Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘China Miéville

Wednesday Morning!

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021814-nu-union-150* Man tragically unable to remember saying Barack Obama would make a great president says Hillary Clinton will make a great president. Meanwhile, the rest of us are reduced to talking about Obama’s secret achievements.

* Faculty on Strike at UIC.

Solitary Confinement May Dramatically Alter Brain Shape In Just Days, Neuroscientist Says.

* Last Night on Jeopardy No One Wanted to Answer Qs About Black History.

Noose Found Around The Neck Of Statue Honoring Civil Rights Icon At Ole Miss.

* On Teaching While Black.

What Does it Mean that Most Children’s Books Are Still About White Boys?

The J.R.R. Tolkien Manuscripts: Public Showings in 2014.

* Here are the hoops a college football team has to jump through to be allowed to form a union.

* 84-Year Old Nun Sentenced To Prison For Weapons Plant Break-In.

Academic freedom with violence.

Has humanity produced enough paint to cover the entire land area of the Earth? The dream remains alive.

* Whistle-blower fired from Hanford nuclear site.

“We do not agree with her assertions that she suffered retaliation or was otherwise treated unfairly,” URS said, adding Busche was fired for reasons unrelated to the safety concerns. “Ms. Busche’s allegations will not withstand scrutiny.”

Busche is the second Hanford whistle-blower to be fired by URS in recent months. Walter Tamosaitis, who also raised safety concerns about the plant, was fired in October after 44 years of employment.

* A new China Miéville short story collection, scheduled for November 2014.

* A world of horrors: There is no such thing as a child prostitute.

In the same way that certain styles of dance simulate sex, the Winter Olympics simulates scraping one’s February-chapped nostrils against the surface of a Kleenex whose aloe content is useless and reaching out for the warm escape of death. It’s an art of failed suicide attempts.

* A preliminary sketch of the data reveals, of course, that by 2050 films will be reviewing us.

* “First, why would we even think about letting it go through?”

“This whole thing is totally and completely bonkers.”

Grace Kerr sometimes jokes with her family that “Amanda was not that great. Zach is awesome.” What she means is that her son is finally happy, and is helping others.

* Diseased and unsound meat: Hot Pockets®!

In Act Of Protest, Ai Weiwei Vase Is Destroyed At Miami Museum.

* News You Can Use: Why It’s Nearly Impossible to Castrate a Hippo.

A portrait of Steve Jobs made entirely out of e-waste.

* The Ice Caves of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

Candy Crush: Addictive Game, Incredible Business, Horrible Investment.

How the north ended up on top of the map.

* Inside Kappa Beta Phi, the Wall Street Fraternity.

* And our long national nightmare is over: Obama apologizes for disparaging art historians.

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All the Wednesday Links

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* Ada‘s special issue on Feminist Science Fiction is out, including a smart article on somatic capitalism and reproductive futurity from Rebekah Sheldon. 

Should celebrities teach online classes? This was a reductio ad absurdum just a few months ago; I guess things really do move fast in the future.

We cannot have a realistic discussion of the state of the humanities in the United States without talking about the disinvestment in public education that is taking place at all levels of America’s educational system. But the New York Times says we can solve it all with one quick fix so transparent and obvious it can’t even find a single skeptic to quote!

Federal Bureaucrats Declare ‘Hunger Games’ More Complex Than ‘The Grapes of Wrath.’ As an SF studies guy, I’m quite conflicted about this; luckily the rest of the article makes clear how broken the whole system is so I don’t have to worry.

* Which Companies Dominate Your State’s Politics? More links below the image!

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* N=1: A Social Scientific Inquiry into Happiness and Academic Labor.

Cops Subject Man To Rectal Searches, Enemas And A Colonoscopy In Futile Effort To Find Drugs They Swear He Was Hiding. Wow.

* The Top 6 Reasons This Infographic Is Just Wrong Enough to Be Convincing.

* China Miéville in Guernica on the new law of the West Bank.

Western black rhino declared extinct. Still have north, south, east, and a bunch of other colors though. Nothing to sweat about.

* What happens if all the ice melts? Even more links below the image!

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* Dolphins and humans: friends or frenemies? Aeon reports.

* Class polarization in American neighborhoods.

* Surely some threshold has been crossed: Under Armour Outfits Northwestern In Blood-Splattered American Flag Football Uniforms.

* Enemies’ lists in Wisconsin.

* And a classic good news/bad news situation: Ms. Marvel returns as New Jersey Muslim teen. New Jersey destroyed by Galactus. Not a hoax! Not a dumb Chris Christie fat joke! Not an imaginary story!

Friday! Friday! Hooray!

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https://twitter.com/adamkotsko/status/396245623856300032

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China Miéville: Marxism and Halloween.

The Halloween candy to avoid if you don’t want orangutans to die. This is why consumerist approaches to struggle will never work. Horrors lurk everywhere.

Anti-Humanism and the Humanities in the Era of Capitalist Realism. A reminder.

That table reveals that in 1970-1971, 17.1% of students who received BAs in the United States majored in a humanities discipline. Three decades later, in the midst of the crisis in the humanities we hear so much about, that number had plummeted to 17%.

There is little talk in this view of higher education about the history and value of shared governance between faculty and administrators, nor of educating students as critical citizens rather than potential employees of Walmart.  There are few attempts to affirm faculty as scholars and public intellectuals who have both a measure of autonomy and power. Instead, faculty members are increasingly defined less as intellectuals than as technicians and grant writers. Students fare no better in this debased form of education and are treated as either clients or as restless children in need of high-energy entertainment – as was made clear in the 2012 Penn State scandal. Such modes of education do not foster a sense of organized responsibility fundamental to a democracy. Instead, they encourage what might be called a sense of organized irresponsibility – a practice that underlies the economic Darwinism and civic corruption at the heart of a debased politics.

The academic career path has been thoroughly destabilised by the precarious practices of the neoliberal university.

* A new study suggests interdisciplinary PhDs earn less than their colleagues.

* How to be a tenured ally.

* Scenes from the academics’ strike in the UK. Another report from the trenches.

Most Colleges Still Haven’t Implemented The Right Policies To Prevent Rape.

* A Marxist consideration of white privilege.

The women in magazines don’t look like the women in magazines.

Man buys $27 of bitcoin, forgets about them, finds they’re now worth $886k. Exactly how currencies are supposed to work!

Jane Austen: The Massively Multiplayer Role-Playing Game.

* America as Walter White.

The tragedy of Michelle Kosilek. A better treatment of the issue than the headline’s framing would suggest.

“Being condemned to death is unlike any other experience imaginable.”

Macy’s security has arrest quota, ‘race code system’ for nonwhite shoppers. An exemplary case, I think, of the phenomenon Adam Kotsko describes in “What if Zimmerman had been a cop?”

* And speaking of which: George Zimmerman’s Hometown Bans Guns For Neighborhood Watches.

Boy Who Shot Neo-Nazi Dad Sentenced to 10 Years in Juvenile Detention.

Appeals Court Gives NYPD Go Ahead to Restart Stop-and-Frisk.

* There’s something really revealing about how the Daily Show can’t process this story about an unaccountable shadow government running the national security apparatus, and so just punts to a random n-word joke instead. Liberalism, I think, characteristically flinches whenever the conclusion that the system is fundamentally broken is inescapable.

* Honorary vertebrates?

U.S. Teams Up With Operator of Online Courses to Plan a Global Network. MOOCtastic!

* And in honor of the last pop culture lunch of the semester, my favorite zombie short: “Cargo.”

Wednesday Links

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original* Apocalypse now: Nearly One In 10 U.S. Watersheds Is ‘Stressed.’

* Homeland showrunner Alex Gansa explains why the show is just going to get worse and worse and worse.

