The Longest Now


The 99%
Sunday October 16th 2011, 8:23 pm
Filed under: chain-gang,international,meta,metrics,popular demand,Uncategorized


This pair of single topic blogs are excellent and to the point:

Worldwide: the top 1% of household wealth/personal income starts at roughly $10M/$100K (though the available data are weak, and neither is measured consistently).

Many in the top 10% feel as though they are in the top 1%, thanks to the same effect that causes people of all backgrounds to underestimate the imbalance of wealth distribution.



The Metamovement
Sunday October 02nd 2011, 4:22 pm
Filed under: international,meta,metrics,popular demand,SJ

Read this solid post by Umair Haque on the rise of the metamovement in our global society. This is a movement of movements that we are seeing develop unbidden, transcending national, cultural, and social norms across the world.

The opposite of a filter bubble, this directly taps into a universal need for agency and our newfound capacity to cooperate by the millions.

Hat tip to the perceptive Priya Parker.



On appearance, body language, and xenophobia

The Occupy movement has a nice set of websites up for many of the major metropoles in the US. They even have a meta-website up (how can you not love that?) covernig the links between them, Occupy Together. Right now it is focused on the US, even though there’s already an Occupy Canada movement (ok, no surprise, since Adbusters was a driving force behind the original idea).

From the meta-site, I discovered that Noam Chomsky recorded a video supporting Occupy Boston, and found a link to some charming footage of an afternoon party in the Cipriani Club on Wall Street, where partygoers in black tie on a second-floor balcony smiled and waved at the march passing underneath their balcony. They seem cheerful, interested, and friendly to the passing crowd, waving and taking photographs – just like so many of the observers down on the street. But even if their body language is essentially the same, their setting and clothes set them apart in the eyes of many. Almost every comment on the video that I’ve seen, is scornful of the partygoers — assuming they represent the Other the crowd is implicitly targeting and opposing with their chants. Only one of hundreds of people pointed out that they are probably at a wedding or other formal celebration at the club, and many likely support the ideals of the marchers.

How can we bridge the gap created by surface appearances — communities with different dress codes, social circles, and ways of expressing themselves — to get at underlying agreement? The fundamental requests and needs of these protests are no only supported by the sorts of people who celebrate at black tie events, but also at some of the wealthy “1%” – Warren Buffett most notable among them. Yet certain kneejerk reactions and stereotypes are set up as barriers to cooperation even before people have a chance to meet. We have foun many solutions over the generations to the more omnipresent problem of bridging cultural divides across national and language barriers when immigration or war brings different societies together. How can we learn from that to bridge this gap in the debates over how to allocate a nation’s resources?



Wall Street protests swell, close Brooklyn Bridge for two hours
Saturday October 01st 2011, 9:02 pm
Filed under: chain-gang,fly-by-wire,popular demand,Uncategorized

Occupy Wall Street, a protest calling for “human rights over corporate rights“, and stating that “the 99% are fed up with the greed and corruption of the 1%”, has been in force for three weeks now. After drawing roughly 1000 people in its first week, well under expectations, last weekend police around Union Square used tear gas on a group of female protestors – during the process of arresting 80 people. The use of such force has led to a surge of coverage, support, and participation. The movement has since built momentum, and today 400  700 people were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge, after they took over one side of the bridge, to the supportive honking and waving of many drivers.

Coverage of these protests has been slim until today. The protests are loosely organized, and the organizers such a they are did not have particularly strong cnonections to independent or mainstream media reporters. Some suggest that mainstream media had reasons to bury the story. Others suggest the lack of an obvious message and target for the protest made it hard to grasp what was going on. There have been no clear spokespeople for the protest, actual marches have been chaotic and much smaller than projected, and the only places occupied were parks and other public spaces, limiting the notability of the effort.

But all that has changed in the past two days. Earlier this week, a movement web site was set up, including a blog, calendar of events, press contacts, and a donation link – which goes (controversially) to movement supporter AFCJ. They area also publishing minutse of all meetings of the movement General Assembly, which is the governing mechanism for movement-wide decisions. Yesterday the protest (“the movement”) published its first official statement, coming out of a general assembly. In it they promised three related statements to come – listing demands, principles, and guidelines for starting your own local occupation.

Today, they took over Brooklyn Bridge, something of a first, and the 700 ensuing arrests is the largest police response to a protest in a very long time. The last time something similar happened in DC, it ended in a successful class lawsuit.

Community reporters have also been honing their work and getting picked up in Intenet memes and in mainstream media reposts. For instance, Wikipedia shutterbug David Shankbone snapped a popular photo of the protestor vibe on Thursday.

This weekend, the total crowd was up to 6000 protestors – and other smaller protests (like an anti-rape protest elsewhere in NYC) have started to claim affiliation or at least kinship with OWS. Mid-afternoon, the main protest unexpectedly moved towards the Brooklyn Bridge, and observers reported a mile-long line march of protestors.

Hundreds made it onto the bridge and occupied the car lanes in one direction, before being split from the rest of the crowd by police. (The bulk of the crowd then moved to Liberty Plaza.) They shut down traffic for at least two hours. The police were not prepared for this, nor were the mainstream city media. It took them a while to bring in paddy wagons and buses, to make hundreds of arrests, and to get more than trivial coverage of what was happening on the blogs of New York papers. Despite the ambient fears of excessive force, I had the impression that many police were not unsympathetic to the protestors — something reminiscent of the WTO protests over a decade ago.

Some good reads to get a feel for the march and protest:

  • The NY Daily News had solid ongoing coverage, and recently reported there were a smaller number of protestors on the Manhattan Bridge as well.
  • Army vet Ward Reilly has been curating messages and actions of support from US military personnel from all branches of the armed forces. After last weekend’s tear gas incident, groups have been attending the rallies to protect the protestors. A message that a group of 15 Marines said they were heading down to today’s NYC protests was picked up from him and spread as a rallying cry that the whole country was behind the protest. Similar shows of support and protection have been shown for smaller satellite rallies being planned or held in DC, Boston, LA, and other cities across the country.
  • Evan Fleischer, representing from Boston, curated some of the best Twitter pics and comments on his blog. Via Newyorkist, who was on the scene:
    • No attempt to prevent taking of bridge; no units to do so. #occupywallstreet. Matter of fact, one officer laughing at the absurdity…
    • There was a surprising amount of honking, yelling and waving from vehicular traffic on BK Bridge as marchers marched…
  • And Micah Sifry put this into context in a timely article this morning, just before the day’s protest got underway. (Micah: Encore!)

I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s coverage and followup, and to being back home in Boston soon.




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