Links in the Time of Coronavirus, Vol. 1: March 11–April 15, 2020

I originally intended in late May 2020, when the spring semester was finally over and I had some time to finish “Spring 2020 Links (Pre-COVID-19),” to post one big link dump for coronavirus-related things. But the hyperarchival barrage of news over the past three months, including everything that has happened in the United States the past three weeks (combined with how little time I still have . . .), has made it clear that it would be better to divide posts into smaller, more manageable bits. So here is everything I came across from March 11-April 15, 2020. More to come soon.

Sheri Fink and Mike Baker, “‘It’s Just Everywhere Already’: How Delays in Testing Set Back the US Coronavirus Response.”

The New York Times, “Coronavirus Map: Tracking the Global Outbreak,” “Coronavirus in the US: Latest Map and Case Count” and “Coronavirus Tips, Advice and Answers to Your New Questions.”

IHME, “COVID-19 Projections.”

Katie Zezima, Joel Achenbach, Tim Craig, and Lena H. Sun, “Coronavirus Is Shutting Down American Life as States Try to Battle Outbreak.”

 

Coronavirus Think Pieces (General)

Laurie Penny, “This Is Not the Apocalypse You Were Looking For.”

Naomi Klein, “Coronavirus Capitalism–and How to Beat It.”

Frank Pasquale, “Two Timelines of COVID Crisis.”

Arundhati Roy, “The Pandemic Is a Portal.”

Anne Applebaum, “The Coronavirus Called America’s Bluff.”

Dan Kois, “America Is a Sham.”

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Review of The Rocking Chair

My debut poetry collection, The Rocking Chair (Blue Sketch, 2015), just received its first review by Mike Good in volume 53, no. 2 of the Hollins Critic (their website). Though not available online, I was able to access it through my library and the AcademicOne File database, and a print copy looks like it should be available shortly for order.

An excerpt: “The poem’s content reaches often and expansively, shifting from personal narrative, classics, baseball, to philosophy, politics, pop-culture, sci-fi, western, geology, mathematics, and academic double-speak, sometimes in the span of a single sequence. . . . While annotations across a book-length outline of a poem might deter even the most intrepid reader, in the end, Fest’s debut is heartfelt, entertaining, and laugh-out-loud funny. . . . [It] appears to be an invention to tame, preserve, and organize culture’s excess, but evades easy definition” (19).

October Links

Hyperarchivalism and Big Data

Evgeny Morozov, “The Planning Machine: Cybersyn and the Origins of the Big Data Nation.”

Frank Pasquale reviews Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century: “Capital’s Offense: Law’s Entrenchment of Inequality.”

Nathan Jurgenson, “View From Nowhere: On the Cultural Ideology of Big Data.”

Cathy O’Neil, “Who Big Data Thinks We Are (When It Thinks We’re Not Looking),” a review of Christian Rudder’s Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking).

Julia Prescott, “We Saw the World’s First Throne Made Out of Jerry Macguire VHS Tapes.”

And Torie Rose DeGhett, “The War Photo No One Would Publish.”

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Many September Links

As predicted, I have been quite busy indeed and have not had a chance to post anything over the past couple of weeks. A bunch of fascinating stuff has been happening, a bunch of interesting books are coming out, etc., so I’m sad that I’ve been remiss in my duties. Hopefully this large batch of links will make up for that.

 

Apocalypse and After

George Dvorsky, “Have Humans Already Conquered the Threat of Extinction?”

Or not. Graham Turner and Cathy Alexander, “Limits to Growth Was Right: New Research Shows We’re Nearing Collapse.”

One of the first reviews of Naomi Klein’s new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate.

Jessica Corbett and Ethan Corey, “5 Crucial Lessons for the Left from Naomi Klein’s New Book.”

Eric Holthaus, “New Study Links Polar Vortex to Climate Change.”

Eugene Thacker on Radiolab.

And who knows where to put this one: Alison Flood, “Margaret Atwood’s New Work Will Remain Unseen for a Century.”

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Slow Learning and Other Links

Environment and Disaster

George Dvorsky, “A Dramatic 260 Foot Crater Has Mysteriously Appeared in Siberia.”

giant siberian crater


National Security State

Sue Halpern, “NSA Surveillance: What the Government Can’t See.”

Tom Engelhardt, “The New American Exceptionalism: An Imperial State Unable to Impose Its Will.” (This only shares a title with Donald E. Pease‘s excellent book of the same name, The New American Exceptionalism.)

