Math Is Hard (For This Is Our DC)

On Friday, February 10, 2012, This Is Our DC organized “protesters” from Washington, DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and New York to participate in a protest of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) followed by a march down Connecticut Avenue.

 

On their website, This Is Our DC claim “[o]ver 500 unemployed, students and frustrated east coast Americans stood together with OurDC to call for an end to tax loopholes for the rich and corporate America.”  I do not claim to be an expert at performing head counts from video, but the following captures the crowd at a choke point (the entrance to the National Zoo), and I estimate the number to be around 200.  Even if I am extremely generous and call that 300, it is nowhere near the claim of “over 500”.

 

But math doesn’t stop being hard there.  The article goes on to state the following:

 “What’s going on inside is truly a conservative carnival of the .01 percent of the 1%…” says John Butler an unemployed OurDC supporter.

Let’s break that down.  What exactly does it mean to be in the 0.01 percent of the 1% (presumably of the population of the United States)?  That means the top (0.01) x (0.01) x (0.01) x (1) x (313,000,000) = 313.  In other words, This Is Our DC supporters wildly underestimated the attendance at CPAC (which was over 10,000) as well as their income (I’m not personally acquainted with anyone on The Forbes 400, but I’m pretty sure 313 of them were not in attendance at CPAC).

And one final note.  While those in attendance at CPAC were mostly using public transportation during their stay in our nation’s capital, This Is Our DC supporters drove away in Mercedes buses.

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My Crazy Night With Michael Moore

It all started, as it often does, with a tweet.  I wish I could give credit where credit is due, but I honestly can’t remember who first tweeted that #OccupyDC had attempted to occupy the abandoned Franklin School at 13th & K NW.  The link has since been updated, but at the time, there was a standoff between police and Occupiers.  I grabbed my video camera, tweeted the following:

 Heading down to 13th & K to check out #OccupyDC taking over vacant school building. See you there.

jumped in my car and headed downtown.  And never made it.  On the way there I managed to have a fender bender, which I promptly tweeted about as soon as I got home (don’t worry, everyone was alright):

 Never made it to 13th & K to see #OccupyDC vacant school action. Had a (minor) car accident on the way there. Trying to decide who to blame.

It wasn’t long after that when someone, again I’d love to give appropriate credit but I honestly can’t remember who, retweeted Michael Moore‘s plea for a mission statement for Occupy Wall Street:

 What would you like to see Occupy Wall Street accomplish? Tweet your ideas! #ows

Oh dear Lord, this was just what I needed to take my mind off what had just happened.  As I have mentioned before, I don’t write (or tweet) for anyone but myself, so I just started listing everything I thought of, whether it was an indictment of #OWS, something that made me laugh, or something that I actually wanted accomplished.  And now, for the first time ever, with explanatory links and/or clarifying remarks where necessary, is the comprehensive list of my crazy night with Michael Moore:

 1.  Jazzercise!

2.  Rose Bowl halftime show.

3.  #OWS, The Musical!

4.  Human ladder to the moon.

I don’t care what you think.  This is funny.  The mental image still makes me laugh.

5.  Eau de #OWS at every fine perfumery.

6.  Cold fusion.

Don’t get them started on cold fusion.  Or any form of alternative energy.

7.  First dog in Congress.

Well if Shelby can be elected leader of #OccupyDenver, who knows?

8.  Make self-licking ice cream cones an actual thing.

I’m never sure if the things I say are things that everyone understands or if they’re terms that only people in the military understand.

9.  Journey to the Center of the Earth!

10. A sense of personal responsibility.

11. Mutually assured destruction.

12. Dog/Human translators (like in Up)

13. World’s biggest twinkie. Mmmm. Twinkies.

14. Fix earth’s orbit. Leap years suck.

15. Get Timmy out of the well.

16. Get my dog to stop licking himself.

17. My job for 1 year. Or 1 month. Or even a day.

18. Human buckyball.

Almost as funny as that human ladder to the moon.

19. Hairiest. Chorus line. Evah.

20. Out-juggalo the Juggalos.

This mission may already have been accomplished.

21. Explain magnets. (Y’all saw that coming, right?)

22. Follow me on MySpace!

23. Coordinated urination 2 spell #GodBlessTheUSA on White House lawn.

24. Fight the commie invasion #RedDawn style.

25. Teach Jackie Chan English.

I love Jackie Chan movies. I really do. But compare how he speaks English in interviews with how he speaks in his movies. Just sayin’.

