Assorted Verbiage & Mappage


"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.

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 (1985, pp. 3-4) 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?'"

I first read these lines in the Spring of 1985, not long after I stumbled into Geography in my Liberal Arts exodus from my epic-fail 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 the eighteenth-century European settlement of 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.  Chalk danced across the blackboard.  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 as a battalion of electronic soldiers under the harsh glare of the flourescent ceiling lights.  You'd submit your code to the mainframe, and then 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 system barfed out its pages of error messages.  With that kind of late-Fordist computer/communications technology, I could not announce my sudden conversion to Geografia in digitized real time, 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-epiphany 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.

On reflection, I came to understand the wider context of Peter Gould's multi-layered, peeling-the-onion way of explaining what geography is, and what geographers do.  Peter was a product (and a powerful force) in what is known as geography's "Quantitative Revolution," and so his cocktail-party responses involved the language of a "spatial analyst" working on things like "entropy-maximing models" and "computer simulations."  Later I discovered the joys of very different ways of doing, experiencing, and becoming geography.  One is illustrated nicely by the legendary Yi-Fu Tuan, who was the same generation as Gould but followed a very different path.  "My childhood in China corresponded to the period of war with Japan," Tuan (2002, p. 337) recalls in a lecture to the American Council of Learned Societies; "We were constantly on the road, escaping from the invading army.  We ended up in the wartime capital of Chongqing," where Tuan, despite a feeling of constant rootlessness, excelled in school.  "[E]arly in life, in the midst of war and poverty," through the "liberation" of school and the infinite worlds of reading, Tuan "had a taste of the True, the Beautiful, and the Good, culled from different civilizations" (Tuan, 2002, p. 337).  Tuan subsequently earned a BA (1951) and MA (1955) from Oxford, and then a Ph.D. from Berkeley (1957), and pursued a career of astonishing creativity and eloquence.  Along the way, however, he was always intrigued by societal perceptions of the field that had so captivated his heart and soul.  "[E]nvision a faculty social gathering" like Gould's Cocktail Party, Tuan (2002, p. 324) tells the audience when he is asked to give a distinguished awards lecture to an interdisciplinary audience.  "At such a gathering, a historian is unlikely to be asked, 'Why are you a historian?' Yet I have repeatedly been asked, 'Why are you a geographer, or why do you call yourself one?'"  Tuan is enthralled by this disciplinary, existential curiosity, and wonders if it has to do with the mental images people have of explorers -- Tuan is short and thin, and he recalls that when he was an undergraduate, the professors of Geography at both Oxford and Cambridge were real, big, dirt-on-the-boots-just-came-back-from-the-mountains explorers.  Tuan loves to explore, but over the years it's become a different kind of exploration -- not just in the 'field,' but also in the realm of ideas that lead him to write books on the love of place (Topophilia), the fear of place (Landscapes of Fear), and pets (Dominance and Affection), and articles with come-hither titles like "The Hydrologic Cycle and the Wisdom of God."

So how does Yi-Fu Tuan answer our question of what a geographer does?  Like Gould, Tuan (2002, p. 325) gives three answers, depending on the level of seriousness of who's asking.  "At a social gathering, when people are not at their most attentive, I will probably say, 'As a child, I moved around a great deal with my family, and there is nothing like travel to stimulate one's appetite for geography,'" he says.  "Sad to say, this lazy answer nearly always satisfies my inquirer.  It is what he or she expects."  Tuan's second answer is about fear -- the fear of being lost, of being paralyzed by the disappearance of a sense of direction.  Even as a child, Tuan will tell someone who asks, he had a particularly intense fear of being lost, so he had to become a geographer to make sure he always knew where he was.  "Geographers always know where they are, don't they?  They always have a map somewhere -- either in their backpack or their head."  (Tuan, 2002, p. 325).  But, again, this answer is only a bit deeper, and it is not the one that Tuan really wants to convey -- to only those who are serious enough to really pay close attention.  The fear of being lost is bound up with the essence of human experience in the world, and here is where environment matters.  Tuan doesn't like the confusing maze of alleys in Old World cities, but instead prefers the organized street grid of many American towns, which immediately welcomes strangers.  Likewise, he dislikes the disorientation of the densely-packed tropical rainforest, and prefers the open map of the desert, where the sun and the stark, sharp-edged landforms of an arid landscape always help the visitor find their way.  There's something else going on here:

"But my dread of rainforest and love of desert hint at something deeper than just orientation.  Underneath such likes and dislikes are questions of one's fundamental attitude toward life and death.  In the rainforest, all  I can see and smell -- perversely I admit -- is decay.  In the desert, by contrast, I see not lifelessness but purity.  I sometimes say teasingly to environmentalists that, unlike them, I am a genuine lover of nature.  But by nature I mean the planet Earth, not just its veneer of life, and I mean the whole universe, which is overwhelmingly inorganic."  (Tuan, 2002, p. 326).

Deserts and rainforests, life and death -- you now begin to understand how Yi-Fu Tuan's thought and distinctive ways of finding meaning in the unexpected corners of a misunderstood world can have such a profound effect.  You can now understand why aspiring geographers, like the brilliant and charismatic Derek Shanahan, would come to graduate school at the University of Minnesota to pursue the dream of studying with Yi-Fu Tuan.

"This leads me to my most serious reply to the question, 'Why are you a geographer?'  I take up geography because I have always wondered, perhaps to a neurotic degree, about the meaning of existence:  I want to know what we are doing here, what we want out of life.  Big questions of this kind, which occur to most children as they approach puberty, have never left me.  But rather than seek an answer in the great abstractions of philosophy and religion, I sought to begin my quest at the down-to-earth level of how people make a living in different places and environments.  This, to me, was and is the substantive core of human geography.  But I could never be satisfied with just learning about the economics and politics of survival.  The word survival itself, which appears rather often in ecological literature, seems to me unduly restrictive and harsh.  It evokes images of nature 'red in tooth and claw,' of people constantly fighting and struggling, rising up the ladder of well-being only to sink again.  Its message to me is that people can do little more than cope.  Maybe that pretty much summarizes the human story, as it does the animal story.  But I am not altogether convinced.  My almost pathological need to find meaning presses me to ask, again and again, What else is there?  What goes beyond -- even far beyond -- coping and survival, the vocabulary of nature and of ecological studies?"  (Tuan, 2002, p. 326).

This is quite the Cocktail Party, isn't it?  You stumbled across this web page, and now a simple question of how to define an "urban geographer" has devolved into an entropy-maximizing navel-gazing pontification about street grids, deserts and rainforests, and the meaning of life.  You're entirely justified in thinking to yourself, "I know what a geographer is:  someone who wastes my time with a verbose, blathering web-page that refuses to give me a clear answer!"  I am, truly and sincerely, very sorry.  But you now know a tiny bit about Peter Gould, and Yi-Fu Tuan, and these strange mixtures of Quantitative Revolutions and the meaning of existence.  If you're still reading this, I've got your attention -- perhaps you might say that I have quite literally stolen your attention, which is your most valuable asset in our information-saturated world of planetary cognitive overload.  As I type out these words, a website called tells me that there are at least 4.8 billion "indexed web pages" worldwide, and surely by the time you read these words that figure will have  edged upward, ever closer to the point at which the planetary population of web-pages outnumbers the world's population of humans.  New worlds are under construction -- and they've always been under construction, explored and interpreted and built through and by each generation of geographers.  Only now, so many years after I first saw Roger Down's blackboard brilliance, am I able to glimpse just a few of the connections between the formative influences in his geographical journey and the kinds of processes that are reshaping how today's students find geography.  Tuan's powerful essay describes an international symposium co-organized by Carl Sauer, one of the most famous geographers of the twentieth century, when Tuan was a student at Berkeley; "I could sense the excitement -- the importance of what was going on," Tuan (2002, p. 334) recalls, describing a "flurry of excitement on university campuses" for a growing movement of reshaping how we understand and relate to our environments.  My path has been very different from Tuan's, and I am an infinitessimally tiny fraction the scholar he is -- and yet I am now coming to understand the significance of the new worlds under construction in the aftermath of that 1955 conference he remembers.  We need geographers -- of all kinds! -- to explore and interpret these new worlds.  (If you're curious about that symposium and how it fits into the tedious long story I would tell at The Cocktail Party, see page 20 of this.)

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  "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 with a fire-in-the-belly passion for teasing out, in an inductive, intuitive way, what we already know from our embodied geographical experiences.  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!"  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 the spaces of your personal and private existence, versus the evolving quasi-public domains of encounters with corporate advertisers, phishing hackers and packet sniffers, police and NSA analysts (e.g., see Sasso, 2012).  With each passing year, a growing fraction of those you encounter in the new spaces and places of a planetary communications consciousness are non-human -- such as the rapidly-growing population of "bots" of search-and-spam algorithms.  This gives us an entirely different perspective on Tuan's paradoxical insight -- the simultaneous reverence for a universe of the inorganic, alongside a "pathological" need to find meaning beyond the bare survival of life.  What are the meanings of these new worlds, these new spaces and places of the living and the non-living, that are always being built and re-built?


I am 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.  Perhaps 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.  Administrators and key decision-makers became quite insistent that we engage with these new informational possibilities.  Okay, fine, I said, and promptly set about learning a few skills in the evolving landscape of HTML editors and other web-authoring software.  I wound up spending a lot of time learning some of these tools, and then, periodically, some Strategic Vice President of New Strategic Inititiatives would send around an email to everyone announcing that a new contract had been signed for a brand-new array of platforms and applications with more features and improved "functionality."  Every skill I had learned was suddenly rendered obsolete.  After a few rounds of this cycle -- work hard to learn new stuff, then be forced to re-learn how to do the same thing with a new set of tools simply to satisfy some administrative and corporate contracting deal -- I became very cynical about every promise that technology would improve the teaching and learning experience.  There were also some very dangerous and authoritarian tendencies in this new informational world.  At one university, I saw an entire admissions staff downsized and replaced by ... a web page.  At another, I was forced to learn the latest and greatest (i.e., complex, unstable, bug-prone) software "solution" in order to create a web-page that conformed to the officially-decreed "CLF" (Common Look and Feel) that was part of the University's comprehensive "branding" scheme.  And then a few years after that I saw one of my colleagues sued by a predatory law firm for copyright violation for a tiny element placed on a web-page -- and the soulless corporate drones at the highest levels of the legal department of this alleged "University" refused to defend my colleague. 

All of this history and happenstance explains my resistance to some of the latest possibilities in the worlds of multimedia and social networking.  Once I figured out how to provide a bit of basic information with my kindergarten version of Ye Olde HTML Editore, I became rather reluctant to even try to find out where the leading / bleeding edge is.  To be honest, some of these innovations terrify me, like the algorithms that are now being used at some institutions to grade student essays.  Silly me.  I thought reading and writing were inescapably human activities, the kinds of communications and experiences that defined the very essence of who we are, what we do, and how we think, alone and together.  Now, as I peck away at my keyboard in the HTML editor, the latest hard-sell advertisement that invades my brain informs me that all my work, learning, and skills development -- primitive though they are -- are completely obsolete:  Websites "can now design themselves"!  

So what you find in this web-page is a mish-mash, presented in flambouyantly low-tech mode.  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 the old stuff while adding new things to the site.  Besides, wouldn't it be a bit dishonest to erase the old stuff?  I've changed my thinking a lot over the years, but if I erase stuff from this place then I'm unfairly editing this part of my biography, aren't I?  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.  "Picking quarrels and provoking trouble" is the job description for anyone, everyone,  everywhere today who cares about social justice and re-working humanity's relations with the planet and non-human worlds.  Our present world needs to be un-fucked.

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," or "The New Quantitative Revolution," or "Where is an Author?" and let me know if I am now completely unhinged.  Jatinder works in mental health, so maybe I should ask her for an immediate 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, that punch-line to Peter Gould's attempt to explain what geographers do.  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 category.  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  and traditions 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,

"'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?' 

'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..." 


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.

Gould, Peter (1985).  The Geographer at Work.  London:  Routledge and Kegan Paul.

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.

Sasso, Brendan (2012).  "Appeals Court Okays Warrantless Tracking."  The Hill, August 14 (summary of United States v. Skinner (2012).)

Tuan, Yi-Fu (2002).  "A Life of Learning."  In Peter Gould and Forrest R. Pitts, eds., Geographical Voices:  Fourteen Autobiographical Essays.  Syracuse, NY:  Syracuse University Press, 323-340.

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


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

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.

The latest.  This is my most important achievement ever!  For years, I've been working as Editor-in-Chief, leading a team of hardworking editors at Urban Geography.  We are highly ranked on the benchmarks often used to draw hierarchies of knowledge these days.  But the most important accolades we've ever received came when we rejected a manuscript from a knowledge-production realm that has a crystal-clear vision of modernization, science, and professionalism.  We were told that our decisions are contributing to the Decline of the West.  Yay!

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."
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...


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


CopyLeft 2017 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. 
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."


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.

Canada legalized cannabis several years ago, and then more recently the federal government granted an exemption to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act for the province sometimes known as British Columbia; this allowed for the removal of criminal penalties for small amounts of personal use of certain kinds of substances, such as crack, powder cocaine, methamphetamine, opioids such as heroin and fentanyl, and MDMA (ecstasy).  For the transnational metropolis widely referred to as Vancouver -- a city that has long broadcast itself around the world through the illusion industry of 'Hollywood North' and the virtual-reality narratives of sci-fi visionaries like William Gibson -- this seemed like just the next logical evolutionary phase of endlessly adaptive cognitive capitalism.  But evolution is inherently non-linear.  After a year of tough press coverage of Portland, Oregon's reversal as well as the rare but nevertheless real and vivid scenes playing out in B.C. -- syringes in Tim Hortons shops, crack and meth in hospital emergency rooms -- provincial authorities went back to the feds and asked for a quick turnabout on the decriminalization experiment.  Law enforcement officers will now be instructed to ask those using to either stop drug consumption, or leave the public space in question; enforcement in cases of personal consumption in shelters, private homes, and other private spaces remains the lowest priority for local authorities.  As local entrepreneurs work to navigate the changing landscape of psychoactive substances -- opening magic mushroom shops to complement the wild proliferation of cannabis retailers, for example -- online life continues to offer plenty of ready substitutes.  If you really want to get high, for example, just click away to watch this, or this, or this.  The last one has some curious Vancouver connections if you read Chapter 6, "There are Lizards and Then There are Lizards," of Jon Ronson's textual cognitive crystal meth, Them:  Adventures With Extremists.
Not long ago, I read an interview between David Marchese and Stephen A. Smith.  Marchese is a brilliant and versatile reporter with the New York Times; Smith is a high-profile commentator on ESPN's debate show, "First Take," as well as an author, podcaster, and actor with a recurring role on the soap opera General Hospital.  Marchese offers incomparable, irresistible leads:  "In our apparently endless era of conversational combat," he writes, "Stephen A. Smith has distinguished himself as a virtuoso of the form. ... Smith has helped his show dominate its competition through a combination of insider knowledge, charismatic (or depending on your view, infuriating) confidence, turn-on-a-dime intensity, verbal flair and, at times, winking self-awareness."  They're off to the races in a conversation that is simultaneously fascinating and bizarre.  It begins with debates over 'woke culture,' Smith's daughters, pronouns and gender identities, Disney, Ron DeSantis, penises and vaginas, Lia Thomas and collegiate swimming and civil rights ... and then takes a surprising turn.  Marchese tells Smith, "You know, there's a Wittgenstein quote that I've been thinking about lately: 'Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.' Which is to say," Marchese explains, "that if I don't have meaningful knowledge about a subject, I probably shouldn't be talking about it."  Smith replies, "Exactly. What I would need to do is educate myself about it before I speak definitively, which is why I never have spoken about it, because I don't know enough."  Smith has indeed educated himself on an astounding range of topics -- read the interview for just a tiny sample -- but for my purposes here what matters is Marchese's invocation of Wittgenstein.  It struck me, sipping my morning coffee as I try to cope with the information overload of our present day, that I've found yet another perfect rationalization for my absence from social media -- what Arundhati Roy has called the "hydra-headed, multi-limbled, hawkeyed, forever-awake, ever-vigilant, heresy-hunting machine," in which "[t]he fine art of taking offense has become a global industry."  True, I am taking a few moments to type these words into my primitive text editor to post on a web-page.  But please note that what you see on this page is a sort of digital archaeological dig.  It's rarely updated these days.  Even when things have been added, it's been inconsistent and uneven.  As more of human communication and collective social life has moved into increasingly complex digital environments -- what the computer scientist David Gelertner famously called 'mirror worlds' -- I have found it more profitable to spend more of my time reading, listening, and learning.  Sometimes I say to myself, "Elvin, you need to practice your shutting up and listening skills!"  But, alas, in years past there have been those late-night bursts of inspiration where I've been unable to resist the temptation of writing some crazy stuff and posting it here.  Proceed at your own risk!  References:  Marchese, David (2023).  "Stephen A. Smith is Under No Obligation to Tell You What You Want to Hear."  New York Times, April 17; Roy, Arundhati (2023).  "Approaching Gridlock:  Arundhati Roy on Free Speech and Failing Democracy."  Speech delivered to the Swedish Academy, March 22, reprinted at Literary Hub.

