Posts Tagged ‘Kim Stanley Robinson’
The essays in Green Planets are predicated on the proposition that two hundred years of SF can help us collectively “think” this leap into futurity in the context of the epochal mass-extinction event called the Anthropocene (which the literary theorists more simply call “modernity”). SF is our culture’s vast, shared, polyvocal archive of the possible; from techno-utopias to apocalypses to ecotopian fortunate falls, it is thetransmedia genre of SF that has first attempted to articulate the sorts of systemic global changes that are imminent, or already happening, and begins to imagine what our transformed planet might eventually be like for those who will come to live on it. Especially taken in the context of escalating ecological catastrophe, in which each new season seems to bring with it some new and heretofore-unseen spectacular disaster, my coeditor’s well-known declaration that in the contemporary moment “the world has become a science fiction novel” has never seemed more true or more frightening. Indeed, such a notion suggests both politics and “realism” are now always “inside” science fiction, insofar as the world, as we experience its vertiginous technological and ecological flux, now more closely resembles SF than it does any historical realism…
* Someone put Istvan Csicsery-Ronay’s keynote from ICFA this weekend on YouTube. The “Empire” ad Istvan plays from Computer Associates is amazing.
* No! No! I won’t believe it! It’s impossible! Bottom line shows humanities really do make money.
* 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…
* 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.
* HBO In Talks with Lisa Kudrow to Bring ‘The Comeback’ Back for Season Two. I want to see that.
* Ideology at its purest? Why not just believe the things bisexuals say about themselves?
* The schedule for the final third of my Cultural Preservation course. This has been one of the best teaching experiences I’ve ever had; I’m hoping things go as well next spring when I do it all again.
* Starting out with two strikes with this guy and he hasn’t even found out where I work yet.
* Nietzsche was right: it turns out without forgetting it is quite impossible to live at all.
* Elsewhere in the American nihilism files: NASA study concludes it’s not just you, we really are doomed.
* Meanwhile, we can’t even agree on the incredible, undeniable, world-historical usefulness of vaccines. One map sums up the damage caused by the anti-vaccination movement.
* Surely we’ll start the school day later, when every bit of science backs this up… Oh.
* Don’t be evil: Google’s anti-copyright stance is just a way to devalue content.
* No one could have predicted a completely unregulated peer-to-peer hotel network would lead to bad outcomes. Next up: Hey, Uber, your unregulated taxi was just some random creep’s unsafe car!
* For the true believers: A Brief History of the Quidditch World Cup.
* If we make the world a paradise where everyone is immortal, will we still be able to have all these awesome jails? Aeon Magazine reports.
* As of 2010-2011, the most recent year with available data, recent humanities and liberal arts majors had 9 percent unemployment. That’s right about on par with students in computer and math fields (9.1 percent), psychology and social work (8.8 percent), and the social sciences (10.3 percent). And it’s just a bit above the average across all majors of 7.9 percent. The larger problem, as always, is that there’s still not enough work for young people post-recession.
* Promisingly specific: Projecting ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’ in Theaters Requires Special Instructions.
* Game of the Weekend: 2048, an addictive simplification of Threes!, in your browser.
* The schedule for the next four weeks of my Cultural Preservation course is up at the course blog. Benjamin! Fight Club! Ani DiFranco! Oh my!
* Black Chicago Residents Are 10 Times More Likely To Be Shot By Police Than White Residents. What could explain it?
* David Graeber: What’s the Point If We Can’t Have Fun?
* That “distressed baby” who Tim Armstrong blamed for benefit cuts? She’s my daughter. Armstrong could have paid for the full “cost” of both the babies directly out of his own salary and still made ten million dollars that year (in base salary).
* I think about the ways to address people who think computers are magic, and there’s lots of them, the ways I mean although there are also lots of people sufficiently baffled by their own phones to presume that physical laws SHIT LIKE TIME AND SPACE don’t apply to digitization projects…
* “The legislation is almost certainly unconstitutional, it’s a bad law, and it reinforces stereotypes about Jewish influence,” said one pro-Israel Democratic strategist familiar with the groups’ thinking. “It’s so bad that AIPAC and ADL oppose it.”
