Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘fandom

Saturday Morning Links, Just Like When We Were Kids

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* The Department of English invites applications for an entry-level, tenure-track Assistant Professor position in medieval literature, language, and culture, primarily British, before 1500. Marquette English is hiring!

* Maybe my new favorite page on the Internet: r/DaystromInstitute’s list of long-running Star Trek what-ifs and what-abouts.

* I think I’ve linked this thread before, at least a different version of it: “I want to see a sci fi universe where we’re actually considered one of the more hideous and terrifying species.”

* Syllabus as Manifesto: A Critical Approach to Classroom Culture.

* Creative Destruction: Tech and the evolution of the desk, 1985-2014.

* Bousquet breathes some fire: This change in appointment types is not accidental or caused by outside forces. The adjunctification of faculty appointment has been an intentional shock treatment by campus administrations. Of course, there may be some claims regarding saving money; however, most critical observers note that “saving” on $70,000 faculty salaries generates a vast, expensive need for $80,000- to $120,000-per-year accountants, IT staff members, and HR specialists, plus a few $270,000 associate provosts. Not to mention the $500,000 bonus awarded to the president for meeting the board’s permatemping target and successfully hiding the consequences from students, parents, and the public. It should be obvious to most of us that any money left over from bloating the administration is generally directed to consultants, construction, and business partnerships.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers conducted a recent survey that questioned the correlation between internships and full employment upon graduation.The findings were astonishing. Hiring rates for those who had chosen to complete an unpaid internship (37%) were almost the same for those who had not completed any internship at all (35%). Students who had any history of a paid internship, on the other hand, were far more likely (63%) to secure employment.

“It’s a horrible irony that at the very moment the world has become more complex, we’re encouraging our young people to be highly specialized in one task.”

* What’s wrong with college? Plenty. What’s wrong with journalism about college? Everything.

* Casinos are the autoimmune disease of city planning. They destroy everything else in the area, then die when the host is dead.

* From nuclear bombs to killer robots: how amoral technologies become immoral weapons.

Preliminary Studies Show Potential Health Risk For Babies Born Near Fracking Sites.

* …white rage carries an aura of respectability and has access to the courts, police, legislatures and governors, who cast its efforts as noble, though they are actually driven by the most ignoble motivations.

* AAUP writes Chancellor Phyllis Wise over the Salaita firing.

* BREAKING: Elizabeth Warren won’t save us.

* Will Zephyr Teachout save us?

* Unskew the polls! Democratic Senate edition.

* Today in climate change neologisms: “Megadroughts.”

* California, before and after drought.

* The arc of history is long, but: “Doctor Who ‘lesbian-lizard’ kiss will not face investigation.”

A unique experiment at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory has started collecting data that will answer some mind-bending questions about our universe—including whether we live in a hologram.

Asst. Principal Fined for Changing His Son’s Failing Grades 11 Times. This story has everything:

According to the New York Daily News, Ali has been reassigned away from Bread and Roses, but has not been placed at a new school. He remains on the Department of Education’s payroll with a $104,437 annual salary.

The school, the Daily News reports, is expected to close by 2016 for poor performance.

* Study suggests autism rates have plateaued since 1990.

* ALS Foundation floats trademarking the concept of an “ice bucket challenge,” but immediately gets talked out of it.

* Thoughtcrime watch: Dorchester County discovers one of its teachers is a novelist, completely flips its wig.

* Fox developing a drama about a world without sleep.

* The inexorable march of progress: This Cheap Exoskeleton Lets You Sit Wherever You Want Without a Chair.

* The way we die now.

* Adam Gopnik in the New Yorker: What’s the point of studying history?

The Politics Of Every Major U.S. Religion, In One Chart. Way to claim the vital center, Catholics!

* It sounds like you just selected easily measured metrics and increased them, rather than trying to make the experience good.

​The 12 Most Obnoxious Dungeons & Dragons Monsters.

* Suddenly I’m up on top of the world: They’re rebooting Greatest American Hero.

* An Annotated Reading Of Multiversity #1.

* How the growing generation gap is changing the face of fandom.

* A eulogy for Twitter. Twitter as misery factory.

Give me a child until he is seven, and I will give you the man.

* If you want a vision of the future, imagine Mitt Romney running for president, forever.

Why Aren’t Women Advancing At Work? Ask a Transgender Person.

