amor mundi

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

Thursday, May 23, 2019

The Presidential Mediocrity Pile-Up

I know this Dan Zak piece has been doing the rounds, so you've probably already read it, but it's doing the rounds for a reason: we all sense the stupid icky truth of it all:
Steve Bullock is not John Hickenlooper, and John Hickenlooper is not Jay Inslee, but they do blend seamlessly into a haze of slight jowls and ruddy whiteness, such that if you puree their chromosomes in a laboratory, you might get Michael Bennet, who is also running for president, even though you can’t remember who he is or what he looks like. It is also important to note that Seth Moulton is not Tim Ryan, and Tim Ryan is not Eric Swalwell -- but they might as well be, because each of them is an avatar of ish-ness: young-ish, handsome-ish and nonexistent-ish, with each polling close to zero in the 2020 Democratic presidential race, which feels like it started a generation ago and will probably continue until your uncle declares, too, sometime during Thanksgiving dinner later this year. Now add Bill de Blasio to the mix, because Bill de Blasio added himself to the mix Thursday, because what we need right now is Bill de Blasio in the mix, running for president...
This expresses at the tonal level of contemporary punditry-qua-celebrity-gossip a comparable and far more serious mediocrity of policy substance or imaginative heft across the sprawl of these pale, stale, male also-rans. A feeling of eerie unequalness to the urgent tasks we truly and collectively face. Now, I'm still personally quite impressed by Elizabeth Warren's campaign and I'm still keeping my eyes on Kamala Harris' superior organization, and I guess it is edifying that they are both settling into the middle of the pack of Democratic contenders for now, well beneath Biden and Bernie (neither of whom excite me at all, except my occasional disgust, tho' of course I will instantly vote for either against the execrable authoritarian bigot Trump), but well within contention as campaign vicissitudes begin to tell. The Republicans are terrifying me, the Democrats are disappointing me (in ways that are also a bit terrifying): this has been true since I came into political awareness in the 80s, of course, but like everything in Trump-stage, that is to say probably terminal stage, America everything is just that much more surreally worse.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Compostable

via BBC:
Washington has become the first state in the US to legalise human composting. Under the new law, people there can now choose to have their body turned into soil after their death. The process is seen as an alternative to cremations and burials, and as a practical option in cities where land for graveyards is scarce. At the end of the composting, loved ones are given the soil, which they can use in planting flowers, vegetables or trees. The bill was signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee on Tuesday...  Katrina Spade, who lobbied for the law to be introduced, founded a company that could be the first to provide the service. "Recomposition offers an alternative to embalming and burial or cremation that is natural, safe, sustainable, and will result in significant savings in carbon emissions and land usage[.]"
Sign me up the minute it is legal in California. Feed me to a plum, ginkgo, apple-pear, or maple tree, and I might manage to facilitate after death some small beauty in and healing of the world. Would go some way to compensate my many ineptitudes trying the same in life.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Monday, May 20, 2019

Monday Walk and Brunch

Sunnier skies allowed our postponed weekend jaunt -- Piedmont Avenue was a bit less laid back on a weekday but nothing can stopper the magic of our Rose Garden. Eric's been taking pictures on our walks lately. Perhaps I'll soon add a few to the mix here. It's the week break between my teaching terms -- handed in grades at the end of last week, start teaching at the beginning of the next -- but I've got an early-morning "onboarding" session to manage this week and there's a lot of prep happening, so the break feels a bit broken. Already trying to figure out how to cover a lot of ground in just a few weeks of this intensive...

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Rain Check

A rainy morning and gray waterlogged stormclouds rolling slowly overhead have scared us off our usual Sunday brunch and stroll, but it's the break between terms so we can always postpone to tomorrow when the (oft-wrong) atmosfuturists forecast more sunny weather for us... Eric and I spent the night having cannabinoidally-inflected retro-fun in the year of my birth, 1965, with Doctor Who, the Avengers, and the Thunderbirds. Add in a Beatles soundtrack and D & D and it's a lot like my junior high experience.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Syllabus For My Upcoming Berkeley Intensive: "What Is Compelling?"

Rhetoric 10: The Rhetoric of Argument 
"What Is Compelling? Argument, Reconciliation, Obligation"

Summer 2019, Session A, 2-4.30pm., Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, 88 Dwinelle Hall

Instructor, Dale Carrico: dcarrico@sfai.edy; ndaleca@gmail.com;
Course Blog: http://whatiscompelling.blogspot.com

Participation/Attendance/In-Class Activities, 25%; Reading Notebook, 15%; Mid-Term Exam, 30%; Final Paper, 5-6pp., 30%. (Rough Basis for Final Grade, subject to contingencies)

Course Description

The arc of the moral universe is a longing... and it bends from just us.

