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Steven Banks, Louis Burns, and Transfer from Own Room to Disgusting Dorm

Steven Banks claimed that shelter transfers with 24 hours notice or few were a thing of the past. He told Picture the Homeless that he had ended it and went almost that far in a DHS press release. That is patently false. When I returned to the shelter around 8:30 PM on Monday, March 20, 2017, I was informed that I had been transferred and to begin packing, a nearly insurmountable task given the time frame presented. Because of the private rooms at the Bowery Mission Transitional Center (which is not the main Bowery Mission building on Bowery that all New Yorkers know), I had not only filled my locker, but the top of the locker, had a small boom box next to my locker, a desk fan on the floor because my room overheats even with the window open in winter, and four 100-CD crates with more on the top and one of the boxes from a replacement phone mailing all full of CDs. I mentioned repeatedly the difficulty of transporting this to my storage unit because unfolded shopping carts won’t go on an NJ Transit bus. It’s not a rule that I know of—they just won’t fit the narrow aisle and steep steps of the buses. Fortunately, I was alerted that I could still sleep at the shelter, in my usual bed, that night before being transferred to the next place.

I learned the next day that I was being transferred to a place called Opportunity House on Prince Street. They did not give me a transfer paper. They simply showed me red letters on a whiter screen. I don’t think I even saw my name for their finger, but I saw the one at the notice of transfer at the top of the screen for the client named Michael Jackson who got annoyed if you made an issue out of his name. Since I didn’t think I could get my property out of the shelter and into my storage unit in New Jersey within seven days, the normal holding time for stored property, assuming you trust the shelter, I thought the safest move would be to put my belongings in storage not far from the shelter. This cost me $80 plus a $50 refundable deposit. That was only because it was a 50% off the first two months move-in special. I’m hoping to get someone who can drive me from the small storage to the large storage so that I can move out before the regular price resumes. I had to call in at work or else be a no-call no-show. With my Alcatel lifeline phone microphone not working, and the replacement I requested not having arrived, I had to get permission to use a phone at BMTC. With Sam Dennis not in the room at the time, Mr. DeGuzman told me to use the phone next to the fax machine. I saw Mr. Dennis’s desk phone by the printer and used that. It was a total goof on my part, and Mr. DeGuzman’s wording, since he meant the phone attached to the fax machine, and he made me feel really stupid when he came in and saw me on that phone.

After I loaded the unit with everything except the essentials I was taking to the new shelter (my suitcase, the bags I normally carry, public library checkouts, a bag of miscellaneous stuff like contact lenses, night splints, etc.), Louis Burns, my case manager, gave me the information about where he was transferred, shook my hand, put his arm around me, and wished me luck. He told me that I could call him at any time if I need any help. I was fighting rolling my eyes and making it clear that that would be a very unlikely event.

