Friday, October 14, 2005

Zombie Mobs

With The First Annual Calgary Zombie Walk scheduled for this Saturday, I was inspired to set up a Zombie Mobs events group on Upcoming.org.

Suitable for use with the Flickr Zombie Mobs photo group.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

[expletive deleted] for the U.S. in New Orleans

[Photo: I am thinking of you] Now I try to avoid foul language, particularly in print, but there's an extremely apt and descriptive term I'm seeing all over the place to describe what has gone on, and is still going on, in New Orleans: It's a clusterfuck. (Wiktionary defines that as “A disastrously unsuccessful collaborative effort.”)

From people being prevented from leaving the city on foot—turning them back at gun-point [another reference]—to blatant exploitation of the, predominantly black, poor, to what are effectively prison camps for survivors (with scarier implications for the more conspiracy minded).... It seems like practically everything that can go wrong there is going wrong—either through ignorance and extreme stupidity, or through wilful neglect.

Countless attempts to help the people there have been blocked. All sorts of excuses are being conjured up to prevent people from recovering, from getting the basic needs of food, clothing, shelter. The abuses being heaped on the survivors are deeply disturbing.

A very surprising amount of the media coverage, particularly the early coverage, didn't try to apologize for the government(s) responsible. Although that has inevitably begun to shift as the spin control comes into play.

[photo: Bush: One of the worst disasters to hit the U.S.] Meanwhile, the U.S. dictatorship is shunting the responsibility to help the survivors onto the charity of the public instead of doing everything it can. This is in stark contrast to the efforts of individuals who still have—unlike the Bush Regime—their humanity, who try to do everything they can to help without fretting over political or bureaucratic implications. Although, sadly, many who are willing to help are being blocked at every turn.

And the long-term implications of this disaster are just as scary (if not scarier).

There have been a number of very expressive pictures coming out, both actual and collaged. I've seen a number of them using the Bush guitar photo-op from a couple days into the disaster.

The extreme expressions of racism, classism and unfathomable inhumanity in the (lack of) response to this disaster (and the creation of the circumstances that contributed to it) is beyond any reasonable comprehension. I will echo the sentiment I heard from someone recently that they wished they believed in Hell so they could believe that the people (ir)responsible would be going there.
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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Another interview with me about Craftivism

[Photo: Nelson Knit-out in the Park] Vanessa from Open Source interviewed me a couple weeks ago about Craftivism. We talked about the history and activities of the Revolutionary Knitting Circle.

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Tuesday, August 9, 2005

My Photography

[Photo from Sudanese Procession: Many Voices] I think the quality of my photography is improving.

For a long time, I mainly focused on the technical documenting of an event - getting an overview of the crowd, showing the location, maybe getting individual shots of speakers or performers. I was mainly concerned with getting the information about an event - X number of people participated in action Y at location Z.

Having been paying a lot closer attention to photography - both in publications and by other photographers on Flickr - I've recognized that it's usually not good enough to just document the information. A good photo tells a story and appeals to the eye. More personal photos - showing one or two people in context, rather than a whole crowd - tend to give the viewer more of a sense of connection to the image. That hopefully draws them into the story.

The other thing is looking for angles and backgrounds that provide contrast and "visual interest". A lot of my shots have tended to show something or someone interesting, but against a background that they don't stand out against. Now I'm trying to find situations that have high contrast. A recent photo from the Sudanese Procession is a great example of contrast.

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Sudanese Procession

[Photo from Sudanese Procession: Deng speaks] On last Friday, I attended the local Sudanese community's procession to mark the death of Dr. John Garang, Vice President of Sudan.

We called on the Canadian government to push for a peacekeeping mission in Sudan to support (and help enforce) the peace process there.

You can see a number of my photos from the event.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Gaviotas Eco-Village in Columbia

Gaviotas is an amazing-sounding eco-village in Colombia. According to an article on Social Design Notes, they have achieved energy self-sufficiency and no net greenhouse gasses (due, in part, to their massive reforestation efforts - over 1.5 million trees planted).

See also:Seen at Boing Boing: Water pump driven by kids' roundabout.
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Monday, May 30, 2005

Sickness leads to more net stuff

I woke up sick this morning (not a big surprise given how much stress and sleep deprivation I underwent last week). So, I've spent most of my conscious hours today messing around on the net.

