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

Saturday, December 30, 2017

MundiMuster! Floridians, You Can Restore the Vote

Click the link if you're interested, or read the thread to see more about why you should be interested.

Warping In The New Year...

I've upgraded this from one of Jim's comments in the Moot, definitely deserves a post of its own -- thanks for this, happy New Year to you, too!
Speaking of Star Trek, you know 2018 is the year warp drive gets invented, according to TOS canon. Lieutenant McGivers says so, and she should know, since she's the ship's historian. ;->

MARLA: Captain, it's a sleeper ship.

KIRK: Suspended animation?

MARLA: Uh huh. I've seen old photographs of this. Necessary because of the time involved in space travel until about the year 2018. It took years just to travel from one planet to another. Then a brilliant industrialist named Elon Musk found a way around the laws of physics. . .

Hm. Why does she say "about" the year 2018? Is there going to be time-distortion effect? Or has the election of Donald Trump altered the time-line? Anyway. . . happy new year. ;->

Friday, December 29, 2017

DiEM25 Is Needed... And Needs To Change

Everything I feared, everything I hoped. As usual.


I love all of this.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Live Long And Prosper

Piles of Antiquity

Finished Mary Beard's Colosseum book only to begin her Parthenon book the next day. Am I on vacation or what? Plan to spend some time today, as yesterday, organizing my syllabus and notes for next term's graduate critical theory survey, but the truth is that I'm taking it easy this break, trying to catch up on sleep, trying to recover from the stress of end-of-term and endless-Trump and losing Sarah and all the rest.


Echelon Insights finds that there were only 17 days in 2017 where Donald Trump was not the top topic of conversation on social media, and he was the number one story every week for every audience.
Garbage every minute, garbage all the way down. Highly elevating, for the soul, for the nation, for the world.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Fake News

So, some people who created a fake war on saying merry christmas have declared a fake victory in that fake war so that they can fake feeling good about fake winning it over people who simply don't care about any of it?

Internet of Shit

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Monday, December 25, 2017

All Honor To Those Who Are Working On The Holidays

Ready To Catch The Wave Should It Come

Federal Election Commission filings show that if a wave crashes on the Republican House majority in November, as many have predicted, Democratic surfers will be on their boards to catch it. Nearly a year out from the election, Democratic candidates have filed in all but 20 House districts held by Republicans. By comparison, Democrats in 80 districts do not have a Republican opponent for their seat. The Democrats are not just filing to run in districts where Mrs. Clinton performed well. They are also running for conservative seats that were uncontested in 2016 and where Republicans remain heavy favorites, in states like Texas, Arkansas and Nebraska.

Let's Make It Happen

Hark, the Herald Fugelsang

As every year, the reminder:

And What Have We Done?

I'm a wee bit more hopeful now than I was this time last year, and this year -- even with its disgusting and demoralizing Trump atrocities and calamities, even with the devastating loss of little Sarah -- has been a wee bit better than the worst I feared for it and now, for next year as every year...

Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Shit Stink

Christmas Effects by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick

As every year on this day, a remembrance for a scholar who mattered to me when it mattered quite a lot:

What’s “queer?” Here’s one train of thought about it. The depressing thing about the Christmas season -- isn’t it? -- is that it’s the time when all the institutions are speaking with one voice. The Church says what the Church says. But the State says the same thing: maybe not (in some ways it hardly matters) in the language of theology, but in the language the State talks: legal holidays, long school hiatus, special postage stamps, and all. And the language of commerce more than chimes in, as consumer purchasing is organized ever more narrowly around the final weeks of the calendar year, the Dow Jones aquiver over Americans’ “holiday mood.” The media, in turn, fall in triumphally behind the Christmas phalanx: ad-swollen magazines have oozing turkeys on the cover, while for the news industry every question turns into the Christmas question -- Will hostages be free for Christmas? What did that flash flood or mass murder (umpty-ump people killed and maimed) do to those families’ Christmas? And meanwhile, the pairing “families/Christmas” becomes increasingly tautological, as families more and more constitute themselves according to the schedule, and in the endlessly iterated image, of the holiday itself constituted in the image of "the" family.