"Books.  Why?
Because our brains hurt."
Louise Erdrich, Books and Islands in Ojibwe Country, cited in Robert Warrior (2014).  "Indigenous Nonfiction."  In James H. Cox and Daniel Heath Justice, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Indigenous American Literature.  Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 187-201, quote from p. 187.  Crack open a book.  Read the words, sentences, paragraphs and pages of the sages, of authors past and present.  Struggle through the words and meanings, read and think.  Scribble notes and ideas.  Soon you're writing and reading and thinking.  It all blurs together and you can't tell the difference.  You get a rhythm going.  It's like playing guitar.  Maybe your rhythm is Santana or Zeppelin, (or perhaps the licks Zeppelin borrowed from Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie in 1929, or the next generation performing Kashmir) or perhaps it's John Cougar Mellencamp -- "forget all about that macho shit, and learn how to play guitar" -- or maybe Brittany Howard.  Oh, yes, especially Brittany, and if we had to plagiarize and edit a line, we might write, pass me the whiskey, pass me the gin, pass me whatever the think left in.  Remember Warrior's plea:  read books!  It's fine to have music playing in the background ... but the shredding is in the text, on the page!  Ponder the enigmatic lyrics of Robbie Robertson's song-writing creativity in the house famously known as Big Pink, now performed by musicians around the world, then read Robertson's memoir -- the inspiration of movie scripts and the label on a guitar that inspired him are described beginning on page 283 -- and then ....  Draw some  connections, think, and read another chapter from another book.  Why?  Because our brains hurt, in all the right ways!  Sir Peter Hall (1998).  "The Soul of the Delta:  Memphis, 1948-56."  In Cities in Civilization.  New York:  Pantheon Books, p. 553-602.
"Trump has catalyzed racism and racial resentment, misogyny, white status decline, identity threat, economic anxiety, hatred of liberal elites and rage at globalization. Now this incendiary mix is at hand for any willing politician to capitalize on. There is no shortage of takers. But Trump is not just going to walk away and let other candidates stir his toxic political brew."
Thomas Edsall (2022).  "Trump Has Big Plans for 2025, and He Doesn't Care Whether You Think He'll Win."  New York Times, August 3.
"...we have strengthened our ability to deliver our core mission of education, research, scholarship and service. Thank you for your willingness to collaborate to make UBC a better university for our cities, our country and the world beyond our borders." Santa Ono (2022).  "Statement to the UBC Community."  July 13.  Vancouver, BC:  Office of the President, University of British Columbia.
"As Hunter S. Thompson said, 'Buy the ticket, take the ride…and if it occasionally gets a little heavier than what you had in mind, well…maybe chalk it up to forced consciousness expansion.'"  Liz Dye (2022).  "Trump Realizes Too Late That This Special Master Thing Might Not Be Such a Smart Plan After All."  Above the Law, September 23.
"'So when you wake up Wednesday morning, it's going to be a firestorm,' Bannon continued. 'You're going to have antifa, crazy. The media, crazy. The courts are crazy. And Trump's gonna be sitting there mocking, tweeting shit out: 'You lose. I'm the winner. I'm the king.'"  -- Steve Bannon's plan for Donald Trump to falsely declare victory on election night in November, 2020.  "The pre-election audio comes from a meeting between Bannon and a half dozen supporters of Guo Wengui, an exiled Chinese mogul for whom Bannon has worked. Bannon helped Guo launch a series of pro-Trump Chinese-language news websites that have promoted an array of far-right misinformation, including a video streaming site called GTV. The meeting was intended to help GTV plan its election night coverage."
Dan Friedman (2022).  "Leaked Audio:  Before Election Day, Bannon Said Trump Planned to Falsely Claim Victory."  Mother Jones, July 12.

Frontiers of Toxic Intersectionality
"The line between misinterpretation and misrepresentation has become blurry as some of our critics seem to be more engaged with one another than with actually reading our work.  The petition also alleges that Mara and I position ourselves 'as purveyors of a new form of autoethnography' ... engaging in 'frontierism' (Mohammed et al. 2022, 2). ..."  Read, then choose whether to think or to follow the link and the next link and the next out into the digitized cognitive frontiers of infinite diversity in cybernetic  mirror worlds ... then, please, for just a moment, stop.  Consider Warrior's quote, and then reflect on how the slicing and dicing of complex, intergenerational conversations into ever-smaller cognitive commodities creates dangerous weapons among those who could otherwise be allies, students, teachers, friends.  Books.  Why?  Because our brains and hearts hurt.  Katrina Daly Thompson (2022).  "A Response to Critics of 'African Studies Keyword:  Authoethnography." Medium, June 29.
Cognitive Crystal Meth of Combinatoric, Hybrid Political Intersectionality
"...And for Michigan's August primary, the AIPAC affiliate and the Democratic Majority for Israel have lined up behind a moderate congresswoman, Haley Stevens, who is Christian, in her incumbent-versus-incumbent primary against a more progressive Democrat, Andy Levin, who is Jewish — a reminder that in the political world created by Mr. Trump, being Jewish is no longer equated with being 'pro-Israel.' Indeed, the Israeli right now views evangelical Christians as a much larger and more powerful ally than American Jews."

Customers committing their life savings in the hope securing a stable financial future.  Authorities who once celebrated the heroic achievements of entrepreneurs finally taking belated, incompetent action on the exploitation such entrepreneurialism encouraged.  From Cleveland to Zhengzhou, the story's the same.  "The scheme, which the police said began in 2011, included setting up online platforms to promote financial products and solicit new customers, according to the police, who added that some people have been arrested."  For the U.S. version of the story, see a sample here.  Now, for the protesters who lost their life savings and come to protest in Zhengzhou -- those who make it past the travel restrictions as authorities us health code apps developed for Covid contact tracing to try to prevent mass mobilization -- face thugs who beat them and kick them to the ground.  Capital and crowd control to preserve social harmony!

"In any trial, lawyers attempt to craft a persuasive narrative using telling details, provocative questions, and memorable opening and closing arguments.  Weinstein had proved his skill at storytelling in the movie business.  But trials are not movies, shot under controlled conditions and revised in the editing room.  They are live productions, dependent on the chemistry of their participants, and on luck.  The witnesses do most of the talking, supplying the facts, the emotions, the drama.  And sometimes just one witness, or even just one moment, can define a trial.  That witness was Jessica Mann...."
Ken Auletta (2022).  "Harvey Weinstein's Last Campaign."  The New Yorker, June 6, 28-39, quote from p. 36.
American Postpositivist Theology continues to evolve:

"... this court's right-wing majority is following the dictum of our Trumpian age: Objective truth doesn't matter. Subjective belief — specifically the beliefs of the court’s religious-right majority — does. The Kennedy decision wasn't based on the facts but on belief in the face of facts. Moreover, those six justices are determined to foist their beliefs on the rest of the country."

Hagerstrands around the world.  The U.S., China, Los Angeles, New York City, Chinatown, Brownsville, and the paths and struggles of individual lives.  Read, think, reflect ... "The shared rituals of a close friendship never leave you, even if the friend does."  Sam Dolnick (2022).  "He Had a Dark Secret.  It Changed His Best Friend's Life."  New York Times, July 8.

Sean O'Connell, managing director of Cinemablend, posted a movie review and comments to Twitter, subsequently deleted, that portrayed the film as targeted towards a narrow, niche audience.  The review "seemed to argue that Asian Canadian experiences could not be universal," leading to "widespread outrage online.  The review was ultimately pulled and both O'Connell and Cinemablend's editor in chief apologized.  I am extremely uninterested in the cancel culture ramifications of this particular episode, not that I think that O'Connell's thoughts are defensible on their own merits. Some Pixar films are about toys that come to life. O'Connell, presumably, is not a toy that comes to life. Does that mean 'Toy Story' is not universal?"
Jay Caspian Kang (2022).  "Turning Red is Not a Credit to the Asian Race.  That's Why It's Good."  New York Times, March 31.
"Late one night in 1995, in a cramped airplane cabin high over the Pacific, Madeleine Albright put down a draft of a speech I was set to deliver in Beijing at the upcoming United Nations conference on women, fixed me with the firm stare that had made fearsome dictators shudder, and asked what I was really trying to accomplish with this address.  'I want to push the envelope as far as I can,' I replied. 'Then do it,' she said. She proceeded to tell me how I could sharpen the speech's argument that women's rights are human rights and human rights are women's rights."
Hillary Clinton (2022).  "Madeleine Albright Warned Us, And She Was Right."  New York Times, March 25.
"...we came up with a system.  Each writer got a packet of the papers," for which they were responsible.  "Jerry Gold's job was to check almost every line in every story and match it with a reference in the documents. He would go to a writer and say: 'Well, show me where you got that line. Here's your packet. Show me.' And if they couldn't, he would edit it out." (James Greenfield, Foreign Editor.) "What they needed was to ensure that everything that was published by The New York Times was accurate, because if there were even one slip-up, the whole project could be undermined. So my job became to verify or discredit information in the Pentagon Papers. If I couldn't verify it, then it couldn’t be used. And actually, when we went and looked at the footnotes to see which sources the authors of the papers had used, those sources were often The New York Times, which made it easier to dismiss the question of, “Would our publishing this pose a danger to national security?” Not only was it public knowledge, but it was public knowledge from The Times's own reporting. The other responsibility I had was to determine whether the documents themselves were actually being published for the first time or not. We wanted to make sure that, if we were saying these were secret papers, we weren't misinforming the public."  (Linda Amster, Head Researcher).
New York Times (2021).  "'We're Going to Publish':  An Oral History of the Pentagon Papers."  New York Times, June 9.
"There will be no shortcuts to making sense of and solving the intersectional 'clusterfucks' at the heart of each struggle, as the complexity of the many factors at play are hardly imaginary, but all too material, relational, institutional and political."
"One chatroom with more than 100 people from northwestern China, where I’m from, focused on their interactions with ethnic minorities. A woman from Gansu Province talked about how Muslims in her hometown were portrayed as troublemakers and how she learned to understand why it was offensive to hang the Chinese national flag in a mosque.  I learned about the de-Islamization of my home, the Ningxia Muslim Autonomous Region, after several people shared witness accounts. ... A man from the Daur ethnic group in Xinjiang said how much he appreciated the opportunity to have a platform where people like him could share their stories. A woman said her most memorable experience was hearing a man who called himself a government loyalist describing how, after he heard the personal stories of how the Muslims in Xinjiang had been persecuted, he had to stop his car and weep."
Li Yuan (2021).  "The Great Wall Cracked, Briefly.  A People Shined Through."  New York Times, February 9.
"A new swarm of firebrands rushed in.  Not only did female Republican elected officials become every bit as conservative as their male counterparts; they began, in some cases, to personify the party's most outlandish tendencies. ... Hillary Clinton's supporters were fond of the adage, 'the future is female.' That may one day be true. But we should brace ourselves. That future may be quite different from the one we were expecting. The future often is."
Jennifer Senior (2021).  "The Women Who Paved the Way for Marjorie Taylor Greene."  New York Times, February 7.
"The great question of China's Maoist experiment looms over the United States as Donald Trump vacates the White House:  Why did a rich and powerful society suddenly start destroying itself?"
Pankaj Mishra (2021).  "Struggle Sessions."  The New Yorker, February 1, 61-65, quote from p. 65.

Faludiology updates...
"Ornamental manhood is the machismo equivalent of 'I'm not a doctor but I play one on TV.' Or, in the boogaloo movement's version, 'I'm not actually a soldier but I wear camo and walk around downtown with my big gun.' (In Mr. Trump's case, it's 'I'm not a successful builder but I played one on The Apprentice.)"
Susan Faludi (2020).  "Trump's Thoroughly Modern Masculinity."  New York Times, October 29.
A reminder from The Boss
"to understand that piece of music you need to do what adults are capable of doing, which is to hold two contradictory ideas of one thing in your mind at one time. How something can be prideful and at the same time call to account the nation that you're writing about. That was just a part of that piece of music. It’s a song that’s not necessarily what it appears to be."
By the early 1990s, there were entire university courses on the music and philosophy of The Boss; for a brief summary, watch this, and then this, and then you'll understand why Springsteen has been angry for decades at Republicans' complete misunderstanding of what this means.
Lindsay Zoladz (2020).  "Bruce Springsteen is Living in the Moment."  New York Times, October 18.
Pandemic Planetary Kantsaywhere
Read this then this needs some revisions, updates, re-considerations...
"'We need more women in power. It's crucial,' said Eileen Letts, a former co-chair of the American Bar Association's commission on diversity and inclusion and a partner at the firm Zuber Lawler. 'But in the situation of the Supreme Court, one has to be more careful and more vigilant because a woman of certain ideological beliefs may not be the best person for other women."  Sydney Ember and Rebecca R. Ruiz (2020).  "Men Promised a Woman for Ginsburg’s Seat. Is That What Women Want?"  New York Times, September 23.
"It doesn't matter how exhausted we are, or how difficult the odds. In this hell-spawned year, we can either give up, or give everything we can to stop some of America's worst men from blotting out the legacy of one of our very best women."

"On the popular Chinese microblog Weibo, a user commented, 'the West smears us and wants to get together to demand sky-high compensation. Fang Fang passes the sword hilt to them to attack the nation.' Another user blamed Fang for racist attacks on ethnic Chinese in Canada. ... Chinese scientists who question the scientific proof, clinical validation and effectiveness of traditional Chinese medicine are labeled 'Han traitors.' ... Some people went to jail for selling VPNs, and others were fined for merely using them. ... In 2019, Xi called for educators to fend off 'false ideas and thoughts' when teaching ideologies and politics courses. ... University teachers who dare to deviate from textbooks get reported by student informants who keep tabs on their professors’ ideological views. Some professors, including foreigners, were punished for making comments critical of the government...."  Yaqiu Wang (2020).  "In China, the 'Great Firewall' Is Changing a Generation."  Politico, September 1.
"Beyond expressions of overt racism and ongoing support for totems of the Confederacy, denial of systemic racism is now the default setting for virtually all Republicans, including the president, attorney general and members of Congress. Statistical data (not only in the criminal justice system), the series of unjustified police killings of African Americans, the disproportionate number of Black people afflicted by covid-19, and nearly every other social or economic indicator (from life span to wealth) reveal that the tentacles of racism still have a stranglehold on the country. The notion that everything is fine and that no institutional racism exists is the defense mechanism of a party invested in white supremacy. A party that willfully denies the painful reality of endemic racial inequity — and, therefore, lacks the desire to remedy it — cannot responsibly govern in a multiracial society. (Interestingly, in the wake of the tear-gassing of peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square, numerous high-ranking military leaders acknowledged the scourge of ongoing racism. The U.S. military, it seems, is far more progressive and honest on the issue of race than the GOP.)"
"Hassan was prosecuted under both the penal code and a draconian new cybercrimes law that has been condemned by media and Internet freedom campaigners as a severe obstacle to freedom of expression. The law criminalizes insulting state institutions, such as the judiciary, and includes a provision outlawing the dissemination of 'fake news' — a term that has become popular with autocrats around the world since the emergence of Donald Trump as a political force in the United States. Hassan's comments were characterized as 'insulting the judiciary,' and his criticism of the regime's failure to hold anyone accountable for the 2016 disappearance, brutal torture and killing of Italian graduate student Giulio Regeni was found to violate the provision against 'spreading fake news.'"
"...the simplest way of putting it is that Donald continues to be this vortex that kind of sucks in attention. I think in the book I refer to him as ‘a black hole of need.’ And just as his family of origin organized itself around him, his family now, his children, seem to be playing the same role. And when a family system arranges itself or organizes itself around the most deeply damaged person in the family, nothing good comes of that. We see the same thing with the Republican Party. I know it sounds reductive, but it actually seems to be playing out that way—and it’s quite terrifying."  Mary L. Trump, Ph.D., interviewed in Michael Kruse (2020).  "What the RNC Looked Like to Donald Trump’s Niece."  Politico, August 29.
The Boss is Global
Springsteen epistemology, from New Jersey to Luton to all across America
See this ... and then this...
"It sometimes seems like Trump has just emerged from a time machine — fresh from a delightful strategy lunch with Vice President Spiro Agnew, an instructive discussion on campaign ethics with Attorney General John Mitchell and an editing session with speechwriter Pat Buchanan. Trump stokes fears that minorities will invade the suburbs, that migrants will steal jobs and rape women and that Muslim refugees are 'Trojan horse' threats. He attacks journalists as 'enemies of the people.' He tries to lump peaceful protesters with violent provocateurs. It is all very much like Nixon — without the intelligence, military service, governing experience or geostrategic insight."

"In a dark season of pestilence, COVID has reduced to tatters the illusion of American exceptionalism. At the height of the crisis, with more than 2,000 dying each day, Americans found themselves members of a failed state, ruled by a dysfunctional and incompetent government largely responsible for death rates that added a tragic coda to America’s claim to supremacy in the world. ... For better or for worse, America has had its time. [But] The end of the American era and the passing of the torch to Asia is no occasion for celebration, no time to gloat. ... If and when the Chinese are ascendant, with their concentration camps for the Uighurs, the ruthless reach of their military, their 200 million surveillance cameras watching every move and gesture of their people, we will surely long for the best years of the American century. For the moment, we have only the kleptocracy of Donald Trump. Between praising the Chinese for their treatment of the Uighurs, describing their internment and torture as 'exactly the right thing to do,' and his dispensing of medical advice concerning the therapeutic use of chemical disinfectants, Trump blithely remarked, 'One day, it's like a miracle, it will disappear.' He had in mind, of course, the coronavirus, but, as others have said, he might just as well have been referring to the American dream."
"The one becomes the many.  Count both; both count."
Late-night reading ... begins with a recent brilliant post by Kevin Cox at Unfashionable Geographies, takes a tour through the in-box to complete another letter of recommendation, over to the Times for another (over)dose of Covidized analysis in the age of planetary Trumpism, then somehow winds up to several updates on the Avital Ronell case, especially Keguro Macharia's brilliant analysis.  The conceptualization of "unlistening" is a powerful formulation in our age of surveillant cognitive capitalist monetization of the human attention span.
"As I read minoritized scholars attempting to respond—Black, untenured, graduate students, faculty at less elite and non-elite schools, independent scholars—attempting in the registers that are possible—a retweet, a like, crafted tweets, expressions of frustration—I wonder about the practices of unlistening that subtend the coterie around Duggan and Halberstam.  What kind of demand can the minoritized and the vulnerable stage before the unlistening coterie? What can we ask for?"

or, even more beautifully challenging (this is getting to be a late night, with lots of tea), Natalia Cecire's deconstruction of the "transphobic cis 'feminist' claim to true and sole ownership of misogyny and injury":
"...there is something so heartbreaking about looking up from rigorous debates about the limits of feminist new materialism to see people yelling on the internet that women can’t have penises. Read a book. ... If ever we could have used Judith Butler pulling a Marshall McLuhan 'you know nothing of my work,' this was it.* Instead, she used her position as one of the world’s foremost theorists of gender, sexuality, and power to defend what is at best exceptionally terrible, abusive advising."

