amor mundi

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

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."

(Although this prescient quote is regularly attributed to Sinclair Lewis, it seems he never said exactly this, tho' he said many things much like this.)

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Future Is Now

Monday, June 18, 2018

Upcoming Teaching

Another week's teaching begins. Tuesday finds me behind in my lecturing -- I still have some Nietzsche to talk about, and the correspondence of Gandhi and Tolstoy, which I mean to connect to Thoreau and Jane Addams. I'm handing back their mid-terms as well. I've got Fanon and Coates scheduled for Tuesday but suspect I may not get there what with all the material left from last week. That might mean Fanon and Arendt get taught together -- not the worst thing, since their two pieces on Violence are directly in conversation, but not the best thing either since usually I give Fanon a whole day's lecture and since I usually weave Foucault into my discussion of Arendt and it is hard to see how I can get through all that in the time remaining. This week will probably be fairly intense given the ground we need to cover. Thursday's class is given over to workshopping the thesis and opposition for their final papers so there's no extra time to play catch-up past Wednesday's class. We shall see. Today is given over to lecture prep, but also Eric and I usually take our cart to the Safeway Mondays to get the week's groceries and exercise together as well. Yesterday, we went for our Sunday walk and brunch at the Piedmont Cafe. The Morcom Amphitheater of Roses made its usual beautiful fragrant now-faded bloom-stuffed spectacle of itself while we soaked up the sun and chatted from various benches and vantages over the afternoon. Penny continues to grow apace -- she is teething and we have found a couple baby teeth here and there in recent weeks. She has been going to town on little plastic straws, which she gnaws to within an inch of their lives and with which she also adores playing catch. This summer has been hectic, but there's plenty to like about it. If it weren't for the ongoing Trumpmerican shipwreck I might have a real measure of contentment this term. Ah, well, the garbage man ruins everything for us all.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Yes, This Is Who We Are. Yes, It Has Always Been Who We Are. No, It Doesn't Have To Be Who We Are. Yes, Let's Be Much Better Than We Have Been

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Blogging In Trumpmerica

What does it mean to cry in the ocean? Oh, well, you know, to add something where nothing's needed, or where so much is needed that it's no use even trying so you just sit down and cry.... -- Ursula Le Guin, Always Coming Home

Friday, June 15, 2018


Thursday, June 14, 2018

To Be Fair, Hatch Says Nice Things About (Trumpublican) Nazis Now, Too

via PoliticalWire:
“I wouldn’t want to see homosexuals teaching school anymore than I’d want to see members of the American Nazi Party teaching school.” -- Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), quoted by the Salt Lake Tribune in 1977.

“No one should ever feel less because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. LGBT youth deserve our unwavering love and support. They deserve our validation and the assurance that not only is there a place for them in this society, but that it is far better off because of them. These young people need us—and we desperately need them. We need their light to illuminate the richness and diversity of God’s creations. We need the grace, beauty and brilliance they bring to the world.” -- Hatch, quoted by the Washington Post, in a speech yesterday honoring Pride Month.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

So, Collusion

Not that anything will come of it, but there it is.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Offline As Self-Care

With each passing day I spend less time on social media as the price of sanity and the cost of actually trying to do my job well.

Monday, June 11, 2018

This Week's Teaching

This week is going to be a bit strange for a summer intensive. Tomorrow will be given over to administering the mid-term exam. Wednesday we're screening and discussing a film, Cronenberg's A History of Violence (which feels different watching it post-Ferguson than simply understood as a post-9/11 film), then Thursday I've got an in-class debate scheduled -- lots of stuff for them to do, but it feels a bit less hands-on for me. I have lots of things to say about the movie and about Nietzsche (some leftover observations from last Thursday's lecture) and about the history of non-violent resistance evoked by texts I've assigned for the week by Tolstoy, Gandhi, and Jane Addams, but it may be that this week is less about me performing as a lecturer and more about me facilitating their learning-together... I admit I have mixed feelings about this sort of thing, but I doubt my students will, they tend to love doing in-class stuff and tho' it drives me a bit crazy to relinquish control and stop bloviating for three hours straight every time I get in front of a group of students I can't help but notice the learning or at any rate the energy that happens in this mode...  

Friday, June 08, 2018

Carbon-Capture Tech Getting More Feasible?

As always, tech-company press releases and futurological-spin always demand to be taken with giant grains of sand, but, via Eco-Watch, this seems promising enough to note:
Scientists at the Canadian company Carbon Engineering have moved carbon-capture technology one step closer from pipe dream to viable solution. The company has developed technology at its plant in British Columbia that can both remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and convert it into carbon-neutral fuels, suggesting such technology could be a meaningful part of the fight against climate change. In a paper published Thursday in Joule, they estimated the costs of scaling up their operation to be $94 to $232 per ton of carbon dioxide captured. This is much cheaper, and more feasible, than some theoretical estimates that have put the costs of scaling up carbon capture technology at $1,000 per ton of carbon dioxide... The paper claims to be the first to provide a cost estimate for a carbon-capture system that is both based on technology commonly used in commercial engineering and described in enough detail that readers can adequately assess the results for themselves... The technology works by sucking air into cooling tower-like structures with fans. The acidic carbon dioxide is attracted to an alkaline liquid within the towers that is then taken into the factory where acid and base are separated. The carbon-dioxide containing liquid is frozen and then reheated into a slurry that is combined with hydrogen to make liquid fuels... [T]he technology could help the transportation sector, responsible for around 20 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, transfer over to renewable energy and fuel.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Keep It Simple, Dems

At the risk of reducing this already much-reduced blog to a bot occasionally re-posting Greg Sargent tweets in between marathon bouts of lecture-prep for my summer intensives at Cal, I thought this was well worth amplifying:

Wednesday, June 06, 2018


No guarantees, 2016 proved that, but disapproval is still at historically dramatic occasionally unprecedented levels and this has always mattered and certainly should matter -- now get your shit together, register, vote, donate, call, support, cajole, work.


Immersed in this week's summer teaching -- yesterday was devoted to Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience" (among the richest ruminations on the idea that in a true democracy protest is patriotic) and a few chapters from Angela Davis righteous and transformative polemic Are Prisons Obsolete? Today we switch gears and talk about propositional analysis: enthymemes syllogisms, formal and informal fallacies. From yesterday's lively discussion we turn to something of an info-dump filled with Latin terms to spell and illustrative examples and exercises that are likely to feel confusing before they feel clear for many. Summer term is strange, it goes by so quickly, it goes by so slowly.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Sunday to Sunday

A new week already underway... Playing fetch with little Penny... Delicious brunch with Eric at Piedmont Cafe and Bakery... Another long walk to the Morcom Amphitheater of Roses before the explosion of roses fades in the summer sun... Preparing for next week's intensives... argumentative topics and techniques for the week include enthymemes, syllogisms, formal and informal fallacies, figures, tropes and schemes... writings on violence and nonviolence include essays by Thoreau and Nietzsche, and a few chapters from Angela Davis's Are Prisons Obsolete?