Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘United Nations

So Many Wednesday Links It Is Guaranteed to Make You Sick

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* Brian Thill on academia, labor, and the prestige economy.

* Freddie de Boer on the unbearable wretchedness of higher education journalism.

* The only situation in which one would treat free speech as an end would be one in which there were no fundamental problems: no iniquities, immiseration, exploitation. No need for free speech as means. So we might say Dirks is speaking from the position of campus-as-utopia, a campus of nothing but speech, where the sun always shines and all other issues have been resolved happily for all. A campus wherein there was no privatized public education, no massive debt- and labor-loads for students, no shitty working conditions for campus workers, no cops being called in to beat or pepper-spray students and faculty into the hospital. No struggle over BDS, no systematic racism, no burying of rape statistics and accompanying leniency for perpetrators — struggles in which the administration is an aggressive antagonist, a side.

* Remember the other day when I linked to that piece about colleges recruiting lacrosse players as a proxy for wealth? Totally and absolutely unrelatedly, colleges are now giving out athletic video game scholarships.

* Steven Salaita has now spoken publicly at UIUC about his firing by UIUC.

* The New Inquiry 32: Back to School.

School is the alibi for class society. Passage through it is supposed to be what makes the unequal distribution of violence and luxury in the bourgeois world a fair outcome, what makes the bodies it disposes of earn their disposal. It is also the house of knowledge and so a powerful node of induction into the mysteries of this bloody society. Those who want to approach the knowledge held there must also internalize its mechanisms. Some go on to help it reproduce itself, as teachers. Unexpected success in this self-­transformation is sometimes called class mobility, but to celebrate those who are capable of moving admits that the majority are fixed in place.

How long will we have to wait for the poll finding that most Americans “regret” having supported this new war in Iraq and Syria and view it as a “mistake”, as they prepare, in a frenzy of manufactured fear, to support the next proposed war? Even the liberal Kevin Drum hopes Obama can stop Obama before Obama invades Iraq.

* Against TFA: “I am, I am asking you to quit.”

* Crisis for the crisis in the humanities. The full report is here.

* Scalia wept: Death penalty fans reel as one of their go-to examples for the necessity of capital punishment turns out to involve two innocent men.

* Hell in Rotherham.

Just 13, and Working Risky 12-Hour Shifts in the Tobacco Fields.

* Too rich to punish.

* From the archives: Almost everything in Dr. Strangelove was true. Capitalism Whack-a-Mole.

* Almost All the Books People Say Influenced Them Were Written for Children.

* Steve Almond on quitting football.

* Segregation forever: Share of white kids attending majority white schools. More links after the map.

2014-09-10 12.49.28 pm

UC Berkeley police have obtained more than a dozen M16 rifles via the 1033 program, as of June 2014. That’s outrageous. I can’t imagine them needing more than four or five tops.

* The Economist Has a Slavery Problem. Reagan reviews Roots, 1977.

A new portrait of the founding father challenges the long-held perception of Thomas Jefferson as a benevolent slaveholder. No! No! I simply won’t believe it!

* Logistics, Capitalist Circulation, Chokepoints.

* Cuomo (and de Blasio) after Teachout.

Where MacArthur fellows were born and where they lived at the time of the award.

How Much Carbon Dioxide Is in the Atmosphere? A Massive Increase in 2013 Sets a Record. “We are running out of time.”

* Milwaukee wept: Meteorologists Predict Record-Shattering Snowfall Coming Soon.

Almost Half Of North American Bird Species Are Threatened By Climate Change.

* Amazon Indian Warriors Beat and Strip Illegal Loggers in Battle for Jungle’s Future.

* Louisiana doesn’t look like Louisiana anymore.

* The oceans are acidifying at the fastest rate in 300 million years.

* Whiteness and conservation.

Fracking May Be Worse Than Burning Coal. People Who Live Near Fracking More Likely To Become Sick, Study Finds.

* Twilight for alumni donations. As someone remarked on Twitter, this piece seriously undercounts the rise of student debt and twentysomething un- and underemployment as factors here.

* Dystopia now: Airlines have never been better at making certain your flight is full.

Forty Percent of Police Families Experience Domestic Violence.

Peacekeepers Sexually Exploited And Abused Women And Girls In Somalia.

Video Shows NYPD Officers Taking Turns Beating Man After He Asked Why He Was Being Searched.

Cops Are Sorry They Keep Losing Cool Guns That the Military Gives Them.

“Driving while black” is, indeed, a measurable phenomenon. Look, if we’re going to make this about facts…

* BREAKING NEWS: Gambling is terrible city planning.

* License to kill: CBP Requests Federal Court Keep Identity of Border Patrol Agent Who Killed Teen Secret.

* Court rules Yelp has no obligation to publish positive reviews.

For years, nothing seemed capable of turning around New Dorp High School’s dismal performance—not firing bad teachers, not flashy education technology, not after-school programs. Turns out you actually have to teach the kids to get results. Crazy.

* And on the complete other end of the positivity spectrum: Teacher Allegedly Locked Kids in Closet to Teach Them “How to Survive.”

* Millennials aren’t using credit cards, and it might come back to haunt them.

* Now that I’m a parent, it’s hard for me to understand how roller coasters are allowed to exist.

* Silicon Valley’s Cult of Male Ego.

* Reddit is a failed state.

* The service, which launches September 16 in New York City, Long Island, and Westchester, works with a fleet of women drivers and will only be available to female passengers. Drivers are hailed with an iOS app—like Uber or Lyft—and arrive wearing “hot pink pashmina scarves,”according to the New York Times.

* Marriage counseling before feminism.

* Today in the voter fraud fraud.

Striking down Pennsylvania’s voter ID law in January, its state court found “no evidence of the existence of in-person voter fraud in the state.” Plus, the state failed to establish any connection between photo identity cards and the integrity of elections. Courts in Texas, Arizona, and Arkansas ruled similarly.

Wisconsin federal district court Judge Lynn Adelman in Aprilstruck down that state’s voter ID law for violating the Fourteenth Amendment and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Adelman found about 9 percent of registered voters – about 300,000 – lacked the government-issued ID required for casting a ballot under the Wisconsin law, enough to change election results.

‘Unprecedented’ Outbreak Of Rare Virus Strikes Hundreds Of Children In The Midwest.

The Leaky Nuclear Waste Dump and the Town That Loves It Anyway.

* The kids are all right: LEGO Is Now the Biggest Toymaker on the Planet.

8 Things We Can Do Now to Build a Space Colony This Century.

* And Harvard has received a record $350 million donation. So glad those guys will be able to keep the lights on.

Written by gerrycanavan

September 10, 2014 at 1:39 pm

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Sunday Night Links

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* The New World Order One World Government wants to ban golf! Wake up, sheeple!

* …if we look closely enough, we’ll have to conclude that poverty is not, after all, a cultural aberration or a character flaw. Poverty is a shortage of money.

* From Aaron’s latest Sunday Reading:The Intellectual Situation of n+1. For U.S. universities, a failing grade in economics. The Irish Begin to Wake Up to the Fact That They are Repaying Money That is Then Burned. The Hand That Feeds. Historicizing the Conservative Think Tank. A short history of the vibrator. The Inside Story of How John Carter Was Doomed by Its First Trailer.

* Longform.org flashes back to another This American Life truth panic.

* Roland Barthes’ last doctoral student describes the writing of his dissertation. Via MeFi.

* Scientists think they’ve figured out what’s causing Colony Collapse Disorder (again). Surprise! It’s pesticides. Also via.

* Crooks & Liars has some advice for Lakoff-style reframing.

1. Never say Entitlements. Instead, say Earned Benefits.
2. Never say Redistribution of Wealth. Instead, say Fair Wages For Work.
3. Never say Employer Paid Health Insurance. Instead, say Employee Earned Health Insurance.
4. Never say Government Spending. Instead, say The People Are Investing.
5. Never say Corporate America. Instead, say Unelected Corporate Government.

* And here comes the Romney shadow cabinet. It’s even worse than you think!

‘The Strong Do as They Wish, While the Weak Suffer as They Must’

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A third principle is that virtually every use of force in international affairs has been justified in terms of R2P, including the worst monsters. Just to illustrate, in his scholarly study of “humanitarian intervention,” Sean Murphy cites only three examples between the Kellogg-Briand pact and the UN Charter: Japan’s attack on Manchuria, Mussolini’s invasion of Ethiopia, and Hitler’s occupation of parts of Czechoslovakia, all accompanied by lofty rhetoric about the solemn responsibility to protect the suffering populations, and factual justifications. The basic pattern continues to the present.

The historical record is worth recalling when we hear R2P or its cousin described as an “emerging norm” in international affairs. They have been considered a norm as far back as we want to go. The founding of this country is an example. In 1629, the Massachusetts Bay Colony was granted its Charter by the King, stating that rescuing the natives from their bitter pagan fate is “the principal end of this plantation.” The Great Seal of the Colony depicts an Indian saying “Come Over and Help Us.” The English colonists were thus fulfilling their responsibility to protect as they proceeded to “extirpate” and “exterminate” the natives, in their words – and for their own good, their honored successors explained. In 1630, John Winthrop delivered his famous sermon depicting the new nation “ordained by God” as “a city on a hill,” inspirational rhetoric that is regularly invoked to this day to2 justify any crime as at worst a “deviation” from the noble mission of responsibility to protect.

