Archive for the ‘life’ Category

Travel Yarns

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

Back when Out of Balance (the old site that‘s inhabited some of this space since the mid 90s) was my active journal, I spent the days after my return from a trip chronicling my travels with photos and short essays. I wrote furiously in those first days home, hoping to capture the essence of the places I saw and people I met before the immediacy and motivation slipped away.

With the retirement of those pages and the emergence of common spaces like Facebook and Flickr, my documentary zeal has changed focus a bit and I’ve usually taken less painful (and alas, often less creative) routes for sharing such adventures with others.

In updating some of my online places, I came across some of those earlier travel scrapbooks and found that they’ve accomplished my subconscious intent for their creation — now, years later, they can still evoke the excitement and flood of impressions I felt in those weary, wired days after a trip.

Rather than stuffing them back away into the digital shoebox of my hard drive, I’ve instead put a couple of them back up to share…Click here to read this .

Quest: Desert and Discovery

Jamaica: Adventures in Alligator Pond

Brutality Becomes Banal

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

Have you seen this video of police pepper spraying peaceful, seated student protesters at UC-Davis yesterday?

I can’t stop thinking about it. I’ve looked at countless other stories, photos and videos of police assaulting Occupy protesters over the past weeks, but this one somehow outraged me even more than those that came before.

After letting it boil for a while, I now see why — it’s the extraordinarily casual attitude of the officer pepper spraying his victims. It’s as though this was just business as usual, as though applying force — even if it’s “non-lethal” force — could ever be routine. There’s no room for ambiguity in this video about the context of his actions. No students are attacking the police, they’re not even crowding close. The protesters are sitting, arms linked, in the highest traditions of non-violent civil disobedience.

Police at UC-Davis pepper spraying non-violent Occupy protestors.The policeman’s body language says it all. For him, there’s no reluctance, no hesitation. There’s not even any attempt to dislodge the protestors with non-violent means. For this man, clad in the black, armored and militarized garb of repressive security forces throughout the world, the use of force is a logical first resort, and most disturbingly, he seems to see it as utterly ordinary.

I witnessed a demonstration last week where the Houston Police were faced with similar numbers of peaceful, seated protesters as those at UC-Davis. In marked contrast to the events in California, HPD removed and arrested those involved without resorting to pepper spray, violence or riot gear. Protesters and HPD alike were non-violent, and I commend HPD for their professionalism and restraint.

In contrast, the police actions at UC-Davis were clearly unnecessary and were meant purely to punish and intimidate anyone who would dare to disobey. This kind of casual brutality must be utterly unacceptable in a civil society, and such actions can never be an acceptable response to peaceful demonstrations in this country.

Houston Police and Occupy Houston protesters met peacefully during a demonstration on 11-17-2011.