Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Lolita

Spring Break So Close You Can Taste It Links

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* Sing to me, Muse, of Fredric Jameson. I’ve never understood the “worst writer” slam against Fred; alongside all the other good things I’d have to say about his work I think he’s actually very clear and precise.

* CFP for the 2014 Marxist Literary Group at the Banff Centre: Energy, Environment, Culture.”

* CFP: Bruce Springsteen Studies.

* Once upon a time in America this was called advocating for justice. But in today’s America, it’s deemed a miscarriage of justice.

* Meanwhile. My god. And my god. And my god. And my god. The US courts are just a bottomless nightmare.

Obama knew CIA secretly monitored intelligence committee, senator claims. Yes we can!

* Freddie deBoer on the unbearable lightness of always voting Democrat.

* The unbearable whiteness of Project X.

* 25 Years of Declining State Support for Public Colleges. Many Colleges ‘Hoard’ Endowments During Rough Economic Times. The Rising Cost of Not Going to College.

* Service, Sex Work, and the Profession.

* The SATs have been provably racist and classist for decades with no improvements; Canavan’s Razor would suggest that’s the entire point. But this time…

The “trigger warning” has spread from blogs to college classes. Can it be stopped? Content Warnings and College Classes. The Trigger Warned Syllabus. We’ve gone too far with ‘trigger warnings.’ I think this kind of “trigger warning” — and even offering alternative assignments when circumstances warrant — is very often good pedagogy on the level of the individual classroom; I did so this semester when teaching Lolita, somewhat reluctantly, but I’d come to feel it was necessary. I’m very skeptical it would ever be a good idea at the level of administration or policy.

An Elegy for Academic Freedom.

* 10 Unintentionally Horrifying Statues of Famous People.

* Tendrils of the invisible web: the undersea cables wiring the Earth.

“Wearing Google Glass automatically means that all social interaction you have must be not just on yours, but Google’s terms,” Adrian Chen wrote at Gawker almost a year ago, when we all first cringed in fear.

* You know every cop is a criminal: David Cameron’s porn-filter advisor arrested for possession of images of sexual abuse of children.

* Child in wet bathing suit made to stand in -5F weather because school policy forbade her from waiting in teacher’s car.

* The Civ V files: Never Move Your Settler?

The Fetishization of Lupita Nyong’o.

* Who owns the Oscar selfie?

* Zombie Studies in the WSJ.

Why Sweden has so few road deaths.

* Durham school board joins teacher tenure lawsuit.

According to a New Study, Nothing Can Change an Anti-Vaxxer’s Mind.

Activists Erect A Monument To Rape Survivors On The National Mall.

How Gun Violence is Devastating the Millennial Generation.

* Sea Level Rise Threatens The Statue Of Liberty And Hundreds Of Other Cultural Heritage Sites. Chipotle Warns It Might Stop Serving Guacamole If Climate Change Gets Worse. But don’t worry! President Obama’s New Budget Is Peppered With Efforts To Tackle Climate Change. Peppered!

Milwaukee shuts down Little Caesars for day over rodent droppings. A whole day! That’ll show ‘em.

Cheerleader Sues Parents for Refusing to Pay College Tuition. Gambler sues, says he lost $500,000 playing drunk. Having not heard any of the evidence or consulted any of the relevant laws, Canavan Court rules in favor of both plaintiffs!

* How do you remember a massacre?

* How did DC manage to cast anyone but Bryan Cranston as Lex Luthor — much less Jesse Eisenberg? It’s a crime.

* Pretty mediocre hoax. Everyone knows Mattel has had working hoverboards since the 80s anyway.

A Letter From Ray Jasper, Who Is About to Be Executed.

* And I try not to get sucked into the wingnut-said-something-crazy! scene anymore, but every once in a while: my god.

Written by gerrycanavan

March 5, 2014 at 10:12 pm

Wednesday Links!

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* The law, in its majestic equality… Rejecting Man’s Bid For Refugee Status, Court Rules Climate Change Is Not ‘Persecution.’

New Kenyan Sci-Fi Series Imagines Immigration In Reverse, As Africa Becomes World’s Oasis.

“I haven’t read any superhero comics since I finished with Watchmen,” [Moore] said in a discussion on his latest work, Fashion Beast. “I hate superheroes. I think they’re abominations. They don’t mean what they used to mean. They were originally in the hands of writers who would actively expand the imagination of their nine-to-13-year-old audience. That was completely what they were meant to do and they were doing it excellently. These days, superhero comics think the audience is certainly not nine to 13, it’s nothing to do with them. It’s an audience largely of 30-, 40-, 50-, 60-year old men, usually men. Someone came up with the term graphic novel. These readers latched on to it; they were simply interested in a way that could validate their continued love of Green Lantern or Spider-Man without appearing in some way emotionally subnormal. This is a significant rump of the superhero-addicted, mainstream-addicted audience. I don’t think the superhero stands for anything good. I think it’s a rather alarming sign if we’ve got audiences of adults going to see the Avengers movie and delighting in concepts and characters meant to entertain the 12-year-old boys of the 1950s.”

* Rortyblog: How to Waste a Crisis.

In what sense is this neoliberal? Some of this could be viewed as an attempt to create market citizens, and an ideological story can be told about how the right’s current program fully shifts risks to the individual and makes them an even more conscious participant in managing their own risks. But on its face, it looks a lot like class war, full stop. Mirowski never explains why the ideological project of market subjectivity serves any other purpose but class war, or why, even when neoliberal tenets about embracing precarity as liberation have taken hold broadly, the movement continues to fuel itself with reactionary ressentiment. If neoliberalism is not class war, why hasn’t it been content with winning?

* National Humanities Report Reinforces Stereotypes about the Humanities.

The report’s emphasis on skills over content occurs even when it specifically addresses humanities research, or the production of knowledge, itself. For example, the most sustained definition “The Heart of the Matter” gives of humanities research is that research in the humanities “enables us to see the world from different points of view so that we may better understand ourselves” (38). This definition frames the purpose of humanities research as helping us to broaden our perspective and to understand ourselves better, not as making new discoveries and producing new knowledge about our past and our present. Such a definition, again, reduces the production of complex humanistic knowledge to the transmission of generally applicable skill-sets. This reaffirms one of the major criticisms leveled at the humanities today: that the subjects humanists study are impractical, useless, and unimportant. By defending the value of the humanities on the grounds that the most important thing humanities disciplines do is teach important skills, we concede the point that the specific knowledge humanistic disciplines produce is unimportant.

* Universities need to teach things, or else they are strip malls.

The Pope Just Published One Of The Most Powerful Critiques Of Modern Capitalism That You Will Ever Read. Evangelii Gaudium. “I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.”

* More Vatican-City-style communism! 14 Genius Ideas The U.S. Should Seriously Consider Adopting.

Over 176 Pounds? The morning after pill probably won’t work for you. The comments (which of course are terrible) reveal other instances of this kind of body normativity in medicine that I simply had no idea about.

* No Animals Were Harmed: Inside the AHA.

These employees allege, and available AHA internal evidence supports their claims, that the organization distorts its film ratings, downplays or fails to publicly acknowledge harmful incidents and sometimes doesn’t seriously pursue investigations. The AHA staffers agreed to speak because they say they have lost hope in the potential for meaningful reform unless outside pressure is brought to bear. (They all have insisted on maintaining their anonymity for fear of retribution.)

* 10 Former Players Sue NHL Over Concussions.

* As Costs Are Cut, Inmates Fill Gap in Fighting Wildfires.

African-American girl faces expulsion over ‘natural hair.’ The school has elected not to get sued into oblivion at this time.

First Business Licensed To Sell Recreational Marijuana.

* 23andMe gets a letter from the FDA. My deadly genetic disease was just a bug.

* Adam Roberts is annoyed that hypertrophic spoilerphobia won’t let him write a proper review of Maddaddam (though he basically does anyway).

To be clear, shale drilling has created jobs, particularly in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and cushioned some drilling-intensive areas in these states from the worst effects of the Great Recession and the weak recovery. The number of actual shale jobs created, however, is far below industry claims. Shale employment remains a small share of overall employment and has made little difference in job growth in any of the six states studied.

Being a professor is like having a white collar job.

The compounding disadvantages of adjunct life.

What Alt-Ac Can Do, and What It Can’t.

The national conservative movement is waging a war… in SeaTac. That’s a weird sentence. Out of all the places to wage a political fight, why would conservatives and the infamous Koch Brothers choose a Pacific Northwest village of 26,000 that most Americans have probably never heard of?

A guide to surviving Obamacare debates at Thanksgiving. How To Pick a Fight With Your Relatives This Thanksgiving.

* And Three Weeks Before Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, There Was Dorothy Parker’s. 

Sunday™ Reading™ Accept No Substitutes®

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* Put the Student Union of Michigan in charge! In the end, the university’s rationale for the campaign relies heavily on a narrative of state defunding. For example, as a Detroit News article relates, “President Mary Sue Coleman called the campaign ‘audacious’ and said no gift is too small since universities need philanthropy with states no longer able to support them to the degree they must for schools to be globally competitive.” This narrative seems difficult to square with the actual role of the endowment in funding university operations. The endowment contributes only 4.5% (of its total holdings) to the general operation funds of university each year. The principal stays invested. Thus, if we look at the breakdown of revenue sources at the university in 2010 the endowment contributed only $253 million. Student tuition however generated over $1 billion, while state funding totaled $315 million. The endowment clearly has very little to do with making up for lost state funding. Its purpose lies elsewhere. And that elsewhere is in the university’s move to behave more and more like a hedge fund, mobilizing donated capital to secure new revenue streams. It does this by taking advantage of its tax-exempt status to build up a hoard of money that it then invests around the world in shady funds and places it would rather the university community did not know about. In so doing, the university is slowly becoming an important player on Wall Street but to play with the “big boys” it needs more and more capital, which requires constant fundraising campaigns. This money is destined for investment not students. Little of it will ever reach students in the form of scholarships or be used to offset increases in tuition. (via)

* Meanwhile: The University of California Invests in Prisons.

* Yanis Varoufakis on ponzi austerity.

Whereas in standard Ponzi (growth) schemes the lure is the promise of a growing fund, in the case of Ponzi austerity the attraction to bankrupted participants is the promise of reducing their debt, so as to liberate them from insolvency, through a combination of ‘belt tightening’, austerity measures and new loans that provide the bankrupt with necessary funds for repaying maturing debts (e.g. bonds). As it is impossible to escape insolvency in this manner, Ponzi austerity schemes, just like Ponzi growth schemes, necessitate a constant influx of new capital to support the illusion that bankruptcy has been averted. But to attract this capital, the Ponzi austerity’s operators must do their utmost to maintain the façade of genuine debt reduction.

* “I am as American as April in Arizona”: Nabokov interviews at The Paris Review.

Student Debt is Crushing the Economic Future of the Young.

* Joyless Nihilism: Adam Kotsko on the Abramsverse Star Trek, Family Guy, and zombie postmodernism.

The Life and Times of an Aging Superhero Captured in Oil Paintings by Andreas Englund.

* In education, the problem is still poverty.

* America is a country made possible by hucksterism and carnival buncombe.

* Naomi Klein: How science is telling us all to revolt.

The environmental scandal that’s happening right beneath your feet.

* And the Philippines estimates at least 10,000 died from super typhoon. No words.

englund-3

The Monday Morning Links Market Is Ripe for Disruption

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* This man owed $134 in property taxes. The District sold the lien to an investor who foreclosed on his $197,000 house and sold it.

Stanford Is Now Basically a Venture-Capital Fund With Some Dorms.

* Remaking the University: Rather than accept further gutting and the corporate solutions that are a domestic version of structural adjustment, we should work to meet our actual needs.

Intellectual property and the struggle over value.

The six ways we talk about a teenage girl’s age. “The ‘unreliable narrator‘ of Nabokov’s Lolita infuses our media and apparently permeates parts of our judicial landscape”:

When you consider the many ages of adolescent girls, it is clear that our cultural imagination encourages boys and men to think of young girls as fair game. By the time a girl is 12, she isn’t even seen as a whole human being, but regarded for her parts. She’s “forbidden fruit,” “a temptress,” “a man trap” and “asking for it.” All she has to do to be targeted sexually is go for a walk. If she wears skimpy clothes, is overly friendly with a teacher, dances with abandon, especially if she’s a girl or young woman of color, she might be blamed for her own assault. This is a male fantasy.

