Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘The Avengers

Just a Few Monday Links

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* Sarah Kendzior and Rebecca Schuman tee up for the grad-school-backlash-backlash-backlash-honestly-I’ve-lost-count. As always, I’m very glad people are talking about exploitation, but nonetheless the unvarnished, apocalyptic negativity of some of these pieces just doesn’t reflect my own experiences in the academy very well at all. Academia contains multitudes; that’s actually a huge part of the problem.

CEO Pay 1,795-to-1 Multiple of Wages Skirts U.S. Law. Of course, the “law” being skirted is a toothless disclosure requirement, so don’t even sweat it.

* Brave director slams Disney’s sexy Merida makeover.

* Yglesias wept: Bangladesh to allow unions for garment workers.

* The Los Angeles Review of Books explains the Church of Scientology.

Wright proposes that the central document to understanding Hubbard’s psyche is his so-called “secret memoir,” composed around 1947, otherwise referred to as Hubbard’s “Affirmations” or “Admissions.” The document itself has an interesting history: it was found by a former archivist for the Church of Scientology, Gerald Armstrong, who had been tasked with organizing the founder’s personal papers. The more Armstrong read, the less he believed. Convinced that Hubbard was a huckster, Armstrong copied the documents that he discovered in the archives and delivered them to his lawyer. He was thereafter sued by the Church of Scientology. During the trial, Armstrong tried to get on record portions of Hubbard’s “Affirmations,” under the vehement protests of the Church’s lawyers. Since then, the document has leaked to the internet. Among Hubbard’s Affirmations:

“I can write.”

“My mind is still brilliant.”

“That masturbation was no sin or crime.”

“That I do not need to have ulcers any more.”

“That I believe in my gods and spiritual things.”

“That my magical work is powerful and effective.”

“That the numbers 7, 25, and 16 are not unlucky or evil for me.”

“That I am not bad to look upon.”

“That I am not susceptible to colds.”

“That these words and commands are like fire and will sear themselves into every corner of my being, making me happy and well and confident forever!”

Hubbard emerges, in Wright’s account, as a pitiable figure, driven by relentless ambition yet also stalked by an enduring fear of irrelevance. Flawed, prone to tyranny and abusive behavior, he sought to conquer his insecurities by achieving an outsized grandeur. “If one looks behind the Affirmations to the conditions they are meant to correct,” Wright concludes, “one sees a man who is ashamed of his tendency to fabricate personal stories, who is conflicted about his sexual needs, and who worries about his mortality. He has a predatory view of women but at the same time fears their power to humiliate him.”

* Austerity comes to CTU: the new 24 will only have twelve episodes.

* The first trailer for Joss Whedon’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. seems to tease Luke Cage.

* And xkcd covers birds and dinosaurs.

Saturday Night Link Fever (No Cure)

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Linkdumps from earlier in the week, Tuesday, Tuesday Night, Thursday, and Friday. There’s also one or six more worth seeing.

* More from the Reddit wars from Jezebel, Chad, Aaron, and Lili.

* Middle Earth: pretty much all dudes.

What is happening is a dramatic policy shift whereby the rights and entitlements the US working class has fought for and come to expect are now declared to be, for the foreseeable future, unreachable and unjustified. To put it in media terms, it is “the end of the American dream,” signifying the historic severance of US capital from the US working class, in the sense that US capitalism is becoming completely de-territorialized and is now refusing any commitment to the reproduction of the US workforce.

* A bit out of their jurisdiction, don’t you think? It’s True: The FBI Urged Martin Luther King to Commit Suicide.

* $134,078.44 lien for unpaid hospital bills filed against unarmed man shot by police while fleeing gunman. In a movie called America 2012, it’d be a little too on-the-nose.

ZeFrank recaps the vice-presidential debate. Bonus Get Your War On.

* Poll panickers relax: Obama is crushing it in Ohio, and Ohio is basically the whole game this year.

PPP’s newest Ohio poll finds Barack Obama leading 51-46, a 5 point lead not too different from our last poll two weeks ago when he led 49-45.

