Tag Archives | Alternatives

Happy Saturnalia To All!

SaturnaliaA celebration dear to the hearts of the Disinformation team at this time of year is Saturnalia, one of the most popular Roman festivals. It was marked by tomfoolery and reversal of social roles, in which slaves and masters ostensibly switched places, with expectantly humorous results. Saturnalia was introduced around 217 BC to raise citizen morale after a crushing military defeat. Originally celebrated for a day, on December 17th, its popularity saw it grow until it became a week-long extravaganza, ending on the 23rd.

Our favorite exposition of Saturnalia has long been the Electric Sheep comic strip, no longer easily available on the web, but we dug in the crates and are pleased to bring it to you. We did find it here and in a video created from the original website posted to Funny or Die:

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“Unschooling:” Less Factory, More Garden

schoolsucksUnschooling takes to heart the old maxim that one should never let one’s schooling interfere with one’s education. This article from CNN describes unschooling in a formal setting, but it is more commonly practiced as a form of home-school:

Six-year-old Karina Ricci doesn’t ever have a typical day. She has no schedule to follow, no lessons to complete.

She spends her time watching TV, doing arts and crafts or practicing the piano. She learned to spell by e-mailing with friends; she uses math concepts while cooking dinner.

Everything she knows has been absorbed “organically,” according to her dad, Dr. Carlo Ricci. She’s not just on summer break — this is her life year round as an at-home unschooler.

“It’s incredible how capable she is,” Ricci said in a phone interview from his home in Toronto, Ontario. “And I think that all young people are that capable … if you don’t tell them they can’t or they’re not allowed, they surprise us in a lot of ways.”

Ricci is professor of alternative learning at Nipissing University and an advocate of unschooling, a concept that’s gaining popularity in both Canada and the United States thanks to frustration with the current public education system.… Read the rest

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The Great Escape

Aaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media:

Hello, escapism. My name is Aaron and I’m sure we’ve met.

At some point, you wake up one morning, wipe the blood still oozing from your nose and realize you’re bad at being an adult. Not because you had bad parents or a terrible childhood or have unsupportive friends. Not because you first tasted blood at the age of 7 when a kid nearly twice your age spin-kicked your face into the dirt, or because you spent most of the next decade getting your ass kicked on a regular basis. You’re not bad at being an adult because you weren’t afforded all sorts of opportunities – because you were. You went to college, you had jobs, friends, lovers, even traveled a little.

Nope, you’re bad at being an adult because you’re defective.

Rather, I’m defective. I once wrote:

“…there’s a hole inside all of us.

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Stitching Together Solidarity, Creating A Community

Aaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media:

There’s an emptiness we can all feel that’s just out of reach. It’s something we can’t touch or taste, something that sits on the tips of our tongues and on the edge of our lips. Religious people might define it as a lack of spirituality or sickness of the soul. Folks who aren’t can find any number of disorders or emotional and mental states to try to explain it. But the truth is, it’s something a little more.

And we try to fill that hole, that emptiness, with things every day. Some people do it with money and material goods, some do it with booze or pills, others with work, or a quest for power and authority, and some shut down and spend their days in the dark watching hours of television. Whatever it is though, however we choose to try to fill that void it’s never enough.… Read the rest

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Good Tidings

Krampus

Picture: Flickr user dullhunk (CC)

One of my favorite sites, io9, had some great recommendations for whatever geeky holiday you may celebrate (Saturnalia, FestivusWookie Life Day) for just about every variety of nerd there is. They left out the Lovecraftian Horror fanatics, but had covered this on my own blog not too long ago, for you arcane and mad romantics out there. I also feel obliged to mention the variety of Big Lebowski what-have-yous from LebowskiFest. And ThinkGeek is always good for this sort of thing.

More importantly, however, are the suggestions io9 had for charitable donations this winter season for the science or sci-fi enthusiast in your clade. A fine (excerpted) list via Annalee Newitz at io9:

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To Reduce Inequality, Tax Wealth, Not Income

Picture: Kriplozoik (CC)

Disinfonauts have known about this idea for quite some time.  And the idea was floated by the floundering Lib Dem Party leader in Britain earlier this year.  But only just now does it seem to be gaining traction in the mainstream American press.  By Daniel Altman in the New York Times:

 WHETHER you’re in the 99 percent, the 47 percent or the 1 percent, inequality in America may threaten your future. Often decried for moral or social reasons, inequality imperils the economy, too; the International Monetary Fund recently warned that high income inequality could damage a country’s long-term growth. But the real menace for our long-term prosperity is not income inequality — it’s wealth inequality, which distorts access to economic opportunities.