26. Fruit of the Loom costumes as a basic human right!

27. Reprogram cell phones so Big Brother can monitor 1%ers at all times

28. Get me more bitches and ho’s!

29. Figure out what happened to the Mary Celeste.

30. Buy the world a Coke.

31. Find out who put the ram in the ram-a-lam-a-ding-dong.

When in doubt, the answer is always The Muppets.

32. Hopscotch across America!

33. Pullout couches. In car trunks.

34. Potato powered clocks. Oh wait.

35. Bring me some liquor. And @keder a Twix.

36. Invent time travel. Don’t let Keanu Reeves make movies after Bill & Ted

This makes me laugh for several reasons.  First, like they could ever get organized enough to invent a time machine.  Second, Bill & Ted was about time travel, so there’s that self-licking ice cream cone again.  Finally, I can absolutely imagine them accidentally inventing something useful and then using it for such an idiotic purpose.  Oh how I crack myself up.

37. By day, dirty hippie. By night, masked crimefighter. #OWSMan

38. Indisputable proof of spontaneous human combustion.

39. Guiness World Record 4 biggest group to simultaneously run w/ scissors

40. Solve that whole dog anal gland thing. Seriously.

41. Signs in every elevator: “Kindly wait to fart until you exit. It’ll be, like, 2 minutes.”

This is a pet peeve of mine.  I mean if you’re going to make me live in a nanny state, at least regulate the things I care about.*

*sarcasm

42. A “Where the cool people hang out” button on my GPS.

43. Uncolorize films ruined by Ted Turner. Because black (& white) is beautiful.

44. Make green cards come in all different colors to reflect our immigrants’ diversity.

45. Zombie John Lennon.

46. Chimp SWAT teams. With helmet cams.

I don’t care what you think of Eddie Izzard, his politics, or his thoughts on gun ownership and the NRA.  The thought of a monkey with a gun is hilarious.

47. Shatner/Muppets Bohemian Rhapsody mashup.

Of everything else I tweeted, this is the one thing I actually want.  Seriously.  I’ll pay $100 for a solid mashup of the two linked videos.  I need to think through what the criteria for claiming the prize are…stay tuned.

48. National recognition of #PantsFreeFriday

49. Make humans digest corn. You know why.

50. Get @mikeroweworks as #OWS spokesperson. #DirtyJob

Not that he’d do it, at least as far as everything I know about him, but it would definitely be a Dirty Job.

51. Bring back Betamax.

52. Never let a raisin impersonate a chocolate chip.

53. Edible banana peels. Check out those apples.

54. Take one for the team. #TeamAmericaFuckYeah

55. Bring back wainscoting. That stuff rawks.

56. Check everyone to insure carpet matches drapes.

57. Escape from New York. Except don’t.

58. Bring respectability to the noble profession of taxidermy.

59. Figure out when, exactly, a cigar is just a cigar

60. Bring back teh funny on #SNL.

61. Since you’re downtown anyway…feed expired meters.

62. Giant game of red rover. LA vs. NY

63. Pogo sticks for everyone!

64. Harness the power of static electricity. #RubBabyRub

65. Take the answers away from Alex Trebek.

That smug bastard.  Just once I’d like to see him on the other side of that podium.

66. Count the stars. Answer due Monday.

67. Oreo integration. No more black/white/black. Shades of gray.

68. Sleep number beds should only go up to 99, not 100. #WeAreThe99%

69. Phone booth trick. And by that I mean find a phone booth.

70. Dolphin surfing. The time has come.

71. Coast to coast flatulist choral arrangement w/ live streaming.

72. Star Trek captains MMA fight.

I may or may not just want to see Scott Bakula topless.  The world will never know.

So that was it.  I think I ended on a high note, despite there being a lot of duds.  The interesting thing was that I gained a few more followers than suggestions I sent to Michael Moore, and considering that I only started with around 770 (Math Geeks of the World, Unite!), that was nearly a 10% increase in just a few hours.  If only Twitter were the stock market.  I have yet to hear back from him regarding any of these suggestions, but, as we say in the Navy, I’m on hot standby.

