Tuesday, July 31, 2007
two (or parenthetically three) words
Then there's this:
They do offer individual subscriptions to rare eggs enrolled in certain learned societies:
Individual subscriptions are now available for a small additional fee through membership to the American Historical Association (AHA) and the Renaissance Society of America (RSA), two of the participating learned societies of HEB.
When one dispassionately examines the rationale for this sort of privatized, hedge fund-ghettoized gatekeeping, one finds there is none.
Two words to all you learned society types: Open (fucking) Access.
Monday, July 30, 2007
Tax dollars at work
Minor update on our Cluster Bomb ClusterFuck Thread:
At the Convention on Conventional Weapons in Geneva last month, Bush administration officials said that the threat to civilians from cluster munitions is “episodic” and “manageable within current response mechanisms” - presumably unless you’re a [not a joyous link] child attracted by the bomblets. They said it “only” took two years to clear the high-risk affected areas in Kosovo after 1999, but also admitted that eight years later, unexploded bomblets remain. They cited 10 countries threatened by cluster bombs - Afghanistan, Albania, Cambodia, Iraq, Laos, Lebanon, Montenegro, Serbia, and Vietnam - as well as Kosovo, leaving out another 20 countries so affected.
Separately, the US State Department has said that Israel may have illegally used US-made cluster bombs in Lebanon, but welcomes that it will take “only” a year and a half to largely clean up the remnant. CSMonitor
No One Ever Wins.
Bleeding the way
The Need for a Broader Concept of Publishing in the Digital Age
"A broader concept of publishing" apparently begins by winnowing the cheapskates.
LEADING THE WAY: Publishing research is more critical than ever to a university's mission, but too many institutions fail to recognize and support it adequately, even as their presses struggle to find their footing in a fast-changing online world.
That's the message driven home by a report called "University Publishing in a Digital Age," released last week by Ithaka, a nonprofit group that promotes the use of information technology in higher education.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
This site is dedicated to the collection, preservation and presentation of educational material. To participate in the World Wide School all you need to do is to invest your time. World Wide School - nice, readable, free editions of primary sources whose scholarly commentators, via Project Muse, JSTOR and other franchises, are currently unavailable to interested minds except via an elitist asshole economy.
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Who says Florida real estate isn't growing?
They have stories.
Apparently it's not just the mid-range houses that are suddenly without owners, it's some very high end housing stock as well. Brand new homes, some not even completed, are being turned over to the bank. And in one brand new subdivision on the water, several new or recently completed homes have been abandoned by builders or buyers.
Then there are the ones that suddenly get rented. One group of unoccupied high-end houses all got rented at once, the officials were saying. They're still unoccupied, technically. Called "grow houses," they have no furnishings except the tables, drip irrigation systems and controlled lighting to conduce to fine cannabis. The lawns get tended, and inside it's so quiet you can hear the grass grow.
Is it not possible that in the future, entire subdivisions of the Sunshine state will purr away like this? Migrant tent camps for the collection agency dodgers, fine-lawned McMansions for healthy weed.
This too is a form of gated community, pragmatically calibrated to the viable economics of Bush's final days.
Friday, July 27, 2007
we are the whirled
So, yes, I am liberal, but not pro-democrat. I am liberal in standing up for a Constitutional Republic in which citizens determine their destiny in open, honest, and often contentious discussion with one another. I would be happy living under Repubs who stood up for that or Dems. I find neither do. Both are in the game of raising money from corporations and wealthy people and providing them with return on political investment - a despicable phrase. To do so they convert cash to votes via propaganda produced by think thank bs artists. - Phil at Gifthub
Bruce Schneier points to an article on airline security by David Mackett, the president of the Airline Pilots Security Alliance. Why are our security czars an array of duplicitous cronies, and not competent, qualified experts? Are we safer with Michael “I think with my intestines” Chertoff and Heckuva Job Brownie than we would be with Schneier and Mackett? - AKMA
We wouldn’t be where we presently find ourselves — mired in a pointless foreign war, looking down the barrel of undisguised executive despotism, and teetering on the precipice of national insolvency — were it not for the capacity of Americans to believe passionately in things that are patently untrue. Arcadia via Gifthub.
