by Cory Morningstar, Wrong Kind of Green
As the following information will demonstrate, The People’s Climate March and supporting discourse is about protecting capitalism, not protecting the world’s most vulnerable people from climate change.
House Speaker John Boehner released a video yesterday of himself and a new toy wind up monkey, a gift given to him by his staff. In the video Mr. Boehner is playing with his cute granddaughters, very cute! ation at this website as you might guess, some politicians and the media are using thecitation at this website as you might guess, some politicians and the media are using the timing to make a point.
The coincidental timing of the video release on the same day President Obama announced that reconnaissance military flights have begun over Syria, make the month long vacation that Congress is on a crucial national issue, as the U.S. is at this very moment must decide whether to expand our military presence in the Middle East from just Iraq, to Syria, and perhaps elsewhere. In the video Mr. Boehner sounds like he’s making a joke to his staff when he says, “this is what I do all day.” (No one should criticize The Speaker for taking time to play with his granddaughters.)
Our leaders need to postpone their vacations to help make this decision. Will we restrict our involvement to air strikes, just in Iraq, or will we send additional military to Iraq, and send them to Syria, engaged in a war with the IS terrorist army, and to begin bombing over Syria and send more troops to Iraq.
Democrats and some in the media have tried to wound Mr. Boehner politically by making fun of the toy monkey video, in which he explains why his staff gave him the gift; because he feels like when he’s working long hours, his staff winds him up and sends him back to work. I don’t believe people are saying that the Speaker playing toys with his granddaughter is a problem. But the visual plays up the issue of whether Congress should be on vacation right at this moment, and should they authorize President Obama to continue military actions in the Middle East. Mr. Boehner and all of Congress needs to go back to Washington D.C., perhaps along with the monkey and Mr. Boehner’s family. At the very least the House and Senate should be debating this issue now, not a month from now.
The stakes are high. Will IS (or ISIS) draw us into a full scale, long term military conflict and who will decide? Many have already called for a special emergency session of Congress, immediately or very soon. To complicate matters, it sounds like House and Senate members both Republican and Democrat, who’ve been asked so far don’t seem to see the need for an emergency session. Some don’t think the President doesn’t need congressional approval at all. Still other of our elected officials are calling President Obama “weak” and says he lacks a clear strategy in the Middle East. I wonder how much of a grasp on the subject that many of those same people in Congress say they don’t want or need to be involved in.
The historical issue of how to apply the Constitution to a declaration of war is complicated and there has been disagreement ongoing for over 40 years, with Presidents both Democratic and Republican at various times, acting on their own and seeking Congressional authority. Democrats have started military actions without congressional approval. President Carter in Iran and President Clinton in Kosovo. Former President George Bush was given approval to declare war on Iraq, after the U.S. began the invasion. While many people think a President should not act alone and seek House and Senate approval, which President Obama has said he wants participation from our elected represents, to me somewhat incredibly, Republican leaders in Congress have been saying Mr. Obama should not only make the decision himself, some have said that he’s weak for not already having done so.
In recent months that has been the predominant Republican stance not only in the Middle Eeast, but along our borders and dealing with immigration reform as well. At the same time, Mr. Boehner has filed a lawsuit against the President for making too many decisions on his own!!!
What if we’re about the launch into another long protracted war in the Middle East? We all must urge our elected officials in the strongest possible terms that we expect leadership in our military decisions, in deciding whether homeless illegal immigrants will be sent home or allowed to stay, whether to help the ongoing increase of states now accepting instead of illegally refusing to accept Medicaid money approved in the Affordable Care Act. Congress should return to work immediately as we decide whether to declare another war. The Monkey in the Room needs to stop playing those cymbals, and go back to work with Mr. Boehner.
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As a web designer and photographer at New College in The Mission during most of the 2000’s I carried a camera everywhere I went. And in San Francisco’s vibrant and eclectic Mission, there is a choice of assignments to choose from on almost any day. More so than at any other time previously in my work, I shot an incredible volume of photojournalism work at different events at New College and elsewhere in the Mission between 2001 and 2008.
