Thursday, December 30, 2010

well worth paying attention to

What else is there to say?
Daron Acemoglu (MIT), Georgy Egorov (Northwestern), and Konstantin Sonin (CEPR): A Political Theory of Populism. Mathias O. Royce (SMC): The Rise and Propagation of Political Right-Wing Extremism: The Identification and Assessment of Common Sovereign Economic and Socio-Demographic Determinants. From Edge, who gets to keep secrets? The question of secrecy in the information age is clearly a deep social (and mathematical) problem, and well worth paying attention to. Kathryn Schulz on 2010: The year in mistakes. Five years in, gauging impact of Gates grants. Putting the "American business model" in its place: The key to understanding why market economies have outperformed planned societies is not recognition of the ubiquity of greed, but understanding of the power of disciplined pluralism. A review of The Arabs and the Holocaust: The Arab-Israeli War of Narratives by Gilbert Achcar. Cartoonist Darryl Cunningham investigates climate change. The deep pain of awkward silences: Remarks that stop the conversation cold at social gatherings can instantly elicit deep-seated feelings of exclusion. From NYRB, Ahmed Rashid on the way out of Afghanistan. The American Wikileaks Hacker: Jacob Appelbaum fight repressive regimes around the world — including his own. Rachel Botsman says we're "wired to share" — and shows how websites like Zipcar and Swaptree are changing the rules of human behavior.
Denis Dutton, the author, philosopher, and founding editor of the pioneering web digest Arts & Letters Daily, is dead at age 66.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Dec 8, #reverb10

...the prompt is Beautifully different. "Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different - you'll find they're what make you beautiful."

this machine designed by Max Factor measures the beauty of a woman's face but looks like a scene from 
Frankenstein meets Hellraiser. Aother article gives a different view of this instrument of torture beauty.

Post-modern has its uses after all. The only way I see to do this one is with an image, just the right image ~ ironic, snarky, hilarious, perhaps even gross. Neither Wiki entries on beauty nor lists of "notable" quotes on beauty will cut it for this one. There's always going Derridada with différance ~ essay Différance translated by Alan Bass + notes . Apply as you will. Or not.

 I'm old. Life is Beautiful. Sometimes ... Deconstruct that!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

#reverb10, day 7/Dec 7...

Prompt: Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?

This prompt has all the earmarks of a saccharine overdose in the making. Time to free write to turn over sweetened lemonade into zest from fresh lemons, silk purses into sows ears by free associating "community." Who does not belong to many communities? Sometimes too many communities; some are, if not faux, ersatz, counterfeit, then superficial. If not superficial then limited. A taxonomy of communities might run from all inclusive superficial to limited (functional/ situational) inclusive to exclusive. Then there is classification by function or location, perhaps even Library of Congress and Dewey Decimal classifications. There are obvious overlaps. 

Function or purpose: family, neighborhood, age cohort, voluntary associations, common interests or community of interests (professional, avocational), team, workplace, causes, projects, campaigns. 

Location, IRL (in real life) or virtual (cyberspace): neighborhood, apartment building, office, school, playground, public space, semi public space, private space, social media circles or groups, discussion lists. 

Poets's Basement: Ford, Yankevich and Orloski

Commentary seems superfluous here: 3 poems + a call for submissions from a possibly unexpected source. Consider though social protest in oral tradition ~ ballads, songs, oral and print poetry. Slam poetry, samizdat, broadsheets, Shelley's Mask of Anarchy (which became the anthem of the British Labor Party). Brecht, anonymous romances (ballads) from the Spanish Civil War and after.
Weekend Edition
December 3 -5, 2010
The Long Unemployed
are pressed to become messiahs
for ordinary soap or the like.
Friends and relatives gain cupboards
groaning with the crap. Hey it's all
disguised charity. Better straightforward
thirties with rent parties where players
threw a buck or two in a hat
and proceeded to drink a bathtub
of gin and lose a spouse and gain
another's for the nonce. In screaming
over the roar, some excoriated Capitalism, but
the gin made the vile monster not worth spit. 

