Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘decadence

Sunday Reading, Accept No Imitations

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Timeline of Science Fiction Ideas, Technology and Inventions (sorted by Publication Date).

* Ill-considered, disastrous dam project “has given biologists the opportunity to measure the speed of mammal extinctions.” Well, that’s certainly looking at the glass half-full.

* Decadence watch: Emory University Closes its Visual Arts Department.

* Decadence watch, part two: “The Price Is Right” Airs All-Plinko Episode.

‘We Felt Like We Were Above the Law’: How the NCAA Endangers Women.

Don’t be that dude: Handy tips for the male academic.

Where Is The Place Of Anger In The University?

Everyday I walk past UC Berkeley’s newly renovated football stadium on my way to drop off my daughter at the Clark Kerr facility for toddlers, and everyday – after picking her up from school – I wait at a bus stop directly across from the same stadium.  The stadium, which has put the university 445 million dollars in debt, is just down the street from my daughter’s UC preschool, which is housed in a double-wide trailer and sits on a parking lot in the northwest corner of Clark Kerr Campus.  Its interior walls have been removed, and linoleum and carpet patchwork that are no longer contiguous with the layout of the room still show marks of these former walls – in some places adhesive still clings to the floor, marking where one of these walls once stood.  This is the facility that we were not granted a tour of – a facility that houses only subsidized children.  We do not know where the unsubsidized children receive their care.

* From the Daily Californian: School first, sports second.

* Austerity measures pushes Greek universities to point of collapse.

* America drunk-dials Iran, Iran picks up.

* LOVEINT: How NSA Spies Abused Their Powers to Snoop on Girlfriends, Lovers, and First Dates.

The women of the Pawnee, Indiana Parks Department have literally spent thousands of dollars on their clothes.

* How LucasArts fell apart.

* The update of the damned: Apple’s iOS 7 Causing Motion Sickness And Even Vomiting In Users. This in a device (the iPad) that was originally marketed in part as an accessibility breakthrough.

* The fundamental law of media graph construction.

* A brief history of the Muppets’ very brief stint on Saturday Night Live.

A Brief History of Slash.

* And a court orders same-sex marriage in my beloved home state of New Jersey. Meet me in a land of hope and dreams.

Saturday Roundup

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We condition the poor and the working class to go to war. We promise them honor, status, glory, and adventure. We promise boys they will become men. We hold these promises up against the dead-end jobs of small-town life, the financial dislocations, credit card debt, bad marriages, lack of health insurance, and dread of unemployment. The military is the call of the Sirens, the enticement that has for generations seduced young Americans working in fast food restaurants or behind the counters of Walmarts to fight and die for war profiteers and elites.

* But the strange fact is that often when you look into the history of spies what you discover is something very different. It is not the story of men and women who have a better and deeper understanding of the world than we do. In fact in many cases it is the story of weirdos who have created a completely mad version of the world that they then impose on the rest of us.

* How Dan Harmon breaks a story.

According to a new study, people can’t tell the difference between quotes from British “lad mags” and interviews with convicted rapists. And given the choice, men are actually more likely to agree with the rapists.

Unpaid Interns Aren’t Protected By Sexual Harassment Laws.

Pixar Changing Plot Of Finding Dory After Seeing SeaWorld-Slamming Documentary, Blackfish.

At the end of the movie, some marine mammals are sent to an aquatic park/rehab facility — a SeaWorld-type environment. After seeing Blackfish, they retooled the film so that the sea creatures now have the choice to leave that marine park. They told Gabriela they didn’t want to look back on this film in 50 years and have it be their Song of the South.

* And today’s death of culture watch: CBS orders a Wizard of Oz-themed medical drama. It’s the story that needed to be told!

Something Something Nero Something Fiddle Something Something

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The optics were already pretty bad: As an estimated 40,000 plus climate activists descended on D.C. last Sunday to pressure the president to make good on his promise to address climate change, Obama was in Florida golfing privately with Tiger Woods. It appears that it gets worse: The president was not only teeing off with the famed golfer and philanderer, he was also, according to HuffPo, joined by a “pair of Texans who are key oil, gas and pipeline players.”

Written by gerrycanavan

February 20, 2013 at 7:26 pm

Democracy ‘Has a Hidden Failure Mode, We’ve Landed in It, and We Probably Won’t Be Able to Vote Ourselves Out of It’

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The great Charlie Stross, elaborating on his sense that we are living in the aftermath of an alien invasion:

Overall, the nature of the problem seems to be that our representative democratic institutions have been captured by meta-institutions that implement the iron law of oligarchy by systematically reducing the risk of change. They have done so by converging on a common set of policies that do not serve the public interest, but minimize the risk of the parties losing the corporate funding they require in order to achieve re-election. And in so doing, they have broken the “peaceful succession when enough people get pissed off” mechanism that prevents revolutions…

So the future isn’t a boot stamping on a human face, forever. It’s a person in a beige business outfit advocating beige policies that nobody wants (but nobody can quite articulate a coherent alternative to) with a false mandate obtained by performing rituals of representative democracy that offer as much actual choice as a Stalinist one-party state. And resistance is futile, because if you succeed in overthrowing the beige dictatorship, you will become that which you opposed.

