amor mundi

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

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...

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Letter To An Unknown Woman

I don't post as much these days as I once did -- like so many others, I have retreated into my family and teaching life a bit as the madness of the larger world is swept with destructive gale-force winds. But I am still writing my way through the distress and provocation of day to day life as ever nowadays, it's just that I've re-connected to some of my oldest and most trusted friends in longform letter-writing over the last year. It has been literally life-saving. Anyway, I'm deep in end-of-term teaching demands at the moment, little likely to craft a new post for a few days at any rate and this excerpt from a letter last weekend felt a bit like a blog post, so I have culled it of any tell-tale references, adapted it a tad, and pass it off as a blog-entry....
I enjoyed your optimistic appraisal of the Trump investigation -- I assume Europeans are eager for ANY sign of a resumption of "regular " order here in America. I'm afraid it looks less like that here. For me the Mueller investigation is a bit chilling right now -- because it really does look like demonstrable wrongdoing has occurred (I wasn't sure even the Trump bunch was THAT clueless and venal). Unfortunately, that does NOT mean that impeachment is any more likely than it was a year ago (which was nill), it is a political not a legal process in a very significant way. That very probably means Republicans will soon violate yet another set of governing norms to maintain their hold on power even as this destroys the viability of the Republic over which they hold that power.

I personally believe Trump will serve his full term. He may quit at that point (before that it is possible, but the chances are very slim in my opinion), because he seems miserable, but I strongly suspect he will run again because his ego needs the affirmation. I believe he has exactly the same path to re-election as he had for election in the first place. He might lose, he is unprecedentedly unpopular, but if the GOP activates its bigot base and promises to punish the ones they hate and fear it may well work again to the ruin of us all. How can we deny this? IT HAS HAPPENED ALREADY.

Perhaps Republican dysfunction will screw up their efforts to demolish the tax base on which our devastated at best never more than notionally sustainable social democracy depends. (We'll know three weeks from now, tops, just how bad it's going to be -- I am steeling myself for the absolute worst, vast wealth transfer upward, fatal sabotage of health care, abortion rollback, guns everywhere, the "tax" bill is becoming a fascist christmas tree in a room nobody gets to see.) But perhaps they'll screw it up, the negotiations are delicate even if it is all unfolding recklessly in darkness too fast for accountability. Perhaps paralysis and fear will undermine next year's efforts to re-enact all these efforts yet again, when battered and exhausted from this years struggles, we begin them yet again (thank the Goddess the Virginia off-year election has been read by both sides as a referendum on Trump that he miserably failed), and then perhaps a blue wave could overcomes gerrymandering and disenfranchisement enough to give Democrats control of one or both chambers of Congress (odds are against this, I fear, but it is probably a necessary result if we are going to make it through this emergency intact any time soon, I also truly fear) and gum up Trumpmerican efforts still more. Democrats would have to tread carefully then, minimizing Trump damage while trying to ensure the country blames Trump and not them for the next two years of inevitable frustration leading to the next Presidential election. Such a strategy will likely antagonize the progressive base in ways that will make the next primary as contentious as the last one -- and with exactly the same result, division, demoralization, self-sabotage.

If Democrats managed to control all the layers of government in 2020 somehow in spite of all the reasons everything is likely to go wrong instead, America can get roughly to about where we were in 2010 by 2022. Who knows what kinds of economic, environmental, or military catastrophes could happen between now and then to derange all these fragile calculations? Signs of another dot.bomb and bursting debt bubbles are everywhere, tyrants with arsenals (not just our own) are barking at one another, planetary alliances are shifting disturbingly (American exceptionalism is over, come what may, which is a plus for the world). Who knows if I'll even still be alive in 2022?
And even if we manage to pull off those miracles, at what point does greater progress happen? America should be like a continent-scaled Sweden already if the world is to turn back and save itself from eco-tastrophe. And, never forget: eco-tastrophe also means world war and world depression and social violence and existential threat. It would take a quarter century of vast effort to get where we need to be already. Instead, if Democrats save the country again (among other things, from themselves) it is most likely that we will have set the stage for yet another inevitable bigot backlash that smashes everything to pieces again by 2024, 2028 at the latest. I mean, demographic tipping points will presumably get us off this see-saw eventually -- but in time?

I doubt such speculations are much help when it comes to your panic attacks! But you are like me -- you don't have the option of NOT thinking things through and so the only sane option is to think things through as clearly as you can and then seek the support of those you care about while supporting those you care about as best you can. This is my own strategy, I suppose. Please take care of yourself, too.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Hope This Circulates Widely


I need to remember this one.

Sunday, November 26, 2017


Still struggling with a head cold, still taking it easy today, prepping lectures and watching the tee vee under a blanket. This means Eric and I will miss our Sunday brunch and long walk this week, which is a bit disappointing. As end of term approaches, student e-mails are already multiplying into their eventual torrent of heartfelt freakouts, pleas for extensions, unreasonable demands, and a general ratcheting up of the madness factor. All is conspiring to make me feel exhausted and old and ready to retire to watch hundreds of episodes of Suchet's Poirot on a continuous loop on the couch till I kick the bucket.

Speaking of kicking the bucket, according to Christopher Bates:
On Friday, George H. W. Bush became the longest-lived president in U.S. history, at 93 years, 166 days. He surpassed Gerald Ford on that day, having passed #3 Ronald Reagan (93 years, 120 days) about a month and a half ago. Close on Bush Sr.'s heels is Jimmy Carter, who trails him by 111 days, at 93 years, 56 days. That means, for those who are keeping track, that each of the four presidents who followed Richard Nixon lived to be at least 93 (and all four lived twice as long as shortest-lived president JFK, who was shot in year 46, on day 177). It will now be up to Bush Sr. and/or Carter to try to become the first ex-president to make it to 94. For those who are wondering, Donald Trump would reach George H. W. Bush's current age on November 28, 2039; George W. Bush would tie pops on December 19, 2039; Bill Clinton would catch up on February 2, 2040; while it would take Barack Obama until October 14, 2057.
  I myself arrive at the magic moment, if I am very lucky indeed and without any Presidential gravitas in tow, just a couple years after Obama does. At last! Something that doesn't make me feel superannuated this morning.  

Saturday, November 25, 2017


Looks like I'm staying in bed today with a cold. Friends from Seattle brought a cold with them, Eric suffered with it for a couple of days and now it looks to be my turn. Reading the fifth and last volume of Tariq Ali's "Islam Quintet," putting together notes for next week's lectures on Judith Butler and Sara Ahmed. Feeling a bit woozy and blue. Maybe I'll watch Valerian later today under a ridiculous faux-fur blanket.