Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Nate Silver

A Few for Thursday

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* The apparatus of free will in medieval theology allowed for a world not unlike our own. Free choice condemned the vast majority of human beings to a hopeless fate, while a privileged elite gained rewards — in both cases, despite the fact that God had predetermined everything, theologians were confident that everyone had gotten what they deserved. God’s justice was vindicated, and his glory assured. Our version is less grandiose. We want to vindicate something called “the market,” which always makes the right choices if only we allow it to, and in place of the glory of God we have the shifting numbers in various market indices and economic indicators. We are also content to let people waste the one life they have in this world, rather than imagine them suffering beyond death through all eternity. Another essential micro-essay from the great Adam Kotsko.

* “TFA recruits based on a social justice and community service message,” says Van Tol. “We think that’s deceptive and doesn’t get at what TFA is really about,” which is about dismantling democratic institutions of public education with market-driven education reform.

* Nate Silver, Ezra Klein, and the rise of “Actually…” Journalism. More Nate Silver bashing from CJR. From my perspective the fight between journalists and wonks is shaping up to be something of an Alien vs. Predator situation. Whoever wins, we lose…

* Tyler Cowen attacked during class. Unreal.

* Misremembering Kitty Genovese.

* The Hugo Schwyzer longread no one wanted is finally here.

* Your yearly reminder that your taxes could be much simpler than they are.

* And this reasonably good list of 50 essential SF texts is making the rounds, with ten or so I’ve yet to get to. But a list like this without any Octavia Butler does the work of debunking itself, alas.

Meanwhile, Some Links

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* Marquette has a new president, the first lay president in its history. His farewell message to UWM.

In closing, I would like to thank everyone at UWM for your efforts to make this a great university. I have been proud to serve as your leader for the last three and a half years, and I am confident that UWM will continue to make significant strides to become a top-tier research university that is a great place to learn and work. I will continue to promote UWM and spread the word about the great things being accomplished by our campus even after I am no longer Chancellor. I will also work hard to strengthen and build partnerships between UWM and Marquette, as I believe that by working together, Milwaukee’s two largest four-year academic institutions will help address many of Milwaukee’s problems, drive growth within the region and increase the prestige of both universities.

* Dia/lectics of Capital in the Twenty-First Century.

It Seems More and More Certain That We Live in a Multiverse.

Texas Congressman Wants National Parks Opened To Drilling. US House votes to allow dumping of coal mining waste into streams. Escape the Devastation of Future Earth on a Luxurious Space Mayflower.

Roughly .02 Percent of Published Researchers Reject Global Warming.

An American Utopia: Fredric Jameson in Conversation with Stanley Aronowitz. This is the army-as-utopia piece I was going on about last week, if you were curious about it.

* What Life Will Be Like for Girls’ Hannah at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

What I’m Learning on a Simulated Mars Mission.

Harvard University has discovered three books in its collection are bound in human hide. Come now, only three? Don’t be coy, Harvard…

* Amy Acker joins Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. because of course she is.

Generations of political manipulation have finally turned that sense of solidarity into a scourge. Our caring has been weaponised against us. And so it is likely to remain until the left, which claims to speak for labourers, begins to think seriously and strategically about what most labour actually consists of, and what those who engage in it actually think is virtuous about it.

Inside UFO 54-40, the Unwinnable “Choose Your Own Adventure.”

* In sum, this so-called “data-driven” website is significantly less data-driven (and less sophisticated) than Business Insider or Bloomberg View or The Atlantic. It consists nearly entirely of hedgehoggy posts supporting simplistic theories with sparse data and zero statistical analysis, making no quantitative predictions whatsoever. It has no relationship whatsoever to the sophisticated analysis of rich data sets for which Nate Silver himself has become famous. The problem with the new FiveThirtyEight is not one of data vs. theory. It is one of “data” the buzzword vs. data the actual thing. Nate Silver is a hero of mine, but this site is not living up to its billing at all.