The key finding on this poll may be how the early voters are breaking out. 19% of people say they’ve already cast their ballots and they report having voted for Obama by a 76-24 margin. Romney has a 51-45 advantage with those who haven’t voted yet, but the numbers make it clear that he already has a lot of ground to make up in the final three weeks before the election.

Need more? Fluke, almost certainly incorrect poll puts Obama up in Arizona!

* Okay, go ahead and panic a little: Romney Debate Gains Show Staying Power. For what it’s worth Obama spiked a bit upward on the 538 graphs today.

* Of course there are still those who think the worse, the better.

Why Romney?  Because his transparency as a Neanderthal may, just may, bring people into the streets, while under Obama passivity and false consciousness appear almost irreversible.

Elsewhere on the Web, the affirmative case for Obama has more or less reduced to pure spite.

Do these folks really want their bigoted in-laws and racist YouTube commenters to have the satisfaction of having been right all along? Because that’s what they’ll take away from this.

‘Million Muppet March’ Planned. I’ll allow it, but know you’re on a tight leash.

Side Effects of Global Warming You’re Not Worried About Enough Yet.

Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil, says “we can adapt” to global climate disruption. Let’s see him telecommute from the places hardest hit.

* Agent Coulson will return for S.H.I.E.L.D. Then why didn’t Joss use my awesome final shot for The Avengers?

* Isn’t-it-pretty-to-think-so-filter: Why near-death experiences don’t constitute proof of an afterlife.

* And just in case you’re still out there in the cold: Presenting SmartSocks+: the smartest socks in the world.

Wednesday Morning

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* It’s not the project I’d have chosen for him, but I’ll take it: Joss Whedon will produce S.H.I.E.L.D., including writing and directing the pilot.

* Why did the FBI spy on Ray Bradbury?

* Another China Miéville interview: 1, 2.

* Biden 2016? Let’s not be hasty. Surely there’s some even less appealing candidate out there somewhere.

* What’s the per-diem for a trip to the Moon? About $8 bucks, minus lodging.

* Police enlist young offenders as confidential informants. But the work is high-risk, largely unregulated, and sometimes fatal.

* Of course you had me at Soviet-era board games.

And the Los Angeles Review of Books crawls deep inside Werner Herzog.

“You are on a foreign island, the first who has set foot on the island in centuries. It is overgrown now with jungles, butterflies, strange birds singing, and you are walking through the jungle and you come across a gigantic cliff. And upon closer inspection, this entire escarpment is made completely of emeralds, [where] a holy monk hundreds of years ago spent his whole life with a chisel and a hammer scratching a poem into the walls. It’s hard like diamond; it took all his life to engrave only three lines in a poem. Please open your eyes and you will see it; you will be the first one to see it, and you will read it to me.” When the man protested he didn’t have his glasses, Herzog encouraged him to move closer and he would be able to read it. His poem began: “Why can’t we drink the moon? Why is there no vessel to hold it?”

Links from the Week

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* I definitely picked the wrong week to stay off the Internet: SCOTUS plays the best and biggest game of “Is Health Care Reform Constitutional” of all time. It is! “The decision was 4-1-4.” Why Did Roberts Do It? How and Why Did Justice Roberts Do It? The right goes bonkers, claims Roberts is mentally ill. Did Roberts change his vote at the last minute? Did he? Did he? The long, sad twilight of Anthony Kennedy. Antonin Scalia, ranting old man. Did Scalia Scare Off Roberts? Ilya Shapiro: We Won Everything but the Case. And Ginsberg kills it. Ruth Bader Ginsberg, hero. More (oh, so much more) from SCOTUSblog.

Should we be surprised by the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the individual mandate and most of the Affordable Care Act? From the perspective of constitutional doctrine, the Supreme Court’s decision follows from 75 years of unbroken precedents.

* The Arizona SB-1070 decision was kind of a big deal, too.

* The important questions: Two-Thirds of Americans Think Barack Obama Is Better Suited to Handle an Alien Invasion Than Mitt Romney.

* The important questions: Did Nick Fury break the law when he refused to nuke New York?

