these key issues. As the week has gone on, and in a statement we issued earlier this week, we intimated how difficult the situation was becoming.

As a result of that meeting, and reports received today from our independent Health, Safety and Fire officers, I have written an open letter to the protestors this afternoon advising them that we have no lawful alternative but to close St Paul’s Cathedral until further notice. I have here copies of the letter clearly outlining the reasons we have had to take this dramatic course of action which I will ask my colleagues to distribute.

The Health, Safety and Fire officers have pointed out that access to and from the Cathedral is seriously limited. With so many stoves and fires and lots of different types of fuel around, there is a clear fire hazard. Then there is the public health aspect which speaks for itself. The dangers relate not just to Cathedral staff and visitors but are a potential hazard to those encamped themselves.

The decision to close St Paul’s Cathedral is unprecedented in modern times and I have asked the Registrar to implement emergency procedures whereby the building remains closed but fit for purpose until such a time that we can open safely. Our 200 staff and 100 volunteers are also being informed of this decision this afternoon.

I want to say two simple things at this point.

1)We have done this with a very heavy heart, but it is simply not possible to fulfil our day to day obligations to worshippers, visitors and pilgrims in current circumstances.

2)That all of the Chapter are at one on this and recognise the complexities of the issues facing us at this time.

As you can see in the open letter, I am asking the protestors to recognise the huge issues facing us at this time and asking them to leave the vicinity of the building so that the Cathedral can re-open as soon as possible. So many people who visit this great Cathedral come here, of course, because they love the Gospel of justice, peace and reconciliation (which some of the protestors are embracing for a whole host of reasons) , but also because they want to enjoy the peace and tranquillity of a place of prayer and pilgrimage.

Some will rightly say that the Church should be alongside those seeking equality and financial probity. We are. The debate about a more just society is at the heart of much of our work at St Paul’s and indeed we hope to contribute to the wider debate in the very near future through a Report from the St Paul’s Institute.

But today is about our ability, practically, to carry on our mission with free and open access to this public space and treasured place and I hope that the protestors will understand the issues we are facing, recognise that their voice has been legitimately heard, and withdraw peacefully.

Thank you.

Statement from OccupyLSX, 21 October 2011.

We are disappointed to learn that that the management of St Paul’s have decided to close the Cathedral this afternoon, in their open letter regarding our peaceful occupation that aims to highlight and challenge the social and economic injustice in the UK and beyond.

Since the beginning of the occupation six days ago, OccupyLSX have tried hard to accommodate the Cathedral’s concerns in any way we can. Over the past 48 hours, we have completely re-organised the camp in response to feedback from the Fire Brigade and we have also accepted the presence of two large barriers to preserve access to the side door of the Cathedral.

Both of these measures were accepted by the General Assembly in order that the Cathedral’s normal operations should not be unduly impacted by our presence. This afternoon we have been told, in a telephone call, by the fire brigade, that they have not issued any new requirements above and beyond those already communicated directly to the camp. Therefore, there are no outstanding fire safety issues.

What outstanding issues there are appear to be concerned with, firstly, health and safety and, secondly, the Cathedral’s commercial concerns. We seek clarification from the Cathedral as to the precise nature of those health and safety concerns, so that we might address them directly. In the short space of time that we have been here, we have successfully liaised with the City authorities and outside bodies to coordinate recycling and sanitation.

As to the Cathedral’s commercial concerns, access to the restaurant has never been blocked by the encampment. The closure of the restaurant, by the Cathedral, has mystified us, especially as it came at the same time as we encouraged our people to use and support the restaurant. We would much prefer to eat there than in some of the nearby chains.

We believe the Cathedral is also concerned about their visitor numbers. We have endeavoured to ensure that our schedule does not conflict with the Cathedral’s, so that their normal operations are not impaired. Clearly, we have become another tourist attraction on the Cathedral’s doorstep – but, since we are not a commercial concern, we are struggling to understand how we have had any financial impact on the Cathedral’s revenues.

We also understand that some individuals were in the process of arranging for a contribution to be made to St Paul’s in recognition of their hospitality. It is a shame the Cathedral authorities have decided to take this action before those preparations came to fruition, as we expected them to in the next 12 hours.

Over the course of this week, we have done a huge amount to draw attention to the crisis of economic and political legitimacy experienced in the UK and mirrored in protests staged across the world. That awareness-raising exercise – and our attempts to provide a truly participatory and accountable forum in which to investigate ways forward – will continue.

Update – 4pm

We have been advised by Health and Safety Manager Rachel Sambal that the City of London’s Health and Safety Team have had no contact with St Paul’s Cathedral regarding health and safety issues at the site.

An Official Statement from The Cathedral Church of St. James, Douglas Stoute, 23 October 2011.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

For decades St. James Cathedral and the City of Toronto have worked together to provide the public space of St. James Park. It is a beautiful and appreciated urban oasis that blends seamlessly with the magnificence of the neo-gothic Cathedral which we cherish as evidence of God’s presence in the city.

