Posts Tagged ‘extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds’
* Look alive, Octavia Butler scholars! 2015-16 Fellowships at the Huntington.
* Exciting crowdfunding project on disability and science fiction: Accessing the Future.
* If what we were fighting against in World War II were not just enemy nations but fascism and militarism, then did the atomic bombs that massacred the defenseless populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki — coming as a grand climax to our “strategic bombing” of European and Asian cities — help bring us victory? Or defeat?
Problem: We all want something beautiful, man I wish I was beautiful.
Solution: Diet, exercise, and plastic surgery.
* Op-ed: Adjuncts should unionize.
* What colleges can learn from journalism schools. English departments seem particularly well-positioned to apply some of these lessons.
* The space vehicle is shoddily constructed, running dangerously low on fuel; its parachutes — though no one knows this — won’t work and the cosmonaut, Vladimir Komarov, is about to, literally, crash full speed into Earth, his body turning molten on impact. As he heads to his doom, U.S. listening posts in Turkey hear him crying in rage, “cursing the people who had put him inside a botched spaceship.”
* When Moral Panics Collide! GOP Congressman Who Warned About Unvaccinated Migrants Opposed Vaccination.
* A Thai surrogate mother said Sunday that she was not angry with the Australian biological parents who left behind a baby boy born with Down syndrome, and hoped that the family would take care of the boy’s twin sister they took with them. Honestly, I think I’m pretty mad at them.
* They say Western civilization’s best days are behind it, but Bill Murray will star as Baloo in Disney’s live-action The Jungle Book.
* Ever tried. Ever meowed. No matter. Try Again. Meow again. Meow better. Beckittens.
* Filming is apparently wrapping on Fantastic Four, but they didn’t even have a teaser trailer for Comic-Con. This film must be a complete disaster. Can’t wait!
* The third Lev Grossman Magicians book ships tomorrow. Soon to be a TV show, maybe!
* Always remember: The best thesis defense is a good thesis offense.
* After long neglect I’ve updated the “online articles” page on my Professional Website, if you’re interested.
* Jacobin‘s brief history of neoliberalism is quite good, though the claim that the Tea Party is irrelevant or that the GOP is on the ropes seems especially odd after last night’s wonderfully improbable defeat of Eric Cantor.
* You’d think at the “legacy project” point of his presidency Obama might want to avoid phrases like “misspent years” and “talking your way through” things.
* Pizzeria Boss Fined $334K Because You Can’t Pay Workers In Pizza And Soda. Why not let the free market decide if pizza is currency?
* The Mental-Health Consequences of Unemployment. The jobs with the highest incidence of depression. Both cases seem like prime candidates for the left critique of the medicalization of depression, which is that sometimes you’re depressed because your circumstances are bad, not because your brain is misfiring.
* Headlines you don’t want to read about your new city: “Getting Milwaukee’s rivers to meet state water quality standards won’t be easy.”
* Map: All the Countries John McCain Has Wanted to Attack. I have to believe this is a significant undercount.
* My “but it could actually be good” fantasy script for Batman vs. Superman get less and less likely by the day. Alas.
* And could we finally see another Star Trek TV series courtesy of Netflix? Only if you promise it’s not Captain Worf.
* Reaching My Autistic Son Through Disney. What a story. I bawled.
* Women run just a quarter of the biggest art museums in the United States and Canada, and they earn about a third less than their male counterparts, according to a report released on Friday by the Association of Art Museum Directors, a professional organization.
* The greatest secret of American manhood is: We are afraid of other men. Masculinity as Homophobia.
* At best, job creation is merely an inadequate palliative for years of deep recession. At worst, it’s an active strategy for redirecting wealth upwards and further immiserating the working class. Quantify that.
* A theory of neoliberalism: Wages versus Assets.
* Democrats are really starting in with the surrender-to-hopelessness blitz EARLY this cycle. Meanwhile.
* A rare sociological analysis of Federal Reserve policy confirms what many economists already knew: top central bank officials missed the oncoming crisis because they failed to make the connection between housing, the banking industry and the economy. I don’t know; my rule is never attribute to incompetence what can be adequately explained by soulless millionaires cynically cashing out.