Natalia Cecire (2018).  "New at This."  Works Cited, August 21.  That asterisk really, really matters; it's one of the best footnotes I've seen in quite a while.  Scroll to the bottom, where Cecire writes, "This is not an endorsement of Annie Hall or its director."  If you are 'new at this' in a cinematic, LA-School-view-of-New York way, then watch this.  And if you're 'new at this' in one of the many other ways that Cecire so eloquently channels, see this.

Michael and Me...
"The battle to slow down global warming in the short time that physics allots us requires ever bigger movements."
It's long, but definitely worth the read:
and still, he can't stop thinking about Stormy Daniels
"The models show hundreds of thousands of people are going to die.  You know what I wanna do?  I wanna come way under the models.  The professionals did the models.  I was never involved in a model ... but ... at least this kind of a model."
Donald J. Trump, White House Corona Press Briefing, April 3, 2020
And The Band Played On for Twenty-First Century Planetary Coronavirus Urbanization
"Anthony Fauci, the government's top infectious disease expert, who regularly shares the podium with Trump at coronavirus briefings, has described often in interviews the vitriol targeted at him during the early days of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. Protesters were storming the National Institutes of Health campus and burning Fauci in effigy, because of frustrations with the pace of research on a cure. The activist Larry Kramer, whom Fauci now counts as a friend, was calling him a murderer. Fauci decided the protesters were right on some key points and urged they be integrated closely into the government's response.  'The best thing I've done from a sociological and community standpoint was to embrace the activists,' Fauci said in an interview with Science Speaks in 2011. 'Instead of rejecting them, I listened to them.' Close your eyes and imagine Trump saying that."
"If I wanted to be anthropomorphic and metaphorical about this, I would conclude that COVID-19 is nature's revenge for over forty years of nature's gross and abusive mistreatment at the hands of a violent and unregulated neoliberal extractivism."
"...capitalist globalization now appears to be biologically unsustainable in the absence of a truly international public health infrastructure."
"A leader who applies chauvinism and prejudice to a frightening disease is not best equipped to deal with a pandemic. Nationalism should have no place in medical discourse. And medical language should never be applied to politics. Coronavirus isn't Chinese or foreign; it is global. Blaming alien forces, whether in the name of God, or science or simple prejudice, is bound to make things a great deal worse."
As viruses evolve, so do viral racists...
"A month before the coronavirus outbreak led to orders that tens of millions of Americans largely stay at home, white supremacists had urged each other to spread the virus by filling spray bottles with saliva, spitting on elevator buttons and other ways, intelligence officials said.  The bioterrorism plot was detailed in an unclassified intelligence briefing in late February by the Federal Protective Service, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security. Hate group members used the instant messaging application Telegram to urge each other to weaponize the virus and target law enforcement officers and 'nonwhite' communities."
Shaila Dewan, Vanessa Swales and Neil Vigdor (2020).  "Police Tread Lightly as Pandemic Spreads."  New York Times, March 22.

Coronavirus parodies have begun...
Cybernetic Insanities, or MAGA With Chinese Characteristics
"China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus.  The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. It will all work out well. In particular, on behalf of the American People, I want to thank President Xi!"
U.S. "President" Donald Trump, on Twitter, January 24, 2020
"...we need the politics of Saul Alinsky, not Adlai Stevenson; of Stokely Carmichael, not Walter Mondale; of Francis Fox Piven, not Myron Orfield; of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, not Nancy Pelosi; of Kshama Sawant, not Scott Wiener; of Black Lives Matter, not CityLab."
David Imbroscio (2019).  "Stop Worrying
(So Much) about Exclusionary Zoning and Fight Our Real Enemies: A Reply to My Critics."  Urban Affairs Review, 1-14.
Conspiratorial Conscience?
the moral arc of the conspiratorial universe is long, but maybe, for at least a few of its protagonists, it bends towards regret and redemption...
"As I sat on the aisle, the plane now lifting up into the pale blue sky, I glanced over at the little girl staring out the window in wonder, her face glowing from the light reflecting off the clouds. She was amazed, joyful, innocent, carefree and completely unaware of the world beneath her."
"What is the point of doing anything when you don’t know whether your city has a future?"
Cybernetic University Governance
"'Have you ever had a class where your professor said at the end of the term, 'Email me your paper'? No, they don't, because there would be so many things that could possibly go wrong with that system,' Adshade said. 'And yet, that's the system that's used for for the elections process. It’s very, very easy for somebody to send an email and not attach a file.'"
Trigger Warnings in the Age of Planetary Xi Jinping Thought
"If [students] feel triggered or impacted by the video, by the graphics or sound effects of the video, that would be great ... because this is what’s actually happening," explained Davin Wong, spokesperson for UBC Enlightmentment for Hong Kong.
'Conservative intellectual' is an oxymoron, but there are a few, a very few exceptions.  A quick read of Ross Douthat's latest requires reaching for the dictionary to look up the meaning of "suppurating"...!

"Whereas the N.B.A. has struggled to respond to the geopolitical fracas, the creators of 'South Park' appeared to relish the fight. The show’s creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, put out a fake apology on Monday, poking fun at the N.B.A. while insulting Xi Jinping, China’s president.  'Like the N.B.A., we welcome the Chinese censors into our homes and into our hearts,' the tongue-in-cheek statement read. 'We too love money more than freedom and democracy. Xi doesn’t look just like Winnie the Pooh at all.'"

"I was terrified that journalists would surround the house and that my children would be followed to school. I had been so completely silenced that although I was central to a story that had ignited a global movement, I did not participate. Remaining silent had become integral to my identity, both as a woman and a person of color."
"Blundstone 500 - Original Stout Brown shoes:  If you want to look more like a geography major, unlike those FILA-wearing people, these are the shoes for you. They pair well with a zip-up rain jacket over a UBC hoodie. Forget Uggs, these are the only Australian boots worth buying if you want to blend in on campus."
Robbie Robertson's masterpiece, from Canada to Nazareth, Pennsylvania, to Trenchtown, Jamaica, to many other cities around the world...!
"...the most breathtaking moment, by my reckoning, belonged to Senator Elizabeth Warren, who said that she wasn't just going to tell us what she’d do in her first 100 days. She would show us. And then she read aloud the names of the 18 transgender women of color who have been murdered this year, in a voice that quavered with emotion. 'It is time,' she concluded, 'for a president of the United States of America to say their names.'  Those names are Dana Martin, Jazzaline Ware, Ashanti Carmon, Claire Legato, Muhlaysia Booker, Michelle Tamika Washington, Paris Cameron, Chynal Lindsey, Chanel Scurlock, Zoe Spears, Brooklyn Lindsey, Denali Berries Stuckey, Kiki Fantroy, Pebbles LaDime “Dime” Doe, Tracy Single, Bailey Reeves, Bee Love Slater, and Ja’leyah-Jamar."
Everything is Connected...!
Several years ago, students helped me think through the implications of artificial intelligence surveillance of the products of human learning, labor, thought, and communication.  We explored the neuroscience origins of plagiarism detection software used by many educational institutions.  We explored how this innovative company had been backed by a 'globally integrated' private equity firm, Warburg Pincus.  We wrote up the results a few years after I had been doing a lot of research on the role of narrow-minded economic policy elites in fighting off the deregulation that would have prevented the Global Financial Crisis of 2008-2009, which Ben Bernanke had subsequently described as "the worst financial crisis in global history, including the Great Depression."  Now we read that one of those key elites -- Tim Geithner -- is now President of Warburg Pincus.  "Timothy Geithner is like some little weasel," as Jonathan Mann sang so clearly back in 2009.  And we should have had Warren as the Sheriff of Wall Street back then, but, alas, who knows what might happen in the primaries...!
"...a paradox wrapped in an oxymoron about a moron..."
Maureen Dowd on the Dems' dilemmas as they present carefully-manicured contrasts to Trumpian chaos in preparations for the 2020 election, September 15, 2019
Imperial Lamborghini
[it happened in Vancouver, too...]
"...Another patriotic gesture by some pro-Beijing protesters in Toronto was to drive their luxury cars — Ferraris, McLarens, Porsches and Aston Martins — to the site of the local rally. When confronted by pro-Hong Kong protesters, they shouted qiongbi, or 'poor losers!' These students exuded the arrogance of China's nouveau riche, and their insult coincides with one of China's narratives claiming that a lot of the grievances by Hong Kong's young protesters, dubbed feiqing, or 'wasted youth,' are economic rather than political. For those Chinese rich kids, money talks, and political values don't matter."

Sometime in the 1990s, "...students started saying things like, 'You know, I've never read a book. I've read accounts of books, but I've never actually read a book,'" and certainly never one as thick as this one...
David Harvey, reflecting in 2019 on more than forty years of reading and teaching Marx's Capital.  Watch this, beginning at the 18:00 mark...
Blowmymindism, August 2019 Edition

"...It would be wrong to conclude from all of this that Marxists do not work politically and practically on the politics of daily life or in the sphere of value realization. I meet such people all over the place all the time, involved in, say, anti-gentrification struggles and fights over the provision of health care and education as well as in right to the city movements. The Marxist critique of education under capitalism has been profound (Bowles and Gintis, 1977). This is a realm where Marxist practices often go well beyond the theoretical content—a gap which I, as well as other Marxist geographers like Neil Smith (1992, 2003) and, from a somewhat different angle, Gibson-Graham (2006)—have attempted to close. But it is also clear to me that many people working politically on these daily life questions do not care about Marxism or anarchism ideologically but simply engage in radical practices that often converge with anti-capitalist politics for contingent rather than ideological reasons."  David Harvey, 2017...
Hollywood's geo-discursive Violence
...amidst watching an eminently forgettable cable series that foreshadowed the creative Orientalism of Homeland, we see one of the characters presented as a Mexican accountant on the run from American authorities because of his collaboration with al Qaeda sleeper-cell operatives; he exclaims to a comrade that he's terrified of being caught and renditioned to "Jackoffistan"... hmm, isn't this one of the hipster enclaves on the famous New Yorkistan map?
"In 1981 Lee Atwater, the famed Republican political operative, explained to an interviewer how his party had learned to exploit racial antagonism using dog whistles. 'You start out in 1954 by saying 'Nigger, nigger, nigger.'' But by the late 1960s, 'that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, 'forced busing,' 'states' rights,' and all that stuff, and you're getting so abstract. Now, you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.'

Well, the dog whistle days are over. Republicans are pretty much back to saying 'Nigger, nigger, nigger.'

As everyone knows, on Sunday Donald Trump attacked four progressive members of Congress, saying that they should 'go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.' As it happens, three of the four were born in the U.S., and the fourth is a duly naturalized citizen. All are, however, women of color."
"...I imagined the most potent feminist partnership in American history: Nancy Pelosi as sensei, bringing her inside game, and A.O.C., the Karate Kid with a wicked Twitter game.  But instead, the 79-year-old speaker and the 29-year-old freshman are trapped in a generational and ideological tangle that poses a real threat to the Democrats’ ability to beat Donald Trump next year.  Pelosi told me, after the A.O.C. Squad voted against the House’s version of the border bill and trashed the moderates — the very people who provided the Democrats the majority — that the Squad was four people with four votes. She was talking about a legislative reality. If it was a knock, it was for abandoning the party.  That did not merit A.O.C.'s outrageous accusation that Pelosi was targeting 'newly elected women of color.' She slimed the speaker, who has spent her life fighting for the downtrodden and who was instrumental in getting the first African-American president elected and passing his agenda against all odds, as a sexist and a racist. 
A.O.C. should consider the possibility that people who disagree with her do not disagree with her color."
Bible Belt, Unbuckled
"Home schooled in a fundamentalist Christian home where pop music was banned and a woman's role was defined as being a devoted homemaker, mother, and wife, Sarah Shook was primed to be a poster child for family values conservatives.  But the real world has a knack for finding its way into the most sealed places ... The self-defined 'vegan, pansexual, atheist mom in a country band from the South,' is a politically active LGBT and civil rights activist with three albums to her credit. ..."  Stuart Derdeyn (2019).  "Sturm Und Twang."  Vancouver Sun, July 13, C1.
Hayek Binges Netflix
or, 'Transhumanism in the Cinematic Noosphere'
"It should be a major headline every day that, alone in the world, the most powerful country in human history is not only refusing to participate in the efforts to deal with an existential crisis, but, in fact, is acting to exacerbate the crisis, pouring funds and money into more use of fossil fuels. Try and find an example in history of any political organization that was dedicated with passion to trying to destroy the prospect for organized human life. Even the Nazis were not doing that!" Noam Chomsky, interviewed by Alan MacLeod (2019).  "Still Manufacturing Consent: An Interview With Noam Chomsky."  Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, June 19.
The Pedagogy of the Streets:
"Also in the crowds were secondary school student Chan and her classmates, who brought along geography notes for an examination the next day.  'I marched last Sunday too,' Chan said. 'This is more important than my exam tomorrow, because … if we don’t come out today, there may not be a tomorrow for us to come out.'"
Tony Cheung, writing in the South China Morning Post, June 2019
Buckley-Brooksian Conservative Epistemologies
"My mentor William F. Buckley vowed to stand athwart history yelling 'Stop!' Today’s Republicans don’t even seem to see the train that is running them over."
"'The thing that upsets the occupant of the White House, his goons in the Republican Party [and] many of our colleagues in the Democratic Party,' Omar told the crowd, 'is that they can't stand that a refugee, a black woman, an immigrant, a Muslim, shows up in Congress thinking she's equal to them.'"
"Amoral leaders have a way of revealing the character of those around them. Sometimes what they reveal is inspiring. For example, James Mattis, the former secretary of defense, resigned over principle, a concept so alien to Mr. Trump that it took days for the president to realize what had happened, before he could start lying about the man."  James Comey (2019).  "How Trump Coopts Leaders Like Bill Barr."  New York Times, May 1.
"When the rules create inequality, disobey the rules!"

brain go boom
"It's 2019, the world has never been closer to nuclear war or a total cataclysmic climate change, and it's time to start being honest on our Tinder profiles."

"Not every cracked glass ceiling is a victory. Recently, major newspapers trumpeted the fact that women hold all of the highest positions at the Central Intelligence Agency. The chief executives of four of the nation’s five biggest military contractors are now women; Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and the defense arm of Boeing all have #ladybosses. It’s hard to imagine our feminist forebears seeing female dominance of the military-industrial complex as an unmixed blessing."
Katherine Mangu-Ward (2019).  "Stop Counting Women."  New York Times, February 23.

The Cosmopolitan Patriots of Planetary Kantsaywhere
Read the first letter and response of this, and then read this.
"Our diversity is our strength.  But our unity is our power."
Nancy Pelosi, speaking with Senator Chuck Schumer regarding the House Democratic caucus in negotiations through the Trump shutdown, January 25, 2019.
"Delete Facebook. Delete Twitter. Throw away your cell phone. Unsubscribe from the newspaper. Tell your friends and relatives not to discuss politics or society. If they slip up, break off all contact.  Then, buy canned food. Stockpile water. Learn to shoot a gun. If you can afford a bunker, get a bunker.  Because one day, whoever keeps feeding us Scissor statements is going to release one of the bad ones." Scott Alexander (2018).  "Sort by Controversial."  Slate Star Codex, October 30.
Darwinian Culture Wars of the Twenty-First Century
"Many Republicans believe gender roles to be distinct and that categorical denial of hormonal or biological underpinnings to sex differences is erroneous — while simultaneously voicing doubts about the legitimacy of the science of evolution. Many Democrats defend the basic theory of evolution but remain wary of, if not hostile to, biological explanations of human behavior, in part because of their belief in the efficacy of government or other societal intervention to change behavior."  Thomas Edsall (2019).  "The Fight over Men is Shaping Our Political Future."  New York Times, January 17.
"His den is adorned with a bright painted portrait of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. — one of his heroes, whose view that 'the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice' was often echoed by Obama. But Reid himself always seemed more predisposed to believing that the arc of the universe bent toward an ornery brawl."

Jared Kushner, Post-truth Postpositivist
Way back in the misty-eyed days of George W. Bush, Karl Rove dismissed journalists in the "reality-based community" while Don Rumsfeld waxed poetic on the distinctions between "known unknowns" and "unknown unknowns."  Now we have Kellyanne Conway's "alternative facts," Rudy's "truth isn't truth," and the latest situated-knowledge positionalities of Jared Kushner:  "We're getting facts in from multiple places. Once those facts come in, the secretary of state will work with our national security team to help us determine what we want to believe."  Quoted in Maggie Haberman (2018).  "Kushner Says White House Is Still 'Fact-Finding' on Khashoggi but Will Do What's 'Best' for Americans."  New York Times, October 22.
Welcome to Posthumanism which Saudia Arabia grants citizenship to robots while chopping up human journalists who dare to criticize power.
October, 2018:  So, following the lead of comedian Bill Maher, we should now refer to the newly confirmed drunken rapist Brett Kavanaugh as Judge Red Solo Cup.  Get ready for plenty of twenty-first century incarnations of Plessy v. Ferguson, Dredd Scott, Korematsu...
Postmodern Fascism

"When you tell me that [Trump] should testify because he’s going to tell the truth and he shouldn’t worry, that’s so silly — because it’s somebody’s version of the truth. Not the truth,” Rudy Giuliani said on Meet the Press, defending a refusal to allow the President  to provide testimony to Special Counsel Robert Mueller.  Host Chuck Todd responds, “Truth is truth.”
“No, it isn’t truth. Truth isn’t truth,” Giuliani said.

