Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Philip Levine's working-class poetry


I found this tribute at the libertarian communist site Libcom, not an oxymoron. It's full of current and
archival material documenting the often misunderstood or mocked voices of the everyday people who seek justice, oppose top-down imposition of coerced authority, and toil away with little hope of a hearing. I'd just read a poem by Philip Levine about an ordinary home when seeking some examples for a syllabus; after all, from a blue-collar family myself, I teach mostly the same students.

So, I liked the comment on Libcom who cited from the L.A. Times obituary this gem: "'Princeton students were apt to become emotionally undone when he critiqued their poems,' [poet Michael[ Collier noted, 'whereas Wayne State students were likely to unleash an obscenity in response.'"

Levine left his native Detroit where he'd began working at 14, and after a Stanford fellowship wound up teaching mostly at Fresno State. At least he could buy a house, way back I guess, for $165/month. I'd like to read more about him and his work, including his lifelong fascination with the anarchists of the Spanish Civil War (a subject I too gained an interest in as a teenaged bookworm, in a remaindered copy of Ronald Fraser's oral history Blood of Spain.) From the NY Times obit, I pluck this example, of the tedium and repetition of it all. It reminds me of my teenaged jobs at minimum wage, $2.85.

In the soap factory where I worked
when I was fourteen, I spoke to
no one and only one man spoke
to me and then to command me
to wheel the little cars of damp chips
into the ovens. While the chips dried
I made more racks, nailing together
wood lath and ordinary screening
you’d use to keep flies out, racks
and more racks each long afternoon,
for this was a growing business
in a year of growth

From "Growth" in What Work Is.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Game of Thrones: Who's next?



I've been very busy with the new term and teaching and mentoring. So, not much downtime to ruminate. So, for the record, a quick entry. My older son told me about this and given I rarely mention the idiot box on this forum, I am happy when it's not so sophomoric or soporific. Having enjoyed Boardwalk Empire, Breaking Bad, and The Wire, to name finished series of high quality; in the middle of House of Cards, Masters of Sex, Homeland, and Better Call Saul (two of these are very good, the other two....); in hiatus for Black Mirror, Peaky Blinders as well as this series, I offer this:

Game of Thrones: Seven Wildest Theories about the forthcoming season. I have a hard time keeping dark bearded armor clad Brits apart if less so their fetching and disrobed Celtic, exotic, or even Brit counterparts or foes of the distaff gender, and I resist any character brought back from the dead (even Sherlock or Spock), but in the meantime, for those with more time to obsess and fantasize, have at it.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

An hÓiche Beo

Chonaic muid an h-óiche eile an dráma nua le Conor McPherson. Bhí sé taibiú ar an Cois Thiar le "An hÓiche Beo." Chuaigh Léna agus mise go dtí an Teach Súgartha Geffen ina Coill Thiar.

Ní raibh mé ag dul ansin ar feadh i bhfad ann. Tá foirgnimh nua go leor ina gceantar sin. Ach, ní bhfuil siad duine go leor ag imeall, seachas leinn ó UCLA, ar ndóigh.

D'ith muid ina bialann ar dtús. Bhí maith liom an leann áitiúil le Ghrúdlann Carraigh na h-Iolar. Tá sé Populist IPA, an-géar.

Shíl muid ar chéile go raibh an dráma ní raibh soiléir. Mheas muid go raibh sé doiléir, go fírinne. Ach, d'aontaigh muid go raibh lag an stiurthóir.

Mar sin féin, bhí sé suimiúil, gan amhras. Ní raibh mé léadranach. Shíl mé an deireadh go raibh débríoch, fós.

"The Night Alive"

We saw the other night the new drama by Conor McPherson. It was the premiere on the West Coast of "The Night Alive." Layne and I went to the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood.

I had not been there for a long time. There are new buildings galore in that district. But, there were not many people around, besides students from UCLA, of course.

We ate at a restaurant first. I liked my local ale from Eagle Rock Brewery. It's Populist IPA, very sour.

We thought together that the drama was not clear. We reckoned that it was obscure, truly. But, we agreed that the director was weak.

All the same, it was interesting, without a doubt. It was not boring. I thought the ending was ambiguous, too.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Militarized America

http://whowhatwhy.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/protect-freedom.jpgTom Engelhardt warns of machine guns in NYC, part of the shunting by Homeland Security of over $5 billion in equipment to local police, including mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles to Ohio State and Walsh County, North Dakota. Many of my veteran students insist that the enemy would be all around us if not for the military's vigilance. As a civilian, admittedly I lack the insider information they may have been given, but I wonder as one opposed to militarization of our domestic society what self-sustaining confirmation bias may have been generated, post-9/11, to justify such arguments. We are always told of foiled plots, after all.

Engelhardt documents the failure post-Snowden to reform the NSA, the increasing integration of drones into our security state which itself costs a trillion a year, the ties of electioneering to endless war, and the escalating costs of campaigning, although he leaves out the Democrats, as many do...

He concludes: In sum, we, the people, are ever less in control of anything. The police are increasingly not “ours,” nor are the NSA and its colleague outfits “our” intelligence agencies, nor are the wars we are fighting “our” wars, nor the elections in which we vote “our” elections. Whole article here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Facelessness + the Gyges Effect

As I teach about the Ring of Gyges that in Plato's fable granted invisibility to its wearer for better or worse, I was intrigued by this recent article in the New York Times. Stephen Marche ties in the trolls who lurk on the Net to the classical analogy. He reminds us of "the faceless communication social media creates, the linked distances between people, both provokes and mitigates the inherent capacity for monstrosity. The Gyges effect, the well-noted disinhibition created by communications over the distances of the Internet, in which all speech and image are muted and at arm’s reach, produces an inevitable reaction — the desire for impact at any cost, the desire to reach through the screen, to make somebody feel something, anything."

Having been the target of a troll albeit in an academic, critical, and (post-)Buddhist forums at that, I recall the frustration I and others had at the producer of such vitriol. The fact that many in that setting were educated, articulate, and formidably armed for debate made the continued attacks all the more contentious. Efforts to counter the venom with praise when deserved, as I had done to the creator by personal e-mail as well as forum comments, generated no appreciation. I tried compassion and I tried intelligence, but neither worked. Still, Marche urges that rather than confronting or avoiding trolls, that compassion is the answer. "Trolls breed under the shadows of the bridges we build."

