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.

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