Join me tomorrow at the Science and Technoculture Studies Program at UC-Riverside tomorrow for my talk “The Lost Stories of Octavia Butler”! 3:30 PM in HMNSS 2212!
* Huge congratulations to my colleague Larry Watson, three-time winner of the Wisconsin Library Association’s book of the year.
* The climate deal with China is the distraction, Keystone XL is the grift. More unhappy news: China Is More Likely to Keep Its Climate Promise Than We Are.
* But Democratic super-billionaires will save us… by suing their pollsters. Yay?
* United Kingdom universities are pioneering exciting new horizons in Mafia-style university management. Now to sell derivatives based on the proposition that the unis won’t able to pay back the money… now to force a situation where those derivatives pay off…
* Finishing a Humanities Dissertation in Six Years (or Less). There’s good advice here, though as I grousing on Twitter I don’t like the framing “with working relationships, marriage, health, finances, and sanity all still in good shape at the end.” These things are in many cases prerequisites for graduate work as much as they are things graduate study puts at risk; the “still” in that sentence is really crucial.
Rule of law watch!
* Of course, it’s not just cops, every bureaucratic structure in America turns out to be toxic just beneath the surface: LA School District: Students Can Consent to Sex With Their Teachers.
* These days, the idea of the cyborg is less the stuff of science fiction and more a reality, as we are all, in one way or another, constantly connected, extended, wired, and dispersed in and through technology. One wonders where the individual, the person, the human, and the body are—or, alternatively, where they stop. These are the kinds of questions Hélène Mialet explores in this fascinating volume, as she focuses on a man who is permanently attached to assemblages of machines, devices, and collectivities of people: Stephen Hawking.
* 200,000 brave and/or insane people have supposedly signed up for a one-way mission to Mars. But the truth about Mars One, the company behind the effort, is much weirder (and far more worrying) than anyone has previously reported.
* Against disability, kind of: Able-Bodied Until It Kills Us.
* Poster for They Still Live. I’d watch it.
* And they say adults in America are infantilized: Underoos Are Back, Adult-Sized, And Better Than Ever!
* DC in talks to let Michelle MacLaren
take the blame for direct Wonder Woman. Good luck to her!
* SMBC: Prayer and the speed of light.
This is no accident. The same contradictions that have divided human aspiration from human achievement, producing growing hunger and want in a world with the technological means to solve both, paralyze the reach of humanity into the solar system. The task to reclaim space as humanity’s birthright is inseparable from that necessary to oppose war and conquer want and deprivation. In other words, it is the fight for socialism.
* College Athletes of the World, Unite. Ladies and gentlemen, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
* This is a great TNI interview on California, “the carceral state.”
If we believe that the prison system is broken, then we must also believe in its ability to be fixed. Here we can see how the PIC keeps functioning through the rehearsal of the “broken system” narrative. As Angela Davis and many others have argued, it is precisely through reform that the prison-industrial complex expands. We can see the materiality of this expansion through the mandatory increase in police in schools through Proposition 47.
* Wisconsin woman said this week that she may have to file for bankruptcy because she was taken to an out-of-network hospital after having a heart attack, but now she owes more than $50,000 more than she would have if she had been taken to a hospital less than half a mile away.
* I was fired for sending a letter to the League for Innovation in the Community College, criticizing the Moraine Valley Community College administration for treating adjunct faculty as a “disposable resource” and the “chilling effect” on adjuncts who lack job security.
* Now we see the violence inherent in the system: Man Points Rifle At Teen Daughter After Game Of Battleship Goes Bad.
* The Handmaid’s Tale was a documentary: Domino’s founder turning FL town into unconstitutional contraception-free ‘Catholic enclave.’
* Tomorrow at Marquette! The English Department pop culture group geeks out over The Hunger Games.
“In Sweden prostitution is regarded as an aspect of male violence against women and children. It is officially acknowledged as a form of exploitation of women and children and constitutes a significant social problem… gender equality will remain unattainable so long as men buy, sell and exploit women and children by prostituting them.”
