Strange what people will latch onto sometimes…

June 26, 2021, 10:10 AM

It’s funny what things people lock onto, take out of context, and run with in the age of the Internet.  I remember when my Code Pink photo in front of the White House became a discussion about President Obama and the 2012 election.  That made enough sense, because while it was a different context than the original one, it was still in the same vein, being anti-war and all.  More recently, though, a very old photo of mine was dusted off by a certain crowd and run in a completely different context than intended.  Remember this photo?

Photo from an Anonymous flash raid from July 2008

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A lesson on how not to behave when doing advocacy work…

April 27, 2021, 12:55 AM

Lately, there has been a small grassroots movement in Montgomery Village called “Citizens for Airpark Safety” complaining about noise from the Montgomery County Airpark (GAI/KGAI), which is a small public-use general aviation airport located in the Gaithersburg area.  I had heard rumblings about this from a few folks on a local Montgomery Village group that Elyse and I are in, but then it recently made its way to the physical space on Sunday when I found this on my front door as I was leaving for work:

Citizens for Airpark Safety flyer

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And they thought a little graffiti was bad back then…

January 10, 2021, 11:42 AM

I was recently participating in a comment thread on the Staunton News Leader‘s Facebook page about the arrest and charging of Jake Angeli, one of the more prominent figures to participate in the storming of the Capitol on January 6.  Most the comments praised the arrest, while some other comments amused me thoroughly.  One comment claimed that it was not Trump supporters who came to DC, but rather, it was “antifa”.  That comment reminded me of how little many right-wingers understand about what antifa is, and it made me laugh.  Recall that I used to do a lot of antifa back in my day (though the common use of the term “antifa” postdates my participation), so I know a little something about it.  The thing that amuses me most is when people think that it’s an actual organization, because trust me, it is most definitely not.  For those not familiar, the term “antifa” is short for “anti-fascist”, and if a bunch of people assemble and decide that they want to call themselves “antifa”, then they are antifa, and it’s over at the end of the event.  It’s really not that complicated.  There is no real organization to it, and people don’t answer to anyone at some headquarters.

But that commenter’s attempt to pin the whole thing on “antifa” reminded me of an event that happened back in January 2007, nearly 14 years ago.  Back then, at an anti-war protest (which I documented here under the title “J27 Anti-War Demonstration“), an affinity group of sorts, comprised mostly of people wearing black clothing and masks, i.e. a black bloc (which many might call “antifa” today), broke away from the mainstream march and headed up to the United States Capitol.  The group made it as far as the bottom of the steps, where Capitol Police was standing to prevent further movement.  No effort was made to go past them, and as far as I know, the bloc was content with that.  While we were there, a few people pulled out some spray paint cans and left some tags on the sidewalk in front of the steps of the Capitol.

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Elyse goes to the inauguration…

January 28, 2017, 8:24 PM

Sometimes, it’s fun to live vicariously.  Such is what happened on Inauguration Day.  I had to work, and so I spent my Inauguration Day mostly doing support work to help keep trains moving.  However, Elyse came down to DC to see what she could see as far as inauguration-related activities went.  She and mutual friend Dave went out to see what was going on, and I was able to follow along through frequent updates sent to me on Facebook Messenger.  Though this was not intentional, she did a photo shoot in a similar way that I shoot an event that I’m not directly involved in.  The official festivities were kind of “meh” (though she did watch the swearing-in live on television, which I didn’t get to do), but she kept up with a lot of the activism.

I admit: I have more or less hung up my activism hat, having not participated in a political demonstration in a very long time. I stopped doing black blocs in October 2010 after a pair of disastrous demonstrations soured me on the tactic, and I haven’t been to a political demonstration of any kind since August 2013.  However, I still cheer on and support my friends who are still involved in it, even if I haven’t done it myself in years, and in fact, a number of my activist friends helped organize some of the protests that occurred in DC.  So I was delighted to get these updates from Elyse, as well as from elsewhere on Facebook and the Twitter, to see what was up while I was at work.

After I got off of work, Elyse came over and we looked at her take from the day, and the photos were quite good.  She also gave me permission to run some of them on Schumin Web, and so hopefully you can live vicariously through Elyse as well, as people came to DC to protest Donald Trump on the occasion of his inauguration.

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Yes, that is a green lock up there…

February 21, 2016, 10:12 AM

So in case you haven’t noticed yet, I would like to bring something to your attention.  Up until this past Friday morning, Schumin Web appeared like this in your address bar:

Schumin Web over HTTP

Now it looks like this:

Schumin Web over HTTPS

Yes, Schumin Web is now being served over HTTPS, i.e. the site is now encrypted.

I consider it kind of funny that the site is now encrypted, because in the grand scheme of things, Schumin Web is rather inconsequential as far as things worth encrypting.  After all, it’s primarily a blog and photography site.  You can’t buy anything directly on Schumin Web, as all of the areas in the Store section are outsourced to third parties.  The content is also very one-way.  Other than the email contact form and the comment sections on Journal entries and such, it’s basically whatever I want to show you.  Oh, and the aforementioned two areas are also outsourced to third parties (Bravenet and Disqus, respectively).  Therefore, I wasn’t about to shell out money to get a certificate and go through the trouble of installing it and all of that.

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Surprised that more people aren’t outraged by this…

August 22, 2013, 9:15 PM

Yesterday evening, I attended an event described on Facebook as “Emergency Protest of Whistleblower Bradley Manning’s Sentencing”.  For those not familiar, Manning (now Chelsea Manning) is a former US Army soldier who, according to Wikipedia, “was convicted in July 2013 of several violations of the Espionage Act and other offenses, after releasing the largest set of restricted documents ever leaked to the public. She was sentenced to 35 years in prison and dishonorably discharged.”

I really don’t understand why more people aren’t outraged by this.  This is your government and mine, and it operates, at least in theory, by the consent of the governed.  That requires an informed public, and people are all too willing to allow their government to harbor secrets about human rights abuses and other vile acts done in our name.  Government should have very few secrets, if any, because the best disinfectant for government is sunshine and transparency.  The government, out of anyone, is the entity that should have “nothing to hide”, because it is funded by our taxes, and therefore we are all stakeholders with an interest in its activities that are being done in all of our names.  Thus why it really concerns me that people are more up in arms about the fact that material was leaked and about the person who blew the whistle vs. the content of what was leaked.  People really should be more up in arms about what their government is doing in their name, and about protecting the messenger – not shooting the messenger.

That said, Manning should be held up as a hero and walking free rather than imprisoned.  And thus the message of this demonstration was simple: Free Bradley Manning.

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Categories: Activism, Washington DC

Protest fashionista…

February 19, 2013, 10:22 PM

I went to the Forward on Climate rally in DC on Sunday.  That was quite an event.  Good to see so many people interested in preventing manmade climate change and green issues.  I had the polarizing filter attached to the camera, and I was out photographing (though I was wearing a shirt advocating a ban on fracking).  I’ve been involved in various activism for about ten years now.  My first demonstration was April 12, 2003, about the Iraq War.  Since then, I’ve been to demonstrations on a number of different issues, including antiwar, globalization, organized labor, environmentalism, religion, food safety, whistleblowers, sexuality, and public television.  I’ve participated in many ways.  I’ve done straight photography, I’ve done black bloc, I’ve done public education, and I’ve even trolled (i.e. Internet-style trolling in real life).  And I’ve always presented my views when I get back to the computer.

This time, I really got into what I will call “protest fashion”.  I really got into the handmade signs and the various outfits.  Preprinted signs are great and all, but a homemade sign or a unique prop is going to get my attention more because it’s one of a kind.  And likewise, a fancy costume is going to catch my attention more than whatever someone just happened to pull out of the closet that morning (which makes me think of the Limozeen line, “And the lead singer wears glasses!“).

Now the challenge with Forward on Climate was that it was the middle of winter.  It was below freezing and quite windy.  Translated, it was really bloody cold.  And I mean really bloody cold.  Thus not freezing was of top importance.  I wore the anti-fracking shirt, and kept my coat open on purpose to accommodate that.  Thus I layered up under the frack shirt.  And I wore gloves, which unfortunately didn’t do much (note to self: I need new winter gloves).

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Categories: Activism

One of my photos goes viral… sort of.

October 24, 2012, 11:12 PM

So apparently one of my photos has gone viral.  Remember this photo?

Code Pink demonstration on July 4

I took this photo on July 4, 2006 in front of the White House.  It first appeared on Schumin Web in a Journal entry posted July 5, 2006 about a trip I made to DC on July 4.  It also ran as the Photo Feature later in the same month.

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SlutWalk DC was pretty fun, but a bit tamer than last year…

August 16, 2012, 12:06 AM

So this past Saturday, I participated in SlutWalk DC 2012.  You may recall that I covered SlutWalk DC in 2011.  SlutWalk’s goal is to demonstrate that it doesn’t matter what a person is wearing (or not wearing).  Sexual activity requires the consent of all involved, and sexual activity without the consent of all involved is rape.  So in short: consent is key.  Consensual sex is sexy, but nonconsensual sex is rape.  And clothes are inanimate objects.  They cannot give consent for their wearer.

However, I was a little bit disappointed with the turnout on this one.  I thought that last year’s event was fairly well attended for a DC event with a local focus.  After all, SlutWalk in DC isn’t a national event.  Cities have their own local SlutWalk.  This wasn’t a bus-em-in event with a national scope like September 24, 2005 or January 27, 2007.  But this year, the crowd felt a bit smaller, both in Lafayette Park and at the Sylvan Theatre.  I also thought that the signs were less exciting and less creative than last year’s, and that things were generally a bit tamer overall than before.  I also noticed that the gender balance was a bit more skewed towards the female side than last year.  I expected a majority of the attendees to be female, but I felt like there were very few guys there this time.

On that last note, I think it’s very important for men to go to events like this because helps balance the message.  It helps send the message that rape and consent is a serious matter and important for everyone, and not just for women.  Men can also be the victims of nonconsensual sexual acts, and so the issue of consent is by no means something that only affects women.  Additionally, by having a good amount of men there, it also helps to prevent the event from being perceived by some, justified or not, as male bashing.  I didn’t get that perception during the event itself last year, but interestingly enough, I got that feeling when I was putting the photo set together at home several months after the event.  And I figured that if I got that vibe while working on the photo set, it would be reasonable to think that others might pick that unintended message up as well.  Thus in putting the photo set together, I deliberately tried to counter the perception that I was getting by including more photos that focused on sex-positivity or that had a more lighthearted message.  I definitely included some serious photos (particularly this one), but I tried to keep it balanced for the most part.  I think I was pretty successful in keeping the photo set’s mood light, but ultimately, you – the reader – will be the one to make the call about whether or not I was actually successful in this.

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Categories: Activism

3-6-9, debt is on the line, G20, IMF policies ain’t fine…

January 29, 2012, 6:22 PM

A friend suggested this evening that, since I’ve lost so much weight in the last year, I try on my old radical cheerleader outfit and see how it fits. So I did.

Here are the results:


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Categories: Activism, Weight loss

First it was cold, and then it was colder…

January 21, 2012, 7:49 PM

I think that about describes today. Upper forties, my foot. It was bloody cold today. And of course, today would be the day that the Chesapeake Climate Action Network would have its seventh annual “Keep Winter Cold” polar bear plunge, which, you may have heard, more than once, that I signed up to participate in over at National Harbor. I had a lot fun, though I was certainly excited about things.

Going down to the event, I decided to do a Video Journal to talk about it, since I was a little nervous and needed to distract myself:

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The Iraq War is over?

December 15, 2011, 9:37 PM

So apparently the big news today is that the Iraq War is over. It’s an announcement that’s come eight years, eight months, and 26 days later than it should have (truth be told, it should never have even started), but it’s better late than never.

Of course, I’m not entirely sure if I want to believe our government when they say that the Iraq War is over. I want to believe them – I really do – but considering that the Iraq War was built entirely on lies from our federal government, I have no reason to take them at their word. How many different rationales were there for our going in? Weapons of mass destruction? Yellowcake uranium? Bring freedom to the Iraqi people? Bringing the fight to them before they bring it to us? Others? As it turned out, there were no weapons of mass destruction. The yellowcake was a lie. The first victory announcement (“Mission Accomplished”) in 2003 was a lie.