Frank Ford lives in Cocoa Beach and witnesses space-bound rockets from his
front window. He feels that one day we'll reach aliens, and shoot or bribe them--more of such nonsense can be glimpsed at

Monday, December 06, 2010

Dec 6: #reverb10

Prompt: Make. 

Make it short, make it so, make my day. Maker, hechicero, hacedor, factotum. Faire, hacer, machen, מאַכן, dhéanamh, gwneud, καταστήσει, fer, fazer, facer, fè, fare. Dolce far niente. Make time, make room, make money, make music, make dinner, make a mess. Forget the nimble fingered clever crafty stuff. Not my craft and I'm not blogging a recipe, not sharing my personal gumbo recipe with anybody. Fait accompli. 

What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Dec1: #reverb10:

Prompt for December 1 - One Word. Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you? Confused yet? More about #reverb10 until I get around to posting an explanation ~ this is all very spur of the moment, on impulse. I'm trying to resist the impulse for signing up under more than one nom de blog and theming them.

Concordance. Harmony, putting things in order, mostly coming to terms, but not quite acceptance, not yet and certainly not total acquiescence or subservience.

According to WikipediaConcordance can mean:
 That should do for now and on so many levels, some (cosmology, math, statistics) I'd have to know more about. Concordance suggests connotative relations too: Concordat, concord, concordant. [Middle English concordaunt, from Old French concordant, from Latin concordns, concordant-, present participle of concordre, to agree, from concors, concord-, agreeing; see concord.]

Do I really have to pick a word for 2011 now?  I'll take "multiliteracies," bearing in mind that I could just as easily switch them out, "multiliteracies" for 2010 and "concordance" for 2011. Does that mean there a connection? Do you see it? Good, explain it to me when you get a chance.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Political economy of crisis

from David Rucio's occasional links & commentary (a fave). Yes, there's more. Read on...

Slavoj Žižek explores what the the idea of political economy means in terms of understanding the current crises: 

Happy Holidays... all of them

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Blogger Lit or Meet the Urbloggers

What Bloggers Owe Montaigne

November 12, 2010 | by Sarah Bakewell 
 The weekend newspapers are full of them. Our computer screens are full of them. They go by different names—columns, opinion pieces, diaries, blogs—but personal essays are alive and well in the twenty-first century. They flourish just as they did in James Thurber’s and E. B. White’s twentieth-century New York, or in the nineteenth-century London of William Hazlitt and Charles Lamb. There seems no end to the appeal of the essayist’s basic idea: that you can write spontaneously and ramblingly about yourself and your interests, and that the world will love you for it.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Origin of America's Intellectual Vacuum

Reposted from Portside, by Chris Hedges, originally appearing in, November 15, 2010, The Origin of America's Intellectual Vacuum.... so much for tenure as a safe haven. See also Davis' essay, "The Purge" describing the fates of tenured colleagues.

The blacklisted mathematics instructor Chandler Davis, after serving six months in the Danbury federal penitentiary for refusing to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), warned the universities that ousted him and thousands of other professors that the purges would decimate the country's intellectual life.

"You must welcome dissent; you must welcome serious, systematic, proselytizing dissent - not only the playful, the fitful, or the eclectic; you must value it enough, not merely to refrain from expelling it yourselves, but to refuse to have it torn from you by outsiders," he wrote in his 1959 essay "...From an Exile." "You must welcome dissent not in a whisper when alone, but publicly so potential dissenters can hear you. What potential dissenters see now is that you accept an academic world from which we are excluded for our thoughts. This is a manifest signpost over all your arches, telling them: Think at your peril. You must not let it stand. You must (defying outside power; gritting your teeth as we grit ours) take us back."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

