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:

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Grading, Grading

Second verse, same as the first.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Silly Season

I'll vote for Biden against Trump in a heartbeat, but I must say I find him nearly the most dismal of the contenders presently on offer. All these mediocre male also-rans making their bids at crafting a higher PR/$$$ profile by blowing millions on quixotic Presidential runs while indispensable Senate seats languish without serious candidates is rather disgusting and even a bit demoralizing. I've got a terrible feeling about the way 2020 is shaping up. In literally every way that matters, Biden is worse than HRC was, but, you know, patriarchy, so. Elizabeth Warren is by far the best candidate out there for now on the substance and Kamala Harris continues to be organizationally savvy and sharp (if less inspiring on the trail so far than I'd like). I guess people want to fight the last war as usual, and Biden offers the clearest way to a 2016 do-over (sure, Biden would likely have beat Trump -- because misogyny, mostly -- and for all I know might manage the trick in 2020 however dismal, and my god is it dismal, his track record on the campaign trail). Everything points to a Republican right-wing appeal to the basest instincts of its brainless bigot bully base coupled with utter ruthless lawlessness (with all the terrifying historical parallels in tow) against a Democratic "centrist" demobilization of its reliable base of black women and queers and liberal arts majors and disregard (and disenfranchisement) of the rising reachable coalition of secularizing diversifying precarizing nonvoters alienated by the quixotic chasing of mythical "Independents" and, worse, "Obama-Trump" voters. One side is playing kill or be killed, the other side wants to play let's all get along. In the background, climate change is the pressure cooker undermining reasonableness at every turn, storms and pandemic and resource descent and disruption send more and more scurrying into fight or flight with each passing year... with nice ruthless authoritarian strongmen ready in the wings to play "populist" scapegoating cards to abet world-historical thefts and frauds while the world burns. History is in the balance. The silly season (which was already little more than reality tv even before a real reality tv con-artist came to star in the thing) is not the proper space in which to adjudicate these stakes, but it's what we've got. Maybe things will turn out for the best. Rhetoric equal to the moment is on the tips of more tongues than ever, millions are mobilized. I can't see dismal figures like Biden, Bernie, Buttigieg, Beto, Bennett and the rest of the Boys doing much to direct that energy and knowledge into real change, but maybe we the people can do so with them or without them. Still have my fingers crossed that the debates may yield a Warren and/or Harris surge, or slap some sense into certain superannuated old straight white dudes that they've done enough damage already. But I'm not holding my breath. Oh, wait, I actually am. I should stop that, it's making me dizzy. Silly season.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Grading

Grading, grading, grading, grating, grading.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Good-Bye Doris Day

Catch a falling star. So damn good, her "Little Girl Blue" gives even Sarah Vaughan a run for her money.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily (Mother's Day Edition)

Sunday Walk and Brunch

Our favorite spot, the Morcom Amphitheatre of Roses was a riot of fragrant blooms, and thronged for once with folks, lots of Moms and families and grandkids I imagine. After a lovely walk and brunch, the chatter of happy conversation was like the peal of chimes. You know, things are looking up. Friday's lecture went reasonably well, ended the Spring term, and then I was informed that a student organization voted me an Outstanding Instructor this year again. That's especially bolstering because I've really worried my teaching has been a bit dreary this year. Theory saved my life when I was a young queer without the words to explain why I deserved to take up space in a world that seemed to despise me, and part of the reason I have kept up teaching is to try to communicate the beauty and gratitude and provocation of theory for others... But in these last few years, what with my idiotic health emergency, then the hideous Trump election and its ruinous aftermath and the slimy realities it has exposed to the spotlight, and then my Dad's death from early rapid onset dementia a few months back on top of everything else have all undermined my faith in my choices (so many of which have come to seem precarious), my faith in the work of creative expressivity and critical thought to bring us forward together in spite of the ease of parochial short sighted greed and fear, my confidence in the power of my own words to be of some help to my students, to testify to the texture of our moment's distress, to clarify the stakes of our shared perplexity... I've been so depressed for so long by now that it has seemed hard to be interested in much of anything (thank heavens for Eric and Penny and the sfnal preoccupations I've made escapist recourse to all my life): and failing to be interested is unfailingly to be uninteresting. Anyway, it has turned out that teaching went well enough after all. The final papers are arriving more or less on time for once. And the papers really don't seem phoned in. They are making an effort, they are earnestly grappling with the texts and ideas. My students may have seemed bored out of their skulls quite a lot of the time, but clearly they were listening and reading after all. And this teaching award was something of a shock on top of that. A nice weird little flabbergasting shock. Maybe things are going to be all right after all.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Friday, May 10, 2019

Last Teaching Day

More or less recovered from my cold, going into the City for my last lecture of the Spring term, a rather raggedy survey of texts we hadn't quite gotten to yet, a bit more ecology then Judith Butler and a little Gayatri Spivak. Hope it will manage to end up more coherent than that recapitulation suggests but what will be will be. I'm exhausted even before grading begins and I'm sure they are feeling much the same, pulling all-nighters to finish up papers and final projects, but I like to put some kind of bow on a course at the end come what may. It's been rather dismal and gray the last few days and today looks to be the same. I won't be sad to put this term behind me, but I'm hoping things start looking up soon. Trumpmerica is a gross demoralizing relentless drag.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Onboarding Offputting

With each passing year the process of "onboarding" to teach my summer intensive at Berkeley has required more and more and more steps, taken more and more and more of my time, has become more complicated, more opaque, more belligerent. During this time the process has been "automated" (which just means already overstressed overburdened underpaid adjuncts doing more and more stuff we used to get support for) while also an explosion of officers and counselors and support staff have been hired none of whom can be reached, none of whom can do anything to help but smile blandly while you fume. The hostility to teachers in teaching settings by corporatized-administrators is almost as surreal as the general proposition that enslaving a generation to student loan debt then throwing them into insecure unbenefited low-paying work is giving them "tools for a bright future" in the first place -- something I was sold myself and then sold to a generation of promising, righteous, brilliant, beautiful students. Higher education is becoming (to the extent that it wasn't always already) a vast slaughterhouse in which I am being chewed up into hamburger meat while collaborating in the chewing up of my students into hamburger meat. I sincerely cannot recommend this way of life to anybody anymore.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Sunday, May 05, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily (With Bonus Gratuitous Oakland Love)



Gack! Redux

Looks like Eric's caught the bug that tormented me the long week through, and from which I am now gratefully recovering at long last, so Sunday's brunch and walk are canceled -- more's the pity, this Sunday looks to be a breezing buzzing confusion of lively wide-eyed blooms and gyring leaf-stuffed branches. Prepping last week's lectures, both likely to be truncated to the relief of my students, saucer-eyed from all-nighters and scarcely receptive to my usual three-hour firehosing of high theory. For my undergraduates Monday afternoon I mean to reprise themes from last Friday's lecture on Combahee, Lorde, and Donna Haraway with a little genuflection to environmental justice at the end. Friday's grad seminar at week's end will culminate with Judith Butler and Gayatri Spivak, more or less as I have done for six years or so now. That's a lecture that could use some pruning and polishing by now, and I'll probably tinker with it over the week before Friday. Final papers and notebooks and late assignments all begin avalanching into my world tomorrow and the start-up date for summer intensives at Berkeley gives me a narrow window between completion of grades and resumption of teaching, so it's looking like no rest for the weary, at least until I hang up my hat after June and manage a delirious six weeks' restorative summer vacation! As you see, I'm already counting the days.

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Today's Random Wilde (Precious Prescience Edition)

God knows; I won't be an Oxford don anyhow. I'll be a poet, a writer, a dramatist. Somehow or other I'll be famous, and if not famous, I'll be notorious. Or perhaps I'll lead the life of pleasure for a time and then -- who knows? -- rest and do nothing. What does Plato say is the highest end that man can attain here below? To sit down and contemplate the good. Perhaps that will be the end of me too...

Friday, May 03, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Gack!

For the second time this month I've got some kind of bug, so I'm prepping my lecture for Friday with a stuffy nose, sore throat, muzzy head, a grizzled cough, and the exhaustion of a nearly sleepless night behind me (always the struggle). It's end of term and I'm just going to have to brute force my way through this and hope to rest and recuperate in a week while I'm grading finals somehow before my Berkeley intensive cranks up. Would love to sleep all day, instead I'm crafting a few hours on Haraway as a link to Lorde and the Combahee River Collective on the one hand and to STS on the other via Harvey (on techno-fetishism), Leopold (Land Ethic as ANT precursor) and Latour, natch, making his later ecological noises. I've taught all this many time before, but never quite in this combination and never at quite this historical moment and it is feeling especially daunting in the face of this cold-borne wooziness.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Happy May Day!

Go raise Hell. Make something sublime. Be in the sunshine. But go raise Hell.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Good Labour Rhet



Wish Labour was more consistently anti-Brexit, but won't quibble when their ads are this effectively educational. Also wish business school undergrads (if they must exist) watched this and skipped the libertopian macroeconomic miseducations they receive too often instead.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Sounds About Right...

Given that Biden is the candidate I'm least excited about I suppose there is a certain inevitability about his eventual nomination. I'm still liking Elizabeth Warren best, still paying attention to Kamala Harris (Barbara Lee's endorsement isn't something to sneeze at in my book), still open to finding Beto or Booker interesting if they manage to change course in time, still utterly unimpressed with Bernie (only his fauxvolutionary noise brigade online are worse). Sure, I'll vote for any of them over the Business School Nazi Dumbass, that should go without saying. But I will not vote for Joe Biden (or Bernie or Beto for that matter, for now) with anything remotely like joy. Given the realities of our politics and our moment, joylessness in voting is probably not the worst thing -- we should find our political joy in fighting for enlightenment creation and change at a level partisan politics and voting (however necessary, however compromised) is rarely capable of conceiving let alone managing on its own.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Sunday Walk and Brunch

A longer than usual stroll through the summerlike beauty of this cheerful sweet-breathing April day... The upcoming week is a writing workshop and a matter of finishing up a couple of independent studies Monday, then a dense catch-up lecture Friday on Combahee and Lorde and Haraway, but also, if we can find the time, a move into environmental justice and disability studies before the queer performativity texts of the culminating week. It's something of a fever pitch, union stuff, end of term stuff, summer intensive prep, not to mention the forever ongoing staving off of fear, rage and despair in stupid disgusting Trumpmerica, etc etc etc.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Corpse Compost

I have always found Frank Herbert's rather incidental observation of the Bene Gesserit practice of planting the dead beneath fruit trees in burial orchards a rather lovely sfnal conceit, and tho' I often declared it my own preference I knew there was little chance the option would be on offer when my own time comes. It turns out, however, that the state of Washington is on the verge of making available the next-best option I've heard of: In last year's Record of a Spaceborn Few Becky Chambers managed to make composting the dead seem quite a congenial prospect. It seems a safe bet that California will take this up soon enough if Washington reveals there is a demand for it without unforeseen downsides. Definitely I think being returned quickly to the living world after I die as compost sounds more appealing than cremation or coffin confinement, and as zany disposal methods Californians go for it sure beats pharaohnic cryonics, or getting shot into orbit, or compressed into costume jewelry (well, I can appreciate the high camp appeal of that last, even if it's not my sort of thing).

Friday, April 26, 2019

Insomniac Attack!

Teaching Foucault and Angela Davis on prisons and prison abolition again today, such a crucial pairing at any time, but the timing of the lecture co-incides fortuitously with the unusual vitality of felon franchise and abolition discussions on social media and elsewhere right now. Such important work, I'm wishing I weren't caught up in one of my periods of chronic insomnia again. I'll be lecturing on about three hours sleep today, the night before was four hours and the night before that was five. Occasionally stress, stagefright, background noise and bad habits align ruinously to bring me back to sleeplessness. I actually went into therapy a few months last year to address an especially terrible bout. Fortunately, the strategies I learned then remain mostly effective if I make sustained efforts, so I'm not really panicking about all this. I'm sure sleep will resume soon enough. For now, it rather sucks. And end of term isn't exactly the best imaginable timing for this, but there it is.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Today's Random Wilde

To be good, according to the vulgar standard of goodness, is obviously quite easy. It merely requires a certain amount of sordid terror, a certain lack of imaginative thought, and a certain low passion for middle-class respectability.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Ayep

TPM:
The simple takeaway from the Mueller Report is the President betrayed his country and spent two years lying and breaking the law to try to hide that fact. He should resign and be tried for his crimes.

Sunday Walk And Brunch

April, but it might as well be June, bottle-blue sky, psychedelic blooms everywhere. Still feeling strung out and burned out and ready for end of term, frankly, three weeks out. Michel Foucault and Angela Davis on the prison this week. Enraging, inspiring, exhausting. Hope all goes well, I think the Angela Davis piece Are Prisons Obsolete? is the first piece I've taught all term with which I actually completely agree. That's rare.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Friday, April 19, 2019

Endorsing This Not-Yet Endorsement



Same. Same. Same.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Impeach

Not saying they will, insisting we must.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Green New Deal Futurism

Shows what a mainstream vision the GND really amounts to, and it exposes (yet again) the bleak blinkered limits of capitalist imagination that this provokes the panic and patronizing prognostication it does... All that said, this is a heartening change of direction for Democratic framing of this issue and it is a heartening change as well how comparatively well this seems to be resonating and provoking, at least so far...

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

How About All Of Time And Space?

I have a few days' break before the final push for end-of-term and I am feeling queasy after an illness and also utterly burned out and in need of a restorative vacation... but where can I go for a few short days that will take my mind off this cruel stupid world and all the work to do done?

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Monday, April 15, 2019

Ten Theses On Taxes And Democracy

An Amor Mundi Tax Day tradition:
One 
Hostility to taxes is commonplace among self-styled anarchists, as well as for right-wing "conservatives" whose advocacy of "smaller" or "more limited" government might as well be anarchism, since always only advocating ever smaller, ever more limited government without ever indicating what good government actually should be and alone can accomplish is substantially equivalent to blanket anti-governmentality in principle. Exploitation of discontent over taxes is also commonplace among neoliberal/neoconservative right-wing politicians and thinkers who want to ensure taxes subsidize primarily the fortunes of incumbent elites through extractive-industrial-financial corporate-militarism backed by complacent consumerism and organized violence. I for one do not want to smash states, but to democratize them. And an understanding and championing of taxes should be no less indispensable to the work of democratization as its obfuscation and demonization is indispensable to the work of anti-democratization.
Two 
Taxes are not really the price we pay for a civilized society -- in Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.'s, influential phrase -- for civilization is priceless. This is just to say that commonwealth is not a private commodity but a public good. Taxes are not, for example, fees for discrete services that might be provided otherwise, nor are taxes a price for which there might be discount alternatives. Perhaps the true spirit of Holmes' phrase is captured best in a negative formulation: anti-tax zealots would appear to believe that civilization is the only free lunch.
Three 
Certainly taxes are not theft, as anarchists of the right and the left are so pleased to declare, since taxation is a precondition for the constitution and ongoing intelligibility of the claim to ownership on which notions of theft depend in the first place.
Four 
Neither should taxes be mischaracterized as forced contributions to what might instead be charitable causes, since the basic rights secured through taxation cannot be regarded as matters of charity else they are not truly rights but mere favors bestowed by privileged elites.
Five 
Taxes are not, however annoying they may seem, burdens on our freedom so much as essential enablers of freedom. Taxes, government bonds, and public fees support the public investments maintaining the legal, infrastructural, and administrative material conditions alone within which political freedom can abide.
Six 
Taxes ameliorate undemocratic concentrations of wealth and authority to secure sufficient equity among citizens of diverse fortune. The equity valued by democracy ensures that the diversity also valued by democracy does not disable the demanding and costly democratic processes facilitating collective responsibility, expression, criticism, problem-solving and the interminable reconciliation of the aspirations of all the people with whom we share and contest the present world.
Seven 
Taxes pay for the maintenance of institutions providing nonviolent alternatives for the adjudication of disputes. Taxes pay to secure basic needs to ensure that the scene of consent to everyday association is reliably informed and is non-duressed by the threat of deprivation, inequity, or insecurity. And taxes pay for the accountable administration of commons and public goods without which they are inevitably violated and exploited for short-term profit-taking by minorities to the cost and risk of majorities. Far from representing quintessential state violence, taxes are the enabling condition of a democratic state facilitating nonviolence.
Eight 
Taxes coupled to representation itself ("No Taxation Without Representation") tie the maintenance of government as such -- an organization invested with legitimate recourse to force with all the clear dangers inhering in that state of affairs -- inextricably to public accountability and democratic legitimacy.
Nine 
Taxing more those who profit more by their personal recourse to the shared inheritance of human knowledge and culture, to the shared substance of precarious environmental resources on which we all depend for our survival and flourishing, and to the ongoing benefits of collaboratively maintained infrastructure, institutions, norms, trust, legitimacy, and security is not unfair in the least. Progressive taxation follows quite simply from a recognition of the indisputable fact of our radical inter-dependence as both productive and vulnerable beings in the world. This same recognition, of course, is also the foundation for fairness.
Ten 
Whenever a right wing politician declares all government wasteful, criminal, or corrupt you should pay close attention, because he is revealing his intentions. Wherever government is meant to be of by and for the people, to be anti-government always means to be against the great majority of the people.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Sunday Walk And Brunch

Beautiful out, but a bit subdued in the aftermath of a rough week wrestling with a bug in my head and stomach... Buying new earplugs at the Piedmont Avenue CVS after brunch I scooped up a chocolate Easter Bunny from the shelf and found that the pleasure of biting off the hollow head is quite as fun as I remembered from the last time I did it, probably well over ten years ago. Definitely will not be waiting another ten years to repeat that purest of pleasures... Last month of Spring term is upon us by now, and things will soon get a bit wild with deadlines and cancellations and end-of-term workshopping and presentations. Just a couple more lectures, then the lunacy of final grading, then we're off to summer intensives at Berkeley again for a bit. Adjunct life on the habitrail wheel.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Today's Random Wilde

It is always the unreadable that occurs.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily (#IStandWithIlhanOmar Edition)

Friday, April 12, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Today's Random Wilde

And try also to get rid of personal property. It involves sordid preoccupation, endless industry, continual wrong. Personal property hinders Individualism at every step.

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Monday, April 08, 2019

Pennyversary!

We got our little kitten Penny one year ago today. Baby, playby, grayby she is, and a little softy, too.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Sunday, April 07, 2019

Sunday Walk

Wrestling with a bug, shortened our walk a bit today, feeling muzzy-headed and my stomach's rebelling against something, but my oh my how beautiful it is out today! The air is a bouquet. The breeze, lush. Spending the rest of the day prepping tomorrow's lecture, looking at a thesis draft and a couple thesis proposals as well. Perhaps some time in a nice bath with Iris Wildthyme would be just the thing.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Saturday, April 06, 2019

Today's Random Wilde

For the recognition of private property has really harmed Individualism, and obscured it, by confusing a man with what he possesses. It has led Individualism entirely astray. It has made gain not growth its aim. So that man thought that the important thing was to have, and did not know that the important thing is to be. The true perfection of man lies, not in what man has, but in what man is. Private property has crushed true Individualism, and set up an Individualism that is false. It has debarred one part of the community from being individual by starving them. It has debarred the other part of the community from being individual by putting them on the wrong road and encumbering them.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Friday, April 05, 2019

Teaching Day

Off to the City. So many student meetings today it's hard to keep track. In lecture today, some more Arendt, some more Foucault, some Fanon, and if time allows some Laura Mulvey and Kobena Mercer. I stuff these critical theory survey courses like Thanksgiving tofurkeys. May have a faculty observer in today, which makes it all just that much more nerve wracking. Ugh. Needless to say, insomnia reared its goblin head last night and so my brain is feeling just that much more frayed and fried as I embark on today's adventures. Promised rain appears not to be falling, which is a mercy as I'll be pounding the pavement.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Mee Daily

Thursday, April 04, 2019

Today's Random Wilde

The English are always degrading truths into facts. When a truth becomes a fact it loses all its intellectual value.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Monday, April 01, 2019

Teaching Day

Off to the City. Going over lecture notes, prepping for office hours, looking at a thesis proposal, thinking through a sticky adjunct union situation, Mondays always do feel like a lot, and wouldn't you know it... it's looking like rain today, rain all week long...

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Sunday Walk

Flowers everywhere, and yet you can feel the coiled energies ready to fully spring into an explosion of delirious technicolor madness. Walked to the Rose Garden after brunch at our diner, and the roses are just getting ready to put on their show. In two weeks' time, I'd say, it will be a sight to see. A repeat of Friday's lecture for my undergrad crit survey more or less awaits tomorrow, finishing off Debord and Naomi Klein before reading William Burroughs and beginning to discuss Arendt and biopolitics as well. It's a lot, but everything is easier with spring pulsing everywhere around us...

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Grading, Grating

Just finished a pile of papers, and was shocked to find I have just a couple of stragglers to cajole for once. These days, that's a good day.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Teaching Day

A beautiful turn in the weather yesterday commuting into the City to lecture about Guy Debord and Naomi Klein and Hannah Arendt. The worst thing about these last couple of years in the rather demoralized and depressed aftermath of the one-two punch of 2016 and my health crisis and the Trumpist crisis is that it can be hard to be interested and hence interesting about theory at a time when so much theory feels trivial or rationalizing. My students help me connect back to the time when theory was a vital space of self-creation in which I came into my queerness as well as (and of a piece with) coming into a wider awareness and understanding of the world's complexity, distress, and possibility. Teaching is pretty hard for me these days. My depression and anxiety make leaving the apartment pretty hard for me these days, frankly. But in the teaching itself, however hard, I find the only resources (well that and Eric's love, Penny's shenanigans, and hundreds of episodes of Doctor Who) out of which I am pulling myself, little by little, out of this long exhausting despondent night...

Friday, March 29, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Mulling Presidential Bid...

Should be prepping for tomorrow's lecture, but since I am an old white guy I find myself mulling a bid for the White House instead. Apparently, it is the thing we do.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Today's Random Wilde

A thing is, according to the mode in which one looks at it.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Nnedi Okorafor Developing Octavia Butler's Wild Seed?

Can such things be?

Impeachment Status Quo

I've always thought he should be, I've never thought he would be, I still say:

Mariame Kaba On Justice In America

Justice in America interviews Mariame Kaba. If you are interested in the topics of prison abolition and restorative justice, this is a nice overview and point of departure (key figures and canonical texts are also mentioned should you want to explore further). I've been teaching Angela Davis's Are Prisons Obsolete for years now -- I've been foregrounding abolition and RJ ever more as a way of maintaining sanity and mobilizing resistance in Trumpmerica -- but Kaba has been truly inspiring to me lately at a time when few otherwise have been. Her book recommendations are wonderful. Her "Hope Is A Discipline" has really gotten me through on more than one occasion this last year especially.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Sick Day

Skipping work (grading papers, that is) and my workout today, and taking it easy. Wondered why I felt so muzzy all day yesterday, now I know. Re-binging Who's eleventh season (I'm a fan, fuck the haters) this afternoon under a blanket with my cat and echinacea.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Friday, March 22, 2019

Spring Break...

...nearly broke me this year! I think I've worked harder catching up with reading, grading, and lecture prep this week than I have done the last couple months of teaching. Truly need a post-Break break.

Today's Random Wilde

I can't eat muffins in an agitated manner. The butter would probably get on my cuffs. One must eat muffins quite calmly, it is the only way to eat them.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Today's Random Wilde

Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Today's Random Wilde

He is really not so ugly after all, provided, of course, that one shuts one's eyes, and does not look at him.

Pre-Silly Season Pre-Silliness

Really feeling Elizabeth Warren these days -- these early, early days -- feeling enormously impressed with her daily deliveries of policy substance while the flashbulbs flash for Beto's latest listicle celebrating artisanal microbrews or whatever... If forced to declare early (and of course I can change my mind should Harris stumble, say, or Booker unexpectedly soar, and of course I'll vote for any Democrat over any Republican in this Nazi/apocalyptic-enabling epoch of Trumpublicanism) but I guess I am presently hoping for a Warren/Harris ticket, while also hoping this sinking feeling we'll be getting a Biden/Beto ticket instead is just depressed Trumpmerican-epoch queasiness...

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Short Documentary on the Green New Deal

Monday, March 18, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Friday, March 15, 2019

Teaching Day

Off to the City under blue skies... Guy Debord and Naomi Klein today, Spring Break begins tomorrow... Things are looking up (so long as I don't look at the headlines till I get back home no doubt).

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Wannabe Dictator In Plain Sight

via PolitcalWire:
President Trump appeared to threaten potential violence against his political opponents, telling Breitbart [find it yourself] that “it would be very bad, very bad” if his supporters were provoked into getting “tough.” Said Trump: “I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump -- I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough -- until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.”
No, I'm not "surprised" -- I'm disgusted, enraged, and as righteously motivated to expose and defeat Republican authoritarians (and their enablers) as ever, thanks.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Today's Random Wilde

To be good, according to the vulgar standard of goodness, is obviously quite easy. It merely requires a certain amount of sordid terror, a certain lack of imaginative thought, and a certain low passion for middle-class respectability.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Monday, March 11, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Sunday Rain Check

Handfuls of icy rain but also, and much more to the point, scattered hailstorms and rumbling thunderclaps of my midwestern upbringing have curiously migrated to the East Bay where they are the rarest and weirdest of occurrences... and that means no Sunday walk and brunch again this wet unwarm winter. Probably for the best: still reading a very fine if sprawling thesis by one of my grad students in preparation for her final review tomorrow. That and lecture prep more than fill this day with work and worry -- relaxation later, spring break is just one week away now. Just in time.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Saturday, March 09, 2019

Today's Random Wilde

The secret of life is to appreciate the pleasure of being terribly, terribly deceived.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Friday, March 08, 2019

Teaching Day

Off to the City. A few more words on Adorno and then it's Barthes' Mythologies and then Daniel Harris' more recent (but by now classic, at any rate for me) mythologesque essay "The Futuristic." Bad night after a few better ones means I'll be pushing past bleary throughout the three hours I'm lecturing, which is never my favorite. Plan to prep, and ideally find some pep, on the train and then the bus to and through the City to our Fort Mason grad campus sprawled out over the Bay...

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Today's Random Wilde

But what is the difference between literature and journalism? Journalism is unreadable and literature is not read. That is all.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Wildthyme

Reading Paul Magrs's Phoenix Court quartet as I fall deeper down this literally lifesaving Whovian fanhole that has sustained me and re-invigorated me since last summer, at this point extending to every Doctor, across the Sarah Jane Adventures, through Elizabeth Sandifer's Tardis Eruditorum essays (I've bought three of the books and await re-issues of the later ones) and still chewing through volume after volume of About Time. It's an old and familiar strategy, when I was bullied and battered as a kid I retreated into Tolkein and Herbert and Heinlein and Star Trek, and now coming out of the panic and depression and rage of my health-scare and then this whole Trumpmerican fiasco I find the insanely rich ramifying worlds of Whovian fandom to roll around in and fall in love with falling in love with again. Thank the billion billion goddesses for sfnality.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Monday, March 04, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily (And Sometimes Belatedly)

Saturday, March 02, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daiy

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Gun background checks and Medicare for All...