* And just this once, everybody lives: Family Cleans House, Finds Pet Tortoise Missing Since 1982.

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Commencement Weekend Links!

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* Commencement speech bingo. More links below!

ut_bingo_f* Pro-tip: apparently it only counts as free speech if you’re already powerful.

* ICYMI: My guest post at SF Signal on dystopia, anti-utopia, and the end of the world.

College is a promise the economy does not keep.

Of Course Women Are Getting Sexually Harassed by Drones.

* CFP: Into the Pensieve: The Harry Potter Generation in Retrospect.

* Rethinking Monopoly for neofeudal capitalism.

Thousands of Toddlers Are Medicated for A.D.H.D., Report Finds, Raising Worries. Well, yes, I’m definitely worried. That’s madness.

“Hood disease.” My God, don’t call it that.

* It places the United States in the top spot, ahead of Sweden and Canada, which come in at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. Yet when the scores are adjusted for national levels of income, the United States drops to 15th place, behind such developing countries as China and Serbia.

* If you want to help low-income students succeed, it’s not enough to deal with their academic and financial obstacles. You also need to address their doubts and misconceptions and fears.

* The proposed rule would cut off student aid to career-focused programs at for-profit and nonprofit colleges if the program’s student-loan default rate reached 30 percent or if half of its graduates failed two student-loan debt standards.

* Kansas and the death of academic freedom.

* The NCAA will allow Boise State to help its homeless player.

MRA city councilman files Title IX complaint on behalf of U Oregon players arbitrarily kicked off team after DA slow-walks the process to protect their eligibility for March Madness and then declines to bring charges, thereby completing the circle of shitshow.

According to faculty accounts, deans received an email from the administration on the evening of May 5, alerting them to a meeting the next day about staffing issues. At that meeting, deans in certain colleges were told they needed to cut a prescribed number of full-time faculty positions. Of 16 total cuts, 11 were to come from the College of Arts and Sciences, faculty members said. Deans were given two days – until Thursday – to consult with their department chairs about which faculty members to terminate. Affected instructors were notified that day.

* Kate Hayles and Mark Kruse have developed a model for humanities/STEM cooperative teaching.

* U.S. Cities Under 12 feet of Sea Level Rise.

* The Forever Drought.

* The best way to think of the dilemma is keeping in mind the three things Obama wants his regulations to accomplish: He wants them to effectively reduce carbon pollution, he wants them not to cost consumers too much, and he wants to be sure they can survive legal challenge. The trouble is that he can only pick two of these. And the primary question weighing on administration regulators as they make their decision will be how to read the mind of Anthony Kennedy.

* To turn the US-Mexico border into “The Border,” America had to erase its Caribbean history.

An article about secrecy and the death penalty in Missouri got the May edition of St. Louis Magazine banned from the Missouri Department of Corrections.

* Meanwhile the New York Times is a complete mess.

The Rise of the Voluntariat.

The voluntariat performs skilled work that might still command a wage without compensation, allegedly for the sake of the public good, regardless of the fact that it also contributes directly and unambiguously to the profitability of a corporation. Like the proletariat, then, the voluntariat permits the extraction of surplus value through its labor.

But unlike the proletariat’s labor, the voluntariat’s has become untethered from wages. The voluntariat’s labor is every bit as alienable as the proletariat’s — Coursera’s Translator Contract leaves no doubt about that — but it must be experienced by the voluntariat as a spontaneous, non-alienated gift.

* Will roads made out of solar panels save us?

Playing football is even worse for players’ brains than we thought.

* An Oral History of The West Wing.

* Medical nightmare of the week: Morgellons disease.

* Speculative genetic explanations for social phenomena have an old and undistinguished history, some of which Wade reviews superficially, presumably to demonstrate his skill at reviewing topics superficially. The common thread, though, is that such explanations have always been (1) put forward to establish a bio-political point, to draw imaginary limits around the social progress of certain human groups; (2) accompanied by the dissimulation that they are not political statements, but merely value-neutral science; and (3) false.

* The Bay Area author of an upcoming book shatters the image of California’s historic missions as idyllic sites where Franciscan friars and Indians lived in harmony. Speaking before about 100 people Saturday at the American Indian Resource Center at UC Santa Cruz, Elias Castillo, author of “A Cross of Thorns: The Enslavement of California’s Indians by the Spanish Missions,” said in reality the missions were “death camps.”

* Save your research in the cloud, they said.

* Viggo vs. Lord of the Rings.

The New York Pizza Project, Documenting New York City’s Pizza Shops in Photos and Interviews.

He also had a theory about colonizing the solar system using nuclear bombs. We could terraform other planets, he argued, by pulverizing them and then moving them closer or further from the sun. What could possibly go wrong?

* So maybe it’s for the best that Russia’s just evicted us from space.

Thursday Forever

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* Thursday at C21: Christopher Newfield, “The Humanities in the Post-Capitalist University.” Then, this weekend, elsewhere at UWM: After Capitalism.

* I have a short piece on “WALL-E and Utopia,” pulled from the Green Planets intro, up today for In Media Res’s Pixar week. I also owe SF Signal a post that should go up … eventually that’s also in conversation with the Green Planets stuff (though not cribbed quite so directly).

* The humanities and citation.

* White House petition: abolish the capitalist mode of production.

More acutely, when you consider the math that McKibben, the Carbon Tracker Initiative and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) all lay out, you must confront the fact that the climate justice movement is demanding that an existing set of political and economic interests be forced to say goodbye to trillions of dollars of wealth. It is impossible to point to any precedent other than abolition. Great piece from Chris Hayes.

* College towns and income inequality.

* But, clearly, if we can afford such a massive increase in professional staff, as well as such an increase in executives whose salaries have been escalating very dramatically, the sharp decrease in the percentage of all instructional faculty who are tenured or on tenure tracks is a matter of a dramatic shift in priorities—in the conception of the university.

* Gasp! At Elite Colleges, Legacy Status May Count More Than Was Previously Thought.

* On the disinvestment/reinvestment cycle. Returns to university endowments 1980-2010. The Soul of Student Debt. Against anonymous student evaluation.

* Vice interviews Matt Taibbi on his new book The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap.

* Understanding Wonder Woman, at LARoB.

* When Spider-Man fought misleading sex education.

* Could Mystery Science Theater return?

* The public pension scam.

* How the Super-Rich Really Make Their Money.

* Companies used to borrow in the markets as a last resort finance investment in their business. Now it’s a front for shareholder giveaways.

* Capitalism and Nazism: Now It Can Be Told.

* The school, called Explore + Discover, will be available to children between the ages of 3 months and 2 years. Tuition is $2,791/month for kids who attend five days a week. You can also pay $1,990 for three days a week or $1,399 for two days but don’t you love your child?

In Tuscaloosa today, nearly one in three black students attends a school that looks as if Brown v. Board of Education never happened.

For men, having children is a career advantage. For women, it’s a career killer. University managers believe women themselves are primarily responsible for the gender imbalance in higher education, according to research published today.

There’s Even A Gender Gap In Children’s Allowances.

“Faculty ignored requests from women and minorities at a higher rate than requests from White males, particularly in higher-paying disciplines and private institutions.” Reviewers will find more spelling errors in your writing if they think you’re black.

David Foster Wallace Estate Comes Out Against the Jason Segel Biopic. Meanwhile, this insane Lifehacker piece suggests we bracket the whole “suicide” bummer and take David Foster Wallace as our lifecoach.

* Atheist lawsuit claims ‘under God’ in NJ school’s daily pledge recital harms children. I guess I’m just another survivor.

* Wired goes inside Captain Marvel fandom.

* Woman writes about something traditionally regarded as a male-orientated industry or area of interest; if she’s conveying love, she’s doing it “for attention” (so what?) or “fake” (whatever that means); if she criticizes, she’s insulting, whining, moaning, on her period; if she says anything at all, her argument or point is made invisible because her damn biology is getting in the way.

What’s it like for the first living ex-pope in 600 years to watch from up close as the successor he enabled dismantles his legacy? 

* What That Game of Thrones Scene Says About Rape Culture. George R.R. Martin doesn’t want to talk about it.

* Aaron Sorkin Wants To Apologize To Everyone About The Newsroom.

* Does world government have a future?

* Mars or die.

Texas Prisons Are Hot Enough to Kill You.

* #MyNYPD.

* The great Colbert rebranding begins.

Netflix and Mitch Hurwitz Joining Forces Again.

Nichelle Nichols Talks with Janelle Monae.

* Game of the night: solar system simulator Super Planet Crash.

* Joss Whedon’s New Film Isn’t in Theaters, But You Can Watch It Online for $5.

Gabriel García Márquez on Fidel Castro, the Soviet Union, and creating “a government which would make the poor happy.”

* Forrest Gump, as directed by Wes Anderson.

“The only thing preventing a catastrophe from a ‘city-killer’ sized asteroid is blind luck.”

* Horrific, tragic story out of Rutgers.

Risk of New York City coastal flooding has surged by factor of 20, says study.

* The latest on the big animal personhood case in New York. Dolphins as alien intelligence.

That Time Cleveland Released 1.5 Million Balloons and Chaos Ensued.

* CIA torture architect breaks silence to defend ‘enhanced interrogation.’ Facial recognition and the end of freedom. The end of net neutrality and the end of the Internet. Late capitalist subjectivity and the sharing economy.

Bullied Kids at Risk for Mental Health Problems 40 Years Later.

* And/but/so the kids are all right.

Written by gerrycanavan

April 24, 2014 at 7:20 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Almost Too Many Thursday Links, Really, If You Ask Me

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* Extrapolation is seeking essays for a special issue on Indigenous Futurism, edited by Grace L. Dillon, Michael Levy and John Rieder.

* Designing for The Grand Budapest Hotel.

* No state worse than Wisconsin for black children, says new national study. The Fight for Wisconsin’s Soul. Other People’s Pathologies.

* Why UWM Matters.

* Life and debt.

* Coffee pods and ecology.

* University of California graduate students explain why they’re striking. Students Occupy Dartmouth President’s Office. Coaches Make $358,000 In Bonuses For Reaching NCAA Tournament Final Four. Emory University Eradicates its Visual Arts Department. Dear Harvard: You Win.

* A Brief Report from the University of Southern Maine. Armed guards at faculty meetings.

Major attack on academic freedom in Michigan.

* Academia Under the Influence.

* Surveillance, Dissent, and Imperialism. NSA Surveillance and the Male Gaze.

* The secret history of Cuban Twitter. If this tweet gets 1000 favorites Castro’s beard falls out.

Kingdom Prep is one of dozens of basketball academies that have popped up in recent years to cater to “postgrad” players—recent high-school graduates who need to improve their standardized-test scores to meet the NCAA’s academic requirements.

* Just when I thought I was out: Marquette hires Duke associate head coach Steve Wojciechowski.

* The really rich are different from the rich, who are different from you and me.

* An heir to the du Pont fortune has been given probation for raping his three-year-old daughter because you know damn well why.

* What Can You Do With a Humanities Ph.D., Anyway?

* Documents filed with the Department of Labor and dated December 2012—three months after the company’s owners filed their lawsuit—show that the Hobby Lobby 401(k) employee retirement plan held more than $73 million in mutual funds with investments in companies that produce emergency contraceptive pills, intrauterine devices, and drugs commonly used in abortions. Hobby Lobby makes large matching contributions to this company-sponsored 401(k).

* Libertarian Police Department. Koch Brothers Quietly Seek To Ban New Mass Transit In Tennessee.

* Detroit: Then and Now.

* A new study shows how Lake Tahoe might serve as a mammoth reservoir that could significantly mitigate California’s chronic water shortages without tarnishing the lake’s world-renowned beauty. What could possibly go wrong?

* The geographic sublime, from the Rural Assistance Center.

* How to Think About the Risk of Autism.

* Sepinwall vs. How I Met Your Mother.

* How To Negotiate With People Around The World.

* Gasp! CIA misled on interrogation program, Senate report says.

* Gasp! Torture Didn’t Lead to Bin Laden.

* New G.O.P. Bid to Limit Voting in Swing States.

* Who’s afraid of Suey Park?

* You once said: “I’m part-android.” Has that revelation haunted you?

* The kids are all right: Talking With 13-Year-Old Leggings Activist Sophie Hasty.

* Bourbon and Girl Scout Cookie Pairings.

* How to Improve Aquaman.

* The Definitive Ranking Of Robin’s 359 Exclamations From ‘Batman.’ 25 Weird Batman Comic-Book Covers.

* Fan work: Labor, worth, and participation in fandom’s gift economy.

* Norman Lear, Archie Bunker, and the rRise of the BBbad Fan.

Original Star Trek II: Wrath Of Khan VFX Storyboards Are A Visual Feast.

* The greatest, richest, freest country in the history of the world.

