Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘dystopia

Sunday Reading at 10,000 Feet

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* Someone put Istvan Csicsery-Ronay’s keynote from ICFA this weekend on YouTube. The “Empire” ad Istvan plays from Computer Associates is amazing.

* Highest-ranking administrator at Marquette abruptly resigns.

* No! No! I won’t believe it! It’s impossible! Bottom line shows humanities really do make money.

* The other college debt. Revenue at Any Cost: Institutional Debt and the Crisis of U.S. Higher Education. And from the archives: “The University and the Undercommons: Seven Theses.”

* The first issue of Porn Studies is available online.

* Re-Imagining the Place and Time of Communism Today: Between Hardt’s “New Love” and Jameson’s “Citizen Army.”

* Kim Stanley Robinson will be in Madison the first week in April for “Imagining Possible Worlds.”

* Hobbit hole playlet, a steal at a mere $3000.

* Marching on: marriage equality in Michigan.

* 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…

* Race, cash, and the drug war in Florida.

* Black Preschoolers Face An Epidemic Of Suspensions.

* 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.

* Duke Energy Caught Intentionally Dumping 61 Million Gallons Of Coal Waste Into North Carolina Water.

* The comforts of dystopia.

* HBO In Talks with Lisa Kudrow to Bring ‘The Comeback’ Back for Season Two. I want to see that.

* I’m addicted to my job.

* CNN, still the absolute worst of all time.

* Ideology at its purest? Why not just believe the things bisexuals say about themselves?

* The Town That Turned Poverty Into a Prison Sentence.

* My dementia.

* “Plot idea: 97% of the world’s scientists contrive an environmental crisis, but are exposed by a plucky band of billionaires & oil companies.”

* And killjoy scientists strike again.

Thursday Links

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* Research shows that if a child discloses sexual abuse, chances are very, very good that no matter how young he or she is, how angry his or her parent is at the accused, how numb or stiff he or she seems discussing it, how willing she or he is to back off from the claim at any one point, how little physical evidence there is, that child is probably telling the truth. Six Reasons Why Dylan Farrow Is Highly Credible.

* A Brief History of the Graduate Student Organizing Committee at NYU.

Wildly popular accounts like @HistoryInPics are bad for history, bad for Twitter, and bad for you.

* On Saying the Same Thing a Thousand Times.

* We have not in modern high-income, public-education, open-access societies actually managed to increase the rate of social mobility above what it was in preindustrial society.

Male, Mad and Muddleheaded: Academics in Children’s Picture Books.

* “Oppressed Majority”: Life as a Woman.

* Also at Buzzfeed (sorry): What Arbitrary Thing Are You?

* The latest in terrible education reform ideas: the “parent trigger.”

* The latest in weird weather: “frost quakes.”

* Train Spills 12,000 Gallons Of Oil In Minnesota, No Major Cleanup Effort Planned.

* Jerry Seinfeld, philosopher.

“You’re funny, I’m interested. You’re not funny, I’m not interested. I have no interest in gender or race or anything like that.”

* True facts that sound false.

* Stolen Stradivarius violin recovered, sources say.

* Marbles Anne Frank gave a playmate when her family went into hiding from World War II Nazis are on exhibit in the Netherlands after 70 years in a cupboard.

* Marriage equality in Scotland.

* The tactical brilliance of BDS becomes clearer with every passing month.

* Iran Is Apparently Adopting Universal Health Care.

* ‘Shy’ male sues Women’s Studies teacher for failing him after he refused to attend class.

* What happens when two chatbots try to seduce each other.

* Finally, a Bachelor Contestant Exposes the Show’s Weird Sex Issues.

At some point we jumped the tracks and wound up in a really polemic 1980s dystopia.

Latinos overwhelmingly want action on climate change.

* Bill Watterson wins the Nobel Prize of Comics.

* So much for my doomsday prepping: The Great Lakes May Be Drying Up.

Single Mother Fired For Staying Home With Her Son When Schools Closed For Subzero Weather.

XStat Rapid Hemostasis System for Gunshot Wounds Works in 15 Seconds.

Wisconsin’s law on police accountability in custody deaths goes unused.

“That is as bad as anything I’ve ever heard,” he said of the decision to let Weston work with cleaning products. “Not only did they know he was suicidal, they know how he did it, and they gave him the very agent that he’s used to try to commit suicide. That sounds criminal.”

Your iPhone Has a Secret Undo Button.

* There’s a new TNI out, on H8.

* They’re making a movie out of High Rise, which is great news.

* The first fear is always the fear of the doppelgänger.

* And LifeHack has some important Beard Facts.

Mashable-Beard-Facts-Comic

Friday Links!

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* On the docket in Cultural Preservation today: David Graeber, “The Sadness of Post-Workerism, or, ‘Art and Immaterial Labour’ Conference: A Sort of Review” (main reading); Michael Bérubé, “American Studies without Exceptions” and Graeber, “On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs” (optional).

* A great postdoc, if you’re looking: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Center for 21st Century Studies Provost Postdoc Fellow, “Humanities Futures.”

“Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance.”

* To reform higher ed, we need a federal job guarantee.

* 2013 Is the Fourth Hottest Year on Record. 37 years straight of above-average temperatures. Soon, Sochi Won’t Be Cold Enough To Reliably Host The Winter Olympics.

* BREAKING: Rich people are ludicrously rich, everyone else totally broke. It’s fantastic.

* I had no idea cheerleaders were so radically underpaid. I’d always thought it was waged, full-time work — like being a mascot is.

There Has Been An Average Of One School Shooting Every Other School Day So Far This Year.

* Woman Takes Short Half-Hour Break From Being Feminist To Enjoy TV Show. Nation Back On Board With SeaWorld Following Awesome Orca Trick.

* Officials looking for info on second chemical in WV spill. Behind West Virginia’s Massive Chemical Spill, A History Of Poverty And Pollution. ‘We live in a human sacrifice zone.’

The FBI Just Busted the King of Revenge Porn.

Obama Promises Governmentwide Scrutiny of Campus Rape.

Booz Allen Hamilton Looking To Hire Snowden Catchers. I bet Edward Snowden would be great at this job.

* The allure of the map.

* Durham police practices under microscope by Human Relations Commission.

* Low-Wage Federal Workers Walk Off Job.

The Academic Job Cover Letter I Wanted to Write.

* These 11 Popular Sodas Tested Positive for a Potential Carcinogen. Pepsi One Won’t Give You Cancer as Long as You Don’t Drink a Whole Can.

* CNN is now officially the worst.

* New Hampshire is considering institutionalizing jury nullification. I’m strongly in favor of all good uses of jury nullification and strongly opposed to all bad uses of it, so I’m pretty torn here.

* Obummer Watch: Southern leg of Keystone XL opens in U.S.

* My friend Jennifer Whitaker reviews my friend Allison Seay’s poetry collection, To See the Queen.

Bob Dylan is either the most public private man in the world or the most private public one.

* The duties of professors at college and universities.

Adjunct Unionization.

Chicken Soup for the Neoliberal Soul.

* Why breaking is funny, and when it isn’t.

Researchers predict Facebook will die out “like a disease.”

* Breaking the Facts of Life.

* Canavan’s Razor comes to Superman comics.

* Revolution: A Guide.

“Yale College seeks smart students from poor families. They’re out there—but hard to find.” More here.

As part of a settlement between the Archdiocese of Chicago and the victims of 30 pedophile priests, a cache of 6000 documents has been made public, detailing the Catholic Church’s efforts over many years to cover up sexual abuse and protect accused priests.

* If there must be a surveillance state, at least let it be steampunk.

* Chessmate-in-one puzzles on the iPad.

* And the last place on Earth without human noise.

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Dulce Et Decorum Est Pro Links Mori

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Tuesday Night Links!

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Friday Links!

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* Adam Kotsko follows up his piece on grad students and credit card debt with some important reflections on moralism in personal finance.

Werner Herzog presents a short film to keep you from texting while driving or ever driving or ever leaving your house.

* In an interview in the March 2008 newsletter to the Grant Study subjects, Vaillant was asked, “What have you learned from the Grant Study men?” Vaillant’s response: “That the only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.”

* So now, overnight, thanks to Common Core testing, the majority of students across the state and in the city are failures. That means that the schools are now required (by the state’s rules) to provide “academic intervention services” for them, which will take money away from the arts, physical education, foreign languages, history, civics and other essential subjects.

* And apparently the charters did even worse.

African leaders this week called for an end to the import of old cell phones and computers from Europe. According to the Guardian, electronics “donated” to African countries aren’t always useful, and often just end up being an environmental hassle. Yet the high cost of recycling these goods in Europe–ironically due to stringent environmental regulation there–means those that don’t end up in landfills find their way to African countries, which are then left to deal with hazardous components.

* How Back to the Future II‘s “old” make-up compares to actual aging. Crispin Glover’s latest explanation for why he didn’t do the sequels. It does put the thumb on the scales a bit to make George a successful novelist…

* Domino’s Twitter robot knows you couldn’t possibly like its pizza.

* Dystopia now: Apple is on it.

* And with Breaking Bad coming back, it’s a good time to revisit the best thing I know of written about it: Malcolm Harris’s “The White Market.” A bunch of people snarled at me when I linked to this earlier this morning on Twitter, but for me it’s really the definitive piece on the show. White supremacy is the ontology of Breaking Bad –the show doesn’t really make any sense without that fantasy as an unstated assumption.

‘The Idea That What We Do Now Has Consequences Later’

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A Few More Morning Links

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* J.G. Ballard’s reading list, from age 6 to age 25.

* Germans are stealing our precious words; their current favorite is shitschturm.

We should be wary of declaring “the end of the English major” when what has really happened is that, in terms of humanities enrollments, schools like Yale have gone from exceptional to merely above average.

* Dystopia now: “Sky has developed technology to transfer adverts from train windows directly and silently into commuters’ heads.”

* And what could go wrong? Ginsberg says she won’t retire before 2016.

Actually Existing Dystopia

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Tesco — the company that runs a chain of grocery stores across Great Britain — uses digital armbands to track the performance of its warehouse staff.

Tesco representatives said the devices allow users to switch into a “break mode” for up to 25 minutes a day. But that anonymous employee claimed that using the toilet without logging the trip as a break would result in a surprisingly low score, even if the task was finished within the allotted time.

That’s just one of the many ways that employers are using technology to track employee productivity. Call centers have long used metrics such as call time to rank employees, and gamification software may take it to new levels. Darpa wants to track soldiers’ health. Apparently, IBM has a tool for detecting disgruntled employees. And Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff has boasted of a “Chatterlytics” system for ranking employees on their use of the company’s internal social network.

Written by gerrycanavan

February 27, 2013 at 8:00 am

Monday Night Links

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* The kids are all right: Last Friday night, the Harvard College Undergraduate Council announced that the student body had voted 72% in favor of Harvard University divesting its $30.7 billion endowment from fossil fuels.

* Barbarians at the Wormhole: On Anthony Burgess.

The trope of invasion is doubly brilliant, first because the invasion plot is a mainstay of SF and second because the trope captures quite neatly what it must feel like for some literary intellectuals to be forced to confront the increasing cultural cachet of SF, to face its meteoric rise over the last thirty years from lowbrow genre to literary respectability. The genre now comfortably occupies university syllabi, best-of lists, and handsome Library of America editions — though some hardened highbrows might suspect its popularity is more a function of marketing than of quality.

For all its brilliance, Clowes’s trope of invasion makes an important mistake, failing to note that the invasion is largely moving in the other direction. After all, one wouldn’t expect Asimov’s Science Fiction to run a special issue featuring “literary fiction,” but publications like the New Yorker apparently do feel the need for a science fiction issue, perhaps trying to freshen themselves up by tapping into the unruly energies of a disreputable genre. Indeed, the lure of the so-called low genres — and SF in particular — has long proven irresistible to those who otherwise fashion themselves as literary types, at least since Kingsley Amis’s classic 1960 study of the genre, New Maps of Hell.

Clowes’s New Yorker cover is, in fact, a perfect example in miniature of the subgenre Amis called the “comic inferno” — humorous dystopias such as those written by Frederick Pohl, C.M. Kornbluth, and Robert Sheckley. This subgenre, by Amis’s account, mocks ideas of progress in its humorous rendition of dystopian futures. What is dystopian about Clowes’s comic cover is very precisely that SF cannot be ignored, that it disrupts the bourgeois regularity and comfort that informs the imagination of hypothetical readers of The New Yorker. The genre — which always bears with it the threatening knowledge that the world might change inexorably, beyond human control, or at least beyond the control of those who are humanistically inclined — cannot be ignored, because the signs of our world’s deepening state of crisis (political, technological, environmental) cannot be ignored.

* Bonus: “Anthony Burgess Answers Two Questions” by Jonathan Lethem.

Not only are student loans not a burden on the federal government, they’re a good investment. In 2012 the DOW estimated its subsidy for student lending at -17 percent. In other words, the DOE “subsidies” actually represent money coming in. Including all expenses, from loses on defaults to debt collection to program administration, the DOE will pull in more than $25 billion in profit from student lending this year alone—billions more dollars than the IRS will assess in gift and estate taxes combined, and more than enough to pay NASA’s whole budget. The DOE explains the negative subsidy through a divergence between “the Government’s borrowing rate and the interest rate at which borrowers repay their loans.” After all, no one can borrow at lower rate than the U.S. Treasury, certainly not college students and their families. Bondholders aren’t the only ones who think student debtors—including defaulters—will pay back every cent they owe, with interest. The government is literally counting on it.

* The headline reads, “Charges dropped against man arrested for wearing an elaborate wristwatch.”

* Elmo accuser wants to retract his retraction. Hostess may survive after all.

Hostess Bankruptcy Has Worked Out Well for CEO Brian Driskoll.

This is not identical to the story with the American Airlines bankruptcy, but there’s something similar about it. There the CEO gets a large payday if he can avoid a merger, regardless of the value for the enterprise.

The handwriting is on the wall. Until Republican candidates figure out how to perform better among non-white voters, especially Hispanics and Asians, Republican presidential contenders will have an extraordinarily difficult time winning presidential elections from this point forward.

JSTOR provides free access to Wikipedia editors via pilot program.

* Cory Booker to live on food stamps for a week.

My name is R______. I am six years old. I think it’s not fair to only have 5 girls in Guess Who and 19 boys. It is not only boys who are important, girls are important too. If grown ups get into thinking that girls are not important they won’t give little girls much care.

* Remixed trailer of the moment: Gotham High.

* And a new game: impressions of Sean Connery as Gandalf. Oh, what might have been!

Wednesday Links

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* Tom Hanks Performing a Slam Poem About Full House is Something that Actually Happened.

* Peter Frase: Drone assassination is now the first resort of the state. Inside the CIA’s new dystopian novel. Responds to the Washington Post report on the drone program here.

* U.S. May Come Close to 2020 Greenhouse Gas Emission Target.

The antimonopolist history of the world’s most popular board game.

The game’s true origins, however, go unmentioned in the official literature. Three decades before Darrow’s patent, in 1903, a Maryland actress named Lizzie Magie created a proto-Monopoly as a tool for teaching the philosophy of Henry George, a nineteenth-century writer who had popularized the notion that no single person could claim to “own” land. In his book Progress and Poverty (1879), George called private land ownership an “erroneous and destructive principle” and argued that land should be held in common, with members of society acting collectively as “the general landlord.”

