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Two Must-See Videos

I was all set to write a post about racism and sexism, but it would’ve been about the 08 race and I figure we’ve had enough of that recently. Instead I decided to post two must-see videos that came to my attention this week. They are incredibly different but each worthy of comment. I have a lot to say about each but I figured I’d just introduce each in order and hope that we get some comments going on them, and then I would write some of my thoughts in response to your comments. So please do watch one or both and leave a comment, even if it’s only two words, or one of those ultra annoying blog abbreviations (LOL does not apply to either of these videos, believe me!).
If you are in NYC, you need to come to Roshi O’Hara’s guest lecture tonight, “Zen and the Art of Activism.”
Click Here
The first video is a lecture given at a TED science conference by neuroscientist Jill Bolte Taylor about suffering a stroke and coming into contact with non-conceptual mind. It’s pretty amazing. Very amazing.
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Okay, did you watch it?
Now, switching gears completely, here is the scary video of NYPD scuffling with Tibetan protesters near the UN a few weeks ago. I have thoughts of my own on protesting in NYC, the draconian parade laws, and basic human decency and suffering, but let me know how it strikes you. This one is embedded from youtube.
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Okay, let me know how they strike you….

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judi hark

posted March 31, 2008 at 8:42 am

i found the first video (brain anatomy) very interesting and very uplifting. i found the 2nd video very disturbing (besides the poor quality) it was very hard to watch, expecially right after the brain video. i think i was still thinking with my right hemisphere, and i almost couldn’t process what was happening outside the UN. there was a sense of unreality, like i had no frame of reference to comprehend the events that were unfolding. if the police can abuse peaceful protesters, what value is our constitution and bill of rights?

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posted March 31, 2008 at 8:43 am

The police clearly behaved reprehensibly, but I have to say changing draconian parade laws, not ignoring them and hoping the police ignore them too, is probably a more effective approach. If you do not have the legal permission to protest, in Sweden or China, or inbetween here, cops are going to arrest you. And if you refuse to stop, they are going to physically subdue you. It is their job, and in the long run I’d be reluctant to stop them from doing that. The baton use was clearly excessive though. But I have to wonder if the camera man’s cop baiting didn’t help piss off the cops more. Pissed off people, especially stressed out ones with difficult jobs, don’t want to be preached to or accused of things.
Of course, I live in Cincinnati, have been to numerous protests and never had a single problem with a cop. Even in DC at the few protests I’ve been to the cops were very polite. So maybe New York cops are just dicks or have policies that make them act like dicks. New Yorkers probably have more to say here.

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Andrew Bowler

posted March 31, 2008 at 12:35 pm

Wow, that first one is amazing. Fascinating to see such specific scientific ideas put behind what we talk about every week. Do I sense a quick surgical solution to finding enlightenment somewhere in our future?
I thought the second video was much more of a study in reactions to what we hear and what we see than it was an incriminating piece of video. I did see a cop swing his club at someone they were in the process of subduing but other than that, I just heard a lot of talk about all the terrible things we weren’t really seeing.
Protesting is a guaranteed right and NYC will pay to protect us while we protest. That does not mean, however, that we can gather wherever we want and walk wherever we want. We have police and laws, laws big and small, to keep our society structured. Protesters who get out of hand should get arrested. People who resist arrests and charge at police should be subdued by force. Just cause I am passionate about the Tibetan cause doesn’t mean I want to change the rules.
I have no idea what kind of gathering that Tibetan protest was. I did see one image of them spilling out into the streets in front of the UN. Maybe that group really was breaking laws. Maybe they were becoming threatening. This is an incredibly fine line and the police have to ride it to protect themselves, us and the UN. That video shows me as much about how peaceful or orderly that protest was as it does about how the police reacted – almost nothing.

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Ethan Nichtern

posted March 31, 2008 at 12:55 pm

Andrew, I have more to say, but what seems to be going on since the 04 republican convention is that protesting is NOT a right anymore.
I need to do more research into specifics of these parades laws, but I do think things have gotten much harder on demonstrators. Anyone know the scoop?
The Jill Bolte Taylor video is amazing. I love it when I scientist can get all touchy-feely for a moment, and use science as the indisputable basis for getting all touchy feely!!!

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posted March 31, 2008 at 2:05 pm

Honestly, since 1968 protesting at a convention for either party is a no no. Politicians world rather facelawsuits later than Seattle ’99 in front of their rally today.

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posted March 31, 2008 at 2:42 pm

I can’t really tell what the second video is all about in detail considering the quality, but i can tell that there is a fine line between someone “doing their job” and doing something to prove power, to unleash pent up stress and aggression, solely based on “the self” rather than protection of city residents. There is no way that when they are clubbing people they’re thinking ‘i know i’m doing this for a good cause.’ At that point, there really is no right hemisphere working.

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posted March 31, 2008 at 7:31 pm

I have a writer friend who became a police officer here in NY for a few years; around the time of the convention he was on protestor patrol a few times although sentimentally he preferred to be on the side of protesting. We talked a lot while he was in training and on the job. I also was at the famous gay rights protest in Philadelphia several years ago in front of the Bellevue while President Bush #1 was there (1989, I think) where police beat and arrested many – I was right there at the front lines and saw what happened and how it happened. I’ve also seen police subdue suspects up close. All this gives me some sense of how much we don’t understand about being on the job. Also, it was nearly impossible to tell what was going on in that video. Its hard to get good film of a protest. You can’t tell how many protestors there are, what the scene at the UN was before they arrived there, and can see very little of the body language being expressed by the protestors as they’re walking and the cops are trying to get them to stop, for whatever reason. What I see in the small glimpses is people getting antagonized by each other, which is what happened in the Philly protests. The people holding a big coffin filled with ashes lost their balance and pushed over the barricade, also suffering from the pressure of so many bodies. Here it seems the Tibetans just want to get in front of the UN and say their piece, so they keep pushing forward. There’s a lot of noise and confusion with sirens, cars pulling up on sidewalks, some woman’s voice screaming and later crying in the background. The guy behind the camera churns it up more in taunting the cops. The protest situation is always high-emotion, and there’s not much space in those situations to see clearly what’s happening before you react. Once over the tipping point, the chaos expands & once the sticks come out, it’s hard to contain that energy again. Perhaps there wasn’t clear leadership from a sargeant overseeing the post – it looks a little like Goliath being sent to take down David. But again it’s hard to see what is really happening 360 degrees. At least the videographer left in the piece with officer Serrano showing his regret and confusion. Very easy to forget that people who are violent (whether sanctioned or not) are victims of their acts as well. This is long and a bit meandering but hopefully somewhat illuminating.

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posted March 31, 2008 at 7:55 pm

That first video is excellent..just Sweet & Smart soup. And that second video requires you geta second helping of the first.
Bummed I had to miss tonight’s talk, a little sick this evening. But I am looking forward to meeting fellow interdependanters. For real, a meaningful blog that isn’t scared to go for the laugh…very refreshing.

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posted April 1, 2008 at 1:41 pm

Just found this:
I know it’s not enough information, but just thought it was better than no info at all.
Also, we need to keep in mind that I think generally, police would be a bit more protective and nervous when there is any kind of perceived potential threat to the UN. This may have added to the tension.

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Ethan Nichtern

posted April 1, 2008 at 2:10 pm

Thanks so much for that Jen! I’m going to run it by Senator Schneiderman and maybe even mention it to the City Council Member who’s coming on Saturday. By the way, it’s a must attend event! HERE

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Ethan Nichtern

posted April 1, 2008 at 2:13 pm

I agree that police have a really hard job, and aside from not really handling this situation well (do we handle every situation well?), I think it’s more the draconian rules of how folks can gather and voice opinions that are at fault.
We live in a democracy, and for that to function, we need to have a system that goes out of its way not just to allow but to ENCOURAGE public demonstration as a mechanism of the free flow of information. Without it, democracy becomes something else.

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posted April 1, 2008 at 2:27 pm

I agree we need to allow public demonstration and I don’t think it should be discouraged, but I encouraging it is a mistake too. Public demonstration is jsut one of a variety of tools people use in a democracy. Empowering it empowers the views and groups that most are able to harness it at everyone elses expense. Specifically, it empowers the young, the organized, elites and the wealthy against everyone else.
And I don’t think demonstrations CAN give information. I have never been to an event that wasn’t about press and propaganda. Public demonstation is about showing support and generating earned media for a cause, not distributing information.

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posted April 1, 2008 at 4:10 pm

I’ve seen the first video. It’s quite amazing. The most interesting thing that strikes me is how much that resembles people’s experience on a large dose of LSD or Psilocybe Mushrooms.

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posted April 3, 2008 at 9:37 am

Wow. Both videos are in such high contrast to each other that it would be interesting to see how a video with grey looks like.
It would be easier to make connections to ourselves.
I do agree there is a lot more going on in the video that we can see.
Yes, policemen do have a tough job and I can attest to seeing how stress they are as well as how abusive they can be. I know that beyond that they are more than likely good people.
The same goes for the protesters.
I don’t know enough about the law to see what can be improved on. Laws do provided the structure we need but at some point when does the responsibilty fall on us to do right by each other.
Do right by each other beyond the point of our comfort.
That’s when the situation get’s sticky. When/ How do we examine and work through that stickiness.
Nothing would make me happier than taking some hallucinogens (and some weed) and feel all is one. But we are still left with all the sticky stuff when all the good shit wears out. We still have our the left side our brains to contend with.
As for the constitution and the bill of rights, it’s still good despite the fact that it excluded most of my people. It’s good despite the horrible things that have happened and will happen in the future.
It’s just a step in the right direction. It’s just that there are more steps we have to take.

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posted April 14, 2008 at 9:44 pm

Have you ever seen this video?
It’s Temple Grandin speaking about how people with autism think…similar in feel. Temple Grandin is autistic herself, and designs “humane slaughterhouses.”

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posted May 20, 2008 at 2:45 am

I’ve been recommending “My Stroke of Insight” to everyone I know. It’s the best book I’ve read all year! You can get Jill’s book from Amazon for a good discount.
Here’s the link:

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posted May 29, 2008 at 10:29 am

The New York Times Sunday Newspaper on May 25 had a great two page article on Jill Bolte Taylor and her book, “MY STROKE OF INSIGHT”. Her book is a must read and this NY Times article – called “A Superhighway to bliss” is worth checking out too.

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posted May 30, 2008 at 10:13 pm

I read “My Stroke of Insight” in one sitting – I couldn’t put it down. I laughed. I cried. It was a fantastic book (I heard it’s a NYTimes Bestseller and I can see why!), but I also think it will be the start of a new, transformative Movement! No one wants to have a stroke as Jill Bolte Taylor did, but her experience can teach us all how to live better lives. Her speech was one of the most incredibly moving, stimulating, wonderful videos I’ve ever seen. Her Oprah Soul Series interviews were fascinating. They should make a movie of her life so everyone sees it. This is the Real Deal and gives me hope for humanity.

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