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Michael Punke's "The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge": Review

Attacked by a grizzly, soon after left to die as his fellow trappers flee an attack by natives, forced to crawl and scoot along to escape capture, Hugh Glass' epic story of survival led him through the winter of 1823-1824 across much of the Great Plains. He forced himself on across two-hundred miles of frozen frontier to the nearest fort. There, he recovered enough to continue his pursuit of the two men who had abandoned him and who had stolen his knife and his rifle. Michael Punke's The Revenant dramatizes true events. They lend themselves to a vivid storyline. This reissue, after the novel's release in 2002, presages this autumn's film adaptation now being shot in Alberta, starring Leonardo Di Caprio, directed by Alejandro Inarritu.

Punke, a Wyoming-raised and Montana-based law professor when he published this, is now an ambassador to the World Trade Organization. Having written two histories of the West, he uses harsh and vast settings well. He adapts the frontier enterprise of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, as he notes in an afterword, to highlight the plot potential in trapper-tracker Glass' tale. The opening scenes as Glass fends off the bear encourage vivid imagery. Slashed across his back, his leg and arm battered, his throat punctured, Glass' scalp is nearly torn away. "The skin was so loose that it was almost like placing a fallen hat on a bald man."

However, the author prefers an unadorned style. Such descriptions as just quoted are rare. Instead, the stolid personality of dogged Glass dominates this book. Punke prefers a spare quality, fitting the torment and loneliness of Glass. Having previously survived press-ganging by pirate Jean Lafitte and then escape into Texas where Glass was taken in for a year by the Pawnee, he hunkers down, bent on survival. Skinning a rattler, fending off wolves to grab his share of a freshly killed lamb, improvising a trap for mice to roast, he cannot yet walk. This predicament energizes his desperation after he is left to fend for himself, hiding from the Arikara, in pain and alone on the prairie as the cold season closes in. Punke integrates his research on survival skills, and this material matches the rugged backdrop.

As the subtitle emphasizes, Glass seeks revenge. "He vowed to survive, if for no other reason than to visit vengeance on the men who betrayed him." But Glass, in Punke's portrayal, seems more eager to outlast the frigid conditions than to mull over his fate. Reduced to rags, pitted against the weather, Glass keeps our interest more by his cunning than his character. He lacks an ability in Punke's understated mood to explore what may lurk inside Glass. So, the reader finds interest more in how to make a fire in a blizzard, why Glass helps an old, blind Arikara woman left by herself in an ravaged village, or what happens when two Shoshone boys out for a hunt stumble upon Glass later in his trek.

Glass is not given to elaboration. On meeting the voyageurs who will ferry him to a fort for healing, he sums up his back story in full. "Big grizzly attacked me on the Grand. Captain Henry left John Fitzgerald and Jim Bridger behind to bury me when I died. They robbed me instead. I aim to recover what's mine and to see justice done." That is it. His listeners, ready for a long night's yarn, are baffled.

So might we be. But seen mainly through Glass' eyes, little of the landscape registers, save what signals threat, nourishment, movement, ease, or endurance. "The colder weather settled into Glass' wounds the way a storm creeps up a mountain valley." That phrase seems more Punke's in its occasional embellishment than it does one emanating from terse Glass. However, later in his journey, as he sees peaks rising beyond Yellowstone River, "there was a sense of sacrament that flowed from the mountains like a font, an immortality that made his quotidian pains seem inconsequential".

Near the conclusion, Glass ponders the vistas he will soon turn away from as he loops back from his vantage point of the Rockies. "He searched for Orion, dominant on the eastern horizon, Orion the hunter, his vengeful sword poised to strike." Punke integrates this symbol into the last chapters of his novel, and the situation Glass finds himself in as he pursues revenge lingers, as if in biblical lessons.

This review itself remains rather evasive, to avoid spoilers. The implicit tension of watching Glass as he forces himself back to health and pushes himself along in nearly unbelievable situations remains. Despite Punke's tendency to shy away from some of the questions one may ask about Glass' inner self, the author conveys in this book's best moments a relentless energy that infuses this primal saga.
(Amazon US 2-9-15 and PopMatters 2-18-15)

Friday, February 20, 2015

Ryan Pyle's "Chinese Turkestan": Book Review

Ryan Pyle, an award-winning Canadian photographer who travels around and beyond his adapted Chinese home, presents a look at Xinjiang, for which he favors the old Chinese Turkestan title as better suited to its cultural diversity. In his short preface, he notes he does not want to "pontificate," but to present the modernization of this land by the Chinese with minimal commentary. That he does, in spare captions.

The paucity of background beyond the helpful introduction makes the reader turn viewer. Pyle places the captions a few pages away from the black and white photos. This has the advantage of allowing you to sink deeper into them, but the small red typeface (as well as the bright red binding and trim) do jolt you a bit.

Some photos benefit from the two-page layout, but this book is smaller in size than the coffee-table format I anticipated. (I was asked to review it.) Many, over half, document  the fast-changing main city of Kashgar, some in Khotan, and then they roam to the borderlands and wilder places. Fields and desert take over.

I expected more on the desolate Tian Shan mountains, but there is little coverage of the higher places. Most of Pyle's spare images show people, in factories, mills, streets, on paths, and among farms. He keeps the focus on them rather than natural landscapes, as he tries to give us a sense of its inhabitants.

This is welcome for its depiction of a place few of us may know beyond its ancient Silk Road aura. The reality as the Chinese regime changes this place and exploits its resources and imports its Han into a traditionally Muslim and Buddhist enclave must be interpreted. For, these are often minimalist portrayals. Author's site. 
Amazon US 2-6-15

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

D. F. Bailey's "White Light Meditation": E-Book Review

I'm curious about meditative practices outside of a religious framework and ritual observance. I also wonder about those that, as D. F. Bailey's encourages, expect one to empty the mind. So, the author's invitation to review his short (e-book as a Kindle) study offered me a chance to learn more.

"White Light" bases its approach on thirty years of crafting by a Canadian writer and a counseling psychologist; this non-theistic, non-mystical orientation is designed to channel, as Chapter Two details, a "universal force of nature" with which to align the meditating mind. Chapter Three defines meditation, categorizes four types, and differentiates White Light Meditation's "special nature." Ten steps follow for Chapter Four's implementation. Chapter One introduces the study and Five wraps it up.

He begins with the analogy of iron filings seemingly "magical" as they combine and separate with an "aligning power" manifested on a paper, placed over a magnet, an experiment we learn in school. D. F. Bailey elaborates this comparison to the meditative process and its realigning power. He then continues to fit White Light Meditation into four definitions used by psychologists.