The Landlord's Game, 1906

Magie called her invention The Landlord’s Game, and when it was released in 1906 it looked remarkably similar to what we know today as Monopoly. It featured a continuous track along each side of a square board; the track was divided into blocks, each marked with the name of a property, its purchase price, and its rental value. The game was played with dice and scrip cash, and players moved pawns around the track. It had railroads and public utilities—the Soakum Lighting System, the Slambang Trolley—and a “luxury tax” of $75. It also had Chance cards with quotes attributed to Thomas Jefferson (“The earth belongs in usufruct to the living”), John Ruskin (“It begins to be asked on many sides how the possessors of the land became possessed of it”), and Andrew Carnegie (“The greatest astonishment of my life was the discovery that the man who does the work is not the man who gets rich”). The game’s most expensive properties to buy, and those most remunerative to own, were New York City’s Broadway, Fifth Avenue, and Wall Street. In place of Monopoly’s “Go!” was a box marked “Labor Upon Mother Earth Produces Wages.” The Landlord Game’s chief entertainment was the same as in Monopoly: competitors were to be saddled with debt and ultimately reduced to financial ruin, and only one person, the supermonopolist, would stand tall in the end. The players could, however, vote to do something not officially allowed in Monopoly: cooperate. Under this alternative rule set, they would pay land rent not to a property’s title holder but into a common pot—the rent effectively socialized so that, as Magie later wrote, “Prosperity is achieved.”

* In Focus celebrates the fairest of the seasons.

* And Unreality celebrates kids in awesome Halloween costumes.

Just a Few Links While I’m Super Busy

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* Dystopia now: Scientists Plant False Short-Term Memories Directly In Rodent Brains.

* The patriarchy ain’t what it used to be: The overhand throwing gap, beginning at 4 years of age, is three times the difference of any other motor task, and it just gets bigger across age. By 18, there’s hardly any overlap in the distribution: Nearly every boy by age 15 throws better than the best girl. I consider myself living disproof of this hypothesis.

* How to cheat in chess.

* And just this once: Inside the Romney camp’s massive self-inflicted wound. You know, some days I think I just might not like the guy.

Monday!

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* Washington Monthly has released the latest version of its college rankings.

* ‘Armed Militia’ of Soldiers Plotted to Take Over Army Base, Assassinate Obama. We’re just going full-bore dystopia all the time I guess.

* Speaking of which.

* But it can always get worse:

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.

Why I Won’t Vote, By W.E.B. Du Bois.

* 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.”

Men Defining Rape: A History.

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.

* Superman once stayed loyal to Lois Lane after a thousand years trapped with Wonder Woman in a pocket dimension. This is blasphemy.

* 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.

* And yes, alas, we’re all still screwed.

Wednesday Night’s All Right for Procrastinating

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* How to Be an Academic Failure: An Introduction for Beginners.

* Rape culture: In 31 states, rapists have paternal rights, and can even sue for custody.

* Laurie Penny: Rapists are evil people. They’re not nice blokes who everybody respects who simply happen to think it’s ok to stick your dick in a teenager who’s sleeping in the same bed as you, without a condom. This guy seemed, if anything, confused as to why I was scrabbling for my things and bolting out the door. He even sent me an email a few days later, chiding me for being rude.

* A new scientific theory suggests that Big Bang was actually a phase shift: a Big Freeze.

* Terrors of a True Believer: MOOCs and the Precarity Problem.

Despite our gut-level hunch about the direction of the language; despite the fact that 70-cent, three-minute, off-peak, coast-to-coast long-distance calls that cost four inflation-adjusted dollars in 1970 are now free; despite cheap travel, YouTube, and the globalization of film and television, American dialects are actually diverging.

There are multiple examples of such divergence. But none is as dramatic, as baffling to linguists, and as mysteriously under the collective radar as what’s happening in the cities that ring the Great Lakes. From Syracuse, N.Y., in the east to Milwaukee in the west, 34 million Americans are revolutionizing the sound of English.

Now, as the “Freedom Tower” reaches its full height, the inside story of boondoggles, self-dealing, common corruption, and why it’s all taken so long.

“I know that we have members of the media here right now, so I’m not going to go through that in great detail.” Not to make a whole thing out of it, but it’s amazing he’s able to get away with this.

* And David Cross teases even more Arrested Development than you’d dared to hope.

Gamify Everything

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