amor mundi

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

Sunday, November 18, 2018


For the second week in a row, smoke from nearby wildfires has kept us from our Sunday brunch and stroll. The afternoon is an orange haze burning away a thin white morning fog of dust. I've been coughing all week, but given my, er, history it's the nosebleeds that are the most terrorizing. The smoke keeps Eric at the edge of his migraine on top of everything else. The air we are breathing is a poisonous cloud of human tragedies... My class could conceivably be canceled Monday (school shut down both Thursday and Friday but those are not teaching days for me), but we are approaching the chaos of end of term and students are already falling off the edges of the map and deadlines are getting plucked like violin strings. Thanksgiving is the furthest thing from my mind, hoping the holiday break in three weeks will bring a measure of relief...

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Friday, November 16, 2018

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Mundi Muster! Extinguish the Slavery of Incarcerated Firefighters in California

Sign This Color of Change Petition:
Wildfires are raging across northern and southern California, and have killed at least 44 people since the most recent wildfires started. Over the past year, the fires have caused over $1 billion in damage to property and nearly 7,000 homes and buildings have been destroyed. These wildfires have also had a big impact on California's incarcerated population who have risked their lives fighting wildfires-- two inmates have already been killed this year in the line of duty.And the incarcerated workers fighting these fires are making as little as $1/hour.

Incarcerated firefighters, not protected under any work safety regulations, often return from fighting fires with broken ankles, arms, burns, and suffering from extreme exhaustion. Fighting fires is backbreaking labor and in the state of California, many people who are doing this work have been forced. The common refrain from proponents of the program is that it is completely voluntary--but inmates often face disciplinary action if they refuse to participate. To make matters worse, many of the prisoners doing this work are women, most of whom are mothers, and children. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) boasted in July that over 2,000 incarcerated adults and 58 incarcerated youth were fighting fires. Mothers and children often choose to take on this dangerous work because they are told that it could accelerate their release date and get them back with their families by earning “good behavior, ” but it usually results in just a mere two days off a sentence. On top of all of this, incarcerated firefighters can't even get jobs as firefighters once they are released from prison--because they have felony records.

The CalFire program is not a mutually beneficial exchange, it's a ruthless exploitation of forced, deadly, and essentially unpaid labor. That's why we're calling on the CDCR to end the practice of employing children to fight fires, ensure that incarcerated firefighters receive the same wage as firefighters who aren't incarcerated and that a pathway is created for them to have a real job on the outside.

This is the message we'll send to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and Governor Jerry Brown: Here is the Petition:
We're calling on you to end the practice of employing children to fight fires, ensure that incarcerated workers in the CalFire firefighter program receive the same wage as firefighters who aren't incarcerated, and that a pathway is created for prisoners working as firefighters while in prison to be able to to do the same job once they are free.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Today's Random Wilde

Psycholog­y is in its infancy, as a science. I hope in the interests of Art, it will always remain so.

Barbara Lee Speaks for Me Daily

And while we're on the subject of Barbara Lee, I ferociously endorse this sentiment as well:

Mundi Muster! Demand House Democrats Investigate Voter Suppression

I'm telling House Democrats to investigate voter suppression and save Black political power! I'm joining Color Of Change to demand Democrats use their new majority in the House of Representatives to open investigations into voter suppression. This year we saw widespread suppression of voters in Black communities and other communities of color, and it's time we fight back! Color of Change Petition

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Mundi Muster! Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Good Question for Governor-Elect Newsom:

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Friday, November 09, 2018

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Yes We Cannabis

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Today's Random Wilde

Le mystère de l'amour est plus grand que le mystère de la mort.

Ned to Beto...

Not a prediction, inasmuch as the mode of prophesy, popular tho' it may be, is even more idiotic in the field of long-term political prognostication than it is in the field of futurological flim-flammery -- still, it seems to me entirely as plausible to imagine Beto O'Rourke as the governor of a Texas as purplish as Virginia presently is twelve years from his impressively close loss this week as to observe Ned Lamont become governor-elect of the Connecticut that did not elect him over the vile "Independent" Joe Lieberman in a comparably high-profile election twelve years ago. That "twelve years ago" feels like a literal eye-blink to me, by the way.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

MundiMuster! Sign SPLC's Petition

November 07, 2018
Last night, Americans shifted the balance of power in the House of Representatives, creating a Democratic majority. The new Congress now holds the responsibility to take a stand for civil and human rights. Here are four immediate steps Congress must take to put America back on the right track. Add your name in support.
1. Reauthorize and Strengthen the Voting Rights Act. Congress must enact a new Voting Rights Act to ensure fair elections and unfettered access to the ballot for everyone.
2. Investigate America’s resurgent white supremacist movement. President Trump’s role in electrifying the white supremacist movement cannot be ignored. Congress must hold hearings to investigate the rise in hate and extremism in this country and on possible solutions.
3. Stop the Trump deportation machine. The Trump administration is operating an inhumane deportation machine that rips families apart, terrorizes communities, and flouts due process and American values. Congress must hold the administration accountable for its abuses and enact sensible reforms to our broken immigration system.
4. Stop the Census from being rigged. By including a question about citizenship, the Trump administration wants to use the decennial Census as a weapon of intimidation against immigrants, one that would distort the results. Congress must take steps to stop this scheme.

