Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Sunday Night Links!

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* Kenya sci-fi series imagines European immigrants fleeing to Africa. A very different premise, but it reminds me a bit of some of what happens in Abdourahman A. Waberi’s excellent short novel The United States of Africa.

* Map of the week: 57% of languages do not have gendered pronouns.

* How comics portray psychological illness.

* New Analysis Shows Problematic Boom In Higher Ed Administrators. With searchable database so you can see how your school has changed since the 80s.

UCLA spends 2% of its budget on sports, while UO spends 13%. 13%!

The Council of UC Faculty Associations did the math, and showed to get tuition back down to 2000-01 levels $5300 in today’s dollars), and state funding back up to spend 20001 amounts per student, would cost to the median individual California taxpayer, each year, a total of $50.  Restoring full quality and affordability for the state’s 1.6 million public college and university students would cost the state median taxpayer about the same as a holiday bottle of single malt scotch.  That would get us halfway back to a Free UC

Grad school’s mental health problem. When education brings depression.

* “Teachers can’t strike, so we’ll strike for them.”

* Functioning democracy watch: The rise of the blank-slate candidate.

* Lawrence Lessig: Only the super-rich can save us now.

But when it comes to the narcissism of war, as the example of Christopher Hitchens reminds us, no one has quite the self-deluding capacity of the intellectual.

* Friends, it gets worse: California aquifers contaminated with billions of gallons of fracking wastewater.

U.S. Emergency Rooms Are Bracing For An Ebola Panic. The nightmare Ebola scenario that keeps scientists up at night. ‘Breach of Protocol’ Led to 2nd Ebola Infection. Cuba leads fight against Ebola in Africa as west frets about border security. But don’t worry, we’re tweaking all our incentives: US government offers $1m for best hazmat suit design as demand surges.

* Prison to Table: The Other Side of the Whole Foods Experience. Pennsylvania’s addiction to prison-building a moral, economic disaster.

* BREAKING: White people are radically misinformed about just about every salient question in American politics.

Yes, they are killing young black males. Documents Show NYPD Has Paid $428 Million in Settlements Since 2009. Asset seizures fuel police spending.

* Why is the recovery so weak? It’s the austerity, stupid.

They did, however, find the case significant enough to notify their sergeant — “due to the fact that it was an F.S.U. football player,” the report said. The sergeant, a Florida State University sports fan, signed off on it and the complaint was filed away as “unfounded.” It was hardly the first time that the towering presence of Florida State football had cast a shadow over justice in Tallahassee.

* Cultural preservation watch: There Is A Nine-Foot Tall Statue Of Edward Snowden In New York City.

“When the story broke about Edward Snowden, I was thinking a lot about surveillance and monumentality and how we remember things,” Dessicino told BuzzFeed News on Friday. “How public space is used and how people in history are remembered.

“And I got the idea that maybe people who are major actants upon history aren’t always represented properly, and those people could be written out of history by not having something more permanent made of them.”

* Elsewhere in Snowdenmania: news that he has apparently inspired a second leaker, still at the agency, as well as a nice button on the love story that dominated so much of the early coverage.

* I’ve been a Moffat-skeptic and didn’t like Twelve’s introduction or first few episodes at all, but I have to admit the new Doctor Who is probably as good as it’s ever been. Each of the last few episodes has been better than the last. Sid & Nancy on the TARDIS.

* Nielsen: still the absolute worst.

* The oldest struggle: Hawk v. drone.

Yet, there is something incomprehensible and inconsistent about this brand of “evil.” Mordor presents these characters in incredibly high fidelity—and I mean that both aesthetically and narratively. Some of the Orcs wear visible jewelry. One dev pointed out during a video preview that “some of them are poets.” But we’re told again and again that these Orcs want to destroy beautiful things. It just doesn’t hold up, and this tension extends to every element of their narrative and systemic characterizations. These Orcs have fears, interests, values, rivalry and friendships. Some Orcs are lovingly protective of their bosses or underlings. But they are “savage creatures” that “hate beauty,” so go ahead and enslave them.

* Matt Yglesias is making sense: The real problem with Nate Silver’s model is the hazy metaphysics of probability.

* The LEGO Batman Movie is the moment reboot culture begins to learn at an algorithmic rate. In a panic, they try to pull the plug.

* “He soon resigned.” A chess column had run in the New York Times since 1855, until today.

* Here come the self-driving cars.

* Tech jobs: Minorities have degrees, but don’t get hired.

* This Is How Judges Humiliate Pregnant Teens Who Want Abortions.

* Marissa Alexander will have a new trial.

* Unpopular opinion watch: This is not a perfect article, but the proposition that universities are not equipped to be courts and shouldn’t try to be seems basically right to me. I can’t imagine how people are looking at the last few decades of Title IX implementation and saying the answer is to give schools a larger role in this.

* Dystopian road signs.

* Understanding Homestuck.

* Understanding the Great Zucchini, DC’s most in-demand clown.

* Well, that explains it. Hitler was ‘a regular user of crystal meth’, American Military Intelligence dossier reveals.

* The age of miracles: cure for type-one diabetes imminent.

* And I’m so old I can remember when “full of bees” seemed like the worst possible thing.

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Written by gerrycanavan

October 12, 2014 at 6:13 pm

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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For His Unwavering Devotion to Weekend Links, Gerry Canavan Has Been Awarded the Nobel Prize for Linkblogging

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* Every so often the Nobel Committee accidentally picks a genuinely deserving, genuinely inspiring recipient of the Peace Prize. This year was one. A 2013 profile of Malala Yousafzai. A speech to Pakistani Marxists. What did one Nobel laureate say to the other?

* Every so often the Supreme Court accidentally makes a good decision. Last night’s overturning of Wisconsin’s voter suppression law was one.

* What would the twentieth-century history of English studies look like if we had thought to preserve the records of our teaching? How could that history be different if we had institutional archives of syllabi, student notes, lecture drafts, handouts and seminar papers, just as we have archives of journal articles, drafts of novels, recordings of performances, and committee meeting minutes? What if universities had collected classroom documents alongside other records and traces of the knowledge they create and culture that they value?

* Another lovely Chomsky rant on the university.

So the university imposes costs on students and on faculty who are not only untenured but are maintained on a path that guarantees that they will have no security. All of this is perfectly natural within corporate business models. It’s harmful to education, but education is not their goal.

* Recent cuts have unfortunately made future cuts inevitable: The University of Wisconsin System is about to do some wholesale, strategic belt-tightening, according to its president. But it’s not all absolutely miserable news:

Regent Janice Mueller noted that of the $1.6 billion total paid to unclassified staff on UW campuses, faculty accounted for $550 million, leaving more than $1 billion going to non-faculty. “That seemed a little out of whack to me,” Mueller said. “I would think faculty salaries would be the larger share.”

I didn’t think Regents were allowed to notice things that like.

* A new law that more strongly prohibits discrimination against pregnant graduate students could be coming to a state near you.

The Excessive Political Power Of White Men In The United States, In One Chart.

* Phil Maciak on the greatness of Transparent.

* Why we need academic freedom: On Being Sued.

* Neoliberalism is the triumph of the state, not its retreat. The case of Mexico.

On the cultural ideology of Big Data.

It Would Actually Be Very Simple To End Homelessness Forever.

* It seems that all of Pearson’s critical foundational research and proven classroom results in the world couldn’t get the question 3 x 7 x 26 correct.

* Federal spending was lower this year than Paul Ryan originally asked for. Ha, take that Republicans! Another Obama-led triumph for the left!

* But things will be different once Obama finally becomes president. Obama Plans to Close Guantanamo Whether Congress Likes It Or Not.

* Nightmares: Could Enterovirus D68 Be Causing Polio-Like Paralysis in Kids?