* If you pirate a digital copy of The Triple Package, use the find and replace function. Find “successful cultural group” replace with “bourgeoisie” and then the book will become a coherent and honest provocation, rather than the triple package of neurosis, projection, and obfuscation that it really is.
* Do I read this right? An off-duty cop shot somebody and the other guy got charged with assault?
* de Blasio vs charters in NYC. How charter schools get students they want. In the great efforts they are expending to exclude the students that are the most difficult to educate, charter schools are lending more credence to my argument about the arrow of causation in our perception of school quality than I could ever generate.
* Mother Canada? Is that a thing? Displays of Canadian nationalism always seem off to me. Letting down the side, Canada.
* I had no idea just disintegrating in midair was something that could just happen to planes. I wish I didn’t know it now.
* Wages for Sea World animals: Yes, California Can Really Ban Shamu, Legal Experts Say. Can’t they just argue exploiting whales and making their lives miserable is free speech? That’s how it works with humans.
* I was saying this weekend (1, 2, 3) that voting for Rand Paul is not as irrational as it might seem at first glance, given the unilateral powers the executive branch has in the U.S. and his stated opposition to the war on drugs and the war on terror. What’s interesting is that Rand Paul himself absolutely does not want me to hold this opinion.
* Great walls to end tornadoes in our time? What could possibly go wrong?
In 2007, Gary Younge (he is an ally) suggested that what we all needed is a White History Month. Gary reminded us: “So much of Black History Month takes place in the passive voice. Leaders ‘get assassinated,’ patrons ‘are refused’ service, women ‘are ejected’ from public transport. So the objects of racism are many but the subjects few. In removing the instigators, the historians remove the agency and, in the final reckoning, the historical responsibility … There is no month when we get to talk about [James] Blake [the white busdriver challenged by Rosa Parks]; no opportunity to learn the fates of J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant, who murdered Emmett Till; no time set aside to keep track of Victoria Price and Ruby Bates, whose false accusations of rape against the Scottsboro Boys sent five innocent young black men to jail. Wouldn’t everyone–particularly white people–benefit from becoming better acquainted with these histories?”
* We live in a time of noblesse oblige without the oblige — wealth disguised as merit and merit as a pretext for malice. Nobility dodges, nobility punishes. Nobility pretends it is not nobility, and tells us to take out short-term loans.
* On writing, and then revising, a dissertation: As much as you may hate what you’re writing at this exact moment, you will only feel a more precise and exhausted loathing toward it later on.
* Ezra Klein: Five thoughts on the Obamacare disaster.
* Kevin Drum steals my bit: Can America Survive Parliamentary Norms in a Presidential System?
* Law school in America moves toward an open admissions policy. Where are the accreditors? This is insane.
* In short: because of what the U.S. government assumed it could do with information it had the technological ability to intercept, American companies and American interests are sure to suffer in their efforts to shape and benefit from the Internet’s continued growth.
* In other words, gold pays off when there is an outbreak of goldbug-ism. Gold is a bet that there will be more goldbugs in the future than there are now. And since the “gold will be money again” story is very deep and powerful, based as it is on thousands of years of (no longer applicable) historical experience, it is highly likely that goldbug-ism will break out again someday. So if you’re the gambling type, or if you plan to start the next Zero Hedge, or if your income for some reason goes down when goldbug-ism breaks out, well, go ahead and place a one-way bet on gold.
* “We need to hire a 22-22-22,” one new-media manager was overheard saying recently, meaning a 22-year-old willing to work 22-hour days for $22,000 a year. Perhaps the middle figure is an exaggeration, but its bookends certainly aren’t. According to a 2011 Pew report, the median net worth for householders under 35 dropped by 68 percent from 1984 to 2009, to $3,662. Lest you think that’s a mere side effect of the economic downturn, for those over 65, it rose 42 percent to $170,494 (largely because of an overall gain in property values). Hence 1.2 million more 25-to-34-year-olds lived with their parents in 2011 than did four years earlier. “Willing” is certainly doing an awful lot of work in that first sentence. Welcome to the age of the permanent intern.
