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Not too long ago, there was a scare regarding Apple computers. A virus was going around that supposedly attacked Java applications, or something like that. Since Java and Apple are two different companies, Apple didn't really do much to safeguard itself from Java-related problems, so a new Achilles Heel was discovered by hackers. This is how I understand it.

So, taking this threat seriously, I went to look for a fix. However, it turned out that the updated Java patch required that I install Apple's most recent operating system, Mountain Lion. Since Mountain Lion wasn't too costly (only about $20), I consented to this solution.

And that's where the problems began…

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I just finished an intro to Deleuze & Guattari' Anti-Oedipus. It's my feeling that before tackling this notoriously difficult book, I should have a general understanding of what it's about.

I'm frustrated now. Desiring machines are the essence of D&G's world understanding. Our desires can't be explained through the Oedipal Complex, but rather the creation of the Oedipal Complex itself reflects our own desire for self-repression. We create a myth to explain why we can't have what we want, and this myth obscures the desiring machine.

So, as I understand it, our desires aren't explained by the lack of some totemic thing (phallus, whatever), but rather by desiring machines that are busy creating other desiring machines, etc. If I understand this correctly, it's another version of "turtles all the way down." But, as I understand, this is not quite it. D&G prefer the rhizome model instead--a potato that you can cut and grow a whole new plant from.

I don't know if I like this world view. I was happier with Lacan and Oedipus and the whole idea of "lack." With that global understanding, you start to see the possibility or potential for some greater truth or understanding out there, which we all grasp at, but instead fill that lack up with false representations. I love you because I see something in you that I perceive as missing in me, but you, as much as you try, can't possibly understand what it is about you that is so desirable to me. And, then, when applied to politics, as Zizek does, we get to debate whether people "don't know it, but are doing it," or whether they "know it, but do it anyway." Did we, in our heart of hearts, favor invading Iraq secretly knowing all along that there probably weren't any WMDs, but we wanted to attack Iraq anyway because we were convinced that we couldn't simply exist in a world with a Saddam Hussein in it? Or, as D&G now say, is desire now this de-centered amorphic potatoey thing? I don't want desire to be a potato. How can you bring about change in a potato world? It's a multi-headed hydra...and I don't like hydras. But it's not about what I want, either. If desire is a potato, so be it. But, I'm reluctant for the moment to admit that it is.

I don't know. I may not have to worry too much about whether desire is a potato or a phallus. My area of focus seems to be mostly around Lefebvre and de Certeau. D&G and Lacan all intersect with them somewhere, but for now I want to keep some distance from them.
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Has anyone been paying attention to the Idle No More ampaign that's been going on? As I understand it, Canada's First Nations members are protesting C-45, a massive omnibus bill called the Jobs and Growth Act. What's receiving the most attention is the Navigable Waters Protection Act, which the bill's opponents say would weaken environmental restrictions.

Stateside, I'm interested in it because a lot of the local tribes in the Puget Sound region have voiced their own solidarity with the First Nations members. My ears always prick up when I hear mention of environmental regulation. I'm especially keen on learning whatever I can about tar sands, Embridge, and the Keystone Pipeline. These issues always seem to inevitably lead me to asking, "What's up with Alberta?!"
And I don't really trust Harper, either. True, arguments have been made that the Conservative party is about as "liberal" as America's Democrat party, but it isn't really a question for me of liberal/conservative, but rather of essential political philosophies. The Canadian Conservative members would feel more at ease referencing the likes of Milton Friedman than they would in praising John Maynard Keynes. While they wouldn't have the political power of upending national the health care program entirely, they probably wouldn't be too keen on remembering Tommy Douglas's birthday either. So, I'm wary of this party because I can guess at what they dream about

But again, from where I stand (or sit) stateside, I've no real stake in any of this, save for armchair musings. Yet, inasmuch as environmental policies have a way of transcending national interest, I would like to know more about C-45 and the Idle No More movement.

Recent stories I've been reading point to something rather predictable. Whenever a populist movement arises, assassination (real or figurative) cannot be too far away. In this instance, character assassinations appear to be occurring. Criticisms also appear to be mounting over the means the protestors are employing to seek attention for their cause. And, there appears to be criticism over Chief Spence's hunger strike. Is this to be another version of the Occupy Movement, others ask, seeing the event as largely directionless and unproductive.

As I understand it, there is truth to the allegations concerning corruption. The various chiefs that have been cited are, or may very likely be, corrupt. However, does this really change anything fundamentally? Is the Navigable Waters Protection Act still not worth being concerned about? Are there also other things within C-45 worth being upset about?

This is what I'd like to know, although I haven't had much time for research
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There were two documentaries: one made in 1997 and the other in 2004. They're both kind of fun. The two "stars" of both documentaries were Gabriel Koerner and Barbara Adams. Koerner reminds me o Galaxy Quest's Brandon (Justin "I'm a Mac" Long). It looks like he's pursued his passion and has grown up to become a digital model designer. Adams is famous for wearing her Starfleet uniform as a juror during the Whitewater trial, and she seems to be doing just as well as a printing company.

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Well, I've finally done it. I've watched The Dark Knight Rises It's fun fare, but I've not been as receptive to the Dark Knight series as many others have been. Perhaps it's simply because, like Spiderman, I'd wish someone would give the Batman franchise a little rest for now. Then again, I'm not saying that I didn't enjoy it. Rather, I'm simply not one who has yet found myself saying, "Oh my God. Christopher Nolan is a genius. This is the Star Wars of my generation," partly because Star Wars is still the Star Wars of my generation, and partly because . . . I don't know. I haven't figured it out yet.

I'm reminded as I see Bane of my late friend who could do incredible impersonations, and I can imagine in my head him doing the Bane voice right now. It's truly a shame he died before the film came out, because he was most certainly a fan of both Nolan and the Dark Knight series. 

Apparently, the series has garnered considerable criticism among the left for serving as right-wing propaganda. Bane appears to be some figurehead of the Occupy movement. I'm not sure I can entirely agree. It's not necessarily "eat the rich" that Bane's character promotes. It's a personality cult he cultivates, and Occupy stridently refuses personality (and sometimes consistent messaging...frequently to others' frustration). Also, we should note that the wealthy in the film come across as useless detached fools. We might say, "Oh, dear. Killing the wealthy way seems a tad excessive," but we never shed tears for them when Bane and his mob go after them. There are no likable victims among the wealthy. Rather, we feel worse when we find out that family members were executed along with then. And, of course, we object to the kangaroo court that Bane's mob society has erected. 

Yes, it is easy to see caricatures of class warfare within the film. Bane at times appears to practically parrot radical ideology, and the person who is elected as the mob court's judge looks like the nebbish sort we might expect in another life to be preaching the benefits of local cage-free eggs. Yet, the film also reveals that the people are incapable of acting without the presence of a manically-driven leader. We observe Bane to be nearly omnipresent, observing the proceedings of court trials, officiating executions of disloyal or ineffective henchmen. He's more Napoleon than Subcomandante Marcos. And yet...strangely, at the end, we're shown that his motive all along was love for a woman. (That last part seems rather difficult to fathom, since he seems more eunuch than lover.)

My point is that the series moves farther to the right than many critics have expressed. The series isn't saying, "Look at Bruce Wayne. He's a rich guy. See? Not all rich guys are bad. We need neoliberalism and we need to preserve the Bush tax cuts so that wealthy playboys can save us from evildoers." Rather, the series suggests to me an appeal to the aristocracy. The title itself evokes this: the Dark Knight. He's a knight. Gotham City is his fiefdom, upon which he is allowed to determine whether it is ready for nuclear fusion technology, and over which he's allowed to ride roughshod in pursuit of his enemies. He has a butler and a staff and a manor that looks like it was built during the reign of Luis XIV. Like British nobility, he's not outwardly concerned with wealth. Yes, in the series, he goes broke, but the lack of money is seen as a temporary inconvenience. A gentleman never talks publicly about matters of finance; that's what his subordinates are expected to do. Even without money, he still has his legacy. He still holds to the ways of his quasi-spiritual Shaolin warrior training. His vehicles, like loyal steeds, always remain on hand always armed and fueled and ready to go (how this can be, we don't know). Alfred, the Commissioner, and others, serve as loyal vassels, batmen, squires, servants, etc. The film seems to attempt at inscribing Arthurian legend onto American culture. Even though, technically, we banished royalty and the aristocracy, these trappings of the Old World seem to remain present in our pop culture, and this film is one such example of this. 

So, in this sense, the film isn't "far right"; it's far, far, far, far right. 

Now, is the film saying that capitalism must be rescued by the aristocracy? I don't think so. 

Other than that, what can I say? After all is said and done, I still did enjoy Bane as a villan. Also, I wanted to know about the voice Tom Hardy used for Bane's character. It turns out this guy in the video was the source of the inspiration:

A fascinating people, the Irish Travellers. I'd like to know more about them. What I do know of them comes from watching Snatch not a good source of info) and by reading horror stories by outsiders who don't care much for their presence. But, for me, this simply whets my curiosity. The idea of a semi-nomadic people living within the European landscape where most people are already well settled in their cities and towns...it's fascinating.

And those are my thoughts at 1:30 this Christmas morning.
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I finally watched the first two seasons of BBC' Sherlock. Yes, Benedict Cumberbatch is dreamy, but I'm still more of a Martin Freeman fan, after seeing him first in The Office (UK version), and then in Love, Actually (in which he plays a sex scene stunt double), and finally in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The latter film, which didn't seem to receive much love, was perfectly cast, I think. Alan Rickman was great as Marvin the Paranoid Android, and Martin Freeman is Arthur Dent. (Apparently, he's also Bilbo Baggins). 

Anyway, there is nothing to do but wait for Season 3, I suppose. It was a pretty fair adaption of The Final Problem, the episode in which Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was getting sick and tired of Holmes and simply wanted to kill him off, but his fans wouldn't let him. So, how did Holmes get out of this one, we're supposed to wonder? My guess is that it had something to do with his meeting with the chemist woman who has a crush on him. Something improbable and scientific was involved. And, of course, if the series holds true to the book, Mycroft was in on it the whole time. 

I wonder whether they'll resurrect Moriarty? In the book, that would have been the final curtain for him, but I imagine the TV series might feel compelled to bring him back as a token to his fans. 

As I was watching the series, I began reflecting on the difference between Hitchcock and this new incarnation of Sherlock Holmes. The mysteries in the TV series are fairly simple to figure out, not because we're clever or anything, but rather because of the old "Chekhov's Gun" principal of writing. If you mention the gun in your story, the gun gets used. If someone says in Sherlock, "Look at the clouds," you know that the clouds are part of the solution to the mystery. Hitchcock, by contrast, uses what he calls a "McGuffin." If Hitchcock's characters say, "Look at the clouds," that person may simply be pointing to the clouds. Whereas the TV series gives you only the information that you need, Hitchcock gives you too much information and expects you to filter things out.

Now, I'm watching What's the Matter with Kansas, a documentary that tries to figure out why Kansans vote against their basic needs. As I watch the documentary, I am trying to prevent myself from throwing things at the TV. I just about lost it when one of the kids was discussing Hybrid vehicle technology, and said, "I don't think drilling in ANWR would be a problem." A part of me wants to believe that Conservatives are actually cynical people who simply pretend to believe stupid things in order to maneuver to a place of power and influence. While this may be the case for Koch brothers and others like them, it would appear that many of these people actually do believe in everything they claim to believe. Incredulous!

I'd love to forget Kansas and regard it as a flyover state that everyone says it is--a hopeless lost cause. Yet, as the documentary reminds us (and as my research reveals), Kansas (and much of the midwest) was once a hotbed for progressive political causes. The Wizard of Oz, for instance, is supposed to be a thinly-veiled populist tale. Moreover, rural regions have always been places where progressive movements seem to get their start. Populist movements, which included agitation against the gold standard, meat packing reform, agricultural pricing reform, began in the Midwest. Abroad, peasant movements in Denmark led to the destabilization of the aristocracy and the rise of democratic socialism. In Saskatchewan, Tommy Douglas (champion of universal health care) got his start. On the far left of things, Chinese and Vietnamese peasants led the Red revolutions in their respective nations. And the list goes on... 

Rural movements are powerful things. And, I imagine there is potential for change within Kansas and places like it. However, sitting and listening to people on the documentary say things like "my college sex ed course was just a pornography class" or "let's go to the Creation Museum" makes me want to write them all off as a lost cause.

Still, an interesting documentary. I bet the book is better, though.
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I'm a little surprised at the outrage Westboro Baptist Church incites. Don't get me wrong, they're horrible, terrible people for promoting hate and small-mindedness. It's just that their performances are almost rather comical. To my knowledge, they remain nonviolent. Their signage betrays a total lack of graphic design knowledge, their website is pathetic and easily prone to hackers, and their message lacks originality. At worse, they're a nuisance. And yet, everyone from the KKK to the military to the political left is aligned against them. How they've risen to public attention baffles me, frankly. Their 15 minutes of fame should have expired years ago.

To me this doesn't mark a threat.

Far more worrying are the likes of NOM, anti-abortion groups, anti-Islam Christianists, anti-Christian Islamists, and folks like Mike Huckabee whose smooth intonations and quasi-rational arguments are designed to betray their overt bigotry.

