Tuesday, April 30

From Michael in Austin, Texas: To quote the radical queer feminist punk band (whew!) Le Tigre, "Get off the Internet! I'll meet you in the street!" Well said!
Going to New York City soon? Got lots of sightseeing on your list? Well be sure to participate in the Surveillance Camera Outdoor Walking Tours, sponsored by the Surveillance Camera Players over at Notbored.org. Secret desire to be a performance artist? Here are some handy tips on how to stage your own performance. And be sure to check out the photos of their collective efforts here!

Monday, April 29

Why aren't any of you 700-800 armchair-activists who visit our site every day using our nifty new comment system? What, you just wanna read what we write and not say anything about it? That's not very Opensewer-like.

On another note... If you're wondering why the updates to the art galleries and OS Gathering pages have been so infrequent recently, it's because Rose and I are both totally preoccupied with my imminent completion of graduate school within the next few weeks. Bear with us, please...
Feel like you're working way, way too much? You're not the only one. Mark Morford says You Deserve A Month Off. (Thanks Christina Wodtke.)
I like keeping up with Jim Hightower's dispatches when I can, which isn't often enough. He's got some good info on everyone's favorite super-chain store monster, Wal-Mart.

Also, heads up if you live in Michigan or Russia.

Friday, April 26

Frat Boys Rule The Earth. "It's an angry, violent, warmongering world out there right now. You just live in it."
In reponse to Jason's post on Generation Y, Nike's director of brand communications ought to get with the program: A BusinessWeek article mentions that Nike Inc.'s sneaker sales are tumbling as the brand sinks in teen popularity polls. A 13-year old says it even better: 'It doesn't matter to me that Michael Jordan has endorsed Nikes,'' says Ben Dukes, 13. And lastly, the article sites, Years of intense marketing efforts aimed directly [Gen Y's] way have taught this group to assume the worst about companies trying to coax them into buying something. Good for Generation Y.

Thursday, April 25

Yesterday in the Wall Street Journal, Rick Anguilla, Nike’s director of brand communications, said that skateboarding will soon become so mainstream that “in the next few years, the kid who plays Little League baseball is going to be considered ‘alternative.’” The nexus for this cultural transformation is of course Orange County, California, whose municipalities contain America’s most archetypal suburbs since Levittown.

I thought white people were starting to like cities again. Is Orange-County-hip representative of the suburban magnetism that could keep Generation Y from seeing any value in an urban life? Was the 1990s revival of urban living in cities all across the U.S. just a brief glimpse into what America could be like if we learned to live more densely and sustainably? Was the move back into cities just a Gen-X thing?

Wednesday, April 24

Continuing in the festivities of TV Turnoff Week, today we bring you the views of an unidentified yet incredibly aware 15-year-old:

If we want to make this work it seems like school should be the last place TV is viewed on a common basis. Or is wasting millions of teenagers class time to peddle junk food and biased news a good idea? I dunno, seems as if school is sending contradicting messages.

Join the discussion on the TV Turnoff Message Board.
There are still so many things in this world that can make you smile:

Sun, fresh air, and cotton candy...what's not to like? Also...

A parking solution for a pushy city. The business plan? "Hey, if it doesn't work, I can always go back to golfing, right?"

(Both articles from the NY Times; user name: opensewer; password: iswatching.)

Tuesday, April 23

Everybody is against drugs in our schools, right? But how do we keep the schools drug free? Random school drug testing is raising a lot of alarms, hasn't shown to be effective, and certainly creates a more adversarial relationship between the students and the administration. But in Indiana, they are doing it anyway.

Are parents just afraid of kids, their own and others?

Judith Levine talks about teenagers and sex and how it's another area where withholding information is not the best for the kids, and how the school and legal systems are often set-up to work against the teens.

Monday, April 22

It's Earth Day! Who says you can't change the world?
A reminder! This week is Turn Off TV Week.
I watched the digital bubble burst from afar—I wasn’t one of those in the trenches—and I did it in part by reading Wired magazine. Sometime in early 2000, I cancelled my subscription because I couldn’t stand the over-zealously optimistic attitude and the fact that the magazine was 60% tech advertisements. But I still picked up a copy now and then—just because I thought that maybe I was missing something.