* Jimmy Carter: The United States is abandoning its role as the global champion of human rights. Abandoning? Champion? Human rights? Let’s start over.

* Wes Anderson Explains How to Make a Wes Anderson Film.

* The National Labor Relations Board announced Friday that it will reconsider a 2004 ruling by the board that took away the right of graduate students at private universities to unionize.

* College students are facing a roughly $20 billion increase in the cost of their federal loans, despite a much-heralded deal in Washington to contain the expense of higher education.

Starting Sunday, students hoping to earn the graduate degrees that have become mandatory for many white-collar jobs will become responsible for paying the interest on their federal loans while they are in school and immediately after they graduate. That means they’ll have to pay an extra $18 billion out of pocket over the next decade.

Meanwhile, the government will no longer cover the interest on undergraduate loans during the six months after students finish school. That’s expected to cost them more than $2 billion.

* Ten Years After Decriminalization, Drug Abuse Down by Half in Portugal. Chicago decriminalizes small amounts of marijuana.

* Watch out: here comes the Big Rip.

* How Many LEGOs Would It Take to Build Your House? Kiss goodbye to your productivity: Google just brought 8 trillion LEGO blocks to Chrome.

*  Jesus wept: “We believe the current teaching of a multicultural curriculum is divisive,” the platform says, adding that it supports teaching “common American identity and loyalty instead of political correctness that nurtures alienation among racial and ethnic groups.” In Arizona, where Republicans banned multicultural programs, students in those programs actually out-performed their peers. Texas Republicans also believe “controversial theories” such evolution and climate change — which aren’t controversial at all — “should be taught as challengeable scientific theories subject to change as new data is produced.” There’s more: the GOP also opposes the teaching of “critical thinking skills” because they “focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.”

* When Roddenberry met Asimov.

* How 100-million year old geology affects modern presidential elections.

* And Smithsonian Magazine says it’s time to get your ass to Mars.

Friday Night!

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* So Mark Zuckerberg made $20 billion dollars today. On Twitter I’ve proposed taxing this windfall at 99%, leaving him with a cool $200 million, more money than he or his children or grandchildren could ever need—but like any good liberal I’m open to negotiation. UPDATE: Man alive, the U.S. tax code is screwed up.

* Behold the glories of the free market: New Mexico gave Marvel Studios $22 million to make a movie that’s now grossed over a billion.

* Meanwhile, Curt Schilling rips off Rhode Island for a few million dollars. More.

What We Don’t Know About Student Debt. More from Slate. Why the Right Hates English. And today’s postacademic rant: The American Corp-University Complex.

* Vulture Magazine tells Wes Anderson that they made a movie out of Battleship. He is… nonplussed.

* Obama basically confirms to Jaden Pinkett Smith the aliens are real.

* Arizona Secretary of State is threatening to leave Obama’s name off the ballot on birther grounds. Meanwhile, Breitbart.com has invented afterbirthism. Six months till November.

* Where are the campaigns spending money? #1 with a bullet: Greensboro, NC.

* Engineer: Star Trek’s Enterprise ship could be built in 20 years at a cost of $1 trillion. Well, if that’s all it costs we definitely should.

Why Teaching Equality Hurts Men.

How, then, does any of this relate to the frankly incendiary notion that teaching equality hurts men?

Because of everyone, straight, white men are the least likely people to experience exclusion and inequality first-hand during their youth, and are therefore the most likely to disbelieve its existence later in life. Unless they seek out ‘feminine’ pastimes as children – and why would they, when so much of boy-culture tells them not to? – they will never be rebuked or excluded on the basis of gender. Unless someone actively takes the time to convince them otherwise, they will learn as teens that the world is an equal place – an assertion that gels absolutely with their personal experiences, such that even if women, LGBTQ individuals and/or POC  are rarely or never visible in their world, they are nonetheless unlikely to stop and question it. They will likely study white-male-dominated curricula, laugh ironically at sexist, racist and homophobic jokes, and participate actively in a popular culture saturated with successful, varied, complex and interesting versions of themselves – and this will feel right and arouse no suspicion whatever, because this is what equality should feel like. They will experience no sexual or racial discrimination when it comes to getting a job and will, on average, earn more money than the women and POC around them – and if they stop to reflect on either of these things, they’ll do so in the knowledge that, as the world is equal, any perceived hierarchical differences are simply reflective of the meritocracy at work.