Via MeFi.

Some Sunday Links

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* Decadence watch: Please be advised we are between five and nine years away from President Tebow.

* The Non Sports Fan’s Guide to Maybe Enjoying the Super Bowl. A List of Things to Say to Sound as if You Understand the Super Bowl, Dummy. Go… Giants? I think I have that right.

* The set list from last night’s fantastic Mountain Goats show in Saxapahaw. And from Vu, an interesting New York Magazine read on Mountain Goats superfandom from 2009.

* The headline reads, “No kidney transplant for dying East Bay dad who is illegal immigrant.”

* Death, Debt and Climate Change.

There were 2900 temperature records set in the United States in January. Exxon Mobil reported yesterday that its quarterly profits had increased to $9.6 billion on revenues of over $70 billion. It’s 60 degrees on February 1 in New York City. These facts are connected. I continue to think that one reason Bloomberg evicted OWS was that he lost patience with waiting for it to get cold enough to drive the Occupiers out.

I have proposed that “debt is death.” It sounds a bit melodramatic. You can in fact map connections between the debt-financed globalized industries, direct violence caused by their expansion, and the indirect but nonetheless deadly violences of climate change.

* Ben Valentine considers statue porn. This and the last two via zunguuzungu’s always essential Sunday Reading.

* The strange case of Michael Swango, serial killing doctor. Via Neil.

* Then Republican governors saved the economy.

* SNL takes a visit to President Gingrinch’s Moon Utopia.

* And just for the Hunger Games fans: a speculative map of Panem. Via io9.

Friday Night Links

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* In case you missed it, I was on WUNC’s The State of Things today talking about science fiction and the end of the world. I’m in the second segment, about twelve minutes in. Here’s an MP3.

* Which undergraduate colleges are producing the most PhDs? You might be surprised.

* Game of the night: 3 Slices.

* Ferris Bueller’s Second Day Off? Not so fast, says everyone.

* At the end of Contact, Ellie Arroway discovers a secret message encoded in the digits of pi, presumably from the creator of the universe. With that in mind, check this out.

* The headline reads, “North Korea makes using a cellphone a war crime during 100 day mourning period.”

* The headline reads, “Nicolas Cage used real magic to prepare to be Ghost Rider.”

* The United States now spends some $200 billion on the correctional system each year, a sum that exceeds the gross domestic product of twenty-five US states and 140 foreign countries. An ever-increasing share of domestic discretionary spending, it would seem, is devoted to building and staffing earthly hells filled with able-bodied young men who have been removed from the labor force. If we added up all the money federal, state, and local governments invest in the poorest zip codes through credits and transfer payments—food stamps, Medicaid, teacher salaries, et cetera—and balanced that against all the value the government extracts from those zip codes through sin taxes, lotteries, and the incarceration complex, we might well conclude that the disinvestment outweighs the investment. Any apparent gains made in the last thirty years in narrowing the employment and education gap between African Americans and whites vanishes once you include the incarcerated population. Before asking the government to spend a fortune improving student-to-teacher ratios, it may be prudent to first ask the government to stop devoting public resources to ripping the heart out of inner-city economies. n+1: Raise the Crime Rate.

The earth is alive, asserts a revolutionary scientific theory of life emerging from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. The trans-disciplinary theory demonstrates that purportedly inanimate, non-living objects—for example, planets, water, proteins, and DNA—are animate, that is, alive. With its broad explanatory power, applicable to all areas of science and medicine, this novel paradigm aims to catalyze a veritable renaissance.

* n+1 revists the bad 2000s: Did these bands suck? Was there something that Pitchfork had missed? Although Broken Social Scene, Arcade Fire, Sufjan Stevens, M.I.A., and Animal Collective all produced sophisticated, intelligent music, it’s also true that they focused their sophistication and intelligence on those areas where the stakes were lowest. Instead of striking out in pursuit of new musical forms, they tweaked or remixed the sounds of earlier music, secure in the knowledge that pedantic blog writers would magnify these changes and make them seem daring. Instead of producing music that challenged and responded to that of other bands, they complimented one another in interviews, each group “doing its own thing” and appreciating the efforts of others. So long as they practiced effective management of the hype cycle, they were given a free pass by their listeners to lionize childhood, imitate their predecessors, and respond to the Iraq war with dancing. The general mood was a mostly benign form of cultural decadence.