* Renowned science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson, author of the award-winning “Mars Trilogy,” will select the winners of a national flash-science fiction contest co-organized by Wisconsin Public Radio’s nationally syndicated show “To the Best of Our Knowledge” and the Center for the Humanities and Wisconsin Institute for Discovery at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Gates “Beverly Crusher” McFadden will produce the scripts for radio.
* The Truman Show as eldercare: ‘Dementia Village’ – as it has become known — is a place where residents can live a seemingly normal life, but in reality are being watched all the time. Caretakers staff the restaurant, grocery store, hair salon and theater — although the residents don’t always realize they are carers — and are also watching in the residents’ living quarters.
* The prohibition and attempted eradication of drugs can be a nightmare for the climate and environment. Particularly in Latin America, the fight against drug production has led to deforestation, widespread contamination with toxic chemicals, and contributed to a warming climate. Meanwhile: Climate Change Comes for Your Cup of Tea.
* The worst people in the world: Four Long Island workers arrested for running ‘developmentally disabled fight club.’
* Sports Corner! How will news that Michael Sam is gay affect his NFL draft stock? 10 Points About College Hoops All-American Marcus Smart’s Pushing a ‘Fan.’ Why Superfan Jeff Orr Is A Much Bigger Problem For College Basketball Than Marcus Smart. More details on the Raiders’ cheerleaders wage theft suit. Olympic Committee Supports Russia’s Arrest of LGBT Activists. Why the Olympics Are a Lot Like ‘The Hunger Games.’ Detroit’s Unrealized Olympic Dreams. Only six of the previous 19 Winter Olympics host cities would be suitable to host the Games again by the end of this century due to warming temperatures, according to a new analysis. And The George Zimmerman-DMX Fight Has Been Cancelled, So At Least There’s That.
* New York State has roughly 15,000 zombie homes and leads the nation in the time required to foreclose on a home, at almost three years, according to data from RealtyTrac, a company that tracks troubled properties.
* If you’ve been wondering how Mockingjay will handle Philip Seymour Hoffman’s sudden death, here’s your answer.
* Good news: FX will make Redshirts a limited series.
* And can The LEGO Movie really be that good? MetaFilter is on the scene.
* What happened in Atlanta this week is not a matter of Southerners blindsided by unpredictable weather. More than any event I’ve witnessed in two decades of living in and writing about this city, this snowstorm underscores the horrible history of suburban sprawl in the United States and the bad political decisions that drive it.
* Accreditation Standards Should Include Treatment of Adjuncts, Report Says. This has been my revolutionary scheme for a while, glad to see it could actually be feasible…
* “I wouldn’t go so far,” writes Horton of Kincaid’s central thesis that short science fiction exhibits all the signs of exhaustion. “I don’t think that ‘all meaning has been drained from’ the tropes we use, but I do think they are becoming overfamiliar. And I do think that the field of science fiction has to a considerable extent become enamoured with explicitly backward-looking ideas.”
* “These findings suggest that potential harm to faculty-student relationships and academic freedom should not continue to serve as bases for the denial of collective bargaining rights to graduate student employees.”
* Boom: A Journal of California interviews Kim Stanley Robinson.
* My friend Jack Hamilton eulogizes Pete Seeger.
* Stradivarius violin stolen in armed robbery in Milwaukee. Said to be the biggest heist in city history.
* And The State reunites (for a segment anyway)…
* Five Economic Reforms Millennials Should Be Fighting For. #3 and #4 seem to imply an unstated ecological agenda that is really the zeroeth reform, the precondition for all the others.
* “The “Teachgreat.org” initiative would limit teacher contracts to no more than three years. It also requires “teachers to be dismissed, retained, demoted, promoted, and paid primarily using quantifiable student performance data as part of the evaluation system,” according to the summary on the group’s website.