Now, the “postcard from the future” is dying because of a lack of those glossy, forward-looking ads I hated. We all know it—the revolution has been over for some time. As technology becomes less wondrous and about as mainstream as a cul-de-sac, where is the space for a magazine called Wired? (NYT; login: opensewer; password: iswatching.)

Friday, April 19

Sad. Unacceptable.
Washington D.C., the place to be - or not to be - this weekend, as protesters and organizations worldwide gather in town to give their spin on various issues: The Middle East Conflict, the Venezualan Coup, Coco-Cola, the closing of the successor to the School of the Americas... Police are getting a bit anxious.

And speaking of protest, an Alternet author asks, Is Protest Music Dead?

A short history of the Pledge of Allegiance, written by Francis Bellamy in 1892. Did you know that he originally wanted to place the word "equality" in the Pledge but didn't, because state superintendents of education were against equality for women and African Americans. (Thanks to Steven for this story.)

Thursday, April 18

The first commercial for TV Turnoff Week is airing this evening. They are looking for more donations for another spot, and they are accepting stories about experiences of TV freedom. I'm planning on keeping a diary myself. It's looking to be a very peaceful week.
We're going to try out this great, simple comment system from uigui.net. Let us know what you think!

Wednesday, April 17

Big-box retail development, one of the primary components of urban sprawl, creates conditions that harbor serious potential for urban blight should those stores become vacant. Retail is a fast-changing business, consumers are fickle and big-box buildings are not very adaptable to other uses. This article in the Arizona Republic is quite location-specific, but is illustrative of a more general problem that many U.S. metro areas are facing (or may soon face).
Everyone knows that a great majority of America's farms are cruel, but can a huge company like McDonald's take the lead in animal welfare? They seem to think so.

Tuesday, April 16

This story is great. A woman in Los Angeles has been placing small printed cards on SUV owners' windshields that read, "Road-hogging, gas-guzzling, air-fouling vulgarian! Clearly you have an extremely small penis or you wouldn't drive such a monstrosity. For the adequately endowed, there are hybrids or electrics. 310 798 1817." Although she has received some threats about her actions, she says her efforts have had some pretty good results!

And we can't forget about this page either.

Monday, April 15

Our exploration of new bio-technology may be leading us down the road to a Post-Human future (NY Times; user name: opensewer; password: iswatching.) which doesn't sound so appealing to Francis Fukuyama, and maybe robots will alter our future in new and exciting ways, but will we ever escape our role as food processors?

Sunday, April 14

America's commercial cultural exports already make up a form of "soft power" that influences other societies by implicitly promoting American values like personal freedom, upward mobility and democratic openness. ... The government can't do much to offset the hostility that popular products like "Baywatch" or Britney Spears videos can provoke. "Efforts to balance the scene by supporting exports of American high culture — libraries and art exhibits — are at best a useful palliative."

"... We need to engage people abroad on why they feel uncomfortable when they encounter America in their own living rooms. Many people interpret America in terms of its most visible artifacts — the Golden Arches or Mickey Mouse. American cultural diplomacy could demystify these artifacts and engage in a dialogue on why they're so popular." (NY Times; user name: opensewer; password: iswatching.)

Saturday, April 13

California planning guru William Fulton talks about Economic Growth Without More People.
TV Turnoff Week update: In Nature, research further supporting the link between violent behavior in later life and teenage TV viewing habits. Also, Adbusters is raising money to put some empty air on CNN.

