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Wednesday Watercooler

8:30 pm in Watercooler by Kit OConnell


Ruby slippers artwork on a sheet of blotter acid

Better living through chemistry …

Tonight’s video is It Felt Good To Have This Pain, a short award-winning horror film from Matt Latham. You can see this short film this week in Los Angeles or Austin at the Hollyshorts Film Festival. You can also Like this film on Facebook. Thanks Maryann Philbrook for the tip.

Could guided use of psychedelic drugs reduce prison recidivismMint Press News reports on a new study suggesting these substances can keep people out of jail:

Psychedelic drug use can help people stay out of prison, according to a study published in the January issue of the Journal of Pharmacology by researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Examining more than 25,000 people who have a history of drug use and were enrolled in Treatment Accountability for Safer Communities programs from 2002 to 2007, the study found that those who used hallucinogenic drugs were ‘less likely to violate TASC rules or other requirements, less likely to fail to appear in court, and less likely to be incarcerated.’

‘Our results suggest that hallucinogens may promote alcohol and other drug abstinence and prosocial behavior in a population with high rates of recidivism.’ the researchers said. ‘Offenders may be especially likely to benefit from hallucinogen treatment because involvement in the criminal justice system often results from drug-seeking behavior and impulse conduct exacerbated by compulsive substance use.’

Since use of psychedelic substances has often been linked to criminal behavior, some psychedelic-legalization advocates have pointed to the research as further evidence to legalize the drugs. But researchers responded by saying that their findings should ‘not at all be interpreted as advocating for recreational hallucinogen use.’ However, they added that their findings illustrate a need for further research into the benefits of psychedelic drugs.

Thanks to Students For Sensible Drug Policy for this link.

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What’s on your mind tonight? Got Firedoglake questions? The watercooler is an open conversation.

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Saturday Watercooler Has a Carnival Atmosphere

7:02 pm in Watercooler by Kit OConnell

Hi, y’all.

Still struggling with this cold or whatever it is — definitely feeling kinda sickly today. Drinking lots of fluids & the usual. It’s always extra hard to string words together when I feel like my whole brain is wrapped in cotton. But they come anyway, with enough patience and persistence.

MzChief shared this Natalie Merchant video, from a great 1999 live performance, on my post earlier today.

Tell me what’s on your mind tonight. This is our Saturday watercooler open thread.

Friday Watercooler

7:00 pm in Watercooler by Kit OConnell

Hi, y’all.

Here’s some classic 80s Leonard Cohen for your listening pleasure.

How has your week been? Mine has been enjoyable except for the fact that I can hardly breathe. I’m in that in-between state where you aren’t sure if there’s something in bloom and your allergies are kicking up or if you are getting sick, but you hope like hell it’s the former. Excuse me while I go get my neti pot again — there’s something I resisted doing for years until someone finally made me try. But it really works, at least for a little while.

Tell me what’s on your mind. This is tonight’s open thread.

Award-Winning Watercooler Tuesday

6:00 pm in Watercooler by Kit OConnell

Hi, y’all.

The Austin Chronicle‘s readers named Occupy Austin as 2012′s Best March Or Rally in the annual Best of Austin poll:

It’s a unique category, but it makes sense for this winner: Occupy might well be described as a permanent ”march or rally” against economic injustice and in support of basic democratic rights. Since its beginnings as Occupy Wall Street and as it spread nationwide and into Austin, Occupy has turned the national discussion to questions of social justice and equity, and also generated reconsideration of police power and public engagement. Austin’s Occupiers are small in number but large in persistence and public impact – as Chronicle readers enthusiastically confirm.

I’ll be attending the awards party tonight at Emo’s (2015 East Riverside in Austin, Texas). Say hello if you see me there!

This is the latest open thread. What’s on your mind?

Thursday Watercooler

6:00 pm in Watercooler by Kit OConnell

Hi, y’all.

Tomorrow I’ll have an update on the Austin Overpass Light Brigade which returned successfully Monday night. Tonight I’m attending a community meeting about recent hate crimes in Austin. I took a step back from activism for a couple weeks to sort out some non-Occupy things I needed to do, but now I’m back and glad to be there.

It’s Thursday. How’s your week going? This is our latest open thread.

Watercooler: HoboTech (#ArtOutside)

6:00 pm in Watercooler by Kit OConnell

One of the high points of both my Art Outside experiences were sets by Hobotech, a highly eclectic electronic musician. His website describes the music as:

Hobotech is boxcar funk, deisel dub and badass bluegrass crunk, a creation of Producer/DJ Jon Margulies.

Wearing a floppy white hat, Hobotech spins music at his laptop.

Hobotech in the Deco Dome, Art Outside 2012 (Photo: Kit O'Connell)

Hobotech combines danceable beats with the sounds of America’s musical roots. Like electroswing, another recent innovation in electronic music, it avoids the monotony of repetition by tapping into a creative, rich vein of history. In many ways it exemplifies the eclectic nature of Art Outside and the Burning Man culture from which the event grew, where raver kids in neon fake fur hob-nob with neo-1920s flappers and scruffy outsider artists to the sounds of ‘Vaudeville Gypsy Rock‘ at the Folk Stage.