There is not much good I can say about the new shelter, which is run by CAMBA, except that it’s in a nice area and its rules are not as draconian as NAICA Bronx Park Avenue. I am in a 20-man dorm room at a 64-bed shelter. The air conditioning can be heard rushing and the room is somewhat cool, but fine with my pajamas and the bedding supplied. The locker seems to be somewhat smaller than standard issue: I had to shorten my cane to fit it inside, and it is unlikely that I will be able to fit as many of the books and comicbooks that I stored in similar two-door lockers in similar shelter situations. They made me check my beard trimmer and medication with security (which means that I’ll usually forget to take it when I don’t have gout pain or if my bathroom trips haven’t been excessive—I wouldn’t know when my blood pressure is elevated), but at least not my razor, as at NAICA, nor do they ban electronic devices, although we can plug them in only in a charging station in the recreation room, where we can be until the 9:30 bed check (curfew is still at 10, but we have to wait in the lobby if we are not by our beds at this time). This will make it impractical to watch DVDs given my 11-7 work schedule, and even at that, will have to use earphones in a room where the TV is on constantly regardless of whether people are paying attention. After 10 PM I will have to watch it in the room without it being plugged in, the screen light diminished greatly as the power drains. Perhaps it’s an issue of fairness over distribution of sockets in the room (six men are not next to a wall, and there is not a socket near my bed or any that I see)—or lack thereof, but more likely it is because they don’t want to pay their free government money to support us for the electric bill even though in my case alone they get $2,325.66 per month from HRA—my mom paid only $2,037.50 to my ex-landlord for the last two months of my lease on a 1-bedroom apartment to remove the levy from my bank accounts. At BMTC, my computer was always charged in the morning if I watched a DVD, and rarely charged if I did not, since the person who lent it to me said it was not safe to keep it plugged in all night. I was told that there is Internet access, but the WiFi is password protected, and I haven’t yet asked if they give it to clients. It may be like most shelters, in which we can get Internet access only in the library room and strictly for job search. Neither TWC nor CableWiFi is in range here, so the password given to me by same friend is not useful here. The Walt Whitman branch of the Brooklyn Public Library is as close as the Hamilton Fish Park branch of the New York Public Library was BMTC, but everything I have out or have in my hold queue is from NYPL just now, and I visited this library a couple of years ago and know it to be small and have short hours, which is true of Hamilton Fish Park, but greater distance from Mid-Manhattan, with good hours. At least it’s on the same train line. Perhaps the rec room and my schedule will sometimes be in synchronization.

The shelter is across from a police station, and to get to it I have to pass the hideous luxury condo Toren, which looks like it was designed by a retarded Cardassian with its obtuse angles (a normal Cardassian architectural feature) thrown together looking like exposed girders with all the knobs. To make it worse, the building’s window touts that it was made with the 421-a corporate welfare scam, even though none of its units are affordable to anyone I know, probably not even David Friedman.

The first thing I heard that was good news is that the shelter does not serve red meat, the bugbear that caused me to get gout within six months of entering the shelter system. The Salisbury steak patty in front of me as I type this does not taste like it’s all soy, but it may be. The day I left, the Bowery Mission served Chef Boyardee Beefaroni, a food I have not voluntarily eaten since childhood, and wasn’t crazy about then. The next good thing I can say about the shelter ought to be a given—that there are paper towels in the restroom. Relative to the previous shelters, there was little worth complaining about at BMTC, but those incidents are included in large part on this blog, though much fewer and over longer stretches in time in which I wrote book reviews on economic issues and primarily addressed the shelter system as a whole because BMTC was a paradise compared to the other shelters, and the fact that other than in the restroom across the cafeteria, the fact that we had to dry our hands with toilet paper was too trivial a nuisance to mention, as annoying as the little scraps remaining on my fingers could be. Even so, it’s better than at Eddie Harris, where we all washed our hands with water only rather than go to the locker to get the soap ration just to do number one.

The third thing I can say positively about the shelter is that the shower rooms are decent, if strange, but the benefits are only a direct result of the nature of the lack of privacy in dorm rooms. Because there are four good coat hooks and a large towel rack, my bathrobe is superfluous here. I can bring in all of my clothes and my toiletry bag to the shower room in my pajamas and emerge fully dressed (except that I’m not going to expose my shoes to that much humidity unnecessarily). The shower room, which is lockable, akin to no shelter in which I have stayed except BMTC has no shower curtain or physical division between the shower and the rest of the even-floored room. It has both a shower drain and an overflow drain. It feels very weird showering in an area that open, but perhaps I will get used to it. Now I won’t ever be without socks aside from that room except when I need to trim. I’m still using the shower shoes, of course, to avoid touching the shower floor directly. Getting ready takes longer because of having to put my suitcase in and out of my locker so many times, but the meal serving period is longer, and it’s easier to get up with someone else turning on the lights when you can’t keep your phone on for an alarm that you easily sleep through on maximum volume. Nevertheless, I still missed breakfast Thursday morning as I sit at the Target Starbucks across Flatbush before I leave for work. I bought three 59 cent orange yogurts for my breakfast. That’s the one thing I can thank Project Renewal for–I can now eat yogurt, if it’s the right flavor, without wincing.

