Posts Tagged ‘comedy’
* 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!
* “A higher education system worth defending or reclaiming has never existed”: Education’s “The Emperor Wears No Clothes” Moment.
How can this lead to cost reductions? The savings can accrue rapidly if the course is massively enrolled and subsections are taught by less well-paid individuals; or if the course lasts several years and the designers and lead professor may be paid over time.
* For the love of the game: The other day, Iowa Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz decried the spreading influence of money in college athletics. This is funny for several reasons, but you don’t really need to go past the fact that Ferentz is paid $3.8 million a year to coach Iowa’s football team, and does so while providing a comically small return on investment. In situations like this, schools would normally cut bait and fire the coach, but Ferentz is protected by a buyout that makes his contract look downright reasonable. … If Iowa were to fire Ferentz today, the school would have to pay a buyout of $17,531,360.
* I’m sure that academics will have objections, although Whedon has stood up to far worse than the Shakespeare (or Earl of Oxford) mob. He has been to Comic-Con. When Shakespeare’s done right, you can’t imagine him ever being done wrong. The clarity is blinding.
* Third graders will now officially assess NYC teachers. Foolproof! What could go wrong?
* Billions of Dollars Wasted on Racially Biased Marijuana Arrests. No! It can’t be! That’s impossible!
Marijuana usage rates are comparable among Blacks and whites, yet Blacks are over 3.7 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession.
* Big fair use decision: specific commentary on the original work is not required for a fair use defense.
* Finding common ground with Senator Coburn: To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to exclude major professional sports leagues from qualifying as tax-exempt organizations.
* Gasp! Many students stay away from online courses in subjects they deem especially difficult or interesting, according to a study released this month by the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College. The finding comes just as many highly selective colleges are embracing online learning and as massive open online courses are gaining popularity and standing.
* “What we’re saying is that bargain-basement (clothing) is automatically leading towards these types of disasters,” John Hilary, executive director at British charity War on Want, told Reuters.
* Canada gets it right: “The legal test for a true volunteer arrangement looks at several factors, but merely agreeing to work without pay does not in itself make you a volunteer,” Ministry of Labour spokesperson Jonathon Rose wrote in an email. See also Natalia Cecire:
Like the hypothetical minimum-wage high schooler whose income serves as pocket money, non-essential and destined for “fun,” the youthful volunteer, who may very well intrinsically enjoy the work, authorizes a category of labor exploitation that is not only okay but also okay to take as the norm for the labor of cultural preservation. “I can get you a twenty-year-old!” is, in that sense, not a labor solution but its opposite: a commitment to the norm that this work will be unpaid.
It is hard for me to avoid the conclusion that the sensationalism surrounding the “student loan bubble” stems from the fact that the majority of writers for progressive publications are either relatively recent college graduates or people with vivid memories of their own student debt. Hence they jump on the issue, making themselves and people like them the center of attention — while ignoring the vast wave of proletarianization that is beginning to make the United States a major competitor in the global sweepstakes to attract capital with low wages (and in fact, many self-styled progressive writers seem to buy into Obama’s incoherent view that greater access to college will in itself somehow help with inequality and wage stagntation).
* A comprehensive new Harvard University report on Americans under 30, the so-called Millennials, shows that the economy is having a crushing impact, with just 62 percent working, and of those, half are toiling at part-time jobs.
* Malcolm Harris reviews Haneke’s Amour, in the new TNI.
* This Tumblr post does a good job explaining what’s appealing about the Harmontown podcast while unhappily bracketing the racism and misogyny that can sometimes make the show a challenging listen.
* Also in Community news: Alison Brie and Gillian Jacobs hype the new season of Community, starting tonight. Gillian Jacobs on Comedy Bang Bang. Yvette Nicole Brown on the Nerdist podcast, where she reveals her secret past as a member of the East Coast Family.
* Walter Bishop as the villain in Star Wars 7? Oh, all right.