Breathing, walking, mindfulness, and mantra versions intersect with White Light where they all attempt to lift one out of awareness so as to become aware of awareness. This is not double-talk. This "illuminated consciousness" shifts one away from the primary type, the "monkey-mind" scattered by constant chatter of our normal experience. He does not apply Buddhist metaphors explicitly here, but those familiar with the "monkey" and the "raft" will recognize a few concepts.

The heart of this short account, 40% in, comes in ten steps, for twenty-thirty minutes daily. He recommends a week to prepare, including the avoidance of intoxicants, to enhance clarity. He adds advice for posture, setting, and time of day. Then, he explains the more "passive" aspects as the "illuminated consciousness" subtly shifts into gear.

This prepares for "stream entry" and unsurprisingly a focus on light in one's field of vision. He details types, and connects this with a mantra's release as "the inflection point into deep relaxation." He then guides you along the situations that may arise in meditation.

He segues into benefits of better fitness, more control over one's struggles, and the happiness which may emanate from the simple advice he organizes into ten steps. I agree that it's better to incorporate anxieties into a meditation to understand them specifically, rather than try to evade or glide past them as non-specific and nagging. He concludes, given his professional training, with a consideration of scientific explanations for the White Light, chakras, the Golden Mean, and brain chemistry.

The freedom from hype, theological or mystical speculation, and New Age or culture-specific applications makes this a primer anyone can use. Regardless of one's belief system, this allows meditation to become integrated into one's routine neatly. It's recommended, notably to a reader who may be less eager or more skeptical of more religious or ritualized types of meditation. (Amazon US 3-10-13)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Ivanka DiFelice's "A Zany Slice of Italy": Book Review

Forced out of her stockbroker's job during the recession, Ivanka DiFelice and her first-generation Canadian husband, David, decide to visit his family's homeland. Their stay, and their eventual decision to resettle there, comprise the series of episodic chapters that make up "A Zany Slice of Italy." I read this, curious about the country as perceived not by visitors but by those who had dealt with relocating there, a more rarely told tale.

This, then, offers a different view than such studies as John Hooper's "The Italians" (also reviewed by me). But it shares its treatment of issues like endemic nepotism, male privilege, female vanity, bureaucratic corruption, the culture of both genuine warmth and instinctive distrust that continue to distinguish Italy. David's relatives, as t.v. broadcasts stories of "violence, racism, unemployment, drugs, and scandals," proclaim "what vastly better lives David and I would have if we stayed in Italy" as "they shake their heads in disgust and yell various saints' names at each news clip." This shows Ivanka's knack for observation. You may not get much detail on actual political situations or facts, but you get a sense of life lived in the villas, beyond the tourist sights--which are barely noticed here.

For instance, the couple's week in Rome is summed up in one sentence, as they are "in total agreement with our guidebook," boasting of the city's fascinations. So, readers anticipating a travelogue will be disappointed. Instead, lots of accounts of their run-ins with the in-laws dominate.

"We soon have to agree with the Minister of Tourism, who declared that 'Italy is like a man driving a Ferrari at sixty kilometers (thirty-seven miles) an hour." But, vowing to remain there and outlasting extended attempts to buy a car, rent a place, buy a place, and negotiate the paperwork for residency, the couple finds brief work as minding children of summer holidaymakers in their adopted Tuscany.

It's not the ex-pat idyll. One may long for more of the sense of Italy's natural beauties (despite the junk heaps nearby) that Ivanka relates late in the narrative. Parts do lag, as like many anecdotes, the telling may regale those in the know more than outsiders to her family, but she sustains a cheerful, self-deprecating tone and she keeps the chapters short to vary the pace. But the food often sounds wonderful, and recipes are added. I liked the telling conversation when David and Ivanka, trying to get out of yet another meal with one of his many uncles and aunts, beg busyness as an excuse. All the more reason to dine out with the relatives, he is assured firmly, as the couple will save time cooking...

It's a pleasant introduction to daily life as seen from a North American perspective, as the couple dares to drive faster, to hang out with the clever and conniving locals, and to offer them a change from mutually held stereotypes. Gradually, the "stranieri giusti" (the right type of foreigners) characterizes the couple, who survive. This will entertain an audience seeking to experience Italy.
(P.S. I was asked to review this in exchange for a copy of this e-book; Amazon US 2-14-15)

Ivanka DiFelice sent me this in reply to my informing her about John Hooper's Q+A in the NYT. "Had I been interviewed (I need to get famous enough!) here is what I would have written:" 


You mention Puglia in your book as a recently popular destination for tourists. What’s an area nearby that people don’t know about yet?



There are lots of lovely places throughout Italy, some with far less tourists than others. However, the most famous sites have all been discovered. Admittedly, Florence, Sienna and Rome are full of tourists but that is because they are beautiful and there is a lot to be seen that cannot be found in North America. The heavily forested Casentino area of Tuscany is lovely with few tourists but while the area is pretty I would not recommend a North American travel thousands of miles to see something he could have driven a hundred miles to see back home. So figure out what you would like to see and don't worry if there are tourists in the area - that is part of the experience and will give you something to come home and grumble about.



Pasta is such a go-to food choice for foreigners. Should it be?



If you like pasta then yes! Pasta is even better in Italy and is served in a variety of sauces which we do not find in North America (wild boar sauce, truffle and porcini) so you can still eat pasta and discover something new. It is also relatively cheap and almost always good. As a side note I have several friends that cannot eat the pasta in Canada yet are able to digest the pasta in Italy. Search the menu to see if you can try something new; even if that means pasta with a sauce you have never tried before.



Italians love to talk about food, right?



Yes, they are absolutely passionate about it - avoid any talk with farmers about their garden - unless of course you have a deep interest in prized tomatoes and several hours to spare. Italians view a "drive through" as a punishment that should be reserved for only the most hardened criminals. 



What are faux pas to avoid with how you dress?



Fashions change so you need to keep up - at the moment I would describe the latest look for men as Homeless meets Zegna (from the head up a man appears to be destitute or homeless; with terribly unruly hair and a long scruffy beard.) From the head down his financial status appears to change as he dons a prohibitively expensive and well fitted suit (except it appears the pants are too short) by Zegna. If you do this look remember to leave plenty of hem on your pants as in no time the fashion will change



For women, as long as you are wearing something remotely immodest you should fit in just fine.



The key difference between Italian and North American dressing is comfort - if you are comfortable go back and adjust something if you really want to appear Italian.



What would be your first response if someone said: “I’m going to Italy next week. What should I do?”



Figure out your interests and what you want to see - then plan accordingly. There is something for everyone in this wonderful land! And don't worry about where tourists are and where they aren't - go see what you want to see and if you don't like crowds try to go "off season!"