* Teaching naked, parts 1 and 2.

I had my students fill out mid-semester evaluations last fall.  No big deal, just answer these four questions: 1) What am I doing to help you learn? 2) What could I be doing better to help you learn? 3) What are you doing to help yourself learn? and 4) What could you be doing better to help yourself learn?  I had them turn the evaluations in anonymously to allow more genuine feedback.

Later that afternoon, I started going through the responses. It was encouraging to see that, in general, responses to the first two questions indicated I was getting better, which was gratifying given the amount of time and energy I spent re-developing the class. For the most part, students were surprisingly honest when responding to questions 3 and 4, showing they understood their responsibility in their progress, or lack thereof. Somewhere towards the end of the ~160 evaluations, I came across one that answered question #2 with: “Teach naked.”

What’s Killing Poor White Women?

Most Americans, including high-school dropouts of other races, are gaining life expectancy, just at different speeds. Absent a war, genocide, pandemic, or massive governmental collapse, drops in life expectancy are rare. “If you look at the history of longevity in the United States, there have been no dramatic negative or positive shocks,” Olshansky says. “With the exception of the 1918 influenza pandemic, everything has been relatively steady, slow changes. This is a five-year drop in an 18-year time period. That’s dramatic.”

NSA Revelations Cast Doubt on the Entire Tech Industry.

* Book Crooks “exposes a (zero-day?) vulnerability in Google Books that allows us to download entire books/novels/textbooks.”

* Anthology of “21st Century Science Fiction” Coming November 5.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden and David Hartwell have edited Twenty-First Century Science Fiction , a 250,000-word anthology of short fiction by writers who came to prominence since the turn of the century. The authors include “Vandana Singh, Charles Stross, Paolo Bacigalupi, Neal Asher, Rachel Swirsky, John Scalzi, M. Rickert, Tony Ballantyne, David Levine, Genevieve Valentine, Ian Creasey, Marissa Lingen, Paul Cornell, Elizabeth Bear, David Moles, Mary Robinette Kowal, Madeleine Ashby, Tobias Buckell, Ken Liu, Oliver Morton, Karl Schroeder, Brenda Cooper, Liz Williams, Ted Kosmatka, Catherynne M. Valente, Daryl Gregory, Alaya Dawn Johnson, James Cambias, Yoon Ha Lee, Hannu Rajaniemi, Kage Baker, Peter Watts, Jo Walton, and Cory Doctorow.

* Scientists are losing confidence that climate change will increase the frequency of hurricanes. I’m sure the reporting on this will be balanced and responsible, dedicated to getting to the bottom of what’s really going on.

* Does the dog die? Check before you view.

* One of the First Known Chemical Attacks Took Place 1,700 Years Ago in Syria. Obama will appear on TV six times this week to hype the war, just like he did all those times to push the public option, economic stimulus, infrastructure spending, climate change legislation, closing Guantánamo…

Bloomberg lets the mask slip. Yikes.

Why Big Pharma should be scared of the gaming industry.

Much of the height in Earth’s tallest towers is useless space.

Overworked America: 12 Charts That Will Make Your Blood Boil.

What Are Students Tweeting About Us?

* Prove me wrong, boy. Prove me wrong.

* And Angus Johnston concludes his series on the most important student activism stories to watch in 2013-2014: Part 3, 4.

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More Thursday Links: MOOCs, Consent Culture, Community, and More

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* What I find rather fascinating is that there’s quite clearly no business model for MOOCs. Sure, there’s a model in which a bunch of grifters get paid, but there’s no model such that prestigious state and private universities actually make money off of them. Institutions are selling a pedigree, credentialing, networking, social experience, education, and a brand. MOOCs pretty much nullify all of those things. But grifters gonna grift, and administrators gotta justify their existence. In a followup post, he goes on:

What’s lost in this discussion is that the cost per student per course for most professors, even relatively senior ones at relatively prestigious institutions, is relatively low. The large introductory courses MOOCs are imagined to replace really don’t cost anything, even with a (relatively) highly paid full professor doing the teaching. When I taught at UC Irvine I earned a decent pay and had a decent course load. Over the course of the year I probably taught 500 students. Throw in a couple of TAs for the big auditorium courses and total instructional labor cost was probably $140 per student. Yes, plus benefits and other overhead. But the point is the cost of paying me was tiny relative to the tutition they were paying for those courses. There aren’t cost savings here, because the costs are already really low (per student) for these kinds of courses. And the only way to have them be revenue raisers is to sell out the brand, which won’t work either.

* Who runs higher ed in California? Steinberg’s plan appears to have been closely guarded. While Pilati said she learned of it late last week and one of Coursera’s co-founders saw a draft of the bill a few weeks ago, a spokesman said the chairwoman of the Senate education committee was not aware of the plan until her office was contacted Tuesday by reporters, and the head of the Cal State system had not seen a draft of the bill Tuesday afternoon.

* Related: How does UC choose a new president?

This year, however, neither a faculty representative nor a staff adviser was appointed to the special committee, which came as a surprise to many people, including Binion, Brewer and Smith.

* Boulder Hires Visiting Scholar of Conservative Thought. Sounds a bit like a quota system to me. If conservative thinkers can’t compete in the marketplace, why should we subsidize them with guaranteed positions?

* Because high school football is at the center of the social, psychological and even economic life of Steubenville, youth are treated like demigods, with the adults acting like sentries guarding the sacred program. Whatever the results of the trial, it speaks volumes that the young woman is in lockdown in her own home under armed guards because of death threats.

* But How I Met Your Mother is decidedly vague on the question of whether Barney’s seduction techniques or the kinds of sex he’s had with someone have ever hurt someone, in part because that would require the show to reckon more carefully with the consequences of the very thing that made Barney a breakout character: his riff on the pick-up artist playbook. Admitting that Barney Stinson might have had sex with someone without appropriately gaining her consent would make the character decidedly unlegendary—as would the idea that Barney was miserable after one of his conquests precisely because he realized that he hadn’t obtained consent, and felt guilt, shame, and remorse.

* When Playboy landed an interview with Lena Dunham for its latest issue, it sat down one of the most successful writer-director-producer-actresses on television today and gave her a hypothetical: “If you woke up tomorrow in the body of a Victoria’s Secret model, what would you do for the rest of the day?”

* So does this research prove that Nabokov was indeed burying historical clues in his fiction? Yes and no.

When complimented in an interview for having “a remarkable sense of history and period,” Nabokov responded: “We should define, should we not, what we mean by ‘history.’” The author then expressed his reservations about “history,” which could be “modified by mediocre writers and prejudiced observers.” History as Nabokov knew it held certain ethical traps to which Pitzer’s own historical analysis comes dangerously close. Discussing Lolita, Pitzer claims that “if Humbert deserves any pity at all, Nabokov leaves one focal point for sympathy: Annabel Leigh, Humbert’s first love, who died of typhus in Corfu in 1923.” According to Pitzer, “thousands of refugees had taken shelter on Corfu in camps.” She also entertains the possibility that Humbert Humbert is Jewish: “As surely as Humbert’s sins are his own, and unforgivable, it is also true that he has been broken by history.” Throughout history, the wounds of history have often been called upon to justify further atrocities and solicit sympathy. While earning him the criticisms of many Russian émigrés, it is perhaps precisely Nabokov’s artistic distance from and skepticism about “history” that prevented him from falling into the trap that Solzhenitsyn did later in his life when he embraced both Putin and ardent nationalism. “I do not believe that ‘history’ exists apart from the historian,” Nabokov said. “If I try to select a keeper of records, I think it safer (for my comfort, at least) to choose my own self.”

* How Season Four of Community Reveals a Major Flaw of the First Three Seasons.

* Tomorrow is #tooFEW day at Wikipedia. I’m really interested to see how this goes off, and if it prompts a backlash or an arms race.

* And Nate Silver is ready for the 2016 polls. Dear god help us.

Thursday Night Links

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* This may shock you, but Thomas Friedman loves MOOCs. An Ad Hominem Attack Against Thomas Friedman. MOOCs R Us. MOOCs or BOOKs?

* Public higher education is about to cross a historic threshold, in which students pay a higher percentage than do states of the operating costs of colleges.

Mother who stole son’s education gets 12 years in prison.

* Two bad tastes that taste good together: Rand Paul filibusters drones.

* Apocalypse now: The amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the air jumped dramatically in 2012, making it very unlikely that global warming can be limited to another 2 degrees as many global leaders have hoped, new federal figures show.

Planning for the Post-Income Economy. Fracking is starting to devour the US economy.

Elephant Poaching Pushes Species To Brink Of Extinction.

* The case for open borders.

The entrapment defense rarely succeeds, both in terrorism cases and more quotidian (usually drug-related) prosecutions, largely because “entrapment” means something very different in a courtroom than it does in ordinary usage. For nearly a century, the federal courts have allowed a criminal defendant to dodge criminal liability by showing that the governmentinduced her to commit an unlawful act. Once the accused makes such a showing, however, the government still has the opportunity to prove that she was predisposed to commit the crime, even before government agents entered the picture. If a jury accepts the government’s characterization, other factors—the nature or size of the “bait,” the complexity of the government artifice, or the independent wherewithal of the defendant to commit the crime—basically don’t matter: the defendant is still guilty. This means that when entrapment is at issue, the personality, reputation, criminal history, and political or religious beliefs of the accused become the centerpiece of the trial. Post-9/11 juries have had little trouble concluding that the disaffected Muslims (and occasional anarchists) ensnared by the FBI have been sufficiently “predisposed” to engage in terrorism.

* On writing fan fiction.

Recovering Lolita. My students have been pouring over this collection of Lolita book covers thanks to @sselisker.

* #slatepitches: What SimCity Teaches Us About Real Cities of the Future.

Ephemeral third ring of radiation makes appearance around Earth. If we lived in a comic book, I bet this story would be fifteen times as awesome.

Detailed Floor Plan Drawings of Popular TV and Film Homes.

See Stephen Colbert school James Franco on Tolkien mythology.

* A first look at The Grand Budapest Hotel.

FBI Investigating Drone Near Miss with Jet at JFK.

* TPM’s papal contenders cheatsheet.

* Smile Time: Community is doing an all-puppet episode, with actual puppets.

First Trailer for Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing.

Consequences of Repeated Blood-Brain Barrier Disruption in Football Players.

* And the latest issue of The New Inquiry posits time is the fire in which we burn.

Thursday Night Links

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* I saw this movie: Brains of rats connected allowing them to share information via internet.

It bears repeating: The candidate’s adviser sent us a letter on which both “department of history” and “faculty of arts and sciences” were misspelled.

Advice From Tenure-Track Faculty To Those Entering The Profession.

* Beyond the MOOC: While other universities move quickly to offer courses online for free, Carnegie Mellon University is instead starting for-profit efforts designed to capture segments of the education market. I’ll promote this a bit more as the date gets closer, but I’ll be speaking at a “What’s the Matter with MOOCs?” event at UWM in mid-March.

Boots on Campus: Yale Flap Highlights Militarization of Academia.

Student Debt Nearly Tripled In 8 Years, New York Federal Reserve Reports.

* The Dan Harmon backlash, at the AV Club and TNR (of all things).

* Justice, American style: The city’s complaint in federal court claims that if Ms. Truong is entitled to damages for the nearly three years she spent in jail awaiting trial, then Mr. Ryan is as much to blame as the city because he took too long to get the coerced confession tossed out of court by the judge.

* What is happening with Bob Woodward? Seriously, WTF Is Up With Bob Woodward?

Will a Republican friend-of-the-court brief tip the Supreme Court in favor of gay marriage? I’m pretty sure it’ll have more luck than Obama’s.

These numbers are unprecedented: by 2014 President Obama will have deported over 2 million people – more in six years than all people deported before 1997. That “before 1997″ actually means since 1892.

AFL-CIO Executive Council Endorses Comprehensive Doomsday Policy for Working Families.

“We need union jobs today, not tomorrow,” said Rich Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO.  “The resolution balances our desire to protect the fragile ecosystem of the earth, while acknowledging the economic benefits of a high-road strategy to develop the doomsday technologies of the future.”

* Never forget: The entire staff of the West Wing died on Voyager.

How Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the EmpireTurned Star Wars into Science Fiction.

Women Work Harder Than Men, Study Says.

* The Turn against Nabokov.

* When the White House was completely gutted.

The social events of the 1948 holiday season had to be canceled. And with good reason: Experts called the third floor of the White House “an outstanding example of a firetrap.” The result of a federally commissioned report found the mansion’s plumbing “makeshift and unsanitary,” while “the structural deterioration [was] in ‘appalling degree,’ and threatening complete collapse.” The congressional commission on the matter was considering the option of abandoning the structure altogether in favor of a built-from-scratch mansion, but President Truman lobbied for the restoration.

* When Martin Luther King played pool.

“Preserved” plushies in jars.

* Help wanted: must be infallible.

* They’re making a movie out of The Drowned World.

Shale Gas Fracking Will Be Around For a Long, Long Time.

* And American history, Breitbart style: Journalists on the campaign trail saw Johnson drunkenly board a plane armed with nuclear weapons and then accidentally drop them on the United States. We all saw it!

Next Semester’s Courses Today

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2520 Intro to American Literature 2

Thematic Title: “Thrill and Dread in the American Century”

Description: “To be modern,” Marshall Berman wrote, “is to find ourselves in an environment that promises us adventure, power, joy, growth, transformation of ourselves and the world—and, at the same time, that threatens to destroy everything we have, everything we know, everything we are.” This course traces the development of this tension between hope and disaster, between “thrill” and “dread,” in American literature since the Civil War. In this course we will examine and interrogate this explosive sense of what it means to be “modern” with respect to themes of history and futurity, identity and difference, politics, community, war, empire, and the environment. From the private lives of individuals and families to the very public relationships that exist in and between diverse communities to the nation’s assent to global superpower status in the context of a nuclear-powered Cold War, we will find America in the post-Civil-War period understands itself as a place where anything can happen—in good ways, and in bad.

Readings: Norton Anthology C,D,E; Nabokov’s Lolita (1958); Butler’s Parable of the Sower (1993)

More Spring 2013 offerings from the English department here.

‘How About a Little Game?’

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Stanley Kubrick didn’t like giving long interviews, but he loved playing chess. So when the physicist and writer Jeremy Bernstein paid him a visit to gather material for a piece for The New Yorker about a new film project he was writing with Arthur C. Clarke, Kubrick was intrigued to learn that Bernstein was a fairly serious chess player. After Bernstein’s brief article on Kubrick and Clarke, “Beyond the Stars,” appeared in the magazine’s “Talk of the Town” section in April of 1965, Bernstein proposed doing a full-length New Yorker profile on the filmmaker and his new project. For some reason, Kubrick accepted. So later that year Bernstein flew to England, where Kubrick was getting ready to film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Bernstein stayed there for much of the filming, playing chess with Kubrick every day between takes. When the piece eventually ran in The New Yorker it was appropriately titled “How About a Little Game?”

Written by gerrycanavan

June 17, 2012 at 10:44 am

Friday Links

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* Credit where it’s due: despite my fears, Obama’s contraception judo turned out to be a genuinely inspired solution that gives everyone what they want. As I and others have been saying on Twitter, this whole thing is a good reminder that for all his other faults there’s almost no one better than Obama at campaigning. I don’t know if the trap was planned or if he just played a bad hand well, but either way this now looks a rare case of actually existing eleven-dimensional chess.

* Esquire has some new maps of the United States in 2012. The tour-de-force is #4: “The Arsenal of Exclusion & Inclusion.” Via MeFi.

* Police composite sketches of literary characters. Via Kottke. Below: Humbert Humbert.

* Disappointing Springsteen song to accompany disappointing president on the campaign trail.

* Judge rules penniless Ghost Rider creator owes Marvel Comics $17K.

* Obligatory Republican primary links: Even At CPAC, Conservatives Seem Despondent About 2012 Choices.

* And Nate Silver invades your dreams: The Bettor’s Case for Santorum.

Nobody Can Argue With That

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Dinosaur Comics announces the hip new literary classic of 2009, Lolita III: This Time, She’s Thirty.

Written by gerrycanavan

August 13, 2008 at 4:47 pm

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