One week ago, Occupy Toronto protesters chose the Park as their meeting place. Their movement is part of a worldwide response to increasing economic disparity. Protests are taking place all over the globe.

The Cathedral did not invite the protesters into the Park. The Cathedral is not involved in the protest. We have, however, treated the protestsers in the way that our faith and sense of humanity directs: with respect and dignity. For over 200 years, St. James Cathedral has been a place where divergent opinions have come to be expressed in a safe and respectful environment.

We have asked that the protesters respect the members of the community who live and work in the area. The overwhelming response from the members of the community to the Cathedral’s position on this issue has been positive. They share, as do we, the protesters’ message of justice and equality.

We fully appreciate the frustration of some of the neighbours to the disruption. The anger at the Church, however, is misplaced. We have no power to evict the protesters. We cannot speak for the City but even if we did have that power, we would be very reluctant to invoke it. We believe that we are blessed to live in a society where peaceful conversation can take place publicly and where citizens are free to voice their concerns without fear of violence or reprisals.

The Very Reverend Douglas A. Stoute
Dean of Toronto and Rector of St. James Cathedral


Monday, 17 October 2011

O efeito estufa,

or Put a sock in it!
Up, Down, Postscript.

I trust efeito is obvious, and the whole thing - o efeito estufa / the greenhouse effect - equally so; but estufa ... maybe not so much:

estufa feminine noun: stove, greenhouse, plate-warmer; este quarto é uma estufa / this room is like an oven.

estufado masculine noun: stew.

estufar transitive verb: to puff up (skin), to stuff (a cushion or pillow).

So that, for me at least, a certain subtlety creeps into the linguistic & cognitive network around the phrase. Two tinges enter in, two colours: 1) of sickness, illness, disease (from the notion of the skin puffing up), allergy, and, 2) of lack of breath, of an inability to speak (from the notion of a mouth stuffed with feathers or chips of foam-rubber). Richer than 'greenhouse effect' by far (which does happen to be based upon a somewhat incorrect idea of how greenhouses actually work).

A-and (stretching this whole thing to the point of hysteresis and beyond): a sort of intellectual or mental or even ... (wait for it) ... spiritual - asthma attack.

Why (f'rinstance) has it been such slow and tedious work to convince humanity of what is going on? Or that humanity is itself responsible? We have been at it for fifty years and more. And why are the relations between those who do understand and accept so strained? So tenuous & contingent? And so ineffectual? Why is there no real 'movement'?

The english expression 'put a sock in it' comes to mind.

STFU!   Cala boca!

Robert Socolow & Stephen Pacala.Robert Socolow seems to be wondering about similar questions (but much more clearly & scientifically of course).

I found the latest installment because Real Climate posted a review: The high cost of inaction (good on them!).

Robert Socolow.The initial paper from 2004, Stabilisation Wedges: Solving the Climate Problem for the Next 50 Years with Current Technologies, and the recent one, Wedges reaffirmed, and a more detailed look at certain implications for the IPCC, High-consequence outcomes and internal disagreements: tell us more, please (abstract) and full text.

(A small joke: the abstract came up as a Springer Link so I expected a pay-wall and spent a few minutes fruitlessly looking for a way around it - until I noticed that in this case Springer is providing the full text with no pay-wall.)

In Wedges Reaffirmed he says:
"Familiar answers include the recent recession, the political influence of the fossil fuel industries, and economic development imperatives in countries undergoing industrialization. But, I submit, advocates for prompt action, of whom I am one, also bear responsibility for the poor quality of the discussion and the lack of momentum. Over the past seven years, I wish we had been more forthcoming with three messages: We should have conceded, prominently, that the news about climate change is unwelcome, that today’s climate science is incomplete, and that every 'solution' carries risk. I don’t know for sure that such candor would have produced a less polarized public discourse. But I bet it would have. Our audiences would have been reassured that we and they are on the same team – that we are not holding anything back and have the same hopes and fears."
(my emphasis).

Occupy Toronto."You don't know what you got till it's gone."

Occupy Toronto have abandoned the People's Mic in favour of bullhorns. So much good was coming out of this practice, so many positive dimensions - and they gave it up in favour of the bog-standard. Incredible.

A-and there are two websites, two separate sets of discussion forums (fori is it? fora?). Count them: One for the hoi polloi, here; and another for the insider team, here. I would have imagined that even in Toronto at least one of them would have picked up on such a fundamental misdirection.

People walking around repeating dreck & crap-o-la of various kinds - "There is no 'i' in 'team'," and such like. (There may be no 'i' in 'team' but there is an 'eh?' in 'temperament.)

... oh ... forget it ...

¡Ya basta!The corporate sleveens, the clever ones like our affable Jim Prentice, ex-environment minister and now one of the VPs at CIBC, will be able to read these signs easily. And they will tell the others not to worry; and they won't.

Ai Ai Ai.

I also met a couple who had made and brought down a large home-made casserole of tuna melt and bread rolls and were giving it away. Delish. I wish I had gotten a photograph of them to show you. Not all of the salt has lost its savour; but I am very sorry to report that they were distinctly on the fringe, on the margin.