The Further Indoctrination of Our Youth – Rainbow 6 Patriots

From this month’s gameinformer (the world’s #1 video game magazine):

Americans are angry.  And why shouldn’t they be?  With an exponentially expanding national debt, crippling foreclosures, corporate bailouts, degrading infrastructure, dwindling job market, and widening income gap between the haves and the have-nots, it’s getting harder to believe politicians when they speak of American exceptionalism as if it were a fundamental truth.

In response to gradual erosion of our beloved nation, resentful citizens of all kinds of political backgrounds are rising up in the form of new political movements like the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street.  But unlike the 1960s, when protests and activism resulted in the discontinuation of the military draft, the Civil Rights Act, and the sexual revolution, the contemporary bickering government parties have proven largely ineffective at slowing or reversing the downward trajectory.

The media isn’t helping matters.  Rather than promote discussions about viable solutions moving forward, ad-driven 24-hour media outlets and radio programs are content to stoke the fires and sensationalize political differences.  History proves that if leaders don’t move swiftly to address these grievances, the political rage can sometimes find a more violent channel of expression.  Case in point: the meteoric rise of militias over the past few years.

In 2009, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported a massive resurgence in anti-government para-military groups, which have jumped from 43 militias in 2007 to nearly 300 in 2010.  The sudden surge has captured the attention of the Department of Homeland Security, NSA, CIA and FBI, who all view these groups as a real threat to the stability of the nation.  Moreover, many of these disenfranchised groups frequently put their members through intense military training exercises – for what, no one knows.

America’s volatile political climate serves as the jumping-off point for Rainbow 6 Patriots.  This latest game in the storied tactical shooter series eschews the exhausted Russian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern crises so common in contemporary shooters and challenges gamers’ perceptions by placing them in the roles of the elite tactical unit, the homegrown terrorists, and the civilians caught in the crossfire.  Do you have what it takes to pull the trigger on a fellow citizen?

Yet another comparison of the Occupy Wall Street movement to the Tea Party, to which I, like many others, can only respond:  “How many rapes, murders and other violent crimes have occurred at Tea Party events?”  Also, in reading the rest of this ten-page article, it becomes clear that Rainbow 6 Patriots has been in development for several years, so any comparison to Occupy Wall Street was a last-minute addition.  The most obvious giveaway as to the developers’ political inclinations can be found in the following quotes:

In conducting their story research and reading up on the latest Tom Clancy books, Sears and his team realized there was no need to look outside our nation’s borders for the next big threat facing the nation and Team Rainbow.

“We knew we had to have a story this time that’s very plausible, very relevant, and that touches on the current fears of U.S. citizens,” Sears says.

If properly coordinated, the emerging rage-fueled para-military groups angered over the direction of the country could cause irreparable damage to our political and financial foundations.

“Fortunately there hasn’t been a single leader to galvanize, orchestrate and mobilize all these groups who have all this political energy and are so dissatisfied and angry,” Sears said.  For the sake of the next Rainbow Six story, however, Sears created him.

“Our enemies are inspired by these paramilitary groups, political radicals who we see all over YouTube, and former military men and women who have valiantly served their country but then return home and feel disenfranchised and forgotten,” he says.  “They don’t return as heroes, and they feel like they have been neglected.  These are the people who would join a movement like our terrorist group.”

Really Mr. Sears?  Now I’m all for free speech and capitalism, and I wish Ubisoft the best of luck in this free market, but I can guarantee you that I will not be purchasing this game, nor allowing my child to play it.

A Virtual Occupation of Long Beach

On October 9, 2011, I used the Occupy Together meetup site to locate some outlying Occupy rallies in the Los Angeles area.  I found out that Occupy Long Beach was holding an event at 3 pm that day, very close to where I was staying in San Pedro.  I drove toward Bluff Park in Long Beach, taking an unplanned detour because of the Long Beach Marathon, and arrived around 3:30.  By that time, the event was in the “open mic” phase, and the following videos, except where annotated, are completely extemporaneous speech by the participants (of which there appeared to be about 100, but you can judge for yourself from the panoramic shot of the crowd below).

 

 

In order to put these videos into context, please read the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City, appended below in its entirety (and read, nearly accurately, by Occupy Long Beach, following the text):

As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.