The point of engagement in this sense is not to involve the public in making decisions, but make them feel involved in decisions that others will make. That this may be done with the best of intentions is important, of course, but ultimately besides the point. Like “stakeholder,” “engagement” thrives in a moment of political alienation and offers a vocabulary of collaboration in response. So if civic engagement is in decline, one thing that is not is the ritualistic performance of civic participation. The annual election-cycle ritual in American politics is a case in point here. In one populist breath, we routinely condemn the corruption of politicians who, it is said, never listen to the average voter. And in the next, we harangue the average voter for failing to participate in a process we routinely describe as corrupted. So it’s not the “apathy” or “disengagement” of the public that we should lament or criticize—it’s the institutions that give them so many reasons to be disengaged in the first place.
JR: In the past you have said that you are a short-term pessimist and a long-term optimist. Could you expand on this a bit: why are you pessimistic about the short term? What changes do you anticipate taking place between the near and far futures that change your pessimism to optimism?
IB: On a personal level, it’s damage limitation; a sanity-keeping measure. Expect the worst and anything even only half-decent seems like something to celebrate. The pessimism comes from a feeling that as a species we seem unable to pass up any opportunity to behave stupidly, self-harmfully (the Copenhagen climate talks being but the latest example). The long-term optimism comes from the the fact that no matter how bad things seem and how idiotically and cruelly we behave. . . well, we’ve got this far, despite it all, and there are more people on the planet than ever before, and more people living good, productive, relatively happy lives than ever before, and—providing we aren’t terminally stupid, or unlucky enough to get clobbered by something we have no control over, like a big meteorite or a gamma ray buster or whatever—we’ll solve a lot of problems just by sticking around and doing what we do; developing, progressing, improving, adapting. And possibly by inventing AIs that are smarter and more decent than we are, which will help us get some sort of perspective on ourselves, at the very least. We might just stumble our way blindly, unthinkingly into utopia, in other words, muddling through despite ourselves.
* The growth of auxiliary activities was the primary driver in spending increases by the schools, the report concludes. From 2005 to 2012, $3.4 billion was spent on instructional and research facilities. The cost for nonacademic auxiliary facilities was $3.5 billion from 2002 to 2012. Limit athletic fees, check construction to control college costs, study says.
* It’s a start: Massachusetts Town Proposes First Complete Ban On All Tobacco.
* The Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA) is under attack by critics who say academe is colluding with the mainstream media to push a feminist agenda in video games. How deep does this conspiracy go?
* When we think about the collapse of communism, we should emphasize and celebrate the attractiveness of a social market economy — not free enterprise.
* Today, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration announced through the New York Times that it may stop making arrests for low-level marijuana possession, opting instead to issue tickets without detaining the suspect. This would feel like an important step toward reasonable weed policy if New York state hadn’t already mandated it 37 years ago.
* The seminars offered police officers some useful tips on seizing property from suspected criminals. Don’t bother with jewelry (too hard to dispose of) and computers (“everybody’s got one already”), the experts counseled. Do go after flat screen TVs, cash and cars. Especially nice cars. Police Use Department Wish List When Deciding Which Assets to Seize.
* Is Pre-K academically rigorous enough? That’s a real question this real article is asking.
* Grace Dunham is now an adult and she read this book before it was published. She is managing her sister’s book tour and they are best friends. Are we really going to overlook this?
* Also on the subject of Lena Dunham: this is an extremely clickbaity headline, but the testimony from a juvenile sex offender is fascinating and horrible.
* In America, today’s parents have inherited expectations they can no longer afford. The vigilant standards of the helicopter parents from the baby boomer generation have become defined as mainstream practice, but they require money that the average household earning $53,891 per year— and struggling to survive in an economy in its seventh year of illusory “recovery”— does not have. The result is a fearful society in which poorer parents are cast as threats to their own children.
* Although it looks like a traditional typeface, Dyslexie by Christian Boer is designed specifically for people with dyslexia.
* In its gentle sadness, its deceptively light tone, and its inherent contradictions, this is the perfect ending to The Next Generation. One of these days, the crew will be dispersed. The Enterprise will be put in mothballs. Starfleet will complete its transformation into a body that none of them particularly want to serve in. But for now, their voyages continue.