I've been writing about this for years now.  Right-wing Republicans long ago learned the finer points of left-wing poststructuralist thought.  Truth is socially constructed!  See Strategic Positivism.

August 2018:

"On December 8, 2015, Trump justified his proposal during a television interview by noting that President Franklin D. Roosevelt 'did the same thing' with respect to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. ... at a rally in South Carolina, Trump told an apocryphal story about United States General John J. Pershing killing a large group of Muslim insurgents in the Philippines with bullets dipped in pigs' blood in the early 1900's. ... Trump asserted that '[w]e're having problems with the Muslims, and we're having problems with Muslims coming into the country.' ... He therefore called for surveillance of mosques in the United States, blaming terrorist attacks on Muslims' lack of 'assimilation' and their commitment to 'sharia law.' ... A day later, he opined that Muslims 'do not respect us at all' and 'don’t respect a lot of the things that are happening throughout not only our country, but they don’t respect other things.' ...By blindly accepting the Government's misguided invitation to sanction a discriminatory policy motivated by animosity toward a disfavored group, all in the name of a superficial claim of national security, the Court redeploys the same dangerous logic underlying Korematsu and merely replaces one 'gravely wrong' decision with another."
Dear Amerepublicans:  when your major achievement is forcing everyone to study the finer details of the Holocaust in order to see how today's Trumpian policies are different ... you've simply proven the depth of your commitment to twenty-first century Trumpian Fascist violence and hatred.  Mission Accomplished!

"One of the most sensitive debates generated by Mr. Trump’s family separation policy was the question of when Nazi comparisons are appropriate. When Michael V. Hayden, the former C.I.A. director under President George W. Bush, posted a picture of a concentration camp and wrote, 'Other governments have separated mothers and children,' it prompted an exchange on CNN with Wolf Blitzer, who noted that his relatives were murdered in the Holocaust. 'They were killed, so when you make the comparison to Auschwitz, that’s such a powerful image and you understand the criticism you’re getting for that,' he told Mr. Hayden. 'As bad as this policy is, it’s certainly not Auschwitz.'"

“I fully understand,” Mr. Hayden replied, “and if that offended anyone, they have my deepest and most sincere apology.” He added that the blessings of a free society should not be taken for granted. “I knew it would be controversial, but I felt a warning flare was necessary.”
"Outside an arena in Duluth, Minn., where the president was speaking on Wednesday night, protesters waved signs that said 'My Grandpa Didn’t Fight Nazis for This' and 'Liar. Racist. Fascist. Sociopath. Twitter Troll. Idiot.'"  Seen elsewhere:  protest poster that reads, "Keep the Kids. Deport the Racists."  June, 2018.  Trump's Amerika.
In one of my large classes, I sometimes try to tell stories about key events in cities and urban life that have had an impact on me, and shape the way I experience the theories and literatures of urban studies.  Sometimes a tiny bit of emotion creeps in, and there are just a few seconds where the voice cracks a bit.  It's a few seconds, and then I move on.  This happens maybe four or five times over the course of a thirteen-week semester. 

Some students really do not like this.  Here's the full text of one student comment from a recent batch of course evaluations:

"The professor brought a great enthusiasm to the class, he gave us very informative lecture ever week. However, his slides were too detailed, with a lot of quotes from books. It was very hard to read, and also hard to grasp the main argument he is trying to make. It was nice that he summed up all points at the end of the lecture and nicely put them into a conclusion, though. It greatly helped me to revise the lecture. I could see that he was a very emotional person, which I am not against about, but he sometimes cried in the class. I sometimes left the lecture depressed. And I sometimes felt I was watching his show or drama… I don't know whether professor does that on purpose to grab an attention from students, or he is solely sad, but I don't think it's nice to cry in front of all students because it upsets us, and sometimes it is just… pathetic when he does that multiple times over the course. I thought it was nice to interact with students while he gives lectures, because often times he was the only one who was constantly talking, and it almost was like 'professor's show­time of his interests'… it would be nicer if he was more engaging into students. Sorry for many negative comments, but I really think he is a good professor, who is very knowledgeable, enthusiastic and cares about students, and I appreciated it, and I thought if he improves a little bit, he will be a even greater professor, I hope you don't get offended by my comments! Thank you so much professor Elvin!"

Hmm.  Interesting.  This makes me think deeply.  But think.  Given the way  the world is today, can you really learn anything from someone who is not brought to tears by the daily headlines?  As Susan Sontag wrote in the New York Times back in 2003, "An ample reservoir of stoicism is needed to get through the great newspaper of record each morning, given the likelihood of seeing photographs that could make you cry."  More recently, in reporting the latest breaking news from the Trump Administration's heartless zero-tolerance policy of splitting up families trying to claim refugee protection at the U.S.-Mexico border, separating young children from their families, Rachel Maddow channeled the spirit of Sontag, who died back in 2005.  This is 'Regarding the Pain of Others' for the age of Trumpian Fascism.  They are opening new "Tender Age" facilities to incarcerate children under age 13 and even babies.  Laura Bush has compared this to the forced internment of Japanese-Americans in the 1940s.  Former General Michael Hayden tweeted an image of Buchenwald.  Even foaming-at-the mouth Republican fascists like Ted Cruz have begun to rethink their hardcore MAGA loyalties, issuing statements that attempt to make themselves look human again; Cruz first gave unconditional support to Trump's harsh policy, then, amidst the national and global outcry, issued this statement:  "All Americans are rightly horrified by the images we are seeing on the news, children in tears pulled away from their mothers and fathers. This must stop. Now."

Dear Rachel:  Do.  Not.  Apologize.
"29 years and nine months ago I registered to vote and became a member of The Republican Party which was founded in 1854 to oppose slavery and stand for the dignity of human life. Today I renounce my membership in the Republican Party. It is fully the party of Trump."
--Republican strategist and 2012 McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt, June 2018, responding to Trump's zero-tolerance refugee-claimant family separation policy, describing Trump's describing the government-run detention centers as "internment camps for babies."
"The Bible, like a gun, is a dangerous thing in the hands of a bigot."
Michael Gerson, responding to Attorney General Jeff Sessions' citation of Romans 13, and the stricture that people be obedient, "subject to governing authorities," in defending a zero-tolerance policy that separates refugee children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border.  Michael Gerson (2018).  "The Bible in the Hands of a Bigot."  Washington Post, June 18.

Trumpian family values, implemented through zero-tolerance border enforcement and separating children from their families.
"I'm not and never ever been a member of the communist party. Like what they used to say in the McCarthy hearings, which hopefully we're not going to repeat up here."
"Now, I've worked in a lot of male-dominated fields. Before comedy, I worked at a tech company and, before that, I worked on Wall Street. And, honestly, I've never really been sexually harassed. That being said, I did work at Bear Stearns in 2008. So, although I haven't been sexually harassed, I've definitely been fucked. Yeah, that whole company went down on me without my consent. And no men got in trouble for that one either."
Michelle Wolf, at the White House Correspondents' Dinner; see Callum Borchers (2018).  "Michelle Wolf’s caustic comedy routine at the White House correspondents’ dinner, annotated."  Washington Post, April 29.
"This was not the kind of interview where if you just sat there long enough you would discover something new; it would simply get more and more alarming as it doubled back on itself, it would be an interview drawn by M.C. Escher or Salvador Dalí where you were trapped and circling around and around in a dream-landscape with a nightmare physics that bore no resemblance to reality and every clock in the studio melted."
"I’m 80 years old, but I can still be inspired when I see young people coming together to demand the right to study without having to wear a flak jacket."

"On Tuesday, Brian Acton, a co-founder of WhatsApp, which was acquired by Facebook in 2014 for $19 billion, posted a tweet that read, 'It is time. #deletefacebook.'"
Kevin Roose and Sheera Frenkel (2018).  "Missing from Facebook's Crisis:  Mark Zuckerberg."  New York Times, March 21.
" Wylie describes it, he was the gay Canadian vegan who somehow ended up creating 'Steve Bannon's psychological warfare mindfuck tool.'"  Carol Cadwalldr (2018).  "The Cambridge Analytica Files
Updates on American Greatness
CNN crawl headline, March 7, 2018
"The memo is a combination of nonsense, half-truths, and spin designed to create an excuse for Trump to fire Rosenstein, and replace him with a stooge who will do what he is told: Stop the Russia investigation before it gets to Trump.  If Trump succeeds, the next logical step would be to use the FBI to actively further Republican partisan advantage. It is not inconceivable that no matter who the next Democratic presidential nominee is, Republicans will declare that he or she is a criminal, and demand an FBI investigation.  If that sounds farfetched, please remember that Republicans actually did this with the Democrats' 2016 presidential nominee. But this time around, if the top ranks of the agency are stuffed with Trump's loyal handpicked goons, they very well may succeed in locking her up."
Ryan Cooper (2018).  "What the Nunes Memo is Really About."  The Week, February 2.
What Would Alan Turing Do?
Aaron Klein, Jerusalem Bureau Chief for Breitbart News, is among the many celebrities, motivational speakers, reality-show wannabees, and others buying fake real identities in a transnational black-market trade of twitterbots.  A single shadowly company is responsible for some 3.5 million automated accounts, many based on the hijacked identity of "real" human Twitter users, creating some 200 million phantom followers.
The American Church of Shithole Theology
Evangelical Leaders defend Trump's reference to Haiti and African nations as "shithole" countries
"Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Dallas, a prominent Southern Baptist church, said that while he would not have used the same language Trump did, he agrees with the president's perspective. 'What a lot of people miss is, America is not a church where everyone should be welcomed regardless of race and background,' Jeffress said. 'I'm glad Trump understands the difference between a church and country. I support his views 100 percent, even though as a pastor I can't use that language.'  The United States, Jeffress said, has every right to restrict immigration according to whatever criteria it establishes, including race or other qualifications. 'The country has the right to establish what would benefit our nation the most,' he said."
Sarah Pulliam Bailey (2018).  "Trump's 'shithole' comments have enraged many. But some evangelical leaders still back him."  The Washington Post, January 12.

So...race is a "qualification"...?
"Assume you were a person of the left and an atheist, and you decided to create a couple of people in a laboratory to discredit the Republican Party and white evangelical Christianity. You could hardly choose two more perfect men than Donald Trump and Roy Moore."
Peter Wehner (2017).  "Why I Can No Longer Call Myself an Evangelical Republican."  New York Times, December 9.
"We could never quite tell what he was:  possibly the American Hitler, but just as possibly punking the whole world in the most ambitious prank/PR stunt of all time.  Or maybe he was on the level, birthing a weird new rightist/populist movement, a cross of Huey Long, Pinochet and David Hasselhoff.  He was probably a master, but whatever he was, he was original."  Matt Taibbi (2017).  Insane Clown President.  New York:  Spiegel & Grau, p. 221.

Trumpian Republican Family Values
"There was a time when the question of whether to disown a candidate accused of sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl was fairly straightforward.  But the divisions in the Republican Party run so deep that the latest rallying cry for many on the right has become the case of Roy S. Moore, the Senate candidate in Alabama who faces allegations of preying on many young women, including a 14-year-old, when he was in his 30s. ..."  Jeremy W. Peters (2017).  "Alabama Senate Race Aggravates Deep Divide in Republican Party."  New York Times, November 16.
"As my colleagues go to sleep tonight, they need to think about whether the political support of the gun industry is worth the blood that flows endlessly onto the floors of American churches, elementary schools, movie theaters, and city streets. Ask yourself: How can you claim that you respect human life while choosing fealty to weapons-makers over support for measures favored by the vast majority of your constituents?  My heart breaks for Sutherland Springs. Just like it still does for Las Vegas. And Orlando. And Charleston. And Aurora. And Blacksburg. And Newtown. Just like it does every night for Chicago. And New Orleans. And Baltimore. And Bridgeport. The terrifying fact is that no one is safe so long as Congress chooses to do absolutely nothing in the face of this epidemic. The time is now for Congress to shed its cowardly cover and do something."  Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, November 6, 2017.  See Aaron Blake, "These Killings Will Not Abate:  Chris Murphy's Unorthodox, Dystopian Plea for Gun Control."  The Washington Post, November 6.
Somebody created a bot that tracks Wikipedia edits made from the UBC campus...
Overheard at YVR Wine Bar
Female New Yorker Customer (C) approaches Male Italian Bartender (B)

C:  "Can I have a wine to go?"
B:  "No, it's not allowed.  Regulations.  Where you from?"
C:  "New York."
B:  "Ah, why you come to Canada?  You can't smoke here, you can't drink here ..."
C's Husband:  "Pretty soon you won't even be allowed to swear!"
B:  "Fuck yeah!"
C:  "Okay, I'll have some wine here."
B:  "Fuck yeah!"
"Q:  If people are having problems with Equifax's various
websites, where is the best place to call to reach
someone who knows what he or she is talking about?

A:  UPDATED: OCT. 12 According to the company, the best number to dial for help is 1-866-447-7559.  The line is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. Eastern time.  After I first posted it, a reader called to tell me that the phone representatives at the above number did not know how to deal with questions about freeze PINs. Instead, they gave him another number to call, where the recorded voice touted 'the hottest triple-X hardcore service.' (We checked.)"
Ron Lieber (2017).  "How to Protect Yourself After the Equifax Breach."  New York Times, October 16.
Poor People Under Attack, What Do We Need?  Mansion Tax!
See this, and then this and this...
"...I am tired. I have no time for the fragility of white men, who invoke psychiatry, neurodivergence, and mental illness only when it is convenient. Boo-fucking-hoo. I am tired of ahistorical defenses of Western colonialism written by professors concerned about 'viewpoint diversity.' I am tired of professors denying trans, non-binary people’s identities. I am tired of the banality of everyday rape culture, white supremacy, and all other forms of injustice and oppression committed by students, police, professors, friends, and family. I’m tired of how both legacy and social media exploits marginalized people’s stories and labour, both institutions only interested in clicks and dollars."

Happy Thought for the Day
"If you're hopeful about humanity and the planet, you're not paying attention.  I don't see humanity outliving this century." 
These are the words of Paul Schrader, a prominent filmmaker who wrote the screenplays for Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver and Raging Bull.  His most recent work is directing First Reformed, "a film that focuses on two crises -- one environmental, the other spiritual."  As reported in Jill Lawless (2017).  "First Reformed Asks:  Is God an Ecologist?"  Associated Press, September 1, printed in the Vancouver Sun, B5.

Redneck Revolt
Putting the Red Back in Redneck
"If we, as working class people, want to see a reality of political, social, and economic freedom, REAL freedom for all people, then we must directly contribute to a struggle against all oppression, especially white supremacy. ... [we hope] to incite a movement amongst working people that works toward the total liberation of all working people, regardless of skin color, religious background, sexuality, gender, nationality, or any other division that bosses and politicians have used to fragment movements for social, political, and economic freedom."
"Ms. Chao, deflecting a question about the tensions between her husband and the president she serves, told reporters, 'I stand by my man — both of them.'"
Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin (2017).  "McConnel, in Private, Doubts if Trump Can Save Presidency."  New York Times, August 22.

"There will be a lot of pain while this president is in office and the clock will turn back on many things. But we will come out stronger, once this last shriek of white supremacy and grievance and fear of the future is out of the system. Every day, President Trump teaches us what values we cherish — and they’re the opposite of his.  My dad, a war veteran and decorated police hero, used to divide men into men and 'weasels.'  When Trump buoyed the Ku Klux Klan and the neo-Nazis who had marched in Charlottesville with Tiki torches, Confederate flags, Nazi slogans, swastikas and banners reading 'Jews will not replace us' — even as one of their leaders told a Vice News reporter how disgusting it was that Trump's 'beautiful' blond daughter was married to a Jewish man — the president made it clear which category he is in."

Multiple-Choice Exam
After an anti-racist protester is killed, is it accurate, appropriate, ethical, logical, or even human to describe neo-Nazis and white nationalists who march to chants of "Jews will not replace us!" and "Blood and soil!" as "Very Fine People"?
A.  No
B.  WTF?  Do we really need to ask this question in 2017?
D.  Fuck No!  Fuck, fuckityfuckfuckfuck no
The Goldwater Rule and a Reverse Godwin's Law?
"...the kind of behavior on blatant display at Tuesday’s news conference ... has convinced many psychiatrists, both professional and armchair, that our current president's seat back and tray table are not in the fully upright and locked positions. The decades of flatly false, easily refutable claims that have characterized Trump's business and political life have been multiplied geometrically by what’s at stake when Trump isn’t just talking up a building, but rebranding neo-Nazis and racists as upstanding citizens with legitimate concerns. In the mental-health community, concern has reached the point that there's a serious debate about whether to abandon the longstanding rule that professionals are not to offer judgments about people they have not personally treated." 
Jeff Greenfield (2017).  "When Aides Worry Their President is Unhinged."  Politico, August 15.

The Paranoid Style in American Politics!

Artificial Intelligence vs. Natural Stupidity
1.  "This world ... I think  there may be something wrong in this world, something hiding underneath.  Either that, or there's something wrong with me.  I may be losing my mind."
Dolores, Westworld, "Dissonance Theory," Season 1, Episode 4
2.  "The U.S. Secretary of State -- no, not Jared Kushner, the other one, Rex Tillerson -- hastened to put out a statement to the effect that [Trump] didn't really mean what he said ("Americans should sleep well at night"), but he needn't have bothered.  Nobody believes a word this president says, least of all the North Koreans, who responded to Trump's threat by promptly issuing another threat, this time to incinerate Guam.  Bluff:  called."
Andrew Coyne (2017).  "Why it Matters Who's in the Oval Office."  National Post, August 10, NP1, NP5, quote from NP1.
What the Fuckology, Glorious Capitalist Predators Edition
"The Chinese students in Canada were initially contacted through an automated phone message urging them to call Chinese officials after being told their personal information had been compromised, and they were now associated to crimes in China. The suspects then coerce the victims into a series of actions. If they don’t cooperate, they are told their families back in China will be harmed.  Simultaneously, the parents are contacted by the suspects who convince them that their family members are being held against their will, which leads to a demand for money.  In each case, the suspects falsely claim to be Chinese government officials. Investigators were also told the callers used language typical of someone working within the Chinese government.  The Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China wants Chinese students in Vancouver to know that, should any Chinese citizens be involved in any legal cases in China, the relevant legal documents will be mailed to them directly from Chinese diplomatic missions. No phone call will be made to verify any personal information, especially the personal banking information, the consulate says."


"Like many of London's Muslims, Mohammed Abdullah grew tired of defending himself, and his religion, after Islamic terrorists carried out two attacks in the city and another in Manchester during the past three months.  Hostile glances followed him on the street, and rising fury greeted him on social media.  Then came last week's devastating fire at Grenfell Tower, a citywide tragedy that killed at least 79 people inside the 24-story tower, including many Muslims.  'Good riddance,' one far-right forum commented.  But early Monday, a white British man rammed a rental van into a congregation of Muslims leaving prayers during Ramadan, the holiest month on the Muslim calendar.  One person was killed and at least 10 were injured.  'It feels like you're under siege,' said Mr. Abdullah, 23, a law student standing outside Finsbury Park Mosque in North London on Monday morning hours after the attack.  'I wonder,' he said, 'is anyone going to write about a 'white Christian terrorist' this time round?'" Katrin Bennhold (2017).  "An Attack on Muslims Shakes a Proudly Cosmopolitan London."  New York Times, June 20, A1, A7, quote from p. A1.
We returned from Winnipeg just a few weeks ago.  Now we learn that Jimmy Carter, who is almost 93, was hospitalized as a precaution after working on a Habitat for Humanity home in Winnipeg.  Now, think:  a few decades from now, what do you think former President Donald Trump will be doing?  I think it's a good bet -- perhaps at one of the Vegas casinos of the Republicans' new finance chairman Steve Wynn -- that The Donald will be as far away as possible from anything kind, generous, or selfless like Habitat for Humanity.  Sad!
The Trans-Canada Highway is the fourth longest highway in the world, and the world's first highway to come out as trans...
This Hour Has 22 Minutes, July 1, 2017
"Bill Kristol, a conservative commentator and editor at large of the Weekly Standard, tweeted: 'Dear @realDonaldTrump, You are a pig. Sincerely, Bill Kristol.'" Jenna Johnson (2017).  "President Trump Angrily Lashes Out at 'Morning Joe' Hosts on Twitter."  Washington Post, June 29.
"Mr. Trump can tweet about his victory all he wants. The truth is that the Supreme Court has kept part of the injunctions against the travel ban in place, suggesting that it was likely that the president of the United States enacted an illegal policy as his signature initiative. We have a Constitution that prohibits policy based on prejudice. And we have a president who, in his indifference to the Constitution and the rights it protects, signed an executive order that violates that basic value."
Corey Brettschneider (2017).  "Your Travel Ban Isn't Safe Yet, Mr. Trump."  New York Times, June 27.

"There is no need to fear or hope, but only to look for new weapons." 
Gilles Deleuze (1992).  "Postscript on the Societies of Control."  October, Vol. 59, 3-7.
After a long itinerary of geographical expeditions and family times in various parts of the world, we're finally back home.  The last leg of the trip was 4,500 kilometers of driving from Manitoba, through the Dakotas to Wyoming, and then across Montana, Washington, and BC.  As we passed through Montana we looked and read and reflected, sometimes in insurgent and radically free ways, but at no point did our actions begin to resemble those of the species that is now classified as a threat in Republican America:  "journalist."  So we were safe from Greg Gianforte, the Republican candidate who body-slammed a Guardian reporter hours before the polls opened for a Congressional election to replace Ryan Zinke.  Gianforte won that election, and then subsequently pled guilty to a charge of misdemeanor assault.


Welcome to America

"Mat Dos Santos, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, was giving a television interview about the attacks last week when a man stood behind him performing a Nazi salute. 'Did an interview with Al Jazeera in downtown Portland this morning and man walks up and starts doing the Nazi salute behind me on camera,' he tweeted. 'The interview was on the rise of hate and Free Speech.'"
Leah Sottile (2017).  "Right-wing free speech rally draws massive counterprotests in Portland."  Washington Post, June 4.

"I’m a former staffer for UNITE HERE, a hospitality union. Last year, I worked on a campaign in a multiethnic, multiracial university cafeteria in Chicago. The campaign’s primary demands were for wage increases and healthcare, using the slogan 'Dignity and a Doctor.' Negotiations with the subcontractor had stalled, and strike preparations were under way. Pressures ran high. Workers were afraid. However, just as stories catalyzed resistance for Civil Rights leaders, stories anchored the worker organizing in our campaign. Though workers’ struggles with poverty wages and a lack of health coverage were crucial, one story stood out above the others. Workers continually shared stories that their Chinese colleagues were being abused for speaking Chinese on the shop floor. Managers would walk past, and upon hearing Chinese, they’d smack the speaker on the back of the head commanding the worker to 'speak English!'

Most of the workers were people of color, but the majority were not Chinese. The largest plurality in the workplace was made up of African-Americans, virtually all of whom only spoke English. But everyone could identify with the indignity of the story, the asymmetrical relations that empowered the bosses to abuse any one of them for any reason. Workers from a whole range of identities fought in solidarity with the Chinese workers. Discrimination on the basis of language became a central demand in the broader campaign. The campaign attached the specificity of the Chinese workers’ situation to all the workers’ common struggle against the boss. It was class struggle; not enough to overcome racism the world over, but a brief glimpse of solidarity across backgrounds and experiences, through acknowledging the shared indignity of class exploitation.

In the end, the workers won. As the campaign victories were listed, the excitement in the room was overwhelming, a type of energy that I’d only ever felt at a particularly intense church service or while attending a high-stakes game in a packed stadium. The organizer announced that healthcare had been won. We clapped. We celebrated as the wage increases were added up. But when the organizer revealed that the contract guaranteed the right to speak non-English languages in the workplace, the room erupted. The Black workers were palpably just as invested as the Chinese workers, and everyone was ecstatic."
R.L. Stephens (2017).  "The Birthmark of Damnation:  Ta-Nehisi Coates and the Black Body."  Viewpoint, May 17.
"When most people think of a cruise that is full of shit, they think of Carnival. But we think of Ted.”  Senator Al Franken's suggestion for Amy Kobuchar's joke planned for the Gridiron Club Dinner.  See Eric Garcia (2017).  "Franken Recalls Telling Cruz He was ‘Full of S---’ in New Book."  Rollcall, May 25. 
"The art of the deal devolved into the spectacle of the tantrum."
Frank Bruni (2017).  "Trump and Ryan Lose Big."  New York Times, March 24.
"One reason I’m increasingly suspicious is Trump’s furious denunciations of the press and of Barack Obama, to the point that he sometimes seems unhinged. Journalists have learned that when a leader goes berserk and unleashes tirades and threats at investigators, that’s when you’re getting close."  Nicholas Kristof (2017).  "Connecting Trump's Dots to Russia."  New York Times, March 9.
"Muslim extremists have accounted for 16 out of 240,000 murders in the United States since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001." Glenn Thrush (2017).  "Trump’s Revised Travel Ban Spares Iraqis."  New York Times, March 6.
"We are in the midst of a civilization-warping crisis of public trust."  Republican Senator Benn Sasse, Nebraska, responding to Trump's allegations that Obama tapped his communications.  See Michael D. Shear and Michael S. Schmidt (2017).  "Trump, Offering No Evidence, Says Obama Tapped His Phones."  New York Times, March 4.
“It’s totally uncharted territory. What we have is the incompetence of the Carter White house magnified, and the paranoia and loyalty fetish of the second term of the Nixon White House, combined and transmitted in real time through digital media. There are a few things that look historically familiar, but it’s all happening on steroids.”  Republican political consultant Mike Murphy, describing the first twenty-eight days of the Trump Administration.  Cited in Todd S. Purdum (2017).  "The Dizzying, Mesmerizing Trump Show."  Politico, February 16.

"Already the White House is back stabbing and dysfunctional. The National Security Council is in turmoil. Mussolini supposedly made the trains run on time, but this group couldn’t manage fascism in a phone booth."
David Brooks (2017).  "How Should One Resist the Trump Administration?"  New York Times, February 14.
February, 2017

After a horrific shooting at a mosque in Quebec committed by a young French Canadian, the right-wing propaganda machine at Fox News sent out a series of tweets alleging that the shooter had been "of Moroccan origin."  Justin Trudeau appealed directly to the President of Fox "News" to take down those false, deceptive, dangerous tweets.  Eventually the Fox Fuckers did indeed take down the tweet.  But now shift your thinking from the simplistic world of Newtonian celestial mechanics to our realities of Quantum Media Relativity.  Every day, on every issue, Fox can be out front with the latest conspiracy theory, for hours, for hundreds of thousands of tweets and shares and likes and retweets, until the lie rises to the level where a Prime Minister / President / CEO must ask, please, will you stop lying?  At long last, have you no decency?


The Dogs of War
"The new commander-in-chief relishes referring to 'Mad Dog' Mattis at every opportunity, even though the retired general does not like that nickname and insists it is no more than a media invention."
Michael R. Gordon, Helene Cooper, and Eric Schmitt (2017).  "Trump Will Call for a Pentagon Plan to Hit ISIS Harder, Officials Say."  New York Times, January 26.

“I don’t wish to die, but I do wish to work together with people so we can truly protect the homeland of this place they call the United States of America. Not only for our people but for the American people.”
Verlon M. Jose, the Vice Chairman of the Tohono O’odham Nation, in an interview with Native News Online, describing his reaction to Trump's plans for a border wall with Mexico.  Jose also had another way of reaction to the Gringorangutan's plans:  "Over my Dead Body."

"Donald Trump will, at long last, assume a mantle of dignity.


The capital has never been more anxious about its own government. The town is suffering pre-traumatic stress disorder. This guy is really going to be president."
Maureen Dowd (2017).  "White House Red Scare."  New York Times, January 7.

Spike Lee: I mean, we’re all looking upon the debris and trying to say, excuse my language, what the fuck? I mean, when I woke up that morning, the world is different. It’s a different world.

Bernie Sanders: It is a very different world. And it’s a very frightening world.  But we gotta get beyond that.

Spike Lee: The man has the nuclear codes.

Bernie Sanders: Yup.
From Emma Brockes (2016).  "Bernie Sanders Meets Spike Lee: 'Where Do We Go? Where is the Hope?'"  The Guardian, November 26.
"With new votes tallied from New Jersey, Illinois, Maryland and California, Mrs. Clinton’s popular vote lead reached 2,017,563 overnight, prompting new calls for an audit of voting machines in battleground states."  Clinton's margin in the popular vote, 1.5 points, is the largest for a losing candidate since the 1876 election...
New York Times, Transition Briefing, 23 November 2016
" he picks his cabinet from among his fawning loyalists, it is becoming clear that by 'Make America Great Again,' he actually meant some version of 'Make America a White, Racist, Misogynistic Patriarchy Again.' It would be hard to send a clearer message to women and minorities that this administration will be hostile to their interests than the cabinet he is assembling."
Charles M. Blow (2016).  "Trump:  Making America White Again."  New York Times, November 21.
"As far back as 1986, he joked that he thought the Ku Klux Klan “was okay until I found out they smoked pot,” according to the New York Times."  -- the textbook refutation of evolution, Neandertal Senator Jeff Sessions, Trump's announced nomination for Attorney General.  Cited from Christopher Ingraham (2016).  "Trump's Pick for Attorney General:  'Good People Don't Smoke Marijuana.'"  Washington Post, November 19.
"We cannot permit this invidious thinking, discredited by history at the cost of so much misery and suffering by innocents, to take root once again in America, let alone in the White House. The stigmatization, separation and labeling of our fellow humans based on race or religion has never led to a more secure world. But it has too often led to one where the most vulnerable pay the highest price.  The Constitution and the government exist in large measure to protect against the excesses of democracies. This is particularly salient when, in an atmosphere of fear or mistrust, one group is singled out and vilified, as Japanese Americans were during World War II and as Muslim Americans are today. How terrible it is to contemplate, once again, that the government itself might once more be the very instrument of terror and division. That cannot happen again. We cannot allow it." George Takei (2016).  "They Interned My Family.  Don't Let Them Do It to Muslims."  Washington Post, November 18.

"Pop Quiz: If Rudy Giuliani is nominated to a high post in the Trump administration, would you rather have the debate over his confirmation center on:  A) His millions and millions of dollars in speaking fees and work on behalf of everyone from Qatar to the maker of OxyContin.  B) The time he told reporters he was ditching his wife before he told his wife.  C) The fact that on 9/11 New York City had no emergency command center because Giuliani had insisted, over police objections, on putting it in the World Trade Center.  D) His increasing resemblance to a 100-year-old rabbit.  Admit it, you want to talk about D."
Gail Collins (2016).  "A Trumpian Silver Lining."  New York Times, November 17.
Welcome to TrumpLand
"A spokesman for a major super PAC backing Donald Trump said Wednesday that the mass internment of Japanese Americans during World War II was a 'precedent' for the president-elect's plans to create a registry for immigrants from Muslim countries. During an appearance on Megyn Kelly’s Fox News show, Carl Higbie said a registry proposal being discussed by Trump’s immigration advisers would be legal and would 'hold constitutional muster.' 'We've done it with Iran back awhile ago. We did it during World War II with the Japanese,' said Higbie, a former Navy SEAL and a spokesman for the pro-Trump Great America PAC."
Derek Hawkins (2016).  "Japanese American internment is ‘precedent’ for national Muslim registry, prominent Trump backer says."  Washington Post, Morning Mix, November 17.
Welcome to the ADHD American Empire of Narcissistic White Nationalism,
it's gonna be the greatest!
"The biggest frustration reported by Republicans who have met with Trump is his inability to focus for any period of time." 
Michael Gerson (2016).  "The Triumphant GOP is Mired in Crisis After Crisis."  Washington Post, November 14.
"It turns out that much of the political content Americans see on social media every day is not produced by human users. Rather, about one in every five election-related tweets from Sept. 16 to Oct. 21 was generated by computer software programs called 'social bots.'" 
Emilio Ferrara (2016).  "How Twitter Bots Affected the US Presidential Campaign."  The Conversation, November 8.   
"Hate crimes against Muslims spiked last year to their highest level in more than a decade — an increase that experts and advocates say was fueled by anger over terrorist attacks and anti-Islam rhetoric on the campaign trail.  'Whenever you have one of the nation's leading public figures in the person of Donald Trump mainstreaming and empowering Islamophobia in the nation, it's the inevitable result,'" said Ibrahim Hooper, with the Council on American-Islamic Relations.  Trump's campaign included loud declarations of his intent to order law enforcement officials to conduct surveillance at mosques -- a nationwide version of what the New York City Police Department did in its secret 'Demographics Unit' after September 11, 2011:  explicit ethnic and racial profiling of specific neighborhoods and surveillance outside mosques, restaurants, community centers, and other places associated with ethnoracially stereotyped communities.  Trump also called for a ban on Muslims immigrating to the United States.  The week before the election, an African American church in Mississippi was burned and spray-painted with the words "Vote Trump." 
Quotes and sources cited in Matt Zapotosky (2016).  "Hate Crimes Against Muslims Hit Highest Mark Since 2001."  Washington Post, November 15.

Only seconds after I posted the items above, Ibrahim Hooper distributed a press release on the latest frontiers of Trump's America:  "A few weeks ago, a disturbing note containing hostile messages and a cartoon of a Muslim girl holding an explosive, was left at the doorstop of an Iraqi refugee family settled in Dundalk, Md."  After CAIR called for an investigation of the incident, they received many calls, letters, and then gifts, fruit-baskets, and cards with messages welcoming the family to an America that, people repeatedly emphasized, Trump does not represent.  "Many refugees and other vulnerable communities feel uncertain and fearful in this tumultuous post-election political climate," said CAIR Maryland Outreach Manager Dr. Zainab Chaudry. "Thanks to the compassion of countless strangers, this family's troubling ordeal finally has a positive outcome. In increasingly uncertain times, their kind actions reflect America's true ideals."  From CAIR Press release, November 15, 2016.

Reasons to Avoid Twitter, Volume 468:
"It's a modern form of communication ... it's where it's at!"
Donald J. Trump, 60 Minutes Interview, 13 November 2016

"...Americans handed the U.S. presidency to a racist, xenophobic, authoritarian, climate-science-denying, misogynistic, revenge-obsessed ego-maniac — and with it control over a vast and all-too-unaccountable intelligence apparatus; and in a speech less than three weeks ago, Trump promised to sue all of the women who have come forward with sexual assault accusations against him.  Trump has repeatedly shown utter disrespect for the rule of law. He doesn’t believe in freedom of religion. He advocates torture. He has said he’ll instruct his Justice Department to investigate Black Lives Matter activists, and it’s likely he’ll appoint Rudy Giuliani, of New York City’s racist and unconstitutional 'stop-and-frisk' fame, as his attorney general to do the investigating. The New York Times also reports that 'Mr. Trump still privately muses about all the ways he will punish his enemies after Election Day.'  Thanks to 16 years of relentless and illegal expansion of executive power under Presidents Bush and Obama, Trump is about to have more tools of surveillance at his disposal than any tyrant ever has. Those preparing for the long fight ahead must protect themselves, even if doing so can be technically complicated."
"In a very real sense we are shipwrecked passengers on a doomed planet.  Yet even in a shipwreck, human decencies and human values do not necessarily vanish, and we must make the most of them.  We shall go down, but let it be in a manner to which we may look forward as worthy of our dignity."
Norbert Wiener (1954).  The Human Use of Human Beings:  Cybernetics and Society.  New York:  Plenum Publishing / Da Capo, p. 40.
"The election of Donald Trump has emboldened the forces of hate and bigotry in America.  White nationalists, Vladimir Putin and ISIS are celebrating Donald Trump’s victory, while innocent, law-abiding Americans are wracked with fear — especially African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, Muslim Americans, L.G.B.T. Americans and Asian-Americans. Watching white nationalists celebrate while innocent Americans cry tears of fear does not feel like America."
--retiring Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), Press Release, 11 November 2016.  Washington, DC:  Senate of the United States, Office of the Minority Leader.

"The G.O.P.’s gender grudge feeds on its own defeat. As the culture moves further away from the conservative ideal — as women gain freedoms, minorities assert rights, same-sex marriage proves commonplace — the monster’s howls grow louder. But the howls say nothing new. This election is the decisive battle in a Thirty Years’ War."
Susan Faludi (2016).  "How Hilary Clinton Met Satan."  New York Times, October 29.

"He can still recall the thrill of a newspaper mentioning his name for the first time, as a high school baseball player whose performance had clinched his team's victory. ... He was hooked. But it was not enough for Mr. Trump to become an object of media fascination. He took pleasure in knowing that such coverage was denied to almost everybody else. When Mr. D'Antonio [the interviewer] said that it was exciting for anybody to be mentioned in a newspaper, a seemingly wounded Mr. Trump interrupted to explain why his experience was special. 'Well, most people aren't in print, though. Don't forget. How many people are in print?' he asked. 'Nobody's in print.'  Mr. Trump refused to let the subject go, emphasizing over and over how unique it was that he had been mentioned in the newspaper."  Michael Barbaro (2016).  "What Drives Donald Trump? Fear of Losing Status, Tapes Show."  New York Times, October 25.
"To paraphrase Henry Adams, the movement from George H.W. Bush to Donald Trump disproves Darwin."
John Meacham, CBS News Face the Nation, October 16, 2016.
"The 70-year-old swaggering Republican nominee always seemed like he was caught in a 1959 time warp, bragging to Frank Sinatra in a Vegas steam room about 'broads' and 'skirts.'  But the raft of accusations of sexual assault, trespass kissing, surprising disrobed women and teenagers in beauty contest changing rooms, and agreeing with Howard Stern that the 23-year-old Ivanka was 'a piece of ass,' have added a sicker aspect to the cave man image."  Maureen Dowd (2016).  "Michelle Schools Donald Trump."  The New York Times, October 15.
"Trump is a marvelously efficient acid bath, stripping away his supporters' surfaces, exposing their skeletal essences. Consider Mike Pence, a favorite of what Republicans devoutly praise as America's 'faith community.' Some of its representatives, their crucifixes glittering in the television lights, are still earnestly explaining the urgency of giving to Trump, who agreed that his daughter is 'a piece of ass,' the task of improving America's coarsened culture."  George Will (2016).  "Donald Trump is the GOP's Chemotherapy."  Washington Post, October 10.
"History in its day to day is not a morality play. But sometimes there is a clear chastisement, a moment when the judgments of providence seem stark. And so it may be for the men who led the Republican Party into its Trumpian inferno."
Ross Douthat (2016).  "The Republican Inferno."  New York Times, October 12.
"You and your work have ignited a spark within the region of my brain where curiosity and interest lie and within my heart where hope lives. I want to follow you. Not like a crazed fan, but like someone who knows you just might be the one who discovers the cure for LBD and other brain diseases."  Susan Schneider Williams (2016).  "The Terrorist Inside My Husband's Brain."  Neurology, 27 September.
How to Kill Creativity
"Most people who work in corporations or academia have witnessed something like the following:  A number of engineers are sitting together in a room, bouncing ideas off each other.  Out of the discussion emerges a new concept that seems promising.  Then some laptop-wielding person in the corner, having performed a quick Google search, announces that this 'new' idea is, in fact, an old one; it -- or at least something vaguely similar -- has already been tried.  Either it failed, or it succeeded.  If it failed, then no manager who wants to keep his or her job will approve spending money trying to revive it.  If it succeeded, then it's patented and entry to the market is presumed to be unattainable, since the first people who thought of it will have 'first-mover advantage' and will have created 'barriers to entry.' The number of seemingly promising ideas that have been crushed in this way must number in the millions."-- Neal Stephenson (2011).  "Innovation Starvation." World Policy Journal, Fall, 11-16, cited in David Graeber (2015).  The Utopia of Rules:  On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy.  London:  Melville House, p. 137.
"As one trained psychiatrist said to me, compare Donald Trump’s speaking patterns to a Robin Williams monologue, but with insults instead of jokes."  -- David Brooks (2016).  "Trump's Enablers Will Finally Have to Take a Stand."  New York Times, August 5.
"Donald Trump, you are asking Americans to trust you with their future.  Let me ask you, have you even read the United States Constitution?  I will gladly lend you my copy...Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery?  Go look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending the United States of America.  You will see all faiths, genders, and ethnicities."
Khizr Khan, father of Muslim U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan killed in action in Iraq and posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart, speaking at the Democratic National Convention, Philadelphia, July 2016
'After three nights of watching the Republican Convention, it is great to be here with my gay, Black, communist panel..."
Bill Maher, Real Time, Republican National Convention Edition, July 20, 2016

What the Fuckology
Enigmatic Mystery Tour, Episode 497
"Oxford researchers say 15 percent of the 314,000 accounts that tweeted about the vote June 5-12 were heavily or entirely automated.  While pro-EU tweets saw a higher rate of automation than pro-Brexit tweets did, the two most prolific accounts on both sides of the debate seem to be entirely automated."
National Post, June 28, 2016, p. A2

"When I heard about the Pulse nightclub massacre on Sunday morning, I immediately wanted to be in a gay bar demonstrating solidarity. But almost as quickly thought: "Wait, I'm Muslim — I'm also guilty of this horror." Wouldn't it have been terrific if my very first thought was instead: "Wait, I'm Muslim — I'm going to call all the local mosques to join me demonstrating our support and love for our LGBT community members." How far away can that day be? Not far, if only we stop consoling and instead start listening to stories from our gay brothers and sisters. We are not that different, and many of us, like myself, happen to belong to both communities."

--Malik Gillani (2016).  "How the Orlando Massacre Affected Me, a Man Who is Proudly Muslim and Gay."  New York Daily News, June 14.  Gillani is the co-founder, with his husband Jamil Khoury, of Chicago's Silk Road Rising.  The theater company presents plays written by Asian and Middle Eastern Americans.

""For many, many years, when I would say these things, other white people would call me names: 'Oh, you're a hatemonger, you're a Nazi, you're like Hitler,'" he confessed. "Now they come in and say, 'Oh, you're like Donald Trump.'William Johnson, the self-declared White Nationalist farmer who was nominated by the Donald Trump campaign as a delegate for the State of California. Josh Harkinson (2016).  "Trump Selects a White Nationalist Leader as a Delegate in California:  Meet William Johnson, head of the American Freedom Party."  Mother Jones, May 10.


Donald Trump = The Kentucky Derby
Anyone with, at long last, any sense of decency, must see the resemblance.  "I laughed, but he looked worried."  See the way Hunter S. Thompson warned the artist Ralph Steadman about what to look out for in America...
Hunter S. Thompson (1970).  "The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved."  Scanlon's Monthly 1(4), June.
The Social Media Selling of the President, 2016...?

"Combining modern-day fame and an age-old demagogy, [Trump] bypassed the ossified gatekeepers and appealed directly to voters through a constant Twitter stream that seemed interrupted only by television appearances.  In doing so, he seemed to grasp that a new twist on direct democracy was in the offing: that disaffected voters who tune out the traditional modes of political communication might be reachable through their smartphones, and Twitter messages or Reddits might be more relevant to those voters than the findings of a more scientific poll."  Patrick Healy and Jonathan Martin (2016).  "Republican Party Unravels Over Donald' Trump's Takeover."  New York Times, May 7.

"The 'mood of the nation,' ... was so overwhelmingly vengeful, greedy, bigoted, and blindly reactionary that no presidential candidate who even faintly reminded 'typical voters' of the fear & anxiety they'd felt during the constant 'social upheavals' of the 1960s had any chance at all of beating Nixon last year -- not even Ted Kennedy -- because the pendulum 'effect' that began with Nixon's slim victory in '68 was totally irreversible by 1972."  Hunter S. Thompson (1973).  Fear and Loathing:  On the Campaign Trail '72.  New York:  Grand Central Publishing, p. 442.

In 1998, my brother and I walked down the promenade in Hoboken, New Jersey.  Frank Sinatra had just died.  Every car that passed us had the windows rolled down, blasting out Sinatra at high volume.
And, now, a similar feeling from this:  Springsteen playing Purple Rain


April 13, 2016 Edition

Ted Cruz is running ads attacking New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio for a ten-percent increase in murders, and for ending stop-and-frisk "even where suspects are known to congregate."  Um, so where is this ISIS Intersection?  Cruz craziness puts New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton in a strange position.  Actually, Bratton tweets, murders have declined by twenty percent, and stop-and-frisk has not ended.  "Facts matter," he concludes.  Cruz allows Bratton to look rational and reasonable by comparison, and of course Cruz looks so much more reasonable next to Donald Trump.  Perhaps the species that the comedian Bill Maher calls the "potty-trained Republican" might very well be facing extinction.  But all the small-time right-wingers get to look so logical, so intelligent, so reasonable, so friendly compared to the emerging long national nightmare.  Because this is the same Bratton, we must remember, who was the midwife of Rudy Giuliani's racist revanchist urbanism that criminalized homelessness, blamed the 'squeegee men' for the collapse of Western civilization, and led directly to the regularized violence of killings like the forty-one shots fired at the unarmed Amadou Diallo on his front porchstep.


"As an ordinary faculty member, one of the masses charged with carrying out the university mission, I teach, do research, and carry out service to further the interests of my department and my university. In over 25 years of university life, with literally thousands of students taught, I have been content to carry out my lowly role, letting others carry on the big mission “up there” in the Halls of the Higher Administration.

But now …
I have lost my trust in those administrators.
I have lost my trust in the Board of Governors.
I have no trust in the presidential search committee, whose members include the same vigilantes. We can hardly expect a fair and just outcome in their hands.
Premier Clark, I ask you to do the right thing. Please, set this dismal process straight. Restore President Gupta to UBC, and quash those secret conspiracies. I want to maintain my trust in you."
--Jennifer Berdahl (2016).  "An Open Letter to Christy Clark."  Commentaria Blog, 1 February


“It was really weird. For example, my roommate has a boyfriend and he would come to stay over. Instead of telling [my roommate] directly, [the landlord would] tell us to tell her to not have him over, but she’d be really weird about it. She’d be like, ‘Be careful of him! He is an evil spirit!’”
-- Shermain Chua, an International Relations student at the University of British Columbia, describing her first rental experience in Vancouver, a five-bedroom 'shed' with four rommates in a building located on the University Endowment Lands.  Chua paid $500 Cdn. per month.  See Sruthi Tadepalli (2016).  "Misadventures in Vancouver's Housing Market."  The Ubyssey, April 5.

The full quote is worth reading, carefully, in context:
Third-year international relations student Shermaine Chua’s first rental experience was living in a five-bedroom 'shed' with four roommates for $500 a month in a property on the University Endowment Lands.

In exchange for the cheap rent and the convenient accommodation, Chua forfeited the advantage of a contract.

'We never signed a contract because I think technically [the landlord] was having people live there illegally. That part of the endowment lands wasn’t supposed to be rented out,' said Chua. 'We thought it was kind of weird — and obviously illegal and sketchy — but it was okay just because the rent was so cheap.'

For the most part, Chua said the experience was bearable and the problems felt small, but over time they added up.
Edward R. Murrow is crying
"Well, as Ron Burgundy would say, 'that escalated quickly.'"  -- Chuck Todd, introducing an interview with Donald Trump by referring to a debate spat with Jeb Bush, February 2016.  Ever deeper into the depths of disappearing journalistic integrity in the twitterized infoedutainment society...
"The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil."

Planetary Spatial Fix, On the Edge of Collapse
"China’s financial sector will have loans and other financial assets of $30 trillion at the end of this year, up from $9 trillion seven years ago, said Charlene Chu, an analyst in Hong Kong for Autonomous Research.  'The world has never seen credit growth of this magnitude over a such short time,' she said in an email. 'We believe it has directly or indirectly impacted nearly every asset price in the world, which is why the market is so jittery about the idea that credit problems in China could unravel.'"
Peter Eavis (2016).  "Toxic Loans Around the World Weigh on Global Growth."  New York Times, February 3.

The Evolution of Revolution Continues...
"Medicare for all!"
Bernie Sanders' first words after regaining consciousness after an operation, November 2015.
Artificial Intelligence and the (non) Virtual Realities of Harvesting Money from the Attention Spans of Billions of Persons on the Planet
"Founder and chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg had $2.4 billion US added to his fortune in the first 15 minutes of trading on Thursday, giving him a net worth of $47.8 billion US.  He is the eighth-wealthiest person on the planet, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.  Facebook has been working to improve the quality -- and therefore the price -- of ads as Zuckerberg invests in newer initiatives, from WhatsApp to scientific projects such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence."  Sarah Frier and Brendan Coffey (2015).  "Facebook Hits Stock Record as it Exceeds Ad Estimates."  Bloomberg, via the Vancouver Sun, 6 November, D2.
"Camelot has come to Canada. For a moment at least, the duller part of North America looks sexier than its overweening cousin to the south."
Roger Cohen (2015).  "Camelot Comes to Canada."  New York Times, October 22.
"I read everything I could about the C.I.A. and the bipolar condition, which was a strange syllabus."
Claire Danes, describing her preparation for her starring role in Homeland.  Quoted in Philip Galanes (2015).  "‘Homeland’ Times Two: Claire Danes and Jeh Johnson."  New York Times, October 17.
"You just melted the Internet!"
Chuck Todd and David Brooks, after Brooks spits out "Donald Blowhard" when he presumably meant to say "blowhards like Donald Trump," and everyone knew (or hoped) that they'd soon be trending in the twittersphere...
Meet the Press, September 13, 2015

See this and then this
Fun fact:  singer-songwriter Tony Turner majored in Geography at the University of Alberta!

"I have never in my life felt more institutional pressure to be silent ... As someone whose first faculty appointment was where the free speech movement began -- the University of California, Berkeley -- I am simply stunned by this behaviour on the part of the leadership of this university.  I have never felt more gagged or threatened after expressing scholarly viewpoints and analysis of current events."  Jennifer Berdahl, the Montalbano Professor of Leadership Studies at UBC's Sauder School of Business -- referring to the phone calls she received from John Montalbano, Chair of the Board of Governors, after Berdahl wrote an essay reflecting on the possible reasons for Arvind Gupta's resignation.  Montalbano, affiliated with RBC Wealth Management, provided the funds for Berdahl's faculty position.  Quoted in Tracy Sherlock (2015).  "Allegations Swirl After President's Departure."  Vancouver Sun, August 18, p. A4.

"...the hologram took the stage around 10:30 p.m. Hammond police shut down the show about a minute later."
"Nobody wanted to seriously crack down on these insane practices because nobody among the regulators wanted to be the one to end the bubble."  These words could have described the wild rage for stocks bought on margin in the 1920s, or the hostile-takeover-and-leveraged-buyout binge portrayed in Oliver Stone's Wall Street (the 1980s version, or the zombie 'Money Never Sleeps' remake), or the predatory lending binge that Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke were warned about, repeatedly, from the late 1990s up to the market crash of 2008.  But these words are actually describing Beijing's sudden crisis of capital and credibility in the summer of 2015, in the analysis of Victor Shih, a political scientist at UC-San Diego who specializes in finance and policy in China.  Party officials encouraged everyone to invest, Shih emphasizes, creating "a lot of political pressure, especially among the securities regulators, to not end the party by too much regulator oversight."  At the peak of the mania, a commentary on the People's Daily website aggressively dismissed the possibility of a stock-market bubble, and praised the unbounded possibilities of the common stock 'A shares' traded on the Shanghai and Shenzhen exchanges.  "If A Shares are seen as the bearers of the Chinese dream, then they contain massive investment opportunities," the People's Daily analyst wrote, in words that should now remind us of Greenspan's homilies to de-regulatory financial innovation, or Hank Paulson's request for Congress to give him a "bazooka" to fight off investor panic in the summer of 2008. (All quotes are from Edward Wong and Chris Buckley [2015).  "Credibility of China's Leaders Takes a Hit Along With Markets."  New York Times, July 9.)


1929 with Chinese Characteristics?
"A statement by the Securities Association of China on Saturday to its members was an odd mix of capitalist and Maoist rhetoric urging them to take collective action to help the stock market. 'Excessively rapid rises and falls in the stock market are not conducive to the stable and healthy development of the market,' the statement said, 'and as major players in this market, securities companies must take the initiative to shoulder responsibility, to unify as one, merge our wills and safeguard market stability with all our strength.'"
Keith Bradsher and Chris Buckley (2015).  "China Moves to Stabilize Stock Markets; Initial Offerings Halted."  New York Times, July 4.  The Shanghai stock market has fallen about a third in the last three weeks...
June, 2015
"The history of marriage is one of both continuity and change.  Changes, such as the decline of arranged marriages and the abandonment of the law of coverture, have worked deep transformations in the structure of marriage, affecting aspects of marriage once viewed as essential. These new insights have strengthened, not weakened, the institution. Changed understandings of marriage are characteristic of a Nation where new dimensions of freedom become apparent to new generations."  Justice Kennedy, Majority Opinion, Obergefell v. Hodges, June 2015.

"In the post-employment economy, is self-respect something we can afford? Or is it another devalued commodity we are expected to give away?"

