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

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Welcome To The Jungle

Still Grading!

Grading grading grading grading grading.

Today's Random Wilde

Work is the curse of the drinking classes.

Friday, June 29, 2018


I'm buried under an avalanche of final papers and reading notebooks, with stragglers still trickling in. My first summer intensive (on argument, violence, and obligation) at UC Berkeley is finishing up, the second intensive (on environmental justice and discourse) begins in a few days. The sun is shining and a warm breeze is blowing back the curtains and Dirty Computer is soothing my senses as I dig slowly through my grading pile all weekend long...

Today's Random Wilde

Nothing is so dangerous as being too modern; one is apt to grow old-fashioned quite suddenly.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Lessons In Civility -- Supreme Court Edition

Barack Obama badly misplayed his hand with Merrick Garland... [A] bolder choice—like, say, a young, progressive, black woman—would have put enormous pressure on the GOP to hold a vote for fear of looking, well, racist. And even if Mitch McConnell held the line, the possibility of a SCOTUS seat going to someone like that might have gotten some more Democrats, particularly of the progressive stripe, to the polls to hold their noses and vote for Hillary Clinton. Possibly even enough to swing the election. After all, a net change of 77,000 votes in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin (out of 13.3 million cast in those states) would have led to a second President Clinton. By contrast, very few people are going to get excited about getting another middle-aged white guy on the Court. In this case, Obama was demonstrating -- yet again -- his firm belief that if he acted reasonably, the GOP would meet him halfway and act reasonably in return. But that is, to be blunt, not the MO of the modern-day Republican Party. They are, and have been for at least a decade, an "ends justifies the means" kind of organization [worth noting, obvious tho' it is, the "ends" here are wealth concentration and white supremacy--d]. It may be that the Democrats are unwilling to respond in kind. On the other hand, maybe the blue team will decide that enough is enough, and that the time has come to fight fire with fire [worth noting, Republicans control all the branches of government making Democratic fire a lukewarm business, and the Democratic base has a tendency to fracture in ways that dilute the only firepower we have -- voting, to the extent that that has not already been diluted as well by disenfranchisement, gerrymandering, electoral-college skewage, and disinformation--d]. Particularly if McConnell moves forward with his plans, and brazenly applies a very different set of rules for voting on a nominee when a Republican is in office than he did when a Democrat was on office.

Today's Random Wilde

Discontent is the first step in the progress of a man or a nation.


Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

If We Have A Future, The Future Looks Like This

Down Down Down We Go

Today's Random Wilde

A true gentlemen is one who is never unintentionally rude.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

If you are voting for Democrats these days that is not enough to make you good.

If you are not voting for Democrats these days that is enough to make you evil.

Teaching In Trumpmerica

Teaching the theory, history, and practice of nonviolent resistance while kill-or-be-killed Republicans throw babies in cages and blanket ban whole categories of people from "visiting" here (when millions already live and serve and share here and have done throughout our entire history as a Nation) and celebrate police killings of black people and force women to endure unwanted pregnancies and declare queers like me subhumans and dismantle healthcare coverage for millions of vulnerable people and worship guns while ridiculing the pain of kids who have lost friends and limbs to gun violence and attack voters in our democracy because they cannot prevail in fair elections and pretend climate catastrophe is unreal as it pointlessly destroys the world around us is a truly exhausting and exasperating business. In the eyes of the young people in my classes I see both hope and hopelessness and sometimes I truly do not know what to do with myself or what I can possibly do for them.

Shithole Civility

The weekend's civility debate ends with the civility of upholding Trump's fascist Muslim ban by the Supreme Court lead by the Trump appointee stolen with such civility by Mitch McConnell from President Obama. Civility demanded from fascists is cheerful acquiescence to their lawlessness and murderousness. Sure, innocent people will die, sure, lives that could have been devoted to enriching our culture and collaborating in the solution of our shared problems will be blighted by cruelty and isolation and waste and misery instead, sure, science is denied on which we depend for our survival, sure, wealth will further concentrate among our corrupt and unscrupulous "betters" as we starve and struggle, but we must serve our killers at our restaurants with a smile on our face and a song in our hearts lest we be scolded for a lack of civility. And, yeah, I voted for Hillary because I knew this was the alternative and if you didn't you are an active collaborator in the murder of innocents. Fuck civility and fuck you.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Today's Random Wilde

Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.


Octavia Butler's Kindred today, possibly Arendt's "Must Eichmann Hang?" as well, which I didn't get around to last Thursday, but we'll see where discussion of the novel goes first. Tomorrow are selections from Judith Butler's Undoing Gender and Precarious Life. And evaluations, and probably a marathon session of office hours as final papers loom. Thursday's the last day, and it would be nice to put a bow on this term's themes, certainly lots of connections between Nietzsche Fanon Butler fall into place in these last assignments, but I'm already prepping for the next summer session intensive on environmentalist discourses which begins within days and I've got a mountain of work to grade before the next mountain to scale so we shall see.  

Monday, June 25, 2018

Trumpproval: Slip Sliding Away...

via Gallup, Trump’s approval rate is down four points in a week to 41%. His disapproval jumped five points to 55%. It’s the first poll since the crisis over separating families at the Mexican border began. Trump is historically unpopular. What Trump is doing is historically unpopular. All the profiles of adoring "Trump Voters" in the world won't turn them into "The Real Americans" or a "Moral Majority" or a "Silent Majority." They are a hateful stupid minority destroying the world in plain sight while majorities register our disgust and resist the worst however we can and vote for more, and better, Democrats across the board, in district after district after district, month after month after month...

There is no need to be "civil" to the fascist racist dead-enders who voted for this and clearly love this disgusting criminal catastrophe, we just need to educate, agitate, organize majorities to overcome the lies, misinformation, disenfranchisement, gerrymandering, rural minorty-empowering electoral college, ongoing threats and push back against the bully-authoritarian cisheteronormative-patriarchal white-supremacist greedhead-kleptocratic GOP in time to reflect the rising diversifying secularizing coalition and its priorities: sustainable equity-in-diversity for all.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Today's Random Wilde

The play was a great success, but the audience was a disaster.


Sunday, June 24, 2018

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Today's Random Wilde

It is not the prisoners who need reformation, it is the prisons.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Today's Random Wilde

Men become old, but they never become good.

Every State Should Do This

Not sure what the status is, but California was considering something like this as well a few months back.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Today's Random Wilde

The Queen is not a subject.

(About which, more here)

(Now) Daily Barbara Lee Speaks For Me

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me (Part Millionth)

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."

(Although this prescient quote is regularly attributed to Sinclair Lewis, it seems he never said exactly this, tho' he said many things much like this.)

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Future Is Now

Monday, June 18, 2018

Upcoming Teaching

Another week's teaching begins. Tuesday finds me behind in my lecturing -- I still have some Nietzsche to talk about, and the correspondence of Gandhi and Tolstoy, which I mean to connect to Thoreau and Jane Addams. I'm handing back their mid-terms as well. I've got Fanon and Coates scheduled for Tuesday but suspect I may not get there what with all the material left from last week. That might mean Fanon and Arendt get taught together -- not the worst thing, since their two pieces on Violence are directly in conversation, but not the best thing either since usually I give Fanon a whole day's lecture and since I usually weave Foucault into my discussion of Arendt and it is hard to see how I can get through all that in the time remaining. This week will probably be fairly intense given the ground we need to cover. Thursday's class is given over to workshopping the thesis and opposition for their final papers so there's no extra time to play catch-up past Wednesday's class. We shall see. Today is given over to lecture prep, but also Eric and I usually take our cart to the Safeway Mondays to get the week's groceries and exercise together as well. Yesterday, we went for our Sunday walk and brunch at the Piedmont Cafe. The Morcom Amphitheater of Roses made its usual beautiful fragrant now-faded bloom-stuffed spectacle of itself while we soaked up the sun and chatted from various benches and vantages over the afternoon. Penny continues to grow apace -- she is teething and we have found a couple baby teeth here and there in recent weeks. She has been going to town on little plastic straws, which she gnaws to within an inch of their lives and with which she also adores playing catch. This summer has been hectic, but there's plenty to like about it. If it weren't for the ongoing Trumpmerican shipwreck I might have a real measure of contentment this term. Ah, well, the garbage man ruins everything for us all.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Yes, This Is Who We Are. Yes, It Has Always Been Who We Are. No, It Doesn't Have To Be Who We Are. Yes, Let's Be Much Better Than We Have Been

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Blogging In Trumpmerica

What does it mean to cry in the ocean? Oh, well, you know, to add something where nothing's needed, or where so much is needed that it's no use even trying so you just sit down and cry.... -- Ursula Le Guin, Always Coming Home

Friday, June 15, 2018


Thursday, June 14, 2018

To Be Fair, Hatch Says Nice Things About (Trumpublican) Nazis Now, Too

via PoliticalWire:
“I wouldn’t want to see homosexuals teaching school anymore than I’d want to see members of the American Nazi Party teaching school.” -- Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), quoted by the Salt Lake Tribune in 1977.

“No one should ever feel less because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. LGBT youth deserve our unwavering love and support. They deserve our validation and the assurance that not only is there a place for them in this society, but that it is far better off because of them. These young people need us—and we desperately need them. We need their light to illuminate the richness and diversity of God’s creations. We need the grace, beauty and brilliance they bring to the world.” -- Hatch, quoted by the Washington Post, in a speech yesterday honoring Pride Month.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

So, Collusion

Not that anything will come of it, but there it is.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Offline As Self-Care

With each passing day I spend less time on social media as the price of sanity and the cost of actually trying to do my job well.

Monday, June 11, 2018

This Week's Teaching

This week is going to be a bit strange for a summer intensive. Tomorrow will be given over to administering the mid-term exam. Wednesday we're screening and discussing a film, Cronenberg's A History of Violence (which feels different watching it post-Ferguson than simply understood as a post-9/11 film), then Thursday I've got an in-class debate scheduled -- lots of stuff for them to do, but it feels a bit less hands-on for me. I have lots of things to say about the movie and about Nietzsche (some leftover observations from last Thursday's lecture) and about the history of non-violent resistance evoked by texts I've assigned for the week by Tolstoy, Gandhi, and Jane Addams, but it may be that this week is less about me performing as a lecturer and more about me facilitating their learning-together... I admit I have mixed feelings about this sort of thing, but I doubt my students will, they tend to love doing in-class stuff and tho' it drives me a bit crazy to relinquish control and stop bloviating for three hours straight every time I get in front of a group of students I can't help but notice the learning or at any rate the energy that happens in this mode...  

Friday, June 08, 2018

Carbon-Capture Tech Getting More Feasible?

As always, tech-company press releases and futurological-spin always demand to be taken with giant grains of sand, but, via Eco-Watch, this seems promising enough to note:
Scientists at the Canadian company Carbon Engineering have moved carbon-capture technology one step closer from pipe dream to viable solution. The company has developed technology at its plant in British Columbia that can both remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and convert it into carbon-neutral fuels, suggesting such technology could be a meaningful part of the fight against climate change. In a paper published Thursday in Joule, they estimated the costs of scaling up their operation to be $94 to $232 per ton of carbon dioxide captured. This is much cheaper, and more feasible, than some theoretical estimates that have put the costs of scaling up carbon capture technology at $1,000 per ton of carbon dioxide... The paper claims to be the first to provide a cost estimate for a carbon-capture system that is both based on technology commonly used in commercial engineering and described in enough detail that readers can adequately assess the results for themselves... The technology works by sucking air into cooling tower-like structures with fans. The acidic carbon dioxide is attracted to an alkaline liquid within the towers that is then taken into the factory where acid and base are separated. The carbon-dioxide containing liquid is frozen and then reheated into a slurry that is combined with hydrogen to make liquid fuels... [T]he technology could help the transportation sector, responsible for around 20 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, transfer over to renewable energy and fuel.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Keep It Simple, Dems

At the risk of reducing this already much-reduced blog to a bot occasionally re-posting Greg Sargent tweets in between marathon bouts of lecture-prep for my summer intensives at Cal, I thought this was well worth amplifying:

Wednesday, June 06, 2018


No guarantees, 2016 proved that, but disapproval is still at historically dramatic occasionally unprecedented levels and this has always mattered and certainly should matter -- now get your shit together, register, vote, donate, call, support, cajole, work.


Immersed in this week's summer teaching -- yesterday was devoted to Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience" (among the richest ruminations on the idea that in a true democracy protest is patriotic) and a few chapters from Angela Davis righteous and transformative polemic Are Prisons Obsolete? Today we switch gears and talk about propositional analysis: enthymemes syllogisms, formal and informal fallacies. From yesterday's lively discussion we turn to something of an info-dump filled with Latin terms to spell and illustrative examples and exercises that are likely to feel confusing before they feel clear for many. Summer term is strange, it goes by so quickly, it goes by so slowly.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Sunday to Sunday

A new week already underway... Playing fetch with little Penny... Delicious brunch with Eric at Piedmont Cafe and Bakery... Another long walk to the Morcom Amphitheater of Roses before the explosion of roses fades in the summer sun... Preparing for next week's intensives... argumentative topics and techniques for the week include enthymemes, syllogisms, formal and informal fallacies, figures, tropes and schemes... writings on violence and nonviolence include essays by Thoreau and Nietzsche, and a few chapters from Angela Davis's Are Prisons Obsolete?

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Brown for VP?

A new poll of the Ohio Senate race has Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) leading Rep. Jim Renacci (R-OH) 48% to 34%. One poll in March had Brown up 41% to 29%. Another March poll had Brown ahead 52% to 38%. These leads of 14, 12, and 14 points, respectively, are all consistent with the fact that Renacci raised only $257,000 in the first quarter of 2018. He doesn't seem to be catching fire with either the donors or the voters and the recent poll is going to make it unlikely that big donors come to his rescue since there are other Senate races that look more promising for the GOP. In short, it looks like the GOP internal poll last week that had it "even" was not worth the paper it was written on, and that Brown is getting another term. This race could end up being important in 2020. Imagine that Brown wins by 12-14 points. Now imagine that the Democrats need a presidential candidate who can unify the Hillary and Bernie wings of the party. This unicorn would need to be a middle aged white man from the Midwest with progressive positions on almost everything and who gets along very well with the unions. Where would they find such a beast? Maybe by checking out the Ohio Senate delegation, especially if they could find a member who just won a smashing victory in a state Trump took by 8 points.
I don't agree with analyses that declare so very "needed" a "middle aged white man from the Midwest" but I don't deny that such thinking will probably be loud and insistent before year's end and I certainly don't mind Sherrod Brown's comparatively "progressive positions on almost everything" and especially his union companionability, such as it is. It's looking like Harris/Brown or Booker/Brown for 2020, maybe, but it's early early early days. I daresay such a ticket would yield the fauxvolutionary cosplay left to reprise their divisive GOP-enabling 2016 howling and I would go in full of fear about the prospects for this ticket in the age of white-supremacy's desperate and dangerous last throes, but you better believe I'll fight like hell to stop Trump Republicanism and support all Dems everywhere and better Dems everywhere possible as long as possible.

Friday, June 01, 2018