I now have:[G8 Vigil photo from 2001]I've also been updating my photo collection on Flickr a lot over the past week or so with my archive of 5 years of photos. I'm trying to post a handful every day. (Thanks to that other Grant for giving me a Flickr Pro membership which lets me post lots and lots of photos.)

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More on succumbing to barbarism

A reader wrote me about my post last month on Jim Trudeau shares his thoughts upon visiting Dachau:
Enjoy your blog but to compare Rwanda/Nazis etc. to a few USArmy clowns putting panties on some suspected terrorists head is the slipperiest of slopes. Such moral equivalency defeats much of what you say you care about.

Here's what I wrote in response:

I assume you're referring to my April 26 entry about Jim Trudeau's essay on visiting Dachau.

In particular, the paragraph:
"The people of Nazi Germany, the people of the Rwandan Genocide, the European invaders of the Americas, the lynch-mobs of the U.S., the soldiers in Abu-Ghraib, the slavers of Sudan - and the countless others who would take days to fully enumerate here - we have no fundamental difference from any of those people."

Note that I did not say those were the same or equivalent things, just that they were all (as I called it in the next paragraph) "unimaginable horrors".

Evil is evil - regardless of the scale or extent. Yes, some atrocities are more atrocious than others - but they are all still atrocious.

As to what happened at Abu Ghraib (and Guantanamo, and other places we presumably haven't heard about), to diminish it to "a few USArmy clowns putting panties on some suspected terrorists head" is to belittle the extent of crimes and horrors perpetrated there. Certainly it is not on the scale of genocide, but it's still deeply evil.


In any case, my point was to argue the case that however 'civilized' we may feel we are, we are not immune to succumbing to barbarism.

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Sunday, May 22, 2005

Chinese Watermelon Sculptures

 These Chinese Watermelon Art/Sculptures are freakin' amazing. Be sure to view all 34 at the linked site.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Campaign Adventures in B.C.

[Photo: Outside the all candidates forum in Sechelt, B.C.] So if you've been wondering what I've been up to, I'm up to my ears in election campaigning in B.C. I'm helping out the Green Party of British Columbia in their provincial election (and learning a lot that might be useful to us in Alberta in future elections).

[Photo: Boats in Gibsons Marina] I've been sleeping on a boat while here. It's not as exciting as one might think since the water is fairly calm where the boat is docked - I don't notice any movement when I'm aboard.

There have been some Herons hanging around the dock. I got a kind of neat photo of one just taking off.

I found out a few days after I arrived in Gibsons that it's where "The Beachcombers" was filmed. I have to find a free moment to go down to the dock and get my picture taken - 'real tourist style' (you will not survive my tourist-style kung-fu!).

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Friday, April 29, 2005

Time Management for Anarchists: The Movie

 "Time Management for Anarchists: The Movie" is a neat little flash presentation on personal scheduling and task management - geared toward anarchists.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Bush at the throat of liberty

[village_bush] "A picture is worth a thousand lives..."

This painting by Alex Ross (one of my favourite artists working in comic books) puts it very clearly.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Jim Trudeau shares his thoughts upon visiting Dachau

on the radar has posted an excellent short essay, "Jim Trudeau shares his thoughts upon visiting Dachau".

For me it was yet another reminder that - no matter how much we believe we are the pinnacle of modernity and civilization - we are just a hair's breadth away from falling into barbarism. If anything, our arrogance as a society makes us more vulnerable to such a fall.

The people of Nazi Germany, the people of the Rwandan Genocide, the European invaders of the Americas, the lynch-mobs of the U.S., the soldiers in Abu-Ghraib, the slavers of Sudan - and the countless others who would take days to fully enumerate here - we have no fundamental difference from any of those people.

They were just ordinary people - manipulated into unimaginable horrors.

The only thing that can protect us from the descent into horror like that is a willingness to learn from history, and act on what we've learned.

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Friday, April 22, 2005

Earth Day Critical Mass Bike Ride

[Earth Day Critical Mass: The Crowd] [Earth Day Critical Mass: The Crowd] Well, that was probably the biggest, and certainly the most fun, Critical Mass Bike Ride I've ever been on.