A-and, there will be no real help from the likes of Maude Barlow and her Council of Canadians, and not from Graham Saul and the beautiful young nubiles at the Canadian Climate Action Network either. They will carry on doing the work they know how to do - and I do not deny that it is good work as far as it goes.

When Maude and Graham put themselves up for arrest in Ottawa a few weeks ago I thought ... Maybe this is a change for the better? and, Maybe something will come of it?

I am sorry, I am sorry to say this ... It quite literally does my head in to say this ... but I don't think so. They are stuck on gradualism, politesse ... Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie ... there's lots that could be said: incompetent management, lack of imagination ... but why bother? (And I'm sorry to say that too.) For the record and to be clear: this is not a nutbar wet-dream, I am not making it up; I have communicated with these people and there have been exchanges; and it has gone exactly nowhere ... or arguably backwards.

Yevgeny Yevtushenko.Yevgeny Yevtushenko.

Oh what a sobering,
what a talking-to from conscience afterwards:
the short moment of frankness at the party
and the enemy crept up.
But to have learnt nothing is terrible,
and peering earnest eyes are terrible
detecting secret thoughts is terrible
in simple words and immature disturbance.
This diligent suspicion has no merit.
The blinded judges are no public servants.
It would be far more terrible to mistake
a friend than to mistake an enemy.

     Yevgeny Yevtushenko, early 60's sometime.

At the first Occupy Toronto General Assembly I attended, at OISE on the 13th, something happened which I will relate:

My question, "How does one go about restraining violent elements should they appear on the scene?" was not answered; but it looked like it would be dealt with the following evening at a workshop for Marshalls. So I was taking careful note of the time and place for this meeting and the young woman said, "... from seven to nine ..." and I piped up, "AM or PM?" and someone said, "PM," and the question was answered and I wrote it down.

A few minutes later, a young man with whom I had shared a bench while taking a rest and a smoke an hour or so previously, asked me what I had said. And I did not remember saying anything. I remembered him, and I remembered chatting with him, but I did not remember saying anything. So I looked at him, mystified, and denied it; and he, equally mystified, moved away (understandably).

That is the first time such a thing has happened - I think (?) - and it was profoundly upsetting. I have been making light of Alzheimer's here from time to time, listing the 'Vantages and so on ... but this incident strikes me as serious.

I don't know where to go with it?


(And yes, there is a musing between those square brackets which I have spared you, gentle reader.)

Be well.


I did plumb the Christian depths a bit today as well; attended the 11:00 service at St. James' Cathedral, or 'The Cathedral Church of Saint James' as they prefer to be called - Anglicans - located directly beside the Occupy Toronto encampment.

(There is quite a good pipe organ in this church and the organist today was using the lowest of the low registers, to the point that you could hear the individual beats. Unfortunately for me his treatment of the hymns was so ornamented that I could not make out the tunes and so could only really sing the last one, which I knew but cannot remember now.)

The protestors were prayed over, and 'those upholding the law' as well, twice.

The Archbishop, The Most Rev’d Colin Johnson, knows nothing about non-violent civil disobedience, or at least certainly didn't in May when I heard him speak (or stammer as the case may be) on the subject. The 'Dean & Rector', The Very Rev’d Douglas Stoute, is married to a Superior Court Judge - nothing wrong in that.

The church owns some of the adjoining park and Mr. Stoute has apparently told the organizers that they will not be evicted - I had this from the man who looked like he was in charge of the OT kitchen. This portion of the park is where both the kitchen and portable toilets are located - fundamental functions as it were.

All water is being brought in bottles - I wonder if the church could not let someone fill five gallon buckets - there must be a tap somewhere to water the grass; issues of freezing coming soon of course but something could be arranged to deal with that - and maybe will be, it is still early days.


Thursday, 13 October 2011

Do Oiapoque ao Chuí.

or From sea to shining sea.
(Hey! Wake up! It's the planet eh.)

Up, Down, Appendices, Postscript (OISE General Assembly).

From sea to shining sea.

In Brazil it's 'Do Oiapoque ao Chuí' / From Oiapoque to Chuí: Oiapoque being the northernmost border town and Chuí the southernmost. Chuí, on the border with Uruguay remains the undisputed southerly point. But roads are built and the northerly point is argued about, discussed; it might now be Pacaraima or Monte Caburaí near Boa Vista, or even Uiramutã, depending on which Chamber of Commerce you are listening to.

I like it that things are flexible in Brazil - but Oiapoque (oh-eeya-poke) has a nice ring to it. (Some background if you like, here, in Portuguese.) Chuí is renowned for 'border bargains' - and the guys in the Rio Grande shipyard used to organize road trips ...

Sweet Crude.Sandy Cioffi & friends.Music this time from the soundtrack of Sweet Crude by Julie Wolf: Sympathy for the Devil.

What if the world paid attention before it was too late?

Good question. Watch this movie. I was put off at the beginning, there was an air of ... I can't quite remember what it was - almost didn't carry on with it - but I was mistaken. You can buy a copy on their website, and it's on Demonoid.