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Níos mó ná fiche bliain

Is dóigh linn go minic go raibh Lá Vailintín ag ceangail leis grá. Ach, tá grá go mbeidh i bhfoirmeachaí éagsúlaí againn. Shíl mé faoi an ghrianghráf seo an lá eile, mar shampla.

Bhí sé tógtha le ag an iníon ina theaghlach a bhfuil againn ar eolas le breis is fiche bliain. Fhás sí féin leis mo mhac níos sine. Thúg sé seo ar feadh a pháirtí scoir as a mháthair in aice le na Nollaig.

Tá mé ar a dtúgtar an dá na fir fréisin ar an méid ama, gan amhras. Beirt sé chomh maith aithreacha de rang ó mhac níos sine, i ndáiríre. Is maith Pól an Stochaí Deargaí i mBostún chomh mé.

Is maith Daithí, in aice liomsa, céol. Go nádúrtha, tá sé ag seinm an piano go gairmiúil, fós. Plé muid faoi leabhair agus smaointe, fosta.

Bhí sé fuar an oíche sin ann. Mar sin, d'ith císte cnó cócó is blásta. Tar eis a ith mé é, duirt Daithí orm go dhéanamh é ag an bhean chéile!

Over Two Decades.

We often think of Valentine's Day joined with love. But, there is love in different forms for us. I was thinking about this photograph the other day, for example.

It was taken by the daughter of a family we have known for more than twenty years. She herself grew up with my older son. It was taken during a retirement party for her mother near Christmas.
The two men also I have known for the same time, certainly. The pair are also fathers of classmates of my older son, as well. Paul likes the Red Sox in Boston like me.

Dave, next to me, likes music. Naturally, he is plays piano professionally, also. We discuss books and ideas, as well. 

It was cold that night there. Therefore, I ate a most delicious coconut cake. After I ate it, Dave told me that his wife made it.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Amazon Fire HD6 Tablet: Review

My wife bought one last autumn so she could read the New Yorker easily and check e-mail and browse the web on the road more easily than on her iPhone 4. I have had a Kindle Touch for a while, and I liked the font and layout on her Fire HD 6 far better. We found ourselves competing to share it. So, I got my own when it went on sale, adding a gift certificate we had. I never used an iPad or tablet gadget before then. [But, I had a chance for an early Valentine's Day present to myself, discounted.]

For the price, sure, it's a bargain at even the retail rate. 8GB admittedly is a low storage when the "real" capacity is 4.5GB, but of course, Amazon expects you will be downloading fv/rom their cloud much more. Still, the functionality that integrates Audible audiobooks or one's carousel of titles purchased from Amazon is appealing to the eye. That is why I got it. I doubt I will watch movies on it and I will not be playing games. For an e-reader plus a web browser and e-mail connection, the keyboard and the predictive word completion are easier to use than my smartphone, and the typefaces and layouts are more user-friendly. The ability to alter page backgrounds more as well as fonts is a great option. Additionally, the enhanced note-taking, color-coding, and organization of notes for e-reading is fantastic. E-Books are much more enjoyable compared to a Kindle.

One downside I found comes with the new software update (soon after I fired it up, it installed). The Family Library is a nice touch, allowing my wife and me to share the books and audiobooks we have bought, as payment merges. But the limits of the personal documents uploaded to one Kindle e-mail account mean that my sign-in as a different Fire user prohibit me from viewing the docs I had sent originally to her Amazon account for my old Touch. I thought the Family Library would allow seamless integration, but apparently this is stymied by the account restrictions for documents uploaded that are not purchased from Amazon and downloaded directly, rather than e-mailed by an account user. The predicament with Prime being limited to one user in a family under that sign-in (far as I can tell) also continues despite the Library.

Another helpful feature lacking is that on a Fire the "look inside" or book preview feature available on a PC or a Touch is missing. Apparently Amazon is not installing that on any Fire. Strange decision and a sad one.

It does deplete its battery rapidly. You can almost watch the percentage decrease. But the wireless-disabling feature is smart, and I tend to turn off the wi-fi as much as I can to save power, and to reduce the brightness contrast too. This takes a while to charge, but as in many devices now, batteries work overtime.

The colors are appealing and the feel makes it easy to hold if in my large palm. Some complain about the plastic rather than more grip-worthy finish of the Fire HD 6. But since I put it in a case and have a screen protector (even if the Gorilla Glass may make these superfluous), the model's build itself is less important.

I tried to download MP3 files and (legal) torrents but neither connected with the network. Not sure what is the flaw here as my wi-fi is fine and non-sonic text files went to this download file. Streaming succeeds, but the transfer of sound files from the Net does not work at least so far. Also, Fire seems to block the downloading of text and mobi.files to itself from non-Amazon sources, the only exception so far that I have found being Project Gutenberg's free e-books, to the web download file if not the cloud. While a workaround can be found via a PC or USB, this does frustrate any easy file transfers.

Finally, the microphone does not seem to pick up my voice enough for it to work with apps I use for a vocal input. A minor point but one maybe others need to know. The speaker does not sound that impressive, and it is mono. Even with in-ear monitors, it still did not match my smartphone. It sounded tinny and transistor-like, to my surprise, and the volume was lacking.

But, overall, for an e-book reader, browser, and portable entertainment device, this meets the needs and certainly the price point. While designed to channel you to Amazon to buy, no surprise, it can be used for those of us who also get our reading and listening material from other places, as many if not all Android apps are duplicated in Amazon's app store lately. (2-7-15 to Amazon US a bit edited.)

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Sennheiser HD429 Headphones: Review

I always wanted a pair of Sennheisers, and I found these via Amazon more cheaply ($60) than many previous reviewers report. My price limit happened to be that amount to replace an old Koss pair that I bought for on sale for $40 nearly a decade ago. As my cat tore out that pair's cord, I was apprehensive about purchasing another pair without no detachable cord.

But, given the price and the reputation of this brand, I went ahead. They fit far better than the Koss cans, and feature much more sound isolation. I like the design that sets them back a bit more on the head (at least mine, where the band hits the top of my scalp). They also don't come together on each hemisphere as snugly as other headphones, and while this may challenge those needing to tuck them into a backpack or hand luggage for travel, it may account for their fit. It's impressive, and they are easily worn for a couple of hours.

I needed them at work, as we were moved into cubicles. I can report they shut out copy machines, conversations, running water, and shouting of my colleagues quite effectively. Some may purchase them more for the audio quality, but I confess with the limited options I have in the office to hear music or isolate sounds to listen to willingly, the range is satisfactory at this price range, rather than astonishing. For the cost, however, they are well made, even if the slight rotation of the sidebars over the ears as the brackets may surprise those used (like me) to a stiffer pair and unbending design.