The above offer crucial thinking about how the intermediating system of broadcast-media-democracy is strongly biased to favor a presumption of rational agency. That is, we elect a president. His team proceeds to dismantle entire departments of government and to introduce their own intermediaries between every node on every executive network. A mass substitution of enslaved mirrors for functional infrastructure ensues. In a while, he finds "cause" for attacking another country. At every point along the way, he and his circlejerk are presumed to be compos mentium.
But this seems an awfully careless presumption. It's a fair (and balanced) estimate that a certain number of the crowned heads, potentates, poobahs, queens, commanders, czars, gerents, khans, maharajahs, monarchs, overlords, overseers, presidents, generals, tycoons, CEOs, pashas, mikados, sovereigns, chairmen of the board, bishops, lieges, tycoons, sultans, swaggerers, tyrants, dynasts, presidents, moguls, shahs, satraps, martinets, caliphs, counts, barons, Big Shots, sachems, Gippers, rajahs, boss men, kingpins, magnates and empresses of history were, if not full-throttle psychotic, then garden-variety batshit lunatics. Indeed, it would seem, from a certain admittedly flyblown sampling of human history to be sure, that the preponderance of insect lords would not be allowed in most contemporary daycares.
Then why is there no check in our system for making sure the people we "choose" to preside over our welfare are convincingly sane, rational dudes? Rationality might not be all that relevant to some modes of governance, but it would seem essential for a democracy. Yet there are no constitutional controls, no checks, no mechanism for monitoring the alleged presidential mind. Mere insanity is insufficient to impeach. Seems kinda nuts.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Science withdraws from JSTOR
More from the Chronicle of Higher Ed, and Inside Higher Ed.
CNET mindlessly lists JSTOR under "Free information for the taking." Information may want to be free, hard-won knowledge categorically ought to be free. So here's a schedule of JSTOR's non-free fees to participating institutions.
Free JSTOR! Only intellectual property can be captured; intellect, not so easily.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Two ways to not build a community
The building boom began across the street early in the spring. Our neighbor started an addition, doubling the size of his home. Then another home, one of the smallest in our neighborhood -- a tiny two-bedroom, situated on a 100 ft. by 100 ft. lot -- was purchased for $285,000 and quickly razed by a building company. A three story, five-bedroom "castle" is taking its place -- complete with spire. As summer began, our next-door neighbors' contractor began adding a third floor to their home. Up the block, three large five-bedroom homes have sprung up on a lot where neighborhood kids used to play baseball. ($ - sub. req'd)
Funny, that's from the Wall St. Journal's fiscal fitness columnist, who lives in New Jersey. We have the 8-bathroom Richerbyalongfuckthanthousistan specials here in Florida as well. But there's more to the sub-prime world of Florida real estate. This evening a neighbor tells me that a house across the street from her has been abandoned. It's a modest three BR with a pool, not a McManse on the Bay. The people who bought it (for $330,000) got a "silent" second mortgage from the former owner. It seems they also got a nice home equity loan once they closed, because they instantly went out and bought a shiteload of Things - electronics, toys, a trampolene.
The Things are still there. The former owner is out his $65,000 second mortgage. The "homeowners" left a couple of months ago, after which the house sat there for a month before the neighbor, overcome by curiosity, found the back door wide open, the nice new Things, the AC running at 73 degrees, the pool a smooth and fecund lime green.
The bank -- whoever that might be -- seems not to know it is the proud owner of the house -- no one has been out to do anything, according to the neighbor. Anyone could walk in, take what they want. The neighbor took me to see the trampolene this evening, then began disassembling it before my eyes.
A fellow we know is thriving in the business of cleaning out foreclosed-upon homes. He's done a number of them around the state, finding shiny new stuff in many. As the banks tend to have no interest in Things, he either gives them away or, more often, trashes them.