Chomsky on the responsibility to protect, via @zunguzungu, who also has similar thoughts from Jean Bricmont and Ngugi wa Thiong’o.

Big Monday Links

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* Lost Back to the Future audition tapes. You win this round, SNL.

* Then and Now with Goofus and Gallant.

* zunguzungu has some final thoughts on the Rally to Restore Sanity taking Andrew Sullivan’s glowing endorsement as his departure point.

Americans who want to emphasize that “politics isn’t all there is to life” are people who don’t feel very keenly the sting of injustice or the anxiety of uncertainty or the horror of what this country does in our name. When you lose your job because of politics, or can’t afford to go to school because of politics, or are denied full citizenship because of politics, or die because of politics, the idea that “politics isn’t all there is to life” will be cold comfort to you.

But what if, for example, you look out into the world and see not a basic normality of everyday justice and brotherhood and comity and happy cookies but, rather, a massively inequitable system getting both steadily worse and more deeply enmeshed into our everyday reality? An America which has, for example, rendered it normal to be conducting military operations in multiple theatres for no publicly acknowledged or agreed upon purpose? Where 10% unemployment is normal? Where immigrants are presumed guilty until documented innocent? What if you think things actually are completely fucked up?

* On not being obliged to vote Democrat. We voted last Thursday, straight ticket as always, but I confess I didn’t take much pleasure in it.

* What happens after Republicans win tomorrow? For one thing, Virginia’s climate witch-hunts will go national. Via Boing Boing.

* What happens after Republicans win tomorrow, Nevada edition: Angle victory means return of Yucca nuclear waste dump.

* Should the left try to use our democracy’s systemic biases towards military spending to drive a progressive spending agenda? Ezra and Matt take aff and neg. I give the decision to Ezra—let’s take our victories where we can get them.

* Corporate synergy, the Fox News way.

* UN Convention on Biodiversity: Climate-related geo-engineering activities [should not] take place until there is an adequate scientific basis on which to justify such activities and appropriate consideration of the associated risks for the environment and biodiversity and associated social, economic and cultural impacts.

* Cornell President David Skorton wants to save the humanities.

* How can this many colleges charge over $50,000 a year for tuition? That’s completely insane.

* From the campus newspaper: What’s Duke’s policy towards undocumented immigrants?

* Another great Strange Map: an alternate New York City with a filled-in East River where Manhattan and Brooklyn merge. Via Kottke.

* And rest in peace, Ginny Sack.

Star Trek

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Call it the soft bigotry of low expectations or heretofore unexpected reserves of good will for the franchise—or maybe J.J. just nailed it—but I found Star Trek surprisingly good. And “good” is an amazing accomplishment given the self-contradictions inherent to the project:

1) innovate and revitalize a franchise that, let’s face it, is built almost entirely on the bedrock of nostalgic repetition;
2) do so while further hamstrung by the excruciating prequel format.

But Abrams strikes a more or less successful balance, aside from a few hamhanded “R2-D2, meet C-3PO” moments and a little too much handholding and lampshade-hanging.

As is probably to be expected, the prequelization provides both the worst parts of the movie and its primary source of narrative pleasure. As a certified member of the Nitpicker’s Guild I confess I was a bit annoyed to see how little effort was made to stick with the original continuity, even granting the timeline shift. Many of the gadgets had different behaviors and limitations than in the original show; no one knew Romulans were related to Vulcans until part of the way through the original series; Chekhov didn’t join the ship until later; Pike wasn’t the first captain of the Enterprise; etc, etc, etc. (You can fanwank most or all of these away with “The USS Kelvin Changed Everything,” but that’s not very satisfying. Clear lines of cause-and-effect matter, especially in time travel stories.)

That this cherished original continuity is essentially bulldozed permanently by the film is pretty unfortunate and will, I think, permanently damage the franchise in the eyes of its loyal and notoriously defensive fanbase, especially as fifty years of strict adherence to Roddenberry’s particular Utopian vision has not prepared them well for our heroes to lose a planet, much less the entire timeline.

But at the same time it is quite fun to see these characters meet each other, and Abrams does an amazing job of capturing the feel of the original series (all the way from aesthetics right down to the level of contrivance and occasionally nonsensical plot points). That the actors playing McCoy and (especially) Spock are very good mimics of the original actors helps things along a lot as well.