The protest took the form of three words, or three letters, scribbled onto equipment tape or actual equipment last Saturday during college football games. All Players United, or A.P.U., it read.

* Sensationalized bullshit gets around the world before nuance even has the chance to get its shoes on: Are Tenured Professors Really Worse Teachers? A Lit Review.

In 2006, however, Eric Bettinger and Bridget Terry Long published a book chapter that did address the graduation rate question by looking at student data. Analyzing the records of 43,000 undergraduates at public, four-year colleges in Ohio, they reached the “straightforward and unambiguous” result that freshman taught by adjuncts were more likely to drop out….

Of note here: The big divide wasn’t between tenured and non-tenured professors, but part-time vs. full-time.

Four years later, Bettinger and Long published a second study that added some interesting nuances to their findings. Ohio freshmen, they found, were actually more likely to take additional classes in a career-oriented field (think business, journalism, or computer science) if their first course was taught by an adjunct. In more academic departments (think English or History) students taught by adjuncts were less likely to come back for more. Once they looked beyond freshmen year, the authors found that adjuncts had a positive effect on student interest in every field, though it was still strongest in pre-professional areas of study.

Digital Craft and Humanistic Perspectives Beyond Academia.

  • We need to avoid the mentality of academic self-propagation – graduate studies should not focus on producing more academics, we should assume the norm is to form students for non-academic jobs (much as we do at the undergraduate level).
  • We need to better valorize the masters as a terminal degree – these aren’t the academic dropouts, they are super-graduates who have chosen not to further specialize.
  • We should explore an enhanced masters (or other designation) that fills an enormous gap between the short masters and the long doctorate.
  • We should, through example, encourage students to think of the value of their humanities knowledge, to be able to express it to others, and in some cases to imagine entrepreneurial opportunities for their expertise (have students feel empowered to create a job rather than searching for one).
  • We need to set a higher standard of digital literacy for humanities programs in simple recognition that graduates will be searching for employment in an information age (and more generally participating in a digital society).
  • We need to provide far more opportunities for humanities graduate students to become creators of contentbeyond text-based academic scholarship – producing such tangible works (digital or otherwise) can be valuable in a portfolio and lead to the development of differentiating skillsets on the job market.
  • We need to disrupt the dominance of the classroom-centric, multi-course per term format which seems to persist far more out of bureaucratic habit and convenience than pedagogical soundness. An alternative model is the “block plan” at Quest University, where students take intensive three-week courses. Graduate students might be expected to spend several consecutive days absorbing the more relevant and thought-provoking materials available, from published articles and monographs to blog posts and online videos. There may even be room for a MOOC-like component to provide some core concepts in highly produced and polished form (yes, as heretical as it may sound, I do believe that some aspects of knowledge in the humanities can be fairly neatly packaged, especially in a hybrid model where there are also more intensive small-scale interactions).

* Doin’ it wrong: Usually at the beginning of the semester a hand shoots up and someone asks why there aren’t any women writers in the course. I say I don’t love women writers enough to teach them, if you want women writers go down the hall. What I teach is guys. Serious heterosexual guys. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Chekhov, Tolstoy. Real guy-guys. Henry Miller. Philip Roth. UPDATE: An apology (kind of). UPDATE UPDATE: Hazlit has now published the full interview.

* Reforming campus rape culture and sexual assault unreporting.

* Public service announcement: Harvard is ridiculously rich. Please do not donate money to Harvard.

* Ballard, Miéville, Seinfeld, and the pornography of infinity.

Real-world Civilization game shows impact of war.

* It’s the utterly pointless prequel you’ve been dying to see, almost the ultimate crystallization of what’s wrong with this trend: Commissioner Gordon.

* 18 Products You’ve Been Using Wrong. At least one or two of these is actually helpful!

* Gawker announces plan to solve the privilege hierarchy once and for all.

* And a diver has finally captured our first photographic evidence of the creature scientists call “the Cookie Monster of the Sea.”