Even thieves are not working right now, it seems.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Sunday, July 22, 2007
via - The inevitable USian media gesture with this sort of "golden shower wealth porn" story is to raise hackles and lust in roughly equal measure. Newsweek did one recently about the secrets of the uberrich that soldiered on in such diligent detail as to quickly founder. I'd never seen "bespoke" used with such abandon. Where were the inkstained editors? Where for that matter is Admiral Stufflebeem? "Deburr the ogive laddie!"
r = m/v
F = m a; a = 9.8 m/s2; 1 N = 1 kg m/s2 (via)
Bend it like Bunkum
FEMA Suppressed Warnings on Toxic Gas in Evacuee TrailersMore here. It is a measure of the success of the efforts of Bushians that we no longer even notice stories of this sort. Not too long ago this might have been news even on corporate-owned networks. Now it barely makes Democracy Now. Soon there will be no memory of "the news" at all. Like gas lamps -- a former utility, supplanted by moodia.
Newly-released documents show top Federal Emergency Management Agency officials have suppressed internal warnings about dangerous levels of toxic chemicals in trailers inhabited by Hurricane Katrina evacuees. Several emails show FEMA field workers warned the evacuees were living amidst levels of potentially cancerous formaldehyde gas that was seventy-five times the recommended maximum for U.S. workers. As many as one hundred twenty thousand families lived in the suspected trailers. Hundreds have complained of health effects. But the emails show FEMA officials were only concerned with avoiding any legal liability for the evacuees’ potential health problems. Three months after the complaints surfaced publicly, a FEMA official wrote agency lawyers had advised against carrying out tests because doing so : “would imply FEMA’s ownership of this issue.” On June 15, 2006, FEMA lawyer Patrick Preston wrote: “Do not initiate any testing until we give the OK. . . . Once you get results and should they indicate some problem, the clock is running on our duty to respond to them.” Eleven days later, an evacuee who had complained about the chemicals was found dead in his trailer. In a subsequent conference call, FEMA attorneys rejected calls for an independent investigation into his death and wider trailer tests.
Friday, July 20, 2007
what you need to know
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Let us prey
Easier to spot here:
As the Apostrophe Protection Society will maintain until the last vocable is uttered by the last humanoid, "Let's" = let us.
Could eagle-eyed Journal editors be distracted by the impending predation of Mr. Murdock?
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Open library, locked blog
let us build the Open Library.I'm not sure whom Aaron is addressing here, but by all means, let us. via JOHO.
Whatever can be done to push back against the JSTORs, MUSEs, Comcasts, News Corpses, New York Timeses and other children of intellectual proprietary darkness.
Tool of Tooldom
It offered a link to more information, which led to:
Your blog is lockedThe question, "What's a spam blog?" linked to a description of them which I no longer can access.
Blogger's spam-prevention robots have detected that your blog has characteristics of a spam blog. (What's a spam blog?) Since you're an actual person reading this, your blog is probably not a spam blog. Automated spam detection is inherently fuzzy, and we sincerely apologize for this false positive.
So, robots detected -- how we are not told -- that my blog had features of a spamblog robot. Robots, detecting characteristics of robots, robotically blocked my blog. I was given an option to enter some code (similar to the comment protection codes), and told that if I complied, a human from Google/Blogger would review the situation. Apparently someone did, because later in the day, there was this:
We received your unlock request on July 18, 2007. On behalf of the robots, we apologize for locking your non-spam blog. Please be patient while we take a look at your blog and verify that it is not spam.
Find out more about how Blogger is fighting spam blogs.
Odd, the apparent willingness to allow that my blog is a nonspam blog before even taking a look at it.
At no point in this intervention was I offered the option to say anything, or to ask any questions, to email or otherwise contact any human. Therefore I'm entirely in the dark about robot detection methods, techniques, and causes. I'm curious to know what suggested to Google/Blogger that my blog was a spambot, given that I moderate comments and do not spam. What sorts of events trigger blocks? One false report? Many? Some algorithmic number? What methods were used to determine I am not a bot? How do they know they were right?
Google/Blogger should take steps to counter robotic blogs. But as in the republic of Venice, which stationed special letter boxes for anonymous accusers to accuse anyone of anything, the robotics of blogware seems a bit obtuse if it can't determine whether a blog is produced by a human or by a robot that often doesn't even use human languages.
