Saturday, 19 November 2016

Previous about post

Hello. I'm Tim Abbott, I am a media guy. 

My most cherished beliefs are peace and equality, and that those are the foundation of humanity, if left free of coertion.

That also pretty firmly puts me in the Anarcho-Pacifist corner of politics.

I was born by the banks of the River Thames, with Cerebral Palsy. I wear my scars with pride. I am a #spoonie. I used presented a Disability rights show on Resonance 104.4 FM in London. That show, Technical Difficulties, returned after I got married and emigrated.

Fridays between noon and 1pm Central Time on 88.1 FM KPPP-LP in Fargo-Moorhead.

I also have engineered on radio, and will probably return to that.

I grew up by the River Douglas in Lancashire and now live by the banks of the Red River of the North in Moorhead, MN.

I graduated from Nottingham Trent University, and in a round about way have eventually found my major - Broadcast Journalism - to be quite useful.

I am a romantic immigrant - that is, I moved here to be with my wife and our cat. We are infertile.

I am a proud bisexual man.

I am not romantic about the country to which I have moved, built as it was through theft and misappropriation from Mexica.

I work for a couple of radio stations (KKWE & KPPP-LP) , mostly working to restore recordings which have been recorded in sub-optimal circumstances but whose cultural value makes restoration essential.

I am a white, European or "Gichi-mookomaan", to use the Ojibwe phrase.

Despite the disturbingly, forcefully mainstream politics of much of modern sport, I grew up as an all-sports guy (local favorites included soccer, cricket and two different types of rugby) and remain one.

Also, as an experienced traveler, I have rooting interests in most sports and most regions but am most at home watching (any) basketball or (Manchester United) footy.

I am least comfortable trying to help run such organisations.

Any other questions, feel free to ask. Although I may not answer.


Thursday, 17 November 2016

American sports and geography fails

Can somebody please help me out?

Sports league operators in this great country of ours don't apparently know their compass directions.

Dallas is in the West for every sport but in the East for the NFL.

Chicago is East for MLS and NBA but West for NHL, Central in MLB and North for NFL.

Minnesota is NFL North, MLB Central, NHL West and MLS West.

Memphis is the furthest easterly of the NBA's Western Conference whereas Milwaukee is the furthest west in the Eastern. Call me a bias Grizz fan, but that doesn't seem fair.

Not that they are alone in that last respect...People here don't know whether they are Midwest, North, Red River Valley, Upper Midwest or just plain Minnesotan/North Dakotan.

I'm just gonna leave this here. It might even be better off on my soccer-driven Wanderer blog

Friday, 11 November 2016

President Trump is coming

Boozhoo, this week saw the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States.

Politics is not my beat, however I believe the following things are possibilities from a Trump White House.

Approval of the pipelines Keystone XL (waiting on a State Department permit) and DAPL (waiting on permission from the Army Corps of Engineers)

Repeal of marriage equality (although in his first interview he backtracked on opposing this)

Removal of Roe v Wade

The end of Obamacare (A key plank of his platform, although he has suggested reforms too)

The end of Minnesota HCP (The state provider of subsidised health plans is under threat from a Republican Party now in control of both houses of MN congress)
A wall between the US and Mexico
A ban on Muslim immigration
The end of NAFTA/TPP (declared positions)
The end of NATO (which would fail if the US pulls out - a Trump position)

A detente with Russia (implied, if not yet planned)
Dispute with China over currency manipulation (stated position)
Tariffs on imported goods (stated position)

I will add, nobody outside of the Transition Team really knows what Trump/Pence/Bannon will do.

After all, this is a vibrantly anti-Semitic administration which now has a stated aim of supporting the state of Israel.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Privilege, intersectional identity and the US election #Cripthevote

This week's #cripcast was canceled after an hour long chat with Alice Wong and Andrew Pulrang was lost to a technical issue on my recorder.

They were two of the three founders of the #Cripthevote campaign, along with Gregg Beratan

It airs every Friday at noon Central Time on 88.1 FM in Fargo-Moorhead and everywhere

It is repeated at noon on Saturdays.

