amor mundi

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

Friday, March 16, 2018

The Storm And The Bad News

Will Sommer's expose or explainer or whatever such things are called these days, of the ongoing still-amplifying right-wing conspiracy super-convergence denominated "The Storm" was not amusing to me as I suspect I am meant to be amused by it: Deplorables being deplorable are too predictable and gross to be anything but demoralizing to me at this point, and I am far from denying the damage reactionary ("neo" and otherwise) conspiracists can do online even with the most obviously outlandish and disgusting nonsense in the terrain of libertechbrotarian attention-hoarding platform monopolists... But, still, it is intriguing indeed to see that the catastrophe of Trumpism is clearly sufficiently palpable even to many Trump boosters at this point that they are indulging in frankly undeniable wish-fulfillment fantasizing at this point. This passage from the piece is pretty typical: "After months, the conspiracy theory has come to encompass Pizzagate, the Seth Rich murder, the Clinton Foundation, MS-13, and many more right-wing touchstones. Despite The Storm’s vastness, though, the message is simple: Trump is pulling off a string of victories over his enemies, but in secret; and everything that looks like it’s bad news for Trump is actually, secretly, good news." I suppose the realization that queers like me aren't just going back into the closet and a nation of immigrants isn't going to transform instantly and spontaneously into the grinning-skull cishet whiteness of a 1950s Micky Mouse Club episode and climate change denialism isn't going to dis-invent the reality of climate change itself and so on is yielding something like a freakout in certain stale, pale, male, deplorable circles of the country gamed by dis-enfranchisement and mis-education and corporate fraud into the lethal but unstable reactionary force that keeps electing Republicans to public offices they abuse to the ruin of us all. For the conspiracists of the Storm all the bad news of Trump disapproval rates, unprecedented turmoil and firings and recriminations, court decisions against ill-thought bans and policy sabotage, incoherent and inevitably broken campaign promises, special election set-backs and retirements and signs of upcoming blue waves, accumulating indictments and guilty pleas, plummeting international relations and respect, and on and on and on may be evidence of good news, reeeally, seeecretly, eveeentually, suuurely, but, well, soon enough the bad news is going to be bad news for somebody for real you know...

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Spending Spring Break With Le Guin

Spring Break is nearly over... I've spent it pleasure reading Ursula Le Guin (lately, reading the Earthsea books and excerpts from her blog anthologized in No Time to Spare) as I have done all term long. Mid-March, by the way, and I'm sleeping between five and eight hours a night, I venture to say the insomnia crisis is behind me, thank heavens.

The Story Is the Genius of Universal Healthcare Not Individual Genius

By the way, his drift late in life into futurological nonsense about AI risks and lifeboats to Mars was all terrible.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Two Blocks Away...


All that said, do remember:


In Like A Lamb, Etc.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Sunday, March 11, 2018


A brand new blu-ray edition of "Colossus: The Forbin Project" arrived during the week and I watched it yesterday afternoon. The Star Trek era colors, the electronic score, the sweeping visuals were all stunning on the new edition. It's a film I've been teaching for fifteen years but this is the first time I've watched a version that wasn't pan and scan for all but the credit sequence! With the arrival of this edition into my collection I believe Forbin is probably the film I have now purchased more than any other, as it happens, as I have owned it on a VHS tape back in the Stone Age and then purchased at least three DVD versions over the years since, as older discs were damaged or vanished as loans over the years of teaching it over and over. I do truly still love this movie, among the better singularitarian high camp staples. (The only films I may have repurchased as many copies of over the years are "Xanadu" and "Desk Set," take that for what it's worth!)

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Good News in the Crystal Ball

Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball has more good news for those us of counting on Democratic congressional gains to put some brakes on the ongoing demolition efforts of the Trump-Republican wrecking crew come November:
— With less than a week to go, the PA-18 special election moves from Leans Republican to Toss-up.
— In addition to that ratings change, we are making 25 other changes in the House, all in favor of Democrats.
— No Democratic incumbent is now rated worse than Likely Democratic, a nod to the reality that in a Democratic-leaning environment it will be difficult for Republicans to dislodge many or perhaps even any Democratic incumbents, though there are a handful of Democratic open seats that are more viable Republican targets.
— After these ratings changes, for the first time this cycle we have fewer than 218 seats (the number needed for a majority) at least leaning to the Republicans.
— Making his debut in our competitive House ratings is the chamber’s most powerful member, Speaker Paul Ryan (R, WI-1). While his district is competitive but clearly Republican-leaning on paper, this shift mostly reflects uncertainty surrounding his future.
(NB: This "good news" is not the prediction of a sure thing, it is not an excuse for complacency, it is not a guarantee against disenfranchisement schemes or digital/media manipulation shenanigans, nor is any of this a shorthand for saying Democrats, even at their best and certainly not at their worst, are love's young dream even if they are clearly preferable to Republicans in ways that matter more than pretty much anything else at a time like this.) 

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Nixon --> Reagan --> Gingrich --> W. --> Trump --> It's Vile Criminal Bigot Idiot Con Artistry All the Way Down

Monday, March 05, 2018

Sounds Right

Sunday, March 04, 2018


Friday, March 02, 2018


Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Sums It Up... (But Not For Long?)