* In the midst of a truly terrible piece calling for every bad higher ed reform ever proposed, Instapundit makes one suggestion we can all get behind: adjunct administration.
Step 2: When describing a crowd scene, write in the script, “A crowd gathers, which is half female.” That may seem weird, but I promise you, somehow or other on the set that day the crowd will turn out to be 17 percent female otherwise. Maybe first ADs think women don’t gather, I don’t know.
* Buzzkill! There’s not enough legal weed in Colorado.
* Daily Caller BANNED from MLA. Literal wailing about communofascism at the link.
In addition to The Daily Caller, all audio-taping and videotaping will also be outlawed at the 2013 MLA convention. The completely Orwellian-sounding Committee on Disability Issues in the Profession further demands that no one wear any scented products of any kind.
And I said nothing, because I did not wear perfume!
* A local politician heroically overrode the concerns of his constituents to advance the cause of global capitalism, and the New York Times is ON IT.
* Brooks’ rumination on his stoner days is kind of funny. It’s certainly elitist. But it is also an example of the two Americas we’ve fomented through legislative, cultural, and organizational boundaries that disrupt every single path for opportunity available for those not born to wealth and privilege.
* Thank you for your letter inviting me to join the committee of the Arts and Sciences for Eisenhower. I must decline, for secret reasons.
* Finally, Yale law professors reveal exactly which ethnicities are innately superior. A bit churlish to give themselves two of the top slots, but I guess the completely made-up facts speak for themselves.
* FREEDOM! U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson plans to file a lawsuit on Monday challenging a federal rule that allows members of Congress and their staffs to continue to receive health benefits similar to other federal employees.
* Good news, everyone! You’ll work until you’re dead.
* Like a piece of equipment, the black athlete is used. The old cliché ‘You give us your athletic ability, we give you a free education’ is a bare-faced lie, concocted by the white sports establishment to hoodwink athletes, white as well as black. First of all, there is no such thing as a ‘free’ ride. A black athlete pays dearly with his blood, sweat, tears, and ultimately with some portion of his manhood, for the questionable right to represent his school on the athletic field. Second the white athletic establishments on the various college campuses frequently fail to live up to even the most rudimentary responsibilities implied in their half of the agreement.
* Program for the 2014 MLA Subconference, January 8-9 at Columbia College Chicago.
* CFP for “Joss Whedon: A Celebration” at DePaul University this May.
* The New Yorker considers Kim Stanley Robinson: Our Greatest Political Novelist?
Depending on your own politics, this may sound like millennia-overdue common sense or a bong-fuelled 3 A.M. wish list, but there’s no arguing that to implement it in the real world circa 2013 would be, literally, revolutionary. My own bet would be that either your grandchildren are going to be living by some of these precepts, or else they won’t be living at all.
* It is an open question as to whether academics today, in their heart of hearts, still realize that the choice between the employability agenda or the death of universities actually means the death of universities through the employability agenda.
* Our football team here at Purdue went 1-11, losing the final ten games in a row by an average of almost 25 points and going 0-8 in Big Ten play, including a 20 point blowout to arch-rival Indiana. The lone victory on the season came through a nail-biting 20-14 performance against Indiana State… an FCS school… who themselves went 1-11. If beating the doormat team of the Missouri Valley Conference is the highlight of your season, it’s perhaps time for a reevaluation of priorities. After ranking 122nd in points scored a game and 114th in points against a game, making a legitimate case for being the worst team in FBS football, the campus is buzzing about how long a rebuild will require and whether first-year coach Darrell Hazzell is the man to lead it. With the season’s “One Brick Higher” slogan now seeming like a sad joke, my message to the Purdue community is simple: don’t rebuild. Retreat. The best path forward for Purdue University is to dismantle its football program altogether.
* I also liked Freddie’s piece on how the permanent squabble between tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty plays directly into the hands of administrators.
* This Thousand-Year Institution Could Really Learn Something from These Fly-By-Night Scams: Forget Academia. Startups Are the Future of Knowledge.
* “If you haven’t been in a hen plant, you don’t know what hell is”: Animal rights activists vs. the agribusiness industry in Rolling Stone.
If you’re a president, it probably feels good to think about this, about how a revolutionary came to defend the stability of the society he once threatened to overturn. It probably also feels good to think of him as historical, as past: like Nkrumah or Lumumba, he is no longer our problem, no longer our responsibility. Instead of a defiant refusal to stop short of victory and a refusal to compromise or negotiate on principles, he can represent the passing away of that very thing.
* Belgium took a big step on Thursday to becoming the first country to allow euthanasia for incurably ill children, after the upper house of Parliament voted by a large majority to extend to minors a 2002 law legalizing the practice for adults.
* A national study being released today in book form found that those who are attractive in high school are more likely than those with just average or below average looks to go on to earn a four-year college degree.
* Take that, conventional wisdom! Study: Long Distance Relationships Can Work.
* Whether you agree with the ASA’s boycott of Israeli state institutions or not, I think we can all agree that to boycott Larry Summers.
* The U.S. government lobotomized roughly 2,000 mentally ill veterans—and likely hundreds more—during and after World War II, according to a cache of forgotten memos, letters and government reports unearthed by The Wall Street Journal.
* Your odds of winning the jackpot used to be 1 in 176 million. As of Oct. 22, those odds changed to 1 in 259 million. The Lottery Is a Predator and You Are Its Math-Illiterate Prey.
* Space Race back on! China lands on the Moon!
* And Physicists To Test If Universe Is A Computer Simulation. Overflow Error: Abort, Retry, Fail….
* It is no place for children. Yet Dasani is among 280 children at the shelter. Beyond its walls, she belongs to a vast and invisible tribe of more than 22,000 homeless children in New York, the highest number since the Great Depression, in the most unequal metropolis in America.
* So, to recap, nationalization of the health insurance industry in 2009 would have cost no more (and almost certainly a lot less) than $240 billion. The savings in waste resulting from replacing the health insurance racket with an extension of Medicare would have resulted in no less than $158 billion a year. That’s an annualized return on investment of 66 percent. The entire operation would have paid for itself in less than 18 months, and after that, an eternity of administrative efficiency for free. And, of course, happy shareholders.
* Seven in 10 college seniors (71%) who graduated last year had student loan debt, with an average of $29,400 per borrower. From 2008 to 2012, debt at graduation (federal and private loans combined) increased an average of six percent each year.
* Academia as horror show: The Chronicle‘s 2013 “Influence” List.
* BREAKING: MOOCs don’t work.
* Brad DeLong says save Berkeley by “(partially) transforming it into a finishing school for the superrich of Asia.” What could go wrong?
* A vote being held tomorrow and Wednesday could secure union recognition for New York University graduate students, which the administration withdrew and then withheld from them — with help from congressional Republicans and Obama’s now-Treasury Secretary — for the past eight years. If the United Auto Workers emerges victorious in the vote, NYU will become only private sector U.S. university to bargain collectively with graduate student teachers and researchers — though such workers will remain excluded from U.S. labor law.
* “This comic is shaping up to be, in many ways, a departure from the sometimes light-hearted series.” He’s taking, impossibly, about the Serenity comic followup Leaves on the Wind.
* Good news! FBI can secretly turn on laptop cameras without the indicator light. 1984 as instruction manual.
* Novelist Kim Stanley Robinson (Red Mars, 2312, and Shaman) debates the merits of utopian thinking with Aeon Magazine’s Marina Benjamin and political theorist Alex Callinicos.
* Nice work if you can get it: Fox News Paid Fired Executive $8 Million to Keep Quiet.
* And Disney can now ruin Indiana Jones, too. This is the darkest timeline.
* A Functional Form Has Its Own Beauty: An Interview with Kim Stanley Robinson. I liked Redshirts and all, but 2312 really should have won the Hugo.
* Florida International extracted more than $18 million of its $25 million in 2011-12 revenues in the form of student fees. College Football’s Grid of Shame.
* Radiation levels spike at Fukushima nuclear plant. But the lede is buried a bit here:
TEPCO had originally said the radiation emitted by the leaking water was around 100 millisieverts an hour. However, the company said the equipment used to make that recording could read only measurements of up to 100 millisieverts.
Better even than a real conflict, though, is a hypothetical conflict. Why bother with the effort of forgetting, when you can merely invent? Those are the very best wars, the ones that are dreamt of in the American imagination. No conflict has ever been as noble, no war as good, as our hypothetical war for Rwanda.
* And the news just gets worse: Legendary anime director Hayao Miyazaki announces his retirement.
I have a few pieces out in a couple of new books:
* “Debt, Theft, Permaculture: Justice and Ecological Scale” is in Debt: Ethics, the Environment, and the Economy, which is based on a conference the Center for 21st Century Studies at UWM held a few years ago. This one is a little bit more political economy than the usual stuff I write, extending what Lisa and Ryan and I tried to do in the Polygraph introduction, though I did manage to sneak in some Kim Stanley Robinson near the end.
* “Life Without Hope? Huntington’s Disease and Genetic Futurity” is in Disability in Science Fiction: Representations of Technology as Cure, out in hardcover today. The piece takes up a bunch of different pop-culture figurations of Huntington’s disease, but the focus is on Kurt Vonnegut’s Galapagos, Ian McEwan’s Saturday, Robert J. Sawyer’s Frameshift, and Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis trilogy and “The Evening and the Morning and the Night.” No Kindle or paperback yet, but call your library!
I was also recently invited on the Old Mole Variety Hour out of Portland to talk a little bit about utopia, which you can find as a podcast here. As you can see at the link, I appeared as my famously inarticulate character “Jerry” Canavan, which explains why I begin every answer with “absolutely” and end every answer with “right?”
* Is it too late? The long view offers reason to hope. From Kim Stanley Robinson.
* In a previous post on this site I announced a plan for the creation of MOOA, or massive, open, online administrations that would supplant the thousands of separate administrations currently managing the affairs of America’s colleges. The MOOA idea was, of course, satire. However, I must report that two educational consultants contacted me to offer their services in bringing my MOOA to the market. Additionally, three separate reporters called to discuss the MOOA concept. When I explained that MOOA was a satire, one asked, “Are you sure?”
* What we need instead, I think, is a study of neoliberal bias in the university, particularly since the rhetoric of neoliberalism has now become ubiquitous, the lingua franca of administrators and even many faculty. In the 1990s Bill Readings observed that the new rationale of the university was the amorphous, technocratic one of “excellence,” rather than the traditional ones of disciplinary reason or national culture. The incantation of “excellence” no longer has quite the same currency; the new neoliberal mantra includes the buzzwords “disruption,” “innovation,” and “choice.” Part of their force is that they seem self-evident goods: who would be against innovation or choice? But I think that they sidestep some of the crucial problems of higher education, especially regarding equality. According to all the statistical markers, college is subject to a steeper class divide than it was 40 years ago, and academic jobs show a sharper stratification. This violates the best hope of the American university. What good is innovation if it brings us a more inequitable world?
* …given what we know from the big picture, I think it’s safe to say that ostensible reason for the long-term collapse in humanities enrollment has to do with the increasing choice of women to enter more pre-professional majors like business, communications, and social work in the aftermath of a) the opening of the workplace and b) universal coeducation suddenly making those degrees relevant. You’d have to be pretty tone-deaf to point to their ability to make that choice as a sign of cultural malaise.
* I used to maniacally play Solitaire Tic-Tac-Toe to keep myself sane in high school. If I’d known about Tic-Tac-Toe2, I might never have graduated.
* And good news everyone! The housing bubble is back!