Posts Tagged ‘debt’
* Someone put Istvan Csicsery-Ronay’s keynote from ICFA this weekend on YouTube. The “Empire” ad Istvan plays from Computer Associates is amazing.
* No! No! I won’t believe it! It’s impossible! Bottom line shows humanities really do make money.
* Police officers in Hawaii are lobbying lawmakers not to repeal a statute that allows them to …. wait for it … have sex with prostitutes during the course of legitimate investigations. Repeating my joke from Twitter, “legitimate” in that sentence is working so far it should be allowed to have sex with prostitutes while on duty…
* Autopsy shows Texas cop fired fatal shot from close range into sarcastic student’s back. The officer is currently on administrative leave.
* It should be no surprise that when law enforcement agencies investigate themselves, they find no wrongdoing—especially since a study of the FBI’s internal investigations found that they cleared themselves of wrongdoing in 150 out of 150 fatal shootings. With that track record, the public can’t be confident in the integrity of an investigation with this predictable outcome.
* HBO In Talks with Lisa Kudrow to Bring ‘The Comeback’ Back for Season Two. I want to see that.
* Ideology at its purest? Why not just believe the things bisexuals say about themselves?
* The science fictional sublime: the art of Penguin science fiction.
* From the syllabus of my wonderful Cultural Preservation class: “Can Auschwitz Be Saved?” and “The Myth of the Vanquished: The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.”
* Where the money goes: what $60,000 tuition at Duke buys you.
* Always worth relinking: StrikeDebt’s Debt Resistors’ Operations Manual.
* On most policy questions of any importance, there are enough academics doing work to generate far more policy ideas than can seriously considered by our political system. When it comes to systemic risk, we have all the ideas we need–size caps or higher capital requirements–and we have academics behind both of those. The rest is politics. What we really need is for the people with the big megaphones to be smarter about the ideas that they cover.
* The schedule for the next four weeks of my Cultural Preservation course is up at the course blog. Benjamin! Fight Club! Ani DiFranco! Oh my!
* Black Chicago Residents Are 10 Times More Likely To Be Shot By Police Than White Residents. What could explain it?
* David Graeber: What’s the Point If We Can’t Have Fun?
* That “distressed baby” who Tim Armstrong blamed for benefit cuts? She’s my daughter. Armstrong could have paid for the full “cost” of both the babies directly out of his own salary and still made ten million dollars that year (in base salary).
* I think about the ways to address people who think computers are magic, and there’s lots of them, the ways I mean although there are also lots of people sufficiently baffled by their own phones to presume that physical laws SHIT LIKE TIME AND SPACE don’t apply to digitization projects…
* “The legislation is almost certainly unconstitutional, it’s a bad law, and it reinforces stereotypes about Jewish influence,” said one pro-Israel Democratic strategist familiar with the groups’ thinking. “It’s so bad that AIPAC and ADL oppose it.”
* Renowned science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson, author of the award-winning “Mars Trilogy,” will select the winners of a national flash-science fiction contest co-organized by Wisconsin Public Radio’s nationally syndicated show “To the Best of Our Knowledge” and the Center for the Humanities and Wisconsin Institute for Discovery at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Gates “Beverly Crusher” McFadden will produce the scripts for radio.
* The Truman Show as eldercare: ‘Dementia Village’ – as it has become known — is a place where residents can live a seemingly normal life, but in reality are being watched all the time. Caretakers staff the restaurant, grocery store, hair salon and theater — although the residents don’t always realize they are carers — and are also watching in the residents’ living quarters.
* The prohibition and attempted eradication of drugs can be a nightmare for the climate and environment. Particularly in Latin America, the fight against drug production has led to deforestation, widespread contamination with toxic chemicals, and contributed to a warming climate. Meanwhile: Climate Change Comes for Your Cup of Tea.
* The worst people in the world: Four Long Island workers arrested for running ‘developmentally disabled fight club.’
* Sports Corner! How will news that Michael Sam is gay affect his NFL draft stock? 10 Points About College Hoops All-American Marcus Smart’s Pushing a ‘Fan.’ Why Superfan Jeff Orr Is A Much Bigger Problem For College Basketball Than Marcus Smart. More details on the Raiders’ cheerleaders wage theft suit. Olympic Committee Supports Russia’s Arrest of LGBT Activists. Why the Olympics Are a Lot Like ‘The Hunger Games.’ Detroit’s Unrealized Olympic Dreams. Only six of the previous 19 Winter Olympics host cities would be suitable to host the Games again by the end of this century due to warming temperatures, according to a new analysis. And The George Zimmerman-DMX Fight Has Been Cancelled, So At Least There’s That.
* New York State has roughly 15,000 zombie homes and leads the nation in the time required to foreclose on a home, at almost three years, according to data from RealtyTrac, a company that tracks troubled properties.
* If you’ve been wondering how Mockingjay will handle Philip Seymour Hoffman’s sudden death, here’s your answer.
* Good news: FX will make Redshirts a limited series.
* And can The LEGO Movie really be that good? MetaFilter is on the scene.
* Your Face and Name Will Appear in Google Ads Starting Today. Instructions on how to opt out at the link.
* A Living Death: Life without Parole for Nonviolent Offenses. Such a category plainly shouldn’t exist.
* Studies in the Fermi Paradox: How Self-Replicating Spacecraft Could Take Over the Galaxy.
* Rutgers University has introduced a new theology course—with Bruce Springsteen as God. At least the facts check out.
* Craig Cobb, a white supremacist trying to establish a ‘whites-only’ enclave in North Dakota, appeared on NCBU’s The Trisha Show and agreed to take a test to determine his genetic ancestry. The test results were aired at the taping. Cobb’s genetic makeup is 86% European, and 14% sub-Saharan African.
* Poll watch: PPP is the worst.
* Essential for faculty with student loans: How to use the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Act. See also: The Debt Resistors’ Operations Manual.
* The most insidious feature of kludgeocracy is the hidden, indirect, and frequently corrupt distribution of its costs. Those costs can be put into three categories — costs borne by individual citizens, costs borne by the government that must implement the complex policies, and costs to the character of our democracy. Kludgeocracy in America.
* In black communities and black families, like the one where I’m from, kids are chosen. Knowing that the odds are against us, kids that show promise (not always academic, but athletic, musical, etc.) at an early age carry the hopes of their families and communities. They are supposed to defy the statistics to go out and become doctors and lawyers and send for mom, dad, and grandma. I was one of those kids: never got into any real trouble, maintained good grades, somehow managed to perform well on the ACT despite my school’s terrible preparatory program, and fell into a full scholarship at my state’s flagship university despite zero knowledge of how to apply to college. I was on track, but somehow along the line something happened, and I feel as if I failed to meet my end of the bargain.
I didn’t lose my way in some extravagant fashion by being kicked out of school or falling into a drug conviction. My deviation was much more subtle. Rather than going to school to be an engineer or a pharmacist, I chose to be a sociologist.
* There is a paradox in the workings of higher education so insidious that, even while it is destroying one’s life, the victim still rejects the possibility it exists. The seemingly impossible contradiction is that even though one is well educated, hardworking, and employed at a prestigious institution the recompense granted is a salary below the national poverty level.
* This isn’t because The Walking Dead is especially complicated, or even because, compared to its contemporaries, its cast is unmanageably large. It’s simply because The Walking Dead doesn’t care — not about internal logic, not about emotional or psychological coherence, not about its own ongoing history. And not at all about consequences.
* The limits of academic freedom: does it include autonomy in grading practices? What about professors’ right to just give everyone an A+?
As of July 2013, the value of the fund stands at $188 million, and annual earnings are estimated at $6.5 million per year. The regents typically use the interest earned on the fund, and what is left over is reinvested.
$6.5 million could pay the full tuition of 492 students or hire ~90 tenure-track professors at $70k/year.—
reclaim UC (@reclaimuc) August 16, 2013
* And Tressie McMillan Cottom says we need to stop condescending to for-profit university students. At Slate, unfortunately. UPDATE: Cottom has a response to MacGillis here.
I have a few pieces out in a couple of new books:
* “Debt, Theft, Permaculture: Justice and Ecological Scale” is in Debt: Ethics, the Environment, and the Economy, which is based on a conference the Center for 21st Century Studies at UWM held a few years ago. This one is a little bit more political economy than the usual stuff I write, extending what Lisa and Ryan and I tried to do in the Polygraph introduction, though I did manage to sneak in some Kim Stanley Robinson near the end.
* “Life Without Hope? Huntington’s Disease and Genetic Futurity” is in Disability in Science Fiction: Representations of Technology as Cure, out in hardcover today. The piece takes up a bunch of different pop-culture figurations of Huntington’s disease, but the focus is on Kurt Vonnegut’s Galapagos, Ian McEwan’s Saturday, Robert J. Sawyer’s Frameshift, and Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis trilogy and “The Evening and the Morning and the Night.” No Kindle or paperback yet, but call your library!
I was also recently invited on the Old Mole Variety Hour out of Portland to talk a little bit about utopia, which you can find as a podcast here. As you can see at the link, I appeared as my famously inarticulate character “Jerry” Canavan, which explains why I begin every answer with “absolutely” and end every answer with “right?”
Then, when you turn the corner and look at what hulks across the street from the main Cooper Union building, you can see where a huge amount of the money went: into a gratuitously glamorous and expensive New Academic Building, built at vast expense, with the aid of a $175 million mortgage which Cooper Union has no ability to repay.
The bland name for the building is a symptom of the fact that Cooper’s capital campaign, designed to raise the money for its construction, was a massive flop: no one gave remotely enough money to justify putting their name on the building. It’s also a symptom of the fact that no one on the board had any appetite for naming it after George Campbell, the main architect of the scheme which involved going massively into debt in order to construct this white elephant.
Campbell, pictured grinning widely in a now-notorious 2009 WSJ article, claimed that Cooper was a financial success story when in fact it was on the verge of collapse. He’s the single biggest individual villain in the Cooper story, and it’s a vicious irony that Cooper’s latest Form 990 shows him being paid $1,307,483 in 2011 — after he left Cooper’s presidency. (Cooper Union explainsthat the amount represents six years of “deferred compensation/retention payments”, but the timing couldn’t be worse.)
Campbell’s enablers and cheering squad were a small group of trustees, many of them Cooper-trained engineers gone Wall Street, who had so internalized the ethos of the financial world that it never occurred to them that they shouldn’t be constantly trying to get bigger and better and shinier. Campbell was paid $668,473 in his last year at Cooper — he was one of the highest-paid college presidents in the country, despite running a naturally small institution with serious space and money constraints. Board-member financiers enabled his dreams of growth and glory, hoping that some of the glamor from the newly-revitalized institution would reflect back on themselves. Naturally, when the whole project turned out to be a disaster, they scurried ignobly off the board as fast as they could.
* Duke University faculty members, frustrated with their administration and skeptical of the degrees to be awarded, have forced the institution to back out of a deal with nine other universities and 2U to create a pool of for-credit online classes for undergraduates.
* At this point, both parties really just represent different fractions of the 1%; Wall Street funds both, but where the Republicans are supported largely by business, especially the extractive industries, the Democratic Party has become that of the upper echelons of the professional and managerial classes: of university administrators, museum board directors, doctors, lawyers, designers and marketing consultants.
* The debt debate is reminiscent of Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. In a grand inversion, minor characters have usurped center stage, while the more important ones are out of sight. The Debt We Shouldn’t Pay.
* Also at NYRoB: Wikipedia’s Women Problem.
* The right to work less: Not only does the U.S. economy tend to produce lots of bad jobs, U.S. workers tend to spend far too much of their time doing them. In 2009, the average U.S. worker worked 1,681 hours compared to 1,390 in Germany. Germany’s experiments withkurzarbeit, a government program that provides income support to workers who accept reduced hours, has helped it avoid the problems of high and long-term unemployment that confront us here in the U.S. Instead of fighting for more work, much of which is likely to be bad, how about fighting for less work for everybody? This could be a very effective way to make sure that there are enough jobs to go around for everyone while limiting the amount of time workers spend in deadening, alienating labor.
* Science! “Our findings confirm that beardedness affects judgments of male socio-sexual attributes and suggest that an intermediate level of beardedness is most attractive while full-bearded men may be perceived as better fathers who could protect and invest in offspring,” the researchers wrote.
* What is the legal justification for signature strikes? What qualifies as a “signature” that would prompt a deadly strike? Do those being targeted have to pose a threat to the United States? And how many civilians have been killed in such strikes? The administration has rebuffed repeated requests from Congress to provide answers – even in secret.
* And just in from the local tourism board: 100 things to do in Wisconsin this summer.