It’s also astounding how apolitical the film tries to be; I went in with the idea of writing a post about neoliberalism and Star Trek and it just didn’t give me much to work with. Now, this is a neoliberal, United Nations fantasy of the future, to be sure, in which difference only exists to be flattened out—but that’s really true of almost all Trek, DS9 and some other choice episodes excepted. (There’s also a making explicit of the longstanding metaphorical connection between Vulcans and Jews, with a Vulcan Holocaust followed by a choice between diaspora, assimilation, and resettlement in a “new colony,” but I don’t know what to do with that yet.)

Star Trek (2009) is no better or worse, politically speaking, than what Star Trek‘s always been: a fantasy of what the world would be like if consumer capitalism had no labor or environmental costs and American military-cultural hegemony was pure, stable, and uncomplicatedly good. It remains our defining ideological fantasy, in other words, the thing that blinds us still to the sort of world we’re really living in and the sort of future we’re actually creating.

So it’s no surprise that at this point my thoughts turn to the mediocre, to the unchosen, to the radicals and the subaltern and the dissidents. What becomes of difference in this future? We see these people only sometimes, in the background: Sisko’s dad, Picard’s brother. Usually they exist only to be made Star Fleet officers or good Federation citizens by the end of the episode, and we see no one like this in this movie at all. The lack of flexibility in this narrative template has grown, I think, exhausting, and it’s for this reason that over the years I find myself much more drawn to presentist and mundane SF, or apocalyptic futurity, or to anti-Trek futures like Firefly, the first few seasons of BSG, or Samuel Delany’s Triton.

But all the same every so often it’s nice to come home again.

Just one request: no more product placement, please; there’s no money in the future, much less corporations…

Another Round

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Another round: religion and politics.

* The U.N. has apparently passed a resolution banning the defamation of religion. In the U.S., at least, truth is absolute defense to defamation…

* Don’t tell the U.N.: quantum theory may make omniscience mathematically impossible.

* Richard Nixon analyzes an episode of All in the Family. Those White House tapes are a national treasure.

* Truth commissions vs. prosecutions.

* A visitor’s guide to Chinese conceptions of hell. Via MeFi.

* And are video games teaching kids the skills they need for the Apocalypse? The Onion reports.

Written by gerrycanavan

February 27, 2009 at 4:33 pm

Sunday, Sunday

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Sunday.

* Uncool: A U.N. resolution on the right to food passed 180-1. Via Lenin’s Tomb.

* Lots of links floating around to this revisionist interpretation of It’s a Wonderful Life:

“It’s a Wonderful Life” is a terrifying, asphyxiating story about growing up and relinquishing your dreams, of seeing your father driven to the grave before his time, of living among bitter, small-minded people. It is a story of being trapped, of compromising, of watching others move ahead and away, of becoming so filled with rage that you verbally abuse your children, their teacher and your oppressively perfect wife. It is also a nightmare account of an endless home renovation.

… Take the extended sequence in which George Bailey (James Stewart), having repeatedly tried and failed to escape Bedford Falls, N.Y., sees what it would be like had he never been born. The bucolic small town is replaced by a smoky, nightclub-filled, boogie-woogie-driven haven for showgirls and gamblers, who spill raucously out into the crowded sidewalks on Christmas Eve. It’s been renamed Pottersville, after the villainous Mr. Potter, Lionel Barrymore’s scheming financier.

Here’s the thing about Pottersville that struck me when I was 15: It looks like much more fun than stultifying Bedford Falls — the women are hot, the music swings, and the fun times go on all night. If anything, Pottersville captures just the type of excitement George had long been seeking.

* Will Obama gut NASA? Nice followup to last week’s discussion on Poli-Sci-Fi Radio.

* On the plus side, Obama pledges allegiance to science.

* Ultimately, these disputes can’t really be resolved until Obama is in office. Only then will we know whether Obama’s embrace of every establishment and even right-wing figure he can find is a reflection of what the substance of his governing will be, or whether — as many of his supporters claim — it’s a master strategy designed to diffuse tension and hostility in order to enable easier enactment of his progressive agenda. If Obama devotes genuine efforts to repealing DOMA and don’t-ask-don’t-tell, I doubt anyone will care how many times he hugs Rick Warren — just as if Obama really closes Guantanamo, withdraws from Iraq and forges a diplomatic peace with Iran, few people will care how much he embraces Joe Lieberman — though obviously those are very, very large “ifs.” Only time will tell. Via Open Left.

* Arctic melt 20 years ahead of climate models. Response to global warming 20 years behind rational policy-making.

* Hadley Center study warns of “catastrophic” 5°C warming by 2100 on current emissions path. Did I mention we’re screwed?

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