All those topics that i wish i had time to pursue more earnestly.
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Posts from — January 2009 – News in English – Mafia business ‘equal’ to 9% of GDP

Italy’s four main mafias generated business equivalent to about 9% of GDP in 2008, a top Italian think tank said Friday.

[From - News in English - Mafia business 'equal' to 9% of GDP]


Another example of yesterday evening’s post.

January 31, 2009   No Comments

The OTHER Shaky Foundation of The Global Financial System

When the illegal economy is more stable than the legal one, you know we’re in deep you-know-what. [From The OTHER Shaky Foundation of The Global Financial System]

perhaps it is just me, but i cannot imagine a contemporary capitalist society where, the illegal economy would not be more stable. it by definition has to fix arbitrage on secondary means of legitimation.

January 30, 2009   No Comments

Graduate School in the Humanities: Just Don’t Go –


Graduate School in the Humanities: Just Don’t Go

It’s hard to tell young people that universities view their idealism and energy as an exploitable resource

[From Graduate School in the Humanities: Just Don't Go -]


I think this should not just be Humanities, it is somewhat the same in the social sciences, physical and chemical sciences. biological sciences might be different, but that might be changing also. There are only so many jobs, and there fewer jobs all the time.

Many colleagues expect an increase in graduate student enrollment in the next few years in many fields, as that always happens in a downturn. However, they know that of the few that actually graduate with their ph.d.’s, fewer will get jobs, and of those, even fewer will get tenure. It isn’t about talent as much as willingness to submit to the system and grinding through:)

January 30, 2009   No Comments

How Bad Is It? L

How Bad Is It? Look at The Pretty Graph

is a graph of the market capitalization of various banks. look at the fictional money:)

January 28, 2009   No Comments

“Down the Rabbit Hole” day

Cory Doctorow points out that today is Down the Rabbit Hole day, so here is something i drafted recently that normally i would never post.


Culture in virtual worlds? Critiquing the complexities and our assumptions

Jeremy Hunsinger

Granted this model of culture makes things more complex and clouded than many current ideological strands of the cultural sciences and humanities might prefer, but in virtual worlds, where the environment is constructed either through fixed programmed interfaces or the through the results of genetic algorithms, the construction of subjects and objects as different in any knowable sense is speculative at best. The assumption that many cultural scientists, and humanities scholars make that if it seems to talk and act like a subject or like them’ then it is a subject very much depends on the environment. People have been simulating conversation in virtual worlds for years, and simulating actions just as long, beyond that people have been designing these virtual world for cultural effects that frequently do not come to fruition.

Consider the possibility of a virtual world developed to support natural and cultural sciences. In this world, the humans interface with the world is intended to simulate nature, such as pseudorandom distribution of wind or water flows over abradable media such as sandstone, or the bifurcations of tree roots as they interact with the soil. The purpose of such a world would be to see to what extent artifacts found in nature are likely man-made or man-influenced or not. In this game, individual actions add up to a part of the simulation, thus an ‘avatar’ would be the combination of forces over time as mixed with the forces and the fun would be had by influencing and changing the additive and multiplicative efforts of many people over time. The actions ‘avatar’, as a natural forces, is a combination of many possible people’s influences over time where time is one of the variables that consensus can effect and the interface can model, so that some people may slow down to a bacteriological time, or speed up to human time onward to the geological times of redwoods, and onto that of mountains. One possible sub-game may be to produce objects that might be confused with archeological artifacts, such as the Sphinx. Another sub-game that would surely arise is the design and or defacement of areas of the world for artistic or other purposes. We can see from such a game, that the ‘avatar’, or that which acts on cultural objects in the world may in fact be plural, and may produce things that are not considered artifacts as much as terrain. This possibility, the dissociation of the avatar from the individual and the dissociation of the products of the avatar from the culture is an extreme example of the reality of what people already do in virtual worlds today.

This dissociation of cultural subject and cultural production problematizes much of the scholarship being done in virtual worlds which depends on the assumptions that subject/s create or exist in relation to objects, but in the messiness of programmable systems, the mixing of subjects/objects into quasi-subjects, quasi-objects, and the pluralization of the relationship between a persons interface and their ‘avatar’, causes one to be immediately skeptical of the reported experiences of people acting through their interfaces in the virtual world. Even their reports should be colored by the researcher’s inability to discern the authenticity of the persons reporting given that the world they experienced through their screens, speakers, and haptic devices could be entirely different from that world experienced by a person using different devices, having different proficiencies, or living in different cultures. This is not to say that we cannot make assumptions about world, subjects, and objects, but it is to say that the assumptions that we rely on in the f2f world that ground our research may not be, and frequently are not valid assumptions. In short, when exploring culture in virtual worlds, we need to take care in our methodological choices and their assumptions for even the most basic assumptions such as, “my student in my virtual classroom had the same experience as my other students” is likely to be false in ways that are profoundly different than the ways it may be false in a f2f classroom. Similarly, our assumptions about the causes of behavior, social, economic, and cultural, must account for the new forms of re/mediation in their models, else they will likely end up describing less a model of subjects in a virtual world, then describing the base assumptions of their observations or experiments yet again.


Delanda, M. (2006). A new philosophy of society: Assemblage theory And social complexity. Continuum.

Guattari, F. (2000). The three ecologies (G. Genosko, Trans.). London: Athlone Press.

Latour, B. (2005). Reassembling the social : An introduction to actor-network-theory. Oxford University Press, USA.

Latour, B. (1993). We have never been modern. Harvard Univ Pr.

Latour, B., & Porter, C. (2004). Politics of nature: How to bring the sciences into democracy. Harvard Univ Pr.

Law, J. (2004). After method: Mess in social science research. Routledge.

Maltzahn, K. E. V. (1994). Nature as landscape: Dwelling and uderstanding. McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Suarez, D. (2009). Daemon. Dutton Adult.

Veblen, T. (1990). The evolution of the scientific point of view. In The Place of science in modern civilization. Transaction Publishers.

January 27, 2009   No Comments

7 things you probably didn’t know about me

The rules:

1. Link to your original tagger(s) and list these rules in your post.
2. Share seven facts about yourself in the post.
3. Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names.
4. Let them know they’ve been tagged.

I was tagged by my wife Random Access Mazar

1. I went to three different high schools over three years and graduated from the one where I started.

2. My earliest memory is of eating Cambell’s Oyster Stew, which my father told me was banana soup in order to get me to eat it.

3. I have a hard time matching events from my childhood with a calendar. I remember my grandfather’s funeral being when I was 5, but it was apparently when i was 7. I remember cutting my finger when i was 8, but it was closer to 11, etc. etc.

4. My right hand index finger’s fingerprint is not the one I was born with.

5. My first car was a maroon chevy chevette with a standard transmission and the rear end from an automatic which gave it slightly better acceleration, for a chevette. The shifter know fell off, so i replaced it with a t-handle knob, which was somewhat ironic. My grandfather built the car, gave it to me, and sold it for me. My second care was given to by my aunt and uncle, it was a town and country station wagon that i had for 10+ years.

6. I helped found, was nominally CTO of, and closed a company within a year during the internet boom.

7. I’ve written and sent 2 different business plans to angel and VC investors. The first one was to take COTS computing and integrate it invisibly into office furniture. The second one was to use a micropayment/tip funding structure to enable and encourage educators to share lessons, lesson plans, etc. It was an attempt to commodify professional knowledge in order to make that knowledge open and communal. Needless to say neither was funded and I have no idea where those plans are today.

Tagging: Shane, Michael, Sarah, Sue, Smirby

January 27, 2009   No Comments

The Problems with One Laptop Per Child

In The World’s Fair : The Problems with One Laptop Per Child Ben Cohen (a colleague of mine from school) presents what his students, all engineers in training, find to be problematic about OLPC.

He follows uphere. While my problems with OLPC are parallel to his students, I think there are much more interesting secondary effects of training people on these machines as a form of ‘literacy’.

January 24, 2009   No Comments

Reblock Yourself the Polly Frost Way!

Reblock Yourself the Polly Frost Way!

[From Reblock Yourself the Polly Frost Way! - The Atlantic (January 7, 2009) ]


nice little thought piece on getting control of your writer’s voice after you’ve realized blogging,rss, anonymity, and etc. have destroyed it.

January 23, 2009   No Comments

Facts should be avoided.

Technical knowledge was to be strenuously avoided: “Facts are the core of an anti-intellectual curriculum,” he observed. “Facts do not solve problems. . . . The gadgeteers and the data collectors have threatened to become the supreme chieftains of the scholarly world.” The true stewards of the university, said the career administrator, should be those who deal with the most fundamental problems: metaphysicians.

[From Middlebrow Messiahs by Brendan Boyle, City Journal 16 January 2009]


This is an interesting take on the great books model of higher education. The model where we read in order to learn to think, to learn to create, to learn to be. I think it is an interesting model, and I find that my students are generally unread in terms of classics and well unread in almost everything else longer than 10 pages too, but such is life.

January 23, 2009   No Comments

The man who invented the doner kebab has died – Telegraph

The man who invented the doner kebab has died

[From The man who invented the doner kebab has died - Telegraph]


He changed the world…

January 22, 2009   No Comments