"’s the Walkerian vision for American higher education, one already past infancy: a fully corporatized 'university,' staffed by armies of temps. It won’t matter that most of the senior faculty are long dead; they’ll still be lumbering around as digital zombies in the online courses that both ensured their obsolescence and preserved their legacy. (A MOOC will never whine for tenure!)."

Frontiers of Algorithmic Human Optimization
"If we used all our technology resources, said Aneesh Chopra, former chief technology officer of the United States, we could actually give people 'personalized recommendations for every step of your life — at every step of your life.'"
Thomas Friedman (2015).  "How to Beat the Bots."  New York Times, June 10.
Metaphysical Spam
"There is No More Time."
"The market economy was incorporated into the party-state, along the way losing the characteristics of truly free choice and competition." A fitting description for the coercive authoritarian capitalism of the United States, or the PRC, or any number of other growth frontiers of today's planetary accumulation by dispossession.
"And whenever anyone wonders online if the government is pocketing the money for themselves, they get sued."  -- Amos Yee.

"The changes we made last week ensure the level of engagement and passion for Facebook," explained Carolyn Everson, the firm's vice-president of global marketing solutions; "It's moved from a place where people would post their updates to a place that literally is a container of their lives."
Now consider that this quote comes from (gasp!) the long-ago forgotten era of two thousand eleven, and that Facebook now has about half a billion more users (i.e., containers of lives).  Chris Sorensen (2011).  "Caught in the Net."  Maclean's, October 10, 42-43, quote from p. 42.

"The man literally created a form, on his website, for strangers to acknowledge his damn existence. For Redditors, gamergaters, and Deadspin commenters to tell him how to live. This is the measure of our failure to hear what Dave has been trying to tell us."
Chicago, "a hell of a poor place to be if you were broke, but the best burg of the lot while your jack lasted.  I had never been out of my home county, and I longed to see this dazzling world of the big cities, which I visualized as being a sort of gigantic street carnival running full blast the whole year round.  Kansas," the hoboes "assured us, was the anal orifice of civilization.  I was too awed to defend my native state, but more than ever curious to see beyond the horizon."
Carroll D. Clark (1928).  "My 'Newspaper Life History.'"  Term paper submitted for Robert E. Park's course on the Newspaper, Fall term.  Box 2A, Folder 8.  Chicago:  Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.
Camilla Bassi's brilliant and powerful challenge to the generational sell-out of a once-critical geographical imagination...
Tis the Season for Letters of Recommendation

I.  Am.  In.  Awe.  More than a few years ago, I wrote a letter of recommendation for a student who was (and still is) orders of magnitude smarter than I, better than I.  Here is a very short excerpt: "I was greatly impressed with Ella's research.  She read widely and carefully.  She had an eye for especially thorny questions, and never shied away from them; she pursued leads aggressively, with the spirit of an investigative reporter and the seasoned caution of a senior scholar.  And in all of her work, she was motivated by a passionate commitment to genuine understanding in the pursuit of social justice."  Now, a decade later, we learn the full measure of Ella Watson-Stryker's  commitment to social justice and human life in the face of everything that threatens humanity, compassion, and understanding.  Ella is one of the "Ebola Fighters" chosen as Time Magazine's "Person of the Year" for 2014.  See this from Rutgers' public affairs office, and then read Ella's reflections on her work with Doctors Without Borders / Médecins Sans Frontières here.  Test your humanity by reading Ella's essay while timing how long it takes for tears to cascade upon whatever device is delivering these words to your brain, to your heart.  My keyboard was drenched ten seconds in.  Yet Ella also gives us hope and purpose: "... I’m doing it because if I wasn’t here on the ground doing my job, I would be in the U.S. reading newspapers and saying, 'Someone needs to be doing something.' For me it’s better to be here trying than to have that sense of helplessness at home. In Liberia people say this is a man-made virus. And it’s not a man-made virus. But the disaster that the virus has created is man-made. It’s something we have chosen as humanity to allow to happen."  Ella Watson-Stryker / Aryn Baker (2014).  "The Caregivers:  The Ebola Fighters in Their Own Words."  Time, Person of the Year.  December 10.

"My Mission Playground"
Gordon Winiemko's exhibition on the inequalities and moral rent gaps of San Francisco's turbocharged gentrification machine.

Robert Park's Cognitive Darwinism
Clay Shirky's "hive mind"
"I’m in talks with investors right now, and I think we’ve already got the deal set up,” he said. “Basically I’m building a crowd-sourced, crowd-funded media company that is going to take all the people like me — autistics, researchers, nerds, ex-law enforcement, whistle-blowers — and we’re going to give them an opportunity to make money on the information that they have.”
David Carr (2014).  "Sowing Mayhem, One Click at a Time."  New York Times, December 14, describing Charles C. Johnson, the "troll on steroids."  Carr's final words should stop your head and your heart, and will explain why there is no hyperlink to this citation.  Here's what Carr wrote:  "My worry is that people who have made it this far in the column will click over to GotNews to see what all the fuss is about.  What they will find is a clear look into the molten core of a certain mind-set, a place where conspiracies are legion, victims are portrayed as perpetrators and so-called news is a fig leaf on a far darker art."
America the Beautiful
America the Rehydrated Asshole?
"At least five CIA detainees were subjected to 'rectal rehydration' or rectal feeding without documented medical necessity. The CIA placed detainees in ice water 'baths.' The CIA led several detainees to believe they would never be allowed to leave CIA custody alive, suggesting to one detainee that he would only leave in a coffin-shaped box. One interrogator told another detainee that he would never go to court, because 'we can never let the world know what I have done to you.'  CIA officers also threatened at least three detainees with harm to their families— to include threats to harm the children of a detainee, threats to sexually abuse the mother of a detainee, and a threat to 'cut [a detainee's] mother's throat.'"

U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (2014).  Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency's Detention and Interrogation Program, Findings and Conclusions, Executive Summary.  Approved December 13, 2012, declassified revisions released December 3 2014.  Washington, DC:  U.S. Senate, p. 3.
The Latest Frontiers of Postpositivist Right-Wing Postindustrial Manufacturing of Consent: 
now, the only way to definitively ascertain the illegality of torture is to issue a Presidential pardon to torturers!
"In the end, neoliberalism is an economic philosophy and political agenda that does not attempt to tackle the structural legacies of racism and settler colonialism, nor the geographic unevenness of capital accumulation, but exploits both for the benefit of a particular class of individuals."
Journalism, Liquidated
"It gets even more difficult to believe. Reporters are also among those now being asked to, um, deliver the newspaper.
People willing to rise early and deliver the paper on critical days would receive not cash, but gift cards. 'A full route — which averages about 500-600 newspapers — earns $150 in Visa gift cards,' a company memo read, adding, 'as a novice, sorting papers and delivering a route typically requires between 3-6 hours to complete.' The memo then suggested that employees bring 'a companion to help toss papers and navigate the route.' (When I read that, I ran a scenario in my mind in which I asked my spouse or children to get out of bed while it was still dark and help me deliver newspapers to support my journalism habit. It would not go well.)"
David Carr (2014).  "When the Forces of Media Disruption Hit Home."  The New York Times, 30 November.
"Ivy Meeropol has come to Washington to show a documentary (Heir to an Execution) she produced a decade ago in which she tries to reconcile her legacy with the timorousness of her relatives, and the reminiscences of an amusing cast of aged pinkos who shared Julius and Ethel's politics but not their voltaic fate."
Allen Abel (2014).  "A Tragically Nuclear Family."  The Vancouver Sun, November 29, B6.
"The revolt of Black America did not happen overnight.  It began with an unfulfilled promise."
John S. Adams (1972).  "The Geography of Riots and Civil Disorders in the 1960s."  Economic Geography 48(1), 24-42, quote from p. 24.

"I would be the first to say that I am still committed to militant, powerful, massive, non-violence as the most potent weapon in grappling with the problem from a direct action point of view. I'm absolutely convinced that a riot merely intensifies the fears of the white community while relieving the guilt. And I feel that we must always work with an effective, powerful weapon and method that brings about tangible results. But it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the negro poor has worsened over the last twelve or fifteen years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity."

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  (1968).  "The Other America."  Speech at Grosse Pointe High School, March 14, redistributed via Grosse Pointe Historical Society.
Last Day of Classes!
...the Sunday Morning DC news shows, what Gore Vidal famously called the "sabbath gasbags," continue the long march to the shoutoutization of political discourse.  Chuck Todd ain't no Tim Russert.  But with thugs like Rudy as guests, we desperately need figures like Dyson who can speak and shout truth to power...!
"For years, I slogged through the dark and rain and knocked on doors to ask people to donate to some guy's salary?  Are you kidding me?  I'm done volunteering so some executive can buy a bigger house, more cars, and luxurious vacations ...."
Kathryn Willcock, responding to revelations that the B.C. Cancer Foundation committed $75,000 annually from charitable donations to augment the pay package for Dr. Max Coppes, described as a "dream candidate" recruited as CEO of the BC Cancer Agency, at a total salary of $636,000 per year.  Coppes recently departed amidst widespread allegations of mismanagement and "dysfunction" at the agency.  Pamela Fayerman (2014).  "Minister Questions Use of Donations to Pay CEO."  Vancouver Sun, November 26, p. A4.


"Right now, I think we need writers who know the difference between the production of a market commodity and the practice of an art. Developing written material to suit sales strategies in order to maximize corporate profit and advertising revenue is not quite the same thing as responsible book publishing or authorship. ...Yet I see sales departments given control over editorial; I see my own publishers in a silly panic of ignorance and greed, charging public libraries for an ebook six or seven times more than they charge customers. We just saw a profiteer try to punish a publisher for disobedience and writers threatened by corporate fatwa, and I see a lot of us, the producers who write the books, and make the books, accepting this. Letting commodity profiteers sell us like deodorant, and tell us what to publish and what to write. ... Books, you know, they’re not just commodities. The profit motive often is in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art—the art of words."


"It is validating the education inside McDonald's," says Ray Romard, the director of "people resources" for McDonald's Restaurants of Canada, Western region, referring to the 60 managers enrolled in a British Columbia Institute of Technology business management course that 'gives credit for work experience already gained.'  Joanne Lee-Young (2014).  "Companies Big and Small Tap into BCIT's Marketing Expertise."  Vancouver Sun, November 20, D1.

"The banking industry bought everything; they even bought their own facts. The industry commissioned three different studies, each of which was touted as 'independent.'  Each explained the urgent need to change the law -- exactly the way the banking industry wanted it changed.  One particularly damaging result of these bogus studies was a claim that bankruptcy cost every hardworking, bill-paying American family a $550 'hidden tax.'  The number was entirely made up, fabricated out of thin air, but the press reported it as 'fact' for years.
This one hit me hard.  I'd spent nearly twenty years sweating over every detail in a string of serious academic studies, agonizing over sample sizes and statistical significance to make certain that whatever I reported was exactly right.  Now the banks just wrote a check, commissioned a friendly study, and purchased their own facts.  Then they had their press people distribute the facts and lobbyists hand the facts to congressional staffers.   From the halls of Congress to the front pages of newspapers all over the country, these new 'facts' became reality."
Elizabeth Warren (2014).  A Fighting Chance.  New York:  Metropolitan Books, p. 65.
"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.

"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."
"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!"

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

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.
"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!
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."
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.

[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'?
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. 
What Would Werner Heisenberg Do ... on Facebook, or Twitter, or Whatsapp...?

"...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.

Ned Beatty's 1976 Network speech
thanks to Bob Lake for the reminder!


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

"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

"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."

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."

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."
Lady Gaga
Postmedia News (2013).  "Lady Gaga a Tortured Soul."  The Province, November 4, p. B2.

The Industrial City, Online Auction Edition
[thanks to Mark Davidson for the lead...]

The Human Right to Adequate Housing
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." 

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: [] On Behalf Of
Sent: September-06-13 2:33 PM
Cc: Gruter-Andrew, Oliver; Moffett, Pamela;;;
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


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<>. Updated information will be posted on our bulletins site at<> 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."

"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:

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"
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:

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

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 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.

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."

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.

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!

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."

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..."

Political Movember

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.

...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.

by Tom Slater

Tears on the keyboard

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."

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?"

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:

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." 

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?"

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

"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.]

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."

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...

by Markus Moos, Pablo Mendez, Liam McGuire, and other colleagues, part of Roger Keil's "Global Suburbanism" project ... and lil ole me too...

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."

"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

artistic subversions...  Thanks to Max Ritts for the recommendation!


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...?

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?"

Don't miss it!

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

"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!

"L.B.J. got to me, and after all these years, he still does."

"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."

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.

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." 

"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."

"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."

"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 
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 (

"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,
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.

Good Data, Good Politics.

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!

"...this reform had better survive — because if it doesn’t, many Americans who need health care won’t."
"You cannot ask the dead their opinion.", March 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/

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."

"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."

" 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!


"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.



-- 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:

African American

and then White women.

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."


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...

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...


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.
Right to Remain
Anti-gentrification graffiti in Phoenix, Arizona, February 2015 (image by Dana Martin; thanks to Dana and to Tom Howard!)
Delhi-Jaipur Expressway, February 2014 (Elvin Wyly)
Did I start a university and forget to tell myself? (Image:  Chicago, April 2015, by Jatinder Dhillon).
Princeton, BC, June 2015 (Elvin Wyly)
Thousands.  Millions.  To read about just one, see:
Jennifer Gonnerman (2015).  "Kalief Browder, 1993-2015."  The New Yorker, June 7.

"...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.


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...


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.
"A star is born. Geography, for so long a Cinderella subject, the easy option for students who found physics or chemistry too daunting, is soaring in popularity."
The Guardian (2015).  "The Guardian View on Geography:  It's the Must-Have A-Level."  The Guardian, 13 August.
"Harper flirted with libertarianism in his university days.  Naturally, this included a requisite phase of enchantment with the writings of Ayn Rand.  A fellow classmate recalls an undergraduate Harper showing up to on-campus architecture talks energized by The Fountainhead, Rand's novel about an individualistic architect hero.  Later, he said, the future prime minister would nurture dreams of going into city planning and then destroying it from the inside as a service to free enterprise."
Tristin Hopper (2015).  "The Private Side of Stephen Harper."  The National Post, via the Vancouver Sun, August 15, H1, H8, quote from p. H8.
"Consider the people and influences that enabled UBC to earn recognition as one of the top 40 research universities in the world.  We have built this success on a century of effort, on the brilliance of people like the Nobel Prize-winning Michael Smith, like geographer Derek Gregory, and like zoologist and biodiversity researcher Sally Otto."
Piper, Martha (2015).  "UBC Will Always Strive for Better."  Vancouver Sun, August 31, p. A12.

From an actual lawsuit filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals, October 2015.  (Pro-Football, Inc., v Amanda Blackhorse, et al., Case 15-1874, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit).  This is the appeal over the Washington Redskins' loss of legal trademark protection for their team name.
Our Long National Nightmare of Harper is Over
November, 2015
Random Archaeologies of Cartographic Knowledge, Scanned

While re-organizing the overstuffed rat's nest that my office is becoming, I finally figured out how to use one of the nice cubbyholes in an old desk that seems to date from the 1940s or 1950s.  I can't help but compare this durable beast, which I inherited some years ago from a left-in-the-hallway cleaning out of a retired colleague's office, with the ephemeral, light-footprint office furniture of today's increasingly mobile workforce.  This old-growth-forest piece of furniture has its histories.  We'll never know most of those histories.  But while threading the powercord to an oversized scanner through the back of that cubbyhole, I did find some curious tidbits.  A thick roll of overhead-projector-transparency film.  And then an overhead-transparency copy of a hand-drawn map of populations "based on returns from the Indian Department."  Author unknown.
Grading Papers, December 2015
Some impressive work; the world is safe in the hands of the next generation!
Capitalism, Cities, and Crisis
Skyping into a seminar with Mark Davidson and other brilliant colleagues at Clark University, February 2016
Brilliant Inspiration!

Johannes Haushofer's CV of failures.  It's a powerful critique of the culture of accelerating competition.  Academic life has become an endless competitive race to secure credentials -- and the process of taking formal credit hides all the failures we all have.  What's happening in academic life, of course, is also underway in every other domain.  Even childhood has become a socially-networked competition to display and curate the perfect life of experiences, friends, styles, and consumption preferences.
Algorithmic Frontiers of Planetary Spam

How have the email-harvesting spambots confused me with Michael Goldberg?  I've met him once, we had a spirited debate over the economics and politics of housing and urban land, and I teach a short segment of one of my classes based in part on a book he wrote a number of years ago.  But no human being would ever confuse our identities.  In the planetary world of constant spam, however, more and more of the words we humans write (including the words I am typing out here and now) are read by search robots and data-harvesting algorithms that adapt, evolve, and (if we accept  the most extreme extrapolations of the digerati) think quickly and efficiently.  Somehow, somewhere, an algorithm has decided that I am Dean Emeritus of the Sauder School.  Go figure.
The City as a Real Estate Growth Machine:  Millions and Multi-Millions
Data Source:  BC Assessment Data, with corrections and refinements courtesy of Andy Yan, Bing Thom Architects.
I've been trying to read a book, but the email floods in so fast it's hard to concentrate.  I'm trying to read Nick Bostrom (2014).  Superintelligence:  Paths, Dangers, Strategies.  Oxford:  Oxford University Press.  Even the acknowledgments are profound:  "The membrane that has surrounded the writing process has been fairly permeable.  Many concepts and ideas generated while working on the book have been allowed to seep out and have become part of a wider conversation; and, of course, numerous insights originating from the outside while the book was underway have been incorporated into the text." (p. ix). 

Here's the dilemma:  in the networked infrastructures of contemporary cognitive capitalism, the membrane that surrounds the writing process is now planetary.  In the age of the network society, cloud computing, and the 'Internet of Things' -- my Fitbit just sent me another email! -- the membrane dissolves.  And it's under siege by the spammers and robots -- who seem, increasingly, to be coalescing into one giant form of Artificial Stupidity in a Hegelian negation of the hopes and dreams of the AI explosion.