Thursday, April 11

Wow, Josh, I was just thinking about TV today. How funny that you would mention TV turnoff week! I was thinking, “I wonder which exec at ABC took a dump and then said, ‘Wow! I’ll turn that into TV show, and we’ll call it The Bachelor.’ ” I’d like to thank Genevieve Roja at Alternet for her lucid critique of this affront to humanity. I guess The Bachelor (and all its ilk) exists for the same reason these things do.
TV Turnoff Week is just around the corner, April 22-28. Find out how you can take action now and get ready for the big week.
Cheney, Cheney, Cheney. You thief. You pig. You poor representation of a vice president of the United States. Hmmmp.
"As we seek to improve human life, we must always preserve human dignity...” Preserve human dignity? Get Bush out of the Whitehouse and that'll be a start. Preserve human dignity! Bush is doing way too much damage as "president." Get him and his cowboy slinging friends outta the City and send 'em back to Texas! Oh, the story you ask: Bush Presses for Total Ban on Cloning.

Wednesday, April 10

Some of the most amazing, beautiful things are happening 5000 light-years away.
Regarding Megan's recent link to Nobody's Fool: If one dedicates oneself to the benefits of eating well, one simply must point out Alice Walker's Chez Panisse Foundation and its continuing committment to sustainability. If you don't know about this wonderful woman and her vision (that started way back in 1971), read all about it here and here.

And who can forget my favorite, the Slow Food Movement?

Tuesday, April 9

Abstract thought of the day:

Consensual politics leave little room for principled dissent, for they assume basic agreement on underlying goals.

Monday, April 8

More on the impacts of beef production in this story in the New York Times, Power Steer. The author investigates the industry by following one cow through the cycle.

As an alternative, Eat Wild offers information on the ecological, nutritional, farmer, and animal benefits of pasture-based farming, and a directory of suppliers offering grassfed meats and pastured products.

NYTimes username: opensewer, password: iswatching; with thanks to Nobody's Fool.
With all this going on now you might have needed a reminder to set your clocks ahead yesterday, or that spring is here. Just be careful what you take to help you relax.

Very careful, apparently.

Also, good news for your reading rights.

Saturday, April 6

Will globalization ultimately strengthen or destroy the state? Will it lead to more democracies or more revolutions? ...an excellent debate between Thomas Friedman of the New York Times ("...capabilities create intentions. In other words, if you give people B-52s, they will find ways to use them.") and Robert Kaplan of the Atlantic Monthly ("Globalization is not necessarily good news; it’s just the news. And the news could get scarier and scarier, because more interconnections will lead to complexity before they’ll lead to stability."). (Via A&L.)

Friday, April 5

The Madness of Ariel Sharon, a brief history of what is behind this maniacal excuse for a leader. Such a sticky situation getting out of control fast. Arafat's no angel either, and the U.S. can't exactly claim to be a peacemaker: Israeli officials and newspaper editorials noted that Bush did not demand an immediate withdrawal from the West Bank and did not provide a timeline. What must it be like living over there?

Wednesday, April 3

Michael, it was nice meeting you tonight--thanks for coming to Cornell and telling it like it is. Just so you know, we don't think you needed to apologize to that "rich fuck" in the audience who insulted you. Keep up the good work, and thanks for the inspiration.
Yesterday I read that Wal-Mart Heads Fortune 500 List but I don't think that it really hit me until I read a similar story today. Think about it: of all the corporations in the world, Wal-Mart is profiting more from our dollars than anyone else. More than Exxon Mobil. More than General Electric. What is it about Sam's Rules For Building A Business that can make a company so wealthy? Could it be their underhanded competitive tactics, despicable labor practices, and blatant disregard for communities? We think so.

Tuesday, April 2

Remember the girl with the hypnotic green eyes who graced the cover of the National Geographic in the eighties? Here she is now, along with an except of her life, seventeen years later.
Last year, the United States was voted off the U.N. Human Rights Commission. Following that, Congress voted to hold back $US244 million in dues until the United States was voted back onto the panel. Now, an agreement has been reached that will allow the U.S. to rejoin the commission. In 50 years, when we're no longer the world's leading economic power, we may not be able to be such a big bully anymore.
This is really too much: In Mount Trashmore's Shadow, the Gravy Train Slows Down. (NYT; login: opensewer; password: iswatching.)

Monday, April 1

You may have tried melatonin to help yourself get to sleep. Recent reports are questioning its effectiveness, and its potential dampening of the sex drive. Some people, however, might need a calmer night's sleep.