[p2p-research] The criminalization of using the commons
dante.monson at gmail.com
Thu Aug 27 14:12:40 CEST 2009
Thanks Paul, Thanks Nathan,
for the use of such "anecdotes to work from, to ground our speculations in
I felt like sharing the strategy I ended up developing in the last years :
I hitch hiked accross europe for 5 years, without stable monetary income (
living with in average 100 euros a month of donations ), stopping by in
university libraries when I could to access books, the internet, and
Its still fairly possible to access universities in Europe, and attend any
course you may be interested in.
The difficulty probably being potential language barrier, although it can be
a good opportunity to pick up the language.
As for University Libraries, except perhaps for the UK, most of them can be
accessed easily, and in many of the richer countries in europe, have a lot
of specialized litterature in english. ( but few are open at night )
For Americans, I d recommend Amsterdam as a gateway to continental europe,
as most dutch people speak english, and dutch culture seems to be a good
bridge between american and sub-continental european socio-cultures.
If you prefer a small university town, I would perhaps recommend Tartu in
Estonia, or some university town in Denmark.
What I like in Tartu, beyond its free wireless access points, is that there
is empathy as there seems to be understanding of hardship. People may not
be as talkative as in southern europe, but they felt very sincere , open,
caring and warm harted, especially the woman.
What concerns Denmark, I experienced a great public national wide library
system in Denmark - its free. Even though I was staying in a remote village,
I could order books in french and english stored at the university library ,
and the books would be sent to the small local library nearby me, within a
few days, for no cost, and I could take them back to my host.
What concerns hospitality, I would either use my own contacts , either
sometimes use hospitality networks such as http://hospitalityclub.org or
In Germanic countries, it was usually easier for me to connect with guys. In
France, with men and woman alike. In central and eastern europe, it was
easier to connect to woman, except for young educated men who where more
interested in communicating in a foreign language.
Together with friends, we are in the process of developing "nomad bases" :
But its not easy to be constantly on the road - it can lead to "ego
depletion". ( a new word I learnt through Paul's post :-) )
What helps to counter such ego depletion is making good friends that
understand whatever values we may stand for, hitchiking to camps and
unconferences ( mostly in summer ),
connecting with intentional sub-cultures, and having a girlfriend or
boyfriend that gives us a lot of warmth and that will host us
unconditionally, with which there is a intentional and spiritual connection.
Its not easy to find such people that are willing to understand what we are
working for, without money.
I notice one main difficulty is that my presence leads my host to requestion
hes or her life - few people are prepared to do that, and even if you get
along really well with your host, if your host does not have this interest,
they will prefer you to move on after the initial curiosity has been
satisfied, then to have to requestion their lives and the society in which
they may be living.
What worked best for me is to be hosted by people that share a common
intention - it creates a strong synnergy.
After a few years, one becomes so sensitive that one somehow can intuitively
spot the people with which there is such connection, even in the street.
The next step is then to learn how to connect without letting verbal
language and socio cultural norms get into the way. Usually it happens
through sharing presence, and through the eyes.
Such lifestyle, after a few years, with only the internet , the stars , and
our self reflecting value systems and intentions as reference points ,
lead to a state of high abstraction, crossing multiple paradigms , multiple
realities , not knowing what event happenned first, ending up with a
Rhizomatic life, and when on the road, having days that last several days
It can lead to a state of extreme detachment, of "zoom out", of "in
betweenness of in betweenness"... and of... Ego depletion...
Its an interesting spiritual experience. Learning to keep faith in this
As for me right now, I ve been back in my native town, Brussels, since one
year. I m 26 now ( 2 years in asia , 5 years in europe, 2 years in the
library ). I took me one year to heal from the last 5 years of traveling.
It took me time to rebuild a local social network which is mutually
There are a number of objectives. I m reading this as it is a source of
learning and of connecting with others with whom such synnergies can be
Individuals with whom such understanding and awareness can be transferred
so that the prototypes become the medium embodying a certain awareness,
and enabling further convergence.
Hopefully enabling systems of mutually empowering mediums that maximize
opportunities, and not coercion.
On Wed, Aug 26, 2009 at 6:09 PM, Paul D. Fernhout <
pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com> wrote:
> Nathan Cravens wrote:
>> I hope we make a variety of contacts to nurture during and after this
>> workshop to plan for the week long conference to come; which will discuss
>> what areas our developer network has created and used in practice: how
>> were integrated with the projects (and related networks) presented at the
>> workshop and the variety of others areas to secure these various
>> For those not immersed in this topic area for years as many of us have, it
>> will be easy to get lost, and I suspect much of what is said will be
>> difficult to translate in such a short amount of time. So long as we keep
>> the interest in our neighbor's projects before and after the workshop and
>> conferences to come, we'll no doubt make lots of mistakes and
>> misinterpretations, but since I can already see clearly enough the outcome
>> of these events from the personal discussions and from the talks at p2p
>> research and the open manufacturing community, I believe we'll make it
>> I would be overly optimistic were it not for my recent run-in with the
>> authorities at the university campus (known as Stephen F. Austin State
>> University) I befriended this past year or to do out-of-enrollment study.
>> This activity has finally caught up with me, as I was given a criminal
>> trespass warning for occupying the music building, enjoying the gifts of
>> air conditioning and wifi. I was accused of "setting up residence" and
>> "lying about being a student" because as I was told 'I know what being a
>> student means' after occupying that space on the second night, from the
>> officer's perspective and that officer and sargent's consensus view. After
>> asking, I was told even if I were a student, I would be asked to leave
>> space at night. (Although I doubt that would have been true in practice)
>> now I'm unable to enter this campus without proving my case for the chief
>> police to revoke my occupational impermissibility. I've had chats with the
>> philosophers at the university when I first arrived, with some
>> disappointment as they seem or act too busy to discuss anything, and I got
>> to know a librarian rather well. . . So I'll ask if these folk can help me
>> at all.
>> I'm open to going elsewhere that might better appreciate what I'm doing.
>> imagine that its probably a struggle enough caring for yourselves. . .
>> Just when I've become comfortable being perceived as scum in this world. .
>> someone with a badge decided to act on it. . .
>> I apologize for not appropriately separating my personal experiences from
>> creating an integrated collaborative platform. I only hope such a personal
>> story can relate to your own similar incidents and further express the
>> drives that fuel our works.
> Interesting story. Often we need anecdotes to work from, to ground our
> speculations in realities.
> It seems to me that another word for "privatization" is essentially
> There a song I heard once on NPR on "Grandpa" Lewis' show
> that went something like:
> Every one's a criminal, unless you got the money, honey.
> Every one's a criminal and how.
> Someone owns the land, someone owns the oil.
> Someone own the air, and someone owns the soil.
> Someone owns the food, someone owns the sea,
> someone owns my body but they can't own me.
> Or something like that. :-)
> I feel we are reaching the point, especially with robotics and better
> design like in Marshall Brain's "Manna", where for *everyone* an essential
> issue is a human right to access the commons (biological commons, industrial
> commons, intellectual commons). So, a "basic income" would be part of that,
> but it might go much farther. But often money-politics policy goes the other
> way, and has since the first corporations came to the Americas with
> Christopher Columbus. So we get more privatization and longer copyrights.
> The health care debate in the USA is just the tip of the "basic income"
> iceberg about a right to the fruits of the commons, IMHO.
> The alternative to more human rights is this sort of frightening stuff:
> "Is It Now a Crime to Be Poor?" By BARBARA EHRENREICH
> Mentioned at:
> It's too bad so many people are falling into poverty at a time when it’s
> almost illegal to be poor. You won’t be arrested for shopping in a Dollar
> Store, but if you are truly, deeply, in-the-streets poor, you’re well
> advised not to engage in any of the biological necessities of life — like
> sitting, sleeping, lying down or loitering. City officials boast that there
> is nothing discriminatory about the ordinances that afflict the destitute,
> most of which go back to the dawn of gentrification in the ’80s and ’90s.
> “If you’re lying on a sidewalk, whether you’re homeless or a millionaire,
> you’re in violation of the ordinance,” a city attorney in St. Petersburg,
> Fla., said in June, echoing Anatole France’s immortal observation that “the
> law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep
> under bridges.”
> In defiance of all reason and compassion, the criminalization of poverty
> has actually been intensifying as the recession generates ever more poverty.
