Monday, December 10, 2007
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Adrian Mackenzie, Cutting Code: Software and Sociality. (Adrian was one of the other lecturers at the Deleuze seminar in Copenhagen last May--see previous posts--and I'm really looking forward to reading this)
Michele A. Willson, Technically Together: Rethinking Community within Techno-Society. (within all this recent talk of social networks, it was intriguing that someone's still talking about community)
Sharon Kleinman (ed) Displacing Place: Mobile Communication in the Twenty-First Century. (another in the rapidly proliferating genre of mobile phone collections--see earlier posts on books).
Apologies for lack of links to either the publisher's website or previous posts. But it's late.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Charges dropped, special prosecutor fired. Here's the AZ Republic.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Sunday, September 09, 2007
The article's interesting in other respects: why the FDA didn't note these studies when it approved the devices for use in humans, whether the FDA was aware of this research, why the AMA didn't mention or know of the studies before publicly supporting the technology, and the curious coincidence of Tommy Thompson, who was head of Health and Human Services (which oversees the FDA) when the chips were approved, resigned two weeks after the approval, and within six months was on the Board of VeriChip Corp. which makes the devices (he denies having any role in the approval or knowledge of the company before his resignation and the FDA confirms that he had no role in the decision process).
Friday, September 07, 2007
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Mark Andrejevic (2007) iSpy: Surveillance and Power in the Interactive Era. University Press of Kansas.
David Lyon (2007) Surveillance Studies: An Overview. Polity.
Both of which look fantastic.
And I managed to find a used copy of the latest in this series by this Rowling person. Will get to it eventually. Right now it's sitting on top of the Pynchon book next to the bed (stacked together they nearly block out the light from the bedside lamp).
Finished The World Without Us, which I found a fascinating read. Much of the general point we've heard before in many ways: humans environmental impact, the devastation (actual and potential) of nuclear materials, petrochemicals, plastics, and so on. It just frames these matters in an intriguing way and got me thinking about things that I probably knew but was willingly ignoring, like the fact that plastic--any plastic--is not going away at all ever unless burned. That's been going through my head every time I toss a plastic yogurt cup (of a type which is nonrecyclable around here) into the trash, or a piece of cling-wrap, or get groceries in plastic bags (and today I bought a dozen free-range eggs, packaged without irony in double layers of plastic). Again, not a new issue, but the book re-presents these old issues through such an interesting question that at least it's got me thinking more. Between that and watching Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" a few months ago--I remember reading Roger Ebert's review of the film where he said that after seeing the film he went home and started turning out all his lights. I've been doing that, too. Lights off unless an area's being used, and everything unplugged unless in use.
Anyway, for the last thing: sometime over the summer I finished Horst and Miller's Cell Phone: An Anthropology of Communication, which I really liked. when I mentioned it in this blog last Spring I was worried about all the "impact" talk on the back cover (the impact of the cell phone on the poor in Jamaica, etc.). And it shows up in the book at the very beginning and then again at the end where they are connecting their results with the broader funded study of which they are a part, which made me think that this problematic "impact" language was an artifact of the funded project (can't get funding unless you're showing effects) and it creeps back into their language when they have to articulate it back with the broader project. But for a most part they write quite subtly about communication practices and cell phones (and certainly not treating the latter as if they just fell out of the sky). The cell phone becomes a part of a number of ongoing cultural practices (to the benefit of some and detriment of others, and benefit and detriment at the same time to some) and is taken up within the context of these practices
Friday, August 03, 2007
Thursday, August 02, 2007
Just finished a big manuscript so now have a brief bit of time to get caught up on some reading before the semester starts in earnest. Still creeping through Pynchon's "Against the Day" and have half an eye out for a used copy of the 7th book in a certain series.
