Posts Tagged ‘Muppets’
* You can now order the special Paradoxa issue on “Africa SF.” The testimonials indicate that Samuel Delany has at least heard of something I’ve written, so there’s that…
* Those who do not study history will have their wise decision ratified by bean-counting administrators: One of the 17 University of North Carolina campuses could stop offering degrees in physics, history and political science. If you read that sentence and thought to yourself, “gee, I bet that’s a historically black college,” give yourself a prize!
-Half the population would be white men.
-Five percent of the population would be black men.
-Just 1.9 percent of the world would be Asian or Latino men.
-Overall, 57 percent of the population would be men.
-34 percent of the world would be white women
-3.8 percent would be African-American women
-And 3.8 percent would be Latino or Asian women
-31.8 percent of the population would work for the police or some sort of federal law enforcement agency.
-9.7 percent of us would be doctors.
-2.6 percent of us would be criminals.
-1.9 percent would be supernatural creatures or robots.
* What they are defending is a system in which wealth is passed off as merit, in which credentials are not earned but bought. Aptitude is a quality measured by how much money you can spend on its continual reassessment.
Students whose parents pay tens of thousands for SAT tutors to help their child take the test over and over compete against students who struggle to pay the fee to take the test once. Students who spend afternoons on “enrichment” activities compete against students working service jobs to pay bills – jobs which don’t “count” in the admissions process. Students who shell out for exotic volunteer trips abroad compete with students of what C Z Nnaemeka termed ”the un-exotic underclass” - the poor who have “the misfortune of being insufficiently interesting”, the poor who make up most of the US today.
* …a recent Twitter thread started by a popular feminist blogger examines a dark side of that cliché in real-life academe, one in which professors’ advances – intellectual and otherwise – feed a need for validation and flattery, and at times cross the line into sexual harassment.
* Obama’s going to be super-mad when he finds out about the nonsensical security state procedures his administration has been using in lieu of actual oversight. And breaking into Yahoo! and Google? Why didn’t anyone tell him!
* Ripped from the pages of Philip K. Dick! Pentagon weighs future of its inscrutable nonagenarian futurist.
* The Chronicle follows up on last year’s PhD-on-food-stamps, who is now in a TT position at Martin Methodist College.
* The richest country in history: The Number Of Homeless Students In The United States Hits A Record.
* They’re marketing the Veronica Mars movie as a love triangle. This is my skeptical face.
* What’s W.R.O.N.G. with ‘Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’? A.L.M.O.S.T. E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G.
* No accidents, comrade: The New Inquiry considers Cold War nostalgia and Twilight Struggle.
* Matt Zoller Seitz completes his series on video essays on Wes Anderson films. Bring on The Grand Budapest Hotel!
* PRINCETON, N.J., Nov. 27: Princeton’s freshmen again have chosen Adolf Hitler as “the greatest living person” in the annual poll of their class conducted by The Daily Princetonian.
* And it looks like they’ve finally (almost) proved that Darth Vader wasn’t always going to be Luke Skywalker’s father. Gotcha Lucas! You can run but you can’t hide.
* Shock at Berkeley: Campus officials declare emergency following explosion around California Hall.
* What kind of society emerges when it is governed by the market-driven assumption that the only value that matters is exchange value, when the common good is denigrated to the status of a mall, and the social order is composed only of individuals free to pursue their own interests?
* When Compared to Other Military Cases, How Long is Bradley Manning Likely to Be Sentenced to Prison? Just two examples of people who received lighter sentences:
US Army Specialist Albert Sombolay, in 1991, was sentenced to thirty-four years in prison for agreeing to spy for Iraq during the Gulf War for $1,300. Sombolay served 12 years of a 34-year sentence for “selling military information to foreign agents.” He was “convicted of aiding the enemy” (a charge which Manning faced but was acquitted) and committing espionage.As the Cold War was winding down, in 1989, Army Specialist 4 Michael Peri was sentenced to thirty years in prison for “passing sophisticated defense secrets to communist East Germany.” He served as an “electronic signal interceptor in the S-2 intelligence section of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in Fulda” and “crossed the border into East Germany with a small computer and discs containing classified information.” He pled guilty to espionage charges and could have been sentenced to life in prison.
John Walker Lindh, of course, received only twenty years for fighting alongside the Taliban.
* When I saw the headline “Isolated Peruvian tribe attempts to make contact, asks for food,” I knew only one man could help me.
* Breaking: Incomes haven’t risen since 2000.
* Today in psychology: Adults still suffer the effects of childhood bullying. How Being Rich Increases Narcissism.
* And today’s headlines are yesterday’s dumb science fictions: A dentist wants to clone John Lennon from his rotten tooth.
* Outrageous even by the bargain basement standards of the war on the terror: the United Kingdom held Glenn Greenwald’s partner for nine hours at Heathrow (and seized all his electronics) purely for the purposes of harassment. More from Greenwald himself.
* Speaking of which, ugh.
* “Since 1998, 92% of white males who were considered for tenure got it. During the same period of time only 55% percent of women and minority candidates were granted tenure. Looking at ethnicity alone, USC granted tenure to 81% of its white candidates but only to 48% of its minority candidates.”
* The New York Times runs what amounts to an unpaid* ad for Georgia Tech’s new all-MOOC master’s degree. * At least I assume it’s unpaid.
* As many as 40% of university language departments are likely to close within a decade, the former government adviser charged with bolstering foreign language uptake in higher education has warned, delivering a huge blow to the UK’s diplomatic and economic hopes.
* Poverty is therefore a most necessary and indispensable ingredient in society…It is the source of wealth, since without poverty, there could be no labour; there could be no riches, no refinement, no comfort, and no benefit to those who may be possessed of wealth.
In general, the right seems committed to some mixture of denying the atrocities in Vietnam, claiming that everyone did it or the misdeeds were somehow justified by what the North Vietnamese did, and blaming the hippies. Latterday liberals acknowledge that bad things happened, but mostly don’t want to open up the can of worms, for fear that they’d be accused of being unpatriotic and hating the troops or something. The result is a strange form of historical forgetting, where there’s a general sense that bad things happened, but no understanding of how general these bad things were, nor desire to hold people accountable for them.
By comparison: can you imagine a monument to the genocide of Native Americans or the Middle Passage at the heart of the Washington Mall? Suppose you could walk down the street and step on a reminder that this building was constructed with slave labour, or that the site was the home of a Native American tribe before it was ethnically cleansed? What we have, instead, are national museums of Native American and African American culture, the latter scheduled to open in 2015. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian boasts exhibits showing superbly crafted Pueblo dolls, the influence of the horse in Native American culture, and Native American athletes who made it to the Olympics. The website of the Smithsonian’s anticipated National Museum of African American History and Culture does show a shackle that was presumably used on a slave ship, but it is far more interested in collecting hats worn by Pullman porters or pews from the African Methodist Episcopal church. A fashion collection is in the making, as well as a collection of artefacts belonging to the African American abolitionist Harriet Tubman; 39 objects, including her lace shawl and her prayer book, are already available.
* Two from Buzzfeed (sorry): 25 Facts And Tidbits About The Muppets That Might Blow Your Mind. 21 “Breaking Bad” Easter Eggs That Will Blow Your Mind.
* And a damn good science fiction pitch from Tumblr. I’d love to see this optioned as a film.
* But Separate & Unequal, a recent report by Anthony Carnevale and Jeff Strohl, reveals a disturbing reality. The report makes abundantly clear that over the last 15 years higher education has been a source of increasing racial inequality. Focusing on African-Americans and Latinos, Carnevale and Strohl show that although minority enrollment has increased at a greater rate than has growth in white enrollment, this growth has been disproportionately in the poorest, and least selective, higher education institutions. (9-10, 16-21)
* Undergraduates are significantly more likely to major in a field if they have an inspiring and caring faculty member in their introduction to the field. And they are equally likely to write off a field based on a single negative experience with a professor.
* Robbers used special effects masks to disguise themselves as white. If the robbers had been just a bit smarter about this, it seems like it would have worked.
* “‘The best way to interview is nonpregnant and ringless,’” that respondent said, adding she was only able to land a job after she kept her family secret during the interview process.
* Cheating on a quiz I can understand, but cheating in a quiz bowl? Oh, Harvard.
As I pointed out in “Anderson Fails at Arithmetic,” this allegation misleads the reader in two ways. Inequality has been reduced enormously under Chávez, using its standard measure, the Gini coefficient. So one can hardly say that in this aspect, Venezuela remains the “same as ever.” Making Anderson’s contention even worse is the fact that Venezuela is the most equal country in Latin America, according to the United Nations. Anderson’s readers come away with exactly the opposite impression.
* The Jobs Crisis at Our Best Law Schools Is Much, Much Worse Than You Think: At some top tier schools, more than a fifth of students are underemployed.
* Investigators say Wilson County Deputy Daniel Fanning on Saturday was showing his weapons to a relative in a bedroom of his Lebanon home when the toddler came in and picked up a gun off the bed. Sheriff Robert Bryan says the weapon discharged, hitting 48-year-old Josephine Fanning. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
* High school students in Newark will walk out of classes today at noon, marching to Rutgers Law School to attend a State Assembly budget hearing on education funding.
* 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.
* 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.
* #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.
* And the latest issue of The New Inquiry posits time is the fire in which we burn.
Kevin Clash out at Sesame Street as second accuser surfaces. What a quintessentially American, tragic fall from grace. Alongside everything else, I’m amazed they let Being Elmo go forward under these circumstances; the Children’s Television Workshop couldn’t have done more damage to their brand if they’d tried.
Mary Elizabeth Williams says this can’t kill Elmo. If the flames of the moral panic get hot enough, it definitely could.
* The kids are all right: Last Friday night, the Harvard College Undergraduate Council announced that the student body had voted 72% in favor of Harvard University divesting its $30.7 billion endowment from fossil fuels.
The trope of invasion is doubly brilliant, first because the invasion plot is a mainstay of SF and second because the trope captures quite neatly what it must feel like for some literary intellectuals to be forced to confront the increasing cultural cachet of SF, to face its meteoric rise over the last thirty years from lowbrow genre to literary respectability. The genre now comfortably occupies university syllabi, best-of lists, and handsome Library of America editions — though some hardened highbrows might suspect its popularity is more a function of marketing than of quality.
For all its brilliance, Clowes’s trope of invasion makes an important mistake, failing to note that the invasion is largely moving in the other direction. After all, one wouldn’t expect Asimov’s Science Fiction to run a special issue featuring “literary fiction,” but publications like the New Yorker apparently do feel the need for a science fiction issue, perhaps trying to freshen themselves up by tapping into the unruly energies of a disreputable genre. Indeed, the lure of the so-called low genres — and SF in particular — has long proven irresistible to those who otherwise fashion themselves as literary types, at least since Kingsley Amis’s classic 1960 study of the genre, New Maps of Hell.
Clowes’s New Yorker cover is, in fact, a perfect example in miniature of the subgenre Amis called the “comic inferno” — humorous dystopias such as those written by Frederick Pohl, C.M. Kornbluth, and Robert Sheckley. This subgenre, by Amis’s account, mocks ideas of progress in its humorous rendition of dystopian futures. What is dystopian about Clowes’s comic cover is very precisely that SF cannot be ignored, that it disrupts the bourgeois regularity and comfort that informs the imagination of hypothetical readers of The New Yorker. The genre — which always bears with it the threatening knowledge that the world might change inexorably, beyond human control, or at least beyond the control of those who are humanistically inclined — cannot be ignored, because the signs of our world’s deepening state of crisis (political, technological, environmental) cannot be ignored.
* Bonus: “Anthony Burgess Answers Two Questions” by Jonathan Lethem.
* Not only are student loans not a burden on the federal government, they’re a good investment. In 2012 the DOW estimated its subsidy for student lending at -17 percent. In other words, the DOE “subsidies” actually represent money coming in. Including all expenses, from loses on defaults to debt collection to program administration, the DOE will pull in more than $25 billion in profit from student lending this year alone—billions more dollars than the IRS will assess in gift and estate taxes combined, and more than enough to pay NASA’s whole budget. The DOE explains the negative subsidy through a divergence between “the Government’s borrowing rate and the interest rate at which borrowers repay their loans.” After all, no one can borrow at lower rate than the U.S. Treasury, certainly not college students and their families. Bondholders aren’t the only ones who think student debtors—including defaulters—will pay back every cent they owe, with interest. The government is literally counting on it.
* The headline reads, “Charges dropped against man arrested for wearing an elaborate wristwatch.”
This is not identical to the story with the American Airlines bankruptcy, but there’s something similar about it. There the CEO gets a large payday if he can avoid a merger, regardless of the value for the enterprise.
* The handwriting is on the wall. Until Republican candidates figure out how to perform better among non-white voters, especially Hispanics and Asians, Republican presidential contenders will have an extraordinarily difficult time winning presidential elections from this point forward.
* My name is R______. I am six years old. I think it’s not fair to only have 5 girls in Guess Who and 19 boys. It is not only boys who are important, girls are important too. If grown ups get into thinking that girls are not important they won’t give little girls much care.
* Remixed trailer of the moment: Gotham High.
* And a new game: impressions of Sean Connery as Gandalf. Oh, what might have been!
* Quiggin’s Razor: If we started any analysis of international relations with the assumption that war will end badly for all concerned, and that the threat of war will probably lead to war sooner or later, we would be right most of the time. Via Kevin Drum.
“In not too many years, Texas could switch from being all Republican to all Democrat,” he said. “If that happens, no Republican will ever again win the White House. New York and California are for the foreseeable future unalterably Democrat. If Texas turns bright blue, the Electoral College math is simple. We won’t be talking about Ohio, we won’t be talking about Florida or Virginia, because it won’t matter. If Texas is bright blue, you can’t get to two-seventy electoral votes. The Republican Party would cease to exist. We would become like the Whig Party. Our kids and grandkids would study how this used to be a national political party. ‘They had Conventions, they nominated Presidential candidates. They don’t exist anymore.’ ”
But even in that silver lining for Republicans, you can see clouds. Arizona and Georgia, both of which Romney carried in 2012, gained seats in 2010 because of fast population growth, but Democratic dominance among Hispanic voters in each is expected to make them potential swing states in 2016 and 2020.
Their Southern politicians problem. The Washington Post‘s lengthy election post-mortem. Politico just can’t imagine where the GOP could be getting all its terrible journalism. Perhaps it will always be a mystery. Tom Tomorrow gets in on the action. “We Just Had a Clas War and One Side Won.” Worst class war ever.
* Walmart Black Friday Strike Being Organized Online For Stores Across U.S. I’m staying home that day
because I hate Black Friday and everything it represents in solidarity.
It’s all part of what you might call the Mad Max Economy, a multibillion-dollar-a-year collection of industries that thrive when things get really, really bad. Weather radios, kerosene heaters, D batteries, candles, industrial fans for drying soggy homes — all are scarce and coveted in the gloomy aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and her ilk.
* And Being Elmo makes Kevin Clash out to be a living saint. I hope his version of events turns out to be true. As someone just tweeted at me, I’m probably going to hell for even linking this story at all.