> So concludes a new study from the National Law Center on Homelessness and
> Poverty, which found that the number of ordinances against the publicly poor
> has been rising since 2006, along with ticketing and arrests for more
> “neutral” infractions like jaywalking, littering or carrying an open
> container of alcohol. ...
> The viciousness of the official animus toward the indigent can be
> breathtaking. A few years ago, a group called Food Not Bombs started handing
> out free vegan food to hungry people in public parks around the nation. A
> number of cities, led by Las Vegas, passed ordinances forbidding the sharing
> of food with the indigent in public places, and several members of the group
> were arrested. A federal judge just overturned the anti-sharing law in
> Orlando, Fla., but the city is appealing. And now Middletown, Conn., is
> cracking down on food sharing. ...
> Meanwhile, the public housing that remains has become ever more
> prisonlike, with residents subjected to drug testing and random police
> sweeps. The safety net, or what’s left of it, has been transformed into a
> Some of the community organizers I’ve talked to around the country think
> they know why “zero tolerance” policing has ratcheted up since the recession
> began. Leonardo Vilchis of the Union de Vecinos, a community organization in
> Los Angeles, suspects that “poor people have become a source of revenue” for
> recession-starved cities, and that the police can always find a violation
> leading to a fine. If so, this is a singularly demented fund-raising
> strategy. At a Congressional hearing in June, the president of the National
> Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers testified about the pervasive
> “overcriminalization of crimes that are not a risk to public safety,” like
> sleeping in a cardboard box or jumping turnstiles, which leads to
> expensively clogged courts and prisons. ...
> So, your personal experience is perhaps part of this larger trend.
> Universities see the poor that their scarcity ideology have helped create,
> and they are scared of the scarcity they have ironically manufactured using
> the technologies of abundance, so they are cracking down on everyone. Thus
> they are only compounding the problem and the irony.
> But, frankly, there is a limit to compassion (compassion fatigue); it's
> understandable. It is also fair to question the interest of middle class
> people or above (even anyone college educated, but certainly Ivy League) in
> wanting to help the poor -- what does it mean to have compassion in an
> abstract way? But what everyone should relate to, even millionaires, is, it
> could happen to them very quickly in the USA. Look at Madoff's victims. Or
> the stock market crash. Or medical insurance companies not paying claims for
> various reasons. Health is wealth more than wealth is wealth. And so on...
> "If you have come to help me you are wasting your time. If you have come
> because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together."
> — Aboriginal Activsts' Group (of which Lila Watson was a member),
> Queensland, 1970s
> Richard Stallman would have had a tougher time now, given he lived in the
> AI lab for a time:
> "Stallman has devoted the bulk of his life’s energies to political and
> software activism. Professing to care little for material wealth, he
> explains that "I've always lived cheaply … like a student, basically. And I
> like that, because it means that money is not telling me what to do."
> I wish I had learned that lesson even earlier, that frugality gives you
> I remember that for a couple of days between apartments, when I was around
> 20 and hanging out at CMU after graduating from Princeton (so, not a
> student, not a staff, just a visitor for maybe nine months with no formal
> affiliation, and two professors had given me keys to their labs and various
> computer accounts), I slept one night underneath a table besides a Perq
> in the defunct household robotics lab (the warm air counteracted the air
> conditioning), and another night in a lounge by the mobile robot lab. :-) I
> guess I could have asked someone to put me up or stayed in a hotel, but it
> did not really occur to me. Guess I should be glad I was not hassled like
> you. But, times have changed.
> I guess, to look on the bright side, be glad you were not tazed: :-(
> Graphically brutal video:
> "UCLA Police Taser Student in Powell Library"
> I remember watching a sci-fi movie as a kid (Genesis II) where a major way
> the evil mutants control a human population of slaves is with "Stims" which
> can be dialed to dispense on contact different levels of pleasure or pain.