Alice suggested that I blog about our chat. I didn't take notes and my memory is unreliable so having recovered from frustration and anxiety, I decided to blog on the recurrent themes I remember.

Firstly, the majority of the press coverage of disability themes in this election has devolved into Trump's treatment of Serge Kovaleski versus the appearance of Anastacia Somoza at the Democratic National Committee.

It, and disabled people, are more complicated than that.

I am a white, male journalist and all three of these traits entitle me.

Kovaleski is also all three of these and in fact privileged by being a professional employee of one of the most well-known media organizations in the world in the guise of the New York Times.

This brings me on to the next theme.

My guests told me that what has emerged during the campaign is a picture of disabled people as individuals - people of different races, genders and political preferences.

Andrew and I are white men and therefore we benefit from such privilege. Alice is an woman of color and therefore has different experience.

What also emerged was the appetite and need for disabled people inside the political system, shaping policy rather than just voting on slates of policies fully formed by non-disabled people.

In all my observations, which I believe were echoed by Alice and Andrew, Obamacare was a rare point of almost complete agreement amongst disabled people - especially those of us with a pre-existing condition. The one dissenter to that view is a Twitter acquaintance known as Fracking Test Subject who has seen increases in her premiums reach levels which would undercut her finances. The solution to the problems most evident in Obamacare's workings right now are something no one has really addressed. Democrats are on the back foot and most Republicans are only calling for repeal,which would destroy the pre-existing condition protection with apparently no parachute whilst a new law is formulated.

I don't know if this recollection is from our chat or elsewhere but it has been pointed out that the way forward for insurance companies complaining about the cost of providing insurance could be the model that Romney developed in Massachusetts - mandatory insurance but entirely based on the market place, with public subsidies on a sliding scale linked to income.

I became aware that the US system presents an opportunity for people to work their way up from school board or sanitation commissioner through state parliaments to national politicial offices and this pyramid offers disabled people the chance to test out their stamina before it becomes a focus of attack advertising.

The UK on the other hand leaves the vast majority of parliamentarians experiencing their first experience of the details when they step into parliament the first time.

This blog post was posted rough to reach you before the show slot (this week, a repeat). Let me know about any inaccuracies.

Thanks for reading,

Wear your scars with pride.


Saturday, 15 October 2016

Handling #NoDAPL

Today was a training session at KKWE. As a professional, FCC-licensed station, the ongoing civil disobedience in Cannonball and beyond aimed at blocking construction of Dakota Access Pipeline has posed a problem. That problem is that the majority of the audio coming out of the protests is live streamed, or posted on Facebook and YouTube. The authors are unconventional but to me, worthy of the traditional journalistic protection of sources. The station manager disagrees.

Apparently if you can't say where audio came on air, you can't use it.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Technical Difficulties is returning

Back in London town, I was at the helm of a disability rights radio show, Technical Difficulties, on the unique freeform radio station Resonance 104.4 FM. Guests were predominantly women. I am proud of the gender balance we achieved. However, we unconsciously failed to represent a racial mix - despite being in one of the most diverse cities in the world.

Soon, I am rebooting the show on KPPP-LPFM here in Fargo-Moorhead, one of the least diverse metropolitan areas in any of the United States.

KPPP is a media justice project and as such it presents an opportunity for me to redress that racial imbalance, to amplify those voices who are literally invisible in this area.

Wear your scars with pride,
We all have Technical Difficulties
Stay tuned.

Friday, 2 September 2016

Oppression, allegiance, militarism and Kaepernick

First off, I'm not going to address Colin Kaepernick directly. His decision, and I'm fairly sure it's protected speech. He's also an employee, but his employers at the 49ers confirmed his freedom of expression.

More so for me, it made me think.

I am a privileged white man, but I am also an immigrant. Naturalization would force me to pledge to fight "all enemies, foreign and domestic", since securing a waiver on the grounds of pacifism is both unusual and expensive.

