Posts from May 2013

Save the Gnu’s Room, Save the World

My favorite bookstore in the world, The Gnu’s Room, is on the ropes. Commercial rents near campus are high in Auburn, and until this month it looked like the bookstore would have to close in July. But there is a real chance to save the store now, and to help it not only continue as a used bookstore and event space, but also to expand into a new arts space (in the emerging Arts District in downtown Opelika). A donor has come forward with a new, low-rent location, so Gnu’s Room is trying to raise some money between now and June 15 which would allow them to cover the fixed costs of the move, and so to keep the bookstore in operation. Here’s more from the Kickstarter campaign page:

The Gnu’s Room: a non-profit bookstore and community art space has been the cornerstone of our independent arts community in Auburn, AL.

Due to the difficulties of high urban rent and waning financial support, The Gnu’s Room is struggling to make ends meet and fulfill its mission of promoting literacy and the arts in Southeast Alabama. Our community is heavily marginalized in the predominant culture of today… and those who love books, independent films, and local music have got to come together and show their support!

We are trying to raise the seed money to move The Gnu’s Room into a huge, low-cost warehouse space in the new Arts District of Opelika (supported by the Alabama Arts Council, The Railyard independent venue, and the future Cotton Seed Studios)

But we need help to make this move possible!

Pledges of varying amounts can earn you rewards like free books, tickets to our benefit concert, local artwork, and genuine ivory scrimshaw bookmarks…. Plus the added reward of keeping our artistic community strong and well…

Don’t let our favorite meeting place for all things artistic, inspirational, and happily weird disappear! The Gnu’s Room plays a vital role in serving the area with rare volumes of nearly-forgotten wisdom and creating more arts through their publishing house, Solomon & George Publishers. We want to use the freedom of the Opelika Arts District space to expand community services to include e-publication archiving of these rare works, i.e. the Gnu Library, in-house printing services, art galleries, and a scrap exchange program for resident artists. . . . The biggest challenge facing our organization is pursuing often non-existent arts funding in our state and region. We hope to overcome that difficulty by providing useful services in a retail format. For example: We re-sell donated books in our bookstore. The Scrap Exchange will sort and recycle materials to bring low cost arts-and-crafts, packaging, and garden supplies to our proactive community members. . . . The new location will create not just more opportunities for our mission, but continue our ability to provide a common meeting place for the forum of artistic and creative solutions.

— Kickstarter: Save the Gnu’s Room!

The campaign has until June 15, 2013 to reach their fundraising goal. As of press time, there’s about $2,500 left to go in order to meet it. I just backed the project myself; if you can, please consider backing it with me, and help us save this precious community space, one of the long-time strongest supporters and most open forums for the arts, culture and philosophy in the Auburn-Opelika community.[1]

Also.

  1. [1]The Gnu’s Room has been very supportive of local authors, and among other things they have been very kind and helpful to us for Markets Not Capitalism, which they generously hosted the world’s first book-talk / reading for, back in November 2011, and which they continue to sell on their shelves.

Shameless Self-promotion Sunday

It’s Sunday, Sunday, Sunday. Time to get Shameless, Shameless, Shameless. You know what to do. (Or, if you don’t, it’s not too hard to figure out …) How’re things where you are? Got anything big coming up? Anything you’ve been working on lately? What have you been up to this week? Write anything? Leave a link and a short description for your post in the comments. Or fire away about anything else you might want to talk about.

scott crow comes to the vegas valley

Att’n: Nevada friends, ALLies and rabble-rousers! (Or, anyone who happens to be passing through the Vegas Valley on the evening of June 5 ….) Here’s some great news from Vegas ALLy and A-Café-er Kelly Patterson: Vegas (A)s have organized a visit and a talk from scott crow of Common Ground Collective, Ecology Action of Texas, etc. etc. etc., based on stories from his book Black Flags and Windmills. The presentation will be in Beam Hall on UNLV campus, on Wednesday, June 5.