(Previously in this blog, Lars Johansson's Poison Fire.)

Occupy Toronto.OCCUPY TORONTO General Assembly on Thursday October 13 5PM OISE.

I love it when an aspiring NDP leader uses phrases like 'blindingly obvious' (I am sure that is what he meant to write before the Globe proof-readers fluffed it):
"It is blindly obvious what the Wall Street occupiers and ordinary people all around the world want.

They want an end to reckless, heedless bingo parlour economics.

       (See Brian Topp here.)
And he goes on to present a thoroughly false distinction between the "fantasist right-wing populism of the American Tea Partiers" and "modern, prudent, determined and fearless social democracy" à la Jack Layton.    Doh?!

Interesting that Kalle Lasn doesn't quite get it either: He seems to think that precision in 'the demand' is desireable and maybe inevitable - it isn't and it isn't. Indeed, one of the most effective features of his poster is precisely that the line after 'What is our one demand?' is blank. And he indulges in ageism - it is not just the young who are engaged here, it is also the older generations and the Boomers finally recognizing their complicity ... and yes, culpability.

'Cormorant' by Lockheed Martin.The 'close but no cigar' editorials are nonetheless getting more numerous, more respectable, and even ... closer to the mark (see Paul Krugman last week: here & here).

They are 'homing in' these pundits, like some flock of wierd (more-or-less) intellectual drones ... this time of year it reminds me of those pesky yellow-jackets hovering around the last outdoor pint of the season as you sit in the fading sun on a patio ...

(Pictured is the 'Cormorant' by Lockheed Martin - a 'surveillance' drone released from a Trident missile tube on an Ohio-class U.S. submarine.)

Something else is obvious as well: Go here and read this petition and consider signing it - Petition: To Chief Bill Blair and the Toronto Police Service.

Carmen Aguirre.Carmen Aguirre.Carmen Aguirre.Carmen Aguirre:

(Two, or three depending how you count, of these photographs are from Alex Waterhouse-Hayward.)

Something fierce: Memoirs of a revolutionary daughter, this year.

You can listen to her back in May on CBC Radio's The Current playing with Anna Maria Tremonti, making that estimable CBC maven tremble (and even quiver) a bit I'll warrant.

Charlie Smith muses on a "political perspective [that] does not normally show up in metropolitan Canadian daily newspapers." Well Charlie, it doesn't show up very often anywhere in k-k-Canada now, does it? Very often!? More like: Not ever!

Carmen Aguirre by Alex Waterhouse-Hayward.
Carmen Aguirre by Alex Waterhouse-Hayward.
I read about half of it in one gulp. It was suddenly 3AM. I looked again at the title ... sure enough 'memoir'. So I got up, and stood up, and cranked up O Computador just to verify a few facts and try to get ... distance ... perspective. Yep, the facts checked out ... finished it at dawn.


No cheap copies of this one at Abe's (yet) so you will have to go to your library. Do it.

One: Couldn't be more timely as we consider facing Bay Street on Saturday. And just nevermind quibbling over issues of degree, overstretched analogies and the like ...

Two: Sure, I know there are others of her calibre in this country - I can even name some of them ... but today my mind is full of the thought that there is certainly this one.


(So much of this kind of dreck [I mean this post of mine not her book] gets assigned to the bin for the wrong reasons. I watched her performances in Endgame - her stature, her strange facial immobility. And, since I have the book for another few weeks, re-reading parts of it, seeing the flaws. She is no paragon, nothing like it. That is not it at all.)


If there is a very-most-important event in this age so far ... it might be the Holocaust (Was it an 'event'? Is it over yet?) - certainly it is in the Top Ten. Even as a relatively small child I think I knew about it. Blurred of course by my Presbyterian & United Church upbringing: When I got around to asking why Jews wear those little hats, my mother explained that it was so God wouldn't see them in their shame over having killed Christ.

And the Holocaust is perennially thought about, reconsidered; because it touches on that fundamental question: Am I my brother's keeper? That so many of the end-run arguments rely upon proofs that some class or group or individual is not really my brother or sister, or is not comprised of brothers and sisters, tells the story for me. QED. (Or not as you like.)

Tarabunka.Tarabunka.Tarabunka.Tarabunka.And there is a quality (a simple and obvious and unremarkable quality) in the word Auschwitz that sticks in the imagination - of a middle class kid in the Toronto of the 50's at least.

Which quality is about perfectly contained in that very first photograph there.

And now, today, this month, this year, there is a whole new collection of exotic names: Dadaab in Kenya, and lately, others: Tarabunka, Sayidka, Badbaado (being locations in Mogadishu, and there are dozens more as you can see on that UNHCR map I posted a few weeks ago).

Sayidka.Sayidka.Sayidka.Sayidka.I started out keeping this map - not very many of the places named in the news show up in the 'Search' feature, so you have to dig around a bit in the ol' Internet dung heap looking for them ... and even so, often end up guessing.

So, what is this then? Hand wringing? Social pornography? Idle curiosity? Peeping Tom-ery? Some other kind of end-run? A psychological avoidance mechanism? Feckless emotion? What?