The thing hasn’t, finally, so much to do with propaganda for Christianity as with propaganda for Christmas itself. They all -- religion, state, capital, ideology, domesticity, the discourses of power and legitimacy -- line up with each other so neatly once a year, and the monolith so created is a thing one can come to view with unhappy eyes. What if instead there were a practice of valuing the ways in which meanings and institutions can be at loose ends with each other? What if the richest junctures weren’t the ones where everything means the same thing? -- Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Tendencies, Duke University Press, 1993, pp. 5-6

Sunday Walk

Lovely Christmas Eve with Eric today, our usual Sunday walk down Piedmont to our greasy spoon for eggs. Afterwards, a stroll through St. Mary's. The streets were bustling with last minute shoppers, I suppose, the cemetery even more empty and quiet than usual. Spent the day idling through chapters of Mary Beard's popular guide to the Colosseum -- probably just because it was on the shelf next to the book I read yesterday. We plan to watch detective shows or silly science fiction tonight cozy under blankets and sleep in if my insomnia can for once be kept at bay. I hope everybody has a good holiday.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Women And Power

I enjoy Mary Beard's writing -- both her popular and more academic work on Roman history and institutions especially -- and also admire her clarity, cordiality, and ferocious public persona. I read her latest book, Women and Power: A Manifesto yesterday. Public speech and the political subjecthood figured through such speech has been indicatively male since the Greeks, and the brutalizing policing of women's voices has characteristic and conspicuous continuities ever since. The book weighs in at just a hundred or so pages, and many are devoted to edifyingly garish paintings of classical subjects. I managed most of it while soaking in a lovely hot bath. Nothing not to like, really, but nothing really new there, either, I may excerpt the text (or earlier essays from which it was largely compiled) the next time I teach on gender in antiquity, since the tone is clear and conversational and the references nicely topical. You're probably better off reading her on Pompeii or the triumph -- though in her conclusion Beard genuflected in the direction of larger and thornier questions of gender that may indicate her future scholarship may take on feminist resonances more explicitly and in ways from which we will all benefit.



Pollsters have long understood that the way in which you ask questions can profoundly influence the results of a poll. The folks who run the Trump Make America Great Again PAC apparently realize that, too. In a fundraising blast on Friday, they included a highly-scientific poll that begins thusly:

Trump vs. Obama

If one is sending out a poll to one's rabid supporters, one wouldn't think that one would need to cook the books. Still, The Donald will undoubtedly be delighted to hear that he got fewer "poor" ratings than his predecessor.

Friday, December 22, 2017


Tariq Ali's Islam Quintet

I finished reading Tariq Ali's Night of the Golden Butterfly yesterday -- and with that I have completed all five novels in his "Islam Quintet," which I began the week before the first week of instruction for the Fall term and so finish a week after handing in final grades for that term. I enjoyed and learned from all five and found real provocation from most, though I would say that I enjoyed the last two least, as they are bit more thematically and narratively scattered. Every single novel was full of humor, delightful observations, and contrarian historical knowledge. My favorites were the first two I read, Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree and The Book of Saladin. I would warn that the conclusions of Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree and A Sultan in Palermo are devastatingly brutal (at any rate, they truly were for me) -- especially if you are prone to worry about the worst-case genocidal-authoritarian scenarios of the Trump epoch, for the historical parallels are not edifying. Like Night of the Golden Butterfly, The Stone Woman was a more meandering and gentle read (indeed, the latter is positively Chekhovian in some ways), in a way both make for milder more diverting entertainments, although Ali is doing lots of admirably ambitious things formally in the latter novels, too, don't get me wrong. I strongly recommend them all.

Public Service Announcement

Wednesday, December 20, 2017


"Tech" has never been anything but a euphemism for assholery.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Make Them Pay

And, oh yeah, as a Californian?


Monday, December 18, 2017

Better Late Than Never

Implementation is selective and slow and to be pressured not trusted (as usual), but, yes, but, still, yes.


Sunday, December 17, 2017

Holder On Holding The Line

Yes, it may come to this. It may come to this in weeks or even days.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Feeling Hopeless Is Always Understandable

...but only very rarely right.

A new AP/NORC poll released yesterday puts Donald Trump's approval at 32%, making him the least popular first-year president in history (at least, since approval ratings began to be recorded in the 1940s). Despite the booming economy, only 40% of Americans think he is doing a good job on the economy. On the other hand, only 30% approve of how he is doing on health care, foreign policy, and taxes. The poll also found that only 9% think the country is more united under Trump while 67% think it is more divided.
There has to be a reckoning coming...

Friday, December 15, 2017

I Fear This Is True

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Still Grading... And Worse

My deadline is tomorrow. A handful of students still haven't handed in final papers, however I badger, pressure, and cajole. This is more upsetting than I can possibly say. Students who could do well, who have been doing reasonably well so far, who have certainly been passing at any rate, are going to fail -- and there is little I can do about it. I know I may seem to complain about the excruciating intensity of final grading, but far worse still is waiting for work to grade that never comes...

