Can you hear me calling you?

11 06 2013

Howza ’bout a quickie?

Personal experiences, privacy, disclosure, spying, blah blah: When I was in college I worked for The Daily Cardinal, the radical campus newspaper.

The editorial editor was always a Marxist (almost always of the Trotskyite persuasion, although the brilliant and scary Karen once referred to her “Stalinist friends”), and the former editor (who the staff loved when he was editorial editor and hated as editor-editor) was prosecuted and imprisoned for failing to register for the draft. Oh, and one of the bombers of Sterling Hall (mentioned a few posts back) had worked at the Cardinal before heading underground.

So: It was not inconceivable that mere association with the Cardinal was enough to land someone on a a government list somewhere.

I never worried too much about it, even though I was quite active politically (anti-nukes, anti-apartheid, US-out-of-Central-America, etc.): I just didn’t rate. I joked that if the FBI did have a file on me, then they were wasting their damn time.

This, then, is the flipside to my flipping out about privacy: I don’t rate, so if the NSA is scooping up information on me, they’re wasting their damn time.

I’m all over the place on this NSA thing. I hated and hate the PATRIOT Act, and think any scandal over snooping is due to the fact that it’s policy, that it’s been stamped RIGHT ON! by Congress and the courts. I get why journalists and pundits (and I) are banging on about this—journalists and pundits (and I) like disclosure of governmental activity—but I’m more flabbergasted by the flabbergast of those journalists and pundits than I am by this particular bit of governmental activity.

I mean, what the hell did these people think we were getting with the PATRIOT Act and FISA and deferential courts?

And there ain’t no surprise about Obama, either: He made clear when he was running the first time that he was going to hit the national security thing hard, differentiating himself from Bush in seeking to legalize data seeking.

Any scandal is that this is all SOP, and insofar as the majority of those polled seem just fine with it all, t’ain’t no scandal at all.

I may be in the minority on this—I hate the info dragnet—but I also understand the general shrug on this: most folks just don’t see or feel any effects from this. And hell, back in the day when I might have had some, small, reason to think there might be eyes on the crowd I ran with, even then I noticed no effects.

Damn, this is getting too long: lemme truncate it. One,  I’ve long assumed any electronic transaction was not confined to private wires, so the latest bit is less revelation than confirmation. Two, in sucking up every last bit of info about every last person, I find a kind of safety in numbers—I and tens of millions of my fellow Americans (and hundreds of millions of my fellow Earthlings) don’t rate. Three (and this requires an argument I’m not going to give, because already tl;dr), I’m more worried about corporate than govt info-hauls precisely because I think corporations are more likely to use the info than is the govt.

Finally, what matters more than the info-haul is the mindset behind the info-haul but I am not going to get into it tonight because this post is not the 3-or-4 grafs I was thinking it was going to be and it’s time to go to bed.

So, whomsoever may be reading this (wink, wink): nighty-night!





All things weird and wonderful, 16+

3 02 2012

Rathke. Her name is Kathryn RATHKE—and you can find her here.

Last night, as I was shuffling through variations of KR—Kathy Radke, Radtke, Kathryn—I thought of “Rathke” but, for some reason, didn’t plug it in.

D’oh! I tried it this time, and her site came out on top of the search.

And how did I get Rathke? Because I pulled out some old Cardinal stuff  to try to find more examples of her work (and of John’s and Mark’s), and I saw the story “Researchers may be falsifying data” by Sue Rathke—the Shirley-Bassey-belting sister! (Hi Sue!)

(And, holy shit, there’s a piece by Anthony Shadid—“Revolution may be imminent in Colombia”—yeah, that Anthony Shadid. Decent article, but too bad about the shitty headline.)

Ahem. Here was one of Kathy’s pieces that I remember, perhaps because it accompanied my cover piece for a special women’s issue:

Kathy Rathke, 1987

Click on the piece to enlarge it, to really appreciate Kathy’s , er, Kathryn’s eye.

