Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Winter Solstice!

"If you live in this hemisphere, it’s your signal to celebrate. The shortest day is here! After the winter solstice, the days will get longer, and the nights shorter. It’s a seasonal shift that nearly everyone notices.

When is the solstice where I live?

The solstice happens at the same instant for all of us, everywhere on Earth. But our clocks say different times.

In 2011, the December solstice takes place on Wednesday, December 21 at 11:30 p.m. CST (Thursday, December 22 at 5:30 UTC)."

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Happy Birthday Bradley Manning!!

War crimes whistle-blower Bradley Manning turns 24 years old today. He made the courageous decision to follow his inner conscious instead of the fuzzy "rights" and "wrongs" as defined by everyone's crazy & corrupt big brother, the US government. Would you have done the same thing?

He's one of the bravest young people I can think of, and I hope they have mercy on him at his trial, which is just beginning. Unfortunately, all that can be guaranteed is that history will vindicate him as a hero. That much, I'm sure of.

In honor of his birthday, I wanted to take time to post about Bradley. And in the process, I discovered this excellent song by Graham Nash (yes, that Graham Nash) and James Raymond (son of David Crosby).

Please share this video & take time talk about Bradley Manning! We can't forget where he's at & what he's going through.

(and if you want to take it a step further, like I did, click the link above and donate to his defense fund. what a great birthday present!)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


This was made with one rectangular piece of paper and a pair of scissors.

Let your brain turn this puzzle around for awhile. Solution at the link above.

Monday, November 28, 2011



Have you heard? The Senate is voting today on a bill that includes provisions to essentially turn America into a battlefield, where you and I can be locked up and held indefinitely without charge or trial.

Are you frightened by the brutal police response to OWS? Do you actually get teary-eyed when you think of Bradley Manning, the boy-next-door turned war crimes whistle blower (wikileaks), being held and tortured for this long? I do! I am!

Take a moment TODAY and sign the ACLU petition letter to your Senator to tell them NO! This has got to stop. There is a legal system in this country for a reason. If you can't lock them up within the law, we will not change the laws to give these prison planet psycho's more power!

Here's the ACLU article with more description. And here's the link to the petition.

And below in stars is what I added in my letter.


Dear Senator,

I strongly urge the Senate to oppose sections 1031 and 1032 in S.1253, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (NDAA).

*** You betray everything this country stands for if you vote this into law. What would our forefathers say? We didn't build this country and come this far to treat our citizens like criminals within our own borders. The LEGAL SYSTEM is there for a reason.

I hope you will stand on the right side of history. ***

If enacted, sections 1031 and 1032 of the NDAA would:

1) Explicitly authorize the federal government to indefinitely imprison without charge or trial American citizens and others picked up inside and outside the United States;

(2) Mandate military detention of some civilians who would otherwise be outside of military control, including civilians picked up within the United States itself; and

(3) Transfer to the Department of Defense core prosecutorial, investigative, law enforcement, penal, and custodial authority and responsibility now held by the Department of Justice.

These provisions in the NDAA are inconsistent with fundamental American values embodied in the Constitution. I urge the Senate reject the NDAA and its indefinite detention provisions.
[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Avoid Frustrating Conversations with OWS Business Cards!

Just in time for the holidays! Are you sick of having dinner conversations with friends or family members who are opinionated and/or uninformed about Occupy Wall Street? Well these "business cards" are just the thing! When it becomes clear that calm conversations and reason won’t work, or that you are being talked at rather than listened to, give them this card so they can process the info on their own terms.

Version #1: Someone innocently, or condescendingly ask, “What is it about? What do they want? There is no purpose”? Hand them one of these!

Version #2: You find yourself with someone who starts spewing false facts and negative characterizations? Here’s your card!

Version #3: Think all they need is to have an honest look at why they are so personally threatened by OWS? Here’s a handy questionnaire to invite introspection.

Here's a link to the PDF so you can print multiple copies. DESIGNED TO BE PRINTED DOUBLE-SIDED. Odd pages= front. Even pages = back.

(And please, steal and remix for your own purposes! I tried to upload a word doc to google docs, and it screwed up my formatting. So PDF it is. If you want to edit, I'd say copy the text, go to Word, click on Tools > Labels > Options > Business card. Paste and play!)

Versions 2 & 3, front:


Friday, November 11, 2011

This 28-Year-Old's Startup Is Moving $350 Million And Wants To Completely Kill Credit Cards

Great Article. I like the cut of this guy's gib. Innovative is the operative word here. Innovative.

* * *
There's a tiny 12-person startup churning out of Des Moines, Iowa.

Dwolla was founded by 28-year-old Ben Milne; it's an innovative online payment system that sidesteps credit cards completely.

Milne has no finance background yet his little operation is moving between $30 and $50 million per month; it's on track to move more than $350 million in the next year.
Unlike PayPal, Dwolla doesn't take a percentage of the transaction. It only asks for $0.25 whether it's moving $1 or $1,000.

We interviewed Milne about how he is building a credit card killer and Square rival from the middle of the nation where VCs and press are scarce.

BI: We hear you're making credit card companies angry. How are you doing that?

Ben Milne: Ultimately we're trying to build the next Visa, not the next PayPal. We're building a human network based on how we think the future of payments will work. The current model needs to be blown up.

Dwolla started out of my old company. I owned a speaker manufacturing company and we sold everything directly through a website. I got really obsessed with interchange fees and how not to pay them. Every time a merchant gets paid with a credit card they have to give up a percentage. In my case, I was losing $55,000 a year to credit card companies. I felt like they were stealing from me -- I was getting paid and somebody was taking money out of my pocket.

So I thought, how do I get paid through a website without paying credit card fees? We pitched a bank, and amazingly enough they said, "We'll give it a shot."
That was three years ago, so we've been working on the project for a really long time. In December of last year we figured out how to legally do what we do.

Continue Reading.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Finally, Things That Make Sense

I am a girl scout, or was, and this image pretty much sums up my interests now as an adult!

and I see guys like this around Milwaukee all the time.

Glad to see that Girls and Boys Scouts are being run by hipsters now! Makes a lot of sense.

Maybe they could add badges like, "Front Row" when you manage to politely get to the front stage of a concert without spilling your beer. Or "Thai -namite" when you order your 100th Thai or Curry dish. Or "Vintage Vanguard" when you look down and realize: everything i'm wearing right now just happens to be home-made or used.

Koch brothers: secretive billionaires to launch vast database with 2012 in mind

So this is happening:

"The secretive oil billionaires the Koch brothers are close to launching a nationwide database connecting millions of Americans who share their anti-government and libertarian views, a move that will further enhance the tycoons' political influence and that could prove significant in next year's presidential election.

The voter file was set up by the Kochs 18 months ago with $2.5m of their seed money, and is being developed by a hand-picked team of the brothers' advisers. It has been given the name Themis, after the Greek goddess who imposes divine order on human affairs.

The database will bring together information from a plethora of right-wing groups, tea party organisations and conservative-leaning thinktanks. Each one has valuable data on their membership – including personal email addresses and phone numbers, as well as more general information useful to political campaign strategists such as occupation, income bracket and so on.

By pooling the information, the hope is to create a data resource that is far more potent than the sum of its parts. Themis will in effect become an electoral roll of right-wing America, allowing the Koch brothers to further enhance their power base in a way that is sympathetic to, but wholly independent of, the Republican party."

Keep Reading.


I had to google image search these dudes to know: what do the so-called Koch brothers look like?

And all I find is these two piles of cold mashed potatoes:

Can you imagine even talking to guys like this? Like sitting down and having dinner with these two zombies? Throw in dudes like Karl Rove, and ohmygod. F-ing gravy train. I couldn't handle it! Whether or not they were in the seat of power right now. I feel like I'm catching psoriasis just looking at this picture!
I really love street art in general, and whole-heartedly approve of hacking political signs to tell the truth, like this:

Wow, Voters we can Trust

Well, well, well. How do you like them apples? Big day today for the Good Guys. Ohio’s anti-union bill? Voted down. Mississippi’s anti-women’s rights amendment (a.k.a. defining personhood at conception)? Voted down. Arizona’s anti-immigration politician? Voted out.

We don’t have to wring our hands and worry that insane ideas will be passed into law and carried out as such. The people have common sense! The talking heads are wrong! Woo-hoo! There is still hope!

