amor mundi

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

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Elizabeth Warren on Trump

The reason none of the "Establishment" Republican attacks landed on Trump is because Trump's bigotry and hostility to public service and investment is shared by nearly the entire membership of the Republican Party. Democrats calling out Trump will fare far better than Republicans did who disagreed with his presentation but not his actual positions or who are too afraid of their own voters to admit to their disagreements. The REAL real America is diversifying, secularizing, and planetizing -- the Obama coalition already won twice and grows by the day. Not only will the gross, vacuous, fraudulent, embarrassment Trump fail to win the Presidency, but the Republican Party will not long survive in its present form in the aftermath of the way he fails.

Syllabus for my Berkeley Rhet Summer Intensive "What Is Compelling?"

Rhetoric 10: The Rhetoric of Argument 
"What Is Compelling? Argument, Reconciliation, Obligation"

Summer 2016, Session A, 2.30-5pm., Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, 88 Dwinelle

Instructor, Dale Carrico:;;
Course Blog:

Participation/Attendance/In-Class Activities, 20%; Reading Notebook, 20%; Precis, 2-3pp., 10%; Mid-Term Exam, 25%; Final Paper, 5-6pp., 25%. (Rough Basis for Final Grade, subject to contingencies)

Course Description

This course provides students with tools they can use to make better, more compelling, arguments and also to read arguments in better, more critical, ways. We will draw the tools for our argumentative toolboxes from the long history of rhetoric, from sophistical dissoi logoi, to the Aristotelian appeals, to Quintilian's four master tropes, to the rich archive of formal and informal fallacies, to argument modeled on litigation via Toulmin's schema, to argument modeled on mediation via Rogerian synthesis, to the pragmatism of the ends of argument. All the while we are workshopping these technical skills we will also be reading and discussing a range of texts that tackle questions of the reach and forms of violence and nonviolence in historical struggle and in everyday life. These texts will likewise draw from a long history, from Immanuel Kant, Martin Luther King, Jr., Frantz Fanon and Hannah Arendt to Arundhati Roy, Judith Butler, and Ta-Nehisi Coates. We will also talk through a play by Euripides, an essay by Nietzsche, a novel by Octavia Butler, a film by Cronenberg… The crucial thing to understand about the course is that we will not be taking on two separate projects, one practical and another theoretical. This course proposes that there is an indispensable relation between the traditional focus of rhetoric as instruction in the art of making compelling arguments and the theoretical preoccupation of many rhetoricians with questions of what violence or compulsion ultimately consists. It is commonplace to see Persuasion offered up as an alternative to the violent adjudication of disputes or hear Argument idealized as a space "outside" of violence. But the truth is that many arguments rely on the acceptance of a violent status quo or depend on conventional assumptions that deny marginal testimonies to violation. Also, many arguments stealthily threaten violence while at once congratulating themselves on their peacefulness. Ultimately, the course proposes that it is rhetoric's definitive concern with the traffic between the literal and figurative dimensions of language and its situated understanding of truth-telling that connects the work of rhetoric with a project of reconciliation that resists violence even as we cannot help but risk it.

A Provisional Schedule of Meetings

Week One

May 24 SKILL SET: Key Definitions
[1] Rhetoric is the facilitation of efficacious discourse as well as an ongoing inquiry into the terms on the basis of which discourse comes to seem efficacious or not.
[2] A text is an event experienced as arising from intention, offered up to the hearing of an audience, and obligating a responsiveness equal to it.
[3] An argument is a claim supported by reasons and/or evidence.
Introductions: Rhetoric as occasional, interested, figurative; The literal as conventional, the figurative as deviant.
May 25 SKILL SET: Reading Critically/Writing Critically; Audience/Intentions -- Audiences: Sympathetic, Unsympathetic, Apathetic; Intentions: Interrogation, Conviction, Persuasion, Reconciliation
Euripides: Hecuba
May 26 SKILL SET: Ethos, Pathos, Logos; Writing A Precis
Immanuel Kant, Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose

Week Two

May 31 SKILL SET: Four Habits of Argumentative Writing: 1. Formulate a Strong Thesis, 2. Define Your Terms, 3, Substantiate/Contextualize, 4, Anticipate Objections; Performativity
Thomas Jefferson, The Declaration of Independence
June 1 SKILL SET: The Toulmin Schema
William May, "Rising to the Occasion of Our Death" (In-Class Handout)
June 2 SKILL SET: Rogerian Rhetoric
Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from the Birmingham Jail
Precis should be posted to the blog by midnight, Saturday, June 4 

Week Three

June 7 SKILL SET: Debate
Randal Amster, Anarchism and Nonviolence: Time for a "Complementarity of Tactics"
Arundhati Roy, War Is Peace
George Ciccariello-Maher, Planet of Slums, Age of Riots 
Mike Davis, Slum Ecology
Chris Hedges, Evidence of Things Not Seen
June 8 SKILL SET: Propositional Analysis; Enthymemes, Syllogisms, Formal Fallacies, Informal Fallacies
June 9 SKILL SET: Literal/Figurative Language; Figures, Tropes, Schemes; Four Master Tropes
Nietzsche, On Truth and the Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense; Workshopping

Week Four

June 14 Mid-Term Examination
June 15 Screening and Discussion of the Film, "A History of Violence," dir. Cronenberg
June 16 Correspondence of Tolstoy and Gandhi
Interview with Amitabh Pal
Louise Gray, Telegraph, Gene Sharp: How to Start a Revolution
Nick Cohen, Guardian, The Phantom Menace of Militant Atheism
Edward Oakes, First Things, Atheism and Violence

Week Five

June 21 Frantz Fanon, Concerning Violence from The Wretched of the Earth
Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic, The Case for Reparations
Alana Semuels, The Atlantic, The Role of Highways in American Poverty
Richard Rothstein, Economic Policy Institute, From Ferguson to Baltimore: The Fruits of Government Sponsored Segregation
June 22 Hannah Arendt, Reflections On Violence, Preface from Between Past and Future, and "Must Eichmann Hang?" (In-Class Handout)
June 23 Workshopping Final Paper: Producing a Strong Thesis; Anticipating Objections; Providing Textual Support

Week Six

June 28 Octavia Butler, Kindred (Purchase in time for class.)
June 29 Judith Butler, from Chapter One of Undoing Gender, "Beside Oneself," pp. 17-26, roughly, and the concluding chapter of Precarious Life, pp. 128-151.
June 30 Concluding Remarks. Final Paper Due

Monday, May 23, 2016


You can say that again. And I suspect she will.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

In The Tank

I see EVERY Presidential campaign as the choice of which sociopath to my right I hope will help do some good while mostly aggravating me.

The Usual Suspects: Ben from Ben & Jerry's, Susan Sarandon, Cornel West, and Tim Robbins for Nader in 2000

Tired of voting for the lesser of two evils, no difference between secular pluralist environmentalist Al Gore or vapid belligerent plutocratic George W. Bush, no difference between the corrupt parties, hold Democrats to account, heighten the contradictions, blah blah blah blah...

The point of posting this video is not the facile one which singularly blames Nader for Gore losing the 2000 election and unleashing unquestionably the worst most catastrophic Presidency of a generation. I say this because Gore didn't lose the election. Gore won the election and then Republican appointees on the Supreme Court abetted a putsch. The point is that these arguments were objectively wrong. They revealed an indifference to differences that make a difference that exposes privilege not righteousness. They mistake the clarity of logical advocacy or passionate agitation for an ideal position for the compromised work through which progress toward better policies are accomplished and maintained. They mis-educated and mislead millions of people about distinctions that urgently mattered and demoralized majorities about real possibilities for change when people organize and struggle, solving shared problems through legislation and pushing our sense of the possible and the important from movements on the ground. The stomach churning thing about this Nader video is not just that so many of the faces have not changed in the fauxvolutionary epoch of the Bernie Brigade but that, word for word, their arguments have not changed to reflect the evidence and experience of the collective disaster of the first decade of this century, a disaster from which the nation has not yet recovered, a failure to recover which leaves us as planetary peers radically unprepared for the challenge of climate catastrophe which is already reshaping the world and history in the image of disaster.

Fifth Avenue, New York City

Friday, May 20, 2016

“Nice party you got there, shame if something happened to it...” The Revolution I guess?

Sanders Keeps Making Friends

I like it when Sanders wails about the "Closed Door" of the Democratic Party which welcomed his bid to be its Presidential nominee despite the fact that he has never been a Democrat and declared he ran as one only for the attention and money and resources and legitimacy it confers while he smears its membership as corrupt and sues it over and over.

Bernie bragging about the high percentage he's losing by = The Revolution.

Hillary mentioning the higher percentage she's winning by = anti-democratic corruption.

If HRC said the Earth is round...

...she would likely be chastised for her arrogance, concern trolled over alienating desperately-needed flat-earthers, and then lectured sanctimoniously about how there can be no globalization without a globe which means Flat-Earth Is The Revolution!

A scooter isn't a "hoverboard" and algorithms aren't "AI." They just sell them that way.

Futurological "progress" is a marketing phenomenon.

Fresh As The Future

Pretty sure the world needs another representation of "The Future" involving a naked blue bald dude in an angel-hair swirl of strings of light or zeros and ones.

Status-Quo Amplification As Future Schlock

Futurology peddles What Is as What If?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Counting the Days

Pining for the Democratic primary to end so those who enjoy my calling out tech fauxvolution but hate my calling out Bernie fauxvolution can like my writing again...

You Say Startup

I say stopit.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

We Will Be Heard!

A zealot always thinks disagreement means you just haven't haven't heard them yet.

When "Open" Means Stolen

Anyone can join the Democratic Party and work as a member to reshape it to better reflect your own progressive vision and choices. Why, it's almost as if that "Closed Door" is already… open.

Please Proceed

Friday, May 13, 2016


Eric and I voted by mail today in CA for Hillary Clinton, Kamala Harris, Barbara Lee, and Measure AA to help Save the Bay. Feels like

Made the Grade

Grading for SFAI spring term is done as of tonight. I've got a week off before my UC Berkeley summer intensive begins. Lovely!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Wait Is Over

Sociopathy Cult(ure)


The work of incremental change isn't some "doctrine" progressives espouse as an end in itself, it's just that anti-incrementalism is a foolish, useless, selfish attitude for a shared world.

A Whole New World!

Pundit declarations that Trump seems to be able to get away with anything are merely admissions that pundits will not hold Trump to account for anything. Exposing the reality that political commentators have few standards is actually not the same thing as exposing a reality there are no longer any rules.

Argle Bargle

It is fortunate that there is literally nothing newsworthy happening in the whole world apart from the latest damn fool utterance out of Donald Trump's mouth.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

AUMA Purity Cabaret

Upgraded and adapted from the Moot: An "Anonymous" (naturally) commenter disapproving my post agreeing with a High Times endorsement of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) ballot initiative in California declares:
Bad "legalization" laws are a real problem. In CA, the AUMA is a disaster. And, people are mistaken in he claims it will "let you grow your own", when it will really permit local governments to flat out ban outdoor grows, and will permit "reasonable regulation" of your indoor grow (and most folks cannot grow indoors for many reasons). This thing is a huge conglomeration of litigation-ready employment for cops and lawyers. We can't let the crappy be the enemy of the decent law we know is out there. The trick seems to be convincing some moneybag like Parker to back something worthwhile, and to convince the "pro pot lobby" to demonstrate a modicum of selectivity with their endorsements. The incremental "is it ANY better than what we have now (somewhat subjective, I might add) is threadbare at best, and probably harmful. We are not beggars. Demographics are shifting fast. We don't need to settle for a crap sandwich.
To which I reply (perhaps a bit intemperately, but I've already had it up to here with purity cabaret from the BS Brigade this last few months):
That you would prefer any facet of the present racist war on drugs and prohibition over an imperfect legalization of recreational use seems to me a revoltingly selfish and privileged position to take. How glibly you declare "somewhat subjective" the premise that life would be better and fairer for people who would NOT have their lives ruined by costly unjust disruptive drug busts based in palpably false assumptions of social harm that would cease to exist! It is truly hard for me to restrain the rage with which I greet your airy purity cabaret! You need not "educate" me on the issue -- this is the not the ballot initiative I preferred, I am not unaware of its problems, I am not indifferent to the compromised institutional conditions under which it has been promoted... and I fully embrace the better as the better that it is, I fully recognize the nature of political reform, I fully embrace the need to continue the struggle to build on imperfect reform to eliminate problems and keep on working for progress. Compromise doesn't make you a beggar it makes you a real activist and progressive citizen. Nobody embraces "incrementalism" as a doctrine, one simply recognizes that anti-incrementalism in a world shared by an actual diversity of stakeholders is a recipe for stasis and reaction masquerading as righteousness. It's complete bullshit. From the standpoint of purity cabaret politics is all crap sandwiches all the time all the way down. If you can't deal with that and still want to make the world a better place I suggest you try art or charity -- you may honestly lack the strength, patience, clarity, and character for real world politics.