* Why was Charlotte’s absurdly corrupt mayor doing the bag drops himself? Amateur hour. He’s going to be so mad when he finally gets around to seeing American Hustle.

* Clickbait publication says stop talking so much about clickbait.

Garfield Minus Garfield Minus Jon Plus Jon Osterman AKA Dr. Manhattan.

* And nothing gold can stay: Bradley Cooper is rumored to take over Indiana Jones.

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Tuesday, Tuesday

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poverty segregation index* The U.S. Cities Where the Poor Are Most Segregated From Everyone Else. Milwaukee, alas, is #1.

* “Dr. Kissinger’s visit to campus will not be publicized, so we appreciate your confidentiality…”

* Dronespeak.

* Yet the Senate House files show a university elite admitting that outsourcing has actually pushed up costs and made services worse. Despite that, the executives vow to press on with an even grander privatisation scheme.

* How to Talk to Prospective Grad Students.

* “The Ivory Ceiling of Service Work.”

* BREAKING: Raising the minimum wage doesn’t actually crash the economy.

* BREAKING: The TSA is useless.

* Vignettes from the Modern Workplace.

* Whispers and rumors of Shaka Smart.

* Race, privilege, and paying college athletes. Meet the Press’s Epic NCAA Fail.

* Everyone hates Nate Silver now, and/but/because his model says Republicans will take the Senate. More at Slate.

* There is a large body of evidence now looking at AA success rate, and the success rate of AA is between 5 and 10 percent.

* The Atlantic profiles Duke’s Own™ Zach Blas and his Facial Weaponization Suite.

* Pointless cruelty in the British prison system.

* The College Board and ACT are being sued for stealing student information.

* In a civilized country, it wouldn’t be possible: Detroit water department preparing mass utility shutoffs.

* Then again, apparently we can’t even recognize the equal humanity of our own future selves.

* The law, in its majestic equality… Arkansas Judge Ruled for Corporation Just Days After PAC Contributions.

* Annals of Star Trek continuity. That explains it!

* Sometimes muckraking is the worst: What the Heidelberg Project doesn’t want you to know.

* To whom is George Zimmerman a hero?

* Scott Walker endorses Obamacare.

* Yale Daily News, 1971: Educated Unemployables.

* Life after prison in Baltimore.

* All this happened, more or less.

* Great moments in checks and balances: Obama will ask Congress to put an end to the NSA bulk data collection program the executive branch personally, secretly, and extralegally inaugurated.

* Precrime watch: LAPD says every car in Los Angeles is part of an ongoing criminal investigation.

* The Onion is founding a new comedy festival in Chicago.

* Polio eradicated in India.

* And BREAKING: The Qatar World Cup Is a Total Disaster.

Weekend Link Flood!

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* Average Salaries of Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty at 4-Year Colleges, 2013-14.

How Endowment Hoarding Hurts Universities.

* On anxieties in the humanities.

* The bad old days in academia. University is No Place For Women, or, ‘What About the MEN?’

* Should I write for free? No. Maybe? No.

‘I got into sex work to afford to be a writer.’

Against “doing something” or Love Your Sadness.

* What we talk about when we talk about low-wage workers. On (not) getting by in the gig economy.

* Her and twee fascism.

* Neobracketology at Slate. Walk off the court. The NCAA-Killing Lawsuit Might Finally Be Here. There simply never has been a compelling moral or ethical argument that the NCAA and the university had an inalienable right to every last nickel they could squeeze out of the work done by their student-athletes. Don’t tell me the odds.

* U. of Wisconsin Is Fined $35,000 in Settlement of Animal-Welfare Inquiry.

* The Apartheid of Children’s Literature.

US foreign policy’s gender gap.

* Silver will either have to keep his project modest in its topical scope, rendering it boring, or expand it into normative subject areas, rendering it incompetent. Nate Silver’s new FiveThirtyEight is getting some high-profile bad reviews. By claiming the mantle of pure analysis, Silver is falling into a familiar journalistic trap. Nate Silver’s New Science Writer Ignores The Data On Climate Science.