But as a side note, can you explain something to me, Republicans and Libertarians? Why do some people want “less government” and more “free markets” and then really support the opposite with the legislations they endorse? If it’s a free market, why can’t people join together in a union and make decisions as such? Why does government have to interfere? That’s more freedom, that’s less. If it’s less government you are after, why can’t people freely come in and out of our country? That’s not less, that’s more government interference. If you want the government out of our personal lives (like mandating healthcare), why can’t gay people marry and women make private decisions with their doctors? That’s not less, that’s a whole lot more. And as a dead serious question, just for Christians: how can you be a millionaire and be Christ-like? You can’t! “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” Jesus supported the weak and needy. He didn’t use his resources to pad his lifestyle. If you’re not going above and beyond to be giving and charitable, you’re not Christ-like a.k.a. not Christian.

I really don’t get it. As a student of Rhetoric, I just can’t leap past these gaps in logic and move on, like it seems most do. All arguments breakdown after that point. The entire thing loses its validity.

That said, it seems today is a victorious day for reason! Enjoy this feeling while it lasts.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

I Beg Your Pardon?

Internet Harvesting. Isn't it an interesting phenomenon?

Take this for example. Buzz Feed has a post entitled "32 Inexplicable Photos From Russia." It seems what they did was just take a bunch of pictures from a Russian photographers livejournal page, with the bare minimum for attribution. These photos are in fact unique - but I think it is because this individual is a great photographer, not necessarily because Russia is so different, as the subtext of this post is and which you see clearly demonstrated in the comment section where rampant US-centric racism runs wild. People are weird all over this damn planet! It's the POV, and all this photographer did was do an amazing job at framing weird moments.

So that being said, click the link above to browse through a great photo set.

um. um. um. what?

Friday, November 04, 2011

"the way I feel sometimes its too hard to sit still
things are so passionate times are so real
sometimes I try an chill mellow down blowing smoke
smile on my face but its really no joke
you feel it in the streets people breathe without hope"


"sit and come and relax riddle of the mac, its the patch
imma solider in the middle of iraq
well say about noonish commin out the whip
and lookin at me curious, a young Iraqi kid
carrying laundry, whats wrong G? hungry?
no, gimme oil or get fuck out my country"

Thursday, November 03, 2011

How Fear Drove World Rice Markets Insane

I heard this piece on NPR yesterday evening, and found it interesting. It's a different angle on the global food supply, and great insight into the crazy web we've built up.


Nothing is more basic and simple than food. Yet it comes to us courtesy of a long, complicated supply chain that spans the globe.

That chain delivers food cheaply — but it can break. Four years ago, it blew up in most spectacular fashion, affecting hundreds of millions of people who rely on rice for sustenance. That crash — the great rice crisis of 2008 — was a true disaster for some of the poorest people in Asia and West Africa.

And the most frightening thing about it is that no one can guarantee that it won't happen again — because the decisions that created it were all, somehow, perfectly reasonable.

Continue Reading and/or Listen to the Radio piece.

update: As a side note, here is a great link to information on how to grow your OWN rice! In a container! On your patio! As a burgeoning urban farmer, I really like this type of thing.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Everything I need to Know, I learned from BizKids

I came home from work today. I turned on the TV. It was still on PBS from watching Will Ferrell being honored for the Mark Twain prize on Monday night. I didn't touch the remote again because I was distracted by my computer, and before I knew it, I was watching this: BizKids.

It had some insightful money tips, and some inspiring stories! I think I need to catch this on TV more often.

Monday, October 31, 2011

A guru's Guru

To a certain degree, I’ve been filtering in various articles, TV and radio episodes covering the life and legacy of Steve Jobs. And by far, this article - “What Kind of Buddhist was Steve Jobs, Really?” -  has been the most interesting.

 How do you define a person? I agree that in life and death, look at what a person does, what they create and produce, first and foremost, rather than just what they say. But what lies behind that is a person’s belief system, and it is amazing how in most of the coverage of Steve Jobs, the fact that he was a devout Buddhist rarely takes center stage. It’s telling, but not surprising, that the message is filtered through Western media and comes out significantly watered down. Even Job’s official biographer demonstrates these biases, as this article points out. It’s too bad, because I want to know more about this – what does a man who’s critical of EVERYTHING and scrutinizes every last detail – what is it about Buddhism that passed the test?

“Why would a former phone phreak who perseverated over the design of motherboards be interested in doing that? Using the mind to watch the mind, and ultimately to change how the mind works, is known in cognitive psychology as metacognition. Beneath the poetic cultural trappings of Buddhism, what intensive meditation offers to long-term practitioners is a kind of metacognitive hack of the human operating system (a metaphor that probably crossed Jobs’ mind at some point.) Sitting zazen offered Jobs a practical technique for upgrading the motherboard in his head.”

