amor mundi

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

Monday, October 16, 2017

Sunday Walk

Yesterday was Eric's forty-fourth birthday and we spent it much as it we usually do Sundays: we had breakfast at our diner on Piedmont Avenue then hiked deep into a cemetery for a couple of hours, talking and walking in the sun. Yesterday was clear and fine, the first morning waking without a scratchy throat or wondering whether the scattered ashes darting like snowflakes onto the patio were bits of somebody's home or some other tragedy from the North Bay fires. Sarah has returned from her hidey-hole beneath the bed to nap in the breeze outside as well. Watched an enormously fun Agatha Christie adaptation last night with Margaret Rutherford playing Miss Marple, and then an episode of "Pie in the Sky" for good measure, a smart and engrossing British detective series we're rather loving at the moment. I took Saturday off for a change and spent much of it reading Nnedi Okorafor's Akata Warrior. It's a rambunctious plot-drenched romp. That was lovely, but it probably means my undergraduates get their midterms back in two weeks rather than one. (Since so many are getting their papers to me late, that is only fair after all.) This week's lectures zero in on Eve Sedgwick's Epistemology of the Closet for Wednesday's "Queer Manifestations" seminar and Frantz Fanon's "Concerning Violence" for Thursday's "Peace in Pieces." These are works I adore, so I'm hoping this week's teaching will be a pleasure. Wouldn't that be nice?

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Moore No More?

Will the execrable bigot bully Roy Moore lose his Senate race to a Democrat in deep red Louisiana or will he win and find himself under indictment for massive tax evasion and unable to assume his seat anyway? Chances are, he will win and Louisiana will lose. But, then, that's the GOP.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Mass Incarceration of LGBTQ Youth


Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

The stench of the North Bay wildfires singes the breeze for the second day in a row. Walking to and from the grocery store with our little metal cart Eric and I returned with red, runny eyes, coughing in the acrid haze. I've finished the third novel in Tariq Ali's Islam Quintet. I was moved by this novel as well, but found it a bit less gripping than the first two. I think I will remember it at least as fondly as the others anyway. Reviews describe the tone as Chekhovian, but I suspect Mahfouz is a more apt comparison. I think I will take a bit of a break and read Nnedi Okorafor's Akata Warrior before resuming A Sultan in Palermo. For now, it's time to work up some lecture notes for tomorrow's discussion of Sandy Stone in my graduate Queer Manifestations seminar.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Trumpproval

Upon Waking

The stench of smoke from the Napa fires woke ma and Eric quite early this morning, hours before sunrise, and the day is still blustery and smokey, the patio blanketed with branches and eucalyptus bark and pine needles. Feeding our little kitty Sarah soft food from a dish in my lap these days, she's well into her sixteenth year and has to be coaxed into eating enough. Also reading Sandy Stone's formative and canonical response to TERFs and genderqueer manifesto The Empire Strikes Back for my queer manifestations graduate seminar and Gene Sharp on nonviolent strategies for my Peace in Pieces undergraduate survey. I've read this material so many times before, but it remains inspiring and provocative. Despite the despair and rage of this terribly demanding year, I find myself, almost in spite of myself, connecting through teaching and everyday care back to life, ideas, commitment, even hope... Strange... Good...

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Sunday Walk

Eric and I had a late breakfast at the Piedmont Cafe and Bakery and then strolled through St. Mary's cemetery for an hour or so before the afternoon heat became more fierce. Still feeling a bit bleary after a long cannabis-fueled full night's sleep. It's been a lazy, lovely weekend, all in all -- Jules, one of my very best friends in the whole world, made a rare visit from Switzerland, which was wonderful, and I also heard from UC Berkeley that I am wanted for teaching again next summer, so that is good news. All told this has been a relaxing and satisfying few days, with Trumpmerican dread pushed off at arm's length for a welcome while.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Trump Disapproval Unprecedented

Christopher Bates:
Donald Trump's approval rating... has cratered again, to its lowest point since he took office. The AP, which does its measurements on a weekly basis, now has him at 32%. The 20s are uncomfortably close, and with them Richard Nixon's record-low Watergate-level approval ratings (around 25%). That is not good for any president, particularly one who is in his first term and is overseeing a generally solid economy (the September jobs report notwithstanding...)... [I]s he being punished for his ham-fisted handling of Puerto Rico? For his cabinet dysfunction? His handling of North Korea and/or Iran? Something else? Could be because Saturday Night Live is back, with Alec Baldwin's devastating impersonation. Maybe it's because of Las Vegas... Whatever the case may be, it is pretty clear that Trump's ceiling is somewhere around 40%, and that he's only going to achieve that under the best of circumstances. This means that we're presumably headed into brand new territory—since approval ratings have been compiled (the Truman years), no president has gone into the midterms (or a possible re-election campaign) with so many Americans unhappy with their performance.
More signs of a Democratic wave to come, perhaps, if enough of us can make it through these months of GOP-domination to vote them out in the mid-terms, though it is hard to know if things like polling approval which have always mattered in the past still matter quite the same way in Trumpmerica with its GOP-safe gerrymandered districts and voter disenfranchisement and ubiquitous algorithmically-mediated deceptions and frauds afoot.