A crowd dances under the lights of projectors

HoboTech Show at the Deco Dome (Kit O'Connell)

Hobotech’s set was at the Deco Dome, a dance space which was alive with sounds, people, and the lights of bright, entrancing projections until dawn. Every moment at Art Outside is a collaboration: much of the projection equipment is donated in return for admission to the event, and a large staff of volunteers and crew bring the festival together from stage hands to cooks.

A woman contorts as she hangs from a trapeze

Bethany, an aerial performer at the Deco Dome (Photo: Kit O'Connell)

A man plays a guitar made from a shovel

A Hobo-Slide Guitar Made from a Shovel (Photo: Kit O'Connell)

Each set under the dome was diverse, with aerial dancers and fire spinners on a small side performance stage. At one point, Hobotech included a guitarist with a unique instrument made from a shovel.

For more from Hobotech, see

This is tonight’s open thread. What’s on your mind?

Watercooler: Wino Vino (#ArtOutside)

5:53 pm in Watercooler by Kit OConnell

Hi, y’all.

At Art Outside last weekend one of the acts which most impressed me was Wino Vino, who call themselves ‘Vaudeville Gypsy Rock Cabaret.’ They appeared just before midnight at the gorgeous folk stage.

A colorful stage with the retro-dressed 6-piece band on it

Wino Vino on the Folk Stage at Art Outside 2012 (Photo: Kit O'Connell)

This raucous band gives an unforgettable live performance, but even their CD gets your feet tapping. This show was especially memorable, however, because it was the  first time I’ve ever seen a mosh pit pillow fight, at an acoustic act, no less. They said it was a traditional Italian pillow fight song, and who am I to disagree?

Pillow Fight

Pillow Fight at Art Outside 2012 (Photo: Kit O'Connell)

Find more Wino Vino on

This is tonight’s open thread. What’s on your mind?

Medicaid Mic Check Wednesday Watercooler

5:30 pm in Watercooler by Kit OConnell

Hi, y’all.

Today Occupy Austin OccuKripz mic-checked the Texas State Capitol in solidarity with ADAPT who completed five days of intensive direct action in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania today. Activists there faced police brutality as they tried to force meetings with government officials to protest cuts to Medicaid. The potential cost of Medicaid cuts is very high — cuts would force disabled people now living independently into virtual imprisonment in nursing homes. 86 activists were arrested yesterday, but only 50 were processed before Harrisburg police gave up and sent the rest home. Occupy Harrisburg also joined the protests.

This is tonight’s myFDL open thread. What’s on your mind?

Watercooler: Accident

6:00 pm in Watercooler by Kit OConnell

Hi, y’all.

As a writer, I’m interested in language and how it affects our perception of a story. Transportation Alternatives suggests that the way we talk about vehicular deaths is flawed:

A few years ago, the New York Times published a five-sentence brief about a man who “intentionally ran over five people” with an SUV after a fight in North Bellmore, Long Island. The driver, the Times reported, “fled the scene of the accident.” The police later located the vehicle that “they believed was involved in the accident.” One of the victims was in critical condition.

Ho hum. News briefs about the previous day’s car crashes are as routine as box scores and the weather forecast. Yet, in this case, the Times’ (and, presumably, the Nassau County cops’) choice of one particular word stood out: If a man intentionally ran over five people, how could that possibly be considered an accident? If, instead of car keys, the man had picked up a gun and shot five people, would the press and police have called that an “accident” too? No. They’d have called it “attempted homicide.” Yet, for some reason when the weapon is a car, when the violence on our streets is done with a motor vehicle, it’s always just an “accident.”

I’ve been following the developments in the Texas Tarsands Blockade and earlier one of the related tweets suggested “climate change” is a bad term because change can be positive, or imply growth; the alternate suggestion was “climate crisis.”

Food for thought. What’s on your mind tonight? What are your weekend plans?

This is the latest myFDL open thread.

Watercooler: Ademo

6:00 pm in Watercooler by Kit OConnell

Hi, y’all.

Heard about the case of Adam “Ademo” Mueller of Copblock? He was charged with 3 counts federal wiretapping for reporting on a case of abuse by school police in New Hampshire as reported by RT and other sources:

The journalist behind a popular activism site is facing 21 years in prison for publishing conversations with law enforcement officials that he says were on-the-record while investigating a police brutality case in the state of New Hampshire.

By running CopBlock, Mueller has created an online outlet to release information about law enforcement officers that may not make it to the mainstream media. His attempt at showcasing what incident in particular he found a problem with his put the next two decades of his life in question, though.

Mueller was indicted following a report he filed in response to an incident at a Manchester, NH high school last year that ended with 17-year-old Frank W. Harrington being slammed face-first into a table and detained for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Video footage of a school police officer picking up Harrington and assaulting him were leaked to Mueller, who followed up on his own and attempted to interview a Manchester police captain, the Manchester High School West principal and a school secretary as part of his investigation into the incident. Mueller later used samples of those recorded phone interviews in a video report of the incident that he published to his website, and although he says he identified himself as a member of the media when approaching those officials for comment, he has been charged with felony wiretapping for allegedly putting those conversations on tape without expressed permission.

Reports on Twitter say that he was found guilty today and was sentenced to spend about 90 days in prison.

Living in the future: they watch us. We get in trouble for watching them. Upside: Ubiquitous availability of Big Mama Thornton videos.

What’s on your mind? This is our latest open thread.