I was ambivalent about doing much with these photos until very recently. I have kept literally tens of thousands of digital shots on hard drives from that period, never being strongly motivated to curate and publish the material until now, which I will do in a series.
I’m not coming from the typical place of bravado or self promotion when I say I think these images are remarkable. I’m a good craftsman at the things I do and think I’m a good photographer. But what makes these images so special are the people whose determination, joy, love, vision and intentions are brought forth in the world. I thought about getting this first series out because I’ve been depressed and overwhelmed by the incredible amount of world events all going on at once. The news machine is coughing up images of war, genocide, the bombing and killing of innocent people, people of color being gunned down on the streets of America and suicides. It was great to rediscover these images and see the absolute beauty, dignity and joy of these people – it radiated off the screen and struck me -these are special folks. Some so queer and so adorable. Others, so many different colors, united by a purpose – to speak out for immigration reform.
It’s an interesting juxtaposition of times in just a few years comparing that time around the world and in San Francisco. In 2006-2008 most of us could still afford an apartment, but the economy had been gutted, we were still at war and on the verge of political change. Then as now, such colorful and unique images from the Mission are one of the more colorful displays of a country filled with beautiful, self-empowered, politically and socially conscious young people carrying messages of love and change. This is just as important and a healing counterpart to the images of hate and war that compete for our attention, and maybe an important reminder of what is beautiful and good.
Mark Gould, August 2014
(all images ©2014 Mark Gould photography. If you are interested in republishing or exhibiting these images at your gallery or institution direct all inquiries to me at email@example.com
(Click any image for full screen slide show)
I usually take my sweet time to write, but today I’m writing a fairly hasty response to an article I just read online by Gary Kamiya for San Francisco Magazine/Modern Luxury: San Francisco is Dead. Long Live San Francisco. Gary is a longtime resident of the city and while he’s both a former tenant and landlord, and feels strongly about the current plight faced by the fading middle class, the poor, the disabled, artists, activists, mentors and anyone else who can’t afford $3,000/month studio apartment. He doesn’t see the argument as black and white and writes intelligently about the many issues at play here now, and feels very strongly about the city’s ethnic diversity and maverick progressive tradition. He even wrote a book about it (Cool Gray City of Love.)
As do I, Gary does not approach the argument monolithically, which isn’t realistic and hardly useful in the end, I agree. Yes things have heated up to an extreme; it’s easy these days for politicians, activists and corporations to all engage in street theatre designed to attract ultimate media attention. And with a few proud exceptions, it’s hard to rely on the media to provide you with a sensible examination of all the issues. Kamiya’s article is thought provoking, well written, and attempts to suggest that the current “cultural, political and class war that has erupted in San Francisco – call it The Change – strikes me as wrongheaded to the point of surreality.” He argues that more of that surreality comes from the left, that there is no enemy and that there is confusion in making the argument about hi-tech companies and employees, new construction and city policies when the reality is about capitalism, pure and simple.
For the record I was part of the dot-com boom, an employee of high tech companies that collapsed when the first tech bubble collapsed in 2001 and was laid off twice. I became unemployed, then disabled, then broke. The circumstances then were not nearly this extreme, but still, many residents didn’t appreciate the new tech workers and their high salaries. That lack of appreciation was palpable and I didn’t like it. Today I rely on Social Security and am semi-retired, a transformed struggling artist and writer trying to survive and feeling very blessed to still be living in the city in my tiny and too expensive rent-controlled studio apartment. So like, Gary, I can see and relate to both sides too. Certain aspects of “The Change,” are about undeniable economic forces that are at play and may not be able to be stopped. And I agree it’s wrong to blankly blame or attack anyone, in this case tech workers, for being the sole cause of the problem. But I think that’s where I stop agreeing with him.