Wealth inequality has worsened for two decades and is now at an extreme level. Replacing the income, estate and gift taxes with a progressive wealth tax would do much more to reduce it than any other tax plan being considered in Washington.

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Allow Me to Shake My Cane at You

It’s the 1980′s and a little boy is browsing his parents’ library. Nikola Tesla is a “Man out of Time.” The Illuminati are managing the stagecraft of history. Antiquated diagrams posit a hollow Earth, concealing its own internal sun and refugee Nazi army–and who built the pyramids, now?

Next door, where the grandparents live, Bob Larson is exorcising demons from those unwary teenagers who have haplessly dabbled in D&D and heavy metal. A well-organized conspiracy is hiding the truth of Satanic ritual sacrifice, while the Antichrist is waiting in the wings to implant 666 chips into the palms of all but the most faithful Christians. Ouija boards are serious business and, with a sharp eye and a handy camera, you just might be the one to prove the existence of UFOs. To borrow a phrase; nothing is true, and everything is permitted.

Conspicuously absent are: Absurd rants against the scientific method, comparing the peer-review process to the persecution of Galileo.… Read the rest

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In Praise of Anarchy

Part II (Part I can be found here) from Club Orlov. Raises some very salient points about the ecological nature of Anarchism.

When confronted with an increasingly despotic régime, the good people of almost any nation will cower in their homes and, once they are flushed out, will allow themselves to be herded like domesticated animals. They will gladly take orders from whoever gives them, because their worst fear is not despotism—it is anarchy. Anarchy! Are you afraid of anarchy? Or are you more afraid of hierarchy? Color me strange, but I am much more afraid of being subjected to a chain of command than of anarchy (which is a lack of hierarchy).

Mind you, this is not an irrational fear, but comes from a lifetime of studying nature, human as well as the regular kind, and of working within hierarchically organized organizations as well as some anarchically organized ones.

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Landlessness: A History of Direct Action

Picture: Millet (PD)

Dr. John J. Gurney, via Energy Bulletin, discusses the history of the landless Digger movement in England, and how we can apply their tactics to our contemporary social and economic crises. Thanks to Anarchy Pony for the link.

The Runneymede Eco Village has, at the time of writing, continued in being for seven weeks, despite the bad summer weather and the frequent and inevitable attempts by the authorities to move the Diggers on. The action began on 9 June, with a march from Syon Lane Community Allotment towards Windsor, where activists aimed to set up a self-sustaining community on disused land belonging to the Crown Estate. Eventually they settled on land surrounding the former Cooper’s Hill campus of Shoreditch College of Education and Brunel University, and it was here that they began building a long house, complete with wattle and daub and cob. The published demands of the participants in the venture were simple and direct.

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The Rise of Ad-Hoc Journalist Support Networks

Picture: Nicolás García (CC)

As the mainstream corporate media has consistently failed to meet the needs of the people, we’ve seen a shift towards a larger, more robust independent press with thousands of DIY/Citizen journalists writing, photographing, videotaping, tweeting and streaming in order to get stories to the public that are either ignored or reported on poorly. Those of us who engage in journalistic activities independent from a corporate entity though, don’t have the same support system as a newsroom. But as our numbers grow and people increasingly follow our stories, we can create better networks.

Josh Stearns writes at PBS Mediashift:

Journalistic collaboration isn’t just something that happens between newsrooms. Increasingly, journalists working outside of traditional news organizations are coming together to support each other in a range of ways, from offering safety advice when covering protests to sharing news tips, local resource recommendations and more.

“When ecosystems change and inflexible institutions collapse,” Clay Shirky wrote in a post on his blog, “their members disperse, abandoning old beliefs, trying new things, making their living in different ways than they used to.” In the news industry, an ecosystem is emerging that’s fueled by independent and citizen reporters, along with a new generation of small non-profit news sites.

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