One final thing I can say positively about the shelter is that we can come and go as we please between 6 AM and 10 PM without checking in, and there is no shelter-based requirement to leave during the day, as was the case at all my previous shelters except BMTC, which I was never required to leave except by outside requirements. This may be useful when my temp job ends even if it isn’t much now.

Foldable shopping carts are contraband in the shelter. I was allowed to keep mine with security overnight, but took it with me as I left early for work Wednesday morning, returning to my old neighborhood to place it in my new secondary storage unit, from which I extracted a measly 25 comic books and two mass market paperback books I had acquired for free. On a whim, I decided to walk past BMTC and then take the m9 bus one final time, since I was a good twenty minutes ahead of when I would need to leave for work. I didn’t know what I would to, perhaps ask the security guard for my old key, 306, as a joke. Instead, I saw my first case manager at BMTC, the Reverend John Davis (the one with the 300 suits). I told him that my new shelter sucks, but is not as bad as NAICA Bronx Park Avenue. He told me he thought that I should blow the place (meaning BMTC) up. I am not sure if he meant this literally or figuratively. He said that Mr. Burns had acted on his own with no orders from anyone else to initiate the transfer, and expressed that Burns had acted in an unjust and malicious manner. I texted Burns about this, with no expectation of a reply. Perhaps it will result in intraoffice strife. I don’t have any major issues with Mr. Davis, especially after not being on his caseload for two years. Even then, I thought he was simply out of touch with the reality of homelessness as an economic issue rather than the result of personal problems.

This is what we at Picture the Homeless (and even at Coaliotion for the Homeless, which is pro-shelter [Picture the Homeless wants to phase out the shelter system and replace it with real, permanent housing that people can actually afford]) know as a retaliatory transfer. Many people who worked with Picture the Homeless during our battle with cluster site shelters are familiar with this. Some got transferred and did not remain in contact with Picture the Homeless, whereas I let them know right away that this had happened. Shelter providers are not supposed to do this, but they find ways to create cover stories and make them not look retaliatory. I was hesitant to blog much about Mr. Burns, but it eventually got to a point where I did. Even worse were venting some of my complaints as tweets with @bowerymission tagged in them. I said things like how he had taken my key after lying through his teeth about a set meeting time in a certain day. I also tweeted about how he also accused the Department of Homeless Services of complaining that I was choosing temporary over permanent work as a way to avoid leaving the shelter system rather than the reality that the only permanent work presented to me were the parks janitor and Fresh Direct jobs presented to me by HRA, neither of which are within my physical limitations. I also noted how someone who kept an escrow account with the shelter had accused Burns of skimming, complained to Jose Rosa, his supervisor, who forced Burns to return the money. Perhaps this tweet caused them to contact Mr. Rosa to learn if this was true and he got written up. I noted how Burns had suggested strongly that I set up an escrow account with the shelter in lieu of a savings account, especially when the levy became an issue, and thought his enthusiasm for it might have been tied to the accusation, which I made clear was an accusation made by someone else for which I would not claim either veracity or falsehood. Or perhaps it was when I tweeted that his dreadlocks don’t keep him from being an Uncle Tom. Jayar Jackson on The Young Turks recently said that white people should not use this term. When I have used it orally to describe Clarence Thomas or Ben Carson, black people have been around and found it a correct assessment, less so when even hinting that I agreed even in part with Ajamu Baraka’s assertion that Barack Obama was an Uncle Tom. By this, I meant that I thought that he was doing sellout work for wealthy white superiors and implying that in my condition there is some degree of niggerization that puts me in solidarity with oppressed blacks. I may have gone too far with a racialised analogy, but with Twitter I think much more in terms of a catchy and often excessively pointed statement that will jar people’s thinking rather than as a formalized argument couched within a narrative, as I often do with WordPress, which is why I am discussing what I said here rather than putting it forward as a polemic or statement of what I believe, just as I have never made essays backing up any of my controversial tweets about police.

