Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All
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?
Saturday, July 08, 2017
Began teaching summer intensives last week, the, em, intensity of which is compelling a retreat from twitter and blogging... not the worst thing in the world. Compulsively retweeting outrageous headlines scarcely seems like a form of awareness that affords agency rather than just endlessly amplifying alarm. Who needs it?
Tuesday, July 04, 2017
Via BBC Science, a story appealing at once to my fascination with all things Roman as to my passion for all things ecological:
Ancient sea walls built by the Romans used a concrete made from lime and volcanic ash to bind with rocks. Now scientists have discovered that elements within the volcanic material reacted with sea water to strengthen the construction. They believe the discovery could lead to more environmentally friendly building materials. Unlike the modern concrete mixture which erodes over time, the Roman substance has long puzzled researchers. Rather than eroding, particularly in the presence of sea water, the material seems to gain strength from the exposure... "Contrary to the principles of modern cement-based concrete," said... Marie Jackson from the University of Utah, US, "the Romans created a rock-like concrete that thrives in open chemical exchange with seawater." ... The ancient mixture differs greatly from the current approach. Modern buildings are constructed with concrete based on Portland cement... The process of making cement has a heavy environmental penalty, being responsible for around 5% of global emissions of CO2. So could the greater understanding of the ancient Roman mixture lead to greener building materials? Prof Jackson is testing new materials using sea water and volcanic rock from the western United States. Speaking to the BBC earlier this year, she argued that the planned Swansea tidal lagoon should be built using the ancient Roman knowledge of concrete. "Their technique was based on building very massive structures that are really quite environmentally sustainable and very long-lasting," she said. "I think Roman concrete or a type of it would be a very good choice [for Swansea]. That project is going to require 120 years of service life to amortise [pay back] the investment. "We know that Portland cement concretes contain steel reinforcements. Those will surely corrode in at least half of that service lifetime." There are a number of limiting factors that make the revival of the Roman approach very challenging. One is the lack of suitable volcanic rocks. The Romans, the scientists say, were fortunate that the right materials were on their doorstep. Another drawback is the lack of the precise mixture that the Romans followed. It might take years of experimenting to discover the full formula.
Monday, July 03, 2017
...all the while planning to escape responsibility by moving to a dead Mars.
Vox on The US Climate Alliance:
President Trump['s] announc[ment] that the US would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement... has sparked an extraordinary amount of counter-organizing. In recoiling from Trump, states, cities, and institutions are entering into closer cooperation. A coalition is forming, a Blue America, and at least on climate change, it is going beyond mere resistance to a more proactive role, negotiating with the international community on its own behalf, like a separate nation.
Sunday, July 02, 2017
Since Trump's inauguration I have lost over fifty pounds from diet and exercise (and, possibly, worry). Also, I have probably watched more cooking competitions and home renovation shows on tee vee than I managed in the full ten years prior to this distressing time. I must say, neither of these results were even in my mind's eye last November... Minute changes seeking even modest self-care have already yielded vast changes in my health, my appearance, my state of mind, the shaping of my day to day time. There is always more going on in life than we attend to. I suppose I could try to talk about that more. Pointing out the authoritarianism, bigotry, cruelty, corruption, hypocrisy, stupidity of the Trump GOP in power is too demoralizing after the bazillionth expose.