urbanites and their cities

Andrey Korotayev (RSU): The World System Urbanization Dynamics: A Quantitative Analysis. William A. Fischel (Dartmouth): The Evolution of Zoning Since the 1980s: The Persistence of Localism. Urban-rural divide no more: An increasing number of urban dwellers are retreating to the country — and taking the city with them. Witold Rybczynski, author of Makeshift Metropolis: Ideas About Cities, on the cities we want (and part 2 — and a review). Could the increasngly complex systems needed to manage the next generation of megacities become our first true artificial intelligence?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

unlikely to go anywhere

Wolfgang Nedobity (Vienna): Casanova and the Italian Taste. The world is lousy with aspiring novelists who will probably never be published; Alix Christie offers insight into what keeps them working. From The Chronicle, apes and monkeys, dogs and cats are being unnecessarily confined, vivisected, and killed while animal advocates are ignored as a lunatic fringe; the cruelty of much animal experimentation cannot be justified on scientific grounds, because it has proved largely unproductive; and letter-writing campaigns may ease consciences, but they won't cure diseases. David Weigel on Pete Peterson's unserious campaign to get America to think seriously about the national debt. Annie Lowrey on why the deficit commission's proposal is unlikely to go anywhere. Moral judgments in social dilemmas: How bad is free riding? Die, Phone Book, Die: After a decade of obsolescence, the local phone directory is finally getting the chop as states wise up to reality. Hope, change, reality: Attorney General Eric Holder entered the Justice Department on a mission to reinvent it — unfortunately, Washington doesn't like an idealist. Year-end best-of lists can make for predictable reading — does anyone not know that Jonathan Franzen wrote the big novel of 2010? Instead, Bookforum asked the authors of our favorites to tell us what they liked reading this year. In the grip of the new monopolists: Do away with Google, break up Facebook? We can't imagine life without them — and that's the problem. Fool's Gold: Why the idea of a gold standard is best relegated to the dustbin of history (and more). Are we hardwired to love taxes? Jonah Lehrer on feeling rich, poor or overtaxed. Why conspiracy theorists think The Simpsons may have predicted 9/11. Police State 2010: A series on American MP's in Kandahar. Bringing the coffin industry back from the dead: How barcodes and touch screens are resuscitating a casket factory.

another interesting, semi-themed collection of annotated links from Omnivore, the Book Forum blog, xblogged to flâneuse, arts and places ("nowhere" is a place, isn't it? An "unplace" at the very least.

Posted via email from Meanderings

Saturday, October 30, 2010

midday musings to the contrary

"Musingsmakes a workable series for blogging disorganized thoughts and those other otherwise not subject to easy categorization. How to blog blogs (redundant, meta or what?) recommend series as way to organize blog posts and even keep them on some sort of regular feeding schedule. Including the series name in the title signals to readers in advance whether or not to bother with the post. The lazy sots like that. Stuck in a feedback loop: maybe meta is a synonym of sorts for redundant. Wouldn't that twist a knot in the skirts of culture theory wonks?

Don't grumble. I warned you "musings," by definition, would be disorganized. This one's for me so I get to do what I want the way I want. No public service announcements, no concern with community spirit, no advocacy unless ironically intended, no calendar announcements, no free PR for virtual parasites and other ingrates: in short, no business whether as usual or otherwise. Musing + graphic (appropriate or even just selected at random) seems like an easy recipe for keeping up.

Homework: drafting a firm but tactful policy guide for service and expository (information) blogs. Tricky combination. Musing, in this case, vents less tactful tendencies currently in ascendancy. Having a paid gig doing pretty much what I've been doing for free casts free online services and the bad behavior of the recipients in a whole 'nother light. I was already out of sorts with the whole syndrome and its tribe of accomplices. Had been long enough for it to be an old song. That not only strips me of bitching rights but makes me an enabler. Whoa. Come to a screeching halt. Make a sliding stop right there

Now time will be tighter. Much. Necessity that mother requires I tend to matters by weeding out virtual parasites and other time thieves. Thank you Mother Necessity for saving me from myself.

