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"Ours to Hack and Own provides the most comprehensive summary of the burgeoning platform co-op movement to date." OURS TO HACK AND TO OWN reviewed in Co-operative News.

March 29, 2017
"Ours to Hack and Own is an extremely timely publication covering every aspect of the legal, social, technical and economic aspects of the platform co-op movement. Although its focus is on platform cooperativism it is key reading for anyone with an interest in creating a more collaborative, equitable and sustainable world. Read the full review here.

"Detailed, expressive, emotional and often quite disturbing": THE ANIMALS' VEGAN MANIFESTO is reviewed by the Association of Illustrators

March 28, 2017

Artistically this book demonstrates Sue’s skill with woodcarving and printing. The images are detailed, expressive, emotional and often quite disturbing. They show scenes of animal cruelty and abuse from slaughterhouses to zoos, circuses and much more. This book is aiming to upset you, because the message it is communicating is upsetting.

If you believe that as artists we should be using our powers to campaign against social or political injustice, then I highly recommend this book as an example of how to achieve this.

This is an illustrated manifesto from animals to humans imploring us to stop torturing, killing, eating and wearing them.

Read the full review at the Association of Illustrators.

"Essential reading for any observer of the scene”: ROSSET reviewed in Beat Scene

March 27, 2017
It’s difficult to encapsulate the life of such a driven man. He had ideas all day long and he brought many of them to pass [in books], theatre, film. One could write a book on just those two aspects of his existence. He shook up the cosy world of American publishing, made some enemies, made some friends. Curiously he has some admiration for the French renegade publisher Maurice Girodias, a man he had many dealings with. It pointed to his own maverick heart. Essential reading for any observer of the scene.

To read more, pick up a copy of Beat Scene.

WELCOME TO THE GREENHOUSE reviewed in SF Crowsnest: “….Maybe the world is waking up to the issue. If you can get it cheap, I recommend it and, even if you can’t, I still do."

March 27, 2017

Read the full review at SF Crowsnest.

"What's happened to the anti-war movement?" MEDEA BENJAMIN on The Laura Flanders Show

March 15, 2017
"Why not paper over our differences, if it will result in unity? What's happened to the anti-war movement? Where's the more expansive vision of the Left? And what's it got to do with immigration, trade and sanctuary?" Read the full review here.

"In 1967, much of the intellectual world learned that the United States had outsmarted itself." FINKS in The Wire

March 15, 2017
"In 1967, much of the intellectual world learned that the United States had outsmarted itself. Two decades earlier, it had quietly created several vehicles for secret cultural patronage. The scheme was billed as necessary to fight cultural penetration and patronage of the Soviet variety, which was presumed to lie behind not just propaganda, but also student and labor unions, world peace conferences and more. To maintain their secrecy, then, many of these American vehicles, such as the Congress for Cultural Freedom, were launched under the CIA’s covert bureaucracies. The agency’s secret budget was seen as a way to circumvent debates in the US legislature, whose hardline right-wingers hardly could be convinced to fund “little” intellectual magazines, say, or classical music, or the haphazard paint splashes of Jackson Pollock." Read the full review here.

"We cannot be content with isolated cooperative alternatives designed to counter old forms of capitalism." OURS TO HACK AND TO OWN on Open Democracy

March 15, 2017
"The concept of “platform cooperative” has been proposed as an alternative to such “sharing economy” firms. A platform cooperative is an online platform (e.g. website, mobile app) that is organized as a cooperative and owned by its employees, customers, users, or other key stakeholders. For example, see a directory of several platform co-ops around the world. We fully support the broader movement of platform cooperativism. However, we cannot be content with isolated cooperative alternatives designed to counter old forms of capitalism. A global counter-economy needs to be built. And this could happen through the creation of a global digital commons of knowledge." Read the full review here.

"The appeal of Cockburn as a war correspondent is multifaceted." CHAOS AND CALIPHATE on SFGATE

March 13, 2017
"The appeal of Cockburn as a war correspondent is multifaceted. Primarily based in the Middle East, he is a student of the region. To understand what is happening in, say, Iraq, he acquaints himself with not just Iraqi history but with the greater political landscapes of Turkey, Syria, Jordan, the Levant. When he makes it to his zone of coverage — not always the easiest thing — he knocks around, visiting the neighbors, observing, conversing, living rough. He hops a battered Russian helicopter to illegally cross the Amu Darya — Cockburn’s many years in the field have enabled him to cultivate contacts who can facilitate such shenanigans — alighting in North Alliance-controlled territory, where “I spent the next few moths in the impoverished village of Jabal Saraj.” He is an adept at following the twists and turns of events, and brings a Sun Tzu-like appreciation to the nit and grit of fighting." Read the full review here.

