Posts Tagged ‘theory’
* Sing to me, Muse, of Fredric Jameson. I’ve never understood the “worst writer” slam against Fred; alongside all the other good things I’d have to say about his work I think he’s actually very clear and precise.
* Once upon a time in America this was called advocating for justice. But in today’s America, it’s deemed a miscarriage of justice.
* The “trigger warning” has spread from blogs to college classes. Can it be stopped? Content Warnings and College Classes. The Trigger Warned Syllabus. We’ve gone too far with ‘trigger warnings.’ I think this kind of “trigger warning” — and even offering alternative assignments when circumstances warrant — is very often good pedagogy on the level of the individual classroom; I did so this semester when teaching Lolita, somewhat reluctantly, but I’d come to feel it was necessary. I’m very skeptical it would ever be a good idea at the level of administration or policy.
* Tendrils of the invisible web: the undersea cables wiring the Earth.
* “Wearing Google Glass automatically means that all social interaction you have must be not just on yours, but Google’s terms,” Adrian Chen wrote at Gawker almost a year ago, when we all first cringed in fear.
* You know every cop is a criminal: David Cameron’s porn-filter advisor arrested for possession of images of sexual abuse of children.
* The Civ V files: Never Move Your Settler?
* Sea Level Rise Threatens The Statue Of Liberty And Hundreds Of Other Cultural Heritage Sites. Chipotle Warns It Might Stop Serving Guacamole If Climate Change Gets Worse. But don’t worry! President Obama’s New Budget Is Peppered With Efforts To Tackle Climate Change. Peppered!
* Milwaukee shuts down Little Caesars for day over rodent droppings. A whole day! That’ll show ‘em.
* Cheerleader Sues Parents for Refusing to Pay College Tuition. Gambler sues, says he lost $500,000 playing drunk. Having not heard any of the evidence or consulted any of the relevant laws, Canavan Court rules in favor of both plaintiffs!
* How did DC manage to cast anyone but Bryan Cranston as Lex Luthor — much less Jesse Eisenberg? It’s a crime.
* Pretty mediocre hoax. Everyone knows Mattel has had working hoverboards since the 80s anyway.
* And I try not to get sucked into the wingnut-said-something-crazy! scene anymore, but every once in a while: my god.
* Kinsey gaffe from the Times re: CUNY: Mr. Milliken, 56, the president of the University of Nebraska since 2004, will take over a school system that has undergone a spate of recent expansion but is still troubled by large pockets of impoverished and academically lagging students, the overwhelming majority of whom come from the city’s public schools. Still troubled by existence of the students the school was established to serve. Must be a real nightmare over there.
* First as tragedy… Žižek’s Jokes contains every joke cited, paraphrased, or narrated in Žižek’s work in English (including some in unpublished manuscripts), including different versions of the same joke that make different points in different contexts.
* Stutzer and Frey found that a person with a one-hour commute has to earn 40% more money to be as satisfied with life as someone who walks to the office. On the other hand, for a single person, exchanging a long commute for a short walk to work has the same effect on happiness as finding a new love.
* Disband West Virginia. I’m From West Virginia and I’ve Got Something to Say About the Chemical Spill. Why So Many West Virginians Relied on Water from the Elk River: Industry Already Polluted the Others.
* The university is dead. The question to ask now is not, how do we bring it back. That’s impossible and quite undesirable. The question is what new forms of genuinely democratic self-organization might rise from its ashes? To even begin to ask this question we must first of all get rid of the police.
* Cultural Preservation: Preserving Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital. This is where Dylan hitchhiked to see Woody Guthrie, right at the border of my hometown.
* Bruce v. Christie: I’ll allow it.
* Schweitzer tacks against Obama: The inside story of how Obamacare became an insurance-industry bailout.
* NLRB finds that Wal-Mart illegally intimidated and retaliated against organizers. I assume that means the corporation is dissolved and becomes a worker’s collective.
* Studies Confirm: Kids Ruin Your Life. Now they tell me?
* And three years ago it cost me $1000 to sequence one gene. Now that’s what it costs to sequence an entire genome.
* Reviews of Disability in Science Fiction at Tor and wordgathering focus on my chapter in particular, each taking up a different half of it; read them together and you get a pretty good sense of what I was on about.
* Confirm your suspicions about who the worst people at Gawker are: What Should Be Done About Detroit? A Gawker Internal Debate.
* Boy with Asthma Dies After School Confiscates His Inhaler. ”Zero tolerance policy against asthma inhalers.”
* That’s not what the Left wants. We want to give people the chance to do something else with their lives, something besides merely tending to it, without having to take a 30-year detour on Wall Street to get there. The way to do that is not to immerse people even more in the ways and means of the market, but to give them time and space to get out of it. That’s what a good welfare state, real social democracy, does: rather than being consumed by life, it allows you to make your life. Freely. One less bell to answer, not one more.
* The newest Ted Chiang story details the struggle of forgetting against memory.
* CFP for ICFA 2014, always my favorite conference experience of the year. This year’s theme is “Fantastic Empires.” If history is any guide, I’d wager Ted Chiang will be there!
* Am I Yanomami or am I nabuh? The child of a Yanomami woman and a male American anthropologist goes to the Amazon to look for his mother.
* The five (and a half) stages of humanitarian military intervention. Great moments in op-eds: Bomb Syria, Even if It Is Illegal. Adam Kotsko: If the U.S. government lacks either the will or the ability to take care of those very serious problems in a country where it enjoys largely unquestioned legitimacy, stable institutions, and a docile population, exactly why the fuck is it remotely plausible that it can solve problems in a foreign country embroiled in a civil war?
* Northeastern just has its adjuncts’ best interests at heart. If anything, maybe it loves too much.
* Definitely, 100% accurate: Scientists say they’ve found key to actual warp drive.
SCANDAL. If governmental, express surprise that people are surprised. If sexual, declare it a distraction, but seek out the details.
SEMINAL. Be sure to use in a review of a woman’s work. Proclaim your innocence after.
SMART. Any essay that confirms your prejudices.
STRIKE. Always “surgical.” (See EGGS.)
* Stylish bulletproof whiteboards for today’s academic-on-the-go. Available in pink, blue, and green!
* What would happen if, at long last, women and especially mothers were paid the market rate for their services? To begin with, it might buoy the baseline value of such work above zero, so that rank-and-file nurses, cleaners, and child care workers moiling in the waged economy wouldn’t get such lousy pay. Rosler and Federici belong to a generation of leftists largely suspicious of economic rationality, but to extend it, rather than battle to incrementally reduce its influence, could do women good. Put a price on women’s work, they say. If that work suddenly seems too expensive, it should. Perhaps men — increasingly the sex without work — might just do “women’s work” at lower pay, as women have done men’s since the Industrial Revolution. And perhaps women, as studies have shown they do, will use their wealth to improve the quality of life of entire households, entire societies.
* Coffee bad for you again. Stay safe, academics!
Is it true that you wrote your undergraduate thesis on a Marxist overview of popular 1970s cinema and hegemonic discourses?
I did. The piece was actually called Base and Super Sucker which was a play on the phrase “Basic Super Structure”, which is a Marxist proposition, hegemony and consent in Star Wars and related works. Basically I was using Marxist modes of critical theory to address Star Wars. And the main thrust of it was that if you watch any kind of television or theatre or film that has certain kind of themes or opinions and you don’t critically recognize them, then you consent with them. So very simply put, if you watch a racist comedian and you laugh, then you are a racist. And there are various preoccupations and concerns that flow through popular cinema that reflect things that are going on in society, certain ideas and certain fears. The thesis suggested that by watching films like those you are participating in those fears and preoccupations.
He talked a little bit about this on WTF the other week.
* “In previous papers, ‘Financing the University – Parts 12-14’, I have demonstrated that there is a much larger constellation of management bureaucracy throughout UC, which has grown enormously over the past decade and is now estimated to waste some $600 million per year. The Senior Management Group, which you talk about here, is just the tip of that iceberg.”
* Games that combine both compelling narrative and dissonance are a rare find, and to our great fortune, one of the most respected publishers in the field is about to release a new, revised edition of interactive literature’s lost masterpiece. A game that offers profound storytelling, and a tension of opposing narrative and gameplay that threatens to tear the entire game asunder. It shows us greed, fear and familial neglect, and studies the horror of capitalism taken to logical extreme. I speak, of course, of Capcom’s tour-de-force: DuckTales. A footnote, perhaps, to Dorfman and Mattelart’s classic How to Read Donald Duck.
* We Coke drinkers have known it for years: Pepsi causes cancer.
* Jet stream sure acting funning. Eh, it’s probably nothing.
* With all the bad news today, this is the one that really breaks my brain: Texas Says It’s OK to Shoot an Escort If She Won’t Have Sex With You. That’s completely lunatic. I just can’t believe it’s a real event that happened.
* My friend Brent Bellamy has a working bibliography of U.S. post-apocalyptic fiction.
Think about the writing-for-free model that has taken over journalism. His point can be supported by the millions made by Arianna Huffington, while many of her writers worked for little or nothing. Yes, writing is one of what Lanier is calling the “pleasant” jobs — as is teaching (I didn’t say easy. But dedicated writers and educators alike see what they do as rewarding and important work.) Why should journalists or educators be working for little to no money, living at the edge of poverty, while the people at the top of this sort of economic structure are reaping enormous fortune? According to Lanier, this is a conscious breach of the all-important social contract that not only provides what he calls the “hump” of middle class citizens — that middle area surge on the economic chart where the majority of people fall — but that large, sustained middle class keeps the rest of the system going. Without it, the economy fails, as does democracy itself.
* Northrop Frye by way of Adam Roberts: The basis of critical knowledge is the direct experience of literature, certainly, but experience as such is never adequate. We are always reading Paradise Lostwith a hangover or seeing King Lear with an incompetent Cordelia or disliking a novel because some scene in it connects with something suppressed in our memories, and our most deeply satisfying responses are often made in childhood, to be seen later as immature over-reacting… As a structure of knowledge, then, criticism, like other structures of knowledge, is in one sense a monument to a failure of experience, a tower of Babel or one of the “ruins of time” which, in Blake’s phrase, “build mansions in eternity.” Adam makes the same connection to SF I make:
I think this resonates so strongly with me partly because science fiction was something I fell in love with as a child-reader. I still love it; still write it and write about it. But I’m increasingly conscious of the ways in which the exercise is based upon a kind of structural hermeneutic inadequacy. ‘Our most deeply satisfying responses are often made in childhood, to be seen later as immature over-reacting’ is almost a too perfect thumbnail of the adult apprehension of SF; and SF criticism always a kind of running-to-catch-up uttering various post-facto justifications. What’s neat about this Frye quotation is the sense it conveys that, actually, all criticism is in the business of doing this.
* Lukewarm Obama scandals coming day-by-day now. Hello, second term!
* Peter Frase has more on Universal Basic Income as utopia.
* And let this be our culture’s epitaph. We could do worse.
In other words, while a few already well-paid superprofessors get their egos stroked conducting experiments that are doomed to fail, “second- and third-tier universities and colleges, and community colleges” risk closing because Coursera and its ilk have sent higher education price expectations through the floor and systematically devalued everybody else’s work. And they get to do all this while dispensing a produuct that they know is inferior! Jay Gould would be proud.
* The irony, of course, is that “business” logic can kill its own host, like any parasite. When taken as an end in itself, it destroys everything — and then there’s nowhere else to invest, no more areas producing real values that can be syphoned off into the giant pool of money. The imaginary values that finance has racked up then become the object of a game of hot potato, furiously churning through the system until the point when they simply disappear (i.e., lose all their value). That’s what running everything “like a business” does — it trades real value for imaginary value that is then destroyed.
* Just because it’s totally ineffective doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it: A study by the Pew Charitable Trust in 2011, which looked at school closures in six US cities, found that school districts end up saving less than had been predicted. But think of all the other advantages school closings offer!
A University of Chicago study focusing on schools closed between 2001 and 2006 found that only six percent of displaced students ended up in high-performing schools.
And 42 percent of students continued to attend schools with ‘very low’ achievement levels. A year after changing schools, students’ reading and math abilities were not any better or worse.
Students who did go to better-performing schools also had to travel an average of 6km to get there – which critics say risks the safety of students who have to go through neighbourhoods containing rival gangs.
And here, at the limit of life that idling alone brings into view in a nonthreatening way, we find another kind of nested logic. Call it the two-step law of life. Rule No. 1 is tomorrow we die; and Rule No. 2 is nobody, not even the most helpful robot, can change Rule No. 1. Enjoy!
* The Essential Verso Undergraduate Reading List. Makes me think I really need to start including more theory on my syllabi.
* MOOCs we can believe in? One of the most remote outposts of Jesuit higher education is tucked away in dusty northwest Kenya, in a place whose name means “Nowhere” in Swahili. There, at Kakuma Refugee Camp, a small group of students — refugees from several neighboring African countries, including Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia — are enrolled in online courses taught by 28 Jesuit colleges, mostly in the United States. The course is part of the Jesuit Commons project.
* Unexpected: SCOTUSblog now thinks there’s at least five judges who will vote to strike down DOMA. Meanwhile, McCaskill seems to have triggered Hagan to announce her support of marriage equality.
* Ripped from the stuff Fox News usually just has to make up: Gov. Rick Scott of Florida has stepped into the fray over an offensive classroom exercise at Florida Atlantic University in which students were asked to stomp on a sheet of paper with “Jesus” written on it.
Boston College officials sent a letter to students on March 15 demanding an end to student-run “Safe Sites,” a network of dorm rooms and other locations where free contraceptives and safe sex information are available.
Students living in the “Safe Sites” were told in the letter that the distribution of condoms is in conflict with their “responsibility to protect the values and traditions of Boston College as a Jesuit, Catholic institution.”
* xkcd considers the past as another country … with an outdated military and massive oil reserves.
* And making the rounds again: The 50 Most Perfectly Timed Photos Ever.
* Breaking: Liberal arts majors didn’t kill the economy.
* In the beginning, God created the wealth and the jobs. Now the wealth was a formless void and darkness covered the sources of value, while the spirit of capitalism hovered over the depths. And then God said, “Let there be jobs,” and there were jobs. And God saw that the jobs were not very good; and God separated the jobs from the surplus-value. God called the surplus-value Wealth, and the jobs he called Generosity. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. Genesis 1: A Neoliberal Account.
* Janet Stephens, amateur hairdressing historian. Fun story, despite the classist overtones.
* Fox News screws up every day, but this one is pretty classic.
* There’s obviously some sort of long-term plan here that I don’t yet understand, like the time-bombs hidden in No Child Left Behind: North Carolina to formalize two “tracks” of high school diplomas, “job-ready” and “college-ready.”
* The Talmudic solution to the drone crisis: invent (another) secret, unaccountable court system in lieu of actual due process.
* And George Bush, painter.
Friday Links! Soviet Choose Your Own Adventure, World Tetris Competition, Gödel vs. the Constitution, and More
* 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.
* 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.
* 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?