  1. accept only easy to turn around submissions, preferably ready to blog but let's be realistic
  2. DOWNSIZE it dammit (images, files): 1MB limit is beyond generous.
  3. no more doc conversions or accepting files  I can't open
  4. no more unlimited reminders, 1 reminder after original query, 3rd time just shoot them like in the old joke about the stubborn mule and training Kate
  5. speaking of time and time thieves, make those submissions in a timely manner

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Dunning-Kruger effect

The masses are a$$es ... and so are their handlers. We already knew this. But did you know there is a theory for it it? Dear (and likely imaginary) Reader, I'll leave the specifics of  local and global applications up to you.  More colloquially known as "confident dumb people." Post cheerfully cribbed from Wikipedia

The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which an unskilled person makes poor decisions and reaches erroneous conclusions, but their incompetence denies them the metacognitive ability to realize their mistakes. The unskilled therefore suffer from illusory superiority, rating their own ability as above average, much higher than it actually is, while the highly skilled underrate their abilities, suffering from illusory inferiority. This leads to the situation in which less competent people rate their own ability higher than more competent people. It also explains why actual competence may weaken self-confidence: because competent individuals falsely assume that others have an equivalent understanding. "Thus, the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others."

The Dunning–Kruger effect was put forward by Justin Kruger and David Dunning. Similar notions have been expressed–albeit less scientifically–for some time. Dunning and Kruger themselves quote Darwin ("Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge") and Bertrand Russell ("One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision."

The Dunning–Kruger effect is not, however, concerned narrowly with high-order cognitive skills (much less their application in the political realm during a particular era, which is what Russell was talking about. Nor is it specifically limited to the observation that ignorance of a topic is conducive to overconfident assertions about it, which is what Darwin was saying. Indeed, Dunning et al. cite a study saying that 94% of college professors rank their work as "above average" (relative to their peers), to underscore that the highly intelligent and informed are hardly exempt. Rather, the effect is about paradoxical defects in perception of skill, in oneself and others, regardless of the particular skill and its intellectual demands, whether it is chess, playing golf or driving a car.

The hypothesized phenomenon was tested in a series of experiments performed by Justin Kruger and David Dunning, then both of Cornell University. Kruger and Dunning noted earlier studies suggesting that ignorance of standards of performance is behind a great deal of incompetence. This pattern was seen in studies of skills as diverse as reading comprehension, operating a motor vehicle, and playing chess or tennis.

Kruger and Dunning proposed that, for a given skill, incompetent people will:
  1. tend to overestimate their own level of skill;
  2. fail to recognize genuine skill in others;
  3. fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy;
  4. recognize and acknowledge their own previous lack of skill, if they can be trained to substantially improve.

It's everywhere: government, management, organizations, the education system. Spread the word, warn everybody.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

maquillage du blog

Overdue part deux of post-downer recovery from doing the digital for the public weal. It is not enough to change editorial course or resume a previous one, ever bearing in mind that the very notion of any kind of heading is contrary to the principles of  flânerie. Whether nostos or heading off in an entirely new direction, one must also look different. Appearance and costume matter. Nothing quite like remodeling or a face lift for a psychic pick-me-up. Can't afford either, so it's just as well the inclination is lacking in other spheres. Electronically, enter new templates and features for blog makeovers. Maquillage... in art and flânerie.

I've been redecorating the rest of my personal blogosphere. Design choices range from elegant to clean lined simplicity, a green grass, blue skies evocative of picnics under a summer sky or dignified without being stuffy.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

global e-flânerie

reposted from Omnivore, Book Forum's splendid blog of links briefly annotated and grouped thematically, adding up to 