"It is worth, now more than ever, to examine the origins of the movement that sees capitalism and selfishness as a religious virtue." TERRY HEATON on RISING UP WITH SONALI

March 13, 2017
"FEATURING TERRY HEATON: Televangelist Pat Robertson is not happy that Donald Trump is facing mass criticism for his unprofessional, dishonest, and unconstitutional policies. Robertson said recently, “the Lord’s plan is being put in place for America and these people are not only revolting against Trump, they’re revolting against what God’s plan is for America.” He added, “These left-wingers and so-called progressives are trying to destroy the country that we love and take away the freedoms they love. They want collectivism. They want socialism. What we’re looking at is free markets and freedom from this terrible, overarching bureaucracy.” Trump, whose lifestyle isn’t exactly terribly Christian, has embraced evangelical constituencies and their values as stated by Robertson. It is worth, now more than ever, to examine the origins of the movement that sees capitalism and selfishness as a religious virtue." Read the full review here.

"Expansion and exploitation are the threads of Dawson’s history." EXTINCTION in PUBLIC BOOKS

March 13, 2017
"Expansion and exploitation are the threads of Dawson’s history, which takes a very long view of human responsibility for ecological degradation, or “ecocide.” Some historians have criticized the Anthropocene narrative propounded by scientists for presupposing a happy relation between humanity and nature prior to the industrial revolution. Dawson avoids this assumption, telling a story of humanity as a species that has been invasive for the past 30,000 years. The earliest moments of anthropogenic extinction include a “late Pleistocene wave of megadeath” in the wake of megafauna hunting and the Sumerian deforestation. The Roman Empire’s unsustainable agricultural practices and recreational killing of large animals like lions and elephants speak to “the exploitative attitude towards nature that accompanies empire.”" Read the full review here.

"An accessible point-by-point inventory." FOLDING THE RED INTO THE BLACK in FULL STOP

March 9, 2017
"Mosley presents a short tract with a lengthy title: Folding the Red into the Black; or, Developing a Viable Untopia for Human Survival in the 21st Century. Mosley’s coinage “untopia” indicates a practical departure from attempts to engineer a “perfect state of social harmony.” He never claims a perfect solution. The strategy throughout this plainspoken essay is to release the project of human survival from partisan baggage. Utopias contrived since the rise of industry have been socialist alternatives to capitalist reality, even as capitalist modernization has been sold globally with the same kind of starry-eyed ideals and force-fed militarism. The abstract ideas and “virtual” structures humans are violently subjected to are “derived from false notions of history and the subsequent confusion about who, and what, we are.” Both socialist and capitalist ideals threaten to dehumanize the global population – Mosley prefers the universal term “denizens” – by treating humans uniformly like drones in the first instance, and running most of them like mules in the latter. Therefore, the early sections of the book delve into Mosley’s conception of people. As a streetwise author of crime fiction, he has a certain authority to call upon in this area. But the key human insight around which he constructs his society derives from his own introspective nature as an artist: a society has to allow for the creativity of its denizens, and will be all the more successful and humane if it does." Read the full review here.

"A recommended book" TRUMP UNVEILED in THE CANARY

March 9, 2017
Harpers magazine has just printed a letter written by Donald Trump’s grandfather in 1905. But ironically, it is a letter begging against deportation. Family values The letter is a plea to the Prince Regent of Bavaria. Because, after failing to complete mandatory military service, Prince Luitpold had rejected Friedrich Trump’s request for repatriation. The emotional letter reads that he and his wife left an environment hostile to them, for a more pleasing one. One which welcomed them and where they joined other family: In 1902 I met my current wife. Sadly, she could not tolerate the climate in New York, and I went with my dear family back to Kallstadt… My old mother was happy to see her son, her dear daughter-in-law, and her granddaughter around her; she knows now that I will take care of her in her old age. “Paralyzed with fright” But unfortunately, the authorities chose to deport them, and they had to face the frightening prospect of returning to New York: But we were confronted all at once, as if by a lightning strike from fair skies, with the news that the High Royal State Ministry had decided that we must leave our residence in the Kingdom of Bavaria. We were paralyzed with fright; our happy family life was tarnished. My wife has been overcome by anxiety, and my lovely child has become sick. To Friedrich Trump at the time, the measure seemed senseless: Why should we be deported? This is very, very hard for a family. What will our fellow citizens think if honest subjects are faced with such a decree — not to mention the great material losses it would incur. Read the full review here.

