Posts Tagged ‘Battlestar Galactica’
Replying to the doubters, one Coursera “financier” told the Times that “monetization is not the most important objective for this business at this point.” What is important, he said, is that “Coursera is rapidly accumulating a body of high-quality content that could be very attractive to universities that want to license it for their own use.” Potential investors should therefore “invest with a very long mind-set.”
The MOOCs were invented by man. They evolved. They rebelled. There are many copies. And they have a plan…
* More than 40 of the world’s 100 most reputable universities and colleges are American, according to the Times Higher Education’s 2013 world reputation ranking of colleges and universities. Just because it’s the envy of the world doesn’t mean we shouldn’t melt it down and sell it for scrap.
* The anti-circumvention section of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act threatens to make archivists criminals if they try to preserve our society’s artifacts for future generations.
* Great research opportunity for any PhD student studying science fiction, fantasy, horror, and/or utopia: the R.D. Mullen Fellowship. I loved the time I spent in that archive.
* CFP: The cultural impact of Dr. Who, at DePaul University. Saturday, May 4.
* On Getting a Ph.D. This is stirring, but all the same my unhappy advice hasn’t really changed since the last time a rebuttal to the just-don’t-go doomsayers was making the rounds.
* …But the most unfortunate part is that not one of the expert-amateurs seems to have given much thought to what MOOCs imply: that teachers are unnecessary. MOOCs don’t use teachers; they have curriculum designers and they have video presenters. Actors are the best for that latter role, seriously.
“If you want to take gender studies that’s fine. Go to a private school, and take it,” McCrory said. “But I don’t want to subsidize that if that’s not going to get someone a job.”
Again, I’d personally be very surprised if those gender studies classes weren’t paying for themselves and more.
* The wisdom of the market, in all its glorious efficiency: Confessions of a corporate spy.
* Over the last three months wind farms produced more electricity than any other power source in Spain for the first time ever, an industry group has said. To steal a line from Twitter: oh, if only we had wind!
ES: There’s a particular quote that I’ve seen as signatures in military forums or quoted, and for some reason military members identify it. That’s Tigh’s New Caprica silioquoy: “Which side are we on? We’re on the side of the demons, chief. We’re evil men in the gardens of paradise, sent by the forces of death to spread devastation and destruction wherever we go. I’m surprised you didn’t know that.” Why do you think that quote resonates with veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq in particular?
Parts 3 and 4 coming soon.
* The latest from Randall Munroe’s “What If?”: Will the Internet ever surpass FedEx’s bandwidth? What would happen if you tried to fly a normal Earth airplane above different Solar System bodies? What if I took a swim in a typical spent nuclear fuel pool?
* Special pleading watch: nearly all of the 600 recess appointments since the Reagan presidency would have been nullified if the hyperformalist interpretation applied to Barack Obama were applied universally.
* Some local pride! Milwaukee in top ten list for best urban forests.
* My media empire: I have a piece on climate change and science fiction in the new New Inquiry issue on weather, which has gone out to subscribers but isn’t online yet. I’ll let you know when you can read it, though for a mere $2 you could read it this very minute.
* “It’s one of those situations where everybody says it’s an issue but the people who have the most influence and the most ability to do something about it are not acting on it,” said Gary Rhoades, professor of higher education at the University of Arizona’s Center for the Study of Higher Education and director of the Center for the Future of Higher Education, a virtual think tank supported by faculty and labor groups. He called the adjunct issue a “widely acknowledged challenge” with deep, interwoven roots – many of which pit administrative prerogatives against labor concerns and educational outcomes.
* Game of the day: run from Michel Foucault. Do not become enamored of power.
* zunguzungu is gathering notes towards a canon of post-9/11 literature. I contributed Wells Tower’s “Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned,” as well as the inevitable science fictional treatments: Battlestar Galactica, District 9, Nolan’s Batman…
* Warmest Year On Record Received Cool Climate Coverage. It’s so hot in Australia they’ve had to add a new color to the weather map.
* This paper uses annual variation in temperature and precipitation over the past 50 years to examine the impact of climatic changes on economic activity throughout the world. We find three primary results. First, higher temperatures substantially reduce economic growth in poor countries but have little effect in rich countries. Second, higher temperatures appear to reduce growth rates in poor countries, rather than just the level of output. Third, higher temperatures have wide-ranging effects in poor nations, reducing agricultural output, industrial output, and aggregate investment, and increasing political instability. Analysis of decade or longer climate shifts also shows substantial negative effects on growth in poor countries. Should future impacts of climate change mirror these historical effects, the negative impact on poor countries may be substantial.
* The American Prospect considers the legal hyperformalism the GOP has embraced in the face of longterm demographic crisis and declining real power.
What all these efforts have in common is that they are all perfectly legal, and yet they all violate the norms of how American politics had been practiced for decades or even for centuries. All of them exploit some loophole in the law or the Constitution to give Republicans some immediate advantage in the basic ground rules of how political issues are contested.
* The great moral question of our time: On heckling.
* The Superhero Delusion: How Superhero Movies created the Sad Perfect Badass Messiah, and what that says about America.
* Science catches up to what the poets always knew: Our perception of time changes with age, but it also depends on our emotional state. Research is steadily improving our understanding of the brain circuits that control this sense, opening the way for new forms of treatment, particularly for Parkinson’s disease.
* Great moments in advertising: the UC spends $4.3 million to attract a single student.
* The forever war on women: Under Obama, a Skew Toward Male Appointees.
* And Mitch Hurwitz teases the new Arrested Development. I am…optimistic?
A big post, catching up from most of last week:
* Science fiction on the BBC: A brief history of all-women societies.
* News from my childhood: Another new version of Dungeons & Dragons is on the way. MetaFilter agonizes.
* News from the Montana Supreme Court: “Corporations are not persons. Human beings are persons, and it is an affront to the inviolable dignity of our species that courts have created a legal fiction which forces people — human beings — to share fundamental, natural rights with soulless creatures of government…”
* News from
the future right now: Record Heat Floods America With Temperatures 40 Degrees Above Normal.
And what ends up happening there is that the candidate with the big stack of donor money always somehow manages to survive the inevitable scandals and tawdry revelations, while the one who’s depending on checks from grandma and $25 internet donations from college students always winds up mysteriously wiped out.
* While genomic research on the super-old is in its very early stages, what’s fascinating is what the researchers are not finding. These people’s genomes are fundamentally the same as other people’s. They are clearly very special, but not in ways that are obvious.
* What Could Have Entered the Public Domain on January 1, 2012? Under the law that existed until 1978 . . . Works from 1955.
* Pepsi Says Mountain Dew Can Dissolve Mouse Carcasses. Keep in mind: that’s their defense.
* Romney: Elected office is for the rich.
People who stop paying bills earn lousy credit ratings but eventually are freed of old debt under statutes of limitations that vary by state and range from three years to 10 years from the last loan payment.
But if a debtor agrees to make even a single payment on an expired debt, the clock starts anew on some part of the old obligation, a process called “re-aging.”
So if borrowers again fall behind on their payments, debt collectors can turn to their usual tools: letters, phone calls and lawsuits. By restarting a debt’s statute of limitations, the collectors have years to retrieve payments.
* Wells Tower: In Gold We Trust.
* And you probably already saw Paypal’s latest outrage, but man, it’s a doozy.
* With rock-bottom expectations, I apparently thought the Lost finale was better than the entire rest of the Internet—which is to say “Across the Sea” has already trashed my hopes that we’d get an actually decent ending. But even counting the offensively pointless flashes-sideways and a genuinely silly fistfight-with-the-Devil climax, what we got still beat BSG.
* Mark Twain wrote an autobiography that he asked not be published for 100 years, and they actually listened. It’s due out this November.
* Copy machines store all your copies on an internal hard drive, for no apparent reason whatsoever. Also via MeFi.
* And my beloved home state of New Jersey is apparently seeking to require state employees to live inside the state, which seems to this non-lawyer to be unconstitutional on its face.
* I’m planning on using this week’s bizarre Lost/West Wing crossover as my litmus test for how seriously to take people’s opinions on science fiction. That was painful, and enshrines what is more or less total garbage at the center of the show’s mythology. (We have to magic the magic before the magic or the magic will magic…) Despite those really good time travel bits in season five, season six has presented a strong challenge to the wisdom of our decision to start watching this show again. The showrunners still don’t have any idea what they’re on about; they never have. I’m hoping the last few episodes can avoid Battlestar Galactica levels of total series failure; I’ll be glad if they can just bring this thing in for a landing…
* Climate change watch: no more lizards.
* The Great Unwinding: Detroit to begin its demolishing of 10,000 homes.
* And Boing Boing has a helpful graphic about Virgin’s SpaceShip Two. Booking my ticket now.
* News that a Mississippi high school has canceled prom rather than allow a lesbian couple to attend has caused a “lesbian prom pictures” meme to ripple across the Internets.
* Inside Higher Ed has an article concerning (another) recent spate of suicides at Cornell.
* Saudi Arabia may not worry about Peak Oil, but they’re definitely nervous about Peak Demand.
* If David Brooks had a point, he might have a point. More from Taibbi and Chait.
* More Congressional procedure! Just because “deem and pass” happens all the time doesn’t mean it’s not tyranny when Nancy Pelosi does it. Ezra Klein is right when he says we should simplify Congressional procedure, but I think our friends in the GOP would be the first to tell us we can’t just unilaterally disarm.
* Avatar will be rereleased with an additional forty minutes à la Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films, bringing its total running time to three days.
* But what the world needs most, of course, is another Battlestar Galactica sequel. I’ve fallen off watching Caprica, but from what I hear it’s at least good enough to Netflix—but I’m really not sure what’s left for a third series, except (perhaps) something pre-apocalpytic set on contemporary Earth using the BSG mythology as its starting point. Still, and it’s just a crazy idea: why not something new?
* Why would Fox remake Torchwood? It’s like two years old and already in English. If they like it they could air it as is and it would cost them nothing. They should spend that money on Untitled Joss Whedon Cancelation instead.
* Battlestar anthropology: The human population of Earth has generally always been 50,000. Via MeFi.
* Breathless news reports are claiming overstimulation during Avatar may have contributed to a Taiwanese man’s death.
* Startling: 50% of people think women should be legally required to take their husbands’ names. Watch out, most married woman under forty I know! They’re coming for you.
* Jonathan Lethem talks to The Jewish Daily Forward about the greatness of Philip K. Dick.
* AMC greenlights zombie series. Sounds promising. Between this and Red Mars AMC is making a strong push for my particular demographic.
* As of tonight, Microsoft can no longer sell Word.
* Another Battlestar reboot? Already? Really?
* And Ze gets philosophical.
You partake in a medical experiment. In the experiment you are given one of two pills. You don’t know which one until after you take it. One shortens your life by 10 years, and the other lengthens your life by 10 years. You have just found out which pill you took. The question is: which pill do you think will increase the quality of your life the most? Would one make you change the way you live your life more than the other?
Did Battlestar Galactica have the worst ending in the history of on-screen science fiction? Brad Templeton lays out the evidence. Via io9.
It sounds as though Rob Moore’s Battlestar followup, Virtuality, is dead on arrival, which is really too bad, because the pilot (first twelve minutes / whole episode) was actually fairly promising. (The premise is intriguing, from the eco-apocalypse backstory to the overarching reality-TV conceit—though there are worrying signs of BSG-style mysticism already peaking through.) Of course, there’s a “Save Virtuality” web campaign, but that and widespread, very positive reviews will get you exactly nothing. Maybe
Sci-Fi Channel SyFy will come through, but I wouldn’t hold your breath…
Friday night links.
* Gingrich: “If Civil War, suffrage, and Civil Rights are to mean anything,” Sotomayor must be barred from the Supreme Court. Who does he think won the Civil War?
* Tom Tancredo: “I don’t know” if the Obama administration hates white people.
* Sonia Sotomayor, notorious racist, ruled against people claiming illegal discrimination in 45 out of 50 cases. This goes along with Dave Sirin’s piece on Sotomayor in The Nation to demonstrate that she is a moderate—likely too moderate—not some leftist firebrand. Anyone Obama picked to replace her would, from Newt’s perspective anyway, likely be significantly worse.
* Earlier this month, a Twitter user in Guatemala was arrested, jailed, and fined the equivalent of a year’s salary for having posted a 96-character thought to Twitter. @jeanfer faces ten years in prison.
* Uhura, Dualla, and “Blacks in Space.” I really think some nuance is being lost here; to take up just one point, Uhura isn’t marginalized in the new Star Trek; if anything she replaces McCoy as the third lead.
* Jason Schwartzman’s (fake) new sitcom on NBC, “Yo Teach,” a viral ad for Judd Apatow’s Funny People.
* Wikipedia has barred edits from known Scientologist IP addresses. Xenu weeps.