It may be that Steven Banks lied though his teeth, or it may be that Louis Burns acted in a de facto manner that was inappropriate on his part. Whatever happened, I am now in a dorm-style shelter again, and those around me may see changes for the negative in my character just as they saw changes for the positive in my character after I had been living at BMTC for a while. Perhaps Mr. Burns is telling the truth about DHS, and they are trying to coerce me into giving up my storage and using my LINC voucher on a tiny, overpriced room when the voucher entitles me to an apartment that costs up to $1,213, of which I would pay $500.50. I hesitate only because my job is temporary and winding down (when I went on unemployment the last time, my contribution was, and because Navient has destroyed my credit by refusing to grant me any further economic hardship deferments. At any rate, my dream of sleeping on the surprisingly comfortable mattress I had had at BMTC until I found my own place and moved out of storage, having already carted my in-room property there, has been forever crushed, returning me to the situation of desperation I was in for the first seven months of 2014, albeit not as bad. If it were that bad, I could not be sitting on my bed typing this, since laptops were forbidden entry into the building. I’m lucky I talked to the guy in the bed next to mine this morning and found that his ideas for a solution would not involve threats of violence like that one NAICA roommate. He is getting annoyed at how my locker door vibrates open and smacks his bed frame when I pull out my suitcase, which takes both hands, or when something false out of my locker and makes noise, again because of vibrating it while doing something else. I don’t want to end up like Deven Black.

I suppose Oz must use fossil fuels to at least some extent. I mean, the Tin Woodman carries around an oilcan in order to lubricate his joints and keep them from rusting. L. Frank Baum’s father became rich through oil wells, and he worked for some time selling the family’s petroleum products, so I guess […]

via Slide Some Oil to Me — VoVatia

Book Review: Capitalism: A Ghost Story by Arundhati Roy

Capitalism: A Ghost StoryCapitalism: A Ghost Story by Arundhati Roy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Reading this concurrently with Marvel’s Atlas Era Battlefield was particularly revealing while being quite the coincidence (having had multiple previous interlibrary loan requests for that book fail). The propaganda of that book came to the hilt in Paul Reinman’s “Atrocity Story” and was a major theme throughout those 1952-3 stories, yet never does the United States go to war over atrocities committed in the name of capitalism, atrocities committed by itself as well as by a major ally, such as here, in India.

India lumps together all anti-capitalists as Maoists, which are labeled, “The Single Largest Security Challenge in India” (12). In China under Mao Zedong, “Long live the dictatorship of the proletariat” was a standardized motto. As I noted in my review of Correspondence Volume 3: 1891-1895 of Friedrich Engels and Paul Lafargue, the Leninist editors complained that Karl Marx and his initial collaborators placed too little emphasis on the dictatorship of the proletariat, for Marx, a temporary, transitional form of government ultimately designed to lead to a dwindled, minimalistic state apparatus performing only the bare essentials of government. No Marxist economy (and it must be stressed that Marxism/communism is an economic theory, not a system of government) has been established on a national level anywhere on Earth. Leonard Shlain, in The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image, posits that for the Soviet Union and China, the fetishization of the dictatorship of the proletariat became the fundamentalist quasi-religion of newly-literate societies, while Terry Eagleton, in Why Marx Was Right, shows that for Marx, communism was a corrective to the excesses of capitalism; a transition from feudalism to communism as Russia and China attempted was something Marx already predicted would fail, because the apparatuses of high production would not be in existence, thus Marx, anti-capitalist as he was, encouraged the development of capitalism in feudal societies. These dictatorships of the proletariat expanded, rather than contracted as Marx intended, into totalitarian state capitalism, with little to do with communism beyond the name of the party. It also sought to eliminate money, as we see in the fictions of Edward Bellamy, L. Frank Baum, and Gene Roddenberry.

