amor mundi

Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A Charlottesville Syllabus

Professor Walter Greason's Suggested Resources on Collective Racial Violence in the US Storified here. It is good this harrowing compendium of documentary video is made so handily and concisely available. Professor Greason says early on that a course he taught based on all the materials presented here was so traumatizing for students he subsequently separated the material into several different courses. Later in the thread, asked who should be taught this material he proposed: "Advanced students in junior high; most students in high school; everyone in higher education." Of course, far from everyone in higher education is confronted with this history. Traumatizing though it may be, in Trumpmerica conveying and processing this history with students is absolutely necessary work.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Wake Up And Smell the Nazis

Hard to believe, but some, it seems, are only just now sniffing the white aynrancid wind.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Sunday's Walk

Took a break from end of term grading to walk with Eric to a diner on Piedmont Avenue for omelettes, then walked further along to the beautiful Morcom Rose Garden where the trickle of the stepped waterfall and the faint perfume of roses in the air had hardly anyone to compete with for our attention -- since there was almost nobody else with us there in that truly magical place, and on a warm sunny blue-skied Sunday yet.     

Tolkien Snubs the Nazis

This is doing the rounds today, but I guess I found it a heartening reminder too.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Unnovation

For every substantial innovation, a thousand repackagings of failure and stasis as "innovation."

Tech + Company =

Appending the word "tech" to "company" rarely says anything about technology but usually signals everything about irresponsibility.

Monday, August 07, 2017

All the intelligence in so-called AI is in the people coding and using it.

Artificial Intelligence as a discourse functions primarily to deny responsibility for and disavow knowledge of the crimes, frauds, and abuses enabled and mediated by algorithms.

It Shouldn't Work -- But It Does

Republicans break government when elected so they can declare government broken to get elected.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Yep

One Week To Go...

My last week of instruction beckons... All their midterms are graded, all the works are read, my lecture notes are just sketches and I'm on my last legs, but I am as ready as I ever will be to take on a last, vast avalanche of papers and final projects... and scarcely two weeks ahead I begin two brand new courses for the Fall in the City, a course on queer manifestos and another on conceptions of political "nonviolence" at the Art Institute. It's been months since I gave these upcoming courses any thought, immersed as I have been in the daily scrum of lecturing- preparing- and-grading my way through these bonkers intensives, and the minute I do give them thought I am immediately in a hot strobing panic to prepare anew... but I honestly can't divert my energy into the next teaching tasks until these summer intensives are done. Onward, here we go...

Monday, July 31, 2017

Still Teaching...

Two thirds through, my summer intensives have just two weeks to go now. Spent the weekend grading in addition to the usual reading and lecture prep, and there is a whole pile still left to grade for my other course... The expression "burning the candle at both ends" feels to me viscerally real these days... I've felt so tired while remaining so focused for so many days in a row by now it's like a burning sensation in my head. Definitely I hope I can distribute intensives across the two separate summer sessions in the future... The slow-motion technocolor trainwreck and killer clown crime spree that is the Trump/Republican administration is not exactly helpful, always strobing in the background as it is... I have learned a lot teaching new environmentalist and digital democracy texts for these freshly updated syllabi, though. And there are bright and earnest and funny and interesting students in both classes to give me a measure of pleasure and hope. Perhaps something in all this will strike a spark and I can return to making some kind of contribution to these discussions again...

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Still True

Deregulatory "tech" disruption is nullification masquerading as a gift economy.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Very Worried This Is Correct


Very worried that he is succeeding. Very worried about what we are in for.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Another Week

The week has passed in a blur, my teaching intensives dominating everything while I am teaching them, and then reading and preparation for the next lectures filling up even more of the hours in the days in between. I cannot remember a more challenging teaching season, and my recent battles with anxiety and insomnia (after the one-two gut punch of hospitalization and Trumpism, among other things) make everything that much more fraught and exhausting. All that said, the topics of the course -- varieties of green discourse and anti-democratizing threats in digital formations -- are as riveting as always, my students are engaged and engaging, it is impossible not to feel gripped by the issues and by the great insights and marvelous energy of earnest students grappling with the assigned material, full of ideas, humor, and objections... I often forget how tired I am right up to the moment I get on the bus back home, collapse into a heap, scarcely five o'clock by then but already pining for bed and hoping the night will bring rest and not more worry.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Yeah, It's Gonna Be Like This For A While

My Berkeley summer intensives are being intensive like you wouldn't believe. I'm spending twelve hour days the whole weekend through prepping ahead of lectures, six hours of which I am delivering three days in a row each week. Teaching has always required a real push past my introversion into speech, but the older more fragile more precarious deeply anxious post-illness post-Trump catastrophe insomniac version of myself is finding what was always a rather daunting (and rewarding, mind you) enterprise truly, truly difficult these days. Expect five more weeks of spotty posts, retweets without comment, punctuated by occasional exasperated expressions of panic and aggravation. Sound like fun?

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Teaching Retreat

Began teaching summer intensives last week, the, em, intensity of which is compelling a retreat from twitter and blogging... not the worst thing in the world. Compulsively retweeting outrageous headlines scarcely seems like a form of awareness that affords agency rather than just endlessly amplifying alarm. Who needs it?

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Roman Concrete for Rising Seas?

Via BBC Science, a story appealing at once to my fascination with all things Roman as to my passion for all things ecological:
Ancient sea walls built by the Romans used a concrete made from lime and volcanic ash to bind with rocks. Now scientists have discovered that elements within the volcanic material reacted with sea water to strengthen the construction. They believe the discovery could lead to more environmentally friendly building materials. Unlike the modern concrete mixture which erodes over time, the Roman substance has long puzzled researchers. Rather than eroding, particularly in the presence of sea water, the material seems to gain strength from the exposure... "Contrary to the principles of modern cement-based concrete," said... Marie Jackson from the University of Utah, US, "the Romans created a rock-like concrete that thrives in open chemical exchange with seawater." ... The ancient mixture differs greatly from the current approach. Modern buildings are constructed with concrete based on Portland cement... The process of making cement has a heavy environmental penalty, being responsible for around 5% of global emissions of CO2. So could the greater understanding of the ancient Roman mixture lead to greener building materials? Prof Jackson is testing new materials using sea water and volcanic rock from the western United States. Speaking to the BBC earlier this year, she argued that the planned Swansea tidal lagoon should be built using the ancient Roman knowledge of concrete. "Their technique was based on building very massive structures that are really quite environmentally sustainable and very long-lasting," she said. "I think Roman concrete or a type of it would be a very good choice [for Swansea]. That project is going to require 120 years of service life to amortise [pay back] the investment. "We know that Portland cement concretes contain steel reinforcements. Those will surely corrode in at least half of that service lifetime." There are a number of limiting factors that make the revival of the Roman approach very challenging. One is the lack of suitable volcanic rocks. The Romans, the scientists say, were fortunate that the right materials were on their doorstep. Another drawback is the lack of the precise mixture that the Romans followed. It might take years of experimenting to discover the full formula.

Protest Is Patriotic

Never more true.