"An optimistic vision for the future of work and life." OURS TO HACK AND TO OWN in THE BIG ISSUE

March 2, 2017
"Combining the thoughts and contributions of numerous cultural and media scholars, Scholz and Schneider examine the idea of a fairer kind of internet." Read the full review here.

First Uber, now Tesla: what will it take to really address SEXISM IN TECH?

February 28, 2017

A Tesla engineer in San Carlos, CA, has blown the whistle on a culture of “pervasive harassment”, pay inequity, and retaliatory action by Human Resources

The lawsuit, which comes on the heels of similar revelations from a former engineer at Uber, have left the tech community reeling—and activists wondering what it will take to have a real conversation about the struggle for gender equality in tech and start-up culture.



In light of Tuesday's news that a female Tesla engineer has filed suit against Elon Musk's electric car company for alleged lack of wage equality, failure to advance in spite of high performance, and an all-around persistently sexist environment,1 many in tech and start-up culture have been left wondering what it will take to have a real conversation about Silicon Valley's gender problem. The allegations come less than two weeks after an explosive blog post2 by a former Uber engineer detailing the company's sexist environment prompted the ride-sharing giant to order a thorough investigation—but not before other women had come forward with similar allegations, and not before the author of the original post claimed to have been the subject of a retaliatory smear campaign3.

The stories, though they sent shockwaves through two of Silicon Valley's biggest properties, sound all-too familiar to the writers and activists who have been calling out tech's thorny relationship to gender equality for years. Below, in excerpts from Lean Out: The Struggle for Gender Equality in Tech and Start-Up Culture, the contributors examine just some of the ways the putatively “disruptive” and “forward-thinking” tech industry is fifty years behind the rest of the country with respect to the people it represents:


Elissa Shevinsky on why the pipeline isn't the problem:

The idea that tech has a pipeline problem—one that can be solved by teaching five-year-old girls to code—infuriates me.

It's awkward to say so. I need to tread carefully here, lest I be accused of bad feminism. I can see the headline now: “#LADYBOSS Against STEM Education for Girls. Also Secretly Hates Pupplies.”

I am, of course, in favor of teaching girls to code. And it is true that there are more men than women applying for jobs and programs in Silicon Valley. But the reason why we don't have more women in tech is not because of a lack of STEM education. It's because too many high profile and influential individuals and sub-cultures within the tech industry have ignored or outright mistreated women applicants and employees. To be succinct—the problem isn't women, it's tech culture. That's the issue that needs to be addressed.

The mistake that we have made, as journalists and as readers, is taking the narratives espoused by executives at big tech companies at face value. Sometimes those executives, expressing deep concern about the “pipeline problem,” are women. That doesn't mean that they are speaking as feminists. An executive woman at a company like Google or Yahoo is just as likely to be speaking on behalf her company—beholden to its quarterly revenue numbers and its many public shareholders.

We all know that there is a “Women in Tech” problem. But the nature of that problem looks very different, depending on our vantage point.


Katy Levinson on the fear of being labeled a liability:

On two occasions, my employers have offered me bribes to leave quietly because they were worried about sexual harassment claims either slightly before or after dramatic percentages of women either transferred to another department, quit, or were removed. I had not brought any harassment concerns forward prior to either offer. In both cases I have reason to believe I was the only woman offered financial compensation. I have spoken at a professional conference and had about two dozen drunk fully grown men shout-chant at me to take my shirt off, becoming louder and growing more numerous the longer nobody responded to them. Security did nothing, and I was on my own to de-escalate the situation.