This is much the same situation that we find in India and the United States, except that the dictators are generally not proletariats. They are capitalists who seized control of public goods in order to sell them back to the public at a profit. When the public fights back, India’s government labels them Maoists. The collusion of government and big business capitalists is called fascism, and that is the true enemy of the people, not communism. “The sanctity of private property never applies to the poor,” Roy tells us (10). The state hands over the private property of the poor to large corporations for “special economic zones” or SEZs. It’s perfectly fine for a corporation to take poor people’s private property for auto manufacturing, Formula One racing, chemical plants, highways, dams, or other infrastructure projects. “As always, local people are promised that their displacement from their land and the expropriation of everything they had is actually part of employment generation. But by now we know that the connection between GDP and job growth is a myth. After twenty years of ‘growth,’ 60 percent of India’s workforce is self-employed, and 90 percent of India’s labor force works in the unorganized sector” (ibid). This corresponds with Greg LeRoy’s findings for the United States in The Great American Jobs Scam.

After three years of “low-intensity conflict” that has not managed to “flush” the rebels out of the forest, the central government has declared that it will deploy the Indian army and air force. In India, we don’t call it war. We call it “Creating a Good Investment Climate.” Thousands of soldiers have already moved in. A brigade headquarters and airbases are being readied. One of the biggest armies in the world is now preparing its Terms of Engagement to “defend” itself against the poorest, hungriest, most malnourished people in the world. We only await the declaration of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which will give the army legal impunity and the right to kill “on suspicion.” Going by the tens of thousands of unmarked graves and anonymous cremation pyres in Kashmir, Manipur, and Nagaland, we might judge it to be a very suspicious army indeed. [citing Human Rights Watch. “Getting Away with Murder: 50 Years of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA),” August 2008 – “Human rights groups have long called for an independent investigation and forensic tests to establish the identity of those in the graves, but the government has yet to respond to that demand.”] (13/100 n. 18)

Paralleled with Reinman’s “Atrocity Story,” we wonder why the United States has not declared war on India, but the answer is obvious. The Korean War was never about stopping atrocities. That was simply the public face that the average American citizen could really latch onto. It was really the fear of anti-capitalism that led the United States to fight the Korean War, obvious now in a way that may not have been at the time, although I doubt the average American today believes that, though most educated people do. That’s why businesses now manipulate higher education to further the interests of capitalism rather than teach students to learn the truth and think critically.

I recently earned flak on Twitter, as usual, for my “cop killers are heroes” meme, an Overton window designed to match the atrocities of police to the constant adulation of them to the vilification of cop killers. When police are left unpunished by the courts, who is left to protect us but cop killers? I have never defended any particular cop killer, other than to facetiously wish they had been present at acts of police brutality. Ankit Garg, though the story was a few years old by the time I posted it, was awarded the President’s Police Medal for Gallantry on Republic Day after showing stones up the vagina of schoolteacher Soni Sori to get her to “confess” that she was a Maoist courier. While the stones were removed at a hospital in Kolkata and presented in an evidence bag to the Supreme Court by other activists, she was still in prison as Garg received his commendation. In a footnote citing the newspaper The Hindu, Roy notes that Sori was acquitted of six of the eight charges against her, but still in jail in Chhattisgarh (14/100 n. 19). “What is the purpose of police other than to be enforcers of the capitalist class?” is the question of the reasonable person at the veneration of Ankit Garg or the $100,000 salary for Daniel Pantaleo, murderer of Eric Garner on unproven allegations denied by eyewitnesses that he was engaging in a civil offense on the level of a parking violation in supposedly-liberal New York City. The police are ostensibly a public good, paid for by every working person in the community, but it practice, as shown in Chris Hedges’s Wages of Rebellion, serve as the hired thugs of the wealthiest 1%. Wall Street traders pay no taxes on their transactions. Shouldn’t they be punished as Eric Garner was? Oops, no, the wealthiest 1% ensured that cigarettes would have high taxes, and Wall Street transactions would have none. The law and justice are often completely unrelated, in spite of G-Man John O’Gorman’s faith otherwise in L. Frank Baum’s Mary Louise Solves a Mystery. In the United States, blacks and Latinos are the primary target of such so-called “justice.” In India, it’s the Adivasis (the caste of which Soni Sori is part) and Dalits (“Untouchables,” or, as my 8th grade social studies teacher, Maria Nichols, would say, “Super Duper Pooper Scoopers,” since they are so often forced to do sewer work. One of my Occupy friends is a Dalit, and his skin is darker than most of the black people in the group. And the idea that Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi eliminated the caste system is woefully incorrect.