Stove Pipe Sponge, Aplysina archeri

The City & The City & The College

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Lee Skallerup Bessette talks The City & the City at College Ready Writing. I’ve mentioned before on Twitter how much I like teaching this book in my science fiction courses (as I’ll be doing this semester in just a week or so). I find that students key into the central seeing/unseeing trope immediately, especially in materially and psychically divided cities like Durham (where I used to teach) or Milwaukee (where I teach now). Students here know they live in an enclave; they know there’s a second city all around them that they aren’t a part of and that isn’t a part of them, with very clear territories and boundaries and no-man’s-lands that are an implicit part of their instruction from freshman orientation on. They recognize immediately that they’ve been taught and are being taught to unsee that other city’s life.

A Quick Five for Tuesday

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* Angelina Jolie writes in the New York Times about her preventive double mastectomy.

* DC cancels everything, including China Miéville’s Dial H for Hero.

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.

And a Few More Weekend Links

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* Someone has adapted China Miéville’s The City and the City for the stage in Chicago. Sold.

* Republicans legislating what answers should get full credit on homework in Oklahoma.

Last year’s program copped to the death of Hollywood cinema-as-art. All that was left was looking backward over a once-hallowed institution and weeping over the corpse. This year, though, the tears have dried. What we see instead is a clear vision of the utility of cinema. The 85th Academy Awards, like no show before it, will elevate films that are openly ideological, weaponized tools of the state.

Evil Middle School Teachers Prank Students with Fake Disney World Field Trip.

* And your headline of the decade: U.S. Government Plans To Air Drop Toxic Mice To Fight Snake Invasion.

Weekend Links

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Tolkien Class At Wis. University Proves Popular. Marquette English hits the big time.

A decade-long spending binge to build academic buildings, dormitories and recreational facilities — some of them inordinately lavish to attract students — has left colleges and universities saddled with large amounts of debt. Oftentimes, students are stuck picking up the bill.

* Legal systems and/as the history of imperialism and colonialism.

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* The New York Times drops its oppo research on Cory Booker.

When snow blanketed this city two Christmases ago, Mayor Cory A. Booker was celebrated around the nation for personally shoveling out residents who had appealed for help on Twitter. But here, his administration was scorned as streets remained impassable for days because the city had no contract for snow removal.

Last spring, Ellen DeGeneres presented Mr. Booker with a superhero costume after he rushed into a burning building to save a neighbor. But Newark had eliminated three fire companies after the mayor’s plan to plug a budget hole failed.

* California judge declares that women’s bodies can prevent rape. Don’t worry, folks — he’s already been admonished. Still a sitting judge, but admonished.

* American Exceptionalism: The Shootings Will Go On.

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* So it’s okay when he says it: “The truth of the matter is that my policies are so mainstream that if I had set the same policies that I had back in the 1980s, I would be considered a moderate Republican.”

* Glenn Greenwald has seen Zero Dark Thirty.

The fact that nice liberals who already opposed torture (like Spencer Ackerman) felt squeamish and uncomfortable watching the torture scenes is irrelevant. That does not negate this point at all. People who support torture don’t support it because they don’t realize it’s brutal. They know it’s brutal – that’s precisely why they think it works – and they believe it’s justifiable because of its brutality: because it is helpful in extracting important information, catching terrorists, and keeping them safe. This film repeatedly reinforces that belief by depicting torture exactly as its supporters like to see it: as an ugly though necessary tactic used by brave and patriotic CIA agents in stopping hateful, violent terrorists.

More from the New Yorker.

* This time Obama is totally going to keep his promises about drug enforcement.

Why race matters after Sandy.

* UC surrenders, zunguzungu named chancellor.

* China Miéville vs. science fiction.

* Twenty-seven-year-old single mother of three sentenced to life imprisonment for bag holding the same day HSBC declared officially above the law. Outrageous HSBC Settlement Proves the Drug War is a Joke.

School cafeteria worker fired for helping needy student. You know, Christmastime.

Links for the Weekend

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* Obama makes an unexpected post-election bid for the Canavan bump: NASA May Unveil New Manned Moon Missions Soon.

* Charlie Stross visits 2512.

* China Miéville offers a brief history of the recent filmic ideology of the necessity of walls against zombie hordes.

* ORCA shrugged. More here, here, here, here. This is still, essentially, poll denialism, but it’s fascinating that the Romney campaign put so much stock in a system whose basic assumptions they’d never bothered to test.

* MetaFilter tries to hash out America’s new marijuana laws. Mexico says legalization “changes the rules of the game.”

This image posits that the juridical distinction between slave and free is isomorphic with today’s cartographies of parliamentary politics; it implies that today’s Northern liberals have inherited, and protect, the precious freedom(s) denied to so many in the antebellum world. It implies that the rupture of the Civil War was not much of a rupture—continuity is the name of the game here. It thus elides the discontinuous rupture of black political subjectivity: the image would have us believe that today’s political cartography retains the form adjudicated 162 years ago by the desires and compromises of (mostly) white men, all of whom in some fashion profited from the political and juridical de-subjectification of blacks throughout the Americas.

* Reddit gets ready for Puerto Rico by designing some 51-state flags.

* Is everyone on the autism spectrum?

* 68 Percent Of American Voters See Global Warming As A ‘Serious Problem.’ There’s a culture war and Democrats are winning. What The 2012 Election Would Have Looked Like Without Universal Suffrage. Colorado Establishment: Republicans must improve or die. I liked, and forgot to link, what Freddie said the other day:

It occurs to me: part of the problem with our political media and analysis is that they always define Republican victory in terms of political direction and Democratic victory in terms of extremity. That is, a Republican victory is seen as a repudiation of liberalism, while a Democratic victory is seen as a repudiation of extremism. One suggests a push towards the right is the mandate of an election; the other suggests a push towards the center is the mandate of an election. Just another way in which the media pursues a “heads conservatives win, tails liberals lose” narrative.

* But don’t get too excited: in times of Democratic strength their leaders just turn on them and enact the austerity measures the Republicans are too weak to enforce themselves. We saw it with Obama, and California’s about to see it with Jerry Brown.

* Senators lining up behind filibuster reform.

* Ohio seeks to just rig the vote in the face of the Republican demographic implosion. Let’s Kill the Electoral College So We Never Have to Pay Attention to Ohio and Florida Again.

* And the Supreme Court will review the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act. Prediction: pain… UPDATE: Supreme Court Appears Ready to Nuke the Voting Rights Act.

Saturday Morning

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* Nevertheless, these arguments are potentially more intellectually coherent than the ones that propose that the race is “too close to call.” It isn’t. If the state polls are right, then Mr. Obama will win the Electoral College. If you can’t acknowledge that after a day when Mr. Obama leads 19 out of 20 swing-state polls, then you should abandon the pretense that your goal is to inform rather than entertain the public. Obama has 431 ways to win; Romney has 76.

* “I Refuse to Cater to the Bullshit of Innocence”: a late Believer interview with Maurice Sendak.

* The Longform Guide to Climate Change.

* Kurt Vonnegut visits Biafra in 1979.

* Mark Hamil teases Star Wars: Episode IX, c. 1983.

* And Evan and China tear it up at the Memory Marathon.

Wednesday Morning

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* It’s not the project I’d have chosen for him, but I’ll take it: Joss Whedon will produce S.H.I.E.L.D., including writing and directing the pilot.

* Why did the FBI spy on Ray Bradbury?

* Another China Miéville interview: 1, 2.

* Biden 2016? Let’s not be hasty. Surely there’s some even less appealing candidate out there somewhere.

* What’s the per-diem for a trip to the Moon? About $8 bucks, minus lodging.

* Police enlist young offenders as confidential informants. But the work is high-risk, largely unregulated, and sometimes fatal.