* The wisdom of markets: Walmart Realizes It’s Losing Billions Of Dollars By Denying Workers More Hours.

* Classic good news / bad news situation: Television Without Pity Archives Will Stay Online. Panel’s Warning on Climate Risk: Worst Is Yet to Come.

* Weird science: Gunshot victims to be suspended between life and death.

* On Moretti-ism: Knowing is not reading.

* The New Inquiry’s “Money” issue is out with some great pieces, including one on China that really highlights a key contradiction in American ideology, which simultaneously holds that capitalism is the only possible economic system and that the future belongs to China. And Rortybomb’s piece on human capital is super chilling: basically dystopian literature, and it’s pretty much already real. And then the freedom piece! And the egg donation one! Great issue all around.

A person may be free because she can choose among a broad range of possibilities, or she may be free while she undertakes some action about which she has no choice at all, but whose compulsion she deems legitimate. Or she may be free when she faces a range of options, one of which is clearly superior to the alternatives, so that her behavior is perfectly predictable despite a formal freedom to choose. Freedom is not, at bottom, about the range of possibilities one faces but about the degree of consent one offers for the action to be taken or the circumstance to be endured.

Japan Ordered To Stop Killing Antarctic Whales For “Science.”

* Teen Wins $70,000 Settlement After School Demanded Her Facebook Password.

* Is being thin more deadly than being obese? Take that, skinnies!

*  I’ve had this dream: Student claims college instructor spent months teaching class the ‘wrong’ course.

* I dream of the day that Seattle and Portland can get along.

* And please don’t make me say it again.

Written by gerrycanavan

April 3, 2014 at 7:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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All This Weekend’s Links at Half the Price

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* Michael Lovell, Marquette, and Milwaukee. MU’s students are on board.

* Turns out academic freedom isn’t free: Michigan State University could risk losing $500,000 if it does not stop offering courses that allegedly promote unionization.

* “They call us professors, but they’re paying us at poverty levels,” she said. “I just want to make a living from a skill I’ve spent 30 years developing.”

NCAA in Turmoil: Why UNC Can’t Get Past Its Fake Classes Scandal.

In Silicon Valley there really is a class war going on, a wage-fixing cartel that’s pitting the one percent against everyone else.

LAX Baggage Handlers Took Whatever They Wanted From Bags for Months. I’m actually pretty sure they stole our camera, which we haven’t seen since we left California.

* The typographical sublime: Switching from Times New Roman to Garamond could save the government almost half a billion dollars.

* End of an Internet Era: Television Without Pity Gets Shuttered. It’s Hard To Imagine The Internet Without Television Without Pity. Raised on Television without Pity. MetaFilter mourns. The real tragedy here is the absolutely unnecessary closing of the forums; there’s a valuable decade of Internet TV writing and fan commentary, lost overnight.

* Dialectics of Stephen Colbert: We Want To #CancelColbert. What We Can Learn From the Embarrassing #CancelColbert Shitstorm. A profile of Suey Park.

* Who Needs a Boss?

* In Praise of Odd Children’s Books.

* Facebook Is About to Lose 80% of Its Users, Study Says.

If You Support The Death Penalty, You Are Probably White.

* Rebecca Schuman on The Most Important University in St Louis. More from the new, Serious™ Schuman: Save Fulbright!

The Case for Making Revenge Porn a Federal Crime.

* Free speech having a tough time tonight: Arrest Climate-Change Deniers.

* io9 has a visual history of prosthetics.

Unpaid Interns In New York City Are Now Protected From Sexual Harassment. Well, obviously, of course they would be, what could be more obvious — wait, now?

* Oh, America empire, you’re incorrigible! As our troops pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan, we’re abandoning fixers and translators to the dangerous countrymen who view them as traitors. Asylum in the U.S. could be their last hope. If only we’d let them in.

* Presidents gotta president.

Scott Walker Signs Early Voting Restrictions Making It Harder For Low-Income Voters To Vote.

* Wisconsin also having a tough time tonight: BP Admits To Spilling Even More Oil In Lake Michigan.

* Come back here, we’re not done getting bummed out yet: The Pacific Ocean Is Turning Sour Much Faster Than Expected, Study Shows. Texas Oil Spill Is Killing Birds, Threatening Fishing Industry.

How The Justice System Is Rigged Against These Cheerleaders Suing The Raiders For Wage Theft. Federal Judge Tells Women Lawyers Not To Dress Like ‘An Ignorant Slut.’ Virtually the entire judiciary is made up of former prosecutors and corporate lawyers.