Today, the membrane of my writer's block is pierced by, um, a marriage invitation sent to a UBC faculty member that I met several years ago.  Who knows how the spambots have confused me with Michael Goldberg?

Damn, I should get back to writing.  Must.  Get.  The.  Fuck.  Away.  From.  Email.
Starbucks Bears, Macao S.A.R., P.R.C.
Um, I am ... Speechless.  Miami Beach, Florida, September 2016
Monserrate, Bogotá, September 2016
Santiago, Chile, October 2016
Santiago de Chile, October 2016
Panama City, Panama, September 2016
"Don't Have Facebook, My Life is Real"
Panama City, Panama, September 2016
Forrest Trump!
Valparaiso, Chile, October 2016
Communists Against Gender Violence!
Santiago de Chile, November 2016
'What's the Matter with Kansas?' redux.  This shall be our scream in, about, and against America in the Trumpnado.  Detail, from John Brown (1939), by John Steuart Curry (1897-1946).  "Curry depicted the freedom fighter in a dramatic landscape besieged by a tornado -- symbolic of the Bleeding Kansas crisis ... Brown's crazed expression suggests the messianic fervor and wrath that fueled his opposition to human bondage through armed rebellion."   From painting description by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York.
Newsstand headlines glimpsed in Puno, Peru, December 2016:
"Motherfucker, Trump Wins!  The entire planet was paralyzed after the choice of the businessman as the new president of the United States.  Will he fulfill his promises, many of them reckless?"
The Trumpian Pogroms Begin
January 27, 2017:  Donald J. Trump issues an Executive Order suspending entry of all refugees for 120 days, banning refugees from Syria indefinitely, and blocking entry for 90 days for citizens from (in addition to Syria) Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen.  A separate provision is explicitly designed to favor only Christian refugee claimants, imposing, for the first time, a religious test for immigration consideration.  Among the many stories of swift reactions, consider this one:  "Shortly after noon on Saturday, Hameed Khalid Darweesh, an interpreter who worked for more than a decade on behalf of the United States government in Iraq, was released. After nearly 19 hours of detention, Mr. Darweesh began to cry as he spoke to reporters, putting his hands behind his back and miming handcuffs. 'What I do for this country? They put the cuffs on,' Mr. Darweesh said. 'You know how many soldiers I touch by this hand?'"  After Darweesh was released, speaking to a small group protesting Trump's order at John F. Kennedy Airport, he "said the United States was the greatest country in the world."  "'This is the humanity, this is the soul of America,' he said, surrounded by reporters and a handful of protesters holding supportive signs. 'This is what pushed me to move, leave my country and come here.'"  Then Michael Moore wrote on Twitter, "Everybody in NYC area — head to JFK Terminal 4 NOW! Big anti-Trump protest forming out of nowhere!"  And the crowds came, the humanity, the soul of New York City, the soul of America, to question the soulless, callous, nationalist violence of Trump's America.

Republicans in Congress, still giddy with their party's full control of the executive and legislative infrastructures of American empire, have been mostly silent.  Chris Murphy, Democratic Senator from Connecticut, calls them out on this day that will live in infamy, at least until the Gringorangutan's next offensive and violent act...

Note that Section 10(iii) of Trump's Executive Order directs the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Attorney General to collect and disclose, inter alia, "information regarding the number and types of acts of gender-based violence against women" in the United States by foreign nationals.  Remember Trump's proud excuse for his remarks about "grabbing women by the pussy" as "locker-room talk," his boasts that because he has wealth and power he can stroll through the dressing rooms at the Miss Teen USA pageant to get a peek at the underage girls?

Note that Section 1 solemnly declares, "In order to protect Americans, the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles. The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law."  Trump's order, with his blatant assertions of a religious test for entry, is the very definition of a hostile attitude towards the founding principles of the United States.  In his explicit claims that anti-nepotism and anti-corruption laws cannot be applied to the President -- his now-famous channeling of Nixon's maxim, "When the President does it, that means it is not illegal" -- Trump has made it clear that he does not support the Constitution.  In his enthusiasm for torture -- "You bet your ass I would" approve waterboarding, he told a wild crowd -- Trump has proudly placed violent ideologies over American law.  Question:  Would I advocate a world of justice in which any Commander in Chief proposing torture would first be subjected to rectal rehydration procedures in order to "clear the person's head"?  You bet your ass I would!  Only then would The Donald deserve a "softer Mr. Rogers persona."

Sources:  Darweesh quotes from Michael D. Shear, Nicholas Kulish, and Alan Feuerjan (2017).  "Judge Blocks Trump Order on Refugees Amid Chaos and Outcry Worldwide."  New York Times, January 28, and Eli Rosenberg (2017).  "Protest Grows 'Out of Nowhere' at Kennedy Airport After Iraqis are Detained."  New York Times, January 28.  The Executive Order is Donald J. Trump (2017).  "PROTECTING THE NATION FROM FOREIGN TERRORIST ENTRY INTO THE UNITED STATES."  Executive Order.  Washington, DC:  Office of the Press Secretary, The White House.  Rectal rehydration details from U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (2014).  Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency's Detention and Interrogation Program.  Declassified Revisions as of December 3.

"Tima Kurdi, the aunt of two-year-old Alan Kurdi, who became a symbol of the Syrian refugee crisis when his lifeless body was photographed on a Turkish beach, is calling the U.S. ban on Syrian refugees inhumane. 'Imagine those children who have one hope, and have been waiting for years to get help. Now imagine them, the next thing you’re going to see is they’re dying,' she said in an interview from her home in B.C.  She said the U.S. has a responsibility to support refugees after having contributed to conflicts and supplying weapons to the Middle East, and this ban will only incite more fear within American borders.  'As a president, you don't teach your people to fear. Teach them how to be strong, teach them how to love so we don't create more hate,' she said.  Kurdi, who lives in British Columbia, said she’s proud that Canada has welcomed refugees and urged both individuals and the government to do everything they can to help more Syrians escape the war as the U.S. is no longer an option." Nicole Thompson (2017).  "Canadian dual citizens unaffected by U.S. ban on travel from 7 countries: Ottawa."  Canadian Press, January 29.
Oh, Fuck
Maybe we need to rethink the value of Geography after all.  From an account of the chaos inside the National Security Council of so-called President Donald J. Trump:

"And while Mr. Obama liked policy option papers that were three to six single-spaced pages, council staff members are now being told to keep papers to a single page, with lots of graphics and maps. 'The president likes maps,' one official said."
David E. Sanger, Eric Schmitt, and Peter Baker (2017).  "Turmoil at the National Security Council, from the Top Down."  New York Times, February 12.

No walls or borders, what we need instead is this (Madrid) and this (Granada)!
The Reich Man's got it right!  Publicly posted to Facebook, February 24, 2017.
Barcelona, March 2017
Florence, Italy, May 2017, not too far from where we presented a version of the Hedge City research as part of a conference on "Finance, Crisis, and the City:  Global Urbanism and the Great Recession."

Abolitionist Planning for Resistance in the Age of Trumpism
Ananya Roy's graduate students at the  Institute on Inequality and Democracy, University of California, Los Angeles
UBC Geography Students Association, expressions of Hope in a Dangerous Time.  Peace and joy and nonviolence always.  But in the Trumpian era of violence against the future of the planet and its increasingly diverse humanity, may we be forgiven for occasional fantasies of appropriate vengeance.  "I don't believe in guarded borders, and I don't believe in hate.  I don't believe in generals, or their stinking torture state."  This was Bruce Cockburn's manifesto against Reagan's wars in Central America in the 1980s; we need to update the poetic resistance for today's TrumpWorld.  Start writing your lyrics:  Where do You Find Your Hope?
Cognitive Cartographic Crisis
What happens when you take the science and art of "mental mapping" and apply it to American agnotology?  Can we map a vacuum?  Can we map the mind of misogyny, racism, greed, ignorance, arrogance, and vengeance?
(Public domain image via
"The fake media tried to stop us from going to the White House. But I’m president and they’re not."
*Gulp*...Yes! ... need to get to work on that syllabus, to work on speaking, thinking, reflecting, struggling, challenging...
Trip to Totality, 2017

August 21, with a good, friendly crowd on the south side of Madras, Oregon.  Two minutes of surreal totality, and then the bright sun re-appears.  Then lots and lots of traffic to escape to the coast...!
No escape from the faces...!
Florence, Italy
Above:  Voice of [Progressive] America, sampled from Anacortes, WA, and Baltimore, MD
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Wisdom from Baltimore's Graffiti Alley
December, 2017
Fucked Up America
Recreational Retail Violence
Sporting goods store, Wyoming, 2017
We're Number Four!
One of those academic 'league table' companies has ranked UBC Geography No. 4, behind Oxford, the London School of Economics, and Cambridge.
More cognitive-pollution spam
"We would like to have an eminent like you..."
Can't Touch This
"You are the person with significant experience in this discipline to deliver a speech of touchstones..."
Panama City, Panama
WTF Does publishing a short editorial in Housing Policy Debate have to do with expertise in Medical Imaging Process and Technology?
My own personal cognitive stack overflow.  Grading.  My brain go *boom*.  I've read every page, every word of this stack...
Another image from the archives:  San Diego, Broadway, U.S. Grant Hotel on the left, 1960.  Photograph by Robert S. Wyly.
Assassins vs. Zombies
Give Now or the Doggie Gets It!
If you think they're out to get you... perhaps you're not paranoid...
"She was not notified before they gained access to her information from the telecommunications companies. Among the records seized were those associated with her university email address from her undergraduate years."  Adam Goldman, Nicholas Fandos, and Katie Benner (2018).  "Ex-Senate Aide Charged in Leak Case Where Times Reporter’s Records Were Seized."  New York Times, June 7, 2018.

Psychopathic DC

Ryan Murphy, an economist at Southern Methodist University, has found a way of combining various social datasets to rank states and cities according to a scale of "psychopathic" behaviors and tendencies.  Washington, DC, scores as the most severe case.  "This, Murphy hypothesizes, is because psychopaths are attracted to the kinds of jobs Washington offers—jobs that reward raw ambition, a relentless single-mindedness and, let’s admit it, the willingness to step over a few bodies along the way. 'Psychopaths have an awfully grandiose way of thinking about themselves, and D.C. has numerous means of seeking and attaining power,' he wrote in an email. The television critics who dismissed Netflix’s 'House of Cards' as cartoonish and unrealistic—surely nobody could be that villainous— may have a few apologies to make. 'The presence of psychopaths in the District of Columbia is consistent with the conjecture … that psychopaths are likely to be effective in the political sphere,' Murphy writes in the paper."  Derek Robertson (2018).  "Washington, D.C.: the Psychopath Capital of America:  A new study ranks each state, plus D.C., by their psychopathic tendencies. The race for first? It isn’t even close."  Politico, June 23.

Symphony at Sunset, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, July 2018
"Identity politics needs to be more intersectional with class, and if it isn’t, it easily becomes yet another tool of capitalism."  --the playwright Young Jean Lee, 2018, in an email to the New York Times critic Parul Sehgal.
'He cares more about himself than the nation and any of us who serve it.' The diplomat continued: 'Either he's compromised by Putin or he's a pussy, in which case he should grab himself."
A currently-serving diplomat, commenting on Donald Trump's apparent willingness to turn over a former State Department official to Vladimir Putin.  See Spencer Ackerman (2018).  "U.S. Officials 'at a Fucking Loss' Over Latest Russia Sellout."  The Daily Beast, July 18.
"The denial of facts runs counter to democracy.  It could be its undoing."
Barack Obama, July 2018
"The Western world is sick.  The American society -- with the song of Christianity providing the white man with the illusion that what he has done to the black man is 'right' -- is as sick as Babylon."
Malcolm X, circa 1965, unpublished Chapter Nine of the Autobiography
Jennifer Schuessler (2018).  "Missing Pages From Malcolm X's Autobiography Turn Up at Auction."  New York Times, July 26.

Tear Down This Wall
And don't forget to pay your stunt-double
"The action-movie star Steven Seagal has played a former C.I.A. agent, a hit man and a killer of criminals. On Saturday, Russian officials tapped him for another role: special representative to improve relations between the United States and Russia.  The Russian Foreign Ministry announced the appointment on Facebook, saying his mission will include promoting 'relations between Russia and the United States in the humanitarian field, including cooperation in culture, arts, public and youth exchanges.'"
Melissa Gomez (2018).  "Steven Seagal Appointed by Russia as Special Envoy to the U.S."  New York Times, August 5.
"In her voice, we could hear our history, all of it and in every shade -- our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption, and our hard-won respect."  -- Statement by Barack and Michelle Obama, on the passing of Aretha Franklin, August 16, 2018.
Blockchain Cognitive-Capitalist Ponzi Scheme
"Let me be clear.  I would not have gotten into the Senate if it were not for Anita Hill."
Former California Senator Barbara Boxer, September 17, 2018, on MSNBC, describing her Senate career in light of the intersections of gender and power in Professor Anita Hill's testimony in the confirmation hearings for Justice Clarence Thomas.  See the recent coverage over Brett Kavanaugh's attempted rape.
"...the 2018 Senate Judiciary Committee must demonstrate a clear understanding that sexual violence is a social reality to which elected representatives must respond. A fair, neutral and well-thought-out course is the only way to approach Dr. Blasey and Judge Kavanaugh’s upcoming testimony. The details of what that process would look like should be guided by experts who have devoted their careers to understanding sexual violence. The job of the Senate Judiciary Committee is to serve as fact-finders, to better serve the American public, and the weight of the government should not be used to destroy the lives of witnesses who are called to testify.  Anita Hill (2018).  "How to Get the Kavanaugh Hearings Right."  New York Times, September 18.
"We live in a world where the president routinely attacks the F.B.I. because he fears its work. He calls for his enemies to be prosecuted and his friends freed. We also live in a world where a sitting federal judge channels the president by shouting attacks at the Senate committee considering his nomination and demanding to know if a respected senator has ever passed out from drinking. We live in a world where the president is an accused serial abuser of women, who was caught on tape bragging about his ability to assault women and now likens the accusations against his nominee to the many 'false' accusations against him.

Most disturbingly, we live in a world where millions of Republicans and their representatives think nearly everything in the previous paragraph is O.K."

James Comey (2018).  "The FBI Can Do This."  New York Times, September 30.
Peter Marcuse
(re-posted with permission)
September 30, 2018

If only we knew who pushed her in,
We’d know if he  committed the original sin
Maybe it was an immigrant hiding in that hall
Oh, if only they’d let us build up that wall!
After all, maybe it was only a prank,
Just blame it on one to many he drank
And he never got her clothes off and went all the way,
So just tell him how much he has to pay

That satisfied each of the others Trump had had
And they never complained or showed they were sad.
After all, didn’t the man drive his daughter to her classes?
So what if he took a little time out to make a few passes.
And “nothing really happened,” said our worldly Rep, boys will be boys,
And if a future Supreme Court judge doesn’t want to answer questions,
Why upset him by asking for confessions.

And girls should be pleased that they could be their toys.
If everyone knows, a the end of the line,
What the result will be, we’re just wasting our time.
His concern for justice can wait till he’s on the bench,
By then we’ll have forgotten there was a bit of a stench.
It’s time to stop this demeaning charade
And get on with his inaugural parade.

Donald Trump has told us whom to believe in these cases.
With his personal experience he knows what a man such as this faces.
Don’t call in the over-burdened FBI
Why expect them to tell the truth from a lie.
Our leaders can do that much better themselves, they tell us,
And get the job done without anymore fuss.

We’ve spent too much time on this already. Not a single day more.
After all, finding the truth would just be a bore.
"He is not not...a
liar/treasonous spy/'Fire and Fury' diplomat/useful idiot/'Where's my Roy Cohn?' mob boss/'good people on both sides' racist/self-declared 'ernest hemingway of twitter' fascist/pussy-grabber/mob boss/roy cohn acolyte/'you bet your ass' supporter of enhanced interrogation techniques/'some of them, i assume, are good people' racist and xenophobe
My Brain Go Boom
So much brilliance, so much power, creativity, energy, commitment to build better urban worlds...
Grading final papers for the Urban Studies Seminar
Heart-Stopping Spam
Would you trust the expertise of a medical journal that robo-spams so many authors that they wind up soliciting papers from people like me?
Kim Briscoe, owner of Kimprints Art and Custom Framing in Vancouver's Gastown neighbourhood, had to close and board up her shop windows due to COVID-19 measures.  Concerned about the bleak message of blank plywood, Briscoe began contacting the artists she knew, offering them a canvas for community messages.  Artist Austin Breece painted an image of Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief Public Health Officer.  Abi Taylor, a student at Emily Carr, painted a portrait of Dr. Bonnie Henry, BC's Provincial Health Officer.  Briscoe's daughter painted a 'We Love You Vancouver' mural, with the message to 'Stay apart and connected.'   "I love the way [these artists] are giving a shout out to these doctors and nurses, all the people guiding us through this crisis," Briscoe told the journalist Tiffany Crawford.  "They're putting their emotions on canvas.  It's a way to say thank you."  See Tiffany Crawford (2020).  "Murals Salute Health-Care Workers."  Vancouver Sun, April 2, p. A7.  Photographs by Elvin Wyly.

"I did first suggest that we call ourselves the 99%. Then two Spanish indignados and a Greek anarchist added the 'we' and later a food-not-bombs veteran put the 'are' between them. And they say you can’t create something worthwhile by committee! I'd include their names but considering the way police intelligence has been coming after early OWS organisers, maybe it would be better not to" -- David Graeber, 1961-2020.  Ouch!  The library is becoming too metaphysical, too much of a shrine to the brilliant theorists and activists we're losing...! See Sian Cain (2020).  "David Graeber, anthropologist and author of Bullshit Jobs, dies aged 59."  The Guardian, September 3.