* Of course you had me at Soviet-era board games.

And the Los Angeles Review of Books crawls deep inside Werner Herzog.

“You are on a foreign island, the first who has set foot on the island in centuries. It is overgrown now with jungles, butterflies, strange birds singing, and you are walking through the jungle and you come across a gigantic cliff. And upon closer inspection, this entire escarpment is made completely of emeralds, [where] a holy monk hundreds of years ago spent his whole life with a chisel and a hammer scratching a poem into the walls. It’s hard like diamond; it took all his life to engrave only three lines in a poem. Please open your eyes and you will see it; you will be the first one to see it, and you will read it to me.” When the man protested he didn’t have his glasses, Herzog encouraged him to move closer and he would be able to read it. His poem began: “Why can’t we drink the moon? Why is there no vessel to hold it?”

Midweek Links

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A collection of artists and activists advocating the neoliberalisation of children’s minds. That is scandalous and stupid. The text is open. This should – could – be our chance to remember that it was never just us who made it, and it was never just ours. China Miéville on the future of the novel.

* 53 Arrested Development Jokes You Probably Missed.

‘The Office’ Ends As Documentary Crew Gets All The Footage It Needs.

In retrospect, we really over-shot this thing by an enormous margin,” said Sheffield, adding that he likely had more than enough good material after filming a British workplace from 2001 to 2003.

* Romney didn’t get a Ryan bounce anywhere but in my beloved Wisconsin. Well, hell.

More great moments in polling: Obama apparently leads Romney among African-American voters 94% to 0%. Some room for improvement there.

* Nobody say “war crime”: Glenn Greenwald says U.S. drones are now attacking first responders.

* “Well, I think the fact that you’re actually innocent is a ‘technicality’! So there!” A 1995 U.S. Supreme Court decision said that prisoners found to be “actually innocent” should be released even if they had not followed all legal technical requirements. The next year, Congress passed a new law with stringent time limits on when inmates could file habeas corpus cases in federal court. But the nation’s highest court has never ruled on whether those deadlines apply in cases in which there is evidence of “actual innocence.” Appellate courts across the nation disagree on whether they do. The law, in its majestic equality…

* Answering leninology from the other day: here’s Gawker’s primer on the case against Julian Assange.

Bonobo genius makes stone tools like early humans did. Monkeys reject unequal pay. I’m sold. It’s their turn.

Sunday Night

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‘Unsolving the City’

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Written by gerrycanavan

July 11, 2012 at 11:48 pm

Friday Morning!

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* Waste your weekend the Manufactoria way. This is one of the best flash games I’ve ever played, I think—it hits the same sweet spot of manic focus for me as doing discrete math problems did back in college. (Thanks, Neil!)

* xkcd finds an impressive new angle on the ancient killing-Hitler time-travel gag.

* Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal has a clever about a cliched political metaphor.

* Photos of People Riding Invisible Bikes.

* Superhero photobombs. (Thanks, Lindsey!)

* Tom Chatfield interviews China Miéville.

Tom: Today, of course, you go online, and you can see that the Wikipedia entries for something like Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes are higher quality, better-referenced, longer and better-researched than many entries about the Second World War. You have this strange inversion in collective belief and emphasis, which ends up generating a lot more material a lot more confidently around the small stuff than the big stuff.

China: This is one of the bad things about the geekocratic moment. Even speaking as someone who loves geek culture at its best, nevertheless I think the sense of priorities is often skewed to the point of being demented.

Tom: Passion is very distorting. If the only reference you have is the strength of your own feeling, and you don’t temper it with something like a sense of social good or importance…

China: Yes, if you don’t contextualize it, it becomes disaggregated from totality—and ultimately it’s totality that one is interested in, social totality.

* The Two Guys from Andromeda are on Kickstarter looking for funds for what sounds like an unofficial Space Quest sequel.

* And in a rare bit of good news: Justice Department Demands Florida Stop Purging Voter Rolls.

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