Archive for the 'Coming to America' Category

Occupy San Francisco: Shining a Spotlight on the Problems with Society Today

Saturday, December 29th, 2012

This is a transcript of a speech I heard at Occupy San Francisco. I originally shared it on Google+ last November, and it deserves a place on the blog.

On November 17, 2011, about three weeks after having gotten arrested myself for “loitering” (no joke) at the much smaller Occupy San José, I had a chance to stop by the Occupy San Francisco camp. Things seemed orderly and peaceful, with people making music and art, talking, giving speeches etc. — nice vibe! Someone recorded the speech, which in turn allowed me to transcribe it (with a few minor edits for readability). The speaker gets introduced shortly after 0:14:00 into the video, her speech starts at 0:14:20.

Hi, guys!

I’m Jane, and I would like to talk about the reason that they want to evict us.

Back when this movement started there were a few tents popped up at 101 Market in front of the Federal Reserve, and they thought that the movement, it would go away. So they ignored us for a while. Then they tried to take it, and we came back stronger. The media ignored it. Then they tried to ridicule it. But what we did, is we struck a chord.

This fight is not about these tents. And by the way, it is not a camp, it is an occupation. We are not campers, we are occupiers. What these tents do is they create a space. They create a space that is around the clock. And if at any time somebody feels like this system that they live in is unjust, unfair, rigged, they can come here and talk to people who also think that.

When they come here they meet people who are organized, educated, well-spoken, get things done, and who know how to assemble, know their rights, and know their power. When they come here, they build a network. We are all building a network. And that is the real reason that they want to take down these tents.

They look for loopholes — health this, curfew that — but really, they are worried! They are worried that what we will do is shake up the status quo.

The power of these tents is that it is a space, it is making a giant spotlight on the precise problems with society today. And they are getting scared cause this spotlight is getting brighter and brighter by the day.

When people come here or to 101 Market, they learn all the ways that the Federal Reserve, the banks, the corporations have screwed us. They learn about these things. Think about the fact that you can talk to anyone in this camp right now and they can tell you about corporate personhood. This was not the case even just two months ago.

Right now people understand the things that are happening with money, taxes, how their taxes go to big banks so that then those big banks can get bailed out and use that bail-out money to make more money to then buy off the politicians, so that then the politicians are going to be serving them, and then the politicians will come and try to shut down these camps.

They try to shut down the occupation precisely because we’re shaking it up. Right now, the way things work is that the financial institutions and large corporations are in power. The politicians no longer serve the needs of the people. They are serving the needs of these corporations to keep raking in more money at the people’s expense. And the more we shine the spotlight on that, the more they’ll get worried. The more they’ll make up trumped-up charges. The more forces they will send down here.

But you know what we can hide behind? You know what we have on our side? We have the Constitution. The Constitution was not made so that people could argue it in court. It was not made so that ACLU can fight for us. It was made because the Founding Fathers realized that there might come a time in our history that we might need as people to be able to go against the government, to speak out against their tyranny. And guess what, that time is now. That time is today!

The government has become so corrupt, it has become so tyrannical, they are sending in forces, giant forces of police, who can’t speak, who are dressed in riot gear. They are sending in a hundred police officers for 50 campers last night at Dallas. They are sending in these giant forces to shut down not camps but ideas.

And I will do what the Founding Fathers intended me to do. And I will stand here and I will occupy and I will use my rights to free speech, to assembly, wether it includes a tent or whether it includes signs, and we will continue to organize. Right now, if they raided this, we have enough organization in place to come right back.

So in conclusion, it’s up to all of us to try to get this to be here as long as possible so that we can organize more and more, and we can take down the system and take it back for us, for the people. Because it’s our system, it is our America, it is our Constitution. It does not belong to the corporations, Goldman Sachs, the politicians. We will take it back. We will occupy for as long as we can.

Thank you!

Whether the Occupy movement (if you want to call it that) was able to make a dent or will find a way to continue to do so is a topic for discussion. What’s clear is that the issues remain. It’s more important than ever to shine a bright spotlight.

Happy Birthday, America!

Sunday, July 4th, 2010

Looks like it’s been a while since I last said happy birthday, so here goes…

America The Beautiful

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!

America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

Here’s a playlist I started today with a few more classics (and more to be added, I’m sure).

Loma Prieta

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

20 years ago yesterday, I was watching MTV. Then the house started shaking (I jotted down a few more details of this memorable incident in this 2006 post).

Here’s a recording of ABC7 News’ live coverage immediately following the quake.

allowscriptaccess="always" allownetworking="all" allowfullscreen="true"

Only a matter of time until the next one hits.

August 3, 1989

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

August 3, 1989

20 years ago I entered the US for the first time. John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City, traveling TWA, on my way to California. I would spend the 1989/90 school year as a foreign exchange student in the San Francisco Bay Area, by far one of the best things I’ve ever done.


