"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Plague Poems – The Thirtieth Week

In confusion and consternation a fatigued people cry out “What is happening?” “I am” replies the plague. * Do not pray for a powerful man to recover. Do not pray … Continue reading

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Theses on Doomscrolling

‘Tis sweet, when, down the mighty main, the winds Roll up its waste of waters, from the land To watch another’s labouring anguish far, Not that we joyously delight that … Continue reading

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Plague Poems – The Twenty-Ninth Week

On this day of awe we set aside our excuses our frail justifications so that we may atone and so that we may forgive the transgressions against us. Sitting in … Continue reading

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Plague Poems – The Twenty-Eighth Week

A country that does not stop to mourn two hundred thousand deaths is a country that does not have long left. * I understand (how could I not?) why you … Continue reading

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Plague Poems – The Twenty-Seventh Week

The clearer it becomes that the future for which I had always prepared has vanished the more confused I am by the ways in which day after day I continue … Continue reading

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Flamethrowers and Fire Extinguishers – a review of “The Social Dilemma”

“The myth of technological and political and social inevitability is a powerful tranquilizer of the conscience. Its service is to remove responsibility from the shoulders of everyone who truly believes … Continue reading

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Plague Poems – The Twenty-Sixth Week

Do not allow yourself to believe that it was inevitable that a week would begin with the terrible news that the plague has claimed its one hundred and ninety thousandth … Continue reading

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How to Prepare for This (totally normal) Fall Semester

The start of a new academic year is a thrilling and exhilarating moment! Professors and students come together to explore new topics, investigate complex issues, and continue down the path … Continue reading

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Plague Poems – The Twenty-Third Week

You need not be a sagacious prophet wizened in interpreting the motions of the heavens in order to understand that it is an ill omen for a week to being … Continue reading

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What teaching online taught me

“In the race between education and catastrophe, which Mr. H.G. Wells pointed out long ago, we can already see the finish line. And at the moment, catastrophe is in the … Continue reading

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It is later than you think – the COVID-19 catastrophe is already here

“Don’t be a coward. Have the courage to be afraid. Force yourself to produce the amount of fear that corresponds to the magnitude of the apocalyptic danger.” – Günther Anders. … Continue reading

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Facing Facebook

“Manufacturers and promoters always stress the liberating attributes of new technology, regardless of the specific technology in question.” – Ursula Franklin   While sailing through the cold waters of the … Continue reading

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TikTok Will Not Save Us

Have you heard? Social media is good again! The last several years have been rather rough for the social media companies. These companies—Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and others—have gone from being … Continue reading

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How to Move Your Books in the Middle of a Pandemic

When the world is gripped by a pandemic, there are many activities that need to be approached with a new level of caution. Masks, gloves, social distancing, especially thorough handwashing, … Continue reading

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A Failure of the Imagination – COVID-19 and Catastrophe

“I have published these words in order to prevent them from becoming true. If we do not stubbornly keep in mind the strong probability of the disaster, and if we … Continue reading

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What is Happening In the Libraries While They Are Closed?

Libraries are generally fairly quiet places, and yet the near total silence that currently exists in many libraries is not the result of an overzealous librarian’s commitment to quiet. Instead, … Continue reading

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COVID-19, COBOL, and Y2K

One of the grim ironies of a disaster is the way in which it reveals just how little has been learned from past disasters. In some cases, these unheeded lessons … Continue reading

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What studying disasters has taught me about COVID-19

“Civilization, the orderly world in which we live, is frail. We are skating on thin ice.” – Zygmunt Bauman.   For the last several years, when people have asked me … Continue reading

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Plague Poems – The First Week

It is said that during the plague the bard wrote King Lear. Perhaps, but how many did not live to see it performed? * When they said “go out” I … Continue reading

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How not to get sick at the library

There is nothing to be gained from obfuscation, so let us be clear, there is a growing level of concern about the coronavirus COVID-19. There is absolutely no reason to … Continue reading

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Democracy is too important to trust it to an app

It’s easy to ignore complex technological systems when they are functioning properly. So long as the system fulfills its basic promise of making it a bit easier or more efficient … Continue reading

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The End of the World?

Except  this star there is nothing, I thought, and it Is a wasteland. It is our only refuge and this Is what it looks like. – Brecht   1. First, … Continue reading

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My Favorite Books from 2019

“Hungry one, reach for the book—it is a weapon.” – Brecht Of all the problems with which a person may find themselves constantly wrestling, there are far worse things than … Continue reading

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General Ludd in the Long Seventies – a review of Matt Tierney’s “Dismantlings”

The guy said, “If machinery makes you so happy go buy yourself a Happiness Machine.” Then he realized: They were trying to do exactly that. – Kenneth Burke, “Routine for … Continue reading

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In Defense of Jonah

On December 17, 1972, at the occasion of his receiving the National Book Award, the social critic Lewis Mumford gave a rather odd acceptance speech. It featured many of the … Continue reading

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Hashtags Lean to the Right – a Review of Jen Schradie’s “The Revolution that Wasn’t”

Despite the oft-repeated, and rather questionable, trope that social media is biased against conservatives; and beyond the attention that has been lavished on tech-savvy left-aligned movements (such as Occupy!) in … Continue reading

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Be Afraid! But not that afraid? – on Climate Doom

People on social media would have really hated Cassandra. Her constant barrage of doleful warnings would just be dismissed of as hyperbolic and unhelpful. Those who did engage with her, … Continue reading

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From Megatechnic Bribe to Megatechnic Blackmail: Mumford’s ‘Megamachine’ After the Digital Turn

Without even needing to look at the copyright page, an aware reader may be able to date the work of a technology critic simply by considering the technological systems, or … Continue reading

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“The End of the World by Science” – an English translation of Eugene Huzar’s “La Fin du Monde par la Science.” Part 1

Remember these last words, they are the entire story of man in the past, they will also be his entire story in the future. – Eugene Huzar Translator’s Introduction Near … Continue reading

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Why the Luddites Matter

Chant no more your old rhymes about bold Robin Hood, His feats I but little admire I will sing the achievements of General Ludd Now the Hero of Nottinghamshire – … Continue reading

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Understanding Fascism – making sense of dark times – a reading list (expanded 10/20/17)

“No other method exists for acquiring knowledge about the human heart than the study of history coupled with experience of life, in such a way that the two throw light … Continue reading

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An island of reason in the cyberstream – on the life and thought of Joseph Weizenbaum

The juxtaposition between the potential of technology and its actual manifestation can be rather jarring. Tools that promise to make tasks easier are used to automate people out of their … Continue reading

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Plague Poems – The Twenty-Fifth Week

One can be excused for failing to be ready when the unimaginable strikes by their very nature such calamities elude most minds. Yes one can be forgiven for lacking foresight … Continue reading

September 10, 2020 · 2 Comments

Plague Poems – The Twenty-Fourth Week

This morning my love left me dressed formally clutching old keys bag nervously in hand returning to the campus where their classroom of masked pupils awaits. This evening my love … Continue reading

September 3, 2020 · 3 Comments

Plague Poems – The Twenty-Second Week

Those who did not know the answer to the Sphinx’s riddle were devoured for their incorrect response. We cannot claim not to know the answer to the plague’s riddle as … Continue reading

August 21, 2020 · 2 Comments

Plague Poems – The Twenty-First Week

If our leaders truly believed that our lives had any value they would not be debating whether six hundred dollars is too grand a sum. * That which was unthinkable … Continue reading

August 14, 2020 · 2 Comments

Plague Poems – The Twentieth Week

A considerate teacher the plague has provided our leaders an opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned. Alas it appears the lesson our leaders have internalized is that they should … Continue reading

August 6, 2020 · 2 Comments

Plague Poems – The Nineteenth Week

When the plague first appeared experts and commentators projected possible deaths the optimistic ones assumed that deaths would be few the pessimistic ones feared that deaths would be many but … Continue reading

July 31, 2020 · 2 Comments

Plague Poems – The Eighteenth Week

A hallmark of a civilized society (or so we were told) is that it sends its young to the classroom not to the sacrificial altar. How then to understand our … Continue reading

July 21, 2020 · 2 Comments

Plague Poems – The Seventeenth Week

So long as the sate of the world causes you anguish you need not despair. For your anguish is a sign that some buried part of you still know that … Continue reading

July 17, 2020 · 2 Comments

Plague Poems – The Sixteenth Week

In the times before the plague a weekend spent inside was a guilty pleasure, to tell others that you had just stayed in made you seem a bore. Under the … Continue reading

July 8, 2020 · 15 Comments

Plague Poems – The Fifteenth Week

Though the carnival barker fumed at the numerous empty seats at his rally the plague was quite satisfied with the turnout. * If more of your neighbors had only been … Continue reading

July 2, 2020 · 14 Comments

Plague Poems – The Fourteenth Week

Upon being asked to accept the sacrifice of having to wear a mask many decided they would rather sacrifice their neighbors instead. * While buying groceries I overheard a man … Continue reading

June 26, 2020 · 14 Comments

Plague Poems – The Thirteenth Week

From history there is much we must learn for there is much we have failed to learn. Study the years of the past let those events leave their imprints upon … Continue reading

June 19, 2020 · 14 Comments

Plague Poems – The Eleventh and Twelfth Weeks

Some say that history will be made this week. Was not history made last week? Yes, history was made last week but this week we will not be able to … Continue reading

June 10, 2020 · 14 Comments

Plague Poems – The Tenth Week

Only fools and optimists fail to make preparations for tragic possibilities. For every Plan A there must be a Plan B For every Plan B there must be a Plan … Continue reading

May 29, 2020 · 14 Comments

Plague Poems – The Ninth Week

From the wreckage of the fall we shall look back upon these days and remember them as having been the good times. * None should be surprised to learn that … Continue reading

May 21, 2020 · 14 Comments

Plague Poems – The Eighth Week

Freedom is not a concept that can be easily defined. But I am sure that there must be more to freedom than shopping. * You who enjoy the parks while … Continue reading

May 15, 2020 · 14 Comments

Ne'er do wells



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