MOOC Mania


I have become a certified MOOC freak. There are several different platforms for MOOCS – Massive Open Online Courses – such as edX and Coursera, and happily many others are available on YouTube. (Many are available through those platforms as well as on YouTube.)

I prefer the edX platform if I use one. I have never gotten a certificate or worried about that at all, so I ride free, just for the joy of cramming my ever-curious mind.

What’s so amazing is that anyone at all can, for free, peek in at some of the most elite and incredible classes being taught today.

Harvard’s most popular course, Justice,” for instance, taught by Professor Michael Sandel, is a class everyone should at least check out. I am big on “archived” courses, because they are always “self-paced,” but Justice actually just began again for real, so check it out.

Here’s the little course intro video and text below:

Taught by lauded Harvard professor Michael Sandel, Justice explores critical analysis of classical and contemporary theories of justice, including discussion of present-day applications. Topics include affirmative action, income distribution, same-sex marriage, the role of markets, debates about rights (human rights and property rights), arguments for and against equality, dilemmas of loyalty in public and private life. The course invites learners to subject their own views on these controversies to critical examination.
The principal readings for the course are texts by Aristotle, John Locke, Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, and John Rawls. Other assigned readings include writings by contemporary philosophers, court cases, and articles about political controversies that raise philosophical questions.

Other favorites of mine are Boston University’s War for the Greater Middle East taught by the amazing Andrew Bacevich – archived now at edX – and all three of the foremost Lincoln/Civil War Historian’s – (Dr. Eric Foner’s) – courses on Civil War and Reconstruction from Columbia University.

Jump in!


Violin Frankenstein: IT’S ALIVE!

I am now actively using vaporizer parts inside the electric violins –

and it is awesome.

It’s like a fucking Reeses’ – peanut butter bumping into chocolate.

I have no idea why I didn’t think of this on purpose a long time ago.

I will report back —


How We Play Chess: version Well, We Had Really Better Be Getting On With It, Then


alice fight like a girl

So, you’ll probably be needing a look here to move forward.

How We Play Chess : You Don’t Wanna Trade Queens With Me

If you are not a chess hound, trust me, it doesn’t matter.

It’s only the metaphor we’ll be needing.

So if the Queen is the target, of course, this switches everything.

And if you are still thinking about her buzzing around the chessboard, if you are still thinking about her at all, you have missed it entirely.

Who should we really be focusing on?

The most powerful character has not lost any power; she can still move all around, do everything she could always do, but by simply

changing our aim

as in crosshairs, as in focusing on the actual threat, we have completely shifted the balance of power where it really counts, in the first place one should always look in any battle, any confrontation, any war. The King is shit. The king is a figurehead.

Is there such a thing as a Crown Coup?

No, of course not.

There are military coups.

Band of Blood Brothers with weapons and secrets and power that they very much like and very much intend to keep. They are not a democratic organization. They are not elected by the people. They are not swayed by popular opinion. They do not care what the public thinks. What in the fuck does an elected official matter to them?

Well, I suppose it could make for a good


Speaking of chess, of course.

So fuck the King. He’s a brilliant distraction but the queen has the weapons so keep your fucking focus.

Speaking of chess, of course.

So keep your mind where one must keep one’s mind in a battle, and if this is not a battle please, do tell me what the fuck it is?

And look, for those who have seen too much, who live with the guilt of knowing they plowed the fields for death to be sown and blood to be grown you must not retreat from the word battle, because you know they won’t. War as some know it, war as some have seen it, not like it is in the news, or the movies, but inside the true necrophilia buffet that war actually is, how could those who have seen that not pull back from words like battle? Words like war?

Well, there is no word like war, is there?

Speaking of chess, of course.

Unfortunately, it’s a war we’ve got and it’s a war we’re losing. The moral question isn’t whether to admit it, the moral question isn’t whether to fight, the only question is the means.

It’s a bit late for conscientious objection. I’ll take the conscientious, we’ll definitely be needing that. NIL MAGNUM NISI BONUM is our creed.

“Be ye as innocent as doves and as cunning as vipers,” I think someone said a couple of thousand years ago, or something.

So no sidelining. You’re already in this, already fighting valiantly, and now we’re here and we’re fighting a powerful, nimble, fire-breathing bitch.

One doesn’t fight fire with fire. One doesn’t fight fire by screaming “FIRE” although battle cries are necessary. One fights fire with water. Or something like that.

Speaking of chess, of course.

Now, back to the focus. Which is not the queen, not at first, not yet. She is not in space. She is on a board and there is not a single square she can not occupy. So we know all that. That’s cursory for now.

It is who suddenly becomes the biggest threat to the queen that is fascinating. How a board you think you know so well can shift immediately, simply by a change in an aim. An incremental one at that, because the King was always a scarecrow, a distraction. Everyone knows that, but the rule is that the king is the target. The rule is that the king is the aim.

Except the superseding rule is there are no fucking rules.

Speaking of chess, of course.

I mean, are you kidding me? Rules? How very quaint.

And so now the rule is the queen is the aim. No divided loyalties anymore. No crossed purposes. No scarecrows. Just the same board with the same pieces and a more narrow aim. The right aim.

Suddenly everything is different. The balance of power is toppled. Now suddenly the biggest threat on the board, the biggest threat to the queen –  prideful power behind the throne; that weaponized, murdering, destructive bitch – is a bunch of stupid fucking weakling


Speaking of chess, of course.