A proper philosophy of globalization

From Synthesis Philosophica, Zagorka Golubovic (Belgrade): Philosophical Principles as a Foundation of the Concept of Globalisation; Arto Mutanen (Lappeenranta): About the Possibility of a Proper Philosophy of Globalization; Tomas Kacerauskas (VGTU): Discourse of Globalization: Bios, Techne, and Logos from the Phenomenological Point of View; Tomaz Grusovnik (Primorska): A Distant View: Globalization Inside Philosophy; Bela Mester (HAS): Space and Time in a Global World; Vojko Strahovnik (Ljubljana): Globalization, Globalized Ethics and Moral Theory; Mislav Kukoc (Spli): Liberal Philosophy and Globalization; Dragica Vujadinovic (Belgrade): Global Civil Society as Concept and Practice in the Processes of Globalization; and Gottfried Kuenzlen (UniBw): The Other Side of Globalisation: The New Power of Religion as a Cultural and Political Challenge. From the Journal of Critical Globalisation Studies, James Brassett (Warwick):Cosmopolitan Sentiments After 9-11: Trauma and the Politics of Vulnerability; Nick Srnicek (LSE): Conflict Networks: Collapsing the Global into the Local; Victoria Ridler (Birkbeck): Word and World: The Imperium of Reason and Possibility of Critique; and a roundtable discussion on Transnational Militancy in the 21st Century. Are nations going extinct? Our conception of what constitutes a "country" is deteriorating — say hello to post-national entities, "other guys" that stand outside of the dominant system. Beyond city limits: The age of nations is over — the new urban age has begun. A review of Tax Havens: How Globalization Really Works by Ronen Palan, Richard Murphy, and Christian Chavagneux. From Newsweek, a special section on the world's best countries. World's Happiest Countries: Bhutan started the gross national happiness trend, but here's what Gallup did with it. From Foreign Policy, an article on the geopolitics of Google Earth: It's not just for busting swimming pool cheats.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Thursday, August 12, 2010

are we obsolete?

Selected links to articles and websites, thought provoking and entertaining. A brief sampler:
The ideals of inclusivity and diversity are losing ground in the general public. Joel Kotkin on the changing demographics of America.... Michael Lind on the fantasy of a vast upper middle class: College isn't for everyone, neither is the stock market.... From New Politics, what happened to the American working class? .... The richest few don't need the rest of us as markets, soldiers or police anymore.

Are the American people obsolete? - links from / omnivore

PS ~ when I get a handle on regular schedule, an appropriate if thinly veiled anonymization, apps to facilitate clipping for post content and the like, I'll saunter back into the public domain.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Links from a guilty pleasure blog

I have some thoughts fermenting in my mind about the recent surge of "blood and soil" nationalism in this country, from the birthers to the recent law in Arizona to all the talk of "real America," but it'll be awhile before they coalesce into something worth reading. For now I'll offer some links for your edification.

First off, I have to thank Chauncey DeVega for tipping me off to this brilliant piece in New York magazine detailing Sarah Palin's political grifting.

In case you didn't know, the new law in Arizona 
was written with the help of someone connected to white supremacist extremists. The principle author, Russell Pearce, likes to hang out with neo-Nazis. My worst fears are coming true: these fascists (these are the real kind!) have used the Tea Party movement to move from the fringe to the mainstream.

When I feel like getting my 80s on, "
Suddenly Last Summer" by The Motels always gets the job done. "Bette Davis Eyes" does too, though more the reverby guitars than the airy synths.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

taking my social media pulse

I'm keeping up with blogs, more or less, Thatis this week, no telling what next week will bring. Caring about keeping up is harder than the blogging itself.  

The Chinese menu formula (one each from columns A, B, C, etc) for the New Faculty Majority blog keeps posts distributed between official, unofficial but relevant and personal. I should add a column D for humor if only for my own sanity. It may work out. Time will tell. 

Mountainair Arts runs to the haphazard, depending on mood and what lands in my mailbox. I think I may be getting past the blog-malaise that stalks me, blocking blogging, more there than any place else. Poets and Writers Picnic seems less susceptible. That will no doubt change as picnic slouches toward the Shaffer garden like some proverbial beast waiting to be born. 

Friday, April 02, 2010


I'm starting a day late (today being April 2) but still giving NaWriPoMo a try via the ReadWritePoem prompts and blog. Maybe just the prompts.