I can see why Black people, living with the legacy of slavery, and Native Americans, who saw a massive invasion steal their country... would object to pledging allegiance to 'the republic for which it stands' - and to standing to attention alongside.

There is a strand of Native culture which I have yet to understand, and that is the willingness to serve in the same military which fought to exterminate them, and a country which either ignores or oppresses them.

That brings me to the singing of the National Anthem before every sporting thing here. Sam Borden of the New York Times, a good journo, reflected on this from an American perspective:

Lost in (the Kaepernick debate) , though, is that while high-level sports are a type of entertainment, few other forms of mass-consumed entertainment — movies or concerts or exhibitions — have the anthem ingrained into every performance.

The full article is here, and it is beautifully written.

Do I have a duty to stand? I'm often not physically able. That aside, I'm not, and probably won't ever be, American (see above).

Borden points to Drew Brees conflating the flag with the military, an unfortunate habit which seems unique to this country. This is not helped by the fact that the anthem is literally about war and how glorious it is to survive war.

The British anthem is a pledge to our own status quo,  "long to reign us, God Bless the Queen". As an agnostic republican, I'm grateful there was no pledge or tradition of saluting a flag. There is, however, a tradition of singing along when it IS sung, usually before international games. God Save the Queen is a dirge, and the massive crowds at England games often sing it with alcohol-fuelled bluntness and poor rhythm - often leading the crowd to be at least a beat ahead of whichever professional is performing the anthem in the centre circle.

If someone started to play the British national anthem before Manchester United games, there would be widespread confusion - but no one would dare accuse the millions of attendants of soccer of being unpatriotic.

The main reason I object to the national anthem at a domestic event is this:

Sports are largely a borderless world, where your nationality matters less to the fans than what team colors you 'bleed', and the incessant playing of a national anthem undercuts this ecumenical spirit and possibly irritates or confuses the non - Americans who make up a substantial caucus within all levels of all US sports with the possible - and pointed - exception of American Football.

The first verse of Francis Scott Key's Star Spangled Banner (which is as far as most 20th century sheet music goes) ends with a question:

O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Maybe Colin Kaepernick just decided the answer was no.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Atlanta Braves - appropriation and ignorance

Small town English education in the 1980s and 90s did not cover Native American culture, aside from a brief - and extremely stereotypical - artistic foray.

Native culture is invisible there, it becomes visible in snippets - through the recently disputed name of Exeter Chiefs Rugby Club, for instance - and from the engagement of people like myself who like American culture in general.

After moving to London in 2005, night shifts led me to listening to baseball as a way to stay awake.  As the club of the era, I bandwagoned to the Atlanta Braves. I chopped and war chanted at my first game in 2009 and proudly wore both a hat and a jersey with the tomahawk logo thereon.

The Atlanta local who took me to the games told me that night that he had never done the chop. I remember thinking such a stance was weird and that it didn't really matter - that such noises were clearly not representative of reality.

I had missed the point.

The Braves name and the continued use (and even more damagingly, promotion) of the Florida State Seminole-derived "War Chant" and tomahawk logo lead people both inside this country and beyond in this global era to see such appropriation as either surreal, or historical - when they are neither.

The Atlanta Baseball franchise used to have Chief Noc-A-Homa, and he was sidelined because he was racist. This process can and should continue.

With the move to Cobb County, the people of metro Atlanta deserve better than a third hand, racist moniker picked up in the 1890s in Boston.

I don't wear the tomahawk any more and I'm sorry for any way in which I have perpetuated this situation.

FC Fargo folds

So, after an intense couple of years (half of which was from England - after my full time job),  I am no longer the Communications Director of FC Fargo because the club has folded "for financial reasons".

We shall see whether anyone else can make a competitive mens soccer team work in a market where no-one even has a college varsity team.

Credit goes to the only varsity program anywhere near - University of Jamestown - the anchor of our nascent club.

If you want to see what we were about, visit the erstwhile fan club site I helped run before I worked for the club.

It's a sad night as we turn out the lights.

Good night.


Sunday, 24 July 2016

Questions of identity

What defines Native American identity?

