Specializing in Generalities?

Yeah, so, like the other day something popped up on the screen that got us thinking about things in a different sort of way. It was one of those really clever memes that we aspire to, but somehow despite our best efforts, can never quite replicate. The content of the message isn’t the important part, though, since it quickly faded from view down the relentless feed of the timeline. What it got us wondering was even more basic: why do some things catch on while others go unnoticed? There must be a general principle involved here, right? It’s not totally random, is it? Continue reading “Specializing in Generalities?”

Get Your Unicorn On!

Unicorns seem to be all the rage these days. Well, perhaps rage isn’t quite the right word, since the resurgence of interest seems to be as much about peace and positive visions than anything else. It’s interesting to see the wide range of ways the concept and image of the unicorn has been applied lately — from the in-your-face independent journalism of Unicorn Riot to the rolling-in-the-dough success of billion-dollar companies on Fortune’s Unicorn List. When we want to praise someone for their uniqueness, we might call them a unicorn; when we want to dismiss them as being unrealistic, we might do the same. This is a paradox as old as the myth itself. Continue reading “Get Your Unicorn On!”

BADLANDS: “Get Your Facts Learned”

Every movement needs an anthem — or many anthems, actually. As an opening bid, we would like to nominate “Badlands” by Bruce Springsteen for your consideration. This choice was inspired by the anonymous tweeter at Badlands National Park who went rogue by posting actual facts about climate change in defiance of an Administration-ordered shutdown on the flow of public information. Continue reading “BADLANDS: “Get Your Facts Learned””

Dread and Circuses?

It’s something of a supreme irony that just as the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is ending its 146-year operation, we have entered an era that is the political equivalent of a circus. Activists have long decried the captivity and forced compliance of the animals at the center of the circus, directly contesting the cultural aphorism that it was “The Greatest Show on Earth.” By cultivating public sentiment that ultimately yielded “mounting obstacles that even its most acrobatic members could not overcome” (including diminished attendance) these oppositional forces were able to shut down what the Washington Post referred to as an “iconic spectacle.” Does any of this seem vaguely familiar, even figuratively speaking, in terms of the present political moment? Continue reading “Dread and Circuses?”

Don’t Mourn, Organize

Before his execution by the state of Utah in 1915, the legendary activist and songwriter Joe Hill wrote a telegram to Bill Haywood — himself a founding member and prominent voice in the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) — in which Hill wrote: “Goodbye, Bill. I die like a true blue rebel. Don’t waste any time mourning. Organize!” History remembers Joe Hill as a colorful and dynamic figure in the labor movements of the early twentieth century, and as someone who crafted songs and penned lyrics that have inspired generations of musicians and artists for decades since. Among other legacies, Hill coined the phrase “pie in the sky” and is probably best known for the enduring paraphrase from his letter to Haywood: “Don’t mourn, organize!” Continue reading “Don’t Mourn, Organize”