> By the way, from:
> "Genesis II"
> "Members of a benevolent group of scientists, known as PAX, excavated the
> NASA research center and rescued Dylan Hunt, who had only aged one day for
> every 10 years in suspension. Dylan Hunt was aided in his recovery by a
> human mutant named Lyra-a. Lyra-a deceived Dylan Hunt over the purpose of
> PAX, and convinced him to travel with her to her city, Tyrania, in the hope
> that he could repair their failing nuclear reactor. During his visit to
> Tyrania, Dylan discovers that he has been deceived by Lyra-a, and that the
> city condones brutal slavery. Working with a PAX team which had infiltrated
> the city, Dylan Hunt leads a successful revolt of the slaves. During their
> escape from the city, Dylan Hunt and the PAX team are captured by Lyra-a and
> company. Dylan makes a deal with Lyra-a stating that he would repair the
> nuclear reactor if the PAX team could go free. Dylan Hunt discovers that the
> Tyranians are planning on using the reactor to power a nuclear missile silo,
> so that they can destroy PAX. Dylan sabotaged the silo and caused the bomb
> to detonate, thus eliminating the threat to PAX. At his return, Primus
> Kimbridge, leader of PAX, confronts Dylan Hunt with PAX's pacifist beliefs
> and challenges Dylan Hunt to join them."
> As a kid, seeing that movie, I thought Primus was a dope and Dylan was
> right to blow up the reactor, even though he answered an enthusiastic yes to
> Primus' question of "Did you take lives?" But now I see that deeper irony of
> a technology of abundance used in an ironic scarcity-promoting way, and
> Primus' concern that Dylan was just repeating the mistakes of the past.
> Anyway, so sci-fi tazers are now are part of criminalizing using the
> One essential point of your tale in that it was on a "state" university,
> which presumably is open to all. A private university might have more
> grounds for restricting access, even though that might be hogwash because
> private universities are generally tax-exempt and get lots of charitable
> donations, and so too are being fed from the public commons.
> I saw the closing down of the Princeton University library from the
> university building a big barrier across the lobby and putting in guards in
> th 1980s -- prior to that, anyone could walk in an use the main library. One
> security officer told me a major benefit to him was preventing "vagrants"
> from sleeping in the library stacks, that was part of the private
> off-the-record campaign to get students not to object to what was happening
> before their eyes.
> As another related anecdote, I remember when a Princeton administrator was
> looking for an office for me when I went there to run a robot lab, and he
> opened one door and found a mattress and a recently ex-student. :-) The
> administrator looked like he had just found a nest of rats or roaches. :-)
> Anyway, it's been said new ideas need cheap rent. :-)
> It's generally traumatic to have to deal with security forces of any sort.
> Here is a related idea:
> "Ego depletion refers to the idea that self-control or willpower is an
> exhaustible resource that can be used up. When that energy is low (rather
> than high), mental activity that requires self-control is impaired. In other
> words, using one's self-control impairs the ability to control one's self
> later on. In this sense, the idea of (limited) willpower is correct. In an
> illustrative experiment on ego depletion, participants who controlled
> themselves by trying not to laugh while watching a comedian did worse on a
> later task that required self-control compared to participants who did not
> have to control their laughter while watching the video. Much of the early
> research on ego depletion was performed by Roy Baumeister, Mark Muraven, and
> their colleagues. In a recent series of studies, they suggest that a
> positive mood stimulus could help restore the depleted energy. They report
> on four studies where the positive mood stimulus was a surprise gift or
> short clips of stand-up comedy by Robin Williams and Eddie Murphy. They do
> not claim a general benefit in positive affect, i.e, benefit to people who
> had not previously engaged in self-regulatory tasks, rather the positive
> stimulus restores the capacity to self-regulate. The work is experimental
> and does not consider in depth the mechanisms by which performance is
> restored, whether it is because of an actual restoration of self-regulatory
> resources or provides an additional motivation to press on with a depleted
> self remains an open question"
> So, doing something fun might help in getting past that high degree of
> self-regulation demanded by those interactions with security and avoiding
> setting off tazer-happy campus police. You can take some pride in how well
> you handled it to avoid that. It is easy to loose your cool in some
> Again in the 1980s, I still remember how traumatized I felt when I was
> looking at an apartment complex in North Carolina, and, after looking at a
> couple of apartments, with the permission of the person running the office,
> I walked around and casually asked a couple people there if they liked it
> because I was thinking of renting an apartment there. As I was walking back
> to the office thinking of signing a lease, this (private) security guy drove
> up (who had not known any context) and said he had got a complaint about me
> talking to people and it was private property and I could not talk to
> residents. I went back to the main office and pointed that out to that
> person who was apologetic and spun it as how it showed how concerned the
> residents were concerned about the place. I decided not to live there. And I
> was shaky for some time afterwards.