Is it enrollment in a tribe/band?
Is it possession of a blood quantum?
Is it family, friends and residence on tribal lands?

The biggest non-Native allies of Native Americans are on the left of American politics and yet many Natives see white Americans as illegal immigrants in their country - a stance more in line with the American right - as outlined by a Donald Trump supporter to Alex Jones recently.

What makes someone an immigrant?
How far back does "legality" go?

I am a white, Anglo-European Lawful Permanent Resident in these United States. That is the legal framework to my not being sent back to England by the US Federal Government. Yet, I never sought or received permission from the Lakota or Ojibwe to stay on their lands.

Such a step is deemed unnecessary by the federal government, founded by English settlers and bolstered by multiple waves of immigration by invite, as well as waves of immigration by necessity for poorly paid jobs.

I'm an anarchist, therefore my ideal world would not include borders and restrictions on where people could live. I'm also a pacifist, so that world would see peaceful settlement of all races - not violent conquest followed by generations of anger and dispossession.

Identity would be a voluntary decision and a matter of co-operation with your chosen group.

I'm the editor for Niijii Radio. I was recently greeted by a station founder with "oh, you're the British guy".

We'll see what my identity becomes.

Friday, 22 July 2016


The road to the off-season is paved with good intentions.

Thursday, 21 July 2016


Hello, I'm a journalist. Accusations of bias or inaccuracy used to irritate me the most, since I was trained to at least attempt an accurate and unbiased report.

However, "complete objectivity is nothing no flesh and blood being can achieve" (Michael Grade, in his autobiography - It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time, link coming).

Therefore, a new accusation has emerged as the rallying cry amidst the plurality of voices - that of uniformity.

I, a veteran journalist and producer on non-profit platforms, stand accused of being part of an amorphous mass known only as "the media" - also occasionally lengthened to "Mainstream Media" or MSM,  even though no one can agree what 'mainstream' means.

Often you will hear accusations of exclusion from the media or MSM on those very same platforms.

I've engineered a few sessions where I heard such things. Usually, when challenged, I've been told "Oh, but not you. You're good."


Be precise with your accusations of bias or exclusion and hell, maybe be precise with your complements too.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Personal v professional

This weekend sees a footy team from the air force base in Minot, ND travel east to play FC Fargo.

As the Communications Director of FCF, I am responsible for how the club communicates with the public. Normally this is social media and press releases but tomorrow I'll also be on the public address system.

The challenge? I'm a committed pacifist and have been for years.

Meanwhile, as an English immigrant to Minnesota who has barely been here, I am also responsible for the social media of KKWE.

Challenge #2: The station operates for the Ojibwe of Gaa-waabaabiganikaag and that is the voice that that social media must have.

I'm pretty sure I'll cope. Those challenges are why a degree in journalism is useful.

Pointless arguments

In this age of corporate personhood, how personal should corporate social media be?

Would your club/association/company trash another city wherein an opposing club (etc.) was based?

My personal opinion is that trash talking is better off left to the fans. Especially when that talk descends into ad-hominem abuse.

I spend my life around robust opinions and in a country where free speech is a constitutional right, but I'd just rather be attacked for the flaws in execution rather than just shouted at like we were in a bar.

Ironically, we also lost on our merits, but I was so sick of the arguments I had essentially pressed the mute button by then.

As ever, just my thoughts.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Post 3: After another 2 years

I am going to try to blog more frequently than I have been doing. Having migrated to be with my wife, I have found that I have nowhere to vent. 

Work consists of editing work for the independently-owned, tribally focused radio station KKWE 89.9 FM Niijii Radio in the Gaa-waabaabiganikaag Ojibwe reservation and all sorts of communications work for the startup soccer club FC Fargo

I live in the city of Moorhead, Minnesota on the east bank of the Red River of the North and the lake-bed of the glacial Lake Agassiz. On the west bank is the city of Fargo, North Dakota.

Fargo was founded as Centralia in 1987 and I kinda like the name. It's not like the film.
.  .