As cited in my review of Nicole Aschoff’s The New Prophets of Capital, foundations such as Carnegie, Rockefeller, and Ford are opaque and unaccountable organizations that present themselves as charitable but really exist to further their own capitalistic interests, such as forming the NAACP to keep blacks away from communism—Roy details Rockefeller’s co-optation of Martin Luther King, Sr. (38). They are the funders (and, except for Ford, founders) of the Council on Foreign Relations, which has been the source of all presidents of the World Bank—the only exception having been a Rockefeller trustee and Chase Bank president).

At Bretton Woods, the World Bank and the IMF decided that the US Dollar should be the reserve currency of the world, and that in order to enhance the penetration of global capital it would be necessary to universalize and standardize business practices in an open marketplace. It is toward that end that they spend a large amount of money promoting Good Governance (as long as they control the strings), the concept that of the Rule of Law (provided they have a say in making the laws), and hundreds of anticorruption programs (to streamline the system they have put in place). Two of the most opaque, unaccountable organizations in the world go about demanding transparency and accountability in the governments of poorer countries. (24)

It is no wonder that Filene’s Basement went out of business. Edward Filene believed in more equitable distribution of national income and giving workers affordable access to credit to create a mass consumption of society. Capitalists loved the latter to keep the populace in debt, but have thoroughly rejected the former, its corollary (27).

The gathering of information to control people is fundamental to any ruling power. […] People don’t even have clean drinking water, toilets, or food, or money, but they will have election cards and [Unique Identification] Numbers. Is it a coincidence that the UID project run by Nandan Nilekani, former CEO of Infosys, ostensibly to “deliver services to the poor,” will inject massive amounts of money into a slightly beleaguered IT industry? […] Nilekani’s technocratic obsession with gathering data is consistent with Bill Gates’s obsession with digital databases, numerical targets, and “scorecards of progress” as though it were a lack of information that is the cause of world hunger, and not colonialism, debt, and skewed profit-oriented corporate policy.

I refer my readers to my aforementioned review of The New Prophets of Capital and my review of Robert H. Frank’s Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy for why Bill Gates’s ideas about education, capitalism, and success are incredibly dubious and dangerous.

“How do you turn protestors into pets?” Roy asks. “Martin Luther King Jr. made the forbidden connections between Capitalism, Imperialism, Racism, and the Vietnam War. As a result, after he was assassinated, even his memory became toxic, a threat to public order.” As they did in life to the father, foundations eradicated the son’s legacy to create something wholly contrary, transforming Black Power into Black Capitalism (38). The Martin Luther King Center for Nonviolent Change cosponsored a lecture series called “The Free Enterprise System: An Agent for Nonviolent Social Change.” Roy replies with a sarcastic “Amen” (39). Nelson Mandela was similarly co-opted; he “deferred completely to the Washington Consensus. Socialism disappears from the [African National Congress] agenda” (ibid). The Ford Foundation, assisted by right-wing Hindu organizations, is now trying to turn the Dalit Panthers into Dalit Capitalism (40). I’ll never forget when Fox News commentator Jessie Lee Peterson tried to co-opt Dr. King’s legacy by saying that King was against unions. This shows how seriously compromised the Federal Communications Commission has become, which is not to say that the FCC’s demand that television “serve the public interest, convenience, and necessity” was ever strictly adhered to. I was questioning this in college, when I still self-identified as a conservative but saw the inherent contradictions of commercial businesses licensing the spectrum, which the government is now selling outright.