* Stephen King points out a Shining prequel is a really dumb idea. Alas, his Shining sequel doesn’t sound great, either.
* Of course you had me at time travel web comic: Paola-4.
* And spotted on Facebook: Postcolonial Space Explorer.
* Bernard Pollard doesn’t think the NFL will exist in 30 years… because it’s just becoming too darn safe.
* Wisconsin officials tout the UW Flexible Option as the first to offer multiple, competency-based bachelor’s degrees from a public university system. Officials encourage students to complete their education independently through online courses, which have grown in popularity through efforts by companies such as Coursera, edX and Udacity. No classroom time is required under the Wisconsin program except for clinical or practicum work for certain degrees.
* Also in local news: Milwaukee sheriff says the police won’t protect you, so get a gun.
* And with each new technology, the same hyperbole, the same evangelism. On-line education is great. MOOC is a wonderful concept. But most of the institutions in the world that are over 400 years old are universities and there is a reason for that. To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the impending demise of the traditional university may be much exaggerated.
* Graduate school from admissions to job applications, from Karen “The Professor is In” Kelsky: Graduate School Is a Means to a Job.
To summarize: the answer to underfunded, lower effectiveness primary and secondary education requires subsidizing a private, VC-funded bet made on a roulette wheel fashioned from the already precarious prospects of a disadvantaged population.
* Bowling Green State University announced Friday that it will cut the size of its faculty by 11 percent, eliminating 100 full-time faculty jobs, The Toledo Blade reported. The reduction will be made by not filling positions of those who resign or retire, and also by not renewing many one-year teaching contracts. Officials said that more than $5 million would be saved, and that the funds would be invested in other priorities. In addition, administrators said that there would be no impact on the quality of instruction students receive. Also chocolate and puppies for everyone.
* Purdue University’s new president doesn’t really care for universities. Sounds like the perfect guy for the job!
* More new revenue streams: Carleton University has started a commercial rent-a-mathematician service, a calculated move to bring in some cash and also fix real-world problems. Will explain science fiction for food…
* Some Ph.D.’s Choose to Work Off the Tenure Track. “Choose” is doing a lot of work in that headline.
* “What a deformed monster is a standing army in a free nation”: the U.S. and military spending.
The weapons included not just the AR-15 but more. He had gotten them out of his father’s unlocked closet, not a gun-safe, after he had a “minor disagreement” with his mother. He shot her in her bed, then the three little kids, in their beds. Mulitple times. Perhaps with the semi-auto rifle. Waited a few hours, then shot dad when he came home.
Then: Loaded up van with weapons and started to drive to local Walmart, where he planned to slaughter many more, then kill himself. Called friend, though, who suggested he stop by church and maybe think about it. Security guard there calls cops.
* “If the district attorney agrees to send me to prison for a long time, then I will confess and plead guilty,” Hubatch told Madison police Detective Tom Helgren after his arrest on Monday, according to a criminal complaint. “Otherwise, I have nothing else to say, and if released I will do it again.” The versatile law degree, University of Wisconsin edition.
* CVS Manager Fatally Strangles Homeless Man for Shoplifting Toothpaste. No charges filed because America.
* Where to Be Born: 1988-2013. Do your research, kids.
* 50 collective nouns. The best of these I’ve heard recently was totally fake, but funny, on the new Paul F. Tompkins “Analyze Fish” Jaws podcast: “a jar of jellyfish.”
* Kurt Vonnegut’s “The Shapes of Stories,” Tumblrfied.
* ‘Quadruple helix’ DNA discovered in human cells. I feel certain this is where the X-factor that creates mutants is located.
* Fracking on the San Andreas Fault? What could possibly go wrong?
* “Escape from Tomorrowland,” filmed without Disney’s knowledge at Disney World.
* And your text adventure of the day: Reset.
* Read the article on professor-mothers that set Twitter aflame. Guaranteed to be the worst thing you read this week!