Oh! And here’s a bonus piece, from that same issue:

And here’s one from John, from 1986:

The muskrat has changed over the years—check the characters on the top right of this page.

(Sorry, John, if this isn’t your best piece—I still remember your women’s studies strips!—but it, uh, happened to have been on the back of one of the articles I wrote.)

And have I mentioned that John Keefe, who was the Boy Wonder Editor in the mid-late eighties, is now a news producer for WNYC?

Damn. Some mighty talented folk working back then. No wonder I kept them all in mind.

~~~

Still, my mind’s a bit wrecked by all of this.

One of the characters in my second novel observes that The past is a sketchy bitch, but here, now, rootching through those old Cardinal fragments, a quarter century disappears and the past comes rushing to me.

My life wasn’t great back then—self-destructive depression, anyone?—but in college the despair hadn’t yet eroded my enthusiasm, my yearning, for more.

All of those people, all of that talent, all of the beer and pizza and arguments and ferocity and pressure and anger and humor, all of that. . . love.

What luck once to have had it all, what sorrow to have lost it, what wonder to have found that more remains.





All things weird and wonderful, 16

3 02 2012

Joe's 5th Semi-Annual Beer Tasting Party!

I don’t even remember if I attended this event, but I loved the invite, by host/artist Kathy Radke.

At least, I think it’s Kathy Radke Rathke—I can’t remember if I got her name right. Anyway, she was a fucking amazing graphics artist for The Daily Cardinal, a small, blonde, impish woman on a graphics staff that was, hmm, yes I believe it was all men. She was the graphics editor for awhile, and the menfolk—I’m thinkin’ of John Kovalic and Mark Giaimo (on whom I had a huge crush, and who was so out of my league in every way), in particular—who liked to get chesty with one another and anyone else, all bowed before Kathy’s  fierce talent and sly dry wit.

Sly: yes, Kathy was sly. As political as the rest of us (the Cardinal, back in the day, always had a Marxist editor), she paid attention, and led with absurdity.

She was an inspiration.

One final memory: At my first Cardinal party Kathy’s younger sister and I got drunk and sang Shirley Bassey tunes, enjoying ourselves immensely crooning “GolllllllllllldddddddFINguh!”

So. I don’t know where Kathy is, but I hope she’s absurdly well.





The thrill is gone

11 06 2010

I’d have been a helluva blogger at twenty.

I tried to take in everything at that age—every last news thing, that is—and I had an opinion about everything, which I was (surprise!) not shy about expressing.

It helped that I had a weekly column with The Daily Cardinal, so I could share my views about, oh, everything, with the world.

Hot schnocolate. Platoon and ‘being there’. Sex ed. Feminism. Class.

I once started started a column with ‘Enough fucking around.’ (It was about the hostages held in Iran. I was wrong.)

Then there was the column I published about [the lack of] tolerance on the Madison campus—the day of an interview with campus officials for a scholarship. (I was asked about the column; I got the scholarship.)

I loved being in the newsroom, that sense of something always going on; I remember standing over the AP machine watching news unspool on the long roll of paper, and thinking, ‘Man, how many other people know this right now?’ And we got to tell them.

Opinions to burn, baby, I had ’em.

Still do; never lost ’em. In fact, at one lunch with a guest to a bioethics center, I introduced myself by stating ‘I have lunch and opinions.’

But I am tired. The news felt new, back then; now, it’s more of the same. There’s a kind of wisdom in that, I guess, or at least knowledge, of the sort that can only be gained with time and experience, but the frisson is missing.

That’s okay. Just as I no longer need to get roaring drunk to have a good time, and rather enjoy pulling the ‘old, old lady’ card on my students, I don’t need bubbles in my brain at the mere sight of updated headlines.

But, oh, what I could have, would have, written, back in the day, how I would have been energized rather than enervated by the constant flow of information, and how I would not have even thought to have paused before adding my own bits to that flow.

It would have been fun. I like this gig, now, this greater reflection and slow pace, but, still.

It would have been fun.

(h/t EmilyLHauser)