Today Abbie Hoffman Would Have been 81 Years Old

I met Abbie on several occasions in the years between 1967 and 1969.

The world would be a better place if he, Jerry Rubin, Huey Newton, John Lennon and other 1960s leaders were still around instead of the Frat Boy Draft Dodging Scum like Trump.

From Kinky Friedman,  Texas singer, song writer, author and former gubernatorial candidate

A special message from the Kinkster:

I’ve always had a special place in my heart for Jewish troublemakers. And Abbie Hoffman was one of the best! I got to know him during the years of 1974 to 1980, when he was a fugitive on the run from the feds, often topping the FBI’s most wanted list. I’ve always believed that the drug charges against Abbie were totally trumped-up. In truth, he was only guilty of one crime, but it was the crime that is never forgiven: poking fun at authority.

Abbie was a colorful, fun-loving, political prankster, highly adept at skewering the establishment, which, God knows, seems forever in need of being skewered. Abbie hid out at my place in Chappaqua long before Bill and Hillary got there. We shot about a million games of pool, with Abbie losing very few indeed. Later, I harbored my famous fugitive at our family’s ranch, a summer camp for kids, in Texas. We spent the winter playing chess, riding donkeys, and trying to figure out how the world had gotten so screwed-up. A year later, Abbie crashed with me in Hollywood and introduced me to another guy whom he sometimes hid out with, Jack Nicholson.

In the end it seemed as if Abbie had become like the character in the Billy Joe Shaver song, “Cursed to be born a serious soul/ Nobody takes seriously.” The question remains, of course, why would anybody harbor a high-level fugitive in the first place? Perhaps it was the way of my people. Perhaps I liked living dangerously. Perhaps I just liked Abbie. Perhaps I was following Charles Bukowski’s advice, “Run with the hunted.” Perhaps.

I’m writing this today on Abbie’s birthday, November 30th. He would’ve been eighty-one years old if life had been just a little bit different. But it never is. If you want to know more about Abbie, I suppose you could google him. While you’re at it, you could also google Moses and Jesus. After all, they were three good Jewish boys who got in a little trouble with the government.

Happy birthday, Dear Abbie. Wherever you are.

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Ken Burns’ New Vietnam War Series Teaches a Flawed, Misleading Lesson

From Alternet:  https://www.alternet.org/burns-wrong-lessons

The new film distorts what scholars, veterans and antiwar activists alike know about the war and its aftermath.

By Jerry Lembcke
September 19, 2017

When Karl Marlantes takes the screen during the new PBS film series The Vietnam War, he says coming home was nearly as traumatic as the war itself. Later, he describes being assaulted by protesters at the airport, invoking the image of spat-on Vietnam veterans, an image that Los Angeles Times editorial writer Michael McGough said in 2012 was based on a myth. An edifying myth, McGough called it, but still a myth.

With The Vietnam War, Ken Burns and Lynn Novick have created a film that rehashes some old, tired tropes. In doing so, they distort what soldiers, veterans, and antiwar activists alike know about the war and its aftermath, especially inside the United States.

In their May 29 New York Times op-ed advertisement for the series, Burns and Novick give a lofty rationale for their film. Succumbing to another cliché, they claim it is about healing. But the discourse of healing misleads as much as it informs, presupposing a prewar America that was a seamless unity, where everyone got along. As sociologist Keith Beattie showed in his 1998 book The Scar That Binds: American Culture and the Vietnam War, that America was mythical. The real one was already torn by racism and McCarthyism, and frayed by modern technology. Domestic class conflict and racial and gender anxieties, too, continued right through the war, as the historian Milton Bates pointed out in his 1996 book The Wars We Took to Vietnam.

That fractured America was complicit in its going to war, not simply a passive victim of it. Burns and Novick intentionally exclude scholars like Beattie and Bates, however. “No historians or other expert talking heads” mar their film, they told the Times’s reviewer Jennifer Schuessler. “Instead,” Schuessler reports matter-of-factly, their “79 onscreen interviews give the ground-up view of the war from the mostly ordinary people who lived through it.”

Ground-up views are susceptible, especially after 40 years, to the very myths they are supposed to belie. Memories that are 40 years old are too influenced by movies, novels, newspapers, and television—or those dreaded historians—to count for documentation. Lawyers, judges, and courts concluded years ago that eyewitness accounts of crimes that are only hours old are unreliable—so, 40 years? Or 50? In the hands of filmmakers, however, such accounts are too easily and too often used as a veneer to manage viewer perceptions.1 Here Burns and Novick offer false equivalences, or “balance” in journalistic parlance. In promoting healing instead of the search for truth, The Vietnam War offers misleading comforts.

The contradictions of The Vietnam War pile up from the start. Its creators might claim a ground-up view—and the film does give us lot of grunt-level footage, like Marines in rice paddies and GIs jumping out of helicopters—but the prevailing interpretations of these scenes come from elites. Some of these notables would be better cast into confessional booths than onto PBS screens, too. For example, John Negroponte, a prominent interpreter in the film, used diplomatic appointments as cover for covert activities over a half-century of US-engineered (or –attempted) regime-change operations.

Just over 30 years old when he began his Vietnam assignment, Negroponte developed a reputation as a “hardliner” in negotiations to end the war in Vietnam, once breaking with his superior officer Henry Kissinger for making too many concessions to communist North Vietnam. Later in his life, he took lessons from Vietnam to America’s adventures across the world. As ambassador to Honduras between 1981 and 1985, Negroponte built the small and friendly nation into a bustling military platform for cross-border operations against the leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua; when popular opposition to the US military presence in Honduras arose, he enabled and covered for the murderous death squads of General Gustavo Álvarez Martínez, a graduate of the U.S. Army School of the Americas. As a delegate to the United Nations in the early 2000s, he helped sell the invasion of Iraq on the false claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Once characterized by journalist Stephen Kinzer as “a great fabulist,” Negroponte’s prominence in The Vietnam War will have viewers of many political stripes scratching their heads.

Continue reading at:  https://www.alternet.org/burns-wrong-lessons

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Fresh trans myths of 2017: “rapid onset gender dysphoria”

From Gender Analysis:  https://genderanalysis.net/2017/07/fresh-trans-myths-of-2017-rapid-onset-gender-dysphoria/

Zinnia Jones
July 1, 2017

If, like me, you make a habit of trawling through the darker side of opinion pieces on trans issues, you might have come across a peculiar new term: “rapid onset gender dysphoria”. This supposedly recent occurrence is described by the National Review, the right-wing Alliance Defending Freedom, Robert Stacy McCain, and others as a phenomenon of teenagers “suddenly” coming out, sometimes “in groups”, after “total immersion” in social media related to transitioning. Even a recent article in The Stranger made reference to this alleged trend:

Increased visibility and societal acceptance are also logical explanations for the perceived growth in the trans population: More people are aware it’s an option now. But, as a study published this year in the Journal of Adolescent Health notes, parents have begun reporting “a rapid onset of gender dysphoria” in adolescents and teens who are “part of a peer group where one, multiple, or even all friends have developed gender dysphoria and come out as transgender during the same time frame.”

If researchers have potentially discovered a previously unknown type of gender dysphoria, this would certainly be a fascinating development. There’s just one problem: there is no evidence to suggest that this is any kind of distinct clinical entity. The various features of this purported phenomenon can already be explained within existing models and currently available evidence. And more than that, it appears that the very concept could have originated with a specific group of transphobic activists.

Let’s take a closer look at the “study published this year in the Journal of Adolescent Health”. As the full study does not appear to have been released yet, only a poster abstract is available in the February 2017 issue (Littman, 2017). The study is introduced as follows:

Parents online are observed reporting their children experiencing a rapid onset of gender dysphoria appearing for the first time during or after puberty. They describe this development occurring in the context of being part of a peer group where one, multiple, or even all friends have developed gender dysphoria and come out as transgender during the same timeframe and/or an increase in social media/internet use.

Obviously, “parents online” encompasses a rather large portion of the population, and further details on what distinguishes this particular group of parents and their online activity would certainly help to clarify this phenomenon. However, the occurrence of “gender dysphoria appearing for the first time during or after puberty”, as well as the surprise of parents, is already widely recognized in literature, to the extent that it is explicitly mentioned in the DSM-5’s description of gender dysphoria (American Psychiatric Association, 2013):

Late-onset gender dysphoria occurs around puberty or much later in life. Some of these individuals report having had a desire to be of the other gender in childhood that was not expressed verbally to others. Others do not recall any signs of childhood gender dysphoria. For adolescent males with late-onset gender dysphoria, parents often report surprise because they did not see signs of gender dysphoria during childhood.

The study’s abstract also does not provide definitions that would delineate a “rapid” appearance of gender dysphoria from a “non-rapid” appearance: how fast is rapid? Its methods have an additional weakness – only parents were surveyed, and not the children allegedly experiencing this “rapid onset”.

Continue reading at:  https://genderanalysis.net/2017/07/fresh-trans-myths-of-2017-rapid-onset-gender-dysphoria/

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Trump is Finished | The Resistance with Keith Olbermann

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All-Out Assault on LGBTQ People by Trump, Pence, Sessions

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‘Our minds can be hijacked’: the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/oct/05/smartphone-addiction-silicon-valley-dystopia

Google, Twitter and Facebook workers who helped make technology so addictive are disconnecting themselves from the internet. Paul Lewis reports on the Silicon Valley refuseniks alarmed by a race for human attention

by in San Francisco
Friday 6 October 2017

Justin Rosenstein had tweaked his laptop’s operating system to block Reddit, banned himself from Snapchat, which he compares to heroin, and imposed limits on his use of Facebook. But even that wasn’t enough. In August, the 34-year-old tech executive took a more radical step to restrict his use of social media and other addictive technologies.

Rosenstein purchased a new iPhone and instructed his assistant to set up a parental-control feature to prevent him from downloading any apps.

He was particularly aware of the allure of Facebook “likes”, which he describes as “bright dings of pseudo-pleasure” that can be as hollow as they are seductive. And Rosenstein should know: he was the Facebook engineer who created the “like” button in the first place.