 I love that. It’s a great metaphor, and a bridge for the 21st century person to contextualize ancient wisdom and apply it to their own life. 

For me personally, I find when I read about great people, it’s always in the back of my head to see how we stack up. How are we alike, how are we different, and most importantly, how can I learn from this person and be better? I’m going to buy the two books referenced in this article, and start there.

Simplicity. Love. Focus. And no shortcuts! I’m taking those mantras as well.

(update! I made this gif to illustrate my point.)

(update again! wth? why don't most photo hosts want to play nice with gifs? I thought there is a gif renaissance. {lol - andy always yells at me when I say stuff like that})

Friday, October 28, 2011

Rule of Male Succession to British Monarchy Is Abolished

"The 16 countries that recognize the British monarch as head of state struck a historic blow for women's rights on Friday, abolishing male precedence in the order of succession to the throne."

In honor, Iron & Wine's song - "Woman King"

World Wild West

Here are two interesting opinions on some of the true perils of social networks like Facebook. It’s not just the commonly toted problem that your feed might get bombarded with crazy over-sharers from people you haven't seen in a decade. It's pulling us all into the web, and we need to be mindful of what this new space is, and what are the hidden or unforeseen dangers and disadvantages.

It's not just that we volunteer too much information, but that someone gets to profit off of that. Not that what you say lives on forever, and employers can find it. But that you're being funneled into only being allowed to be one person, when that's not ever true.

We need to fight for the Wild West internet. We need Anonymous but we also need the EFF. We can be both cowboys and indians, we just need to make sure that nobody takes our guns away. Nobody takes that freedom and power away. And we all have to be vigilant, because I don't think it's necessarily a malevolent, profit hungry corporation that will do it. I think that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and sometimes (often times) the people in charge just don't get it. And don't or won't listen to those who do.

And in my opinion, these guys do:

You Are Not Facebook's Customer by Douglas Rushkoff.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Isn't it Weird

How Gaddafi was in love with Condoleeza Rice? Ha. It's the funniest thing to me. He had someone write her a love song even - "Black Rose in the White House." Just goes to show, no matter how important or powerful a person gets, we're all still just kids running around the playground.

Made this image in homage.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Analyze This.

Revealed – the capitalist network that runs the world

"AS PROTESTS against financial power sweep the world this week, science may have confirmed the protesters' worst fears. An analysis of the relationships between 43,000 transnational corporations has identified a relatively small group of companies, mainly banks, with disproportionate power over the global economy.

The study's assumptions have attracted some criticism, but complex systems analysts contacted by New Scientist say it is a unique effort to untangle control in the global economy. Pushing the analysis further, they say, could help to identify ways of making global capitalism more stable.

The idea that a few bankers control a large chunk of the global economy might not seem like news to New York's Occupy Wall Street movement and protesters elsewhere (see photo). But the study, by a trio of complex systems theorists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, is the first to go beyond ideology to empirically identify such a network of power. It combines the mathematics long used to model natural systems with comprehensive corporate data to map ownership among the world's transnational corporations (TNCs).

"Reality is so complex, we must move away from dogma, whether it's conspiracy theories or free-market," says James Glattfelder. "Our analysis is reality-based."

Previous studies have found that a few TNCs own large chunks of the world's economy, but they included only a limited number of companies and omitted indirect ownerships, so could not say how this affected the global economy - whether it made it more or less stable, for instance.

The Zurich team can. From Orbis 2007, a database listing 37 million companies and investors worldwide, they pulled out all 43,060 TNCs and the share ownerships linking them. Then they constructed a model of which companies controlled others through shareholding networks, coupled with each company's operating revenues, to map the structure of economic power."

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

PSA: Huffington Post is Completely Worthless

I really hate Huffington Post. They suck so badly.

Case in point: Naomi Wolf, arrested outside of their stupid "Game Changer" event (where they have the balls to put her in a room with Kim Kardashian. Unreal.)

Looking for articles on the arrest, and reading quite a few, from the NY Post to the Guardian, they all explained to some degree of why she was arrested: she was defending the protesters rights, calling bullshit on the police who said the event holders (huffpost) had a permit to control the sidewalks (which they didn't and I guess cannot legally). 