* Tumblr of the weekend: Shit Settlers Said.

* The 1897 Petition Against Annexation That More Than Half of All Native Hawaiians Signed.

* The ASA is now asking for $100,000 in donations to defend itself from attacks resulting in its decision about how to spend a few hundred. Well done, everyone!

* So old I can remember when teaching was a career. Standing Up to Testing. New York Schools Are the Nation’s Most Racially Segregated. And if you only count the best-performing schools, charter schools are doing great!

* This is a land of peace, love, justice, and no mercy: Shanesha Taylor, Homeless Single Mom, Arrested After Leaving Kids In Car While On Job Interview.

* A year to make a game, a weekend to rip it off.

* This is a generic brand video.

* And at least it’s almost all over for humanity: Crazy Stone computer Go program defeats Ishida Yoshio 9 dan with 4 stones.

Supersized Post-Computer-Crash Weekend Feel-Good Happy Links

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Sorry I’ve been MIA. John Siracusa’s OS Mavericks review didn’t tell me the update would completely nuke my computer for three days. Fairly big omission, JS.

Only by the grace of God did I not wind up on Senator Session’s anti-NEH hit list.

* Apple screws up Capitalism 101 by having its products remain useful on a too-long obsolescence-cycle.

“If part-time is so good, why don’t we have part-time administration?”

* Against student evaluations. UPDATE: Of course the natural form for discuss this is a Twitter fight.

* Rape culture at UConn. Really stunning report.

Carolyn Luby, a student who organized the complaint, said the university failed to stop harassment she faced for criticizing the school’s new “powerful and aggressive” Husky logo in an open letter to UConn president, Susan Herbst. Luby saw the redesigned logo as “glorifying intimidation with an already prevalent rape culture.”

In reaction, commenters on Barstool Sports posted links to her Facebook page. Rush Limbaugh did a segment criticizing Luby in which he stated, “I, El Rushbo, have amplified it and made it even bigger. Let’s see what happens.”

Luby subsequently received rape and death threats. People walked by her on campus and called her “a bitch,” she said. One email she received told her, “I hope you get raped by a husky,” and another said, “I wish you would’ve run in the Boston marathon.” Fraternity members sexually harassed her, Luby said, making statements like, “Don’t worry, we won’t rape you,” as they drove by.

“[The university] would send campus-wide emails about picking up trash, but no warning about hate speech and harassment,” Luby said.

Unlike Georgetown University’s president, who sent a campus-wide email defending Sandra Fluke after Limbaugh and others made her a target in 2012, UConn did nothing, Luby said. Herbst remained silent, and Luby said one school official told her, “That’s kind of the risk you run when you publish something on the Internet.”

University police suggested she keep a low profile and wear a hat on campus, Luby said.

* I ranted about this one enough on Twitter, but this story about the University of Iowa TA who accidentally emailed nude photos to her class (which I feel dirty even linking to at all) is also rape culture in action.

62% of higher education professionals report experiencing workplace bullying.

Talking with Students about Being an Adjunct. Totally insanely, CUNY hasn’t been paying its adjuncts for months.

The UC Davis Pepper-Spraying Cop Gets a $38,000 Settlement, $8000 more than his victims.

City College of S.F. outlines closing plan.

* Thinking (only) like an administration: Faculty Couples, for Better or Worse.

We have the rare opportunity to chronicle a labor movement’s development in real time from its infancy as we watch the organization of college football players.

Confessions of a Drone Warrior.

Flood Insurance Jumping Sevenfold Depresses U.S. Home Values. I wonder if even “the market speaking” could pull us out of the death spiral now.

* Climate change cost you the McDonald’s dollar menu. Greenland Has Melted So Much That We Can Mine It for Uranium Now. Arctic Temperatures Reach Highest Levels In 44,000 Years. Gambling with Civilization.

* The men’s rights movement is a nightmare from which we are trying to awake.

* Rortybomb on striking fast food workers and the neoliberal failings of Obamacare. From the second:

Conservatives in particular think this website has broad implications for liberalism as a philosophical and political project. I think it does, but for the exact opposite reasons: it highlights the problems inherent in the move to a neoliberal form of governance and social insurance, while demonstrating the superiorities in the older, New Deal form of liberalism.

