Posts Tagged ‘New Yorker’
* Take the Impossible “Literacy” Test Louisiana Gave Black Voters in the 1960s. My friend @ch3chia‘s characterization is the best I’ve seen: “weaponized nonsense.”
* During a five-year period when the state cut the University of Florida’s funding by $230 million, the university cut full-time tenure and tenure track faculty by 9.4 percent and increased part-time and non-tenure faculty by 9.8 percent.
At the same time, the number of executive and administrative positions grew by almost 57 percent, a statistic Tigert Hall said is distorted by a reclassification of people already in existing positions.
Statewide, the university system saw a 20.8 percent growth in administration and a 5.7 percent drop in full-time faculty during that period.
* An old story, but new to me: When the CIA helped jail Nelson Mandela.
* And the best Pixar movies (as chosen by children). Who asked them, anyway?
* ‘We Come from the Future’: a short piece on African SF.
As for her own next move, she says it will be a total departure: a science-fiction romp. She has been reading a lot of Ursula K Le Guin. ‘It’s a concept novel. It’s the only novel I’ve ever written that has a plot, which is thrilling. I don’t know if I can do it. Those books are incredibly hard to write.’
* I believe this is explicitly against the law governing the CIA: Four Central Intelligence Agency officers were embedded with the New York Police Department in the decade after Sept. 11, 2001, including one official who helped conduct surveillance operations in the United States, according to a newly disclosed C.I.A. inspector general’s report.
* A nation of temps: 15% of job growth since 2009, 40% or more in many urban areas.
Temp jobs accounted for whopping 116 percent of job growth in Memphis (that means that one sector added more jobs than all other industries together), 66 percent in Birmingham, 65 percent in Cincinnati, 58 percent in Hartford, 51 percent in Milwaukee, 46 percent in Kansas City, and 40 percent or more in Cleveland, Chicago, and Philadelphia.
* ‘Black Babies Cost Less’: The Racial Realities of Adoption in America. Can’t help trying to pair this with the Baby Veronica nightmare still making its way back and forth through the courts.
* More nightmares: Worker Sues Employer For The Death Of Her Baby.
Cleveland State University undergraduates will see a 2-percent tuition increase this fall but can get it back as a credit on the next year’s tuition through an innovative program approved Wednesday by university trustees.
Beginning in the fall, students who complete 30 course credits in an academic year in good standing can earn the rebate for the following year. Students also will receive $100 per semester in book credits.
Meritocracy! Catch the fever.
During his remarks, the Texas governor also described Davis’ filibuster as “hijacking of the Democratic process” and said of the pro-choice movement, “the louder they scream, the more we know that we are getting something done.”
…the New Yorker hyping MOOCs and pretending to feel bad about it. All those moments of actual education will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.
1. You are more likely to complete NAVY SEAL training than click a banner ad.
2. Only 8% of internet users account for 85% of clicks on display ads (and some of them aren’t even humans!).
3. You are more likely to get a full house while playing poker than click on a banner ad.
4. The average person is served over 1,700 banner ads per month. Do you remember any?
5. You are more likely to summit Mount Everest than click a banner ad.
6. The average clickthrough rate of display ads is 0.1%.
7. You are more likely to birth twins than click a banner ad.
8. About 50% of clicks on mobile ads are accidental.
9. You are more likely to get into MIT than click a banner ad.
10. You are more likely to survive a plane crash than click on a banner ad.
Pagel and his collaborators have come up with a list of two dozen “ultraconserved words.” It contains both predictable and surprising members. The most conserved word is “thou,” which is the singular form of “you.” “I,” “not,” “what,” “mother” and “man” are also on the list. So are the verbs “to hear,” “to flow” and “to spit,” and the nouns “bark,” “ashes” and “worm.” Together, they hint at what has been important to people over the past 15 millennia.
* “‘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.
Lots of Thursday Links! The University in Ruins, How to Predict the Future, Lesbian Science Fiction, and More
* Cause of windfarm sickness identified: it’s spread by human mouth.
* “If our universe was a simulation you could totally tell. There’d be things like a fastest possible speed or a smallest possible size or a lowest possible temperature, or events wouldn’t actually be computed until they were observed by a player (you know, for computational efficiency).”