* NYC airport workers walk off job, protesting lack of protection from Ebola risks.

* SF in everything: Malware needs to know if it’s in the Matrix.

* Lady Ghostbusters will be a reboot, almost assuredly a terrible one.

I love origin stories. That’s my favorite thing. I love the first one so much I don’t want to do anything to ruin the memory of that. So it just felt like, let’s just restart it because then we can have new dynamics. I want the technology to be even cooler. I want it to be really scary, and I want it to happen in our world today that hasn’t gone through it so it’s like, oh my God what’s going on?

* It’s happening again: Vastly Different Stories Emerging In Police Shooting Of St. Louis Teen. The Associated Press is On It:

* Baton Rouge officer who texted about ‘pulling a Ferguson’ allowed to retire, can still work as a cop.

* Teenagers in prison have a shockingly high suicide rate.

* Roger Ebert: The Collected Wikipedia Edits.

* The many faces of capitalism.

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* The University of Wisconsin at Madison Police Department issued an apology Wednesday after a list of safety tips posted to the department’s website was criticized for appearing to blame victims of campus crimes, particularly survivors of sexual assault.

* What We Talk About When We Talk About Trigger Warnings.

* Today in theology: Europe’s history of penis worship was cast aside when the Catholic Church decided Jesus’s foreskin was too potent to control.

By the 15th century, the Holy Prepuce had become the desirous object of many mystics’ visions. Bridget of Sweden recorded the revelations she received from the Virgin Mary, who told the saint that she saved the foreskin of her son and carried it with her until her death. Catherine of Siena, the patron saint of Italy, imagined that her wedding ring—exchanged with the Savior in a mystical marriage—had been transmuted into the foreskin. In her Revelationes (c. 1310), Saint Agnes Blannbekin recounts the hours she spent contemplating the loss of blood the infant Christ must have suffered during the circumcision, and during one of her contemplative moments, while idly wondering what had become of the foreskin, she felt the prepuce pressed upon her tongue. Blannbekin recounted the sweet, intoxicating taste, and she attempted to swallow it. The saint found herself unable to digest the Holy Prepuce; every time she swallowed, it immediately reappeared on her tongue. Again and again she repeated the ritual until after a hundred gulps she managed to down the baby Jesus’ cover.

* LEGO, against oil.

* Two Bad Tastes That Taste Bad Together: The US Doesn’t Have Enough Railroads to Keep Up With the Oil Boom.

* For some unfathomable reason somebody handed Cary Nelson another shovel: A Civility Manifesto.

* Science proves that in female-dominated societies men have to work twice as hard to destroy everything with their bullshit.

* Another piece on the law and Tommy the Chimp.

* Trick or treat.

* And maybe there are some doors we just shouldn’t open: I’m Slavoj Žižek, AMA.

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Thursday Morning Links

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* Your poem of the day: Tracy K. Smith, “Sci-Fi.”

* Philosophical science fiction, 1, 2, 3. Via MeFi.

* Science fiction as white supremacist fantasy.

* Charlie Stross on why he thinks he’ll be writing more urban fantasy than science fiction in the coming years.

* If you want a vision of the future: Tenure-track jobs in YA lit and science fiction studies at the University of Calgary.

Feces on the Philosophy of History! A Manifesto of the MLA Subconference.

* For Safety’s Sake, Get Rid of Campus Cops.

* This is not to diminish the exuberant commitment of the participants. At the same time, we must reckon with the fact that pop culture really likes to be agreeable along with its thrills. It likes to say yes, and makes endless conciliations to do so. It is safer to say yes. Yes can be deeply pleasurable. History is made by those who say no. Extinction Pop.

* David Graeber has published the piece comparing Rojava to the Spanish Civil War that he and I argued about on Twitter the other day. I have to say I find Richard Seymour’s take much more persuasive.