I'm not an audiophile, but these please me. I do worry about the thin cord. I wish these were detachable, as this is the weak point of any set so designed. I tied up part of the nine-foot cord with a twist-tie so it did not get caught up in the wheels of the chair or underfoot. They are lightweight, well-padded, and they sit snugly but not in too confining a way on the head and ears.

I recommend these, but I caution that the cord needs to be taken care of, and controlled if one is moving about a lot. They work well in a busy office environment and add as an "affordable luxury" an enhancement to one's environment. As a long time in-ear-user, the switch to a more conspicuous pair will, I hope, not go too noticed around me! (Amazon US 7-16-12)

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Kindle Touch: my review

I'll look at ergonomics, files, battery life, Prime Lending Library, public library access. and public domain free texts. I received a Touch six weeks ago as a gift--I hadn't considered buying one. Here's my highlights. [Nearly six thousand reviewers preceded me on Amazon US, for Kindle Touch Wi-Fi 6" display with ads--as pictured. Now it's 2.5 years I have enjoyed it, so here's a review.]

Ergonomics:

As with many devices, the sweet spot between portability and our fingers, eyes and hands can elude our physical dimensions! This means the size of gadgets these days must be "one fits all." It's a decent compromise, better than reading on a Droid-X for me, certainly, and less bulky than the laptop it will not replace (until that perfect combination is invented that does all on one--I figured the Fire is not there yet, and is more a vehicle for Amazon understandably to deliver its own content more than a true web browsing, word processing, document saving machine that I need--with music, phone, and video to boot, and a long battery, and lightweight--you can see why I await the ideal model. For now, the Touch with ads is affordable, and I am glad I have the Touch as the clicks of the keyboard and its external buttons appeared to discourage potential buyers.

With "Amazon Basics Leather Folio Cover with Multi-Angle Adjustable Stand, Updated Design, for Kindle Touch, Kindle (Black): MP3 Players & Accessories" (also reviewed by me 8/11/2012), this is an affordable pair. This allows you to prop up the Kindle on a table, a lap, or your chest depending on your angle of repose. Not perfect for reading in bed and you get an awkward limit from the USB and headphone jack placement, but it's otherwise a handy way to use but a finger, if the Kindle's balanced right, to turn the pages. 

File Sharing/ Web Browser:

The keyboard is fine, and as one who needs the large setting on a Droid-X to type easily, I like the Touch's look for my limited typing on it. It's not a high powered browser; the Experimental category includes it, but I have a feeling it's not a priority for Amazon; but I like it and I certainly would not recommend it without it. Sites can be bookmarked, and basic functions carried out, nice to know as backup. The audiobook feature is a welcome touch; you can move files via a PC to your device, as you can send files as pdf and the like, all great features. The audio files cannot be re-ordered: they come in the way you first uploaded them, and similarly the titles on screen archived for books are in the order of appearance. I wish this could be a drop and drag approach instead. If you figure out very simple downloading and file transfers, you can also find easily how to move Kindle files from the Net through a PC to your Touch, allowing more options than may at first seem apparent if you think of Amazon as the only purveyor of content. Mobi files mean Kindle-friendly, and that's the extension you want to look for, or convert to.

The Touch takes some time to get used to. Not that it's complicated, but I find I still lose my place if I mix up the back key in the menu with the lower function that opens the home page. Within a book, the ease of navigating to and fro is mitigated by the relative danger of jumping back to another page with a slip of the finger or a moment of inattention. While pull-down bookmarks exist, I find these cannot be annotated to make mini-tabs for chapters or subsections of my own, not those in the Table of Contents or settings of the Kindle file itself (even an Aldiko e-book reader on my Droid allows me to do this!) as opposed to notes on a passage.

Speaking of which, I'm not a big fan of seeing other people's notes and underlining of texts, but I admit for classes or reading groups the advantage of this addition. It'd be better if it could be limited to such a group option or individual one, so we don't have to see it if we don't wish to. You can fine tune this to allow for your own opt-in to add your own notes, but as I found, you cannot add your own annotated tabs.

Battery Life:

The battery is embedded beyond one's access. I guess as with Apple products it's meant to remain if under warranty beyond a user's control. It eats up the power faster than I'd predicted, even off wi-fi. It takes a long time to charge via USB to a computer. I am unsure if the Touch can be charged via the same AC adapter a USB uses for my phone or a music player: the instructions do not explain if this is possible or advisable.

Prime Lending Library and Public Library files:

Here's the complication. My wife is a member of Prime. So, I must use only her account to use Kindle to manage my device. That limits my options as to how I work with my Kindle. I cannot re-register it under my own account unless I wish to lose the Prime access to the Lending Library as one of its perks. You cannot transfer a Prime membership for a Kindle even from one family member to another: it must be kept on the original buyer's account for Prime, unless you wish to buy another membership and re-register it, which I doubt many buyers will be willing to do.

She (and I) thought the Lending Library would have a lot more popular titles (or legitimate academic or small-press ones, for my needs). Oddly, you cannot access the catalogue of Lending Library titles easily: it is via the Kindle interface itself on your device, not the Amazon site. But, amid the handful of titles I'd be eager to check out (only one per calendar month and the title must be returned before a new one is checked out) it's an awful lot of self-published e-books, and odds and ends that remind me of a remainders table at a undiscerning bookseller. Maybe I'm too demanding, but it's less than I expected. And, my local public libraries appear to be lagging as to Kindle-file titles, so far, compared to ones for PCs and Macs. Waiting times can be long or longer for print titles, as electronic access does not mean the titles are (unless some public domain) able to be checked out by anyone anytime. You still have to get in the queue, same as waiting for a print title to come in from on hold.

Public Domain Texts:

So much for instant gratification. All the same, it's great to have the way to have books on hand and in hand. See my reviews recently of such public domain Kindle or Project Gutenberg versions of "War and Peace;" "Don Quixote;" "Moby Dick;" the illustrated "Huck Finn;" "Adventures of" and ""Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes;" and "Ulysses" for proof of what I first found to upload to my Kindle for free. Some are public domain but Amazon may not list it as free, while it may list more handsome versions for sale. These often have illustrations, notes, and better fonts than the free versions, so you get what you pay for.