  • WHO: Everyone’s invited!
  • WHEN: Wednesday, June 5, 2013, 6:00 – 8:00pm.
  • WHERE: Frank and Estella Beam Hall, Room 105 @ UNLV. Las Vegas, Nevada.
  • WHAT: Talk by Organizer/Author Scott Crow of the Common Ground Collective

Here’s the Facebook event page; or Las Vegas Anarchy Meetup event page if you prefer. Either way, the copy’s the same:

Scott Crow co-founder of the Common Ground Collective, an anarchist inspired grassroots relief in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, will be in Las Vegas to give a presentation. crow uses his book as a foundation for a visual, fast moving and engaging presentation of stories to show what ordinary people can do to change their own worlds and create power from below without governments. The presentation seeks through a collection of stories to show how the philosophy of anarchism has shaped and changed modern political movements. Anarchism’s influence on organization and actions has allowed spaces for projects like the Common Ground Collective, the largest anarchist organization in modern US history to come into existence after Hurricane Katrina, the Occupy uprisings, and the environmental climate change movements across the US. The presentation which is equal parts personal story, radical history and organizing philosophies asks questions about how we engage in social change, the real and perceived challenges presented by the state and dares us to rethink our grassroots movements in how we engage for the future.

This talk will be of interest for anyone that has been involved in grassroots organizing and community related planning from a decentralized, member based perspective.

scott crow bio:

scott crow has spent his varied life as an underground musician, coop business owner, political organizer, trainer, strategist, consultant, ‘green collar’ worker, writer and speaker advocating the philosophy and practices of anarchism for social, cultural, environmental, and economic aims.

Over the last two decades scott has worked for a number of national organizations like Greenpeace, A.C.O.R.N. and Ruckus Society and co-founded a number of varied projects, businesses and organizations including Lesson Seven (political industrial band), Red Square (coop art gallery), Century Modern (antique cooperative), Treasure City Thrift (volunteer/worker cooperative) and the Common Ground Collective in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina (the largest anarchist inspired organization in modern US history). He is the author of the book Black Flags and Windmills (PM Press 2011), appeared in What Lies Beneath: Katrina, Race and the State of the Nation (South end Press) and co-produced the film Angola 3: Black Panthers and the Last Slave Plantation (PM Press). He has appeared in international media as both a writer and subject including the NY Times, Democracy Now, CNN and NPR as well as the documentaries Welcome to New Orleans, Better this World, and Informant.

NPR’s This American Life called him a living legend among anarchists and the New York Times characterized him as anarchist and veteran organizer . . . that comes across as more amiable than combative . . .. Currently scott splits his time speaking and consulting nationally and organizing locally.

Transcendental macros

So, because we live in a cultural world rapidly approximating the truth of the Principle of Plenitude, now there’s an Analytic Philosopher image-macro series.[1] A few are heavy-handed axe-grinding, but lot of them are pretty funny (including, as you might hope, a lot of meta-macros about the macro itself). This one, though…

Here's a Scumbag Analytic Philosopher macro, adjusting his bowtie while saying ...
“I USE LANGUAGE … TO TRANSCEND LANGUAGE.”

According to the generator site, this is supposed to be a Scumbag Analytic Philosopher macro. But the caption really just makes him seem like a super-badass. You go, man. All our hopes and dreams are with you.

  1. [1]Not memes. There is no such thing as a meme.

Wednesday Lazy Linking

  • Marketplace (May 9, 2013): Does fair trade clothing help the consumer and the retailer?: NPR’s Marketplace features a short story on Fair Trade certification for clothing, and efforts to address the working conditions in Bangladesh sweatshops. Along the way, there’s a couple quotes from my co-editor on Markets Not Capitalism, Gary Chartier, about the supply-chain practices that many clothing-industry TNCs use to displace responsibility and insulate themselves from accountability for lethal working conditions in their factories.

  • Cathy Reisenwitz @ Sex And The State (May 15, 2013): Fighting Sexism, Sexily I’ve long contended that libertarians have a habit of downplaying or denying certain problems when they don’t like the proposed solutions. For example, when people talk about sexism, or the wage gap, it’s common for a libertarian to retort that the wage gap isn’t real, or can be explained by individual choices. I understand this desire to avoid the coercive solutions many people suggest for fighting sexism . . . The thing is, Rothbard was super bothered by a state monopoly on force. We libertarians need to get really bothered by sexism. And then we need to come up with cultural, and not state, solutions. . . . (With an example of creative thinking and guerrilla theater, featuring a cheesecake pin-up poster of Bro-sie the Riveter.)

  • Marja Erwin (May 2, 2013): Trans Politics and Colonialism: A Few Questions?. Read the whole thing.