We also expended scads of money – much of it off budget – for a war we should have never been in, while people go hungry in this country, while teachers must spend their own money on necessary school supplies, and while we still don’t have universal public health insurance (don’t get me started on the shortcomings of Obamacare). And what did we accomplish in Iraq? Nothing. We are no safer today than we were when we went in. Our own freedom as a nation was never in question. No one fought for your freedom or mine in this war. The war was all about oil, and I don’t believe we even managed to get our hands on that (good!). Your tax dollars at work.

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Categories: Anti-war, News

This goes to show that people are really starting to get it regarding the 99 percent!

October 21, 2011, 12:02 AM

So after work today, I spent some time with the “Occupy DC” group doing an anti-Walmart demonstration at Union Station. Basically, this was a demonstration held on the occasion of a $1,000 per plate fundraising dinner attended by a number of big names as far as the rich-bastard types go. Here’s what the description that I got said about it:

Rob Walton, son of Sam and chairman of the board of Walmart Stores, is going to be speaking in DC at a $1000/plate fundraising dinner tonight (Oct. 20) for Conservation International, an organization that helps big corporations greenwash their image. Respect DC is teaming up with Occupy DC to plan an action outside of this dinner to get out an anti Walmart message out to attendees, including Mr. Walton. Apparently Northrop Grumman and Harrison Ford (who is on CI’s board) will be there too.

First of all, I find it wonderful to finally publicly demonstrate against my former employer in a public setting. There are many, many, many reasons that Walmart is the scum of the earth, but considering how they chewed me up and spit me out, I have extra incentive to sock it to them.

So at 6:30, people started gathering at Union Station. This was staged a bit like a flash mob. People showed up, and blended in. Then someone blew a horn, and the demonstration began. The demonstration was very much anti-Walmart and full of energy.

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Categories: Activism, Walmart

One conflict, two viewpoints, and disagreeing with both of them…

July 10, 2011, 10:18 AM

About a month ago, anti-war group ANSWER had announced an anti-war demonstration for noon on July 9 in front of the White House. I had expected a typical ANSWER demonstration, with a stage somewhere, sound, a zillion speakers all talking about their own pet issues (whether it’s really on message or not), and a zillion people all handing out their group’s flyers. This was not that. This demonstration was a small demonstration, with ANSWER-sponsored demonstrators marching in a small circle in front of the White House, and then a row of counter-demonstrators nearby.

And here’s how it looked, first the ANSWER side:

The ANSWER side of the demonstration

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Categories: Anti-war

What a strange place to have a demonstration…

March 20, 2011, 11:21 PM

This weekend was pretty fun. Two demonstrations in two towns in two days. Saturday was the eighth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, and an anti-war protest was held in front of the White House. Then on Sunday, everyone piled into their cars and in buses and headed about 35 miles south to Triangle to have a “Free Bradley Manning” demonstration outside the Quantico Marine Corps Base in Prince William County, Virginia.

Saturday’s event was pretty typical for an anti-war protest in DC. The only major difference was the lack of younger folks. Seriously, this march had a large showing from the over-40 crowd, and while there were people in their twenties present, it was definitely less so than other marches. And no red-and-black flags flying this time, no SDS, and no black bloc.

Somehow I sensed what the tone of this event was going to be (I must have a sixth sense for these things), and planned accordingly. Usually when I go to demonstrations, I bring a backpack, and carry supplies. I carry water, I carry items to protect from pepper spray, and I also carry extra clothes in case I have to ditch the ones I’ve got on due to getting sprayed. I’m not one of these people who will change clothes at a demonstration in an attempt to make themselves untraceable. I have always considered that a waste of time. But I would take extra clothes with me in case things got hairy. But this time, the backpack and all of the extra supplies stayed at home, and I just brought my regular camera bag with me. Trust me when I say that was much easier to handle than the backpack with all of its contents. Plus on a day with weather like Saturday’s, I wouldn’t need to bring water along.

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Categories: Anti-war