* Gasp! But how could this be? Universities Benefit from Their Faculties’ Unionization, Study Finds.
* And some Friday night Graeber: A Practical Utopian’s Guide to the Coming Collapse.
In retrospect, though, I think that later historians will conclude that the legacy of the sixties revolution was deeper than we now imagine, and that the triumph of capitalist markets and their various planetary administrators and enforcers—which seemed so epochal and permanent in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991—was, in fact, far shallower.
* I’ve said this before: let’s have an academic decathlon. You choose a team based on whatever pedagogical criteria you want. You can choose students from public school or private, unionized teachers or not, parochial or secular, from charter or magnet, from Montessori or KIPP or whatever else you want. However, I choose the demographics of the students on your team. For my team, the situation is reversed: you choose the pedagogical factors for my students, but I choose the demographics. You stock your team kids from whatever educational backgrounds you think work, and mine with whatever educational systems you think don’t work. Meanwhile, I give you all children from the poverty-stricken, crime-ridden inner city and impoverished rural districts where we see the most failure. I stock mine with upper-class children of privilege. I would bet the house on my team, and I bet if you’re being honest, you would too. Yet to accept that is to deny the basic assumption of the education reform movement, which is that student outcomes are a direct result of teacher quality.
* If you are a low-income prospective college student hoping a degree will help you move up in the world, you probably should not attend a moderately selective four-year research institution. The cards are stacked against you.
Who among us can forget Malia’s first words to a rapidly-growing crowd in this historical meeting between present and future, “People of 2009, we come from–” words that were immediately interrupted by her younger self, surrounded by Secret Service, saying, “It’s 2013,” which led future Malia to punch future Sasha, saying, “I told you not to mess with the controls.” Malia then continued, “2013, seriously? What’s the friggin’ point?”
* Academic jobs watch: Specialist Professor, Homeland Security.
* California isn’t a state in which liberals have run wild; it’s a state where a liberal majority has been effectively hamstrung by a fanatical conservative minority that, thanks to supermajority rules, has been able to block effective policy-making. Krugman is optimistic that the Republicans’ stranglehold on the state seems to be abating; I’d note that in the arena of public education at least all the worst ideas are coming from the Democrats.
* That’s because these workers represent what’s happening to U.S. work in three critical ways. First, precarity: Workers lack job security, formal contracts, or guaranteed hours. Second, legal exclusion: Labeled as “independent contractors,” “domestic workers” or otherwise, they’re thrust beyond the reach of this country’s creaky, craven labor laws. And third, the mystification of employment: While a no-name contracted company signs your paycheck, your conditions are set by a major corporation with far away headquarters and legal impunity. Guest Workers as Bellweather.
* But if Emanuel brought Byrd-Bennett in to work the same kind of charter magic in Chicago that she did in Detroit, he may be dismayed to encounter one important difference: Chicago is now in a good position to fight back. The school closings hearings were packed with engaged, motivated citizens, and the teachers union is more organized than it’s been in three decades. During its popular and successful strike, the union’s approval rating climbed while the mayor’s fell—public opinion polls showed that taxpayers blamed Emanuel for the ugliness that took place during negotiations. The CTU’s current leadership has built relationships with community leaders and organizations, forming a coalition to fight the slash-and-burn privatization pushed by the Board of Education and its corporate sponsors, and has even hosted civil disobedience trainings open to the public. This afternoon’s protest will serve as further evidence that Emanuel is indeed up against a new opponent, one strong enough that not even the best “cleaner” may be able to defeat it.
* Nate Silver makes your Final Four book: Louisville Favored in Final Four, but Wichita State Could Become Unlikeliest Champion.
* Zero Dark Thirty is supposedly a film about freedom. A “freedom so threatening that there are those around the world willing to kill themselves and others to prevent us from enjoying it,” as the TV sound-bite in the background puts it. The odd thing is that this freedom is never once glimpsed within the film itself. Obviously, we are constantly reminded of the imprisonment and torture of the al Qaeda suspects, but it is never their freedom we are meant to be concerned with. More tellingly, it is the American spaces within the film that leave this freedom unseen. A strange becoming-prisoner takes hold of the spaces, and of the American body itself: not unfolding, in the end, either defeat or victory, but pulling together in a constricted space the impossibility of both.