> So, I can imagine your feelings on this must be a lot stronger.
> The problem is, once the bureaucratic machinery starts grinding, it can be
> hard to make it stop -- especially in schools which are essentially
> prettified prisons. That bureaucracy has now labeled and numbered and
> categorized you. As Gatto says:
> "Our problem in understanding forced schooling stems from an inconvenient
> fact: that the wrong it does from a human perspective is right from a
> systems perspective. You can see this in the case of six-year-old Bianca,
> who came to my attention because an assistant principal screamed at her in
> front of an assembly, "BIANCA, YOU ANIMAL, SHUT UP!" Like the wail of a
> banshee, this sang the school doom of Bianca. Even though her body continued
> to shuffle around, the voodoo had poisoned her. ... I picture this animal
> Bianca grown large and mean, the same Bianca who didn’t go to school for a
> month after her little friends took to whispering, "Bianca is an animal,
> Bianca is an animal," while Bianca, only seconds earlier a human being like
> themselves, sat choking back tears, struggling her way through a reading
> selection by guessing what the words meant."
> So, the university has started using its voodoo against you. :-( That's
> strong stuff. It is hard to deal with such dangerous magic. What are the
> arts of this voodoo? How does in work? Are there counter-magics? And so on?
> Sometimes, despite my youthful follies, I can wonder if the only reason I
> graduated Princeton is because a security officer, her first year on the
> force, essentially ran me over my first summer there when I was on my
> bicycle and put me in the hospital (twenty one emergency stitches and a
> broken pinky)? :-) Well, it was an ambiguous situation -- she would have run
> me over but I slowed and swerved to avoid her and hit the side of the
> security car. That car was emerging at high speed from behind a gymnasium
> building near the intersection (so we could not see each other) and then
> speeding through a pedestrian intersection just yards from where I lived,
> and I was foolishly racing to avoid a thunderstorm -- a friend had offered
> me a ride which I had declined. To be fair, I really should have stopped and
> walked my bicycle through the intersection but I was going fast to avoid the
> rain -- and that crossing road was rarely travelled by cars at any speed.
> But in the security department's eyes, hitting the side of their car made it
> my fault, even if I might have been dead otherwise. I was actually surprised
> how much damage little old me did to that car with just my body. :-)
> Fortunately, my backpack absorbed some of the impact. Anyway, was my PU
> degree really in recognition of not suing (or not even really thinking about
> suing)? :-) So, there can be weird internal dynamics in various systems. :-)
> Anyway, that is another case where Aikido training in merging with a power
> and knowing how to roll may have saved my life. :-)
> So, to elaborate on what those security people did not say, now you do know
> what "being a student means" as opposed to what "being a citizen on a
> publicly-supported commons means" or "being a human being" means. :-( Again,
> John Taylor Gatto on this:
> "Before you can reach a point of effectiveness in defending your own
> children or your principles against the assault of blind social machinery,
> you have to stop conspiring against yourself by attempting to negotiate with
> a set of abstract principles and rules which, by its nature, cannot respond.
> Under all its disguises, that is what institutional schooling is, an
> abstraction which has escaped its handlers. Nobody can reform it. First you
> have to realize that human values are the stuff of madness to a system; in
> systems-logic the schools we have are already the schools the system needs;
> the only way they could be much improved is to have kids eat, sleep, live,
> and die there."
> Well, that may not apply exactly, :-) but it seemed appropriate anyway. :-)
> But really, is that not the issue? The university wants more money -- it
> wants to sell you a pass to go there where you pay "tuition"; like a hotel
> it wants to rent you a room too. The harassment you are experiencing is the
> flip side of that business model. Also, because the university system has
> helped create such a crazy country with no help for the poorest and with too
> much stress for everyone else, and now the bubble economy is bursting, and
> even more bailouts went to the wealthy on scarcity-economics theoretical
> grounds, the university is turning defensive as the system it creates
> collapses around it. And so, you and get caught up in that, as do we all in
> various ways. If we build a society that does not take better care of its
> poor and people with various problems, then it will probably spend more on
> security instead, which is what the deepest irony is. In the same way, the
> US health insurance industry costs one third of every health insurance
> dollar to prevent people from getting care when that money would ensure
> everyone could be cared for. Ironic social idiocy from that perspective.