They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.
They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.
They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.
They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.
They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless animals, and actively hide these practices.
They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.
They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.
They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.
They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.
They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.
They have sold our privacy as a commodity.
They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press. They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.
They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.
They have donated large sums of money to politicians, who are responsible for regulating them.
They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.
They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives or provide relief in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantial profit.
They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.
They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.
They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.
They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad. They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.
They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts. *

To the people of the world,

We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.

Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.

To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.

Join us and make your voices heard!

*These grievances are not all-inclusive.

 

 

The videos are presented in the order in which I recorded them, except where noted.

This first speaker suggests that the “99%” make a list of the “1%” and extract confessions from them then have them atone for their misdeeds.

 

 

This speaker is a veteran of “activism”.  She also admits that her children are apathetic.  She suggests that others talk to their children to get them involved, not seeming to understand that if someone as “passionate” as she is has apathetic children that her logic might be faulty.

 

 

One of the Occupy Long Beach organizers explains that the movement won’t fall apart because it is a broad movement of the political left.

 

 

A member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) speaks to the crowd.  IWW has officially endorsed the Occupy movement.  He discusses the fact that privately owned grocery stores have pushed co-ops out of the market.

 

 

This protester plugs his local band, then reads a prepared statement speaking out against campaign financing, lobbyists, monopolies that are “too big to fail”, the military, and the oil industry.

 

 

This protester claims the movement is “not a contest between red and blue” and says “we don’t have a democracy so much as a corporatocracy”. She also says that since it is not a hostage negotiation, it is not necessary to have demands, other than to have “a government by the people, for the people.”

 

 

This speaker, an economics professor at Woodbury University in Burbank, recommends moving money from big banks to credit unions and local banks. He also claims that campaign finance reform will never happen. He is a self-proclaimed member of the Green Party.

 

 

This is only a partial recording of a protester who was discussing energy as a unifying theme around which to rally. It is unfortunate because the first part of his speech centered around the fact that cold fusion was a feasible form of alternative energy that had been suppressed by “big oil” (as other revolutionary ideas had been).

 

 

Another protester who recommends moving your money out of big banks. I can’t vouch for his numbers, and I apologize in advance for the f*** bomb.

 

 

This speaker picks up on the earlier theme of energy. He has worked in alternative energy (solar and biofuels) and discusses “living within the means of the Earth”. Appended to the end of his open mic session is a one-on-one interview, in which he discusses how certain technologies (his example is Tesla’s Wardenclyffe Tower) have been suppressed because they were less profitable than the status quo.

 

 

This protester says the capitalist system has cancer and can no longer function, and it is time to move on to something new.

 

 

This protester doesn’t have much to say about anything, except that he used to be (?) a loser, brings his toddler to protests, and has an internet radio show.

 

 

Sharon, one of the leaders (facilitators?) of Occupy Long Beach, explains why it’s important that they NOT enumerate any demands. Apparently listing demands “gives the power to THEM”. However, she does say they want “environmental sustainability” and “social justice”.

 

 

Marshall Blesofsky of the Long Beach Recruitment Awareness Project (LB RAP) discusses his work in schools to counter military recruitment both during the open mic session and during a one-on-one interview.

 

 

The Occupy Long Beach Statement of Purpose:

 

 

A final note from one of the Occupy Long Beach organizers.

 

 

It is important to note that while the open mic sessions may seem like a stream of disconnected rants, if you listen closely, you can tie each of them back to the themes addressed in the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City.  It is even more important to note that, while many, or at least some, of the speakers may seem to support the broader “cause” while speaking for a minute or two during open mic, when questioned at length it becomes evident that most have individual agendas that they have been pursuing long before #OWS and Occupy Together came along.  The Occupy movement has simply provided them a pulpit from which to preach the gospel they’ve been writing for years, or even decades.

What #OWS Can Learn From Paul Green And The School Of Rock

My son has been taking guitar lessons and performing in live shows with the School of Rock in Vienna, Virginia since May, 2010.  Although I’m sure I have seen it before, tonight I really noticed the School of Rock Philosophy posted on the wall while I waited for my son to finish his lesson.  What follows is not just applicable to the School of Rock, but to being successful at life in general, and I couldn’t help adding a few of my own thoughts (in italics) on how it particularly applies to those currently “occupying” cities all over the United States, demanding things like free college tuition.