At least 82 people participated in today's ride! The cops didn't even come talk to us - let alone interfere at all.

After giving up the rides a couple years ago when it got down to just me - a critical mass of one - I think I'm going to be trying to go again regularly. Hopefully we'll continue to see a lot of people coming out.

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(See also: Cycle Calgary and Calgary Critical Mass Meetup.)
Photos: My Critical Mass photos.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

New RSS Feed for this blog and other stuff

[RSS Feed] I've just set up an RSS feed for this blog. I'm using the free FeedBurner service.

This feed also includes updates from my del.icio.us web links and my Flickr photography.

If you subscribe to my old Atom feed, please switch over to the new feed.

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Sunday, April 17, 2005

Knitted Superhero Costumes

pdetail from Batman costume] Artist Mark Newport has an exhibit showing his superhero costumes - made entirely from knitting.

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Friday, April 15, 2005

Unitarian Jihad

In his San Francisco Chronicle column, Jon Carroll has posted "the first communique from" Unitarian Jihad.

Heh.

(The article inspired Bill Humphries to create an automatic generator of Unitarian Jihad Names.)
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Steal This Sweater: Knitting with a Vengeance!

[Picture: Things Can Only Get Worse] Some radical sweaters and other political knitting.

Of particular note is The Body Count Sweater. It enumerates the estimates of Iraqi civilian and U.S. soldiers who have died in the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq (up to March 14, 2005).

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Open Source Internet TV

The Participatory Culture Foundation has been set up by the folks at Downhill Battle. It's purpose is to support the development and distribution of an open source platform for distributed television. They're basing it on BitTorrent and it looks very promising.

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Friday, April 1, 2005

Fossil Fools Day in Calgary: Jumpstart Ford Protest

[photo of Fossil Fools Day protest in Calgary] The Calgary Culturejammers had a really good protest today in honour of Fossil Fools Day (part of the Jumpstart Ford Campaign).

[photo of organizer, Jennifer, at Fossil Fools Day protest]] About 17 people showed up at 5pm outside the Woodridge Ford Lincoln dealership in the south part of town to bring attention to Ford's abysmal environmental record. Since there was only a core group of about 6 people who worked on putting the event together here, we were quite pleased with the turnout. (The weather was pretty nice, too, until just before the end when it started to rapidly cool off.)

[photo of protestors and hybrid vehicle] We had a nice little success story, too. Earlier in the day, the dealer (who had been told about the protest in advance) switched out the big gas-guzzling trucks that were in the most prominent display and put hybrid vehicles in their place (which they had to bring in from another dealership). So, for at least a little while, there was more emphasis on more fuel-efficient vehicles., , , , , , , , , .

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Petition to Remove fuel tax on biodiesel in Alberta

The idea of removing the Alberta fuel tax on biodiesel makes complete sense to me. If you're an Alberta resident, please sign-on to the petition.
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Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Artist Trading Cards

An Artist Trading Card by Grant NeufeldI attended the monthly Artist Trading Card session at The New Gallery on Saturday. While there, I made (and traded away) 5 cards, including the one in the picture here.

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Sunday, March 27, 2005

An end to educational textbooks

There's a scary posting on how the state school board of Texas is setting the educational agenda for all (4) of the U.S. textbook publishers.

Seen at Boing Boing: Reactionary school-boards' block-buy eliminates sex from text-books.
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Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Make the South Park Version of Yourself

Grant as a South Park character South Park Studio version 2 is a fun (at least for South Park fans) little Flash program that let's you create custom South Park characters.
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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Successful, but cold, Peace March and Rally in Calgary

[Photos from the Peace March] We had a very successful march and rally in Calgary to mark the second anniversary of the most recent U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. It's always hard to measure numbers above 100 people - but I would figure it was certainly over 300 who attended. Now, considering how terribly cold it was, that's a great turn out!

 I had my friend Juliet Burgess take my cameras (still and video) for the event since I was busy with organizing and M.C.'ing. Unfortunately, she somehow managed to not get a single picture of me at the event - although the many pictures she did take are great and turned out better than mine usually do. I haven't checked the video yet, and assume I'm on there, at least [he said with a smirk].
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Why tagging is bad

Tagging, the (bad kind of) evil cousin of graffiti, is a scourge - a plague - that offends my senses.