This course provides students with tools they can use to make better, more compelling, arguments and also to read arguments in better, more critical, ways. We will draw the tools for our argumentative toolboxes from the long history of rhetoric, from sophistical dissoi logoi, to the Aristotelian appeals, to Quintilian's four master tropes, to the rich archive of formal and informal fallacies, to argument modeled on litigation via Toulmin's schema, to argument modeled on mediation via Rogerian synthesis, to the pragmatism of the ends of argument. All the while we are workshopping these technical skills we will also be reading and discussing a range of texts that tackle questions of the reach and forms of violence and nonviolence in historical struggle and in everyday life. These texts will likewise draw from a long history, from Immanuel Kant, Martin Luther King, Jr., Frantz Fanon and Hannah Arendt to Arundhati Roy, Judith Butler, and Ta-Nehisi Coates. We will also talk through a play by Euripides, an essay by Nietzsche, a novel by Octavia Butler, a film by Cronenberg… The crucial thing to understand about the course is that we will not be taking on two separate projects, one practical and another theoretical. This course proposes that there is an indispensable relation between the traditional focus of rhetoric as instruction in the art of making compelling arguments and the theoretical preoccupation of many rhetoricians with questions of what violence or compulsion ultimately consists. It is commonplace to see Persuasion offered up as an alternative to the violent adjudication of disputes or hear Argument idealized as a space "outside" of violence. But the truth is that many arguments rely on the acceptance of a violent status quo or depend on conventional assumptions that deny marginal testimonies to violation. Also, many arguments stealthily threaten violence while at once congratulating themselves on their peacefulness. Ultimately, the course proposes that it is rhetoric's definitive concern with the traffic between the literal and figurative dimensions of language and its situated understanding of truth-telling that connects the work of rhetoric with a project of reconciliation that resists violence even as we cannot help but risk it.

A Provisional Schedule of Meetings

Week One

May 28 SKILL SET: Key Definitions
[1] Rhetoric is the facilitation of efficacious discourse as well as an ongoing inquiry into the terms on the basis of which discourse comes to seem efficacious or not.
[2] A text is an event experienced as arising from intention, offered up to the hearing of an audience, and obligating a responsiveness equal to it.
[3] An argument is a claim supported by reasons and/or evidence.
Introductions: Rhetoric as occasional, interested, figurative; The literal as conventional, the figurative as deviant.
May 29 SKILL SET: Reading Critically/Writing Critically; Audience/Intentions -- Audiences: Sympathetic, Unsympathetic, Apathetic; Intentions: Interrogation, Conviction, Persuasion, Reconciliation
Euripides: Hecuba (Here is a link to the last few lines of the play, cut off from the online version for some reason)
May 30 SKILL SET: Aristotelian rhetoric; Ethos, Pathos, Logos; Writing A Precis
Immanuel Kant, Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose

Week Two

June 4  SKILL SET: Four Habits of Argumentative Writing: 1. Formulate a Strong Thesis, 2. Define Your Terms, 3, Substantiate/Contextualize, 4, Anticipate Objections; Performativity
Thomas Jefferson, The Declaration of Independence
June 5 SKILL SET: The Toulmin Schema
William May, "Rising to the Occasion of Our Death" (In-Class Handout)
Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience
Arundhati Roy, War Is Peace
June 6 SKILL SET: Rogerian Rhetoric
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from the Birmingham Jail
Logan Rimel, My "Nonviolent" Stance Was Met With Heavily Armed Men

supplemental/referenced texts this week:

Henry David Thoreau, A Plea for Captain John Brown
Howard Zinn, On Henry David Thoreau and When To Resist An Immoral State 
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Declaration of Independence from the War in Vietnam
Ella Baker, Bigger Than A Hamburger
Combahee River Collective Statement

Week Three

June 11 SKILL SET: Logoi Dissoi
Michel Foucault, from Discipline and Punish The Body of the Condemned, Docile Bodies, Panoptism
Angela Davis, selections from Are Prisons Obsolete? Chapters 1, 2, 6
June 12 SKILL SET: Propositional Analysis; Enthymemes, Syllogisms, Formal Fallacies, Informal Fallacies (short day)
June 13 SKILL SET: Literal/Figurative Language; Figures, Tropes, Schemes; Four Master Tropes
Nietzsche, On Truth and the Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense

supplemental/referenced texts this week:

Angela Davis, Abolition Democracy
Nietzsche, selections from The Gay Science

Week Four

June 12 Mid-Term Examination
June 13 Screening and Discussion of the Film, "A History of Violence," dir. Cronenberg
June 14 Hannah Arendt, Reflections On Violence and "Must Eichmann Hang?" (In-Class Handout)
Frantz Fanon, Concerning Violence from The Wretched of the Earth
supplemental/referenced texts this week:
Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic, The Case for Reparations
Hannah Arendt on forgiveness from The Human Condition

Week Five

June 19 Octavia Butler, Kindred (Purchase in time for class. ISBN-10: 0807083690 ISBN-13: 978-0807083697)
June 20 SKILL SET: Debate
Correspondence of Tolstoy and Gandhi
Jane Addams, New Ideals of Peace: Passing of the War Virtues 
June 21 SKILL SET: Workshopping Final Paper: Producing a Strong Thesis; Anticipating Objections; Providing Textual Support

supplemental/referenced texts this week:

Mohandas K. Gandhi, The Meaning and Practice of Ahimsa
Karuna Matena, The Power of Nonviolence
Gene Sharp, How Nonviolent Struggle Works 
Rev. William Barber, The Third Reconstruction

Week Six

June 26 Rob Nixon, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor (Introduction, pp. [1]-44.)
John Bellamy Foster, The Four Laws of Ecology and the Four Anti-Ecological Laws of Capitalism
June 27 Carol Adams, Preface from Neither Man Nor Beast and Manifesto {Bacchanal}
Final Paper Due

Friday, May 17, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily


Beyond Grading

Handed in final grades -- nobody failed, nobody super late, nobody phoned it in, marvelous! Now, the usual celebration: