Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘nostalgia

Just a Few Wednesday Links

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…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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Friday Links! Soviet Choose Your Own Adventure, World Tetris Competition, Gödel vs. the Constitution, and More

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In 1987, an anonymous team of computer scientists from the Kyrgyz Soviet Socialist Republic wrote a series of children’s books based on the popular Choose Your Own Adventure series. The books were hastily translated into English and a small number were exported to America, but the CIA, fearing a possible Soviet mind control scheme, confiscated them all before they could be sold. Now declassified, the books have been lovingly converted to a digital hypertext format and put online for the English-speaking world to enjoy. Via MeFi, which has some highlights from You Will Select a Decision:

“If you follow the bear immediately, turn to page 35.
If you follow the bear after some hesitation, wait for ten seconds and then turn to page 35.”

“If you say yes, turn to page 18
I will not permit you to say no. Turn to page 18.”

Gödel, in his usual manner, had read extensively in preparing for the hearing. In the course of his studies, Gödel decided that he had discovered a flaw in the U.S. Constitution — a contradiction which would allow the U.S. to be turned into a dictatorship. Gödel, usually quite reticent, seemed to feel a need to make this known. Morgenstern and Einstein warned Gödel that it would be a disaster to confront his citizenship examiner with visions of a Constitutional flaw leading to an American dictatorship.

Scenes from the World Tetris Championship.

This week, Europol, the European Union’s criminal-intelligence division, announced that its investigation into match-fixing, codenamed “Operation Veto,” had uncovered 680 suspicious games from 2008 to 2011. It’s huge news, not because the results are particularly surprising — there’s plenty of other evidence, even recent evidence, that match-fixing is rampant in global soccer — but because the sheer extent of the allegations means that we can no longer delude ourselves about what’s happening. This is what’s happening: Soccer is fucked. Match-fixing is corroding the integrity of the game at every level.

* Ted Underwood on text-mining and distant reading: We don’t already know the broad outlines of literary history.

* Hitchcock intended Psycho as a comedy.

* The end of NBC?

* Are Republican elites finally purging the hucksters?

* Does every life form get a billion heartbeats?

Could the Next Doctor Who Showrunner Already Be Chosen?

Should Students Be Encouraged to Pursue Graduate Education in the Humanities?

Historic Blizzard Poised to Strike New England: What Role Is Climate Change Playing?

Fund snidely concludes: “But, of course, as you know there is no voter fraud. Pay no attention to that lightning coming out of Ohio.” While voter fraud does rarely exist, fighting these sorts of “lightning” with strict photo ID laws that disenfranchise legitimate voters is like banning orange juice to prevent jaywalking.

The main point here: Germany doesn’t get all that much sunlight. In fact, it gets about as much direct solar-energy as Alaska does each year. Just about every single region in the continental United States has vastly more solar resources than Germany.

* Top college football prospect Alex Collins spent Wednesday trying to track down his mother, who had intercepted his letter of intent to attend the University of Arkansas. (Apparently she did not want him to attend college far from home.) Colleges cannot accept commitments from players under 21 without the signature of a parent or guardian. Eventually Collins’ father signed the form, but aren’t 18-year-olds legally entitled to make their own decisions?

* And TNI is giving out its weather issue (the one I was in) for free in honor of the blizzard. Enjoy!

Wednesday Links

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* The Hobbit trailer is out. I think they actually may have gotten the tone just about right.

* My theory that contemporary superhero comics are primarily motivated by a reactionary desire for a return to absolute authority takes a great leap forward today: they elected Captain America president.

* Sci-fi acid-trip of the day: Grounded.

* Inside Higher Ed has decided to run my job “advice” piece for ABDs in two parts. Part One ran today. Meanwhile, the MLA job report for 2011-2012 is out. Don’t look at the long-term trend.

Feds Charge Activist with 13 Felonies for Rogue Downloading of Academic Articles. Death’s too good for ‘im, I say!

* r/Scholar: clearinghouse for requesting and sharing paywalled articles.

* Chick-Fil-A is really, really sorry about that whole Hate Mor Peeple thing. It promises to be totally cool about not hating so many people quite so openly in the future.

* Politics minute:  Yes, Obama is actually winning. Really.

Ten Huge Issues Being Ignored In The Presidential Campaign. Look, if I wanted to talk about things that actually matter, I certainly wouldn’t be following the presidential campaign…

Report: It’s Not Okay To Just Start Talking To People You Don’t Know.

* And These Melting Ice Caps Could Be Great for Business. What was I so worried about!

Yesterday’s Future Today

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Written by gerrycanavan

July 11, 2012 at 11:41 pm

Friday!

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* Euro 2012 starts today! Here’s your calendar and your tournament map.

