Thoughts on Trump’s election and California’s partisan divide

Posted in News and Politics

A shortened version of this post appeared on the CNP website under the headline “Why Rural California Votes Red, and Why We Should Listen

Like many Californians who grew up here, I have always considered myself a Californian more than an American. In my 20’s I spent years travelling back and forth across the United States as part of various environmental and social justice campaigns and that feeling only deepened. When outside the US I always tell people who ask that I am a Californian* when they ask my nationality. My daughter is a ninth generation Californian and there is nowhere else in North America I would even consider living. As I have said for years – long before becoming involved in the independence movement – I am a Californian by birth, culture, and inclination and an American because they conquered us. As you might expect, identifying as a Californian first has an impact on how I view American politics.

A tremendous amount of ink has been spilled about the recent American elections. As tempting as it is to rant about everything the Democrats did wrong along the way, I’ll save that rant for another day. Instead, I want to talk a bit about why Californians voted the way they did and what that means for our future. Continue reading

Walled Gardens

Posted in News and Politics, tech | Tagged , ,

Yesterday I put up a new post  on how to optimize your mobile app’s URI scheme.  The post is mostly technical but touches on a few important points – notably the fact that the mobile app ecosystem is a fragmented series of walled gardens.  This is in sharp contrast to the free and open web where anyone can add content and anyone can access it.

If you feel the way I do about free speech, feel free to insert your own rant here about the privatization of the (virtual) commons.  This is the digital equivalent of town squares where free speech was legally protected being replaced by malls where a rent a cop will firmly escort you off the premises if you try to do any sort of outreach. Continue reading

To be a man

Posted in Gender and Feminism, News and Politics | Tagged ,

I’ve self-identified as a feminist since my late teens and have been very vocal about it, sometimes to my own detriment.  Not that I’m some sort of knight in shining armor, I’ve made my share of mistakes along the way despite my best intentions and I can’t claim to be motivated entirely by altruism.  While I am very much interested in equality and women’s issues in their own right, I’ve always been at least as interested in what Feminism could potentially do for men.

If you’re raising your eyebrow incredulously right now you’re not alone. I remember attending a eco-activist conference in my early 20’s. The organizers had set aside a couple hours one afternoon to talk about the intersections of ecology and feminism in a woman-only space and, since they didn’t want the women to feel left out of any of the other discussions, hadn’t scheduled anything for the men. They just didn’t know what to do with us.

When I suggested to the assembled guys that perhaps we should talk about gender issues too they were a bit confused. One person suggested that a bunch of guys talking about feminism would, at best, be inherently sexist mansplaining (though he didn’t use that term since it didn’t exist yet). Another suggested that maybe we could talk about how to be better allies and a third echoed the first by saying he thought our best course there was to let the women lead and tell us what to do. The whole group was genuinely flabbergasted when I suggested that we might talk about our own issues as men from a feminist perspective. Men are inherently privileged by Patriarchy after all, what could we possibly have to deconstruct?

The thing is, it’s not that simple. Continue reading

A Parcel of Rogues

Posted in News and Politics | Tagged ,

It’s Sunday after the vote and I’m sitting in a park in Edinburgh, killing time.  I had intended to stay in Scotland another week to do more interviews about what’s next but now, with a 10 point spread on a No vote, I find myself too brokenhearted to continue.  Especially since Maia left for California this morning and I am once again traveling alone.  I’ve re-booked my flight but unfortunately the first available seat does not leave until Monday.  I shout out on Twitter and Facebook that I am here for another day and would like to talk about what’s next.  A few people re-tweet the message, but no one local replies.  They’re busy picking up the pieces and mourning.  I understand. Continue reading

Into the Highlands

Posted in News and Politics | Tagged ,

Sunrise came far too early and it’s off again. Today I am 34 years old and Scotland has a real chance at independence for the first time in over 300 years. My phone chimes repeatedly when I turn it on with birthday wishes from friends, coworkers, and clients. Today feels like a good day.

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After about an hour and a half of driving we arrive in Elgen, the road sign count has shifted back strongly in favor of Yes and we see a fair number of stickers and a few big flags as well. There doesn’t seem to be an actual Yes office in town, though there have apparently been a good number of events and the day is getting on by the time we get breakfast in our bellies so we decide to head on to Inverness (dubbed InverYESs by local activists).

We’re deep in the highlands now and there are no longer any No posters or signs anywhere in sight and big home-made Yes signs appear regularly.

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We make a stop along the way at the site of the Battle of Culloden, where my mothers Clan (The Ritchie’s) were almost wiped out holding the center of the Jacobite line. Culloden and the Jacobite’s conjure decidedly mixed feelings for me. On the one hand Prince Charles wanted absolute monarchy and was, in historical terms, little more than a pawn of the French whose army was financed with money from the French slave trade. But the Ritchie’s and others joined him out of the belief that he would restore the Scottish Parliament and give them back home rule – and because he promised religious tolerance.
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History is full of good people betrayed by their leaders and walking the battlefield I find myself in tears. I gather a few wildflowers and press them into a notebook to take home. To be here, today, gathering flowers on the day Scotland gets to finally vote on the act of union these men died to undo seems entirely appropriate. Continue reading

From Arbroath to Aberdeen

Posted in News and Politics | Tagged ,

Arbroath is a pretty little town on the east coast of Scotland, just to the east of Dundee.  Driving past, you might not think much of it, but way back in 1320 a group of Scottish nobles signed a declaration that they would never under any circumstances allow themselves to be subjugated to rule from England and that they fought “not for wealth or position but for liberty, which no good man gives up except with his life.”

The document is incredibly important to world history because it was the first declaration of its type to establish the concept of popular sovereignty – that Scotland belonged to her people and a king was only worth supporting if he could protect and defend them.  This was at least as revolutionary as their desire for independence.  American school children are taught about the Magna Carta because it was accepted as a legal document by the English political system, but the Declaration of Arbroath was a far more important touch stone for the American founding fathers and directly inspired the American Declaration of Independence. Continue reading

Perception and Possibilities in Perth

Posted in News and Politics | Tagged ,

I’ve just arrived in Perth, about an hour north of Edinburgh.  The drive up was pretty enough – rolling green hills and trees dotted with houses under a foggy Scottish sky.  Along the way we saw 3 Yes signs and the first No lawn sign I’ve seen so far on the trip.

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We’re heading to the Perth / Kinross Yes campaign HQ. I saw online that a bunch of activists will be meeting there to go leaflet around noon and I’m hoping to get some interviews in. We find parking not too far off and duck into a the first restaurant we see in search of breakfast but they don’t open until noon. The lady is tired having just flown from California via Toronto and desperately wants hot food and beer, I promise her an epic lunch and she munches on the remainder of a grilled cheese with a look on her face like a kid who just lost her favorite baseball over the fence.

Perth has the feel of a relatively bourgeois suberb with big yards and flowers everywhere. I’m wondering if the campaign here will be different from the bigger cities to the south which were very much driven by the culture and ethos of recently de-industrialized workers who feel betrayed by the Labour party and hope for a better future in an independent Scotland. Continue reading

Rock star mojo

Posted in News and Politics | Tagged ,

It’s a quarter after 6 and I’m standing in a line a block long outside a nightclub in downtown Glasgow to see Tommy Sheridan (@citizentommy) – a well known socialist organizer and activist – speak.  The is the last of 110 speaking engagements like it that he’s done since January and YouTube footage of some of the others has drawn a firestorm of both positive and negative comments and hundreds of thousands of views.  Tommy is interesting because he’s famous for his writing and speaking in a way that just doesn’t happen in the U.S.   Noam Chomsky can sell millions of books, but you’d never see NBC or Fox invite him on to talk about why we can afford to bomb Syria when we’re cutting budgets for everything else.

wpid-wp-1410888253625.jpegInside, the mood is electric – the hall is so packed people end up sitting in the aisles. As the event is about to start we are informed that there are another 500+ people lined up outside who can’t fit in the space, so they’ll be cutting the length of the talk in half and have a second meeting after for all the people waiting outside. Continue reading

The view from Cymru

Posted in News and Politics | Tagged ,

It’s 2pm and I’m sitting in a pub in Glasgow with a tartan carpet and celtic fiddle music alternating with american country music in the background.  I order the Haggis Nips & Tatties (haggis, parsnips, and potatoes with gravy) because Scotland, and am sipping a pint of Caledonia’s finest.  This is the single most tourist thing I’ve done this trip and the most tourist I’m likely to do.  By it’s sheer overdone in your face Scottishness it feels like it would be more at home in Manhattan or San Francisco – this is clearly a place that caters to tourists.

I’ve just come from the Glasgow Kelvin neighborhood HQ and done a fantastic set of interviews with volunteers there.  One of those,  Lindsey Little, is a Plaid Cymru MP from Wales who came up to help. As I mentioned before, I’ve done interviews now with a couple different people from Wales who’ve come up to help with the campaign.  Their perspective is markedly different from the Scots I’ve talked to in a few key ways and worth breaking out on its own. Continue reading