Atlantis Alumni

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Interesting Emma Goldman Info

Photo: Occupy Philadelphia Encampment At Dilworth Plaza From the Wiki interesting read indeed:
...she viewed the state as essentially and inevitably a tool of control and domination. As a result, Goldman believed that voting was useless at best and dangerous at worst. Voting, she wrote, provided an illusion of participation while masking the true structures of decision-making. Instead, Goldman advocated targeted resistance in the form of strikes, protests, and "direct action against the invasive, meddlesome authority of our moral code".
Hummm...makes me feel less guilty about not voting given the terrible "choices" we are usually presented with... and...
Goldman was also an outspoken critic of prejudice against homosexuals. Her belief that social liberation should extend to gay men and lesbians was virtually unheard of at the time, even among anarchists. As Magnus Hirschfeld wrote, "she was the first and only woman, indeed the first and only American, to take up the defense of homosexual love before the general public." In numerous speeches and letters, she defended the right of gay men and lesbians to love as they pleased and condemned the fear and stigma associated with homosexuality. As Goldman wrote in a letter to Hirschfeld, "It is a tragedy, I feel, that people of a different sexual type are caught in a world which shows so little understanding for homosexuals and is so crassly indifferent to the various gradations and variations of gender and their great significance in life."

Monday, February 27, 2012

Making Demands On Politicians

Photo: Occupy Philadelphia on the march with a police escort. The American political system is broken. Money has corrupted it and made it impossible for candidates of principle to have any chance of running for, much less winning significant elections, such as for senator or president. Voting is an exercise in futility. Nevertheless, for some of us it's still worth fighting the battle to restore democracy and end the plutocracy that the US has become. We feel that this is the only real way to fight for the underpriviledged and the forgotten, even if our tactics often result in the unwanted attention of the police. Part of the battle is calling on those in power to do the right thing, even if it's unlikely that they will. For example, there is no reason why our current president can't support marriage equality, other than his own cynical political calculations. But he won't ever, unfortunately, unless people pressure him to do the right thing.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Whew! A Close Call

I took Dan to the emergency room at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) on Saturday at about noon. He had been complaining of stomach pains during the night. After about seven hours in the ER, a cat scan, and X-Rays, the diagnosis was confirmed: appendicitis. Dan finally had his laproscopic appendectomy at about 2:30 AM Sunday morning. He got back to his room at about 4:30 AM. He looked good and he was not in pain I don't think. I met his surgeon, Dr. Allen...a very nice man. He told me that Dan's appendix would have burst in another three hours. He said it looked "nasty." So it was a good thing that we did to go to the HUP ER even though it was a long ordeal. Dr. Allen mentioned that Dan might be able to return home late Sunday afternoon if he was progressing well with his recovery. Thank you to all our friends for your love and support!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Santorum's Fanaticism: An Attack On JFK

Tom Ferrick, Jr. on Santorum in the New York Times:
In 2010, Santorum delivered a little-noticed speech in Houston to mark the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s address in the same city before a convention of Protestant ministers. Kennedy went before the group to alleviate fears that if a Catholic was elected president of the United States, the Pope would rule America. As Kennedy said at the beginning of his speech: “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.” Santorum went to Houston not to praise Kennedy but to bash him. To Santorum, the Kennedy speech did permanent damage because it led to secularization of American politics. He said it laid the foundation for attacks on religion by the secular left that has led to denial of free speech rights to religious people. “John F. Kennedy chose not to just dispel fear,” Santorum said, “he chose to expel faith.” In Santorum’s view, Kennedy’s speech led to a debasement of the first freedom — the freedom of religion — so that it is now on “the lowest rung of interests to be considered when weighing rights against one another.”

Friday, February 24, 2012

Occupy Wall Street On The 99 Percent Splinter Group

OWS PR Working Group Statement on the 99 Percent Declaration Friday 24 February 2012 by: Press Relations Working Group, NYC General Assembly | Press Release The 99% Declaration and its call for a “national general assembly” in Philadelphia in July is not affiliated with or endorsed by Occupy Wall Street, and the organizers’ plans blatantly contradict OWS’ stated principles. Many news outlets are running articles suggesting that the Occupy movement is planning a “national general assembly” in Philadelphia in July. This initiative, referred to as The 99% Declaration, is driven by a not-for-profit corporation called The 99 Percent Working Group, LTD., and is not endorsed by the General Assembly at Occupy Wall Street (OWS). The group’s plans blatantly contradict OWS’ Statement of Autonomy, as passed by the General Assembly at Occupy Wall Street, where The 99% Declaration generated more controversy than consensus. The proposal was also rejected by the General Assembly of Occupy Philadelphia, which passed a resolution stating, “We do not support the 99% Declaration, its group, its website, its National GA and anything else associated with it.” The people of Occupy Wall Street are doubtlessly animated by many of the same concerns addressed by the points in the draft 99% Declaration. However, the group’s plan to select delegates representing each Congressional District to ratify a petition to present to the U.S. government while threatening to run candidates for positions in this corrupted system runs counter to OWS’ commitment to direct democracy, grassroots people power, and building a better society from the bottom up. When reporting on stories concerning the convening of national ‘Occupy conventions,’ registration of political parties and political action committees, and other high-profile initiatives, we strongly urge reporters, editors, and producers to vet these stories by contacting the official press relations working group of Occupy Wall Street. From OWS’ Statement of Autonomy: “Any statement or declaration not released through the General Assembly and made public online at should be considered independent of Occupy Wall Street.” The Press Relations Working Group of Occupy Wall Street 347-292-1444