Enough about the sorry state of these inhuman speech enabling machines. I'm going to return to the world to revel in authentic lived human experience while I can.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Vernaculars speaking to each other
The figure of the collector in Benjamin is charged with more than mere object appropriation and arrangement. It might in fact be closely tied to the act of arrogation constitutive of communities of readers. One not only can collect to some enclave walled off from the light of the public sphere, as private collectors, corporations and others institutions are wont. One also can collect from -- to wrest from the experts, the JSTORs, the intellectually appropriative authorities of the past -- what is in reality the common heritage of everyone.
One tries to make certain tentative translative steps. I hope to make a few more.
that's you, not me
Monday, July 16, 2007
Bush has always been hard to listen to. Often it's his semantic stew that sinks any effort to attend. Lately it's more on the level of the signifier -- not that the stew is any less savoury -- specifically, it's the johnson-one-note-intonation.
"Secretary Rice will chair the meeting." Imagine any sane man, any bogus leader you name, saying this, and it will sound factual, declarative, helpfully filling in a bit of info, shaping expectations of some future event.
When George says it, it rides an arc of petulance, a querulous lintel that assumes that the listener, who is hearing this for the first time, has some incomprehensible reservation about it, is somehow mysteriously already not entirely on board with the notion, might in fact be standing in the dusty midway, hand reaching for gun, warily daring, Morricone guitar on reverb, to be dared. It's the tone of a voice sure it is being challenged, universally, all the time, and it wants us to know what we can do with our view.
"IN YOUR FACE Secretary Rice will chair the meeting."
"UP YOUR ASS Secretary Rice will chair the meeting."
"VAFA'NCULO Secretary Rice will chair the meeting."
In truth, this is the arc of every sentence coming forth from Bush these days. He's the one-note johnson, the little dick that petulantly can't, won't, shit ma, ok?
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Drilling: The miscellaneous and the marvelous
The way we've organized knowledge has been largely determined by these four properties of knowledge [single, unambiguous, filtered, dependent upon institutions]. We've tried try to settle on a single, comprehensive framework for knowledge, with categories so clear and comprehensive that experts can put each thing in its proper place. Institutions grew to maintain the knowledge framework. Their ability to certify experts and to vouch for knowledge made them powerful and sometimes rich.And here's Walter Benjamin mapping something of the same conceptual terrain somewhat differently:
"For tradition puts the the past in order, not just chronologically but first of all systematically in that it separates the positive from the negative, the orthodox from the heretical, and which is obligatory and relevant from the mass of irrelevant or merely interesting opinions and data. The collector's passion, on the other hand, is not only unsystematic but borders on the chaotic, not so much because it is a passion as because it is not primarily kindled by the quality of the object--something that is classifiable--but is inflamed by its "genuineness," its uniqueness, something that defies any systematic classification. Therefore, while tradition discriminates, the collector levels all differences; and this leveling--so that "the positive and the negative" . . . predilection and rejection are here closely contiguous." (Schriften II, 313), cited by Hannah Arendt in her Intro to Illuminations.Weinberger:
So, when the miscellaneous shakes our certainty in the nature of knowledge, more than the future of the card catalog is at stake. Because a third order miscellany is digital, not physical, we no longer have to agree on a single framework. Things have their _places_, not a single place. We get to create our own categories, ones that suit our way of thinking. Experts can be helpful, but in the age of the miscellaneous they and their institutions are no longer in charge of our ideas.Benjamin's polarity is far more charged with value than with matters of the true. As Arendt notes, Benjamin puts into contagious adjacency the collector and the revolutionary. Both are good at breaking established orders. Take a suicide bomber and pin him, wriggling, to the wall. His purpose is subverted, at least changed: he's no longer in service to Allah, but at the whim of the collector, who might merely be admiring his shoes, or his special grimace. Because the collector is not about rational ordering, or even passional use, but more about the whims of the performance of collecting.
"The true, greatly misunderstood passion of the collector is always anarchistic, destructive. For this is its dialectics: to combine with loyalty to an object, to individual items, to things sheltered in his care, a subborn subversive protest against the typical, the classifiable." Benjamin, "Lob der Puppe," cited by Arendt in her intro.Arendt discovers in "the collector's whimsical perspective" the peculiar bias toward the broken, the fragmentary, which she might extend to the century just past:
The figure of the collector, as old-fashioned as that of the flaneur, could assume such eminently modern features in Benjamin because history itself--that is, the break in tradition which took place at the beginning of this century--had already relieved him of this task of destruction and he only needed to bend down, as it were, to select his precious fragments from the pile of debris.Odd, that "as it were" . . .. How come this rubble, instead of quiescently waiting to be selected, as it also does with T.S.-these-fragments-I-have-shored-against-my-ruins-Eliot, doesn't fly up and hit the collector upside his head? Why is the collector, at this violent juncture of tradition, sheltered from the storm and able to exercise his fancy?