And just started Alan Weisman's very readable "The World Without Us," which I'm really looking forward to getting further in. The book is a "thought experiment" about what would happen to the planet if humans suddenly disappeared one day: how would things fall apart, what would survive, what would regrow? Parts of the book are like a disaster movie, describing how buildings, bridges, roads fall apart due to the force of water, ice, or rust. How the New York subways would flood as soon as the pumps shut off. And it follows in great detail this story of destruction down to the molecular level (how ice and rust can tear structures apart). All this has a certain fascination; if humans disappear, what that we've built lasts the longest? which is gone the quickest? [The section on New York's bridges was going through my mind when I heard about the tragic Minneapolis bridge collapse]. And what of the environment, plants, and animals? A great deal of the book is really about the relation of humans to their environment from prehistoric times to today, living in balance with some animals and wiping out herds of others (including 5 species of giant ground sloths, some the size of modern elephants, which once roamed North America). Plants and animals which depend on humans to survive (most crops, ornamental flowers, even apple trees, to dogs, rats, and roaches) don't last long post-human (he gives cats a decent chance). I've just finished the chapter on plastics, covering how and why plastics really don't break down (it just gets chopped smaller and smaller until plastic particles invade every organism) to how there's a 10 million square mile swirling swath of the Pacific that is basically covered in plastic debris. Looks like the next chapter's about oil. Sobering stuff. There's also fascinating glimpses of places where humans have vacated (like the Korean DMZ; the area around Chernobyl, and others) and how plants and animals reclaim that land (and which plants and animals do so). So it's about how humans have impacted the planet, but also about how and why plants and animals move and transform and compete. It draws on engineering, anthropology, ecology and a host of other fields. Interesting stuff.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Saturday, June 02, 2007
Toyoharu Kojima writes (in Tetsu Yamazaki’s Legacy of the Dog [1995, Chronicle Books) about Scotties that “The breed can be extremely stubborn and proud, as though it were a much larger dog. Because of this, the Scottish terrier can only live with someone who truly loves it and is tolerant of its faults.” Ain’t that the truth. They are very independent and stand-offish, only reluctantly submitting to gestures of affection (like scratches or ear rubs) and then skittering away as if embarrassed at their weakness (but glancing back in the corner of their eye, in a very characteristic look, to see what’s coming). This is not to say that they are not affectionate, just in their own Scotty way. Having a Scotty is a unique experience, much more particular and idiosyncratic than just having a dog. It’s much like having a cat, in that you get the feeling that they deign to live with you, or rather it should be more properly put that you live with them rather than them living with you; they will be affectionate, but purely on their terms. It’s a Scotty contradiction: they like to be near you, will follow you around the house, but at a distance. They can be quite playful, full of energy (they are terriers, after all), and keep that puppy energy for years. And Edmund was like that, though he also had a certain gravitas to him which always made him seem an older dog. But he loved the snow in Illinois, playing in the waters of Lake Michigan, and having a good sniff around the block.
A friend from grad school, Linda, once told me a story about the Scotty she had growing up who once ate the book, How to Train Your Scottish Terrier. That sort of sums up the breed. It also brings up the fact that, in particular, Edmund liked the taste of hardbound books and over the years made his way through volumes on Georgia O’Keefe, Artificial Life, a Jasper Fforde mystery, a volume on the DSM, and a self-help book, as well as others. They have large mouths and like to chew on things. Pet toys designed to last months if not years are demolished in minutes.
It’s hard to find an adjective which captures Edmund (feisty, ornery, goofy, psychotic, loud, loyal, determined, headstrong, demanding, playful, and sweet, all come to mind). In any case, Mr. Ed will be sorely missed; he was truly loved.
Saturday, May 05, 2007
So the trip to
The flight itself was OK, not great. British Airways was fine, but I had expected something a bit more. Anyway, my overhead light didn’t work, which was inauspicious. I managed to redirect the light from the middle seat (I’m on the aisle) so I can read and do some grading. There’s no one in the middle seat and the guy at the window was sound asleep for most of the flight. I was hoping to get through much of my grading but didn’t count on being sleepy (it was an overnight flight after all and one tends to get sleepy around midnight). So I napped a bit after the dinner service (vegetarian, and actually a quite nice pasta) and when I awoke everyone else was in major transatlantic sleep mode and not a single overhead reading light was on in my section of the cabin. This made it difficult to turn on my light to work, and I didn’t want to bother my row mate. So ended up trying to rest though it was hard to get comfortable. The noise reduction headset was really nice. It cuts out most of the background roar of the engines so you can actually hear what you’re listening to with greater clarity, and it just makes things a bit calmer.
We’re now set to arrive at 20 till 2 in the afternoon. My flight is at 2:20 though the gate is supposed to close at 2:10 or earlier. We land on time, and then taxi and taxi and then sit and sit and sit as we wait to cross a busy runway. And then taxi and taxi and taxi. Then there’s a plane just backing out of our gate which has to start up its engines etc. Waiting. Waiting. We pull in to the gate, everyone piles into the aisles and it’s a traffic jam to get out. A flight attendant assures me that I should have plenty of time since we’re at terminal 4 and that’s where my connection is. It’s 2:00 when I get off the plane, tuck my very heavy oversized and overstuffed briefcase under my arm (lots of papers and books, this thing is HEAVY) and start running. And run and run and run down hall after hall after hall. After a while it starts getting funny as you turn a corner and there’s another 100 yard hallway with no end in sight. By 2:15 I run into…a security screening, since all passengers have to be rescreened before entering the terminal. A security guy hears my plea about my connection and tells me to head to the front of the line. I do, send everything through the X-ray, and wait as the screener argues with the person in front of me about where his receipt is for his duty free. Grab my stuff, don’t even bother to put my shoes on but carry them, out into terminal 4—and my flight’s not on the monitors. I flag down a BA rep who assures me that either it’s up there and I just didn’t see it or I missed it and that she is currently assisting this other customer find a coffee shop or something urgent. So I find a BA helpdesk and they locate the gate information for me, which gives me hope (it’s 2:21) and one last sprint down to the gate. And it’s gone.
I walk all the way back down the concourse and they put me on the next flight (very efficient and friendly, which was nice). I call Elise to have her email Soren, who’s supposed to be meeting me, that I’m on a later flight (I had her email him before I left Phoenix about the delay, and I realize I don’t have his phone number with me). Purchase some water and a street map of
Which brings up as an aside my favorite story about going through passport control. I was flying into
Anyway I make my way to baggage, wondering if I’ll ever see my luggage after all this. And one of my bags comes off the conveyor. Head over to the baggage people’s office and they recognize my name from a list they just got: my hanging bag’s still in Heathrow and will be sent on later that day or in the morning. Par for the course, at this point. I finally exit into the
Checked in to the very nice Opera hotel; desk staff was quite friendly. Soren had left his number. I called him and we set up to meet Sunday to walk around
So I’m glad to finally be here. Looking forward to seeing something of
Friday, May 04, 2007
This doesn't mean that laptops don't have their uses in schools, just that perhaps they don't provide a blanket technological fix to education and educational achievement. It also shows the extent to which a technology is never simply the material machine but its support technologies (repair, supplies, upgrades) and social and cultural behaviors. They're useful for some types of learning, but not all.
I'm not against laptops in school. I'm just interested in the wave of enthusiasm which has been throwing money at laptop programs for over a decade and that some are stepping back and reflecting.
Gotta go pack.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Sunday, April 29, 2007
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Heather Horst and Daniel Miller (2006) The Cell Phone: An Anthropologyof Communication. New York: Berg. A detailed ethnography of the cell phone among the low incomepopulation of Jamaica. The blurb on the back uses a lot of "impact"terminology ("The book traces the impact of the cell phone..."); I'm hoping that the analysis itself is more subtle.
Finally got my own copies ofMizuko Ito, Daisuke Okabe, & Misa Matsuda's (eds) Personal,Portable, Pedestrian: Mobile Phones in Japanese Life. MIT Press.
And James E. Katz and Mark Aakhus (eds) Perpetual Contact: MobileCommunication, Private Talk, Public Performance. Cambridge UP.
Sometime this summer once I'm done with the Cultural Globalization manuscript I'm sitting down with a huge stack of cell phone books.
