Links of Interest to Activists

More grab-bag material:

  • You can now visualize the U.S. war fatality statistics in Iraq in two new ways:
    • Obleek’s Flash animation moves forward in time at a pace of ten days per second , and peppers a map of Iraq with dots, where each one “indicates the geographic location that a coalition military fatality occurred.”
    • A Palm Beach Post map turns this around, and shows where in the United States each of the American fatalities from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan came from (at least those who hailed from the contiguous 48 states).
  • Robert F. Hawes Jr. got my attention with his summary of a Twilight Zone episode:

    revival of the Twilight Zone series featured an episode entitled “Button, button”, based on a short story by Richard Matheson. In the story, a gaunt, black-clad gentleman arrives uninvited at the cramped apartment of a financially destitute couple and presents them with a tempting though somewhat ominous offer. He gives them a simple wooden box with a clear plastic lid overtop a large red button — the type of nondescript contraption teens might build in a high school Woodshop class — and explains their options: 1) Don’t push the button. Nothing happens; the man will come back tomorrow to claim the box. 2) Push the button and get $200,000 — tax free — and someone will die. “Who?” the wife asks. “Someone you don’t know,” the man replies. He then leaves them to think about it. The husband decides it’s unconscionable, but the wife wants to go for it. After all, what is the death of someone they don’t know? People die all the time, don’t they? Maybe a bad person will be the one to die. “And maybe it’ll be someone’s newborn baby,” the husband counters.

    In the end of the story, after much deliberation, the wife decides that they’re owed this and pushes the button. Nothing happens immediately. Then, later in the day, the gaunt, black-clad gentleman returns with a briefcase full of cash. He gives the couple their money and takes his box back. The wife asks what will happen now and the man replies: “The button box will be reset and the same offer will be made to someone else… someone who doesn’t know you.”

  • Those of you who have been intrigued by my mentions of freeganism and its potential for a lifestyle of radical frugality may be interested in the Dumpster World discussion board, where dumpster divers from all over the place share their wisdom. It’s not all “do you think this meat is still good?” — there is a lot of discussion of restoring and repairing discarded furniture and appliances and other such topics as well.
  • How’s our great national flashback coming along? Read the transcript of the President assuring the world “We will not be defeated. We will not grow tired. We will not withdraw.”
  • David Morris at Alternet reviews some of the history behind (Economic) Independence Day. Apparently Gandhi wasn’t the first one to try swadeshi in a campaign to break free from the British Empire:

    Before we declared our political independence we declared our economic independence. All things English were placed on the blacklist. Frugality came into fashion. Out of the First Continental Congress in New York came the embryonic nation’s first Chamber of Commerce. Given the current policies of the Chamber, it might be useful this July 4th to recall its first campaign slogan, “Save your money and you can save your country.”

    Bostonian Sam Adams, the fiery leader of the movement, knew that frugality was not enough. To become truly independent, America had to produce at home what was previously imported from England.

    Members of Boston’s Whig Party demonstrated their patriotism by nursing tea leaves and mulberry trees in their gardens. New England farmers were exhorted to convert their oak plains into sheep pastures and produce enough wool to clothe every American. Colonists were urged to abstain from eating lamb or mutton in order to encourage American woolen manufactures.

    In less than a year the boycott had so disrupted Transatlantic trade that thousands of British workers lost their jobs.

  • And, going back a bit more into American history, Murray Rothbard makes a very interesting investigation of Pennsylvania’s Anarchist Experiment —  when the Pennsylvania colony was “in a de facto condition of individual anarchism, and seemed none the worse for the experience.”

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