* The Decline of Wikipedia.

Yet Wikipedia and its stated ambition to “compile the sum of all human knowledge” are in trouble. The volunteer workforce that built the project’s flagship, the English-language Wikipedia—and must defend it against vandalism, hoaxes, and manipulation—has shrunk by more than a third since 2007 and is still shrinking. Those participants left seem incapable of fixing the flaws that keep Wikipedia from becoming a high-quality encyclopedia by any standard, including the project’s own. Among the significant problems that aren’t getting resolved is the site’s skewed coverage: its entries on Pokemon and female porn stars are comprehensive, but its pages on female novelists or places in sub-Saharan Africa are sketchy. Authoritative entries remain elusive. Of the 1,000 articles that the project’s own volunteers have tagged as forming the core of a good encyclopedia, most don’t earn even Wikipedia’s own middle-­ranking quality scores.

The main source of those problems is not mysterious. The loose collective running the site today, estimated to be 90 percent male, operates a crushing bureaucracy with an often abrasive atmosphere that deters newcomers who might increase participation in Wikipedia and broaden its coverage.

* Mitch Hurwitz at the New York Television Festival.

* Davis Sedaris writes about the suicide of his sister Tiffany.

* We should put hyper-efficient rich people in charge of everything: How to lose $172,222 a second for 45 minutes. That’s why they earn the big bucks, I guess.

Condé Nast Discontinuing Internship Program. The first of many, I’d bet.

* After all this time I’m completely amazed that people still talk to the Daily Show at all. “They made all those other people look like total idiots! I’d better be super-careful as I make my wise and reasoned argument!”

* From the archives: How They Made Bottle Rocket. 1995.

* Wisconsin conservatives file challenge against state’s same-sex partnership law. Special Prosecutor Looking At Wisconsin Recall Elections. Milwaukee has still not enrolled anyone for ACA.

What Good Wife Storyline Did CBS Kill to Avoid Pissing Off the NFL?

* They said it: Fox News: Anti-Bullying Policies Limit Conservatives’ Free Speech.

America’s Most Popular Boys’ Names Since 1960, in 1 Spectacular GIF.

* The Harvard Crimson says don’t teach for America.

American Schools Are Missing 389,000 Teachers. Study: Charters Pose a Financial Threat to Already-Struggling School Districts.

* The Duke Chronicle says walk out on Charles Murray.

A man is stealing your home, poisoning your food and burning the forests around you, all the while explaining why you should thank him. Maybe you are allowed to question his genius, and maybe he answers. Some nod; others frown.

And you watch the flames rise, knowing at least you have engaged in “discourse.”

Mayor Bloomberg grants Metropolitan Museum of Art right to charge mandatory entrance fee.

The homeless population of New York City is higher than it’s been in decades. Nobody seems to notice.

List of reasons for admission to an insane asylum from the late 1800s, supposedly.

California Deputies Shoot and Kill Boy Carrying a Fake Gun. Black Teen Detained by NYPD for Buying an Expensive Belt.

Zombie Simpsons: How the best show ever became the broadcasting undead.

* It’s handled: Scandal has its own scandal after popular fan blogger turns out to be ABC executive. UPDATE: Followup!

* Old villains never die, they just fade away: Diebold charged with bribing officials, falsifying records in China, Russia, Indonesia; fined nearly $50 million.

* Gawker is seriously arguing no one should be fired for uncritically publishing an entirely fact-free smear job so ludicrously inaccurate it didn’t even last two hours. I disagree!

* We’ve all been there: Groom Who Called in Bomb Hoax to Own Wedding Sentenced to Year in Jail.

Facebook OKs Decapitation Videos (But No Breastfeeding).

* OMG WTF TSA.

* And today’s apocalypse: “We’ve Reached ‘The End of Antibiotics, Period.’”

Written by gerrycanavan

October 25, 2013 at 9:32 pm

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Bad Fans, Good Fans, and Some Quick Thoughts on ‘Breaking Bad’

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I gave a presentation this weekend at the Reception Studies Society conference on the figure of the “fan-villain”—what Emily Nussbaum in a widely circulated blog post at the New Yorker recently called the Bad Fan. The Bad Fan is that figure whose investment in the text is excessive, or inappropriate, or misplaced, who takes up the text in ways that go beyond or are counter to the idealized “Good Fan” of the author’s intentions, critical consensus, and/or common sense. What I was interested in at the conference were the ways texts and creators seek to talk back to the Bad Fan, most typically by including the Bad Fan within the text either through paraphrase, parody, or (most characteristically, I think) through personification as an actual character within the fictional universe—and further I was interested in this extent to which this talking back is typically quite hostile. But today I’m interested in the other side of that binary.

To back up: Breaking Bad fandom—as is common in the capital-Q Quality TV genre more generally—appears divided between critically sophisticated Good Fans who recognize the show’s nuanced, complicated, and quite emotionally fraught deconstruction of privilege through (again as with most Quality TV shows) its central protagonist, the White Male in Crisis, and the naïve, unsophisticated Bad Fans who take all this in entirely uncritically and who love the show precisely because they think “Walt Is A Badass.” Nussbaum’s recent writings have pointed to the show’s attempts to speak back to the Bad Fan, not simply in Anna Gunn / Skyler White’s recent op-ed in the New York Times decrying the sexism of this portion of the show’s fanbase, and not only through Walt’s bitter and ugly parodying of the #TeamWalt discourse in “Ozymandias,” but through the addition of the creepy sinister character of Todd, who idolizes Walt in a way that seems both increasingly familiar (as the marking of the Bad Fan) and increasingly horrifying.

As may already be evident, I think this imagined division between “Good Fans” and “Bad Fans” is simultaneously useful and potentially deeply misleading, as we can see from Internet insta-reactions to last night’s “FeLiNa,” the final episode of the series. Here we find the Good Fan feeling flattered and pandered to, particularly in the scene in which Walt “confesses” to Skyler that he ultimately become a druglord because he enjoyed it, because it made him feel alive. “Finally,” the Good Fan sighed, “Walt tells Skyler THE TRUTH!” But in fact this scene is almost directly parallel to the phone call scene, in which Walt the consummate schemer deploys partial truths and well-timed emotional outbursts in order to manipulate those around him. This is about controlling his legacy, about telling Skyler (and the Good Fans) a version of what she wants to hear so that she is (and we are) willing to go along with him on his redemption arc.

A point of critical consensus around “FeLiNa” is that it is characterized by a truly remarkable amount of catharsis and narrative closure, dotting every i and crossing every t. But that catharsis, I think, has to come undone the longer we think about the show; what isn’t being talked about much yet is the complexity and the falseness of the redemption narrative, precisely because both the Good Fans and the Bad Fans alike are happy to buy into it all. This cycle of gaslighting apology, followed by grand-gesture redemptive act, followed by an inevitable slide back to form, is part and parcel of how a person like Walter White abuses those around him; the events of “FeLiNa” only seems to offer narrative closure because this time events have conspired to finally kill Walt at the high moment of the abuse-apology cycle. (He knows his cancer is back, and/so he plans to commit suicide-by-Nazi or suicide-by-Jesse at the camp after achieving “redemption.”) In the spirit of Žižek’s reading of the emergency-exit “happy endings” of Titanic and Avatar, we might perversely imagine the version of the end of the series in which this doesn’t hold: Walt’s cancer has never returned, he does not catch a bullet in the massacre, he lives, and is thereby forced to continue to live in the world and take genuine, not fantasy, responsibility for his actions. How long does his turning over a new leaf last, without the miracle of certain death to propel him forward for a mere eighteen hours, give or take?

As Malcolm Harris succinctly put it in response to some of my tweets:

We can see the Heisenberg-Walt at work even in the moment of Skyler scene; “finally, THE TRUTH,” yes, but also a calculated attempt to set the conditions of her last memories of him in terms that are favorable to Walt. “In the end,” she may have thought, and many Internet commentators actually wrote, “the ‘real Walt’ came back.” And again, maybe, partially; but all the same the legacy money won’t go to her, and her life remains utterly destroyed. Meanwhile his final act is an intricate staging of his own death so that he will receive full credit both for killing the white supremacists and for cooking the blue meth, credit even for the “better than ever” batches he didn’t cook—to again set the terms of reality not in fidelity to truth or to what is best for other people but simply in accordance with the way he prefers things, which as always is having it both ways. Walt’s true chemical genius has always been in controlling the reactions of the people around him, in how easily he gets others (and us) to play along. We Good Fans turn out to be just as happy to be lied to, we just want a different sort of lie.

Written by gerrycanavan

September 30, 2013 at 12:11 pm

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