Does HuffPost explain this? NO. They have 4 weak paragraphs on it. And not on the main page, but under the business section.

UGH! I'm boycotting HuffPost indefinitely. Piece of trash. I'm really outraged and indignant that they have the audacity to censor and bury this story.,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&biw=1165&bih=751&um=1&ie=UTF-8&ncl=dHv8lxFjzU8IwCMiuuwLGDKL0B1TM&ei=kjKfTrebLOWIsAKbjJWNCg&sa=X&oi=news_result&ct=more-results&resnum=1&ved=0CC0QqgIwAA

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Compassion is a Virtue

I just wrote my Senator about the Debt ceiling - here's what I said:


Dear Senator Johnson,

I’m writing in regards to the debt ceiling, and to implore you to listen to your constituents as we proclaim “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.”


Appeasing a fringe group of ideologues is not as important as securing the well being of your friends, neighbors and the rest of middle America who just want the personal political maneuvering to stop.

Please, be a leader. Be responsible. Be compassionate. This is not a game of winner takes all, my way or the highway. America is a two-way street and COMPROMISE is not only the high road, but your civic duty.

Respectfully Yours,
Kelly Barron

Milwaukee, 53202

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Bike to Work Week

It’s Bike to Work Week here in Milwaukee, sponsored and promoted by the Bicycle Federation of Milwaukee. Since my new assignment has me working just south of downtown, and a quick 2.7 miles from my place, I’ve been all over biking to work and this coordinated event is just a landmark to keep me going.

I ride a gold Trek Pure, sort of an old man bike, I admit. But like most things, I absolutely don’t base my decisions on popular trends – bike styles or otherwise. So yeah, no fix gear for this girl. Having a big cruiser suits me great because I can sit upright, and so I don’t have that pushing pressure on my shoulders and wrists. I have a big seat, and so avoid tired bike butt syndrome. And I even have a rearview mirror, which is a must for riding in city traffic because you are constantly aware of the cars surrounding you on all angles. Ooh, and my bike rack and hanging bike bag – perfect for trips to the farmers market or whole foods or the library, all places I frequent especially in summer months. So yeah – fat tire cruiser. Perfect for me – a city biker who mostly rides for distance and pleasure. Not speed.

So that is the anatomy of my steed. The second crucial component to biking to work is figuring out what to wear. It’s gotta be versatile – bike friendly and work appropriate. Bike friendly = no skirts, gotta have legging or pants that are stretchy. And then there’s a matter of a top that I can layer up with something else because it’s hot while riding in and don’t want to sweat too much, but gotta layer on something that’s OK and dressy for the office once I do get there. So yeah, a lot of cotton and stretch and swapping of layers.

So I stuff my bag/briefcase type thing into my bike bag. I put my Stone Creek coffee I make each morning into a thermal water bottle and stuff that inside too. I get my helmet on, my shades on, and I launch down the sidewalk. I’ve mapped my optimal route and luckily it’s mostly downhill in the morning route. I can leave my house at 8:00 and be in my desk chair by 8:30. Love it. Absolutely love it.

So all this week, I’ve stopped by the Alterra that has been hosting morning commuters with a tent for coffee and pastry (and conveniently already on my way). Today I also got BFW 2011 bike ride / map guide. So lots of bike rides ahead of me - (lord willing) – recreational and commuting.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Scott Walker Has Painting Of Poor Children Removed From Wisconsin Governor’s Mansion

Via disinfo and mother jones, another ridiculously callous move by Wisconsin's own Imperial Walker. I think that's how politicians like him can do what they do (lead by greed and fear while throwing the American people under the bus). They create a bubble of self-delusion. They just don't want to face the victims of their own greedy, self-serving politics. It makes me sick! Don't worry though - the "Wisconsin Spring" is still alive and well!!


"Other politicians can slash taxes for the rich while cutting funds for teachers and struggling families, but few can throw in some Mr. Burns-style symbolic nose-thumbing like the Wisconsin governor. Via Mother Jones:

Walker has made headlines again after he removed a painting (see right) depicting three Milwaukee children—one had been homeless, one from low-income family, and a third who had lost family members in a drunk-driving accident—from the Governor’s mansion.