* Peak Prequel: Sony Rumored to Be Prepping Aunt May Spider-Man Spin-Off Movie.
* And the best news ever: HBO Will Make Asimov’s Foundation With Interstellar‘s Jonathan Nolan. I may lose my mind over this show. I may even do a podcast. And a lot of what went wrong with Interstellar wasn’t even Jonathan Nolan’s fault!
* The climate crisis of the 21st century has been caused largely by just 90 companies, which between them produced nearly two-thirds of the greenhouse gas emissions generated since the dawning of the industrial age, new research suggests.
* The exciting return of “Is Health Care Reform Constitutional,” and friends, this one could be a doozy. Here Is What Will Happen If The Supreme Court Strikes Down Obamacare’s Subsidies. And from the archives: Halbig, King, and the Limits of Reasonable Legal Disagreement.
* As a society, we are somewhat obsessed with the risks of dying – from car crashes, cancer, terrorists, Ebola, or any of the thousands of mortal terrors that haunt our nightly newscasts. But we’re less accustomed to consider the risks of living long - of outliving our retirement savings.
* Is Serial problematic? Serial: listeners of podcast phenomenon turn detectives – with troubling results. What Is An Ending? ‘Serial’ And The Ongoing Story Of Wanting Too Much. Alas, I listened to this this weekend and got hooked despite all my critical detachment.
* Doritos-Flavored Mountain Dew Is Real, PepsiCo Confirms. This is unfathomable. There are some lines never meant to be crossed.
* World Cup Watch: North Koreans working as ‘state-sponsored slaves’ in Qatar.
* Against spoiler alerts, in the LARoB.
The rise of spoiler-free criticism seems like a move away from criticism as art — and a move toward criticism as an arm of fandom marketing. It’s fine to not want spoilers in your criticism. But there is something distasteful about the assumption that providing spoilers is some sort of lapse in ethics or etiquette. If you don’t treat art first as a consumer product, the spoiler-free doctrine seems to suggest, you’re being cruel and unfair. But critics really are not under any obligation to like what you like or to treat art with one particular kind of reverence. In the name of preserving suspense, the command to remain spoiler-free threatens to make criticism and art more blandly uniform, and less surprising.
* For example, research in economics has shown that the wage gap between lighter- and darker-skinned African Americans is nearly as large as the gap between African Americans and whites. In our analysis of data from theNational Longitudinal Survey of Youth, we found that the darkest-skinned African American girls were three times more likely to be suspended at school than their lighter-skinned counterparts — a disparity that is again roughly equal to the gap between blacks and whites. Alternatively put, while African American girls are three times more likely to be suspended than white girls, the darkest-skinned African American girls are several times more likely to experience suspension.
* Occasion #7 is all about debt.
* Cloud computing: the race to zero.
* Let me pause and say here: of course I love many literary dudes. They are not, all of them, smug and condescending. But let me say something else: I thought for a while that the really terrible ones were time limited — that they were products of the 1950s, of a particular time period, and that it really was a viable strategy to just talk about snacks until they all retired. But I have now realized this is not true; new terrible smug dudes are coming up through the ranks. Hydra-like, smug dude attitude keeps springing forth from itself.
* Billboard ads are expensive to construct, maintain and rent, but they don’t serve any functional purposes — so Michal Polacek redesigned them to house the homeless. The next best thing to just abolishing homelessness.
* In 2012, DiMaggio released the results of his own Safe Routes to School program. Child pedestrian injury rates had plummeted, falling to half their original numbers. “We showed that kids can still be kids,” says DiMaggio. “They can walk and bike to school and be safe.” The project’s federal funding expired last year, however, and no plans exist to extend the initiative to areas beyond the immediate vicinity of the selected schools.
* Incredibly misleading ad placement at Amazon inside the book description makes every book seem like it was an Amazon Editors’ Favorite Book of the Year.
* “But a deep look at Mars One’s plan and its finances reveals that not only is the goal a longshot, it might be a scam.” No! No! I won’t believe it!