You can check Gutenberg-dot-org also. Kindle Mobi files exist. It may take a bit of workaround the Amazon set-up for some public domain titles, and translations or editions may not be as elegant or up-to-date, but for reference or finally getting to take along a classic, it's wonderful! (Amazon US 8/11/12)

Friday, February 6, 2015

Ruth Kinna (ed.) "The Bloomsbury Companion to Anarchism": Book Review


Anarchism resists centralized dictates. easy categorization or top-down organization. Hence, scholarly work on anarchist movements has been scattered. Academics are unlikely to moonlight as black bloc activists or engage in direct action such as the Occupy movement or encampments and protests against the state or the system. Anthropologists or literary critics who champion anarchist investigation may find their analyses marginalized or ignored, while grassroots activists may be suspicious of the academic apparatus.

The two dozen contributors assembled in this volume come from around the world and break down the barriers between participation and observation. These mentors use a multidisciplinary approach that crosses divisions within the academic community and, more importantly, outside university walls. Originally published in 2012 as The Continuum Companion to Anarchism, this revised paperback edition is available at a more affordable price and includes Ruth Kinna’s updated opening and concluding remarks.

Saul Newman opens a chapter on post-anarchism by defining anarchism itself as “a political and ethical critique of power, particularly that which is embedded in the state and in capitalist economic relations.” This critique “contends that life can be lived without government and that social relations can and should be organized through decentralized, voluntary and cooperative structures, and on the basis of liberty and equality.” Newman applies Michel Foucault’s “war model” to criticize radical political methods bent on revolt against and elimination of the opposition. Instead, Newman aspires toward a post-anarchist “political-ethical-spiritual project of autonomy.” As with many of the subsequent entries, his essay ends just as it becomes interesting. But Newman may ignite a spark of curiosity and spur eager readers to action.

This do-it-yourself approach emerged more playfully during Foucault’s rise to international prominence in the late ’60s and early ’70s. It challenged earlier theories and champions of anarchism and invited counterculture efforts to expand the possibilities of the body in more creative ways. It liberated individual as well as mass movements as a viable way to move beyond trade unions or general strikes, and suggested that change might come by less dramatic means such as alternative structures and inspired attitudes flourishing behind the scenes.

The anthology’s most creative chapter is enriched by channeling older forms of resistance to newer versions of existence. Jonathan Purkis’ “The Hitchhiker as Theorist: Re-thinking Sociology and Anthropology from an Anarchist Perspective” explores the “mutual aid, cooperation and trust” of underground economies that operate largely free of monetary transactions. Urban or rural, on the road or off the grid, this far-flung network is sustained by trust between hitchhikers and their supporters. Open space for communal and individual organization can thrive out of reach of the law and conventional power relations.

Uri Gordon encourages further research based on participant-observation, providing guidance on framing proposals to meet ethical standards and advice on how conduct such research within a potentially suspicious atmosphere. The subversive potential of Gordon and his fellow social scientists David Graeber and Richard Day finds a spirited defense in Laurence Davis’ “Anarchism and the Future of Revolution.” Davis rallies to his colleagues’ side against those who indict the professors for being insufficiently radicalized, too cautious in cheering on the imminent global triumph of the 99%.

In “Genders and Sexualities in Anarchist Movements,” Sandra Jeppesen and Holly Nazar explore how change can come by more intimate means. Along with a literary chapter by David Goodway, Jeppesen and Nazar nod to to the imaginative gender and social constructs of science fiction and fantasy writer Ursula LeGuin. However, the book’s treatment of popular culture remains under-examined compared to its denser political and theoretical investigations. The index doesn’t even mention music: no Sex Pistols, let alone Crass. Fine arts coverage is similarly less than comprehensive. The section on art history seems to exist mostly for its author to defend his scholarly publication record against a Marxist-oriented critic. This is part of what must be a lively dialogue, but it’s out of place in a reference work, crowding out other voices from the intersection between art and anarchism.

The book nevertheless represents a variety of voices that address social ecology, Latin America, analytical philosophy, anarchist forebears and theorists, geography and urban space and issues of race and ethnicity. A useful supplement defines key terms, a guide to internet, print and other media resources and lists of other reference works. These appendices redress some of the shortcomings of the essays in breadth and scope. True to an anarchist spirit, the archives, networks, and collectives compiled represent the potential applied by activists past and present. These efforts prefigure ways in which we can start to live freer now, rather than daydream about future liberation. (Spectrum Culture 9-29-14; Amazon US 2-6-15)







he activist.







Table Of Contents

Acknowledgments
Part 1: Research on Anarchism
Ruth Kinna, Introduction
Approaches to anarchist research
Saul Newman, Research methods and problems: Postanarchism
Benjamin Franks, Anarchism and analytic philosophy
Allan Antliff, Anarchism and Art History: Methodologies of Insurrection
Uri Gordon, Participant Observation
Alex Prichard, Anarchy, Anarchism and International Relations
Current research in anarchist studies
Carissa Honeywell, Anarchism old and new
Jonathan Purkis, The hitchhiker as theorist: Re-thinking sociology and anthropology from an anarchist perspective
Sandra Jeppesen Holly Nazar, Genders and sexualities in anarchist movements
David Goodway, Literature and anarchism
Laurence Davis, Anarchism and the future of revolution
Andy Price, Social ecology
Sara Motta, Leyendo el anarchismo a través de ojos latinoamericanos: Reading Anarchism through Latin American Eyes
Ian G. Cook & Joanne Norcup, Geographies and Urban Space
Süreyyya Evren, There Ain't No Black in the Anarchist Flag! Race, Ethnicity and Anarchism
Ruth Kinna, Where to Now? Future Directions for anarchist research

Part 2: Materials for further Research
Key terms
Resources
Bibliography
Guide to bibliographical and reference works
Selective guide to non-English language sources
- See more at: http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/the-bloomsbury-companion-to-anarchism-9781628924305/#sthash.nrXyPgi1.dpuf







he activist.







Table Of Contents

Acknowledgments
Part 1: Research on Anarchism
Ruth Kinna, Introduction
Approaches to anarchist research
Saul Newman, Research methods and problems: Postanarchism
Benjamin Franks, Anarchism and analytic philosophy
Allan Antliff, Anarchism and Art History: Methodologies of Insurrection
Uri Gordon, Participant Observation
Alex Prichard, Anarchy, Anarchism and International Relations
Current research in anarchist studies
Carissa Honeywell, Anarchism old and new
Jonathan Purkis, The hitchhiker as theorist: Re-thinking sociology and anthropology from an anarchist perspective
Sandra Jeppesen Holly Nazar, Genders and sexualities in anarchist movements
David Goodway, Literature and anarchism
Laurence Davis, Anarchism and the future of revolution
Andy Price, Social ecology
Sara Motta, Leyendo el anarchismo a través de ojos latinoamericanos: Reading Anarchism through Latin American Eyes
Ian G. Cook & Joanne Norcup, Geographies and Urban Space
Süreyyya Evren, There Ain't No Black in the Anarchist Flag! Race, Ethnicity and Anarchism
Ruth Kinna, Where to Now? Future Directions for anarchist research

Part 2: Materials for further Research
Key terms
Resources
Bibliography
Guide to bibliographical and reference works
Selective guide to non-English language sources
- See more at: http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/the-bloomsbury-companion-to-anarchism-9781628924305/#sthash.nrXyPgi1.dpuf







he activist.







