I just came back from the Inaugural festivities invigorated. Some quick thoughts.

Mobile phones/cameras were everywhere.

I went with a friend who is probably the only person left alive that does not have a Facebook account. When I asked if he could send me some of his photos later, he replied “Yeah, I’ll send you a Dropbox link”. And on the bus to and from DC, the passengers in front of me were scrolling through… Flipboard. Very Thomas Friedman-esque (ugh), I know, but excited about companies that are making a dent outside of our tech bubble. Oh, “Great shot- see it on Instagram!” was used too many times.

Most important - I was taken aback at the energy and enthusiasm surrounding Barack Obama’s second inauguration, especially from the African-American community. Unfortunately, I’m not used to being around a lot of black people, and my exposure to the community has basically been guys I play ball with, a few friends from college, and random passerbys on the street. This weekend, I saw so many African-American faces: there were families and dads and moms and cute little kids and grandmas and elegant ladies in fur coats and mustachioed men dressed to the nines. Walking among the crowds, everyone was super polite — humor was a universal solution to the congestion and long lines — kind, warm and engaging. It felt like going to church with a few hundred thousand of your super cool aunts and uncles. It felt like being dropped into the middle of picnic that you kind of knew was going on but didn’t really ever participated in.

I think this was a side of African-American community that should be more visible in our culture, where history and families and pride and dialogue all mixed together in warm embrace.

I’m really glad I went. More photos to come!

The main tactic of both parties.. and of all political camps, is the same: anathematization of the opponent on grounds of taboo violation.. At no point do we cross into the territory of liberal democracy as imagined by Mills or Habernas; we stray instead towards a weird, uncanny zone where we can tell which side people are on not by the reasons they advance but by their propagation and violation of taboos.
Politicopsychopathology - Benjamin Kunkel, N+1
The Tumblr, for all its webbiness, embraced a kind of back-to-the-future sensibility: a suggestion of what campaign messaging looked like in previous ages, when it played out on the community level.

The Atlantic, on the Obama campaign Tumblr — perhaps the best piece yet on political memedom, the uniqueness of Tumblr as a platform, and why it makes sense in the political sphere. (Only thing missing: a quote from Liba Rubenstein!)  (via jessbennett)

So good.

When I step into the voting booth, I think about the world I want to leave my two daughters, and the values that are required to guide us there. The two parties’ nominees for president offer different visions of where they want to lead America. One believes a woman’s right to choose should be protected for future generations; one does not. That difference, given the likelihood of Supreme Court vacancies, weighs heavily on my decision. One recognizes marriage equality as consistent with America’s march of freedom; one does not. I want our president to be on the right side of history. One sees climate change as an urgent problem that threatens our planet; one does not. I want our president to place scientific evidence and risk management above electoral politics.


Stephanie Cutter is back with a new video taking down Karl Rove’s latest BS attack on the president—and she wants you to post it on your Tumblr.

Almost TLDW - but Ms Cutter totally reminds me of my third grade teach Mrs. Ozarzabal (What’s up Chambers Elementary!) when she would stare at me and ask “Do you REALLY want to know what I’m going to do when you jump over the bean bags one more time?”  Thanks for helping set me straight Mrs. O!



France gets a new president!! People celebrating on the street for hours, drinking wine & champagne. Reminds me of when Obama won. I am loving this city!

Career as a news photographer.  

A few seconds after each of these photos, the students were rushed by Chilean special forces in riot gear from different directions.  In these moments, I ran with the students, dodging the tear gas canisters, the water cannons and police batons. Running trumped curiosity.

I opted out of a few scheduled meetings to join the first protest of the school season last Thursday, interested to see what the situation was like on the ground.  I’m familiar with the orderly protests in the US, so the devolution of the organized marches in the early morning to violent scrimmages by mid-morning was scary, thrilling and filled with thoughts like “WTF am I doing here” and “what a stupid gringo I am”.  

I was on the margins of the protests. I didn’t see the special units storm the university and I didn’t see the more violent arrests. Throughout the morning, the students tried to take the main avenues around the central Plaza Baquedano by banding together to create groups of marchers. The authorities responded with force and pushed them into the tiny arteries around the Universidad Catolica and the Servicios Centrales Universidad. Their aim was to bust any pockets of kids that could organize into a march.

In one of these moments when the day seemed normal — old women walked to cafes, girls ate at food carts and men sat smoking - it got crazy. A ‘skunk’ [armored car that can spray tear gas] crawled around the park. The kids, feeling provoked or wanting to provoke, sprinted to the van fistfuls of rocks and debris. Huge rocks the size of Coke cans.  They shouted and jeered. They chased the skunk, peeling off around the corner. We all breathed in relief.  

About twenty cops in riot gear — it seemed like fifty in the melee - sprinted into view from the alleys surrounding and park. They appeared like movie special effects and rushed the students, waving their batons, dragging twos and threes by their shirts beyond view and lobbing tear gas canisters at groups of kids running in all directions.  I turned and ran blindly - almost ran into a phalanx of cops behind a wall of smoke until the guy I was with shouted me for me to turn away. Everything was noisy and in slow motion and crazy fast at the same time. It was over in 45 seconds.

The protests were more disorganized than usual, I was told, because the university students, organized around leaders and units, were not yet part of this first protest.  It was the high school kids, the Penguins, that amassed for this initial surge and they were less prone to order.

By the early afternoon, the protests had died out, and I went back to the world of meetings, taxis and hotels. It’s very surreal. A normal day coexisted with smoke and violence.  I’m still processing it.