Chaos Theory: A Unified Theory of Muppet Types. So now I have to spend the whole afternoon trying to figure out if I’m a Bert or an Ernie.

* Damon Lindelof is being brought in to rewrite World War Z after it’s already been shot. I’ll be brutally honest: That’s not a great sign…

* A brief history of the university.

* Lauren Berlant explains her new book, Cruel Optimism.

I’ll focus here on three matters.  The first is the concept of cruel optimism (what’s optimism, what’s cruel about it).  The second is on a particular scene—the end of the postwar good life fantasy and the rise of neoliberalism in the U.S. and Europe—in which the consequences of cruel optimism are lived collectively.  The third is about the need for a realism that embeds trauma and suffering in the ordinary rather than in a space of exception, given that the crises of exhaustion and knowing how to live are problems saturating ordinary life.

* So what does American politics cost, anyway?

* Pixar’s rules on how to write a story.

#4: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

* The crooks are ruining my lake! Power Plant Mercury Emissions Poisoning the Great Lakes.

Federal data released Thursday show the United States has had its warmest spring, its warmest year to date, and warmest 12-month stretch on record.

* Salon covers the class action lawsuit against student loan agency Sallie Mae.

* Expressing both public and private frustration with Pakistan, the Obama administration has unleashed the CIA to resume an aggressive campaign of drone strikes in Pakistani territory over the last few weeks, approving strikes that might have been vetoed in the past for fear of angering Islamabad.

Now, said a senior U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity in discussing sensitive issues, the administration’s attitude is, “What do we have to lose?” What indeed! See also: Media, drones and rank propaganda. And also: International law and drone strikes. And also.

Conservatives never liked left-wing, government-run solutions to problems like unaffordable health care and climate change. These days they don’t seem to like right-wing, market solutions, either.

* Why Johnny Q. Public can’t learn: What’s surprising about these results is that even after we internalize a scientific concept—the vast majority of adults now acknowledge the Copernican truth that the earth is not the center of the universe—that primal belief lingers in the mind. We never fully unlearn our mistaken intuitions about the world. We just learn to ignore them.

* And Mr. Rogers Remixed. Because there’s still a good and decent kid inside you somewhere, dammit.

Tuesday Night

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* Following up on today’s diappointing Supreme Court news: Obamacare’s Supreme Court Disaster. Well, That Could Have Gone Better. Brian Beutler says it wasn’t as bad as it looked. So does Ian Millhiser. The battle over a limiting principle. Medicaid as sleeper issue. Kennedy, Roberts Likely To Determine Fate Of Mandate. Lyle Denniston says it’s all Kennedy. Klein reads Roberts. Kerr reads Kennedy. Even more at MeFi.

* Rachel Maddow: 4,000 days of war in Afghanistan?

* An interview with the creator of You Can’t Do That on Television. Via MeFi.

* The headline reads, “Global Warming Close to Becoming Irreversible.”

* Look on the bright side: The speaker of the North Carolina House says the state’s coming anti-gay Amendment One will probably be struck down in a mere twenty years.

* More Scott Pilgrim? Maybe someday.

* Life in the Retreat at Twin Lakes after the Trayvon Martin shooting.

* And are these the rules of Roadrunner and Coyote? I choose to believe.

1. The Road Runner cannot harm the Coyote except by going “meep, meep.”
2. No outside force can harm the Coyote — only his own ineptitude or the failure of Acme products. Trains and trucks were the exception from time to time.
3. The Coyote could stop anytime — if he were not a fanatic.
4. No dialogue ever, except “meep, meep” and yowling in pain.
5. The Road Runner must stay on the road — for no other reason than that he’s a roadrunner.
6. All action must be confined to the natural environment of the two characters — the southwest American desert.
7. All tools, weapons, or mechanical conveniences must be obtained from the Acme Corporation.
8. Whenever possible, make gravity the Coyote’s greatest enemy.
9. The Coyote is always more humiliated than harmed by his failures.
10. The audience’s sympathy must remain with the Coyote.
11. The Coyote is not allowed to catch or eat the Road Runner.

Behind Glass Doors Live Gasoline Alley and Peanuts Merchandise, Krazy Kat Dolls, Buck Rogers Rockets, and Many Other Items of Amazement from Bygone Eras

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Trip City goes inside the home of Chris Ware. It’s even more like you think it’ll be than you think.

Written by gerrycanavan

March 6, 2012 at 4:22 pm

to be young again

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In peacetime Fitch would be hanging around a pool table giving the cops trouble. He was perfect for war. Tibbets had chosen his men well—most of them, anyway. Moving back past Haddock, January stopped to stare at the group of men in the navigation cabin. They joked, drank coffee. They were all a bit like Fitch: young toughs, capable and thoughtless. They were having a good time, an adventure. That was January’s dominant impression of his companions in the 509th: despite all the bitching and the occasional moments of overmastering fear, they were having a good time. His mind spun forward and he saw what these young men would grow up to be like as clearly as if they stood before him in businessmen’s suits, prosperous and balding. They would be tough and capable and thoughtless, and as the years passed and the great war receded in time they would look back on it with ever-increasing nostalgia, for they would be the survivors and not the dead. Every year of this war would feel like ten in their memories, so that the war would always remain the central experience of their lives—a time when history lay palpable in their hands, when each of their daily acts affected it, when moral issues were simple, and others told them what to do—so that as more years passed and the survivors aged, bodies falling apart, lives in one rut or another, they would unconsciously push harder and harder to thrust the world into war again, thinking somewhere inside themselves that if they could only return to world war then they would magically be young again as they were in the last one—young, and free, and happy. And by that time they would hold the positions of power, they would be capable of doing it.

So there would be more wars, January saw. He heard it in Matthews’ laughter, saw it in their excited eyes. “There’s Iwo and it’s five thirty-one. Pay up! I win!” And in future wars they’d have more bombs like the gimmick, hundreds of them no doubt. He saw more planes, more young crews like this one, flying to Moscow no doubt or to wherever, fireballs in every capital, why not? And to what end? To what end? So that the old men could hope to become magically young again. Nothing more sane than that.

—Kim Stanley Robinson, “The Lucky Strike”

Post *All* the Links

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A big post, catching up from most of last week:

* With the success of 2009’s “District 9″ still fresh in their minds, producers are cherry-picking South African sci-fi properties, making it one of hottest genres this side of Swedish crime fiction.

* Science fiction on the BBC: A brief history of all-women societies.

Top Five Most Destroyed Canadian Cities in the Marvel Universe.

* News from MLA! Dissing the Dissertation. Anguish Trumps Activism at the MLA.

* News from my childhood: Another new version of Dungeons & Dragons is on the way. MetaFilter agonizes.

* News from the Montana Supreme Court: “Corporations are not persons. Human beings are persons, and it is an affront to the inviolable dignity of our species that courts have created a legal fiction which forces people — human beings — to share fundamental, natural rights with soulless creatures of government…”

* News from the future right now: Record Heat Floods America With Temperatures 40 Degrees Above Normal.

How College Football Bowls Earn Millions In Profits But Pay Almost Nothing In Taxes.

* Colbert vs. Colbert.

* Matt Taibbi vs. Iowa.

And what ends up happening there is that the candidate with the big stack of donor money always somehow manages to survive the inevitable scandals and tawdry revelations, while the one who’s depending on checks from grandma and $25 internet donations from college students always winds up mysteriously wiped out.

* Learning From The Masters: Level Design In The Legend Of Zelda.

How The Cave of Time taught us to love interactive entertainment.

* Inside the Shel Silverstein archive.

* While genomic research on the super-old is in its very early stages, what’s fascinating is what the researchers are not finding. These people’s genomes are fundamentally the same as other people’s. They are clearly very special, but not in ways that are obvious.

* What Could Have Entered the Public Domain on January 1, 2012? Under the law that existed until 1978 . . . Works from 1955.

* The headline reads, “Quadriplegic Undocumented Immigrant Dies In Mexico After Being Deported From His Hospital Bed.”

Dallas teen missing since 2010 was mistakenly deported.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Arkham Asylum.

Pepsi Says Mountain Dew Can Dissolve Mouse Carcasses. Keep in mind: that’s their defense.

“Out of the crooked timber of humanity,” Kant wrote, “no straight thing was ever made.” Not even an iPad.

Obama Openly Asks Nation Why On Earth He Would Want To Serve For Another Term.

* Romney: Elected office is for the rich.

* What if Obama loses?

* How banks and debt collectors are bringing dead debt back to life.

People who stop paying bills earn lousy credit ratings but eventually are freed of old debt under statutes of limitations that vary by state and range from three years to 10 years from the last loan payment.

But if a debtor agrees to make even a single payment on an expired debt, the clock starts anew on some part of the old obligation, a process called “re-aging.”

So if borrowers again fall behind on their payments, debt collectors can turn to their usual tools: letters, phone calls and lawsuits. By restarting a debt’s statute of limitations, the collectors have years to retrieve payments.

* A Q&A with Louis C.K.

* Wells Tower: In Gold We Trust.

* Epic Doctor Who Timeline. More here.

* Battlestar Galactica: Totally planned. See also.

* How to Get a Nuclear Bomb.

The cast of Community plays pop culture trivia.

* “White House Denies CIA Teleported Obama to Mars.”

Classified docs reveal why Tolkien failed to win ’61 Nobel Prize!

* Solve the Fermi Paradox the Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal way.

* And you probably already saw Paypal’s latest outrage, but man, it’s a doozy.

Friday Night Links

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* That’s not what we meant by “Occupy Everywhere”: Two days ago, the U.S. deployed combat troops to central Africa to serve as advisers to regional forces battling the Lord’s Resistance Army.

* Occupy Wall Street as “political disobedience.”

* Agata Pyzik on nostalgia for communism.

* The Roman Catholic bishop of Kansas City, Robert Finn, and the diocese he leads have been indicted by a county grand jury on a charge of failure to report suspected child abuse in the case of a priest who had been accused of taking lewd photographs of young girls.

* Physicists Offer Mundane Explanations for Faster-Than-Light Neutrinos.

* And RIP, Google Buzz. It’s been dead a long time.

You Had Me at Hello

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Super Mario, with portals. From the creators of “Tetris with Physics.” Via anyone who’s ever had a heart.

Written by gerrycanavan

August 30, 2011 at 12:31 am

And Some Links for Thursday

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* The list of lists for 2010 is ready. You have two days left to mourn. Enjoy.

Fantastic piece on Obama via @zunguzunguI expected Obama to be a better loser, specifically to be better at losing. There were a lot of items on the table, a lot of them weren’t going to happen, but it was important for the new future of liberalism that the Obama team lost them well. And that hasn’t happened.

By losing well, I mean losing in a way that builds a coalition, demonstrates to your allies that you are serious, takes a pound of flesh from your opponents and leaves them with the blame, and convinces those on the fence that it is an important issue for which you have the answers. Lose for the long run; lose in a way that leaves liberal institutions and infrastructure stronger, able to be deployed again at a later date.

* At least court-watchers are scoring the Sotomayor pick as a long-term progressive win. Via Benen.

* Weird science: third triplet born twelve years after her sisters.

* Weird clemency: Barbour’s order stands on the condition that Gladys donates one of her kidneys to her ailing sister, “a procedure which should be scheduled with urgency.” I feel like this story pretty clearly demonstrates how useless decades-long incarceration is in most cases, as well as the basic arbitrariness of the criminal justice system.

* Alas, Cleveland: Dennis Kucinich may lose his district.

* Alas, Paul Simon: Kodachrome finally taken away.

* What has been seen can never be unseen: Muppets with People Eyes.

* In important telling-you-what-was-already-pretty-obvious news, Tim Minear says the third season of Dollhouse would essentially have been another season of Buffy.

* And of course you had me at original He-Man storyboards.

Monday Links

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* Nightfall: Tonight is the darkest night in 500 years.

* Is it me or has Obama kind of got his mojo back? Republican senators say privately they expect the Senate to ratify the New START treaty this week, which would hand President Obama his third major victory of the lame-duck session.

* But don’t get cocky: ‘Conservatives Threaten Government Shutdown Over Debt Limit Vote.’ ‘Republicans In The House As A Whole Want To Get Rid Of The EPA.’

* Power and morality: It is shown that high power increases the use of rule-based (deontological) moral thinking styles, whereas low power increases reliance on outcome-based (consequentialist) moral thinking. Stated differently, in determining whether an act is right or wrong, the powerful focus on whether rules and principles are violated, whereas the powerless focus on the consequences. For this reason, the powerful are also more inclined to stick to the rules, irrespective of whether this has positive or negative effects, whereas the powerless are more inclined to make exceptions.

* Jessica Valenti has your concise readers’ guide to the #mooreandme debacle. Ryan sends along the Naomi Wolf vs. Jaclyn Friedman argument from Democracy Now!, which is pretty astounding. The second part (via Student Activism) is even more astounding:

Friedman: If someone asks me twenty times, do I want to have sex with them, or do I want to have sex without a condom, or whatever sexual act we’re negotiating, and I say no twenty times, and the twenty-first time I say yes because I am worn down, and because I’m being pressured and coerced and I’m afraid, and because I woke up to him already raping me, and I’m freaked out, that is not real consent. That is not a chance to have actual consent. That’s not legitimate consent.

Wolf: Well, I guess you and I will have to part ways.

* Inside Paris’s secret Metro.

* The CDC has found that a majority of Americans had troubled childhoods. As a friend recently said on Twitter: Please stop fetishizing childhood. You are misremembering your life.

* More from the minimalism meme: minimalist superheroes.

* And The Day Comedy Won: How 30 Rock Beat Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. I may be one of the few people in America who liked both shows.

Three for Wednesday

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* Poll: 1 In 5 Americans Believe Obama Is A Cactus. (Thanks Will!)

* Epitaphs for my career: There’s a thin line distinguishing the hyper-objective historian who distils art into data from the hyper-subjective sentimentalist who considers anything they once experienced to be worthy of celebration. Alex Jackson reviews Saturday Morning Cartoons: 1980. (Thanks Dan!)

* Bill Clinton, vegan.

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