Table Of Contents

Acknowledgments
Part 1: Research on Anarchism
Ruth Kinna, Introduction
Approaches to anarchist research
Saul Newman, Research methods and problems: Postanarchism
Benjamin Franks, Anarchism and analytic philosophy
Allan Antliff, Anarchism and Art History: Methodologies of Insurrection
Uri Gordon, Participant Observation
Alex Prichard, Anarchy, Anarchism and International Relations
Current research in anarchist studies
Carissa Honeywell, Anarchism old and new
Jonathan Purkis, The hitchhiker as theorist: Re-thinking sociology and anthropology from an anarchist perspective
Sandra Jeppesen Holly Nazar, Genders and sexualities in anarchist movements
David Goodway, Literature and anarchism
Laurence Davis, Anarchism and the future of revolution
Andy Price, Social ecology
Sara Motta, Leyendo el anarchismo a través de ojos latinoamericanos: Reading Anarchism through Latin American Eyes
Ian G. Cook & Joanne Norcup, Geographies and Urban Space
Süreyyya Evren, There Ain't No Black in the Anarchist Flag! Race, Ethnicity and Anarchism
Ruth Kinna, Where to Now? Future Directions for anarchist research

Part 2: Materials for further Research
Key terms
Resources
Bibliography
Guide to bibliographical and reference works
Selective guide to non-English language sources
- See more at: http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/the-bloomsbury-companion-to-anarchism-9781628924305/#sthash.nrXyPgi1.dpuf







he activist.







Table Of Contents

Acknowledgments
Part 1: Research on Anarchism
Ruth Kinna, Introduction
Approaches to anarchist research
Saul Newman, Research methods and problems: Postanarchism
Benjamin Franks, Anarchism and analytic philosophy
Allan Antliff, Anarchism and Art History: Methodologies of Insurrection
Uri Gordon, Participant Observation
Alex Prichard, Anarchy, Anarchism and International Relations
Current research in anarchist studies
Carissa Honeywell, Anarchism old and new
Jonathan Purkis, The hitchhiker as theorist: Re-thinking sociology and anthropology from an anarchist perspective
Sandra Jeppesen Holly Nazar, Genders and sexualities in anarchist movements
David Goodway, Literature and anarchism
Laurence Davis, Anarchism and the future of revolution
Andy Price, Social ecology
Sara Motta, Leyendo el anarchismo a través de ojos latinoamericanos: Reading Anarchism through Latin American Eyes
Ian G. Cook & Joanne Norcup, Geographies and Urban Space
Süreyyya Evren, There Ain't No Black in the Anarchist Flag! Race, Ethnicity and Anarchism
Ruth Kinna, Where to Now? Future Directions for anarchist research

Part 2: Materials for further Research
Key terms
Resources
Bibliography
Guide to bibliographical and reference works
Selective guide to non-English language sources
- See more at: http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/the-bloomsbury-companion-to-anarchism-9781628924305/#sthash.nrXyPgi1.dpuf







he activist.







Table Of Contents

Acknowledgments
Part 1: Research on Anarchism
Ruth Kinna, Introduction
Approaches to anarchist research
Saul Newman, Research methods and problems: Postanarchism
Benjamin Franks, Anarchism and analytic philosophy
Allan Antliff, Anarchism and Art History: Methodologies of Insurrection
Uri Gordon, Participant Observation
Alex Prichard, Anarchy, Anarchism and International Relations
Current research in anarchist studies
Carissa Honeywell, Anarchism old and new
Jonathan Purkis, The hitchhiker as theorist: Re-thinking sociology and anthropology from an anarchist perspective
Sandra Jeppesen Holly Nazar, Genders and sexualities in anarchist movements
David Goodway, Literature and anarchism
Laurence Davis, Anarchism and the future of revolution
Andy Price, Social ecology
Sara Motta, Leyendo el anarchismo a través de ojos latinoamericanos: Reading Anarchism through Latin American Eyes
Ian G. Cook & Joanne Norcup, Geographies and Urban Space
Süreyyya Evren, There Ain't No Black in the Anarchist Flag! Race, Ethnicity and Anarchism
Ruth Kinna, Where to Now? Future Directions for anarchist research

Part 2: Materials for further Research
Key terms
Resources
Bibliography
Guide to bibliographical and reference works
Selective guide to non-English language sources
- See more at: http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/the-bloomsbury-companion-to-anarchism-9781628924305/#sthash.nrXyPgi1.dpuf

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Nicholas Smaligo's "The Occupy Movement Explained": Book Review

Correcting misconceptions that the Occupy Movement suddenly erupted and just as rapidly fizzled, Nicholas Smaligo argues in this brisk, short survey that what started as Occupy Wall Street in the late summer of 2011 finds rugged roots in anti-capitalist dissent. This foundation enables Occupy's critique to endure. Aimed at a wide audience, Smaligo's own explication remains accessible and opinionated, for he promotes his own understanding as a participant in Carbondale, Illinois, and in St. Louis, to widen the relevance of how Occupy inspired student and worker-led local campaigns to act.

Action dominates. Smaligo begins by connecting anti-capitalist forms of mutual aid and labor to anti-authoritarian politics. This has often been defined as anarchism, which he accepts in general application, but Smaligo broadens those who swelled the ranks of Occupy to include many more who were simply "fed up with the whole process" (48) and who were motivated to camp out, march, donate, and participate over a duration, so as to settle a practical protest set firmly in place and space.

This reclaiming of a commons Smaligo promotes as a fundamental achievement. Symbolically, a commons becomes a place and space over time where people can forge bonds, establish communities, and advance particular causes. Smaligo explains how four "threads" twined to connect Occupiers so gathered. First, he reminds readers of a pioneering if tellingly overlooked activist, Ella Baker. Half a century ago, she and other grassroots organizers did not seek the spotlight or podium, but worked away from camera or microphone, minimizing hierarchy or grandstanding. Second, Baker and her comrades favored direct action rather than appealing to party politics, or police and legal cooperation.