A decade after he stayed up all night coding a prototype of what was then called an “awesome” button, Rosenstein belongs to a small but growing band of Silicon Valley heretics who complain about the rise of the so-called “attention economy”: an internet shaped around the demands of an advertising economy.

These refuseniks are rarely founders or chief executives, who have little incentive to deviate from the mantra that their companies are making the world a better place. Instead, they tend to have worked a rung or two down the corporate ladder: designers, engineers and product managers who, like Rosenstein, several years ago put in place the building blocks of a digital world from which they are now trying to disentangle themselves. “It is very common,” Rosenstein says, “for humans to develop things with the best of intentions and for them to have unintended, negative consequences.”

Rosenstein, who also helped create Gchat during a stint at Google, and now leads a San Francisco-based company that improves office productivity, appears most concerned about the psychological effects on people who, research shows, touch, swipe or tap their phone 2,617 times a day.

There is growing concern that as well as addicting users, technology is contributing toward so-called “continuous partial attention”, severely limiting people’s ability to focus, and possibly lowering IQ. One recent study showed that the mere presence of smartphones damages cognitive capacity – even when the device is turned off. “Everyone is distracted,” Rosenstein says. “All of the time.”

But those concerns are trivial compared with the devastating impact upon the political system that some of Rosenstein’s peers believe can be attributed to the rise of social media and the attention-based market that drives it.

Drawing a straight line between addiction to social media and political earthquakes like Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump, they contend that digital forces have completely upended the political system and, left unchecked, could even render democracy as we know it obsolete.

In 2007, Rosenstein was one of a small group of Facebook employees who decided to create a path of least resistance – a single click – to “send little bits of positivity” across the platform. Facebook’s “like” feature was, Rosenstein says, “wildly” successful: engagement soared as people enjoyed the short-term boost they got from giving or receiving social affirmation, while Facebook harvested valuable data about the preferences of users that could be sold to advertisers. The idea was soon copied by Twitter, with its heart-shaped “likes” (previously star-shaped “favourites”), Instagram, and countless other apps and websites.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/oct/05/smartphone-addiction-silicon-valley-dystopia

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A Trans Woman Was Just Kicked Out Of A Jewish Facebook Group For Women

From The Forward:  http://forward.com/opinion/national/388062/a-trans-woman-was-just-kicked-out-of-a-jewish-facebook-group-for-women/

Elisheva Sokolic
November 21, 2017

Yesterday was Transgender Day of Remembrance. It’s a day to mark the violence against the Transgender community. Unfortunately, in one Jewish Facebook group, it was marked by cruelty instead.

Facebook groups have evolved over the last few years from groups of a few dozen people from your high school class to thousands of people with shared interests. They are not just a playground for adults, but full-time jobs for the administrators, as well as a place to make friends, to learn and educate, and of course, to debate hot topics.

The group ‘Jewish Women Talk About Anything’ (JWTAA) currently has 25,745 members. That’s at least one less than it had yesterday, when a Transgender woman was removed. She was removed from the group on the grounds that anyone who was not born female does not come under the title of a woman. By way of explanation, the group’s administrator posted that “the majority of the responders did not feel comfortable with trans members so we deferred to the majority.”

 Readers probably don’t need reminding of a time when people didn’t feel all that comfortable having Jewish members in their clubs, either. And I would ask the administrators whether they allow converts to Judaism into their exclusive members room; after all, converts were not “born Jewish” so they would have as little place in a group for “Jewish women” as someone who wasn’t born a woman.

But in any event, the idea that these “responders” upon whom the administrators relied — though no one who posted could remember a vote taking place — should get to speak for 25,000 of us seems ludicrous to me. Maybe that’s just my hope talking, though. While this group is not specifically Orthodox, it is led and moderated by three Orthodox women, and there are often loud Orthodox voices in the mix. As an Orthodox woman myself, I can only speak through that lens. And when it comes to gender, despite the Mishnah itself identifying as many as half a dozen genders between male and female, the message which is coming across loud and clear to me is: We Don’t Accept You.

But maybe I shouldn’t be surprised. We’ve seen it before, in other ways. And it’s rarely to do with Jewish law. We all know the single woman in her thirties who is “on the shelf” and forgotten. We all know the divorced man in his late 40’s who has fewer and fewer Shabbat invites because “my kids are becoming teens and it’s not so appropriate.” Or the couple who have been married seven years but don’t have kids so “it’s hard to know what to talk to them about.” Or what about the gay couple who identifies as Orthodox and comes to shul but also “literally hold hands in public, like they don’t even care.”

Orthodox Judaism is known to ignore those on the fringes, those who don’t fit the mold. And if you’re paying attention, that means anyone outside of straight married couples with kids.

A Facebook group can of course allow whoever it chooses through its virtual doors. But when the group is called “Jewish Women Talk About Anything”, closing those doors to Transgender women is a powerful statement. It means that according to these 26,000 Jews anyway, a Trans woman is not a woman.

Continue reading at: http://forward.com/opinion/national/388062/a-trans-woman-was-just-kicked-out-of-a-jewish-facebook-group-for-women/