New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Responsible Designs

August 22, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Angola 3 News, Politics

Saying No to the Architecture of Solitary Confinement and Cruelty

by Angola 3 News

Friday, August 16 marked the 40th consecutive day of a multi-ethnic statewide prisoner hunger strike initiated from inside the Security Housing Unit (SHU) of California’sPelican Bay State Prison. When the strike first began on July 8, the ‘California Department of Corrections and Reform’ (CDCR) reported 30,000 participants statewide, which the Los Angeles Times reported “could be the largest prison protest in state history.”

This week, as the striking prisoners’ health continued to worsen, the families of prisoners and supporters gathered on the steps of the State Capitol building in Sacramento, and over 120 health professionals called “upon Governor Jerry Brown and Jeffrey Beard, Secretary of the CDCR, to immediately enter into good-faith negotiations with the prisoner representatives, and to respond to their demands, in order to end this crisis before lives are lost.”

The current hunger strike follows on the heels of a similar 2011 strike that was also initiated from the Pelican Bay SHU, with the same five demands. Further illustrating the scandalous nature of California’s prison system, this month the US Supreme Court ruling once again that 10,000 prisoners must be removed from state prisons, and documentation has emerged of widespread sterilization of California’s female prisoners. (more…)

Local, Slow, and on the Street

October 12, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Devon G. Pena, Ecology, Economy

Exploring the Roots of Urban Agriculture in Mexico 

by Devon G. Peña

Every now and then a photograph really speaks more than a thousand words. The accompanying 1865 photograph shows two fruit and vegetable vendors in Mexico City. Judging from the architecture in the background, the photo was most likely taken inside the historic core, perhaps close to the Zócalo.

A lot of commentary has been made about this photo. One thread of comments emphasizes the perceived poor condition of the ambulantes (mobile street vendors). How one can surmise this seems difficult but one comment posted recently to Facebook argues that the photograph demonstrates “The poor condition of the vendors, which can still be seen in the streets of Mexico City today.”

However, even by today’s standards, these vendors actually look fairly well dressed and healthy. These lamentations about the urban poor strike me as betraying a modernist urban sensibility and class bias. If anything, given the source of the comments on Facebook, they illustrate a widespread failure, common to what I can only characterize as petit-bourgeois intellectuals, to understand that for many people street vending is as much a way to earn an income as it is a social and community-building activity — a way of life even. (more…)

Life on Mars?

August 20, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Current Events, Randall Amster

Searching for Signs in the Cosmos, and on Earth

by Randall Amster

Forty years ago, David Bowie asked the musical question, “Is there life on Mars?” Bowie’s song embodied an escapist sensibility, a longing for life elsewhere to break the doldrums and despair of living on Earth. Filled with vivid imagery, the song reflects humankind’s eternal longing to be part of something larger than our mundane lives. In essence, it taps into an acute desire to discover that there’s more than meets the eye to this existence.

As such, the search for extraterrestrial life is equal parts theological, philosophical, and practical. With the Curiosity rover now cutting swaths through the stark Martian landscape, we may soon have an answer to this perpetual question, at least partially. More to the point, it’s entirely plausible that (at the least) vestiges of life will be found to exist wherever there is (or was) water, and Mars almost certainly fits that bill. The impending confirmation will do more than alter our creation mythology — it will force us to rethink whether the heavens are merely there for our taking as the sole cosmic occupants. (more…)

Thinking Small

July 12, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Family, Nancy Mattina

“Go to the Ant, O Sluggard”

by Nancy Mattina

Thinking small doesn’t come naturally to an American. Even in straightened economic times we urge ourselves incessantly to swing for the bleachers, reach for the stars, be ready for the big break. In the Far West, our daily landscapes conspire with our propensity to dream large. We get ten-gallon-hat ideas about life and liberty whether we are hiking above the clouds in the Rockies or streaking across the limitless deserts in our half-ton trucks.

With just an average amount of human imagination, it is easy to extract a can-do spirit from towering volcanic cones, glaciated valleys, and great canted slabs of the Earth’s crust. Never mind what must be done merely to survive, the preoccupation of all of the non-human species that surround us. We yearn to be so much more than mere survivors. (more…)

Occupy Asteroids?

April 26, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Ecology, Economy, Randall Amster

To Boldly Share What No One Has Shared Before

by Randall Amster

Sometimes the news reads like a cross between a corporate promotional campaign gone haywire and a rejected science fiction B-movie script. The announcement this week of an asteroid mining venture — backed by Google executives, the Perot Group, and James Cameron, among others — is precisely the sort of item that conjures both absurdity and horror in its full implications. Like rubberneckers passing a highway pileup, let’s take a closer look because we just can’t help doing so…

The company, called Planetary Resources, Inc., intends to mine 100 or more near-Earth asteroids for resources including water and various precious metals. Space resources are “just so valuable” and “really are the low-hanging fruit of the solar system,” co-founder and co-chairman Eric Anderson told SPACE.com. The idea is to generate resources in space sufficient to impel additional colonization efforts, creating a network of veritable “in-space gas stations” to fuel ongoing and expanding operations. (more…)

Solidify Occupy

December 29, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Economy, Guest Author, Politics

A Suggestion for What’s Next…

by Charles Imboden

September 17, 2011 in New York City marked the beginning of a movement that has spread around the world. Inspired by the people and events of the Arab Spring, the Occupy movement quickly grew to over 2,500 cities in dozens of countries. With slogans including “We are the 99%,” a principle aim of this movement is to highlight the gross economic inequality and increasing austerity measures being taken by governments worldwide, in a context of unprecedented corporate profit and personal wealth of the richest “1%.”

These past weeks have seen the destruction of the Occupy Wall St., Boston, Chicago, Oakland, Los Angeles, and most recently Tucson camps, among others. Now the nascent Occupy movement faces one of its strongest tests. (more…)

Re-Occupy Public Space

December 14, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Economy, Keith McHenry, Politics

A Modest Proposal for a Coordinated Effort in Honor of MLK Day

by Keith McHenry

The occupation movement is the most important movement of our lives. I get calls everyday from average middle Americans asking how they can help, calling to say they are so proud of everyone, some even coming to tears expressing that we just had to succeed.

As Naomi Klein wrote on October 7, 2011, in an article titled “Occupy Wall Street: The Most Important Thing in the World Now,” the need to keep the occupations going is crucial: “Occupy Wall Street, on the other hand, has chosen a fixed target. And you have put no end date on your presence here. This is wise. Only when you stay put can you grow roots. This is crucial. It is a fact of the information age that too many movements spring up like beautiful flowers but quickly die off. It’s because they don’t have roots. And they don’t have long term plans for how they are going to sustain themselves. So when storms come, they get washed away.” (more…)