I am the crap sandwich I want to see in the world.

I wish I could be righteous and pure, but Yass, Cthillary has warped my fragile little mind.

The Enemy

The Self Abuse of Selfish Beings

Techbros are always compensating for their Wiener.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Job Crises and the Perverse Inversions of Tech Discourse

Saturday, May 07, 2016

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately...

...and die here now, starving and alone, awaiting a drone to deliver my Soylent."

Joyfully Running the Gauntlet of Hillary Haters

Already one of the most iconic images from Campaign 2016, on display here is the ugly vitriol of that vocal minority of Sanders supporters who are not content to vote and argue for their candidate but energetically harass the supporters of Hillary Clinton online and elsewhere and demonize the brilliant, tough, competent, hard-working, compromised and compromising, world-famous, unprecedentedly-qualified progressive woman who is the Democratic frontrunner by millions of votes, hundreds of pledged delegates, hundreds more superdelegate endorsements from the colleagues who will work with the next President within the party both candidates seek to lead, an image almost out of 1960s, a solitary woman joyfully and defiantly testifying to her judgment and enthusiasm in the face of a throng of angry, bitter men.

Facile Fauxvolutionaries

Friday, May 06, 2016


Stars of Purity Cabaret

Saying you want more progress, however stridently, is less progressive than working to make more progress, however modestly.

Man Versus Machine!

"Man Against Machine" as headline or as theme ALWAYS hides the truth in which some humans are using some machines against some other humans.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

World Economic Forum Issues Threats (er, Expresses Concerns): "Robots Will Take [Y]Our Jobs"

The relevant passage:
[I]t is true that since 1967, the share of men aged 25–54 without work has more than tripled, from five percent to 16 percent. But the reasons they’re not working have less to do with the rise of the machines than we’re being led to believe. According to a New York Times/CBS News/Kaiser Family Foundation poll of Americans without jobs, 44 percent of men surveyed said there were jobs in their area they think they could obtain but weren’t willing to take them. [Those lazy workers!--d] In addition, around a third of those surveyed (including women) indicated that a spouse, food stamps or disability benefits provided another source of income. [Ah, the "welfare class of dependency," a right-wing bit of vaudeville so old it's got whiskers on it!--d] An unwillingness to relocate geographically may also help explain the decline in labor force participation. In a 2014 survey of unemployed individuals, 60 percent said that they were “not at all willing” to move to another state. [Man, those unworthy poors!--d] These findings suggest that while the U.S. boasts the most job openings since the government began tracking them nationwide (5.6 million), many of those without work don’t want to apply for one reason or another. [Useless mouths with their crazy thug reasons for resisting wholesome austerity!--d] It’s not man versus machine yet. [It never is: It is rich men against the rest of us, using machines to concentrate their wealth and authority. Ask the Luddites.--d] These figures and polls paint a very different picture of the actual problem. [Don't you just love a picture that shows you exactly what you want to see?--d] In addition to geography constraints along with spousal and government income supports contributing to fewer people wanting to work. [Get in line, crappy poors, and take it when we treat you like robots or we'll replace you with robots! Serially failed austerity and wealth concentration is the only answer -- how else will we meritocratic point-oh-one-percenters afford our bubble dome protection zones in the aftermath of the climate change pandemic apocalypse we're profited from now? Don't worry, if you are photogenic we'll scoop some of you up for a few years as sexslaves unless we get the Holodeck brothels online before then. The Future is gonna be awesome!--d]

General Election Prediction

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Another Teaching Day

Last class of spring term in the City today. First class of summer intensives at Berkeley in just under three weeks. A pile of papers from this term and prep for the new summer course... all looming. Summer vacation begins!