I don't know the answer to that question. But the gesture of bending down, as it were, to collect the relictoid -- torn untimely* from its context, from whatever once made it typical, and without which it is defamiliarized, reverting to a purposeless dumb monstrosity -- is a key feature of fashionable blogs.
Blogs whose governing intelligences appear to be no worse for wear than Walt's collector or T.S.'s deflective self.
If Arendt and Benjamin (and Agamben and others) are witnessing a deep and upending rift in tradition and correct in assessing its scope, this might lend context to some of what Weinberger is getting at. Although David frames much of his discussion in the geekly mode of digital access and metadata, what he's pointing to is nothing if not an energetic tearing up of the pea patch:
Customers, patrons, users and citizens are not waiting for permission to take finding and organization information. And we’re doing it not just as individuals. Knowledge—it content and its organization—is becoming a social act.This energy has been characterized as possessing inordinate strength and resilience. And there is often the claim that the technical has been a key factor in releasing it, if not channelling it, and that's fair. But the seemingly bottomless power of it - witness Wikipedia - has, I suspect, other, deeper roots than Silicon Valley. Arendt:
When he [Benjamin] was working on his study of German tragedy, he boasted of a collection of "over 600 quotations very systematically and clearly arranged" (Briefe I, 339); like the later notebooks, this collection was not an accumulation of excerpts intended to facilitate the writing of the study but constituted the main work -- a mode, Benjamin suggested, of drilling -- with the writing as something secondary.Benjamin's citations may have been systematically and clearly arranged, but they were torn from their context, their traditional placeholders, tagged and dragged willynilly to a new space in which they could play against each other, in Arendt's words, "in a free-floating state, as it were."
Tearing things from context enables them to float, puts them in a cloud. The excellent thing about clouds, as we are now learning, is that now one element, or polarity, comes forward, and now another. They wax and wane in strangely calm adjacencies.
For Benjamin, as Arendt notes, this was a truer method than attempting to "ruin everything with explanations that seek to provide a causal or systematic connection." Why this is so is, of course, unclear. Were it clear, we could provide a causal or systematic explanation and move on.
Traditionless USians always move on. They do not see there is no moving on.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
As Serbian forces closed in around Sarajevo’s City Psychiatric Hospital, and the patients were all being released, psychiatrist Dr Ferhid Mujanovic observed that far from aggravating their condition the war had made his patients better, their symptoms noticeably lessened as the ‘normal’ people seemed to be out of control. $
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Maybe, but this seems a weak sort inference. At the very least, it would suggest that at the moment we are accosted by a questing stranger our attention goes first to his or her words, because the verbal gambit challenges us to stand and seek information within, then to deliver. Upon delivery attention may shift from verbal to visual or other sensory facts.
In today's excerpt--research psychologists demonstrate yet again the frailty of human perception and memory:
"In an experiment taken straight from the pages of Candid Camera, researchers arranged for a researcher to approach pedestrians on a college campus and ask for directions to a particular building. While the pedestrian and the researcher conferred over the researcher's map, two construction workers, each holding one end of a large door, rudely cut between them, temporarily obstructing the pedestrian's view of the researcher. As the construction workers passed, the original researcher crouched down behind the door and walked off with the construction workers, while a new researcher, who had been hiding behind the door all along, took his place and picked up the conversation. The original and substitute researchers were of different heights and builds and had noticeably different voices, haircuts and clothing. You would have no trouble telling them apart if they were standing side by side. So what did the Good Samaritans who had stopped to help a lost tourist make of this switcheroo? Not much. In fact, most of the pedestrians failed to notice--failed to notice that the person to whom they were talking had suddenly been transformed into an entirely new individual. ...