Friday, April 24th, 2009

I’ll be going on a trip to Germany next week to visit the family (been a while).

Remote chance I make it to PolitCamp ‘09 in Berlin first weekend in May. Otherwise staying near Cologne for the most part.

Holla if you wanna meet up.

My most favorite use of Twitter this past year

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Jay Rosen, professor of journalism at NYU and avid Twitterer (btw, must-follow for anyone interested in the future of media and journalism), was preparing an essay recently on “why I use Twitter”: Help Me Explain Twitter to Eggheads

He asked his readers for contributions on one particular item:

9. And then, the thing I need your help with: what do I actually use Twitter for?.

I have a number of answers to that, which I will lay out in the piece, but I would like to feature some others. The intent of my question is to put the accent on “useful.” What do you use Twitter for? I’m especially interested if you’re an academic—student, teacher, PhD—but my interest is not limited to those groups.

Here’s my answer (sent via Twitter, natch):

@jayrosen_nyu To follow people outside my liberal, Bay Area echo chamber. Hard to bear at times, but can be great sanity check. ;-)

Following last year’s trip to DC (Politics Online conference, eDemocracyCamp) and Austin (SXSW), I made a deliberate attempt to follow more people who are not like me (in terms of where we fall on the political spectrum — we all have in common that we are hooked on Twitter, apparently): Republicans, conservatives, evangelicals etc.

This has proven to be my most valuable use of Twitter by far. It has provided me with a glimpse into the other half of this nation’s soul, which has been so deeply divided over the last eight years (and still is, though I’m hopeful that now is a good time for new beginnings, and maybe we will see some of this division disappear).

It’s been fascinating to read up on some of the articles, stories and other resources that are being passed on by conservatives, to listen to their instant feedback to news of the day, and to follow the discussions around the need for change in their own party.

It is easier today than ever to blend out any news source we don’t agree with and only engage with people who will confirm our views. It is important, in my view, that we resist this temptation, and Twitter seems to be a good antenna into anywhere outside the bubbles of our own limited world views.

Plantjes en Bloemen V

Saturday, June 14th, 2008

Following a long year of lackluster garden engagement, the time has come to once again green the backyard.

In an effort to fully maximize value, this year will be herbs only (strawberries didn’t yield enough results, and the vegetables were pretty much all eaten by our little friends on four feet).

Sorry, mates, not this time!

Basil, rosemary, Italian parsley have already been added in large quantities. Mint and a few other weeds will follow shortly.

Tim Russert

Friday, June 13th, 2008

Journalism here in the US suffered a big loss today: NBC’s Tim Russert dead at 58

Of his background as a Democratic political operative, Russert said, “My views are not important.”

“Lawrence Spivak, who founded ‘Meet the Press,’ told me before he died that the job of the host is to learn as much as you can about your guest’s positions and take the other side,” he said in a 2007 interview with Time magazine. “And to do that in a persistent and civil way. And that’s what I try to do every Sunday.”

You did a good job, Tim!

Talking about guns…

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

When the topic of guns came up at the debate tonight, actually what I wanted to do is twitter the number of annual firearm-related deaths in the US. Instead, I came across these four rules for gun safety, originally proposed by some Colonel Jeff Cooper back in the day.

  1. All guns are always loaded. Even if they are not, treat them as if they are.
  2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy. (For those who insist that this particular gun is unloaded, see Rule 1.)
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger till your sights are on the target. This is the Golden Rule. Its violation is directly responsible for about 60 percent of inadvertent discharges.
  4. Identify your target, and what is behind it. Never shoot at anything that you have not positively identified.

You know, just in case. Might come in handy next time you find yourself in a situation. prices drywall sheets test

Change agent at work

Monday, November 12th, 2007

Just for the record:

  • Late March (immediately after landing the job) — Started pushing for team/group/department wiki.
  • April 15, 2007 — Started spreading some Twitter love.
  • April 19, 2007 — Started evangelizing the unconference format and its potential benefits in and around the enterprise.
  • No later than early May 2007 — Started pointing folks to Silicon Valley’s vibrant Lunch 2.0 movement.
  • Etc.

Since then:

  • July 2007 — First internal Lunch 2.0 at Oracle.
  • August 2007 — Oracle is BarCampBlock sponsor.
  • September 2007 — Department wiki launches (internal).
  • October 2007 — First public Oracle Lunch 2.0.
  • November 2007 — Public wiki launches, OpenWorld comes nicely bundled with an unconference, Twitter seems to be all over the place at Oracle.
  • Etc.

Of course, none of this would have been possible if it wasn’t for the curiosity, open-mindedness and drive of a number of other people at Oracle (both inside and outside the sphere of influence a small team like ours can command). That’s what’s made this job such a fun experience over the past few months. And while I’m well aware that I can’t claim credit for all the good things that have been coming together lately, I’m glad that I was able to give some of the right queues at the right time.