* And Twitter announces new micro-censorship policy. “Micro-censorship” is an amazing euphemism, isn’t it? Well-coined. It almost doesn’t even sound bad! It’s only micro-censorship…

Saturday Night

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But We Still Have Enough Cash to Invade Syria

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Lacking the money to pay its operating expenses, Mountain View’s SETI Institute has pulled the plug on the renowned Allen Telescope Array, a field of radio dishes that scan the skies for signals from extraterrestrial civilizations. Via MeFi.

Written by gerrycanavan

April 27, 2011 at 11:22 am

A Few Sunday Links

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The Next Shoe

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Written by gerrycanavan

February 16, 2011 at 6:28 pm

University in Ruins

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John Tierney at the Atlantic has your university in ruins roundup. Many of these links have already appeared on this blog individually—but taken together, all at once, they paint a pretty bleak picture of the state of the American university system. Enjoy your Saturday, Ph.D. students!

The End of Culture

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Written by gerrycanavan

January 16, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Links for Thanksgiving Eve

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* The Southern Poverty Law Center has courted controversy in naming the Family Research Council a hate group. Good for them.

* Collapsing empire watch: China and Russia will no longer use the US dollar in bilateral trade.

* The Hammer has fallen.

* A new poll shows much of the opposition to the Affordable Care Act comes from people who wish to expand it. More here. Another poll shows Obama is still surprisingly popular right here in North Carolina—at least compared to leading Republicans.

* Can Sarah Palin with the 2012 Republican primary? Wealthy, College-Educated Republicans edition.

It is proposed that happiness be classified as a psychiatric disorder and be included in future editions of the major diagnostic manuals under the new name: major affective disorder, pleasant type. In a review of the relevant literature it is shown that happiness is statistically abnormal, consists of a discrete cluster of symptoms, is associated with a range of cognitive abnormalities, and probably reflects the abnormal functioning of the central nervous system. One possible objection to this proposal remains–that happiness is not negatively valued. However, this objection is dismissed as scientifically irrelevant. A proposal to classify happiness as a psychiatric disorder. Via Alex.

* Another round of accurate but misleading movie descriptions.

* And the Harry Potter series, from Hermione’s point of view.

World’s Greatest Trick Play Ever – Links

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* Olbermann lives. The Nation calls it a victory for “bold progressives.” Our first!

* pulparchive.com is a classic SF magazine cover a day.

* Breaking news: Democratic party leaders are completely worthless.

Look, if Democrats can’t repeal a policy more than two thirds of the American people, including a majority of conservatives want gone then they can’t expect people to vote for them.

* Climate scientists to get serious in opposing the nihilists who just took over the House.

* Hard to believe an obvious lie would gain traction in conservative circles.

* Alas, Ireland.

* The Supreme Court has turned down its first challenge to the Affordable Care Act. But don’t get too excited; it was on procedural grounds.

* Der Spiegel on the end of America.

The United States of 2010 is dysfunctional, but in new ways. The entire interplay of taxes and investments is out of joint because a 16,000-page tax code allows for far too many loopholes and because solidarity is no longer part of the way Americans think. The political system, plagued by lobbyism and stark hatred, is incapable of reaching consistent or even quick decisions.

The country is reacting strangely irrationally to the loss of its importance — it is a reaction characterized primarily by rage. Significant portions of America simply want to return to a supposedly idyllic past. They devote almost no effort to reflection, and they condemn cleverness and intellect as elitist and un-American, as if people who hunt bears could seriously be expected to lead a world power. Demagogues stir up hatred and rage on television stations like Fox News. These parts of America, majorities in many states, ignorant of globalization and the international labor market, can do nothing but shout. They hate everything that is new and foreign to them.

Sounds about right.

* World’s greatest trick play ever.

* And scientific proof that 30 Rock is funnier than S#*! My Dad Says. On this there can be no debate.

Three for Friday

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* College Writing Class Assignments with Real-World Applications.

10. Write a cover letter to a bank manager that claims your B.A. in literature gives you advantages that people who have degrees in business, finance or economics simply don’t have.

Damn straight. Alternatively, the literature student might consider getting a quick certificate in banking from Stephen Colbert “University.”

* America’s Ten Deadest Cities. Clocking in at #4: my beloved Cleveland, who population has nearly halved since 1950. (Thanks, Steve!)

* The aim of the Attribution of Climate-Related Events workshop was to discuss what information is needed to determine the extent to which human-induced climate change can be blamed for extreme weather events – possibly even straight after they have happened. Via this post from Kevin Drum talking more generally about adaptation, prevention, and reparation for climate change.

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