The painting, hung over the mantel, was intended to remind state leaders of the people they represent. Scott Walker and his wife Tonette replaced it with a portrait of Old Abe, a Civil War-era bald eagle from Wisconsin.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Si Se Puede

May Day March for Labor and Immigrants Rights

When is the last time you’ve been in a situation that gave you goose bumps? This May Day, my friends and I joined a Labor/Immigrants Rights march, and I felt that electric feeling the entire time. We road the bus down to Bayview to join the starting point outside of the Latino community center. I didn’t know what to expect, and frankly, thought not many people would be making the 2.5 miles march to the lakefront and would opt instead to meet there for the schedule speakers (including the head of the AFL-CIO).

Was I wrong. We rounded the corner to a throng of people milling around a 3 city block radius. Signs colored the entire landscape, with every other person hoisting the now iconic red and blue Wisconsin fist poster. Speakers were addressing the crowds, speaking in Spanish so I really couldn’t tell what was happening. And before long, we started to march. Everyone was chanting in unison, mostly Spanish phrases like ‘si se puede!’ It was a great feeling to be the fish out of water – I couldn’t understand a thing, and I didn’t look like the people around me, but that didn’t matter. Everyone’s hearts were in the same place! It was energetic yet peaceful, with lots of families with strollers, teenagers, twenty-somethings, thirty-somethings, etc.

So we marched. We marched through downtown Milwaukee, with signs and chants and a sea of people shoulder to shoulder filling up at least 3 full city blocks. And when we got to the lakefront, the crowd paused and pooled together in order to make a unified entrance to the event. And it was truly chilling. We somehow found ourselves in front of this march, looking backwards at the mass of people with a large sign reading “Solidarity March” acting as the billboard for the people behind it. Words really don’t do a thing like this justice. But luckily, I took video! (Posted below).

I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. It was a great feeling to be apart of something that seemed so authentic and real. It’s not an article on HuffPost, it’s not a petition email from the ACLU, and it’s not an exasperated comment below a Facebook
update. It was real people making a real presence. People getting out of their houses and joining together and standing up for themselves and what they believe in. Power to the people! Power to the working class! Hateful politicians and greedy corporations will not be allowed to marginalize the masses. Si se puede!

Here is a link to a video I took of the march ascending on veteran's park.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Politics: The People vs. Goldman Sachs

This article is great, and required reading if you want to hold court in any conversation related to the country's financial status.

I also want to say - Matt Taibbi is one of my favorite people in the world. Sorry, everyone else I know. This guy is doing the work. Plus, he's a great writer in and of itself, with lines like "a satanic derivative structure." I just like that he used such a strong adjective - he's following in Hunter S's footsteps, and at Rolling Stone, no less.


"They were $13 billion short. That's big — 50 percent of their risk. It was so completely disproportionate."

Lloyd Blankfein went to Washington and testified under oath that Goldman Sachs didn't make a massive short bet and didn't bet against its clients. The Levin report proves that Goldman spent the whole summer of 2007 riding a "big short" and took a multibillion-dollar bet against its clients, a bet that incidentally made them enormous profits. Are we all missing something? Is there some different and higher standard of triple- and quadruple-lying that applies to bank CEOs but not to baseball players?

Saturday, May 07, 2011


As some of you may know, Wisconsin has been engaged in a number of recall efforts on the heels of Scott Walker's union busting legislation. Recalls are focusing on the Republican Senators who helped force through the bill with no debate or room for negotiations. (I know most media outlets make it sound like there are equal recall efforts for Democratic Senators too. In actuality, there might be small groups pushing it, but it’s a snowballs chance, and not in line with the true pulse of the Wisconsin people.)

Since debate and negotiation were taken off the table during the drafting of and crooked passing of this legislation, this has left the thousands of Wisconsinites with no other recourse but to recall their local Senators and force a new election. With even life-long Republicans feeling betrayed by their party, this bill strikes at the knees of the working class values Wisconsin has long stood for, and people of all stripes are now out in droves collecting signatures in order to tell these Republican Senators that they no longer represent their constituency.

Close to Milwaukee, Republican Senator Alberta Darling has been the focus of these recall efforts. Dedicated volunteers have been collecting signatures and putting the word out with signs, stickers and all means of localized communication. With the submission deadline for the recall signatures looming, the Recall Alberta Darling campaign put together a benefit event to help seal the efforts. But with so much momentum, the rally turned into a celebration, having collected and submitted the signatures needed a week early.