1.  The School of Rock is not a democracy, it is a benevolent dictatorship.

2.  It is not the notes you play – it is how you play them.

3.  Whatever “talent” is, it is not quantifiable.  The only thing that matters here is hard work and courage.  The difference between our best students and the rest of you is simply dedication, drive, and hours of focused practice.

This is what sets the 1% apart from the rest of us.  Not everyone wins first place (even if everyone gets a trophy), not every band gets a recording contract or a world tour, and not everyone is destined to attend college.

4.  If you do not conceive of yourself as a rock star no one else will either.

This is true of anything in life, however it is a NECESSARY but not a SUFFICIENT condition.  In other words, just because you see yourself as a rock star (or whatever else you want to be) does not mean everyone else will.  Always have a contingency plan.  Or three.

5.  If you never make an excuse for the rest of your life, you will be very happy and successful.

But, but, the 1%!  Wall Street!  My student loans!  Big pharma!  Big oil!

6.  The moment of sublime performance occurs when your ego dissipates into the music and you are not playing for anyone, including yourself, and are able to achieve a zen-like state of just playing music for the music itself.

This is a corollary to 5.  Once your ego dissipates, it is easier to see how, just maybe, you might be to blame for some of your problems.  Then you can stop making excuses and start solving them.

7.  Learning your songs is not the end of the process, it is the beginning.

In other words, doing the bare minimum isn’t enough (also see number 3).

8.  Until you are as good as the musicians we study, you should practice until you bleed.

See number 3 and number 7.

9.  You are expected to perform on stage; not just play the music but put on a show. Be entertaining.

See number 3, 7, and 8.

10.  Complaining is not allowed.

Everybody needs a shoulder to cry on every now and then, but don’t make it a lifestyle.

11.  Ingratitude is the worst.  Be grateful for this opportunity that your parents have given you.  Show us you are grateful by stepping up to the challenge of the music.  Don’t complain.  Make sure you are living up to your potential.  This is an opportunity that will most likely never present itself again in your life.  Live it.

This one is written specifically for kids attending School of Rock, but replace the words “parents” and “music” with whatever is appropriate in your situation.  The important thing is to always be grateful and to show that gratitude by working as hard as you can.  Don’t expect anything, so if you do get something, it will always be MORE than you expected.

12.  If you have an issue, take it up with your music director or the school management.

This goes to the heart of the problem with #OWS.  If you have a problem, you need to address it with someone who can actually do something about it.  What #OWS is doing is the equivalent of a School of Rock student sitting on the back porch and sulking because he didn’t get the lead guitar part on a particular song, hoping that someone will come along and notice his bad mood and ask him what’s wrong.  It is childish and ineffective.

13.  Act like a professional and you will be one.

Similar to number 4.

One final thought…School of Rock (formerly known as The Paul Green School of Rock Music) has over 70 franchise locations and is adding nine new locations between September 2011 and February 2012, and nobody had to occupy anything.  #OccupySchoolOfRock

“We” Are The 64%

For those of you who think the Occupy Wall Street (or Occupy Together) movement, who claim to be “The 99%”, is just a fringe element that does not represent even a small fraction of your friends and neighbors, consider the following excerpts from the “Declaration of the Occupation of New York City“:

We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.

…corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth…

…no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments.

Now compare that to a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll (conducted between October 6 and 10, 2011), which addressed the President’s most recent jobs bill (emphasis in bold mine):

When asked simply if Congress should pass the legislation or not, 30 percent of respondents answer yes, while 22 percent say no; 44 percent have no opinion.

But when the legislation’s details are included in a follow-up question — that it would cut payroll taxes, fund new road construction, extend unemployment benefits, and that it would be paid for by increasing taxes on the wealthy — 63 percent say they favor the bill and 32 percent oppose it.

What’s more, 64 percent of respondents agree with the statement that it is a “good idea” to raise taxes on the wealthy and corporations, because they should pay their fair share and can afford to pay more to help fund programs and government operations.

By comparison, 31 percent agree with the statement that raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations is a “bad idea,” because higher taxes take away money that would otherwise be invested to help grow the economy.

So although Occupy Wall Street (Occupy Together) may not be the 99%, and the person to your left and right may not agree with every tenet of the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City, this survey indicates that if you don’t want to make the wealthy and corporations pay their “fair share”, then you are in the minority.