So if we have no way to make the slogan effective, what is it for?  If it is genuinely intended to pressure imperialist states to “arm the Kurds”, then it is at best unthinking sentimentality.  At its most sophisticated, though, the idea could be to ‘intervene’ in an argument taking place in imperialist countries around the region’s uprisings and military intervention, to attack the weak points in the dominant ideology and open a space in which a leftist argument can be made to a popular audience.  In this view, Kobane represents both the most progressive front of struggle in the region at the moment, and the weakest point ideologically for imperialist ruling classes who have no desire to see the PYD/PKK prevail.  In this sense, the demand to “arm the Kurds” is a sort of feint, akin to a ‘transitional demand’ in that it is both seemingly ‘reasonable’ in light of the dominant ideology and also impossible for the ruling class to deliver.

* Malcolm Harris remembers the Milgram experiments.

* Who Why How are trolls?

* On the post-post-colonial.

“Post-post-colonial” — and that’s just because I can’t think of something wittier right now — I think is a new generation of, well, new-ish generation of writers, where we’re not driven by our dialogue with the former mother country [the United Kingdom]. The hovering power for us when growing up in the ’70s and ’80s was not the U.K. It was the States, it was America. And it wasn’t an imperialistic power, it was just a cultural influence. I’m sure if this book was written in the ’70s or the ’60s, the characters would have ended up in London. They wouldn’t have ended up in the Bronx.

For us [as opposed to the post-colonial writers], for example, identity is not necessarily how to define ourselves in the relation of colonial power, colonial oppressor — so now it’s a matter of defining who you are as opposed to who you’re not.

* Remember: Obama cannot fail, he can only be failed.

* BREAKING: Wall Street is still looting the whole country.

* Big news for a small number of academic writers and artists: Judge Overturns IRS on Artist Tax Deductions.

Open-Carrying Guy Has His Brand-New Pistol Stolen at Gunpoint.

* One high school’s insane quest to make students print “Redskins.”

* Football is a death cult.

* Ebola is the CNN of CNN.

* Finding a Video Poker Bug Made These Guys Rich—Then Vegas Made Them Pay.

* The battle to make Tommy the chimp a person.

* Here’s exactly how much monetary damage Calvin and Hobbes did together.

* Here’s the plot, in a nutshell: Sinatoro follows a necronaut who is sent into the afterlife to save Earth from destruction. It draws influences from the western genre and the classic American highway Route 66. It’s something Morrison considers his magnum opus of sorts, and we’re glad he’ll finally get a chance to tell it.

* Thomas Friedman is paid an incredible amount of money to write this dreck.

* This is literally unbelievable: Fracking company teams up with Susan G. Komen, introduces pink drill bits “for the cure.” I find it difficult to even conceive of anything more absurd than this.

* And judging from the resounding crickets that followed this announcement this feels like a year that maybe I really could have won the Nobel Prize in Literature.

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If I Wrote It: The Harry Potter Sequel

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J. K. Rowling doesn’t need my advice, but if I were going to write the Harry Potter sequel she may or may not eventually be writing I would definitely focus it on the way her fans have developed the Houses into distinct and co-equal entities (as opposed to Protagonist House, Villain House, and Extra Houses). There are two plot hooks that I think would work well for this:

1. Harry’s kid gets sorted into Slytherin and has to figure out what that means for him;
2. The Wizarding World has finally wised up and outlawed Slytherin House altogether, turning it into something like a banned frat that’s moved underground.

Or some version of both at the same time.

J. K., you can send the checks directly to my office.

Written by gerrycanavan

October 8, 2014 at 10:50 am

Wednesday Links

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* Marquette English’s medievalist search closes today! Get your applications in!

* Advice for academics: how to write a research statement.

* The digital humanities and the MLA JIL.

* Junot Diaz on academic freedom and Palestine.

* The Plot Against Public Education.

* Grooming Students for A Lifetime of Surveillance.

* Yet another roundup on the death of the faculty.

* Holy picket lines, Batman! Marxism and superheroes, part two: the struggle.

* Same-sex marriage crossed the 50% threshold yesterday, as it became legal as many as 30 states due to SCOTUS inaction.

* The right to die: Terminally Ill 29-Year-Old Woman: Why I’m Choosing to Die on My Own Terms.

* Is Rick & Morty the best cartoon since The Simpsons season four? Probably! You Need to Be Watching Rick and Morty. Seriously.

* Google Glass and facial recognition.

* American Empire, by the numbers.

* An open access book: Joanna Zylinska’s Minimal Ethics for the Anthropocene.

* Understanding reparations.

* War is a racket, Prophet Samuel edition.

* Wealth of richest 400 Americans surges to $2.29 trillion.

* The mission of the humanities is to transmit questions about value – and to question values – by testing traditions that build up over centuries and millennia. And within the humanities, it is the discipline of history that provides an antidote to short-termism, by giving pointers to the long future derived from knowledge of the deep past. Yet at least since the 1970s, most professional historians – that is, most historians holding doctorates in the field and teaching in universities or colleges – conducted most of their research on timescales of between five and 50 years.

* We’re probably teaching math wrong.

* Daria Morgendorffer’s Reading List.

* Hey, you, get your damn hands off her.

* Venus Green, who was 87 when she was handcuffed, roughed up and injured by police, will receive $95,000 as part of a settlement with Baltimore City. The quote doesn’t even reflect the most bananas part: Woman, 90, locked officer in basement, settles with police.

Ga. Cops Who Blew Off Toddler’s Face With Grenade Won’t Be Charged.

* Did I do this one already? Infinite Jest, as it was meant to be read.

* Stay informed: Nicolet National Forest is Milwaukee’s “zombie safe zone.”

* National Adjunct Walkout Day Planned.

* The gum you like is going to come back in style.

* And that gum you like is going to come back in style.

Startups Did Not Get Last Month’s Memo To Stop Burning All Their Money.

MIT researchers are developing a “second skin” space suit lined with tiny coils that contract when switched on, tightening the garment around the body. The coils (image below) in the “BioSuit” are made from shape-memory alloy that “remembers” its shape when bent and returns to its original form if heated.

* Marvel will finally try to make some money off the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.

* Boston Review on vulture capitalism.

* MetaFilter mega-post on sex work and consent.

* The United States and alcoholism. Some anti-big-data-journalism pushback.

* And now at last we see the violence inherent in the system.

Special Bonus Sunday Reading: ‘Keywords for an Age of Austerity’

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On Twitter Adam Kotsko pointed me to a great blogging series from John Patrick Leary: “Keywords for an Age of Austerity.”

1 – Innovation

2 – Stakeholder

2.5 – Learning Outcomes

Like the other words in this series—innovation and stakeholder—learning outcomes is a superficial concept that crumbles under even slight scrutiny. But its empirically verifiable meaninglessness conceals the zeal for empirical measurability that it demonstrates. And in the education world, these kind of measurements are only ever about cutting back.

3 – Nimble

4 – Entrepeneur

5 – Curator

The word’s combination of moral purpose and creativity aligns it closely with the “innovator” and the “entrepreneur.” In the most enthusiastic celebrations of each, marketing ingenuity and aesthetic imagination are scarcely distinguishable from one another.

6 – Conversation

7 – Silo

8 – Accountability

Measurement is key in enfocring the notion of accountability in schools, and it is what many critics of NCLB fixate on: the high-stakes testing regimes, teacher evaluations,  school grades, and so on. And yet there is something persistently vague about its usage. In my cursory reading of the text of NCLB, the term is never defined more clearly than it is above, except to specify that it refers to common standards and enforcement provisions. The law at times also seems to conflate the sanctions for failure—that is, being “held accountable,” or punished—with meeting the standard itself, or “being accountable,” a big difference.

9 – Content

10 – Sustainability

As a lifestyle and marketing term, “sustainable” can paradoxically express the same capitalist triumphalism—of an ever-expanding horizon of goods and services, of “growth” without consequences—that the conservationist concept was once meant to critique. “Sustainable development,” fuzzy as it is, was intended to remind us of the limited supply and unequal exploitation of natural resources. But if “sustainable” most literally means an ability to keep on doing something, its popularity as a consumerist value suggests that there is a fine line between “sustainable” and “complacent.” We can “sustain” grossly unequal cities—that is, they won’t fall apart utterly—with Lyft and Airbnb, rather than mass transit and affordable housing. For a while, anyway. Whether we will sustain our desire to live in them is another question.

11 – Civility

12 – DIY

Sunday Links!

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* Did you notice my post last night? Isiah Lavender’s Black and Brown Planets is out! My essay in the book is on Samuel Delany.

* Sketching out a table of contents for Pink Planets: highlights from the history of feminist SF.

The US has killed hundreds of thousands of people in the name of fighting terrorism. The war is all too real. But it’s also fake. There is no clash of civilizations, no ideological battle, no grand effort on the part of the United States to defeat terrorism. As long as terrorism doesn’t threaten core US interests, American elites are content to allow it — and help it — flourish. They don’t want to win this war. It will go on forever, unless we make them end it.

* The United States and the “moderate Muslim.”

In each of these, I merely concede the Maher and Harris definition of moderation as a rhetorical act. That definition is of course loaded with assumptions and petty prejudice, and bends always in the direction of American interests. But I accept their definition here merely to demonstrate: even according to their own definition, American actions have undermined “moderation” at every turn.

* Fox News, asking the real questions. “What are the chances that illegal immigrants are going to come over our porous southern border with Ebola or that terrorists will purposely send someone here using Ebola as a bioterror weapon?”

* The Most Ambitious Environmental Lawsuit Ever.

* “Social Justice Warriors” and the New Culture War.

As selective colleges try to increase economic diversity among their undergraduates, the University of Chicago announced Wednesday that it’s embarking on an unusual effort to enroll more low-income students, including the elimination of loans in its aid packages.

* In search of an academic wife.

* Alt-ac jobs at the MLA.

* “Yes Means Yes” at campuses in California and New York.

* A model state law for banning revenge porn.

* Let the children play: Homework isn’t linked to education outcomes before age 12, and not really after age 12, either.

* Enslaved Ants Regularly Rise In Rebellion, Kill Their Slavers’ Children.

Ebola Vaccine Delay May Be Due To An Intellectual Property Dispute. This was a bit in Kim Stanle Robinson’s Science in the Capitol series: one company has the cure for cancer and the other company has the delivery mechanism, so both go out of business.

* Elsewhere in the famous efficiency of markets: Marvel will apparently cancel one of its longest-running series out of spite for Fox Studios.

This Is The First High-Frequency Trader To Be Criminally Charged With Rigging The Market.

* Prison bankers cash in on captive customers.

* The time Larry Niven suggested spreading rumors within the Latino community that emergency rooms are killing patients in order to harvest their organs in order to lower health care costs.

* Suicide, Unemployment Increasingly Linked, Paper Suggests.

* Perfectionism: Could There Be a Downside?

* I’d be really interested to see if this use of eminent domain would survive a legal challenge.

Data centers are wasting electricity so excessively that only “critical action” can prevent the pollution and rate hikes that some U.S. regions could eventually suffer as a result of power plant construction intended to ensure that the ravenous facilities are well-fed, a report from the Natural Resources Defense Council and Anthesis warns.

* From the archives: Lili Loofbourow on the incredible misogyny of The Social Network.

* Moral panic watch: ‘Back-up husbands,’ ‘emotional affairs’ and the rise of digital infidelity.

* Look, a shooting star! Make a wish! Also at Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: Superman, why are you lying about your X-ray vision?

* Fantasy sports and the coming gambling boom.

* And this looks great for parents and kids: B.J. Novak’s The Book with No Pictures.

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