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

How And Why Occupy Philly And Mayor Nutter Went Bust

Photo: Occupy Philadelphia At Dilworth Plaza
How to Radicalize a Moderate: The story of a former OP City Liaison By Julia Alford-Fowler (@jalfordfowler) Editor’s note: This account is a strong example of why systems of control often times backfire. It also exposes the truth that governments often use the law to their advantage, as the author’s experiences dealing directly with the city illustrate. The allegations made in this piece can be independently corroborated. You can follow Julia Alford-Fowler on Twitter: @jalfordfowler. - D.S. In the mind of most American citizens, local government officials exist (at least the majority of the time) to serve and answer to the people who elected them. It is within this system of accountability that we rely upon to make sure our best interests are being served. While I had a healthy amount of skepticism, this was my held view until the fall of 2011. I believed that the Mayor of Philadelphia, Michael Nutter, and his staff were in office to protect their citizens, myself included, and that the problems of this country were for the most part the result of unchecked corporate greed on Wall Street, amid a variety of other issues. What follows is an account of how my thinking was transformed from this moderate view of a trust in those in power into one in which my faith in our government and specifically, those who govern, was destroyed. For me, the Occupy Movement started with a purpose of giving a voice to the voiceless and a way for all of us who were angry at the state of our country to come together and create real change. I believed that this could be accomplished through dialogue and negotiations. Over the course of the two month encampment in front of City Hall in Philadelphia, I saw the necessity of the people’s voice to override the restrictions set to us by our lawmakers. I saw first hand that these lawmakers who were put into office through corporate dollars often do not serve the people who cast the ballots, but instead work to protect the interests of those who funded their campaigns. I began to ask myself the following: What makes free speech free? Is it something that falls within guidelines dictated by the government (as in such guidelines as “time, place and manner”) or is it citizens finding their voices and expressing them how they see fit, especially if they are not causing harm to another person? At 7:00 am on October 6th, I stepped onto Dilworth Plaza full of hope, love and passion. What was sweeping our country had inspired me to throw myself head first into something I had never tried before – activism. What had happened with the NYPD at Occupy Wall Street disgusted me, but that was New York and as far as I could tell, Philadelphia was going to be different. I had already been told that the city was looking forward to working with us, that they were excited about this showcase of democracy at the footsteps of City Hall and that they wanted to present Philadelphia to the rest of the country as “The Cradle of Liberty.” All they wanted in return was a small group of people to act as liaisons with them and for us to apply for a permit. Over the course of the day, a small group of people decided that I would start out being that “liaison”. By 6:00 pm that day, I was sitting in the office of Richard Negrin, Deputy Mayor and Managing Director for the City of Philadelphia. During our conversation he said one thing in particular which struck me as unusual, but in the flurry of activity, I pushed it aside: If we get a few weeks into this and we need to boost publicity for the movement, they could help us stage an arrest. A top-ranking city official just told me that they would be willing to set up a situation wherein 10 or so people lie down in the street and they would very politely cuff them and haul them away to jail. In a later meeting with our small team of city liaisons, he repeated this statement and was echoed by Everett Gillison, Deputy Mayor of Public Safety and now Mayor Nutter’s chief of staff. Gillison confirmed this tactic, saying that it was something that they had done in the past and we simply needed to let them know how many people, at what time, and they would work with us to coordinate these arrests. I should note that we never took the administration up on their offer. Over the next two weeks I began to see a pattern in which the city was happy to have us there as long as they were able to subtly control our actions. When it came to the permit, the city was anxious for us to sign this piece of paper that would change our camp from a space that was a reclamation of public property for use by and service to the people of Philadelphia, to them granting us permission to be there under their oversight and control. Supposedly open-ended, once signed we could have access to electricity and protection from “other groups” trying to take over the space. At one point, Negrin called to warn me that we should sign immediately because the Tea Party had applied for a permit and they could only hold them off for so long. After checking around, I discovered that no one in the administration could confirm that this was the case. Once the permit was signed, we were given a long list of complaints from the city that we had to fix about the camp, which then dominated three weeks of daily General Assemblies. The pattern continued to build. As soon as we resolved one issue, the city would present us with another one, each of which would dominate endless hours of our time. In regards to the “city liaison working group”, the General Assembly eventually voted to dissolve the working group and grant the role of communicating with the city on our behalf to the Legal Collective, which I then joined. After the first and only meeting with the mayor and his staff, the General Assembly decided to answer the Mayor Nutter’s request for weekly meetings with a simple answer: No. We made clear that Occupy Philadelphia did not intend to cut off communication, and that continued emails and letters would be exchanged with the administration. I saw this as our group making the statement that we were going to protest on our terms, not theirs. I believed that as people of the United States, it is our right to do so. The government is supposed to be for the people and by the people. We would no longer tolerate a country in which our government’s voice is more important than that of the people who elected them. Additionally, we were demanding that all communications with the city be documented in order to protect our rights. As any meeting with the city in person was not allowed to be recorded, we refused to participate. What happens when citizens decide they are no longer going to allow the suppression of their voices by the government? Shortly after we notified the Mayor’s office of our decision, on November 12th, there was a sexual assault at the camp. The following day, Mayor Nutter held a press conference which he used as a platform to attack Occupy Philly. He mentioned the assault in passing for only one sentence. During the conference he made the following statement, “Many of the people that we talked to in the beginning of this event and activity are now gone. They are no longer on the site.” The Mayor of Philadelphia blatantly lied. All of the people that the city had worked with from day one, myself included, were still there. The only thing that had changed was that we were no longer allowing ourselves to be controlled by a system that served to protect the status quo. Incidentally, this press conference was held less than a week after the Mayor’s reelection bid was secured. The mayor’s main complaint against Occupy Philadelphia? Sanitation. How many times have you walked through the subway and it smelled of urine? Or walked through your neighborhood and stepped around broken glass? Where is the press conference condemning these issues? Luckily for the city, they found a new pawn in the form of a recently established group, Reasonable Solutions. In reaction to the General Assembly’s earlier decision to resist eviction, the leaders of this group set up a meeting with city officials and applied for a permit for Thomas Paine Plaza, located directly across from Dilworth Plaza. When the city handed one proposed permit to them and one to Occupy Philadelphia, it was entirely restrictive. It allowed for a single canopy tent and was limited to the hours of 9am to 7pm. In effect, it negated the purpose of our protest – no occupation. While Occupy Philadelphia submitted an appeal, Reasonable Solutions did nothing. Shortly after we were notified that our appeal had been denied, the city held a press conference to showcase Reasonable Solutions signing the new permit. This gave the city every excuse to evict us without any further negotiation. Because a group that vaguely resembled Occupy Philadelphia had been willing to sign this permit, the Mayor could now say that they had done their due diligence, and to the common observer, they had. Within a week, the city had us evicted. Late on the night of November 29th, roughly 400 riot cops, countless bicycle cops and what I counted as eight mounted officers on horses, all assembled to challenge approximately 100 protesters. At this time there was evidence that the evictions were being coordinated by both a series of nationwide conference calls between Mayors and later calls between Police Chiefs that were set up by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF). The fact that this show of force to evict our camp was beyond excessive should come as no surprise given that our police commissioner, Charles Ramsey, is the President of the Board of Directors of PERF. After we left the plaza following the final dispersal order, there was a group of 50 or so protesters (i.e. residents of Philadelphia) on the street and the sidewalk in front of Dilworth Plaza. At one point I turned to see the mounted police charging into the crowd, trampling the foot of a member of our media team. This incident was so shocking that my husband, who had been watching via livestream, called and pleaded with me to return home. Later, I sent the following tweet to Richard Negrin and Mayor Nutter...this video clearly shows the officers first moving people onto the sidewalk and then, once they are on the sidewalk, charging into the crowd and overtaking the sidewalk. Once I returned home I watched the rest of the events unfold via livestream and the ABC livefeed. What follows is the first hand account from friends who were on the scene: After this incident, the evicted protesters kept marching through the streets with chants of “You can’t evict an idea!”. As the march was beginning to wind down, the police kettled in half of the crowd, abused several of the marchers, including an African-American male who was punched in the kidney multiple times. Even if the kettled marchers were given a dispersal order, which they were not, they had no means of leaving. Instead they were told to get on the sidewalk or they would be arrested. They got on the sidewalk and were subsequently arrested. When I started working with the city, I saw a purpose to it. I saw a chance to create dialogue between people that normally wouldn’t talk to each other and through these conversations we could create real change. Unfortunately, the conversations were short lived. Our General Assemblies were more often than not dominated with discussions about how to respond to the city and how to keep the tenuous relationship peaceful. We were acting out of fear, fear that what had been brought down on the heads of our compatriots in other cities would be brought down on ours. We forgot the golden rule of democracy, often attributed to Thomas Jefferson: “When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.” From the beginning I made it my maxim that I would work with the city until they harmed my people. Early in the morning of November 30th, they harmed my people. I awoke to the fact that this sort of abuse of power had been occurring throughout this city, country and world for centuries and I was just beginning to join a fight that was vital, powerful, terrifying and righteous. While I may never understand what it is to risk my life in Syria, or to be threatened by police in the poorest neighborhoods in this country because of my skin color, I now see the danger of any government which has more power than that of its people. There is an inherent necessity for all of us to rise up, stand together, and make our voices heard through action.


Photo: Inside La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona. Yesterday the topic at our weekly senior gay mens' social was spirituality. I was amazed at both the number of men who identified as atheists, agnostics or believers in non-western religions, as well as the number of gay men (including me) who had been emotionally brutalized by their Christian upbringings because of their sexuality. While I suppose that spirituality can be secular in nature, focusing on nature or one's behavior towards others, for example, for me the word and the concept is simply too loaded with religious baggage to be of any value.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Thoughts Of An Early Spring

Photo: Spring Beach Plum blossoms in May With the mild winter and warmer temperatures predicted, it's not surprising that one begins to long for the onset of Spring.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Dan's Story Published!

Congratulations to my husband Dan who wrote a story that has been published in a new erotic fiction anthology "Of Leather And Lace." Available on in Kindle for now, but the print version will be out soon.

Office Mate

Sardonicky: Rick Transit Gloria Mundi

Sardonicky: Rick Transit Gloria Mundi:   Unintelligent Design   Try as I might, I have been unable to escape the voice and visage of Rick Santorum, the overgrown Boy Scou...

Athiest Student Gets $$$ Support!

CRANSTON, R.I. -- A national association that says there's no proof for the existence of God is managing a scholarship fund set up for a teenage atheist at the center of a dispute over a prayer banner at a Rhode Island school. The American Humanist Association says 16-year-old Jessica Ahlquist was targeted with online threats after she challenged the constitutionality of the display at Cranston High School West. It says she stood up against her critics "with class and style." A federal judge last month ordered the banner removed. A school committee on Thursday decided not to appeal. Blogger Hemant Mehta started a campaign at the Friendly Atheist website to raise money for Ahlquist. The Friendly Atheist says the fund has brought in more than $40,000. The fundraiser runs through the end of February.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sullivan: Christie's Cowardness

Photo: Occupy Philadelphia on the march. Andrew Sullivan on the veto of marriage equality in new Jersey:
Christie is a man whose candor I admire in many ways. But this was an act of cowardice and unfairness and a misguided disregard for representative democracy. How many other duly enacted laws must now be sent to the referendum process for final judgment. Why have a legislature at all? And this from the party that claims to defend the Constitution.
Sullivan struggles with his attraction to these bigots...he still can't pry himself away from his conservative leanings no matter how many times conservatives beat him (and us) up.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Rio 1988

Outside our hotel, the Hotel California, Copacabana in 1988. This was during our first trip to Rio.

