phiffer.org

Dan Phiffer Dan Phiffer builds websites, makes art, and teaches in NYC

Occupy Wall Street, The Tea Party and Beyond

Last night the Personal Democracy Forum Media people held a “flash conference” at NYU. The panel of speakers included two of my favorite people, Beka Economopoulos and Clay Shirky (who mentioned me during his talk! zomg!), focusing on the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements. It was skewed more toward OWS, but I did appreciate what Mark Meckler had to say about his experience doing grassroots organizing for the Tea Party.

Mark starts at 38:00, Beka at 57:00, and Clay around 1:14:00.

Remix culture is the new Prohibitionwaxy.org

Andy Baio:

For most people, sharing and remixing with attribution and no commercial intent is instinctually a-okay.

Under current copyright law, nearly every cover song on YouTube is technically illegal. Every fan-made music video, every mashup album, every supercut, every fanfic story? Quite probably illegal, though largely untested in court.

No amount of lawsuits or legal threats will change the fact that this behavior is considered normal — I’d wager the vast majority of people under 25 see nothing wrong with non-commercial sharing and remixing, or think it’s legal already.

I’m not sure about this last assessment. I think they consider infringement illegal, but in the same way speeding or jaywalking (in NYC at least) are illegal. The broader point about social norms being out of sync with copyright law is spot on.

Link

The simulacra occupationcityroom.blogs.nytimes.com

Last night NBC Universal created a television set version of Zuccotti Park for an upcoming episode of Law & Order Special Victims Unit. Word got out and the set was soon occupied by actual OWS protesters. Such a crazy story.

Drew Hornbein, 24, from Crown Heights, Brooklyn, said he found it “bizarre” to walk through an imitation occupation a few weeks after the actual one was swept away by sanitation workers spearheaded by police officers wearing helmets and carrying plastic shields.

And he wondered whether the people producing the show failed to realize that a fake tent city presented a target that many former Zuccotti inhabitants would find too tempting to pass up.

“It’s absurd,” Mr. Hornbein said. “Did they think we were gone?”

Link

Stephen Fry on American Prisonswww.youtube.com

“There are more 17-year-old black people in jail than in college.”

Update: Commenter Ilverin makes a good point, “barely any 17-year olds of any group attend college, as the great majority still attend high school.” It goes without saying that the other prison statistics are troubling enough without that particular one.

Link

A personal appeal from Mozillamozilla.org

Marco Arment:

Most Firefox users don’t know how the company pays its bills. The majority of its income — about $100 million annually — is from Google, who pays Mozilla for using Google by default in the stock homepage and built-in search box. But the term of that deal just ended, and apparently nobody from either Mozilla or Google will confirm whether it has been renewed.

In response to this financial uncertainty, Mozilla have launched a campaign to shore up grassroots donations. Like Arment, I’m a bit saddened by the direction of Firefox. There have been too many meaningless releases with no sense of forward progress. But I’ve never been able to bring myself to switch to anything else. In large part because of its thriving plugin community, I haven’t found satisfactory replacements for Firebug or Greasemonkey in other browsers. So I’m sticking with team Mozilla.

Here are a couple videos about Mozilla’s origins that you should watch:

And then go donate!

A redesigned phiffer.org

I’ve been tinkering with a new design for this site for a few months and have finally gotten to the point where it feels polished enough to start using. It’s not a huge departure from what was here before, but I’ve made some structural changes to how the WordPress theme works that should make it easier for me to maintain and improve. The old theme was ambitious, I invented my own object-oriented template system that shunned the well established conventions of making WordPress themes. This is all fine and good when a site first launches, but over time I forgot how all the parts fit together and was left puzzled by my earlier choices. This new theme is much more straightforward, no PHP fanciness this time around.

phiffer.org header

I did indulge a bit in some front-end fanciness though. You may notice there’s a new header element that gradually changes in response to your mouse movement. The gradations of green squares correspond to regions of the page, but rotated 90 degrees. If you move your mouse up or down you’ll see changes in the header, only your mouse movements show up horizontal instead of vertical. So the more you browse below the fold, the more visual changes will appear in the header toward the center and right. All this is private to your browser (and saved, per-browser, using something called JavaScript localStorage), I’m not sending any of the mouse movement data to the server.

