Writing Opp: Race and Anti-Racism

We're less than two weeks from the deadline for writing about "Race and Anti-Racism" for Friends Journal and I'd love to see more submissions. It was two years ago that we put out the much-talked-about issue on Experiences of Friends of Color. That felt like a really-needed issue: no triumphalism about how white Friends sometimes did the right thing as Abolitionists or posturing about how great we are, forgetting the ways we sometimes aren't: just a collection of modern Friends talking about what they've experienced first-hand.

I think it's a good time to talk now about how Friends are organizing to unlearn and subvert institutional racism. It was an important issue before November--ongoing mass incarceration, Standing Rock, and the disenfranchisement of millions of African Americans was all taking place before the election. But with racial backlashes, talk of a religious or nationality-based registries, and the coziness of "alt-right" white nationalists with members of the Trump campaign it all seems time to go into overdrive.

Trying out Google PhotoScan

Today Google came out with a new app called Pho­to­Scan that will scan your old pho­to col­lec­tion. Like just every­one, I have stash­es of shoe­box­es inher­it­ed from par­ents full of pic­tures. Some were scanned in a scan­ner, back when I had one that was com­pat­i­ble with a com­put­er. More recent­ly, I’ve used scan­ning apps like Readdle’s Scan­ner Pro and Scan­bot. These de-skew the pho­tographs of the pho­tos that your phone takes but the resolution’s is not always the best and there can be some glare from over­head lights, espe­cial­ly when you’re work­ing with a glossy orig­i­nal pictures.

Google’s approach clev­er­ly stitch­es togeth­er mul­ti­ple pho­tos. It uses a process much like their 360-degree pho­to app: you start with a overview pho­to. Once tak­en, you see four cir­cles hov­er­ing to the sides of the pic­ture. Move the cam­era to each and it takes more pic­tures. Once you’ve gone over all four cir­cles, Google stitch­es these five pho­tos togeth­er in such a way that there’s no per­spec­tive distortion.

What’s remark­able is the speed. I scanned 15 pho­tos in while also mak­ing din­ner for the kids. The dimen­sions of all looked good and the res­o­lu­tion looks about as good as the orig­i­nal. These are good results for some­thing so easy.

Check out Google’s announce­ment blog post for details.

Quick scans from an envelope inherited from my mom.

Iraq Ten Years Later: Some of Us Weren’t Wrong

Ten years ago today, U.S. forces began the “shock and awe” bom­bard­ment on Bagh­dad, the first shots of the sec­ond Iraq War. Pres­i­dent Bush said troops need­ed to go in to dis­able Sad­dam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruc­tion pro­gram, but as we now know that pro­gram did not exist. Many of us sus­pect­ed as much at the time. The flim­sy pieces of evi­dence held up by the Bush Admin­is­tra­tion didn’t pass the smell test but a lot of main­stream reporters went for it and sup­port­ed the war.

Now those jour­nal­ists are look­ing back. One is Andrew Sul­li­van, most wide­ly known as the for­mer edi­tor of New Repub­lic and now the pub­lish­er of the inde­pen­dent online mag­a­zine The Dish. I find his recent “Nev­er For­get That They Were All Wrong” thread pro­found­ly frus­trat­ing. I’m glad he’s tak­ing the time to double-guess him­self, but the whole premise of the thread con­tin­ues the dis­mis­sive atti­tude toward activists. Start­ing in 1995 I ran a web­site that act­ed as a pub­lish­ing plat­form for much of the estab­lished peace move­ment. Yes, we were a col­lec­tion of anti­war activists, but that doesn’t mean we were unable to use log­ic and apply crit­i­cal think­ing when the offi­cial assur­ances didn’t add up. I wrote week­ly posts chal­leng­ing New York Times reporter Judith Miller and the smoke-and-mirror shows of two admin­is­tra­tions over a ten-year peri­od. My essays were occa­sion­al­ly picked up by the nation­al media — when they need­ed a coun­ter­point to pro-war edi­to­ri­als — but in gen­er­al my pieces and those of the paci­fist groups I pub­lished were dismissed.

When U.S. troops final­ly did invade Iraq in 2003, they encoun­tered an Iraqi mil­i­tary that was almost com­plete­ly inca­pac­i­tat­ed by years of U.N. sanc­tions. The much-hyped Repub­li­can Guard had tanks that had too many bro­ken parts to run. Iraq’s nuclear, chem­i­cal and bio­log­i­cal pro­grams had been shut down over a decade ear­li­er. The real les­son that we should take from the Iraq War was that the non­vi­o­lent meth­ods of Unit­ed Nations sanc­tions had worked. This isn’t a sur­prise for what we might call prag­mat­ic paci­fists. There’s a grow­ing body of research argu­ing that non­vi­o­lent meth­ods are often more effec­tive than armed inter­ven­tions (see for exam­ple, Why Civ­il Resis­tance Works: The Strate­gic Log­ic of Non­vi­o­lent Con­flict, by Eri­ca Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan, reviewed in the March Friends Jour­nal (sub­scrip­tion required).

What if the U.S. had acknowl­edge there was no com­pelling evi­dence of WMDs and had sim­ply ratch­eted up the sanc­tions and let Iraq stew for anoth­er cou­ple of years? Even­tu­al­ly a coup or Arab Spring would prob­a­bly have rolled around. Imag­ine it. No insur­gency. No Abu Ghraib. Maybe we’d even have an ally in Bagh­dad. The sit­u­a­tions in places like Tehran, Dam­as­cus, Islam­abad, and Ramal­lah would prob­a­bly be fun­da­men­tal­ly dif­fer­ent right now. Anti­war activists were right in 2003. Why should jour­nal­ists like Andrew Sul­li­van assume that this was an anomaly?