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

The Stupid Racist Asshole Party Picked The Most Stupid Racist Asshole To Lead It?

It's a world gone mad.

Teaching Day

Last day of class for my Biopunk! seminar. Haven't much left to say, students will be handing me their final papers and final excuses and then we're off. Eric and I are both gurgling and moaning over some bug I probably brought home from my last BART commute, which has me more than ready to bid this term farewell. The usual pile of grading awaits -- and I resume teaching, an intensive at Berkeley, in a couple of weeks. No rest for the weary.

Saturday, April 30, 2016


The truth of will be revealed the moment Bernie admits it's Not Me and Us scatters to the winds.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Are We The Orcsies?

Now goblins are cruel, wicked, and bad-hearted. They make no beautiful things, but they make many clever ones. They can tunnel and mine as well as any but the most skilled dwarves, when they take the trouble, though they are usually untidy and dirty. Hammers,axes, swords, pickaxes, tongs, and also instruments of torture, they make very well, or get others to make to their design, prisoners and slaves that have to work till they die for want of air and light. It is not unlikely that they invented some of the machines that have since troubled the world, especially the ingenious devices for killing large numbers of people at once, for wheels and engines and explosions always delighted them, and also not working withtheir own hands more than they could help; but in those days and those wild parts they had not advanced (as it is called) so far. -- J. R. R. Tolkien, from "Over Hill and Under Hill," The Annotated Hobbit (revised and expanded edition, Douglas A. Anderson), pp. 108-109
I've been re-reading Tolkien sporadically in pockets of free time since I got back from the hospital. The reassurance of well-worn paths, I suppose. This passage is of course quintessentially Tolkienian and no surprise philosophically, but I was surprised nonetheless at the bluntness and force of its critique of facile techno-modernism in a story so unambiguously for children.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Another Teaching Day

Workshopping for final papers in my undergraduate course today in the City. I'm consigned to a practically babysitting role, no prep necessary, but the boredom and frustration level is always high. If I'm in a classroom I like to be lecturing... but there is no question that the paper I'll be grading next week always benefit from students going through these exercises in advance. Rain pouring down for my walk to the train offers a nice added touch.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Teaching Day

I'll be in the City longer than usual today, in a cafe drinking turbocharged iced mochas while slogging through a marathon of compulsory office hours in preparation for final papers and projects. Always exhausting, always well worth the effort, I'll steer a few projects off the shoals and light a fire under an ass or two to save us all from the epic annoyance of unnecessary Incomplete and the ensuing drama. That said, would rather be obsessively scanning primary returns and eating a burrito, which is the plan for my late return home.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Less Is More?

It is funny how many people seem to fall for empty promises as something MORE rather than something LESS than the incremental("ist") reforms achieved via organizing and compromise which they disdain as inadequate and slow.


When Sanders declares he'll use the bully pulpit in "unprecedented ways" to break through GOP obstruction I assume he means... magical ways?

And can I just add that nobody with sense would declare Sanders a more forceful or inspirational speaker than President Obama. And it is quite clear that Obama generated incomparably greater enthusiasm and crowds in his election campaigns than Sanders has done. Sanders shows no sign that he can accomplish more than Obama has done (I think his stridency and disdain of many relevant stakeholders to every concrete policy issue means he would accomplish far less) and yet he denigrates Obama as unaccomplished. I find all this both deeply, dangerously erroneous and profoundly, outrageously insulting.

HRC's New General Election Ad

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Techniques of Futurity Against "Future" Technologies

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Transcribe All The Seeecret Eeeevil Thoughts And Then Release The Transcipts!

The Bernie supporters who think they are freedom fighters because they want to rummage through Hillary Clinton's underwear drawer rather than engage with her published positions in this campaign have to be my favorite Bernie supporters.

New York Times Re-Invents Prince As Hacker Disruptor Thought Leader for Venture Capitalism