They will not see how the system supports their success above that of others, because they have been told that equality stripped them of their privileges long ago. Many will therefore react with bafflement and displeasure to the idea of positive discrimination, hiring quotas or any other such deliberate attempts at encouraging diversity – because not only will it seem to genuinely disadvantage them, but it will look like an effort to undermine equality by granting new privileges to specific groups. Never having experienced inequality, therefore, the majority of straight white men will be absolutely oblivious to their own advantages – not because they must necessarily be insensitive, sexist, racist, homophobic or unaware of the principles of equality; but because they have been told, over and over again, that there is no inequality left for them – or anyone else – to experience – and everything they have experienced up to that point will only have proved them right.

* Department of Actual Justice? DoJ has issued guidelines asserting the right of citizens to film police and for preventing prison rape.

* Theorizing bathrooms. Thanks, Melody!

* Today in science: The DNA of 10-year-olds who experienced violence in their young lives has been found to show wear and tear normally associated with aging, a Duke University study has found.

Today in unintentional metaphors.

Ultimately, all we can say at this point is that Capital One appears to be flagging donations to Friends of Scott Walker as potentially fraudulent.

* A Crackdown in Crayon: Bahrain’s Children Draw Their Country’s Crisis.

* A little bit cheerier: Scenes from Brazil.

* And a primer they’ll be using in Brazil very soon: How to rig a soccer match.

Saturday!

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Today, Trina is one of approximately 470 prisoners in Pennsylvania serving life without parole for crimes they committed as teenagers. I was pretty cranky about this the other day on Twitter with respect to the Mitt Romney bullying story (on which subject fellow UNCG MFA alum Steve Almond gets biblical here).

Activists say Argentina now leads the world in transgender rights after giving people the freedom to change their legal and physical gender identity simply because they want to, without having to undergo judicial, psychiatric and medical procedures beforehand. Great!

Brazilian politicians and journalists were not placated. “We’re going to show this gang that they can’t come down here and create whatever environmental mess they want,” Carlos Minc, a co-founder of Brazil’s Green Party and environmental secretary of Rio state, told the newspaper O Globo. “I want to see the CEO of Chevron swim in that oil.” Great!

The free market as more efficient than central planning, case 751.

All of the current administrative solutions are perverse and/or unsustainable.  Public universities cannot solve their financial problems by raising tuition even more quickly in the face of the tuition bubble, the student debt bubble, public anger after decades of similar annual increases at 3-4 times inflation, a pro-education president who is campaigning to punish tuition increases with further funding cuts, and mounting damage to an entire academic generation symbolized by the recent tripling of the number of PhDs on food stamps. 

* Funny how this works: Saying he had no discretion under state law, a judge sentenced a Jacksonville, Florida, woman to 20 years in prison Friday for firing a warning shot in an effort to scare off her abusive husband.

Marissa Alexander unsuccessfully tried to use Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” law to derail the prosecution, but a jury in March convicted her of aggravated assault after just 12 minutes of deliberation.

* Taibbi: Obama versus Romney is the worst reality show on TV since the Tila Tequila days. The characters are terrible, there’s no suspense, and the biggest thing is, it lacks both spontaneity and a gross-out factor.

* A quick note from Jameson about base and superstructure.

* The Lego Lord of the Rings Videogame Is Really Happening. I’ll take one of each applicable video game system, please.

* Wes Anderson Tumblr blogs. It’s early going, but “Directed by Wes Anderson” may eventually be your winner here.

* And I’d have paid good money to see a Maurice Sendak Avengers.

Friday!

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* There’s opposition research, and then there’s Chicago-style opposition research. This story prompted some interesting conversations and confessions with other bullying-concerned academics on my Twitter feed yesterday.

* In fact, this whole marriage thing is a lot like whiteness. Over time, certain groups get to be added to this realm of privilege, so that other groups can always be left out of it.

* Picture of the Day: North Carolina, Gay Marriage, and Education.

* I want to suggest that the readers of the Chronicle are almost entirely irrelevant to Riley’s purposes. Her post was not written for us. That it pissed us off is, more-or-less, gravy. Rather, Riley wrote her post to provide raw material for conservative pundits and editorialists, state legislators, and wealthy university trustees–the people who are publicly leading the charge to defund higher education. Riley’s piece wasn’t written to be read as much as it was written to be used. And a piece in a respected, serious publication like the Chronicle is really useful. Publishing an essay in the Chronicle is legitimizing, in a way that publishing the same essay in the National Review is not. In National Review, a call to defund African American Studies looks predictably reactionary; in the Chronicle, the same call looks like a topic that’s worthy of debate. Even as I write this sentence, I have no doubt that, using Riley’s post as an impetus, hack editorialists are working up their outrage, state senators are planning hearings, and trustees are calling university presidents to demand reports on African American Studies.

* In 2011, NYPD Made More Stops Of Young Black Men Than The Total Number Of Young Black Men In New York. And yet somehow crime persists! We need more stop-and-frisks!

* Facts are stupid things. We must be rid of them.

* Here’s a website that helps you visualize deep time.

* New York City Street Corners Then and Now.

* Joss Whedon apologizes to his fans for making something successful.

* How much would it cost to clean up after The Avengers?

* “Sextuple Jeopardy: The Groundhog Day of capital murder trials.”

* California eats its children seed corn.

* And our long national nightmare is delayed for six months: Community has been renewed for a fourth season. Still no word on the movie.

Five-Sentence Review: ‘The Avengers’ as Lesser Whedona

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Of course I deeply enjoyed The Avengers, but my sense is it’ll be up to The Avengers 2: Avengers Reveng’d! to salvage the series from the scrapheap of Lesser Whedona. Could there be any better confirmation of the kneejerk elitist sensibilities of Internet nerddom than to have this film be Joss’s first genuine mainstream success? Though certainly funny and engaging, and on occasion very clever, The Avengers is more or less superheroes completely by-the-numbers, almost entirely lacking in the deconstructive self-awareness that characterizes more artistically ambitious Whedon creations like Buffy, Firefly, and especially Cabin in the Woods and the too-neglected Dollhouse. The film has zero critical purchase on its genre, and precious little Whedonesque irony about itself.

In short, The Avengers is what Buffy would have been, if it were only fight scenes and quips.

Tons of Weekend Links

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* “Austerity is not inevitable”: France falls to the Red Menace.

* Podcast of the weekend: Global science fiction on WorldCanvass, with Brooks Landon, Rob Latham, Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, and others.

* Charlie Stross prophesies the death of science fiction.

But anyway, to summarize: my point is that our genre sits uneasily within boundaries delineated by the machinery of sales. And that creaking steam-age machinery is currently in the process of being swapped out for some kind of irridescent, gleaming post-modern intrusion from the planet internet. New marketing strategies become possible, indeed, become essential. And the utility of the old signifiers—the rocket ship logo on the spine of the paperback—diminish in the face of the new (tagging, reader recommendations, “if you liked X you’ll love Y” cross-product correlations by sales engines, custom genre-specific cover illustrations, and so on).

* Tom Hayden remembers the Port Huron Statement (or at least the compromise second draft).

* Joe Biden endorses marriage equality for about fifteen minutes.

Black Studies Hitpiece Leads to Chronicle of Higher Ed Twitter Trainwreck. Why Is the Chronicle of Higher Education Publishing A Racist Hack? Grad Students Respond to Riley Post on African-American Studies. The Inferiority of Blackness as a Subject. Anti-intellectualism, déjà vu.

When copyright term-extension meets infinite life-extension.

* A tribute to Disneyland’s secret restroom.

* Connecticut continues its recent spate of being decent its citizens, legalizes medical medicine.

* Stand for your ground: A Florida woman faces prison after firing a warning shot to scare off an abusive husband.

* Nerds assemble! Joss Whedon finally made something everybody likes. An interview. Another. Whedon on Batman. Whedon on Wonder Woman.

* The Avengers: Will superhero movies never end?

What I see in “The Avengers,” unfortunately, is a diminished film despite its huge scale, and kind of a bore. It’s a diminishment of Whedon’s talents, as he squeezes himself into an ill-fitting narrative straitjacket, and it’s a diminished form that has become formula, that depends entirely on minor technical innovations and leaves virtually no room for drama or tragedy or anything else that might make the story actually interesting. To praise the movie lavishly, as so many people have done and will continue to do, basically requires making endless allowances. It’s really good (for being a comic-book movie). It’s really good (for being almost exactly like dozens of other things). It’s really good (for being utterly inconsequential).

* Today’s single chart that explains everything.

* The football suicides. More players file concussion lawsuits against the NFL. Will the NFL still exist in 20 years?

* The internship scam.

How the Blind Are Reinventing the iPhone.

* Save the Holocene! Why “the Anthropocene” might not be a useful construct.

* Do you remember Frank Kunkel? How about Frank Nowarczyk? John Marsh or Robert Erdman? Johann Zazka? Martin Jankowiak? Not even Michael Ruchalski? Do you remember the call “Eight hours for labor, eight hours for rest, eight hours for recreation?” The names are those of the seven of the nine people killed in 1886 in Bay View, Wisconsin for demanding eight hour work days.

* On Colorado’s policy of sending kids to adult court.

* A report by the ABA shows that some law schools hire as many as 15% of new graduates in an effort to boost employment numbers.

* Consider the case of Toby Groves.

* New Police Strategy in New York: Sexual Assault Against Peaceful Protesters.

* North Carolina’s Ban on Gay Marriage Appears Likely to Pass.

* Since Mexico’s legislative body passed sweeping climate change legislation on April 19, Mexico joins the UK as the only two countries in the world with legally binding emissions goals to combat climate change.

http://thebiblein100days.tumblr.com/

* American Airlines channels Darth Vader: We are altering the deal. Pray we do not alter it further.

* And Stephen Colbert’s employment of the comedic stylings of German Ambassador Hans Beinholtz continues to be my absolute favorite thing of all time.

More

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Monday!

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* The e-Rater’s biggest problem, he says, is that it can’t identify truth. He tells students not to waste time worrying about whether their facts are accurate, since pretty much any fact will do as long as it is incorporated into a well-structured sentence. “E-Rater doesn’t care if you say the War of 1812 started in 1945,” he said. As Kevin Drum notes, this may less a bug than a feature in these benighted times.

* The White House Correspondents’ Dinner may be fascism with a human face, but at least there’s Stephen Colbert.

Of course, all of us should be honored to be listed on the TIME 100 alongside the two men who will be slugging it out in the fall: President Obama, and the man who would defeat him, David Koch.

Give it up everybody. David Koch.

Little known fact — David, nice to see you again, sir.

Little known fact, David’s brother Charles Koch is actually even more influential. Charles pledged $40 million to defeat President Obama, David only $20 million. That’s kind of cheap, Dave.

Sure, he’s all for buying the elections, but when the bill for democracy comes up, Dave’s always in the men’s room. I’m sorry, I must have left Wisconsin in my other coat.

I was particularly excited to meet David Koch earlier tonight because I have a Super PAC, Colbert Super PAC, and I am — thank you, thank you — and I am happy to announce Mr. Koch has pledged $5 million to my Super PAC. And the great thing is, thanks to federal election law, there’s no way for you to ever know whether that’s a joke.

By the way, if David Koch likes his waiter tonight, he will be your next congressman.

* Podcast of the day: “Bombing Savages in Law, in Fact, in Fiction” from Sven Lindqvist.

* n+1 talks debt.

Last quick point on student loans: If I am driving around while texting, and I negligently run over and kill a child, or if I am in a gambling institution and I have an 11 and the dealer has an ace, and I mistakenly double down and get a huge gambling debt—those kind of debts—hurting someone, killing someone, gambling debts, or all kinds of other debts—are treated less harshly under our bankruptcy code than the debts associated with trying to educate yourself. Student loans are the most repressive kind of debts under the legal structures that we have. These are democratic bills. People voted for them. Hillary Clinton voted for the 2005 bankruptcy bill. Biden voted for it; Biden pushed it. These are things we have chosen, and they are incredibly repressive for student debts.

More here.

* All about Paul Ryan.

* Academic advice: How to apply for things.

* zunguzungu explains the albatross on Johnny Depp’s brain.

* Life inside the Earth Liberation Front.

* Stephen King: Tax Me, for F@%&’s Sake!

“ ‘Moby-Dick’ is about the oil industry,” they said. “And the Ship of American State. The owners of the Pequod are rapacious and stingy religious hypocrites. The ship’s business is to butcher whales and turn them into an industrial energy product. The mates are the middle management. The harpooners, who are from races colonized by America one way or another, are supplying the expert tech labor. Elijah the prophet — from the American artist caste — foretells the Pequod’s doom, which comes about because the chief executive, Ahab, is a megalomaniac who wants to annihilate nature.

“Nature is symbolized by a big white whale, which has interfered with Ahab’s personal freedom by biting off his leg and refusing to be slaughtered and boiled. The narrator, Ishmael, represents journalists; his job is to warn America that it’s controlled by psychotics who will destroy it, because they hate the natural world and don’t grasp the fact that without it they will die. That’s enough literature for now. Can we have popcorn?”

How Apple Sidesteps Billions in Taxes.

* The Avengers Has Earned $178.4 Million, And It Hasn’t Even Opened in the U.S. Yet.

* And here comes the Portal 2 DLC.

Thursday Night Links

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* I just want to hear him deny it: Chris Christie Denies Falling Asleep at Springsteen Show.

* Top 10 dying industries in the United States. Top 10 fastest growing industries in the United States.

* But the preferences of developed, aging polities — first Japan, now the United States and Europe — are obvious to a dispassionate observer. Their overwhelming priority is to protect the purchasing power of incumbent creditors. That’s it. That’s everything. All other considerations are secondary.

* How killing by remote control has changed the way we fight. More here.

* I know some people who have this: Witzelsucht (the Germans just have the best words for everything, don’t they?) is a brain dysfunction that causes all sorts of compulsive silliness: bad jokes, corny puns, wacky behavior. It’s also sometimes called the “joking disease,” and as Taiwanese researchers phrased it in a 2005 report, it’s a “tendency to tell inappropriate and poor jokes.”

* Details on the coming Arrested Development revival on Netflix.

* Tumblr of the day: Context-Free Patent Art.

* Avengers vs Avengers XXXI’ve just seen the film… the real film, the proper film. It’s quite possible that the porn parody will pass the Bechdel test, where the real film doesn’t…

* Drew Goddard talks to AICN about Cabin in the Woods.

* Back to the Future: The Pitch Meeting.

* Hey, Everyone — Stop Taking This Picture!

* Cheap theatrics, but okay, you got me: “President Barack Obama sits on the famed Rosa Parks bus at the Henry Ford Museum following an event in Dearborn, Mich., April 18, 2012.”

* Actually existing media bias. (1)

* Actually existing media bias. (2)

* http://www.yourlogicalfallacyis.com/.

* In a 2008 study, Susanne Jaeggi and Martin Buschkuehl, now of the University of Maryland, found that young adults who practiced a stripped-down, less cartoonish version of the game also showed improvement in a fundamental cognitive ability known as “fluid” intelligence: the capacity to solve novel problems, to learn, to reason, to see connections and to get to the bottom of things. The implication was that playing the game literally makes people smarter.

Eric Rabkin is doing an open course on fantasy and science fiction. Details at the link.

* And the strange case of Vatican v. Nuns.

The Vatican has appointed an American bishop to rein in the largest and most influential group of Catholic nuns in the United States, saying that an investigation found that the group had “serious doctrinal problems.”

The Vatican’s assessment, issued on Wednesday, said that members of the group, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, had challenged church teaching on homosexuality and the male-only priesthood, and promoted “radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.”

The sisters were also reprimanded for making public statements that “disagree with or challenge the bishops, who are the church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals.” During the debate over the health care overhaul in 2010, American bishops came out in opposition to the health plan, but dozens of sisters, many of whom belong to the Leadership Conference, signed a statement supporting it — support that provided crucial cover for the Obama administration in the battle over health care.

Friday Linkfest

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* The Portal 2s that could have been. I do, I happily admit, want to play all of these.

* Drop everything! My brilliant friend and colleague Melody Jue is now blogging at Philosophy of Water.

* At right is your photo of the day: An aurora over Faskrudsfjordur, Iceland.

* Joss Whedon explains how to write a sequel.

* Steal $80 million in a Ponzi scheme, get 18 months. Steal $4,367 in food stamps, get 3 years.

* “A dozen earthquakes in northeastern Ohio were almost certainly induced by injection of gas-drilling wastewater into the earth,” Ohio oil and gas regulators said today.

* The year without a winter. Things are going to get weirder. But don’t worry: God told James Inhofe global warming is a hoax.

* “I have not heard of another hug”: Janet Bell, Derrick Bell’s widow, speaks out.

* Pat Robertson gets one right: he says we ought to legalize it.

* The Seuss book no one’s bought us (yet): The Seven Lady Godivas: The True Facts Concerning History’s Barest Family.

* Jacob Burak crunches the odds on Russian Roulette. But he’s completely failed to account for the quantum immortality factor.

* Science quantifies the Tina Fey effect.

“When all other variables in the model are held at their mean, those who watched the SNL clip had a 45.4 percent probability of saying that Palin’s nomination made them less likely to vote for McCain,” they write. “This same probability drops to 34 percent among those who saw coverage of the debate through other media. Exposure to the clip had no significant effect on the likelihood of voting for Obama.”

* When Terry Kneiss wins a Showcase Showdown, son, he wins it.

* On chess, gender, and Laszlo Polgar’s Grandmaster Experiment.

* For more than two years, Adrian Schoolcraft secretly recorded every roll call at the 81st Precinct in Brooklyn and captured his superiors urging police officers to do two things in order to manipulate the “stats” that the department is under pressure to produce: Officers were told to arrest people who were doing little more than standing on the street, but they were also encouraged to disregard actual victims of serious crimes who wanted to file reports. I’m shocked, shocked! Followup to this This American Life story.

* The headline reads, “Breakthrough Alzheimer’s treatment stops brain damage in mice.”

* And TPM has today’s sci-fi architecture porn.

Thursday Links

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The Age of Fan Fiction

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What’s been truly bizarre, though, is the way the mainstream has slowly headed in the same direction, and without anyone noticing it, we seem to have handed over our entire industry to the creation of fanfiction on a corporate level, and at this point, I’m not sure how we’re expecting the pendulum to ever swing back. I know people love to blame Spielberg and Lucas for creating the modern blockbuster age, but at least when they decided to pay tribute to their inspirations, they did so in interesting ways. Spielberg has talked about how his frustrations at hearing that only English filmmakers could direct James Bond movies led to the creation of Indiana Jones, and Lucas was working out his love of Flash Gordon when he created “Star Wars.” Those are healthy ways to work through your love of something, and absolutely make sense as important pieces in the creative process. What’s scary is how these days, filmmakers wouldn’t bother with that last step, the part where you take your inspirations and run them through your own filter. Now, instead, we live in an age where we are simply doing the source material again and again and again, and where original creation seems to be almost frowned upon as a “risk.”

Riffing on Alan Sepinwall’s recent claim that The Muppets is the greatest work of fan fiction ever made, Drew McWeeny declares we are living in the age of fanfiction. It’s not as bad as the quoted bit above makes it sound.

Written by gerrycanavan

November 29, 2011 at 9:18 pm

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