Roy devotes the next chapter to self-righteous capitalist Anna Hazare, who paid big bucks to have himself arrested and jailed for a hunger strike demanding the passage of a so-called anticorruption bill known as Jan Lokpal. Like the Adivasis, Hazare seeks the overthrow of the Indian state. The big difference is that the Adivasis are the poorest of the poor, violently attacked and openly murdered by the state, and that the supporters of the Jan Lokpal bill are wealthy and abetted by the Indian state over which the bill would give an opaque private organization ultimate authority of investigation, surveillance, and prosecution—Gandhian tactics for an anti-Ghandian bill (49-51). “Does the solution to the problems faced by ordinary people lie,” Roy asks, “in addressing the structural inequality or in creating yet another power structure that people will have to defer to?” (51-52).

Meanwhile the props and the choreography, the aggressive nationalism and flag-waving of Anna’s Revolution are all borrowed from the antirerservation protests, the World Cup victory parade, and the celebration of the nuclear tests. They signal to us that if we do not support The Fast, we are not “true Indians.” The twenty-four hour channels have decided that there is no other news in the country worth reporting. (52)

This is reminiscent of the Iraq war message, supposedly justified by Saddam Hussein’s use of U.S.-provided weapons to kill “his own people” (although he didn’t consider the Kurds his own people, which the Indian government would never publicly say of the Adivasis). Only one of my two uncles, both born in 1935, is still alive, and he’s been unwilling to speak to me since he took me to dinner when I was in graduate school, and I voiced my opposition to the Iraq War which he brought up and adamantly insisted that George W. Bush was doing the right thing. He is my mother’s older brother (my other uncle was my father’s estranged brother, whom I never met and heard only once on the phone, although one of his daughters found my blog), and she tells me he voted for Trump, but that she still loves and gets along with him in spite this, or the fact that he put a buttered roll in her hair when they were kids (as though that’s comparable to my brother (in effect) getting paid to repeatedly stuff my head in the couch and struggling to breathe or kick me in the stomach right in front of my mother leaving the blackest bruise I have ever had and getting away with it). I haven’t refused to see my uncle. It’s up to him if we meet again.

As Roy notes, plenty of other people are fasting and suffering force-feedings in protest of things (like AFSPA) that actually harm the people but are not getting coverage from the supposedly-liberal media.

Now, by shouting louder than everyone else, by pushing a campaign that is hammering away at the theme of evil politicians and government corruption, [Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)] have very cleverly let themselves off the hook. Worse, by demonizing only the government they have built themselves a pulpit from which to call for the further withdrawal of the state from the public sphere and for a second round of reforms—more privatization, more access to public infrastructure and India’s natural resources. It may not be long before Corporate Corruption is made legal and renamed a Lobbying Fee.

Will the 830 million people living on twenty rupees a day really benefit from the strengthening of a set of policies that is impoverishing them and driving this country to civil war? (55)

Visa norms in India are an interesting peephole into the government’s concerns and predilections. Taking cover under the shabby banner of the War on Terror, the Home Ministry has decreed that scholars and academics invited for conferences or seminars require security clearance before they will be given visas. Corporate executives and businessmen do not. So somebody who wants to invest in a dam or build a steel plant or buy a bauxite mine is not considered a security hazard, whereas a scholar who might want to participate in a seminar about, say, displacement or communalism, or rising malnutrition in a globalized economy, is. Foreign terrorists with bad intentions have probably guessed by now that they are better off wearing Prada suits and pretending they want to by a mine than wearing old corduroys and saying they want to attend a seminar. (Some would argue that mine buyers in Prada suits are the real terrorists.) (58)

Roy’s next paragraph sounds like right out of the Donald Trump playbook regarding “fake news”—India’s government deported radio journalist David Barsamian for interviewing people in Kashmir and Jammu, whose stories differed from “official sources” about what has been going on there. “Who decides which ‘facts’ are correct and which are not?” asks Roy, and whether he would have been deported if he had kept inline with official accounts while ignoring major stories that went uncovered by the media, about what life is like in the densest military occupation in the world, or uprisings that to her mind, should have been seen as the “the Kashmir Spring” (59).

