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(no subject)
I am reading a book called "Lacan Today" by Alexandre Leupin in a disinterested spirit of sympathy and intellectual curiosity. Apparently, I need to brush up on my mathematics to understand the unconscious.

Signal Boost: Return of the DDoS
Originally posted by deathpixie at Signal Boost: Return of the DDoS
For those wanting to know more about the recent DDoS attacks, yes, it looks like it was the Russian government trying to shut down the dissidents again.

As I said last time, while it's frustrating not to have access, LJ is a lot more than a social network platform. From the article:

"LiveJournal isn’t just a social network. It’s also a platform for organizing civic action. Dozens of network projects and groups mobilize people to solve specific problems — from defending the rights of political prisoners to saving endangered historic architecture in Moscow."

So while I know many are considering the move over to Dreamwidth and other such sites, supporting LJ is a way we can help support those who use it for more than a writing/roleplaying/social venue.

Also, as a FYI, LJ is giving paid users effected by the outage two weeks of paid time as compensation.

(no subject)
I now require a continuous supply of wasabi peas.

(no subject)

The Golden Age of Hollywood Comic
For me, and for many of my generation, the Golden Age of Hollywood Comedy can be defined by a set of directors, writers, and actors working between c. 1978 and 1991- that is, from Animal House to Groundhog's Day.

John Landis
Harold Ramis
Various 1st- and 2nd- SNL performers.

But what is the crowning gem of this glorious epoch? Some say Ghostbusters, but I think it is clearly Trading Places.


On Simulation, Part I
nerve staple
I had a conversation with max_ambiguity that broaches some recent concerns of mine about simulation.

When I was riding my bicycle earlier this week, I thought again about how I always get angry at drivers, and that I dislike how this anger wastes my emotional and physical reserves. Lots of cyclists, I'm sure, get angry at drivers, especially in a congested city; your safety depends on remaining aware of your exposure to hurtling machines of varying tonnage, your own adrenaline is up from simple exertion, and then some douchebag makes a left turn in his Escalade while talking on his cellphone, forcing you to hit your breaks because it's your momentum or your life. This elicits a volcanic, but utterly impotent, rage in me.

So while I was biking earlier this week, I found a solution; rather than thinking of drivers as moral agents whose efforts to snuff me were deliberate, I would imagine that they were just simulations, no more possessed of moral agency or the potential for courtesy than a video-game boss. Stupid, rude, dangerous drivers were simply an obstacle, ghosts in the maze. And you know what? It worked. What use is there in getting mad at an algorithm? I calmed down, and ever since, bicycling around town has visited less stress and fatigue on my body. Montaigne compared anger to an acid that consumes its own container.

But this got me thinking; if this worked so well when commuting, how would suspending my belief in the interiority of others-- not seriously, but for pretend, as my son would say-- benefit operations in other areas of daily life? I quickly decided that deliberately viewing the world as a sociopath would be a moral abomination. The self-delusion I entertain as a cyclist could be morally justified by the fact that while the douchebag in the Escalade could do considerable harm to me, I could do no him no harm (except potential guilt and a probable bill at the auto body shop), and therefore my disregard for his interiority would have not effect on him or anybody else whatsoever.

Regarding a bank teller as a simulated person, on the other hand, strikes me as a categorical moral transgression. But then, I thought, what if I regarded myself as a simulation also? Would I treat myself any differently?

To be continued...

Hack the World
nerve staple
Alan Liu's Laws of Cool: Knowledge Work and the Culture of Information, (2004), p.7-8:

Wherever the academy looks in the new millennium, it sees the prospect of a world given over to one knowledge-- a single dominant mode of knowledge associated with the information economy and apparently destined to make all other knowledges, especially historical knowledges, obsolete. Knowledge work harnessed to information technology will now be the sum of all worthwhile knowledge-- except, of course, for the knowledge of all the alternative historical modes of knowledge that undergird, overlap with, or-- like a shadow world, a shadow web-- challenge the conditions of possibility of the millennial new Enlightenmnent.
If cultural criticism is to be legitimate, I speculate, then together with the creative arts, it must metamorphose not so much into Kafka's insect as into a different kind of 'bug.' I have in mind the slow, sprawling, yet ever graceful "Kuang" computer virus at the end of William Gibson's Neuromancer, which can break the densest ICE (intrusion countermeasures electronics) of corporate databases because it transforms its own substance into that of the database, draws nearer and nearer until there seems to be no difference, and then at last injects the one powerful difference it has treasured at its core. My highest ambition for cultural criticism and the creative arts is that they can in tandem become 'ethical hackers' of knowledge work-- a problematic role in the information world but one whose general cultural paradigm needs to be explored. Many intellectuals and artists will become so like the icy "New Class" of knowledge workers that there will be no difference; they will be subsumed wholly within their New Economy roles as symbolic analysts, consultants, and designers. But some, in league with everyday hackers in the technical, managerial, professional, and clerical mainstream of knowledge work itself, may break through the ice to help launch the future literary. For it is the future literary-- or whatever the peculiarly edgy blend of aesthetics and critique once known as the literary (and its sister arts) will be named-- that can serve as witness to the other sides of creative destruction: not the boundless "Creation" that has powered the market rallies of the New Economy, but the equally ceaseless destruction that produces historical difference. This is why it now makes sense to think of cultural criticism and the creative arts as having come into special conjunction. Where once the the job of literature and the arts was creativity, no, in an age of total innovation, I think it must be history.

(no subject)
Got this in my e-mail today.
Would you really want to encourage your students access to this anonymous complaint service? I'm not certain.

auto-complainCollapse )

buteo jamaicensis (borealis?/light morph)
I saw two red-tailed hawks copulating atop a Romanesque weathervane on the downtown campus today.  Lot's of ruffling and squawking.

(no subject)
Poet, Lover, Birdwatcher

To force the pace and never to be still
Is not the way of those who study birds
Or women. The best poets wait for words.
The hunt is not an exercise of will
But patient love relaxing on a hill
To note the movement of a timid wing;
Until the one who knows that she is loved
No longer waits but risks surrendering -
In this the poet finds his moral proved
Who never spoke before his spirit moved.

The slow movement seems, somehow, to say much more.
To watch the rarer birds, you have to go
Along deserted lanes and where the rivers flow
In silence near the source, or by a shore
Remote and thorny like the heart's dark floor.
And there the women slowly turn around,
Not only flesh and bone but myths of light
With darkness at the core, and sense is found
But poets lost in crooked, restless flight,
The deaf can hear, the blind recover sight.

--Nissim Ezekiel