Happy Birthday Indivisibles

We All Know

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

"And An Act of God"

Tuesday, December 12, 2017


In trying to find the right word for President Donald Trump, American voters are overwhelmingly negative, as 53 voters (not percent) say "idiot" is the first word that comes to mind when they think of the president, followed by 44 voters who say "liar" and 36 voters who say "incompetent," according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today. In the same open-ended question, allowing for any answer, 35 voters say "leader," with 35 voters saying "strong," 26 voters saying "a**hole," 21 voters saying "great," 19 voters saying "moron," 18 voters saying "arrogant" and 17 voters saying "disgusting"... Of the 48 words used by five or more voters, 30 words are negative. Voters disapprove 57 - 37 percent of the job President Trump is doing, consistent with findings for the last four months. Trump has hit or topped the 40 percent approval mark four times since he was inaugurated. His highest approval, 42 percent, was in February.
They're dismantling the ACA mandate, medicare, social security despite the flabbergasting unpopularity of this, they refuse to install gun regulations and invest in renewable energy despite the flabbergasting popularity of this. Trump lost the popular vote by millions, Roy Moore is likely to be elected this very day to a Senate seat while a majority (with whom I number myself) thinks he is straightforwardly unfit for office. Republicans think they are insulated from consequences -- and they may just be right, and if they are right things may get bad enough before the next election that things won't get better again for any election in my lifetime. That said, disapproval like this would historically indicate a Democratic Wave in the upcoming mid-terms and a one-term humiliation of a failed presidency for Trump. Maybe that will be true again. It should be true. It needs to be true. It is worth working to make it true.

Grading Grading Grading

Grading it is.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Happy Birthday UNICEF

Still Grading

Second verse, same as the first...

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Better Late Than Never -- The Doug Jones Campaign Is Actually Asking For The Votes It Needs At Last

My Retweets Suggest Unexpected Star Wars Fever...?


Grading final papers this weekend. Worried about stragglers and extensions as always, but this has been a pretty good term and I think everybody is going to do mostly well this time around. It sometimes seems as though millions of my fellow Americans want me to die because I am queer, because I am a feminist, because I care about the environment and think we should abolish guns and prisons and wage-slavery and advertizing, and because I am a non-believer, even just because I am a teacher, an intellectual, a celebrant of silly pursuits like art and poetry and philosophy in this terrible distressed world, because I have no patience for the lies of sociopathic "tech leaders" and their fraudulent infomercials, maybe because I am getting old, because I am anxious and sleepless and depressed, because I dare to try to cobble together some kind of an itinerant intellectual existence as an unapologetic democratic eco-socialist adjunct in the humanities, without guarantees, benefits, supports... but it is nice to see from the comments that some of my fellow Americans also want me to die because I am not a good enough progressive for them. That's nice. Back to grading papers, I guess. I still miss my kitty. This has been a hard year.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Tech's This! Changes! Everything!

...usually turns out to be more of the same, and the worst of the same.


According to Pew, Trump's approval has fallen in every polled demographic group over the course of his first year, dramatically in some, and of course, overall his approval is historically unprecedentedly low, and has been from the first. For any other President, for any other party, at any other time in history this would matter enormously. Although this November's off-year election was an encouraging harbinger, it still remains to be seen if Trump's dismal record and approval will free us from his catastrophic criminal administration before he manages to do us all in.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Also, Too

I am glad Franken has resigned. Politicians are replaceable, values are not. Also, too:

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

The "War On Drugs" Is Racist...

...and ending the "War On Drugs" must be made to be much less racist than it has been so far.


Get ready, they're going to push it to the edge, they're going to test the republic and there is every reason to think the republic will fail.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Remember When Republicans Declared Obamacare "Rushed"?

It wasn't. And when they said they cared, they were lying. We all knew then and we all know now. Lie lie lie lie steal kill cheat. You know, Republicans! (Fauxvolutionaries chiming in "Dems too!" won't even appear in comments -- I am done with you.)

God Damn Them, Every One...

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Sunday Walk

Lovely walk to our greasy spoon diner on Piedmont for a late breakfast, then on to Temescal and back home in a big loop of some of Oakland's wonderful walkable urban neighborhoods nearby... Spent the afternoon reading Judith Butler in anticipation of the last lecture of the term. Tonight, we're snuggling under a blanket with Suchet's Poirot. The calm before the end-of-term storm.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

On A Day of Defeat... Recall A Year of Effective Resistance... And Gather Your Strength

Rebecca Solnit:
It has been a grueling year for people who care about human rights, climate change, and whatever remains of value in federal institutions from the judiciary to the diplomatic corps. This is a terrible, terrible era, one in which tremendous harm is being done to many people, to the planet and to the federal government. It is also a time in which, through the heroic work of people all over the country and the world, the regime has been exposed, thwarted and rebuked. That’s worth remembering as we face a horrific tax bill and the end of net neutrality. This year of conflicts demonstrates that sometimes when we fight we win, and we have enormous fights ahead of us. The Trump administration is unstable for many reasons, from the erratic behaviour of the president to the Mueller investigation. Civil society has tremendous influence over what becomes of it, and of us. It’s time to take stock of some of the encouraging phenomena that emerged from this grim year. So I made a list.

Don't Think I Don't Know It...

Friday, December 01, 2017

Where We All Are Now

When Trump Fires Mueller...