* The intentional fallacy: Kathryn Bigelow says Zero Dark Thirty’s fine because she’s a lifelong pacifist.
* Here Are Obama’s 23 Executive Actions on Gun Violence. 11. Nominate an ATF director. That’ll solve it!
* You can carry a loaded firearm into national parks and can tuck your rifle and ammunition into stowed luggage on Amtrak trains. Federal product-safety law subjects everything from toys to toasters to safety inspection and recalls, but exempts guns. Little-known laws shed light on NRA influence.
* I know people will believe anything, but I have to believe Sandy Hook Trutherism is almost entirely a media phenomenon.
* 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?
* Tumblr has been perfected; you can all go home. Troy and Abed in Engineering.
* Newt Gingrich thinks Republicans couldn’t beat Hillary Clinton in 2016. I agree! I also think there’s no one in the Democratic Party who could beat her for the nomination. As far as I can tell the presidency is hers if she wants it.
* It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. This is how people played “Zombie Apocalypse” before that was a thing.
* Mark Johnston, the acting assistant housing secretary for community planning and development, estimated that homelessness could be effectively eradicated in the United States at an annual cost of about $20 billion. The housing department’s budget for addressing homelessness is currently about $1.9 billion. But that’s an impossibly large sum we certainly can’t afford — the cost of almost three months in Iraq!
* It’s painful for Nicholas Kristoff as a liberal to admit, but the poor are wicked and deserve their lot. Even disabled kids? Especially disabled kids.
* The day would come when many West Virginians recalled the story of Jack’s Powerball Christmas with a shudder at the magnitude of ruination: families asunder, precious lambs six feet under, folks undone by the lure of all that easy money.
* Austerity everywhere: they’re going to start charging for the bus between Duke and UNC.
* Jokes I’ve stolen from elsewhere on the Internet: Let’s do a sequel to that beloved show starring a grown-up version of that Savage brother. #youfools #yousaidtheincantationwrong #monkeyspaw
* When scams collide! Grand Canyon University, a for-profit Christian college located in Phoenix, Ariz., now has a Division I athletics program. Inside Higher Ed reports that GCU will become a member of the Western Athletic Conference, as the first for-profit college to join a Division I NCAA conference.
* And an actual scandal alert! Susan Rice, Top Candidate For Secretary Of State, Has Millions Tied To Canadian Tar Sands.
* Kotsko: We hear over and over again that our modern economy requires flexible workers who can easily move among different tasks and settings. Yet instead of taking advantage of the natural ability of colleges and universities to cultivate these kinds of competencies, we are continually told that we need to retool our programs to do just the opposite.
In this case as in so many others, a relentless focus on practicality is the most impractical thing at all. And by the same token, the most “impractical” education — one that provides students with an opportunity to develop as fully as possible as thinkers and citizens — may also provide students the chance to develop the most valuable job skills more or less as a matter of course.
* Something’s fishy when a purportedly non-ideological movement shows up on the scene promising revolutionary change that looks suspiciously like the non-academic status quo. Why, exactly, should the ‘next big thing’ in the humanities come from the whitest, malest subfield this side of diplomatic history? Why does the New York Times cover the new field’s projects so much more enthusiastically than it does traditional work? Why has digital humanities attracted more enthusiasm from state funders, across agencies and nation, than the humanities have seen since the Cold War ended? I often think: one of the things digital humanities is potentially very, very good at is naturalizing the world as it is. And our reflexive ways of thinking about the world are just what theory has always sought to get us away from; the nightmare from which it tries to jolt us awake.
* Playboy (NSFW, obviously) interviews Stephen Colbert about science fiction, cynicism, appearing in character, and more.
PLAYBOY: Is it true you met Stewart for the first time while asking him a question at a press conference?