Years ago, when I could still afford to risk engaging in illegal activities, I spent some wonderful times creating graffiti with friends. There was the excitement that came from "breaking the rules" - but there was also delight in creating something, in transforming the space around us. With our graffiti, my friends and I always tried to either say something or create art in unexpected or unapproved spaces.

[Graffiti photos] A couple of weeks ago I came across a graffiti scrawl - next to some tags - that I found myself laughing in agreement with. It had an arrow pointing to the tags and said "A fine example of useless s***".

Tagging doesn't amount to anything positive - it's just ugly scrawls that express nothing more than laziness and disrespect. Taggers can't even be bothered to say anything. I'd rather see an ugly scrawl that says something - even if I disagree with what's being said. I mean, if someone's going to go to the effort of scrawling on a public space, they might as well do something meaningful with it.

 There have been some wonderful stencil graffiti art pieces going up in Calgary over the past few couple years, and there's a long tradition of artful, poetic and challenging posters pasted, graffiti-style, to all sorts of 'unauthorized' surfaces in the city. The unfortunate thing is that many lump this wonderful art in with the taggers - decrying it all as just vandalism. Maybe if the taggers stopped being stupid navel-gazers and put a little thought into their work, we might be able to see graffiti emerge as a strong and positive force for dialogue in our community and for the transformation of the isolating structures of the city into something less oppressive.

Maybe.
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Monday, March 21, 2005

Getting caught up...

Well, it's been some weeks since I last put together an update of what's been going on for me.

The past month or so have been absolutely crazy for me, work-wise, politically and personally. The last time I had a weekend without some major event, or where I got more than one full night of sleep, was in January.

I'm planning to post some back-dated entries (that will show up before this one), going back to February 20, to cover the many interesting recent goings-on, while I have a few days with no major crises planned...

Monday, March 14, 2005

An Intense Experience

On Sunday night I was visiting a friend whose neighbor has been living with a violently abusive partner. Things came to a head that night and she called the police to have him taken away.

Afterward, she came over to my friend's place for some support. It was incredible to see her emerging from the fog of the abuse and finding a sense of her own power. In standing up for herself, she was able to begin the process of reclaiming her sense of self and her independence from her abuser.

As we talked about what had happened, it was wonderful to see the effect of putting names to the various aspects of what had happened to her, and what she had done. She'll have much work ahead of her to fully break away from the deeply damaging emotional crap the abuser did to her, and to fully heal from it. But, it was tremendously inspiring to witness her strength and empowerment that night.
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Thursday, March 10, 2005

On Religious Wars

A quote I saw in an email today:
Religious war is like fighting over who has the best imaginary friend.
I wasn't able to figure out who the quote is originally by. So, please let me know if you know.
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Sunday, March 6, 2005

Disability Action Hall retreat

 The Disability Action Hall's annual retreat for self-advocates, allies and representatives from agencies that provide support and services to people with developmental disabilities was held on March 4-6 at Camp Horizon - just west of Calgary.

The weather was amazing - a beautiful weekend.

Sleep was in short supply, especially given the late-night rowdy energy of some of the participants... (not to mention some rather horrifying karaoke performances [he said with a big grin]).

The Action Hall remains one of my most favourite activist groups to work with. In spite of the incredibly hard experiences most of these people have gone through, they remain a very fun and hopeful bunch to be around.
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Monday, February 28, 2005

Follow-up to the Alberta Social Forum

[Alberta Social Forum Photos] After about 9 months of organizing that saw numerous big challenges, hurdles and personal crises, the big event is finally complete. This Alberta Social Forum event had a lot of successes and a few disappointments.

While we were far from the level of inclusivity we had hoped for, there were some great stories. The presence and full-inclusion of members of the deaf-blind community was very exciting. Additionally, a self-advocate from the developmental disability community reported really enjoying the sessions he attended - with no feelings of exclusion.

Attendance was lower than we had hoped, but we kept hearing from participants who really enjoyed and valued the sessions they went to. In the end, there were over 40 sessions offered on Saturday and Sunday. I helped or presented at 5 of them - including a session on Craftivism for the Revolutionary Knitting Circle.