* The Singularity Already Happened; We Got Corporations: Capitalism as Evil AI.
* New York Times shuts down its Green blog. In other news, every spectator sport has its own blog at NYT.
* The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has isolated twelve criteria for determining if individuals qualify as legally “hopeless.” The following pamphlet is a brainstorm: it considers what steps a debtor might take in order to persuasively claim the mantle of hopelessness. Rather than examine softcore options, we explore the potential of self-inflicted tragedy.
* Marvel Comics presents The Life of John Paul II.
* And Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing will close out the Wisconsin Film Festival. I’d really, really like to make this.
* Merit and the academy. Challenging, thoughtful post from Timothy Burke.
* The Atlantic argues the student loan crisis ain’t no thang. I suspect they’re quite literally cribbing from Adam.
* What could possibly go wrong? Utah considering bill to allow the carrying of concealed weapons without a permit.
* According to the Times, the ACLU compiled a 5,000 page report on the SAO, a group of former Minutemen and other right-wingers and violent home-grown fascists, for the benefit of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, “alleging the Federal Bureau of Intelligence recruited a band of right-wing terrorists and supplied them with money and weapons to attack young antiwar demonstrators.”
Dr. Lewandowsky’s survey results suggested that people who rejected climate science were more likely than other respondents to reject other scientific or official findings and buy into assorted fringe theories: that NASA faked the moon landing, that the Central Intelligence Agency killed Martin Luther King Jr., that the AIDS virus was unleashed by the government, and so forth.
This piece of research appeared in a specialized journal in psychological science, but it did not take long to find its way onto climate skeptics’ blogs, setting off howls of derision.
A theory quickly emerged: that believers in climate science had been the main people taking Dr. Lewandowsky’s survey, but instead of answering honestly, had decided en masse to impersonate climate contrarians, giving the craziest possible answers so as to make the contrarians look like whack jobs.
* Forget it, Jake, it’s Pretoria: The South African police replaced the lead investigator in the Oscar Pistorius homicide case on Thursday after embarrassing revelations that he was facing seven charges of attempted murder himself.
* A potentially explosive report has linked the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI to the discovery of a network of gay prelates in the Vatican, some of whom – the report said – were being blackmailed by outsiders.
* A sea change for mass culture: Nielsen Ratings Will Add Streaming Data For Fall 2013.
* Tumblr of the day: Shit Rough Drafts.
* Slavoj Žižek vs. capitalism, round 200. This is almost literally a full rerun.
* Ezra Klein: Obamacare is winning.
* The average prison sentence of men who kill their women partners is 2 to 6 years. Women who kill their partners are sentenced on average to 15 years, despite the fact that most women who kill do so in self-defense.
* World’s greatest Venn diagram: Chemical Elements vs. US States.
* The NCAA, an organization with such open-decision making practices and clear accountability as to provide lessons to the mafia, is forcing a University of Minnesota wrestler to give up his music career or be declared ineligible for profiting off his own image.
* From the too-good-t0-check files: Young Japanese Women Rent Out Their Bare Legs as Advertising Space.
* And we’re going to burn every drop of oil and destroy the future. Gleefully. Enjoy your weekend!
* 2013 in franchise science fiction, from io9. Only Brad Bird’s 1952 can save us now.
First, they came for unregulated handguns in the possession of citizens with violent criminal records, and I said, “You know, that sounds reasonable. Someone with a violent criminal record has probably lost his or her right to possess a handgun. So, yeah, sounds good.”
Then they came to require background checks, gun licenses, and regular gun safety courses, and I said, “All of this sounds fine to me. Guns are dangerous, and we regulate every other dangerous product. So, really, whatever you want to do on this is also fine.”
Then they came for my assault rifle, and I said, “Assault rifles? You should have started with assault rifles. You’re doing this backwards. But OK, of course you can have my assault rifle. Why do I need an assault rifle?”