COLBERT: Yeah, that was it. I’d been doing The Daily Show when Craig Kilborn was hosting. I heard they were doing a press conference to announce that Jon was the new host, and I said, “Isn’t that the sort of thing we should be covering?” So I went, sat down in the audience and raised my hand when they opened it up to questions. I was like, “Stephen Colbert, Daily Show.” Oh God, how did I phrase it? “Does this announcement have any effect on the prospects of me getting the hosting job?” Jon looked at Doug Herzog, who was the network president at the time and is again, and said, “You said he wasn’t funny.”
* Twilight of the geniuses: life with an abnormally high IQ.
* And some free advice for the GOP: stop doing this.
* ‘Armed Militia’ of Soldiers Plotted to Take Over Army Base, Assassinate Obama. We’re just going full-bore dystopia all the time I guess.
It’s worse to imagine a world with Obama getting a second term than it is to imagine a world without pizza. Because with Obama in a second term, there will be no pizza. For anyone.
* I found out today with great sadness that Congress has killed the Jacob Javits Fellowship. That thing paid for my MFA. It was a great program.
* There are many ways to destroy a person, but the simplest and most devastating might be solitary confinement. Deprived of meaningful human contact, otherwise healthy prisoners often come unhinged. They experience intense anxiety, paranoia, depression, memory loss, hallucinations and other perceptual distortions. Psychiatrists call this cluster of symptoms SHU syndrome, named after the Security Housing Units of many supermax prisons. Prisoners have more direct ways of naming their experience. They call it “living death,” the “gray box,” or “living in a black hole.”
* The Republican strategist told Brownstein, “This is the last time anyone will try to do this” — “this” being a near total reliance on white votes to win a presidential election.
* Stat of the day: There are three times as many gun dealers as grocery stores in America.
* College Humor, against malaria. I thought Ellie Kemper, Tony Hale, and Rhys Darby alone were worth it.
* Vera Farmiga set to play Norman Bates’ infamous mother in A&E’s Psycho prequel series. We had some fun with this on Twitter earlier today, as this Storify may attest. And here’s one that was Facebook only: Before “North by Northwest” there was “Where’s my compass?”
* Who’s ruining Justice League this week? The Wachowskis.
But she didn’t just have cancer. She went on to explain that in some manic twist of fate, while her career is at an all-time high — she is moving to New York to work on Amy Schumer’s new television show, she was on This American Life — concurrently, all these terrible circumstances have befallen her over the past 3 months: pneumonia made way for a debilitating bacterial infection in her digestive tract for which she was hospitalized and lost 30 pounds off of her already small frame, days after being released from the hospital, her young mother died suddenly and tragically (fell, hit her head, died), then she and her girlfriend broke up, and then, now, cancer. In both breasts. (“You have a lump.” “No, doctor, that’s my breast.” — one of her most renowned bits is about someone remarking upon her small breasts)
Louis CK’s appearance on the Daily Show last night confirms for me that the guy is some kind of comedy Rorschach test. What I heard was a man talking with sensitivity about rape culture on national TV, which is something that is exceedingly rare, much less from a male comedian. It’s true he used some lazy “humorless feminist” and “nagging women STFU” tropes along the way, but I honestly just filtered those out as standard comedy boilerplate and ignored them. The final STFU, in particular, I found so outlandish as to obviously mean the opposite, especially in context of the conversation he and Jon had just been having. Alyssa Rosenberg, who started all this, had the same reaction as me.
Talking with others in the MeFi thread, or on Twitter, though, I see tons of people taking the exact opposite points away from the C.K. appearance. That he acknowledged the existence of rape culture is barely adequate to the situation, they find, and the way he did it was minimizing and aggressive to the point of misogyny. I see their point, absolutely. On the merits I’ve come around and think they’re probably right. But I took (and I think I still take) everything he said the other way.
I’m going to go ahead and declare that the problem is comedy itself. Why can’t people just articulate clearly and simply exactly what they mean? It would make all this a lot easier.
* Profiles in courage: Mitt Romney’s Support Of Same-Sex Adoption Lasts One Day.
* And then Canada destroyed the climate. Enjoy your weekend!