Aside from that I’ve mostly just trimmed back some text in the sidebar, added a new archives interface in the footer, and beefed up my links to projects and friends. It’s still a work in progress, but with a bit more fit and finish I could see releasing the theme for others to use.

American police

Three links about American police. (One essay and two radio segments.)

  • Central Booking by Keith Gessen
    What it’s like to get arrested as a (white privileged) Occupy Wall Street protestor.

    Sitting there, with the stench from our filthy toilet filling the room, and with the filth in our filthy sink making me less eager than I ought to have been to drink from it, despite being thirsty, I became angry—really, honestly, for the first time. I thought for the first time, with genuine venom, of the hypocrite mayor Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire, who shut down the Occupy Wall Street encampment for reasons of “health and safety” but has not deemed it worthwhile to make sure that the toilets in facilities that he has control of meet even the most minimal standards of health and safety, such that, while I watched, about forty men, eating a total of a hundred meals, over the course of a day and a half, refused to perform a single bowel movement. This was its own form of civil disobedience, I suppose, and if I’d had my wits about me maybe I could have organized a meeting of all the inmates at Bloomberg’s residence, on East Seventy-ninth Street, so that we could all take a giant shit on his front stoop.

  • A police whistle blower story from This American Life, first aired in September 2010

    For 17 months, New York police officer Adrian Schoolcraft recorded himself and his fellow officers on the job, including their supervisors ordering them to do all sorts of things that police aren’t supposed to do.

  • An interview with David M. Kennedy, author of Don’t Shoot, earlier this month on Fresh Air

    Kennedy has devoted his career to reducing gang and drug-related inner-city violence. He started going to drug markets all over the United States, met with police officials and attorney generals, and developed a program — first piloted in Boston — that dramatically reduced youth homicide rates by as much as 66 percent. That program, nicknamed the “Boston Miracle,” has been implemented in more than 70 cities nationwide.

OWS at two months

Today marks the two month anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street protests in NYC. I’ll be joining the rally at Foley Square, 5pm to celebrate. Here are a couple links I recommend to get a sense of what’s been happening:

  • Occupy in October, a documentary radio piece from KCRW’s Unfictional covering the period leading up to the rally in Times Square
  • Beyond Liberty Plaza, a summary of articles by Khujeci Tomai (whose blog has been a great resource) describing more recent events and an appeal for growing beyond the occupation of a single park

We need to be reflective, celebratory, practical, forward-looking, and inspiring — all at once. So let us start on a macro and micro, holistic and granular level. Find a project, an affinity group, an alternative art space, a progressive organizing space, a classroom, an immigrant rights group, a trade union; anything, everything, somewhere in your neighborhood, in your city. Start building something specific, tangible– linked to the larger Occupy project of economic justice and resisting corporate control over democracy. All in preparation for spring, when people will start coming out in large numbers again. Don’t be afraid to go against some of the fetish of horizontalism; the movement needs some leaders as well. Time to move to the second phase.

The first rule of Sky Watch is…www.alternet.org

Do not ask about Sky Watch. Nick Turse on Alternet:

“We’re just gonna take your name down. That you’re a reporter and that you’re asking questions about our Sky Watch. Don’t worry. No summons,” Torres said.

A bad phone camera shot I took on October 5th

See also: Wall Street Firms Spy on Protestors in Tax-Funded Center

Wall Street Isn’t Winning It’s Cheatingwww.rollingstone.com

Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone:

Success is the national religion, and almost everyone is a believer. Americans love winners. But that’s just the problem. These guys on Wall Street are not winning—they’re cheating. And as much as we love the self-made success story, we hate the cheater that much more.

And also this part:

The banks borrow billions at zero and lend mortgages to us at four percent, or credit cards at twenty or twenty-five percent. This is essentially an official government license to be rich, handed out at the expense of prudent ordinary citizens, who now no longer receive much interest on their CDs or other saved income. It is virtually impossible to not make money in banking when you have unlimited access to free money, especially when the government keeps buying its own cash back from you at market rates.

Your average chimpanzee couldn’t fuck up that business plan, which makes it all the more incredible that most of the too-big-to-fail banks are nonetheless still functionally insolvent, and dependent upon bailouts and phony accounting to stay above water. Where do the protesters go to sign up for their interest-free billion-dollar loans?