So here’s a G+ question

It seems cir­cles are curat­ed only by their cre­ator. What is some cir­cles were pub­licly list­ed with an opt-in but­ton for recip­i­ents (with an option­al approval step by the cir­cle creator). 

Here’s the exam­ple: a lot of my pho­to stream is end­less pic­tures of cute kids. Face­book friends who have friend­ed me for oth­er top­ics have to wade through that col­lec­tion. Some actu­al­ly like them – our friend­ships aren’t sin­gle issue and they appre­ci­ate glimpses of the rest of my life. But with G+ it’s my job to fig­ure out which issue friends might want to be kid pic­ture friends. I don’t want to put them on a list they don’t like and essen­tial­ly spam them. Is there any G+ fea­tures I might use?

Google+: View post on Google+

Pete Seeger gets YouTubed

pete seeger album coverThis morning I'm working on the "Pete Seeger":http://www.quakersong.org/pete_seeger/ section of Quakersong.org, the website of Annie Paterson and Peter Blood (I'm their webmaster). Parts of their site are amazing--the "Quakers and Music":http://www.quakersong.org/quakers_and_music/ page has become a directory of sorts for all the many Quaker musicians out there (who knew there were so many!). But the Pete Seeger is still mostly a collection of CDs that Peter & Annie have for sale.
So I was wondering what a good Pete Seeger page might look like and starting surfing around. There's a great "fan page":http://www.peteseeger.net/ which is regularly updated but has bravely decided to maintain its original design since it was founded eleven years ago. And "Wikipedia":http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pete_seeger does its usual fine job at a biography. But the "gold mine is YouTube":http://youtube.com/results?search_query=pete+seeger&search=Search.
A year ago a user uploaded three clips from _Rainbow Quest_, a short-lived TV program Pete put together for a low-wattage UHF station out of Newark in the mid-60s (it's now a Telemundo affiliate broadcasting recycled Mexican soaps for its prime time schedule). I don't know what kind of copyright issues there are on something like this but it's great fun to see these old clips. Making this material widely available is one of the joys of YouTube (well, that and watching "recapturing the innocence of our over-commercialized youth":http://ofthebest.blogspot.com/2007/02/how-to-shed-20-years-in-20-seconds.html). I'll leave you with this, a clip of Pete singing with June Carter and Johnny "I'm soooo stoooned" Cash a few years before they married.

The Early Blogging Days

I started Nonviolence.org in late 1995 as a place to publicize the work of the US peace movement which was not getting out to a wide (or a young) audience. I built and maintained the websites of a few dozen hosted groups (including the War Resisters League, Fellowship of Reconciliation and Pax Christi USA) but I quickly realized that the Nonviolence.org homepage itself could be used for more than just as a place to put links to member groups. I could use it to highlight the articles I thought should get more publicity, whether on or off the Nonviolence.org domain.

The homepage adapted into what is now a recognizable blog format on November 13, 1997 when I re-named the homepage "Nonviolence Web Upfront" and started posting links to interesting articles from Nonviolence.org member groups. In response to a comment the other day I wondered how that fit in with the evolution of blogging. I was shocked to learn from Wikipedia's that the term "weblog" wasn't coined until December of that year. I think is less a coincidence than a confirmation that many of us were trying to figure out a format for sharing the web with others.

The earliest edition stored on Archive.org is from December 4, 1997. It focused on the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Catholic Worker co-founder Dorothy Day. To give you an sense of the early independently-published articles, the January 2, 1998 edition included a guest piece by John Steitz, "Is the Nonviolence Web a Movement Half-Way House" that sounds eerily similar to recent discussions on Quaker Ranter.

Below is an excerpt from the email announcement for "Nonviolence Web Upfront" (typically for me, I sent it out after I had been running the new format for awhile):

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NONVIOLENCE WEB NEWS, by Martin Kelley Week of December 29, 1997

CONTENTS

Introducing "Nonviolence Web Upfront"

New Procedures
New Website #1: SERPAJ
New Website #2: Stop the Cassini Flyby
Two Awards
Numbers Available Upon Request
Weekly Visitor Counts

With my travelling and holiday schedule, it's been hard to keep regular NVWeb News updates coming along, but it's been a great month and there's a lot. I'm especially proud of the continuing evolution of what I'm now calling "Nonviolence Web Upfront," seen by 1800-2200 people a month!

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INTRODUCING "NONVIOLENCE WEB UPFRONT"

The new magazine format of the NVWeb's homepage has been needing a name. It needed to mentioned the "Nonviolence Web" and I wanted it to imply that it was the site's homepage (sometimes referred to as a "frontpage") and that it contained material taken from the sites of the NVWeb.

So the name is "Nonviolence Web Upfront" and a trip to http://www.nonviolence.org will see that spelled out big on top of the weekly-updated articles.

There's also an archive of the weekly installments found at the bottom of NVWeb Upfront. It's quite a good collection already!

Now that this is moving forward, I encourage everyone to think about how they might contribute articles. If you write an interesting opinion piece, essay, or story that you think would fit, send it along to me. For example, "War Toys: Re-Action-ist Figures" FOR's Vincent Romano's piece from the Nov. 27 edition, was an essay he had already written and made a good complimentary piece for the YouthPeace Week special. But don't worry about themes: NVWeb Upfront is meant not only to be timely but to show the breadth of the nonviolence movement, so send your pieces along!

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