> "Enclosure or inclosure is the process by which common land is taken into
> fully private ownership and use. Common land is land which is owned by one
> person, but over which other people have certain traditional rights, such as
> arable farming, mowing meadows for hay, or grazing livestock. Under
> enclosure, such land is fenced (enclosed) and deeded or entitled to one or
> more private owners, who then enjoy the possession and fruits of the land to
> the exclusion of all others."
> Now, imagine life as a Native American in the USA. Everywhere is the land
> your ancestors walked for thousands of years. But now, suddenly, you are a
> criminal if you walk on it, because corporations like the Hudson Bay
> Corporation privatized it.
> "The Hudson's Bay Company (French: Compagnie de la Baie d'Hudson),
> abbreviated HBC, is the oldest commercial corporation in North America and
> is one of the oldest in the world. The company was incorporated by British
> royal charter in 1670 as The Governor and Company of Adventurers of England
> trading into Hudson's Bay; it is now domiciled in Canada and has adopted the
> more common shorter name as its legal moniker. It was once the de facto
> government in parts of North America before European-based colonies and
> nation states existed. It was at one time the largest landowner in the
> world, with Rupert's Land being a large part of North America."
> Just to show my hypocrisy, :-) we do have our rural land posted for
> trespass, mainly because we live next door to a hunting club (they seem to
> ignore the signs anyway), as well as for crazy liability issues in the USA
> including by having dogs, as well as for privacy in the face of a community
> that gets some summer party-goers. But were our community different, I don't
> think we'd feel the same -- especially if there was a network of public
> walking trails or something like that, like in England. In that case, I
> would be getting something of immense value by cooperating, rather than just
> suffering a penalty by not defecting. As it is, we have informal agreements
> with neighbors to walk on each others land (so, a peer solution in part).
> It's hard to live in a culture and not become part of it and its problems in
> various ways. That sort of decision is ofter repeated with patents and
> copyrights owned by individuals, for similar reasons -- though there are
> difference of course in digital resources from physical resources.
> Of course, our house and land does not claim to be a public institution.
> Still, we do benefit from the public internet and lots of public
> innovations, so even the nature of what is legitimately "private" property
> changes as we all rely more on various commonses. In general, all these
> notions of property are socially constructed:
> "The Mythology of Wealth"
> The question ultimately is, what sort of society do we want to construct?
> My advice for you? The same I got at PU grad school after going back and
> having a bad time, and which I did not follow myself. :-) Go to law school.
> :-) Here is a good one to enroll in:
> "Center for the Study of the Public Domain" at Duke University.
> No doubt with your writing ability and interest in open manufacturing, you
> might do well there. With a law degree, you would not be quite as vulnerable
> to the machinery of bureaucracy, especially as part of a larger team.
> By the way, just as an aside, if you don't go to law school, it is easier
> to be a hunter/gatherer in warm equatorial climates, because the need for
> shelter is mimimal, and the abundance of food per acre is generally higher.
> That's a reason why you don't see tent cities in the cold US Northeast:
> "Tent cities spring up in LA"
> A warm sunny mild climate like mid-California on the coast (so, good
> fishing and sea gathering) is ideal perhaps. Although most of that land has
> long been privatized. Even the "Walking People" book has a story of being
> kicked out of there thousands of years ago by a tribe who had gotten there
> first. :-)
> It is my conjecture that militaristic bureaucracies arose from human
> guarding highly productive marine estuaries that otherwise gave an easy
> And then, at some point, those pre-scarcity bureaucracies became, in
> Gatto's words, "an abstraction that escaped its handlers". Well, lawyers in
> theory are one way to reign in abstractions. :-) Or is that rain in
> abstractions? Or is that even reign as in rule in abstractions? :-)
> As someone recently told me, essentially it is hard to make the big bucks
> (e.g. 'Neutron Jack" Welch) unless you are indifferent to causing various
> kinds of suffering. (That is less true sometimes in the tech sector.) And
> from Chomsky, one can see that is can be very hard to function (or rise) in
> a system unless you internalize its values.
