Assorted Verbiage & Mappage

   Verbiage


"Lehigh Acres, Florida, May 2009 (photograph by Elvin Wyly).  This "town born of speculation," is profiled in a documentary film, "Dreams for Sale:  Lehigh Acres and the Foreclosure Crisis" (Schillinger, 2011).  In a New Yorker analysis of Florida as the "Ponzi State," George Packer muses, "In a place like Lehigh Acres ... where half the driveways are sprouting weeds, and where garbage piles up in the bushes along the outer streets, it's already possible to see the slums of the future."

Raymond A. Schillinger (2011).  Dreams for Sale:  Lehigh Acres and the Florida Foreclosure Crisis.  Decade Worldwide, Inc.

George Packer (2009).  "The Ponzi State."  The New Yorker, February 9-16, p. 80.

Alas, the publisher doesn't have space for more than a single line for the cover photo caption.  But the stories are still interesting.  Check out the full version of Dreams for Sale.

  • Automated (Post)Positivism.  November 28, 2011, Chicago.  Update, January 1, 2012:  The extended dance mix is here.
  • To Claim the Right to the City, Turn LeftOccupy Vancouver, October 29, 2011.  The crowd today was much smaller than last week's big turnout, but just as committed to nonviolence and integrity in the fight for social justice.
  • "Gender, Race, and Age in Subprime America," with C.S. Ponder.  Forthcoming in Housing Policy Debate, and presented at "Context and Consequences:  The Hill-Thomas Hearings Twenty Years Later."  Washington, DC:  Georgetown University School of Law, October 6.  The text is here, and the images are here, the full verbose version of the article behind the short talk is here, and the webcast of the entire event, with all the people far more distinguished and intelligent than I, is here.  Professor Emma Coleman Jordan introduces our panel in Part I around the 1:54 mark.  During one of the coffee breaks after our panel, Bill, the friendly photographer for the event, told me that when I stepped to the podium he glanced up from his camera and did a double-take, asking himself, "What's Glenn Beck doing at this event?"  Yikes!  I've never considered anything like hair coloring or plastic surgery ... but if in my late middle age I am beginning to resemble the famous Right-Winger White-Ringer, maybe I should consider getting some work done...

If you don't remember what happened in October, 1991, see Professor Hill's opening statement and read Professor Hill's latest book, Reimagining Equality.

Marc Lee, Erick Villagomez, Penny Gurstein, David Eby, and Elvin Wyly
Loretta Lees, Tom Slater, and Elvin Wyly.  New York: Routledge

Hardcover, Paperback
       
On Amazon, we were discounted 34% even before publication!  Just wait, we're headed towards the loonie bin  (perhaps in more ways than one).
       
November 22, 2007:  Loretta and Tom appear at a book launch at Kings College London.

November 23, 2007:  Gentrifying a new generation:  Zach Slater studies gentrification, and thinks about how to update Chester Hartman's famous 1982 Displacement:  How to Fight it  for today's cities.


And a very preliminary taxonomy
of New York City neighborhoods
based on housing subsidies to the rich and poor.

   Mappage
For details on how
this map was created,
see American Home
As Madonna would say, "Gonna dress you up in mylar..."



















...
elvin k. wyly

I am a geographer with a passionate fascination with all things urban.  "Ah, cities, yes," you say, "...but ... geography?  You mean there are still ... geographers?  Isn't there an app for that?"  This is the kind of reaction Peter Gould had in mind when he described an all-too-common encounter at that curious middle-class ritual known as The Cocktail Party:

"Groping for something else to fill the silence, she got in her word first.  'And what do you do?' she said.

'Oh,' I said, grateful for the usual filler, 'I'm a geographer.'  And even as I said it, I felt the safe ground turning into the familiar quagmire.  She did not have to ask the next question, but she did anyway.

'A geographer?'

'Er ... yes, a geographer,' said with that quietly enthusiastic confidence that trips so easily from the tongues of doctors, engineers, airline pilots, truckers, sailors and tramps.  After all, everyone knows what they do, and off the conversation goes on the awful 'flu epidemic, the new bridge, the latest jet, the long haul out of Kansas City, the storm in the Bay of Biscay or the doss houses of Saskatoon.  But a geographer?

It has happened many times, and it seldom gets better.  That awful feeling of desperate foolishness when you, a professional geographer, find yourself incapable of explaining simply and shortly to others what you really do.  One could say, 'I look at the world from a spatial perspective...' or 'Well, actually, I'm a spatial analyst,' ... Or there is the concrete example approach.  'Well, at the moment we're calibrating an entropy-maximizing model for a journey-to-work study...' or possibly 'We're using a part stochastic, part deterministic, computer simulation model to examine the threshold values in a regional development programme,' all of which would be true up to a point.  But the words, with their precise meaning for geographers, convey nothing to others, and end up sounding like some private and deliberately obfuscating jargon.  Which would also be true.  Up to a point.  Often, in a desperate attempt to build a bridge with more familiar words, one ends up by saying, 'Well, actually, I teach geography.'

'Oh really?', and laughing.  'What's the capital of North Dakota?'"

[Peter Gould (1985).  The Geographer at Work.  London:  Routledge and Kegan Paul, pp. 3-4.]

I first read these lines in the Spring of 1985, not long after I stumbled into Geography in my Liberal Arts exodus from an attempted major in Civil Engineering.  What brought me into Geography was a very personal and powerful epiphany in one of those large lecture classes on the first floor of the Walker Building on the west side of the Penn State campus in University Park, Pennsylvania.  I was scribbling notes to capture the insights of the day's lecture in a first-year human geography class.  Roger Downs was there in the midst of a brilliant performance, drawing a lovely map on the chalkboard while narrating the historical-geographical circumstances that explained why cities appeared in some places (and not others) in Central Pennsylvania.  The chalk danced around the blackboard, etching the outlines of the physical and human environment, site and situation.  Roger's voice narrated the histories that created the patterns we see in today's landscape.  The map slowly came into view.  The chalkboard danced.  Roger's voice narrated with elegance and grace.  The realization hit hard and fast.  This ... is this guy's job, I thought with sudden clarity.  His job is to do all this interesting stuff, this really cool shit, all day.  He gets paid for it!  Where do I sign up?

It still sends chills up and down my middle-aged spine.

Quick:  think of the music that really reaches you -- the stuff that makes you get all Spinal-Tap-ey as you turn up your amp to eleven.  That's what geography somehow did to me, and still does.

Consider that I was, at the time, living in Centre County, Pennsylvania, in those distant old pre-Internet Dark Ages.  Back in those sepia-toned images of the mind's eye of the mid-1980s, digital activities required a trip to The Computing Center.  This was a real, big, physical building all the way on the other side of campus across the wind-swept snowdrifts of wintertime parking lots.  You'd punch the code into the keyboard at one of those IBM terminals lined up in the battalion of electronic soldiers under the harsh flourescent lights.  Then you'd wait in line at the "output window" to get your SAS list file printed on that lovely green-and-white tractor-feed printer paper.  Even before the attendant handed it to you, you knew what had happened.  A thick stack was ... success!  A thin stack?  You must have misplaced a semicolon somewhere, sending the program into a tizzy as the mainframe sent out a computer-barf of error messages.  With that kind of late-Fordist computer/communications technology, I could not announce my sudden conversion to Geografia like it is now possible to do on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and teacher-rating web sites.  Somehow, though, I was able to share my geo-evangelical experience with friends and acquaintances through those old social networking technologies of the twentieth century:  the telephone, the letter, the facetime conversation that required no trademark. 

Today, I am encouraged that new generations are discovering the passions and possibilities of our field, thanks to the performance of talented educators like my colleague Matthew Evenden, who inspires students to submit things like this to ratemyprofessor.com:  "Wow, I loved his lectures and I wasn't at all interested before.  He's inspired me to change my major.  SO smart and SO beautiful.  I'll miss seeing his gorgeous self 3 times a week;( SO sad that he got married!"  Professor Evenden's pedagogy is first-rate:  not long ago, I was asked to offer an assessment of his teaching, and I was truly humbled.  An excerpt:  "Professor Evenden distills a potent spirit of historical geography, spiced with inherently and inescapably interesting insights on the political dilemmas of markets and state intervention, the assumptions of staples theory and industrial location theory, geopolitical facets of terms-of-trade, and strategic spatial configurations of supply chains in times of war. It all fits together well and flows smoothly. Students are captivated..."  So am I.  There's no doubt that Professor Evenden's fine teaching is bringing people into geography who might otherwise become doctors, engineers, airline pilots, truckers, sailors, or tramps.  And in the last few years I've been fortunate to do peer reviews of teaching for other friends and colleagues --  Karen Bakker, David Edgington, Jim Glassman, Philippe Le Billon, Andreas Christen, Merje Kuus -- who are rocking the worlds of new generations of geographers who just don't know yet that they really are geographers.

*

Geography is the study of the obvious -- everyday landscapes that we take for granted, complex processes that are widely discussed but usually misunderstood; I learned this from my good friend Dan Hammel. Geography is also the study of why things that seem logical or reasonable in one place can be irrational or dangerous in another place; I learned this from Phil Gersmehl, a truly gifted and inspired scholar-teacher.  Geography is the perpetual tension of society and space, produced as we make places and spaces even while our context and environment shape the things we do, think, and understand.  And geography is a humble respect for the unique character of all places -- each position woven into economic, political, and social relations in a changing context of global flows and interdependencies.

Geography is not the simple counting or mapping that makes too many people think that we human geographers are obsolete.  "Geography?  Oh, yeah, we have Google Earth now, so we don't need you anymore."  Or "Geography?  Oh, yeah, I remember memorizing rivers and capital cities in seventh grade."  Ahem ...  oh, come on now, you're smarter than that.  You know that geography is about human interpretations of our place in the world -- a world of rivers and mountains, and also of cities, countries, and flows of people, resources, and ideas.  Geography is always in flux, and things are now changing fast enough that we would not be able to memorize all the important geo-trivia even if we tried.  Think of the world map.  *Poof* a new country over here, South Sudan, while *rumble* over there, Vladimir tries to erase one of the lines on the map in his grand plan for a "Greater Russia"!  With the Arab Spring, even those deceptively neat boundaries on the map for Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Syria now have such different meanings.  Even that fancy smartphone you've got in your hand is now a battleground over the meaning and powers of boundaries, between spaces of your privacy and public domains watched by police.

See, for example, Brendan Sasso (2012).  "Appeals Court Okays Warrantless Tracking."  The Hill, August 14, and the full decision, United States v. Skinner (2012).

I'm an urban geographer.  I love cities, and I am deeply troubled by the leading-edge role of contemporary urbanization in reproducing and reinforcing harsh social inequalities.  Market processes continue to drive spatial polarization and geographical injustice, by class, race-ethnicity, and gender.  Public policy does little to cushion these inequalities, particularly in today's neoliberal and neoconservative obsession with liberating market forces and recasting communities and citizens as consumers and investors.  My research analyzes the geographical dimensions of urban inequality, with a special emphasis on class, racial-ethnic, and gender discrimination in housing; neighborhood change, gentrification, and displacement; capital investment and disinvestment; homeownership policy; and the proliferation of dangerous, sophisticated tactics of predatory mortgage lending.  I also have taken an interest in the inescapably urban facets of what seem to be the dominant transnational obsessions of our time, tourism and terrorism.

A few years ago, a student wrote on a course evaluation, "He's not bad, but he is quite Yankicentric."  That about sums it up, and if you're interested in my thoughts on playing the role of The Ugly American, you might want to read this.  Most of my research remains focused on large cities in the United States, in true can't-take-your-eyes-off-the-train-wreck fashion.  But thanks to the talented students here, I am gradually learning a bit about Canadian urbanism -- especially the curious constellation of forces that constantly make and remake Vancouver.  I still can't quite figure it out, but I do love it:  city as a turbocharged transnational growth machine, nexus of accelerated entrepreneurialism, cosmopolitan Pacific Rim entrepot laid atop small-town provincial continental imperial exile, capital of West Coast Capital hidden behind capital of West-Coast sea-to-sky aesthetic, laid-back enjoyment.  It's such a curious blend of potent political progressive commitments and passive-aggressive elite tradition.  David Ley summarized it best when a student asked him about the large plume of sediment flowing out of the delta of the Fraser River on an aerial photograph of the lower mainland:  "Oh, that's latté," he quipped in his trademark voice of quiet modest brilliance.

*

This website has a variety of resources, organized into separate sections for research, teaching, several specific course offerings, and miscellaneous data.

But wait.  Resources?  Organized?  Hmf.  Maybe I should be more honest:  what you find here are digital breadcrumbs, with no real coherent organization or logic.  The website has evolved quite by accident, with no real grand plan or vision of what it would be.  At one point, I just started putting stuff up there because ... well, everyone seemed to be saying that professors should have web pages.  Okay, fine, I said, and promptly set about learning my kindergarten version of Ye Olde HTML Editor.  In those spare moments amidst all the other stuff we have to do in our jobs, I started jotting out a few notes, posting them for students ... and then I'd read something in the newspaper that would get me annoyed, and I'd write out a short rant, and then ... well, you get the idea.  Add a few years, and pretty soon the crazy collection of cartoons and Post-It notes you'd usually find on the Professorial Door began to add up to the bizarre collection you find here. 

It's really quite embarrassing.

So I apologize for the disorganization and primitive technics of this little site.  It's akin to what John S. Adams now calls the annual letters he sends around:  "More than a tweet, less than a blog."  Apologies are also in order for all the internal contradictions:  we change over time, and there's never enough spare time to erase old stuff while adding new things to the site.  So this is one of my "digital individuals," to steal a concept from Michael Curry (1997).  This particular digital identity is a strange hybrid of style/method/zeitgeist/epistemology/ontology.  I'm inspired by an eclectic mixture of philosophy, method, style, and politics.  I'm in awe of science and the craft of human labor.  Yet I'm a digital cyborg just like everyone else (albeit a reluctant one).  I crave progress and order, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit -- but also radical equality and anticapitalist mobilization to build another world.  We need scientific integrity.  Yet certain situations require us to be just a little bit gonzo.

If you're interested in just one or two samples, for my research I would suggest a story that begins the terrible experience of Beatrice (also see this) or a more recent cartography of American racism and class exploitation. For notes on my remedial education to repent for the fact that I have only ever taken a single physical geography course, see "Things Pictures Don't Tell  Us:  In Search of Baltimore."  To illustrate a few of the panicked, drinking-from-a-firehose notes that I scribble out before I go into the classroom to teach on things that can be rather dynamic and disorienting, I'd suggest two things.  One is a lecture on Race, Housing, and the Urban Underclass, that I wrote furiously when I watched the headlines of the Paris uprisings a few years ago; the lecture I had scheduled for the next week was a fairly traditional analysis of the American underclass discourse that involved the hijacking of William Julius Wilson's work on inner-city dynamics in Chicago, and the headlines forced me to rethink and rewrite the lecture to make sense of a fast-globalizing discourse of underclass portrayals.  The second example I'd suggest is the New Spatial Politics of Social Data, a lecture that came out of my butterflies-in-the-tummy panic when my brilliant and passionate colleague Derek Gregory asked me to give a guest lecture in one of his classes.  Me?  Are you pointing to someone intelligent behind me?  Some of the ideas sketched out in that lecture eventuallly found their way into longer, more verbose rants on science, politics, and quantification; see "Positively Radical," and let me know if you think I've become completely unhinged.  Jatinder works in mental health, so maybe I should ask her for an assessment.  Repeated instances of "severe cerebral disturbance" have given me a certain deferential sympathy for Comte, the original, long-forgotten original positivist himself.

The Capital of North Dakota?

And, I must confess, I really don't care about the capital of North Dakota.  I'm more concerned with North Dakota's relation with another capital of capital, where issues from torture to tax cuts are fought out in the belly of the beast of what David Harvey has called the New Imperialism. 

A few years ago, North Dakota was one of many places where the balance between survival and full-fledged violent hegemony, what Chomsky has diagnosed as America the failed state, seemed at risk of slouching towards catastrophe in the Fall of 2006.  But let's hear it for Bismarck, and so many other precincts across North Dakota, keeping Kent Conrad in the mix and unleashing a cascade of changes in Committee Chairs, with the all-powerful investigation and subpoena power to restore checks and balances.  In this sense, the reallocation of seats in the midterm elections stitched the capital (and the rest) of North Dakota into a still-insecure Homeland urban system centered on the federalist capital in an election that surprised many seasoned political observers:  the old saw that all politics is local was subverted by a midterm that did seem to be truly nationalized, culminating in remarkable surprises in Senate races in Ohio, Virginia, Missouri, and Montana.  Then of course many of those ambiguous landscapes of swing states came into play in the election of 2008, delivering some surprising electoral shifts.  Only two years later, however, the map was redrawn again, in a Republican House landslide not seen in more than sixty years. 

and now one of the main $ources of Right-Wing Ca$sh in a Citizen$ United World is Harold Hamm, a PetroBillionaire from Oklahoma .. working in North Dakota ...

See?  Even Ed Schulz knows you better know your Geography!

...and now the urban system of North Dakota is following the path of places like Fort McMurray, fueled by a pedal-to-the-medal petroleum epistemology.  After years of outmigration, parts of North Dakota are now in the midst of a massive fracking boom that has pushed the unemployment rate down to 1 percent.  Gail Collins (2012) teaches us a few valuable lessons about this place:

"Right now you are probably asking yourself 'What would it be like to live in a place with an unemployment rate of 1 percent?  Me too!  So I went to Williston, N.D., to find out.  There are certain things that journalists do as a public service because you, the noble reader, are probably not going to do them yourself -- like attending charter revision meetings or reading the autobiography of Tim Pawlenty.  Going to Williston is sort of in this categroy.  The people are lovely, but you're talking about a two-hour drive from Minot."

There's lots of oil in the Bakken formation under Western North Dakota and eastern Montana, but a hydrofracking economy does have its downside, even for a turbocharged local economy.  Teachers make $31,500 per year, but the local school superindendent notes that apartments rent for $2,000-$3,000 per month -- as much as New York City.  "Why can't Williston be the best little city in America?" the Mayor asks Collins?  "It's a place of opportunity."  The fracking boom is creating a contemporary, postindustrial version of a kind of city that we thought had disappeared with the twentieth-century -- the natural-resources boom-time "staples" cities that were destined for ghost-town-hood when the ore played out.  Work and life are reconfigured here.  "Many of the oil workers stash their families back wherever they came from, and live in 'man camps,'" Collins (2012) explains, "some of which resemble giant stretches of storage units."  "The man camps..." reflects the Mayor; "I call them the necessary evil."

Thanks to wealthy figures like Harold Hamm, however, even the most modest urban systems of places like North Dakota can be tied into the influence webs of lobbying and campaign influence in Washington, DC.  And politics in DC -- which is to say, the curious spaces and places of the national geographical infrastructure that produce the politics performed in Washington, DC -- seems to get ever more high-stakes each year.

Geographers, however, are viewed as strange creatures anytime we say anything that matters (which is to say, anything political).  Not long ago, Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente discovered that one of her essays from several years earlier had been cited in a mildly critical way in a book published by UBC Press.  The book was Rethinking the Great White North:  Race, Nature, and the Historical Geographies of Whiteness in Canada, and one of the transgressions of its editors was to have been geographers.  Wente is deeply frustrated as she pages through the book, reacting viscerally to phrases like "white normativity," "performative ties," and "hegemonic social relations."  It's not just that there's jargon, but that it was written by geographers.  "Like most people," Wente (2011) laments, "I was under the impression that geographers studied rocks and trees and ethnic groups and the kinds of things you read about in National Geographic."  Well, of course that's what geographers study, Margaret, and they'll always continue this important work.  But why does the study of rocks and trees preclude an understanding of how "white" is always understood as the normal state of affairs in Canada, with ethnicity, immigration, and first-nations relations always pushed into a separate category of difference to be managed, or diversity to be marketed to?  Is the idea of "white normativity" that hard to grasp in this day and age?  And why can't we read National Geographic while also considering performative ties and hegemonic social relations?  I love National Geographic just as much as you do, but that doesn't mean I ignore the colonial thinking that contributes to the popularity of institutions like National Geographic

And in any event, equating geography with the memorization of such "factual" trivia as state capitals is worse than boring.  It can be quite dangerous, as it distracts us from the new geographies that are constantly under construction and contestation, from the massive real-estate speculation in Harlem and SoBro to the violence of the Israel-Lebanon borderlands to the death-ridden towns and cities across central Iraq, from the resurgence of gentrification in Chicago's South Side to Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.  Geographies are always in the processing of becoming, of being made, interpreted, understood, and experienced -- for good or ill.  Geography is no more about the memorization of state capitals than history is the memorization of dates.  Except, that, is, in that bastion of Republican commitment to Enlightmentment principles, the Great State of Florida.  Not long ago, then-Governor Jeb Bush signed into law an education bill declaring, among other things, that "American history shall be viewed as factual, not constructed," and this purported factuality will henceforth be "knowable, teachable, and testable."  Among the specific "facts" to be imparted to schoolchildren are "the nature and importance of free enterprise to the United States economy," while elsewhere the law explicitly prohibits interpretation.  As the journalism professor Robert Jensen (2006) points out,

"...it's a fact that Europeans began coming in significant numbers to North America in the seventeenth century.  Were they peaceful settlers or aggressive invaders? ... It's also a fact that once those Europeans came, the indigenous people died in large numbers.  Was that an act of genocide? ... In contemporary history, has U.S. intervention in the Middle East been aimed at supporting democracy or controlling the region's crucial energy resources?  Would anyone in a free society want students to be taught that there is only one way to construct an answer to that question?

...the law represents a yearning one can find across the United States.  Americans look out at a wider world in which more and more people reject the idea of the United States as always right, always better, always moral.  As the gap between how Americans see themselves and how the world sees us grows, the instinct for many is to eliminate intellectual challenges at home: 'We can't control what the rest of the world thinks, but we can make sure our kids aren't exposed to such nonsense.'"

American exceptionalism like this, it turns out, has become part of the Christian Right's effort to transform America by means of theological politics in K-12 education.  "The philosophy of the classroom in one generation will be the philosophy of the government in the next," declares Cynthia Dunbar, one of a bloc of Christian activists who have taken over the Texas State Board of Education -- an institution that winds up setting de facto national standards for textbooks, since it provides the largest consistent statewide template that publishers follow when they revise and adapt books for the national public school market (quoted in Shorto, 2010).  In recent years, Christian fundamentalists have achieved dramatic gains in rewriting educational guidelines to require students to learn about, inter alia, the inherently Christian and biblical foundations of the U.S. Constitution.  In a 2007 survey by the First Amendment Center, 55 percent of American adults said they believed that the Constitution established the United States as a Christian nation.  (Shorto, 2010, p. 3).

So I'm glad to be teaching, learning, and doing geography on this side of the border.  The world here is is still round.  Even so, it's still important to rehearse those sound-byte responses to explain what geographers do.  As Graeme Wynn (2008, p. 1) narrates the encounter:

"An exchange (partly imagined) at the Douglas (Peace Arch) Border crossing, 6 March 2008:

'Where you heading?' 
To a conference, in Bellingham.

'What sort of a conference?'
An academic conference -- for geographers.

'You a geographer?' 
Yes.

'Where is Damascus?' 
[Duly answered correctly (after rejecting
the possibility, fleetingly entertained,
of responding, 'I'm not sure, I'm still looking
for the  road there.')].

'Who's organizing this conference?' 
The Western Division of the Canadian
Association of Geographers.

'Why are Canadian Geographers meeting in the United States?' 

Now that's a good question.  How to explain..." 

References

Collins, Gail (2012).  "Where the Jobs Are."  New York Times, July 26.

Curry, Michael (1997).  "The Digital Individual and the Private Realm."  Annals of the Association of American Geographers 87(4), 681-699.

Feminist Geography Collective (2011).  "An Open Letter to Margaret Wente."  The Mark, October 25.

Jensen, Robert (2006).  "Florida's Fear of History:  New Law Undermines Critical Thinking."  Common Dreams, July 17.

Shorto, Russel (2010).  "How Christian Were the Founders?"  New York Times Magazine, February 14.

Wente, Margaret (2011).  "First they Hijacked the Humanities, then my Canoe."  Globe and Mail, October 22.

Wynn, Graeme (2008).  "Geographers Go South."  Geog@UBC 3(7), March, p. 1.  Vancouver:  Department of Geography, University of British Columbia.





Imaginer Urbanus


       More...


Bizarro-update:  a few weeks after the photograph was taken, the inbox receives one of those auto-spam messages from an outfit called The Interview Feed.  (When the word "Editor" appears anywhere near your name on the web, you get tons of this shit.)  The teaser line they offer for editors who want to beg and plead for the privilege of interviewing the celebrity of the microsecond:  "BRAD PITT:  'Angie and I know there’s a bounty on our heads – for photos. We’re hunted for that reason.'"  Oh, my.  I promise, Brad, I did not hunt you, not for any reason.  I was just going about my business, such as it is, walking through a corridor that was once part of a public transit network before said network became transformed into a captive-audience advertising delivery mechanism that happens to have tracks and trains and buses.  And you, dearest Brad, seemed to be hunting me, with that come-hither look that told me that something about Chanel No. 5 is ... "INEVITABLE."  Um, okay, if you insist...
And the real-estate porn announcing what will replace it.  The Cabrini-Green area is now being called SoNO.  And you thought "real estate porn" was an exaggeration; see this.

Not long ago, this intersection was in the midst of a long corridor of sixteen-story high-rise public housing projects built from the late 1950s to the early 1960s; see Arnold Hirsch's Building the Second Ghetto, Vest Monroe's Brothers, and Sudhir Venkatesh's American Project.  Now it's all gone, and "...nearly eight years after the Chicago Housing Authority embarked upon its $1.6 billion 'Plan for Transformation,' public housing's political base has been all but erased. ... just 26 percent of the folks registered [to vote] at the Robert Taylor Homes in November 2000 and 28 percent who were registered at Stateway Gardens were found on the voting rolls in September 2007 ....The loss of these massive concentrations of public housing voters represents a diminished political voice for a population many already considered disenfranchised. ... 'For all of the negative aspects ... they did have a lot of voters living there,' said Paul Fischer, emeritus professor of politics at Lake Forest College .... 'The concentration of those voters gave them a political significance.  Just by dispersing the population, which by definition occurred when they were relocated, you are also eliminating that political voice.'"  Kelly Lownestein and Alden K. Loury (2008).  "Lost Voters, Lost Voices."  The Chicago Reporter, January 13, available at http://www.chicagoreporter.com.

Fifty-first and Federal is, it would seem, an important site for many urban geographers.  Here's the view from Dr. Geoff DeVerteuil's geographical imagination (copyright Geoff DeVerteuil, January 2008).





...
Image ©copyright 1960 Robert S. Wyly
No animals were harmed in the production of this web page.

Another valuable Dakota Declaration:  eight months after suffering a life-threatening brain hemorrhage and partial paralysis that political analysts viewed as possibly undermining the razor-thin Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate, Tim Johnson (D-SD) appeared at the Sioux Falls Convention Center to tell his constituents, "I'm back."  "Hard work is something in which I take great pride, so let me say this tonight going forward:  I am back", Johnson said after he was brought in to the hall in a wheelchair, with his face and speech still showing the signs of the 'arteriovenous malformation' and emergency surgery he endured in December, 2006.  "Of course, I believe I have an unfair advantage over most of my colleagues right now.  My mind works faster than my mouth does.  Washington would probably be a better place if more people took a moment to think before they spoke." Quoted in Associated Press (2007).  "Effects of His Brain Hemorrhage Evident, Senator Returns."  New York Times, August 30, p. A15.
"Upon reading of this page, you agree to be bound by these terms and conditions."  I'm joking, of course.  See the last line of this.
"When you owe the bank a million dollars, you have a problem; but when you owe the bank $100 million, the bank has a problem."  -- Anonymous Bush Administration official, borrowing a line from J.P. Getty (or was it Keynes?) and privately complaining about Bush's inability to do anything when the ally he once called "my buddy and my friend," Pervez Mussharaf, declared a state of emergency in early November, 2007.  Bush has simply invested too much in Mussharaf.  Dan Froomkin (2007).  "Exposing Bush's Weakness."  Washington Post, November 6, White House Watch blog.  Thanks to Jon Cloke at Loughborough Geography for alerting me to the Getty etymology.
Random Resources and
Bureaucratic Stuff


These are the Narrow, Self-Promoting Annual Report Templates That We Are All Required To Fill Out so That We Can Prove That We Are Worth Something.  "Worth something" usually means financial value:  chase money, demand money.


This is my humble suggestion for what a real annual report should look like...


"They are, after all, scholars -- and they are barely tolerated in British higher education." Frank Furedi (2008).  "Is There No Room Left for Reflection?"  CAUT Bulletin 55(1), January, A2.
Biopolitics of the Blogosphere:  Resumes in the Age of Web 2.0

November 12, 2008:  The Obama Presidential Transition Team has prepared a questionnaire for prospective high-level appointees.  There are sixty-three questions.  A sampler:  "(10)  Writings:  Please list and, if readily available, provide a copy of each book, article, column or publication (including but not limited to any posts or comments on blogs or other websites) you have authored, individually or with others.  Please list all aliases or 'handles' you have used to communicate on the Internet."
"(13)  Electronic communications: If you have ever sent an electronic communication, including but not limited to an email, text message or instant message, that could suggest a conflict of interest or be a possible source of embarrassment to you, your family, or the President-Elect if it were made public, please describe."
"(14)  Diaries:  If you keep or have ever kept a diary that contains anything that could suggest a conflict of interest or be a possible source of embarrassment to you, your family, or the President-Elect if it were made public, please describe."
"(58)  Please provide the URL address of any websites that feature you in either a personal or professional capacity (e.g., Facebook, My Space, etc.)"  "(59)  Do you or any members of your immediate family own a gun?  If so, provide complete ownership and registration information.  Has the registration ever lapsed?  Please also describe how and by whom it is used and whether it has been the cause of any personal injuries or property damage."
Questionnaire distributed by the Transition Team of the Office of President-Elect Barack Obama.  See Jackie Calmes (2008).  "For a Washington Job, Be Prepared to Tell All."  New York Times, November 12, A1.


A Recent Random Rant

"The 1960s failed to deliver a thorough restructuring of society.  Nevertheless, it is dangerous and disempowering to remember the postwar era as nothing more than an age of a flawed, conservative positivist urbanism.  Many of the scholars working with social statistics who are now caricatured as unrepentant conservative positivists "were not infrequently of an actively leftist orientation" (Livingston 1992:  325) -- continuing the dissident heritage of the Vienna Circle itself.  Some of the most reactionary urbanism emerged not from quantitative-positivist research, but from explicitly qualitative ethnographic work on the culture of poverty (e.g., Banfield 1968).  Even the state-funded research of that era that is now recalled as the pinnacle of positivist urbanism looks downright radical when viewed from the vantage point of today's political climate. If positivism was tainted by its enrollment in American Fordism and the military-industrial complex -- and in some ways it was -- there was never any guarantee that a post-industrial, post-Fordist, post-positivist era would deliver us from the evils of militarism, inequality, racism, and all the other manifestations of social injustice.  Indeed, the Right has been all too quick to hijack the theoretical and tactical weapons traditionally associated with the Left.  The entire documentary history of the Bush Administration -- from Karl Rove's scorched-earth election strategies to the infamous torture memos deconstructing the contextual meanings of pain and organ failure while divining the torturer's intentions and human agency -- provides a horribly perverted course syllabus on poststructuralist, postpositivist imperialism. Any epistemology, and any methodology, can be co-opted and abused to serve the cause of violence, destruction, and inequality.  Conversely, all methodologies and epistemologies can be mobilized for social justice."
Elvin Wyly (2009), "Radical City."
Homes for All!  Vancouver March for Housing, April, 2009.
Need Career Advice?  Look in your Medicine Cabinet! 
"Man" shaving cream:  "Unless you're a geography teacher or a communist revolutionary you'll have to shave sometime.  Our gel has been formulated to deliver an incredibly smooth shave whatever the strength of your political will."  Image courtesy of Tom Slater, October 2009.
Good Night White Pride. (Below).  The man on the ground has a logo on his chest that is fairly common among European skinhead organizations.  Note the gondola ferro about to hit its mark.  My commitment is to nonviolent militance and creative resistance, but it is clear that we are seeing ever more threatening signs of potential violence -- on the Right and on the Left -- in today's conservative age of inequality, exclusion, privilege, and imperialism.  A generation after what Michael Watts (2001) described as the "global insurrections" of "1968 and all that," the struggles continue in cities across the world.  Almost two hundred years after Comte lamented the "Occidential anarchy" of revolutionary France, the Enlightenment struggle between reason and the "Catholico-feudalist system" continues.  On Darwin's birthday in February, 2009, the Gallup organization reported that only 4 in 10 Americans "believe" in evolution, and not long afterwards, surveys documented that an outright majority of Republicans did not "believe" that Barack Obama was elected U.S. President.  Birthers and Dittoheads, it seems, are uniting.  It's enough to give both positivists and post-positivists "serious cerebral disturbance."  (Comte 1851).
Venice, December 13, 2009.  Photograph © Jatinder Dhillon, posted with permission.
"We conservatives believe government is bad ... and we've got the candidates to prove it."

Humorist P.J. O'Rourke, on Bill Maher's Real Time, October 8, 2010, commenting on Rich Iott, the Republican Congressional candidate with a hobby of dressing up as an officer in a Nazi SS "re-enactment" group.
"Geography, sir, is ruinous in its effects on the lower classes. Reading, writing, and arithmetic are comparatively safe, but geography invariably leads to revolution."

From 1879 testimony before a Select Committee of the English House of Commons, regarding expenditures of the London School Board; courtesy of Tom Slater.
"He may not believe in evolution, but his survival-of-the-fittest view of society is pretty Darwinian."  Bill Keller, on Rick Perry. Bill Keller (2011).  "Is the Tea Party Over?"  New York Times, October 8.
"We are writhing to know if it is true that you are DEAD."
Sigh...
Digital Footprints
...if you want to follow.  But proceed at your own risk; you never know what you're going to get following this strange sequence of cerebral disturbances...

  • Big Profits, Broken Dreams:  Adkins et al., vs. Morgan Stanley, Press Conference.  October 15, 2012.
  • You're Not Paranoid if They Really Are Watching.  "They" are the bots, the screen-scrapers, the Cloud.  Big Data.  They are now selling our private emails. Posting of this material was not enabled by the human typing these words, nor any other human known by said typer.  This is automated postpositivism.  Yikes!
  • Simulacra Spatiality:  Urban Systems + Right-Wing Poststructuralism + Electoral Geographies of American Federalism = Reagan.  Watched "Reagan" on HBO a few weeks ago.  Had brainstorm for an article.  Now if I can just find the time to write this out and clarify the theory and empirics of this strange mind (mine?  his?).
  • Good Data, Good Politics. See this....  or  this...  and then this...
  • Flash Mob Curriculum #2.  Read/watch this, and/or drink from other parts of the real-time media firehose.  Then let's meet and talk:  Geography Room 252, 2:00 PM on Tuesday, March 20. 
  • Crazy Horse.  It's been a decade since I saw it.  Meaning and materialism, symbolism and rock-blasting, and questions of identity after a lifetime of sculpting and then a family Foundation that continues the work:  is it still feasible?  'Authentic' in purpose?  Read, discuss, tell me what you think...
  • Flash Mob Curriculum.
  • I'm geezing, but laughing every step of the way.  Saturday Night Live (2012).  "Verizon 4G."
  • Oh, my.  Detroit, I do Mind Dying.  Not just because Dan Georgakas and Marvin Surkin (1975) included that Joe L. Carter Detroit blues song on the inside front cover.  "Please, Mr. Foreman, slow down your assembly line.  Please, Mr. Foreman, slow down your assembly line.  No, I don't mind working', but I do mind dyin".  But Detroit is definitely dying if they don't understand that demography is destiny.  There's Clint Eastwood.  He's telling us that it's "Halftime in America."  Yeah, he's kinda right.  It's a really good spot, even better than last year's Eminem.  And I confess that I have my own nostalgia that the sociologist George Steinmetz has diagnosed as the "white ruingazers."  The Packard Plant just sets my heart all aflutter.  But if you paid $116,666 per second for thirty seconds of the attention span of millions, wouldn't you go after someone a bit younger than me?  People my age think of Clint and we're immediately back there in the 1970s -- whether we loved him or hated him, then or now, he's the 1970s reference point.  But if you're younger than forty-five, who the hell is this guy with this gruff turbocharged whisper?  Yeah, he's kind of eloquent... but who has time for eloquence these days if you don't already recognize the person when the ad begins?  Can it really reach anyone younger than 45?  Or is it really just a dog-whistle attempt to get back those aging, elusive Reagan Democrats?  At least we get the amusement of annoying Karl Rove...

Reference

Dan Georgakas and Marvin Surkin (1975).  Detroit:  I Do Mind Dying.  A Study in Urban Revolution.  New York:  St. Martin's Press.



















...








CopyLeft 2014 Elvin K. Wyly
Except where otherwise noted, this site is
licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada License.
Image courtesy of Tom Slater

U.S. States in Political Space.  This is the 2010 Congressional election, tabulated for total House of Representatives votes cast in November, 2010.  States are mapped by population density and vote shares (including the small shares going to parties other than Republicans and Democrats).  Map created with classical multidimensional scaling routine.  Votes cast for Democratic House candidates exceed those for Republican candidates in states shaded Blue, while the opposite applies in pink states.  Circle areas are scaled proportionate to total votes cast by state.  Data SourcesKaren L. Haas (2011). Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 2, 2010.  Corrected to June 3, 2011.  Washington, DC:  Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives.  U.S. Bureau of the Census (2010).  Interim Population Estimates for States.  Washington, DC:  U.S. Department of Commerce. 
"...concern over the direction of the U.S. economy deepens when Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, in what some economists see as a sign of pessimism, applies for Canadian citizenship."  Dave Barry (2011).  "Dave Barry's Year in Review:  Why 2010 Made Us Sick."  Washington Post, January 2, W10.

Calculation, Culture, and Civilization

"...once the language was accepted, then the thought processes behind the language were accepted as well. Once limited by the language of cost-benefit analysis, many subjects became pointless. It is impossible to sustain classical languages or medieval poetry or anything but the most recent history once their justification has to be couched in such terms. There is no countable added value to pure critical thought or the continuation of the heritage of civilization. Such disciplines need a different language to express different values."

Ian Pears (2011).  "A Price Above Rubrics." Academe, September-October 2011.

UFB

In July, 2011, every single Republican Senator voted against a Sense of the Senate resolution calling upon the wealthy to contribute something, anything, even their spare change -- to reflect their personal responsibility to help out the society that made their wealth possible.  Note that the resolution specifies no particular amount:  it's just a call to conscience for shared sacrifice.  And yet that is still apparently too socialist, too much class warfare...

UFB.

Harry Reid (2011).  S1323, To Express the Sense of the Senate on Shared Sacrifice In Resolving the Budget Deficit.  Introduced June 30.  Washington, DC:  U.S. Government Printing Office.


America WTF
Read.  Discuss.  Barf.

"Along with the meaning of life and the origin of the universe, college students across the country have another existential question to ponder:  the wisdom of allowing guns in class.  In Arizona, known for its gun-friendly ways, state lawmakers are pushing three bills this year focused on arming professors and others over the age of 21 on Arizona campuses. ... About a dozen legislatures nationwide, concerned about the potential for campus shootings, are considering arming their academies. ... Arizona's proposals ... have prompted a fierce debate at the state's public universities, with significant brain power focusing on the issue of firepower."

Sadly, even the most foundational essence of the meaning of the academy in civilization requires active, explicit defense in a state dominated by the most uncivilized of political forces.  "Anne Mariucci, the chairwoman of the Arizona Board of Regents ... said she would prefer that universities be places where disagreements are resolved by debating, not squeezing the trigger." 

Marc Lacey (2011).  "Lawmakers Debate Effect of Weapons on Campus."  New York Times, February 26.
Acoustic Cartographies 2012!

Gerry Pratt, Elizabeth Lee, Andrew Pask, Hildegard Westerkamp, the students of Geography 371 ... and some clown by the name of Wyly
Sunday, April 15, 3:30-5:30 PM, Western Front, 303 E. 8th Avenue.

What a great event!  Andrew Pask, Gerry Pratt, Liz Lee, and many other wonderfully thoughtful, creative colleagues and students.  Thank you so much for the brainstorm!  My notes are here.  They probably don't make any sense at all ... unless you were there ... and you can make sense of my writing ... and your mind can see where mine is going ... yikes!  But feel free to use this as an icebreaker, if you see me walking down the hall and you want to start a conversation.  "What did you mean by this crazy scribble here?"

Like you, I'm always carefully listening to the sounds of daily life in the city.  But no matter what sound I hear right now in this city, there's always several other sounds in the back of my mind.  Some are the voices of mentors, some the voices of students.  Then the scribble at the top of the page about the rhythm of the traffic in the city indicates that some of what we discussed reminded me of the geographical imaginations of pop culture in the latter decades of the twentieth century.  This is what I sometimes hear in the back of my mind.  Whaddya think?  Cheesy?  Or maybe it's so obscure and out of date by now that it's kinda campy-cool?  If you're interested, here's another tiny sample of my cognitive soundtrack, and then here's my "City Wanna Make me Holler" reflection.
 
Mapping continuity and change in Canada's settlement system
with Markus Moos, Anna Glasmacher, and other colleagues.

[click for larger, monstrous file]
"To think collectively is countercultural in the current economic and political environment."  This department is "an extraordinary collectivity," with unparalleled "excellence of faculty, graduate students, undergraduates, staff, and alumni."

Indeed!

David Ley (2012).  Final Head's Remarks, last Department Meeting of the Headship, May 24.  Vancouver, BC:  Department of Geography, University of British Columbia.
"In this delightful collection of thoughtful reviews, Lionel Youst gives us valuable historical perspective -- and inspiration to build a progressive future of social justice."

Elvin Wyly
Associate Professor, Urban Geography
University of British Columbia

The book should be on Amazon shortly; link to be updated whenever possible.

Lionel Youst (2012).  Progressive Thoughts:  Essays and Reviews, by Lionel Youst.  Allegany, Oregon:  Golden Falls Publishing.


 
"The Bowman Expeditions have never promised anything other than open-source geographical data gathering and analysis and could be seen as one small player in this large and growing industry," as the private-contracting proportion of the $50 billion annual U.S. intelligence budget continues to grow.  "To put it formulaically, geopiracy is a product of human geography in an era of surveillance capitalism."  Joel Wainwright (2014).  "Geopiracy and the Earthliness of Thought:  A Reply to the Critics." Human Geography 7(3), 87-101.
*
Tattoo You and Me Too
"She never let age, or anything, make her sentimental.  Earlier in 2014, she got inked:  a half-inch-tall tattoo, '6M,' on the inside of her arm representing six million Jews killed in the Nazi Holocaust.  In 2013, she brashly pledged to work 'forever.'"
Lynn Elber (2014).  "Bold and Brassy:  Comedy was Rivers' calling, and her therapy."  Associated Press, September 5, obituary for Joan Rivers (1933-2014).

What Medium is What Message?
Marshall McLuhan's head hurts:
"ISIS is online jihad 3.0. Dozens of Twitter accounts spread its message, and it has posted some major speeches in seven languages. Its videos borrow from Madison Avenue and Hollywood, from combat video games and cable television dramas, and its sensational dispatches are echoed and amplified on social media. When its accounts are blocked, new ones appear immediately. It also uses services like JustPaste to publish battle summaries, SoundCloud to release audio reports, Instagram to share images and WhatsApp to spread graphics and videos." 
Scott Shane and Ben Hubbard (2014).  "ISIS Displaying a Deft Command of Varied Media."  New York Times, August 30.

AutoHUMANCorrect
"Thanks for as kleenex the great duggeztikns.
As for that last sentence, that is my 'smartphone' saying 'thanks for all the great suggestions.' So much for technology."
Codes and Clouds over-ruling humans, email received August 27, 2014

"His thesis is built on three pillars. The web is bad for writers, he said, who are too exhausted by the pace of an endless news cycle to write poised, reflective stories and who are paid peanuts if they do. It’s bad for publishers, who have lost advertising revenue to Google and Facebook and will never make enough from a free model to sustain great writing. And it’s bad for readers, who cannot absorb information well on devices that buzz, flash and generally distract."
--portrayal of John R. MacArthur, publisher of Harper's, in Ravi Somaiya (2014).  "Harper's Publisher Standing Firm in His Defense of Print and Paywall."  New York Times, August 10.
*
"Anarcha-existentialist best describes the method that I have contrived as an academic vagabond; like a gadfly buzzing about between academic departments, the stricken cities of the West, and the receding horizon of a dying empire. Dear reader:  I invite you into this new terrain with these disclaimers: if you find yourself torn and confused, left alone and abandoned to find your own meaning and reasoning by the following content please remember this key phrase. And if at some point along the way your heart breaks as I hope it will, please do not turn back to the patriarchs that promise to protect you from the unknown. Go forward with me towards justice, like black-clad militants with rage in their hearts, and smash the beguiling façade of the global city!"
Edward Lee Durgan (2013).  Resistance and Complexity:  Solutions to Urban Crises of Homelessness and Psychopathology through Psychiatry, Architecture, and Philosophy.  Vancouver:  Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, University of British Columbia, p. 2.

*
Ready to head off another cliff?
"Welcome to the Everything Boom — and, quite possibly, the Everything Bubble. Around the world, nearly every asset class is expensive by historical standards. Stocks and bonds; emerging markets and advanced economies; urban office towers and Iowa farmland; you name it, and it is trading at prices that are high by historical standards relative to fundamentals. The inverse of that is relatively low returns for investors."
Neil Irwin (2014).  "Welcome to the Everything Boom, or Maybe the Everything Bubble."  New York Times, July 7.


Laughter through the Tears:
Applying for Administratia in the World of the Post-Professorial University
See
Rebecca Shuman (2014).  "The Clever Stunt Four Professors Just Pulled to Expose the Outrageous Pay Gap in Academia."  Slate, June 16.

World [geography] War I
"During World War I numerous geographers were engaged in wartime services, such as the Shipping Board, which allocated cargoes by specific routes and ports.  They dealt with tonnages of whatever kind from source to destination.  They returned after the war to academic life, knowledgeable in the statistics of volume and the monetary value of the items of commerce.  The universities were adding schools of commerce and business that had use for this sort of information, and geographers were available for such courses of instruction.  They gathered statistical data, drew topical maps, and constructed graphs, all under continuing revision to be kept up to date.  Things, people, places were quantitative aggregates to be related.  Numbers in their spatial distribution were the common concern, which in the course of time became sophisticated to theories of spatial order, independent of real place or time.  The new breed had little experience or need of the traditional interests of geography in the physical, biotic, and cultural diversity of the Earth.  It was not interested in the past beyond the short run of statistical series, but was concerned with projecting the future.  The applied geographer attached to the world of business learned the use of statistics to chart the flow of trade.  A few were beginning to construe an abstract world of hypothetical space and time.

In 1923 I moved from Michigan to California to gain experience of a different country, and also to get away from what geographers mainly were doing in the East, which interested me less and less as narrowing professionalism."
Carl O. Sauer (1974).  "The Fourth Dimension of Geography."  Annals of the Association of American Geographers 64(2), 189-192, quote from p. 191.
*
Ack/Em
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS TO EMULATE
"I dedicate this study to my parents, who have always been skeptical, to my wife, who hasn't been skeptical enough, and to Cuchulain, who tried to eat the final draft."
Roger Pierce Miller (1979).  A Time-Geographic Assessment of the Impact of Horsecar Transportation on Suburban Non-heads-of-household in Philadelphia, 1850-1860.  Doctoral thesis.  Berkeley, CA:  Graduate Division, Department of Geography, University of California, p. iv.

The Singularity Inches Closer
as narrated by Microsoft executive Craig Mundie and mathematician Michael Freedman:
"...when Mr. Mundie asked Dr. Freedman what he might do with a working quantum computer, he responded that the first thing he would program it to do would be to model an improved version of itself."
John Markoff (2014).  "Microsoft Makes Bet Quantum Computing Will be Next Big Leap."  New York Times, June 23.

"Es el puto síndrome de Cristóbal Colón!"
A generation ago, Neil Smith and Richard Schaffer penned an article, "The Gentrification of Harlem?"  Now replace the question mark with an exclamation point and consider the implications of contemporary urban (re)colonizations...
See this report by Lola García-Ajofrín

Books Drugs:  Allow me to Overdose!
"Bookstores that Will Change Your Life."
*
Planetary Spinal Tap:  Can You Hear Me Now?
Vodafone, the world's second-largest communications carrier, discloses that it has received thousands of government requests for data on its users in the past year; but the privacy report also indicates that some (unnamed) countries have a direct link that bypasses any need to ask for data:
"However, in a small number of countries the law dictates that specific agencies and authorities must have direct access to an operator’s network, bypassing any form of operational control over lawful interception on the part of the operator. In those countries, Vodafone will not receive any form of demand for lawful interception access as the relevant agencies and authorities already have permanent access to customer communications via their own direct link."
Mark Scott (2014).  "Vodafone Reveals Direct Access by Governments to Customer Data."  New York Times, June 6, Bits Blog; and Vodafone (2014).  Law Enforcement Disclosure Report, 2014.  Newbury, Berkshire, UK:  Vodafone.

*
Good advice on literacy from Dino...
*

Education, MOOCified
François Ortalo-Magné, dean of the business school at the University of Wisconsin, recounts how one of his faculty members was head-hunted by a rival institution:  the job offer came with shares in an online learning start-up created specifically for that professor.  "We're talking about millions of dollars," Ortalo-Magné explained.  In a world of networked global MOOCification, "My best teachers are going to find platforms so they can teach to the world. ... The market is finding a way to unbundle us.  My job is to hold this platform together."  Ortalo-Magné sketches out  a vision of the long-run implications of technological liquidation of all but the highest-rated celebrity teachers in each category of educational content delivery.  "How many calculus professors do we need in the world?” he asked. “Maybe it’s nine. My colleague says it’s four. One to teach in English, one in French, one in Chinese, and one in the farm system in case one dies."
all quotes cited in Jerry Useem (2014).  "Business School, Disrupted."  New York Times, May 31.
*
"That this long stream of influence, ever widening and deepening, is at last about to sweep away the barriers it has so long sapped, is at least one obvious interpretation of the present universal ferment of men's minds as to the imperfections of present social arrangements. Not only are the toilers of the world engaged in something like a world-wide insurrection, but true and humane men and women, of every degree, are in a mood of exasperation, verging on absolute revolt, against social conditions that reduce life to a brutal struggle for existence, mock every dictate of ethics and religion, and render well-nigh futile the efforts of philanthropy.  As an iceberg, floating southward from the frozen north, is gradually undermined by warmer seas, and, become at last unstable, churns the sea to yeast for miles around by the mighty rockings that portend its overturn, so the barbaric industrial and social system, which has come down to us from savage antiquity, undermined by the modern humane spirit, riddled by the criticism of economic science, is shaking the world with convulsions that presage its collapse."
Edward Bellamy (1888).  "Postscript:  The Rate of the World's Progress."  In Looking Backward, 2000-1887.  University Classics edition, edited by Walter Hendricks, with an introduction by Frederic R. White.  Chicago:  Packard & Company, p. 233.
*
I Am Not Making This Up, Department 283
By consolidated authority of Provincial and UBC Risk Management Services, Romper Room Playground Division, all faculty, staff, student employees, postdoctoral associates, and Content Providers (formerly known by the obscure term "professor") are required to take a course (see the first part here) on how to avoid, recognize, prevent, and report workplace harassment and bullying.  The course includes a quiz, and all are required to obtain a score of 100%, and to file a certificate.  Fines to the entity formerly known as a "University" will be imposed in those cases where certificates are not on file, beginning at a few thousand dollars and eventually escalating to $500,000.  Curiously, sending mass emails threatening everyone at an institution with massive financial penalties is not defined as "harassment" or "bullying."
*
WWRBS?
Virtual Reality, 1953:
"Well, this is a play comes on the wall-to-wall circuit in ten minutes.  They mailed me my part this morning.  ... They write the script with one part missing. It's a new idea.  The homemaker, that's me, is the missing part.  When it comes time for the missing lines, they all look at me out of the three walls and I say the lines. ... It's really fun.  It'll be even more fun when we can afford to have the fourth wall installed.  ... if we had a fourth wall, why it'd be just like this room wasn't ours at all, but all kinds of exotic people's rooms. ...."  Mildred, speaking to the 'fireman' Guy Montag, in Ray Bradbury (1953). Fahrenheit 451. New York:  Ballantine Books, pp. 21-22.
The Fourth Wall Will be Curved, 2014:
"The sales pitch on curved TVs is that the rounded screen creates a more immersive viewing experience.... 'The story about curvature is really a story about emotion,'" according to cognitive neuroscientist Oshin Vartanian, who has used functional MRI testing to explore how human brains react to curved designs.  Curvature "affects the way you feel.  It creates a feeling-driven response."  Vartanian highlights his research on how the sight of sharp objects lights up the amygdala of the human brain, which responds to threats.  "So there's probably something about our evolutionary past that has stayed with us and denotes danger associated with sharp objects," as opposed to the lovely new curvature of the world's first curved ultra-HD television at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show. 
Michael Oliveira (2014).  "Move to Curved Screens has Science and Evolution on its Side."  Vancouver Sun, May 15, p. D3.

*
Raise Shit Forever
"When times were dark and people felt hopeless, he gave us hope.  When people felt they had no voice, his poetry raised many voices and gave people courage.  When people longed for belonging and community, he led by example and united people in a common cause for human dignity and respect."  -- Anne Livingston, describing the late great Bud Osborne, as cited in
Kim Pemberton (2014).  "Bud Osborne a 'True Hero' for Downtown Eastside."  Vancouver Sun, May 8, p. B12.

I Am Not an Algorithm
1.  On April 6, 2014, I wrote these notes for students entering the final stretch of the semester, working on their final papers:

"About five and a half millennia after writing was developed amidst the societal transformations of the 'urban revolution' in Mesopotamia, the lead paragraph of an article in the New York Times offers a new vision of literacy and writing:
"Imagine taking a college exam, and, instead of handing in a blue book and getting a grade from a professor a few weeks later, clicking the 'send' button when you are done and receiving a grade back instantly, your essay scored by a software program." Not long ago, such a system was launched by EdX, an educational partnership of Harvard and MIT.  EdX officials announced that the software would be made available for free on the Web for any institution wishing to use the system.  "The software uses artificial intelligence to grade student essays and short written answers," the Times correspondent tells us, "freeing professors for other tasks."  (Markoff, 2013, p. A1).  Machine-learning algorithms for text processing have been around since the 1960s, but they are now going mainstream, with new possibilities for unintended interaction effects in the automated possibilities of cloud computing.  Critics, for example, have observed that EdX's algorithms for automated reading will accelerate the use of automated writing bots, which are already transforming the profession of journalism (see Lohr, 2011).  As both systems are more widely adopted, writing bots will potentially be able to learn how to optimize essays to obtain the highest possible marks from grading bots. (For a detailed critique and analysis of the automated-grading systems, see Perelman, 2013).

For better or worse, the human professor writing these words does not wish to be "freed" "for other tasks," (cf. Markoff, 2013).  Reading student papers can be hard work, but it is not a "task" to be automated.  It's an opportunity to think deeply, and for professors to learn from the distinctive and valuable expertise of students.  My own reading and learning process involves mad scribbling of edits, corrections, ideas, connections, and possibilities.  If you would like to see your marked-up paper, you are welcome to stop by my office -- I circulate between my office in Geography Room 132, the Urban Studies Commons in Room 126, and sometimes the lab in Room 115 -- in the weeks after the end of the term.
2.  On April 30, 2014, one of my students sends me a link to this latest horror story, providing one data point suggesting that my bot-author prediction was perhaps not as outlandish as one might think...
"Les Perelman, former director of writing for MIT, has created the Babel Generator, which can spit out a full essay after the user plugs in three relevant keywords.  The Babel Generator isn't designed to churn out papers for your English or History 101 classes, however. It's an effort to fool grading systems that use specific algorithms to score essay exams .... The Babel Generator creates grammatically correct essays that are keyword-stuffed to the brim, although the content rarely makes any sense. The idea is to prove that programs used by certain schools or organizations to grade essays aren't accurately analyzing the quality of writing when it comes to grading." Lisa Eadicicco (2014).  "This Software Can Write a Grade-A College Paper in Less Than a Second."  Business Insider, April 29.

"People do not generally imagine themselves trapped in a world that is upside-down relative to what they think they know; indeed, persistent faith in the reliability of our own epistemic capacities is one of the more touching frailties of the human race."
Philip Mirwoski (2014).  'The Red Guide to the Neoliberal Playbook,' in Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste:  How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown.  Brooklyn:  Verso, p. 329.


Little Deuce Coupe, You Don't Know What I Got
[What I got is a FICO below 620]

"Bankers say investors have grown more comfortable with investing in subprime auto bonds since the assets performed relatively well in the financial crisis.  'Subprime auto kind of moved up the food chain of asset classes in terms of perceived reliability,' says Marty Attea at Barclays.  'Even bad credits pay their cars before mortgages -- no one ever though that before the crisis.'" Tracy Alloway (2014).  "Race to Join Rally in Subprime US Car Loans."  Financial Times, March 7, p. 24.

Predatory capitalism gets rubber in all four gears...

*
Q:  Who wrote this:
"
    As Tzu-Gung was traveling through the regions north of the river Han, he saw an old man working in his vegetable garden.  He had dug an irrigation ditch.  The man would descend into a well, fetch up a vessel of water in his arms and pour it out into the ditch.  While his efforts were tremendous the results appeared to be very meager.
    Tzu-Gung said, 'There is a way whereby you can irrigate a hundred ditches in one day, and whereby you can do much with little effort.  Would you not like to hear of it?'
    Then the gardener stood up, looked at him and said, 'And what would that be?'
    Tsu-Gung replied, 'You take a wooden lever, weighted at the back and light in front.  In this way you can bring up water so quickly that it just gushes out.  This is called a draw-well.'
    Then anger rose up in the old man's face, and he said, 'I have heard my teacher say that whoever uses machines does all his work like a machine.  He who does his work like a machine grows a heart like a machine, and he who carries the heart of a machine in his breast loses his simplicity.  He who has lost his simplicity becomes unsure in the strivings of his soul.  Uncertainty in the strivings of the soul is something which does not agree with honest sense.  It is not that I do not know of such things; I am ashamed to use them.'
"
A:  Werner Heisenberg, who is
"an example of the new quantum physicist whose over-all awareness of forms suggests to him that we would do well to stand aside from most of them.  He points out that technical change alters not only habits of life, but patterns of thought and valuation..."

Q2:  What about that 's' in the third Tzu-Gung, the 'Tsu-Gung'?
A:
Oh, yes, good question, good editorial eye!  That's a direct reproduction of the quote excerpted from Heisenberg's The Physicist's Conception of Nature, and written and/or typed by Marshall McLuhuan, and/or his typists, in Marshall McLuhan (1963).  Understanding Media:  The Extensions of Man.  New York:  NAL Penguin, p. 69.

Q3:  So what?
Look again.  In 1963, what did it mean to cite a physicist who warned that 'whoever uses a machine does all his work like a machine'?  What does it mean today when I'm on the Fordist digital assembly line -- and if you're reading these words you're here too -- and we're all overdosing on the dopamine rushes of constant connectivity that Nick Carr diagnoses so well in The Shallows:  What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. 
WWWHD? 
What Would Werner Heisenberg Do ... on Facebook, or Twitter, or Whatsapp...?


Barney!

"...he is a formidable, even lethal, opponent in debate—even if his manner of speech is a devilish scramble of mush-mouthed fast-talking that sometimes presents a challenge to comprehension."
Lloyd Grove (2014).  "A Washington First:  The Amazing Life of Barney Frank."  The Daily Beast, April 19.

Theological Past-Due Notices
Newz of the weird:
"
'God' sues credit rating agency:
A New York City man claims that a credit reporting agency falsely reported he had no financial history because his first name is God.  According to the New York Post, God Gazarov says in a lawsuit that Equifax has refused to correct its system to recognize his name as legitimate.  Gazarov, 26, is a Russian native who is named after his grandfather.
"
via the Vancouver Sun, April 12, 2014, p. B8.

"That is the natural order of things today.  That is the atomic and subatomic and galactic structure of things today...!"
Ned Beatty's 1976 Network speech
thanks to Bob Lake for the reminder!

Open Access Explained...

***

Philosophy thirty years ago:
"Modernity does not 'liberate man in his being,' he concludes.  'It compells him to face the task of producing himself,' forcing him to carry forward, for better or worse--and in ways that Immanuel Kant would scarcely recognize--'the undefined work of freedom.'"
Jurgen Habermas, as quoted in James Miller (1993).  The Passion of Michel Foucault.  New York:  Simon & Schuster, p. 334.
"On a final visit to Foucault in his office at the College de France, Habermas, as he recalls, 'tried to press him about his 'happy positivism.'  I told him, 'look, it makes no sense to refrain from explaining normative premises if one proceeds in such a critical way as you do."  Habermas spelled out a line of argument familiar from his writings..."

Jurgen Habermas, as quoted in James Miller (1993).  The Passion of Michel Foucault.  New York:  Simon & Schuster, p. 339.

Philosophy today, delivered by a U.S. Governor described as 1970s Moonbeam updated for 2014 Mainstream:
"Fiscal discipline is the fundamental predicate of a free society." 
Jerry Brown, Meet the Press, March 2, 2014.

Sixteen Days Without Internet, Without Computation Appendage.
...a bit of time spent each day reading and scribbling, often along bumpy routes on the adventurous roads between Nathana, Bathinda, Amritsar, Chandigarh, Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur...
[now to type the illegible insanity...!]

Frightening new geographies of accumulation by legal dispossession:

"Vera Scroggins, an outspoken opponent of fracking, is legally barred from the new county hospital. Also off-limits, unless Scroggins wants to risk fines and arrest, are the Chinese restaurant where she takes her grandchildren, the supermarkets and drug stores where she shops, the animal shelter where she adopted her Yorkshire terrier, bowling alley, recycling centre, golf club, and lake shore.

In total, 312.5 sq miles are no-go areas for Scroggins under a sweeping court order granted by a local judge that bars her from any properties owned or leased by one of the biggest drillers in the Pennsylvania natural gas rush, Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation."

Suzanne Goldenberg (2014).  "The Anti-fracking Activist Barred From 312.5 Sq Miles of Pennsylvania."  The Guardian, January 29.

1848?  1929?  1987?  1997?  2001?  2008? ... 2014!
"...investors have been heading for the exits in markets as far removed as Buenos Aires, Istanbul and Beijing, with effects spilling over into the rest of the world."
Nathaniel Popper (2014).  "Economic Shifts in U.S. and China Batter Markets."  New York Times, January 24.

There's a fight in America today.  You may not be interested in the fight, but the fight is happening, and the fight is interested in you.
[Paraphrased and adapted from Chris Hayes (2014).  All in With Chris Hayes.  New York:  MSNBC]

Highway's Jammed with Heroes on a Last-Chance Power Drive
FallonBoss

"Man, this guy LOVES Urban Geography!"
One of the many comments, reactions, and recommendations from last term's classes.  Curious on more details on what they're saying about Wyly?  See this, and/or this...

Strange Juxtapositions, Department 10 December 2013

1.  "For the last twenty years my colleagues and I at the Anthro-Tech Research Institute have been working on the development of one of those [new] forms of engineering:  Moral Technology." Paul Emberson (2013).  Machines and the Human Spirit:  The Golden Age of the Fifth Kingdom.  Edinburgh:  The Dewcross Centre for Moral Technology, p. 8.

2.  The "Moral Technology" of the NYPD: 

Is this America's own Pussy Riot trial?
By Padraig Reidy
28 November, 2013
Xindex

"On a Saturday afternoon in June, a group of activists walked into a bank in Manhattan, New York, and staged a peaceful protest performance. The Church of Stop Shopping, led by Reverend Billy, were protesting at JP Chase Morgan and other banks' investment in fossil fuel projects, which they say is unethical in the face of climate change.

Bill Talen, 63, the man behind Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping, has been staging this kind of action for a while. But now Bill and his colleague Nehemiah Luckett are facing charges of riot in the second degree and menacing in the third degree, for their JP Chase Morgan protest. The pair could end with one year in jail. For a peaceful protest. They are due to appear in court on 9 December.

It's hard not to think of the fate of Russia's Pussy Riot when writing about Reverend Billy. Both Pussy Riot and the Stop Shopping Choir have used similar tactics, staging peaceful performance protests right in what they would see as the belly of the beast. And both have been subjected to very harsh charges.  The difference is, of course, that we don't expect this kind of thing to happen in the US."

***

Michael Welsh, who worked as a nurse at St. Paul's hospital in the early years of HIV/AIDS in Vancouver, keeps a personal archive of his experience of those fearful days.  "In a binder, Welsh has carefully arranged the fragments and fading snatches of the lives whose spirits he still holds in his hands.  Photos, hand-written notes, phone numbers, obituaries.  Talismans.  'I carry them with me,' he said.  'I'm still here, so I can be loyal to these people.  I can remember all the family members, all the volunteers, the support groups and nurses and social workers.'
'There was one in particular, a young AIDS patient,' he recalls.  A young man close enough to death to see the life he had lived wholly, without reservation or jadedness, evaporate, become as weightless and invisible as he was.  'His biggest fear was that after his death, he would be forgotten,' Welsh says softly.  His voice grows stronger, his face lit by another life:  'I have never forgotten him.'"
Denise Ryan (2013).  "Heroes, Heartbreak & Hope:  How AIDS Made Us Better."  Vancouver Sun, November 23, p. C1, C10-C11, quote from p. C10.

On What Geography Means...

"I think it's our signal contribution -- we go where the knowledge is. Geographers do that all the time.  I think it's awesome.  To the extent that disciplines persist, we do it right."  Geoff Mann, cited in Sadie Couture (2013).  The Epistemic Stance of Geographers:  Effects on Personal Pronoun Use.  Vancouver, BC:  Interdisciplinary Studies in Arts, p. 10.

"Privacy, labor rights and the university as a place to learn from all disciplines in ways that allow professors to challenge students beyond their comfort zone are all related. One can’t be addressed without the other."
Rachel Slocum, quoted in Michelle Chen (2013).  "Instructors Often Pressured to Censor Themselves, says Professor Scolded for Tea Party Email."  In These Times, November 14.

Latest brain-dump from the Spamiverse:
"Useful Academic Twitter Hashtags
In recent weeks we have been sharing the details of academics who provide academic career advice via blogs and their Twitter handles.
For those of you who are currently doing your research we have found the following hash tags useful:-
#phdforum, #phdchat, #ecrchat, #socphd
We would really love to hear which hastags have proved useful in providing you with academic career advice. Email us or Tweet us at AcademyJobs."

"Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics." The United States, united by the trivial and divided by geography...
I had no idea that Pinochet was a geographer!
[But don't blame geography; it can be revolutionary, too, from Kropotkin all the way to Camila Vallejo, who was described as "a Botticelli beauty who wears a silver nose ring and studies geography," while leading Chile's largest street protests since the demise of General Augusto Pinochet's military dictatorship."
Francisco Goldman (2012).  "Camila Vallejo, the World's Most Glamorous Revolutionary."  New York Times, April 5.

Nuray, describing the Sulukule neighborhood of Istanbul:
"I was born here, my grandparents were born here, and their grandparents were born here too. Go look at our cemetery; you will see some tombstones from three hundred years ago. We don't have a village to go back to ... When our houses are demolished we will be on the streets. We have everything here; I have my neighbors and my relatives.  People here wouldn't know how to live anywhere else"
Ozan Karaman, "Resisting Urban Renewal in Istanbul," forthcoming, Urban Geography.

Latest sign of Algorithmism as a Way of Life
Q:  Who said this:
"If there was some sort of mathematical equation for beauty, I don't know if I would be the algorithm.  I've always been OK with that."
A:
.
.
Lady Gaga
Postmedia News (2013).  "Lady Gaga a Tortured Soul."  The Province, November 4, p. B2.

The Industrial City, Online Auction Edition
See these images and then this news story...
[thanks to Mark Davidson for the lead...]

The Human Right to Adequate Housing
Professor David Hulchanski
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
12:30-1:30, UBC Faculty of Law, Room 122 Allard

"It's been a nightmare."
Jason C. Locke, associate vice provost for enrollment at Cornell, describing the dizzying array of malfunctions plaguing the new version of the online Common Application used by more than 500 colleges and universities.  One twelfth-grader spent an entire weekend trying to fix written essays that had been mangled by the digital monster.  "When she entered her essays into the application, what appeared on her computer screen was a garbled mess. Some words were mashed together; others were split in two by random spaces; there were swaths of blank space where text should have been; paragraph indentations were missing." 
Richard Perez-Pena (2013).  "Online Application Woes Make Students Anxious and Put Colleges Behind Schedule."  New York Times, October 12.

The U.S. National Security Agency Learns How to Automate a Black-Hat Hacker Operation to Hijack theories of Standpoint Epistemology, Situated Knowledges, and the Digital Individual:
"A top-secret document titled 'Better Person Centric Analysis' describes how the agency looks for 94 'entity types,' including phone numbers, e-mail addresses and IP addresses.  In addition, the N.S.A. correlates 164 'relationship types' to build social networks and what the agency calls 'community of interest' profiles, using queries like 'travelsWith, hasFather, sentForumMessage, employs.'"  James Risen and Laura Poitras (2013).  "N.S.A. Gathers Data on Social Connections of U.S. Citizens."  New York Times, September 28.

"In Metro Vancouver, even the 'flashmobs' are designed to be intercultural. This cultural mashup is occurring as the old model of multicultural urbanity is replaced by one favoring microscale diversity."
A tiny tweet-length sample from three hundred and eleven pages of brilliant scholarship in Yvonne Pottie-Sherman (2013).  Night Markets in Vancouver:  Intercultural Encounters in Urban and Suburban Chinatowns.  Ph.D. Thesis, successfully defended September 3.  Vancouver:  Department of Geography, University of British Columbia.

Why I don't use You Bee See's El Em Es
(LMS, for "Learning Management System"),
Reason Number 48:

From: owner-ubcv-dir-hu-vpa@interchange.ubc.ca [mailto:owner-ubcv-dir-hu-vpa@interchange.ubc.ca] On Behalf Of Heads.Up@ubc.ca
Sent: September-06-13 2:33 PM
To: ubcv-deans-ap-principals@interchange.ubc.ca; ubcv-dir-hu-vpa@interchange.ubc.ca
Cc: Gruter-Andrew, Oliver; Moffett, Pamela; jen.woo@ubc.ca; phil.chatterton@ubc.ca; ubcv-admin-asst-deans-ap-princ@interchange.ubc.ca
Subject: Connect Learning Management System

The following message is being sent to Deans, Heads and Directors of Academic Units, on behalf of Oliver Grueter-Andrew, Chief Information Officer

PLEASE DISTRIBUTE AS NECESSARY

We are currently experiencing significant technical issues with the Connect Learning Management System. The response is a large coordinated effort which includes all available resources including senior members of UBC IT and the two key vendors involved, Blackboard and Oracle. We are focusing on both rapid service restoration during outages and longer-term stability.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this, please contact Phil Chatterton, Critical Incidents Director on this issue, at phil.chatterton@ubc.ca<mailto:phil.chatterton@ubc.ca>. Updated information will be posted on our bulletins site at http://bulletins.it.ubc.ca<http://bulletins.it.ubc.ca/> and we will provide email updates as soon as new information  becomes available.


"You are required to attend under protest, write a paper that's a total waste of your time, and complain constantly."
Kieran Healy's "Social Theory Through Complaining"

"You can't tweet this"
"The 'elevator pitch' is a common phrase in Silicon Valley, even though few buildings have enough floors to require actual elevator rides.  You are supposed to be able to pitch a startup quickly enough that a highly distracted person can get your idea before the next incoming tweet spurs the smartphone to buzz."
Jaron Lanier (2013).  Who Owns the Future? New York:  Simon & Schuster, p. 233.

Here's the latest raw brain-dump, an elevator pitch for a building with very strange architecture.  You certainly can't tweet this, given the length of this unprocessed, unfiltered mass of disorganized notes...

You Bureaucra Cee
Latest updates from the place of electronic mind, the spam-generating EULA that was once a university:
If your TASM sits within a wider SITP, you better check your TS3 right away!

The Automated Epistemology of an iParadigm Shift
Help us fight the corporate kidnappers of neoliberal neurogovernance!

Psy channels Susan Sontag, without even knowing it:  performing the viral "Gangnam Style" video hit that has racked up 1.65 billion YouTube views, Psy discovers that he is the center of attention only long enough for the attention to be digitally objectified, recorded, posted, shared, and (re)tweeted.
"'Let me see you bounce, Canada!' he implored, later scolding the crowd for staring into their smartphones. 'Stop taking pictures and bounce!'" Nick Patch (2013).  "Psy Doesn't Disappoint as Co-Host."  Vancouver Sun, Arts & Life, June 17, D1.

Digital Taylorism continues
Once upon a time, Professors told their students, "go to the library, and read a book."  Then photocopiers arrived, and Professors gave their students copies.  Then Kinko's got sued, and the corporations saw profit to me made from thought.  Now to place an item on reserve, we have the joy of reading a lengthy instruction manual for how to do so.  And in the frequently asked questions, we find this:  "Can I post my lecture slides, notes or handouts in Library Course Reserves?
We currently do not accept PDFs of lecture slides, notes or handouts. These files should be posted directly within your course site in the learning management system. If you require assistance checking or clearing permissions related to lecture notes, slides or handouts, please contact ubc-copyright@interchange.ubc.ca."
Read that again:  we are expected to "clear permissions" to post our lecture notes.  Legal disclaimer:  the human brain typing these words has not obtained written legal permission for the use of various corporate-controlled thoughts®©™ that may, from time to time, inform conversations, lectures, demonstrations, and other educational activities that take place within the classroom.  The classroom is becoming a classroom®©™.

Today's Surrealicity Equation:

Rob Ford, Toronto, May 2013 = Marion Berry, Washington, DC, June 1990.

"Bureaucracy," as if it were enunciated by John Candy in that famous scene from "Spaceballs":
Barfocracy

Mass email received May 2, 2013.  UBC's Digital Torture System does indeed need a re-design ... but note the mundane discursive liquidation of the heritage and culture of reading, teaching, learning, talking, discovering ... all those things we once thought were the core purposes of a ... "University."  No, what really matters now are users who, instead of reading books or talking with students, spend their time reading things like the SIS Update Blog in search of ways to achieve restriction assessment, export/upload, and other forms of functionality. 

And now I realize that I am not a scholar, nor a teacher, advisor, mentor, or colleague working with students in the learning process.  No, I am someone who is attached to a course!

***

Coming soon! New format for the Faculty Service Centre

The Faculty Service Centre (FSC) is currently being redesigned to better
support the process of class list access and final grades entry. 
Information Technology and Enrolment Services are working together to
better serve your needs for a more intuitive FSC. We have an initial
group of users that are using it before we roll it out to everyone.
The redesigned FSC provides an instant way to view the courses you are
attached to. Log in with your CWL and the courses will be displayed
without any further interaction needed.
Functionality such as displaying student pictures, restriction
assessment and export/upload will remain available on the FSC within a
clearer interface.
The release date is planned for June 5, 2013.
Further information will be provided on the SIS Update Blog
http://blogs.ubc.ca/sisupdates/ as the project progresses.

You will need to use your UBC work email address for the FSC. If you do
not have a UBC email address, please contact your department.

No Weapon Formed Against You Will Prosper
Mojave, California, April 2013

"I would not like to be seen as a drawer of misplaced conclusions, but from my perspective, the article's authors don't have a leg to stand on."
Kneel Smith (1992).  "Unseating Furniture Geography."  Area 24(2), 173-174.

blah, blah, positively radical blah...
The transcript of people far more intelligent than I asking questions about "positively radical" musings...

The Dowd Doctrine
"You sell a little bit of the democratic soul when you start zapping people with no due process."
Maureen Dowd (2013).  "I'm Begging, Don't Hack the Hacks."  New York Times, February 9.

Author meets the Critics on "Positively Radical"
Thank you for all the brilliant and valuable questions, comments, and ideas -- I'm grateful for what you've taught me!

Library Liberation!
"Right now I'm getting out of a very dangerous situation and I'm using the library to jump-start my next life."
Jean McKendry (2013).  Reading the Landscape of Public Libraries as Place:  Experiences of Homeless Men in Public Libraries in Vancouver, BC.  Ph.D. dissertation draft, February 7.  Vancouver:  School of Library, Archival, and Information Studies, University of British Columbia, p. 93.

'Listen,' she said, 'all I can say is I was a lot more discrete as a candidate than I was in real life.'  She then turned to an aide.  'Can I say that?' she asked.  'Maybe it's indiscrete to talk about discretion.'" -- Elizabeth Warren, a Professor of Law who recently won election to the U.S. Senate, quoted in Katherine O. Seelye (2012).  'A New Senator, Known Nationally and Sometimes Feared.'  New York Times, 10 November.
"What we've got is a period of ungoverned space ... we have a period at which geography is less governed than it used to be."
General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Meet the Press, February 3, 2013.

A blanket acknowledgment:  "A good number of people have helped with comments and critiques" on this website.  "Their suggestions have helped immeasurably, although they have not always been followed, but in order to protect the innocent, in the brave new world of Blair and Bush, I will not name names."

Neil Smith (2005).  "Neo-Critical Geography, Or, The Flat Pluralist World of Business Class."  Antipode 37(5), 887-899, quote from p. 899.

Dancing on the Debt Ceiling
Brian Williams joins Jimmy Fallon to Slow-Jam the Debt Limit

Flash Mob Curriculum:  The "Perfect Storm" in Higher Education?

Read this and this.  Think.  Then discuss.  Come to my office hours and tell me:  what do you think?  What can I do better, what can you and I together do better, given the constraints we face?

Just what the Doctor ordered!

Dr. Mohinder Dhillon and Father Vince Herner (2012).  "The Twelve Shoes of Christmas."  Winnipeg, MB:  Manitoba Multifaith Council.

Parts of the ekw anatomy not totally incapacitated by seasonal affective disorder:  a) eyeball placed behind the viewfinder, b) right-finger for camera shutter-release.  Corvair:  A Vancouver Special...
Mount Pleasant, Vancouver, December, 2012

"The Mayans were right, as it turns out, when they predicted the world would end in 2012.  It was just a select world: the G.O.P. universe of arrogant, uptight, entitled, bossy, retrogressive white guys."

Maureen Dowd (2012).  "A Lost Civilization." New York Times, December 8.

Bazooka Boy goes to China
Remember back in 2008 when Hank Paulson used the "bazooka" metaphor when asking Congress for unlimited authority to backstop Fannie and Freddie amidst the failures of a global speculation machine that he and his Wall Street colleagues had designed and defended?  Now Bazooka Boy runs a "research and advocacy institute" that promises to give China "the tools they need to prioritize design issues in their cities and adapt infrastructure plans..."

Henry M. Paulson, Jr. (2012).  "How Cities Can Save China."  New York Times, December 4.

Political Movember
by Haley Barbour

Mau Mau!

"Team Romney has every reason to be shellshocked.  Its candidate, after all, resoundingly won the election of the country he was wooing.  Mitt Romney is the president of white male America.  Maybe the group can retreat to a man cave in a Whiter House, with mahogany paneling, brown leather Chesterfields, a moose head over the fireplace, an elevator for the presidential limo," and a few other relevant mens-club appliances.

Maureen Dowd (2012).  "Romney is President." New York Times, 10 November.

...and yet ...

be careful, Dr. West says this is a "Rockefeller Republican in Blackface."...oh, my, did he really say that?!  ...and Harry Belafonte said that?

Donna Haraway's gendered cyborg + Richard Walker's (1981) perspective on the suburban spatial fix + John Rennie Short's (2010) analyses of the car through the lens of the new mobilities paradigms + Gilian Rose's (1993) feminist-geographic methods = The Nissan Altima air-pressure reminder...

Obama re-elected, November 6, 2012.  Wow.  I'm surprised.  I really refused to believe Obama had won, until very late in the evening, perhaps sometime during Obama's victory speech itself.  I remember all too well 2000, and 2004 -- back when I wrote stuff like this.

everyone loves elizabeth warren!

Rose Street and Revolution:  A Tribute to Neil Smith
by Tom Slater

Tears on the keyboard
Neil Smith, 1954-2012
But the Manifesto for the Poetry of the Future lives on...


WTFU!

The Krug Man Speaketh
"Are you, or is someone you know, a gadget freak? If so, you doubtless know that Wednesday was iPhone 5 day, the day Apple unveiled its latest way for people to avoid actually speaking to or even looking at whoever they’re with."
Paul Krugman (2012).  "The iPhone Stimulus."  New York Times, September 13.

Mr. Burns Endorses Mitt Romney

There's a big cheating scandal at Harvard.  The novelist Michelle Blake observes, "One of Harvard’s responses includes a possible plan to require courses for incoming students about what constitutes cheating and plagiarism. The plan raises a number of questions, a few being: Are we meant to assume that students who are smart enough to get into Harvard don’t know that? Will the school later offer a course in why it is a bad idea to pour gasoline on a flaming toaster oven?"
Source:  Michelle Blake (2012).  "How We Teach Students to Cheat."  New York Times, Motherlode blog, September 4.
There are some ambiguities in the scandal.  See, for example, Mary Carmichael (2012).  "Harvard Students Bridle over Test Cheating Investigation."  Boston Globe, September 1.

The Scholar:
"Good studies and bad studies are not 'mutually canceling.'  Regardless of what some advocates may claim, there are some objective facts and, hence, some objective truths.  Whether public policy reflects that reality is not a choice left to those in the academy, but producing and protecting the research itself is our choice and our moral obligation." Elizabeth Warren (2002).  "The Market for Data:  The Changing Role of Social Sciences in Shaping the Law."  Wisconsin Law Review 2002, 1-34, quote from p. 17.

The Candidate:
Elizabeth Warren (2012).  Speech to the Democratic National Convention, Charlotte, NC.  Washington, DC:  Democratic National Committee.

Register.
Vote.
for whomever you prefer, but I have faith in your good judgment...

"Feel a cold coming on?  Take two tax cuts, cut some regulations, and call us in the morning!"
The Republicans' Solution to ... Everything and Anything, as described by Barack Obama, September 6, 2012

"We Own this Country"
Official Declaration of Class War by the U.S. Republican Party,
delivered by Clint Eastwood at the Republican National Convention, Tampa, Florida, August 30, 2012


Equation of the Day:  Auguste Comte + Victor Cousin + Hunter S. Thompson + Aldous Huxley = Oliver Sacks. Quite the Awakening. "...bit by bit, I started to write my own book." 
Oliver Sacks (2012).  "Altered States:  Self-Experiments in Chemistry."  The New Yorker, August 27, pp. 40-47, quote from p. 47.

Long sentence, important question:

"Do we want an America of extremism in which six or seven Supreme Court justices share the vision of Thomas and Scalia, where the wars against women and against the poor are given the powers of all three branches of government, where all-out attempts to destroy Medicare and Social Security will be escalated even more on the day after the election, where vultures are honored and jobs are exported and more workers are fired in the interests of short-term profits that reward the profiteers and punish the rest of us, where a civil war will be waged to overturn Roe v. Wade and women will be denied the choice of an abortion even when they are raped, and when the earth is poisoned by polluters who pour money into this election with the same vehemence they pour carcinogens into our air, our land, our water, our bodies and our democracy?"

Brent Budowsky (2012).  "Ryan-Atkin, Romney-Trump."  The Hill, August 22.

Indu's Brilliant Questions, Episode 568.

"If the Republicans don't believe in climate change, why do they keep choosing to hold their political conventions in those cities the scientists tell us are facing more and more severe hurricanes
Four years ago it was New Orleans, where Gustav threatened the convention, now it's Isaac.  WWFLD?  What Would Frank Luntz Do?

Indu's Brilliant Questions, Episode 567
"Is Ray Bradbury a positivist?"

"I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming.  Call me crazy."
This was a Tweet from Jon Huntsman, Jr., former Utah Governor and ambassador to China, during his short run in the Republican presidential primaries in 2011.  Jon who, you ask?  The American Republican Politburo has very specific rules on what counts as "science."  [See New York Times (2011).  "In the Land of Denial."  New York Times, Op/Ed, September 6.]

When Romney sings "America the Beautiful," can you hear George Carlin?... or this more recent mashup?

smartphone bladerunner:
Do Android phones dream of Siri?

The Great State of The Corporation
"... at last count, Delaware had more corporate entities, public and private, than people — 945,326 to 897,934."
Leslie Wayne (2012).  "How Delaware Thrives as a Corporate Tax Haven."  New York Times, June 30.

Roberts becomes Kennedy ... surreal.

Too bad i'm not a gambler.  A few minutes before the Belmont Stakes began, Jatinder asked me to call it.  "Union Rags," I said...

Atlas of Suburbia
by Markus Moos, Pablo Mendez, Liam McGuire, and other colleagues, part of Roger Keil's "Global Suburbanism" project ... and lil ole me too...
see also Nate Berg (2012).  "An Atlas of Suburbia."  The Atlantic, June 4.


Data, Incorporated
If you thought governmentality and scientific misconduct was bad when practiced by "the government," just imagine it in a world governed by The Corporation.

"This is a full-on fight between information and disinformation, between the urge to witness and the urge to cover up."
Bill McKibben (2012).  "Connecting the Dots on this Climate Change Crisis."  The Guardian, May 4.

"Donald Trump is redundant evidence that if your net worth is
high enough, your IQ can be very low and you can still intrude
into American politics."
--Conservative columnist George Will, ABC News, May 17, 2012

A Tool to Deceive and Slaughter
artistic subversions...  Thanks to Max Ritts for the recommendation!

iSpaceTime∑®©™

Kant + Hägerstrand + Nigel LeThrift + Steve Flusty + William Gibson + Neil Stephenson = iSpaceTime

We no longer measure time in years/months/days/hours/seconds.  We no longer measure distance in light-years, miles, kilometers, fathoms, rods, centimeters, inches ...
The new metric system, the new post-neo-Kantian continuum of space-time, is measured digitally:  number of tweets, pings, emails, likes, status updates, etc.

or should it be iTimeSpace...?

"Wealth Belongs to Those Who Produce It."
May Day Declaration 2012, World Federation of Trade Unions

"And why would we want to talk about love and loss with a machine that has no experience of the arc of human life? Have we so lost confidence that we will be there for one another?"

Sherry Turkle (2012).  "The Flight from Conversation."  New York Times, April 21.

Masters of the Geographic Universe:  UBC Geography Grad Symposium, 2012
Don't miss it!

Mayor, Inc.

"Romney is not Ronald Reagan, or Jack Kemp or George Romney. He is Richard Nixon, minus the depth."

Brent Budowsky (2012).  "Conservative Crack-up."  The Hill, April 14.

"People say that reducing inequality is radical. I think that tolerating the level of inequality the United States tolerates is radical."  Thomas Piketty, quoted in Annie Lowry (2012).  "For Two Economists, the Buffett Rule is Just the Start."  New York Times, April 16.

Welcome to America!  Now ... bend over!
U.S. Supreme Court (2012).  Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of County of Burlington.  Slip Opinion, No. 10-945.  Washington, DC:  U.S. Supreme Court.

"L.B.J. got to me, and after all these years, he still does."
Bill Clinton (2012).  "Seat of Power."  Review of Robert Caro, The Passage of Power:  The Years of Lyndon JohnsonNew York Times Book Review, May 6, p. 1, 12-13.

"The mentality that America was victimized with when British soldiers walked these streets two centuries ago is the same mentality Muslims are victimized by as American soldiers walk their streets today. It's the mentality of colonialism."

Tarek Mehanna, Statement read to the judge in federal court in Boston before being sentenced to seventeen years in prison.  See Robert Greenwald (2012).  "The Real Criminals in the Tarek Mehanna Case."  Salon, April 13.

Why the privatization of knowledge and the market model of competition is dangerous, Reason #437: 
"To survive professionally, scientists feel the need to publish as many papers as possible, and to get them into high-profile journals. And sometimes they cut corners or even commit misconduct to get there.  To measure this claim, Dr. Fang and Dr. Casadevall looked at the rate of retractions in 17 journals from 2001 to 2010 and compared it with the journals' 'impact factor,' a score based on how often their papers are cited by scientists. The higher a journal's impact factor, the two editors found, the higher its retraction rate."

Carl Zimmer (2012).  "A Sharp Rise in Retractions Prompts Calls for Reform."  New York Times, April 16.

Geography as Glamorous Revolution! 
Camila Vallejo is described as "a Botticelli beauty who wears a silver nose ring and studies geography," while leading Chile's largest street protests since the demise of General Augusto Pinochet's military dictatorship.

Francisco Goldman (2012).  "Camila Vallejo, the World's Most Glamorous Revolutionary."  New York Times, April 5.

Perhaps one of Canada's Best Exports?  Robert Wilkinson, from Edson, Alberta.

On the brink:  "Be warned: One more overreach and the Supreme Court will be on trial, in the eyes of the people the court serves and in the eyes of historians and future generations who will agree that the court should uphold the law but has become a partisan and ideological warrior fomenting another civil war." 

Brend Budowsky (2012).  "Supreme Court on Trial."  The Hill, 4 April.

"In my view, this is what GIS (geographic information system software) is for. I pray that this analysis is used for some form of social justice."
--Pietro Calogero (2012).  "Foreclosures in Oakland."  Calogero.us:  Planning, Politics, and Urbanization.

"McCain is right that money is the great corruption, and Brandeis was right that sunlight is the great disinfectant. Sadly for America, there is far too much money, and far too little sunlight, in a government that most voters believe, correctly, is corrupted by money that buys democracy in the dark."

Brent Budowsky (2012).  "Supreme Court Scandals."  The Hill, March 28.

"Writing at Risk."
This was the title of my talk at Walter Gage Residences yesterday.  The students were engaged and brilliant, and they asked me challenging questions about many things.  One of the things we discussed involved matters of integrity and trust in an age of automation and entreprenuerial innovation like Turnitin.com. 
Now I read this, from the thoughtful and articulate Linette Ho:

"The high expectations for young kids to do well is affecting their confidence and to choose cheating as an option." Ho laments the pressure endured by students today.  But she is also deeply concerned about the reality of teaching:  she opens her essay with a story of going into Grade 12 examinations, where "Out of the blue, I noticed in my peer's pencil case a small crumpled piece of paper with tiny scribbles all over it.  It was the answer key."

So, your mission, should you choose to accept it:  read, think, discuss.  Linette Ho (2012).  "Classroom Cheating on the Rise."  The Vancouver Sun, March 28, p. A13.

If you call someone on your cell phone and you sing to them about the Buffalo Commons, what will you pay for the roaming charges?

From Frank Popper (fpopper@rutgers.edu):

"Dear All, Jerome Kitzke, a prominent composer, will have premiere of his new choral work, 'Buffalo Nation,' which has large quotes from Deborah's and my work on the Buffalo Commons, in Milwaukee on April 14th
and 15th.  A dress rehearsal, open to the public, will take place on April 5. You can get details from Kathleen Masterson, mastersonkathleen@gmail.com.
Best wishes," Frank Popper, Rutgers and Princeton Universities

Rick Santorum deploys the "What's the Matter with Kansas?" strategy for small-town America:  "Welcome to Obamaville."
Rules of Republican Rule:  1.  Seize power by lying and buying elections.  2.  Fuck things up.  3.  Leave a mess for Dems to clean up so you can blame them for it, making it easier to 4.  Seize power by lying and buying another election.

Camp Gonzo® Office Hours.  Friday.  We're all crashing on deadlines in the lab.  Liam, Sam, and students from other classes are working, and others are drifting in and out of the lab.  Out of the  corner of my eye I can peek over Liam's shoulder to see the amazingly beautiful and sophisticated diagram he's creating to illustrate the analytical workflow of his outstanding, creative analysis of the Ten Cities of Toronto; we just finished a conversation in the hall about alternative approaches to this kind of work seen in the literature over the years.  Sam just had an idea for a fusion of cluster analysis and logistic regression, and when he asked me about it, my Inner Bunge realized this could approximate some fuzzy-set clustering logics...Sam's absolutely brilliant.  Larissa Zip stopped by, and the conversation morphed into a moveable-feast office hours as we talked about her fabulous essay on Louis Wirth's Facebook profile and walked down the hall to look carefully at the 1930 aerial view of the Lower Mainland.

Bottom line:  hours of conversation that achieved the goals of something formally called "office hours," but I still got a bit of writing and other responsibilities done.  I even had a good phone conversation with Mark Davidson, allowing me to apologize for how far behind I've fallen on our joint projects ... but all of this would have been infinitely harder if it had all taken place electronically.  Agglomeration still matters.  Place still matters.

"He frequently boasts of not having a pollster or speechwriter and being unscripted."
Are they describing me...?  No, they're talkin' bout Rick Santorum.

Trip Gabriel (2012).  "Santorum Waves Away Economics."  The Caucus, New York Times, March 19.

Good Data, Good Politics.
See this....

or  this...

and then this...

Laughed so hard I fell out of my chair:  Alec Baldwin calls James Inhofe, the right-wing Oklahoma Republican who fights climate science every day and every way, an "oil whore," and says Inhofe should be "retired to a solar-powered gay bar." 
This is almost enough to make me rethink my avoidance of Twitter!
See Ben Geman (2012).  "Alec Baldwin Says GOP Climate Warrior Should Retire 'to solar-powered gay bar.'"  The Hill, March 19.

"...this reform had better survive — because if it doesn’t, many Americans who need health care won’t."
Paul Krugman (2012).  "Hurray for Health Reform."  New York Times, March 19.

"You cannot ask the dead their opinion."
Elie Wiesel, 83, commenting on "coercive, posthumous baptism," as quoted in Maureen Dowd (2012).  "Is Elvis a Mormon?"  New York Times, March 17.

We're Women.  We Vote.
Moveon.org, March 2012.

Flash Mob Curriculum:  March 12, 2012

"An OSU Ph.D. student live tweeted your lecture on Comte..." -- Pierson Nettling, March 10, 2012.
Yikes!  Apparently, while "learn" is not a transitive verb, "tweet" is...!  I've been Twitten!

"Press accounts of Wyly usually refer to him as an 'entrepreneur' or a 'financier,' but really he's another classic American type:  the crank."
No, this isn't about this Wyly, but rather an account of the Texas dealmaker Sam Wyly.  See James Surowiecki (2001).  "The Financial Page:  Gadfly, Inc."  The New Yorker, September 10, p. 42.


"My investments are not made by me ... they're made by a blind trust."
It is not known by whom the passive voice was invented.

Mitt Romney, of Corporations are People, My Friend fame, fending off investment conflicts of interest attacks from Newt Gingrich, January 25, 2012, via Lawrence O'Donnell, The Last Word, January 26.

"We conservatives believe government is bad ... and we've got the candidates to prove it."

Humorist P.J. O'Rourke, on Bill Maher's Real Time, October 8, 2010, commenting on Rich Iott, the Republican Congressional candidate with a hobby of dressing up as an officer in a Nazi SS "re-enactment" group.


"Geography, sir, is ruinous in its effects on the lower classes. Reading, writing, and arithmetic are comparatively safe, but geography invariably leads to revolution."

From 1879 testimony before a Select Committee of the English House of Commons, regarding expenditures of the London School Board; courtesy of Tom Slater.

"Unless you're a geography teacher or a communist revolutionary you'll have to shave sometime.  Our gel has been formulated to deliver an incredibly smooth shave whatever the strength of your political will."  

Promotion on the back of "Man" shaving cream tube (courtesy of Tom Slater, October 2009).

"If some countries have too much history, we have too much geography."

William Lyon McKenzie King, Canadian Prime Minister (1921-26, 1926-30, 1935-48), in a 1936 address to the House of Commons; quoted in Una McGovern, ed. (2005), Webster's New World Dictionary of Quotations.  Hoboken, NJ:  Wiley, p. 469.

The author of this web page would not object if accused of being an official member, along with a certain political figure whose middle name and birth certificate have been the subject of such conspiratorial consternation, of "some nefarious plot to bring about general doom by way of Islam/
socialism/
fascism/
racism/
ACORN."

Tana Ganeva (2009).  "Is Glenn Beck Finished?"  Alternet, August 24, 2009.

"Newt Gingrich never should have messed with Saul Alinsky.  All across Florida old geezers were hearing Gingrich rage against Alinksy and they were thinking, 'Alinsky, Alinsky, I think that's the guy I play bingo with in Boca.  Seems like a perfectly nice fella.  If Gingrich hates him, I think I'll vote for Mitt.' 

That's my first takeaway from the Florida primary.  Don't mess with Saul Alinsky.  I'd lay off Gus Hall, too, just to be safe."

David Brooks and Gail Collins (2012).  "The Conversation:  The Revenge of Saul Alinsky."  New York Times, February 1.

"Almost everyone of those rights [in the Bill of Rights] is a cry against the abuses of Empire, a loud testimony to how a people learned to say never again:  never again will we be occupied by the Army of Empire. ... These are rights we won and that we claimed.  They were not granted -- in an interim constitution or otherwise; they were taken.  They were invented precisely as a dance of victory over a vanquished Imperial power.

Now -- and this saddens me more than I can say -- the whole world is looking to make that joyous dance over us:  for we are that Empire that must be told never again."

Don Mitchell (2005).  "You Who Are the Bureaucrats of Empire, Remember Who We Are."  Antipode 37(2), 203-207, quote from p. 207.

"...an increasingly affluent society with a rapidly changing technology is generating awkward structural problems and deepening tensions in the process of urbanization."

David Harvey (1973[2008]).  Social Justice and the City, Second Edition.  Athens:  University of Georgia Press, pp. 54-55.

“I love him, man, I really do. ... He's singing my song.” Neill Franklin, executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a coalition of police and other law enforcement officials who oppose America's war on drugs.  Franklin was reacting to news that the conservative evangelist Pat Robertson supports marijuana legalization.  Yes, that Pat Robertson!

Jesse McKinley (2012).  "Pat Robertson Says Marijuana Use Should be Legal."  New York Times, March 7.



our
future
is
urban
and
we
must
claim
the
right
to
the
city
Ruthless

"Mapping foreclosures in an American Metropolis"
Essex County, New Jersey, pre-foreclosure notices 2004-2008
with Kathe Newman
Social Housing at Risk
A Housing Activist Map of the Next Quarter Century
June, 2012

I just returned from a panel discussion at the Vancouver Renters' Union.  On my end of the table was Maria, a brilliant and passionate community organizer, and the stunningly eloquent and powerful Jean Swanson.  Jean had recently obtained counts of the number of housing units affected by the expiration of BC Housing's operating agreements in the next decades.  As in so many other jurisdictions, neoliberalism means the replacement of long-term social-welfare commitments by a proliferation of limited short-term promises to ever-more-narrowly defined "target client groups."  You're not allowed to just be poor anymore to get any help with housing.

I asked Jean if I could scribble down the numbers, and she said, "sure."  Here's one glimpse of the numbers, and what they might imply for organizing for the rights to housing and home.
 
Disastrous State of the States
John Taylor, Connie Bird, Kelly Phillips-Watts, and Elvin Wyly (2004).  Protecting Canadians' Interest:  Reining in the Payday Lending Industry.  Vancouver:  Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, Canada Chapter.
Pubic-Private Funding Mix for Winter Olympic Games
Facebook World City. The city is "the initiating and controlling center of economic, political, and cultural life that has drawn the most remote parts of the world into its orbit and woven diverse areas, peoples, and activities into a cosmos" (Wirth, 1938, p. 2).  Replace "city" with "Facebook" (980 million estimated users), "Qzone" or "Sina Weibo" (480m and 300m, respectively, mostly in mainland China), "Vkontakte" (112m, Russia and former Soviet Republics), or any of dozens of other growing online communities.  An urbanizing world is a socially-networked world.  Urbanization rates account for 39 percent of the cross-national variance in Facebook's market penetration.  Circle areas are proportional to the number of active Facebook users.  Data Sources:  site registered user estimates from various sources compiled and distributed via [cringe] Wikipedia; Facebook country figures from publicly distributed estimates of users over previous three months as of July 1, 2012, from Social Bakers (2012); urbanization rates from World Bank (2011).  Note:  not all countries are labeled, and 32 countries or territories are omitted due to missing information either on Facebook users or urbanization rates.

[Note:  This is an excerpt from a writing project with Larissa Zip, exploring the urban sociological implications of Facebook.
 
The compass directional label above is only a slight exaggeration.  To give you just a sample-size-of-one illustration, consider the spot on the MDS graph towards the right, with Cartesian coordinates 0.669, 0.065, labeled "Broun."  This is Representative Paul Broun, age 66, a Republican physician who represents a district in Athens, Georgia.  Broun is a member of the House Committee on Science and Technology, and he has no challenger in his 2012 bid for re-election.  Not long ago, in a leaked video that received a bit of press coverage, Broun stood in front of a wall of hunting trophies while speaking to the Liberty Baptist Sportsmans Banquet, in Liberty Baptist Church in Hartwell, Georgia.  "God's word is true," Broun told the audience.  "I've come to understand that.  All that stuff I was taught about evolution, embryology, the Big Bang theory -- all of that is lies straight from the pit of hell.  And it's lies to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior."  Broun believes in "Young Earth" doctrines of creationism:  he is quoted as saying that the planet is "about 9,000 years old" and "was created in six days as we know them."  Elise Viebeck's report of the events and media coverage continues:

"Broun, who studied chemistry as an undergraduate, added that 'as a scientist,' he has found 'a lot of scientific data ... that actually showed that this really is a young Earth.'

'And that's the reason,' he added, 'as your congressman, I hold the Holy Bible as being the major directions to me of how I vote in Washington, D.C.'"

See Elise Viebeck (2012).  "Republican Says Evolution, Big Bang Theory 'Lies Straight from the Pit of Hell.'"  The Hill (Washington, DC), October 6.
9 November 2012
Wow!  Surprise!  Obama mobilized a coalition to hold back the tides of Citizen$ United right-wing ca$h and dog-whistle fear-mongering.  The Obama campaign used "a team of behavioral scientists" to "build an extraordinarily sophisticated database packed with names of millions of undecided voters and potential supporters," enabling a vast system for quick-response understanding of voter sentiment.  The approach also allowed the Obama campaign to "find and register new voters who fit the demographic pattern of Obama backers and methodically track their views through thousands of telephone calls every night."

Obama was thus able to keep, expand, and mobilize a broad coalition of urban voters who included more women, racial and ethnic minorities, and younger educated Whites; meanwhile, Romney's campaign succeed in rural areas and small-towns, with an electoral base that was more male, more White, higher-income, and generally older.

The numbers:  as of November 9.  Obama's national vote total, 61,170,018; Romney, 58,164,038.  Electoral vote total:  Obama 303, Romney 206.

Florida is not yet called but the totals so far are:  Obama 4,169,044 (49.9%), Romney, 4,117,106 (49.3%).

The House of Representatives remains in Republican hands thanks to the power of geography, specifically the power of gerrymandering.  Nationally, the total votes cast for Democratic House candidates:  53,952,240; for Republicans:  53,402,643.  This translates, through the presto-magic manipulations of district lines, to 234 seats for Republicans, 195 seats for Democrats.

Some years ago, the political scientist Robert Dahl wrote a book asking, "Is the U.S. Constitution Unconstitutional?"  One of his key questions concerned the structure of the U.S. Senate, which gives every state two Senate seats regardless of population.  What we've seen in recent years is a reconfiguration of how the politics of representation, geographical strategy in electoral mobilization, state battles over voter suppression, and of course unregulated campaign finance have created new spatialities of American politics.  The Dems have learned to appeal to the statewide interests required to stay competitive in the U.S. Senate -- even winning in places like big-sky-country Montana with candidates like John Tester -- while the Republicans' savvy moves at the state level have followed the lessons learned from the aggressive Tom "the Hammer" DeLay in Texas, allowing the GOP to resist the geography of demographic shifts favoring Democrats.

But at the national level, the Republicans could not make it all add up for the Presidential vote.  The Obama campaign's Chicago behavioral scientists and massive databases
"allowed the Obama campaign not only to alter the very nature of the electorate, making it younger and less white, but also to create a portrait of shifting voter allegiances.  The power of this operation stunned Mr. Romney's aides on election night, as they saw voters they never even knew existed turn out in places like Osceola County, Fla. 'It's one thing to say you are going to do it; it's another thing to actually get out there and do it,' said Brian Jones, a senior advisor.'" 

Presumably, Jones was referring to the act of voting, by those the Republicans have for so long counted on to not voteGot yer photo id from that DMV office that we conveniently shut down a few months back?

It's all quite fascinating, and it gets quite complicated.

And it's not just political journalists and political geographers who help us sift through these complexities, but even the physicists are getting in on the action!

See Mark Newman (2012).  2012 Election Maps.  Ann Arbor, MI:  Department of Physics and Center for the Study of Complex Systems, University of Michigan.

Thanks to Joshua Cutler for the Newman reference!

Source:  Direct quotes are from Adam Nagourney, Ashley Parker, Jim Rutenberg, and Jeff Zeleney (2012).  "How a Race in the Balance Went to Obama."  New York Times, November 7.  House vote totals from Huffington Post (2012).  Democratic House Candidates Received More Votes than Republicans.  Huffington Post, 8 November.

*

Coda, evening of November 9, 2012.

There are riots at Ole Miss because Obama was re-elected.  The CEO of a Coal company who reportedly forced his workers to go to a Romney rally for the cameras is making good on his promise, and has announced layoffs, and is loudly blaming the Obama re-election for the job cuts.  A young white woman appears on camera trying to explain away her social media call for someone to assassinate Obama.

Can someone out there help me re-write George Carlin's famous 1976 send-up of "America the Beautiful"?

Oh beautiful, for smoggy skies
Insecticided grain
For strip-mined majesty
Above the asphalt plains

America, America,
Man sheds his waste on me
And hides the pines with billboard signs
From sea to oily sea...!

This is still going on, although we'll see what Barack says about Keystone.  But the strip-mined White working class that Thomas Frank diagnosed so well in What's the Matter With Kansas is getting angrier and angrier, and they are looking for scapegoats.

Oh.

America.

-- no, actually, a particular part of America:  this part is predominantly White, much of it is working-class and with less formal education, much of it is in small towns or rural areas or the South, where history and culture and ideas of what "America" means are very distinctive indeed --

has gone batshit.

Michael Eric Dyson describes the multiracial Obama coalition as Ham on White:

Hispanic
African American
Millennials

and then White women.

Brilliant!
He also helps us to recognize the strange species of soon-to-be-extinct "ethnosaurs":  Republicans who refuse to adapt to the new environment, in which, as Fox News superstar Bill O'Reilly says, "the White establishment is a minority."

Wow.

Dyson's riffs are brilliant.  The phenomenon itself is ... surreal, frightening, indicative of an American spatiality carving itself in two...

Source:  Thoughts and reactions based on MSNBC (2012).  The Ed Show, November 9.  New York:  MSNBC.
 
Schumpeter Surfs Ruin Porn
November 2012

What if Schumpeter, looking out across today's post-foreclosure landscapes of creative housing destruction, were to consider the imaginative geographies of "ruin porn" -- all those photographs taken by people venturing to the urban ruins of deindustrialization, decay, and abandonment?  Schumpeter has met his match with the creativity and talent of Sam Walker and Emily Rosenman, who are studying the urban landscapes of America's housing catastrophe and waves of foreclosures.  Sam wrote some code to mine geo-tagged Flickr photos for mentions of the keywords of Austerity America:  abandoned, abandonment, rust, decay, postindustrial ... and a few other similar terms.

Behold, the map of the creative landscape destruction of today's circuits of capital and dispossession...


 
end
Update, November 2012.  I had a brainstorm, and then talked it out with Sam and Emily.  It works!  This is GeoDA output from a univariate LISA with five nearest neighbors, comparing Representatives' voting patterns with the proportion of their ideological neighbors' constituents who received food stamps (an indicator of hunger and poverty).  The blue dots:  Representatives with fewer than average hungry constituents, surrounded by ideologically similar representatives who also have lower than average rates of foodstamp assistance.  Red dots:  Representatives with higher than average hungry constituents, surrounded by ideologically similar representatives who also have high rates of foodstamp provision.  The off-diagonal entries are pink and light blue (for the 'spatial outliers,' with space here conceptualized in ideological terms).  The dots shaded white may have high or low rates of foodstamp assistance, but they are intermixed in a way that is spatially random -- again, with space here understood in the ideological space constructed with Poole & Rosenthal's methodology.

Here's a univariate LISA based on the proportion of Congressional Districts who take public transit on their daily commute to work.

Now if I can just get the software that does the analysis to talk to the software that puts the labels in a place where we can see 'em!
 
But alas, you tell me:  "You're not being fair.  You're being selective in how "far out" you go on the Republican side to make the right-wingers look especially foolish.  Okay, I plead guilty.  When I see Dennis Kucinich's name, all the way out there on the left-hand side, all I can think about is him reading a local news story to the House of Representatives in the fall of 2008.   The story was about Addie Polk, who shot herself as sherrifs' deputies were downstairs to enforce an eviction order on a high-risk loan of exactly those types that had enriched legions of wealthy investors and Wall Street intermediaries.  If you want to read more about Addie, and how she was part of a vast community of exploitation, see Wyly, Elvin K. and C.S. Ponder (2011).  "Gender, Age, and Race in Subprime America," Housing Policy Debate 21(4), 529-564.

But are we exaggerating by going all the way over to the right when we talk about Ron Paul, Jeff Flake, and Paul Broun?

Take a close look at that red cloud of points on the right.  Now look in the middle.  Right smack dab in the middle (in some circles, "smack dab" is a very serious and precise unit of measurement.)  Can you see the name Gohmert, peeking out in the text above a thick cloud of other names?  He's at Cartesian coordinates 0.449, 0.133.  That's Louie Gohmert, whose name I've seen many times in recent years, for all sorts of provocations that get instant headlines.  I always thought of him as a totally fringe character.  (Like "smack dab," "totally, Dude," can sometimes be used to call attention to precise coefficient estimates).  Dude, look, he's totally smack dab in the middle -- this ain't no fringe character!

And what does this middle-of-the-Republican-road character say in mid-December, 2012?  Here's the lead from The Hill:

"Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Republican from Texas, says he wishes Dawn Hochsprung, the principal of the Sandy Hook Elementary School, was armed with an M-4 assault rifle when she confronted Adam Lanza, the shooter who killed 20 children."

'I wish to God she had an M-4 in her office locked up so when she heard gunfire she pulls it out and she didn't have to lunge heroically with nothing in her hands but she takes him out, takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids,' Gohmert said in an interview on Fox News Sunday."

Oh, my.  Let me catch my breath.  A man we can definitively, quantitatively say is at the very ideological center of the U.S. Republican Party says that we need to have more guns, guns everywhere...

Reference

Alexander Bolton (2012).  "GOP Lawmaker Wishes Sandy Hook Principal Was Armed With Assault Rifle."  The Hill, December 16.


City Up Against the Wall

Every dot you see on this map represents an innocent Black man stopped and questioned by the New York City Police Department between 2007 and 2010; the New York Civil Liberties Union's analysis of the data for 2011 indicate that the number of stops of young black men actually exceeded the number of young black men who live in the city.

For more information, see the links to others' good work, and our work in progress on these issues, here...
"Tourist" World
Geotagged images mentioning "tourist" and posted to Flickr, January 1, 2013 to May 28, 2013.
Snapshots of World Protest
January 1, 2013 - June 1, 2013
Hey!  I should get a legal name-change and order new business cards!  I am now officially known as "Professor Last Name"!
"If some countries have too much history, we have too much geography."

William Lyon McKenzie King, Canadian Prime Minister (1921-26, 1926-30, 1935-48), in a 1936 address to the House of Commons; quoted in Una McGovern, ed. (2005), Webster's New World Dictionary of Quotations.  Hoboken, NJ:  Wiley, p. 469.
 
Urbanization and the Arab Spring, View 1
As represented through Facebook, October 4, 2013
Urbanization and the Arab Spring, View 2
As represented through Facebook, October 4, 2013
[this is the end...]
just a place-holder so Ye Olde HTML Editore doesn't code itself into an infinite do-loop.