Saturday, December 17, 2011

Poor Judgment

A candidate whose name has come to mean this, really shouldn't be holding up this particular sign.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Remembering Hubert Sumlin

Hubert Sumlin passed away this week. Best known for his guitar work with Howlin' Wolf, I have very fond memories of hearing this man play during my college years in Austin, Texas. He was a frequent guest on stage at Antone's and always a joy to hear. He'll be missed.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Marxist Rage Comics

This is a new assignment I began experimenting with this semester. I point interested students to a rage maker site and then ask them to create a rage comic illustrating a passage from Marx for the class blog. So far, the results have made me happy. Here's one student comic on primitive accumulation and the bloody legislation against the expropriated:

I'm particularly fond of the deer in the deer park "lol"ing at the peasant. I'll be doing this again.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Black Friday

Life is strange. I would have bet just about anything that I would never be found at Macy's in Manhattan on Black Friday. And yet, here's the picture I took:

It was very odd to find myself at ground zero for Capitalist consumption on its highest holy day.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Book Contract!

Zero Books will be publishing the LumpenProf's book, Reading Capital Digitally! 

This does, however, mean I'll have to finish the book now... details, details. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Escher Pepper


And via: The UC Davis Department of English Home Page now reads:
The faculty of the UC Davis English Department supports the Board of the Davis Faculty Association in calling for Chancellor Katehi’s immediate resignation and for “a policy that will end the practice of forcibly removing non-violent student, faculty, staff, and community protesters by police on the UC Davis campus.” Further, given the demonstrable threat posed by the University of California Police Department and other law enforcement agencies to the safety of students, faculty, staff, and community members on our campus and others in the UC system, we propose that such a policy include the disbanding of the UCPD and the institution of an ordinance against the presence of police forces on the UC Davis campus, unless their presence is specifically requested by a member of the campus community. This will initiate a genuinely collective effort to determine how best to ensure the health and safety of the campus community at UC Davis.        

Monday, November 21, 2011

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Police Riot at UC Davis

Below is an excerpt from an open letter by a junior faculty member at UC Davis calling for the Chancellor's resignation over yesterday's police attack on non-violent students.

... Today you ordered police onto our campus to clear student protesters from the quad. These were protesters who participated in a rally speaking out against tuition increases and police brutality on UC campuses on Tuesday—a rally that I organized, and which was endorsed by the Davis Faculty Association. These students attended that rally in response to a call for solidarity from students and faculty who were bludgeoned with batons, hospitalized, and arrested at UC Berkeley last week. In the highest tradition of non-violent civil disobedience, those protesters had linked arms and held their ground in defense of tents they set up beside Sproul Hall. In a gesture of solidarity with those students and faculty, and in solidarity with the national Occupy movement, students at UC Davis set up tents on the main quad. When you ordered police outfitted with riot helmets, brandishing batons and teargas guns to remove their tents today, those students sat down on the ground in a circle and linked arms to protect them.  
What happened next? 

Without any provocation whatsoever, other than the bodies of these students sitting where they were on the ground, with their arms linked, police pepper-sprayed students.Students remained on the ground, now writhing in pain, with their arms linked.  
What happened next?  
Police used batons to try to push the students apart. Those they could separate, they arrested, kneeling on their bodies and pushing their heads into the ground. Those they could not separate, they pepper-sprayed directly in the face, holding these students as they did so. When students covered their eyes with their clothing, police forced open their mouths and pepper-sprayed down their throats. Several of these students were hospitalized. Others are seriously injured. One of them, forty-five minutes after being pepper-sprayed down his throat, was still coughing up blood.  
This is what happened. You are responsible for it.  
You are responsible for it because this is what happens when UC Chancellors order police onto our campuses to disperse peaceful protesters through the use of force: students get hurt. Faculty get hurt. One of the most inspiring things (inspiring for those of us who care about students who assert their rights to free speech and peaceful assembly) about the demonstration in Berkeley on November 9 is that UC Berkeley faculty stood together with students, their arms linked together. Associate Professor of English Celeste Langan was grabbed by her hair, thrown on the ground, and arrested. Associate Professor Geoffrey O’Brien was injured by baton blows. Professor Robert Hass, former Poet Laureate of the United States, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winner, was also struck with a baton. These faculty stood together with students in solidarity, and they too were beaten and arrested by the police. In writing this letter, I stand together with those faculty and with the students they supported.  
One week after this happened at UC Berkeley, you ordered police to clear tents from the quad at UC Davis. When students responded in the same way—linking arms and holding their ground—police also responded in the same way: with violent force. The fact is: the administration of UC campuses systematically uses police brutality to terrorize students and faculty, to crush political dissent on our campuses, and to suppress free speech and peaceful assembly. Many people know this. Many more people are learning it very quickly.  
You are responsible for the police violence directed against students on the UC Davis quad on November 18, 2011. As I said, I am writing to hold you responsible and to demand your immediate resignation on these grounds.  
I call for your resignation because you are unfit to do your job. You are unfit to ensure the safety of students at UC Davis. In fact: you are the primary threat to the safety of students at UC Davis. As such, I call upon you to resign immediately.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Wiki Wonderlands


The Georgia Institute of Technology has stripped, at least for now, more than 10 years of class work from its collaborative-learning Web sites, known as Swikis. 
Following a student’s complaint to the university that his name was listed on the Web site of a public course, Georgia Tech officials decided on Monday to remove all Swikis other than ones from the current semester, said Mark Guzdial, a professor in the School of Interactive Computing, who is a co-creator of the Swikis. 
He reported the development on his Computing Education blog this week. (The tech journalist Audrey Watters picked it up on her blog.) 
In his post, Mr. Guzdial recounts how he and two Ph.D. students created the Swiki, or CoWeb, in 2000, so that students would have a place to “construct public entities on the Web.” The Swikis served intentionally undefined purposes, such as providing a forum for cross-semester discussions and a home for public galleries of student work. “All of that ended yesterday,” he wrote, because of Georgia Tech’s concerns about Ferpa, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
This seems a case of an administration over reacting to the barest hint of a legal challenge. My best guess is that the only part of this that might be covered by FERPA is identifying student posts by full name on a university course site. Identifying posts by a user handle, initials, etc., would be fine.