Then they came to guarantee mental health care to everyone, because our treatment of our most vulnerable citizens is a measure of our dignity as a society, and I said, “This one is obvious. In fact, I can’t believe we HAVEN’T been guaranteeing mental health care for everyone who needs it. Let’s get going on this.”
* And just one political link: The high price of being single in America.
* Kenyan anti-colonial behavior: On Oct. 5, a British high court ruled that three elderly Kenyans who were tortured and abused by colonial authorities in Kenya in the 1950s can proceed with their case against the British government.
* Longitudinal study of 1,000 Wisconsin high school graduates from the class of 1957 proves that the popular kids really were just better.
* The data show that over the entire 345 years, 22 percent of all authors were female. (Even though few papers in the JSTOR archive originated in the first 100 years, the researchers still felt that examining the entire data set was worthwhile.) The data also show that women were slightly less likely than that to be first author: About 19 percent of first authors in the study were female. Women were more likely to appear as third, fourth, or fifth authors.
According to the data in just the most recent time period, it is clear that the proportion of female authors over all is rising. From 1990 to 2010, the percentage of female authors went up to 27 percent. In 2010 alone, the last year for which full figures are available, the proportion had inched up to 30 percent. “The results show us what a lot of people have been saying and many of my female colleagues have been feeling,” says Ms. Jacquet. “Things are getting better for women in academia.”
Women still are not publishing, though, in the same proportion as they are present in academe as professors. The same year that the share of female authors in the study reached 30 percent, women made up 42 percent of all full-time professors in academe and about 34 percent of all those at the most senior levels of associate and full professor, according to the American Association of University Professors.
* Why your uncles believe crazy things: this guy.
Mainstream election experts say that Spakovsky has had an improbably large impact. Richard L. Hasen, a law professor at the University of California at Irvine, and the author of a recent book, “The Voting Wars,” says, “Before 2000, there were some rumblings about Democratic voter fraud, but it really wasn’t part of the main discourse. But thanks to von Spakovsky and the flame-fanning of a few others, the myth that Democratic voter fraud is common, and that it helps Democrats win elections, has become part of the Republican orthodoxy.” In December, Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, wrote, “Election fraud is a real and persistent threat to our electoral system.” He accused Democrats of “standing up for potential fraud—presumably because ending it would disenfranchise at least two of its core constituencies: the deceased and double-voters.” Hasen believes that Democrats, for their part, have made exaggerated claims about the number of voters who may be disenfranchised by Republican election-security measures. But he regards the conservative alarmists as more successful. “Their job is really done,” Hasen says. “It’s common now to assert that there is a need for voter I.D.s, even without any evidence.”
* This year is the first year the presidential debates have ignored climate change since 1984. That’s right, friends, we’re doomed!
* And scientists are on the hunt for the Forest Moon of Endor. God, I hope they find it.
* Via my dad: Soviet Bus Stops.
* Occupy my dad: Class war is intergenerational war.
* Rortybomb: Two Steps Toward Tackling Our Current Student Loan Problems. Robert Cruickshank: …any student loan reform proposal that does not include some form of principal writedowns is not likely to be very effective.
* Chris Newfield: The real issue is that imposing higher teaching loads and more on-line instruction on public universities won’t reverse the relentlessly growing gulf between elite privates and their once-elite public peers.
* A new AAUW study shows there’s an easy way for young women to avoid sexual harassment in schools: just avoid being either pretty or not pretty.
* Marriage equality increases property values. Is that a good enough reason?
* Also on the equality front: Dan Harmon kind-of, sort-of apologizes for the way Community treats gay and trans people.
* Everybody still hates Romney. Poor guy.
Moments like this point to a growing asymmetry in our politics. One party, the Democrats, suffers from the usual range of institutional blind spots, historical foibles, and constituency-driven evasions. The other, the Republicans, has moved to a mental Shangri-La, where unwanted problems (climate change, the need to pay the costs of running the government) can be wished away, prejudice trumps fact (Obama might just be Kenyan-born or a Muslim), expertise is evidence of error, and reality itself comes to be regarded as some kind of elitist plot.
Like the White Queen in her youth, the contemporary Republican politician must be capable of believing as many as six impossible things before breakfast…