Sunday, February 25, 2018


A new USA Today survey finds just 38% of Americans now approve of the job President Trump is doing as president while 60% disapprove. “What’s more, the intensity of feeling is hardening against the president. Now, the percentage who ‘strongly disapprove’ of him is more than double the percentage who ‘strongly approve,’ 39% compared with 16%.”

A new CNN/SSRS poll finds President Trump’s approval at 35%, down five points over the last month to match his lowest level yet. “The slide follows a January bump in approval for the President, a finding that appeared connected to a bullish stock market... His new rating matches a December poll, which marked his lowest approval rating in CNN polling since taking office in January 2017.”

Thursday, February 22, 2018

New Monae Is Making Me Feel

I was sad when "Make Me Feel" was over until I remembered I could hit play again.

My Life Extension Strategy

MrSingularity is hungry for more of my life it seems:

I'll give you hypothetical. Let's say that somebody invents a medical procedure that would allow humans to live about a thousands years. What would you say to that?

My personal life extension strategy is not to waste another minute of my life taking people who utter that sort of line seriously, because every one of those minutes is a minute I won't get back.

I thought that such wishes were intrinsically pathological and evil. You know, somehow related to racism, misogyny, eugenics, corporatism, heteronormativity, militarism, manspreading, etc.

Death denialism indeed tends to lodge somewhere between the simply sad and the truly pathological in my experience, but if you manage to be an exception I am happy for you. In my past writings I have exposed endless rationalizations for right wing politics, racist and eugenicist attitudes, and the rest among the transhumanist futurologists, and critiques of now prevalent VC-tech discourse (of which the tranhumanists are just an extreme and clarifying variation) documenting such connections are everywhere these days. Nobody needs to read my old writings to discern these connections nowadays, and frankly it's been a while since I have written about any of this.

Your insinuation that these extensive arguments of mine and so many others with far wider audiences than I ever had amount to unsupported declarations of a connection "somehow" between "tech"-talk and racism, misogyny, militarism, corporatism and the rest reveals you to be a troll, but we both knew that already anyway, didn't we? It's all so predictable and tiring, this is why I don't do this anymore. By all means, go ahead, believe in your techno-immortalist dreams for all the good it does you. I just hope that if and when you indulge in actual fraud there will be laws to make you pay for the harm you do, and that citizens are waking up in time to the damage done in the name of deregulatary tech disruption and platform monopolies and the re-feudalizing dismantlement of public education, social supports, and the rest for upward failing sociopathic assholes drawn to futurological fictions in the first place.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

"MrSingularity," Indeed

An exchange from the Moot:
MrSingularity said...
Dale, I have three questions for you.

1. Why do keep insinuating that life extension is impossible?

2. Why do you think that life extension is undesirable and/or immoral?

3. What exactly is wrong with wishing for a longer lifespan? For instance, if I want to live a thousand years, on what grounds would you object to that wish?

To which I replied (willing to give this about two minutes of effort, no more):

1. To the extent that real medicine cures disease and extends the lives of those with access to it, clearly I don't say (or "insinuate") such things are impossible at all, indeed I advocate strongly for wider access to healthcare and more public investment in legitimate medical research. Most of what futurists mean by life extension is con-artistry about digital uploading and nanobotic wish-fulfillment and overpromising based on fraudulent extrapolations from qualified research results in various biomedical fields, etc. Con artists don't extend lives.

2. It has already occurred to every child of two that a healthy life is better than an unhealthy one and that curing diseases and improving quality of life are good things -- futurists like to pretend that those of us who do not fall for their scams somehow disapprove of obviously good things like healthcare and living well. The thing is, futurists contribute little to nothing to good things like healthcare or living well and disapproving of their scams is hardly the same thing as claiming good health and efforts to facilitate it are undesirable or immoral, rather than suggesting that con-artistry is undesirable and immoral.

3. I don't care how many of the eighty or so years of life you will likely live (if you are lucky enough not to be poor or marginalized or living in an over-exploited region of the world) wishing you could live a thousand years instead -- but if you lie about the likelihood of your wish coming true or about the scientific status of your faith-based pronouncements about magic sooper-techs rendering the likelihood estimates of your living a thousand years plausible (or, even more hilariously, inevitable) don't expect me fall for it or to congratulate your (at best) credulity or (at worst, and much more likely) willingness to deceive to score some quick cash or be self-deceived for fear of the fact of your mortality.

These days I don't spend much time explicitly decrying futurological bullshit -- the useful idiots of transhumanism have by now mostly been discredited and banished back to the alt-reich and other cul-de-sacs, while the VC tech-bazillionaires have distilled that sad sub(cult)ure to its money-grabbing re-feudalizing sociopathic essence for the whole world to see and recoil from... Possibly it is too late to halt the reactionary "technoprogressive" march to that dreary death-dealing re-feudalizing result, which constitutes the actual historical substance of "the singularity" with which you seem to want to identify -- but I am beginning to think not. The days of free passes for the digital disruptors, VC-heroworship, racist eugenicists, neoreactionary clowns, and the rest of the futurological garbage posse seem, at long last, to be in eclipse.

At Long Last, the Country Begins To Grasp the GOP Has No Decency Left, No Decency At All