Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’
* 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.
* 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.
* What’s more important: a college degree or being born rich? The answer will totally not surprise you!
* Steven Chu waves the white flag on the tar sands. This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal… If only Obama had won!
* Colorado to split into two states over gun control? America has become a bad fan fiction of itself.
* The Constitutional Amnesia of the NSA Snooping Scandal: John Judis remembers the 60s and 70s.
* And Dan Harmon says he won’t retcon season four. Of course, he hasn’t seen it yet…
Meet your leaker: Edward Snowden.
* We shouldn’t be assessing the health of the humanities by market-share metrics that are far more about demographics and the changing face of higher ed than they are about the intellectual shifts at the heart of actual humanities practice. Besides, the actual numbers show long-term stability post 1980:
The interpretation: The chart never quite reinforces the point that something terrible is going on in the humanities right now. Anyone looking at it closely will notice, as Michael Bérubé has, that the real collapse of humanities enrollments happened in the 1970s. The Great Recession has been less ruinous to enrollments than were the mid-1990s. Sure, a few Harvard majors have switched from history to government in the last decade: is that really a story?
But it does succeed in making the humanities appear massively out of date. And that’s a compelling story for all sorts of people. It makes humanists feel as though they deserve a larger share of the university, and that their sense of being under seige is due to the some pathology in the culture at large; it makes traditionalist critics of the humanities feel secure in pointing out that something has gone very wrong in the field.
* Obama: PRISM Doesn’t Apply To U.S. Citizens. I don’t see how this could mean why Obama seems to be implying. Surely he’s saying that they’re collecting all data but only using data from noncitizens? How could they discriminate between citizen bandwidth and noncitizen bandwidth at the point of recording?
* But the real question: is Glenn Greenwald working for the ChiComs?
* And still another outrage of the day, as if your docket weren’t full: Hacker Who Exposed Steubenville Rape Case Could Spend More Time Behind Bars Than The Rapists.
But those planes really did hit those buildings. And that bomb did indeed blow up at the finish line of the Boston marathon. And we really are in a continuing, low-intensity, high-risk conflict with a diffuse, committed and ideologically-motivated enemy. And for a moment, just imagine how much bloviating would be wafting across our political spectrum if, in the wake of an incident of domestic terrorism, an American president and his administration had failed to take full advantage of the existing telephonic data to do what is possible to find those needles in the haystacks. After all, we as a people, through our elected representatives, drafted and passed FISA and the Patriot Act and what has been done here, with Verizon and assuredly with other carriers, is possible under that legislation. Indeed, one Republican author of the law, who was quoted as saying he didn’t think the Patriot Act would be so used, has, in this frantic little moment of national overstatement, revealed himself to be either a political coward or an incompetent legislator. He asked for this. We asked for this. We did so because we measured the reach and possible overreach of law enforcement against the risks of terrorism and made a conscious choice.
Oh, David Simon, not you too! I’m so surprised to see him on the other side of this. Maybe he should rewatch his own show.
* Transcript from the September 19 meeting of the Cooper Union Board of Trustees. Even putting aside that their short-sighted and obviously bad decisions caused the problem in the first place, the enthusiasm with which these supposed trustees speak about the possibility of closing the school is just unreal.
* All of which brings you back to one central point: if you care about the integrity of elections and people actually being able to vote, the supposed cures for vote fraud are vastly more destructive than the problem. All evidence suggests that vote fraud is a minuscule, minuscule problem. Voter ID and most of the other nostrums are solutions looking for a problem. The people who support these policies are either ignorant of the facts or actually want to cull a certain subsection of the population from democratic participation. There are simply no two ways about it.
* “Since it won’t reform itself, Starfleet needs to be destroyed.” Star Trek into Darkness Hostile to Star Trek, Intelligence.
Remember how Kirk was going to nobly take Khan to Earth to stand trial? Did this actually happen? Is it possible to imagine such a trial ending with a court imposing the punishment of cryogenic stasis? How could a court not demand the other 72 be brought back to life? Wouldn’t such a trial inevitably entail Marcus’s cimes — leading to the exposure of his massive corruption and a public outcry to structurally reform Starfleet?
* The best headline ever? The FBI Investigated the Song ‘Louie Louie’ for Two Years.
* The kids are all right: Teens hate Facebook.
* Historian Helen Fry, who has written a book called The M Room: Secret Listeners who bugged the Nazis, says the information gleaned by the eavesdropping of the German generals was vitally important to the war effort – so much so that it was given an unlimited budget by the government. She believes what was learned by the M room operations was as significant as the code-breaking work being done at Bletchley Park.
The first thing I want to do, then, is slow us down a bit, and go through the last year with a bit more care than we’re usually able to do, to do a “close reading” of the year of the MOOC, as it were. Not only because I have the time, but because, to be blunt, MOOC’s only make sense if you don’t think about it too much, if you’re in too much of a hurry to go deeply into the subject.
* IRS Sent Same Letter to Democrats That Fed Tea Party Row. Gasp! You mean this whole scandal isn’t?
* Adam Kotsko on the US as a party state.
The really disturbing thing is that the party duopoly renders both parties above the law. We can see this in the IRS scandal that is currently unfolding: although there are very good reasons to suspect Tea Party organizations of being less than completely upright when it comes to taxes, the formal state apparatus is likely to back down and sanction the agents who carried out those investigations, because the appearance of neutrality vis-à-vis the two parties is more important than the rule of law. Similarly, one cannot prosecute Bush-era war crimes, because that would be an illegitimately “partisan” move. Given that Clinton and Obama have both committed similar atrocities, one might have some sympathy with the inevitable Republican whining that would accompany a Bush prosecution — it genuinely wouldn’t be “fair.” But it’s when one asks why we don’t just prosecute Bush and Obama that we realize that the two parties are truly above the law — a bipartisan agreement on foreign policy trumps even the most sacred norms of international law.
In the US, it’s common to think of sickle cell anemia, a genetic condition, as a “black disease,” and in fact statistics on prevalence bear that out — black Americans are far more likely than whites to carry the sickle cell gene. But that fact, it turns out, is a result of ethnicity and history, not race.
Sickle cell is common in some parts of Africa, and some parts of Europe, but not others. As it turns out, most American blacks have ancestral origins in areas of sickle-cell prevalence, and most American whites do not. But if the geographic distribution of Americans’ ancestors were different — if, for instance, the country had been settled by South African blacks and Sicilian whites — the incidence of sickle cell in the white population would be higher than the incidence in the black population.
Race is a form of shorthand, in other words. It’s an approximation. In some situations, for some purposes, it’s a useful approximation. If you’re trying to tell someone which of your several friends named Jim you’re referring to, specifying that you mean “the white Jim” may be helpful, and if you’re trying to get the most bang for your buck in a sickle-cell awareness media campaign, targeting black media may have merit.
But the fact remains that Nelson Mandela is at less risk of sickle cell than Al Pacino.
See also Race and IQ: That Old Canard.
* Even the Onion wouldn’t stoop this low for a bit: Soldier In Charge of Sex Assault Prevention Accused of Abuse, Pimping.
* Angelina Jolie writes in the New York Times about her preventive double mastectomy.
* Justice Department Responds To Freedom Of Information Act Request On Online Snooping With 100% Blacked-Out Document. That is just straight trolling.
* Adam Kotsko on the Mad Men backlash. With special guest appearance!
* And a good piece for understanding the IRS scandal. Not that it will make a lick of difference in how this thing plays out.
* Northrop Frye by way of Adam Roberts: The basis of critical knowledge is the direct experience of literature, certainly, but experience as such is never adequate. We are always reading Paradise Lostwith a hangover or seeing King Lear with an incompetent Cordelia or disliking a novel because some scene in it connects with something suppressed in our memories, and our most deeply satisfying responses are often made in childhood, to be seen later as immature over-reacting… As a structure of knowledge, then, criticism, like other structures of knowledge, is in one sense a monument to a failure of experience, a tower of Babel or one of the “ruins of time” which, in Blake’s phrase, “build mansions in eternity.” Adam makes the same connection to SF I make:
I think this resonates so strongly with me partly because science fiction was something I fell in love with as a child-reader. I still love it; still write it and write about it. But I’m increasingly conscious of the ways in which the exercise is based upon a kind of structural hermeneutic inadequacy. ‘Our most deeply satisfying responses are often made in childhood, to be seen later as immature over-reacting’ is almost a too perfect thumbnail of the adult apprehension of SF; and SF criticism always a kind of running-to-catch-up uttering various post-facto justifications. What’s neat about this Frye quotation is the sense it conveys that, actually, all criticism is in the business of doing this.
* Lukewarm Obama scandals coming day-by-day now. Hello, second term!
* Peter Frase has more on Universal Basic Income as utopia.
* And let this be our culture’s epitaph. We could do worse.
* The quest for Shadow of the Colossus‘ last big secret. Very interesting piece about game fandom and community.
* …the 401(k) is a way for both your government and your employer to disown you, and to leave your life savings to be raided by the financial-services industry and its plethora of hidden and invidious fees.
* It is very hard to accept this — the wealth gap is not a mistake. It is the logical outcome of policy and democratic will. From the streets of Cicero on up, the point was to imprison black people in the black belt and then exploit them. The goal was pursued through public policy, private action, and open terrorism. The goal was accomplished.
FD: Chinese sci fi has about a hundred years of history. When it started, in the late Qing dynasty around 1902, it was chiefly concerned with the problem of bringing ancient China into modernity. At that time, Liang Qichao [translated sci fi] because he thought it would be beneficial for China’s future … as something that could popularize scientific knowledge. And Lu Xun thought that if you gave ordinary people scientific literature to read, they would fall asleep. But if you blended scientific knowledge into stories with a plot, it would be more interesting. [He thought that] in this way, the people could become more modern.
* Chris Beckett wins Arthur C. Clarke award for Dark Eden. Probably the first book I’ll read once the semester is over, thanks to @shaviro’s great paper on it at ICFA.
* See no evil, hear no evil: Republicans propose abolishing the unemployment rate.
* Administrators are maniacs: School Conducts Surprise Shooting Drill with Real Gunmen Firing Blanks.
1. Increase the starting salary for a three-credit semester course to a minimum of $5,000 for all instructors in higher education.
2. Ensure academic freedom by providing progressively longer contracts for all contingent instructors who have proven themselves during an initial probationary period.
3. Provide health insurance for all instructors, either through their college’s health insurance system or through the Affordable Care Act.
4. Support the quality education of our students by providing their instructors with necessary office space, individual development support, telephones, email accounts and mail boxes.
5. Guarantee fair and equitable access to unemployment benefits when college instructors are not working.
6. Guarantee eligibility for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program to all college instructors who have taught for ten years, during which they were repaying their student loans.
7. With or without a time-in service requirement, allow all college teachers to vote and hold office in institutional governance, including faculty senates and academic departments.
* There were a few radical writers like Tom Paine who did use the word “democracy” from early on, but the first official use was by Jefferson and Madison when they founded the “Democratic Republican” party — which is clearly just some sort of PR trick, since Jefferson himself never uses the word “democracy” at all in his own writings. But the person who really transformed the language was Andrew Jackson. He ran as a “democrat” and it was so effective that over the course of the 1830s, everyone started calling themselves that. So basically the Republican system that was set up to contain democracy itself got renamed “Democracy.” Interview with David Graeber on Democracy in America.
For the prison to close, lawmakers would have to lift a ban on transferring prisoners to the United States. But it was good that Mr. Obama also pledged to “examine every option that we have administratively” — because there are steps he could take without Congress.
* Interactive infographic at the New York Times shows long-term Democratic hegemony (at least at the presidential level) given most demographic assumptions.