* From way back in the archives: Gay Trek.

JRR Tolkien translation of Beowulf to be published after 90-year wait.

* The West’s Coming Tragedy of the Commons. More at the New York Times.

A Forgotten Scandal in Baltimore’s High Society.

* BOSS: The Biannual Online-Journal of Springsteen Studies is now soliciting submissions for its second issues.

* Wes Anderson symmetry supercut.

* Blame-the-victim gender-police watch: School Bans Boy From Wearing ‘My Little Pony’ Backpack, Claims It’s A ‘Trigger For Bullying.’

* Former Coach Is Awarded $360,000 in Bias Case Against U. of Minnesota.

* If you want a vision of the future, imagine George R.R. Martin writing Game of Thrones tie-in films, forever. Is Game of Thrones unfinishable? Followup.

Martin surely was writing a conventional fantasy novel about an ancient evil and an exiled princess but somehow got distracted by what probably was summed up in some original one page outline in about one sentence (“Westeros monarchy weakened by infighting and succession problems”). Having fallen in love with what was supposed to be a bit of window dressing, he has continually expanded its role within the series even though it threatens to completely drown out what the series was supposed to be about in the first place. Is it any wonder that he has suffered from the contemporary genre’s most famous case of writer’s block? I’m sure that long ago he planned what would happen to Daenerys and the Night’s Watch, but now he feels obligated to give equal time to characters like Brienne who are likable yet serve little purpose to the central narrative and are instead dragged through increasingly arbitrary make-work scenes to keep them available for some later bit of relevance.

* Pixar sequels forever.

* Guys: Twitter says you’re using Twitter wrong.

Darwin’s Children Drew All Over the On The Origin of Species Manuscript.

* CNN teaches the controversy.

* Why do we let 80,000 Americans suffer a ‘slow-motion torture of burying alive’?

* BREAKING: The last decade was a historically awful time to enter the job market.

* BREAKING: The United States Needs to Guarantee Paid Maternity Leave.

* No one could have predicted: Google Under Fire for Data-Mining Student Email Messages.

2ºC Warming Is Enough To Seriously Hurt Crop Yields.

Florida Has Never Executed A White Person For Killing A Black Person.

* Mother Jones tries to argue marijuana is ecologically unsound for some reason.

The Third Narrative Advisory Council says it wants to counter the notion — in an era when the idea of academic boycotts of Israel has gained some momentum — “that one has to be either pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian.” The truth is probably somewhere win the middle, I always say. LARoB roundtable on academic activism and BDS.

* The coming Democratic majority: Democrats don’t manage to run anyone for Nevada governor.

* Gamification in The Baffler.

* Maps of the day: how Hollywood destroys America. No, literally, how it does it. No, you’re not understanding.

* Science we can use: Why Dark Chocolate Is So Damn Good For You.

* You had me at 600-Pound “Chicken From Hell.”

* And the Very Best Tumblr of All Time: Skeletor Is Love.

Wednesday! Night! Links!

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* Jonathan Senchyne on Breaking Bad, cancer, and Indian Country. I like the way he teased this on Facebook: “Walter White has lung cancer, but doesn’t smoke…”

You know that newfound Van Gogh painting has the TARDIS in it, right?

* From the archives, just in time for application season: Should I Go to Grad School in the Humanities? I wrote that a year ago. If I wrote it today I think I’d write basically the same thing, just be more emphatic about every part. In particular — with all the necessary caveats about the falseness of meritocracy fantasy — going to a highly ranked program with strong recent placement rate is absolutely crucial. If you don’t hit that, and you want to go, work on your writing sample for a year and apply again. Your grad school’s reputation becomes instant proxy for your reputation. It’s not something you should plan to make up for by working hard.

* Also with all the usual anti-meritocracy caveats: On selling yourself on the academic job market.

* From the Washington Post archives: This amazing George Will there-are-too-many-states-nowdays rant against denim crossed my stream today.

The Inside Story Of How A Fake PhD Hijacked The Syria Debate.

