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Plague Poems – The Forty-Fourth Week

Where once every ten thousand deaths gave rise to despairing cries as such large round numbers easily quantified the tragedy eventually four zeroes no longer proved shocking and now ten … Continue reading

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Authoritarian and Democratic Technics, revisited

“The viability of technology, like democracy, depends in the end on the practice of justice and on the enforcement of limits to power.” – Ursula Franklin I. Is technology a … Continue reading

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Plague Poems – The Forty-Third Week

Some claim that we should be thankful to be in a new year but thus far the only thing that has changed is the date I have written on my … Continue reading

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Plague Poems – The Forty-Second Week

Every winter sickness finds me though I get the flu shot take vitamin C supplements and always wear many layers every single winter sickness finds me this I try to … Continue reading

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My Favorite Books from 2020

“The only thing that goes against my pessimism is the fact that we still carry on thinking today.” – Max Horkheimer 2020 was a really great year…for books. For just … Continue reading

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Plague Poems – The Forty-First Week

You need not say thank you to those who threw you overboard to those who told you to tread water to those who left you to drown simply because they … Continue reading

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A Hell of a Year – Reflections on 2020

“I do not believe that things will turn out well, but the idea that they might is of decisive importance.” – Max Horkheimer 2020 was a hell of a year. … Continue reading

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Plague Poems – The Fortieth Week

There have always been disasters made by men what sets this moment apart is that we know the names of the men who allowed this to become a disaster. * … Continue reading

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“The Tree of Science” an English translation of Eugene Huzar’s “L’arbre de la science” [Part 3]

“Indeed, what is the seduction of the flesh beside the seduction of science? Nothing; for the seduction of the flesh may well ruin a man, a people, a nation, an … Continue reading

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The Cassandra Conundrum

“We hate the people who try to make us form the connections we do not want to form.” – Simone Weil   One Let us begin with a riddle. Question: … Continue reading

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“The Tree of Science” an English translation of Eugene Huzar’s “L’arbre de la science” [Part 2]

“Destruction by invasions is forever over; the barbarians who will put our human cycle in powder form will be the forces and energies of nature, these giants who have come … Continue reading

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“The Tree of Science” an English translation of Eugene Huzar’s “L’arbre de la Science” [Part 1]

When the locomotive of progress carries us away, it is quite permissible to ask the mechanics who direct it to be prudent and to moderate its speed before having assumed … Continue reading

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Technology and the society we want to build – a review of the second edition of Langdon Winner’s “The Whale and the Reactor”

The announcement that Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan would be donating $300 million to help address some of the challenges COVID-19 poses for the 2020 elections was met with a … 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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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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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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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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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 Thirty-Ninth Week

Numbering the dead there was a moment when every ghastly multiple of ten thousand was met with fresh headlines but that was a long time ago we were young then … Continue reading

December 16, 2020 · 2 Comments

Plague Poems – The Thirty-Eighth Week

The month ends as it began with us shivering anxiously in our quarantined hovels as the plague marches through the streets outside. * Where once the smiling photographs from family … Continue reading

December 8, 2020 · 2 Comments

Plague Poems – The Thirty-Seventh Week

When we read of how past civilizations were overwhelmed by plagues we scoff at their foolishness we sigh at their scientific ignorance we sadly shake our heads and then blithely … Continue reading

December 3, 2020 · 2 Comments

Plague Poems – The Thirty-Sixth Week

Though you eagerly await (how could you not?) the arrival of a vaccine you must not forget that the plague has not yet departed. * It has been months since … Continue reading

November 27, 2020 · 2 Comments

Plague Poems – The Thirty-Fifth Week

That we find ourselves with slightly more time in which to solve our problems does not mean that our problems have been solved. * Your hope that somehow perhaps just … Continue reading

November 17, 2020 · 2 Comments

Plague Poems – The Thirty-Fourth Week

Clouds can block the heavens crystal balls can fall and break tarot decks can be missing cards an A+ poll can feature a mistake. Even the prescient do not know … Continue reading

November 10, 2020 · 2 Comments

Plague Poems – The Thirty-Third Week

“We’re not going to control the pandemic” declared the harried man. “That’s the spirit” the plague replied. * An unpleasant aroma wanders from the trash beneath my sink Committed to … Continue reading

November 6, 2020 · 3 Comments

Plague Poems – The Thirty-Second Week

In the summer the plague encouraged us to demonstrate that we had learned from the spring. In the fall the plague is encouraging us to demonstrate that we have learned … Continue reading

October 27, 2020 · 2 Comments

Plague Poems – The Thirty-First Week

Gathered virtually we gave voice to our feelings of loss. “I miss playing for an audience” the musician sighed. “I miss being in the classroom with my students” the teacher … Continue reading

October 23, 2020 · 2 Comments

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

October 16, 2020 · 1 Comment

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

October 7, 2020 · 2 Comments

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

October 2, 2020 · 2 Comments

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

September 25, 2020 · 2 Comments

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

September 15, 2020 · 2 Comments

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

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