There's still a tremendous amount of work to be done to turn the Alberta Social Forum into a broad-based process for the people of Alberta, but this weekend event has certainly helped bring it a little closer.
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Thursday, February 24, 2005

FFWD article on Alberta Social Forum

FFWD (Calgary news & entertainment weekly newspaper), has an article in today's edition by Amy Steele, on the Alberta Social Forum. (Among others, I was interviewed for this piece.)
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Sunday, February 20, 2005

We won first place at the Supertrain Model Train Show

[SALUG's Awards] The Southern Alberta Lego Users Group took top honours at the Supertrain 2005 Model Train Show in Calgary, this weekend.

[Grant's Supertrain 2005 Photos] My contribution was a river canyon with train bridge [photos of my Lego River Canyon and Train Bridge]. I had a couple of very sleep-deprived nights trying to finish it off right before the show. As it was, I wasn't quite finished when the show opened, so finished it over the first hour or two of the show. That actually turned out okay because people actually were quite interested to watch the display being built right in front of them.

 My thanks to the rest of the SALUG members who made the project so much fun, built great models, and contributed to our success this year. We've been invited to a few more train shows this year, so there's lots more fun ahead.
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Saturday, February 19, 2005

Lego at Supertrain Model Train Show

SALUG, the Southern Alberta Lego Users Group, has a massive display in the Supertrain Model Train Show again this year.

I'm super exhausted because I spent the last couple of nights frantically trying to finish my chunk of the display. I put together a river canyon with a bridge running across it (I should have some photos up within a couple days). It's 144 studs wide by 48 studs deep - and 29 inches high. This is the biggest Lego model I've ever built.

The event was packed. A lot of the people who came were parents with young children. That's good for the SALUG team because they are likely to vote for us as the best display in the show - the Lego is a real crowd-pleaser for kids. So, we stand a good chance of winning an award again this year.
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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Alberta Social Forum

The Alberta Social Forum is only about a week and a half away.

While admission is free, people are being encouraged to register in advance.

There's an excellent range of sessions being offered at the Forum, with space also being provided to add sessions on the fly as people make interesting connections during the Forum.
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Monday, February 14, 2005

AlterNet: MediaCulture: America Offline and Online

Zephyr Teachout has written an analysis of some potential roles that internet resources could have in increasing (in-person) community participation and "reviving civic life".
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Sunday, February 13, 2005

A Library, a Work of Love

Stephanie Simon, of the LA Times, has written a delightful little story about a town, it's population of 1 person, and the library there that serves people who love to read.
Via Metafilter: If you could fly an airplane to the moon....
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Friday, February 11, 2005

Naomi Klein sums it up: The Iraqi 'Election'

Naomi Klein has put it about as clear as can be - the Iraqi people got to vote for what they want, but that doesn't mean they'll be allowed to have it.
Via: Common Dreams: Getting the Purple Finger.
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Gold for Valentine's Day means human suffering

Oxfam America has issued a press release for the "No Dirty Gold" Campaign. They share an estimate from EARTHWORKS that the "Valentine's sales of gold jewelry in the U.S. will leave in their wake more than 34 million metric tons of waste worldwide"
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Wednesday, February 9, 2005

Dog Judo videos

Dog Judo is a bizarre and humorous series of short videos featuring dogs with black-belts in judo. (available in QuickTime and the very evil Windows Media format.)

Thanks to The Lotus Queen for the pointer.
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Space Travelers Meetup On The Moon

Travel Meetups The Space Travelers Meetup On The Moon group has to be the weirdest and funniest Meetup group I've ever come across.

As group organizer Dan Chusid said: "These people are out of this world!"

Eyes on the Screen follow-up

The Eyes on the Screen screening of Eyes on the Prize went well last night. About a dozen of us here in Calgary watched episode one of the documentary series.

I opened the event with a short spiel giving the background on the copyright issues plaguing the series - and other cultural and historical records. We then watched the film and followed it with a short discussion on civil rights activism.

A group of "Veterans of the Civil Rights Movement" has put out a statement in support of Eyes on the Prize and the struggle to ensure it remains available

Update: Wired News has a good article on a Bay Area screening held last night.
Update 2: Democracy Now! had a show about the Eyes on the Prize copyright issues (available as transcript or MP3).