There is one thing you know about every single person who has ever complained about an act of sexism loudly enough for the public to notice: they worry that they will be seen as liabilities for the rest of their career. No whistleblower has ever been given a “team player” award by the organization they spoke ill of. That shouldn't be too foreign a concept: people we call whistleblowers who outed the wrongs of government or industry, certainly aren't doing it for personal gain. In this way, sexual harassment whistleblowing is the same as any other kind of whistleblowing.


Sunny Allen on the difficult of bucking the boys' club pattern recognition:

Think about Silicon Valley as a race up a mountain. There's a suite of traditional prizes, like owning a Tesla and the social currency of tech fame that gets you invited to the best parties. There is the question of which Burning Man camp you camp with, and which corporate cafeterias you eat at. How many fancy bottles of bourbon do you have on a cart next to your desk? Then of course there is the granddaddy of tech wins—the entrepreneur's IPO. This leads to “fuck you money.”

There's a traditional way to run the race, too. A boy's club, although women can join if they do it just right. This involves going to Stanford (MIT is also acceptable) and networking events and joining Angel List and having great recommendations on your LinkedIn profile. At cocktail parties you talk about lean pivots and the importance of a Good Team. You are young and white and gorgeous. Or as gorgeous as nerds ever get to be. You wore glasses until you got lasik. There is a thing called pattern recognition, there is a thing that Venture Capitalists and Hiring Managers look for. And I am not that thing.


Gesche Haas on going public with the experience of sexual harassment:

I spent many years working on my companies before becoming Internet-famous for being sexually harassed by a VC in Germany. As soon as I came out with my story, I was flooded with letters from other women who had been similarly treated. They've asked me... what made me brave enough to speak up? And how did I feel?

...On the one hand, I was proud of my refusal to accept the said behavior—regardless of the potential risks. However, one can only imagine what a huge time-suck in mental distraction and self-questioning this incident provoked. Imagine how painful this felt to an entrepreneur who carefully and meticulously optimizes every second of her life. It drained me. Early on, the email led to many sleepless nights during which I felt conflicted, unable to stop analyzing the situation. Should I do something or nothing at all? Countless hours were spent drafting anonymous blog posts about what had happened. Embarking on this journey, I never expected the story to eventually make its way into the press—but when it did, it went viral. The aftermath was so consuming that my productivity and focus was immensely impacted for several weeks.

In addition to the (unwelcome) distraction from work, I am also the first to admit that becoming a figure in the media's discourse regarding sexual discrimination had never been part of my five-year plan. Yet, if you Google my name today there is no doubt left that it is now my “claim to fame.” Case in point, you are reading a piece right now about sexism, written by me.


Further Reading

[display-posts tag="lean-out" include_date="true" posts_per_page="5"]


lean out cover ours to hack and to own cover

1 The Guardian, accessed 28 February 2017
2 Susan J. Fowler, accessed 28 February 2017
3 Mashable, accessed 28 February 2017

"A Paradigm Shift in the Middle East." BEHROOZ GHAMARI in COUNTERPUNCH

February 28, 2017
"A well-orchestrated alliance emerged against Iran during last week’s Munich Security Conference. The stage was set by Mike Pence after he called Tehran “the leading state sponsor terrorism,” and accused the Islamic Republic of continuing to “destabilize the Middle East.” Further, to reiterate Trump administration’s dissatisfaction with Obama’s policy toward Iran, he speculated that with “the end of nuclear-related sanctions, Iran now has additional resources to devote to these efforts.” One after another, representatives of Saudi Arabia, Israel, and, surprisingly, Turkey added their warnings about the rise of the Iranian menace and called for a united front to combat Iranian regional and global ambitions. The Saudi Foreign Minister, Adel al-Jubeir told delegates at the conference “Iran remains the single main sponsor of terrorism in the world.” Iran is, he said, “determined to upend the order in the Middle East.” In an act more reminiscent of a scene from a theater of the absurd, the Israeli Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, declared “Iran had an ultimate objective of undermining Saudi Arabia in the Middle East.” He called for a multilateral dialogue with Sunni Arab states to defeat Iran and its “radical” elements in the region. This was not the first time that the Saudi and Israeli positions on the Middle East security coincided, but the similarities in the way Lieberman and al-Jubeir articulated their grievances against Iran, using the exact same language in listing Iranian transgressions was unprecedented." Get the full story here.