I have never been in the presence of a Westboro protest, but I think I'd actually be relatively amused.

Also...I have no idea why I'm think of this right before the Christmas holiday.
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This entry might be retitled, "I'm procrastinating instead of finishing my conference paper."

The murder-suicide of Kansas City Chiefs Jovan Belcher and his girlfriend has inspired sports announcers Bob Costas and Jason Whitlock to advocate for increased gun control.

Predictably, this sort of thing causes immediate outrage among gun enthusiasts, but the arguements are often so loud and shrill, that it becomes difficult for me to determine to what degree Americans actually advocate gun control. Rather, we seem to characterize the argument as one between two polar opposites: one side advocating the legalization of flame throwers and handheld rocket launchers and the other side advocating the total prohibition of all firearms. Any advocacy for a happy medium seems to cause one to be placed into one of the two camps.

The arguments are all well rehearsed. They are trite and they are predictable.

One novel technique seems to involve comparing the United States to the United Kingdom where stricter gun prohibition laws have been enacted. More recently, someone posted in paraphrase, "Just look at Scotland! Crime rates have increased over the last year, and instead of guns, we're seeing an increase in knifings."

To which, I would say, yes, by all means let us look at the United Kingdom and especially Scotland. Yes, Scotland's crime rate had increased in 2011. By the year-to-end of March 2011, there were 95 homocides in Scotland, 15 more homocides than in Oregon, and 2408 fewer homocides than in California. By and large, however, Scotland's crime rates have been on a steady decline, but it still ranks as Europe's second-violent regions. The Eurostat statistics I found indicated a crime rate of 1.89 for all of Scotland (2003-2009). Contrast that to Louisana, the American state with the highest homicide rate, which is 11.2 per 100,000 people (link). Even California, which has the highest number of homicides, can't compete with that rate. 

Oh, but that's not fair! Scotland has the second-highest rate of violence. Very well, let us look at the second-highest ranking state on that chart, which is Mississippi at 8.0. 

So, when you frame it this way, I'm sure that safety-conscious Louisanans and Mississippians might suddenly develop cravings for hagis. The comparision between American and European crime is absolutely absurd. Mind you, yes, there are places like Maine and Iowa where homicide statistics of around 1.0 per 100,000 are comparable to some of Europe's more violent nations, but by and large, gun advocates trying to make comparisions might start to look elsewhere.

The point of all this isn't to say that gun control is the one-stop solution to all of America's crime problems. Certainly, we must address other factors, such as policing, community interaction, poverty, education, health care, and a whole gamut of other interrelated issues. However, when addressing gun control, we owe it to ourselves to separate fact from hyperbole. (And on that mark, I think Adam Winkler's Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America does a fair job of that).
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I'm trying to finish this article from the Chronicle of Higher Education, but already red flags have gone up.

I pause right around here:
So, if homosexuality is in any sense a product of evolution—and it clearly is, for reasons to be explained—then genetic factors associated with same-sex preference must enjoy some sort of reproductive advantage.

The article mentions something about an allele, Xq28, found in 1990. I think this must be the famous "gay gene" everyone was talking about. The existence of this so-called gay gene was for a time widely speculated, and I suppose it still may be, considering this article exists. The gay gene would validate our having civil rights. On the other hand, if the gene doesn't exist, wide speculation concerning nature versus nurture would still remain, and Rwandans could kill gays without any sense of moral regret.

Consequently, those who anticipated the existence of the "gay gene" quickly presumed that for such a gene to exist, it would have to be passed on from generation to generation as a consequence of its advantageousness. Only advantageous genes get passed on, presumably. There are no "neutral genes," I suppose. So, the "gay uncle hypothesis" was developed, and it seems to allow evolutionary psychologists to be taken seriously for a little while longer. 

But more than anything, as others before me have observed, all this inquiry implies more about the individuals raising such questions than it does to help explain our presence on this Earth. Why not raise hypotheses about detached versus attached earlobes? Why not ponder tongue rolling? Why do straight people continue to breed when there are already 7 billion people on this planet? In short, what makes us so fascinating that our existence has to be validated by geneticists and pseudoscientific evolutionary psychologists?

I would rather learn that the gay gene doesn't exist and that my presence is as useless and vestigial as my little toe. I don't want to justify myself. I don't want to make sense. In this instance, existence is a sufficient explanation for existence.
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I don't know what to say, except, "Hmm...interesting."

Here's the link from Seattle times

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