Roy, who has also won the Booker Prize for her work of fiction, The God of Small Things, shows her literary gifts, particularly in a scene in which the government and Indian nationalists (such as the ultra-right Muslim-slaughtering Hindu group Bajrang Dal) go after her own reportage of events in Kashmir, giving significant emotional weight to the seemingly trivial gifts of a family with whom she stayed (72-75). This includes potentially confusing chronological violation when she mentions that Soni Sori is “now… on the run” (61) in describing the authorities’ trumped-up of her nephew, Lingaram Kodopi, while, according to their own account, allowing Maoists with whom he was charged with conspiring, to escape, on September 9, 2011. The articles she cites on Soni Sori’s torture and imprisonment are from March 8, 2011 and May 1, 2013. Perhaps this is someone else with an interestingly coincidental name? Bollywood, in its narrative immaturity, would make something comic out of the potentially terrifying.

Roy concludes her book with a speech given to the People’s University of Occupy Wall Street the day after NYPD illegally cleared Liberty Park (a public park illegally sold by the city to a private developer named Zuccotti and now bearing his name) of the Occupiers. I will conclude my review by quoting its most poignant portion:

Today we know that “the American way if life”—the model that the rest of the world is meant to aspire toward—has resulted in four hundred people owning the wealth of half the population of the United States. It has meant thousands of people being turned out of their homes and jobs while the U.S. government bailed out banks and corporations—American International Group (AIG) alone was given 182 billion dollars.

The Indian government worships U.S. economic policy. As a result of twenty years of the Free Market economy, today one hundred of India’s richest people own assets worth one-fourth of the country’s GDP while more than 80 percent of the people live in less than fifty cents a day. Two hundred fifty thousand farmers driven into a spiral of death have committed suicide. We call this progress and now think of ourselves as a superpower. Like you, we are well qualified, [sic] we have nuclear bombs and obscene inequality. (94)

Capitalism is working just the way it was intended to work. It is a pernicious evil that must be destroyed.

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The Townes: Jacob’s burdens and Lorenzo’s Secrets

Jacob Towne is the father of Deliverance Towne, mother of Mehitable Stiles, mother of Samuel Gould, father of Eli Gould, father of David Gould, father of Ann Eliza Gould, mother of Lulu Louisa Temple, mother of Osburne Amos Hutchins, father of James Frederick Hutchins, father of me (i.e., he is my 8th great-grandfather).

In 2011, we printed two columns that sought public help in solving a Salem Towne family-related history mystery. The mystery focused on determining how a Victorian woman named Hannah Towne may have descended from “the” Townes of early Salem: the infamous family that produced Rebecca Towne Nurse (or Nourse) and Mary Towne Esty (or Easty) — two Gallows Hill innocents hanged for witchcraft here in 1692.

Source: The Townes: Jacob’s burdens and Lorenzo’s Secrets


The People v. Navient

I am the 41 year-old homeless man mentioned in the article. Ms. Silver-Greenberg contacted me via Twitter. I told her that Navient told me that my payment reduction plan would assure that my debt would be no more than a tenth of my income, but that $232.79 was the amount of my most recent Navient bill while my most recent paycheck had been only $210.52.

Pet-Killing Authority

Faline entered the Mcgaughey residence on the morning of December 19, ate three cookies and then left to wander around outside. By that afternoon, she had been fatally, and purposely, shot by local authorities while her caretakers watched. Faline was a mule deer. But was she a pet, a wild animal – or something in…

via Kansas family kept deer as a pet. When state officials found out, they executed it in front of the family — National Post – Top Stories


Cyberspace Without Living Space

Here is my latest professional article:

From Arachne #3: