Posts Tagged ‘Kim Stanley Robinson’
Congratulations to my friend Kim Stanley Robinson, winner of a 2012 Nebula for 2312! I reviewed it for Los Angeles Review of Books last summer.
* AMC passed on Red Mars, but then greenlights this? Those idiots.
The minimum wage machine allows anybody to work for minimum wage. Turning the crank will yield one penny every 4.97 seconds, for $7.25 an hour (NY state minimum wage). If the participant stops turning the crank, they stop receiving money.
* What started out as a case about whether corporations could be held accountable in U.S. courts for human rights violations abroad now turned into a case about whether anyone can be held accountable. And on Wednesday, a five-justice majority of the U.S. Supreme Court held that the answer is, mostly, no.
* Mellon Foundation awards grant to develop new careers for humanities Ph.D.s. At the University of Wisconsin – Madison.
* Disney Says New ‘Star Wars’ Films Will Open Every Summer Starting in 2015. The internet has spoken: put Patton Oswalt in charge.
* “More toyetic”: The cast and crew of Batman and Robin explain what went wrong.
* Preposterously bad idea watch: Breaking Bad Spin-Off With Saul Goodman In The Works. Has to be a very dry joke on Vince Gilligan’s part.
* What is the political situation in the Mario universe? It is a never-ending condition of war within and war without, fraught and constantly changing as one faction or another vies for control, riven along racial and ideological fault-lines and held together only by the intervention of foreign interlopers, propping up the dominant superpower and whose ultimate motivations are shrouded in secrecy.
* A much larger revenue stream comes from federal student loans—$108,641,000 in 2011. In 2010, NYU had $659 million in total student debt, a figure bigger than the gross domestic product of twelve countries, and it is a national leader in the debt carried by its graduates, at 40 percent more than the national average. According a recent Newsweek ranking, NYU is now the fourth “Least Affordable School” in the United States. And in the latest Princeton Review college rankings, its financial aid and administration ranked first—for being the worst. The projected $5 billion expansion plan is certain to increase the student debt burden. Most of current student loans are federal money, so we can add these on to the public inputs received by this private university at a time when public universities are being put to the sword.
* Reframing the statement “don’t go to graduate school” to one that fully addresses the attack on tenure helps us to see and recognize each other, and our labor. I think it also helps us to identify new partners who might be able and interested in challenging or modulating some of the forces at work in educational restructuring.
* Guess Who Waits Longest to Vote? You’ll never guess!
* Authorities are still investigating how the younger child obtained the .22-caliber rifle: New Jersey 4-year-old shoots 6-year-old neighbor in the head.
* And I think I remember this movie: Lockheed Martin Harnesses Quantum Technology.
* In fact, Doctor Who is so British that Brits tend to disbelieve that it has become popular in the US. Their reaction at being told that one of their quirky national traditions attracts an audience unfamiliar with tea towels and gap years is a bit like an American being told that the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest is being livestreamed unironically across France. Really? That’s what you’re watching? But only we watch that.
* The next Kim Stanley Robinson novel! Shaman: A Novel of the Ice Age.
* McSweeney’s: “I’m an English professor in a movie.”
* The University of British Columbia is striking a blow at gender inequity in professors’ pay, promising all tenure-stream female faculty a 2 per cent pay hike by the end of the month – a rare approach expected to cost the school about $2-million this year. I asked on Twitter and nobody answered — is this legal in Canada? I don’t think it would be here.
* Expelled Student Activist Wins $50K Court Judgment Against University President. The president is being held personally liable for his decisions.
An environmental activist expelled from Georgia’s Validosta State University (VSU) has won a $50,000 award in a lawsuit against the university president who kicked him out of school in 2007. In a dramatic rebuke to President Ronald Zaccari, the federal jury that heard the case found Zaccari personally liable for violating Hayden Barnes’ due process rights.
* Amy Bishop, a neurobiologist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, sat down at the conference table just moments before the faculty meeting began. It was three o’clock on February 12, 2010, and thirteen professors and staff members in the biology department had crowded into a windowless conference room on the third floor of the Shelby Center for Science and Technology. The department chair, a plant biologist named Gopi Podila, distributed a printed agenda. Bishop was sitting next to him, in a spot by the door. Inside her handbag was a gun.
* School closings are a popular method of cost-cutting for big-city districts, but critics say the savings are exaggerated. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is pushing for up to 100 school closings this year. New York City just announced 26 planned closures.
But studies refute claims of savings. School buildings are difficult to sell. They cost money to maintain, and when vacant can become blights on their communities. Washington, D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee closed 23 schools in 2008, claiming she would save $23 million—and instead cost the district $40 million.
* Being touched against your will has become a twisted rite of passage for American females. It’s a reminder that you’re never safe anywhere. That your body is not really yours—but instead public property, there to be rubbed against by an old man or pinched and videotaped by a young one.
* It was a startling assertion that seemed an about-face from church doctrine: A Catholic hospital arguing in a Colorado court that twin fetuses that died in its care were not, under state law, human beings.
We believe that even the trickiest challenges confronting mankind can be diverted via human centrifugalization. Spinning people around at a sufficiently high G-Force will solve every problem.
* Canada ends the penny. This means the U.S. will start talking seriously about ending the penny in about fifty years or so.
* I left for Thanksgiving travel in a rush and wasn’t able to post a link to my traditional Thanksgiving post.
“The birds are then, in proverbial fashion, said to live happily ever after. In reality, however, they are usually killed within a year and stand-in turkeys are supplied. This goes on year after year. The chosen birds are killed because they have been engineered and packed with hormones to the point that they are unfit for any other purpose than their own slaughter and consumption. They are fast-forward turkeys. Presidential turkey caretakers have explained that most succumb rather quickly to joint disease—their frail joints simply cannot bear the weight of their artificially enhanced bodies. The sturdiest survivors may live a little more than a year. But the birds are always finally put out of their growing misery. Then they are buried nearby in a presidential turkey cemetery—the ritualistic significance of which remains to be explored. (May the archaeologists of the future excavate it!)”
The reason that these turkeys are so ill suited for their lives of freedom is that they are supplied by the National Turkey Federation. They are products of industrial farms, bred to grow fat quick rather than live long. Much could be said about the fact that corporate lobby’s interests trumps even the symbolism of the ceremony, making even the pardon itself a lie within a lie.
* To pardon, after all, is to forgive. And, if we’re talking about a turkey, it becomes difficult to discern what criminal or immoral behavior on the bird’s part may be said to establish the necessary preconditions for its forgiveness.
* If Walmart were a country, its GDP (US$443.9bn) would be greater than that of South Africa’s ($422bn). Visa would be bigger than Zimbabwe, Wells Fargo dwarfs Angola, and eBay, Amazon, Costco, Proctor & Gamble would swamp Madagascar, Kenya, Sudan and Libya respectively.
I am very reluctant to speak of “climate change adaptation” in this connection, because I feel that that phrase is a seized term, like “sustainable development,” and both are coded ways of saying “business as usual” or “capitalism must endure no matter the damages.” Because of that I think we should still be insisting on “climate change mitigation” as the appropriate task for our time. Ultimately, however, the entire biosphere will be adapting to the new physical conditions we are creating by our impacts, and we are going to have to get involved with that adaptation to make the best of it, meaning keeping the number of extinctions to a minimum, and trying to steer the biosphere toward best outcomes for all the species on the planet. This is necessary, because all the species together form one single supra-organism, and the health of all together determines the health of any individual species, including ourselves. Because of that reality, inhabiting the Earth successfully in the centuries to come will necessarily be a utopian project. It’s become a case of utopia or catastrophe.
* Outstanding achievements in bullshitting: John Podhoretz.
* Chevy Chase Is Leaving Community, Effective Immediately. Bring back Dan Harmon? It’s not too late!
* And finally: Zissou vs. the whale.
* Welcome to the future: Another grandmother gives birth to her own grandchild.
* Whiteness and Breaking Bad: America isn’t flooded with pure meth, and it’s not because our chemists are too ethical. The illegal drug market simply doesn’t reward peerless expertise in the same way celebrity cooking shows do.
The white guy who enters a world supposedly beneath him where he doesn’t belong yet nonetheless triumphs over the inhabitants is older than talkies. TV Tropes calls it “Mighty Whitey,” and examples range from Tom Cruise as Samurai and Daniel Day Lewis as Mohican, to the slightly less far-fetched Julia Stiles as ghetto-fabulous. But whether it’s a 3-D marine playing alien in Avatar or Bruce Wayne slumming in a Bhutanese prison, the story is still good for a few hundred million bucks. The story changes a bit from telling to telling, but the meaning is consistent: a white person is (and by extension, white people are) best at everything.
* Teachers are striking in Chicago. Meanwhile: How Michelle Rhee Is Taking Over the Democratic Party. Thank goodness Obama’s winning, so he can finally crush the teachers’ unions once and for all!
* Solitary confinement in schools? Jesus Christ.
* Richard Posner is making sense: The notion of using the criminal law as the primary means of dealing with a problem of addiction, of misuse, of ingesting dangerous drugs — I don’t think that’s sensible at all.
“I couldn’t believe the accumulated wealth they represent — for our industry,” the consultant, Jerry Ashton, wrote in a column for a trade publication, InsideARM.com. “It was lip-smacking.”
* Star Trek 2 has a title: Star Trek Into Darkness. Early returns: Pretty terrible! Star Wars on Poverty. Lord of the Rings That Bell.
I have an idea for a fourth. I haven’t really put pen to paper on it, but basically it goes back to the early expeditions of Pandora, and kind of what went wrong with the humans and the Na’vi and what that was like to be an explorer and living in that world. Because when we drop in, even in the first film in ‘Avatar 1,’ as it will be known in the future, we’re dropping into a process that’s 35 years in to a whole colonization.
But what happened before that? And before that? And…
* The director of Looper has a metaphor for a model of time travel logic I don’t think I’ve seen before: the universe as a body with an immune system that seeks to push out foreign objects.
* The problem isn’t that this is one of the worst films I’ve ever seen in my life; the problem is that it’s seven of the worst films I’ve ever seen in my life glued together haphazardly, their inexorable badness amplified by their awkward juxtaposition. Tom Tykwer and Andy and Lana Wachowski wanted to make a movie unlike any other, and they certainly did: Cloud Atlas is a unique and totally unparalleled disaster.
* Tressie McMillan Cottom reviews the captivating documentary The Queen of Versailles, which I caught at the local independent movie house this weekend. It’s quite good—a stunning portrait of the wealthy’s perspective of the “normal” workings of the economy and of the 2008-2009 economic collapse.
* And when polls fail: Do 15% of Ohio Republicans really think Romney killed bin Laden? Probably not.
* A refreshingly honest business model: For-Profit College Recruiters Taught To Use ‘Pain,’ ‘Fear,’ Internal Documents Show.
* Snoop the Dogg is no more. I am Snoop the Lion, and I come to you now at the turn of the tide.
Kim Stanley Robinson, 2312: ”Alex often said that Chinese dominance is the default norm throughout history, except for the brief period of subjugation to Europe.”
The Atlantic, 2012: The Economic History of the Last 2,000 Years in 1 Little Graph. Via @mims.