Veterans statement via: Boing Boing: Veterans of the Civil Rights Movement support Eyes on the Prize screenings.
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Tuesday, February 8, 2005

50s decor room recreated in knitting and crochet

The seniors in residence at Hobart's Strathaven Home (in Tasmania) have done some incredible work producing all sorts of furnishings and objects (including a wide selection of food replicas) - entirely in yarn using knitting and crochet.

See the article for details and photos.
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Sunday, February 6, 2005

Calgary Adbusters / Culturejammers

I'm contributing to a new group blog for folks in Calgary who are part of the local "Culturejammers" (Adbusters) community.
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Saturday, February 5, 2005

Interview with "Sequential Artist" Josh Neufeld & Sari Wilson

Years ago, when I was first doing websites, I had a section on my personal pages about comic books - particularly independent comics. Writer & artist Josh Neufeld came across the site and got in touch with me, since we share the same last name.

We've chatted occasionally since then by email, and I've made a point of picking up his work when I come across it. For anyone who enjoys autobiographical comics, his work is definitely worth a look.

Anyway, he sent out a note pointing to a recent interview on the Sequential Tart site. It's primarily a discussion, including Josh's partner Sari Wilson, about the travels that Josh covers in his work.

Creepy Goodness

Excellent twisting of religion children's book into evil menacing alien takeover of Earth.

What's particularly disturbing is how creepy the original pictures are - even without the alien twist.

Via Boing Boing: Religious picture book remixed into twisted alien-invader primer.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Freedom for "Eyes on the Prize"

Downhill Battle is championing the cause of the excellent U.S. civil rights documentary series Eyes on the Prize.

The documentary is caught in copyright-hell because it used tons of news footage which the filmmakers would have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to renew their rights to use the footage. Even though they made, broadcast and distributed the series in the 80's, the vicious copyright laws that have been enacted on behalf of the fat-cats in the "content industry" now prevent them from legally engaging in any further distribution.

That means no more video tapes, no more broadcasts or public exhibitions, and no dvds.

Downhill Battle have rightfully called for people to download and share (via video, dvd, file-sharing, etc.) the series to ensure this immensely valuable historical record continues to be available. They have also called for a special day of action:

On February 8, 2005, at 8pm, you can join in the struggle against the corporate pirates who seek to take away our collective history by putting on, or attending, a viewing of part 1 of the series.

Adbusters Meetups Update: There will be a Calgary screening on February 8, 8pm, at the Arusha Centre (106, 223 - 12 Avenue SW).

Update 2: J. B. Zimmerman, nephew of Henry Hampton who produced the Eyes on the Prize series, is speaking out against Downhill's "Eyes on the Screen" campaign. He has written a couple articles ("It doesn't matter if the cause is just" and "Eyes on the Prize is most definitely NOT commonsized").

I'm still supporting the campaign, but I'm calling for folks to fundraise at the screenings to support the efforts of Blackside to get the series re-released - especially for dvd which it has never come out on. I'll post when I have info on where the money would best be sent.

Originally spotted at the Boing Boing article Eyes on the Screen: Direct action to save Eyes on the Prize.

Return of the Blog

I'm returning to this blog, but under a new web-link:
blog.grantneufeld.ca
Please update your bookmarks accordingly.

I've also copied a lot of entries I've done on other blogs over to this blog. They're back-dated appropriately.

Thursday, January 6, 2005

Jon Stewart Is My Hero

The great Jon Stewart's appearance on Crossfire [MOV] (a transcript) was one of the most important moments in television history - a turning point that will surely have wide reaching ramifications for generations to come.

It is already transforming CNN.

Earlier this evening, I came across a Boing Boing item, "CNN 'Crossfire' host Carlson to stop hurting America," that alerted me to the wonderful effect Stewart is having on that network. The story is covered in more detail in the Associated Press' article "CNN Lets 'Crossfire' Host Carlson Go".

CNN U.S. Network chief executive Jonathan Klein was quoted as saying:
"I guess I come down more firmly in the Jon Stewart camp,"

Truly, it is a great day for justice.

DRAFT JON STEWART FOR U.S. PRESIDENT!

Originally posted to my LiveJournal.