If the blogs themselves were public and hosted on blogger or tumblr rather than on a password protected university server, there never would have been a temptation to identify posts with students' full, legal names. In addition, students would maintain full control over what information remained online after the end of the course, not the university. I don't think there is anything in FERPA that prevents students from identifying themselves, their work, or the courses they took online. FERPA simply prevents the institution from publishing this information.

Deleting all the student authored wikis at Georgia Tech seems a very rash act.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Occupation and Enclosure

Here's a very interesting document on the occupation movement and popular economics.

Let's be clear, though, to avoid any confusion: humans have always engaged in diverse forms of production, distribution, exchange, and consumption. What the concept of "the economy" did, in its specific historical form, was to create a kind of conceptual enclosure around a very particular set of human rationalities, motivations, social activities, and ways of life. Economic theory said: self-interest is the legitimate, and natural, economic motivation. Exclusive, individual private property is the legitimate, and efficient, way to organize access to resources and the means of livelihood. Accumulation of wealth (and the fear of poverty) is the legitimate incentive that will generate human well-being. Wage labor (a world divided into owners and workers) is the way to organize effective and innovative economies. Competition is the dynamic that generates efficiency in production and exchange. Bundle all of these things together, publish books about their necessity and build institutions on their certainty, lock the rest of life's complexity and possibility in a closet (or a jail) and call that ... economics. 
The physical enclosures that drove people from their common land and forced them into dependence on wage jobs over the course of the 16th to 18th centuries in Europe, and that robbed indigenous peoples of their lives and land, were accompanied and supported by the conceptual enclosures that made the story of "the economy." These are two sides of the same coin. And this process of double enclosure is ongoing. It is called "privatization," "colonialism," "neoliberalism," "development," and "economics 101."v The economy has to be made continually, and it is made by institutions that enforce this story on us, that put us in debt to its dependency-machine, that steal our labor, our ideas and our futures in the name of our own best interests. It is made by convincing us that its story is true, and then punishing us when we fail to act accordingly. 
I find this argument about the conceptual enclosure effected by neoclassical economics to be very liberating. And on the day when NYC police used force to re-enlose Zucotti Park, it's good to be reminded of these larger signs of hope.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Nigel Tufnel Day!

11/11/11 Nigel Tufnel Day

Monday, November 07, 2011

The Beginning Is Near

photo by Steve Kube

This is one of my favorite photos from my local Occupy Movement.

I'm repurposing the photo, though, to mark my own re-occupation of my blog. I've had a long enough respite from blogging and plan to plunge back in to my former habit of occasional posts on my research, academic labor, politics, and snark. There's much to discuss.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mirror Stage

I must remember this photo the next time I teach Lacan's "Mirror Stage."

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Attendance Forecast

How to forecast class attendance by looking out your office window:

When the weather is gray and cold, it will be too miserable outside for students to want to make the trek to class and so attendance will drop off.

When the weather is gorgeous and sunny, it will be too nice outside for students to want to spend time in class and so attendance will drop off.

It's a lose/lose situation. There is simply no such thing as good weather for classes.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Zizek On Egypt


What cannot but strike the eye in the revolts in Tunisia and Egypt is the conspicuous absence of Muslim fundamentalism. In the best secular democratic tradition, people simply revolted against an oppressive regime, its corruption and poverty, and demanded freedom and economic hope. The cynical wisdom of western liberals, according to which, in Arab countries, genuine democratic sense is limited to narrow liberal elites while the vast majority can only be mobilised through religious fundamentalism or nationalism, has been proven wrong. ...
The hypocrisy of western liberals is breathtaking: they publicly supported democracy, and now, when the people revolt against the tyrants on behalf of secular freedom and justice, not on behalf of religion, they are all deeply concerned. Why concern, why not joy that freedom is given a chance? Today, more than ever, Mao Zedong's old motto is pertinent: "There is great chaos under heaven – the situation is excellent."
Where, then, should Mubarak go? Here, the answer is also clear: to the Hague. If there is a leader who deserves to sit there, it is him.


How Not To Sound Stupid

An excellent post on how not to sound stupid when talking about recent events in Egypt:

The past few days I have heard so many stupid things from friends, blogs, pundits, correspondents, politicians, experts, writers that I want to pull my hair.  So, I will not beat around the bush, I will be really blunt and give you a handy list to keep you from offending Egyptians, Arabs and the world when you discuss, blog or talk about Egypt.  Honestly, I would think most Progressives would know these things, but let’s get to it.
  • “I am so impressed at how articulate Egyptians are.”  Does this sound familiar?  Imagine saying this about a Latino or African American?  You don’t say it.  So don’t say it about Egyptians.   Gee, thank you oh great person who is of limited experience and human contact for recognizing that out of 80 million people some could be articulate, educated and speak many languages.  Not cool.  Don’t say it.  You may think it, but it makes you sound like a dumb ass. ...