“During a summer in the late 1960s I discovered an easy and certain method of predicting the future. Not my own future, the next turn of the card, or market conditions next month or next year, but the future of the world lying far ahead. It was quite simple. All that was needed was to take the reigning assumptions about what the future was likely to hold, and reverse them. Not modify, negate, or question, but reverse.”
* The number of Purdue administrators has jumped 54 percent in the past decade—almost eight times the growth rate of tenured and tenure-track faculty. “We’re here to deliver a high-quality education at as low a price as possible,” says Robinson. “Why is it that we can’t find any money for more faculty, but there seems to be an almost unlimited budget for administrators?”
* Wayne State University and the University of Michigan could lose 15 percent of their state funding if the schools ratify new union contracts that bypass Michigan’s new right-to-work law under a House Republican budget proposal introduced Tuesday.
* It’s true that the university, for whatever reason, offered provisional admission to some students with lower test scores and grades than Fisher. Five of those students were black or Latino. Forty-two were white.
* In this sense, frighteningly, the MOOC seems like the next logical frontier in the increasing contingency and “adjunctification” of labor in higher education. Faculty unions in California are already arguing that MOOCs might do some serious damage to collective bargaining agreements, as some faculty have already agreed to assemble MOOCs for free. But to get even more apocalyptic than that, it seems like this specter of the cyberteacher – emerging from the shadows of the murky MOOC lagoon – is some dystopian icon of the brave new cost-cutting educational future. What better way to cut labor costs in higher education than to simply replace human educational laborers with software?
* “I believe we’re in the best basketball conference in the country right now. If you look at the history of the schools, the original seven plus the new three, it’s obviously an elite group,” Father Pilarz said. “The new conference offers a tremendous opportunity for all 16 of Marquette’s athletic programs to compete against mission-driven and like-minded institutions.”
* A minimum wage worker in California must toil about 130 hours a week in order to feasibly afford a two-bedroom rental, a new report found.
* But journalists deserve a share of the blame, too—and not only for the failure to question more skeptically the Bush Administration’s claims about Saddam’s non-existent WMD. Journalists failed, above all, to show the war as it was. Americans who did not serve may think that they have some idea of what the war in Iraq was like, but they’re wrong. The culprit here is a culture of well-intentioned self-censorship that refuses to show the real conditions of modern warfare.
* Klein doesn’t think a state invaded another state; he thinks “we” went to war. He identifies with the state. Whether he’s supporting or dissenting from a policy, he sees himself as part of it. He sees himself on the jeeps with the troops. That’s why his calls for skepticism, for not taking things on authority, ring so hollow. In the end, he’s on the team. Or the jeep.
The goal of the game, which will officially be launched on Feb. 5, is to show how hard and frustrating it was for an average person to simply do their shopping under the Communist regime in Poland. The game has been developed by the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), a Warsaw-based research institute that commemorates the suffering of the Polish people during the Nazi and Communist eras.
* Life advice from the Onion: Find The Thing You’re Most Passionate About, Then Do It On Nights And Weekends For The Rest Of Your Life.
* The kids aren’t all right: In Survey, Professors See a Lack of Professionalism Among Students
* Professional wrestling fans, we who are “smart marks” especially, are in many ways more sophisticated than the political junkies who populate political blogs and web sites (what are really fan boy and fan girl mark hangouts) like the Free Republic or The Daily Kos. They know that professional wrestling is a work and a game.
* 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!
UPDATE: A Twitter conversation spawned by the article, minus the @_machinic_ quotes that aren’t public that make the stupid thing readable: Twitter v. The Wire v. Climate Change.
The upper middle brow possesses excellence, intelligence, and integrity. It is genuinely good work (as well as being most of what I read or look at myself). The problem is it always lets us off the hook. Like Midcult, it is ultimately designed to flatter its audience, approving our feelings and reinforcing our prejudices. It stays within the bounds of what we already believe, affirms the enlightened opinions we absorb every day in the quality media, the educated bromides we trade on Facebook. It doesn’t tell us anything we don’t already know, doesn’t seek to disturb—the definition of a true avant-garde—our fundamental view of ourselves, or society, or the world.
* “Literary fiction” as genre: Slate considers the case of Ursula K. Le Guin.
* All in the game: 16-bit The Wire.
* Star Trek: Settlers of Catan? Oh, all right. Meanwhile: Michael Dorn Developing Wildly Ill-Conceived Captain Worf TV series.
