"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.
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
"...as 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.
"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
"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.
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."
"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.
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...
"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...
"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?"
"...here’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!)."
"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.
"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 Frontièreshere. 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.'"
"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."
"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.
...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 coursethat'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-existentialistbest 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!"
"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
"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.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS TO EMULATE
"I dedicate this study to my parents, who have always been skeptical, to my wife, who hasn't been skeptical enough, and to Cuchulain, who tried to eat the final draft."
Roger Pierce Miller (1979). A Time-Geographic Assessment of the Impact of Horsecar Transportation on Suburban Non-heads-of-household in Philadelphia, 1850-1860. Doctoral thesis. Berkeley, CA: Graduate Division, Department of Geography, University of California, p. iv.
The Singularity Inches Closer
as narrated by Microsoft executive Craig Mundie and mathematician Michael Freedman:
"...when Mr. Mundie asked Dr. Freedman what he might do with a working quantum computer, he responded that the first thing he would program it to do would be to model an improved version of itself."
John Markoff (2014). "Microsoft Makes Bet Quantum Computing Will be Next Big Leap." New York Times, June 23.
"Es el puto síndrome de Cristóbal Colón!"
A generation ago, Neil Smith and Richard Schaffer penned an article, "The Gentrification of Harlem?" Now replace the question mark with an exclamation point and consider the implications of contemporary urban (re)colonizations...
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.
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.
"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.
"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.
"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
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."
[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 ofAlgorithmism 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."
Postmedia News (2013). "Lady Gaga a Tortured Soul." The Province, November 4, p. B2.
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."
"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: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of Heads.Up@ubc.ca
Sent: September-06-13 2:33 PM
To: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
The following message is being sent to Deans, Heads and Directors of Academic Units, on behalf of Oliver Grueter-Andrew, Chief Information Officer
PLEASE DISTRIBUTE AS NECESSARY
We are currently experiencing significant technical issues with the Connect Learning Management System. The response is a large coordinated effort which includes all available resources including senior members of UBC IT and the two key vendors involved, Blackboard and Oracle. We are focusing on both rapid service restoration during outages and longer-term stability.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding this, please contact Phil Chatterton, Critical Incidents Director on this issue, at email@example.com<mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>. Updated information will be posted on our bulletins site at http://bulletins.it.ubc.ca<http://bulletins.it.ubc.ca/> and we will provide email updates as soon as new information becomes available.
"You are required to attend under protest, write a paper that's a total waste of your time, and complain constantly."
"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 email@example.com."
"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
The release date is planned for June 5, 2013.
Further information will be provided on the SIS Update Blog
http://blogs.ubc.ca/sisupdates/ as the project progresses.
You will need to use your UBC work email address for the FSC. If you do
not have a UBC email address, please contact your department.
Thank you for all the brilliant and valuable questions, comments, and ideas -- I'm grateful for what you've taught me!
"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.
"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.
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."
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..."
"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.
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.
"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?"
"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, butproducing 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.
"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?"
"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.]
"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."
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."
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."
"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."
This was the title of my talk at Walter Gage Residences yesterday. The students were engaged and brilliant, and they asked me challenging questions about many things. One of the things we discussed involved matters of integrity and trust in an age of automation and entreprenuerial innovation like Turnitin.com.
Now I read this, from the thoughtful and articulate Linette Ho:
"The high expectations for young kids to do well is affecting their confidence and to choose cheating as an option." Ho laments the pressure endured by students today. But she is also deeply concerned about the reality of teaching: she opens her essay with a story of going into Grade 12 examinations, where "Out of the blue, I noticed in my peer's pencil case a small crumpled piece of paper with tiny scribbles all over it. It was the answer key."
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org):
"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, email@example.com.
Best wishes," Frank Popper, Rutgers and Princeton Universities
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.
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!
"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/
"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."
"...an increasingly affluent society with a rapidly changing technology is generating awkward structural problems and deepening tensions in the process of urbanization."
David Harvey (1973). 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!