Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘places to invade next

Friday Night

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Written by gerrycanavan

August 10, 2012 at 9:44 pm

‘As a Species of Megalomania, This Is Hard to Top’

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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!

Written by gerrycanavan

August 6, 2012 at 8:03 am

Wednesday Night

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* 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 learningEven 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.

* When David Brin met Orson Scott Card at Comic-Con.

Bryan Fuller’s mystery Pushing Daisies project may be a musical.

* And will UNESCO protect Tranquility Base from nonexistent space tourists? Tune in tomorrow, Moon Rangers, for the exciting conclusion!

Friday!

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* John Maynard Keynes, dirty hippie. Via MeFi.

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.

‘This Is an Exciting Time’

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Written by gerrycanavan

June 20, 2012 at 9:24 am

All the Wednesday Links

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* 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?

* Football: It’s worse than you think! Via MetaFilter, with more from Ta-Nehisi Coates.

* Matt Zoller Seitz on what makes Mad Men great.

When Gabriel García Márquez interviewed Akira Kurosawa.

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.

* I give Colbert the edge over Stewart re: Rush.

* 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.

Blaspheme!

FNL

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* My students last summer insisted Mass Effect was important science fiction. Now io9 is telling me the same thing.

* American University’s adjunct faculty have voted to unionize.

* How to design a movie poster.

* 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.

* WTFEverywhere: Sweden is only one of 17 countries that require transgender people to undergo sterilization.

* Apple still trying to find some way to make the Foxconn scandal go away.

* And Springsteen explains Wrecking Ball.

“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.”

Monday Monday

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* I’ve been playing around with Tumblr the last few days and think I like it as a repository for quotes and silly images I encounter that don’t quite merit a blogpost. Here’s the Tumblr URL, and here’s the Tumblr RSS, and here’s the Feedburner RSS. Please enjoy!

* The great Aaron Bady reviews the great David Graeber’s Debt for his new gig blogging for the (new) New Inquiry. Incidentally, the new New Inquiry is now available for a two-dollar monthly subscription.

* It was dark and wet and dangerous in Zanesville, Ohio. Terry Thompson had let his scores of big animals out of their hard, grim cages, then shot himself in the head. The tigers and bears were loose. Night was falling. Everything was out of control.

* Josh Boldt is crowdsourcing data on adjunct life. Details at the Chronicle.

* Exiled Online argues Millennials are just better.

The Boomers grew up under a capitalism that had to be hammered and shaped into respectability over a thirty year period. But for us, we’re left staring at the monstrosity in its natural state. With a quarter-century’s worth of quasi social-democratic reforms either neutralized or withered away, and with no more credit to hose us down, we’re able to see the beast for what it truly is.

* Wired says self-driving cars are finally here. The law just needs to catch up.

As a RAND report observed, even as automakers create more semiautonomous technologies, they “will want to preserve the social norm that crashes are primarily the moral and legal responsibility of the driver, both to minimize their own liability and to ensure safety.” Consider what happened to the remote-parking assistant BMW developed a few years ago for getting into narrow spots. “You push a button and the car goes in and parks itself” while the driver waits outside, says Donald Norman, the Design of Future Things author. When he asked BMW executives why he didn’t see it on the market, Norman says he was told, “The legal team wouldn’t let them go forward.”

* Amazon’s success online means it can finally open all those brick-and-mortar stores it’s always longed for. What could possibly go wrong?

* The better Obama’s poll numbers get, the more empowered I feel to sit on my hands this cycle.

* Half of Americans are already ready to go to war with Iran—and they’ve barely cranked up the propaganda machine yet. Half. That’s the floor. Meanwhile, there are new horrors in Syria, which are also leading to saber-rattling.

* “The U.S. Constitution appears to be losing its appeal as a model for constitutional drafters elsewhere,” according to a new study by David S. Law of Washington University in St. Louis and Mila Versteeg of the University of Virginia. What could possibly give anyone the impression the Constitution has flaws?

* The headline reads, “In 1995, New Mexico voted on a bill requiring psychologists to dress as wizards.”

* Amanda Marcotte asks: Are they ruining Leslie Knope?

* Rumors of New Star Trek on the teeve.

Yeah, Ron Paul is racist after all, sorry.

* RIP, Zombie #1.

* And everyone on every social media website loves this image. Please enjoy.

Wednesday Night Links

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‘Planet Habitability Index’

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Written by gerrycanavan

January 23, 2012 at 6:52 pm

No One Could Have Predicted

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Monday!

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* ‘Democrats Gleeful at Prospect of Running Against Gingrich.’ That’s the first bit of Gingrich-related news that’s made me nervous.

* io9 has the trailer for Joss Whedon’s long-delayed The Cabin in the Woods.

Duke University trustee Bruce Karsh and his wife Martha have donated $50 million to Duke for a permanent endowment to support need-based financial aid for undergraduate students from the United States and other countries, President Richard H. Brodhead announced Monday.

* Randy Balko vs. paramilitary creep.

* Aaron Bady on the Oakland Commune.

* How Doctors Die.

* Henry Aaron: So… here is my prediction. The Supreme Court will sustain the individual mandate, and it will do so not by the narrow 5 to 4 split that has become so familiar, but by a vote of 7 to 2. Or 8 to 1. Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Sottamayor, and Kagan are virtually certain to find the mandate constitutional. But also voting to sustain it, I believe, will be Justices Scalia and Kennedy, based on reasoning similar to that of Silberman and Sutton. Justices Roberts and Kennedy are in play and I am assuming that either or both will vote to affirm the mandate. Justice Thomas, who has staked out a far-reaching opposition to federal regulation in many currently accepted forms, will say that the mandate exceeds Congress’s constitutional authority.

* Apocalypse now: Radioactive water from Fukushima might have found its way into the Pacific ocean and experts believe it could contain strontium.

* Apocalypse tomorrow: In fact, according to the latest science, says Anderson, “a 4 degrees C future is incompatible with an organized global community, is likely to be beyond ‘adaptation’, is devastating to the majority of ecosystems, and has a high probability of not being stable.”

* “If you have got a population of 9 billion by 2050 and you hit 4 degrees, 5 degrees or 6 degrees, you might have half a billion people surviving.”

* And today from America’s finest news source: Global Warming May Be Irreversible by 2006.

* But it’s okay that we’ve ruined this planet; after all, there’s always Keppler 22b.

Links from Monday

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Wednesday Night Links

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* Breaking Bad aficionados will enjoy Bryan Cranston’s recent appearances on the Nerdist and WTF with Marc Meron, the latter of which has the (new-to-me) tidbit that Jesse was slotted to be killed off in the first few episodes; he was saved from death by the awesomeness of Aaron Paul.

* Wisconsin wants to mess with the Electoral College, too. You’ll be shocked to learn the Koch brothers are involved.

* So the U.S. government doesn’t actually have “hard evidence” Iran tried to murder the Saudi ambassador. I feel like I’ve seen this movie before.

* TPM and @fivethirtyeight (1, 2, 3) have been talking today about the fact that Romney (while unquestionably “inevitable”) has clearly hit his support ceiling in the Republican primary. The Anti-Romney has shifted through several alternatives, but the support never settles on Romney; it just keeps casting about for some new savior, Bachmann, Perry, Christie, and currently Herman Cain. It’s just more fodder for my “Draft Jeb” conspiracy theory…

* Beka Economopolis on Occupy Wall Street: We must draw a line, disavow the Democrats explicitly, make our messaging a little uncomfortable. Yes, perhaps, split the support, lest we not be co-opted. This will be painful, internally, as it won’t always achieve comfortable consensus. But to hold this space and expand the realm of possibility, we have to go farther than others are ready to go.

* Matt Taibbi on Occupy Wall Street.

* The Big Picture blog on Occupy Everywhere.

* Kevin Drum and Paul Waldman on the GOP’s astounding Medicare reality distortion field.

1. Health care in general, and Medicare in particular, are bankrupting our country.
2. But government should never try to figure out which treatments are effective.
3. Medicare should pay for any treatment anyone wants, regardless of whether it works or what it costs.
4. If an insurance company refuses to pay for a procedure, that’s their right as actors in the free market; if Medicare refuses to pay for a procedure, that’s Washington bureaucrats trying to kill you.
5. We need to cut Medicare benefits, because don’t forget it’s bankrupting our country.

* The fiends! In an effort to promote healthful eating and, it has been suggested, to protect traditional Gallic cuisine, the French government has banned school and college cafeterias nationwide from offering ketchup with any food but — of all things — French fries.

* Australia has passed a carbon tax.

* Imagine there’s no peanut butter.

* And Polling Shows North Carolina Faces Uphill Battle To Defeat Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment. Honestly, how are we even still arguing about this?

Tuesday Night Links

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* They’re Occupying Raleigh next Saturday.

* They’re recalling Scott Walker next year.

* DoJ seems to want us to invade Iran and Mexico simultaneously.

* Who are the 99%? Rortybomb looks at the data.

* Four weeks on Wall Street.

* Freddie de Boer has an important #OWS reality check.

If the message is “I went to college and I don’t have the job and the car and the lifestyle I was promised,” then none of this means anything. These complaints, I’m sorry to say, are ultimately a way of saying “I didn’t get mine.” That’s not a rejection of our failing order. It is an embrace of it in the most cynical terms.

* Yes, Virginia, Republicans are deliberately tanking the economy.

* And I wouldn’t exactly recommend listening to the whole thing, but the first few minutes of the Ira Glass Sex Tape TAL parody are really something. Spot on.

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