Posts Tagged ‘places to invade next’
* Any guild with half an ounce of integrity would be marching in the streets if their employers made that kind of threat to open up their market to all comers. We professors, on the other hand, have to navel gaze about the implications of our own obsolescence before anyone chooses to lift a finger. If there really are only ten universities in twenty years and that Ph.D. of yours ends up as a really expensive wall hanging, don’t say you weren’t warned. The professoriate is the worst guild ever.
* As with discourse about climate change policy, the persistence of on-the-one-hand, on-the-other forms of argument about the value of officially sanctioned torture represents a victory for those who would justify such abuse. Zero Dark Thirty has performed no public service by enlarging the acceptability of that form of debate. Sounds like it was good enough even-the-liberal Jon Stewart.
* After complaining for weeks that the movie “Zero Dark Thirty” erroneously implies that torture yielded key information in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, a trio of senior senators now want to know whether CIA personnel deliberately misled the filmmakers on that point.
* Wanted: Tenure-track professor of political science specializing in constitutional law to teach four courses per semester. Juris doctor degree highly desirable. Occasional weight-lifting required.
* Via my friend @DanHF: a celebration of Tarantino’s Death Proof.
* And who had Mali in the places-to-invade-next pool? You’ve won some exciting violence.
* The Obama administration apparently approached Arnold Schwarzenegger about a cabinet position in 2011. The article’s explanation of the thinking makes this only slightly less ridiculous.
* ‘There was a tornado of fire swept over the farming district’: The October 8, 1871 Peshtigo Fire in Peshtigo, Wisconsin, was a firestorm which caused the most deaths by fire in United States history, killing as many as 1,500.
* And Grenada is (so far) your per-capita Olympic winner. Congratulations!
But never mind the logistics. If we live long enough as a species, we might overcome them, or at least some of them: energy from fusion (which always seems to be about 50 years away) and so forth. Think about what life in a space colony would be like: a hermetically sealed, climate-controlled little nothing of a place. Refrigerated air, synthetic materials, and no exit. It would be like living in an airport. An airport in Antarctica. Forever. When I hear someone talking about space colonies, I think, that’s a person who has never studied the humanities. That’s a person who has never stopped to think about what it feels like to go through an average day—what life is about, what makes it worth living, what makes it endurable. A person blessed with a technological imagination and the absence of any other kind.
And yet: Mars!
* Those communists at the ACLU are at it again; they say the president can’t just have people murdered any time he wants. Check your Constitution, hippie!
* Only the cameraman didn’t volunteer: Five Men Agree To Stand Directly Under An Exploding Nuclear Bomb.
* Some refreshing honesty: Cheney, 71, said defense spending is “not a spigot you can turn on and turn off, that you need to keep money flowing in a predictable way so you can plan for the next war,” Graham said after the Senate Republicans’ weekly luncheon.
* Okay, points there: Director Christopher Nolan says he has a simple explanation for why he refused to shoot The Dark Knight Rises in 3D: He doesn’t know anyone who actually enjoys it.
* It’s just as good as real learning! Even as traditional universities have embraced massive free courses, those institutions have drawn a line on the matter of offering credit. Some professors send a letter of recognition to students who succeed in the free, online versions of their courses, but the universities have refrained from offering those students course credits that count toward the completion of a traditional degree. So far the only way students might redeem their success in MOOCs for formal college credit is by seeking validation through prior-learning assessment apparatuses.
* And will UNESCO protect Tranquility Base from nonexistent space tourists? Tune in tomorrow, Moon Rangers, for the exciting conclusion!
Finally, Keynes’s essay challenges us to imagine what life after capitalism might look like (for an economic system in which capital no longer accumulates is not capitalism, whatever one might call it). Keynes thought that the motivational basis of capitalism was “an intense appeal to the money-making and money-loving instincts of individuals.” He thought that with the coming of plenty, this motivational drive would lose its social approbation; that is, that capitalism would abolish itself when its work was done. But so accustomed have we become to regarding scarcity as the norm that few of us think about what motives and principles of conduct would, or should, prevail in a world of plenty.
* The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel as a case study for local journalism today: I’ve been told by people in a position to know that the paper has decided that covering all the news is beyond their scope now, with its shadow staff and limited resources. So, they have decided to go all-in on what some at the paper call “Pulitzer Pursuit.” That’s where their best reporters are tasked and that’s where their resources go.
* “Weird” is perhaps the mildest way to describe the growing number of threats and acts of intimidation that climate scientists face. A climate modeler at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory answered a late-night knock to find a dead rat on his doorstep and a yellow Hummer speeding away. An MIT hurricane researcher found his inbox flooded daily for two weeks last January with hate mail and threats directed at him and his wife. And in Australia last year, officials relocated several climatologists to a secure facility after climate-change skeptics unleashed a barrage of vandalism, noose brandishing and threats of sexual attacks on the scientists’ children.
* The Scam Wall Street Learned From the Mafia.
* And science fiction, infinite science fiction, but not for us: scientists have discovered two exoplanets a scant million miles apart.
* The headline reads, “Student Loan Debt Delinquency Is Much Worse Than We Thought.”
We find that 27 percent of the borrowers have past due balances, while the adjusted proportion of outstanding student loan balances that is delinquent is 21 percent-much higher than the unadjusted rates of 14.4 percent and 10 percent, respectively
Meanwhile, college costs have sextupled since 1985.
* The Supreme Court looks prepared to rule that international law doesn’t apply internationally. Well done, sirs.
* Attorney General Eric Holder concludes no due process is a kind of due process. This whole “rule of law” thing is going great.
* Paul Pillar: We can live with a nuclear Iran. Of course we can.
The simple argument is that Iranian leaders supposedly don’t think like the rest of us: they are religious fanatics who value martyrdom more than life, cannot be counted on to act rationally, and therefore cannot be deterred. On the campaign trail Rick Santorum has been among the most vocal in propounding this notion, asserting that Iran is ruled by the “equivalent of al-Qaeda,” that its “theology teaches” that its objective is to “create a calamity,” that it believes “the afterlife is better than this life,” and that its “principal virtue” is martyrdom. Newt Gingrich speaks in a similar vein about how Iranian leaders are suicidal jihadists, and says “it’s impossible to deter them.”
The trouble with this image of Iran is that it does not reflect actual Iranian behavior. More than three decades of history demonstrate that the Islamic Republic’s rulers, like most rulers elsewhere, are overwhelmingly concerned with preserving their regime and their power—in this life, not some future one. They are no more likely to let theological imperatives lead them into self-destructive behavior than other leaders whose religious faiths envision an afterlife. Iranian rulers may have a history of valorizing martyrdom—as they did when sending young militiamen to their deaths in near-hopeless attacks during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s—but they have never given any indication of wanting to become martyrs themselves. In fact, the Islamic Republic’s conduct beyond its borders has been characterized by caution. Even the most seemingly ruthless Iranian behavior has been motivated by specific, immediate concerns of regime survival. The government assassinated exiled Iranian dissidents in Europe in the 1980s and ’90s, for example, because it saw them as a counterrevolutionary threat. The assassinations ended when they started inflicting too much damage on Iran’s relations with European governments. Iran’s rulers are constantly balancing a very worldly set of strategic interests. The principles of deterrence are not invalid just because the party to be deterred wears a turban and a beard.
On the other side, of course, we have the not-at-all-fascistic-sounding slogan “peace through strength.” Occupy Everywhere? What could possibly go wrong?
* Matt Zoller Seitz on what makes Mad Men great.
Marquez: Thank you very much. All things considered, I think that if I were Japanese I would be as unyielding as you on [the subject of the bomb]. And at any rate I understand you. No war is good for anybody.
Kurosawa: That is so. The trouble is that when the shooting starts, even Christ and the angels turn into military chiefs of staff.
* How Goldman Sachs does it: they’re on every side of every deal.
* Archie Comics continues to insist on its own relevance: now they’re giving Cheryl Blossom breast cancer.
* And exactly how long ago was a long time ago in a galaxy far away? io9 is there.
Great Unknown, Han and Chewbacca are forced to make a jump to hyperspace to flee Imperial attackers. (OK yes, we know it’s non-canonical, but this is a thought experiment so just bear with us.) The Millennium Falcon crash lands on Earth, where Han and Chewbacca are attacked by Native Americans. Han receives several arrow wounds in the process, and Chewbacca holds his partner as the last bit of life flees from him. The second half of the story leaps 126 years into the future, with Indiana Jones and Short Round searching for Sasquatch in the forests of the Pacific Northwest, only to find Chewbacca and the bones of Han Solo.
* My students last summer insisted Mass Effect was important science fiction. Now io9 is telling me the same thing.
* You can just feel it: many of the same newspapers and TV stations we saw leading the charge in the Bush years have gone back to the attic and are dusting off their war pom-poms. What could possibly go wrong?
* Gay marriage passes in New Jersey, only to be vetoed by Chris Christie. Meanwhile marriage equality looks likely to pass the Maryland state legislature. Meanwhile Obama announces it won’t defend laws that ban same-sex couples from receiving military benefits.
“Previous to Occupy Wall Street, there was no push back at all saying this was outrageous – a basic theft that struck at the heart of what America was about, a complete disregard for the American sense of history and community … In Easy Money the guy is going out to kill and rob, just like the robbery spree that has occurred at the top of the pyramid – he’s imitating the guys on Wall Street. An enormous fault line cracked the American system right open whose repercussion we are only starting to be feel.”
* Actually existing media bias: Sunday Morning Talk Shows Featured Twice As Many Republicans As Dems Last Year.
* Little known fact about Sweden, that supposed bastion of liberal idealism: If a Swedish transgender person wants to legally update their gender on official ID papers, a 1972 law requires them to get both divorced and sterilized first.
* And all I can say is: What took so long?
This Ezra Klein post has everything: a link to news of Newt Gingrinch’s upcoming “visionary” speech on the U.S. space program and a ranking of the planets, moons, and exoplanets by habitability. Watch out, Gliese 581gians! We’re coming for you.