"A guaranteed income would remove the pressure to engage in poaching and other environmentally destructive practices." EXTINCTION in BASIC INCOME

February 22, 2017
According to Dawson, the only way to forestall mass extinction is to shift to an economic system that is not founded on the goal of unlimited growth. As the summary in The Guardian describes, Dawson looks to indigenous groups and small-scale farmers as examples of ways in which communities may develop “using sustainable practices and living close to nature.” One starting point considered by Dawson is the provision of a guaranteed income to people living in biodiversity hotspots, biologically rich areas including “tropical woodlands of Brazil’s Atlantic coast, southern Mexico with Central America, the tropical Andes, the Greater Antilles, West Africa, Madagascar, the Western Ghats of India, Indo-Burma, Indonesia, the Philippines, and New Caledonia.” By alleviating poverty, a guaranteed income would remove the pressure to engage in poaching and other environmentally destructive practices. Get the full story here.

"A compelling tapestry." FINKS in WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

February 22, 2017
"The Central Intelligence Agency is part of America’s national security system, carrying an acronym linked to spies, dirty tricks, assassinations and violent regime changes throughout diverse regions such as Iran, Guatemala and Chile. Joel Whitney, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based co-founder and editor-at-large of Guernica: A Magazine of Art & Politics, constructs a compelling tapestry depicting members of America’s intellectual elite collaborating with this paranoid agency during the Cold War, confirming why novelists like John Le Carré were never short of grist for their spy mills." Get the full story here.

"Insightful political contextualization." A NARCO HISTORY in PUBLIC BOOKS

February 21, 2017
The main argument in A Narco History, by Carmen Boullosa and Mike Wallace, is that the Mexican drug war was a creation of the governments of the United States and Mexico. Working sometimes at odds, sometimes in concert, both governments—beset by corruption—are united in the belief that prohibition requires punitive responses, regardless of unintended consequences. The book is based on the abundant journalism on the topic, which the authors combine with clear and often insightful political contextualization. The authors start with the disappearance of 43 students from the city of Iguala in 2014. The episode is “only the latest in a lengthy sequence of horrors” but advances an implicit premise of the book: the authors can only offer a version of the events—despite all the voices and evidence of the crime committed against the students—because there is still no satisfactory account of what happened, nor a clear official resolution regarding culpability. There are “many remaining mysteries,” as well as the possibility of a “horrible” “counter narrative” in which the army, rather than organized crime and corrupt municipal officials, is responsible. This sense of doubt is projected back onto the historical section at the center of the volume: there is much we don’t know about the past of the drug business and the war against it—just enough to weave a narrative that sidesteps the inevitable gaps and treats evidence of different kinds with a similar degree of confidence. Get the full story here.

"To say her work is unique and special is to understate its ability to tell truths the world would rather not know." THE ANIMALS' VEGAN MANIFESTO in KIM STALLWOOD

February 17, 2017
Often times words are not enough when I consider animal cruelty. Words fail me. No words describe animal exploitation. No words say how I feel. No words could possibly express how I imagine what the animals suffer. This is when I turn to Sue Coe. To say her work is unique and special is to understate its ability to tell truths the world would rather not know. Now, we have her new book, The Animals’ Vegan Manifesto, to explore and inspire us further to act for social justice regardless of species. Get the full story here.

"Very few people live to tell the tale under such circumstances." REMEMBERING AKBAR in READARA

February 13, 2017
A major exporter of oil with a large and young population, Iran became the hotbed of revolutionary action in a sequence of dramatic events. The Shah’s regime, which had been installed by U.S. and British spy agencies at the expense of a democratically elected government, was equally replaced by a brutal theocracy whose political aspirations focused solely on its own survival, mostly with the help of imprisonment of all political opponents.In an interview with Readara, author and scholar Behrooz Ghamari, a former political prisoner between 1981 and 1985, recounts his experience of what it was like to be on a death row in a suffocatingly overcrowded prison. Packed with 25,000 other prisoners, Ghamari spent four years in a building with the capacity to contain only 1,200 people, knowing well that any day might prove to be the last. Yet, he never gave up hope. Very few people live to tell the tale under such circumstances, but Ghamari, in an emotional and well-balanced narrative, describes the daily struggles of a group of political prisoners in Tehran’s most infamous prison. Remembering Akbar tells the story of incredible strength, courage, unlikely humor, and, above all, optimism. Get the full story here.