* The fresh crop of post-secondary students filing into the classroom this week could be in for a shock when they realize they could be paying for their education an average of 14 years after they graduate.
* Actually existing media bias: Why won’t CNN air its own award-winning documentary on Bahrain?
* You demanded it, now here it is! A Christmas Story 2. This film looks so terrible it hardly even seems real.
3. The Hulk has no penis.
They modeled every part of the Hulk, except for one. “When the maquette came in, it’s just a Barbie doll,” said Jason Smith.
* The New Yorker will let you go inside the mind of a condom and a failed superhero, but it won’t let you read an article about my “Plan B” as a forensic linguist or the Junot Díaz story that tricked me into reading New Yorker fiction for the first time in years without a subscription.
* A Land Without Guns: How Japan Has Virtually Eliminated Shooting Deaths. In part by forbidding almost all forms of firearm ownership, Japan has as few as two gun-related homicides a year.
* I may have done this one before, but what the hell: the RAW rejection letter.
* The NCAA drops the hammer on Penn State.
The tune, thick with horns and vocal harmonies, elides into “My City of Ruins,” one of the elegiac, gospel-tinged songs on the 9/11 album, “The Rising.” The voices sing “Rise up! Rise up!” and there comes a string of horn solos: trombone, trumpet, sax. Then back to the voices. Springsteen quickly introduces the E Street horns and the singing collective. Then he says, “Roll call!” And, with the music rising bit by churchly bit, he introduces the core of the band: “Professor Roy Bittan is in the house. . . . Charlie Giordano is in the house. . . .”
When he finishes the roll call, there is a long ellipsis. The band keeps vamping.
“Are we missing anybody?”
Two spotlights are now trained on the organ, where Federici once sat, and at the mike where Clemons once stood.
“Are we missing anybody?”
Then again: “Are we missing anybody? . . . That’s right. That’s right. We’re missing some. But the only thing I can guarantee tonight is that if you’re here and we’re here, then they’re here!” He repeats this over and over, the volume of the piano and the bass rising, the drums hastening, the voices rising, until finally the song overwhelms him, and, if Springsteen has calculated correctly, there will not be an unmoved soul in the house.
* Dibs on the novelization: Zhang and Li write that the the Milky Way will be torn apart 32.9 million years before the big rip. The Earth will be ripped away from the Sun two months before the end, and we’ll lose our moon with five days left. The Sun itself will be destroyed 28 minutes before the end of time, and the Earth will explode a mere 12 minutes later.
* Radiolab says the Greeks didn’t know about blue.
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?”
* Great television contrarianism watch: Neoliberal Holmes, or, Everything I Know About Modern Life I Learned from Sherlock. In which I analyze my allergy to Sherlock.
* David Harvey: The financial crisis is an urban crisis.
* Utopia and dystopia in quantum superposition: New parking meters text you when time’s running out.
But there is something troubling about this sea of C.G.I.-perfect flesh, shaved and scentless and not especially medieval. It’s unsettling to recall that these are not merely pretty women; they are unknown actresses who must strip, front and back, then mimic graphic sex and sexual torture, a skill increasingly key to attaining employment on cable dramas. During the filming of the second season, an Irish actress walked off the set when her scene shifted to what she termed “soft porn.” Of course, not everyone strips: there are no truly explicit scenes of gay male sex, fewer lingering shots of male bodies, and the leading actresses stay mostly buttoned up. Artistically, “Game of Thrones” is in a different class from “House of Lies,” “Californication,” and “Entourage.” But it’s still part of another colorful patriarchal subculture, the one called Los Angeles.
* Terrible news, state by state:
* Contemplating these dreary statistics, one might well conclude that the United States is — to a distressing extent — a nation of violent, intolerant, ignorant, superstitious, passive, shallow, boorish, selfish, unhealthy, unhappy people, addicted to flickering screens, incurious about other societies and cultures, unwilling or unable to assert or even comprehend their nominal political sovereignty. Or, more simply, that America is a failure.
* The New Yorker‘s science fiction issue is live. If you wanted to get me to read New Yorker fiction for the first time in years, well, mission accomplished…
* And we’re still pouring college money down the for-profit drain. Because never learning from your mistakes is the most important thing we have to teach.