Friday, October 06, 2017

MundiMuster! SwingLeft Is Ready To Boot Doll-Eyed Dolt Paul Ryan From His District and His Speaker's Perch




pleasepleasepleaseplease Make. It. So.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Lighter

I've mentioned here a couple of times that I've been exercising with Eric lately and have lost some weight this last year. I weighed in at 198 lbs. this morning, the third time I've weighed under 200 lbs. this week. I guess it's real then. This is the first time I've weighed less than 200 lbs. since 2004. (The body I have in my 50s is, needless to say, not the same body I had in my 30s, alas, even at the same weight.) Last year when I found myself in the emergency room nearly bleeding to death I weighed 285 lbs. Soon after, last New Year's Eve I weighed 271 lbs. I've lost over 70 lbs. in nine months! It's hard to account for the profundity of this change, silly though it may seem to mention such details. Just the way my body fits differently in the crowded public buses and trains I use to get to and from work is a transformation, has become so much easier in a minute to minute way I can scarcely communicate what it has been like...

Teaching Days

Friends visiting from Europe this week. In my graduate Queer Manifestations seminar we're taking up Valerie Solanas (among others) today and in my undergraduate survey of "nonviolent" politics tomorrow we're working on models of argument from Stephen Toulmin and Carl Rogers. These are topics I've taught many times before and which require less preparation time than usual. That's good, because I want all the time I can get to gab with my friend Jules and his partner and his sister -- who I have not seen since we were next door neighbors in Atlanta a quarter century ago!

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Unintelligent

Monday, October 02, 2017

Thoughts And Prayers Since Columbine Have Accomplished Nothing...

...maybe it's time to actually DO something. Ban military weapons, track ammunition, make gun manufacturers liable for damages, require training and mental health and criminal screening for licenses, circumscribe recreational use and require safe storage in households near children. The second amendment should be understood as a Constitutional guarantee that armed forces and police (eg, militias) protecting communities be representative (eg, right to bear arms) and accountable (eg, well-regulated). That the second amendment is not a blanket license to own just any weapon is revealed by the fact that nobody thinks the second amendment gives anybody the right to nuclear or biological weapons. Principle grasped and conceded, what remains is the empirical determination just which regulations increase safety and diminish harm. Of course, that can't be the process or the conversation because Republicans -- as with climate policy, healthcare policy, economic policy, education policy...

MundiMuster! Call the Capitol Hill switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

Tell them to pass gun safety laws NOW!

Uber, But For The TeeVee...

James Poniewozik on "Wisdom of the Crowd"
If you follow the tech business, you may have heard the formulation, “It’s Uber, but for ...” The idea is that there’s no human endeavor that can’t be transformed by a little coding, as Uber did for taxis... This philosophy now describes an entire genre of TV... It’s Uber, but for formulaic drama. The formula, roughly: Rich jerk invents technology. Rich jerk suffers personal tragedy. Rich jerk suddenly has a reason to care about the outside world. Rich jerk applies his technology to solve a problem related to aforementioned tragedy. Rich jerk gets pushback from the establishment. But rich jerk’s technology works! Thanks, rich jerk! ...
--h/t Jim Fehlinger

It's Never "Too Soon" To Talk About Real Political Solutions To Gun Violence

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Whatever The Odds, Democrats Should Be Fired Up, Ready To Go This December in Alabama

Andrew Tanenbaum:
Many Democrats think that the chance of a Democrat winning a special election for the Senate in Alabama is about as big as the chance of a Republican winning one in Massachusetts. Except that in 2010, Republican Scott Brown did exactly that. An Opinion Savvy poll just out shows Roy Moore (R) ahead of Doug Jones (D) by just 5 points, 50% to 45%. With more than 2 months to go and Moore a constant source of outrageous comments, Jones could possibly win this one, at least if the DNC decides to put some real money into the race. Of course, Republicans who supported primary loser Sen. Luther Strange may be angry now and say they will vote for Jones, but come December they may come and support Moore while holding their noses. On the other hand, it's not impossible that a Moore was a "lesser of two evils" vote, given the shady way in which Strange acquired his office (an apparent quid pro quo for helping quash the prosecution of then-governor Robert Bentley). There could be a segment of voters who were just waiting for the chance to vote for someone who is not Moore or Strange.