Held at the new bar Riverwest Public House, the nation's second non-profit/cooperative bar, people poured in early Friday evening. Braving the rain and forgoing Good Friday traditions, people came to celebrate the campaign with speeches, music, and a display of the signs and banners collected from the historic Madison Capitol protests. A truly diverse crowd, this hipster neighborhood bar was not only filled with the prototypical Friday night crowd, but at least half the crowd were older, blue-collar men and woman who probably haven’t been to a Friday night rock show in decades, if ever.

Channel 12 News made an appearance, with their anchorman rushing past the volunteers collecting the cover charge (a.k.a. my friend & I) in order to survey the room. To my knowledge, the event never made the air. (I’m sure more important things than a grassroots political upheaval were happening in this sleepy city that night, maybe a sale at Macy's or a golf tournament announcement.)

Overall, the night was a big success. Filled to capacity, the event was well orchestrated with a great line up of speakers (including Democrat Senator Chris Larson and Ruth Conniff, writer for the Progressive), several Milwaukee bands, and 88.9 DJ Dori Zori ending the night with a vivacious dance party. It was a another positive milestone in the labor movement, with the individuals who made the recall happen joining together as a group and celebrating the fruits of collective action. Solidarity!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Milwaukee, We Have a Problem

Back from Houston. Modern travel is really amazing, I don't think our minds or bodies have fully evolved to it yet. Jet lag is one thing, which is interesting. But just the fish out of water feeling I've had stepping off the plane from cold Milwaukee and feeling the humidity that was so unfamiliar. Having to mentally switch gears to wearing less, seeing sunshine, the mindset that goes along with being in the middle of summer. And now I'm back and its gray and its like that never happened. But Spring is here, right?

Jet Lag May Cause Stupidty

"SAN DIEGO — In addition to making you groggy and dazed, jet lag may make you stupid. A study presented November 15 at the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting finds that hamsters suffering extreme, chronic jet lag had about half the normal rate of new neuron birth in a part of the brain. What’s more, these animals showed deficits in learning and memory."

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Ahhh - Houston! I just dropped a bag full of tequila and hot sauce. It shattered all over the sidewalk.

At least it wasn't this: $130.00 hot sauce. Who knew!

Friday, March 18, 2011


We went to the Houston Rodeo on Friday night. Apparently, it's the world's largest (although Vegas has bigger cash prizes). As far as food and vendors goes, unless we missed a section, it wasn't that big. But my comparison is the Wisconsin State Fair, one of the greatest things I did last year (ahem, chocolate covered bacon, cream puffs, etc.). But the actual rodeo itself was awesome. It was inside the Astrodome, which is pretty huge. It always amazes me to be around that many people in one space, and just look at one of the small sections and think: that is like my entire hometown. As if all 6,000 people got off their couches and gathered in one area. Times ten.

The greatest event was when the cowboys chase after a steer, jump off their horse onto the steer and try to wrestle it to the ground. They literal body slam the poor things. And whoever does that the fastest wins.

Now those cowboys are cool, but the rodeo clowns are the most impressive. They jump in front of the bulls when the riders get thrown, so that the bulls don't attack them. They dive right in front of the bulls face! Just to distract them and save the riders lives. It was pretty awesome.

And last but not least, here's the cutest thing that happened. They had little kids, maybe 5 years old, ride on sheep to see who can go the farthest. They just hold onto their necks for dear life as they trot across the floor. So this little girl wins, she's decked out in little pink cowgirl gear, and the announcer goes to interview her afterwards. She says to the little girl, how did you learn to do this? And the girl is shy, and so pulls the announcer in so she can whisper in her ear the answer. And what does she say? "I practiced on my daddy." It was so cute I nearly cried!


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Marchin' on Madison

It's been a few days now since the monumental March on Madison this past Saturday. I'll let the pictures below tell a thousand more words. But overall, I just want to say I'm extremely disappointed by the lack of coverage in the mainstream media. Disappointed, but not shocked. Estimates were 100,000 people gathered that day - when is the last time that has happened in an American city? In the grounded, middle of the road Midwest?

And the gathering was so inspiring and peaceful. It wasn't centered on any celebrity or rebel rouser. It was really about the people that made up the protest itself - as I said about the smaller Milwaukee protest, people from all walks of life.

This isn't just about Scott Walker. It's not about the deficit, because any idiot knows that the bargaining rights of the union had nothing to do with that. And anyone with the smallest bit of inference ability can realize that money is being spent in other areas that grease the palms of the powers that be.

This really is about class warfare. That's what the general feeling on the streets was, as we circled round and round the capitol building. Average people have been screwed by the wealthy for too long and this union busting bill is a last shot that broke open a lot of frustration by a lot of good, hard-working people.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Today's Letter is C is for Crowds

It's Monday and I'm still very tired from the weekend. I went to Madison on Saturday to take part in the union protests. I really want to write a great summary of it - I haven't seen anything in the media so far that has truly done the occasion justice - but after a long day of writing at work, and a long weekend of hanging around, I can't muster the strength.

Here's 2 of my favorite photos for now......

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Something Stirring in Wisconsin

There's something in the air here in Wisconsin right now. I got the news of the bill passing last night as I opened up my computer at the Coin, where I was meeting a friend to do some work. First I heard was from an email from the Milwaukee IndyMedia mailing list I signed up for years ago now. I think that's indicative of how news is traveling - about this ongoing polical struggle, and of course, in this new digital empowered age as well. It's links and who you "know" in your personal cybernetwork. Not necessarily from the spigot of direct news outlets.

After work tonight, I went to meet the same friends at the rally at the Milwaukee Courthouse. There were about a hundred people there I would say (I'll also say I'm worse than Fox News at trying to guesstimate crowds. I never know how to gauge that sort of thing). Diverse crowd of young and old, kids to grandparents, college looking kids, granola looking couples, laborers and teachers. A lot of people had signs, of course; reading the signs is one of my favorite things about a rally. Jesse Jackson was supposed to be there, but at about 5:45pm he was still on route from Madison. People were taking turns giving short speeches on the microphone that was set up on the courthouse steps, overlooking the small yard and central fountain.

Now I like signs, but I really love speeches. I love speeches, I have to say it again. It's one of my favorite things in the whole world - a great speech is equal to some of my favorite songs. They can be like songs - and some people tonight were actually signing. But overall, it was impassioned people telling their story and speaking to and summarizing the zeitgeist as they saw it. I wish this would happen all the time.

My friend ended up speaking as well. When Cori and I realized Eric was going to go up - we were standing in the grass and he had been to the right of the microphone, about ten feet back, just holding a sign in the sidelines that said something like "Recall Darling - Ask Me How." He is volunteering for the Alberta Darling recall campaign, and had a petition we had put together at the bar last night. Anyway, when we realized he was going to say something, it was great. We were laughing and instantly became nervous for him because he had some big acts to follow. He did a great job though - I'll post the video.

So what I'm saying is, this is great. I love it. I'm going to Madison on Saturday - I made that decision last weekend, and am now more excited than ever to participate in this historic unfolding.

But what I think is the most amazing thing I've seen so far is this footage from the lone Democratic Senator during the bill passing last night. His exasperation is so palpable. The way the capitol exploded with chants of "Shame! Shame! Shame!" I just have to laugh at the Republicans as they sat at that table, silent, becoming palm bearers in one of the most tragic chapters of American Democracy. And you can just tell they're so scared to break party lines and actually have to make some decisions for themselves if they want to follow their conscious. It's funny because its so disgusting, it's laugh or squirm with awkwardness at how uncomfortable it is to watch someone lose their integrity like that.

But the Democratic Senator - wow, that was his time to shine and he took it. Repeating the law, looking so shocked that the other members were literally ignoring it. It's like all legitimacy to what they were doing was swept away, the smoke cleared, and here he is realizing that there was nothing to stop it. The smoke screen of democracy blown away. He did his best, he gave a great address to the people of Wisconsin after the Republican storms off. And how much more American does it get than him washing it all down with a gas station glass of soda. Ha.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Walker, We Will Recall You

I saw these posters on the storefront on Brady Street tonight. I think they're great examples of the arty, independent and involved spirit of the people of Milwaukee and abound.

As I sit here tonight, we're finding out that Walker pulled some shady manuevering to ram the union-busting bill through. So much for civility and debate. The people are in this now, and you can't match the creativity and will of the committed - no matter how many Koch Brothers dollars you have in the world. This isn't over!

As MM said, good luck: you've woken the sleeping giant.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Chrissie Wellington interview: The iron lady

"Chrissie Wellington did not even discover sport until her early twenties. Now, the civil servant from rural Norfolk is the greatest female endurance athlete on the planet. Here, she describes the sacrifices she has made for ironman triathlon and why they are all worthwhile"