This is from the second half marathon. Somewhere around mile 11. At this point I'm thinking, "who put this hill here?"
Clazziquai Project, "Instant Pig" [Thanks Keehyeung!!], a nice pop/jazz/lounge kinda album from Korea. We've been listening to it in the car a lot; it makes driving around Phoenix seem almost cosmopolitan.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
It’s interesting what people discuss with each other during these long runs. They’re not talking to me, just happen to be on the same pace and nearby; and some people’s voices carry, even when running a half marathon. During part of the January race I was treated to a discussion about someone’s relationship; today I got a half hour of how one person was going to re-do their landscaping and how expensive desert plants from nurseries were these days after the big freeze in January. But a couple of people were talking about the PF Chang run, and reminded me of something I forgot to blog about when I described that run. Over the course of the first two miles or so of that race, there were a number (over a half-dozen) people on the sidewalks holding these huge signs with biblical verses from Revelations and bold warnings that we (presumably the thousands of people trotting down the road) were all on the road to hell (“actually,” someone nearby quipped, “I thought this was the road to Tempe”). It was an interesting way to start a race. No signs today, just lovely saguaro cacti and pretty mountains (and the edge of the ‘burbs cutting into the desert).
Saturday, March 03, 2007
Never conceived that I'd own a vehicle with leather seats.
And am very wary of built in DVD systems in vehicles.
But with the pragmatics of ferrying small children and their friends thither and yon, the larger vehicle makes sense (seats more people, more car seats). The leather and DVD player just happened to be there, though we weren't looking for them when we were scoping new wheels.
But what prompted such a purchase was the final failure of our ever-faithful 1995 honda civic hatchback (178,000 miles). We loved that car and have driven it across the country, commuted from Georgia to South Carolina in it (cf. the opening of my "home" essay; that's the car). Over the last two years it's been stolen and returned (as part of a police sting operation on a ring of honda thieves no less), wrecked and fixed. Put a new A/C system in it last Spring ($2K) and a new clutch two weeks ago (and new tires last month). But something caused it to overheat, the head gasket blew, the engine fried, and we were looking at way too much money to get it fixed again. But someone who loves those cars bought it and will fix it up so that it may finally make that 200K miles we wanted it to make.
So now we have a 2003 Honda Odyssey in great condition with only 38,000 miles (perhaps they only drove it on weekends?). Not looking forward to having to fill this thing up with gas. But it's a great vehicle.
Friday, February 23, 2007
I went through one of the puff machines they mention in the article at the San Francisco airport last Fall, which was interesting. I'm not interested in volunteering for backscatter.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
The Arizona Republic Story: http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/0221backscatter-ON.html
I've only had the chance to glance quickly at the many responses to the article linked on the website above, but they seem to run the usual gamut of "it's about time, we need to be safe," to "I have nothing to hide, so why should I worry," to "it's a neo-con plot!!" (these are paraphrases, of course).
EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center)'s page on backscatter technology:
And the TSA's (Transportation Security Administration) page on privacy and backscatter:
Remarkable difference in the level of detail available in the images between the EPIC article (drawing on older reports, presumably) and how the TSA supposedly have tweaked it to reduce the invasion of privacy (down to chalk outlines). One wonders that, given that they're actually doing this, will it actually detect anything useful, and will it detect anything that couldn't be detected by other less intrusive means? It seems to be a solution looking for a problem, another technophilic fix to the problem of security (see David Lyons' Surveillance After September 11; Blackwell).
There's been some concern by the ACLU and others about the fate of these images (who has access, can they be stored, could they end up on the Internet, etc.) According to the TSA (FWIW)--see above link and their link to their FAQ on privacy, scroll to the bottom for backscatter: http://www.tsa.gov/research/privacy/faqs.shtm --
"Images will not be printed, stored or transmitted
To further enhance privacy, when the Transportation Security Officer has resolved any anomaly, the image is erased from the screen. The capability of printing, storing or transmitting the image is not available to the Transportation Security Officer operating the system."
Note that this doesn't say that these images can't be printed, stored, or transmitted, just that the Officer monitoring them can't do this. And note also that the image is erased (passive voice; by whom?) "from the screen." Is it erased from the computer itself? Pick pick pick.
[EDIT: one last thing, almost all of this debate is framed in terms of privacy--which seems obvious since we're talking about taking x-rays of people which see through their clothes. But, again following some of David Lyons' thinking about surveillance, we also need to think this through in terms of other issues, like dignity (a human right according to the UN), and this whole thing certainly seems undignified.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Now, 24 minutes is a pretty decent time. But I’m also realizing as I do more of these events that my only yardstick of success for distance running—and hence my real competition—is what I did when I was 18. I know, I know: competing with oneself is such a cliché. But I also have this nagging feeling that I can actually beat him (that is, me, or the 18-year old me): I’m handling distances much more easily than I did when I was younger. I should point out that when I was 18, I wasn’t that great a runner and never made varsity in either track or cross-country, so it’s not like I’m setting the bar all that high here.
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Two new books:
David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism (Oxford)
Manuel DeLanda, A New Philosophy of Society: Assemblage Theory and Social Complexity (Continuum).
The latter has me wondering about what seems to be a sudden recent interest in Deleuze's (and D&G's) notion of assemblage. I have a vested interest in this, of course, having written a chapter in Charles Stivale's Gilles Deleuze, Key Concepts book on Assemblage and using it in my own work on technology (first in Exploring Technology and Social Space, and then more extensively in Jennifer and my Culture and Technology: A Primer). But there's not only DeLanda's new book and essay ("Deleuzian Social Ontology and Assemblage Theory" in Fuglsang and Sorensen's Deleuze and the Social) and his previous book, Intensive Science and Virtual Philosophy, but three separate essays on assemblage in last year's Theory, Culture and Society's mammoth special issue on Problematizing Global Knowledge. Also the term comes up in the title of Ong & Collier's edited collection, Global Assemblages: Technology, Politics, and Ethics as Anthropological Problems (Blackwell), though it's really not developed at all in the collected itself.
Anyway, I'm interested to read at least the first couple chapters of DeLanda's book, his explication of assemblage. I'm more wary of the latter chapters applying the theory to society and social problems, especially after the entry in The Pinocchio Theory blog on the book and an excellent but as yet unpublished essay by Steven D. Brown on Deleuze and social science which I just got the chance to read.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Friday, January 19, 2007
In any case, I'm looking forward to it. Need to start working on my presentation, most likely something around Deleuze, technology, assemblage, attention, and ubiquitous computing (everyware) which I'm hoping to turn into either a long essay or a short book (though all my plans for long essays always turn into very short essays for some reason).
Now, if I could get that Danny Kaye song out of my head, I could think things through more clearly :)
Monday, January 15, 2007
Sunday, January 14, 2007
It was coooooold today in Phoenix—lows in the mid 20’s F and temps perhaps at the mid-30s at race time. I started slow, taking it easy, and seeing how the whole thing felt. Actually ended up taking a pit stop at the portable johns at the first mile mark since they kept us standing at the start in the cold for over 45 minutes, and I had been drinking lots of coffee. But after about 6 miles or so I felt pretty good and started picking up the pace, and from then on basically ran negative splits (each mile faster than the previous). Ended up feeling really great over the last 3 miles. I’ll post pictures when I get them.
There were over 37,000 registrants for both the marathon and half-marathon today, not sure how many stayed home because of the cold, but there were tens of thousands of people out there on the course today. Runs are usually fairly festive events, but this one prides itself on its entertainment—bands (mostly rock—and if I hear “Born to be Wild” one more time….You think these bands would know another song) every other mile or so, cheering squads along the route. What I do like about road racing (and this was my first road race since….um….the second Reagan administration, perhaps the first Bush admistration) is that transgressive feeling you get running down the middle of the street (where only cars are supposed to go) ignoring all the stop signs and stoplights.
Anyway, I’m sleepy, my feet are tired, and my knees ache.
But there’s another ½ marathon down in Mesa in two months…