All of the above?
None of the above?


Can't say. Dunno.

Quacks: (A-and anyways, I've got my own problems eh?)

Can't piss right anymore. Not cancer - I got that much from my doctor in Brasil. Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), hypertrophic prostate, (hypertrophy: enlargement of a part or organ of an animal or plant, excessive growth or development, opposite of atrophy from the Greek τροϕή/trofh food, nourishment - some humour in that eh?). An' some other kind'a thing poppin' outa my umbigo. Umbilical hernia I figgure out.

All good. I don't mind sitting down to pee - gives me a clever comeback for the feminist trolls (which, bad as I am, I have never mooted). Naturally lazy. But the gout is a problem.

The walk-in clinics are not so good, hospital emergency wards are better; but I know that using either is wasting resources, including my own. Finally, tipped off by a kindly nurse in the St. Mike's emerg one afternoon: There is a way to find a GP.

So, to the website for a phone number, call it, answer all the questions (mostly, it seems, to determine that I am not a drug addict), wait, get mail, more telephone conversations (someone has lost whatever form it is they use to record that I am not a drug addict), get an appointment, go there ... answer more questions posed by a young woman who seems about 20 but eventually tells me, unwillingly (Uh Oh!), that she is 28, she disappears, a middle-aged woman, who is clearly the Head Honcho über-quack, returns with the young woman and two other young people in white coats - 'doctors' (or close, or something ...), all of 'em - tells me that my opinions are too extreme, doesn't want to hear that I was just doing my best to answer the questions that were put to me, obliges me to apologize, abjectly - not just apologize but retract, I realize that she has convened an impromptu 'lecture' here for her 'students' on how to manage patients, OK, I am here asking for help, I retract ... by way of being gracious she glances at my belly button, gives it a perfunctory poke and pronounces 'not a problem' unless it gets very much larger or discoloured or begins to hurt ... and finally I am left alone with one of them, a young man who wants to schedule a blood test for prostate cancer, I explain (carefully) that this is not necessary, and he explains that he has to ask (has to?), we schedule a general physical in a few weeks and I hobble back to the TTC (it was the gout that took me there y'unnerstan') feeling strangely elated.

Sorry that this is such a long story ... make it short ... I have his card with the appointment written on it on top of the detrius that is my computer desk. I look at it every day for a week. Pick it up and read it again and again. ... Then I call and cancel the appointment.

Boo hoo?    Not at all.

I think the business of adding a consultation to every prescription for Indocid is a racket. This opinion is shared by at least one Canadian doctor - the one in the St. John's emerg who gave me a prescription for (virtually) unlimited refills when I explained the situation. I think the business of using a GP practice as a school is a racket too. If the users of Medicare could ask to see their account - to see what the services provided to them actually cost ... well, who can say? Are services provided by students billed at a reduced fee? I doubt it. Will you find the same group of students there year after year? Hardly likely. Is the Über-Quack getting a cut on all the billings? Indubitably.

I made no insulting remark to the young woman student-doctor. If she thought I had, why couldn't she just tell me herself? There was no need for semi-public humiliation - except possibly in the mind of someone already insecure over being so involved in ... a racket.

I sometimes used to share a bench in the park with a fellow who was often there. A beggar. I shared my cigarettes as well and sometimes a few bucks. He had a chronic hepatitis infection which had moved on to liver cancer. He liked his wine in the summertime - sometimes he would be passed out beside the bench. I know - wine and liver cancer - he really liked his wine, must have. He went missing for a month or so and then turned up again. What happened to you? Well, I made the mistake of telling one of the doctors the truth - that I sometimes think of suicide - and they stuck me in the psych ward to straighten out. Oh yeah. Gotta be careful what you say to those boys.

He got fatter and fatter - in the way that people with liver cancer do - and his face got thinner and thinner. Last time I saw him he was about to go in for some surgical procedure - no hope he said, but it passes the time. That was months ago. I miss him. If he's still alive he knows that - sometimes you can manage to be clear.

Mad. Mad as a hatter, gentle reader. But not dangerously so I don't think, rather the opposite - no risk, not certifiable.

Here's a pome:
Tarabunka, Sayidka, Badbaado

this is no more
than exactly what is before me:
feeding the plants,
a flick of cigarette ash
crushed egg shells
pocket lint,
from the aquarium.

I will go to the Occupy Toronto General Assembly this evening (where I believe the gentle mad are permitted) and report tomorrow.

Be well.

Postscript (OISE General Assembly):

In a word - Yes.
Occupy Toronto.
The Food Committee works - donuts were graciously provided and donations were graciously accepted. A sort of an agenda and a good sort of order and good humour prevailed.

The business of repeating every phrase is somewhat foreign to Torontonian sensibilities; but yesterday evening's experience warrants that (even) they can learn, embrace, expand.

The central (to me) question of how to deal with violent interlopers was not dealt with. A marshalling workshop is planned for this (Friday) evening on the 7th floor of OISE from 7-9 PM on this issue.