So this is how I participate: I write a poem a day, every day, for the month of April. I can keep them to myself, or post them online ~ obviously I intend to post them online, less sure about the sharing part. I can put myself on the official NaPoWriMo participants' list by emailing my name and/or the name/address of this website where (if it happens at all, I'll be posting my poems) to NaPo (for short) then links this site on its main page. 

There's another process for NaPo on RWP. I won't go into it now because I'm still reading that post.

Posted via web from Meanderings

But there's more... including a cautionary tale, the Web 2.0 version ... Posterous is a useful tool for quick multiple posts but be careful using that you don't send posts more places than you intend and then have to dash about deleting them. If you posterous-post from the website, the damn things sends them everywhere it has a connection for. The same can happen when you post by email, but you can control destination/s by addressing. The information is on the site. 

Friday, March 26, 2010

algorithms, filters and social networks

from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 20.03.2010, via Sign and Sight's from the Feuilltons feature

Jürgen Kuri assistant editor-in-chief of c't, explains why web filters are so important, and why only social networks have the power to counteract the Google algorithm: "Algorithms are not moral and not intelligent. Algorithmic filters lead to mainstreaming, which smacks of the Matthew effect: "To all those who have, more will be given". 

Things that are known are strengthened by repetition and more versions of the same; the unknown things and things that don't conform are blended out. But user behaviour on social networks demonstrates that filters can work differently. The network of relations between circles of friends on Facebook and groups of followers on Twitter, creates a social filter of tips, links, retweets, statements and comments."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

be your own futurist

Professional futurists continue to make outstanding contributions toward the development of understandings of the future, but is futures thought limited to this select group? Definitely not! With a do-it-yourself attitude, and leverage of the right resources, anybody can become an effective futurist. Here's why:

  1. Nobody knows the future – don't trust anybody who says otherwise. The world is changing at an accelerating pace, and it's simply getting harder and harder to imagine what will happen next, let alone 20 years from now. We are all white belts when it comes to approaching the future. We have never been there before, and it is hard to model a world that does not exist yet. What futurists provide is their "best guess" — hopefully supported by quality research and trends analyses.
  2. Futuring is easier than you think. While some futures research methodologies, such as the Delphi method, require an element of professional experience and expertise, many others are easily done — and should be done — by just about anybody. Environmental scanning, for example, involves simply exposing yourself to as much data and information on a broad range as possible (i.e., reading as many newspapers as you can, daily). The futures wheel is related to mindmapping, and can be easily done within individual or group settings. Jerome Glenn and Theodore Gordon wrote an excellent volume on methodologies used by futurists, Futures Research Methodology Version 3.0 (Available at For do-it-yourself futurists or those wishing to explore the field, it is an excellent resource that will get you going.
  3. We are all futurists. Few activities are as natural and universal among humans and human cultures as storytelling. We use stories to share our memories and imaginations of events that have happened or will happen. We use stories to share histories, fables and myths of the past. We also use stories to share visions of and for the future — including goal setting, promises of change, narratives of how we improve ourselves, and even apocalyptic nightmares. Even in our sleep, we often dream about future scenarios. Futurists explicitly tap into our stories and the power of storytelling to share their visions and dreams. So can everybody else.
  4. You can access the same information as professional futurists can. Unless if you're divining knowledge from an isolated and highly controlled information source, the ubiquitous availability of data and information in today's networked society mean that you can easily and cost-effectively build up your knowledge base of future trends. Moreover, you are welcome to join the same professional societies that professional futurists participate in, such as the World Future Society, providing you with the same connections and access to professional society-level knowledge they have.
  5. We all create the future. Futurists do not create the future, everybody does. Time may move forward, but the future does not just "happen." Rather we share a responsibility to ensure that the futures we create are positive (ideal outcomes for humanity, the world, etc.). Moreover, in our interconnected world, we cannot disconnect from our futures. We cannot "futureproof" an organization. Nor can we find ways to fight it as individuals. Rather we can harness our inner futurists and lead in the creation of futures of our own design.
Cheerfully cribbed from Education Futures, "Five secrets futurists don't want you to know" by 
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