Like many of the other nearly 9 million people in California who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, artist Eric Rewitzer reacted to Donald Trump’s victory as if a tornado had swept his house away. “I just didn’t believe he was serious,” says the longtime San Francisco resident. “And I didn’t see it coming.” As disbelief gave way to sadness and then anger, the bespectacled printmaker found himself sitting at the table in the middle of his studio just blocks from the Pacific Ocean. He and his wife are known for their prints of a sweet “California bear,” a version of the grizzly on the state’s flag that likes to give hugs and sells very well at airport souvenir shops. But after he spent 40 hours carving and pressing a giant sheet of linoleum, a vastly changed animal appeared—roaring, teeth glaring, claws out. “You’ve stirred a beast,” says the usually sweet and soft-spoken Rewitzer. “Watch out.” —California Prepares to Resist the President in Uncertain Times, Time Magazine
When I think of Vietnam, my first thoughts tend toward the Vietnam War (which I’ve taken a liking to calling the “American War” as they do locally), and not that they are one of the few remaining communist states. This fact was immediately brought home as we left the airport and were greeted by banners displaying the hammer and sickle draped from every lamppost. I laughed to myself.
From all outward appearances, it’s “communism in name only” after the market reforms of Doi Moi (similar to perestroika in the Soviet Union) that occurred in the late 1980s. Vietnam today is booming. That said, they still go all out with the communist symbolism, albeit with a warm and flowery kawaii-esque makeover. I’d call it “pastel propaganda”—much of it related to the Tết Festival that was happening while we were in HCMC.
At the San Francisco WordCamp today I got to see Richard Stallman give his free software talk and then perform his crowd-pleasing St. IGNUcius bit. I don’t usually do this, but afterwards I stuck around so I could get my picture taken with him.