The War In Oakland

Susie Cagle, Truthout:
October 25, November 2 and January 28 saw the strongest shows of force by the local and long-troubled Oakland Police Department, working in concert with more than a dozen other nearby agencies and wielding some of the most extreme weaponry US occupy activists have experienced. Occupy Oakland is far more than these street battles and mass arrests, but they are an important part of what shapes this movement.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Face Masks, Snipers and Aerial Surveillance: Chicago's Newest Anti-Protest Measures Revealed | Truthout

Each time a new measure that the city of Chicago is preparing for the coming NATO and G8 summits is unveiled, the tension in the city ratchets up a notch. The latest news comes in the form of reports that Chicago has purchased face shields, and may be considering the implementation of airborne surveillance technology...Chicago police officers, and any law enforcement the city chooses to deputize under the measures put in place for NATO/G8, will be equipped with 3,000 new face shields that "will fit easily over gas masks," according to The Chicago Sun-Times.
Face Masks, Snipers and Aerial Surveillance: Chicago's Newest Anti-Protest Measures Revealed | Truthout

Monday, February 13, 2012

Occupy Philadelphia Freedom Of Speech Day

Occupy Philadelphia was busy today occupying Independence Mall and conducting direct actions targeting Comcast and Fox News.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

#F13 Free Speech Occupation Tomorrow

Photo: Interior room at the Metropoolitan Museum of Art, American Wing. Tomorrow at Independence Mall in Philadelphia there will be a 24-hour long mini-occupation starting at 7 AM.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Conservatives Are Unethical

Photo: painting detail...Metropolitan Museum of Art American Wing. Conservatives are ethically challenged. How else can you categorize people who: justify obscene levels of wealth in the face of rampant poverty and hunger; who insist on forcing their particular religious beliefs on everyone else; who demand control over women's bodies; and for whom killing of innocents abroad in oil wars is merely "collateral damage?" It's time we call conservatives out for what they are: unethical people.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Importance Of Today's Prop 8 Decision

Harvard Law School graduate Ari Ezra Waldman: Perry is the vessel through which our federal law will finally recognize the inherent value of who we are. If we can marry, and our law dispenses with the last vestiges of state rationales for anti-gay discrimination -- all of which have been levied against us in Perry -- then states will have few reasons to discriminate against us in other areas. If we can marry, we will finally be able to say, "We belong." Read more:

Monday, February 6, 2012

New York City Road Trip

Yesterday we went by train to New York City. It was a nice day for the trip. We started at the newly expanded American Art wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Wow!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

How The Coming War With Iran Will Start

From The Philadelphia Inquirer:
Even if Israel attacks on its own, the United States will be blamed, with repercussions for U.S. forces in the region, and in Afghanistan. "If the Israelis made that decision," Panetta told Face the Nation, "we would have to be prepared to protect our forces in that situation. And that's what we'd be concerned about."

End Of Empire Time

Commenter "Demid" at Huffington:
We are become Rome, and it is not pretty. The masses are obese on cheap bread, dulled by circuses (we call them sports), and dumbed down thanks to the destructio­n of public education by the far right acting as the servants of the plutocracy­. The plutocrats can, and will, leave the country for their mansions around the world. The rest of us cannot. We can only reap the whirlwind. And we will. Because we are that stupid. And that sheep-like in our behavior.

Obama's Weaknesses And The Coming War With Iran

Yale professor David Bromwich at Huffington outlines how Obama's lack of leadership and the will to confront his political enemies at home and abroad has put us on track for a war with Iran. So we're almost out of one war, trying to get out of another, yet preparing for a third war later this year. What a tragedy that the first African American president is such a failure on so many fronts. Bromwich:
Nothing could be more disastrous for America and nothing could be less necessary than war with Iran. Obama's idea, if it is his idea, that he can assist or countenance or be party to an attack by Israel without deep repercussions against the United States and many of its assets and its people the world over, is the most desperate of fantasies. The repercussions, if they are not felt at once, will be felt for a generation and more. Obama has let the war party have their innings until they are sure that they control him. All the signs now, and above all his reluctance to make a case for negotiation or even to hint at the progress of diplomacy that may be under way, suggest that the people who pitched for the Iraq war and have Iran in their sights are counting Obama as one of their own. He is reluctant, yes, but he is almost a committed man. The latest propaganda for war has gone so far that it will be a full-time job to resist the momentum building to a "test" some time this year. As it stands, Iran is headed to become for Obama in 2012 what the economy was in 2010: a controllable crisis which, through personal inaction and conventional acquiescence in failed policies, threatens to pass utterly beyond his control.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Friday, February 3, 2012

Likes To Look Cute

On my desktop, right in front of me...I get these roll-overs all day long!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Snorkeling & UW Video St. Barths

This is video that I took last year while snorkeling in St. Barths. I can't wait to get back there!