amor mundi

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

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Friday, October 19, 2018

A Day Off...?

Got Scalzi's The Consuming Fire in the mail yesterday -- a sequel to his The Collapsing Empire, which was a punchy little diversion for me last year -- and I've got half a mind to run a hot bath and read a few chapters and put off the lecture prep for once this damn term. Anything to avoid the disgusting cruelty and criminality endlessly unfolding in the headlines...

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Today's Random Wilde

It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily


Mailed in our mid-term ballots yesterday, got an unexpected visit from some beloved former students, got ahead of my lecture prep for next week -- it's looking like I may be able to enjoy a weekend without too much working in it for the first time in quite a while. A torrent of paper grading begins pouring in from my two undergraduate courses next week, so this respite is well-timed and very welcome indeed.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Tuesday, October 16, 2018


Reading a slim book called Libraries in the Ancient World on the BART from lecture tonight, then watching Dr. Who and the Halloween Baking Championship episode we've recorded when I finally get home deep in the dark with my burrito in hand. This is what sanity looks like for me in the unending unendurable horrorshow that is Trumpmerica.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Monday, October 15, 2018

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Long Teaching Day

...long teaching day ahead... Barthes, then online privacy/publicity, six hours lecture, three hours commute... final prep on the train... Here we go!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Sunday Walk

Back to brunch and a long lovely walk to the Rose Garden this afternoon, blue skies and a sweet crisp breeze for a quiet Sunday stroll. Lecture prep for tomorrow out on the patio should occupy me the rest of the day. Last week was a bit of a bear, and I'm frazzled still as I move into next week. Roland Barthes in crit theory should be a piece of cake, but my digital anti-democratization class is getting a bit wild and woolly. Public/private, publication/privation, publicity/privacy this week, a little intellectual property, a little hashtag resistance, a little fake news. Taking up the same themes in my design thinking class the next day. But I feel a bit surer of my grad students this term, my undergraduates still seem not to have quite taken to the material or to my teaching in the usual way -- perhaps I'm a bit tired coming right off an earlier three-hour lecture, perhaps the topic of tech talk has left me feeling a bit burned out, perhaps the lateness of the class and the onset of darkness has my students feeling restive, whatever it is, the class isn't yet working quite as I'd like, I'm feeling uninspired and so I'm being uninspiring and hence losing the charge of energy from inspired students to compensate the shyness and insecurity that always bedevils my teaching efforts. Prepping for a turnaround tomorrow.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Yer Evil Phone

The Guardian:
[C]obalt is found in every lithium-ion rechargeable battery on the planet -- from smartphones to tablets to laptops to electric vehicles. It is also used to fashion superalloys to manufacture jet engines, gas turbines and magnetic steel. You cannot send an email, check social media, drive an electric car or fly home for the holidays without using this cobalt... Such companies are collectively worth trillions of dollars. Yet according to Amnesty International in a report at the end of 2017, none of them are making sufficient efforts to ensure that their riches are not being built on the backs of the oppressed women, men and children of the Congo who toil in putrid conditions, endure pitiful wages, grave injury and risk death to mine their cobalt...[T]hey descend into darkness each day, spending up to 24 hours at a time in narrow tunnels unable to stand, hacking away for cobalt. Every minute is suffused with dread, because many tunnels have collapsed in Kasulo, burying alive everyone inside.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

"Crushing It"

From the Washington Post:
With cameras in the room for a prescription-drug bill signing Wednesday, Trump introduced “the great Larry Kudlow, whose voice is so beautiful. . . . The economy, Larry, how is it doing?”
“Couldn’t be better,” replied Kudlow.
And Kudlow’s message couldn’t be otherwise:
Oct. 7: “Right now, the American economy is crushing it.”
Sept. 28: “We’re crushing it, we’re absolutely crushing it.”
Sept. 17: “We’re crushing it.”
Sept. 6: “We’re crushing it.”
Aug. 28: “America today is just crushing it everywhere.”
Aug. 17: “We are crushing it. And people say this is not sustainable, it’s a one-quarter blip? It’s just nonsense.”
Also, from the article:
After the Dow Jones industrials plunged 832 points on Wednesday, Larry Kudlow, President Trump’s chief economic adviser, walked up the White House driveway and proclaimed that there was no cause for concern... “Our economy and the people and the workers and entrepreneurs, they’re killing it. We’re the hottest in the world,” Kudlow proclaimed in front of the CNBC camera. “We’re crushing it right now..." But the Pollyanna performance didn’t play well on Wall Street. The Dow lost another 546 points Thursday. The index had a partial recovery Friday but finished the week down 4.2 percent, the third straight weekly decline.
No doubt they'll get the numbers back up in time for the lies of November.

Friday, October 12, 2018

One Hundred Companies Are Killing Us All

The Guardian:
Just 100 companies have been the source of more than 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988, according to a new report. The Carbon Majors Report (pdf) “pinpoints how a relatively small set of fossil fuel producers may hold the key to systemic change on carbon emissions,” says Pedro Faria, technical director at environmental non-profit CDP, which published the report in collaboration with the Climate Accountability Institute... Compiled from a database of publicly available emissions figures, it is intended as the first in a series of publications to highlight the role companies and their investors could play in tackling climate change. The report found that more than half of global industrial emissions since 1988 – the year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was established – can be traced to just 25 corporate and state-owned entities. The scale of historical emissions associated with these fossil fuel producers is large enough to have contributed significantly to climate change, according to the report. ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and Chevron are identified as among the highest emitting investor-owned companies since 1988. If fossil fuels continue to be extracted at the same rate over the next 28 years as they were between 1988 and 2017, says the report, global average temperatures would be on course to rise by 4C by the end of the century. This is likely to have catastrophic consequences including substantial species extinction and global food scarcity risks...

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Wednesday, October 10, 2018


Many Presidents have dipped below 50% Approval in their terms, but Trump is on track to being the first who has never managed to reach 50% Approval at any point in his term. More people have disapproved than approved of his performance every single day he has been in the White House. This unprecedently unpopular popular vote loser is the one destroying the country for parochial profit with the support of a party of desperate dwindling aging racist white greedhead ignoramuses in gerrymandered districts through a system of sweeping disenfranchisement under an electoral college that disproportionately empowers scattered rural citizens over the majorities who live in dense diverse cities. There is going to be a reckoning.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Today's Random Wilde

There are two ways of disliking poetry; one way is to dislike it, the other is to read Pope.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Monday, October 08, 2018

Long Teaching Day, Long Teaching Week

Six hours of lecture back to back today in the City -- first up, Benjamin and Adorno in my critical theory survey, then privacy in my digital anti-democratization course: surveillance but also possessive individualism and IP. In my grad seminar tomorrow on "design thinking" we have arrived at cyberlibertarian ideology, so many manifestos will be scoffed at. Two of my grad thesis students are having their Intermediate Reviews this week as well... these hours of last minute writing samples, commuting, co-ordinating schedules among overclocked people take their toll. It's gonna be a rough week, I fear.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Sunday, October 07, 2018


It looks like no brunch and long walk this weekend -- Eric is swamped with work and my upcoming week demands extra prep as well, as my three lectures give way to intermediate reviews for my thesis students. It's sunny and briskly autumnal outside, quite lovely, so I'll do some lecture prep out on the porch at any rate... Politics are too grisly to comment on, the eager cruelty of the Trumpuglicans is on full display, and the stakes for the election just a month away feel fraught beyond belief. History is a hole we never dig out of in time, but sometimes this feels more bearable than others.

Today's Random Wilde

Dandyism is the assertion of the absolute modernity of Beauty.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Today's Random Wilde

Quotation is a serviceable substitute for wit.


And also, Vote.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily