Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Alison Bechdel

Thank God It’s Thanksgiving Week Links

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While the Nazi totalitarianism strove to give the masses a sense of collective power and strength, Kraft durch Freude (“Strength through joy”), inverted totalitarianism promotes a sense of weakness, of collective futility. While the Nazis wanted a continuously mobilized society that would not only support the regime without complaint and enthusiastically vote “yes” at the periodic plebiscites, inverted totalitarianism wants a politically demobilized society that hardly votes at all.

* In a book coming out this spring, Goffman, now a 31-year-old assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, documents how the expansion of America’s penal system is reshaping life for the poor black families who exist under the watch of its police, prison guards, and parole officers.

* Durham police defend lack of public information in teen’s death. I am continually amazed and horrified by the police stonewalling on this story. How can they not be required to admit how the teenager died?

For racking up a record that has veered from unethical conduct to staggering incompetence, CREW’s voters awarded Gov. Walker the title of Worst Governor in America.

Toxic Lakes From Tar-Sand Projects Planned for Alberta.

The Insanity of Our Food Policy.

India Confronts the Politics of the Toilet.

Federal Student Loan Profits Help Duncan Cut Education Spending To Lowest Level Since 2001. What a sickening spectacle.

Just 90 companies caused two-thirds of man-made global warming emissions. So we’ll only have to sue 90 companies into oblivion? That seems pretty manageable.

Hyperemployment, or the Exhausting Work of the Technology User. Via this piece on the culture of overwork in academia.

* Creatin’ a legal marijuana economy ain’t easy.

* No war in Iran? Unhappy warmongers, just pick yourselves up, dust yourselves off, and try again next decade.

The Long Shadow of Chinese Blacklists on American Academe.

* MetaFilter post on the only musical I ever need to see: Fun Home: The Musical.

Bill de Blasio gives cold shoulder to education reformers as he prepares to choose a chancellor.

* And did I do this one already? An Upworthy Generator. Now you can be inspired by heartwarming stories on your own timetable…

Friday Night Links

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* Thickness of the ice sheets at various locations 21,000 years ago compared with modern skylines.

* Ian Bogost has a great piece on MOOCs in an otherwise totally skippable LARoB feature on the subject.

MOOCs are a financial policy for higher education. They exemplify what Naomi Klein has called “disaster capitalism”: policy guilefully initiated in the wake of upheaval.  The need to teach more students with fewer resources is a complex situation. It’s partly caused by hubris, especially the blind search for higher institutional status through research programs, and it’s exacerbated by the tax base crises of the ongoing and seemingly permanent Great Recession. MOOCs offer the next logical step in this process of “cost containment.” But those who would call current funding models “unviable” and offer MOOCs as a convenient alternative fail to admit that the very need for an alternative presumes that we want to abandon public education in favor of a corporate-owned infrastructure in the first place.

MOOCs are an academic labor policy. As a consequence of the financial policy just described, MOOCs are amplifying the precarity long experienced by adjuncts and graduate student assistants, and helping to extend that precarity to the professoriate. MOOCs encourage an ad-hoc “freelancing” work regime among tenured faculty, many of whom will find the financial incentives for MOOC creation and deployment difficult to resist. This is particularly true of public institution faculty who have gone years without raises. Many institutions offer tens of thousands of dollars of direct compensation for MOOC development and teaching. And, in some cases, MOOCs offer direct access to student tuition and direct competition among faculty for those new resources, extending the “entrepreneurial” institutional politics of professional schools (and corporate life more generally) to all disciplines.

MOOCs are speculative financial instruments. The purpose of an educational institution is to educate, but the purpose of a startup is to convert itself into a financial instrument.The two major MOOC providers, Udacity and Coursera, are venture capital-funded startups, and therefore they are beholden to high leverage, rapid growth with an interest in a fast flip to a larger technology company or the financial market. The concepts of “disruption” and “innovation,” so commonly applied to MOOCs, come from the world of business. As for EdX, the MOOC consortium started by Harvard and MIT, it’s a non-profit operating under the logic of speculation rather than as a public service. If anything, it will help the for-profits succeed even more by evangelizing their vision as compatible with elite non-profit educational ideals.

It is telling that elite professors and universities who design MOOCs aren’t using them for their own students. Those of us who value education and its role in fostering both literacy and democracy should pass on them too.

* Patton Oswalt: A Closed Letter to Myself about Thievery, Heckling, and Rape Jokes.

* Sarah Kendzior vs. the prestige economy. Good interview.

* Obama wants you to believe he’s really truly going to get serious about the climate next month. Really! Meanwhile, they’ve found another methane time bomb in the permafrost.

There are nearly six times as many showings of Man Of Steel alone as there are of all the films about women put together.

The Seinfeld theme slowed down by 1,200 percent is horrifying.

* High-ranking SS commander found living in Minnesota.

* John Oliver really is a much better host of the Daily Show than Stewart’s been since the Bush years.

The investigation was ongoing, but Undersheriff James Szczesniak said there was no evidence yet that Martino “had any ill intent.” There could be a dozen perfectly legitimate reasons why he’d have 30 to 40 pipe bombs in his apartment.

 Transgender People Can Now Change Their Social Security Record’s Gender Identity.

What’s more important: a college degree or being born rich? The answer will totally not surprise you!

* And the time has come at last to raid Detroit’s pensions in the name of bankers’ profits.

Two Named Female Characters Who Talk to Each Other About Something Other Than a Man

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Written by gerrycanavan

February 22, 2013 at 9:53 pm

Sunday Night Links

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* Famous movies, behind the scenes.

* Austerity doesn’t work, Iceland edition.

* Time to Get Angry Again: All About Pussy Riot.

* I Was a Teenage Narc.

* Missouri’s next senator, ladies and gentlemen.

Senate Candidate and Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) told a local television station on Sunday that “legitimate rape” rarely produces pregnancy because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Akin cited conversations with unnamed doctors for the bizarre claim.

Nate Silver says there’s hope this lunacy could erase Akin’s lead overnight. Growing Number Of Conservatives Call On Akin To Withdraw After ‘Legitimate Rape’ Comments.

* Elsewhere in American politics: “I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter-turnout machine.” I mean really.

* The headline reads, “Inmates forced into Gladiator-style fighting by St. Louis jail guards.” WHAT THE HELL AMERICA.

* College Degrees Cost 1,120 Percent More Than They Did 30 Years Ago.

* At home with Alison Bechdel.

* The birth of critical university studies.

Lenin’s Tomb tries to split the baby on Assange.

* More Mitt Romney tax return follies: he still hasn’t released his full returns for 2010. And another why-won’t-he-just-release-them theory: voter fraud!

* A Lesson Is Learned but The Damage Is Irreversible is coming back. Amazing.

* When Robert Wood Jr. disappeared in a densely forested Virginia park, searchers faced the challenge of a lifetime. The eight-year-old boy was autistic and nonverbal, and from his perspective the largest manhunt in state history probably looked like something else: the ultimate game of hide-and-seek.

* The many lives of Frédéric Bourdin.

Over the years, Bourdin had insinuated himself into youth shelters, orphanages, foster homes, junior high schools, and children’s hospitals. His trail of cons extended to, among other places, Spain, Germany, Belgium, England, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Bosnia, Portugal, Austria, Slovakia, France, Sweden, Denmark, and America. The U.S. State Department warned that he was an “exceedingly clever” man who posed as a desperate child in order to “win sympathy,” and a French prosecutor called him “an incredible illusionist whose perversity is matched only by his intelligence.” Bourdin himself has said, “I am a manipulator. . . . My job is to manipulate.”

More from MeFi.

And Sir Patrick Stewart, soliloquy on the letter B. I almost feel better.

None Dare Call It Sunday Reading

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* How is copyright ruining your fun today? Well, for one thing, it’s keeping you from reading The Last Ringbearer. Via an Atlantic piece on technology in Tolkien, via MetaFilter.

* In the L.A. Times: The human race at 7,000,000,000.

* This won’t go well: science perfects the 3D-printed gun.

* Esquire goes to Altamount, 1970.

* The New York Times interviews the great Alison Bechdel.

* Bombshell: Koch-Funded Study Finds ‘Global Warming Is Real’, ‘On The High End’ And ‘Essentially All’ Due To Carbon Pollution.

* Documentarians who later wished they’d intervened.

* Perry Anderson on democracy in India.

* Meanwhile, in American democracy:

Probably the first post I ever wrote that got actual attention was this one, figuring out just how badly you could lose the popular vote and still win the presidency. (I made a couple minor mistakes, so for the sake of correctness the actual answer is that up to 78.05% of the population can vote for the losing candidate.)

I’d note in particular two things: 1) during the last two months of the 2008 election, just four states got more than half of the time and money from the candidates, at the expense of the rest of the country, and thirty-two states got no visits at all! And 2) the electoral college has failed for more than 5 percent of presidential elections! That’s preposterous. A great nation shouldn’t pick its leader by some goofy hairbrained scheme that breaks down one time in twenty.

That said, the proposed solution (the National Popular Vote compact) is also a goofy, hairbrained scheme that would collapse into crisis the second it ever made a difference. Perhaps a “great nation” shouldn’t be hopelessly bound by two-hundred-year-old political compromises whose terms are effectively impossible to alter or amend.

* Also at Washington Monthly: inflation is really not our problem right now.

We find that electorates punish presidents and governors for severe weather damage. However, we find that these effects are dwarfed by the response of attentive electorates to the actions of their officials.

* The headline reads, “There will be no more professional writers in the future.”

* And just for fun: Miniature People Living in a World of Giant Food by Christopher Boffoli.

Thursday Night Links

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* I just want to hear him deny it: Chris Christie Denies Falling Asleep at Springsteen Show.

* Top 10 dying industries in the United States. Top 10 fastest growing industries in the United States.

* But the preferences of developed, aging polities — first Japan, now the United States and Europe — are obvious to a dispassionate observer. Their overwhelming priority is to protect the purchasing power of incumbent creditors. That’s it. That’s everything. All other considerations are secondary.

* How killing by remote control has changed the way we fight. More here.

* I know some people who have this: Witzelsucht (the Germans just have the best words for everything, don’t they?) is a brain dysfunction that causes all sorts of compulsive silliness: bad jokes, corny puns, wacky behavior. It’s also sometimes called the “joking disease,” and as Taiwanese researchers phrased it in a 2005 report, it’s a “tendency to tell inappropriate and poor jokes.”

* Details on the coming Arrested Development revival on Netflix.

* Tumblr of the day: Context-Free Patent Art.

* Avengers vs Avengers XXXI’ve just seen the film… the real film, the proper film. It’s quite possible that the porn parody will pass the Bechdel test, where the real film doesn’t…

* Drew Goddard talks to AICN about Cabin in the Woods.

* Back to the Future: The Pitch Meeting.

* Hey, Everyone — Stop Taking This Picture!

* Cheap theatrics, but okay, you got me: “President Barack Obama sits on the famed Rosa Parks bus at the Henry Ford Museum following an event in Dearborn, Mich., April 18, 2012.”

* Actually existing media bias. (1)

* Actually existing media bias. (2)

* http://www.yourlogicalfallacyis.com/.

* In a 2008 study, Susanne Jaeggi and Martin Buschkuehl, now of the University of Maryland, found that young adults who practiced a stripped-down, less cartoonish version of the game also showed improvement in a fundamental cognitive ability known as “fluid” intelligence: the capacity to solve novel problems, to learn, to reason, to see connections and to get to the bottom of things. The implication was that playing the game literally makes people smarter.

Eric Rabkin is doing an open course on fantasy and science fiction. Details at the link.

* And the strange case of Vatican v. Nuns.

The Vatican has appointed an American bishop to rein in the largest and most influential group of Catholic nuns in the United States, saying that an investigation found that the group had “serious doctrinal problems.”

The Vatican’s assessment, issued on Wednesday, said that members of the group, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, had challenged church teaching on homosexuality and the male-only priesthood, and promoted “radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.”

The sisters were also reprimanded for making public statements that “disagree with or challenge the bishops, who are the church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals.” During the debate over the health care overhaul in 2010, American bishops came out in opposition to the health plan, but dozens of sisters, many of whom belong to the Leadership Conference, signed a statement supporting it — support that provided crucial cover for the Obama administration in the battle over health care.

Thursday Night

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Sunday Reading™

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* Babies born this year are the best babies. Fact.

* Gingrichmania! Republicans in disarray! How he did it. Nate Silver:

But South Carolina’s seeming rejection of Mr. Romney goes beyond cultural or demographic idiosyncrasies. Mr. Rtaxomney was resoundingly defeated by Mr. Gingrich, losing badly among his worst demographic groups and barely beating Mr. Gingrich among his best ones. Had you extrapolated the exit poll cross-tabulations from South Carolina to the other 49 states, Mr. Romney might have lost 47 of them. Moreover, the decline of Mr. Romney was almost as significant in national polls as it was in South Carolina.

Now poor Romney has to release his tax returns. Onward to Florida!

* Great moments in Fox News: Newt Gingrich’s repeated betrayals of the people closest to him suggest he’ll make a trustworthy president.

11 Lesser-Known 2012 Presidential Candidates.

* “One of the gravest threats the FBI saw in the Black Panther movement was their Free Children’s Breakfast Program.” Via zunguzungu.

* When Barack Obama joined Silicon Valley’s top luminaries for dinner in California last February, each guest was asked to come with a question for the president. But as Steven P. Jobs of Apple spoke,President Obama interrupted with an inquiry of his own: what would it take to make iPhones in the United States?

* Steve Shaviro reviews Carl Freedman’s The Age of Nixon. I actually bought this one just on the strength of the author and title.

* Another absolute must-have: Alison Bechdel’s followup to Fun Home, Are You My Mother?

* David Graeber: The Political Metaphysics of Stupidity.

* Michael Greenberg: What Future for Occupy Wall Street? Also on the OWS tip: diluting the 99% brand.

* They’re still trying to make a movie out of Jeff Smith’s Bone.

* And the Chronicle of Higher Education has an obituary for Dean Jo Rae Wright. I only knew her over email, but I was very sad to hear this. She was a very generous supporter of graduate projects at Duke.

Some Highlights from Best American Comics 2011

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* David Lasky, “The Ultimate Graphic Novel (in Six Panels).”

* K. Beaton, “Great Gatsbys” (already linked previously!)

* Joey Allison Sayers, “Oh No, Pet Cat” (just a taste!)

* Gabrielle Bell, “Manifestation”

Here’s the whole book at Amazon, introduced by Alison Bechdel. Of course it’s got some Chris Ware in there, too…

Written by gerrycanavan

November 19, 2011 at 10:29 am

Thursday Night

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