H. Bruce Franklin, “America’s Memory of the Vietnam War in the Epoch of the Forever War.”

Jeffrey Frank, “Obama’s Unwritten History.”

Xeni Jardin, “NSA Sees Your Nude Pix ‘as Fringe Benefits of Surveillance Positions,’ Says Snowden.”

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End of the Year Links

As I have been lax in posting things, yesterday I posted a bunch of links on recent stories regarding the NSA. Today I’m posting links of more general interest. I’ve tried to organize them by category.

 

Iran

The biggest story I have not had time to address were the diplomatic talks regarding Iran’s nuclear program. So here are some links to that.

On 5 November 2013 Reuters reported that Iran, Israel, and Middle East countries “took part in a meeting two weeks ago about prospects for an international conference on banning nuclear weapons in the Middle East.”

Temporary nuclear pact.

UN nuclear inspectors in Iran.

“Iran, from Enemy to Ally.”

Right on the verge of a nuclear agreement, perhaps the biggest event in nuclear nonproliferation in my lifetime, Bob Mendez fights Obama on imposing new sanctions on Iran, as do fifteen other democrats. More here.

Though from today: progress in nuclear talks.

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Just What We Always Wanted: An Immortal Archive

A less-than-surprising host for this story: Kurzweil: Accelerating Intelligence has a story about hyperarchives: “A Billion Year Storage Medium That Could Outlive the Human Race.”

Researcher Dr. Jeroen de Vries from the University of Twente MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology suggests we could store data for one million to one billion years, using a new storage medium based on tungsten and graphene oxide.

He imagines two possible scenarios:

  • Disaster has devastated the earth and society must rebuild the world
  • We need to create a legacy for future intelligent life that evolves on Earth or comes from other worlds.

And so obviously these speculative futures require that we need to invent storage archives that will outlive us. Viva the archive!

Repackaging the Archive (Part X): The Hyperarchivalism of the NSA’s Prism with Links

In a recently published essay, I have defined the term “hyperarchive” as “an archive whose goal, whether stated or not, can be seen in an attempt to gather together as many documents and texts as it can, regardless of content.”[1] This term clearly applies to the recent revelations about the National Security Agency’s (NSA) data collection. In fact, Prism may well be the best example of a hyperarchive to date (besides the Web). To not at least gesture toward talking about Prism and massive data collection on this blog would constitute gross negligence.

One of the things that this blog consistently tries to demonstrate, draw attention to, and complicate/challenge, is the relationship between technologies of destruction and accumulation, even if only by noting (and sometimes enacting) such relationships with little-to-no commentary. I have refrained from saying much about the recent and developing story about Prism and the NSA,[2] both because it seems too “obvious” and too complex. Prism is an accumulatory technology with clear dangers and evils (which I do not think I have to spell out). Some of these dangers and evils are quite old now, and quite familiar.[3] Others are just emerging, and the potential for misusing the kind of data collected by Prism appears to be limitless. Given the parameters of the hyperarchival impulse of contemporaneity, and the reality of ubiquitous access to massive amounts of information, it is not even vaguely surprising that the NSA has been amassing massive amounts of data. And obviously there is quite a bit wrong with this (part of which is the fact that Edward J. Snowden’s revelation is not surprising).

Glen Greenwald, the writer for TheGuardian who broke this story and has been consistently reporting on it, asked nearly a month ago, “Are All Telephone Calls Recorded and Accessible to the US Government?” Most of us have probably been asking this question for a number of years. The fact that we have been asking this question seriously, for a sustained amount of time,[4] only reinforces the realities of contemporary informatics: that many of us have always tacitly assumed that we were being watched, recorded, etc., pretty much all the time. The fact that we are not much, much more upset about this scandal is probably due to this reality of contemporaneity. Thus Snowden’s whistleblowing is functioning as a confirmation of what everyone always already knew: the emperor is naked, we know, are not pretending otherwise, and don’t seem to mind. This is disturbing, to say the least.[5]

Basically, the issues being raised by the NSA scandal, the implications for thinking about information, surveillance, discipline, and control, issues regarding archives and literature, technology and war, media and communication, contemporaneity and the risk society, immigration, the nation, and the state, are many. I will not dwell on them here, in hopes that thinking about these issues will take the form of an essay (hopefully destined for a more permanent home in a [slightly] different kind of archive). In lieu of more sustained reflection and further remarks, here is a pretty decent smattering of links related to the issue in (more-or-less) chronological order. I imagine I will continue to post links regarding Prism well into the future.

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