Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All
Thursday, August 17, 2017
By far the majority of Republicans haven't stood for anything but white resentment and the infantile pleasure of reflexively pissing off liberals on every given issue whatever the merits for at least twenty years now, and Trump is precisely what looks "Presidential" from that vantage: He is the son of a Klansman and is a vulgar eugenicist reacting impulsively from moment to moment to perceived sleights while forever on the lookout for occasions to assert personal dominance, without anything like principles or a plan or even a sense of the day after tomorrow to guide him. His whole life and certainly his whole campaign modeled the Presidency with which we are now grappling: his voters have got what they wanted, though many of the worst of them clearly want even more of the worst of it. If you do not proceed on that understanding (and if that understanding isn't enough to get you out in protest now and into a voting booth as soon as possible) you probably cannot be reached or relied on as far as I'm concerned. The genocidal bigot and bully Andrew Jackson was similarly "Presidential." Trump Presidential is not so very far from war criminal W. Presidential less than a decade ago. None of this is the least bit surprising or unexpected.
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
Just ordered some new clothes for fall, something of an early birthday present to myself. At this point I've lost over sixty pounds this year and most of my shirts ensphere me like stadium domes and my trousers fall right down about my ankles without a belt clutching them tight. It all feels rather unreal, and distinctly strange spending hundreds of dollars on clothes I wouldn't have been able to wear for the last decade or even six months ago, really. I still superstitiously keep all my circus tent clothes folded in a drawer for the day when all that weight suddenly re-appears. Be all that as it may, I don't think I can maintain my professorial ethos while swimming in folds of fabric -- so a new wardrobe it needs must be. Of course, I'm still sticking to the changed eating and exercising habits that brought me to this pretty pass, and so there is the added perplexity that I might shrink still more in months to come, enough to render today's investment a bit moot. It's not like I'm skinny again yet -- as I was back in the days of the W. Bush administration, say. Man, these Republican assholes really wear me down to a nub.
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
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
Sunday, August 13, 2017
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.
Friday, August 11, 2017
Monday, August 07, 2017
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.
Sunday, August 06, 2017
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
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
Tuesday, July 25, 2017
Trump Agenda— Al Giordano (@AlGiordano) July 25, 2017
1. Win Senate repeal vote.
2. Fire Sessions as pretext to fire Mueller.
3. Purge record number of voters before 2018 midterms.
Very worried that he is succeeding. Very worried about what we are in for.
Friday, July 21, 2017
Monday, July 17, 2017
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
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?