"The point of these [types of] studies is not that we are hopelessly inept in detecting changes in our experience of the world but rather that unless our minds are keenly focused on a particular aspect of that experience at the very moment it changes, we will be forced to rely on our [very fallible] memories ... in order to detect the change."
It's not about memory - we remember quite well what we were asked. It's simply that for many of us, an encounter with a person is before all else an encounter with words.
Monday, July 09, 2007
- O.E. bisignisse (Northumbrian) "care, anxiety," from bisig "careful, anxious, busy, occupied" (see busy) + -ness. Sense of "work, occupation" is first recorded 1387. Sense of "trade, commercial engagements" is first attested 1727. Modern two-syllable pronunciation is 17c. Business card first attested 1840.
- 1575, "architect's set of designs," from M.Fr. modelle (Fr. modèle), from It. modello "a model, mold," from V.L. *modellus, dim. of L. modulus "measure, standard," dim. of modus "manner, measure" (see mode (1)). Sense of "thing or person to be imitated" is 1639. Meaning "motor vehicle of a particular design" is from 1900 (e.g. Model T, 1909). Sense of "artist's model" is first recorded 1691; that of "fashion model" is from 1904. The verb is 1665 in the sense of "fashion in clay or wax;" 1915 in the sense "to act as a model, to display (clothes)." The adj. is 1844, from the noun.
David Weinberger, in Delaminate the Bastards:
The problem is, this business model requires the carriers to work against the public interest.David is talking about the way the providers of access to the net are working against the public interest. Read the whole thing - it's lucid, sensible, clear, and openly builds on David Isenberg's Making Network Neutrality Sustainable.
Both Davids say we the users, the people, must act to turn policy around, in the direction of network neutrality.
They are surely right. But what is the recommended method to take a labyrinthine industry's business model apart and create something quite new? How often does this happen?
What they're seeing with corporate network perversion is pretty much homologous with what Michael Moore sees happening with USian health insurance, and again,
The problem is, this business model requires the carriers to work against the public interest.If a business model is working against the public interest, is it a business model?
dead nuff yet
I think we have a different, and perhaps diminished, sense of what's possible today compared to the '60s. In his speech at the March on Washington in 1965, Paul Potter talked about changing the system. We protest the war in Iraq, or the WTO, but it's hard to imagine that we could really change things in a radical way: put an end to the military industrial complex, replace consumer capitalism with another form of economy, or achieve true democracy. Back then, people seemed to be able to imagine a radically different future. I think it's vitally important that we recapture some of that utopian spirit.
Mark Tribe speaking to Regina Debatty apropos of the Port Huron Project. Via Listics.
"it's hard to imagine that we could really change things in a radical way:"
"it's easy to imagine that 'it's hard to imagine that we could really change things in a radical way:'"
We talk and create devices and means to talk and talk about devices that will enable us to talk more potently and devise more incisively and the net effect is what to discover that we are already dead, walking the elysian fields, talking about what we could do if only we were alive?
Either we are already dead, or it is part of the Business Model of the United States to have us seem so. It might not be a bad idea to interrogate the notion of "business models." What in plain fucking English is a business model?
to be continued
Saturday, July 07, 2007
Distributed realtime Sicko
My name is Eugenio Tisselli, and I am the developer behind zexe.net (http://www.zexe.net), a project in which specific urban collectives broadcast their daily experiences from mobile phones directly to the web. These collectives have included so far people on wheelchairs in Barcelona mapping the architecural barriers in the city, and motorcycle messengers (motoboys) in Sao Paulo, Brazil, among others.
From my point of view, small collectives engaged in communicative processes which are mediated by digital technology seek not only to represent themselves as a social entity, but also to make visible the invisible: the day to day issues that they encounter in their cities, which are particular to them and many times constitute problems or specific issues that affect their urban life. This process of visibilization is intended to have an effect not only on the general public, but also on the local government. IDC list
For all our alleged "communities" -- orkuts, mySpaceyfacebeaks, freundsters, flackrs -- this seems not yet covered: What if everyone facing a health crisis, an overcrowded ER, a Kaiser cab ride to the Permanente Dumpster, were equipped with a cell and a site to break some news of the USian inhuman condition in real time?
What if people were making their healthcare events visible right now? On a public server. It could be called 911.