I don’t agree that that city elected officials can’t do anything to navigate and regulate this issue. To say only that “City Hall is in the business of stoking new business, welcoming new people and attracting new capital.” While Kamiya is also right to have us remember what an economic slump the city was in just a few years ago, and that we should appreciate the influx of new business and investment, I think that City Hall is in, or should be in, the business of a lot more than that. City Hall also enacts laws to protect its residents, to control development and to preserve culture here. While most cities do take the “Chamber of Commerce” approach to welcoming any business or investment at almost any cost, this is San Francisco, and the writer says he knows that.
I don’t think anyone knows at this point how all of this will play out. The city has enacted an affordable housing plan to build 30,000 new homes in a few years – we need more like 100,000 and that seems unlikely. As it has always been, city activism has it’s place, as do “we” artists, writers, activists, mentors, middle-class or low-income residents. As do many residents who grew up here and have been here longer than I, I agree that not only is city preservation important, and so is sound planning and development, sufficient affordable housing. San Francisco should continue to be a supporter and voice for diversity, the disenfranchised, low and middle income residents. I don’t want to see more artists forced out of the city. Including me. Now I’m going to continue to think about it all, and write about it some more.
It could be said that housing activists, political street artists and big corporate technology companies are all fluent in the use of different tools to raise media and public attention. No cynicism intended; I’ve been wondering when the seemingly dormant political and social action establishment in San Francisco would emerge to leave its imprint on the ongoing developments concerning the lack of affordable housing in the city, the fallout on some tenants being forced out of their quarters by the current frenzied demand ongoing during the grab for almost any rental property, at almost any price.
Mission Local reports that an estimated group of 200 people walked to and protested against the conversion of a seven-unit rental apartment building on Guerrero St. that was bought and converted to a private residence, owned by a Google lawyer, Jack Halprin, two years ago. Several signs in the crowd read “Google, don’t be evil. Make Jack Halprin stop evicting teachers,”
Teachers Ask Google Why a Google Lawyer Is Evicting Tenants
— sfsthetik (@sfsthetik) April 13, 2014
I don’t have an idea when or if the protests will continue, grow in numbers or get more media attention. I do know there are many forces for change in San Francisco who have had an important role to play in building the city’s future and have long made a difference in what happens during critical times in the city.
A lot of people have trouble getting their news from a smartphone screen, especially if they’re in a crowd and in a hurry. Others, like me, are not early risers and don’t want to be woken up by caffeine saturated news readers interrupted by loud commercials.
Enter Berlin-based Capsule.fm and their great artificial voice that will not only read you from a choice of selected news sources, but also tells you the battery charge on your iPhone, flatter you, and tell you bad puns. Well, some of them are actually pretty funny. All of this is mixed in with quiet ambient-like music and I have found, is an amusing and great way to get your first dose of the news. This doesn’t have the capabilities of Apple’s Siri; it won’t open web pages and apps or find a location on a map. But its not presently designed to do that – it reads you your morning news, and at that does a great job. Right now it’s just an iOS app, but Capsule.fm says an Android version is on the way.
Capsule.fm says Early Edition uses natural language generation with aggregation and filtering systems and advanced text-to-speech technology. I’ve found the British female voice to be be better than some of the “voice assistant” apps, while those apps recognize your voice and will complete a number of tasks, like Siri. So, when it comes to artificial voices it’s currently quite a mixed bag and you should research before you buy. The Early Edition voice has a way to go with pronunciation and phonetics; you have trouble understanding some words, and sometimes there’s a noticeable latency that seems to result in a stutter, unless they’ve built that in as another amusement factor. “Mark, you look fa-fa-fabulous,” just like Max Headroom. Here we are.
What Early Edition has going for it is personalization, that you can choose your news sources from a pre-selected list, and instead of squinting to read from a smartphone screen, the artificial voice will read to you, while you’re on the go. I think it’s worth a try, and seeing where this now rapidly evolving technology goes next.