Hot Take-O-Matic Redux

This yields the impression -- and I think this squares with the feelings many are experiencing this morning -- of a divided result, almost a wash, and hence a disappointment. That the highest-profile contests, Abrams, Gillum, and O'Rourke seem to have gone the Republicans' way may buttress that sense of disappointment especially here and now, as the results remain raw, and the criminality in Georgia (and elsewhere) and the megaphoned racism in Florida and Georgia (and elsewhere) are especially demoralizing and enraging. The brutal Senate result this cycle (which I have been worrying about since well before 2016) is enormously consequential since Trump will use it to continue his ongoing reactionary dismantlement of the courts on which we will depend so much in the next years to implement voting reforms and maintain tattered but vital environmental and healthcare regulations and supports. But Democrats won the House, the repudiation was geographically widespread in ways that suggest the 2016 Presidential result did not portend the loss of a nationally viable electoral coalition even as it also confirmed (to those who needed such confirmation) that the white supremacy that has shaped the entire history of this nation continues to do so in ways that always undermine and now imperil our notionally and yet aspirationally democratic tendency. Democrats now can put a check on the worst impulses of Trump-era Republicans, and will also provide a foil for Trump to demagogue in his run for re-election -- which he would have done anyway, but don't doubt for a second he can win re-election in this racist country with such methods. Like W, Trump's election was something of a fluke, but his re-election would not be. Notice that even in the terms of the hot take-o-matic, Democratic House gains are actually on the cusp between a good result and a wave, suggesting the better night for Democrats than Republicans this mid-term actually represented. A lot of truly vile figures went down and others felt vulnerable as they have not before. Medicaid expansion, felon re-enfranchisement, medical and recreational cannabis legalization, protections for queers, minimum wage increases, progressive voter reforms won across many states, making life a bit better for many here and now and setting virtuous forces loose to redress anti-democratic gerrymandering and voter disenfranchisement schemes. Because Democrats won, government is coming to better reflect the diverse reality of our lived nation, with historic victories for women, black folks, queers, native Americans, young people and others. This night was not a mixed result, but an overall victory amidst real defeats. We can fight on from here, when with a worse result we might not have done. Too many of those who seem utterly demoralized must have formed unrealistic expectations about the structural disadvantages the Resistance overcame to win last night, and too many seem to me to underestimate just how entrenched white supremacy is -- perhaps it is a good thing that the result was mixed enough and ugly enough that privileged straight white "progressives" couldn't just retreat back into their comfortable shells and idiotic "post-racial" America and "lean in" white feminist stasis narratives. Here's hoping the stealth-reactionary tech-fetishization that has so long undermined left discourse is truly on the wane in the aftermath of facebook and google and amazon shenanigans. Here's hoping fewer people will fall for berniebrocialist purity-cabaret next time around (and that people of genuine socialist conviction will organize with environmentalist BDS work and prison abolition work and gun regulation work and union organizing work and on-the-ground disability activism and real support for undocumented folks and asylum seekers rather than pretend sniping at voting on social media is some kind of revolutionary activity), and people of and adjacent to the Resistance will vote and do more than vote through the next couple of years and the next few hundred crises soon to come. Trump is already behaving like he is fully aware that he is in a fight for his life... and the democratizing, diversifying, secularizing, planetizing majority must understand that we are in a fight for our lives too. We are all we have. I, for one, am much more encouraged than not and feel ready to rumble.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Take Octavia Butler into the Voting Booth

“Choose your leaders with wisdom and forethought.
To be led by a coward is to be controlled by all that the coward fears.
To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool.
To be led by a thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen.
To be led by a liar is to ask to be told lies.
To be led by a tyrant is to sell yourself and those you love into slavery.”
― Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Talents

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Monday, November 05, 2018

"These Are The Bad Time"

Daily inner monologue...

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Long Teaching Day

Work kept Eric and I away from our brunch and stroll this weekend, and I miss the bolstering respite now, going in to my long teaching day today: William Burroughs and Valerie Solanas this afternoon in critical theory. In the past this has always been a fun lecture and often a freewheeling discussion, but I'm feeling burned out from mid-term grading marathons the last three weekends in a row and the imminently upcoming last-chance-to-stop-the-Nazis election stakes tomorrow, so my heart is really not at all in it today. Worksopping final papers in my digital anti-democratization course, final projects ramping up in all three courses, which tends to mean a bit less lecture prep time and far more one-on-one time with students veering from disengaged to desperate...