I forgot my camera. Doh?! I forgot myself - disconcerting, but inevitable I guess.


1. Occupy protests herald a party that’s almost over, Brian Topp, Tuesday October 11 2011.
2. Petition: To Chief Bill Blair and the Toronto Police Service:,, October 9 2011.
3. Adbusters' Kalle Lasn Talks About OccupyWallStreet, Sam Eifling, 7 October 2011.

Occupy protests herald a party that’s almost over, Brian Topp, Tuesday October 11 2011.

Wall Street is “occupied.” What do the occupiers want? Where to begin? How about here: The top 1 per cent income-earners in North America have appropriated most of the wealth created in the past thirty years. But what do they want, those protesters and their sympathizers?

Here's another fact on their minds. Politicians in North America engineered the good fortune of the wealthy through a systematic assault on the family incomes of everyone else. And simultaneously encouraged access to an ocean of cheap and easy credit.

So, while average families haven't seen a real pay raise in more than a generation, they have drifted into a disastrous dependence on debt (higher in Canada than in the United States). Which helped fuel housing bubbles. Followed by a financial services crisis. Followed by a sovereign debt crisis that now threatens the foundations of the world economy.

But why are they interfering with the lineups in front of the latte counters, those protesters? In Spain, unemployment teeters around 25 per cent. Catastrophically higher for young people. That is depression-level unemployment. The number of people living in poverty in the United States has reached record levels.

But why are those people waving those rude signs at our nice banks and brokerage firms? In Israel, the “occupiers” are talking to the right-wing Netanyahu government about the intolerable cost of housing, of food, of utilities, of health care, of everything else needed to live a normal life. But what do they want, those people? It is blindly obvious what the Wall Street occupiers and ordinary people all around the world want.

They want an end to reckless, heedless bingo parlour economics. In which wealth is concentrated into far too few hands. In which people's savings and pensions are funnelled into unproductive financial game-playing instead of into the real economy. In which the Masters of the Universe, there on Wall Street, keep all the winnings on a good day and slip their losses into the public debt on a bad day.

We like to tell ourselves that Canada has avoided the worst of it, despite the best efforts of our governments in recent years. But the income gap between rich and poor is every bit as depressing in Canada as it is in our friend to the south (see here and here).

After a long sleep, the public interest is waking up in North America and around the world.

There are false roads open – like the fantasist right-wing populism of the American Tea Partiers. And there are better roads open – like modern, prudent, determined and fearless social democracy, of the kind Jack Layton was talking about.

Perhaps we will go down that first road, brought to us in Canada in our mild Canadian way by Stephen Harper and his team. Hopefully we will go down the other, on offer in Canada through Mr. Layton's team.

But the Wall Street occupiers are there to let the Wall Street revellers and bonus-hunters know that their own particular party – and the whole approach to government that made it possible in the United States and here in Canada – has just about had its day.

Brian Topp is running for leader of the federal New Democratic Party.

Petition: To Chief Bill Blair and the Toronto Police Service:,, October 9 2011.

In June, 2010 at the G20 summit Toronto saw the largest mass arrests in Canadian history. Complaints too numerous to mention were filed against police officers and many of the investigations and law suits that resulted from that weekend will be ongoing for years to come. On October 15 another mass demonstration is coming to Toronto as part of the Occupy Everywhere movement. Neither the people of Toronto, nor I'm sure, its police force want to see a repeat of the G20 weekend.

We, the undersigned, expect that officers will be professional, will attempt to communicate with demonstrators at all times, will make any requests or demands clear and will give citizens including demonstrators, passers by, observers and the media every opportunity to comply with those requests before taking any action.

All officers should have their badges visible at all times, be prepared to produce identification and/or provide a business card on request.

If there is violence it should not, under any circumstances, be instigated by the police and in the event it is necessary the minimum possible force should be used. Under no circumstances should police resort to the use of tear gas, pepper spray, tazers, rubber bullets, sound cannons or any other device, substance or method that may harm individuals other than the intended target.

Individuals should neither be arrested nor detained unless there is an intent on the part of the police to charge them with a crime.

Individuals should not be kettled or impeded in any way unless there is a belief on the part of police that they were involved in a crime or are about to commit a crime.

Police should prioritize their concerns and take a realistic view of potential security threats so that this isn't a repeat of the "Officer Bubbles" incident.

Police should not, under any circumstances, threaten, harass or impede medical volunteers attempting to treat the injured.

All individuals, including those who have been detained and arrested, should be treated with courtesy, dignity and respect. This includes insuring that their human and civil rights are observed, that they have access to legal council and adequate food, water, sanitation and medical attention if necessary.

Above all individual officers should be prepared to be held accountable for their actions. Toronto, Canada and the world will be watching. The demonstrations will be heavily photographed, recorded to video and otherwise documented. "Following orders" will not be acceptable justification for the mistreatment of individuals.

Canada is a democratic country and its citizens are gathering, in solidarity with individuals around the world, to demand reform. They have every right to do so. It is the responsibility of the Toronto Police Service to insure the safety of citizens, insure that individual rights are upheld and that property is protected, not to act as political agents on behalf of the current government. Many of the reforms being sought would, ultimately, be of benefit to police officers and their families. Perhaps, if the Occupy Toronto actions go well, the rift between Toronto and its police that opened as a result of the 2010 G20 meeting can begin to heal.

Adbusters' Kalle Lasn Talks About OccupyWallStreet, Sam Eifling, 7 October 2011.

The veteran culture-jammer on his role in getting the protest rolling, magic memes, what he would demand, and more.

Since Sept. 17 the streets of south Manhattan have been chockablock with people protesting -- what, exactly? At times not even they seem sure, perhaps because their cause for being there is so vast and miasmic that they can grab hold of any part of it and make a credible claim for anger. Banks too big to fail. Soaring college costs (and debt) in a time of jobless youth. Cronyism, lobbyism, corporatism, deregulation. It all falls under a hashtag that began far from the pepper spray and mass arrests, in the offices of Vancouver's own Adbusters magazine, as #OccupyWallStreet.

The movement has been at turns derided by Republican presidential candidates ("I think it's dangerous, this class warfare," Mitt Romney said) and by major media (quoth a New York Daily News editorial: "This bunch ought to get down on their knees in thanks that America's capitalist Founding Fathers saw fit to protect the privileges of the dumb and obnoxious along with everyone else"). Nonetheless it has mushroomed from a few die-hards in the early going to a pulsing micro-city of thousands and has spawned smaller protests around America. Unions and student groups have joined in solidarity, and on Oct. 15, Toronto and Vancouver will see their own "Occupy" demonstrations.

Although it was inspired by the methods and successes of the Arab Spring, the original expectations were more muted. When Vancouver-based Adbusters presented the idea to the world, it did so in the form of a poster that featured a dancer posed on the shoulders of the Wall Street bull statue, a foggy clamour of demonstrators behind her. The poster asked the question, "What is our one demand?" Activist groups seized on it, as did the hacktivist group Anonymous, and a collective began to form. The arrests of 700 demonstrators on the Brooklyn Bridge on Oct. 1 pushed the event to the fore of media coverage.

To hear tell from Adbusters founder and editor Kalle Lasn now, the question of that one demand still needs to be answered concisely and directly. But as the movement overspills Wall Street, he describes it as the most successful in the 22 years he and his magazine have been advocating "culture jamming," which originally sought to subvert consumerism. The Tyee sat down with Lasn in the office of Adbusters -- south of False Creek, with a fine view of downtown Vancouver -- to address that singular demand, his renewed faith in the left and the soft power of ballerinas.

Wall Street Ballerina.On the ballerina atop bull imagery of Adbusters' original #OccupyWallStreet poster:

"To me it was a sublime symbol of total clarity. Here's a body poised in this beautiful position and it spoke of this crystal-clear sublime idea behind this messy business. On top of the head it said, 'What is our one demand?' To me it was almost like an invitation, like if we get our act together then we can launch a revolution. It had this magical revolutionary feel to it, which you couldn't have with the usual lefty poster which is nasty and visceral and in your face. The magic came from the fact this ballerina is so sublimely tender.

"There's some idea there, and the power of it comes from the fact that most of the time you'll never be able to answer what it is. It's just there. It's just a magic moment that you can feel in your gut that it's there, and you're willing to go there and sleep there and go through the hardship and fight for it. Once you start answering it too clearly then the magic is gone."

On the revolt's many parents:

"We have a network of 90,000 culture jammers who are tuned into us at various levels. The biggest brainstorms happened between myself and Adbusters senior editor Micah White, who lives in Berkeley. We were the two key people who got excited, and more and more excited, morning after morning, and eventually decided on that hashtag, #OccupyWallStreet. When we launched that hashtag, the twittering came on so hard and fast that it drove us. We suddenly said, 'Hey, this could actually happen.'

"Anonymous gave us that -- I don't know what you call it, that sort of anarchy cred. All of a sudden this organization that has this strange mystique to it, they're saying, 'Yeah, occupy Wall Street!' That first video of theirs was quite a delightful little piece of videomaking, and at that moment I could feel that we got a mighty boost forward.

"We always thought of ourselves as the catalyzers, the people who set that meme, as we like to call it, in motion. And right from the start we decided that we're not going to play a part on the street, that if our meme flies, if people love it, then we're happy to come up with posters, and we did send them all kinds of handbills and we sent them corporate America flags. So we left it pretty well up to them.

"But we do try to influence it on the deeper level. Our poster said, 'What is our one demand?' They didn't like that. And we thought it was very important, for them to have peoples' assemblies and for them to demonstrate how radical democracy really works. We thought it was a mistake for them not to discuss what some of the demands could be, and we pushed them very hard to get some of their demands together, so when a New York Times reporter phones you up and says, 'What do you want?' that you can at least answer that question. That debate is still continuing now, about whether we should have that one demand.

"I've felt like this all my life and even though I'm kind of an old guy now, I must admit age doesn't seem to come into it. I feel like this is the first time in the 20-plus year history of Adbusters that we really have a chance to pull something off, and it's we. Let's face it, most of the people, probably 90 per cent of the people camping out on Wall Street are young people, and even though I'm not sleeping there I still feel it's we. It takes old people like me and theoreticians like Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, who are writing for our next issue, and people like David Graeber, the anarchist, and Saul Newman, the guy who recently wrote a book about anarchism. It takes all kinds of people to launch a revolution, but the cutting edge is young people who put their asses on the line."

On watching the occupation from afar:

"I must admit I was very buoyed that people immediately started organizing in New York, and we knew that this thing was going to happen, even weeks in advance, that there were pre-meetings. But, you know, when that first Saturday came, Saturday, Sept. 17, then I did have this feeling that the whole damn thing could fizzle, and that we would be there for a day, and if we were lucky half a dozen people would stay there all night, and the whole thing could be just a puff of wind that came and went.

"It has grown beyond anything I thought was possible in the early days. The mood changes every day, and this realization that all of a sudden it's a nationwide movement in the United States and now it's even creeping into Canada. That's -- what can I say? It's beyond anything I imagined early on. I've been sort of running with it day by day, and now it feels like anything is possible. It's a good lesson for me. I've always been reticent and careful and doing a lot of planning and stuff. For me personally it's told me, don't hold back. Just go for it. You never know what'll happen.

"The most remarkable thing that inspired me, when I first started looking at the original videos that first started appearing on Russian TV, and other videos that were made, and they went up to people in Zuccotti Park and asked people, I just couldn't believe how articulate and how tuned in these people actually were. I'd gone along with this feeling that a lot of the political left is just a loony left, and there's a bunch of granola people running around saying, 'We want to overthrow capitalism,' and that sort of stuff. Here we are brainstorming, trying to come up with slogans, and all of a sudden they were spontaneously saying things in the street that inspired me. They said it better than what we could come up with in our brainstorming sessions! That told me that maybe the political left isn't as loony as I'd been thinking for the past 10 years. Maybe there is a spark of revolutionary fervor there after all."

On harnessing the momentum established thus far:

"We know there's going to be another big moment Oct. 15 when the people in Europe start getting their act together. And then now we are sort of strategically trying to up the level and see if we can't pull off something even crazier than Occupy Wall Street, whether we can pull off a sort of global Tahrir moment.

"I know it sounds kind of grandiose, but it seems like on Nov. 3 and 4, when the G20 meet, it is possible to have millions of people marching around the world, all demanding one thing. And we believe that one thing could be the Robin Hood tax. The Tobin Tax, what we're calling a one per cent tax on all financial transactions. And this could be a tipping point moment where we the people tell our politicians and our leaders what we want to happen to our economy, rather than having to listen to their bullshit about shall we have a stimulus or shall we not, or shall we do this or shall we not. Let's slow down fast money with a Tobin Tax, and we feel that over the next one month we may be able to instigate a global movement where the young people of the world stand up and say, 'We want to have a Robin Hood tax.'"

On the possibility of an American version of regime change:

"For the last 20 years we've been talking about cultural revolution and we've launched various campaigns. Something kind of magical happened around the time that that guy burned himself in Tunisia, and it suddenly sparked that regime change in Egypt. There was something about the way it was generated by Facebook and Twitter and a few key people, very creative people who did something on some web site and called for people to go out in the street and then expecting 500 or 5,000 and all of a sudden they got 50,000. Strategically it suddenly became possible to get a huge number of people who are angry about something, or who are deeply concerned about something, it's possible to get them out and to get them to strut their stuff. So that was the inspirational moment that we talked about a lot in our brainstorms here.

"We decided in our brainstorming sessions that regime change in America wouldn't be like regime change in Egypt, obviously, because it's a totally different kind of a situation. We don't have some torturous dictator that's calling the shots in North America, or in America. But it did feel like there was this kind of a soft regime that was controlled by the power of finances and by the power of lobbyists and by the power of corporations to get their own way. And it felt like some kind of a soft regime change was necessary there. So we felt, to put it succinctly, that a Tahrir moment for America was in the cards, was definitely possible."

On why it took three years after Lehman Brothers' implosion for people to storm the streets:

"When the financial meltdown happened, there was a feeling that, 'Wow, things are going to change. Obama is going to pass all kinds of laws, and we are going to have a different kind of banking system, and we are going to take these financial fraudsters and bring them to justice.' There was a feeling like, 'Hey, we just elected a guy who may actually do this.' In a way, there wasn't this desperate edge. Among the young people there was a very positive feeling. And then slowly this feeling that he's a bit of a gutless wonder slowly crept in, and now we're despondent again.

"On the Egyptian side, even though their techniques were very inspiring, in the beginning there was this feeling that this doesn't apply to us. This applies to nations who have monsters like Mubarak who routinely torture people every day. Theoreticians and pundits say now, people I talk to, that ultimately this Tahrir moment that happened in Egypt, that it ultimately will apply more to first world countries and to young people all around the world, that soft regime change may actually be the great achievement of what Tahrir taught us."