Voltairine de Cleyre (1866-1912) is a name likely as unfamiliar as Baker's for most present-day activists. Smaligo rightfully revives de Cleyre's reputation as a proponent of direct action. Third, he segues into the prefigurative politics advocated by David Graeber: act as if the future has already arrived, and one is already free. Jo Freeman's caution to feminists, taken from her 1970 essay "The Tyranny of Structurelessness," remains valid: no planning such as Graeber and his colleagues engaged in as they sparked OWS can mask its own power dynamics, so these are best first articulated. This range, as this array of activists and theorists demonstrates, shows how Smaligo strives to present Occupy material within a larger anarchist tradition, and its left-libertarian lessons.

A fourth aspect emerges. The Quaker example of reaching a formal consensus by process and the early-1980s anti-nuclear protests of the Clamshell Alliance in New Hampshire suggest frameworks which Occupiers took up, perhaps often by those oblivious to these predecessors. Zapatistas and the Global Justice Network, by contrast, may have been by their own media-savvy presence in a wired age more visible influences, for some from anti-WTO actions a decade or so earlier entered OWS.

Compared or contrasted with the mass demonstrations which rocked Seattle or Athens a few years before, Occupy has been often mocked for its lack of a single demand, or maybe a slickly marketed, news-friendly soundbite beyond the catchphrase "We are the 99%." Smaligo strives to correct this misnomer. On September 29, 2001, a Declaration of Occupation of New York City with a clearly listed set of grievances received little attention from the mass media or from most OWS naysayers.

(Before and then during my participation at Occupy L.A. which solidified about a month later, I cited this document within a circle which surrounded me in cyberspace and in real life of Occupy skeptics; it met with a marked lack of interest from many. Admittedly, the online forum registers its flurry of interest rising and falling over OWS' short span, as well as spam posts and the usual rants or trolls.)

Rachel Schragis shaped a flowchart of that Declaration, insisting "all our grievances are connected" (98); their common foe was an oppressive corporate force, and its politically complicit institutions. Smaligo distinguishes civil from political disobedience to separate recognition of the law from a defiance of a judicial and police system which imposes injustice on those who oppose corporate and state control. Representative democracy cannot speak for those disenfranchised and distant; only participatory democracy, as the General Assemblies tried to model at Occupy, can speak for the 99%. This is one more reason why a space and a place were needed for Occupy to take back, to reclaim.

Subsequent chapters delve into related issues about the legitimacy of the movement. Why it attracted so many who would previously have simply voted (more likely for Obama and the standard Democratic ticket claiming liberal credentials) and done little else, Smaligo suggests, may lie in the catalyst for wider resentment and discontent the past few years. Obama was elected, but too little changed for many. Alienated labor, after all, cannot compete against the powers that be who buy out such politicians, who in turn, whatever party, back those bankers. Slavery may have ended, but we rent ourselves for a day's pay, Smaligo avers. Liberals delight in assuring everyday folks they have their interests in mind, but no less than conservatives, politicians and the wealthy connive to construct the conditions of coercion which force workers to be driven into debt, for fear of losing the freedom supposedly granted all who must seek shelter, eat, and pay bills. Many of us endure what one graphic designer turned Occupier terms "a pit of emptiness" where no meaning rewards us, only a paycheck.

Kicking back against this alienation, Smaligo acclaims the reclaimed commons. Instead of resigning ourselves to "capitalist realism," which accepts no other alternative exists to the current economic and cultural hegemony, he wants to widen the "crack" wedged apart by anti-capitalist mobilization. How much force must be used to kick down doors and jimmy open cracks, however, leads to a lack of consensus among Occupiers. He narrates how even in the comparatively far more radical Oakland encampment, "diversity of tactics" as asserted by those who comprised its black bloc found less than unanimous support. Smaligo deftly takes the reader through a well-chosen history lesson. Nonviolent proponents King and Gandhi advanced by an advantage in negotiating with those whom they opposed, all the while bolstered by the pressure of those ready to act more violently. Dissidents loomed as the alternative the state or empire did not wish to face, vs. those marching peacefully.

From such precedents, the police also learned a lesson, as Smaligo cites Kristian Williams' framework. For law and order, escalated force tactics of the Civil Rights era gave way to negotiated management, with softer responses seen as less confrontational by participants in the 1980s and 1990s. But the 1999 anti-WTO protests, with black-bloc disruption, catalyzed a counter-reaction of strategic incapacitation. This, bolstered by post-9/11 "Fusion Centers" coordinating federal data with local surveillance, heightens the odds against those who protest, in turn perhaps necessitating more adaption of masks and hoods to obscure the faces of those whom cameras and film seek to identify.

The circle of violence within a nonviolent paradigm promoted by many Occupiers widens. Chris Hedges, a prominent critic of the corporate-political syndrome and the two-party structure, in an essay "The Cancer of Occupy" singled out the black-bloc as a counter-productive "faction." Smaligo examines in depth if not Hedges' original claim (oddly, only a phrase is cited directly and Hedges' February 6, 2012 Truthdig essay does not appear in Smaligo's bibliography) but the collective CrimethInc.'s articulate defense of "diversity of tactics." Against what the Obama Administration has enacted on December 31, 2011 as the National Defense Authorization Act to theoretically prosecute Occupy-type protests as if "low-level terrorism," Smaligo rallies support for what the movement has contributed to common conversation since then. Income inequality turns everyday lingo; the police state, as subsequent revelations after this book was published continue to affirm, relentlessly gains funding and materiel from federal post-9/11 entities under the guise of homeland security or defense.

Looking ahead, these sit-ins, occupations, and black blocs, as Smaligo concludes, may themselves give way to innovation, a vast uprising to oppose capitalism. Given the odds and the forces of arms and data arrayed against those who protest, some caution this is futile. Meanwhile, foreclosures are battled, post-Sandy victims are helped, students and workers and patients burdened by debt are promised relief. In such varied methods, even if the name does not carry on, the spirit of Occupy continues, underground or on the ground around us. It frees these shared resources from ecological meltdown, corporate stranglehold, and political corruption becomes a campaign for all. This book compliments two of its many sources, Graeber's The Democracy Project and Nathan Schneider's Thank You, Anarchy, in combining personal testimony with informed advocacy. Together, may such participant-observers guide the rest of us, whether we participated at an Occupy camp or not, in ways to continue resisting any power which takes away the common wealth which is our birthright. 

Amazon US 2-2-15. Scheduled for New Clear Vision. See also at that site my review of earlier books on Occupy: Sept 20, 2013 "Lifting the Tent Flap"