> You really have to function at a very high level of abstraction to attempt
> that (working in two paradigms at once -- akin to living in a foreign
> country and translating everything), and you are at continual risk of
> quagmire (many foreigners to a land make all sorts of mistakes). But lawyers
> do that, working in abstractions. But it can be hard to try to live in two
> worlds at once. Even working at a university poses all sorts of moral
> problems, given university policies (like you reference), and even more:
> Frankly, for that reason, if my wife was not both so smart and so generous,
> I'd probably be homeless at this point. :-) Sure, I had my chances to be
> financially obese, but I chose to do differently. Although that's a little
> maudlin -- if I was not married, with a kid, and a house, and so on, right
> now I'd probably try to work at "Willow Garage" on FOSS robotics because it
> is open and would be fun. Or I might do some small local thing like work in
> a health food store (again :-) or other "honest business" I could find and
> live in some tiny apartment and spend more time at the library:
> "Honest Business"
> Or maybe other non-profit:
> My biggest constraint has been creating the time to develop ideas but still
> being a responsible parent (in a society that provides little help for
> parents except you put your kid in day-prison). If I was just focused on
> survival and a personal happy life, these little niches mentioned above
> would promise more surety of that, as well as likely either be working
> directly on FOSS things or having free time to do that.
> Again, if I was in my twenties, law school in the area of FOSS licensing
> would be interesting -- assuming it could be done without taking on too much
> debt, since when one has a lot of debt, it forecloses options, especially
> working at non-profit things or living at a subsistence level. And going to
> law school on FOSS issues is a step towards resisting the criminalization of
> using the commons. No pressure. :-)
> But in general, trying to have one foot in a post-scarcity future (a
> heavily regulated and highly taxed market, a huge commons, and lots of local
> subsistence production, minimizing war/schooling/prison) is pretty hard when
> you also need to keep one foot in the present which has different values
> (often opposite ones, since it my be privately profitable to enclose public
> commons). It's not easy. I'm sure most everyone on this list wrestles with
> these things. Here is a book about that:
> "The Murdering of My Years: Artists and Activists Making Ends Meet "
> "The title of Soft Skull's latest Soft Skill book is taken from Charles
> Bukowski, who said of wage labor: "I couldn't understand the murdering of my
> years." A struggling activist/artist, Z. found that he was too short on time
> and money to write an activist's memoir and how-to. Instead, he e-mailed a
> questionnaire (printed at the end of the book), asking fellow activists and
> artists how they managed to be active yet survive economically. Each of the
> sections of the book is created from the responses to a particular question,
> but one gets the feeling that many activists and artists are quite private
> about their survival techniques. A.D. Nauman, for one, provides concrete
> ideas for writers looking for relatively painless work within the
> mainstream, and for artists who are also mothers, but the section entitled
> "The Dark Side: Illegal Jobs" is not nearly as juicy as one might hope. The
> e-mail format creates a tone that is entertaining, conversational and
> immediate, but also often prolix. Yet for anyone looking for some human
> company in the long struggle to make a living outside of the corporate
> structure, this book provides grassroots moral support."
> I have not read that book myself though, but just knowing it exists is
> comforting. :-) But I have read "Gig" and "Working" which, minus the
> activism, probably have some similarity.
> Hey, it is in Google books as a preview:
> "The murdering of my years: artists & activists making ends meet"
> Of course that book sounds focused on "making a living" in an economic
> sense. Open Manufacturing and such (which really has roots in various
> themes) is about making a living in the subsistence local sense including
> drawing from (and contributing to) a peer commons. And just surviving does
> little directly about the criminalization of the commons, although having
> spare time makes such activities possible as an activist.
> Anyway, if it is a given the system is making activists for the commons
> into criminals, than it would help if some of them were lawyers. Mahatma
> Gandhi was a lawyer; he accomplished a lot. :-)
> All the best.
> --Paul Fernhout
> P.S. My treadmill has finally been fixed (more or less) and I walked 1.82
> miles while writing this. :-)
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