  • Marja Erwin (April 23, 2013): I still think market anarchism has a lot to contribute to the rest of anarchism. This too. I think it’s important to have a system where people can communicate what they need, and what they want, and what they don’t need, and what they can do to help, and I think it’s important to have systems where people can work things among themselves, if for some reason they can’t work things out through the community or union or federation orgs. . . . (Against all monopolizations of social capital.)

  • Mark Stoval @ On the Mark (May 7, 2013) claims that he is going to take A look at Mutualism. In comments, Roderick Long points out that he ought to have looked harder. Or, really, tried looking at any mutualist writing at all, rather than just doing what he seems to have done, which was to scan ahead until he reached a fixed phrase (labor theory of value, occupancy and use) that convinced him that he already knows everything that he needs to know about the rest of the book. Nearly everything that Mark claims about Mutualists is a ridiculous travesty of Kevin Carson’s views; and evidence that he knows nothing about Mutualists other than Kevin Carson. But Roderick’s intervention in the comments section is right-on.

  • Forbes (May 15, 2013): Suit Alleges IRS Improperly Seized 60 Million Personal Medical Records. You know what the worst part of this story is? The part about having an Internal Revenue Service, to surveill daily expenses and seize personal data, all in order to investigate and police tax payments. Seriously, there is no possible way to square that with basic civil liberties, and it ought to be abolished.

  • BBC (May 6, 2013): Lauryn Hill jailed for tax evasion. Partly this is a story about the government’s tax-policing. Partly it’s a story about the financial traps that are imposed by the structure of state capitalism, and the ways in which tax structures systemically confine people — both very wealthy people, like Hill, and very poor people as well — to high-liquidity, cash-producing business and employment. The Grammy-winning singer, 37, also faces three months of home confinement, after pleading guilty last year. Hill failed to pay taxes on about $1.8m (£1.2m) of earnings between 2005-07. In a statement to the judge, Hill said she had intended to pay the taxes but could not after withdrawing from public life and ending her music career to raise her children. . . . I am a child of former slaves who had a system imposed on them, Hill said in court. I had an economic system imposed on me. Free Lauryn Hill and all political prisoners.

  • Dominic Gover, International Business Times (May 7, 2013): Lauryn Hill Blames Slavery as She’s Jailed for $500,000 Unpaid Tax Bill. Oh by the way, did I mention that the judge is also forcing Lauryn Hill to undergo counselling because of her conspiracy theories [sic] as a condition of her plea? Where conspiracy theories means political dissent from the status quo.

  • Jim Epstein @ reason.com (May 7, 2013): Government Assault on the Chinatown Bus Industry Fueled By Bogus Federal Study. In which the government takes care of Greyhound’s competitors for them, using an error-ridden bogus safety study, which uses Greyhound’s own crashes to prove that their curbside competitors are less safe. The study is like a matryoshka doll of clumsy errors and statistical malpractice; every time you spot them one error and set it aside for the sake of argument, you find another error, just as atrocious as the last one, nested inside of it.

  • Home School Legal Defense Association (May 14, 2013): German Family Denied Asylum, HSLDA Appeals. The judge’s decision to deny asylum is appalling. From the press release: The court said that the Romeikes had not made a sufficient case, and that the United States has not opened its doors to every victim of unfair treatment. Well no, no they haven’t. But they say that like it ought to be a problem for the victims of unfair treatment. Actually, it is a problem with the United States, which needs to stop acting as a gatekeeper and get out of the way. It is appalling that any peaceful immigrant should be turned away, for any reason. Solidarity with all people without papers, and all immigrants without status.

  • Free Adam Kokesh (May 20, 2013): Adam Kokesh Accused of Felony Assault on Federal Officer — No Bail Yet: It looks pretty clearly like he is being held on a vacuous detained-by-will-of-the-cop charge — in this case, resisting arrest and assault on a federal officer — for getting himself shoved by a Federal Officer and then grabbing the arm of the dude who was physically attacking him. His hearing is set for Thursday; in the meantime he is in contact with his attorney but has been denied the opportunity to make phone calls (content warning: Alex Jones links, feh).

  • DinoGoss (May 11, 2013): The Validity of Lambeosaurus — Anybody Know A Good Lawyer? I Am Not A Taxonomist, but I’m inclined to think that if your system would throw out Lambeosaurus at this point in favor of Didanodon altidens that’s probably a problem with your naming system not a problem with current use of Lambeosaurus.

  • Lucy Cooke @ Vimeo (February 8, 2013): BUCKET OF SLOTHS. Exactly what it says on the tin.