Go Play This 8-Bit Version of Game of Thrones Immediately.

* Thinking through The World’s End: Part One, Part Two.

* Rich people are freaked out about Bill de Blasio. Sounds like a good start.

Nate Silver vs. Public Policy Polling. I’m amazed anyone is taking PPP’s side on this. If you don’t like a poll, run it again and release both; otherwise you’re introducing a massive bias into your process and destroying the credibility of your brand.

Medical Examiner In Zimmerman Trial Sues For $100M, Claims Prosecution Threw Case.

Long Lives Made Humans Human.

* An oral history of The Shield.

The New Yorker on Truman Show Delusion. Subscription required, alas.

* Years later, everyone remembered the Cheese Winter: The city’s Department of Public Works will go ahead this winter with a pilot program to determine whether cheese brine — a liquid waste product left over from cheesemaking — can be added to rock salt and applied directly to the street.

* Life imitates the Onion, as always in the worst possible way.

* And Salon interviews the great Margaret Atwood.

…And More

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I’ve said this before: let’s have an academic decathlon. You choose a team based on whatever pedagogical criteria you want. You can choose students from public school or private, unionized teachers or not, parochial or secular, from charter or magnet, from Montessori or KIPP or whatever else you want. However, I choose the demographics of the students on your team. For my team, the situation is reversed: you choose the pedagogical factors for my students, but I choose the demographics. You stock your team kids from whatever educational backgrounds you think work, and mine with whatever educational systems you think don’t work. Meanwhile, I give you all children from the poverty-stricken, crime-ridden inner city and impoverished rural districts where we see the most failure. I stock mine with upper-class children of privilege. I would bet the house on my team, and I bet if you’re being honest, you would too. Yet to accept that is to deny the basic assumption of the education reform movement, which is that student outcomes are a direct result of teacher quality. 

Stunning front-page from UNC’s Daily Tar Heel today.

If you are a low-income prospective college student hoping a degree will help you move up in the world, you probably should not attend a moderately selective four-year research institution. The cards are stacked against you.

Elderly Obama And Boehner Daughters Arrive In Time Machine To Demand Climate Action.

Who among us can forget Malia’s first words to a rapidly-growing crowd in this historical meeting between present and future, “People of 2009, we come from–” words that were immediately interrupted by her younger self, surrounded by Secret Service, saying, “It’s 2013,” which led future Malia to punch future Sasha, saying, “I told you not to mess with the controls.” Malia then continued, “2013, seriously? What’s the friggin’ point?”

* Academic jobs watch: Specialist Professor, Homeland Security.

California isn’t a state in which liberals have run wild; it’s a state where a liberal majority has been effectively hamstrung by a fanatical conservative minority that, thanks to supermajority rules, has been able to block effective policy-making. Krugman is optimistic that the Republicans’ stranglehold on the state seems to be abating; I’d note that in the arena of public education at least all the worst ideas are coming from the Democrats.

* When (and how) Brad DeLong trolled David Graeber for months. Jesus.

* That’s because these workers represent what’s happening to U.S. work in three critical ways. First, precarity: Workers lack job security, formal contracts, or guaranteed hours. Second, legal exclusion: Labeled as “independent contractors,” “domestic workers” or otherwise, they’re thrust beyond the reach of this country’s creaky, craven labor laws. And third, the mystification of employment: While a no-name contracted company signs your paycheck, your conditions are set by a major corporation with far away headquarters and legal impunity. Guest Workers as Bellweather.

How to Get a Black Woman Fired.

Overwhelming Student Debt Has Parents Getting Life Insurance Policies on Their Kids.

But if Emanuel brought Byrd-Bennett in to work the same kind of charter magic in Chicago that she did in Detroit, he may be dismayed to encounter one important difference: Chicago is now in a good position to fight back. The school closings hearings were packed with engaged, motivated citizens, and the teachers union is more organized than it’s been in three decades. During its popular and successful strike, the union’s approval rating climbed while the mayor’s fell—public opinion polls showed that taxpayers blamed Emanuel for the ugliness that took place during negotiations. The CTU’s current leadership has built relationships with community leaders and organizations, forming a coalition to fight the slash-and-burn privatization pushed by the Board of Education and its corporate sponsors, and has even hosted civil disobedience trainings open to the public. This afternoon’s protest will serve as further evidence that Emanuel is indeed up against a new opponent, one strong enough that not even the best “cleaner” may be able to defeat it.

Detroit Schools Emergency Manager Gets Accolades as Children Fall Further Behind.

* Nate Silver makes your Final Four book: Louisville Favored in Final Four, but Wichita State Could Become Unlikeliest Champion.

* Zero Dark Thirty is supposedly a film about freedom. A “freedom so threatening that there are those around the world willing to kill themselves and others to prevent us from enjoying it,” as the TV sound-bite in the background puts it. The odd thing is that this freedom is never once glimpsed within the film itself. Obviously, we are constantly reminded of the imprisonment and torture of the al Qaeda suspects, but it is never their freedom we are meant to be concerned with. More tellingly, it is the American spaces within the film that leave this freedom unseen. A strange becoming-prisoner takes hold of the spaces, and of the American body itself: not unfolding, in the end, either defeat or victory, but pulling together in a constricted space the impossibility of both.

* Gen X hits the nostalgia capitalism threshold.

* And dollar tracking site WheresGeorge suggests discrete commerce zones in the U.S.

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More Monday Night Links

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* “Too few questions were asked, too many assumptions were allowed to go unchallenged, too many voices of doubt were muffled or rejected in a toxic atmosphere of patriotism, ignorance and political fear.” No, he’s not talking about the Obama administration’s current policy of ubiquitous drone-backed assassination! He’s talking about Iraq.

Slaughter critically reviews the history of the AAUP, and finds that since its inception in 1915, it has failed either to claim in theory, or to defend in practice, a concept of academic freedom sufficiently robust to ensure even the basic civil liberties of faculty in the “danger zone” of politically sensitive scholarship in the social sciences, let alone their ability to develop research in these fields without fear of politically motivated reprisals. Even one AAUP president, William Van Alstyne, has stated that the AAUP’s standards of professional accountability for public statements restrict faculty utterances in ways that would be unacceptable in the context of the constitutional law of civil liberties. Slaughter also argues that the AAUP has placed excessive emphasis on tenure, bargaining away other aspects of academic freedom to obtain job security, and that the tenure-review process itself is the principal mechanism by which conservative biases in the faculty are perpetuated, particularly in times of financial exigency when the refusal to grant tenure to young radical faculty can be rationalized as non-political.

* Former Running Back Brian Westbrook On Concussions, Football’s Rule Changes, And The Future Of The NFL.

“I think about it,” Westbrook said Friday. “I think everybody has their own personal battles, own personal demons. So I think Junior was not only dealing with concussions but he was also dealing with other things. But I often wonder the long-term effects of everything — playing with the bad knee, playing with the ankle, and of course the concussion situation. I think about it all the time, every time I wake up and can’t remember the name of someone I once knew. I always think about it.”

* Nate Silver has solved the NCAA tournament. You’re welcome. More here.

Marquette, meanwhile, is almost certainly the weakest No. 3 seed this year, and has about a 35 percent chance of being upset by No. 14-seeded Davidson in its opening game. Instead, a Round of 16 game against No. 4 Syracuse in Washington could be Indiana’s toughest test.

You bastard.

* Coming of Age, Slowly, in a Tough Economy.

* Idea for a movie in which aliens invade the Earth and fix the economy.

* World successfully hypnotized into thinking that Cyprus really is unique.

* Sometimes the most radical ideas are those which at first sound most banal. For example, when Detroit Emergency Manager (EM) Kevyn Orr and Michigan governor Rick Snyder describe the citizens of Detroit as “customers,” it barely registers as a platitude. At first glance, it’s just another example of how marketing-speak has encroached on the language of politics; similar to how a candidate for higher office might say that government ought to be run like a business, or compare the president to a CEO.

But the description of citizens as customers—an analogy repeatedly invoked by Snyder to justify suspending the powers of Detroit’s local government and putting the city under Emergency Management—is different. It refers not only to citizens, but to the fundamental character of the government’s relationship with its citizens.

* Steubenville, actually existing media bias, and the view from nowhere. The Egregious, Awful and Downright Wrong Reactions to the Steubenville Rape Trial Verdict. Steubenville and the misplaced sympathy for Jane Doe’s rapists. Steubenville Shows the Bond Between Jock Culture and Rape Culture. On Rape, Cages, and the Steubenville Verdict. Why Does Steubenville’s Football Coach Still Have His Job? What the hell is wrong with CNN?

Lawsuits Over Job-Placement Rates Threaten 20 More Law Schools.

* Gates McFadden’s Beverly Crusher Action Figure Tumblr. I can’t even begin. Via MetaFilter.

* You don’t know all the secrets of Buffy the Vampire Slayer yet.

The United States government totally collapsed during season 4. At least, that’s what a prop newspaper created for use during “Hush” claims — apparently the United States House and Senate both dissolved as governing bodies, replaced by a shadowy group known only as “The Surviving Members of Queen.” Even though Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon and “digitally enhanced voice samples of Freddie Mercury” might not actually have U.S. citizenship. Meanwhile, then-President Clinton faced another scandal after he tested positive for presidency-enhancing drug Crovan.

* Alyssa Rosenberg is doing a Veronica Mars viewing club.

* 12 Very Special ‘Very Special Episodes.’

* And the RNC autopsies what went wrong.

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.

Monday Morning Links

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* Apocalypse now: University of Colorado research scientist Gabrielle Petron, who also works in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s global monitoring division, said the rate of increasing atmospheric methane concentrations has accelerated tenfold since 2007. She said it will take a few more years to determine whether the natural gas boom helps explain the change. Well thank goodness we’re putting a hold on natural gas extraction until we figure it out.

* On liberal hawks: Virtually all of the danger-to-the-nation warnings we’ve received in modern history prove to have been false, or overblown and hyped.

* But once something becomes a TED Talk, it becomes oddly unassailable. The video, the speech, the idea, the applause — there too often stops our critical faculties. We don’t interrupt. We don’t jeer. We don’t ask any follow-up questions. They lecture. We listen.

* Miracles and wonders: Doctors believe they have cured a baby of HIV for the first time.

Limited edition of Fahrenheit 451 bound in asbestos so it wouldn’t burn.

Looking back forty years after the Brooklyn acid attack.

* And Nate Silver finally weighs in: What Betting Markets Are Saying About the Next Pope.

More Sick Baby Day Links

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* Ladies and gentlemen, the very worst “Should I Go to Grad School” piece ever written.

Samuel Delany and Wonder Woman.

* Letter from a Chinese labor camp?

* Quentin Tarantino’s next?

I don’t know exactly when I’m going to do it, but there’s something about this that would suggest a trilogy.  [The next part would follow] a bunch of black troops, and they had been f–ked over by the American military and kind of go apeshit… [The] black troops… kill a bunch of white soldiers and white officers on a military base and are just making a warpath to Switzerland.

* Philip Pullman will continue the His Dark Materials series.

* The headline reads, “Physicians in China treat addictions by destroying the brain’s pleasure center.”

* The cold hard facts of freezing to death.

Presenting the Royal Mail’s Doctor Who stamps.

* Why is Congress so terrible? Nate Silver says it was gerrymandering that done it.

* And just one piece from the latest JacobinThe Soul of Student Debt.

Thursday Links

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* IQ ‘a myth,’ study says. You mean almost everybody who lived a hundred years ago wasn’t learning disabled by contemporary standards?

Among the study’s other findings:

• While aging has a detrimental effect on reasoning and short-term memory, it leaves verbal abilities “completely unimpaired.”

• Smoking has a negative impact on verbal abilities and short-term memory but does not affect reasoning skills.

• People who play video games performed “significantly better” in terms of both reasoning and short-term memory.

• Products that are advertised to improve brain function aren’t effective. “People who ‘brain-train’ are no better at any of these three aspects of intelligence than people who don’t,” Owen said.

* Big MetaFilter post on Chris Ware’s Building Stories.

* We need DNA tests before you can vote: Iowa’s GOP Election Official Has Found Only 6 Examples Of Voter Fraud Out Of 1.6 Million Votes Cast.

* Why Nate Silver is Not Just Wrong, but Maliciously Wrong.

* Joe Lieberman’s last act as a senator is surprisingly not all that malicious or destructive.

* Somewhere in Portland, there’s a very old building, and that very old building has a very, very old basement. An incredible basement, a video-game-level basement, a set-decorator’s dream basement.

* Dinosaur Comics creator’s Choose-your-own-adventure Hamlet beats all Kickstarter publishing records.

* And Jerry Seinfeld Intends to Die Standing Up.

Thinking Probability

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Written by gerrycanavan

November 9, 2012 at 6:42 am

Thursday Night Links

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* Why did small business owner and gamer dad Mike Hoye spend the last few weeks hand-tweaking the text in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker so that the main character was referred to as a girl instead of a boy? As he put it, “I’m not having my daughter growing up thinking girls don’t get to be the hero.”

Romney Adviser: Not a Single Person on the Campaign Thought He Would Lose.

* What You Can Get for $228,646,000. I could have lost them basically everything for half that.

* Nate Silver explains that malapportionment in the Electoral College may actually be flowing the Democrats’ way in the near-term:

The problem for Republicans is that in states like these, and others like Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas, they are now winning by such large margins there that their vote is distributed inefficiently in terms of the Electoral College.

By contrast, a large number of electorally critical states – both traditional swing states like Iowa and Pennsylvania and newer ones like Colorado and Nevada – have been Democratic-leaning in the past two elections. If Democrats lose the election in a blowout, they would probably lose these states as well. But in a close election, they are favored in them.

* I really don’t understand why Rolling Jubilee is worth doing. Why would we give the banks free money for bad debt they’ve already written off?

The pros and cons of a Casablanca sequel. Spoiler alert: there is no possible pro.

Just One More Day of This Stuff Links

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* My electoral map prediction from two weeks ago still looks pretty good to me, though (optimist to the last!) I feel less certain about Florida now than I did then, and it looks like I was too pessimistic about IN-SEN. If it’s good enough for InTrade…

* One thing is clear: Tuesday will be huge.

* A great democracy would have elections that don’t look like this. As I was ranting on Twitter the other day, there’s simply no worse crime in a democracy than elected officials compromising the integrity of elections.

* BREAKING: only white people count. It’s what the founders intended!

If President Barack Obama wins, he will be the popular choice of Hispanics, African-Americans, single women and highly educated urban whites. That’s what the polling has consistently shown in the final days of the campaign. It looks more likely than not that he will lose independents, and it’s possible he will get a lower percentage of white voters than George W. Bush got of Hispanic voters in 2000.

A broad mandate this is not.

* And, as usual, whoever wins, we lose.

Saturday Morning

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* Nevertheless, these arguments are potentially more intellectually coherent than the ones that propose that the race is “too close to call.” It isn’t. If the state polls are right, then Mr. Obama will win the Electoral College. If you can’t acknowledge that after a day when Mr. Obama leads 19 out of 20 swing-state polls, then you should abandon the pretense that your goal is to inform rather than entertain the public. Obama has 431 ways to win; Romney has 76.

* “I Refuse to Cater to the Bullshit of Innocence”: a late Believer interview with Maurice Sendak.

* The Longform Guide to Climate Change.

* Kurt Vonnegut visits Biafra in 1979.

* Mark Hamil teases Star Wars: Episode IX, c. 1983.

* And Evan and China tear it up at the Memory Marathon.

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